Content warning: Depression.
On the evening of the recent new moon, I finally admitted it to myself: I'm still depressed.
This isn't the first time I've contemplated this over the last few weeks. I know that over the last few months I've been struggling on and off with periods of sadness and hopelessness. But I thought I had gotten past that a bit. I thought that after my successful relaunch of my podcast and a string of good days, I was back to my normal, productive, confident self.
On Sunday evening, though, I finally surrendered to the fact that I'm still feeling quite challenged by this dark cloud hovering over me.
The recent new moon ritual I did really revealed to me the ways in which I am still really tender and in liminal space right now, and also the ways I haven’t really been taking care of myself. I’ve been trying my best to rise above my bouts of depression by forcing myself to work and get out of the house and slap a smile on my face.
But the truth is there’s still a lot of healing to be done. I need to honor my emotions and my body. I need to be OK with where I am.
So as I'm still trying to find groundedness in my body after a rough few weeks, I wanted to share a bit of how I take care of myself and what sexual self-care as a practice looks like. That is:
A self-care practice that heals and gently acknowledges you as a sexual being while you're in a place of tenderness and inactivity.
Because when I'm in a place of darkness and depression and inactivity, sexual desire and eroticism is the first thing to go.
This is how I'm taking care of my sexual self during an ongoing depressive period, including some of the affirmations I'm using to keep me connected to my sexuality.
Press play below to listen to my talk or click here.
Some things mentioned in this episode:
Or. . . if you’d rather read this, continue below.
And I’ll be honest: Sometimes it OK to completely cut yourself off from the erotic, to kind of say, "Nope, not happening right now." I've definitely had my own moments of accepting a periodic dry spell.
But a lot of the time, I’ll admit—being cut off from my sexual energy and closing myself off from it only makes the depression and disconnection from my body worse. When I'm depressed I leave my body. I don't listen to what it needs, I forget to take care of myself on really base levels, like drinking water and getting fresh air.
Sex is one of the only acts that I can engage in that not only gets me totally into my body but connects me intimately with myself and another person. Sex has been a powerful tool for me to come home to myself, to remember very viscerally that not only can I still access desire and pleasure, but that I’m worthy of desire and pleasure.
So this is about finding a balance between honoring yourself—your body, your emotions, your impulses to stay inward—but to also be proactive in making sure that the sexual part of you, the erotic energy that lives in your body, isn’t being totally eclipsed by the sadness you’re feeling.
This is about bringing gentle and unforced awareness to keep you connected to this very powerful, holy, restorative part of yourself that is your radiant sexuality.
Before we get into that, I just want to circle back to what I said a moment ago. If you're in that place right now where you’re feeling generally closed off to the idea of sex, go with it what you feel and maybe put this episode on ice until you’re feeling like you’re more open to the idea of sex. It’s really, really important that you listen to your body and its needs, even if that means you’re living a sexless life for the time being.
Sex should never be forced—not by others, but especially not by you.
With that said, here are some ways I like to show up and give myself and my body sexual self-care to remind me that I’m a sexual being.
1.) Connect with your body platonically. Depression makes me leave my body. It makes me question the validity of my being here. And when I’m cut off from myself, there’s no way I can begin to enjoy or even thinking about giving myself pleasure. When I’m in this state, I ache to come home to myself, to feel a sense of groundedness in my body. And what never fails to help me find that groundedness is putting my hands on my own skin.
Sexual touch often feels too much when I’m feeling especially tender. So one way I like to bring touch into my life that isn’t at all sexual during a depressive state is, after taking a shower or bath, slathering coconut oil all over my body. I slather coconut oil all over my body anyway, but I find that when I’m being especially conscious of the fact that, during this act, underneath my fingertips I am feeling my own flesh and its warmth, I come back to my sensual center.
Doing this reminds me that I have a body, a body that feels, a body that has needs, a body that is alive and deserves to take up space.
2.) Greet desire when it comes up in your body. Another result of being cut off from myself is feeling completely disconnected from desire. Like a lot of people, sexual desire is really difficult for me to access when I’m feeling low. And I tend to really beat myself up about that.
But sexual desire isn’t the only kind of desire we have. Desire isn’t just a voice of sexual hunger, it’s voice that expresses a need for nourishment. It’s a voice that, at a purely instinctual level, wants us to feel good in some kind of capacity.
When I remember that, when I can separate sex from desire, suddenly I’m like, “Oh yeah, I’ve actually been desiring a lot.”
I’ve been desiring more sleep. I’ve been desiring less time on the internet. I’ve been desiring physical, non-sexual closeness with my man. I’ve been desiring that tea that I love so much that relaxes me and tames my anxiety.
Seeing that even in my sad state there’s still a tiny vibrant part of me that desires makes me feel capable again. It restores a sense of connection to myself. It makes me feel confident.
So these days, I've been trying to be on the lookout for desire. And when I feel desire come up in my body, in whatever form it takes—whether for sex or for a pastry—I take a moment to thank and acknowledge that desire:
“Hey desire, I feel you coming up in my body. Thanks for showing yourself to me. I’m happy you’re here.”
Just being aware of that fact you have desire is pretty revolutionary and is something to be celebrated.
3.) What would your erotic muse do? An erotic muse is someone whose sexual energy I can look to and conjure up when I need a boost of sensuality or moxie. An erotic muse is someone I channel when my sexual energy feels stagnant and I need inspiration.
When I’m feeling low, channeling one of my muses can be a great way to change the energy up. But going from zero to sixty—zero being no sexual desire, and sixty being Rihanna level’s of bad bitch sex appeal—can feel really strange, which can create even more disconnection.
Instead, I like to start really small.
I think of someone like Beyonce, who is another one of my muses. If she were down in the dumps, if she was questioning her greatness and wanted to get her groove back, what would she do for herself? What would be in her self-care routine to help bring her sexy back?
I imagine she would take lots of bubble baths. I imagine she would feed herself her favorite foods, sparing no expense. I imagine she would adorn herself in a way that makes her feel like goddess. I imagine she would treat herself like a queen.
If I have enough self-awareness and energy during a depressive state, I’ll gently embody my muse in ways that feel good to me and not pressured. I don’t always like faking it, but this is one of those times where “faking it til you feel it” can work really well.
And if you’re not quite sure who (or what) your erotic muse is, I’ve written a quick little guide that’ll walk you through finding them. And I’ll put a link in the show notes for that.
4.) Take nude-ish selfies. This is one of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling depressed or disconnected from my sexuality. And it’s really easy, probably one of the easiest things to do on this list because all you need is a camera and a few minutes to yourself.
And you don’t need to get fancy with it. One of the best times to take a nude selfie is when you’re fresh from the shower, with your skin in all dewey and fresh. Stand in front of your bathroom mirror and simply snap a few pictures.
Here’s why I adore taking nude selfies: They remind me of the magic and beauty of my sexual body. They help me see with my own eyes a glimpse of something that can never be taken away from me, not by depression or anxiety or racism—my erotic power. And honestly, my erotic power isn’t always super present in my selfies. Sometimes it’s really subtle. Sometimes I look at the picture I just took and all I see is a sad naked girl.
But, just the act of showing up for myself in this way, just the act of taking up space in this way, is revolutionary. Honestly, in the face of depression, taking nude selfies is an act of resistance.
Here are some things you can say to yourself during your sexual self-care practice that ground you into your intention.
I am a sexual being and nothing can take that away from me—not this depression, not this anxiety, not my inactivity.
My sexual beingness isn't determined by how much sex I'm having. I am a sexual being by breath, by heartbeat, by choice.
I am slowly coming home to my sexual body. And this process of returning to that home—these acts of sensual self-care—are acts of resistance.
In these acts, I soften. In these acts, I take up space. In this acts, I heal myself, little by little.
I know that when I love myself, when I create intimacy with myself, I am powerful.
I am a sexual being, and my erotic energy will come back to me. I am patient with myself knowing that it will come back to me.
I am a sexual being and I am still here. I am still here.
And here is a video of me saying these affirmations as I do an act of self-care.
© 2020 Ev'Yan Whitney / All rights reserved.