- a condition, event, etc, that is complex or confused
- the act or process of complicating
- a disease or disorder arising as a consequence of another disease
- something that introduces, usually unexpectedly, some difficulty, problem, change, etc. that complicates or frustrates – e.g. her coming was a serious complication
- the act of forming a unified idea or impression from a number of sense data, memories, etc.
When it comes to sex, mental health issues can cause complications for a number reasons. Firstly, sex, and the enjoyment of sex, is often a product of mood. When your mood is low, there is a good chance that you neither feel sexy nor sexually inclined. Even if you do manage to summon up enough “oomph” to get down to it, the chances are it won’t be nearly as enjoyable as it would be if you were firing (mentally) on all cylinders and, as I’ll go into in more detail later, the firing (or otherwise) of one particular physical “cylinder” can be problematic too. This can be tough on both parties. Obviously it is difficult for the person experiencing the mental illness as it is something that affects every facet of their life, from work through to relationships. It is hard for the other person in the relationship because their own needs are possibly not being met because of the other person’s illness; needs be they, emotional, physical, or sexual.
Having a mental illness is tough. Living with someone, or being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness is no picnic either.
Then, as if the illness itself wasn’t hard enough to deal with, the effects of the medication used to alleviate the symptoms of the condition can add further complications.
In the worst case scenario, these can switch off libido completely; further exacerbating what is already being experienced in terms of frustration, lack of desire, etc. Far from helping, in this particular area, the effects of the medicine can often be worse than the effects of the illness it is intended to treat.
If, however, the medication restores a certain equilibrium, allowing one to experience and indulge in desire, the problems don’t necessarily stop there. Different medicines have different side-effects for different people. Some people find that a particular medication may result in them reaching orgasm too soon. For others, they may find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible to reach orgasm. Neither in itself necessarily makes sex unenjoyable, but they do add complications that need to be worked around and accommodated if not to add to the frustrations of both parties involved.
The other issue that can further complicate things is the ability to communicate why these things are happening (or possibly not happening, as the case could be). In an ideal world, we would be able to talk openly about such matters, but the world is, sadly, far from ideal. The stigma surrounding mental illness, while lessening, still exists. People, and in particular men, are not always comfortable discussing mental health matters; the very act of acknowledging them being can be considered by some to be an admission of weakness.
There is, it seems, often a bit of an unfortunate “Catch-22” situation at play. I will freely admit that a bloody good shag does wonders for my mental state, and adds to my sense of well-being. The problem is that when my mood is low, getting down and dirty is quite often the last thing on my mind meaning that I either, a) don’t have sex, or b) don’t enjoy it as much as I probably should. Both of which create something of a negative feedback loop which, in turn, makes me feel worse.
Sex is something to be enjoyed, but sadly for those of us who experience mental health problems, while it is, in the main, a positive, it can sometimes end up making us feel worse about ourselves.
Good sex is as much a mental experience as it is a physical one. We often hear the expression (frequently used jokingly) that the mind is willing but the flesh is weak. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health problems, often it can be the opposite that is, in fact, true.
Sex, and the enjoyment of sex, should not be complicated; the physical acts themselves are, after all, fairly simple and almost certainly biologically programmed into us. The mind, however, sometimes take a perverse “enjoyment” (for the want of a better word) of complicating things and making them harder than they should be (except, possibly, the bit that should be hard…)