The Sexy Times | Low Libidos

The Sexy Times is The Pitt News’ biweekly sex blog written by Genna Edwards.

By Genna Edwards, Senior Staff Writer

It’s that time of the year again. Dark at 4 p.m., Mariah Carey 24/7, my grandma wants to know if I’m seeing anyone and if not there’s this nice Christian boy down the street — the holidays. Which, for many people, means seasonal depression’s annual visit.

This year is worse than years past, that’s for sure. A pandemic exacerbates the worst tendencies and symptoms of someone with year-round and/or seasonal depression — isolation, anxious paranoia, hopelessness to boot. December 2020 is a special grab bag of bad news for anyone with a mental health disorder.

If you’re in a relationship, you might’ve already been through depression-induced low libido this year and seen its effect on you and the one(s) you love. Lower desire can make you feel even more isolated than before, driving you away from a partner whom you need more than ever right now. I’ve been there, done that. It messes with your head. It messes even further with your body image — and if you’re anything like me, this already tends to worsen during the appearance-obsessed holidays.

I don’t have all the answers, or even most of them, but having gone through seasonal depression and low libido concurrently before, I at least know a bit where you may be coming from. With that and the pandemic in mind — may I present a list of ideas to keep you from isolating alone under a rock while your partner worries about you endlessly for two months.

First off, don’t stop touching your partner. Even if you’re not in the mood for sex from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, humans need skin contact. We need warmth. There are ways to show love to each other that don’t involve your genitals. Hug your partner more than you’ve ever hugged them before. Cuddle them on the couch. Hold their hand in the checkout line at the grocery store. I promise you that even if your head is telling you you’re an ugly monster who doesn’t deserve love, you’re not an ugly monster who doesn’t deserve love. Cuddles release oxytocin — kissing, too — so get as much of those sweet, sweet good brain chemicals you can.

If you can, talk with a doctor. If you’re feeling so low that you’ve lost most or all interest in sexual activity of any kind, your doctor can do one of many things to help. You may need a physical, you may need new medications or to switch medications or you may want to change your diet or exercise habits. Even seemingly small changes like adjusting your sleep schedule can help if you’re feeling especially out of it.

Talk with your partner. They deserve to know what’s going on in your mind, and when they know, they can be of more support. Make sure to emphasize that your low libido has nothing to do with them — they may be taking this personally. Spend the time that you two usually spend having sex baking gingerbread guys, or forgetting the names of every Hallmark male lead ever because they all look exactly the same. If your lover is not supportive and patient while you go through this, they’re likely not the one for you. Good riddance and bah humbug.

Exercise. I know, I know. Trust me, I’m not trying to be that guy who’s like, “Have you tried hot yoga for your clinically diagnosed mental disorder?” As someone who’s been living with both seasonal and regular depression for years, I can confirm that for me, at least, exercise lifts a bit of the fog. It puts you in your body, reminds you of your strength — it’s one step toward getting your libido back so you can have some hot holiday nookie.

If you’re up to it, hey, have some hanky panky. Let yourself relax as much as you can. Take it slow. Sometimes if you try to get into it even when you don’t feel like it, you’ll end up, well, feeling like it. It can be frustrating to feel you have to force yourself to be intimate — don’t push yourself further than feels comfortable, but don’t fall into complete complacency either. Maybe with the right tunes or the right lighting you’ll find yourself in the mood.

Seasonal depression’s debilitating effects don’t have to wreck every aspect of your life. If you’re worried your low libido is a sign of seasonal depression, or that your seasonal depression is suddenly causing low libido, don’t worry. This is totally normal, and you won’t feel like this forever.

If you feel in immediate danger to yourself, you can call the the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Be safe this holiday season. Look out for yourself and others as best you can. We’ll all get through this together.

Genna Edwards writes about gender and media for The Pitt News. You can drop her a line at [email protected].