I was the slut in high school. I was the girl that would get side eyed and ignored the night after a big party once rumours had circled their way around the courtyard. I was learning things about myself every day! Apparently she sucked him off, they’d say. Oh, did I? Must’ve missed it. They said she left her bra in his car. Really? Because I could’ve sworn it’s in my bedroom. She went up to his room and they were there for, like, half an hour. Was I? Must’ve not been memorable then, because I can’t remember doing that. 

It wasn’t like the rumours were unfounded. I have always loved intimacy. Not necessarily in the romantic sense, either, which people really seemed to have a problem with. It was these same people who’d text me before a date, or before a huge party, saying: so, how do you actually go down on a guy?

Do you just sort of… give it little kisses? One girl said. As long as I wasn’t clueless, I was fine with being “slutty”. 

I had sex for the first time when I was 15. As far as first time goes, it was pretty shit. Awkward, a little painful, and I was left wanting more. So I went and searched for it. And I didn’t have any shame in that. And I loved sex. 

Until I went on Sertraline. 

I’ve been on antidepressants on and off since I was 15, and they’ve made me hungry, sleepy, sleepless, anxious, suicidal. But my libido remained intact, in spite of lack of sex drive being a side effect on many of the drugs I was on.

That was another thing, I tried everything. Klonopin, Xanax, Zoloft, Celexa, Seroquel… finally, Sertraline. And it worked. 

But my clit just about died. 

It’s hard when you’re torn between feeling like you’re losing out on such a fun part of a relationship, on such an integral part of who you are and what you enjoy, and finally feeling stable. It’s a tug of war between my sex drive and my peace of mind. I think for some - the answer must be obvious. Just don’t have sex. 

But I don’t get called a slut anymore. I don’t get judged. I don’t get told by my mum and my dad that having sex is something to be ashamed of. I left my conservative, third world country where all women are expected to conceive like Virgin Mary did - and I moved 5,000 miles away to make sure that the reputation people had built for me stayed behind. 

For me, having sex is about me. It’s not just about intimacy anymore, but about self-expression, about control, about pleasure. 

I can’t do that now. It’s between my mental health and my sexual health and I’m not so sure I can have one without the other. Because it’s not just about the nerve endings in my vagina suddenly shutting down. It’s about the anxiety that comes with it.

When my boyfriend and I got together we were naked more than we were clothed. Now I have these fleeting moments of urgency where shaking hands undo buttons while desperately trying to cling onto whatever hint of eroticism I feel inside. Now whenever we kiss, whenever we’re in bed together I think – will tonight be the night he decides to look for it somewhere else? Not because he’s hinted at it, not because that’s who he is, but because that’s the thoughts that crawl out from underneath the folds of my brain and turn into whispers at my ears. Like a cartoon devil they say: Put out, or he’ll get out. 

It’s hard because when we do have sex our minds are elsewhere. The cartoon devil in his ear is saying: Does she really want this? And the one in mine is saying: How long is this need, this desire, going to last this time? 

The worst part of it all, however, is that I can’t masturbate. And if you think I love sex, let me tell you, it doesn’t even compare to how much I love masturbating. Bored? Masturbate. Happy? Masturbate. Can’t sleep? Masturbate. Annoyed? Masturbate. Stressed out? Masturbate. Too early? Masturbate. Running late? Masturbate. 

It’s the safest, most intimate, most pleasurable sex there is. With myself. With my own fantasies and all my own rules, my own pace. My right hand knows me better than anyone ever will. And that’s been taken away from me, too. 

I don’t that it’s all negatives. I’ve gotten to know intimacy in different ways. The simple pleasure of holding hands, of eye contact. How delicate touch is, how fingertips can feel like rose petals at the small of my back. Kissing. How wonderful kissing is. I know all the lines and grooves in my boyfriend’s bottom lip. I didn’t know those before.

Don’t get me wrong – I have to put on my largest, most glamorous pair of rose-tinted glasses to see it in any way aside from how much it sucks not to be able to cum. Not to be able to even want to cum. I guess for now, my libido and I have got to get in the backseat and let my mind drive. I know she definitely needs to take over, if only for a little while, anyway.

This article was written for Aurelia's 'Sex, Openly' event that took place in Liverpool on the 27th of June. Follow us on Instagram for updates on our next one.