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June 13, 2008

"We Don't Discuss Libido or Orgasms" & I Don't Do Stiff Upper Lip

I wanted to groan out loud this afternoon. The therapist wanted an update, and this -naturally- opened up the office-work issue. In a nutshell? I told him I hated corporations and I’d had enough of 80% of my colleagues on my immediate floor.

“They only want docile people,” I said, “half of them strain themselves in conversation. You can be nice, you can try all you like but if you don’t fit in (age wise, relationship wise, etc), then you don’t fit in. These people don’t read, they don’t watch films…and that’s it.” I felt like ending it with, “do you want me to go on because even I am sick of it.’’

There were three piles of files on his desk, and he almost forgot mine. He put his specs back on, and began searching the pile for my file. Great, I thought. Here I am, talking away, and the file is more important. So I thought I’d give him a few more things to note down, and even though I thought it was silly to go all out ‘crazy’ I thought it would be fun.

“Do you think you’re much better since the first session?”
“Oh definitely. The drugs do work,” I said, and I meant it. I wasn’t being a smart arse.
“I think so as well,” he made a note.
“How about the second session?”
“Much better, although I still have a few things to work out.”
“Such as?”
“My low tolerance for office cretins, and my reinvented attitude.”
“Which is?”
“These six months have made me think a lot. I thought - the next time something similar happens, and I have to tolerate a corporate bitch, I’m not going to go through the polite bureaucratic crap. I’m not usually aggressive but I’m just going to slap her or the person who starts stupid rumors to be nasty.” Talk about a contradiction…
“Well now…”
“The political correctness doesn’t work. How many transfers have I requested? How many formal grievances have I lodged about managerial misbehavior? No. Next time it’s going to be ‘smack-pow.’’

And it was fun to watch. His wrist raced across the page. I’m talking about turbo-charged notes… “Anastasia is displaying aggression?” “Anastasia is very angry?”

All I could think of was my poor wallet. I sat there going through the same old same old, and there were no breakthroughs. All the TV and film shrinks are overrated and highly exaggerated. He told me I was ‘still very excitable,’ and I suppose to an Anglo that is what it is. To a Mediterranean person, it’s just a normal mode of behavior. We don’t do stiff-upper lip and as for serene political correctness? That doesn’t exist. If we’re pissed, we’re pissed, and we gesticulate our ire. It’s a full-bodied response.

Excitable? Pfft…

He suggested a higher dosage of Zoloft, even writing me up a script. I took it, not that I’m going to use it as I have three repeats on the lower dosage. I felt like saying, ‘hey, I’m a wog…we react this way - in case you haven’t noticed.’

He then asked me if I was having any side effects from the current dosage. I told him that I yawned a lot during the day. He said that was a normal side effect….

“And then there’s my libido. That practically doesn’t exist. Lucky I don’t have a sex life,” and just as I was about to reveal - to him- that I averaged one orgasm a week (when I remembered, when I felt like it), his face reddened.

“Apart from that…” If he had a sofa, I could have had a nap, but he only has chairs.

“I’m just saying, is all,” I said. He changed the subject.

Apparently orgasms are off the discussion list.


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Comments

Thanks Kochanie,

The modern workplace, a lot can be said about it. Every individual would - no doubt - have a great story to tell about the things they endure in a workplace, in order to provide food, a roof and other mod-cons to maintain a happy household. In respect to my current-in limbo job though, I’d have to say that I came across more intelligent people in nursing homes in my late teens and my early twenties, than the corporation I’m currently at - just another day job to maintain an ordinary standard of living.

I thought of that as well, that sex is downplayed to focus on the more significant problem, but there are people who do experience anxiety and/or depression as a result of their relationships or lack of sex within their relationships, so for doctors to minimize the sexual aspect, it would all depend on the situation, but I was taken aback. While my response to the doctor wasn’t a complaint, he did ask me a question about the effects of the SSRI drug, and I told him. A weird moment for me, because I tend to briefly assume that doctors shouldn’t be shy about discussing those things, and then I snap back into reality.

I’m going to look into finding another doctor, probably a female doctor that can relate to my workplace concerns on a female level (as the issues did relate to female management and work bullying tactics), because I sometimes don’t think that male doctors can relate to a female on a female level. You have a terrific doctor, and yes it's crap that nicotine, or rather the combustion has terrible side effects (that are like a macabre lottery for each person). I was reading about pregnant mothers who smoke, and I remember in the Sixties and early Seventies, smoking while pregnant wasn't considered a big deal or a social issue as it is now, and I do often consider the other factor, that I'm a product of a smoking mother, who smoked throughout her pregnancy back then, and its relation to future addiction is interesting (maybe frightening) to read.

Thank you. This week I find out what the work outcome is (finally lol).

Anastasia,

Your forebears knew what they were talking about when they claimed that Ponos, the god of pain and toil, was the son of Eris, goddess of discord, contention and rivalry. The modern workplace would be devoid of intelligent human beings were it not for the basic needs of food, shelter and medical care. So I am sorry to read of your troubles there.

Unfortunately, most psychiatrists consider the patient's ability to continue working more important than her or his ability to enjoy sex. As one doctor explained to me, some patients are so disabled by anxiety and/or depression that giving up sexual pleasure is considered a small price to pay for the ability to hold a job and be independent. And that is true, for unemployment and the constant worry about paying the rent can have a devastating effect on one's libido.

But this attitude of telling a patient to accept the loss of so important a part of their sexuality does baffle me. The sense of well-being we enjoy after achieving orgasm is exactly that: well-being. The chemistry of the brain is returned to a healthful equilibrium. I tend to think of it as a deposit in the "good health account," which we need to build up as a reserve against the losses and setbacks that are part of life.

I don't know if you have the option to change to a different doctor, one less reluctant to discuss human needs such as sex. I lucked out in finding a very good doctor whom I would describe as a post-menopausal hippie with a fine sense of humor. She had an excellent understanding of how the change in hormone levels that accompany perimenopause can affect mood and the effectiveness of antidepressants. As a former smoker she understood how difficult the process of quitting can be for many people. As a writer she understood how treasured is the mental focus that nicotine provides. Or as she described cigarettes: "Hey, what a great drug. Too bad it had such a crappy side-effect profile." Her judgments were not infallible, but she never had trouble admitting when she was wrong and helping me find a medication that had less side-effect. So if possible, you may wish to shop around for a new doctor.

My best wishes for your good health in all its varied forms.

Figleaf,

It does throw a wrench in the libido, definitely. The idea (of having the orgasm) is sure nice, but getting there takes longer and by then it can be, ‘screw this!’ because the length of time can be distracting enough.

Doctor’s aren’t that great where sexual issues are concerned and in the area of behavioral medicine/health sexologists are better, but not many specialize in this area. There are a few on the web who proclaim to be sexologists, but some have questionable qualifications and clinical experience, and online counseling can’t compare to face to face counseling.

It is like that, the sex comes last, or doctors tend to place everything in order of priority in some way. I’m not personally stressed out about my lower frequency (where masturbation is concerned), but it does intrigue me - how medication can have such an effect, but if I were in a relationship I would be concerned about it because I would imagine my partner being frustrated by it eventually. I find that my urges vary. Some days I am in a more sexual frame of mind, but there are more days when I don’t think about it as much, and I can only imagine scenarios where a partner would be amorous and I’d be, ‘umm…okay, do we have to do it right now?’

It’s a dire situation though, if medical providers are like this, and I’m betting there are a few out there who are like this, then it doesn’t bode well overall and if they dismiss questions, then it pretty much confirms that an area isn’t up for discussion. I think it’s important for those in relationships, because the sexual element does enter the daily equation all the time, and medication does affect a relationship. For myself, it doesn’t at this point, but still, I was taken aback when I provided a legitimate observation for that observation to be dismissed like it wasn’t important. For me, my work situation or the company I work for and their passive-aggression, isn’t that important. It’s more important I get out of career limbo in relation to the corporation I work for, but to my therapist, the work issue is all he can talk about at this moment, which is a pain in my ass because there is little one can do when a corporation behaves the way it does. There is no way I will take the higher dosage of Zoloft. That’s the last thing I need. At the moment I can manage an orgasm, but upping the dosage - I fear - will completely eradicate the urge, and probably add another half hour to the arousal process, which is quite frustrating. The reasons why I don’t bother sometimes, relate more to the time factor than anything else. It’s not like I can’t have an orgasm, but the time it will take for me to go over the standard orgasm curve (for female arousal) is so much longer compared to before, and this is the irritating thing.

Andromache,

Great joke, it highlights the impartial attitude some shrinks may have.

Hi Anastasia,

You've probably noticed one of my mini-crusades is getting men to acknowledge that their partners might have an interest in sex *beyond* satisfying them. And that I've also posted a fair amount about how for the last 150 years, at least, doctors have done a lot to promote that idea (even though for nearly 2000 prior more than half their work, and income, came from treating women for "hysteria," which was cured by massaging the "pelvis" until she "achieved hysterical paroxysm.") I haven't posted as much about it but some years ago I took medication for situational depression and like you and a *lot* of other people it threw a wrench in my libido. Or not so much that (I was still interested and it still felt nice) as being able to have an orgasm.

Oh, and worse, for the last few months I've been talking offline with a number of women who's partners have survived prostate damage (which often destroys the nerves and/or tissue involved with erection and orgasm) and they're all pretty bitter about the attitudes they're getting from doctors, family members, and even partners when they ask if their partners will ever be able to have sex with them again. Because a lot of people evidently think they're being, oh, selfish and uncaring, or that "as women" (and usually by the time someone's husband has prostate surgery they mean "as *older* women") they ought to be relieved to be done with sex.

Anyway, because of all that your doctor's unwillingness to deal with the fact that *his* prescription cupboards your libido gives me hives. And just to be clear it's not that I think everyone should have some pre-determined libido or X amount of sex, it's just that for a lot of men and women, and any partners they might have, it's not a trivial side-effect and so if caregivers can't get over their squeamishness they need to go work in garden shops instead.

figleaf

I wouldn’t have the patience and despite your situation, your description made me laugh. It seems you were raising a point and he backed out LOL

Shrink joke:
There once was this man who worked in a pickle factory, who had this very great and powerful desire to put his penis in the pickle slicer. This went on for years, and he couldn't stand it, he decided to seek professional help for this odd infatuation of his.
He spends a few months with the shrink, and the doc finally gives up and tells the man that his desire is so powerful to put his penis in the pickle slicer, that the only way to get over it was to do it. The man gladly agrees and says he will do it the next day at work ...
The next day he comes home from work about 11am. His wife is very worried and asks what happened. He explains to her for the first time the desire he has had to put his penis in the pickle slicer. And then explains that he couldn't take it anymore and today he did it. She gasps and runs over to him, yanks down his pants and briefs, only to see his member perfectly normal and intact. She looks back up and says I don't understand ... what happened to the pickle slicer?
"I think she got fired too..."

Hi Jack,

It made me feel a bit better, because up to that point I thought about the money aspect. I only go there because I have to due to the stupid company I work (worked?) for. I can't classify it was work because I've been on leave due to stress earlier this year, but it's a 'process'. I'm not the stereotypical neurotic high powered person that goes to shrinks (in movies maybe? lol), so it's all incredible to me. I can't believe that I actually manage to get up off my ass and go. If I wasn't in the current situation with the office, I wouldn't go and there are many days when I fantasize about bitchslapping my manager - pure hindsight. It would have been simpler. Sorted, and done. lol

Its sad but funny, I don't know how you came out of that session, probably smiling becuase you got him all red in the face.

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