depression

Sex Drive and Sadness

The side effects and symptoms of depression and anxiety can seep into every nook of your life. They can destroy your confidence, your energy levels, you can lose your social life, and your sex life can disappear. Those who suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can watch their sex life suffer and not understand why. You can sit by as you watch your relationship fall apart, or you can’t quite find your confidence to keep the lights on and remove your clothes in front of someone else. You can think that you don’t feel the same wants and needs that everyone else around you apparently feels, or not be able to pinpoint what exactly in you has changed yet nothing feels the same.

One of the less discussed yet still debilitating side effects of depression is a loss of libido. This can destroy relationships, the sufferer may not feel that they are providing their partner with everything that they want and need and therefore can acquire a sense of guilt and not feel like an adequate partner. This does not come from a lack of love for the partner, but relates to the struggle to enjoy life in the same ways that they used to. This is normal. At a time when they may feel that everything tastes of nothing and there isn’t quite anything that makes them feel strongly about something anymore, a lack of sex drive is perfectly understandable. They can still be head over heels for someone but not feel any urge to have sex anymore, they are intrinsically different things. Discussing this with the partner may make things a little easier for them to understand; communication is important in order for someone to understand what you are truly thinking. 

Another consequence of depression and anxiety can be a feeling of low self-confidence and low self-esteem. The thought of letting someone else see your body can be stomach churning, and the idea that they may find you attractive is baffling, but part of the self-care, if you have a mental illness, is to learn to fall in love with your body and to learn to find peace with yourself. If you aren’t currently okay with letting someone else see you fully naked, then build on it over time and learn where to draw the line of how comfortable you are. Never force yourself to do something because you feel like you should be doing it. If you are uncomfortable with something, work out why you feel that way and try to solve it or work around it.

Give yourself time, don’t force yourself into something that you are not comfortable with. You’re not alone in these feelings and looking after your mental health will help ensure that you have a healthy sex life. Don’t forget that every person has a different sex drive; what is normal for one person may be much higher or much lower than yours, having a dip is therefore normal for you. As with any issue discussed this week, if something is particularly worrying you, take time to go to the doctors so that you can talk about it.

 

Words by Beth Farrell
Part of the September Sex Education Week, 2017.

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Blue Monday, Blue Winter, Blue Year.

Blue Monday is not the most depressing day of the year, nor is it any more or less depressing than any other day of the year.

January can be a difficult month as we tend to pile even more pressure onto ourselves with sweeping New Year’s resolutions that often force us to think we should be fitter, stronger, or better than we already are. My New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to watch more films because I keep watching the same ones over and over .

I do not plan to get smarter, thinner, or better at riding my bike because I have as much control over the year as I do the weather. This year I’m going to try my best to look after myself while I attempt to embrace the mess that is life after uni.

I don’t believe I will be happy all year. I don’t believe I will be healthy and happy for the next New Year because I don’t know what life will bring. My attitude differs to the popular resolve I’m sure, but it seems fair to me.

As such, I know people will think I’m being negative by saying that Blue Monday is as depressing as any other day. I feel I should however remind you that Blue Monday is false, has no scientific backing, and was made up by holiday company Sky Travel in their 2005 press release. Blue Monday is pseudoscience, and an angle for marketers. So all of this (see below) is bullshit.

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My point with this piece isn’t to mock you, or to tell you how foolish you are to buy into all the companies and newspapers telling you to be depressed every January 16th. My point is to tell you that for many people, the entire month, season or year can be so awfully blue, that one day won’t make a difference.

We should not see Blue Monday as a day to feel bad about ourselves unnecessarily, but as a reminder of how much work we need to put into looking after ourselves, as often as we can. Whether it’s a seasonal affective, or year-round depression, it’s important to focus on the good.

Articles from the Daily Mail (*cough* trash) telling us why things are terrible and ‘more depressing than usual’, should be replaced with good news, and things to be happy about. We should not feel bad for being upset, and we should definitely not feel bad on behalf of others when we are sad. It is a human right to feel. It is a part of living to cry and feel down, as much as it is to laugh and feel joy.

This Blue Monday, I ask that you stop reading articles about the bad in the world and to instead watch a film, or have dessert or a hot chocolate. I don’t want you to feel bad because you’ve been told to. I ask that you look after yourself as well as you should every other day of the year, and to do your best to keep it up from now on.

Blue Monday isn’t real, but your health and feelings are. Look after what counts, and be kind to yourself.

 

Words by Briony Brake

Stop Picking on Feminists

I will fight you. Of course I won’t fight you. I only yell at people over feminism if they’ve just felt entitled enough to grope me on a night out. Aside from that you’re pretty safe. I don’t fight with people over feminism firstly because I know there’s no point. I don’t believe in changing people to suit your needs, I believe in finding and loving the people who do share your thinking and beliefs. Some people won’t have their minds changed. Instead of yelling at them, try having an intellectual conversation; try understanding why they think the way they do. The second reason I don’t argue about feminism (at least not seriously) is because I know about the pedestal.

Image from Buzzfeed

In a great book called Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay talks very early on about celebrities, authors and women of note who claim to be a feminist, just moments before they are attacked for doing things wrong, or at least not right, and get pushed off again. I won’t lie, I know people who say they are or aren’t feminists because of things that simply aren’t true, but there is absolutely no-one with the right to say ‘no, you’re not a feminist like I am, so I’m not interested’.

So this pedestal affects us too. I’m not famous, but I still tell people I am a feminist (in case founding a feminist blog wasn’t clear enough). A lot of people I know have met that ‘coming out’ with complete, unshielded disgust in the past. Most of the time that happens, it’s because people have a funny, old-fashioned ‘feminists are hard-core dykes and man-haters’ vibe, which is obviously just complete shit. I mean, grow up.

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Image from Tumblr/goldenpoc

When I tell people I’m a feminist, I am ready and happy to discuss why I identify as such, or what it means to me. When I say I am a feminist, I’m not exclusively saying I believe in women’s rights. When I say I’m a feminist, I’m not saying I fight for everyone’s rights because I don’t, because I’m a white woman and have no right to butt in and start claiming I know what it’s like to be something else. I’m pretty sure I’ve got this right, but feel free to stop me. When I say I am a feminist, I mean that I don’t like people being discriminated against simply and purely because of the gender they identify as.

The fact that the leading cause of death for men my age is suicide has become something I’m deeply interested in, and want to change. The reason it exists is because we live in a society that perpetuates the idea – the myth – that men should not be emotional, should not talk. In reality, men should talk or cry if they want, it should have nothing to do with their gender. This goes right along with women’s positions at work, and in power, and their disadvantages, because throughout history (think suffragettes, then think a few thousand years before that) women were painted as insufficiently educated to make decisions, be in control, and even sometimes just too darn frail to lift a box (or run for president with pneumonia, am I right?).

Image from Bustle

Image from Bustle

I get a lot of friends making jokes because they like to tease, and to be honest I’m used to it, and it’s fine. Generally, if someone tells me they think women belong in the kitchen, I know they are not in earnest.

I know not to shout and yell because people want that. They want the crazy, irrational woman shouting about how hard her life is, how hard she has it. Yet stop being a dick for a minute, and consider that I’m not fighting for me. Sure I don’t want to get paid less because I’m a woman, but I’d like to think I could protect myself. There’s always a bit of an ‘it’s not happening to me so it’s not real’ thing going around with issues like feminism. This is actually where feminism is most important.

Feminism is about making sure people don’t lose out because of their gender, and as much as in the US and UK it can be quite balanced in men’s and women’s issues – abroad, there’s a few extremes for each case.

Image from Davina Diaries

Image from Davina Diaries

You may have just seen that Polish government tried to ban abortions. What the hell Poland? Just force women back in the early 20th century and make them have their babies and do the housework. Sure, sounds cool. You might not know however of a study highlighting how many Egyptian women had experienced sexual assault and harassment (a ridiculous 99.3%)*. Oh, or what about the 10 year old divorcee from Yemen**. You probably didn’t think you were lucky your parents didn’t marry you off aged ten, but circumstances being what they are, you are. There was also the other young girl from Yemen who died on her wedding night to a man five times her age, when intercourse caused uterine rupture***. Not to mention the fact that the number of Palestinian women dying as part of so-called ‘honour killings’, often by family members, is not going down, oh no, it’s going up. It doubled between 2013 and 2014****.

Feminism isn’t just a bit of fun; it isn’t just white privileged women getting together with wine to talk about how oppressed they feel in their BMWs and London houses. It’s actually a necessity. You may not see the point. Like it or not, though, this is the only chance we have to help these deaths, child marriages, mutilation, and assault. I mean, does that not sound serious to you?

Back in the UK, men are actually killing themselves instead of living to see another day in which they have to pretend to be something they are not. Abroad, children as young as 10, who haven’t even been through puberty or started their periods yet, are being raped and married off, and it’s all just ok? I’m sorry I can’t agree.

Gender is a social construct, not a death sentence.

Graphic from Bigger Issues

So this has all gotten kind of far away from picking on me because I’m silly enough to voice my opinions out loud, but it needed to be said.

The next stage is why you should stop bullying people who actually care about you, and are trying to improve your life. Mostly, feminists get angry around the themes of pay, health, and education. Much like most people in the world tend to care about their pay, health and education. I mean, is it really such a crime to think I shouldn’t have to pay £4 not to bleed through my £7.99 jeans? (I’m talking about pads and tampons here in case that wasn’t clear…). We shouldn’t have to be setting up charities for homeless women to have access to sanitary products for something they can’t even help. How ridiculous is it? A homeless woman bleeds for a few days a month, and if she can’t afford pads or tampons then she has to bleed through pants and trousers that she may only have a few pairs of. Pretty poor show really.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable either to want to be paid the same as anyone, male or female, doing the same job as me. Men don’t get paid less because they have a penis, so why should women get paid less because they have a vagina. Sure this is less of an issue now in the UK but it still stands in some places (also ridiculous).

I also don’t think I should have to say any of this. It should just be fine that some people are born one way, and some another. Big whoop. I don’t want to be sat here defending myself for not wanting to be disadvantaged; for wanting basic human rights. I don’t want people to make jokes about how I should be in the kitchen, or how I must be a lesbian, or ugly, or lonely and deformed, or something else. It’s not even original humour for goodness sake.

I just want to be able to wake up and not hear about the stories that I’ve been telling you. I want to be able to wake up to news that, actually there is no news about Trump and Hilary because for once, Trump didn’t say something outrageously disgusting and degrading towards women, and that somehow people are finally moving past the fact that a woman (shock horror) is running for president. If someone that awful is allowed to run for president and get this close, with people thinking he is still a better option than a woman, there’s a problem.

Quote from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie/Image from For Harriet

Quote from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie/Image from For Harriet

Gender is an issue. Don’t lie, don’t brush it under the carpet with all the women trying to voice their opinions on Twitter like men can. Don’t brush aside domestic abuse for both men and women, genital mutilation, pay gaps, glass ceilings. Don’t just forget about it. It matters. It matters for everyone. Joking around and picking on men and women trying to focus it and fix it, is real mature. For real, stop picking on people you know nothing about.

So stop picking on me because I tell the truth about what I believe in, and bully me for fairer things (short arms and snort laugh included), or at least use original humour.

 

Words by Briony Brake

Statistics:

*  Egyptian Sexual Assault
** Yemen Child Divorcee
*** Yemen Child Died on Wedding Night
**** Honour Killings of Palestinian Women

 

What We Share Is More Powerful Than What Divides Us

Many of you may be familiar with the gender equality initiative known as HeForShe, largely down to its association with the wonderful Emma Watson (also Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women). HeForShe is a solidarity campaign that’s actually under the wing of UN Women and you may remember in 2014 when Watson took to the floor of a UN meeting to discuss feminism. “Why has the word become such an unpopular one?” she asked us.

Since then HeForShe has grown massively; despite falling short of their 2015 goal to engage one million men and boys, they have reached over a billion gender equality actions, and it goes up every few minutes. The site shows a recorded 1.3 billion conversations taking place on Twitter and Facebook, 833K commitments, and over 1.1K events that had been held to aid the cause (for future reference, these figures were correct as of 3 May 2016).

So why am I talking to you about HeForShe? Because I follow them on Facebook, and couldn’t be more amazed at the level of balance in their work, and their campaigning. This is to say that recently, HeForShe have been running two campaigns on social media.

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The first being largely Twitter based, and asking users how they live #BeyondLabels. This has been a very comforting campaign running to support those who don’t work alongside the gender binary. The campaign has even been quite light-hearted in supporting men who declare their love for Mean Girls, the colour pink, and emotional movies – because why the hell shouldn’t they? The second of their campaigns however, is the one I’m trying to get you to pay attention to today.

Emma Watson has endeavoured to clarify that feminism is nothing to do with men-hating, and thank God. As explained before here on ‘Anthem’, feminism is equality of the sexes, not the promotion of one over the other. Equally, I’m sure a lot of you have seen videos and posts from women saying they are not a feminist because they support men. Again, real honest feminism supports both. Feminism wants to solve both sides of the problem. As a result, the recent campaign about what we share highlight the problems affecting both men and women, and just why we need to start dealing with them.

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The campaign has looked at cyberbullying, body image and mental health with images like those seen embedded here. One of the biggest issues is that of mental health in links to high suicide rates in men. Something I’ve always been concerned about, these rates aren’t getting better, and it’s going to be a lot of work in fixing that. HeForShe has been busy sharing articles and posting about the worry surrounding men speaking out, expressing their emotions, and of course the inability to do so which has led to such high rates.

As it stands, 12 men a day are killing themselves in the UK. If this doesn’t make your stomach turn, I honestly don’t know what will. It’s horrible to think that subconscious gender socialisation has led to an entire gender feeling incapable of saying how they feel, struggling, battling with dark thoughts, and with a small number of them succumbing to those thoughts and ending their lives. To put it in perspective by gender, 3/4 of all UK suicides are men. You see what we’re saying here?

hefrosh

HeForShe have highlighted some pretty useful statistics. Most people are aware that numbers don’t mean people; not everyone comes forward, not everyone shares their truths. A lot of Facebook users have attempted to dispute these numbers by stating this, but realistically this means that their images are only more worrying, and more people of both sexes have been bullied online, are unhappy with their weight, or have struggles in the workplace that we don’t know about.

This campaign puts out some important, but slightly saddening data. As seen above, 1 in 2 girls, and 1 in 3 boys are unhappy with their weight. This is the kind of number that just makes me mad. No child, particularly one that young, should feel so conscious already. Of course, it sounds idealistic to say we should all just be happy little butterflies and love ourselves and others and then that would solve everything, especially when I’m a realist. 

The point of this is not to feel sad about life. The point of this is to show that men and women, we’re not so different. When Watson took to the stage in 2014, she invited men toward feminism, because gender equality was their fight too. The #WhatWeShare campaign demonstrates this perfectly. Depression is not a woman’s problem, suicide is not a man’s problem. Mental health is our problem. The sooner we work together, the sooner the problem can be resolved, or at least helped.

What we share is more powerful than what divides us, and what we share can lead to a greater gender equality, to a better friendship between gender, and a better chance for everyone being limited by how they identify in life. HeForShe is a global initiative led and supported by a lot of smart men and women who are genuinely striving for equality, and in the mean time, for a better society. I highly suggest you get on board by following them on social media, or pledging your commitment online.

If you want to be part of the change there is nothing stopping you. 

 

Words by Briony Brake
Images courtesy of HeForShe/UN Women
Statistics courtesy of Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)