You’ll turn blind!
I remember as a girl, not sure how old – five maybe six, lying on my tummy watching TV with loads of pillows and gyrating against the one that was under my pelvis, it felt nice. My mum screamed at me to stop, “That’s disgusting Michelle!” she went on, “You’ll turn yourself blind!” I didn’t understand. Blind? Dirty? Why? My mother was horrified and I didn’t ask why it was dirty or how it would turn me blind, I just stopped. It was something that felt natural to me, my own body, my own pleasure and I didn’t understand what the problem was.
A little later (not much) I have an early memory of seeing kissing on the TV and that it made me have these funny tickly feelings in and around my genitals. I felt twitchy down there and desperately wanted to touch with my hands. I didn’t, I could feel my mum’s eyes burning into the back of my head so I (somewhat involuntarily) just clenched and squeezed my bottom, my pelvic floor. It was not as discreet as I had hoped and my mum smacked my bottom and told me not to be disgusting and dirty. Again I didn’t quite understand what it was I had done wrong but such was my mother’s disdain that I dare not press her for explanation for fear of further reprimand.
At night I would always sleep (still do) with a pillow between my thighs, hugging my silent, squishy companion. I discovered in the safety of the darkness of my room and the hidden canopy of my Chenille bed spread that I could make those tickly, twitchy feelings happen myself. In fact if I rubbed against my pillow or my hand for long enough I would get a wave of judders all over my body that felt amazing. Obviously I had to be quiet and I would get up and put my ear to the bedroom door before I began, just to ensure I didn’t get caught. I was delighted by the joy of my own touch however the happiness of pleasing myself was then followed immense guilt and a feeling of being ‘dirty’ and sinful. Could I actually turn blind? I doubted it but I was certain that awful things could happen if anyone found out.
Nobody ever spoke to me about my body or about how I can make myself feel good, self-pleasure. When I learnt about sex at a later date, uncomfortable science lesson in early Catholic secondary school, there was no mention of how sex should feel or whether people were OK to touch themselves. The boys would talk about ‘wanking’ and throw the word around at each other but the girls never ever talked about wanking or sexual pleasure for themselves. I was left still feeling dirty about my night time pillow play and hidden sins of nightly self-pleasuring. I knew what boys ‘wanking’ looked like from drawings on lavatory walls and from the playground chatter but at no time did ANYONE, EVER discuss what girls do to ‘get off’, or in fact that girls could get off.
Sex, in my mind, as I approached my mid to late teens was informed by the notion that sex was something that happened to you as a female or that you did to a male to make him feel good. I had no idea about the g-spot, clitoris or any of the techniques that would allow me to derive pleasure from any sexual encounter. I also felt deeply ashamed to share the fact that I was a self-pleasurer, a wanker, a fanny fiddler. I continued to secretly masturbate and brush my Catholic guilt under the carpet up until my twenties and had never been able to orgasm during penetrative sex during the sexual activity in that time. I found that ‘dry humping’ with my partner if I instigated sex would send me to orgasm quite quickly and cause another during the too short foreplay in which I would have to guide his hand to the right place but still felt afraid to fully direct the type of touch, pressure, speed, location of where I knew it felt good.
Masturbation is said to be a ‘sin’ and against God’s law (I am no longer a Catholic – not that it should matter) but there is no actual reference to wanking in the bible only the perceptions of others when interpreting text that are imposed upon us either religiously or societally. Christians are not alone in believing that it is wrong to self-pleasure and I am not alone in my experience of feeling guilty, dirty and uninformed about my own body and the possibilities for my own pleasure that it holds. Sex and women’s sexuality are still based on the desires and needs of males. I am not alone I am certain when I confess that I have faked an orgasm just so that ‘he’ would stop his fruitless efforts to get me to that point – one which I knew there would be no arrival for me today! We are told how to get a man, keep a man, please a man. What about me? Who the fudge is pleasing me?
Taking a non-medicated route towards recovering from my depression and hopefully keeping the episodes of self-harm and suicidal thoughts at bay has had its ups and downs (some pretty BIG downs!). There are lots of holistic recommendations for depression, one being the taking of St Johns Wort, which you are unable to take if on medication as it does not work well with it (not sure why). I’m still afraid to take it because of the side effects with regards to its interaction with with other medications and it does not recommend tanning when taking it and it’s summer AND I love to tan! (makes me feel better). Eating Plantain and Brazil Nuts, exercise and avoiding alcohol and caffeine. I am trying lots of dietary approaches and incorporating lifestyle changes.
Another remedy I have discovered for my depression is masturbation. I live in a very small flat with my three kids so this not always easy (see earlier posts) but if I am able to orgasm at least twice a day and go to the gym I definitely see a positive effect on my mood.
‘That’s because endorphins and oxytocin are released during sex, and these feel-good hormones activate pleasure centers in the brain that create feelings of intimacy and relaxation and help stave off anxiety and depression,’ says WH advisor Laura Berman, Ph.D., an assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University (USA).
I’d be really interested to get feedback on how or if masturbation helps with mood in your experience. Do the chemicals released during orgasm help ‘stave off’ anxiety and depression?
Image: Tobias Ginski – Orgasm, Dong Li-Blackwell – Green Orgasm