I think it was mid-thrust on a Tuesday night when I realized that I wasn’t fulfilled, not just sexually but in every area of my life. I’d read that excessive casual sex could be linked to depression, but I was in a committed relationship to the point that I gave everything to my partner and left nothing for myself. I knew I had to make a change, so I left sex behind for a while and got a whole new lease on life.
- I needed to feel in control of my own life again. The sex wasn’t the only sucky thing in my life contributing to my depression, but unlike work, friendships, financial woes and other unfortunate aspects of adulting, my sex life was an area that I could completely control. Disconnected, unenjoyable, numb sex was a choice I kept making for myself. Taking a hiatus from sex provided me with a sense of control over my life and choices again.
- I cut the ‘soul ties’ that had been holding me back. Whether you want to believe it or not, sex bonds people emotionally, especially when sincere feelings are involved. That’s not a bad thing, but problems arise when we carry our old ‘soul ties’ into our new sexual relationships and experiences. You may not forge a soul tie with everyone you hook up with, but it’s vital to address any soul ties or emotional turmoil that you may have before sending someone else a late night text. I deleted every single ex’s contact information and blocked them on social media. That allowed me to take my power back and it felt amazing.
- No sex + no scary surprises = peace of mind. I must admit, it’s pretty reassuring to know that a new ache, itch, or bump couldn’t possibly be a baby or an STI. Not having to go into WebMD-mode over an ingrown hair fills a girl with immense peace. That was a more superficial benefit, but it worked wonders for my mental health too.
- I made my health a priority. Since I was focusing on my own fulfillment, I naturally decided to assess my overall health, particularly when it came to diet and exercise. My predominantly fast food diet and complete lack of exercise were heightening my depression. A healthy diet is as important to our mental health as it is to our physical health, and what we eat has a direct correlation to the way we think and the decisions we make. Changing my diet, eating well, and hitting the gym got my endorphins flowing, my skin glowing, and I felt ten times better.
- I reclaimed my time. My decision to take a hiatus from sex and reclaim my cervix inspired me to reclaim my time in all of my relationships, including those with my family, my friends, and even my colleagues. Working free gigs and accepting lukewarm friendships left me feeling robbed of my time, useless, and depressed. Reassessing how I spent my time and who I chose to spend it with made me more intentional when managing my time.
- I fell head over heels for an amazing woman—me. The whole no sex thing put a strain on my already extremely strained relationship. Consequently, I became single less than a month into my hiatus. Newly single, I made date nights with myself each Friday night. I took myself to dinner, on walks, and to the movies. The more I spent quality time with myself, the more I learned about myself and developed a gratitude for my own gifts, talents, and quirks.
- I spent a lot of time self-reflecting and reconnecting with my old self. During my hiatus, I wrote in my journal daily and truly got honest with myself. I don’t think we grow simply from experience; we grow by reflecting on our experience. I made it a routine practice to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day. I reflected on the role sex had come to play in my life and how I wanted to fix the parts of my life I was unhappy with. I revisited old interests and reignited old passions I’d lost along the way, like creating art and reading. Gradually, I started to feel a bit better each day.
- I really got to know people outside of the bedroom. When you see someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags. For me, sex was my pair of rose-colored glasses. Once I realized the haze sex put over my life, I started to wonder what else I overlooked in partners. Something clicked and I started to see people for exactly who they were. When dating new guys, it’s also super easy to not get distracted or infatuated when you know physical intimacy isn’t in the cards. Once I got more selective about who and what I let into my life, I felt happier and more confident.
- I sought help and helped myself in the process. The debate on whether depression can be cured or if it can only be managed is still ongoing. While giving up sex didn’t automatically cure my depression, I know it was the biggest factor in my recovery. It was the catalyst to inspire me to take steps to fight and regain control of my life and emotions. It inspired me to create a life I could truly love. If it weren’t for this decision, I wouldn’t have had the courage to seek professional help and be on the road to recovery.