I had another post planned for today. It was Vaginismus Awareness Day yesterday, and season three of Netflix’s Sex Education comes out tomorrow, so I was going to write about how the show’s vaginismus plot-line has made so many people with vaginismus feel seen, but made me feel more broken. It would have been clever and timely and good. Instead I fell apart in public and cried while clutching my laptop to my chest. Instead I wrote this.
It’s hard to write about sex when I want to die.
I try not to talk about it. I try to keep the tweets that start with a content warning for mental illness and self-harm to a minimum. People don’t follow me for tweets about being suicidal; they follow me (I assume) for my nudes or the filth I write or because I say clever things about sex and gender and queerness. They don’t follow me to hear about how I don’t feel safe in my own kitchen anymore, or about how I wake up from nightmares screaming, or about my panic attacks.
That’s right: I have panic attacks now. Panic attacks, which are different from the anxiety attacks I’ve had regularly for the last six years. Instead of the rising tide of anxiety, there’s the sharp bite of panic and a tightness in my chest that makes it hard to breathe. They’re new, like the OCD-like behaviour is new. I took a year out of university to focus on my mental illness and get better, but it just feels like it got worse. I got worse.
Sure, there’s supposed to be a certain realness in writing that’s about sex. I pride myself on being authentic in my writing. I’m honest about my own experiences, even when they’re embarrassing or I feel like a fuck-up. But there’s a difference between a vulnerable and tweeting about how I need to wash my hands every time I touch my fridge – even if I use a piece of kitchen roll so I don’t actually touch it.
Me talking about how much I’m struggling right now doesn’t help anyone.
Sometimes I do tweet about it, of course. Sometimes I tell myself that it’s helpful for people to know that I’m human, to know that – alas – being a sex writer doesn’t mean I’m having super hot sex all the time. More often, I’m sobbing and can’t breathe, can’t think, and just need to do something to lessen the pain. Sometimes those tweets don’t get any replies, and the voice in my head tells me no one cares about me. Or sometimes they do and that’s worse, somehow, because someone offering me kind words or virtual hugs only makes me feel more alone when I’m falling apart and there’s no one there to hold me.
It’s so much easier to tweet about how good my junk smells, or about the bruises a partner left me with. It’s easier not to let everyone see how broken I feel – how useless, how pathetic. And I don’t want you to see me as useless or pathetic or broken. I want you to see me as strong and sexy. Not as someone who sometimes crawls under the covers to cry while hugging his laptop. Vulnerability might be sexy, in some contexts, but this isn’t just me being vulnerable. It’s me cracked open, raw and in pain.
So I try to hide the cracks. I paper over them with dick pics. I tweet about feeling gloriously slutty when I fuck two different people in one week, but I skip the bit about how I cried into a partners’ arms before we fucked because I was so sad it felt like I was splitting in two. And I do it with my friends too. I sext and wonder if I pretend to be this confident I’ll ever feel like it. I send nudes and wish that my sense of self-worth didn’t hang on the recipient’s response.
There’s been exactly eight days in the last year when I haven’t thought about killing myself at least once. I’ve changed my meds twice but haven’t found the ones that work best for me yet. I’ve been to group therapy, but while it helped it also brought to the surface hurt that hasn’t healed over. But you’re supposed to show your scars, not your wounds, so I try not to talk about the places inside me that pain pours out of like poison.
I have blogged about it, of course, but by this point it just feels like I’m repeating myself. I don’t have anything new to say about how much it hurts, how hard it is to keep making the choice to stay alive when my brain is screaming at me to kill myself. I’m so exhausted, and sometimes it feels like it will never get better. Sometimes it feels like I should just kill myself, because carrying on cannot be worth fighting this hard every single day.
But that doesn’t make good content. I hate myself so much, but talking about that doesn’t help anyone – and it gets boring. Blog posts like this don’t say anything meaningful, they’re just a self-indulgent stream of consciousness. The voice in my head calls me worthless, so I try to write something that will turn people on. I try to pretend that I’m fine, to act like I’m a badass who isn’t holding himself together by a thread.
I try to write about sex, but it’s hard to write about sex when I want to die. It’s hard to write about sex when I want to kill myself.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer with vaginismus. He’s a slut and a sex nerd who writes about his adventures in trying to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks.