This post has been put together by L who in the last few years has been an inspiration to many people suffering the ill-effects of a number of different drugs. Like mythical heroines she has many different aliases. When it comes to the harms done to us, behind heroes like Zorro or the Scarlet Pimpernel, you can almost certainly find L or another woman.
There is a French movie La Boum that in Italy became A Time of Apples – suggesting a ripening and readiness for the next stage of life.
This is one of those life stages that it seems we are pre-programmed for and although momentous they mostly happen without a glitch.
We don’t however seem pre-programmed to manage treatment induced harms – events that can cause the collapse of an identity. The Enduring Sexual Dysfunctions do just this.
The Time for PSSD?
As we come to the end of this year 2021, while we can read new articles every day in the media citing studies showing that an inexpensive antidepressant can help against the severe symptoms of Covid19, we are still here, hoping to get more attention on the outrageous condition that an inexpensive antidepressant has forced so many to endure.
Not just the overwhelming inability to experience the natural sexual arousal and pleasure one was used to and with the gruesome prospect of never being able to experience them again. It’s not only the tragic silencing of one’s sexuality, which had played a fundamental role in one’s psycho-emotional growth and should continue to do so into old age.
In another more recent movie, Promising Young Woman, a woman has her sense of self damaged by an event that happens a friend. The outcome is a Hollywood movie defying ending – a real life rather than a fantasy outcome.
PSSD corrupts and shatters one’s identity in a very similar way. It makes one feel impaired and inadequate to live in the present. It brings important romantic relationships to their knees. Potentially romantically and sexually interesting new acquaintances are avoided. As if, in this day and age, even potential conquests are unacceptable compromises: what we get now is not what we would have been able to get or would have wanted.
One cuts oneself off even from friendships now that one feels so different, with a skeleton in the wardrobe that is difficult to tell about or for friends to understand. As if crushed by an invisible boulder, the feeling of being on the same level and of being able to share the things of life is interrupted.
It is a traumatic event. It can come on suddenly, forcing you to face it head-on, or it can reveal itself gradually.
Everyone has some capacity for resilience. But it is difficult to support each other when everyone’s syndrome can be variously severe and disabling. Some might have sexual dysfunction, others have emotional, affective or hedonic anaesthesia. These differences isolate us from each other.
This is a trauma that can be pervasive to the point that it is difficult to maintain an awareness of ‘oneself with a problem’, when the ‘oneself’ is a cold and increasingly distant memory.
Is this who we are now and is this the time to live? Or is it a matter of resisting, waiting to find oneself and then starting again from there?
Uncertainty and terror reign and when it is not possible to “accept”, one must at least continue to hope. It is also possible to become aware of a ‘new self’ and to put oneself out there as one is, even though one is aware that one is not on the (supposed) original track.
Often, even very young people with post-SSRI syndrome appeal to their own reasoning and logical sense, and even there they find, instead of recognition, further traumatising responses. From doctors who belittle, deny and mock instead of offering closeness and seeking solutions. From institutions that omertiously ignore instead of encouraging research. From the ruthless business game of companies that keep promising to make people feel better with their ‘effective and well-tolerated’ products.
This is the bigger picture, and sometimes when I look at it I find it almost impossible not to despair. There are no articles in the media about this problem and how to deal with it. No-one knows we exist and no-one is trying to find an answer.
However, I want to think that we are not completely alone. There are some who really seem to care about the problem, and maybe not all is lost. Its hard to believe that a new “Time of Apples” will come…but who knows.
Just as PSSD has only begun to be more defined and noticed in recent years, I hope that a time of exponential developments will come soon. Let’s do our bit to help things move.
For a video of PSSD in 2021, see PSSD 2021.
For a copy of the new diagnostic criteria see Diagnostic Criteria for Enduring Sexual Dysfunction.
For a glimpse of how things are in the real world, see Kevin Spacey as The Honest Psychiatrist dishing out PSSD.
For the Violence from above that led a Promising Young Woman to seek revenge – See Invalidating Indigenous Immunity, which features the terrifying story of what happened to Leah Ashe who was once a Promising Young Woman.
Its about winning not violence. But can those who have been injured, had acid thrown in their face ever win? Even if we seem to win, will it be possible to live in the same way again with the people who walked by?
I forgot to mention one person who didn’t walk by – Fiona Godlee who is retiring as editor of the BMJ. She was responsible for the Coby Reisman article mentioned in the PSSD video. And she has enquired regularly about progress. So the efforts of L and others have not gone unnoticed.