Confessions is a series of essays on personal experiences and intimate issues, many of which have been kept secret for so long. By sharing these previously confidential accounts, we explore our own mental health without judgment and the various ways we cope, with the hope that it makes it a little lighter of a burden for us to carry. It's also a reminder that no matter how odd or unique these experiences can be, someone can relate to it – and we are not alone. This article originally appeared on VICE IN.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt the urge to masturbate at the slightest sign of nervousness, panic or sadness. I even masturbated before giving this interview!
I can’t quite put my finger on when it all started (yes, that pun was intended). I think it was before I hit adolescence, probably as young as 10 or 11 years old, when I figured out how to flick my bean. It may sound unnerving that a prepubescent girl was so well-versed with an act of self-pleasure at such a young age. But the thing is, when I started rubbing my finger on my clit, I wasn’t really aware about its sexual connotation. For me, it was just a random act I had somehow stumbled upon and come to associate with an overwhelming sense of relief.
You see, I come pre-programmed with a heady mix of mental illnesses. Between my mild anxiety, lingering depression and obsessive tendencies, you can say I’m kinda like Zendaya from Euphoria , but without the totally believable backstory that lets me blame it on being born amidst the 9/11 terror attacks. The most I can offer as an explanation for my moody mental health is growing up in a broken household. My parents' separation and the fact that we were always moving cities made me feel like I never had any constant by my side.
Thankfully, my conditions aren’t too severe or uncontrollable. But even I have those dog days when all I can motivate myself to do is sink into my comforter, listen to music that makes me cry and go over the same thought a thousand times, even as I feel it eating away at my anxious brain. But while Zendaya’s character Rue relies on oxycodone and heroin to get her through her darkest days, I gain that same rush of happiness and control over my trainwreck of thoughts through masturbation. And no this doesn’t mean I don’t do drugs. Just that I use masturbation as a way to overcome any downer life throws my way. Including the ones that hit after a hard night out.
This is probably about the time you start to judge me. “OMG, is this girl a freak? Is she just a masturbation addict who masks it by saying it’s for her mental health?” Trust me, I’ve heard all that crap for almost a decade now. It took a while, but I’ve learnt to stop getting fazed by other people’s opinions. I’ve realised there's no reason to feel ashamed about my choice of tantalising but provocative therapy, just because other people are afraid of how much agency I have over my body. I let their narrow-minded notions dictate my actions for too long. And the furthest any confession about using my clitoris as a mental crutch got me was on the couches of several therapists who scribbled away in their notepads, but could never be on the same page as me. I even tried taking mild doses of antidepressants, but that only fogged up my brain and stole all my thoughts away instead of helping me find happiness. The pills didn’t do much and neither did the prying therapists. My inconsolable anxiety only grew worse every time I tried to fake smile my way through dinners, movies and house parties. I drank, smoked, kissed and slept around, but nothing satisfied me like the incredible intoxication of making myself cum. So, I decided to fuck it, dump my fuck buddy and become totally self-reliant (or atmanirbhar as the cool kids on Twitter are saying nowadays).
I can’t really explain how masturbation works on helping my condition, but it definitely slows down the sadness and obsessive loop of thoughts that seem to run on treadmill speed. If I’ve had a bad day in the office, I come home, take my panties off and get to work (on my vagina, of course). If I’m enduring a heartbreak, it’s the only rebound action I need to bounce back. If I feel the nagging need to wash my hands 20 times, I just use them to stimulate myself into an orgasm, and then wash them after, but only once. Whenever my mind dwells on dark thoughts, it’s like masturbation is this instant way to switch on my inner light, almost as if my fingers are fighting against all the mental invaders that try to defeat me. Some people like to light up a joint at the end of a devastating day. I prefer to masturbate all my pain away.
Many studies link masturbation to feeling relaxed and relieved, but of course everything has to be done with restraint. I’ve personally crossed the line many times, and I have to say that though it’s thrilling, it can also be dangerous. Sometimes, I’m so dependent on this invigorating kind of antidepressant that I take things too far. And by far, I mean outside my bedroom and into the public space. I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt that sadness or restlessness when I’ve been at a restaurant or mall or even the office. And I’ve gotten into the bad habit of caving to the craving, dashing straight to the washroom, and relieving myself when faced with the smallest sliver of stress, happily forgetting that I’m in a public place. You shouldn’t do that, and neither should I. But even after getting caught in the act twice now, mainly because I made the grave mistake of not locking the door behind me, I haven’t been able to stay away. That’s probably just my obsessive tendencies at play, but I figure as long as it’s not hurting me or anyone around me, there’s no real need to stop besides worrying that log kya kahenge (what will people say).
One question I get asked a lot is: Don’t the depression and anxiety affect your libido? To that I say definitely, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to work around it. It’s a bit easier for me to just get in the zone now, since I’ve spent so many years conditioning myself to overcome all bad or sad news by simply touching myself. But if there’s any sage advice I could impart it’s to invest in a good vibrator. Those tempting tremors in your nether regions are what will get you to kingdom cum when you aren’t feeling on top of your game.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with this: Playing with yourself is all fun and games, but is not a viable solution for all mental health issues. I’m fortunate enough to not have any severe symptoms. Yet. And I feel like masturbating my misery or misgivings away works well for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Figure out what works for you when you’re feeling down and out. It can be binge-watching pointless reality shows or boosting your endorphins with a workout or meditating with a scented candle. Just do whatever floats your boat and don’t give a fuck about what other people say. Your happiness lies only in your hands. Or in my case, it's nestled within my fingers.
Follow VICE on Instagram.