Mark wrote: “I was wondering if you had any thoughts on mental illness and sexuality. I’ve always felt very dominant in the bedroom, but there’s a psychological side of being dominant that’s become much harder for me as I’ve developed depression and issues with anxiety. Being submissive feels inauthentic, but it’s a little easier to breathe and it feels like someone’s lifting a little bit of the burden. But I’ve lost control a lot outside the bedroom and so I crave having it inside. What do you think I should do?”
Liz says: You don’t mention if you’ve sought treatment for your depression and anxiety. As far as what you should do, that would be the first step. Tell your primary care doctor about how you’ve been feeling and they can refer you to an appropriate doctor or therapist. This could be medical or psychological, and the right help can improve your depression and anxiety, and could lead to improving your sex life.
Even without major bumps in life, like suffering from depression, many of us notice over time our sexual desires evolve. Could it be possible that you’re just realizing neither extreme (Dominant or submissive) excites you or fits your needs anymore? It’s a sign of depression when the things that used to rev your neurons now barely light them up, so it’s likely that once the depression and anxiety have been treated you’ll find being dominant as enjoyable as you used to. However, there’s also the chance that your sexuality is simply changing.
As just one example, I knew someone who said he used to find lesbians having sex a huge turn-on and now he finds it “meh”. Maybe he overdosed on lesbian porn when he was in his twenties and his brain no longer finds it novel and exciting. While you don’t specify that you no longer find being either dominant or submissive arousing, I think what you’re saying about the discomfort and anxiety you feel about both roles could be another way in which our sexual desires change.
Without treating your anxiety and depression first, however, your sex life will probably continue to cause you more anxiety, so please seek help for those!