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Lifestyle

Aug11

Sometimes the solution to our depression is simpler than we think

Thursday, 11 August 2016 Written by // Matt Levine Categories // Social Media, Gay Men, Mental Health, International , Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Matt Levine

Matt Levine explains, "I’ve given up feeling like a stray sheep in the beefy cattle ranch called San Francisco where everyone is sweaty from sex except for lonesome me."

Sometimes the solution to our depression is simpler than we think

A while after coming out of the closet as T.C. Pomeroy, PositiveLite.com’s sexless and sex-obsessed columnist, I was surprised to find a new quiet in my head. A lot of chatter – the kind that says shit we’d never tolerate from friends –had disappeared,

Acknowledging and untangling my fears and awkwardness was a big revelation. While a dramatic story in my own neural network, the fact that sex and intimacy are difficult and scary isn’t really news. It’s not like finding life on Mars.

Yet since understanding my place in this predicament called ‘desire’, I haven’t gotten any new notches on my belt but I’ve gotten something better. I’ve given up feeling like a stray sheep in the beefy cattle ranch called San Francisco where everyone is sweaty from sex except for lonesome me.

These days the significance of going out or jacking off, watching porn or doing yoga isn’t an existential drama anymore. Previously I was certain that if I made better choices – didn’t masturbate so much, or look at porn – I’d be creating ‘space’ to find a partner, be open for love, or ready for sex. While there’s no question that endlessly whacking off or watching too much porn can interfere with intimacy I do what I do. Plus, these days, work consumes most of my energy and when I do go out, it’s to spend time with friends rather than looking for a hookup. Feeling at ease with my routine, despite its limitations, is a powerful tonic.

Yes my sex life is as active as an icy corpse in a cryogenic lab waiting for its time to come. But if the freezer pop previously known as Walt Disney believed he could come back from the dead why not have faith in the random chance of love. The alternative is too depressing, and unlike the king of animation's belief, this one costs me nothing and there’s zero risk of freezer burn.

Along with peace of mind there were other changes too. I began to stretch more both before and after work, resumed my mediation practice, quit going into a stupor after work, ripping enough bong hits after a day on the pedicab.

But despite this new ease and new routine, a dark fog soon crept in. Work was a slog – waiting for a ride, indecisive tourists, cars in the bike lane – all part of the routine made me furious. Even the camaraderie of my colleagues, a misfit band of tricycle pilots and people I love to hang with, failed to make me smile.

It continued for a week. Was it finally time for Zoloft? Or was it something else? San Francisco seemed all wrong, too many fancy cars driven by people with too much money that didn’t look up from their phones when the light turned green, didn't know or care how to use a turn signal or care about blocking the bike lane, let alone how their high tech six figure salaries were turning many things to shit.

It seemed that San Francisco had gotten too rich, pedicabbing had gotten too exhausting and the guy who’d been doing so well amid the roller coaster of life’s fortune, good and bad, living in good health with my virus for 30 years, now needed to move to a city where a much touted new bakery didn’t sell toasted bagels at $6 a pop and where paying the rent didn’t leave me so tired that on some days off I never left the apartment.

Two weeks into the blues after having a shitty time at the shop barbecue, something I usually loved, I left edgy and stoned, feeling like shit. I thought about stopping for a drink, but the only place I’m homophobic is gay bars so I decided the sofa and my bong were better companions, because the routine was so familiar or I was too afraid of disappointment. I wasn’t really sure.

On the way home all of a sudden, without even thinking about it I realized the cause of my ennui. With my new peace of mind I had stopped taking 5HTP, a supplement I’d been using for years to help me sleep. I’d forgotten that it also increased the body’s synthesis and uptake of serotonin and after resuming taking it was back to my new peaceful state of mind. 

Moving Ahead and Holding My Own

Work was fun again. My doubts about San Francisco remained but no longer triggered severe bouts of emotional indigestion.

A week after the shop barbecue some coworkers and I went out for a dinner to celebrate our friend and colleague Cary’s wedding the weekend before. We met at Gracias Madre, a Mexican place. The wait was way too long. Discussing where to go instead, I joked that I didn’t care where we ate because I was just happy to be out on a Friday night instead of home alone smoking weed in front of the TV while stuffing my hyena-like metabolism with lots and lots of food.

My coworker Francis, sexy straight and sometimes confident to the point of annoying, surprised me when he said he felt the same way too. He’s a guy who famously, at least in my small mind, was given two donuts (and these are San Francisco donuts, folks, $3.50 a piece) by two gay guys holding hands who told him they loved his dynamic smile, a reminder that amidst my own sturm und drang that life can be hard, even for those who get artisan pastries from strangers on the street.

My first year of pedicabbing I had a similar revelation when I expressed my frustration about how I never go out anymore because I’m getting older and Paolo, another pedicabber interjected, “Matt, the reason you don’t go out is because you pedicab, this job kicks my ass too.”

And surprisingly I wasn’t jealous of Cary’s happiness. I found it exhilarating that a guy I’d talked with a couple years before about life and love and who told me he was happy with being single had a found a woman that changed his mind. Life happens and if you’re lucky nobody dies too young. And after thirty years of peaceful coexistence with the virus that causes AIDS I’m lucky, even though I’m tired of spooning with my pillow. 

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