It’s 01.31 on a Monday morning.
I’m sitting on Shaftersbury Avenue in the middle of London in a Chinese restaurant.
All around me are couples and groups of friends. I’m the only one sitting on a table alone.
What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here.
I’ve just ordered a whole lot of food. Enough to feed a family of four.
But I’ve drunk a lot tonight and there’s a lot of alcohol that needs soaking up.
As I begin to slowly sober up, the reality starts to set in. And it isn’t pleasant at all.
What on earth must everyone in here think of me? Are there any other twenty-somethings that come in here to feast and muse on a Sunday night/Monday morning like me?
They’ve just brought my main course. I try to smile at the waitress but it must look more like a wince. She glances at me with a face that says, “You poor fucking sod.”
I’m about to turn 29. What a way to transition to your 30th year Jonny.
Alone in the middle of a Chinese restaurant at 01.43 on a Monday morning.
This was never in my sights when I graduated from university 8 years ago.
Most of my other friends that graduated with me are getting married, having children, and buying homes.
The sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice arent going down too well at all.
Next to me a young couple are talking about how much in love they are with one another. Adele’s “Someone Like You” is playing in the background. Sometimes you have to seriously question what has become of your life.
I manage 1 spare rib out of the 18 they’ve given me but I need to stop now. Three young guys, clearly as sober as I am, have just sat down in front of me..can I offer them my spare ribs?!
“Hope they’re glazed in LSD mate,” one of them says. I laugh. “Their should be more people like you in the world,” another one says. The waiter looks at me shamefully.
I do apologise if you’re reading this and a vegetarian by the way. I don’t blame you if you’ve stopped already. Any of you.
I mean, talk about procrastination! Perhaps you would like to know that the carpets in here are ruby red, the walls are cream coloured and the ceiling..well it seems to be changing colour! Maybe those spare ribs really were glazed in LSD after all!
Upon the walls hang paintings of mystic, beautiful, desolate landscapes inscribed with Chinese lettering. What I wouldn’t give to transport myself right now into any one of them.
Adele’s “Someone Like You” is playing yet again. Someone up there has to be playing a cruel joke on me.
Ok I’ve really got to pay the bill and leave now. The food isn’t quite having the desired effect upon me.
Anyway I’ve got to be up in a few hours time for therapy. G-d only knows I need it.
It’s 03.06. I opted not to get the night bus home but walk home instead. I think my head will only feel worse in the morning if I sleep for just these few hours.
I love walking around London at this time of the night/morning. I think it’s when I feel most at peace in my hometown.
There’s barely anyone on the streets. Except all the people sleeping rough. It’s the middle of January and extremely cold. I’ll never quite understand why this happens when there’s buildings that can accommodate them all around us. But that’s for another drunken rant.
Right now I’m selfishly thinking about me and why I’ve written 28 paragraphs of complete and utter bullshit. At least I’ve sobered up I suppose-I managed to coherently count the paragraphs!
Perhaps though, life is sometimes just so overwhelming you don’t know where to even begin to unpick it’s complexities.
I was supposed to write a blog post about my current state of mind, but I ended up writing a blog post about the Chinese meal I had on a drunken Sunday night.
Isn’t that life though. An endless stream of fear and pride.
A young man clearly inebriated stumbles across Trafalgar Square before me. I desperately want to make sure he’s ok. He pauses to look at me before turning away and stumbling on.
Why are we all so afraid of one another? And why are so we so afraid of our own selves?
Perhaps it’s just me, but i can’t be the only one, surely?
Else why would the man who I fell for, and who fell for me too, suddenly disappear this last weekend without a word.
Men have a habit of doing this within my life. I’m sure they’re scared of me, but I think now that they may be scared of themselves too.
We want simplicity in life don’t we, not the complex. And I think I am probably too complex for any man to ever truly love me.
My experience with this man has proved it.
How can a man who showers you with love one minute, suddenly vanish into thin air the next.
Fear? It must be. I told him of my insecurities, I told him of my doubts. I even told him about my non existent libido
No wonder he ran a mile Jonny!!
The worst thing is though that he told me he didn’t mind my issues at first, only to clearly later do a 180 when it must have dawned upon him what a potential lifetime spent with me would mean.
Someone’s got to do it though. And that someone must be me. Alone.
“I guess I’ve always known…I’d say goodbye to love,” sang Karen Carpenter. “Time and time again, the chance for love has passed me by and all I know of love is how to live without it, I just can’t seem to find it,” goes Goodbye To Love by The Carpenters.
So it’s goodbye to love, and it’s goodbye from me for now. I won’t be sharing anymore vlogs or blogs for a while at least.
I need to go away and…well, I’m not sure what exactly. I just know that these drunken nights/mornings are becoming a frequent occurrence. So much so that I don’t even know my own mind anymore.
When I do again, I will be back.
Please don’t worry about me. As Albert Camus once said,
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
And of course I am no different to you. We all hold the invincible summer within us. I just hope it doesn’t take you a drunken Chinese meal on a Monday morning to figure it out like I have . With love xxx
There are many moments in my life in which I’ve wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole out of embarrassment and shame. I’m sure this is true for all of us. But I’ve never been so desperate for this to happen as the time when during a passionate and intimate evening with a boyfriend, I lost my libido.
It was like a light had suddenly been switched off inside me. I froze in terror as I realised what was happening.
“I’m sorry”, I whispered to my boyfriend.
We lay there in the darkness, unsure of what to say next to each other.
The ground might not have swallowed me up but it felt like the ground between us had split and the distance was widening by the second.
“I’m going to go home now”, I said to him.
We had only been going out for a month. This was the first time we had gone further than a kiss, and it had ended in disaster. I didn’t understand it. I was infatuated with him. This was “the one”, I was so sure of it.
Things were never the same again after that night. We never broached what had happened; whilst both physically and emotionally we grew further and further apart. A couple of weeks later we split up.
That was two years ago now.
During the last year or so I’ve been searching for someone. Frantically. I want to prove that I’ve still “got it”; my libido that is. I’ve been on every dating site and app possible. From Guardian Soulmates to Grindr, I’ve been chatting to countless guys. Nothing has come of it though. The truth is that I’m petrified. My pride won’t let me be intimate with another man in fear of history repeating itself.
Currently, each time I reach a new location in London, I turn on all my dating apps, hoping I’ll find someone special close by. I’ve spoken to and flirted with more men than I can remember. I even enjoy talking dirty to them-it’s the closest I can seem to get to any form of intimacy. I may talk the talk but I sure as hell can’t walk the walk.
I know I’m not alone. According to the NHS, loss of libido is a common problem affecting up to one in five men – and even more women – at some point in their lives. But no-one seems to be talking about it.
When I was at university and first acknowledged to myself that I was gay I sought intimacy whenever, wherever and with whomever I could. I felt sexually liberated after denying my sexuality for so long. My mojo was in great condition!
Underneath this exterior though, I was deeply troubled. I had been struggling with my mental health in silence for some time and at 20 I had a breakdown, partly triggered because of my battle to “come out” to friends, family and the Jewish community I lived in. Back then being gay in the Jewish faith was a taboo and not exactly warmly welcomed. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and depression.
It took the next few years to begin to feel like myself again, but even then it felt like something was missing. I was “a shadow of my former self” as my psychiatrist described, and this was true not just emotionally, but also sexually as well.
I lost complete confidence in myself, my self-esteem reduced to a thread, and my insecurities imploded. The anti-psychotic medication that I was taking bloated me like a balloon and as noted in the list of side effects lessened my “sexual performance and the ability to produce sperm “. Soon after I was also diagnosed with IBS which didn’t exactly help matters in the bedroom.
“Who is going to want me now?” I asked myself. It’s a question I ask myself still today at the age of 28. Intercourse is an important part of our society and indeed any relationship.
I miss sex. It’s now been 4 years since I last had it and the longer I go without it, the more I fear that I will never have it again. But what I miss most is post-coital: holding onto and intertwining limbs with another. I miss that a hundred times more than I miss making love.
So it is time to take action. During the course of writing this, I have been deleting the many dating apps I own, vowed not to date again for some time, and decided to go to my doctor and discuss this issue. It’s not going to be an easy conversation but if I can write about my loss of libido and share it with you, I can certainly talk about it face to face with my doctor.
I’ve always looked to other men to help “fix” me. Now, finally, I realise the only man who can truly fix me is the one sitting here writing; myself.
Wish me luck.
I will never forget the moment I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and depression.
It was Tuesday 18th December 2008. I had only returned to my parent’s home in North-West London the previous day from Manchester, where I was at university studying Drama at the time.
My parents were looking forward to spending the Christmas holidays with me.
Now I was sitting together with them in the office of a psychiatrist who was telling us that I was in the “midst of a psychosis.”
Suddenly, in just a matter of minutes, my entire world literally turned upside-down.
For I was being told that the voice of the devil I had been hearing, and the belief that I was on my own version of ‘The Truman Show’ for the past decade, were in fact, simply, “all in my head.”
It’s so hard to describe all the many emotions that overwhelmed me as the psychiatrist explained that I had to be admitted into a psychiatric unit, begin taking various medications, and undergo intensive therapy.
Mostly, I felt shame and guilt and anger toward myself. More than this, I believed I had just been handed a life sentence only weeks before I turned 21.
Schizophrenia was a term that I knew little of, other than what I watched or read about it in the media.
Not one of these I could recall was a positive story; in fact they were all very much on the contrary.
The next few years of my life were incredibly difficult. I felt like I was in limbo. I had lost my former identity, for it now seemed like I had been living a total lie, and I was struggling to find my place amongst my family and friends with an illness that I couldn’t discuss out of embarrassment.
I also struggled with the anti-psychotics and their side-effects, as well as becoming increasingly anxious; experiencing crippling panic attacks for the first time. I began planning a future as a recluse because I simply couldn’t cope with the world around me. It was moving forward, but I had reverted back to being a child, a very lost child, but this time there was no-one to comfort me and tell me it would all be ok.
By the age of 25, I was desperate find something to help find my way out of the abyss of hopelessness that had engulfed my early twenties. At this point things had been starting to improve marginally. After years of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, my symptoms were more manageable. The constant cycle of paranoia and intrusive thoughts had less command over me than they used to.
I had also begun making vlogs on YouTube about my illness and it was therapeutic to be able to express myself to a community of fellow sufferers who understood what I was going through.
It was a course in mindfulness though which I undertook after a recommendation by my therapist, which proved to be a real turning point for me. The course was a five day retreat in Totnes, Devon, that introduced participants to the concept of mindfulness.
Mindfulness in its simplest terms is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using various techniques such as mediation, breathing and yoga.
My journey to the retreat was racked with fear: I was certain I was going to have a panic attack in front of everyone on the course and be sent home because I was unable to achieve a ‘mindful state’.
As I was soon to learn though, mindfulness is more than simply focusing on your breath in order to stay present. The pivotal moment in the retreat came when we were taught that mindfulness fundamentally is as much about awareness of ourselves, as acceptance of ourselves. I sat there and listened to the course leader talk about the principles of learning to stop judging and forgive ourselves whilst sobbing as quietly as possible to myself.
For up until that point I had spent the last five years incessantly punishing myself day after day for having schizophrenia.
Ironically, there was peace of mind in learning to accept the way in which it works. I can’t change its cognition and constant falling out of touch with reality. At times I am entirely convinced I am a reincarnation of singer Nina Simone. On other occasions, a voice will tell me repeatedly that someone I love is about to be killed in a car crash. Currently, I struggle to hold a drink without hearing “THROW IT ALL OVER SOMEONE, NOW, JONNY!” and seeing that image replayed out over and over in my mind.
The difference now though is that no matter how tough it can be to live in this mind of mine, I do not let it become me entirely. In fact, I am even beginning to think of it as ‘a beautiful mind,’ now that I know there really is life after diagnosis.