Finding Peace in the Process



The 'Burbs, Illinois,
January 18
Married father of two girls. Was a writer in a previous life. Drove a truck for 20 years. Trudging the road of happy destiny since 1987.


Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 16, 2009 6:24PM

Lexipro and boner pills

Rate: 28 Flag

     I described my condition to my general practitioner sometime in 2004. The feeling you get when you are about to cry. The pain in the throat, chest and stomach. It's always there.
     I wake up bawling.
     I went to a lot of baseball games alone that year. The White Sox were a great way for me to get away from my tumultuous house for a few hours of harmless entertainment. I stood one day from my Row 15 seat behind home plate and shouted at the struggling shortstop to learn the damn strike zone.
     Only when I  caught the breeze did I realize my cheeks were soaked.  The tear ducts were self-guiding, opening and closing without any apparent input from me.
     I had become uncontrollably tragic. I buried myself in my A.A. program. Meetings night after night. Helping others is the best cure for  self-pity, and the service work helped. But when I got home there was always another calamity, another inexplicable disaster.
     My daughter, then a junior in high school, has bipolar disorder, a lifetime mental illness which had her placing controlled cuts on her wrists because the pain focused her mind away from the depths of her depressions. She found alcohol and drugs and dangerous friends in vain attempts to self-treat. For three years our family experienced little peace or joy. Every day brought a new disaster. I was certain I was at a breaking point.
     I didn't want to take a drink, but I knew again the despair which had ruled my life in the early stages of my own recovery. The absence of hope had returned. Prayer didn't help.
     My wife, nursemaid to her mother through years of Alzheimer's Disease, married me and discovered she had married another patient. As I recovered, we finally achieved peace. A home, two lovely daughters, steady income. All now shattered by dysfunction. My younger daughter often slept with us, and we huddled close and cuddled as the storm raged outside the bedroom doors.
     I asked my doctor for something immediate, something I could use once in a while. He knew my addictive nature and insisted on the opposite. A daily anti-depressant. Feel upset? Want to take two or three? Go ahead. It won't give you a buzz. Won't make you feel any different. A low dose of Lexipro, taken daily, was the ticket.
     The most common side-effect was impotence. I chuckled. Can't be any worse than it is now. The good doctor probed further.
     "Tell me about it."
     "What's to tell? I can't fuck." 
     The feeling was still there. I felt like I needed sex. I could still have an orgasm, but only by masturbating, and even then there was only a partial erection. It was sort of like wringing out a damp rag, squeezing out a dribble or two of semen.
     The doctor was surprisingly upbeat about this. He said if I had come to him about the limp dick a year ago, I may have avoided falling into a full-blown depression. Marital problems are often solved by no-talk-just-fuck sessions. Turn off the logical, intellectual side of the brain and just feel. Losing this had likely broken the dike that had kept depression off my doorstep, and now the black cloud had me whole.
     The difference between the two major brands of boner pills is that Viagra works very well for a few hours, whereas Cialis works for a day or two. I chose the extended release version and happily went home to test it out.
     It works. Holy fuck, does it work! I jerked off three times in two hours with an erection that didn't die after ejaculation, just stood there gleaming and attentive. And no more dribbling. It fired like the Fourth of July, sending a fuckwad over my head onto the mirror behind my bed. Hot fuckin' damn and hello old friend!
     The Lexipro kicked in after a week or ten days and I understood why it often needs to be accompanied by E.D. treatment. There was a slight effect on sexual performance, but this seemed to add to the sexual experience. The lasting erection combined with a lowered sensitivity allowed great stretches of time to pass while she found the right combinations of motion and pressure to allow her fuller enjoyment of the coupling. She slapped me once.
     "Are you going to do this or not?"
     I had always assumed women wanted the experience to last forever, but was reminded that there were other things in life to be treasured. Like sleep. This is how the Lexipro impacted sex. The actual ejeculation required some effort. Still, the control I felt throughout was remarkable.
     The storm continued to rage outside our bedroom. But family therapy sessions helped me begin to keep the crisis at arm's length. I functioned better. My wife and I at some point got on the same page. We quit blaming each other for our daughter's behavior and started to team up, to recognize and stymie her efforts to play us against each other.
     A few months later I returned to the doctor concerned. The Lexipro seemed to be gaining strength. I found myself on the couch a lot, eating, lethargic. I fell asleep a little too easily. The doctor didn't buy it and suggested exercise. I was on the lowest dose. He found it hard to believe it was causing any problems.
     I took it upon myself to start skipping days, and eventually cut the dose in half. The doctor was careful to point out that depressions can be temporary, brought on by external events, rather than genetic or biological factors that someone has to deal with their whole life. There may come a point when I should consider stopping.
     That day came at work. A woman friend yanked me into her office and asked if I was okay, said I looked stoned. (She had made me for a recovery guy soon after meeting me. We tend to find each other.) I told her about the Lexipro and she insisted I get off the stuff.
     A good idea, as it turned out. My job entails piloting a 20-ton truck around for 80 deliveries over eight to ten hours a day. Slipping off into dreamland could be tragic. I called my doctor and told him of my plans. He agreed, but cautioned I should call back if the black clouds re-appeared. If this medication doesn't agree with you, he said, we'll find one that does.
     I still use Cialis. I can perform without it, but enjoy sex more with it. I told the doc a pill seemed to be more than I needed. It does come in a half-dose, but the smaller pills cost as much as the big ones. (Big Pharma, always looking out for us.)  My insurance doesn't cover the cost, about $15 per pill. I simply use a pill cutter to chop them in half.
     The jokes about four-hour erections are somewhat ill-informed. I never experienced a four-hour erection. But there is a certain insistence which, unrelieved, is hard to ignore. This can be a problem. My wife seems to suffer side effects of Cialis. When I take it she develops a quick case of sinusitis, often accompanied by snot bubbling out her eyes, ears, nose and mouth. 
     The drug does increase blood pressure somewhat, but not enough, in my case, to worry about. A little common sense goes a long way.  Erectile performance is connected to the lungs and heart. When breathing and blood flow are healthy, erections are a simple matter of plumbing. A valve gets closed and up it goes. Hence the most significant cause of E.D. is likely cigarette smoking, which I have been engaged in almost as long as I've been getting erections. 
     I have cut down from a pack-plus to five to ten cigarettes daily. I get to the gym and can stay on an elliptical trainer for 45 minutes with low resistance. I suggest the anti-smoking message on cigarette packs might have greater impact on young men if it were spelled out plain as day:

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Very brave post. I wondered what effect drugs have on I know some of them. I have had your wife's experience a couple of times. About as much fun as being sawed in half. There has to be a middle ground. Thanks for being candid.
Thanks to both. I hope the story is candid without being gross or insensitive for its own sake.
zoloft, paxil, prozac, Lexapro, and Welbutrin (& all the generics of the same) have that side effect in my body. Talked to both Karen and my old analyst and the SSRIs seem to effect almost everyone like that. I love that in the drug books they put anorgasmia and sexual dysfunction in the occasional side effects (8-4% range), with stuff like nausea, dry mouth somnolence, insomnia, and sweating in the frequent (21-11% range). I can't remember, nor Karen, of anyone we know that got nauseous off of antidepressants, but don't know a single person who doesn't start off with strong negative sexual side effects. She seems to be fine sexually with Welbutrin, but I didn't feel any different on it (although that might just have been because I was taking it in combination with another SSRI), I wonder if just going to the local walk in clinic will work for a script?
Depression is one of the most commonly experienced and misunderstood problems. Hopefully the stigma will continue to diminish.
Brave but necessary post! It's so good to see women posting also about the lowered-libido effect of anti-depressants and SSRIs. I've seen a lot of teenagers getting prescribed these with no reference to the possible after-effects on their sexuality. Don't laugh, please, it can seem disastrous at that age. I'm glad it's worked for you and you're taking care in other ways, too. So many men are embarrassed by ED; I hope you've encouraged others to check out what's available and not just accept that the 'old engine is wearing out'. It doesn't, believe me. (lots of) Sex is essential to good mental health, not just physical, not just teenagers! I'm assuming this took your teenage daughter out of your bed? :)
Jimmy. You really let it all hang out on this post. Rated.
That stuff coming out of your wife... it wasn't really snot was it? ;)
My shrink used to chant "go, go, go Lexapro!" Of course, my shrink used to do stranger things than that and he was absolutely in love with his PDR.
Glad you got your groove back and that you are also listening to your own body about drug effects (nothing "side" about them).
Too bad more people don't understand that pharmaceutical antidepressants have never been tested and approved for indefinite use, yet many doctors seem so damned reluctant to wean patients off of them. You're lucky yours was understanding about that.
Jim, I find some parallels in our recent writings. Cathartic for me, and I hope for you. I applaud your honesty. It's a normal, everyday thing that many men face, but few will talk about.

Kudos my friend,
I know I need to read the latest chapter on Shaving with Connie but came (excuse the pun) to this one first.
Your honesty never ceases to amaze me, jimmymac. If there is a room for finalists in this game called life, I hope I find myself in the same one with you. You exude honesty.
Wonderful and informative post, Jimmy. Kudos for open honesty.
Hy---They all tend to have this effect and I often wondered what if any treatments are prescribed for women.

Rick--I think the stigma is diminishing and perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in favor of pills when other therapies may help make their use unnecessary. But no doubt, there are too many who elect to self-medicate or who don't have access to proper treatment. Thanks for writing.

psychomama--Many excellent points. Thank you for writing. On one hand I am grateful for the advances in treatment that helped me when I needed it and have kept my oldest daughter alive. On the other, there is often a one-size-fits-all approach by doctors, which can be counter-productive. The youngest, then 11 or so, slept on top of the covers, with more blankets on top of her, and me in my sweatpants. I often left for a couch once everyone was asleep. This happened only on a few particularly terrifying nights. I think her knowing she didn't have to face the nights alone if she chose not to helped her handle this difficult time in our lives. These were, of course, pre-Cialis nights.

closure--Thank you.

jess--The substance was indeed snot, though it did not stream from every facial orifice. I sometimes exaggerate. She does suffer from severe head colds and I have found it helpful to ask if the Cialis might be a good idea tonight, before I take it.

resistance--I fired the family doctor when my wife and I were married and hired a kid right out of college. He asks lots of questions and listens well. Long-term use of anti-depressants should likely be monitored by a psychiatrist.

Greg--Many similarities. I have many friends who suffer long-term depression. Their willingness to discuss it with me led me to conclude I didn't have what they had, but that I had something and had to deal with it. Their openness was very helpful.

cartouche--So nice you are back. I forever wonder what the great Tom Wolfe would think of a dipshit like me. One of my literary heroes, he challenged writers to go out into the world and write about it, and knock off the navel-gazing narcissistic look-at-me shit. But since the use of boner pills has become common, I've yet to read a good story about what the stuff feels like. I suppose this piece is worse even than navel-gazing, staring at ones own genitals and deciding to tell the world what he sees. Damned if I'm going to look this close at some else's.
Jimmy, you totally---as we used to say back in the day---rock.
thanks for being so honest, jm!!! now if i ever do hook up with a man my age or a little older, i'll be better informed about the whole ED subject. i think viagra is more my style and pace. not so into the human battering ram. :) love love love
I admire your forthrightness, Jimmy, and I certainly don't mean to deny or belittle your problems, but I am continually amazed by the fact that so many people here on OS are on something. It's just so hard for me to relate -- I don't even like to take aspirin.

And not to come off like too big an asshole, but I really do think our society is waaay over-medicated, and that indicates another, deeper problem. Big Pharma has taken the place of Big Tobacco. Can someone pleeeease explain to me why they are allowed to advertise prescription drugs on TV?

I use to work with guys in the shop who constantly had a cigarette in one hand and a coke in the other. Now, if I've got my pharmacology correct, that would be a downer in one hand and an upper in the other. As I use to say to them, put 'em both away, and you'll be in exactly the same place.

Of course, I'm no Dr. Amy.
A very good point, Tom. I'm currently on cigarettes and Diet Pepsi, with the occasional Cialis. No doubt many are over-medicated.

Thanks Chicago and Theodora.

I've found the women's responses particularly interesting. Thanks to all for jumping in.
I was prescribed anti-depressants many time's over with seasonal depression and the like due to manic-similar tendencies....
sex addict....
smoked like a chimney too.....
but the anti-depressents were always what went away....
I was suicidal for awhile after a friend suggested several years before (1 or 2)... that giving head might reduce the craving to smoke... and my doctor said the anti-depressents would create less of a desire to smoke.... (as well)....
anti-depressents are gone.... and so's he....
but I'm still smoking....
of course, winter's coming... so I need to stock up on Aspirin, right?
and sleeping pills... bad... yeah....
and the little voices said.... ".... I want the scar on your wrist back there...." (I'd had it covered with a tattoo of a yellow flower....)
oh well... vodka.... sleeping pills.... aspirin... (to survive the heart attack....).....
but oh well.....
tc ttyl....
(I'm down to a pack a day, roll your own anyway....)
My doc told me to take antihistamines to increase the blood flow to that area....yeah....for the record I actually tried that- a benedryl
I'm sure you can imagine the results. Took me weeks of apologizing, since it was a guy I was with. Should have tried it masturbating first.
Jimmymac - I know that this is a serious post and I appreciate it very much. I love your candidness and vulnerability and that you describe much of this purely as only a man could describe this dilema. Damn, parts were so funny and aI found my mouth dropping open, eyes wide with your proudest description. You may have made my night. But seriously, your last line in bold said it all.
Thanks for your honesty and openness.
Well, there you go. Of course this has to be rated for originality and honesty. Now if only this post’s rating icon ‘thumbs-up’ could be changed to a...
Ummm...hmm..maybe I should get on some of they let women in on this?
Problems probably do seem more bearable with explosive sex thrown in...and do write to the surgeon general about that warning on cigarettes. Very effective it will be.
I've been taking Cymbalta for several years now. no sexual side effects, which is wonderful, because I did have them with other antidepressants.
Orgasms help a lot with my migraines. Of course, orgasms help a lot with just about everything.
Thanks for sharing all of this. It's good information to have.
Nice and courageous post Jim. I'm nominating you for the OS "Dr. Ruth" award. Well done!
h-julie--Can't hurt.

Cathy--I was concerned some of the post was too graphic, but heck, I'm not writing a textbook. Thank for the input.

David--Larry Flint thought of that one a while ago.

fingers--As is your comment. Thank you.

griff--The good doctor has a lot of fun poked at her, but there was obviously a need for what she does. Thanks.
In the old days I dated a urologist who used a vaccuum pump that looked like he was pumping up a can of tennis balls. Lasted a long time, but what a turn-off.

There's no more open writer here than you, jimmy, but you don't exploit it or write for sensationalism. Keep on keeping on!
Lia--Perhaps some music could have drowned out the sound of the pump.

Much thanks for the compliment. This piece could have been trashy and I endeavored not to go too far down that road. Commented above about not having ever read a story about this, other than in humor columns and stand-up stuff. Surprising, considering how many people use it.
Wow jimmymac, this is quite an honest and well written post! Good prescription drug info too.
I love your honesty! When I had a year of sobriety, I became seriously, clinically depressed. I had worked all the steps, was going to at least 1 meeting a day, was sponsoring 2 women. I was furious at my higher power for this! My sponsor told me to quit talking about it in meetings and go see his psychiatrist. I have taken anti-depressants 5 different times in 23 years of sobriety (norpramin and zoloft). I am currently taking Wellbutrin which does not have any sexual side effects and acts on dopamine (same as cigarettes, coffee). Lexipro acts on serotonin. By the way I used the Nicotrol inhaler to quit smoking and haven't smoke d for 4 1/2 years. It REALLY helped. I needed that physical act of inhaling.