For many people, suffering from depression means a decrease in sexual pleasure and the ability to climax, but in some cases it's the medication that leads to this condition rather than the disease.
Crista Anne, sex blogger, mother, and self-proclaimed "professional over-sharer", began to detail her #OrgasmQuest after finding she was unable to climax due to her antidepressants.
For Anne, orgasms aren't just about pleasure, they're a "life hack", keeping stress and anxiety at bay. She told BuzzFeed News:
Masturbatory orgasms have been tools I've used to combat depressive episodes. A quick reminder that I did have the ability to feel something good when everything else was so horrific. I have chronic migraines, I could stave one off with a quick cup of tea and a quick orgasm. I could calm myself down before a panic attack really hit me with a quick masturbatory orgasm. Those are all life hacks to me.
Anne's goal is to achieve one self-induced orgasm a day, and because she knows she's not the only one with this experience, she decided to share her plight with the public.
She started chronicling her quest on her website and Twitter, and found sponsorship for her sexual aids from Good Vibrations, SheVibe, and Tantus.
Anne told BuzzFeed News that she decided to begin documenting her experiences after speaking candidly on a podcast for The Carnalcopia about her depression, medication, and not being able to orgasm after "a lifetime of being The Most Orgasmic Person Ever".
After the podcast, Anne received a lot of messages from people in the exact same boat. "I had a lightbulb moment," she said. "I can talk about this! Talking about sex, depression, stigma, [and] anorgasmia (the term for people who cannot orgasm even with proper stimulation) is completely within my comfort zone. It's me being me."
The response to Anne's quest has been positive and she's had thousands of conversations because of her posts, tweets, and media appearances. She told BuzzFeed News that her aim is to bring such conversations out into the open:
I want to shine light on these experiences. Tell the world that talking about sexuality, mental illness, side effects of medication and how all of those things impact a persons life is a valid and worthy discussion. I'm seeing that happen every day and I am so proud.
However, her increased publicity has also led to negative responses, including rape threats and threats towards her children.
Crista wrote a piece for xoJane for which she received "a deluge of hate mail and threats". She told us:
Some threatened my kids. I don't believe any of these threats are imminent danger but they did ping my rage. They did hit my protect-my-kids-at-all-costs impulse.
We asked her how she'll introduce her children to her very public stories about sex and mental health. She replied:
As they become pre-teens and teenagers, we'll have open dialogue to their comfort level about sexuality and my career. I think some of my kids will want to see my social media, whatever that may look like in a decade, and some of my kids are going to have strong ick factor. How that is handled will be tailored to each child.
Broadly speaking, I'm looking forward to them learning more. I think what I do is pretty awesome, I'm pretty sure some of them will too.
Despite battling a crippling disease that affects so many, Anne has inspired thousands of women online with her openness, enthusiasm, and strength. "Depression lies to you, and I do my best to remember that those lows and doubts are my illness speaking, not me," she said. "I give myself pep talks constantly."
Crista told BuzzFeed News that even if she gets her orgasm back, her quest will be far from over, because it's not just her own story she's telling:
I will eventually get my orgasm back, then Quest may take new directions. Perhaps other people with anorgasmia will share their stories with Quest, the hashtag is for anyone who wants to share, I don't "own" it. Perhaps it will turn into a promotion of self love and orgasm. We'll find out.