Washougal, WA —

We caught up with 37-year-old Jan Phelps as she was raking her lawn. What some may view as a tedious chore, Phelps has assured brings her nothing but satisfaction. “A lot of people in my neighborhood are shifting away from maintaining a traditional lawn, instead opting for a more low-maintenance and/or environmentally friendly setup. Sure, a lawn doesn’t really serve any purpose outside of the aesthetic, but some of us just really appreciate the curb appeal of neat and orderly grass.” 

Jan has been spending a lot more time outdoors these days. After the loss of her beloved pet peacock Nut-Nut last winter, Phelps fell into a deep and debilitating depression. “I initially bought my peacock because I thought it would produce eggs. It wasn’t until after I brought the beautiful creature home, that I found out that all peacocks are male and therefore cannot lay eggs. Nut-Nut was loud and ate part of the siding on the house, but he sure was nice to look at. After his death, I just couldn’t pull myself out of the sadness. That’s when my doctor put me on an antidepressant. Since then, I have been able to really dive back into all of my hobbies that had fallen by the wayside. Just last week, I was able to finish making three paper crane mobiles out of pages from a brand new science textbook. Watching the paper cranes dance in the sunlight almost stirred something inside me I hadn’t felt in a long time. Was is happiness? Not really. But at least it wasn’t grief.” 

Jan led us inside her cozy two-bedroom home and took a seat under an ornate basket wall. “Don’t get me wrong, there is still a gnawing sadness bubbling just beneath the surface, but at least I am up and active and look happy enough to get my friends and family off my back. When it comes down to it, I just don’t want anyone to worry about me.” Phelps leans forward to set her coffee mug on a coaster, wicker couch groaning as she shifts her weight. “Truth be told, I have been dealing with some unfortunate side effects from my new medication. My doctor calls it anorgasmia, and it basically means that I cannot achieve sexual gratification.” 

Altered sexual function is one of the most common side effects of antidepressants, affecting around 40% to 60% of patients. I can crank on my clitoris all the livelong day, and nothing! I have flicked my little garbanzo bean for hours on end, pulverizing it into hummus. Still no orgasm. It just no longer serves any sort of function other than decoration. Which is fine. Everything is fine. It’s a beautiful clitoris and that alone brings me joy. Hey! Have I shown you my 6-foot Buddha statue? It takes up most of the functional space in my dining room, but it’s totally gorg’ and I just had to have it. I’m not even Buddhist.” 

Jan’s story is just one example of how finding the right medication can change your life. Ask your doctor if trading one set of mental and/or physiological health problems for another set of mental and/or physiological health problems is right for you. 

By CarolAnn Liebelt