I have to put on my own oxygen mask first

Join Leah in a special episode as she candidly shares her journey through anxiety and depression, emphasizing the importance of self-care.
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
I have to put on my own oxygen mask first
Episode art "I have to put on my own oxygen mask first"

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In this special episode, Leah talks about her recent slide into anxiety and depression.

The “too long, didn’t listen” version is: the podcast will continue on a regular schedule, but I’m taking a step back from everything else to give myself some time to reset and refocus. Also, listener emails mean the world to me, so if you want to send something please do: leah@goodgirlstalkaboutsex.com.

Full episode text

LEAH: Hey friends, it’s Leah. This is going to be a little different. I’m usually somebody who thinks a lot before I speak and right now, I just feel the need to speak.

So I hear from a lot of people with apologies for why they can’t do things, particularly women. It often comes in the form of a coaching inquiry, and then we do a conversation about what coaching is and whether it is a good fit for them, and they got off the phone saying, “Yes, I definitely want to do this” and then they go to put it on their calendar.

And then I get a message back saying, “Oh my God, I really want to do this but”, and then there’s like 12 reasons why they can’t, like in depth explanations of everything on their calendar. I laugh when I get the messages, not because I think it’s funny but because I recognize that tendency in myself to over explain, to feel like I need to make every excuse so that hopefully one of them will land, or so that there will be such an overwhelming mountain of evidence for me saying no to whatever the thing is, that the other person can’t possibly override my feelings or my logic because they will see that there is this mountain of evidence.

And what I always say when I get these messages, “It’s okay.” Part of the point of learning how to be more in touch with your sexuality and with your right to be sexual is learning how to manage your energy and how to manage your desires. And if something seems like a great idea at the moment, but then you change your mind, that’s okay.

That in fact is exactly what ongoing consent means. It means that I can say yes in this moment and then I can change my mind in five minutes. So yeah, I feel like it’s deeply, deeply important to acknowledge that part of this process is learning to recognize what’s right for us, and if we get really excited about something in the moment and then we step back, and we’re like, “Oh but you know what? I don’t have enough spoons to do that” then it’s okay to say no.

If you don’t know what I mean when I say I don’t have enough spoons, go Google “Spoon Theory”, it’s awesome. It all started with this one woman who put up a post that just resonated with so many people about having a limited amount of energy and having to choose where you put your energy. So yeah, go Google that. Anyway, I’m saying all of this because I am recognizing that I have come to a bit of an overwhelmed point. Please don’t worry. I’m not stopping the podcast. But I do need to take a little bit of a break. I need to back away a little bit.

Before I go any further, I want to say that the podcast is still going to show up regularly in your feed but I am going to be a little bit less visible on social media with newsletters, all of the other stuff that I do. I’m going to back off for a little while because I’m having a hard time keeping it up.

So those of you who have been listening for a long time have probably heard bits and pieces of me talking about the death of my mom. She and I were really, really close. She was my best friend. We talked every day, if not multiple times a day. And I lived in New Hampshire where I grew up. I had left when I went to college and then I was gone for a bunch of years while I worked in professional theater and then I came back to New Hampshire because that was where my mom was. And it was important to me to live close to her.

And then my mom got sick and I was her companion through two years of cancer. I went to almost every appointment with her, went to every treatment with her. Her and her best friend, we were like the Three Musketeers. And my mom was a remarkable woman. But one of the amazing things she did for me was when she got sick she knew how hard it would be for me.

And she said, “I want you to tell me everything. I don’t want you to hide anything. I don’t want you to try to be strong for me. I don’t want you to not cry in front of me. I want you to tell me everything. I want you to tell me when you’re afraid. I want you to tell me when you’re angry. I want you to tell me when you’re sad. I want you to tell me when you’re happy.” And I did.

We had always been close but in those two years of her cancer journey, we became immeasurably closer because it was like all the walls came down between us. She allowed me to grieve while she was still alive and grieve with her rather than having to wait until she was gone and grieve after her, which was one of the greatest gifts I can imagine.

The other great gift that she gave me, I was able to sell her home and take that money and go on an extended solo round trip around the country with the intention of finding the next place where I wanted to live. I’ve talked about various pieces of this trip at various times. And I do want to tell you that I now have it on the schedule to sit down and do an interview where I’m the one being interviewed so that you can hear my whole sexual journey just the way that I can interview others. So that is coming. And that trip ended up being the beginning of really, really massive change for me in sexual healing.

With that said, the time from October to December is really, really hard for me. In the space of 6 weeks, I have my dad’s birthday, the anniversary of his death, Thanksgiving which was always my favorite holiday that was really important that I spent with my mom, Hanukah and then my mom’s death. For 6 weeks, I kind of feel like I can’t catch my breath. It’s just getting slapped one after another after another.

And this year was especially difficult because Hanukkah landed especially late this year. I don’t remember if it started on the 21st or the 22nd but it was late. My mom died on the 20th of December. And the year that she died, Hanukkah fell kind of early and it was a couple of weeks, two and a half weeks

before she died that it started. And that year, Mom and I lit the candles together every night, which was unusual. Just for us to be together every night for 8 nights. That was unusual. And for us to both remember to light the candles every night, that was unusual.

But anyway, we did and the first night of Hanukkah, she was completely present. She was singing the prayer. She was talking. She was laughing. She was completely involved and she was very, very sick but she was extremely present and part of everything. She was sitting up. And then I watched her decline night by night. And it was really stark because I could compare how she was singing the prayers on the 4th night to how she had been on the 3rd night to how she had been on the 2nd night to the point that on the 8th night, she couldn’t open her eyes. She couldn’t sing. It took all of her energy to speak a few words. She couldn’t sit up. She was on her way out by the 8th night.

And so I can kind of handle and manage that memory most years, but this year Hanukkah starting after the anniversary of her death was just more than I could bear. And so for the first time this year, I just didn’t really do Hanukkah. I lit a couple of candles on the first night and then I was done. I couldn’t do anymore. And ever since then, I’ve been in a really serious anxiety spiral where it feels like I’m swimming through molasses most of the time. I can’t seem to get things done just replying to emails takes every bit of energy that I have even simple ones.

The reason that I’m posting this in your feed today is because there was supposed to be a podcast episode today. It’s ready. It’s been edited and ready to go for several weeks but loading up into the podcast feed and writing the Show Notes and doing all of that takes several hours of work that I can’t seem to wrap my head around right now. And so I am coming to you today to say I am going to take a little break and reset and recalibrate. This is not going to be like me fading off into oblivion, I promise.

I am too committed but I’m recognizing that I have spent all of my energy on getting through the last couple of months on grieving and I need to recoup some of that energy before I have anything left to give. It’s sort of like what they say on airplanes, “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” Because if I burn out, there won’t be anything left to give and this is too important to me.

And I think it’s really important also I want to say that it’s important to me to model what I teach. And one of the things I teach is if you don’t have enough energy to have sex, you don’t have sex and just go through the motions and do it by rote because that is what’s expected of you. You don’t have the energy. You get to say, “I don’t have the energy and I need not do this tonight.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your partner in the large. If you can lay with them while they masturbate that I think is a really loving offering and it’s something that I do with my partner when I’m just sort out of spoons. And then he does with me sometimes when he’s tired too. He will just hold me and stroke me, whether it’s a sort of pseudo sexual stroking if he’s got a little bit of energy or literally just stroking my arm or leg while I masturbate. That is a really lovely way of connecting so that your partner gets intimacy and sexual release.

So I know this is totally non-linear. This is not how I like to do things but this is what I’ve got right now. So the point is that my version of holding you while you masturbate is


LEAH: That I will continue to publish the podcast episodes so that you can listen to them and you can do what you need with them. But that’s all you’re going to hear from me for I don’t know how long, maybe 4 weeks? Maybe 6 weeks? Maybe 8 weeks? I don’t know. I don’t want to go too long because that doesn’t feel good.

But I need a little break. I need to take care of myself so that I can have something to give. I don’t want to burn out and I recognize that I’m headed in that direction. So I am grateful to you, the listeners, beyond words that I have to express. The emails that I get from you telling me your stories and how important this podcast is to you, they keep me going. They let me know that this is the right thing. So if you ever are thinking about you want to reach out and you’re thinking, “Oh, she’s not going to care. She’s not going to really read it. Oh, trust me. I do. I take a lot from that.”

I relate everything back to sex. It’s like having a vocal partner, I like to have a vocal partner because then I know what I’m doing right. And I like it when my partner tells me what they want that’s different so that I can do for them what they enjoy. It’s the same thing with you when you let me know what this means to you. It lets me know that I’m doing the right thing. And when you let me know that there are things that you would like to hear that are a little different, I take that seriously.

I may or may not implement everything because I’m one person, but I take it really seriously because I want this to be good for you. So yeah, I have snot running down my face and I’ve been doing the ugly cry a little and I think that’s enough.

Thank you. I am so grateful to you and I will be back soon. The next episode will land in your feed. My goal is to get it to you next Thursday. The possibility exists that it may be a week from Thursday. I’m not going to make any promises because that’s what I can do right now. I can promise that you will get. It will be on a Thursday, sometime in the next two weeks. All right, so take care of yourself. I’ll talk to you soon.

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Host / Producer / Editor – Leah Carey (email)
Transcripts – Jan Acielo
Music – Nazar Rybak

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