Someone left a newspaper open on an article called “Low libido: tackling the loss of desire” the other day. It was the photo that caught my eye first, but then I saw the title and I was quick to move on. It’s not exactly the kind of thing you want to be caught reading in a public space. In case someone sees you like, and thinks you’re reading it for personal reasons. Hardly the stuff of conversation over coffee with colleagues.
Before I walked by, I did get the gist that the article included tips on how to improve your libido and I thought “Jesus, how low would you be if you followed all the tips and you still just didn’t really fancy it?” As if you weren’t feeling bad enough that you thought taking tips on improving your levels of desire from a newspaper article was worth a punt. Where would your confidence be if they then turned out to make no difference at all?
This thought brought me back to feelings I had many moons ago when we were dedicated members of #TeamNoSleep. In my continuous desperate search for a few hours uninterrupted sleep, I read the much celebrated book Kiss Me! by Carlos Gonzalez. The book contains an anecdote about a mother who has to spend a night in a bus station with her small infant. Her personal feelings of safety are on the shaky side given the dangerous location, but her baby sleeps peacefully all through the night because he is in her arms and therefore feeling secure and happy. The moral of the story, dear reader – in case you missed it – is that if you hold your baby all night they will sleep soundly and peacefully for you.
This is absolute and complete bullshit.
And I knew it at the time. In fact, I’m fairly sure I slammed the book down and said “Carlos, you bollocks, I would gladly hold the child all night every night if it meant he would actually stay asleep but guess what? HE DOESN”T. THAT DOESN”T WORK. And you’re a prick for making me feel guilty and inadequate.”
I have no regrets about these thoughts. It might have worked for that mother but it certainly is not the panacea for all babies.
Which brings me to the pretty bleedin obvious realisation that all generalised advice is useless. We seek it out because when we’re struggling, we look to others to help and advise – desperate for a solution. But listen, just ignore it all. Or at least take it with a pinch of salt (the cheap kind, not the himalayan rock salt). And acknowledge too that even if you do take it on board and it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. Don’t be beating yourself up about it.*
Like the way I eat wholewheat pasta and brown rice instead of the white stuff, eat food made from scratch, eat the superfoods, have a protein with my breakfast, drink gallons of water, stay away from artificial flavouring and sweeteners etc etc…but I’m still overweight.
Or following advice when you’re feeling low or depressed to get out and run, do the meditation and mindfulness, go to bed early, write a list of daily gratitudes etc etc…and still don’t feel great.
Or when you’ve insomnia and you’ve stopped bringing your smart phone to bed, cut out caffeine after 3pm and sacrificed your first born to the cause etc etc…and you still can’t sleep.
Or literally devouring every book, article, blog and forum discussion you can get your hands on searching for the magic beans when you’re baby isn’t sleeping, or is a fussy eater, or starting the day at 5am, or giving you full on, soul destroying threenager 24/7.
TL;DR – it is okay if you follow all the advice and it still doesn’t work. Because that advice is not designed for you and your specific worries. It’s not that its necessarily bad advice. It’s probably good, or at least coming from a good place. It mightn’t be evidence-based. It might be written subjectively.
Maybe there’s no advice that can help you. Maybe, sometimes, time just needs to pass. Or maybe only you can come up with the solution yourself. If the advice works, happy days. But if it doesn’t, it’s not your fault. You’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got. I know I am.
*The irony is not lost on me btw, that I am advising you to not follow other people’s advice. Also take my advice with a pinch of salt. Do what you want basically. You’re already deadly. You’re just tired.