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Depression and Identifying as Asexual

The first time I thought about my sexuality was during my first year in high school. I was pitching on the softball team and about half the girls on the team were gay.  I'd pulled away from the circle of girls I'd grown up with who'd begun to date. I wondered why none of the guys in my classes were asking me out.

Sexuality was not talked about

Being surrounded by my new gay friends made me wonder if I was gay as well. I had no one to talk to about my confusion. This wasn't something I could bring up at home. Sexuality wasn't something that was spoken about openly in the 1970s, and regardless, chaos reigned in my childhood home.

I coped by getting high with my new friends. My teammates turned me onto smoking joints every day after practice, a ritual I embraced with enthusiasm. I was medicating an unstable sense of self. I thought college might be different. Living in a co-ed dorm, there would be lots of new guys who didn't know me as a jock. But, at a large state school, I found my place by playing basketball and softball.

Humiliation and isolation

Like high school, a good portion of the girls on both teams were gay. I spent most of my time with my teammates. No one came out as gay, but no guy was rushing to ask us out either. When I graduated at 21, I was still a virgin, a fact I kept a closely guarded secret. I felt humiliated.

My first job after college was in advertising. The New York City advertising industry sported its own softball league, the NYACSL (the New York Advertising Coed Softball League). After games, all the teams partied hard at a bar on the Upper East Side. The NYACSL produced many couples and even one or 2 marriages. I still didn't get asked out.

Beginning treatment for depression

In 1983, I entered therapy and after 2 years with Nina, I spiraled into a deep depression, became anorexic, made two suicide attempts, and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. My sexuality and dating took a backseat while I was focused on trying to keep myself alive.

When I started with my psychiatrist in 2005, it took several years for me to be able to emerge from the deep depression in which I was embroiled. It took several more years to trust that she wouldn't laugh at what I had to reveal when we started to discuss sex. I finally told her that at 48, I remained a virgin. I waited for some reaction, but she only wanted to know how I felt about the label I'd bestowed on myself.

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Experimenting with sex

In 2012, I told my psychiatrist I wanted to experiment with BDSM (bondage/dominance/sadism/masochism). I thought I was meant to be a submissive. She encouraged me to immerse myself in the BDSM culture. I trekked to Paddles, a BDSM club in the West 20s. I posted a profile on a fetish dating website, went on a date with a dom, and impulsively lost my virginity that night in the context of a play session.

We had several more play sessions, and subsequently, he turned up the degree of pain. I decided this wasn't for me. He asked me to have vanilla sex, I agreed, and I decided that wasn't for me either.

Discovering asexuality

In 2015, I read an article in the New York Times Modern Love column titled "Asexual and Happy." Until I read this article, I had no idea asexuality existed. I brought the article in for my psychiatrist and told her I thought this was me.

We discussed it, and I read up on it and I found AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network). Once I found AVEN, I was certain this was who I was.

The "A" in LGBTQIA

At first, I didn’t tell anyone. "A" for asexual was tacked onto the end of LGBTQIA, so I felt the world didn't consider asexuality authentic. I hadn't settled into feeling comfortable in my own sexuality as an asexual person.

This declaration at age 55 didn't change my life. I was still a single woman, living alone and childfree. My psychiatrist suggested I look into a relationship with another asexual person, but I resisted. I was content being alone.

Sense of loss and sadness during a depressive episode

I occasionally get asked, "Have you ever been in love?" And I admit, when I answer I have not, I feel sad. I feel as though I'm missing out and I wonder what it would be like to have that one special person who lights up your life like no one else does.

Currently, amid a depressive episode, I think about what it would be like to have that one person support me and tell me I'm going to get through this.

I feel an underlying sense of loss and sadness — I might call it an enduring sub-clinical depression that I'm missing out. Love and sex are seen as integral to the human experience. I have platonic love, but not romantic love, and they are not the same. This is who I am, though, and I need to work on fully accepting my asexuality.

How do I embrace my asexuality?

Why do I feel like an asexual fraud? My current depression is numbing my feelings, in general, but this goes deeper. I feel as though I'm not embracing my asexuality as I should be to further integrate myself into this community. I’m out in the middle of the ocean, rocking without ballast. Alone.

Recently, I received an email about scholarships at a local writing center. I had a choice to make. I could apply for a needs-based scholarship, judged by financial need, or I could apply for the "Limp Wrist LGBTQIA+ Scholarship." I chose the latter, writing a paragraph about being asexual.

A couple of weeks later, I received another email... "We are thrilled to tell you that the Scholarship Committee has awarded you a scholarship for the Winter/Spring 2024 Season." A step towards corroboration.

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