I'm sorry to return to you with a sad topic. But you can see this as a sequel to "Things about the asexual community that we shouldn't be ashamed of, but that we should intelligently address amongst ourselves". Amongst ourselves, we shouldn't have to put on a happy, well-adjusted face if that isn't how we're really feeling. The topic of today is depression. Dun dun dun...
Depression can be thorny because the language we use to describe it is inadequate. The way we feel when Cafe Kaleo isn't serving pecan brownies is also the same word we use to describe a mental illness that kills people every year. Depression as an illness, not just a momentary state of sadness, is a very serious thing. Most studies seem to agree that about 8-10% of the US population suffers from it. But according to an unsientific survey on AVEN, 23% of AVENites are currently depressed. And when you're talking about a mental illness, 23% is a very large number (hell, even 10% is too large). But, this isn't surprising. Rates of depression are heightened in every queer group (The statistics on transgender depression and suicide are especially harrowing). While asexuality doesn't cause depression, feeling alone and misunderstood can, if not cause it, certainly worsen a pre-existing predilection towards it. Add to this the fact that many asexuals are also part of other marginalized groups, such as autistic and trans folks, and the asexual depression rates make sense.
As usual, our cultural views are extremely decisive on some topics and unsure on others. Under-30 dot-com millionaire? You're happy, live with it. But on the topic of asexuals, our culture can't seem to decide whether we're very sad or incredibly happy. There seem to be two basic views of asexuals. Here's the first:
Having missed out on love (of course, love and sex can't be separated), our poor asexual becomes a bitter misanthrope. They are constantly frustrated by their lot in life, and die alone. Their body is eaten by cats.
As I understand it, the depressed brain becomes wired to relate to worst-case scenarios, and it's no surprise that this story can seem prophetic to a depressed ace. But it also seems true that in humanity as a whole, tragedy seems to stick out in our minds above a lot of other stuff. It's striking. (For an example of this, see the fact that many people think planes are more dangerous than cars. Even though more people die in car crashes, plane crashes are more tragic/dramatic/reported.) And so this first trope is what we tend to remember. However, there is another, just as stereotyped, but also prevalent:
The asexual leads an innocent life filled with a childlike wonder. Their life is easier without the complexities of sexual relationships. Unswayed by the sex-sells dictums of advertising, the asexual leads a simple life that is in tune with nature. They are valued for being a loyal friend and family member, and they are likely to be talented in science, mathematics, the arts, or education. Without the distractions of sex, they have more time to spend on these pursuits, and their sucess makes them a role model for others.
Our lives will take unique paths. But most people seem to think of life in some sort ofnarrative that is usually socially condoned. If you have to choose one about asexuals, choose the latter one. But when you're depressed, that can be impossible. Believing the worst that is said about you is a symptom of depression. And when you're asexual, those statements can be bizarre and disturbing. Being depressed is nothing to be ashamed of. But it deserves to be talked about in a senstive and productive way.
If we had enough people that wanted to be involved, I'd want to create some sort of asexual mental health taskforce. That would be rad...