This past month we’ve had a lot of really important conversations about mental health. It is my hope that these will serve as a point to ground future attempts to educate therapists in the actual lived experiences of the aces who most desperately need their care. Too often, in their haste to de-pathologize asexuality, asexual activists say “We’re not broken!” and forget about those of us who really might be. No effort to educate health care professionals will be acceptable if in doing so we continue to minimize and stigmatize aces who do face mental illness.
We should neither have to pretend to feel happy and never distressed or confused about asexuality in order to convince the world it’s okay to be ace, nor play up our problems or say they are all because of asexuality in order to gain “oppressed enough” status.
So please read these entries with that in mind. I’ve organized them into three categories based on theme. Personal narratives and discussion of the asexual community were so often paired that I found it easier to combine them. The second most frequent theme was about therapy and barriers to treatment. Finally, we had some discussion of how we can cope and support one another.
Personal Narratives and Asexual Community Discourse
hella-non-mono edit: now [Purr]ple [L]ace, link updated) wrote about having Binge Eating Disorder. This post spawned a lot of good conversations (check out the notes), and then an entirely new blog specifically for the intersection of asexuality and eating disorders (as well as other body image-related issues).
Thicketofcomplication shared her story [tw: sexual assault mention, hypersexuality, mention of sex, self-harm, dissociation, drinking].
Laura P. wrote about how isolation, erasure, and invalidation have affected her mental health.
Jon wrote about the complicated tangle of asexuality, neurodivergence, and bipolar illness. [tw: abuse, suicide ideation, compulsory sexuality]
Aqua wrote about asexuality and codependency. [tw: sexual coercion, emotional abuse, invalidation]
Queenie wrote about what having PTSD is like. [tw: sexual assault mention]
Sara at Flying While Falling Down wrote about deciding not to talk about sexual assault anymore. [strong TW for rape, abuse, not being believed, self-harm, eating disorder, suicide attempts, pregnancy]
The Anonymous Asexual wrote about how assertions that “asexuals aren’t broken” hurt. [tw: gaslighting, ableism related to mental illness, brief mentions of trauma]
Tristefere wrote about the way that the asexual community’s respectability politics harm, and how the simplistic narrative around mental illness needs to change. [tw: depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, Oppression Olympics]
Soodalgwayeou wrote about identity crisis, self-questioning, and invalidation. [tw: brief mention of childhood abuse, corrective therapy]
Kria wrote about sexual self-harm, and a delayed realization of asexuality because of it. [tw: self-harm, sex discussion, depression, some abuse mentions—nothing graphic, however]
Maris wrote about neurodivergence, anxiety, and doubting their asexuality. [tw: mentions of abuse, sexual trauma, homophobia, suicidal implications]
Demisexual and Proud hosted a series of responses: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 [tw: Number 8 mentions sexual assault and victim-blaming.]
Morgaine has won wrote about how difficult it is to figure out whether or not identities were caused by trauma. [tw: emotional abuse mention, sexual abuse mention, grooming mention, emotional numbness, dissociation]
Therapy and Barriers to Treatment
An anonymous person offered a South Korean perspective on asexuality and mental health. [tw: erasure, invalidation, abuse, suicidal ideation]
Laura P.’s second submission dealt with obstacles to therapy as an asexual Muslim convert.
Stormy wrote about why it’s okay to refuse therapy. [tw: medical abuse, therapist abuse, rape mention]
Epochryphal wrote about CBT and the sneakiness of therapeutic abuse. [tw: gaslighting, abuse, self-blame, invalidation]
Alice wrote about relationship status and sexual orientation as gatekeeping for transition, and the importance of ace affirmative therapy.
Nicola wrote about difficulties finding competent treatment, therapy that works and doesn’t work [tw: invalidation, ableism]
Writer Ace wrote about the need for therapists and schools to make spaces explicitly safe for asexuals.
Coping and Support
Elaine wrote about her mental health leaving her with few options other than marriage for financial security, and the bind that would put her in due to asexuality and Islam. [tw: compulsory sexuality, some discussion of marriage as prostitution]
I wrote an overview of components of resilience, which helps me to identify how I can fortify my own ability to cope. (Cross-posted to RFAS, where I will likely write a further breakdown in the future.)
Nicola’s third and fourth submissions were about community and coping, and support.
Hope for Aces, a “dedicated space for asexual spectrum, aromantic spectrum, and sex-/romance-repulsed people to discuss eating disorders, body dysmorphia, or other body-image or food-related issues,” was created. There have been a lot of good posts geared towards coping and supporting one another there!
The next carnival will be held at Next Step: Cake, and the topic is “Asexual History.” If you’d like to volunteer to host a future carnival, please do so at the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.
You can still submit late entries until the end of July, and I will edit this post to add them in. After that, please continue discussing! You can send in links from before or after the carnival to Resources for Ace Survivors, and we will feature them on our Asexuality and Mental Health page. This blog and RFAS are both still open to hosting guest posts.
Please let me know if I’ve missed anything! Thank you all so much for participating. :)