Losing My Desire
SSRIs can cause you to lose your sex drive, but as Cassandra Leveille discovers, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In early 2016, my sister and her boyfriend helped me haul the remaining possessions from my childhood home into my new sublet, a room in a small apartment in New York City. The disorganized heaps served as the first decoration in the empty room I’d start to call home. Even with all my possessions inside, the room felt bare, without a trace of life inside. They took me to IKEA to pick up a bed frame.
“You’re going to want a full-sized bed at least,” my sister said. “You know, if you ever decide to bring someone home.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” I replied curtly.
“Just don’t rule it out, okay?”
I grimaced from the back seat. After what I’d gone through in the past five years after graduating from college, I only felt more fortified in my mission to remain single indefinitely. I found myself looking back on the proud declaration I made in the wooden desk in second grade.
My second grade teacher went around the classroom, asking us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I raised my hand, inching out of my seat, and when she called on me, I proclaimed I wanted to be an author. Tied to the idea of being a writer, even then, was the enchanting notion of solitude, allowing my imagination to roam free and fill what was sure to be my best-selling novels. While that dream took on different iterations as I got older, protecting my right to be alone remained paramount to me. I built my life around absence – specifically, around the assumption that I would always be single, and I was all too happy to defend that choice in arguments with my mother. She believed our schoolwork should come first. Dating was strictly verboten.
While I nursed the occasional crush on boys I sat in close proximity to, I wouldn’t breathe a word about my true feelings to anyone in my immediate family. Talk of my crushes were strictly reserved for my LiveJournal, and even then, I disguised them in pseudonyms and nonspecific language. As a black teenager growing up under the politics of respectability on one hand and the presumption that I was hyper-sexual on the other, I felt like I was in a no-woman’s-land when it came to having and expressing my desires. Good black girls couldn’t be interested in sex – it could derail everything. As Mikki Kendall noted in a December 2013 article for Rewire, “You don’t actually have to be sexually precocious to be labeled a fast-tailed girl. Perception is everything, and so a host of perfectly normal, age-appropriate behaviors –like talking to boys, wearing shorts or makeup, or even going through puberty early –are enough to convince some people that you’re headed for trouble.” As a result, I grew up feeling like I couldn’t admit I was a sexual person. Fronting and performing disinterest in boys and dating was my survival mechanism of choice for avoiding my parent’s disapproval.