I was homeschooled through the tenth grade in a very religious home. I’m currently 26, and a lot of attendant social and sexual hang-ups remain. Sorry if the below seems whiney and obnoxious, but I was feeling down and wanted to get this out publicly. My mother was toxically prudish while I was growing up. When we went to the beach, she would act absolutely revolted with what the women wore, ranting about it the whole time. When confronted with anything sexually suggestive in any context, she would delve into a frenzied hissy fit, ordering me to cover my eyes, etc. She once said that all sex, even within marriage, was sinful. When the guys and the girls in our homeschooling group began hanging out together, she grew very concerned, and later she blew up and started yelling when I wanted to go to Putt Putt with a group containing both genders. My father wasn’t so much toxically prudish as deeply cynical. He told me once that love is a lie. Women only care about money, and sex is just a tool they use to control men. He insisted that I not date until after college and only then if I had lots of money, and he recommended that I avoid women altogether if I could. When I began experiencing sexual feelings, I understood them well enough to know that they were sexual, but not enough to understand that they were natural, as I was never given “the talk.” All I knew was that sex was earth-shatteringly dirty and destructive and evil. My days were mostly spent sitting around the house festering in sexual guilt, loneliness, and self-loathing. I fell into a pattern of masturbating to escape, feeling awful for it, and then masturbating more to cope with those feelings. I was worried that by masturbating I was killing myself, or that my parents would lock me in an asylum if they found out. Masturbation became my primary means of dealing with depression, and it remains so today. I grew reclusive, introverted, gloomy, and self-conscious, particularly around the opposite sex. I’ve never even been on a date. For most of my life, I’ve been weighed down with so much guilt and self-loathing that most of my interactions seem disconnected, like I’m just acting. Generally, I’m friendly enough with people to get along, but I’m so self-conscious that social interactions tend to exhaust me. During college, I mostly keep to myself, shuttling between work and school and studying a lot since I wasn’t sure what else to do. The upside was that I did very well, gradating with a 3.98 GPA. I’m currently in my second semester of law school on a scholarship. I’ve also managed to stay in decent shape, and I’m not unattractive. Periodically, a girl will try to talk to me, and I’ll sense she’s attracted, but it’s so awkward that I’ll clamp up and run off as soon as possible. Fundamentally, I remain isolated and depressed, and the feelings are just getting worse. If something requires immediate attention, the stress will override my depression, and I can focus well enough to do what I have to. But if there’s any slack in time, I’m generally so lonely and gloomy that I’ll shut down and accomplish little until I absolutely must. I’ll mindlessly surf the internet, wander around my apartment, go on very long walks, etc. My first semester in law school was a success, but I’m worried that I’ll start slipping if my mood doesn’t improve. Looking back, I understand that my mother’s sexual hang-ups and my father’s bitterness stem from problems in their marriage. They’ve both mellowed considerably over the years. I feel like I just need to get over all of the depression, but I long for a connection with someone of the opposite sex, and those feelings seem stupid and immature and hopeless. I still feel pathetic for having an interest in women. I have much to be thankful for, and intellectually I recognize that I’m in a good place in life with lots of opportunities. But the gloominess and depression remain.