[Guest Post] Queerness and Mental Health // Shattering Stigmas

Posted October 7, 2017 by Both in Features, Join the Dance // Events, Tags & Challenges / 12 Comments

Shattering Stigmas is an annual blogging event that lasts two weeks. During this fortnight, we’ll be talking about anything and everything mental health related. The aim of these posts are to take away some of the stigma surrounding mental illness, to invite people to open up about their stories, and to help others learn.

Our next guest poster is Wendy, a book and mental health blogger. She is currently studying her Publishing Masters at University College London and hopes to champion diverse books in the publishing industry. You can find her on whatthelog and Twitter.

Queerness and Mental Health

I’m queer – bisexual, to be exact.

I’m mentally ill – it’s less easy to be exact here. I’ve got anxiety, depression, dissociation, paranoid tendencies, and much more.

For me, these identities go hand in hand. Now, I’m not saying that being queer will necessarily lead to mental illness – that would be ridiculous. However, I am saying that the pressure of coming out to my parents, my abusive relationship with a woman, and the lack of acceptance in some mental health settings has definitely played a part in my mental ill health. Let’s take these one by one, shall we?

Coming out

Coming out to my parents was one of the scariest things I have ever done in my life. It’s a long story, but let’s just say that they didn’t take it well. I didn’t talk to them for about 6 months, and when you’re abroad in university for the first time, that really takes a toll on your mental health. I was lucky enough to have an amazing group of friends who supported me, but their lack of acceptance made me have serious thoughts of suicide. How could I talk to my parents about my mental health if they were playing a key part in it? Not having the unconditional love and support of my parents, which I had previously always had, was very, very hard.

My abusive relationship

My first ever relationship was with a woman over the Internet. I was 16, and she was 24. The age gap alone was bad, but the things that she used to say to me, and the way she emotionally manipulated me, were even worse. However, because she was female, I went with it. I naively believed that women couldn’t be abusive, and that I was being overly sensitive. This relationship was the trigger for my anxiety, my depression, and my panic attacks. I honestly believe that if this relationship had been with a man, I would have got out of it much sooner, and saved myself a great deal of emotional and mental pain.

Lack of acceptance in mental health settings

My first ever therapist told me that my bisexuality was a phase. Another therapist told me that my parents would just ‘get over’ my sexuality. A third told me that my sexuality wasn’t important. To be judged in a supposedly non-judgemental space is a heart-breaking experience, and one that I hope no one reading this has ever had. Ever since, I have always skimmed over my bisexuality with therapists and when seeing counselors, because I don’t want to run the risk of being misunderstood or told horrible things. Not being completely honest with a therapist really holds me back – I continually have to bite my tongue, and skip over life events that I honestly do believe are worth discussion.

Because of all these experiences, I firmly believe that all mental health spaces must also be intersectional spaces. LGBT+, POC and disabled people can have different reasons for their mental illnesses, and our experiences are equally valid.


12 responses to “[Guest Post] Queerness and Mental Health // Shattering Stigmas

  1. Cait @ Paper Fury

    More intersectional awareness is so important. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Wendy. I feel such such rage at those therapists…people who are trained to help can’t say such thoughtlessly damaging things.

    • Thank you 🙂 I’m still looking for a good therapist unfortunately, but at least I’ve learned now that I need to find one that explicitly states they’re LGBT+ friendly.

  2. Wendy, thank you SO much for sharing your story! I am so angry on your behalf that therapists treated you that way. How could it NOT be important!? And “a phase”!? I’m sorry, is this 1942? Girl. This infuriates me, so I cannot even imagine how you must have felt. And as for your parents, goodness, my heart breaks for you. I am really sorry that they reacted that way- and I hope they are now sorry for it too. I also really hope that you are able to find someone to talk to who accepts your sexuality- which really ANY professional therapist should, but alas, this is the shitty world we live in. I know around here, some counselors will specifically put on their websites and info that they are LGBT+ friendly. I had a friend who was in a similar situation, and she was so afraid to go to counseling because she had a bad experience when a counselor found out she was gay. But eventually she did find a good fit, and I hope you are able to, too! BIG hugs ♥♥

    • Thanks Shannon, that means a lot 🙂 I’m definitely a bit more clued up now myself, and when I next start looking for a therapist again I’m definitely going to find one that states they’re LGBT+ friendly. Still, it is incredibly exhausting that I have to even consider that as an important factor.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Wendy! I’m glad you wrote this post because I think people often forget about intersectionality. They forget or ignore that sometimes things (especially identities) are interconnected and related to each other. Your queerness does cause your mental health to suffer, but it’s a factor. And ugh, I hate that there are a lot of professionals in the field of psychology who still don’t get this, who still refuse to change their awful attitudes. I’m sorry you’ve gone through that with people who are supposed to HELP you, not make your life worse. I hope you eventually find someone who you can share yourself with 100%, who doesn’t tell you that your bisexuality is a phase. Your identity matters, and it’s valid, and I hope we get to a point where that isn’t even a question in mental health conversations. 🙂

  4. Thank you for this post, Wendy! I’m so sorry about your parents, and I hope things have/are going to improve with them. I’m also sorry for (and angry at) your shitty therapists. It especially sucks to hear stuff like that from people whose literal job it is to be supportive and understanding – I genuinely hope you find someone who’s a better fit in the future, so you can open up with them.

  5. Thank you very much for this post, Wendy! Intersectionality is so important and is definitely something that deserves more attention especially in mental health settings!

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