Sexuality and mental health
Teenage years can be hard enough – with all the changes to our bodies, revision/exams stress, and pressure about our futures and careers. Our mental health can take quite a knock with just those, but when you add in questions about your sexuality or identity – it can sometimes make the world feel just that little bit lonelier.
When I was growing up, I realised there was something different with me quite early on. I tried to change it, deny it, and act the complete opposite – but all of this over years and years began to affect my mental health, and self-esteem.
How to talk about it?
I came out as gay to some friends and family when I was sixteen. Now at twenty one, I’m still learning how to live as a more truthful and authentic ‘me’ after years of what feels like putting on an act. Looking back, it’s difficult to see many positives about how I handled exploring my sexuality – and when you’re in that moment it can be very difficult to be compassionate about yourself. If I could talk to my younger self right now, I would urge him to know that it really isn’t as big of a deal as you think it is, and that it is a part of who you are, and something that you can own and be proud of.
What’s important is that you learn and understand your personal sexuality or identity in your own time. There’s no ticking clock or pressure to come out immediately, and in some cases, there’s no real need to officially ‘come out’. We are now starting to see amazing representation of sexuality for young people today – with the first mainstream teen romantic comedy to star a gay lead released earlier this year to amazing reviews (Love, Simon) and more and more young celebrities being open about sexuality.
Being able to see someone like you on screen, or in real life can make the world of difference. It shows that while sometimes it can be difficult to start those conversations, especially with those closest to you, there are a lot of people out there who are just like you, and are there to support you. Every LGBTQ* person’s journey is different, and a very personal experience for them. If you are questioning your sexuality and are struggling with your mental health, then here are some places that can support you:
- Stonewall – https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/whats-my-area
- Mind LGBTQ* – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/lgbtq-mental-health/#.WzzX_S-ZPzV
If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with their sexuality and mental health, the most important thing is letting them know you love them and are there to support them. If you need support, take a look at: https://www.fflag.org.uk who help families and friends of LGBTQ* people.