How Self-Acceptance Affects Depression in LGBTQ Individuals
Wednesday, January 7 2015 Vanessa Celis
How can you love yourself and have self-acceptance and yet deny part of your true identity? Is such a feat even possible? This is a problem that is common among many people within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community (LGBTQ). Unfortunately, many LGBTQ individuals cannot come out due to safety reasons. If they were to come out as gay or transgender, they risk the scary chance of getting kicked out and ending up on the streets. They can even lose their jobs. So while the world proudly declares that we must be unashamed of our true selves, society’s reaction toward many LGBTQ people is a contradiction. And it has very negative effects on the mental health of LGBTQ individuals. A lack of self-acceptance can even worsen depression in LGBTQ individuals.
Higher Rates of Depression Among LGBTQ Individuals
When you think about it, it isn’t too hard to see why so many LGBTQ people have issues with mental health. I have experienced this first hand in the several past months as I’ve experienced depression while struggling to accept my gender identity (I identify as genderqueer). At first, I was in denial and thought it was just a phase. I tried my best to fit in and be "normal" in women’s clothes and tried to present myself as very feminine. This only has worsened my depression and made it harder to love myself. I have slowly realized that not accepting my gender identity has been dangerous for my mental health.
LGBTQ Individuals Need Strong Support
While our society has certainly improved when it comes to acceptance of LGBTQ people, it is far from perfect. There is still rampant homophobia, transphobia, and lack of education in respect to queer people. There are many people who have no clue about nonbinary/genderqueer people, for example. They have no idea that people like me exist. This is why people need a good LGBTQ support system. Whether it comes from family, friends, counselors, or teachers, we need others to tell us that we are accepted and loved. Having a good support system certainly helps me with my depression and anxiety. I cannot imagine my life without my supportive husband and close friends.
Self-Love and Self-Acceptance is Not Easy But It Is Possible
Now that I’ve accepted my gender identity, I am trying my best to get back on the path of self-acceptance and self-love. Of course, I still have depression and anxiety, but I feel like it will be a lot easier to deal with these illnesses now that I am accepting myself. I am also trying to talk to others like me, which helps me see that I am not alone in my struggles. It also helps me see that there is nothing wrong with me. I am slowly working on myself and even though it is not easy, I know that it can be done in time. I am trying my best to not self-harm and trying to stay away from alcohol, which only fuels my depression and anxiety. Hopefully, I can help someone along the way if I share my struggles and experiences, as well.