September 10th is World Suicide Prevention day. No better time to shine a light on the high rates of suicide completion and suicide attempts that are present here in our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, etc. (LGBTQIA+) community. Trigger warning: this post involves frank discussion of suicide and a suicide attempt.
Depression – The life: LGBT
I'm not alone in using video games like "Animal Crossing" to cope with my mental illness. Ever since the shelter-at-home orders back in February, gamers have been purchasing the Nintendo Switch faster than they can be physically made. Video games became a form of escapism, and what was once a pastime became a coping mechanism for those stuck at home. While I’ve been trapped in my apartment in this pandemic, no Nintendo Switch game has been more useful for exploring and coping with my mental illness than "Animal Crossing."
The murder of George Floyd sparked an unprecedented civil rights movement and has changed our country dramatically. The face of the Internet has been completely reshaped, and discourse about racism is at the forefront of all of our conversations. Sometimes, especially for the mentally ill, the amount of information whizzing by is overwhelming.
I believe in the importance of self-care, especially for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. But I wasn't always this way. In fact, until this past year, I'd heard about the self-care movement but dismissed it as "narcissistic" or "selfish." I also thought that I didn't deserve to take care of myself when I could spend that time helping others.
No one likes to be rejected. Unfortunately, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) people experience a lot of rejection and oppression that lead to depression and other mental illnesses. As a pansexual, I have experienced my fair share of biphobia and homophobia in the past. While it certainly isn’t easy or fun to talk about, raising awareness is the only way of abolishing discrimination towards the LGBTQ community and reduce the rejection queer people face and their depressions.
I find myself in a paradox lately. I have always been extremely accepting of others who are different, especially those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ). But it's been extremely hard for me to accept that I am genderqueer. While this is common with people who suffer from mental illnesses, it is a huge problem with LGBTQ individuals. LGBTQ people have a much harder time with self-acceptance thanks to a hostile environment that does not accept their sexuality and gender identity. In short, gender dysphoria affects my depression.
Dealing with depression and other mental illnesses is very hard. But when an individual identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ), the struggle can become alienating. Many LGBTQ individuals find themselves disconnected between their true identity and the person they are forced to be in public. This is why many LGBTQ people have depression and contemplate suicide. Being genderqueer, too, can lead to depression. Sadly, many go through with suicide because they see no better option.
For the past few months, I have struggled to accept my gender identity and the fact that I am genderqueer. I've been having a hard time trying to label my gender identity, especially since our society puts only two labels to gender: man or woman. Thanks to the social websites like Tumblr, though, I am starting to see that there are other people just like me out there.
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.
Have you ever tried being something that you’re not? I think it’s safe to say that all of us have gone through this at some point in our lives. It makes us feel as if we are a fake, and that we’re being untrue to ourselves. It may also lead to deep depression and low self-esteem, especially when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) individuals. Those who identify as LGBTQ have a higher chance of self-harm, substance abuse, and eating disorders, for example, which are all linked to depression.