Growing up in a household where you’re not accepted for who you are can cause a strife between family members and make it seem like the world is against you. This is a common way of life for LGBTQ+ youth around the world even now in the 21st century. There should be love and acceptance in one’s own home but when there is not, we must make the most out of it. How could there be any benefits to living a life of rejection and arguments? Although it is challenging, growing up this way will strengthen you for the future.
There are a number of reasons as to why some individuals may find it challenging to accept those who identify as LGBTQ+. It may be because of religious views, the way they were brought up, a deep rooted insecurity of their own, or they simply just do not approve. Regardless of why they don’t accept these individuals, some choose to let their opinions harm others. Out of the 1.6 million homeless youth each year, 40% are LGBTQ+. This is just one of the major issues facing LGBTQ+ youth today. These individuals may be kicked out of their home, expelled from their school, fired from their job, assaulted, disowned, sent to conversion therapy, etc. Coming out can be a dangerous decision for some so we must make the world a more accepting place to ensure the safety of these people.
Identifying as LGBTQ+ can have various meanings. One may be attracted to the same gender (homosexual), men and women (bisexual), people regardless of gender (pansexual), etc. Others may be addressing their gender identity such as not conforming to a gender at all (non-binary), identifying as fluid in gender (genderfluid), or they may wish to transition from male to female or vice versa (transgender). There are so many more identities, genders, and sexual orientations than we perceive. Gender and sexuality are spectrums that we all fall somewhere on.
I grew up in a religious household and one of my biggest fears was my family finding out I was gay. A couple years ago I was forced to leave my private school for being a lesbian. Teachers saw that I would often wear a rainbow watch band and I was eventually pulled into the office with the principal and my mother to discuss this. This was how I was officially outed to my mother. The school told me that they do not accept those of the LGBTQ+ community or those who are simply just an ally. My mother was furious and it took her some time to get over it. She still isn’t completely over it yet. My father outed me to the rest of my family and moved to another state around the same time due to my parents’ divorce.
Losing so many friends and family members made me feel as if the world was crashing down all around me and I was standing in the ashes of a once peaceful existence. This isn’t the only time that I have faced discrimination simply for my sexual orientation and certainly won’t be the last. These are common hardships many LGBTQ+ individuals will face in their lifetime and, although it’s heartbreaking to live in a world like this, we must grow from it. We will harden like a callus because of these experiences and they will lead us to accomplish great things and perhaps become more involved in activism so that others will not have to suffer as we have. Even though you may not choose your family, you can choose those you surround yourself with and live amongst those who will love and accept you. But do take precautions when coming out if you still live with your family. Although you should not be ashamed of who you are, it is best to know your situation and how those around you will take it. Be safe when coming out and choose the right time so that it will not harm you. Although some people wish to tear others down, there will always be those who choose to lift others up. Because of my experiences, I have had the opportunity to surround myself with loving friends. Choose to not let your pain weigh you down but rather be your wings.
Growing up in a homophobic household presents obstacles that none should have to encounter. Use these struggles to your advantage and strengthen yourself from them. Prove those who tear you down wrong and continue to accomplish incredible things in your life and share your story to inspire and uplift others. Continue to push forward and know that pain can be healed with time.
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsI2hw6bm6gIVC9vACh3CkQWQEAAYASAAEgIC9_D_BwE If you or someone around you is suicidal or struggling with mental health, the Trevor Project can help. This resource allows you to contact someone who will not judge you but rather simply listen to you and provide the best advice and resources they can.
https://www.outlastyouth.org/resources This resource provides medical, housing, domestic violence, human-trafficking, survivor services, crisis call centres, etc for youth in the Dallas, Texas, area.
Trigger Warning: Eating disorders mentioned.
As human beings, we strive to be as comfortable as possible. So why are so many young girls starving themselves for days on end, exercising until they collapse, eat until their stomachs ache, and vomit every morsel they consume? Discussions about food, diets, exercise, and body image flood our society and have become a major topic amongst us. Oftentimes this is the bait used to lure in young girls into an eating disorder. The belief that one can eat whatever they like as long as they purge afterwards can be alluring to a vast majority of young women. Over-exercising, extreme diets, and fasting may also catch the eye of some who are struggling to reach the “ideal body type” that society has presented. But many of these young individuals have no idea about the dangers that can arise from these actions and how quickly they can consume your life.
There are a number of eating disorders that infect our society and damage the lives of those of all ages and genders. Anorexia is an obsessive desire to lose weight and involves restricting caloric intake, over-exercising, being obsessed with weight and diets, and an extreme fear of weight gain. Bulimia involves a distortion of body image and once again, an obsessive desire to lose weight. Those suffering from bulimia will overeat and make themselves vomit afterwards, feeling guilty and depressed about their overeating. Those who binge will overeat and feel a lack of control while doing so, oftentimes feeling guilty and depressed afterwards. Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy. Although this may seem contradictory, those suffering with this disorder will restrict certain foods, reduce their caloric intake, and over-exercise. Although similar to anorexia, those suffering from orthorexia will attempt to have the “perfect diet” and exclude all “bad foods.” Our bodies are not designed to completely cut out certain foods such as sugars, carbs, etc. There are so many other eating disorders that millions suffer from, finding themselves in a constant loop. These extreme measures can have serious damaging effects to our bodies, making it difficult or even impossible to ever recover from.
Eating disorders have many more physical repercussions than passing out and can do damage to your body that can never be fixed. Muscles will break down, pulse and blood pressure drop, and the risk for heart failure increases. Your period may stop, and some may experience infertility and will never bear children. Those suffering from bulimia will develop scars on their hands, experience tooth decay, throat and facial swelling, etc. Eating disorders also cause problems in your digestive system. Some may develop stomach ulcers or other damages to their stomachs. Those overusing laxatives may develop painful haemorrhoids in the digestive tract. Those with anorexia may experience hair loss, kidney failure, anaemia, and their body will begin to reject solid foods and they may need to go to the hospital to be force-fed through tubes. At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the US. Every 62 minutes, someone dies from an eating disorder, making this the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. These disorders are highly competitive, meaning that people will attempt to restrict more so than others, making these disorders far more dangerous.
Ever since I was a little girl I have struggled with various eating disorders, binging when I was young, to then a combination of orthorexia, anorexia, and bulimia in my teenage years. These disorders consumed my life, making it a challenge to climb out of bed in the morning and experiencing an overbearing weight of guilt if I did eat that day. Because of my disorders I have gained and lost countless pounds, from being overweight throughout my childhood, to my spine sticking out like a string of beads during my teenage years. My digestive system doesn’t work as well as it used to, I developed scars on my hands from purging, and most days my throat was sore. Some days I couldn’t stomach much and I was unable to digest certain foods. I allowed myself to get competitive within my disorders and attempted to go more days without eating or eat fewer calories than someone else. There were days when I didn’t even want to drink water and see that number on the scale rise just an ounce. I spent most days in bed and it became embarrassing to hang out with friends because I couldn’t walk as fast as them or I would have to stop and rest time and time again. I would exercise in my room for hours late at night, being as quiet as possible so my family wouldn’t hear. This led to me feeling lightheaded most days and even passing out a number of times. I struggle to consume anything without feeling nauseous and experience severe stomach pains most days. Some days I wake up and am sick, throwing up all day and unable to eat. I struggle digesting certain foods and will sometimes make myself vomit out of fear of waking up sick the next day if I fail to empty my stomach. I get bloated easily and my period skips some months. I had to quit doing a number of things that I enjoyed, including my job; I would pass out and get sick most days, I was physically unable to perform the tasks that were required.
I long for the days when I didn’t obsess over my figure or diet as I do now. I miss being able to eat anything I wanted and not fear how I would feel the next day. I’ll admit that I’m not perfect now and still have hard days battling against my disordered urges. Recovery is a long and tedious journey. It took me years to eventually open up about my deepest insecurities and seek help but by doing so I began to gain energy and finally continue doing the things that I loved. I still obsess over parts of my body that I wish were different but I'm beginning to accept who I am. Everyone has fat in their body and that isn’t a bad thing, this is just as important as any other part of you. I have also learned to balance my meals out more. Obsessing over “the perfect diet” isn’t healthy. We all need balance in order to function. Eating too healthy can damage you and understanding that carbs and sugar aren’t bad is a very necessary thing to learn. We’re not supposed to live our lives on a specific diet or exercise hours everyday on a low calorie diet. Not to mention that the majority of women on social media that we compare ourselves to photoshop their pictures to present an unachievable image. One of the most valuable things that I’ve learned is that you see yourself in a completely different light than others do. The flaws you see in yourself are unnoticeable to others or perhaps not flaws at all.
The reason some individuals purposely live uncomfortably is due to such an extreme standard that many women feel they must reach. Society has crafted a mould that can not and should not be reached. We must refrain from these temptations and accept and love ourselves for who we are.
While everyone faces a sort of mood shift as emotions change, some face these shifts in such an extreme form that can last for hours to months at a time. Whether these mood swings are triggered by outside factors or not, they can come abruptly and lead individuals to do actions that they would not otherwise do. Bipolar can be overly romanticized by society, viewing mania as a productive and fun mood while in reality it can lead to snapping at loved ones, being intensely anxious, overspending, and being highly irritable.
Bipolar disorder is a neurobiological brain disorder that affects roughly 5 million Americans today. It’s commonly hereditary, but symptoms are often not visible until one is about 25 years old. Depressive episodes, similar to depressive disorders, consist of feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, loss of energy, lack of interest, and suicidal thoughts. Mania however goes to the opposite extreme with an emotional high of euphoria and energy can cause one to engage in dangerous behaviors. These mood swings may be triggered by issues at home or in school, the change of seasons, or hormonal conditions, they may also come abruptly without a trigger. Some triggers may even appear “trivial” to some, but can still push someone with bipolar over the edge.
When I was in middle school, I was diagnosed with depression and was medicated for it. I found that even after trying numerous medications, none seemed to improve my mental state. After experiencing a few manic episodes, I was reevaluated in high school, learning that I had bipolar disorder. My psychiatrist informed me that bipolar patients who are incorrectly diagnosed with depression often experience no improvement when taking antidepressants. Those with bipolar disorder need to have their mood stabilized or their symptoms can worsen. I often experience depressive episodes the majority of the time with manic episodes from time to time that can last anywhere between a few hours to a few weeks. Although I had grown accustomed to depressive episodes, mania was a fairly new episode to experience. With heightened senses and less cares, mania often leads me to do actions that I would not otherwise do, feeling as though I’m living in a dream and that reality doesn’t exist. Although some may state that I’m more “fun” or more of a “risk-taker,” mania can prove to be just as harmful as a depressive episode. In my case, I can go from spending all my money and feeling invincible to feeling as though the world is crumbling and having the desire to shut my mind off to silence the million racing thoughts in my head. It’s having panic attacks from all the actions I do that I immediately regret afterwards. It’s saying yes when I should say no and beating myself up about it later. It’s being angry at the world to only realize that I’m the problem. Whatever outbursts I may experience, whether they be of sadness, anger, or excitement, they all lead to the same result. Being broken over nothing and having those around me confused and annoyed by my reactions from trivial issues. Worrying myself late into the night about what’s out of my control. Everything I touch gets destroyed, people leave, relationships crumble, and my goals become more so out of reach. A constant loop in my mind of every word, action, and moment like a song stuck in my head. Overanalyzing to the point where it keeps me up at night. Wanting more than anything to be held and told that “everything’s going to be okay” even if we both know that it’s a lie. I never know what I’m going to feel within the next day, hour, or few minutes. I can go from crying my eyes out in the corner of my room to feeling like a god within the blink of an eye.
While bipolar disorder does make life more challenging, it can be managed with the correct medications and healthy coping mechanisms. It’s important to keep dangerous items out of reach during mania or depression so as to not encourage harmful actions. It is also important to have at least one person that you’re close with that you can speak freely with and contact if you feel as though you may do something harmful to yourself or others. Using healthy forms of distraction when in a distressed state such as listening to music, watching TV, going for a walk, etc., can also take one’s mind off intrusive thoughts. I have learned to better manage my emotions but to also not suppress them and reach out when I need it. Bipolar is an aspect of me but it is not my entire life. I have come to the realization that bipolar can be managed and coping can greatly reduce the impact and pain. Although we may make poor choices from time to time whether it be during mania or depression, it is important to realize that the world will not come to an end, that we can learn from those actions and not repeat them. Although we should live in the moment and not dwell on what may happen, it is also important to think of how the actions you do will impact you and those around you the next day.
Whether you are struggling with bipolar yourself, or have a loved one who is, the most valuable thing is to be understanding. Bipolar doesn’t have to control your life and coming to terms with that is a vital part of growth. Everyone has their struggles whether they be mental or physical and even though we wish they would disappear, we must coexist with them and not let our struggles anchor us down and prevent us from developing into the person we desire to become. Reach out to those who need help if you are able but don’t forget to ask for help yourself. Being able to open up and state “I need help” is not a weakness, but a strength. Honesty can be challenging but can also prove to be your savior. We can grow from our struggles and they can aid us into becoming more understanding to ourselves as well as others.