It has been so long that I don’t even know how to begin.
You see I used to write under a grey cloud on the darkest of days.
And stopped when the light broke through the haze.
And I was fine again.
I took a major step and came out to my mother almost a year ago but believe me it has taken me equally long to process it. Ever since I realized and started coming to terms with being queer, my mental health took a backseat. I still don’t admit this to many people but fragments of my struggle with it come out as trembling secrets told to a few people, one at a time. It took me the entire process of suffering, realizing, denying, getting help and surprisingly recovering to be able to even have a ‘naming the monster’ ceremony in my own head. It always comes out as “It was a bad time” “I wasn’t particularly mentally healthy” “I was just very sad and blank a lot of the time” “But I got help for it and it helped so I guess it was something”. It is so hard to say even to yourself that depression took up so much space in your life for years, not even a few months or weeks like you hoped the worst would last for. It is even harder to say that it started with my queerness and that I let one part of my identity affect me so much.
When someone assumes that being queer is just another aspect of a person’s life, I agree and yet I don’t know how do I explain it? How do I say that it opens up possibilities in yourself to experience a different kind of grief, a unique brand of loneliness and a peculiar kind of anger and such a whole lot of invalidated strength with that one little fun fact about you that ends up shaping so much of yourself and the way you see the world. It isn’t nothing and it isn’t easy.
Mental health issues in the LGBT community; just a few words, one of the many I read on Wikipedia as a curious child. All those articles emerging once in a while with statistics to validate the content that no one wants to truly understand. There is so much I could say about that entire process. It is like having a personal history book inside your head with an instruction manual filled with affirmations and coping mechanisms that you developed by the end of it. However, it has an end. I had taken it for granted that the person I was when I was depressed was who I would always be. To put it simply, when the sky turned grey, I believed that the sun wasn’t meant to be seen anymore and that grey skies were normal for people like me and I would never see the clear light of my previous self again. It took time but it happened. An unimaginable consequence. I was lost by the end of it and still am but I can tell myself I am fine now and know that I am not lying. I guess the word they use is recovery.
It started with coming out to my mother. That event was like removing a Jenga block that coincidentally brought the entire tower down in slow motion. My mother was one of the two people who were slowly starting to realize and hint at me that I was not fine. It was a family fight in which I let go of myself and said some disturbing things that led to her confronting me and asking me honestly what was happening. It was a random question about my sexuality that was intended as something else that I mistook as her knowing about my queerness and spilling my beans about it. It was surreal, her asking me the exact questions I knew she would ask me and me giving her the words to use when she faltered.
“Are you sure? Maybe you just think you cannot be with men?……”
“I had the same doubts but I am sure now”
“So you like…….?”
“Do you think there is any chance you will….?”
“The odds of me getting married are low”
I had spent so much time asking myself these same questions that I could not have been any less sure of the answers I gave to her that day. I guess there is a right time to come out, that only we can know for ourselves, that no one else can decide.
She was accepting. She was afraid. But our honesty with each other was all I could ask for. I thought this glorious coming out event would instantly feel like a burden off my shoulders but I woke up the next day to everything being the same. It was over time that I realized that I now had this free space in my mind, which was previously preoccupied by a constant scenario development of what coming out to my mother would look like. I suddenly had a security blanket. I didn’t have to second-guess my actions every time I put up an LGBT related work on the Internet. I wasn’t afraid of being outed to my family (even the rest of it) because my mother has the reputation of a lioness. As long as you have her by your side, no one can touch you. It was this free space that slowly started making more space for me to process what was happening to me. When I had a few people on the outside noticing I was depressed, I started validating it as something real myself. It still took so much time to get myself to walk to the counselor’s office. So much time to overcome that fear that if I name my monster, it will never let me go. But it did. I wouldn’t say I defeated my monster. I just befriended it and taught it a better way to live. It took time but now I have the privilege of remembering it as an old friend that taught me much but isn’t in my life anymore. I am even gladly beginning to forget.
I am fine now. I hadn’t been able to say that to myself for a long long time. Being queer still hurts from time to time but I know now that I have the incredible privilege of having a supportive family. I am not out to my father or the rest of the family yet but I am hopeful. I am no longer a blank mind putting up an act and pretending to be fine. I see the sky for what it is and feel my innermost emotions without a blanket of numbness. I value my life so differently now. I wish someone had told me that depression doesn’t always have to take over your entire life and that maybe, just maybe it was possible to live with it or even recover from it. Maybe if I had not been running away from it and had believed myself to be worthy of getting help, I would have sought help earlier. Which is why now I will gladly punch anyone who dares to belittle anyone’s troubles as not being enough to ask for help. We are always enough. No one decides it for us.
I don’t know whether this story is about me coming out of the closet or of dealing with depression. But I sure am glad for both.