Aggressive Vulnerabilities, Part 1: Intro
This is a series investigating the potential for eliminating cultural barriers to mental health through personal narrative. By sharing my experiences with psychiatry, mental health, and emotions, I’m hoping to help create a culture that empowers others to seek help when they need. You are not alone.
As I began research into mental health resources and the queer community, a few things came to light. While I had recognized logically the lack of resources, attention, and help out there, it wasn’t until experiencing the search myself that I emotionally connected to the severe need for more. Much of the health resources aimed at queer audiences focuses on physical health, ranging from information for trans people to supporting people who are HIV+ -- all of which are incredibly important, underrepresented issues. But mental health often takes a side seat to these other issues.
That being said, what is out there does have a ton of potential. Organizations like PFLAG have helped people queer and otherwise connect with each other and support one another throughout their journeys. There are a growing number of medical health professionals who actively train for and advertise their queer issues expertise. Smaller support groups offer hope and help to those who need it.
Yet there is still major stigma associated with issues surrounding mental health. I also immediately connected this research to how easy my past experiences with finding help has been. I credit a lot of that to having not only a supportive personal network, but also geographic privilege. I have exclusively lived in or near urban areas
I currently take 3 prescription medications, 2 of which are psychiatric in nature. I was seeing a therapist once weekly until recently when my schedule no longer allowed for it, but have plans to return as soon as I can. I have pretty deep seated issues that revolve around growing up queer in a conservative Christian culture in Nebraska, including self worth, shame, and value. I struggle to accept my body in shape, weight, and size. I use eating as a coping mechanism. I have never engaged in self-harm, but I have had suicidal ideations in the past.
But by no means am I a victim, or looking for sympathy. My lack of hesitating when discussing these issues in an incredibly public manner is part of a slow, grassroots campaign to end stigma surrounding mental health issues. I want to humanize these issues. Intellectually understanding statistics, such as the higher depression and suicide rates for queer people, is different from emotionally connecting with them.
Hence the title. I want to be aggressive with my vulnerability. I want to enable connections with people who have similar experiences and stories while allowing those who don’t to put a face to them. By putting it all out there, I’m forcing a dialogue to occur between myself and the viewer.
My work and my writing creates a space where we can hash out these issues and start to build a new culture that is more accepting and welcoming. Even a one-sided conversation is better than no conversation.