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Tuesday, October 6, 2015


              As I spend more time in the LGBTQ+ community I am becoming more aware of the different mental and physical health issues we face.  Growing up I commonly heard, “lesbians, gays etc., suffer from mental illnesses that make them believe they are queer”.  There was always a reason or a fault as to why we lived differently.  Homophobia and ignorance spat out various judgements in order to twist truth into reason.  What this has failed to cover is the actual mental illnesses that LGBTQ+ people are at risk of.  The risk of self-harm, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, and mental disorders are greater within the community.  This can be caused by various things, whether it’s naturally occurring or a combination of prejudice, homophobic hatred, internal shame, social and family exclusion; the list goes on.  LGBTQ+ youth are 6 times more likely to experience depression and 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.  Within the LGBTQ+ community, 20 – 30 % abuse substances and 25% abuse alcohol compared to 10% of the general population. **
                I happen to fit into two of these statistics, a result of my upbringing and natural causes.  In high school I dealt with self-harm and in the past year was diagnosed with temporal lobe seizures.  I have since stopped harming myself, however my seizures will stay with me.  These seizures don’t mean I fall on the ground and shake, or foam at the mouth or basically any of the images you might “think” are associated with a seizure.  Temporal lobe is the area of the brain that controls the emotions.  This sometimes affects how I register emotions in certain situations but also triggers electrical spikes in my brain that cause “emotional seizures”.  It’s one of the most difficult things to explain to people. It lasts at most about 3 minutes with every range of emotion packed into my brain all at once.  These episodes have started to dwindle but I have a new understanding how neuro-differences not only affect your life but also your identity.
                Specifically these seizures have categorized me into society’s stigma of someone with a mental illness that led to queerness.  This is a ridiculous stereotype to have attached to your identity when they are very separate things.  It denounces the pride you have for yourself and overshadows the importance of addressing the actual effects a mental illness can have.  Instead of recognizing that LGBTQ+ individuals need help or assistance with whatever they are suffering from: self-harm, suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, or mental disorders; we are marked and shuffled away to be used later as evidence.
                I’m not ignoring the progress society has made, but the progress is too slow.  THIS is why I am here.  To share my experience with mental illness and separate it from my sexual orientation.  To raise awareness of the health issues the LGBTQ+ community suffer from and need services for.  To encourage others to stop obsessing over why we are different and obsess over helping instead.

By: Ashley Hoy

**More information about the various statistics referred to above can be found on the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s LGBTQ support article.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing!