Call me a cliche, but growing up I always knew I was different from the other children on the playground. I saw things differently, felt things differently, dressed differently. For a while I was completely okay with that concept and state of mind.
It wasn’t until I grew up into a teenager I realised how different I really was, I took an interest in fashion and art. I cared more about my appearance than the girls at school. I was sensitive, insecure and tried my best to fit in, even if that meant betraying who I really was. Then I started looking at the boys as well as the girls, and that scared the hell out of me. It scared me because I was starting to realise I was becoming something my family frowned upon, so I pushed the notion from my mind and pretended it wasn’t there. And that is how my depression started, because I was afraid to be myself. No one was accepting of being gay when I was growing up, those who were brave enough to be themselves were bullied, tortured and ridiculed until they were nothing but shells of who they used to be. The very thought of being the next victim in the changing rooms was probably some of the most terrifying moments of my life. I soon changed schools to escape being the next victim after rumours started spreading, it gave me a chance to start fresh, maybe I was just going through a phase I told myself. Of course I was not going through a phase but when you’re between the ages of fifteen and eighteen you are striving to create an identity, to maintain some sort of image that fits you and only you. Long story short I did exactly the same as the previous school, I hid who I really was, put on a mask and got on with it. Hiding my true identity from everyone around me.
It wasn’t until I got to about nineteen years old that I realised I couldn’t do this anymore, so I stopped pretending, I let my mask fall and expose who, what I really was, to everyone. The scary thing is, even though I did finally become myself, the depression never left. It was always niggling away telling me people were making jokes behind my back etc. It wasn’t the case, it was really the paranoia of what my family really thought of me.
The sad thing is that for a long time, I was afraid to be who I am because I was taught by my family that there’s something wrong with someone like me. Something offensive, something you would avoid, maybe even pity. Something that you could never love. I was afraid of the gay community because I wanted so badly to be a part of it. So today, I’m standing up for that part of me that was once too afraid to be who I am. And for all the people who are afraid of being who they are… the people living lives like I did. Today, I stand to remember that I’m not just a me. I’m also a we. And we stand with pride.
Depression is nothing but an obstacle in you discovering your true identity, do NOT let it win, stand with pride of who you are and make the difference to not just your life, but the others around you. You are not alone in this, and you never will be.