um so hello here you go
I’ve tried to write this so many times, to tell you how i feel. This story has taken many iterations, many turns and many names. But, at the crux of it all, is me wanting to express myself and tell people how i feel.
Emotions have never been easy for me. I take a long time understanding them, discovering them and processing them. Putting stuff down on paper is even harder. So, apologies in advance.
Where it all began
every good story needs a beginning, a start. Pee on your paragraphs and all that.
for me, it all began when i was 14. i began to question myself, as i knew i didn’t just like boys. but growing up in the family i did, and the church around that, made those feelings shameful. I already struggled with how mum and dad saw me, already felt they weren’t proud of me. these feelings didn’t help.
as you know, i spent a lot of time alone growing up. after meals or as soon as we got home from school, i’d disappear, much to your annoyance, even now as adults. now, i know that was down to my brain needing to recharge after spending so much time faking it for people, whether school or the family. i was living a double life in my head. and over the years, it wore me down.
for the last two years of secondary school, i was questioning so much and becoming increasingly unhappy. I was fed up with education, with the pressure on me to do well. yet, as soon as i expressed this, i was shut down, mum not believing me that i was having panic attacks and struggling to cope.
then, i got to college. more independence, finally. and this is where the story really begins.
the actual(ish) beginning
at college, i began researching how to come out to your parents, i was already out-ish to some people. i told a few people back in september 2016, and then got myself ready to tell mum and dad. I don’t know exactly when this was, but it would have been between then and november 2016.
i remember that night vividly. i wrote a letter, after doing googling and seeing what other people online said, about coming out and how i was sure i wasn’t straight.
that night, i asked mum and dad to leave it 24 hours and speak to me in the morning but they couldn’t, they came in to see me, told me it was just a phase.
gran was ill and mum couldn’t cope. so, they went, like most christians do, to the pastor and his wife, where they were told i’d be taken care of because i was “mature enough.”
then, november 2016 came about.
let’s pray it away
gay conversion therapy, for me, started with a discussion about why being gay was not god’s plan for me or for anyone. as most gen z’s do, i’d googled what other people’s opinions of being gay were, and discovered that it wasn’t a bad or scary thing.
that was, obviously, shut down, and i was told i needed to hear the other side of the story.
over the next six months or so, i’d be at the church for periods of time, often an hour or so, to discuss an issue related to sexuality, whether that was blaming it on parents, family, friends (or lack thereof), my own struggle with who i was, the devil and so much more.
it was so messed up.
the grand finale of this all was when i was shown a dried poppy stick and it was used to demonstrate a percentage scale. i was asked if you were this gay (indicating to 90%) before, how gay would you say you are know? i indicated a 40% or so and it was celebrated.
the two years after (to 2018)
from the end of 2016 to late 2018, i was a shell of myself, a body carrying around a barely functioning personality.
i barely remember anything from this time, aside from getting my first job and then moving soon after. at this point, i didn’t even recognise what had happened to me.
jan 2018 was the first time i remember having suicidal thoughts, and on my way home from work, i remember wanting to throw the car off the road, and crying once i realised that this was something i’d consciously wanted to do. those thoughts haven’t really left me alone since.
it was a combination of a couple of things that made me realise what had happened.
the realisation of what had happened
i think, although this whole part is a bit foggy, i realised i’d been through gay conversion therapy because of troye sivan. he’d been in a film called boy erased, and contributed a song called ‘revelation’ to the film’s album.
there was something in the story that drew me to it. i bought the book on kindle, and read it one night, october 23rd, 2018, according to my amazon account. at the same kind of time, i spoke to hazel, texts date that to oct 20th, 2018.
then, the next summer (i think), i mentioned it with some people from church, and rachel said she remembered when i told her, and she thought at the time it could have been gay conversion.
all i can remember is being so broken by this, i blamed mum and dad because i didn’t know. i held onto that for so long.
after the realisation (2018 to present)
nothing’s ever been the same since.
in early 2019, i moved out of my childhood home to where i’m writing from now, 20 miles or so away. it’s not far, but far enough where i can be comfortable and find some peace and respite.
mabel, my old car, got me here. she was mabel the miracle car. letting go of her was one of the hardest things i ever had to do.
my mental health has only declined, to the point where some days, i don’t want to be alive.
my identity is ruined, and on any one day, i feel completely different from the last.
i have moments where i feel so out of control i can barely form coherent sentences and my brain won’t stop.
i have others where all day i’m on the verge of tears.
i’ll have suicidal thoughts regularly, and some days, a painkiller or two extra gets taken to help knock me out.
i’m anxious, depressed, manic, out of control, emotionally unstable, confused and hurting all of the time. what was already a tumultuous mass balancing on the edge, was flipped upside down and now balances on a moving stick that constantly moves around.
well, for now, i’m getting help, both through talking therapy and with the nhs. i’m also reconstructing what it means to be me and what i want out of life. i’m going at life by myself, because i can’t rely on anyone else.
it’s a daily balancing act.
but one thing i do know is that i can’t let other people feel this way.
i’m starting to speak out, and deal with stuff in the proper channels. but i needed to get everything down on paper first.
this has taken me well over a year to write. i tried so many times, in lockdown, on furlough, at 11am, at 11pm. but getting here without being so angry i can’t type, crying so hard i can’t see the screen or being so frustrated i want to smash my laptop into a wall is progress.
but this is everything, well, pretty much everything.
i’m so thankful for the people i have now, and the people who have stuck with me through this all. it’s not been easy. but i wouldn’t be here without you.
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Conversion therapy's harrowing history - from barbaric roots to present day cruelty
In 1869, German psychiatrist Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal suggested that people who were experiencing same-sex…