I grew up in a conservative environment in NZ, where I had often seen people being bullied and ostracised for their differences in my hometown. I remember this boy having to move schools because of the harassment he faced for being open about his sexuality. That is why I decided to come to terms with my own LGBTQ+ identity in secret, as did a lot of others. Despite my secrecy, I still ended up experiencing bullying, being threatened and marginalised.
During those days, I constantly worried about how what I said or acted could accidentally out myself as being different. This later morphed into compulsions around how I looked and having difficulty engaging with people. Through therapy I learnt that constant policing of one’s behaviour can lead us to lose connection with who we really are.
It was huge for me when I was finally able to make meaning of my experiences and understand myself and how I interact with the world. I live a better life now but I still regularly undertake activities that allow me to dull the worrying voices in my head. Activities like exercise and talking to people who understand what it’s like helps to reduce my stress.
#BeautifulMinds is a series of raw and honest stories from people sharing their lived experience with mental health in New Zealand. Published with permission. We hope these stories capture the diversity of how mental health affects different people and you can be inspired by their journey towards mental wellbeing. Clearhead’s mission is to destigmatise mental health through raising awareness and encouraging people to feel it is ok to seek help early by giving them the tools to do so. Sign up now to use the platform, it is free to do so!
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