Feeling blue? LGBTI people living with depression give advice on how to cope

Mental Health crisis in the NHS horror stories

How are you feeling today? When you’re living with depression, the answer is often ‘not good’.

Depression affects people in different ways. Some can’t stop crying, some feel numb, some even feel suicidal.

Each action for me feels harder in the depths of a spiral. Just getting out of bed feels like I’m wading through tar. It’s not apathy, it’s not laziness – it’s just harder.

As LGBTI people, we are disproportionately more likely to live with depression. Even from as young as 10 years old.

Research indicates 40% of LGBTI people experience mental health issues compared with 25% of the wider population.

So because we’re likely to live with depression, it’s also good to know how to cope.

I asked a few LGBTI people from across the UK about their coping strategies.

How do you cope with living with depression? 

Davey, a gay man living in Glasgow, says it’s hard to recognize the signs of a depression spiral.

‘It always sneaks up on me,’ he said.

But when it is bad, he tries and not beats himself up. While he might need to stay in bed, he’ll do it with intentionality.

‘I think, I’m going to stay in bed but I’ll read a comic and have a coffee. I’m gonna watch my favorite show a hundred times over.’

This past December, Davey did an advent calendar but only filled with self-care items for each day of December. It’s an idea he’s carried on for January as well.

‘Every day I did one thing like have a massage, read a book. People engaged with it. It’s great to do something every day that’s just for you.’

Creativity and staying active

Alex, who is non-binary, deals with their depression through writing stories and art.

‘They’re not exactly masterpieces but it helps me express it as otherwise it all gets locked up inside,’ they said.

‘I write across a lot of genres… I can get really involved with those emotions rather than the ones I’m feeling.’

They also listen to music, like piano music or videos of rain drops or wave sounds.

‘Staying active helps me as well, especially activities that give an adrenaline rush, like paintball or something,’ they said.

‘Even just doing a walk on a cold morning, because the cold can help bring me back into the present.

‘The best things are just little things you can blend into your routine when needed so you’ve got some structure in your life.’

Tatiana is a queer woman who has been dealing with suicidal thoughts since she was young.

‘I do have monthly counselling sessions which has really helped me a lot,’she said. ‘I try to have at least some me time every week.’

Being open about mental health

People raised religious are more likely to suffer poor mental health

People raised religious are more likely to suffer poor mental health

Rachel, bi woman, said it took years for doctors to take her mental health seriously. She was finally diagnosed at university after struggling most of her life with anxiety and depression.

She said: ‘I don’t fight it too hard all at once, but try to force myself to take small steps like showering, brushing my teeth, sending an email etc. one at a time. Some days are good because I did a full day of work and saw friends, others are good because I simply managed to get out of bed. Other days, staying in bed is the only option, but I’ve learnt that that’s okay too sometimes.

‘I try not to beat myself up for that anymore, and without the self-inflicted guilt, it’s so much easier to manage a bad episode.

‘I try to be completely honest with myself, and others, when I’m feeling low or anxious, rather than trying to make excuses for myself or hiding the truth. This openness has led to so much more self-acceptance and growth than any medication or therapy I’ve tried (though both of these things are worth trying, and trying again and again, until you find something that works for you, despite what others might have to say).

‘Sometimes all it takes is for me to acknowledge, out loud, that I’m not very well, and then go through the motions of accepting it, feeling it, and ultimately getting through it. I’ve got through every bad phase before this one, and I will do so again.’

Recognizing the root cause 

Javan, a gay trans man, was diagnosed at 16 with depression. At 27, he was diagnosed with a personality disorder.

But his mental health story goes back longer, including suicidal attempts and self-harm as a teenager.

Since he’s transitioned, he no longer suffers as much.

He said: ‘I believe recognizing the root cause of depression, often based in who you are, your identity/sexuality as well as negative experiences, is the start of recovery.

‘In everyday life it is important to build up a network of supportive friends, and not to just try to cope or pretend you’re ok when you’re not.’

He added: ‘I found talking therapies were the way forward rather than just medication on its own because it addresses the causes and helps to build self-esteem and resilience.

‘Be true to yourself. Even if there are potential negative consequences to this, it is often worth it for the improvement in your quality of life.’

Get out of the house

Chris, a gay man, was diagnosed at age 11.

He said: ‘I try my very best to get out of the house. Since my depression is so interlinked with quite strong anxiety I try to find ways to keep my mind busy with hobbies or activities. The worst thing I can do for myself is allow my mind to stew and settle on negativity or dark thoughts.

‘I keep my mind busy with hobbies and activities. I try to be as active as possible and do things to keep me active. If I can’t find the drive to do that, I tend to go on long walks or spend time with my friends.

‘I would say don’t be too hard on yourself. We all have slip ups or low periods where you can’t function as you normally do. Know that eventually you’ll get back on top of things, and for now just doing things to care for yourself is ok.’

‘Remember you’re not alone.’ 

Nikki Hattocks is a mental health and human rights campaigner | Photo: Supplied

Nikki, who identifies as bisexual, said: ‘I do have to take medication every single day, which I used to hate doing, but now I’m grateful to be able to have something that just makes my life easier.

‘It’s like wearing glasses, without them I’d struggle to see the good in life.’

Mattocks makes sure she’s hydrated, eating well, taking her medication, and having things to look forward to.

To others living with depression, she has a beautiful message.

‘The sun sets but it’ll rise. This will pass, and there’s a way out of the darkness. Through talking, through medication, through routine, through your own incredible strength, life will feel worth waking up for again.

‘Remember you’re not alone.’

Need someone to talk to? This is a list of LGBTI helplines around the world. if you’re in crisis or in need of support. If you’re in the UK, you can contact LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30. The helpline is open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm.

Author: Joe Morgan

The post Feeling blue? LGBTI people living with depression give advice on how to cope appeared first on Gay Star News.

Laverne Cox’s advice on finding love is a thoughtful and necessary reminder

Laverne Cox and her boyfriend, Kyle Draper

Trans actor Laverne Cox shared dating and love advice on Twitter Thursday night (10 January). The message was sweet and thoughtful, and many people loved it.

The whole thing started when a mother tweeted to Cox about her trans daughter.

‘This is my oldest child Trinity,’ DeShanna wrote. ‘She’s trans & a gamer & awesome. She’s 15 & transitioned when she was 4. She’s made history here in DE. She’s my ❤.’

Her tweet ended with an appeal to Cox to share an affirming message because Trinity doesn’t think she’ll find love being black and transgender.

Cox is currently in a relationship with real estate agent Kyle Draper. She first announced her relationship in March 2018 before sharing a photo of the pair the following month.

They both often make sentimental posts about one another on Instagram.

In December, Draper posted a photo of them, followed by a lengthy caption about dating a trans woman. It began with him posting the laughing-crying emoji directed at ‘the haters who think calling me “gay” because I’m dating a trans woman is a putdown that will make feel insecure about myself and my sexuality’.

Then he stated being gay is not a putdown, before sharing a message about negativity online.

‘Be strong, and know that you’re on the right path if you’re attracting haters and making them uncomfortable with your message since growth and progress comes from discomfort,’ he wrote.

So what is Cox’s advice?

Going back to DeShanna and Trinity, Cox shared a lovely bit of advice in response.

She began by writing she once felt the same as Trinity.

‘Dating has been really hard for me but I am currently in a really loving healthy relationship,’ she said.

Laverne Cox's affirming message on Twitter

Cox’s affirming message | Photo: Twitter @Lavernecox

She gave two affirming messages. The first was the need to ‘work on my self love to get myself ready to receive the love when it came’.

The second was to not rush anything, as she found love on ‘God’s time’ and not her own.

Many people responded positively to Cox’s tweet.

One user called Cox a ‘sweet pure person’, while many more complimented Trinity. They called her a beautiful person and reiterated she is worthy of love and will find it.

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Author: Anya Crittenton

The post Laverne Cox’s advice on finding love is a thoughtful and necessary reminder appeared first on Gay Star News.

Jonathan Van Ness has advice for keeping a smile in today’s world of news

Jonathan Van Ness

The 24-hour news cycle, politics, climate change — it can all become too much sometimes. Not to worry, though, Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye has just the advice for keeping a smile on your face.

While playing with kittens (yes, lots of tiny, fuzzy, adorable kittens), Van Ness answered fan questions in a BuzzFeed video.

Some of the questions pertained to his role on Queer Eye of hair and hygiene. For example, when you’re going away and won’t have a hair dryer, but want to keep your hair nice, what do you do?

‘Queen, just get you a hair tie!’ he says. ‘Like that’s what you’re going remote for, am I right? Put it up! Who cares? Just make sure you got some dry shampoo.’

What about more difficult questions, though, like taking care of yourself when you’re struggling with your mental health?

Van Ness answers that and more.

So, how does Van Ness keep smiling in today’s world?

‘It’s very simple. I go on Twitter and spit out every piece of vitriolic rage I have, I take out all my anger on the news,’ he says of his own practice.

He also says he goes on his Instagram explore page, which is filled with things that make him happy, like figure skating, gymnastics, DIY hair styles, and shirtless gays.

As for taking care of yourself while coping with depression, Van Ness’ advice is to start your morning off right, as that will bleed into the rest of the day, and accomplish small things, like brushing your teeth.

Regarding Queer, he said the two biggest things he’s learned is that people are capable of surprising him and change, as well as the fact that while he may never understand ‘Trump people’, they can agree on flossing.

Our big question now, though, is: Did Van Ness adopt one of the kittens?

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Author: Anya Crittenton

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