Safeguarding my mental health in a Homophobic Society – Joyline
Navigating our way in a society that is still queerphobic is very overwhelming. The persistent queerphobia affects our emotional well-being and the lack of support (for example, LGBT+ friendly therapists) to deal with this only adds to the emotional turmoil. This is why we need to do all we can to safeguard our emotional and physical well-being bearing in mind that the two aren’t mutually exclusive, with one often affecting the other.
I’ve been living with a mental illness for a while now. I believe that illness has roots in a very traumatic childhood and it is also exacerbated by some family members who are intolerant of my sexuality. It has taken me a few years to get to a place of being confident in my sexuality and (unapologetically) ‘out’. However, taking that risk has come with its own (undeserved) share of condemnation from heterosexual folks. Hatred and intolerance from heteronormative folks does take its toll on one’s psyche which often leads to physical complications, especially if those folks are family or people we have personal relationships with.
I have made the decision to not allow my family’s intolerance to have a stronghold on me. I am trying to be aware of things that worsen my mental state and then taking necessary steps to minimize their impact on me or remove myself from those things. I have stopped entertaining people who are intolerant of my sexuality; this is not to say I want my sexuality to be tolerated. NO! I want to be accepted as I am because tolerance only means someone is only putting up with me but they do not ‘condone’ my sexuality.
Another decision I have made is to stop allowing the hateful preaching from religious folks to eat away at me, especially since I am being condemned by people who have a tendency to point fingers while overlooking their faults. Dissociating myself from religion has also helped me in this regard. I am at a place where I accept my sexuality and I accept whatever consequences I may face just because I loved someone of the same gender as me.
One thing I am also doing to safeguard my mental health is to focus on those people who accept me as I am, even if it’s just one or two people. On and off social media, I am trying to build a network of queer folks and supportive (cis) heterosexual folks because knowing that one is not alone does help us feel better and when we feel better, we tend to do better. Loving and supportive relationships have as much power over our well-being as do toxic relationships. That is why I choose to have the power of love trump the power of hate. I deserve to be healthy and happy. WE ALL DO!
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