Editor’s Note: The following submission is from Maricela Estrada. Have an LGBTQ+ related experience or story to share? Having your article published on this site will automatically enrol you into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Submit an article today via queerdeermedia.com.
I have always thought living with a mental illness was the hardest thing I ever faced in my life but coming out was just as hard. I struggled discovering who I really was and what I wanted. Was I bi-curious, bisexual, or lesbian? It was all too perplexing. Coming out of the closet exacerbated the severity of my mental illness. On one dark and depressing night I recorded my suicide note on webcamera and overdosed on my medication. My friend found me and I was unconscious. She called 911 and my life was saved. Surviving the worst suicide attempt of my life made me realize I would not let a mental illness destroy my life. It took five years to recover from my bipolar episode of depression but I did it. My life living with mental illness propelled me to dedicate my life helping others like me.
Currently, I am working as a Medical Case Worker for the Los Angeles County-Department of Mental Health. I work on the prevention and early intervention team. My career is meaningful because I have the opportunity to give back and help people. I have come to realize that there is not enough public awareness on the LGBT community and mental health. There are wonderful organizations that help like the Los Angeles LGBT Center where I received excellent mental health services. They even have a drop in center for the homeless LGBT community. They offer a vast array of mental health services. However, we need more organizations like the Los Angeles LGBT Center. We need more advocacy and public awareness on the LGBT community and mental health.
When I was a graduate student at California State University Los Angeles and was studying social work, I wrote a research paper on the LGBT community and mental health. I did so much research only to find that suicide rate is higher on the LGBT community and there are a lot of LGBT homeless youth. Parents kick their kids out of their homes sometimes because they are not accepted for being LGBT. We need to unite to build public awareness in our communities and via the internet. We need more resources.
•Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
•Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents are 190 percent more likely to use drugs and alcohol than are heterosexual teens (Marshal MP, Friedman MS, et al – Addiction 2008).
•Sexual minority youth, or teens that identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, are bullied two to three times more than heterosexuals. (Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH 2010).
•Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (89%) (GLSEN: Harsh Realities, The Experiences of Transgender Youth In Our Nation’s Schools 2009).
I just want to express that if you are struggling with depression or mental illness and are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, you are note a lone. Never lose that sense of hope. Hope is eternal and it comes from within your heart and determination not to falter or give up. I know that because I did it and so can you.
I would like to share a great resource that helped me every time I was suicidal. I was a frequent caller at the Suicide Prevention Hotline. They can help you too so don’t hesitate to call (1877) 727-4747. This is the link to the Los Angeles LGBT Center http://www.lalgbtcenter.org.
7If you live in Los Angeles County and need mental health services you can call our Department of Mental Health ACCESS line at (1800) 854-7771. They are open 24/7 and are crisis and non-crisis. You can get linked to a local mental health clinic. The first step to surviving a mental illness is getting help. Take a step towards hope. Take a step towards recovery. Get the help you need.