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12 Things To Never Say To a Queer Girl With Depression

12 Things To Never Say To a Queer Girl With Depression

12 Things To Never Say To a Queer Girl With Depression

Because LGBT folk are twice as likely to have considered suicide compared to the rest of the population. Yikes.

Unsurprisingly, as queer folk, many studies show that LGBT people are more susceptible to mental health issues than the general populace. Young or old, we face difficulties surrounding our sexuality which as well as being terrible in their own right can domino into other areas of our life. Many people, like me, faced a difficult adolescence because of bullying over our sexuality - and then further problems in the workplace. Others in our community have faced internal struggles because they've been too afraid to be open about their sexuality. Anyway, here are some sentences that we don't need to hear when the black dog is snapping at our heels...


12. "You're just confused."

OK. I am attracted to women. This has caused me anguish at times. But please, please - let me have the dignity of being allowed to know my own mind. If you think it's easy to be confused about whether or not you want to have sex with someone, you've clearly never REALLY wanted to have sex with anyone. When you know, you know.


11. "But 'gay' means happy! My cousin is gay and he's really happy!"

This is a a bit like the more offensive cousin of "My cousin is also gay, do you know him?" Yes, clearly, because he lives a thousand miles away from me but all LGBT people know each other because being LGBT is a really small exclusive club of total freaks of nature. Being LGBT doesn't mean living up to the original meaning of the word "gay", 24/7. As I say, we're actually sadly more prone to the darker side of the coin. Le sigh. 



10. "We all get a bit down sometimes."

Depression isn't like the Monday blues or being bummed out that your team lost. My wise friend Ara describes it as an "evil co-pilot": a constant presence, sabotaging everything good and worthy in your life. I thought it was crazy (ha ha) to anthropomorphize it at first. It made me feel even more like I should actually be in a strait jacket, to be honest (damn, do those things pinch). Why am I making my misery into some sort of malevolent cartoon character? But then, gradually, it made sense. Just like cancer is the result of rebellious cells out to damage the body in a revolution against the other cells' end-goals, so depression is the result of rebellious thoughts doing just the same. I know I want to be goddamned happy. But right now, there's something in the way. And it isn't me.


9. "What have you got to be depressed about? Some people have real problems."

This one is a bit like telling someone they weren't out in the snow long enough to get the flu. Thing is, they have the flu. So that's where we have to start from. You can't argue black is white here. If someone's displayed the enormous bravery required to admit that they are depressed against our current cultural backdrop, then they really are desperate for help. If you're prone to dark thoughts in general as well as having to contend with the continuing struggle against homo, bi and/or transphobia, you have a battle and a half on your hands.



8. "Can't you just get cured with pills?"

Antidepressants help some people. They don't help others. For some people, they even actively harm and encourage suicidal thoughts in. To assume they are a one-stop-shop for treating mental health issues is reductive at best. Depression is complicated. Just when you think you have a hold on it, it can suddenly slither from your grasp and wreak more havoc. It's chemical, sure it is, but we aren't just motorcars waiting for oil. It's not that simple. Many people, like me, find the numbing effects of these medications quite alarming. Far from being a way to calm us, they can actually cause distress in their own ironic way. Finding it difficult to orgasm (especially in a same-sex relationship set-up that society already shuns and that we might already feel guilty and unsure about), to write poetry, to paint... none of these things are fun for me and I know I'm not alone in that.


7. "You've been in counseling for years now - come on."

Counseling doesn't always help. It can take years to find the right counselor, to start with - plenty of us never do. I hate to be controversial but sometimes, wonderful though their motives might be, it seriously doesn't help to be sitting in a room with a perfectly-turned-out medical professional five years your junior, her nine PhD certificates glowing smugly behind her on the wall, while she's telling you how to repair your life. Sometimes - and here's where you come in - we just want to bawl our eyes out to a friend in the comfort of our own home, in our My Little Pony pajamas. With pizza. Bonus points go to the counselor who told me I am gay and that bisexual women don't exist. Extra bonus points to all the counselors who ran my trans-women friends ragged insisting they dress and act as some weird red-lipsticked caricature of femininity. Far too many counselors are just not LGBT-savvy and don't get how society's response to our identities impacts on our lives.



6. "Have a drink!"

OK, you got us with this one. A lot of us LOVE the bottle. Why wouldn't we? It makes everything feel much better when we're tanked up. Problem is, less cool is the writhing agony of the hangover. I mean, I don't mind the headache, the nausea, the vomiting... What gets me proper bluesing is the extra helping of depression that gets slapped on top of our everyday ennui when we push that vodka boat out too far. Even as I say this, I'm thinking about having a drink. But it's just NOT the answer. And I know that. Help us be distracted in other ways, please. We promise to be fun. A lot of LGBT culture surrounds bars and clubs and that can be awesome fun, but sometimes some of us would rather hit that LGBT book group because we know our evening libations are getting a bit out of hand.


5. "You're not dangerous, are you?"

As someone diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I have heard more Single White Female and Fatal Attraction jokes than you've had hot, cold or otherwise dinners. First off, I love rabbits and wouldn't even eat one that was fresh out of an above-board factory farm (ahem), let alone slaughter your pet one. Secondly, nope - I'm pretty much only dangerous to myself. More's the pity (joke!). And who hasn't heard 50 million "crazy lesbian" jokes?



4. "It's time to grow out of your emo phase. Ha ha!"

I partially give you this one, although the correct phase is "goth" as I am in my 30s and far classier and more mature than a follower of that other particular derivative subculture which you reference. What? I was born the year Bauhaus split up. Shut up. It still counts. Joking aside, treating depression as a phase is incredibly harmful. I'm 31 years old and like many others I expected my "teenage angst" to run its course. It never did. Much as your gay/bi phase never did... Just sayin'. Those slightly boyish emo chicks with their choppy hairstyles ARE quite cute though...


3. "Does your boss know?"


Yeah. I'm writing this for one of my bosses RIGHT NOW. Because she's epic and she asked me to. It's hard coming out in the workplace as it is, without adding depressive illness to your slate as well as your perverse desire to caress the ladies. Bosses think you'll leave/have a breakdown during a meeting/scale the roof wearing nothing but a manila folder. But miserable people can be useful, too. We're often creative. We're often honest. We are rad at making you laugh. I found this in a book once and it says it all. You don't have to be "Steady Eddie". "Reckless Erica" often gets further, against all the odds.



2. "Have you ever tried to kill yourself?"

Yes. It was about a month ago, and I'm surprised I held out so long, actually. Point is, I'm not always going to feel OK when you catch me off-guard with this question. Lots of depressed people never try to commit suicide. Frankly, I don't think it's something I will do again - I almost assumed I had to do it to get my proper badge of acceptance to the Depression Club. I know that sounds terrible, but it's how it often feels. It can be hard to make an outward gesture powerful enough for non-depressed-folk to listen to it. 


1. "You're just looking for attention."

Yeah, damn right we are. Because for the most part we want to be good, productive people. We want to be decent friends. We just need your help to survive. Please give it to us.


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Charlotte Dingle