Blair’s story- part two: conversion therapy and declining mental health
"I thought I just need to do this, to get through to 18, and I’ll deal with my mental health then. I’m almost out"
CONTENT WARNING: self-h*rm, su*cide
“I used to say to myself, you only need to survive until your 18, and then things will get better. But obviously things only got worse without treatment.
I started off feeling extremely anxious and extremely depressed, I woke up having panic attacks, and I went to sleep having panic attacks. Eventually that became self-harm, which eventually became extreme suicidality, where there was a time between 15, 16, 17, there would be months where I was constantly suicidal.
My parents’ fundamentalist ideas are all about being tested, everything is a test from God. I mean my parents didn’t believe in mental health. They didn’t believe in it as a concept. “No, you’re not depressed, it is just a test from God”. It was like trying to speak another language. They believed they had failed as parents because they had a gay son, not because they had a suicidal son.
I really wanted to live, and to get to 18, but it very nearly didn’t happen. So that did mean that my parent finally phoned the GP- if I was going to get help, they were still going to be in control. It all happened on their terms. They drove me, they came inside the doctors with me, and sat just outside the door. I couldn’t explain to the doctor what was happening. I couldn’t tell them the full truth. I told them I had mental health problems, and I told them it was because of exams.
At the best of times, its hard as a man in a close-knit rural community to talk about your emotions and feelings, but with everything else, I just couldn’t be honest. I wasn’t allowed medication, that was the red line my parent had drawn. I was given an online CBT course. I thought I just need to do this, to get through to 18, and I’ll deal with my mental health then. I’m almost out. I didn’t want anything to disrupt the plan because there was no realistic alternative of escape.
And I did survive, I made it through to university.”
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