Hi. I’m bisexual and I want to come out at school and in my community but I’m scared. My good friend is a lesbian and she and her girlfriend are getting bullied because of who the are. When I stick up for them I get called a faggot, and when people see the cuts on our arms they call us emo and suicidal freaks. I self harm but anyone would too if they were bullied every day sense first grade. That’s why I’m scared about coming out. I want to be able to be open with my girlfriend just like straight couples are. I’m tired of hiding who I am. Please help.
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Thank you for reaching out for support. You are in a very difficult situation and we want to do everything we can to make your situation better. The most important thing is your safety. Your situation is causing you so much distress that you are physically harming yourself. This is completely understandable. People cut as a way of dealing with or managing difficult, painful, overwhelming emotions or stress. For some, cutting relieves stress or tension or they find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Some people are angry at someone in their life and take the anger out on themselves by cutting. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control when things in the life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or dead inside and cutting helps them to feel alive.
It’s important for you to know that cutting may help you to feel better briefly but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections and serious, and sometimes life threatening medical problems especially if you cut a major blood vessel. It can also cause you to feel shame, guilt, depressed and out of control.
If you feel like cutting, there are many ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you cut yourself. If cutting helps to release anger, you might try getting the anger out in another way like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, ripping up an old newspaper or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted. That may be listening to certain songs, calling a friend or eating a favorite food. Sometimes, writing in a journal or drawing/painting helps a person to feel better. For some people, doing something physical like running outdoors or yoga can help relieve stress. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stamp your feet on the ground. There are websites available that can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut. Check out www.safe-alternatives.com and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm.
It can be very difficult to stop cutting and it would be important to tell a trusted adult about the cutting in order for them to find a therapist for you to work with to find safer and healthier ways to deal with the hard things you’re going through. If you’re not comfortable talking with your parents, you could ask a school counselor for help finding a therapist or call 1-800-DON’T- CUT where you can be referred to a therapist in your area. When you have the urge to cut, you can always call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386) and talk with a Trevor lifeline counselor about what you’re feeling and experiencing as well as your urge to cut which can help to delay or stop the urge to cut. They can also work with you to find a therapist to help you.
Again, the most important thing is to keep yourself safe and healthy. So when it comes to coming out, you may want to think about your and your girlfriend’s safety first. It sounds like you are in a very unfriendly environment and you could be at risk for more than verbal harassment. It is incredibly difficult to have to live the way you live now. There is nothing wrong with you or your girlfriend or your relationship, so we completely understand that you want to be able to live completely in the open. You might find the Human Rights Campaign’s “Resource Guide to Coming Out” at http://www.hrc.org/files/documents/ComingOut_ResourceGuide.pdf helpful. In addition, on http://amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource/youthresource-comingout you’ll find an article called “Coming Out to Your Parents: Questions to Think About” which may be of help to you.” But the most important thing is that you remain safe and healthy.
If you have a good relationship with a parent, teacher, counselor, pastor, or neighbor, we would suggest that you reach out for support. You are in a very challenging and stressful situation and the more support you can get the better. We are always here for you and would like to be as helpful as possible, so please continue to reach out.