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Loneliness / Self Esteem Problems

Question:

I’m 17 years old and have been out as gay for over three years now. Everyone has been very accepting of me, which makes me feel bad for complaining in comparison to what some people have to go through, but recently I’ve been feeling really isolated and it’s starting to take over my life and make me feel down constantly.

In the area I live in there are loads of adult gay people, but they live very closed off society, surrounded by drugs and alcohol, neither of which I’m old enough to go near yet, so I never have anyone to talk to. I’m in my last year before university, and at college there is barely any other gay people, and there wasn’t any at high school, so I’ve never really had any relationship opportunities or chances to mix with anyone. Everyone I know is much more advanced sexually than I am, which makes me really nervous 1) I’m worried that by the time I get to university I’ll suddenly meet people who are loads more experienced than I am 2) They’ll shun me for not knowing anything or knowing what to do. Any opportunity to mix with new people I mess up. I feel self conscious all the time, and I’ve developed this fear that people are staring at me as they walk past me, which makes me constantly on edge. My mother has had an eating disorder for over two decades, and over the last year I’ve developed it as well. My weight goes sharply up and down constantly sometimes I lose all control of what I’m eating. I feel so horrible about the way I look that I can’t even look in mirrors anymore, and when I do I spend about five minutes just fixating on every aspect of my appearance. This leads me to constantly change the way I look and dress, I’ve not had a fixed appearance for over a year.

I’m becoming really worried about everything, I think that what’s started out as loneliness has spread to my entire outlook on myself and it makes me feel as if I’m unwantable and will be lonely forever. Never felt properly comfortable or confident, it feels like I’ve got like one chance to make my life right when I go to university, but I’m too nervous/self-conscious/miserable to be able to take advantage of it properly.

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

You are very brave for coming out; that takes a lot of strength, even when everyone is accepting. Further, you are equally brave for understanding your problems and seeking to face them, as that can be just as challenging. You can see this just by how few of your peers have come out. It can be really isolating being one of the only openly LGBT people you know. There are issues the LGBT community faces that most people cannot identify with and it helps to be able to talk with someone going through the same things. Not having the experiences everyone around you seems to be having can also make you feel left out. All of your peers are dating and exploring but you have not had the opportunity yet.

However, you are not alone. I guarantee that some of your peers feel the same way; the tough part is figuring out who they are. A good place to start is actually Trevor Space (trevorspace.org). It is run by the Trevor Project and designed as a safe and easy place for LGBT youth to meet and talk. It might be a good place for you to meet people your age going through a similar situation. Further, it is okay to be seventeen and not be sexually experienced; in fact, statistically most of your peers are not either. You have plenty of time for that stuff and the best option is to always take things at your own pace and do what you feel comfortable with. People will not shun you for that and if they are really interested in being with you they will take the time to catch you up. Besides, at seventeen it is more important to focus on your future: getting good grades, getting into a good university, lining up as many helpful skills as you can, and learning to accept and love yourself. These are the things that will ultimately help you in life and make you a happier person.

As for your anxiety, depression, and eating disorder, you might want to seek out treatment. They are serious medical conditions and there are medical treatments that can help. In particular, you should seek out a licensed therapist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is very effective for depression and eating disorders as well as social anxiety. You can ask your doctor or a support group such as http://www.b-eat.co.uk/ (call 08456 347650) for support and more information. Another support group you might try is http://www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk/. Also, we have a live chat if you have further questions, TrevorChat and Trevorspace our social network. Finally, remember it gets better http://www.itgetsbetter.org/.

Trevor Staff