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Self harm & difficulty accepting myself

Question:

I didn’t know where else to turn. I’m currently struggling to stay happy for any length of time now. I sleep most of the day including while I’m in school and at home. My depression is just consuming me.  I can’t go a day without thinking about hurting myself or just not even being alive. I hate myself.  I’ve come out as gay and have had a couple years to accept it now but I just can’t seem to fully accept myself. I was recently dumped by my first kiss. He told me he hated me. I have since found someone new, and I feel bad because he does make me happy but my depression is no better.  I have a boyfriend who I like very much and I should be happy and I am but my depression always makes me feel down the second we have to say goodbye. I have been harassed in school again this year too. It’s my senior year. The harassment has been brutal. Maybe that’s another reason I can’t accept myself.  I don’t know why I’m bothering to write this.  I just want advice, someone to tell me what to do. How can I make these thoughts go away, be happy and stay happy?  I scare myself at this point. Last time I hurt myself it was 114 times.  I have terrible migraines almost every day now too. I zone out and just go completely blank for hours. I feel so lost I just stand in the middle of my room just getting lost in thought. I don’t cry too much any more, I’m just numb. I’m exhausted at this point and I don’t talk to anyone about this other than my therapist. I don’t trust my school. I’m petrified of anti depressants even though I will be on them soon. I’m just so lost. I want to be happy with who I am and be able to feel beautiful and normal for once. I hope who ever reads this can help me somehow.

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Hello:

We commend you and are honored that you have chosen to reach out to us as you navigate this painful journey you find yourself in at this point in your life. Only you can make choices for your life but rest assured that you are not alone, you are in charge, you can get through this difficult time, and we are happy to assist you becoming the person you choose to be.  While the suggestions we will share may or may not be new to you, we want you to know that we believe you reached out to us because we are here, and we care.  So, let’s get to it.

Even if there is a boyfriend in our life that we like very much, when one is depressed as you are, it can be very painful to feel and can make you isolate from your friends and family, cause you to be tired all the time, take away your motivation to do things, make you not enjoy the things you usually like to do, make you sleep and eat much less or much more than usual, and make you see everything in your life in a negative way. Sometimes the depression can get so bad it can make a person think of ending their life, feeling hopeless that things will get better and helpless to make things better in their life. On http://www.us.reachout.com you’ll find facts about depression by clicking on ‘struggles with feelings.’” Since you stated you are currently seeing a therapist, we encourage you to continue seeing your therapist (or another if you choose) because there is treatment for depression and suicide including medication and/or therapy, both of which you have referenced. Talking with a mental health professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist as you are doing about what you’re feeling and going through including thoughts of hurting yourself, your self image, choices, coming out, bullying, etc. can truly help you to feel better and help you see choices and options you may not be aware that you have. On www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen_teenagers.htm you can learn more about depression and its treatment. Should you like to pursue other counsel, on http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/MHTreatmentLocator/faces/quickSearch.jspx you can search for mental health services in your area and  contact the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists by calling 215-222-2800 or by visiting their website at http://aglp.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14&Itemid =74 for help in finding someone in your area for you to talk and work with.

We also want to share with you that 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 their life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or “dead inside” and cutting helps them to feel alive.” Based on many of the things you shared, you have been experiencing many of these things just mentioned. 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. So if you feel like cutting, there are lots of 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 including www.safe-alternatives.com and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm that can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut.   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.”

Finally, please know that you have the right to feel safe in your school and no one ever has the right to bully or abuse you in any way.  As far as how to deal with the bullying in your school, you could start by talking with an adult at school such as the principal, school counselor or school administrator as it is their job to make sure you and others are not being harassed or bullied by students, teachers or anyone and that you feel safe in school, so if you feel comfortable, please bring it to their attention immediately.” There are a number of organizations that work specifically in schools to address homophobia and transphobia against LGBT students. One such organization is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which works to ensure safe schools for ALL students. On their website at www.glsen.org click on “what we do” where you can find programs which may help people in your school become more understanding and supportive of you. One program is called “A Day of Silence” which brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Each year, the event has grown, now with hundreds of thousands of students coming together to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. Another program is the No Name-Calling Week which is a week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to foster a dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities. On GLSEN’s website, there are also links to articles and blogs where you can learn how students at other schools are educating each other on the subject of intolerance. GLSEN also has information on how to start a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) which is a student club that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. It’s a place where students can come together, offer support to one another and help make your school a more accepting place. On http://www.gsanetwork.org/resources/start.html you can get information on how to start a GSA. You can call the GLSEN office in New York at 212-727-0135 as they may be able to help you or point you towards someone who can help you. Another resource that can be of help is The Trevor Project’s Lifeguard workshop program which contains the film “Trevor” to be used with the workshop guide to open up discussions with ALL students about how language and behavior can affect the way an individual feels about themselves. You can find these resources by going to The Trevor Project home page and clicking on “read more” under “parents and educators” or by calling The Trevor Project offices at 310-271-8845. If there is a school counselor or administrator at your school with whom you feel comfortable, you could talk with them about using these programs to help people become more understanding and accepting of you and other LGBT people.” And just remember if there’s no one you feel comfortable talking with, you can always call the Trevor lifeline at 1-866-4-U-Trevor, 24 hours 7 days a week and TrevorChat.  We are always here for you.

Trevor Staff