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Am I Depressed And What Should I Do?

Question:

I am 19 years old, I’m starting my second year at university in February. About a year ago I came out to my mom and some friends, and told them I’m gay. Everyone has been ok with it so far, but for some reason, I feel they shouldn’t be. I feel like I should be punished for being gay, although I know that there’s nothing I can do about it. My mom has been really supportive, and I love her for that. My parents are divorced and I have no intention of telling my dad that I’m gay. I’ve never had the relationship that I would really like with my dad. I blame him for the divorce because he cheated on my mom. Some days it just feels like things in my life are too much. People expect too much of me. I’m not doing as well as I want to in my studies. My girlfriend and I broke up and then I fell for another girl and things between us aren’t working out either because she has hang ups over her ex. The thing I do to protect myself from all the feelings and hurt I have, is that I sleep. If I’m not on campus or at work I’m usually asleep. Or I’m out partying with friends. That way I just forget about all the hurt. My friends think that I’m the happiest person alive because I’m always smiling and pretending that my life is great. Am I depressed? What should I do to feel better about myself and be truly happy?

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Answer:

It is entirely possible that you are experiencing a depression. The fact that you sleep a lot when you are not in class or working and that your school work has slipped are good indicators of depression. However, things are more complicated for you and those complications are probably at the root of your depression.

I am making an educated guess that you have not told your father about your sexual orientation because you are having difficulty accepting it in yourself. I understand that you blame him for the divorce and that you do not have much of a relationship with him. Yet, I suspect that your inability to accept yourself is what is causing you to avoid telling him. Of course, you may be worried that he will reject you because of this. Yet, it would be better to know, would it not? At this moment there is just a sense that your greatest struggle is with self acceptance, otherwise, you would have that conversation. But, rejection from him is only one possibility.

You know, if you speak to your dad about your being gay there is a chance that it will bring the two of you closer. In fact, he could very well feel relieved that you take him into your confidence. Anyway, that is just another point of view than his being automatically rejecting of you.

I want to strongly urge you to enter psychotherapy in order that you learn to be self accepting. That nagging automatic thought that people should not accept you is really an internal critic. At the moment, you are not the strongest advocate for gay rights. Your steady stream of self criticism is pulling you down.

I suggest that you see a clinical psychologist who is expert in using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and who has a good knowledge and experience working with gay people.

You are young and should be giving yourself every opportunity to make a good adjustment to being gay and to living a happy and fulfilled life.

One more comment: I also suspect that the person who expects too much of you is…yourself. What I mean is that I suspect a wish on your part to be hetersexual. Go to therapy and get over that and be what you are and own it fully and with pride.

Best of Luck

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