From Lebanon: It has been a long period that I’ve been worried, asking constant questions to myself. First of all, I am a gay guy, at the age of 21. My life was a continuous fear of expression and exposure of my true self to the world. Ever since I knew I was gay at the age of 7 or 8, I started having irrational fears and extreme anger/irritation that dragged into all of my early adolescence. I had an extreme hate towards myself, sabotaging every artistic talent that I had, from a writing skill, a drawing skill, a beautiful voice, basically every aspect of my talent that was feminine, I hated it. I was always afraid of being judged,
I live in an eastern Arabic society, where false beliefs about homosexuality followed all my childhood and teenage years. They used to constantly talk about homosexuals as mentally ill with extreme mental and psychological disorders. I was always afraid of my image. I used to spend hours researching late at night so I can prove my sanity to myself.
I’ve always been attracted to men, and I had my first real crush/love at the age of 13. It was a one sided experience, and it was an extremely close friend. The ending traumatized me, when that person suddenly left my life. My sabotaging behavior grew and it hit me again, I started failing at school and I truly reached extremely low levels of depression and hurt. Although, I used to be one of the best students, always studying and working hard. My case started getting worse, I couldn’t talk to anyone, couldn’t tell my family about my sexual orientation and all that I needed to do was live and pass the count of days.
I am now in college, majoring in Art, after a long struggle with self sabotaging and fear of being known for who I truly am, the suffering never seemed to go away and I feel that I’ve spent my whole life hiding myself behind fear and I can’t truly remember who I am neither have a stable image of myself because I am afraid. I’ve been distant from my family, never had real friends, and my memory is always blurry when it comes to past experiences and I feel as much as I hated myself that I can’t connect with who I truly am.
My question and fear is have I developed a borderline personality or bipolar disorder since my childhood till now? Am I mentally ill, because of my constant self sabotaging and the hate towards my social image? I’ve been extremely bullied, always excluded from my surroundings, but I am now socially active, although I am suffering from anxiety, depression and lack of interest. The past two years were extremely tiring, I didn’t like anything, and had no interest in my life at all. I felt extremely ill. Is there a chance I might be mentally or psychologically well functioning?
Thank you for your time, I know some information might be missing but if I can provide you more context I would be more than glad to do so, since I know a diagnosis is not done through online questioning.
A: Sadly, your story is very much like the stories of many of my gay clients who grew up in a homophobic family and/or unaccepting (even hostile) community. I know it won’t fix everything but it might help you feel a bit better to understand that you are not at all alone in your struggles. Ironically, your fear, your distancing from others, and your self-sabotaging may have helped you survive through your teen years. It’s possible that you were protecting yourself by making yourself invisible and non-threatening. Unfortunately, those behaviors may have become habits that are now in your way.
But now you are 21. You are in college. I hope there are parts of your life where it is safe to claim your sexual identity and to start being your real self. It will be difficult. It’s not like you can flip a switch from being a scared kid in hiding to being a confident adult. But over time you can do it. With some professional help and support, you could do it more easily.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what resources are available in your country. You would benefit from some therapy and an LGBT support group. If that isn’t possible, a place to start is the forum for sexuality issues here at PsychCentral. I also did a little research and found that there are a number of online support groups where you can get both pracical advice and empathetic support from other gay men worldwide. I hope you will explore gaining more self-knowledge through the self-expression your art can provide for you.
I think writing to us here at PsychCentral was one of the many ways that you are coming out and coming into your self. It’s a good start. But it’s only a start. I hope you will continue to look for ways to get help and healing. You deserve it.
I wish you well.