Publish Date: 15/10/2013
As a gay man, what are the main issues that you want to help raise awareness of with healthcare providers?
The main issue I would like to raise is that of mental health. The statistics for people from the LGB&T community who suffer with mental health issues compared to non-LGB&T folk is extremely worrying. I myself have been through several mental health related issues and I wish when I was going through them I had the help and support from places such as the LGF
What one thing would you like to achieve during the course of the Community Leaders project?
I would like to get the message out that people are not alone when dealing with mental health issues, and there are people/organisations out there willing to help.
What would you say to anyone who is frustrated at the way their healthcare needs are met but who may feel unable to challenge the situation ?
I would like to remind them of organisations like the LGF who are here to help anyone in that situation. Our health should be the most important thing on our minds and we should never allow others opinions/actions to deter us away from ensuring we get the best possible care available .
It isn’t easy for anyone with health issues to feel up to challenging the status quo but what has made you want to try and improve things for both yourself and other LGB people?
I have been suffering with health care issues for the best part of half of my life. From an early age I had body image issue . I suffered from bulimia from the age of 14 up until I was 23. As a result of this I also dipped in and out of depression. This has continued on from the age of 14 up until I recently was required to stay in hospital to finally challenge my demons and work on some of the issues that have affected my life.
A large part of all of these issues was the fact that I was not happy being gay. Looking back I realise I have always known deep down, however I was scared due to family and social pressures to ever come out. My teen years were not the happy joyful times that my friends recount, but were plagued with lies and deceit. Mainly me lying to myself about who I truly was. This inevitably caused many issues within me which lead to various episodes of depression throughout my life. To hide these issues I started to self-medicate through the use of alcohol and drugs which only exasperated the situation.
I would like to say that once I “came out” it all got easier but then came the guilt for lying all those years, guilt with myself and for those around me who I lied to. The self-medication then continued which only helped worsen the situation.
This is why I want to improve the situation. If just one person reads this and realises they are not alone and seeks help I will know that my contribution was worthwhile.
*We would like to thank George for sharing his story and have changed his name to protect his anonymity. If like George you want to be an advocate for lesbian, gay and bisexual people and you live in Greater Manchester , we’d love to hear from you. To find out more visit lgbt.foundation/volunteer or email email@example.com
If you need help or support with any of the issues covered here please contact The Lesbian & Gay Foundation's Helpline: 0845 3 30 30 30 or e-mail us in confidence: firstname.lastname@example.org