The last few years have been rather complicated for me. I was molested when I was 13 by a guy in the family but a year younger than me. I got out of high school a year early and am a Jr. in college. The thing is, I've suffered dysthymia since I was 8 and after the assault, suffered year long bouts of double depression. A year ago, I started cutting but have managed to avoid doing so for the past 6 months- not for lack of wanting to, but because I told a friend I wouldn't. I think about suicide practically every day and the only reason I haven't is because I'm subborn. I do have a counselor, but I'm afraid to tell her the extent of my thoughts (While I trust her, I do not trust that she won't find herself legally obligated to some action which would greatly complicate my life while I remain stubborn.)
I've always had issues developing crushes on anyone as I'm entirely too rational and logical; to hide my depression I've learned to supress practically any emotion (save those depressing ones) and have become an excellent actor; my friends and (especially) my family know and suspect none of any of this. But I've come to a tentative comclusion that I can choose to like anyone; as in, for me it's a choice to develop a crush on someone. Is this normal or healthy at all?!?
I don't know if this ability is because of the assault, or it's because I've suppressed my emotions and my extention my sexual orientation. I'm not scared that I'd choose an abusive individual as a spouse for the attention or feeling of belonging that I crave, but I'm rather scared that my head will choose nondiscrimently over my heart and I'll find I've picked the wrong sex.
And to further add a wrench into this my mom's a Reverand and my dad's a missionary kid with a Very strict sence of Biblical right and wrong. I'm also a christian, so I've got the "isn't it a sin?" question on top of the "it's wrong to encourage anyone along a path that's wrong"... so basically if I accept that it's wrong, but wish to- and then go through with- being with another girl; I'm in a loaded ethical delima. I haven't been able to talk with anyone about this questioning at all- not even my counselor; since I attend a Christian College.
Clearly you're a very intelligent person having completed high school early and currently attending your junior in college.You are dealing with many difficult and painful issues including having been sexually molested, experiencing depression for so much of your life, having ongoing suicidal thoughts, struggling with the urge to cut as well as your struggle with your sexual orientation and your religious beliefs. It takes a lot courage to reach out for help when you're going through such a hard time and I'm so glad that you reached out to Ask Trevor for support and help.
Lex, please know that we at The Trevor Project care about you. It's concerninng that you think about suicide practically everyday. I'm so glad that you haven't acted on those thoughts because of you being stubborn. Though you said that you haven't shared with your counselor the extent of your thoughts, it's very important for your safety to immediately tell a trusted adult such as your counselor, a parent, friend's parent, relative, teacher, school counselor or doctor about your suicidal thoughts in order to keep you safe. If you don't feel comfortable, you don't need to talk with them about your sexuality when you have this discussion. If you ever feel you're going to act on the thoughts of suicide immediately call 911 or get to your nearest hospital emergency room. If there's no one you feel comfortable talking with or would like more support, you could call the Trevor lifeline at 1-866-4-U-Trevor, 24 hours 7 days a week. Our caring, understanding and supportive counselors are here to talk with you about everything you're feeling and going through and want to do whatever is needed to keep you safe. As you're experiencing, when you’re depressed, it can be very painful to feel, can make you isolate from your friends and family, cause you to be tired all the time and take away your motivation to do things, make you not enjoy the things you usually like to do, make you sleep much less or much more than usual, cause you to eat much less or 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. People sometimes think about ending their life when they're feeling very depressed, feel hopeless that things will get better and helpless to make things better in their life. On www.us.reachout.com you'll find facts about depression by clicking on “struggles with feelings.” It's good that you're seeing a counselor to help you deal with the depression, your suicidal thoughts, your urge to cut, the affects of being sexually molested. Sometimes in addition to therapy, medication can help in the treatment of depression and it's something, you might discuss with your counselor. Though you said you're reluctant to talk with your counselor about your suicidal thoughts, they would be important to discuss as it could help to understand what's causing those thoughts as well as to help you to feel better and to 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. Since you said that you're unable to discuss your issues around your questioning sexual orientation and the impact of your religious beliefs with your counselor as you attend a Christian College, you might think about contacting the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists by calling 215-222-2800 or by visiting their website at www.aglp.org for help in finding someone in your area for you to talk more openly with and work with.
It's very healthy that you've been able to stop yourself from cutting during the past 6 months but concerning that you've cut yourself before and continue to want to cut. 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 the life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or "dead inside" and cutting helps them to feel alive. With you being sexually molested, the depression you've been experiencing and with the struggle with your sexual orientation and your religious beliefs, you may be experiencing some or all of these things. It's important for you to know that though the cutting may help you to feel better briefly 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. Again, it's healthy that you haven't cut for the past 6 months but when you do have the urge to cut, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before you have the urge to cut. If cutting is a way of helping 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 is a way of helping 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 is a way to help when you feel 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 such as your counselor about the cutting in order work with with her to find safer and healthier ways to deal with the hard things you’re going through. 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.
Lex, please know that NO ONE ever has the right to sexually abuse you or abuse you in any way. Being sexually abused can be devastating and can affect you in many ways including psychologically, emotionally and physically. It can make it difficult for you to trust people, cause you to have trouble understanding that you have the right to control what happens to you and cause you to experience flashbacks (when memories of past traumas feel as if they are taking place in the current moment) to the abuse. Sexual abuse can affect your self-esteem and your intimate relationships. It can cause you to experience symptoms of depression.You may feel guilt or shame about what happened to you but remember that you did nothing wrong and that it was the person who abused you who were wrong in what they did to you. The memories of the abuse may interfere in your ability to engage in sexual relationships which may leave you feeling frightened, frustrated, or ashamed. RAINN, the Rape, Assault, Incest, National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. On their website at http://www.rainn.org/ you can learn about the effects of sexual abuse, recovering from sexual assault as well as ways to get help and support including by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
As far as your sexuality and who you develop crushes, what's most important is that you feel comfortable with your feelings and attractions. In trying to understand your sexuality, it might help to remember that sexual orientation involves emotional, romantic as well as physical feelings and attraction for people of both genders (bisexual), people of the same gender (lesbian and gay), and people of the opposite gender (heterosexual or straight). It can also help to think about who you have crushes on and who you fantasize about dating with girls, boys or both. On http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=730&Itemid=177 you'll find the brochure "I Think I Might Be Lesbian...Now What Do I Do?" which may help you with your questions about your sexuality. On www.bisexual.org you'll find a lot of helpful information on bisexuality. If you click on resources, then bisexuality-general information, then "Bisexuality 101 from PFLAG" you can find information that may help. PFLAG’s (Parents, Families & Friends Of Lesbians & Gays) “Be Yourself: Questions for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth” at http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Be_Yourself_TT.pdf can be of further help as you try to understand your sexual orientation. Remember that there's no rush to figure this out. You'll know when you're ready.
You said you're going through an ethical dilemma wanting to pursue being with another girl while at the same time dealing with your mom being a Reverand and your dad being a the child of a missionary, both with a very strict sence of Biblical right and wrong as well as with you being christian, and feeling that same-sex attractions and relationships are a sin. It might help to know that though some religious people believe that being lesbian or gay is wrong, there are many, many religious people as well as religious leaders who believe that being lesbian or gay is completely normal and natural. Please know that you can definitely be both religious and lesbian. To learn about the Biblical scriptures that teach compassion and support for lesbian and gay people, you might consider reading through the numerous guides on Soulforce’s “Resources” webpage at www.soulforce.org and also reading the PFLAG guide “Faith in our Families: Parents, Families and Friends Talk About Religion and Homosexuality” at http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/FaithinourFamilies.pdf..” If you'd like to read more about various opinions regarding faith and sexual orientation, there is also a great resource online called The Institute for Welcoming Resources at http://www.welcomingresources.org/. It is the most comprehensive and up to date website devoted to providing religious and faith based resources for the LGBTQ community.
When you're going through such a difficult time, it can be helpful and important to reach out to supportive, understanding people for help. You can get peer to peer support at The GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-7743. You may want to consider joining TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org the Trevor Project's safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and allies. It’s a great supportive community, where you can connect and chat with young people all over, get support and learn what's helped others dealing with similar issues.
Lex, please continue to reach out for help and support and to fight for you because you're definitely worth fighting for. Remember that you can always call the Trevor Lifeline 24 hours, 7 days a week. Please know that you don't have to go through this alone as we're always here for you at The Trevor Project.
There's no pressure to talk with your family about your questions about your sexuality but if you do decide to talk with them, they may have many questions about your sexuality and may need time and help to become more understanding and supportive of you. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great organization, made up mostly of parents, which supports LGBTQ people and works to help parents and others to become more supportive and accepting of their loved one's sexual orientation. On their website at www.pflag.org click on "Get Support" then click on "For Family & Friends" where you'll find the pamphlets "Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People" and “Frequently Asked Questions about GLBT People,” which, if you’re comfortable, you can share with your family members to help them become more understanding and accepting of you. PFLAG also runs support groups where parents and others can discuss questions and concerns they have about a loved one's sexual orientation and where LGBT people can discuss issues they're having with people in their life. You can learn more about the PFLAG Jackson chapter by emailing them at email@example.com or visiting their website at http://www.pflagms.org/. If you're unable to attend or your parents won't attend, you could still contact them and get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you. Other resources you might share with them are the books “Now That You Know-A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children” which addresses many issues and questions that arise for parents of gay and lesbian children and “Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together.” There are no guarantees but they may help.