What helps us get through hard times

Keeping the memory of my sister alive

One of us spoke about how the precious memories of her sister have helped her to get through extremely hard times. When my sister passed away, I always used to draw pictures to help me with the stress, because I went through severe depression when she passed away.

I cried nearly every night because I was so upset about losing her. In school I always used to get this giant piece of paper and write things on it and all of these things are up on my walls to remind me of her. These pictures help to keep the memory of my sister alive. Remembering her helps me to cope with hard times.

I think she’d feel really grateful that I’m doing this for her because she was like a really really nice girl. She was funny and she was kind.

Having that space to talk

Many of us found having an opportunity to talk to others or express ourselves without being judged really helpful. We had different experiences of this and found talking with different people helpful.

One of us explained how ‘for me, having a kind of way to talk about stuff, either to other people or just like having a blog or something, like not even necessarily something that people would follow or people that you know would see. Just kind of having that space to talk without kind of feeling like you’re going to be judged for it or anything can help with anything your finding difficult’.

Another one of us explained, ‘If I feel really stressed or if I feel suicidal, the only person I can go to is my mum because I know that she won’t judge me, she wont say ‘it’s just a phase and you’ll get through it’. She knows what I’m going through because I share everything with her. We have a really really close bond. She’s one of the first people I came out to and she was so supportive of me. I can always go to her and if she’s not available, I can text her.

She’ll still listen to me and she’ll help me through the problem. There was one time I felt really really depressed and I went on ChildLine. They didn’t judge. They didn’t think I was different or weird or not normal. It was like they were used to being told these problems because they gave me really good advice which helped me to change who I am for the better and to become who I am now. It did really help’.

For some of us it was hard to find someone that we could talk to. Like one of us explained, ‘I always found that really hard. I didn’t feel I could connect to loads of people like my friends at school. I didn’t feel there was anything I was going through that they would be going through. But then I ended up finding a lot of help from my nans, who were a gay couple and they were together for 20 years.

Speaking with them about what they had gone through and how they had like given up so much. They gave up people in their family and they gave up some of their friends. They did this because of who they are and who they wanted to be with. It was just them saying, ‘Well yeah, we lost a lot of stuff but look what we’ve gained!’. You don’t have to do something to keep other people happy if it means putting yourself down. I’ve got what I want now, I don’t care if not everyone in my family is not happy with it – I am’.

For one of us, it was more difficult to talk to her family but she found support from her teachers. ‘I never really spoke with any of my family about any concerns or anything, I didn’t really have that sort of relationship with my mum, but in my high school there were teachers that went out of their way to see that I was ok. That helped more than anything really. I definitely wouldn’t be here today without them. It helped to know that people are there for you even when they don’t have to be. I’ll always remember that’.

Reaching out to others

I’ve got a lot of people who kind of technically follow my blog, and a lot of the time if I make a post saying I’m upset about something or especially if it’s something that other people can relate to like with gender stuff or mental health stuff then sometimes people would comment on it kind of saying, you know, well I feel this or possibly saying ‘oh, I had a very similar problem and this is what I did’, or just like liking your post so kind of acknowledging that they’ve seen it.

It’s like that whole thing that a problem shared is a problem halved. It sounds kind of silly, like you don’t think that it would help but sometimes it really does. Just to know that somebody’s seen that you’re having a problem is kind of like validating the problem without any kind of input. Knowing that you’re not being completely ignored.

Dressing how I want to

One of us talked about how dressing the way she wants to has been an act of resistance to others trying to define her or try and make out there is a problem with her identity. ‘I dress how I want to, not how other people tell me to. I will not let anyone walk all over me and make me feel bad for being who I am. Because it’s a part of me but it’s not the only part of me. So if anyone can’t see past that, that’s really their problem not mine’.

Listening to music

For some of us listening to music really helps us. One of us explained how ‘I listen to music to help me to calm myself down’. Another described how ‘I search for songs that I can relate to. They help me to not be afraid to accept who I am. I’ve found a lot of really good songs but there’s one song that when I listened to it, I actually cried because the song really impacted on me. I could relate to it and I knew I wasn’t the only one and there were people who were in the same situation as me.

When I showed it to my mum she cried as well. It’s called ‘Define me’ by Ryan Armador. It says to me that others can’t define me as being ‘weird’ just because I’m gay. I have my own feelings and I’m happy with who I am’.

Choosing my battles

‘Some people you have to interact with, it’s just not worth the effort trying to make them understand your situation. Sometimes it’s better just to kind of tell yourself, they’re not worth it. You’re not going to get the whole world behind you so there’s no sense in trying. There’s no sense in constantly trying to change them and trying to change who they are to get them thinking the same way that you do. Sometimes you’ve got to just kind of bite your tongue. Sometimes it’s best to choose your battles’.

Looking ahead to the future

There are a lot of people who judge, because they don’t really understand how trans people feel because they’re not trans. Some people are so quick to judge. There are some words that are so cruel to people that it messes with their mind. Sometimes I have broken down when people have been cruel to me and I haven’t known what to do with the situation.

I try my best to ignore them and move on but it’s really not that easy. I kept being trans a secret for quite a while because I didn’t know what people would think about it but my family have been really supportive of it. Some people in my school don’t understand how I really feel. Basically I just try to look ahead to the future and just try my best to think about the positives in life.

Perseverance and stepping stones

‘I think it’s about perseverance. I did a lot of LGBTQ+ stuff within my own school. I made a safe space for people to go to where they could talk about how they were feeling or just sit with people in a safe place. People knew they could go there and that they weren’t alone.

The main thing for me is thinking one day, I will look back on what I’ve been through and what I’m going through now and be like ‘these have just been stepping stones’. And when I encounter people who try to put me down, I know that in a few years from now I’m going to look back and say to those people in my mind, ‘Well I’m in a better place than you are. I’ve tried to help other people. I’ve tried to make a positive difference and all you’ve done is try to put people down and for the most part it hasn’t worked’.

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