Into the system…

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Sexuality…

with 8 comments

I initially started this post last July when there was a discussion about the lack of gay mental health blogs from both Lexie and Aethelread but I never got around to completing my post and following them up myself.

More recently Kate got me musing on the subject of sexuality again and I thought it was time to resurrect the draft that I started so very long ago.

Like last time, it may take me a while to work out what I want to say and I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to complete it. It’s a topic that is still so very tangled in my head despite going through a whole battle of acceptance a few years ago.

In particular I remember from the initial discussion that, Aethelread said the following:

On the one hand, I think it can lead to us being so keen to stress that being gay has nothing to do with mental ill-health that we decide not to mention our sexual orientation when we blog about our MH problems.

For me, I think this hits the nail on the head. I’m not sure that it’s because of guilt as he suggests, but I think the reason I’ve not mentioned my sexuality before, is that I do genuinely believe it is unrelated to my mental health.

For those who have been reading my blog so far, you would be forgiven for the assumption that I’m straight. I’m in a long-term relationship with a man – a decidedly heterosexual arrangement. In fact, I’m engaged to that man. However, my sexuality isn’t that straight-forward (if you will forgive the unintentional pun!). I have always hesitated to attach this label to myself, because it’s not one I particularly like the sound of, but it is the one that fits. I’m bisexual.

In many ways I am lucky in that I can always let people have their assumptions. It is entirely my choice whether or not to disclose my sexuality and it is nice to have that choice, but then again if I was straight I wouldn’t need to make that choice, would I? My relationship with my partner makes it even easier for people to assume I’m straight, but I find that difficult at times. It often feels like I’m hiding part of my identity and not being honest about who I really am. It’s something I’ve struggled with because I don’t want to have to shout from the rooftops that I’m not straight, but then again I don’t want to hide matters either. I wish that bisexuality was commonly accepted and that people didn’t make assumptions that you are either gay or straight based upon your current partner.

As for my sexuality and its involvement in my illness, I do not really think there is much of a connection. I have battled with acceptance in the past and things have added to my confusion at times of crisis, but it’s not something that is directly responsible for my mental health problems. This is something that thankfully my therapists and Dr G at The Priory have agreed with me on.

It took a long time for me to even bring up my sexuality at The Priory because I was scared that it would be blamed for my issues. At the time, I was really scared that my bisexuality would be seen as another reason to slap on an unstable (borderline) personality disorder label – after all, uncertainty over sexuality is meant to be a trait. The thing I wanted to make clear was that I was no longer uncertain about my sexuality; I had accepted the fact that I like both men and women. I was scared that my sexuality would change the way people saw me. I was scared that it would become a problem because everyone else thought it was. I was scared about prejudice.

It got to the stage though that I felt it was becoming a problem because I was hiding a part of me. I kept thinking about it and it felt like I was living a lie. When you are going through therapy I guess it’s important that every part of you is on show. I felt that I needed to be honest and open up about things. I didn’t know how I could do it. I wrote to Dr G in the end. Thankfully my fears weren’t realised and she was very supportive.  My issues with my sexuality were boxed up carefully to be treated as a side problem, not the main affair, and everyone seemed to agree with me that we couldn’t use my sexuality as a scapegoat for my mental health issues.

As for what Kate wrote, I know how she feels. I have been through many of the same thoughts and issues over the years. The issue of acceptance is a difficult one and I think it’s something that I will always have some issues with. I also understand the fear of bullying, the fear of being different and the fear of scaring off your friends, especially female ones who may think you’re hitting onto them. Coming out is scary.

One of the things that made it so hard for me to accept that I liked women was the fact I used to be bullied and one of the things they used to say was “Lesley, the lesbo”. (oops, there goes my real name.. let’s just leave it hidden here and hope most people don’t notice!). An unoriginal put down considering my name, but one I used to hate. I began to associate being a lesbian with bullying, so it’s no wonder I was reluctant to admit I liked girls.

Another reason was my mother. I remember when there have been stories about lesbianism on TV she would always say how disgusting it was and would always expect me and my sister to say the same. She had no issues with gay men, but couldn’t accept lesbianism at all. This of course is difficult, because you don’t want to go against your family’s expectations. I don’t want my mother to be repulsed by me. This is why my mum will never know. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her and it’s easier for her to just assume I’m straight. If I wasn’t with my partner and was going out with a girl I guess things would have to be different, but I guess I’m lucky in that way.

Being bisexual I think there are added issues. Homosexuality is becoming more and more acceptable, but there are still prejudices towards bisexuality from both the straight and gay camps. Biphobia takes many forms, but generally there’s a belief that bisexuality doesn’t exist or there’s an assumption that bisexual people are promiscuous. I may not be fussy, but that’s because I see people for what they are and am not bothered about gender, not because I just want to shag anything that moves.

I often feel like I don’t fit in. I am not straight, but I am not gay either and that leaves me caught. I feel as if I don’t know where I belong. Although I am in a relationship with a man, that doesn’t mean I want to live an entirely heterosexual existence. Doing so would be denying the other half of me that is just as interested in women. It’s a difficult one and one I don’t think I’ll ever really overcome.

I think I’ve rambled enough about this for now. As I said before, I still struggle to untangle all my thoughts on the topic and as such my writing is confused. I don’t really know what I wanted to say, other than to come out here too.

Written by intothesystem

Tuesday, 16th June 2009 at 2:25 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Lovely also rhymes with your name. I prefer that one. Take care you x

    eccedentesiast

    Tuesday, 16th June 2009 at 7:36 pm

  2. “the reason I’ve not mentioned my sexuality before, is that I do genuinely believe it is unrelated to my mental health”

    Yep, I’d say that’s pretty true, it’s not like people think being gay is a mental illness anymore

    “As for my sexuality and its involvement in my illness” weeeeell, in the fight for equality and treating people equally, may it not help? Okay, I’m not being entirely serious, but all this equal opps business seems to point that way!

    xx

    Kate

    Wednesday, 17th June 2009 at 12:30 am

  3. I think that is a great honest post from you… I always knew I was bisexual from about the age of 10! Issues when I was a first year at school made me sit on my feelings for years (I have blogged about it somewhere recently last year…) I am more open about it now and the whole I fancy my psychologist and her name is Lucy has actually made it more easier for me to be open with professionals over recent weeks. Group therapy was somewhere I was able to really explore talking about those issues.

    My mum always had her suspicions I was gay but we just joked about it. I am happily single I’ve realise that, I am too selfish to ever really see myself in a relationship with a man or a woman either now or in the future, I like my own space but that doesn’t me I can’t look! ;) But being bisexual has sod all to do with my mental health problems or having a personality disorder…

    Alison

    Thursday, 18th June 2009 at 10:38 am

  4. Great post, your ability to be honest despite your concerns is impressive. I still think it’s weird that people judge based on sexuality – maybe one day narrow-minded people will be the minority? Take care!

    The Chuckle

    Thursday, 18th June 2009 at 6:10 pm

  5. I think you were right to be circumspect until you got to know your medical team better because there ARE medics who will see being bi as some sort of promiscuity-as-self-harm thing (assuming that you must be running around shagging everything that moves).

    I’m glad they aren’t arseholes like that.

    DeeDee Ramona

    Saturday, 4th July 2009 at 2:09 pm

  6. Of course sexuality has nothing to do with mental health–no more than hair or eye color. As a woman, with less than straightforward sexuality, I understand some of where you’re coming from–being out is hard! I’m a very femme queer girl–and, yes, I prefer the term queer to bi–it’s less restrictive for me. Anyway, I pass as straight, quite easily, no matter who I’m dating, (though, when I was dating a woman, it was quite obvious that we weren’t just “friends” esp when her hair was super short! =p) So glad the folks involved w/ your treatment aren’t assuming that being bi has anything do do with your mental health issues!

    another one.

    Tuesday, 7th July 2009 at 3:14 am

  7. As I said elsewhere I think this posting is touching and makes for helpful reading. It makes me consider things about myself which I have never put out there before. It is something that I probably need to talk about but not sure to who though.
    All the people I know would be more than amazed if I spoke my deepest thoughts and anyway they are not perfectly formed yet. A bit like me!
    Maybe I should just do it… maybe

    Ian Williams

    Tuesday, 9th November 2010 at 9:52 am

    • I’ve just realised I’ve never replied to any of the other comments on this post. Oops.

      Thanks for the comment.

      It is a hard thing to talk about, especially as it can seem like there is no one to go to that would understand. I have had bad experiences when I’ve tried to approach it in the past, but I was glad that I could talk about it at The Priory in the end. I’ve not really discussed it since though, because I’ve not disclosed to my NHS psych at all and I do wonder about hiding it these days. I don’t trust them though in the way I trust my old Priory team.

      I thought people would be more amazed than they actually were. There are family that probably would be very shocked, but aside from that I think most of my friends are pretty laid-back and liberal about such things and wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

      I hope you do find someone to discuss things with. Feel free to email me if ranting at a sympathetic stranger would help – intothesystem AT yahoo DOT co.uk.

      Take care and I hope you do work untangle those thoughts eventually. xx

      intothesystem

      Tuesday, 9th November 2010 at 11:21 am


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