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Can staying the closet damage your mental/physical health?

Discussion in 'Coming Out Advice' started by Albstr, Jun 22, 2022 at 7:20 PM.

  1. Albstr

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    Hi all,

    New here. I always knew I was gay since I was younger, but never came out due to coming from a Muslim background and living in a conservative area in the USA.

    I didn’t realize it at the time but I ended up numbing my emotions, losing my personality, and becoming a husk of a person in order to not make people feel uncomfortable with my “gayness”.
    Later in life I relied on cigs, caffeine, and alcohol to get by and numb myself.

    I turned 30 last year and developed debilitating anxiety and depression. Before, I could always get up and go to school or work, but everyday I am an anxious and depressed mess. I literally can’t leave my room and had to quit my job and move back home.

    I started therapy and we are figuring out this is my reaction to me “killing” my true self over years and years.

    has anybody else had bad physical/mental reactions to staying in the closet?
     
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  2. Unsure77

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    Yes. It wasn't the only thing driving my anxiety and depression, but it was a major contributing factor (along with living around religious fundamentalists). Also, within six months of coming out to myself and starting therapy, my blood pressure magically went to stupid high elevated to normal ranges. It was killing me.

    I was dissociating a LOOOOT to not notice women. Plus, it's socially stunting to always have to worry if people are gonna figure you out. All of it makes you hyper-vigilant.

    Coming out didn't fix everything. But, it at least put me on a positive path. I have a long way to go.
     
  3. bsg75apollo

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    Most definitely depression and anxiety. Staying in the closet and the strain of pretending to be straight and being ever vigilant was figuratively and literally breaking my heart.
     
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  4. chicodeoro

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    A resounding yes. Of course it can.
     
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  5. zgaynz

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    For me, it does affect my mental health to some extent and I think this stems from taking so long to accept that I was gay in the first place. Had society been accepting of different sexualities when I was growing up then I would've come out when in my early twenties, even though I knew in my teenage years. Instead, my mental health suffered from knowing I was gay but not wanting to be because of what others would say, think and do. I hoped I would grow out of it. That's how I rationalised it and I would tell myself off every time I slipped up.

    In the end it was always a losing battle. Nature always wins. That's a good thing as it did give me a resemblance of peace. Society and family had told me that being gay was wrong and I would be unhappy if I went down that path, but I quickly found out that they both were wrong. I love being gay because it feels natural to me.

    It's been a few years since I accepted I was gay and I feel better having accepted and embraced it. However the anxiety I had grown up with was simply swapped for the anxiety of not being able to live openly as I was born too, gay. The shining light, which keeps me sane is that I know this is not forever. One day I will be in a position to come out and I will, but until that day, I'll just stand over here ... inside this closet.
     
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  6. quebec

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    Albstr.....Hello and a great big LGBTQIA+ welcome to Empty Closets! :old_smile: I can remember the first post that I made on EC. I was desperate for help and I got the help that night that I so needed. I hope that we can help you in the same way that I received help. The most important thing to remember about Empty Closets is that we do care about you! We're very glad that you found us here on EC and hope that we can answer questions, give you support and provide a place to vent (as long as it's not violent!) :old_big_grin: when that becomes necessary!

    *****I'm so glad that you have reached out for help and are seeing a therapist. There are just some things that we can't solve on our own. If you break your leg, you don't try to take care of it by yourself...you go to a professional and get help. That's the same thing with emotional and/or mental distress...there are times when we really need the help of a professional. They can help guide us through the difficult paths to wellness. Staying in the "closet" for years and years can be so destructive. You are suppressing your real personality and that causes a lot of emotional damage. I know...I did it. For a very long time I hid in the closet and refused to accept that I was and always had been gay. That caused depression that just got worse with every year. When I reached my final crisis I was very close to taking my own life just to be free of the pain and darkness that was destroying my life. The wonderful people here on Empty Closets saved me on that night and I will forever be thankful for the help and love that I received that night. Working with a therapist is a really good choice! It has been one of the best choices that I have ever made. I have learned a lot about myself and have been able, with his help, to make changes that have truly made my life so much better!

    ******The rest of this post is information about navigating around Empty Closets. I hope it will help you as you become accustomed to our website! We really are so very glad that you have found us and hope that we can be a help and encouragement to you!

    *****There are 18 different sub-forums here that you can check out and join in the conversations or start your own thread/conversation. When you have made at least 10 posts on various threads you will be able to post messages on a member's Profile Page. Just click on a member's Avatar Picture and then click on "Profile Page" in the dialogue box that pops up. You'll then be on their Profile Page and there will be a box that says: "Write Something" When you have been on EC for a few weeks and have made at least 50 posts on various forums, you can apply for Full Membership. A Full Member can send Private Messages (PM) to other Full Members and share personal contact info. Right now you can only send a PM to a Staff Member as that is always possible. Here is a quote from the Full Membership information forum: :old_cool:

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    *****Well, as I said, we're very glad you found us! :old_rolleyes: If you have any questions at all, you can post a question on my Profile Page or send me a Private Message.

    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
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  7. PrettyBoyBlue

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    Hi Albstr. I'm so sorry to hear about your background... I grew up in a somewhat more tolerant situation and it was still rough. I can only imagine what you went through.

    I will echo everyone else here and add my own story: Yes, staying closeted can absolutely cause both mental and physical issues. I think a lot of people can readily understand the mental part. I wouldn't have believed the physical part though if I hadn't been through it myself.

    I am just about your age, turning 30 next year. Starting when I was 17 I became a very angry, self-loathing homophobe. I was painfully insecure, and always tried to project this whole "tough guy" (ie, straight) image. Tried smoking for a month, hated it. I didn't drink often but I drank hard. If I didn't quit in 2017, I'm sure it would still be causing issues today. I also used to exercise and work out angrily, in really unhealthy ways, often to the point of injury. Honestly, what recently prompted me to come back to Empty Closets was an injury a couple years ago that sidelined me for months. Life was getting so painful mentally and physically that I just had to stop, and finally start making some overdue changes.

    I hope my story makes you feel less alone, and I hope you can find all the support you're looking for here.
     
    #7 PrettyBoyBlue, Jun 24, 2022 at 12:47 AM
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022 at 12:50 AM
  8. Unsure77

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    There’s a book named “Undivided” by Vicky Beeching that talks about all this, by the way. Vicky is a lesbian and grew up conservative evangelical and was actually a Christian singer and songwriter professionally. In circles that are suuuuper homophobic. So, she knew coming out would end her career.

    In the book she talks about how the stress from being closeted actually caused her to develop autoimmune issues. It forced her out of the closet and into therapy. It might be worth checking out or checking out some interviews and articles from Vicky from when that book was being released. (If that would give you comfort to see someone else’s story)
     
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  9. BiGemini87

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    Hi, @Albstr. Firstly, I'm sorry you've had to conceal so much of yourself; it can't have been easy after all these years, especially knowing this aspect of yourself for as long as you have. Secondly, it can absolutely have negative impacts on your psychological health, and oftentimes it follows that it impacts your physical health too--sometimes directly through coping mechanisms, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, and sometimes indirectly because stress can and does affect us physically.

    I'm glad you're undergoing therapy, as with the right therapist, you will hopefully reach a place where you can either come out and make peace with whatever follows, or at the very least find some good resources on how to take the next steps towards bettering your mental health.
     
  10. Albstr

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    thanks for your story, I hope you make it’
     
  11. Albstr

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    Thanks David :slight_smile:
    I’m glad you found some peace. I think I’ve been at my breaking point so I hope I can get there too