Mental Health is one of the most important thing in life. Let’s take a deep dive into my own mental health and depression and anxiety from over the years, not to make you feel sorry for me in anyway but to hopefully help anyone who is struggling with their own mental health. Enough people are not honest when it comes to their own with others.
I put on a really good face to shield anyone from seeing how I really feel on the inside. Only one person has seen me at my absolute worst. I never thought anyone would understand my feelings or struggles in life from my prospective. My depression started when I was twelve. I was struggling to come to terms with being gay. Once I decided to come out over a six-month long process to different people and not everyone at one time my anxiety grew worse and worse. At fourteen after coming out, being abused mentally, emotionally and physically with no where to turn, I tried my hardest to hold it together. After moving in with my grandmother after being kicked out I was struggling with feeling loved or having a meaning in life. It was spring break of 2011. I went over to my uncles farm house. I thought if my parents could not love me, my sisters and grandmother(who was in early stages of dementia), I thought if none of them could show me love then a guy could. I invited someone from Facebook to come over and have sex with me for the first time in my life. My aunt came home for lunch, we were already done. Two hours later she stated “I need you boys to wrap it up, I am going back to work”. Being the gentleman I am I walked him to his car, gave him a hug and sent him on his way.
I felt better, then I walked back into the house. My aunt said as soon as I came in the door “Adam, I know why he was here and it was not for the reasons you told me. I can not believe you would disrespect your uncle and myself in this way”. I was shocked, I was scared, I needed to throw up. I asked “Are you going to tell mom?” She said “I don’t know what I am going to do”. I sat in the living room after she left trying to figure out how I could get out of this. Then my mother drove up the driveway. She came in the door and said “Adam, how old is he? What is his name and where does he live?” My anxiety shot to 120%. I told her, not knowing what else to do. Asked her “What are you going to do now? Call the Police?” She responded with “They are already on their way”. At this point my heart had completely broken in half. Next thing I know is the phone was ringing, It said “Albemarle Police Department“. I answered, they asked to speak to my mother so I gave her the phone. She started to tell them all this information about the guy. I had a total mental break, my entire life flashed before my eyes and I could not do it anymore. I ran into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and blacked out. Once I came back, I was on the floor, yelling at my mother “Fuck you bitch, you fucking ruined my life, I fucking hate you!” My grandfather showed up, my father showed up, two police officers, my moms sister and my aunt and uncle who I was staying with. It was a family reunion because “Adam had sex”. I gave the polices officers the information they needed because he was 19 and I was 15. I told them it was not rape, It was 100% my own choice to do it. But after sitting in another area of the front yard from everyone else, The officers came back.
They told me “Because you are still a minor, we have to do what your parents want us to do.” I asked what that was and they responded with “Your Parents want you to go get a psychiatric evaluation.” I had no choice so I went. After seeing seven different psychologic professionals and 10 hours in the ER, I was ruled fit to return home. But to my parents, I was not fit to return. They were worried about their safety as well as my grandmothers. They thought I would hurt them or kill them. That was never the case. Clearly not everyone educates themselves on what you are trying to do when you attempt suicide. With my parents considering me to not be “fit” or “safe” to return home. Child Protective Services (CPS) would now take over. When I had a caseworker and after speaking with her on what the next plan for me was, my heart completely broke. After going home with my parents for three hours after being released (which I still found weird since CPS was involved, but whatever, my mother works for Social Services, I am sure that had something to do with it) I went home and slept on the sofa for three hours while my dad and his best friend watched me sleep (which I still think is weird to this day). I woke up took a shower and my parents and I got on the road.
I asked in the car where we were going? My mother told me “We are taking you to a Youth Shelter in Gastonia, called: With Friends.” I was scared, I knew I did not belong there, I did not know all of my freedom was literally going to be taken away. I could not make phone calls but to “X,Y,Z” not being able to receive mail, talk to my friends, not go outside. I needed the support from friends and family that I had prior to coming out during this time. I could not talk to a single one of them. I was upset and went to my room and started throwing notebooks and school work. I was upset and had not one in my safety net to speak with. After that I had to leave and my parents had to come pick me up. I was then taken to another Youth Shelter in Charlotte called “The Relatives.”
The Relatives was much like With Friends. It was another Youth Shelter, except I had to share a room with four other boys. The first week I was there was when I first experienced a Hate Crime again an LGBT person. One night in my sleep, I woke up with two other boys beating me with a bar of soap in a pillow case. I set the alarms off in the home. Needless to say they were taken out in handcuffs that night. The prior day, they vandalized and destroyed my clothing and bathroom products, which was the only thing I had with me. My case was dropped with CPS, which by the way I have still not been able to get access to those files stating why. I had to leave The Relatives, I no longer had a “Need” to take up a spot for a youth that was in a crisis. My aunt who lived in Charlotte picked me and explained to me that I was coming home with her for two weeks until my parents had a plan and heard back from different places. She told me “Adam, what you did was not right, regardless of if it was a girl or a boy, I do not feel like you are a threat to my family or to myself. But I do have to follow what your mother has asked me to do.” I said with her for two weeks until she had to go to Boston on a business trip. She told me “Adam, I do not want to take you back to The Relatives, your parents will not let you stay alone at my house and I can’t override their wishes, please be on your best behavior and hopefully nothing bad will happen like last time, I do not want to take you back. I was back at The Relatives for another week then one day my mom showed up and told me my placement had been found and that I needed to pack my things so she could take me.
I asked in the car where I was going. My mother responded with “You are going to live in a group home for a while called Nazareth Children’s Home.” I felt as if I was being passed off for the forth time in a year for someone else to deal with. I still was not able to chat with my friends or see or talk to any of my “safety net”. I was told I would be in “Naz” for three to six months in a treatment program where I received therapy every week. I went in on June 12, 2011 and did not leave until June 10, 2012. I was there for six extra months after asking why, I was told “Adam is just doing so well in school, we would hate to mess that up.” I knew years later that I was there because my parents were trying to figure out where I was going to go next after my time their ran out. After being in Naz one month, my caretaker Mr. Q came to me and said “Adam, Why are you here? You are fine, you are gay and thats okay, your parents need to get over it.” I knew nothing was seriously wrong with me, I had my issues as every child does but my major issues steamed from how was treated growing up. I was angry, I was hurt, I needed attention and unconditional love, not live in fear everyday. I was trying my best to control it.
After leaving Naz. I returned home with my parents, I lived at home one year, during that year, I had pretty much returned to the same situation that I left. Still was not accepted, still could not socialize or do things with my friends. That next summer between my junior and senior year I went to Charlotte to work a summer job and live with my aunt and uncle. Three months after living with my aunt and uncle, I finally understood what conditional love was. They did not care, make me feel ashamed, let me go be social with my friends, as well as attend pride for the first time. When the summer was over, I did not want to go back home. I felt I was at home. After starting my senior year in high school I decided to get a weekend job in Charlotte to escape my life I hated so much in Albemarle. I worked as a barista at Panera Bread in uptown on College Street. I worked there a very short time after quitting. But with being in Charlotte every weekend I met someone, and we started dating. We celebrated my eighteenth Birthday, had a Christmas Party and then on December 23, 2013 we broke up and I was heart broken. The relationship we had, I needed more than ever during that time. He taught me some of the most important things in life. How to enjoy the finer things in life as well as the simple things and how to appreciate them. What my self worth was. But also showed me a life I had never experienced.
Shortly after we broke up, I decided to go to Texas to see my aunt who was lesbian at the time and see a friend who lived there. I purchased a ticket on USAirways and told my mom I was going. The day I turned 18, my parents made me sign a piece of paper that was non-negotiable stating that “If I do not follow their rules of “Telling/Asking them where I go” that they had every right to kick me out. The morning of my flight at approximately 3:45 in the morning I had a message from my mother asking me if I was awake. I said “Yes mom, what do you need?” She pointed out to me that she was afraid “If you go to Dallas then your father will be upset and he will kick you out.” I told my mother that “I have changed my life enough for dad, I am going.” She said “Well when this happens, don’t tell me I did not tell you so.” So I went, arrived in Dallas, my plans did not work out, so I changed my flight to come back to Charlotte that same night.
I used the money I was going to spend in Dallas and stayed at The Westin in Charlotte for the weekend. I have a weird obsession with The Westin in Charlotte. While there, I discovered that my friend from high school and her family were staying there as well and had planned to spend Sunday just enjoying the city unlike we could back in our hometown. I slept too late on Sunday, when I woke up I had a two missed phone calls, one from my mother and one from my grandmother. I listened to the voicemails and the one from my grandmother I could hear it in her voice that something was wrong. My mothers voicemail just said to call her before I leave Charlotte. I was thinking she needed me to pickup something from Target. I called her, I said “Hey Mom! Whats up?” She responded with “We need you at your aunt and uncles house in South Charlotte at 4:00PM.” I told her I had plans with my friend and her family explained I could not be there at that time. She responded with “We have changed the locks on the house.”
I arrived in South Charlotte on time. I walked in the door and before the door could close and before I could sit down I said “Alright, why are we here?” My aunt, uncle, father and mother were there. I guess my aunt and uncle were going to mediate this meeting(Not what happened). My mother responded with “We are tired of the disrespect, we are tired of you not telling us where you are going, we need the keys to your car, the house key and for you to move your stuff out today. We just want you to graduate High School.” I was upset, my car was blocked into the driveway, I went to my car to smoke a cigarette and call my aunt, my original safety net. I was hoping she would tell me not to worry, I was hoping she would save me and tell me to come stay with her. This did not happen. After finally wrapping up the meeting and finding someone to come pick me up from my childhood home and move all my belongings out, I went to stay with my best friend while knowing the next day I had to walk into school and either drop out or get my classes online. I was able to get them online and then had to start the search for a place to live.
I stayed with two gay men in Albemarle that I knew for a few years. Then finally found someone to stay with. It was a guy I tried to date after I came back from Charlotte. I had no car, I had no money, the guy I was living with lived 15 minutes away from a store. At the time I was also unaware that the guy I was living with was having an issue with addiction with alcohol. After my parents kicked me out for the final time, my mother made me come to the Department of Social Services and apply for Food Stamps and Medicaid. I was on welfare at age 18. I was ashamed of it. I was also doing solo adult entertainment online to pay my phone bill as well as have money for food and the rent I never paid. After living with this guy for two months who also did not have a car, I started sneaking into my aunt and uncles home that was in the same neighborhood to take a tiny bit of their food as well as escape the madness from where I was living. I then started sleeping over there. After a while, my aunt and uncle caught onto what I was doing and how I was getting money as well as my situation. So my aunt told me to move everything into their basement and ride to the beach with my uncle. I was coming to stay with her until I graduated high school. I stayed with her for 3 months until I came home to graduate. So I walked across the stage and I was still living at my aunt and uncles lake home.
I called my aunt to ask her when I was coming back to the beach. She told me to look for an apartment in Charlotte. I asked her how I was going to pay for it and she told me to not worry about it just look. So I did. My aunt and uncle gave me my first months rent and security deposit. I had a place to finally call home. Started working at TCBY and then was fired for over sleeping. Then I met someone, dated, got engaged then called it off. I loved the guy, I thought I could handle his issues and my own and I could not. So when we broke up, I started to loose track of my life again. I lost my apartment, Turned in the keys and had a random stranger come pick me up from Atlanta after meeting him once. I did not like the guy, I just needed a place far way from Charlotte to live and try to work on getting my life back on track. This was the furthest thing that happened. I was raped and locked in a basement while in Atlanta three days after my 19th Birthday. I was down there for 2 weeks before contacting someone on Grindr to take me to the Amtrak station to come back to Charlotte. I made it back to Charlotte in the early hours in early December. I called the only person I knew that would pick up the phone. My first boyfriend who to this day is my best friend and roommate. I went to his condo and stayed with him for a few days. Then met someone out at The Bar at 316. I ended up moving in with him for two months.
At this point, I still did not have a job. After the two months with the guy, I had to find somewhere else to live. I contacted a guy I had met when I first moved to Charlotte. He let me come stay with him for what seemed to be four months until he moved. During that time I did not really work. I worked as a bar back for a few nights then that ended. During this time I was in a deep depression. I could not hold a job because of this. I would have sex for money to be able to eat, have bus money as well as my medication and my phone bill. I say to this day how I am not HIV positive is beyond me. I did not care about anything during this time in my life. But then one day I decided this was not my life and I needed to do something to change my life and get it back on track. There is a LGBTQ Youth Center in Charlotte called Time Out Youth. They had a program called the “Host Home Program”. With this program you had to meet a certain requirement to be eligible.
I met all the requirements, I had two host parents, David and George. They were fantastic! Before completing this program they were moving to Dallas. I wanted to go with them so much! Unfortunately Time Out Youth would not allow me to move with them. I was devastated. David and George helped me get a job, gave me a safe place to sleep, food to eat and experiences. When they moved, they helped me find a place to live. I moved in with a friend of David and George and rented a room. It was wonderful but a little hard for me to take the bus to work everyday. After living there two months, I moved to NoDa. It was wonderful but I could not afford it but still made it work every month. Three months later, my new roommate bought a home and was moving so I had to move as well. At the time, I had resigned from my job. So I did not have one. I ended up getting a job as a Concierge at Fifth and Poplar in Uptown, Charlotte. I started dating a guy before I had to move and was working 80+ hours a week. I did not have time to look for a place to move to so I moved in with him. I lived there ten months until the day we broke up.
After we broke up, I moved into a townhome with a flight attendant that I had known since I was fifteen. During that time, I was not happy with my life. I had very few friends in Charlotte. Did not have a normal group or fit in. Most of the community in Charlotte saw me as the Twink that had five hundred problems with life and that was a complete disaster. I was working for the airline at this point. I was spending my days at work and evenings alone at home. I finally had a car. I was able to go places and not have people pick me up. That changed nothing. To numb my emotions and feelings and depression, I started using hydrocodone everyday to help me make it day to day. After driving for Uber one evening, A drunk driver hit my car and totaled it. I had planned to move to San Diego two weeks after I totaled my car but when that happened, I gave up. I could not get work to take back my two-week notice, I was loosing my home yet again. I called the only person who I knew would not judge me. My aunt. I went to see her at the beach and she asked me when I was going back to work and I looked at her and said “There is no more work” and poured my heart out on the table and told her everything.
She told me that I needed to go back to Charlotte, get my belongings, I was going to come live with her, get off the pills, get a job and get my life back on track. That is exactly what I did. Was able to get rehired with the airline. When I was ready to come back to Charlotte, I was in the best place in my life that at the time was the highest part. Fell in love for the first real time in my life and that ended six months later. After that break up, I went into a deep depression but never dealt with this issues it was causing me. Instead I was using my job as a way to take my mind off things so I worked all the time. In January of 2020 I moved in with my best friend, he told me when I moved in “This home is just as much yours as it is mine. I want you to feel safe here, I don’t think in the seven years I have known you, you have never been able to be your true self. I want and need you to be you here.
The COVID-19 Pandemic hit the United States in late February. My traveling for work stopped. That was my outlet for not having to face Charlotte, my family or my own problems I had not handled in life. During the early months of COVID, I realized with life as I knew it coming to a screeching halt that I needed to start somewhere with getting my mental health under control. I had my yearly physical with my doctor and I finally started talking about stuff I had been experiencing that I was never honest with him about. I ended up getting an appointment with a psychiatrist in which I wanted to see. I always knew something was a little off, but was too scared to explore into deeper exploration on to what that was. Along with Medication to help me process everything as well as a psychologist. I am on the road to recovery, not for anyone else, for myself. Anxiety has hindered me for the last twelve years. Until I started seeing someone, I did not understand the effects that it causes you in the long term. Thankfully with medication, it can be managed. There are also other ways to handle it that are more natural.
In late July, I made the decision to remove my parents from my life for good. It was a battle I had been fighting for ten years with no hope for it getting any better. I was angry with them for so much that had happened to me as a child, the decisions they made for me that as an adult I would never make for my child and don’t see how anyone could. You know, there is a song called “Children Will Listen” it is very true. I was called “Fagget, Queer, Homosexual” growing up, told “I wish you would have died at birth”. And experienced much more.
Ever since I started taking care of my mental health. Removing people who were only hurting me and not bringing me any joy. It has been life changing. Absolutely none of this has been easy. You relive things to understand them to be able to deal with them, learn to forgive, forget and let go, know that not everyone deserves your time and energy and understand that you are repairable. Not every relationship will be repairable but you can only fix the things you want to fix. Sometimes the people around you are toxic and you have to remove them from your life. You have to be your authentic self and anyone who does not like that version of you, you don’t need them in your life. The ones you should have surrounding you will come and fall right into place.
This is my story.
If anyone has any questions or needs advice in a situation they are in that was similar to my own, please reach out to me.
Taking care of our mental health is the most important thing we can do for ourselves in life. Without it, we don’t live life to the fullest or see life as everyone else does.
If you are not ready to work on your mental health and you are struggling it is okay. Here are some safe resources you can use. There will be things that will be so hard to talk about. But with a professionals help, you can get your life back on track.
Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): 1-866-615-6464
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
– Life does get better.
– There is light at the end of the tunnel.
– You are loved! You are beautiful!
– Your Life is Worth Living!