I'm A Lesbian Who Feels Alone And Is Cutting
TeenHealthFX would like to start off by saying that we are sorry that you are feeling so alone right now. We are assuming that a part of your feeling alone has to do with your sexual orientation, given how you phrased things above. Depending on the community where a person lives, and how that person experiences his/her friends and family members, it can easily happen for a person to feel alone in being gay. For one thing, adolescence is a time where people very much want to fit in with their friends. If most or all of your friends are straight, then this could leave you feeling like an outsider. Also, if you experience your friends and/or family members as people who carry a lot of prejudice and other negative feelings towards gay people, you could feel alone in worrying they won’t accept you or continue to be loving towards you. If you experience the community where you live as not being a very gay-friendly place, then this could also exacerbate feelings of loneliness. And finally, if you don’t know any or many people who are gay who you can talk to about what your experience is like, you might be feeling isolated in this as well.
There are many things that can contribute to a person self-cutting, one of which is not feeling heard. Part of your being drawn to this behavior might be a sense of not feeling seen and heard for all of who you are and what you are going through and dealing with. And while this behavior might not be “dangerous” in terms of being life-threatening, it does concern TeenHealthFX because it is a maladaptive way of dealing with a difficult situation and negative feelings. The cutting might bring a sense of relief and a distraction from more painful feelings, but that is different than being happy. People who are truly happy and at peace do not self-harm. And this is another concern for TeenHealthFX – that in feeling so alone and in self-harming you are obviously not happy and at peace. And a part of you must realize this or you wouldn’t have written in to us.
TeenHealthFX thinks that it would be very helpful for you to meet with a reputable therapist, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist, who can help you with these issues. A therapist can help you to address how you are feeling about being gay and where this might leave you in terms of relationships with friends and family and your sense of fitting in with peers and in your community. A therapist could also help you with this feeling of being alone, as well as how to handle the negative feelings that are coming up for you in a healthier way. If you have not disclosed your sexual orientation to friends and/or family, then a therapist could help you better understand your conflict about it and work with you on deciding how to handle talking to friends and family in a way that is best for you.
If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.
FX also thinks it would be helpful for you to reach out to other gay teens so you can speak to people who can relate to the feelings and experiences you are having. Perhaps your school has a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) club that you can join. If not, and you feel there are other gay students at your school who might also be feeling isolated, you could always look into starting one.
You might also consider getting in touch with The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. This center is the largest multi-service organization on the East Coast and the second largest LGBT community center in the world. They work to provide various types of services and education related to important LGBT issues. They also offer YES (Youth Enrichment Services), a program to help end isolation for many LGBT youths. FX thinks it would be helpful for you to check out their website. If you do not live in the New York City area to get directly involved with The Center, contact them and tell them where you live so that they can give you recommendations about possible resources in your area.
Again, FX can appreciate that this is difficult time for you right now. But we think the key is going to be reaching out to trusted adults and peers where you will get the support and guidance you need, and where you will not be feeling so isolated.