Sunday, March 25, 2007

I've received some comments suggesting that I am suffering from depression because my SGA is in conflict with my beliefs, my marriage and my family. I know there are many struggling with SGA who also suffer from depression, and that there is a direct link between the two. In my case however, there doesn't seem to be a connection. However, I can understand and sympathize with those who do suffer from mental illness as a result of inner conflicts, as well as religeous and societal pressures, arising from SGA. It's a tough road for all of us, whether or not we are Mormon. I have had conversations with many openly gay men who feel, deep down, that they know their lifestyle is wrong. I believe we are all born with the light of Christ within us that helps us to know right from wrong.

There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma associated with mental illness. Saying that depression is a result of their environment or their circumstances does not always hold true. I have yet to pinpoint any reason for my depression. Some mental illness is simply the result of chemicals, or the lack thereof, in the brain. Having clinical depression for the past two years has helped me to take a closer look at myself. The disease in and of itself is actually quite physically and mentally debilitating. I ended up taking two months paid medical leave from work just to begin recovery. Although the disease probably snuck up on me slowly, it felt more like a sudden hit. I woke up one morning completely unable to face going into work. There was nothing in particular happening at work to make me feel this way, but I felt like I couldn't be away from my wife for more than five minutes. The idea of being alone was terrifying. Little did I know that this was just the beginning and there would be even more terrifying moments over the next two years. It has been quite an intriguing journey. I would never have guessed that I would have come down with this illness. I've always been happy - even with my struggle of SGA.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all of this, other than to say that my choice of being faithful to my wife and my beliefs, in the face of SGA, has not caused my depression. I don't feel trapped in my marriage or unfulfilled sexually because I have chosen to supress feelings of SGA. There are many who would lead me to believe that by not allowing myself to follow my "true" feelings of SGA that I will never be happy. In reality, the opposite is the truth.


playasinmar said...

I think we're all glad to hear you're getting help, Forester. Your posts were making me worry about you!

Good point about the stigma of mental illness. It's sad it exists and it's sad people fear it more than the disease.

iwonder said...

That's a really interesting post. I have lived with depression for probably 10 years now. I always thought that it was because I have SSA, but I am beginning to think that something else is going on. I'm beginning to see that the two issues are not one and the same, though they are linked. I don't believe that being Mormon and gay means that I am suicidally depressed. It certainly makes it harder at times, but I believe that there is more going on (at least with me) than meets the eye.

Mormon Enigma said...

As another person who suffers from clinical depression, I too feel that my SSA did not cause my depression. It may exasperate it, but I don't believe it was the root cause.

After going to a variety of doctors a few years ago, the best they could come up with was that I was biologically predisposed for depression.

SG said...

If anyone really believes clinical, diagnosed major depression or bipolar disorder are caused by SGA or vice versa, they are simply wrong. Both of those diseases are caused by a lack or excess of certain chemicals in the brain, much like diabetics have too much glucose in their blood.

There is a very unfortunate stigma about mental illness. I've had people tell me to "snap out of it." Of, if only I could, when I'm depressed. If only I could remain in my mildly manic states, where I have wonderful energy and great ideas and am so happy and full of life. If I was a diabetic, people would be understanding.

But I am who I am, and I didn't choose to have bipolar disorder, just like many of you aren't depressed because you are SGA. Anyone with a diagnosis of depression or any other related illness from a medical professional didn't bring it upon themselves because of their personal incongruity of being SGA and having a testimony of the gospel. You can't give yourself cancer from it; how can you give yourself major depression from it?

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

Forrester, I don't know that I've read your blog before, but it seems really honest and I enjoyed reading your words.

Depression is a beast, I wish you the best of luck in figuring out how to live and work through it. I have been in and out of counseling for depression and a variety of other issues over the years. My father has clinical depression and his brother has a horrible case of manic depression. My mother, brother, and sister have also been on anti-depressants in the past. I am no stranger to the world of counseling and depression. As for me, I don't know that marriage will ever work simply because I don't know that I'd ever find a woman who would take me and I'd be too afraid of getting a divorce later on. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about marriage. I believe you when you say that you don't feel trapped in your marriage and beliefs. These are things that truly bring a measure of happiness to your life. You do mention that you have guilty feelings about your attractions, yet you also acknowledge that you didn't ask for these feelings. You also say that you don't live a dichotomous life, but I can't help but feel that having that kind of conflict leads to dichotomous thinking. "I hate these feelings I have because they conflict with what I want and something that brings me joy and they could potentially hurt those that I love." Yet at the same time you feel guilt or shame. Guilt is a feeling reserved for things that ARE our fault.

So my question for you in all of this is, do you think that maybe part your depression comes from a dislike for yourself because you have these feelings? Like something that just built up over time and suddenly it became something that is a dominating presence? Like years of smoking that suddenly lead to a cancer? I ask this because that is how I felt for a very long time. I used to hate myself and I didn't even realize it. I hated that I had these feelings. Loving yourself unconditionally doesn't mean giving into these feelings or accepting a gay lifestyle as something you'll pursue, but rather loving yourself as God loves you, the flawed human that he made. For me, that made all the difference in understanding God's love for me and helping me to be happy.

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your posts here. Thanks.


Since July 15, 2007