This edition of TEB ended up focusing on anxiety and depression – but there’s a happy ending! I will share my story first, and then share some recent statistics. Thanks for tuning in!
I was depressed from a very young age and since I did not know what depression really was at the ages of five or six, I didn’t know how to describe it. I tried, when I was about five years old, and told my father that I felt like I had a hole inside of myself that I couldn’t fill. Try to imagine a five-year-old saying that to you, and then imagine what you would do. Would you finish their bedtime story, put them to bed, and never ask them about it again? I sure wouldn’t.
When I was eleven, I told my Mom that I was having negative thoughts, and thoughts involving self-harm. She told me “that’s part of growing up” and left me sitting on the couch alone wondering if this was all that life could offer me; ultimately concluding that life wasn’t worth it. So, I started planning my suicide, and began giving my things away to friends since I wouldn’t need them anymore. It was going to be a Tuesday, and I was ready – confident that I was making the right decision since I wasn’t happy and had no hope of that ever really changing. Long story short,the school found out through a friend, and my parents were called in. Suddenly it was an issue that my parents had “no idea” about, and the school mandated that I begin therapy before returning to school. It didn’t help, but I got smarter at hiding it, and started drinking because that’s what my Dad and brothers did so it made sense to me. By the time I was twelve I was drinking at least three nights a week – mostly to fall asleep but it quickly became more than that (which is a different support group altogether, so I won’t go into it here, but I’m sure you get the picture). Thank goodness I did not get involved with drugs, which is a surprise since that is also what my father and brothers were doing, because I’m sure that my mother would be truly broken if another one of her children was lost to overdose (my brother Michael died from a heroin overdose in 2011 at the age of 29). I became very good at hiding my depression and anxiety – and thrived despite it. I did well in school and was also an accomplished athlete in soccer, softball, and swimming – missing state championships in the 100m Butterfly event by 2 seconds (I blame my brothers for this, and there is a funny story involved I promise) – but something was always missing. It wasn’t until I learned that I was transgender that I finally had a realization as to why I was depressed for most of my life.
With all of that in mind, my father has been sober for over four years now, and my brother Matthew (although still drinking and doing drugs) has been successfully calling me ‘Aidan’ instead of my birth name for over a year now. My mother is doing better, and although she said many things throughout my life – and my transition – that will never be forgotten, we are civil, and she is trying to truly come to terms with me as her child.
I now have some statistics that I would like to share with you regarding the transgender community and then the happy ending!
An adult survey, offered in English and Spanish, was offered online in 2015 to the transgender population and almost 28,000 people responded. The findings, sadly, confirmed what many of us assumed to be true regarding many statistics including employment status, harassment, but also suicide attempts. The rate of suicide among the general population is 4.6%,however for those in the transgender population that number is 40%. That statistic increases even higher when outside factors such as harassment, discrimination either at school, work, or by family members enter the picture.
If not for my wife and love of my life Sarah, I may have ended up in a much darker place. She has been my rock through all of this, and her support as well as support from friends has kept me going throughout my life and especially my transition. Please keep in mind that this also applies to all members of the LGBTQ+ community, and support is one of the most important factors for people who identify as LGBTQ+. Thank you all for being involved in PFLAG, even if it is just to be on the mailing list, your support and understanding go a long way for the community.
As always, if there is a topic that you would like to hear more about or a question you may have that you’d like me to address, don’t hesitate to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I can address it in one of the TEB installments.
Until next time!