Where I am now …

When I joined Who not What I was relapsing back into severe depression: I was eating half the amount of food I should have been, suffering from anxiety with irrational and delusional thoughts and was desperately trying to cope with problems at home and the loss of a family member.

In short I was feeling incredibly low and was struggling to keep it all together.

This was until I had been approached by a wonderful member of who not what at school, and was asked if I was interested in joining a strategic LGBT+ group. I had never been a part of any LGBT+ group, let alone a ‘strategic’ one, my coming out experience had been relatively isolating: despite the support from my close friends, I literally felt like the ‘only gay in the village’, and that people like me were few and far between. Despite the general anxiety I felt about joining I took the plunge and (after a considerable amount of paperwork) I was suddenly thrust into this group full of young people who were all super passionate and driven to really make a difference in the lives of Hertfordshire’s young LGBT+ people.

At my first meeting I was so nervous I could barely speak to anyone but I still felt welcomed and like I was a part of something, and it was this feeling that kept me coming back to each meeting.

For the first time in my life I was meeting such a large number of people who were part of the LGBT+ community, which was something I could have only dreamed of two or three years ago. Although in the beginning the group was quite a small part of my life, I still felt like I had a purpose, something to do and somewhere to be, and for someone with depression it has been so very important to me to have a reason to keep going, however small it may be. The work we were doing was interesting, particularly in terms of setting up smaller support groups, which was something I really wanted to get involved in, as it was something I really could have used when I was coming to terms with who I was and I wanted to give other people an opportunity I didn’t have.

Over time I have become more and more involved in who not what and in the things that it has done, and I am now a part of 3 different LGBT+ groups and have been presented with so many amazing opportunities I can barely count them all.

Despite all the rough patches and relapses I’ve been through recently, going to these different groups has cheered me up, has meant I can feel like i’m making a difference and helps give me a break from a pretty stressful home environment.

My confidence levels are much higher and I have met some fantastic people and my drive to help others and contribute to the groups and give something back has greatly increased.

In terms of where I am now versus where I was before, I can’t say things are entirely better, that’s just not how life works and I don’t expect being a part of LGBT+ groups to cure something as vast and complex as mental illness or to sort out any problems in my life but I am in a much better place than I was then, and I am so thankful for everything this group has given to me.

To any young person out there questioning their sexuality or gender: go ahead and join a group, I cannot recommend it enough and if you are feeling isolated or lonely because of who you are it will give you such a wonderful boost and make you feel like you truly belong to a community.

At the end of the day I may just be the person that makes the badges but I can genuinely say I do not know where I would be without this group and I will always be grateful for being able to be a part of it.

Anon, 16, Herts

supported by Youth Connexions 





“You hide from every person you love …”

Coping mechanisms.                                       Trigger warning 

It’s not often that we choose to compare damaging coping mechanisms, because our first thought is directed at how horrible, saddening and addictive they all end up being. However once in a blue moon, I will come across a person who chooses to voice an opinion which ends up hurting a lot of people.

Tonight I have witnessed somebody say that self harm isn’t as bad as people say. Instantly I felt my stomach drop because I couldn’t believe that somebody would ever even consider saying this and backing it up by saying that there are worse coping methods such as drinking or taking drugs.

Self harm is insanely addictive to the point where you carry a blade with you anywhere you go and hide it in your phone case. It’s addictive to the point where it’s your immediate response to anything that affects you negatively. To the point where you’re around your friends or family and try coming up with a good excuse to leave the room and not cause any suspicion just so you can release every bit of your frustration, anger, sadness or panic onto your skin.

You hide from every person you love because you can’t let them suffer by seeing your wounds. You throw your bedsheets away when your mum isn’t home because you can’t explain the blood drenched fabric that you’re expected to sleep on, your bed is meant to be relaxing, safe and comfortable, isn’t it?

You always hear words such as “you’ll regret it in the future” about countless of things such as your tattoo’s, piercings or hairstyles, but you’d never think about the future when the blade is gliding through your skin. Future doesn’t exist when you’re burning your wrist or thighs on a heater lighter you stole from your dad. A cut, a scar, it’ll stay with you forever. Two scars, four, five. A hundred and nine. They’ll be there and it’s your job to learn how to live with them.

Same way you’re damaging your liver and kidneys through abusing alcohol, the same way you’re destroying your body through self harm.

To think that one way of hurting yourself isn’t as much of a big deal as the other invalidates us, erases our problem and addiction. I have found this to be the case of treatment I’ve experienced through therapy and my family. I had to be drunk every night for months so I would be taken seriously because it’s considered more harmful that the conveniently hidden cuts on my body. We’re always in fear of people seeing those but get taken seriously when we’re seen in a intoxicated state which can be found everyday on happy and sad people in a bar or at a pub. Self harm isn’t an act of recreational way to have fun, however drugs and alcohol commonly are. So why? Why do we still struggle to be validated?

Anon, 19, Herts

If you are looking for information and support http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_children_young_people/whats_worrying_you/self-harm/self_harm_help