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