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Hi everybody!

I hope each of your new year is treating you well!  This year promises to pack a lot of changes for me, personally.

In a few weeks I'm (probably) going to be starting group for the first time.  It is an LGBT group for grad students - I'm one of those unfortunate souls who seems to be eternally locked into being a grad student.  I'm also unfortunately locked in the closet.

I really hate being closeted, i feel like the world's biggest coward.  It wouldn't be so bad if i were just a kid, but i'm in my 30's.  It just seems like my life has never functioned right.  Does that make sense?  It's like things that happen naturally for everybody else never happened for me. Even when I tried to make them happen.  And I've never understood why.

So i started trying to get help for my depression and anxiety, which i've always experienced for most of my life.  Then i screwed up enough courage to start talk therapy.  My therapist is very nice and supportive.  Since starting this new adventure I've sorta come to the conclusion that i also have social anxiety/phobia.  I have always had a strong tendency to avoid social situations, and have not really had many very close friends.  And i've never been able to make any real contact with the gay community, which is pretty small in the small town area i live in.  This meant though that i've never had any real support system.  I'm only out to a few people, and I don't really see any of them that often. 

I hope i'm not rambling too much.  I just would like to understand why i'm where i am in life rather than where i would like to be.

Does it seem reasonable that having social anxiety/phobia might have had a major effect on my not coming out?  Or am i just a coward?  I really need to fix this and my life, and I'm really hoping this is the way out.

Have any of you had a similar connection between coming out, or not coming out, and your personal MI-ness?

Thanks for reading my ranting.  Happy New Years!

Brad

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ummm. no words of wisdom here. but i'm a pretty shy type. in fact very shy to the point of muteness and running away.

so when i came out, i didn't leap out of the closet waving a rainbow flag and shoving my lesbian fist in people's faces. i just started seeing girls. and the fact that i didn't make much of a fuss about it meant that nobody else could either.

i see my gayness as part of not fitting in, just as i see my MI as part of not fitting in. it's just stuff that i carry, and live with. i wish i hadn't tried to do the hetero thing.

it's just not an issue. i get to continue on my very private life. it rarely comes up in conversation, and it means my family and friends have had to just fucking deal with it. period.

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In a few weeks I'm (probably) going to be starting group for the first time.  It is an LGBT group for grad students - I'm one of those unfortunate souls who seems to be eternally locked into being a grad student.  I'm also unfortunately locked in the closet.

Good for you! As for being an eternal grad student -- you are not the only one around here.

Have any of you had a similar connection between coming out, or not coming out, and your personal MI-ness?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I suppose I have, the depression affects all aspects of my life.

In your case, I think there probably is a connection between your social anxiety and coming out. You can be as open as you want about it, but since the social anxiety makes it difficult for you to talk to people then you're not likely to be telling anyone you're gay. Maybe it's the social anxiety that makes you feel closeted, rather than anything you're doing/not doing in terms of the closet.

And when you do come out of that closet -- make sure you're wearing fabulous shoes!

Fiona

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Thanks for the replies, guys.  It makes me feel better, just having your encouragement.  (I'm not that great at message-boards.  I rarely post because I'm afraid it'll be a stupid post or reply.  And I'm afraid no-one will respond to my "stupid" message.  Ugh.)

One thing I'm really hoping is to find a way to get over this guilt and shame.  It's ironic, I feel so ashamed of not having a real life that I can't get areal life, so I'm even more ashamed.  And so on and so on and.... 

I don't know.  Maybe once I can move on (after finally finishing school-this year-YIKES!) it'll be easier.  Am I projecting onto others my own anger at myself about isolating myself, then interpreting this as shame/guilt. Maybe I have to somehow forgive myself for this, then move on in life.

Or does that sound like I'm getting to deep into psycho-babble, trying to make up a nice sounding senario that might be easy to fix?  Who knows.

I just hope group works out well and doesn't turn into a painful, embarassing, judgemental experience. 

In some ways I actually feel that this will be a new start, this year.

BTW-Fiona, do you keep a journal?  I remember someone saying that in a post a while ago, and they said it helped them a lot.  It's stuck in my mind that it was you.  Anyways, I took the advice over the holiday break (no therapy for a month), and I think it's helping a LOT!  If it was you, thanks!!!

And thank both of you for your replies, they're nice.

Brad

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BTW-Fiona, do you keep a journal?  I remember someone saying that in a post a while ago, and they said it helped them a lot.  It's stuck in my mind that it was you.  Anyways, I took the advice over the holiday break (no therapy for a month), and I think it's helping a LOT!  If it was you, thanks!!!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I do keep a journal, sometimes more detailed than others. Although it was originally a typed journal of my own, I gave it to my therapist to read whenever I saw him and later they became framed as 'letters to him.' Only recently have I gone back to more writing directly for myself. It's been terrifically helpful. And being able to give that written account to him made therapy a lot easier for me because I could write concisely and clearly things I couldn't talk about. And that gave us a place and a content to start from.

I don't recall suggesting your 'holiday' from therapy, but I can understand why it was a good idea -- if only for the weather!

Fiona

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I don't see how labelling yourself as a coward is going to help you or make you braver, it's like beating a yong kid with a big stick of shame and disapproval  ;)   I would view your choices in the past as the best you could have done with what you had and what you knew. Maybe this year is time to take it a step beyond and do something different.

My experiences with the LGBT community have generally been ones of genuine friendship and common ground, people have such deep experiences of rejection and finding their place that they want to help you and share lifre with you. Sure you get immature superficial bitches but life is that way.

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I don't recall suggesting your 'holiday' from therapy, but I can understand why it was a good idea -- if only for the weather!

Fiona

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm sorry, Fiona.  I should have said that over the holidays, when I didn't have any sessions, I took your advice of keeping a journal.  I just remember your saying it somewhere and thinking what a good idea it would be.  It's almost like a therapy session each time I write something! :-D

Brad -

I only came out to myself about a year and a half ago (I just turned 39) and I'm still wrestling with where I fall on the sexual spectrum.  I have had my own struggles with social phobia, though the meds help muchly now.  But even so, getting "in" with the "community" can be difficult.  For several months, I forced myself - and I do mean forced - to travel to Louisville and go to the only places I knew of where GLBT folks frequented.  No luck.  It was a very insular community, and strangers were not quickly embraced.  It's a matter, I think, of just finding things you like to do that others like as well, and letting fate take a turn.  But sometimes it takes a little help for people like us to stick it out there, so talk to your pdoc (if you have one; it's not clear) about meds for social phobia.  There is help for this.

Could you be a little more specific about why you feel guilty and ashamed?  There's no shame in not having done things.  You simply haven't done them yet.  As I clocked past 35, I started feeling this horrific panic that my youth was spent and I hadn't sown any wild oats.  I'm getting past it now, and even doing a little sowing.  I'm not old, and neither are you.  There's plenty of opportunity, and it's there every moment.  All you have to do is start moving. 

Keep talking to us...

Cerberus

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What you say, Cerberus!  That's exactly how I feel, though I came out to myself when I was 13 or 14.  That feeling of having to choose a higher range on those demographic questions scares me.  And most of my oats are still in the box with the Quaker on it! 

But thanks for the perspective on not being old and on not having done things yet.

I guess the shame, or maybe embarassment, comes from not having done much, especially when I was younger.  When I think of having to explain to a guy I might date why I haven't had any boyfriends of real relationships, I don't know how I would explain it.  I'm not even entirely sure myself, why I haven't. 

I also regret not having come out for political reasons.  I kinda feel like I've shirked my duty in helping other gay and lesbian people.  But I'll just have to make up for that in the future, in between planting those oats!

Karuna

I know what you mean: calling myself a coward isn't the best thing to  do, it's just how I sometimes feel about myself.  But I am trying to change my attitude about myself.  And looking at what I did in the past as "the best you could have done with what you had and what you knew" seems like a very healthy and constructive attitude.  Sometimes I just can't manage a healthy or constructive attitude about myself.

But i think I am getting a better outlook on things thanks to therapy.

And thanks to you guys!  A few kind words can really help a lot!

Brad ;)

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