Telling people that you are gay, or that you are struggling with your gender identity, or anything that has to do with being a part of the LGBTQ+ community takes courage – especially when talking to those closest to you such as parents, siblings, close friends or even your children or spouse. This major life event can be both terrifying and liberating, but the unknown can be the hardest.
Challenges in coming out
You might imagine all sorts of worst-case scenarios and suffer anxiety or depression as a result. Or, it might be that things went far worse than you were expecting when you shared your news. Perhaps you are still trying to tell someone and just can’t quite get there, or you might not even be certain about your gender identity or sexuality but you know you want to be authentic with your loved ones and wish to share your feelings. This can be a lot to process and deal with on your own.
With every major life transition, there is a change, and with every change, there is an ending and with endings there often comes grief. So, by telling people about your sexual orientation, of course, there should be great relief, but there you may also experience grief because the relationship you had with the people you are telling may now change. You may feel that they view you or interact with you differently and you may experience a feeling of loss for how things were before.
If your announcement was not met with positive reactions, or your relationship has ended as a result of you coming out, you will very likely feel grief over the rejection and the loss of that relationship in your life.
If things went very badly, it is possible you are feeling trauma and very isolated, which can both lead to anxiety and/or depression.
When is it time to get help?
For some people, coming out can be a beautiful event. They are met with unconditional love and support and they feel liberated and relieved to have shared that personal information about themselves, which will enable them to live their authentic lives. For some, the news may have come as a shock to those being told and maybe didn’t go as well as they’d hoped. For others, coming out may have been a traumatic experience that ended with them being shunned and isolated from the very people who claim to love them the most. If you haven’t come out yet and are struggling with how to do so, the fear of the unknown outcome can be paralyzing. It’s not uncommon to feel anxiety, stress, depression, grief, and confusion after you’ve shared this news and/or before you’ve made the decision to talk to your loved ones. However, if these feelings are impacting your life, or you feel stuck, it may be time to talk with a therapist.
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If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, abnormally anxious, feeling excessive grief or sadness, when your relationships or your work are affected, and your ability to cope or function is limited, or you find yourself coping with unhealthy choices (alcohol, drugs, food, unhealthy relationships, etc.) it might be time to seek help.
Treatment methods for dealing with challenges with coming out
There is no specific treatment for dealing with the change that coming out brings. Depending on what you’re experiencing (trauma, gender identity issues, sexuality issues, anxiety, depression, grief, etc.), there are many treatment methods that can be successful. It depends on you and what treatment method best suits your needs and personality. Your therapist will work with you to determine the most effective treatment method for you.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight?
Our therapists will support you and empower you to get through this major change in your life. We can share coping strategies and tools you can use to help you get through this time of transition and help you to see the opportunities that may now exist. We can assist you in setting realistic goals and timelines for those goals. With support, you can come out of this life-altering transition more resilient and better able to cope with all of life’s changes.
Insight can provide you with in-person, online, or telephone counselling. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.