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This member story was featured in a mental health exhibition in Malaysia titled Return To Light.

Today, (well, it’s still today in my time zone) October 11th, is National Coming Out day, a day where LGBTQ+ persons come out of the closet. It’s not an obligation to do so, but on this day you’re guaranteed at least the solidarity with those coming out on this day as well.

Mental health is a major concern for LGBTQ+ people. In the context of a societal vacuum a queer person is no more or less likely than a cisgender, heterosexual person to have any number of mental health conditions. Without the safety net of a societal vacuum, though, is when problems begin to arise. My time spent “in the closet” was some of the worst years of my life. I suffered through the darkest depression I’ve ever known.

Humans are social creatures, we need others in our lives to thrive, and loneliness can be debilitating. But physical loneliness is only one way of being lonely. When someone is in the closet, even if they have many people in their lives, they may be alone in a prison of their minds. Despite the dire circumstances I was in, I felt I could not reach out to those around me. Having people around me, even if they didn’t know the real me, seemed a better alternative to taking the risk of driving them away should they not accept me for who I am. It eventually got to the point where I was in bad enough shape that I had to either leave the closet and live my truth, or leave this life.

You can never know how someone will react when you come out to them. I was pleasantly surprised with the support I received, even from those I had pegged as probably unsupportive. I can’t begin to describe the improvement of my mental health since coming out. Depression is still a struggle, but considering where I came from, where I am now is all sunshine and rainbows! It’s important to have hope for the future!

 

—Samantha Nystrom

Here are some of the personal notes the attendees left for Samantha!

 

“We are all on a continuum of sexuality. We should and can celebrate differences.”

“I am proud of you for coming out. Always remember that you’re never alone. Thanks for sharing. ❤️”

“I’m really glad that you’re brave to share your thoughts! Don’t be afraid to speak out and show who you really are. You’re who you are, and you’re unique. ❤️”

“Congrats on coming out & living your truth! I’m sure your courage helps many others to embrace who they are!”

“It’s great that you have come out of the closet. Never apologize for who you are. You are brave & you deserved to be loved just like the rest! ❤️”

 

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The One Project is a community of passionate creatives, advocates and caring friends or family members working to support each other and change the conversation around mental health issues like depression, anxiety and more with therapeutic photography.

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