My name is Jay. I'm bisexual, though I lean more towards girls. I live in South Dakota, I'm Native American, and I've never believed in myself until recently because I've suffered with depression, suicidal ideation, PTSD, and anxiety disorders my entire life. My therapist says that it comes from the rough first few years of my life and due to this I've been in and out of hospitals that claim that they can fix me. But the moment I came out to my family was the most meaningful thing to happen to me in my entire life because I've never known love and acceptance on that level before. This is my story:
I was born to two parents who had just gotten into their twenties. They had lives to live and things to look forward to, and my sudden appearance in my mother's stomach was holding them back. So, three years later the police found me outside my mother's apartment screaming and crying as she slept peacefully. They say that she slept around and did drugs and drank alcohol. They say that I've been sexually abused by my mother's inconsistent amount of boyfriends. They say that I've been physically and mentally abused. But never have I been given solid evidence other than a diagnosis written on cold paper that said I'm traumatized.
It took one year for a family to want me; taken in by my grandparents on my father's side after a hard decision made by the jury, as my mother's half of the family fought for their right to keep me with them. The second phase of my life began with a new home and new family members to call my parents and it ended with my first suicide attempt. I was nine years old when my uncle Percy committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, and I remember the moment I found out being the turning point of my life where death sounded so sweet. Insomnia followed afterwards, and so did the nightmares, the apparitions, the fear of the dark, the self-harm, and the acceptance of knowing that everyone that I would ever come to know will someday die.
My first trip to a mental hospital was when I was eleven. I had overdosed on sleeping medicine in hopes that it would kill me, and that was where I was forced to start anew again in a third phase of my life. I left Regional West with a fake smile on my face and bandages covering my arms. I found new places—secret places—to slit my skin when I finally got ahold of another blade. The pills numbed the pain, but it didn't stop me from crying myself to sleep at night. It wasn't until I was twelve and in sixth grade that I had learned about the wonders of sexuality and finally took notice to the people around me. I didn't learn that it was considered bad to like girls until I found one that I really liked. Her name was Rhea, also known as my first kiss and my first heartbreak. I like to think that I was too young to really know what love was, but the more I think about it, the more I knew what I was doing. Our relationship ended with my departure for a Christian boarding school. I was taught that it was wrong, I was wrong, and that God made man and woman for a reason. During my time at the school, my cousin Emil had committed suicide by hanging himself. I had learned that he was gay and afraid to come out to his family and suffered from bullying and had turned to drugs as a coping mechanism and wasn't able to recover from hallucinations and a trip that would send him to end his life.
The third phase of my life ended with another suicide attempt. HSC, South Dakota's state hospital, was a stricter place, and there I learned that it was okay to like girls and to accept myself for who I was. My grandmother died while I was in the hospital, and I wasn't able to attend her funeral, which had sent me on a downward spiral towards another mental breakdown. It took a while for me to regain my footing and continue on with my life with my grandmother in my heart in spirit. After leaving the hospital, I gave up the religion that was shoved down my throat at such a young age and left St. Joseph’s. I began the fourth phase of my life with my head held high as I entered high school only for it to crash down on me in the long run. I had failed my freshman year, and my life began to take a turn for the worst. After a buildup of emotion, I broke down in a panic attack screaming and crying, where I managed to cut my arms and legs in a feeble attempt to calm my own nerves to no avail. I was absent from school for the next two months, and there I learned that the suicide rates in South Dakota have doubled over the past twenty years, and that almost seventy-five percent are Native American youth just like me. I also learned that for every successful suicide, there are twenty-five attempts which have broken the 2016 record.
Though, I've lived knowing that my existence was unwanted, my sexuality is a sin, and that I will never be like anyone else no matter how hard I try, I've learned to accept myself as a person—a living, breathing, human being that deserves to be alive and on this planet just like everyone else. It hurts to be criticized and laughed at behind my back, but the people who don't like the way I am may be one or one million out of eight billion people that live on the Earth. I came out to my parents a few months after I'd left my final hospital trip and they accepted me with open arms. I'm so grateful that I was lucky enough to get even closer to my family with their knowledge of my sexuality.
I know that it's going to be hard but you can do it. I swear to you that you can, because if I can after all I've been through, you can too.