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In Honor of Pride Month: I Am Black, Gay and Bipolar

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

My name is Dani, I am a young homosexual black female living with bipolar disorder Type 2.

As much as we don’t want labels to define us, in a way they do. Sometimes I feel as if these labels are boldly stamped across my forehead wherever I go. Coming out is naturally challenging thing to do, but imagine having to do it over and over and over again. Flashbacks of being one of the handful of black girls throughout my classes growing up, lying about my sexuality due to constant bullying throughout my high school and painfully hiding the reality of my mental illness.

“Are you mixed? You have really nice hair and you talk like a white girl. You can’t be fully black.”

“But you’re too pretty to actually be gay, you just haven’t met the right guy.”

“You don’t look sick. You’re probably just being dramatic or too sensitive.”

These are just some of the questions, comments and remarks that I’ve heard from a number of people — far too often.

I officially came out to my family and friends during my junior year in high school. It didn’t take long for the news to spread around. That was one of the periods in my life where my depression hit an all time low. I became an overly emotional eater and found comfort in binging and purging. I began engaging in self-harm, hidden from where others could see my scars. I started partying, sneaking around and getting into drugs. Years passed, my struggle with self-identity grew, partying and drinking became excessive and the ups and downs of battling my mind continued. I didn’t know which way was up and it wasn’t until I became really sick that I was ready to make a complete change in my life.

Looking back at the times I wanted to give up, I remind myself of where I am today. I was a girl fighting within myself, hating myself, because of my attraction to the same sex. At 17 years old, I came out and shared that I was gay. To the lost girl who felt unlovable and broken after a 5+ year relationship, I found my soulmate at 28 years old and I am now married to the love of my life. Losing my grip on life, I decided it was time to seek professional help and this year I was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and bipolar disorder.

This is to anyone who doesn’t feel beautiful enough, strong enough or good enough — you are enough. Being a member of the black community, LGBT community and living with a mental illness seems to be a deep sea of stigmas. I am filled and surrounded with so much love from these communities. We have to keep fighting the stigmas.

I am black, gay and bipolar.

And I am proud.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

Thinkstock photo via g-stockstudio

Originally published: June 28, 2017
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