How Owning My Bisexuality Helped Me Heal From My PTSD
It’s hard to believe we are already two weeks into the month of June! The weather is getting sunnier, the days are getting longer, BBQ season is back (Hurray!) and the leaves are starting to bud on my Crabtree! I love this time of the year, especially after six months of grey skies and 12-foot snowbanks. I’m born to love the cold, but I can’t help but appreciate the summer as well.
But June is also an amazing month for another reason: it’s Pride Month!
It’s a beautiful time of the year where local businesses hang rainbow flags, city hall has painted the rainbow crosswalks again, friends decorate their social medias with their own coming out stories and we can now use Facebook’s new “Pride” reaction button to spread a little more color — and a lot more love — throughout the world.
Love is love is love, and it is so inspiring to see so many of my own friends spreading the love and supporting equal rights.
And for me? It’s the perfect time to reflect on how owning my sexuality helped me battle — and eventually heal — from my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
That’s right, everyone. My name is Amanda Wilson and I am a bisexual woman.
For me, there was no big coming out story. There were big shows of support and compassion or celebrations either. In my experience, my world didn’t crash and burn, but I didn’t really make a big deal of it either. I didn’t come out of the closet so much as I fell out and just kinda laid there, neither terrified or excited.
I knew who I was so why did I care? (Even though at the time I cared a lot more than I let on.)
I came out to my fiancé (then boyfriend) one lazy weekend a few years back. I was standing in front of my mirror doing my makeup as he read UFO stuff on his laptop. (Yes, the love of my life loves aliens and big foot news!). I had dropped hints forever, but I finally decided it was time to lay it all out on the table.
The conversation went simply like this:
“You know I like girls too, right?” I said.
“Yeah, I figured that out already,” he replied.
“…Is that OK?” I asked.
“You love me right?” He asked.
“Then what do I care?” He said.
And that was it. No big epiphanies, no hurt feelings, no fights — just simple, pure acceptance. Sure, over the years, we have both made inappropriate jokes about my bisexuality at my expense, but it was never meant in a negative way. I can fangirl over how dreamy Tom Hiddleston is but also agree with my fiancé with how freaking beautiful Jennifer Lawrence is, and he never gets offended.
Has the “threesome joke” been made maybe one too many times? Yes, but to me, it seems like that is something most bisexual people have experienced.
And maybe part of the reason my coming out experience was never made a big deal was because it was simply brushed under the rug by most of my family and friends. It was a fact that many didn’t know what to do with so they simply said, “OK” and moved on. I am a bisexual woman in a heterosexual relationship. I have been with my fiancé for almost seven years, and maybe that’s why many of the people close to me have just called it a “phase” when I was secretly exploring my sexuality. No one really has accepted this part of my life (or at least no one has ever told me they have), but I expected this long before I came out, so I tried to not let it bother me. Yet most bisexuals have these similar experiences, so I take some comfort in knowing I’m not alone.
But that’s a whole other topic for another day.
Finally admitting out loud and on social media that I am a bisexual woman has been more than just taking a stand with my fellow LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. It’s been more than fighting “the man” and working for the equal rights for everyone. Love is love is love is love — you can’t convince me otherwise.
But for me, coming to accept my sexuality has played a big role with helping me accept and heal with regards to my PTSD.
When I finally admitted out loud that I was bisexual, I was in the worst year of battling my PTSD. I was suicidal, I was attending weekly therapy sessions, I was taking antidepressants and anxiety medication. I hated every little detail about myself — my looks, my figure, my brain — and yes, my undisclosed sexuality. I was so twisted by my demons that I felt numb — lifeless. I felt I was merely a physical body existing enough to survive.
I had dubbed 2013 a total “write off” year because it had definitely been one of the worst years with living with PTSD. I only had a handful of good days during that year, spending months and months in deep, depressive episodes plagued with PTSD episodes and flashbacks. For me, 2013 was a total nightmare.
But creeping into 2014, I was making a lot of headway with my healing. I was slowly coming to accept the fact that my PTSD was something that wouldn’t go away after a few months of treatment. My PTSD was something that was going to be with me for the rest of my life — for me, this was a large figurative pill to swallow.
But learning to accept my PTSD has helped me move mountains. Yes, I had serious self-esteem issues and had virtually no confidence in myself — things I still work on to this day — but learning to accept myself wholly and completely has been my greatest struggle.
Therapy taught me I had to accept myself for who I was; mental illness or not, I was still the same person I was before my diagnosis. Yes, I was going through some huge mental battles, but I was still me. And no matter how painful and bad my PTSD was, there were parts of me my mental illness couldn’t change — things the demons couldn’t hold against me. That included my sexuality.
I was a very in-tune kid with my body and I knew I was bisexual before I even knew there was a word for it. I was attracted to both boys and girls since I was in junior high. I had crushes on just as many girls as I did boys. I fantasized about both sexes. This was nothing new to me, but coming to accept it out in the open — to let that private part of my life be exposed — was hard to accept.
I remember during one therapy session being physically ill at the thought of coming out. We had been talking about the debilitating doubt I had with my PTSD. At the time, I believed that eventually everyone in my life, including my fiancé, would walk away. In the first two years of fighting my PTSD, I lost a lot of friends, so it was only easy to assume that eventually he would leave, too. My mental illness had me convinced I was a waste of space, and I thought no one would accept my illness entirely.
And then the discussion moved to my bisexuality and she asked me why I had never told anyone, ever, that I was bisexual.
And I had my reasons.
But in the midst of battling a mental illness, I was virtually broken over this fact. I was ashamed that I had lied about being bisexual. I remember telling her I was afraid of losing more friends. I was afraid my family would disown me — when my father’s side of the family had already cut all ties — I was not prepared to lose the last few people who cared about it. And part of me was afraid of their reactions, a family that was conservative with certain religious beliefs — and I was the oddball out. I knew I would blindside them. Can you imagine how terrifying that was?
“Hey. I have PTSD and I’m bisexual. Surprise.”
I was not ready to see or hear the reactions that would come from that loaded sentence.
And then there was my fiancé (then boyfriend). I was afraid that admitting it to him would destroy our relationship. I was afraid he would never trust me again because I believe bisexuality has just as much stigma as living with a mental health issues does. I was afraid he would leave me, or always doubt my love for him. I already doubted myself, so I couldn’t handle his doubts either.
And to this day, I couldn’t tell you which fact was harder to accept. My PTSD or my bisexuality. Both two important factors in my life that could either make me or break me.
I struggled for a long time.
But fast forward a year later, and a few months after my “lackluster” coming out story, I was finally learning to love myself again. I wasn’t suicidal anymore. I was liking the girl I saw in the mirror again. I was proud of how far I was coming. I had moved mountains to find the good days again. I was finally winning the war.
And in fighting through my PTSD, I had also learned to accept everything about myself, including my sexuality. Creating normalcy was a priority when I started healing and I realized to be completely and entirely true to myself, I had to have all my cards out on the table. I didn’t want to hide anything about myself anymore. I am who I am, and over six long years, I learned the ones who truly cared, the ones who truly mattered, wouldn’t care if I found Jennifer Lawrence sexy.
I didn’t need a big celebration for finally admitting to my sexuality, so over the years I just slowly started telling people in subtle ways and dropping hints. People eventually caught on. And as time wore on, I eventually starting stating it blatantly as I did my mental illness.
“I have PTSD.” I would say.
“And I’m bisexual.”
And then a year ago, on June 12th 2016, the Orlando nightclub shooting took place.
And I was devastated.
I cried for days and spent so much time looking up the victims and learning their stories and reading about their lives. It was a tragedy too hard for words. A senseless act of violence against the LGBTQ+ community — against people like me.
So I decided to finally be more vocal about my bisexuality. Much like sharing my story living with mental illness, I became more open about my sexuality, becoming more firm with standing up for equal rights. Like most people from my generation, I used my social media to express my outrage and hurt. Because I had a voice and I was damn well gonna use it.
But despite all this, I realize I have come a long way. To be able to sit here and write this blog post, to simply say “I have PTSD and I’m bisexual” has been some of the proudest moments in my life. Accepting these simple, but huge, parts of my life have been the biggest steps to getting better.
Accepting my PTSD had helped me become brave enough to admit out loud that I am bisexual. And in turn, owning my bisexuality and using it as a positive in my life has helped me fight the demons of my PTSD.
Yes, my PTSD has changed me but it did not take everything away from me either. It has made me strong, it helped me be brave and despite all the lies it convinced me were true, it has helped me bloom into a better person — a person who is more grateful for this beautiful life, for every aspect of my life.
Because love is love is love is — and I finally love me again, every part of me. And there isn’t enough hate in the world that could ever take that away from me.
So let me say it again. My name is Amanda Wilson and I’m a bisexual woman in a heterosexual relationship living with PTSD.
If you’re feeling suicidal, or just needs a safe place to talk, you can call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386.
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Thinkstock photo via nito100.