April 3, 2023

depression/suicide in the lgbtq+ community - with will anthony

depression/suicide in the lgbtq+ community - with will anthony
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three siblings

all hosts are together after a successful podcast launch party with special guest will anthony. will shares his experience of feeling like he was attracted to men and how that made him feel. they then discuss statistics from the trevor project and preventive factors to help those struggling with issues. will talks about his struggles with mental health, starting at 16 when his dad suggested he take medication for depression. at 18, his world was turned upside down when his dad told him and his twin brother that he and their mom were divorcing. on top of this, will was coming to terms with being gay, which further added to his feeling of being an outsider. we follow his journey from youth to becoming an adult to take the necessary steps to get himself help.

trigger warning: this show discusses sensitive mental health topics.

statistics and information from: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

will anthony's bio:

Will Anthony was raised in San Antonio and grew up in a conservative Greek Orthodox household. After high school he spent his first two semesters of college in Madrid. He was a graduate assistant in the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion while completing his Master of Education at University of the Incarnate Word. Will is passionate about mental health and strives to create a world where people can feel accepted and loved. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis, racquetball, pickle-ball, and hanging out with his Fiancée Matt and their dog Moxie.


0:00:10 exploring depression and suicide in the lgbtq+ community with will anthony

0:04:41 mental health journey: from madrid to st. louis

0:06:39 will's story of overcoming suicidal ideation

0:14:04 finding hope and acceptance through therapy

0:22:42 mental health stigmas in the greek culture

0:24:49 the benefits of medication for mental health

0:26:58 mental health in the lgbtq+ community: a conversation on depression, suicide, and growth mindset

0:31:14 the impact of social acceptance on lgbtq youth mental health

0:34:52 mental health and preventative factors

0:39:12 talking acceptance with michelle & overcoming depression and suicide in the lgbtq+ community

produced by dbpodcasts: http://www.dbpodcasts.com

for all things three siblings podcast & hosts: threesiblingspodcast.com





[00:00] Sunny: Welcome to Three Siblings, a podcast about life after loss and grief. We're the three siblings. Your hosts, Sonny, Tina and Michelle. On this show, we retell our stories to shine a light on tough family situations to help our listeners with issues they may be facing. Let's get into it. Our all right, everyone. Welcome to this show. Today, we're actually all in Austin together, and we have our first guest. We're all in Austin because we had our Three Siblings launch party last night. We had a blast celebrating with loved ones and Michelle actually Djed. So it was a great time and really appreciate everyone that made it. Really showed some love for the podcast and for us. So I'll dive into what the outline will be for this episode. So we'll let Will introduce himself. He'll go over his background in the story. Next, we'll go over some statistics we found regarding depression and suicide in the gay community from the Trevor Project. Next, we'll go over some preventive factors to help those who may be struggling with these issues. And then finally, we will talk about how Will has grown from his story and gone from there.

[01:23] Michele: Hey, this is Michelle. Thanks for tuning in today. Just a reminder that our podcast goes over some sensitive subjects. So this is our trigger warning and a reminder that you can text LGBTQ to 741741. That's the Texas Crisis hotline number.

[01:40] Sunny: Next. We'll let will Anthony introduce himself? Will and I actually met in Austin, and the podcast was in its inception stage. I just had this idea, was talking about it to people, and I brought it up to Will one night, and later on in the night, he came to me and was super passionate about this idea to come talk about the depression and suicide issue in the gay community. And I could just tell he really wanted to speak on it. And I said, I would love to have you on the show. This is a great subject that isn't touched on enough. And so we're really happy to have you, Will.

[02:15] Will: Thanks, Sonny, for introducing me. I am so excited to be here today and to share some of my story, how I grew up, where I am now, and the tools that I used to get me here. So, first of all, I was born in San Antonio, Texas, to a conservative Greek Orthodox family, and I always felt like I had strong support at church, strong support at home with my family, with my friends. And growing up, I had an inclination that I may be attracted to men, and that was something that always bothered me. And I always had this feeling that if people knew who I actually was, they wouldn't accept me. And that's something that I went through most of my life with. And today I want to talk about some of the darkest moments of my life. And I also want to talk about some of the moments of my life that have had the most joy. So just to get into how my depression and my mental health struggles started. At 16 years old, I started taking medication for depression. And my dad had noticed that I was just a little upset. And he said, hey, Will, I'm on this medication. Since I'm your dad and you're my son, I think it may work for you. So we called the doctor. I went, I got the medication, and it helped. And so from 16 to 18, things were going pretty good. And the month before I was going to graduate high school, my dad sat my brother and I down, and he said, Your mom and I are getting a divorce, and I have a twin brother, Nicholas. And we both were just in complete shock. And at the same time, I was coming to terms with the fact that I am gay, and that is who I am. So I felt like I was dealing with the divorce of my parents and the realization and accepting the fact that I am gay. And I just wanted to get so far away from San Antonio because of all the negative associations I had. Just with my family being torn apart and really growing up in such a conservative Christian community, I didn't feel like there was a place for me. So I told my mom, and she said, okay, well, what are we going to do? And I said, I think I want to start my first semester of college in Madrid just to get away. And that's what I did. That august 1 semester of college, I moved to Madrid. My mom took me. We had a great time. And I thought to myself, if I get far enough away from my problems, maybe I'll be okay. And it just didn't work out that way. And I understood that I could go across the world and still feel the exact same way that I felt. So after that first semester, I decided that I wanted to come back to United States and start college here. So I went from Madrid to St. Louis, Missouri, where I started my second semester. Still, my mental health was in a really bad place, and I wanted to start over again. So I got there. My mom, my grandmother and I drove from San Antonio to St. Louis, unpacked everything, and then they left, and I was on my own again. And for me, one of the things that has constantly affected my mental health is climate, which I think that's really underplayed. But for me, when it's sunny outside and I'm happier when it's cold and when it's snowy and when it's dark, I go into deep depressions. And St. Louis was freezing. It was snowing and it was dark. And I really spent the first month by myself in the dorm. And I called my dad one day. I said, dad, I can't do this. I'm not happy and I don't know what's going on. And he said, we'll go to church. That's what I did when my dad said when he moved to Boston, and he went to church and rig Greek Orthodox and is a very small community, and I knew that I would find my people there. And so I went to church. And it was similar service to San Antonio. The priest was great and I loved it. I felt like I was at home again. But as soon as I drove away, my next thought was, if these people knew who I was, they would not accept me. So that made it hard because I knew that I could be accepted if I wasn't genuine, and I wasn't okay with that. And so I lived with that for a little bit. And maybe a week or two later, I got to the point to where I don't know if everyone's going to be able to understand this, but I was in my dorm room and I didn't feel anything anymore. Like I this sadness that I had carried for so long, like the little moments of joy that I had in between, I didn't feel a single thing. And so I called my dad and I called him and I said, dad, I'm done. I think I'm ready to go. And he called me and he said, Will I'll get on a plane? And I told my dad, dad, you don't need to come. I'm okay. I'm at peace. I'm ready. And he just didn't know what to do. So he called my best friend. And I think this is another super important thing for people to realize that my parents, as much as they wanted to get through to me, it wasn't working. And when my childhood best friend Josie called me, she said, will, I love you and I'm here for you. And it took her. It took a friend. A friend, not somebody who was obligated to be there for me. It's like in the back of my head, I knew my family was always going to be there for me, but it was some sort of obligation. And my friend who did not have that obligation to be there for me is the one that took me out of that. And in that moment, what was going through my head was, if I stay on this Earth, it hurts. It hurts. And remember, what I said is I didn't feel sadness, I didn't feel happiness, I didn't feel joy. I didn't feel anything. I just knew that it hurt to stay here and that if I left this Earth, I would no longer have to carry that hurt. And that was what I wanted. But it took my friend. And so, of course, I had been on medication for a couple of years then, so I had my pills there. I had searched for what I was going to use to do it. And in between this cluster. Josie called, and she talked me down. So what happened after that is I called my dad, and I said, dad, I'm going to be okay. You don't need to come. I'm going to go to the office tomorrow, and I'm going to ask to leave, and I'm going to drive home. And my dad was I never heard him more scared in his life. And we just had to trust each other. He had to trust me that I was going to follow through. And the next morning, I packed up all my stuff. I went to the counselor's office, and I said, I need to go home. And another person who did not have an obligation to be nice to me said, take as much time as you need. I'm going to give you a leave of absence, and you are welcome back whenever you're ready. And I drove straight to Joplin, Missouri. I spent the night, and then the next day, I drove Joplin to San Antonio. And when I saw my parents, it it I felt so sorry. I just I felt so sorry because I know how worried they were. And we made a plan, and the plan was to get me from where I was to a healthy person, and that was at 19 years old. And I'm 26 now. And I think from 19 to 25 was the 19 to 24 was the growth period that I had. And I just think people also need to know the repercussions of things like this last my parents are grateful every single day that I am here. And when I look at a challenge today and I say, if you could have gotten over that, why are you scared of what you have to do now? And my father on his phone has an application called Life 360. I recommend it to any parent that's worried about their child. And for the last five years, every single time I leave a location, if I'm at my home, if I'm at work, if I'm at dinner, when I get in my car and I drive away from home to dinner, a text gets sent to him so that he knows where I am. And when I leave, a text gets sent to him so that he knows where I am, because what happened will be real for them forever, as it is real to me forever. And so now I kind of want to switch gears from what happened, my background, to how I got to a place where I'm able to deal with my mental health today in a healthy way. And that started with seeing a psychiatrist that first week I got home, and I've been put on many medications for manic depression, anxiety, mood stabilization. You name it, I've been on it, and all of the side effects, and it's an emotional roller coaster to find the medication and to understand that I'm okay. And I feel very lucky that my stepfather is a physician and was able to sit me down and say, will, just like there are people who have heart conditions, and they take pills because there's something that's lacking for them chemically, and that pill makes them healthy. You're lacking some chemicals in your brain, and you need this extra medication to feel okay. And I really took that to heart, and I understood then that I was okay. So I went through the first psychiatrist. Didn't work a couple of years with him, next psychiatrist, about a year with her didn't work. And I finally found the third psychiatrist, and through trial and error and we found what worked. And I think finding the right doctor is so important. I called her at 03:00 a.m. In the morning multiple times when I was freaking out, for lack of a better phrase. And she was there to help me, to get me through it. And if I were to have told myself that night who was gay, ashamed, scared, alone, didn't want to be on this earth anymore, felt I didn't feel accepted by anyone that today at 26, I would be engaged to marry a man that loves me, I don't think I would have believed it at all. And so I just want to say to anyone who's listening to this that there is hope, and it's not as hard as you think it is. It's rough sometimes, but it's doable. And I'm still growing, and I'm still learning about myself, and I'm still trying. And so I may have gotten to a place I never thought I would be at, but it's a constant effort. And through therapy, I learned to understand myself and let go of some of my shame that I felt from growing up a conservative Christian. I didn't like myself because I was going against who I was supposed to be, who I thought I was supposed to be. And I'd also like to say to anyone else that's struggling with the mixed feelings of dealing with how you were brought up religiously or not, or your family structure or your belief system or the belief system of your friends and your family around you, testing that out with people is really helpful. And I'll give you a good story, and I'll give you a bad story that both made me grow significantly. I wanted to feel that I was okay with my family. And the hardest person to me was my grandmother. She was in her most conservative the most religious person that I've ever known in my life, I think so, at least. And I went over to her house one day and I sat her down and I said, Yaya, which is Greek for grandmother. I said, Yaya, I just want you to know that I'm gay. And she looked at me and she said, well, God still loves you. And for some reason, that's all it took for me to hear that, to know that, because of the culture that I was raised in, the matriarch of, the patriarch of the family, the one that runs it. It's what they say goes. And so I knew if I had the protection of my grandmother and I had her acceptance that the rest of the family would follow along. And I know that may not be the case for everyone who's listening here, but I do think it's worth it. I do think it's worth it to let people know who you are and let people know how you feel. And so that was the positive example. The negative example is out of my twin brother, someone I've spent more time in my life with than anyone else. And he was so upset to me when I told him I was gay. I was like, Nicholas, I'm your twin. Didn't you ever think this? And he just said, no, will, I'm so mad that you didn't tell me. I'm so disappointed. It was the worst reaction I could have ever thought of. And for a couple of years, we didn't really talk. I didn't really have much to say to him, and I don't think he had much to say to me, and that was a hard one for me. But as time went on, he healed, I healed, and now my brother and I have a great relationship today. He had a child this year, so I'm an uncle. And it all worked out in the end. That's what I want to leave this with, is it may not work out how you want it to work out, but if you get on the right medication, do therapy, find what works for you that's important. What works for me is exercise, sleep, eating right. Therapy and medication. Combine those, and I get to live a life that I did not think was ever possible. So find what works for you. That's what I'll leave you with.

[20:45] Michele: Wow. That was really powerful. Thanks for sharing your story with us today.

[20:50] Sunny: Yeah, well, I'm just sort of shocked. That was so beautifully told, but such a powerful story, and thank you for having the courage to share it with not just us, but anyone that's listening, because it's extremely powerful, it's extremely touching, and I'm just really my heart is heavy for you that you had to go through that. And I'm happy you're at a good place with your partner, who's such an amazing man as well. So your adversity was very difficult, but I'm glad you found a good spot to be and ways to work on healing yourself.

[21:36] Will: I want to thank you all for allowing me the opportunity to share my.

[21:39] Tina: Story very I know it wasn't easy to relive those moments, but hopefully your story can help someone else out there especially. I know there are a lot of people now that gay marriage is legalized, it's obviously becoming more acceptable everywhere. Some people's parents are very supportive, but there are other families who, like yourself, are very conservative as well. And I think those are some of the most difficult and there are families that also turn people away.

[22:12] Sunny: I really appreciate what you said, where you said, I guess your parents were obligated and then having someone that isn't obligated to reach out and be there for you, I feel like that really related to our mom and her depression. The Asian community, it was difficult to understand mental health, and so obviously we were there for her mom, trying to support her as best as we could. But her Asian friends didn't really understand mental health. They sort of saw it as a weakness and they weren't able to be there and do what your friend did and be like, hey, I need you here. And yeah, that was a great point that I hadn't thought of.

[22:57] Will: Yeah. I think growing up in the Greek culture, there's also certain stigmas attached to mental health and taking medication and going to therapy is seen as a weakness. And a lot of times the first thing that anybody in my community would say is, well, if you only go to church more, if you only pray more, if you only spend more time with family that will take care of you, god will take care of you, god will fix this through that way. And I think for some people, yeah, I think that's great and that may help, but when there's a chemical imbalance in someone's brain, I think it's important to try all avenues. But yeah, for how I grew up as well with our culture, I don't want to compare the two, but I do want to say my experience was mental health is a sign of weakness and that can be fixed through church. So maybe some of you out there can relate to that as well.

[24:06] Tina: Did you ever believe that for a second, like, oh, maybe if I did go to church more, I could pray my mental health to be better or something?

[24:16] Will: It may sound silly, but yes, I did. I thought if I ask, it was an ask. It was less of a pray, it was more of a beg. It was like, God, please help me do this. God, please help me do this. And I'm not going to say that wasn't not a part of my journey. I think it was always there in the background was that. But I know for a fact that I'm able to be okay today because I got on medication and I went and saw a doctor and I saw that change overnight. It was night and day. So I can tell you definitively I'm okay because of medication. That's me.

[25:04] Sunny: Yeah. I've talked about in the previous episodes how medication was so important in my life. Didn't really know what was going on, what was wrong with me. And then my friend told me about a psychiatrist and she was taking medicine and I was like, maybe I should look into this, and maybe it'll help. And I got into some mood stabilizer, things like that, and wow, what a change. And made in my life.

[25:31] Will: Yes, exactly. For me, too.

[25:35] Tina: Yeah. I'm glad that you were able to try a couple of doctors, a couple of different medications, because unfortunately, I feel like with my mom, she didn't try enough. And I think that the medication that she was on before she took her own life wasn't doing her any favors. Like, it it made her symptoms worse. And I wish I knew more about this kind of stuff back then, but obviously I wasn't able to. I don't know. I was like, oh, she's on antidepressants. It should be doing something. I mean, I wasn't thinking that.

[26:21] Michele: But with mood stabilizers and SSRIs and things, some of them make your symptoms worse when you start, and there's no real science as to who's going to respond perfectly to what. So it is a long game of trying and new drugs over and over again, which on that on its own, is already draining because you're already depressed. And you try a new drug and you're like, ****, I feel even worse. I know that's what happened to me. I was on Lexapro for a little bit during the lockdown, and it got to the point where I'd been on Lexapro for one month, and the doctor, I was like, talking to the psychiatrist, and he's like, let's just give you more. And I was like, okay, after three months, I was like, I'd rather be as depressed as I was when I started this than how I feel now, because every morning I was waking up feeling like I was just fighting to, like I don't know. I was really suicidal in my younger years, but I've reached a point where I'm like, obviously they're losing mom. I'm like, that's not an option for me. But there's this struggle where you're just like, I don't want to be here. I really don't want to be here. And waking up every day, it's like, have to go through the motions of being a human again. And then after I got off Lexapro, it was painful. It was really, really hard, actually. But depression is so complex, and I think while medication works for some people, it doesn't always work for others. And it's great when it does work out. And it's really inspiring when people can get the help that they need through psychiatry and pharmacists and stuff like that. But also, like you said, a combination of not just the medication, but also therapy, working out, eating right, sleeping well, all these things to maintain yourself. It's great that you can do that now.

[28:13] Sunny: Yeah, working out is definitely very important for my mental health. I know a lot of people say to meditate, and I can't sit still for five minutes and just do nothing. So I turn to running. I just sort of blank my mind, just focus on my steps, things like that. And that's just therapeutic to me. I just run for 2030 minutes and just clear your mind. And then also it gets your serotonin flowing. So that also helps. But yeah, I noticed if I'm not working out, eating like ****, I'm just naturally going to not feel as good, and that is going to naturally affect my physical health and eventually my mental health.

[28:55] Michele: So, yeah, also, I think I want to clear the air about meditation because people assume that meditating is this act where you just sit down and clear your brain. That's so far from the truth, and I think very few people can actually achieve that. Meditation can be a walk. Meditation can be running. That's why people do yoga. Yoga is originally a physical way to meditate. It's to bring you back into your body and kind of take your mind to what you're feeling. And for you, that's running. So you can consider that as a form of meditation because it requires focus to keep running. I mean, I hate running. I'm more of a yoga girl.

[29:37] Tina: I go on a long walk and just get fresh air kind of person that's meditative.

[29:42] Michele: I think there's like this weird, like, people put meditation on a pedestal, but a lot of us are doing it without realizing it's. The time we take for ourselves every day to reset, no matter how it looks to other people. It's for you.

[29:59] Sunny: Yeah, like Will said, it's just finding what works for you, which can take some time, and it's forever changing. What worked last year can be different, but I guess that's a part of life is just you have to just growing and growing, which I guess leads to the next segment. I recently did the session at work talking about the fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. And I guess it's like a fixed mindset, you sort of aren't able to adapt and grow your mind and accept different ideas. And so growth mindset, you're open to different ideas and wanting to continue to grow. And so I guess when I talked to Will about this subject, there was only so much I knew. I was sort of behind a closed door on how I could learn more about depression and suicide in the gay community and how I could be there more for my gay friends. And so I started researching it, pulled some research notes. And so, yeah, we just wanted to talk about some key statistics that we found. Our key resource was the Trevor Project, which we will link in the description. But yeah, just a few of the statistics that I found, trying to learn more about it and just be more aware. I think the most important one that stood out is LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

[31:29] Michele: That's really sad because I think about that as the reasoning for that is the culture that we live in. And I like to imagine one day that that's no longer a statistic we have to look at. I mean, there's always going to be problems, but it's just, you know, I hope that people can learn to be more accepting someday.

[31:54] Will: I think it's getting better. I think we're not there yet, but I think what that comes down to me is social acceptance and social isolation. And I think that lives in our heads more than anything. And I felt socially isolated and excluded, and it was something about me that I couldn't change. So as society becomes more outwardly accepting of gay people, we can get married now. If I would have grown up with that, I think my thoughts would have been different. And so for all the kids that get to grow up today, and gay marriage has and will be legal throughout their life, that is sometimes what it takes, and especially for the older generation. One of the things my grandmother said to me too, when I came out to her was, it's okay, you can get married now. And I was like, well, if that's what it takes for you, then I love you for it. But when I think about that statistic and how sad it is, I do think it's getting better.

[33:10] Michele: I agree. I mean, I definitely think it's gotten people are way more accepting.

[33:15] Tina: Yeah. Even older conservative people who are like, oh, my friend's son is gay. But now I think more and more.

[33:25] Michele: People are it's less of like, people are coming out. More people are coming openly.

[33:30] Tina: Exactly, yeah.

[33:32] Sunny: When celebrities are doing it, I feel like that's a big thing. But one thing I never I just thought of is I think maybe the Internet plays a big factor not only with resources like the Trevor Project, but if you're in an area that is not really accepting and you're online, you can join a community of, you know, other people like you and just feel a little safer when you have that community online versus not being able to find it in person.

[34:00] Michele: Yeah. The Internet saves a bunch of freaks. I feel like everyone who's like an Internet kid, we went there. I was an internet kid. I had a community online. I went there because I felt very ostracized just for being like a fashion girl, for dressing weird in the suburbs of Texas and liking weird things, whether it's like anime or goth clothes or certain type of music. Thank God for the Internet. I mean, it's a mess, but you find your people in there too.

[34:33] Tina: Yeah. Stuff like Reddit and TikTok, finding those little communities.

[34:36] Michele: Tumblr the OG.

[34:39] Tina: Yeah.

[34:40] Michele: Zanga. Oh, my God. MySpace. Now I'm like, totally aging myself.

[34:48] Tina: Yeah, it's great because even people who have parents who don't end up accepting them, who are estranged for their parents, probably for life, they. Can look at themselves and their lifestyle and say, like, what I'm doing, who I love, is not wrong. Whereas before, I'm sure you felt this guilt, like, this is wrong.

[35:07] Will: Oh, yeah, I did.

[35:08] Michele: Oh, my God. I saw actually a TikTok girl, I think, who came out and said that her parents reject her. An older woman on TikTok responded, saying, like, I'll take you in. And they actually met up, and she officiated their wedding and stuff. That's really cute to hear. And so now she has a whole different family that's, like, loving her and stuff. And her wife.

[35:36] Will: I went to school with a girl who was completely estranged from her family. And as I knew her, she would say, I'd be like, Brittany, what are you doing on Sunday? And she'd say, I'm having family dinner. And she kept talking about this and talking about this. And I asked her one day, I was like, who are you going with? Tell me a little bit more about your family. And she told me, well, this isn't my biological family. This is my chosen family. And it is a group of heterosexual and homosexual individuals that have come together to create a chosen family. And that is common in the LGBTQ community for people to find their families that are not their biological families.

[36:26] Sunny: I guess one thing we'll talk about also is preventing the factors that we can provide for our friends or people in our lives to try to help them. And so one important stat that I read was having at least one accepting adult in someone's life can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt among LGBTQ young people by 40%. What would you say about that? And what is something that you wish you had more of to help you out and what you have now?

[37:02] Will: I mentioned the story about my grandmother and telling her, and I would say that was the accepting adult in my life. And obviously, that was a little bit past my struggles. I was still struggling, but I had overcome the immense, massive depression. And I think we know somewhere deep down inside about people, and you can find that person, and you can find an adult to trust. And it may not be the first person that you tell you're gay that becomes that person for you, but you just got to keep trying, and there is an adult that will accept. And I went to an Episcopal school and for high school and middle school and elementary school, and Episcopalians are very open to members of the LGBTQ community. And if you want to find that adult, you can just do a little bit of research and find that person. And one of the people for me was an Episcopal priest, and that was just because I knew that they were open. So that can be another thing that you can do, is do a little bit of research and make sure who you're going to for support is going to support you. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a religious person or a religious figure that is that person for you. I'm just saying for me personally, as that was a big part of my life, that was a space that I knew was comfortable. But like I said, forgive me for repeating myself again. Just do your research because being rejected by an adult is also really heavy. So hold that close, do be honest, but make sure you're being honest with the right people first and know that.

[39:10] Michele: Acceptance is out there. I feel like when you've been rejected for a long period of time, especially when you're so young, that's what you come to expect and you give up and there's always going to be someone out there who will accept you. It's just you can't give up looking for that. You'll find it.

[39:28] Tina: It is hard though, when it's the people you love the most that reject you.

[39:34] Sunny: Yeah, I think it is always difficult to be vulnerable. And I guess in the case that there is a rejection, that's always on the back of your mind if you're going to be vulnerable and share something that's really impacting your life, is that what if they don't take it well? And when I was depressed after the parents passed away, I didn't want to show emotions or talk to people about it because I didn't want to appear weak or scare them off. So I just sort of kept quiet about it until I couldn't anymore, until I was just too depressed and needed.

[40:16] Will: People to talk to. Yeah. I think especially for me and other gay people, the baseline is rejection. Like what society thought of us or thinks of us. It was always in the back of my head that we were freaks or we were different or there was something wrong with us. So that doesn't make the rejection feel any less strong, but it makes the acceptance sweeter because it's unexpected. So just like Michelle said, there is acceptance out there and when you find it, it feels so good.

[40:51] Sunny: Yeah, that's beautifully said. And we've heard a lot of great things from you, but have you grown? I know you're at a great place right now, but have you grown? And how do you continue to manage your mental health? I know you've talked on it a little bit, but what's some advice or resources that you advise to the people listening?

[41:11] Will: Find good friends, keep them, find what works for you. Like I said, whether it's exercise, eating right, I think it's once you do find a doctor or you do find a medication, make sure you keep on it, make sure you do your blood work so you know that it's working. And my advice is be you, be unapologetically you. And you will have a lot of people that that reject that unapologetically you person. But at least the the freedom that it feels to to be myself. To be me without the guardrails, without armor, without passing for straight to be me is empowering and so to grow. Just be yourself. Yeah, be yourself.

[42:02] Michele: I agree. The thing about living with a mask is no one can ever love you. So the only way to find real love is to put it out there to be loved. They can't love you if they don't know who you are.

[42:17] Sunny: Well, I relate to that so much. Growing up in high school, I went to all guy Catholic private school, 95% Caucasian. Then in college, I was in a 95% Caucasian fraternity. So the whole time it was just trying to fit in and blend in when I'm clearly Chinese, clearly have a different upbringing and things like that. But I was hiding what was authentically me. And when I started caring about fashion more and dressing nicer, I feel like being more authentically me, people started to truly appreciate me more and understand who I was as a person. And that was important to me.

[43:06] Will: Yeah, you're seen as yourself. You're not seen as whatever preconceived notion they have of you because people can see the genuineness. Yeah.

[43:17] Sunny: Well, thank you so much. Took so much courage to share your story, so impactful. I'll take away so many lessons learned from today, and, yeah, I couldn't thank you enough. So today we talked about Will's story and, you know, how he overcame, and that was really powerful. Shared some statistics on depression and suicide in the gay community and provided some preventative factors. So I just want to finish with if you're ever struggling or going through a tough time, you can text LGBTQ to 741741 and that will lead you to a crisis hotline. So once again, thank you all and thank you for listening.

[44:00] Michele: Thank you.

[44:00] Will: Thank you all.

[44:19] Michele: Thank you for tuning in to the three siblings. We know we discuss some really tough topics on the show, so we want to make sure you've got the resources you need. If you're going through a tough time, dialing nine eight eight will bring you to a suicide and crisis phone line. If you want to support the work we're doing on the show, the best thing to do is to leave a review on Apple podcasts. It might help someone else who needs to hear this and find this show. You can also follow us on social media at Three Siblings podcasts on Instagram and at Siblings podcasts on Twitter. We are so excited to share more stories with you in our next episode.