Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Coming Out Story #4 - Anna S.



Anna S. was born in the 1980's and is in her early 20's at time of posting.

Anna S. grew up in a quiet city neighbourhood in a loving family.  Dad was a doctor and mum was keen, as are all mums, to see her become a model teenager.  As the youngest, with siblings quite a bit older, she found herself surrounded by more "sophisticated influences."  She remembers feeling, "..easily embarrassed and naive. I had a happy childhood on the outside, but on the inside I felt burdened and scrutinized."

It was at the tender age of 5 that Anna S. began to spend long hours fantasizing about women.  By age 8, female authority figures were objects of desire and she started experimenting sexually with other girls.  Although she suspected that she was a lesbian, the term "mortified" her.   To deal with this she chose to live a double life.  "I began to compromise myself and became highly sarcastic, defensive and homophobic to appear straight.  I based my worth on how straight I could appear.  I went the whole nine yards until about age 16.  I even had boyfriends.  However, behind closed doors I was experimenting and had already become an Ani DiFranco fanatic."


Anna S. managed to fit in at school until around age 14, but there was a price to pay.  Drugs stepped into her life when she finished her first twenty sixer at age 11 and by age 13 she had already developed major substances abuse issues. A year later it began to spiral out of control.   "I used [drugs] to keep a buffer between me and the outside world.  I couldn't let my secret out.  I had been self-loathing since I could remember."  Friends began to fall by the wayside and she filled the void with a group of homosexuals she could "numb out" with.  At age 16 she chose to come out to her family with mixed results.  Brothers, sister and aunts were very supportive, but her parents were stunned.  Mum's response - she was only seeking attention.

By age 17, Anna S. had dropped out of school.  Psychotic, manic and out of control, she ended up in the psychiatric ward at VGH and then UBC.  Here she discovered that, in addition to her addiction issues, she was also bipolar. It took a year of recovery to become sober and medication helped to even out the mood swings inherent in this condition.  On leaving the hospital, she found she fit in at AA meetings, but not in the outside world.  "[Sobriety] did not last.  I wanted to feel as though I belonged with "normal" people that do not have problems.  I decided to try college after getting my GED, but it was too much too fast.  I quickly droppped out to use and party.  However, this time I had a crew of lesbians by my side - from DJ's to snowborders.  I actually thought I 'd died and gone to heaven."  They wrecked havoc.

Anna S.'s next "crew" were again women who partied.  She worked "joe" jobs to pay the bills and another year passed.  She compromised her health by not taking her meds and using marijuana, alcohol, ecstasy and acid.  A trip to Costa Rica took her from using cocaine occasionally to full blown addiction.  Her father actually flew there, sedated her and brought her home - saving her life.   On return, she was transported by ambulance to the hospital where she stayed for 3-4 months. When out on weekend passes she still used and after leaving, was re-admitted to Vancouver General Hospital.  She remembers, "...The obsession and cumpulsion continued for about a year and half of using cocaine and partying.  I was spending $100-200 a day.  The money came from my disability cheques and by forging chques which belonged to my father." 


In the summer August of 2010, it all came to a head.  "I overdosed on prescription medication and narcotics in a suicide attempt.  My brother and father rushed me to the hospital after I called to explain.  The psychiatric ward kept me for 2 weeks and then my sponspor Sheri brought me to a recovery house.  My parents have been amazing - helping facilitate the homestead, attending Al Anon in support of my recovery and letting go with love."  Now clean and sober for 9 months, Anna S. is back on meds to deal with issues arising from being bi-polar.  She has found a healthy gay community to support her recovery at the LGBT Centre (http://www.qmunity.ca/) where they hold specialty meeting for Narcotics Anonymous and at Gab Youth (http://www.qmunity.ca/youth/gab-youth-services/). With support, she has also found the strength to embrace herself.  "I am proud to be gay. It does not define me, it's a part of who I am which I accept. I have only recently found balance in my life for the first time. Being gay has proved to be amazing because we empower each other"



In closing Anna shares her answers to a couple of questions - 

1.  What are the positives and negatives since coming out? - " Self love was the biggest challenge of my life and it's a work in progress.  I face ignorance and intolerance every day, but am surrounded by many straight people who are extremely supportive and see me for me.  It's only a challenge if I question it or if I am insecure around other issues.

2.  Any advice for those still struggling in secrecy? - "Secrets made me sick.  It's not a choice, it's a circumstance."

3.  How have other medical issues affected you?  - "I am bipolar and in recovery. Being gay has complicated things for those analyzing or being critical in those areas. However their opinion is none of my business. I stay true to myself in my daily life."

To be a part of this series and share your coming out story - please email me at justbusiness1@gmail.com for the questionnaire.

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