Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Emotions Are Contagious

For the most part my life is going great right now.  I have a good job, I have great friends, and my family is being so accepting of me being gay (my aunt and uncle now know, also).  I have so much to be thankful for, and I am really, really happy in my life right now.  Ever since coming into the gay community five months ago, I have met some amazing people who have really been instrumental in me getting to where I am today.  I have become completely aware of myself, and I am comfortable with who I am, thanks in part to these wonderful people.

There is just one thing in my life that I can't seem to handle.  It's the fact that so many gay people are so depressed and down on themselves.  I am a naturally optimistic person, and I hate being sad, angry, depressed, or whatnot.  I avoid those self-destructive feelings like the plague.  I went through too much of that on my mission and I know first-hand just how destructive they are.  But, whenever someone close to me tells me that they are sad or depressed, I end up feeling sad or depressed for them.  I have a very close friend, who is down more often than not, it seems.  I want to help, but I always end up feeling so down that I can't do anything about it.  I end up shutting out this person because I can't handle being that way any longer.  He takes my silence as a lack of caring or indifference to his situation and he always manages to make me feel even worse for not talking about it.  It's very true when they say that emotions are contagious, especially the bad ones.  I just wish I could infuse some of my happiness into him.  I hate seeing him suffer like this.  I still have very strong feelings for this individual and I am still trying to get over him, but I hope that he can understand why it's so hard for me.  I know too well what he is going through.  But because I know it too well, I don't want to go through that again myself.  That's why I end up shutting him out.  Sometimes I just can't handle being around people like that.  And I am pretty sure I'm not the only one.


  1. Not to sound heartless, but I think sometimes depressed people just need a big ol' bitchslap. I've been there. I was deeply depressed. The thing that helped me was a therapist who wasn't afraid to emotionally bitchslap me and a boyfriend who wasn't afraid to emotionally bitchslap me as well. Sometimes sympathy is not the best medicine for depression. I'm not saying this is always the case, but for a lot of depressed gay mormons... I think it is.

  2. Wow, I couldn't think of a more heartless way of putting it. To say that someone just needs a "bitchslap" to feel better is like telling someone who has cancer to just "get over it". Ya, that's a good way to handle that. You're right in the fact that sometimes sympathy is not the best medicine but often times EMPATHY is. To take a moment to live in someone else's shoes in order to understand their pain goes a long way in the other person accepting your help and trying to pull themselves out of their hole. And believe it or not, but there is a HUGE chemical component to depression. People who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or bi-polar disorder understand that some of their mood swings cannot be helped. It's up to other people to be understanding of such disorders and offer a helping hand even if such moods don't get bitchslapped away.

  3. its definately a balancing act. My MTC companion told me to stop being depressed because it was getting him down - and I had no idea - and was so thankful that he told me! maybe that is an option? otherwise being cheerful can be a great antidote! but if you're trying to get over him - I'd say being near him or 'being there for him' is not the best way to do that....

  4. Just remember that at one point (it seems), you were depressed beyond your control. I'm a lot like and am an optimistic person, but I've gone through a lot of trials when I really didn't know how to move on with my life. I've always had friends to help me and then I snap out of it. Just be a helpful friend :)

  5. I totally agree! So much so that last year I even did a video about it:


  6. You bring up an interesting situation. Your friend reminds me a lot of a friend of mine (not gay...at least I don't think so). He gets so depressed that he can't keep a job or stay in school for longer than a couple of weeks.

    It's HARD. I feel terrible that he's suffering like this, but the more time I spent around him I would start to feel down, too. It was like his depression was practically contagious.

    The thing I realized was that if I started getting depressed then I'd be no help to either of us. So I've spaced out encounters with that friend to give myself a chance to rebound a bit before the problem spins out of control. And I can't say it's the right thing for everyone, but for me in this situation it's worked out well. I'm still on great terms with him and he knows that if he needs help he can always call me. But we all have to look out for #1 from time to time and this is one of those times. Just my two cents...

    P.S. It's nice to meet you.

  7. Depression within the gay community seems to be an issue, I'm not sure if it's any more or less than the str8 community. I'm in Sydney, Australia and we have a great organisation here called ACON. www.acon.org.au Their website has some great resources for gay men and women.
    They run great workshops, although you're in Provo and we're about 20 hours away by Delta! :-) Have a look under Mental Health.
    I'm curious about how you're allowed to stay at BYU. However, if you're not sexually active I suppose you're living by the honour code.
    All the best,
    Derek - out & proud in Sydney :-)