Twenty-one years, 9 months, and 20 days is the amount of time that I lived in Southern California. I grew up with my grandparents who loved to travel. I've spent numerous summers tucked away in the backseat of the car on week-long road trips visiting too many small towns to name, but falling in love with every single one of them. Now that I sit here and reflect on all those trips, I'm sure they are a big part of why I am where I am now.
Having been absent from blogging on The Huffington Post for almost two years, I guess I can give you a little background story. I grew up in a Christian home in Laguna Hills, CA with my paternal grandparents. I never did well in school, nor did I get along well with my grandparents, simply because I was afraid to be myself. Growing up in church, I was always told that homosexuality (or anything to that nature) was wrong. I was kicked out of the church choir and bullied by the school basketball team because I liked girls. All my experiences just delayed me being able to accept myself for who I really was. A male born into the wrong body. Here I am now, 22 years, 9 months, and 22 days old, and I have accepted myself for the person that I am. Because there is nothing wrong with me; I am not broken, I was just simply born this way. But this past year has been far from easy.
July 22, 2013: I said goodbye to my friends and family in California. My puppy and I got in the car with a complete stranger, who turned out to be totally awesome and we're now friends, and we drove across the country together. I was heading to Ohio and then she was traveling on to Tennessee, both of us starting a new life. I had a friend that I grew up with who lived in Athens, Ohio (home of party school, Ohio University) and needed a roommate, so that's where I was headed. I got a job and everything was going great, even my best friend made the move from California to join me, all by herself. We shared a room in Athens for about three weeks, and then packed the car up and moved to Toledo. She eventually moved down to West Virginia to be with her girlfriend.
November 2013: I thought my life was going pretty well. I had a girlfriend, I was in school, I had a job, I was paying my bills, but I still felt so alone. November 27 was my first suicide attempt, overdose. I landed myself in the ICU for a night, the medical floor for two nights, and the psych ward for three days. I thought it was simply because I was missing my family, and it was my first holiday away from everyone. Once I got out of the hospital, I moved in with my girlfriend (at the time) and her family, meaning I spent Christmas with them as well. But throughout all this, my anxiety and depression seemed to get worse and worse. We ended up breaking up and I moved out.
March 7, 2014: I asked the most amazing girl to be my girlfriend, and she actually said yes! Through everything these past six months, she has stuck by my side, supported me, and loved me unconditionally. Again, I thought I was doing fine. But I was wrong. My anxiety was getting worse as the days went on, and it's simply because of how I feel about my body. June 26, 2014 was my second suicide attempt. Fortunately I didn't end up in the ICU this time, but spent a night on the medical floor before being moved to the psych ward for another three days. I have since been put on anti-anxiety medication and am working with therapists and doctors to start my transition.
I guess my whole reason for writing this is that I want young people to know that it's OK to ask for help. It's often a scary thing, especially in today's world where we sometimes get made fun of for needing help. But I should have asked for help a lot sooner, and that it does get better. If they ever need someone to talk to, I am always here. As a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. I may not always have the answer they are looking for, but I am here for them.