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In Honor of Gay Pride, a Hope Xchange Volunteer Shares Her Story About Battling Depression and the Closet
Hope Xchange extends its heartfelt thanks to Diana Good, our beautiful marketing and instructional design volunteer, for "coming out" and sharing her story. The path to courage is paved with vulnerability.
I am gay and struggle with depression. Although the latter surfaced my freshmen year in college, my sexual orientation did not reveal itself until my fifth year of marriage.
All I Ever Wanted Was a "Normal" Life
All I ever wanted was a “normal life” – a typical marriage, a house, stability, a good job. When I finally had that at age 31, I thought I was set. I tried to be happy and content, but something was missing. I was taking my meds and seeing a therapist, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
Yes, I had some isolated experiences with girls in college, but didn’t everyone? I just thought I was “trying it out” and honestly didn’t have any second thoughts when I walked down the aisle to marry my husband.
Although I Seemed Happy, I was Dying Inside
As the years passed, I became more depressed and discontent. I blamed my lack of sex drive on the side effects of my depression medicine. I tried to be more romantic and thankful for the stability and love I had in my marriage. I want to be clear – I had a husband that loved me and would have done anything to make our marriage work. Although I seemed happy, I was dying inside.
Around our fifth anniversary, I noticed that I was crying every day. I also noticed that I was thinking about wanting to be with women more. Every time I saw a lesbian couple, I would feel a pang of envy and sadness. It consumed my thoughts.
Enter Google Search - The Beginning of the End
Let me back up. I’m not saying I had no inkling of my attraction to women. I grew up in a strict Pentecostal church where being gay was not even an option, so it fell off my radar and I ignored the feelings when they did arise. Did I think I was a lesbian before I married a man? No, I did not.
Enter Google search. I searched “married and lesbian” and stumbled upon a website where I learned that there were others like me – women who married men not realizing they were gay until later in life. We shared our stories with each other and supported one another. I read every book on the subject - yes, there are books called “Married Women Who Love Women” and “Dear John, I Love Jane” - to learn more about what I was experiencing.
I Found a Strength Within Me I Didn't Know Existed
Once I realized I was gay, there was no going back. Disclaimer: I didn’t go out and get a girlfriend based on this new knowledge or leave that day. Actually, another three years passed while I worked through everything and had the wherewithal to leave. I told my husband what I discovered (he knew I had some prior experiences with women) and although he was supportive, he was also devastated.
I had a hard decision to make. The longer I stayed, the more depressed I became. We went to counseling to decide whether to try and make our marriage work despite my new-found knowledge. I loved him, but I knew I couldn’t stay.
While he was distraught when I decided to end the marriage, we were able remain close friends because I involved him in the process. I would be lying if I said it was an easy decision; in fact, it was the hardest move I have ever made. I was choosing to leave a stable life (two incomes, a house, a dog) for the unknown.
Although I was scared, I found a strength within me that I did not know existed.
My Life is Not Perfect, but the Future is Bright
Did my depression end after making the decision and being able to live my life as a gay woman? Not entirely, but the hopelessness I felt about my future did.
I relocated from Pennsylvania to California last year. I am not only about to start a new job and career, but I also have an amazing girlfriend who loves and supports me (some of you may know her… ahem, Kerry Martin, CEO for Hope Xchange).
My life is not perfect, but the future is bright. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Giving Back to our Community by Volunteering for Hope Xchange
While I now have a full time job, I also volunteer for Hope Xchange to give a voice to those struggling through visual storytelling and writing. As the cornerstone of its mission, Hope Xchange offers hope to people who would otherwise be floundering in a mental health system alone and without an advocate.
Having spent most of my adult life struggling with depression, I know what it's like to feel hopeless. I believe in Kerry’s mission and want to give back simply for the sake of giving. Contributing to a cause in which I believe in also helps me move forward beyond my own sadness as well as helps others find their way.