This will be my first blog post and it is a post that I have also shared to my Instagram page. To be honest, I’ve struggled lately about what to write on social media, what aspects of our journey I should share, or even whether or not I should share anything at all. Two weeks ago, I sat down with Jana Shortal at Kare 11 to talk about our new non-profit as well as what our life has been like since our story came out on CNN last fall. By the time I was heading into the interview, I still had no idea whether I would have the courage to talk about what needed to be said.
After K was outed last fall, my anxiety increased. I found it increasingly difficult to drive passed churches, I avoided leaving the house, I began to socially isolate myself from friends who would want to talk about our recent experiences, and I was having panic attacks whenever something reminded me of the events that we had gone through. While I noticed an increase in my anxiety, given current wait times with mental health professionals, it would be 12 weeks before I could get an appointment. When I was finally able to get in, it only took the therapist 10 minutes of speaking with me to realize that I needed to be referred to a trauma program. I was diagnosed with PTSD the next day.
I have really struggled with whether or not to talk about this publicly. Would coming forward with this diagnosis prevent me from ever being able to run for office again? While I’m not sure that I plan to run, I also don’t want that option taken from me should I decide that I would like to go on that journey again. How would people react if they knew about this diagnosis? Would they see me as weak? Unworthy? Would they be ashamed that they ever voted for me or supported my candidacy? I was ashamed of my diagnosis, believing that it meant I wasn’t strong enough to weather the storm. I was perpetuating the very mental health stigma that I have talked about the need to change.
As elected officials and special interest groups push unfounded lies about LGBTQ+ people in an effort to create fear and mobilize voters, there are real families who are being harmed by these hateful words and actions. I do want to talk about this more, and I will. For today, this is all I can share. This was a tough post for me to make. More will come. A link to my interview with Jana Shortal can be found on my "In the News" page.