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Gay Teens and Stress

Common Stressors for GLBT Teens and How to Handle the Stress They Cause

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stress gay teens

Gay teens often face stress.

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Stress is something almost everyone feels. For GLBT teens already facing everyday stressors, things like homophobia, bullying, and worrying about coming out, can make stress levels dangerously high.

According to About's Guide to Stress,

"Stress is your body’s response to changes in your life. Because life involves constant change, there is no avoiding stress. This is why our goal isn’t to eliminate all stress, but to eliminate unnecessary stress, and effectively manage the rest. There are some common causes of stress that many people experience, but each person is different."

For example, a gay teen who has a learning disability and comes from a homophobic family writes about how extreme stress really hurt his health. He says:

"Hey I'm Richie I'm 21 and I'm thinking of coming out. You see the past month I have had an alarming amount of stress. I have always had stress since I was little. In second grade it began because of my parents thinking about getting a divorce and after being separated they didn't. After that I've always had a lot of stress.

Now I've known I was gay since I was little. Even before I started to stress. But in the summer prior to 6th grade I was curious about men and I looked up things about guys, but I didn't know my dad was home and basically he ended up finding out and threatening to tell my two brothers and mom, aunts, uncles and grandparents, and he also included that my teachers and friends would find out.

Since that day he never told anyone, but growing up he would always just look at me and make me feel bad. I have a learning disability which is another thing that was added to my stress pool. After being told I was stupid and that being gay is wrong, I recently had a bad nervous breakdown.

Now I'm in college and I'm happy to be here in my life because I've sacrificed a lot to get here. But I need to tell someone that I'm gay. I can't tell my family because they're very homophobic, and I'm not ready to tell my friends.

I have a cool teacher, who is an amazing person and has stated that he and his wife have gay friends and that he has even gone to a pride parade, which I thought was awesome cuz you don't usually hear teachers saying these kind of things. I don't want to have another breakdown because my family will start to ask and that's not the way I want to come out. This is where help is needed. Should I tell my teacher I'm gay, or should I go to a school counsellor or what? I need to tell someone before I break again.

I would definitely advise this young man to talk to a school counsellor, or his teacher, and to consider coming out to any friends who might be supportive. Another idea would be to call the GLBT National Help Center, which runs a GLBT Youth Talk Line. They can be reached toll-free at 1-800-246-PRIDE.

This is a case where stress has had really dangerous consequences, namely what this young man is alling a "nervous breakdown." In cases like this, where stress levels are so high, finding support is often a crucial part of de-stressing. It is really important to understand that life's burdens don't all have to be handled alone.

But what if your stress level isn't quite so high? In many cases, that is the situation. Here are some tips for managing day-to-day-stress from the Guide to Teen Advice:

  1. Get Physical
  2. Volunteer to Help Those in Need
  3. Spend Time with Animals
  4. Eat Chocolate
  5. Go to a Movie

Stress is a part of everyday life. But stress shouldn't get the point where it makes you sick. If you are feeling too stressed out, try to think about what exactly is causing the stress. Then try to figure out if there is a way to tackle that problem. Doing so is often a first step in stress reduction.

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