Directed by Kelly Teacher for Plus.
For Dizz, a member of the queer-centered pop band rIVerse, depression first entered his life at age 14.
“I had come out as gay to my family,” the musician says. “And the reaction to that was devastating. Most of my family immediately turned their backs and I remember my father said he knew he wasn’t mine. And that really was a turn in my life at that time and the depression and the suicidal thoughts started to creep in.”
Dizz shared his experiences with depression — and how he eventually found ways to manage it — as part of the new Pride Media series, “Love, Me.” The videos, appearing on Advocate.com, Out.com, and HIVPlusMag.com, hope to break the taboo of depression in the queer community and present tools for those with treatment-resistant depression. While the COVID-19 pandemic has initiated many stories in mainstream media about mental health, the toll of depression within the LGBTQ+ community is a tale seldom told, even though it’s pervasive.
“There is a stigma around seeking any kind of help professionally, with a psychiatrist or psychologist,” says Dizz, who compares the shame around mental health struggles with the self-blame that can come with an HIV diagnosis.
The widespread experience of depression underscores the need to bring the issue out of the darkness.
Statistics from the Human Rights Campaign show that one in three LGBQ adults live with a mental illness, compared to one in five among the general population — the disparity is even more pronounced among transgender adults, where nearly 40 percent reporting severe psychological distress at some point. Dizz’s experience as a teenager aren’t rare, either; 28 percent of LGBTQ+ youth reported feeling depressed most of the time.
The situation is not hopeless, Dizz says. Even though depression became a regular part of his life after his coming out, he’s found solace in bike-riding, making music, and commiserating with his bandmates and other members of his found family.
“The biggest lesson that I’ve learned about myself in all this, and how to deal with my struggles in more healthy ways moving forward, and what I’ve adopted to help me get me to this place is really just the power of vulnerability,” Dizz says. “Really just allowing yourself to be vulnerable and removing the façade and just speaking the truth. What is that you’re going through? What is it that you’re feeling? And just talk about it. The vulnerability, for me, was the key to finding that self-love.”
If you have or are contemplating suicide, please know there is a well of support out there to help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 can be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities. If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, the Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger). Trained counselors at the Trevor Project Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at (866) 488-7386, by texting START to 678678, or via the TrevorChat instant messaging service at TheTrevorProject.org/Help.