DOUWE (4th year)
"In the light of mental health awareness month I decided to tell my story, in order to contribute to decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health.
I grew up in a small village in the Netherlands. While my parents were quite liberal, the village was very conservative. Generally, gay marriage was accepted, as long as it wasn’t their child. When I was in the 4th year of high school, I realised my friends were different from me. I didn’t want to be gay, because I felt like it was a bad thing. I felt very alone, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. This led to suicidal thoughts because I struggled with accepting myself. I couldn’t deal with all the thoughts I was having and this was strengthened by my low self-esteem. Even though I had friends that accepted me, I knew people gossiped about me. In my village, the close-knit and masculine culture is very present, and because I didn’t fit in, I felt very alone. I didn’t dare to speak to anyone about this because it was so personal. In my final year of high school I thought about what it would be like to end my life. I wanted it all to just stop. This was the hardest time of my life. I felt judged, and these feelings can be scary and constricting. It influences the way you carry yourself and your self-esteem. When I moved to the Hague for my studies, I got better. People are more open-minded and accepting here. My friends in the Hague are so supportive. It was easier to just be myself. I came out to my parents as well. I finally felt like I wasn’t alone. When I look in the mirror now, I no longer feel insecure. I do feel sad that others are going through this same thing. This is why I want to share my story; because there is nothing wrong with being LGBT and having these thoughts. Being depressed is something that can happen to anyone, and you are worthy of finding help." (Douwe, 4th year)
Location: the Netherlands