Ashleigh’s journey: navigating physical challenges and finding LGBTQIA+ support
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Alone and Silenced
Feeling isolated and voiceless was a lonely experience for me when I discovered that I had become a victim of voyeurism. Struggling with the aftermath of this crime, I found myself living in a homeless hostel, overwhelmed and unable to speak openly about my ordeal. The legal process that followed would take four long years, and during that time, the silence I felt only compounded the damage caused by the crime itself.
Every aspect of my life felt stagnant, with no sign of improvement on the horizon. It seemed as though there was nothing I could do to change my circumstances, and hope was fading away.
In 2020, when I made the decision to move to Scotland, I was committed to building a support network and establishing roots in my new environment. I leaped at the chance to join various organizations and charities, immersing myself in their causes.
After going through a breakup, I took the time to truly understand myself and appreciate my own company. This newfound self-awareness made it much easier for me to connect with others. On a whim, I joined an advocacy group, where I was met with kindness and warmth, instantly feeling at ease. Additionally, I became part of a befriending project, engaging in regular phone calls with a university student who lent a listening ear and provided a safe space for me to unload my emotions.
As a member of several LGBT groups in Scotland, I’ve had enlightening conversations and debates with fellow participants, some of whom also face mental health challenges. However, despite these connections, a different kind of loneliness still persists. Being far away from my best friends in Essex, I find myself yearning to be there for them when they need me most.
Honest and Open
Online communities have become an integral part of my journey as well. Through platforms like Twitter, I’ve made numerous friends who appreciate my blunt and honest nature. It’s a space where I feel truly understood, connected, and well-informed, fostering a genuine sense of belonging.
Not limiting my search for companionship to social media, I turned to Bumble to find friends. Contrary to popular belief, this app isn’t solely for dating; it can also be used to forge meaningful friendships. My profile on Bumble boldly states the truth about my physical conditions and mental health struggles, attracting like-minded individuals who understand the daily challenges I face. While I’ve made some great friends through the app, the journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Each person is on their own path, and we must all prioritize ourselves at times.
Now, looking back on my journey, I can confidently say that I am the healthiest I’ve been in over a decade. Though challenges still arise, I am amazed at how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come.
Taking the initiative to be social and maintain connections has proven crucial. Often, we find ourselves at a loss for how to handle difficult situations or engage in conversations about topics that frighten or trouble us. Loneliness and mental health remain subjects that are not discussed enough, adding to the struggles many face in silence.
Conversing with others and becoming part of various groups has provided me with reassurance and encouragement. It has alleviated my feelings of loneliness, allowing me to become part of a supportive community. In the end, that sense of belonging has made all the difference.
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