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Domestic Violence and Abuse

Gay Man Experiences Panic Attacks, Self-Harm And Crippling Depression Before Coming Out.


My name is Ben Conard and I’m from Setauket,
New York. In college, I, you know, I was always kind
of known as a go-getter and I worked really hard and I involved myself in everything. And I knew that I wanted to create a life
where I was successful and hard-working and made the life that I wanted to make. Deep down, I knew that I was gay and I couldn’t
come to terms with that. And that was not part of my plan and my journey
and my life. Once, in college, I was in my dorm room and
I was doing homework on my bed and I started to feel really sick. So I actually got up and ran to the bathroom
– I felt like I was going to throw up. And after a couple of minutes, I realized
I wasn’t going to throw up. The nausea went away. And I started breathing really heavy. I started to get pretty light-headed and I
leaned up against a wall because I couldn’t really stand up straight. And I lost feeling in my legs and arms. I actually, like, fell to the ground after
that. My friends dragged me to the couch. I could hear everything that was going on
but I couldn’t really sense anything else. And I laid on the couch, hyperventilating,
for I don’t even know how long. My friends call the paramedics and they came
and they were taking my vitals and they were trying to calm me down. I could hear myself in my head and I specifically
remember thinking to myself that this is what it – this is what it feels like before you’re
about to die. I had felt so uncomfortable with who I was
that it was okay with me and I genuinely wanted to have it end right there. I ended up going to the hospital. They took me on a stretcher and, you know,
I returned kind of back to normal. Went back to my dorm room and for weeks, I
had these debilitating panic attacks. Couple of weeks later, I just kind of got
over them and learned how to breathe through the pain. After these panic attacks I was still feeling
really intense emotional pain. It kept me up at night. I would cry myself to sleep. I used to have this credit card knife. So it was a – it would like slip into my wallet
and it was like a utility knife. You could bring it anywhere. And I remember taking that out of my wallet,
opening it up and I just started cutting my wrist. It was because I wanted to – I don’t know
– feel pain that felt real. Like, the emotional pain was real but I couldn’t
see it or understand it, really, and so this kind of form of physical pain and harm was
the only way that I could feel it. For weeks, really, this had become kind of
a habit and I realized that it was in its own way helping, as weird as that sounds. But I was really embarrassed by it, so I made
sure that I covered it up. I remember one day with my good friends Eve
and Lauren, we were doing some homework together, and I reached over to grab one of my books
and my sleeve rolled up and they saw bloodied and scabbed wrists. They offered to talk about it. I didn’t want to and you know the best next
solution that they could offer me was scar cream. And I realized that I couldn’t – that was
not a long term solution to what was happening. Fast forward to, you know, my junior year. I remember there was a time when I was just
feeling so alone and scared. And when I felt alone, I felt maybe somewhat
homesick. So I actually called home almost every day,
sometimes twice a day. I remember one day I called home and my sister
answered. She said “Hello?” And I had no words to answer back. She asked, “Hello?” again. And I finally, after the third hello, I broke
down into tears. Kate, my sister, told me, “Look, Ben, I
think I know what’s happening. And I have this sisterly vibe that you’re
gonna be okay. And that whatever it is, we’re gonna get through
it.” And that when I’m ready, I should be able
to tell my sister anything. And she said, “I’m ready. Are you?” And I said, “Kate, I’m gay.” In that moment, I felt so much fear and so
much relief all at the same time. And I remember, my sister said, “Oh, this
is wonderful. This is, you know, going to save your life. And I’m so excited for what’s to come for
you. Now you need to tell mom and dad.” And, you know, in a matter of minutes, I had
come out to my family. After coming out to my family, I came out
to close friends and I felt like I could really be myself. I suddenly felt like I could have a future
that I wanted to live in. I didn’t feel suicidal anymore. I didn’t suffer from panic attacks. And I wanted to live. Feeling better about myself and feeling more
comfortable with the people that I’m with, I realized, like, my relationship with my
friends became a lot deeper. I just felt really free to be who I was going
to be, and to be with people I wanted to be with. That has changed my entire life. I could not be happier with where I am in
my life now, and I never would have thought I could feel this way 5 years ago. People can be going through things without
you knowing it. Sometimes it manifests into something physical
and begins to break your body down and other times it doesn’t. And I think it’s important that we all know
that in ourselves and in the people in our lives so that we can be supportive when we
need to be and help each other out.

Cesar Sullivan

20 thoughts on “Gay Man Experiences Panic Attacks, Self-Harm And Crippling Depression Before Coming Out.

  1. I have a nephew going through this exact same thing. You did good for sharing your story. Thank you!

  2. This is excellent, Ben, and will be a huge help to others. I say that as a counselor of young people your age. Kudos to you……….Ray

  3. Dude, I share your pain. I hope you are happy and well. Life is tough. And tougher to special guys like yourself. Take care.

  4. He's much braver than me! Kudos and much love to him. ❤️ I enjoyed his story- He's hot! Is he single?

  5. Story just broke my heart. Ben seems like a sweet guy. Hope he finds happiness and that the weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

  6. This story hit close to home and brought back memories that I had blocked out for 35 years. It's sad that in this day and age young people still have to struggle with issues of identity and acceptance of their orientation. Kudos to this young man for breaking through.

  7. The closet is an incredibly destructive place! I’m glad he’s doing better and by the way this dude is fiiiinnnne!!!

  8. You're going to have a great life my dude. Struggles will still pop up, but accepting yourself is one of the hardest things we have to do.

    Keep on rocking it. I felt so many of the emotions, fears, even the self harm bits when I was in your shoes. But you're free to be YOU now! And doesn't it feel great?

    Well said and I know this video is going to help a lot of folks. I love this channel and their mission.

  9. Hi Ben, Powerful from the heart. Glad you have embraced yourself and shared your journey. All the best !

  10. So generous of you, Ben, to share your story. You are an inspiration!! And what a totally awesome sister you have!!

  11. I was deep in the closet until my 30s. It's a dark and lonely place to be. For the straight people reading, if you can imagine what it would be like to feel forced to pretend you were gay in order to be accepted. Then dealing with this for many years. Suppressing your urges and desires. Lashing out at all things straight because you were in your own closet. A closet that you thought felt secure. A closet you thought you could hide in for the rest of your life. Then one day, you take a peek out of the closet. Come to terms that you are indeed in a closet. Then slowly take your first step out, and the world didn't end. The world outside of the closet felt so much better, and you could finally be who you are (straight) because nobody really cared anymore, mostly at least. I'm not fully out of my closet yet, but I do venture out time to time. I'm no longer afraid to leave the closet and not even sure why I still keep going back.

  12. I feel the same way
    Yes I am gay I want to come out and tell my family about me and I have a panic attack and anxiety is OK to be you sometimes is be a self it’s hard to go for real he’s being yourself 👌 to be you sometimes it’s hard to breathe real like you’re drowning like under water 🚿 where I can you help me with Tim my family I am gay down syndrome man 👨

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