Being my true self: Stevie's story

September 2022

After many years of shame and guilt, Stevie blogs about how denial of her true sexual identity impacted her mental health and how she has finally found peace as a gay woman

Growing up, I attended a very strict Catholic convent school. I feel that my Catholic upbringing prolonged the denial of my true sexual identity and adversely impacted my mental health, eventually leading to a diagnosis of recurrent depression and anxiety.

For many years, I literally prayed my way through the shame and guilt that I felt. At the time, I believed that, in order to fit in and to live a productive life, I should somehow try to distance myself from my true self. If my thoughts about having a relationship with another woman persisted, I reasoned with myself that I would spend the rest of my life trying to repent.

For many years, I continued to live in total denial of my sexual identity, which in turn severely impacted my mental health. My internal battle with depression and anxiety continued to rage. My demons of zero self-worth, hopelessness, self-deprecation and panic dominated my life and I became angry, confused and bitter.

After countless trips to the doctors, I was referred to psychiatrist who diagnosed me with recurrent depression and anxiety. This diagnosis made me feel even more depressed. For the first time, I realised that I needed to talk to someone, something that beforehand I would never have allowed myself to do.

Although I will probably always experience ups and downs with my mental health, I can now live my life in all its complexity as my true self


I called the Samaritans. They were wonderful. They put me in touch with counsellors who, over time, helped me to overcome my own internalised homophobia and helped me to manage aspects of my depression.

It was so cathartic just to have someone listen... Talking helped me to also rationalise my thoughts, feelings and emotions – and to really understand why I had felt the need to deny my sexuality for so long.

I was able, finally, to recognise that my sexual identity was not something to be afraid of. Moving forward, I managed to come out and have openly gay relationships. I was 26 years old when I came out (I’m now 47) and I had been so afraid of being rejected when I came out. But this wasn’t my experience and it was a huge relief to finally be able to live as my true self.

I have also managed to achieve all the things that I once believed – and was told – my sexual identity would cheat me of: namely, family, marriage, children and employment rights.

I finally feel at peace with my sexuality. Although I will probably always experience ups and downs with my mental health, I can now live my life in all its complexity as my true self.