Thinking Queerly by Kristina Furia

At present, LGBT teenagers and adults experience mental illness at higher rates than the general population. This imbalance is due to the additional adversity that members of our community are likely to face at various points throughout both childhood and adulthood. Thinking Queerly is a mental-health column written by Kristina Furia (, a local psychotherapist, that focuses on the unique psychological and social experiences of LGBT individuals, couples and families. Each month's column highlights a specific aspect of being LGBTQ in the United States and the various effects it has on our mental health and overall experience in society.

I started 2019 with a social-media cleanse. I didn’t plan it. In fact, I didn’t realize I was going to do it until I clicked “submit” on my New Year’s Eve post discussing the year ahead being about purposeful self-growth, honoring intuition and focusing on my therapy practice’s continued evolution. Suddenly, the thought came to me that social media would be a barrier to those things. I didn’t exactly know why, but since I had literally just posted that I wanted to honor my intuition more, I decided to go with it.

The practice of purposefully focusing on gratitude in both thought and behavior will change your life! In studies conducted over the last 20 or so years (since the emergence of a field of study known as Positive Psychology), a whole slew of noteworthy benefits has been shown including a significant reduction in depression and anxiety, increased life satisfaction, improved physical health, decreased physical pain, improved sleep quality, enhanced social bonds and greater levels of overall well-being.

New Year’s resolutions are a tricky thing. Lots of people seem to take the idea with a grain of salt, and may even chuckle about January’s motivation — which leads to February’s decline and March’s inevitable disenchantment. But a lot of people are making resolutions they are serious about.

For each of us, the holidays bring up a variety of emotions, associations and expectations. For the luckiest of us, we think of mostly the good stuff: the bright lights of decorations, get-togethers with friends and loved ones and traditions such as eggnog and kissing under mistletoe. For many of us, though, the holidays are significantly more complex. While family can be a point of difficulty no matter who you are or how you identify, for many LGBTQ people family gatherings, and thus the holidays, can be an incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing time.

The end of a romantic relationship is a universally difficult experience. To state the obvious, a breakup means saying goodbye to someone you love and who you likely spent more of your time with than not. There is an acute sense of loss both on a day-to-day basis and in life overall. The end of a relationship also forces us to reflect on painful, more existential ideas such as: Will I be lonely? Am I going to end up alone?

Suicide is not a topic that many of us are compelled to talk about with any regularity, but with the recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, our attention has suddenly turned. We are asking why someone might take their own life, and we are trying to wrap our heads around how there aren’t other, better options.

This is such a deeply complex topic with many variables from person to person; however, some clear misperceptions that are worth knowing:

Mental illness has long been a taboo subject and those with a mental-health diagnosis have long been stigmatized for their struggles. In recent years, though, we’ve begun to shift our ideas about the topic in a positive direction. As a society, we’re talking more about common mental-health concerns such as anxiety and depression, and we’re acknowledging just how prevalent they really are. We’re also talking about these topics with our friends and loved ones. We’re asking for recommendations for therapists, we’re comparing medications (for better or for worse, a substantial number of Americans are on antidepressants) and we’re opening up about our pain.

It’s not a secret that the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia is in a time of transition. It’s also no secret that we’ve found ourselves in this transitional period because the need for change became imperative. As we’ve been seeing, community leaders are working diligently to affect positive change and to bridge gaps in our community relating to matters such as racial inequities and the safety of our most vulnerable community members. For example, last week we had our first-ever LGBTQ State of the Union. Real, long-lasting change takes time.

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