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Liam's Story of LGBTQ+ Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder (TW)

Hi, my name is Liam.

I live in rural Minnesota, and I’m highly involved with the LGBTQ+ community as I am part of that community as well. I try to spend my time with our young adult population, this includes teenagers and even younger, it makes me cringe and it makes my heart hurt deeply when we lose a young adult due to bullying and other verbal and possibly other trauma, no one should have to kill themselves over these issues, mostly I feel no one really ask them questions, but it is a difficult topic, that is where professionals are very useful such as school counselors or even a therapist. What area is especially vulnerable is our youth population. We need to be able to have the resources for them when needed. Organizations such as The Trevor Project and of course The Matthew Shepard Foundation have paved the road to help protect those that are most vulnerable. I have had the opportunity to review numerous Mental health and substance abuse articles, and I have come across a link between the above and the LGBT+ community. I am just starting to blog but focusing on Mental Health/LGBTQ+ and substance use disorders. 

I have struggled with all three myself.  I’m now 3 years sober and work a 12-step program known as Alcohol Anonymous and attend support groups for my mental illness. My story starts in 2012, I in total worked as an Emergency Room and Trauma nurse for close to 14 years when things got very dark. The following is my story, in my own words, there has been no plagiarism of any kind. I hope that this will help someone. 

Where to begin my story. I guess I will give you a quick look at my upbringing, I was born in a small town in southern Minnesota, and my mother worked as a nurse at the local hospital. I was mostly raised by my two older brothers. They were about 11 years older than me. My mom worked the overnight shift, so my two brothers were left to deal with me and help raise me in any way they thought was helpful, or what they thought would be the best for me. Growing. Up I was a very sick baby, I had open-heart surgery when I was 9 months old. And I came to think that after that my other brothers maybe felt they were not as important as me “the sick one”. I remember having to take many trips to the Mayo Clinic hoping that they would find something, something to help make me feel like a normal little boy again. But unfortunately, that did not work out. As my visits to the Mayo Clinic kept getting more and more in-depth it only took us farther apart. When I was 5 years old my parents got a divorce, my dad moved to Missouri to be with his family, and my mom and three boys were sent back to Minnesota to work at the local hospital again. I mostly continued to hang out with my brothers and their friends, it was not such a great experience, I would be introduced to learning how to smoke weed out of a bong, swearing, and fighting. When I was between the ages of 8-1 I was sexually assaulted and molested multiple times.. This caused a lot of confusion for both me and my entire family. I was given no therapy and the “brush it under the rug” therapy was in full

While in middle school I met my partner and came out to my family all in the same year, I was thirteen. High school was really hard, but somehow made it to graduation. I give credit to my partner whom I leaned on a lot for support, but I guess looking back it was mutual. After high school I went to nursing school in Northern Iowa, me and this boy never lost contact, but started to see each other less and less. After my first two years of nursing school were complete, I moved to Phoenix Arizona for a couple of years to finish my bachelor’s degree in nursing. Me and my boyfriend would still talk, I missed him so much, so after about 1.5 years I started making plans to come home to see it, and my family as well.

 What I did not know was that while I was gone, he was doing a lot of unsafe practices, sleeping around with a lot of people, and not taking care of himself. While I was sitting in my new orientation class at a local hospital, he had reached out to me to inform me he was in the hospital and very sick. I went straight to his bedside, he was already in the intensive care unit and had a bloodstream infection. This was on a Friday, I said goodbye for the weekend and would see him first thing Monday morning. Instead, over the weekend I got a call from his family that stated he had a big medical emergency over the weekend, that he is still alive, but brain dead, and that there is nothing more they could do for him. I rushed to his bedside and gave him a last kiss, said a prayer, and comforted the family. This was one of the worst days of my life. I found out a while later that I was never invited to the funeral, the last call I got from his dad was that they had removed him from life support, it felt like someone was yanking my heart out. I never was, and still to this day have not figured out where he is buried. His date of death is 2/9/2012. 

After his death things went downhill quickly for me, I started drinking every day to deal with no longer having his presence, and the thinking that would not leave my head “I am a nurse, I should have seen this, I should have been able to save him”. This went on for many years. My drinking problem kept getting worse and worse, I had between 6-7 suicide attempts, I would drink myself into a mess, get upset about the whole thing again, and then tell myself “If he is gone, so should I be gone”. During these up and down times, I was working as a very successful Emergency Room nurse but came a time when the grief would hit me so hard, I could not even get out of bed to work, I was stuck in my feelings. In 2018 I had two very serious overdoses, again being ready to go join him. I spent almost every single month that year in a psychiatric hospital trying to get stabilized and learning how my life could go on. In early 2019 I relapsed on alcohol, spent two weeks in a psychiatric hospital, had another very serious overdose, and crashed my car, I realized that I need more help than what I can do on my own. I entered a treatment center in April of 2019, and with the time I spent there things have been starting to get better. There are hard days still, and I have come to accept that that is the way it will be. Some days will be better than others. After completing 5 months in a residential treatment setting, and then started a 90-day program specifically aimed at mental illness and learning to live on my own again. It was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, it taught me that I am not alone in this fight, and I have new resources in my life to help me stay sane I guess you could say. 

 Today, I attended support meetings for both my mental health, substance abuse, and grief. I also make sure to get out of my own head and help others as much as possible. To those of you who read this, I thank you so much, I hope that it can bring a little hope and healing your way. There is one thing I want you to get out of this: You are not alone! Please reach out for help, or even talk to a friend or therapist. I have learned that life is worth living! I’m learning to love myself, and it is a beautiful thing! 


~With Love & Gratitude, Liam 


I can be reached at

Or by reaching out to the team At Happii 

Lastly, I want to Thank the team and of course the customers that help support Happii, and of course Thank you Happii for allowing me to share my experience, strength and hope to those that need to hear they are enough. 


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