Name: Jacob Roy
City: Quispamsis, NB
Fav thing about your city: The nature around here is beautiful!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself: I have been skydiving and bungee jumping!
Why is ending the stigma important to you?
Ending the stigma is important to me because stigma is a huge part of the reason I lost one of the most important people in my life. When I was 10 years old I lost my mother to suicide, it was so sudden and unexpected, she was just there one day and then she was gone the next, without any signs as to why. As I got older and I was able to understand what happened I then began to understand that it wasn’t that the signs weren’t there it was that my mother felt as though she couldn’t talk about them. It is because of the stigma surrounding mental illness that my mother never sought out help and therefore she faced all her pain and struggles on her own. By helping be a part of ending the stigma I feel as though I am giving my mother a voice even though she is no longer here and it is through that voice that I hope to help others realize that they never have to go through it alone.
What does your everyday look like?
My every day is very very busy. I am a family support worker as well as a residential care worker in a youth treatment centre, so because I can work up to 60 hours a week I need to pay extra attention to making sure I am taking care of myself. Every morning I will get up early enough to shower and eat a healthy breakfast, because fuelling yourself for the day is so important. Throughout the day, I will make sure to drink lots of water and take time to practice mindfulness/living in the moment when I get the chance. Also at some point during the day I will go to my exercise class which is filled with people who are so incredibly supportive and motivating for both physical and mental health. Then before I go to bed every day I write in two separate journals. One is for my mother and the other is for me to record my positive moments of the day. I find it helps when you “debrief” with yourself at the end of the day, remind yourself of the good, and let go of the bad.
How has being a member of the LGBTQ+ community played a part in your mental health journey?
Coming from the small community in which I did as well as from a family with a long history of being the total opposite of open-minded I was immediately set up for a long journey ahead of me regarding how my mental health, gender and sexuality intertwined. It was in Grade 11 that I first came out as a Lesbian. The decision was shocking to most of the people around me, causing some to adjust better than others. Those who did not adjust quickly went from friends and family to being the ones who bullied me on the daily. Being the open-minded and accepting person that I am I could not understand how simply identifying with the LGBTQ+ community could warrant such ridicule, yet there I was being isolated by the people I once called my family and friends.
My journey with my mental health, gender, and sexuality has been a long and windy one. Since having first identified with the LGBTQ+ community and learning about all the different aspects of it I now identify and a queer transgender man. Although, there are many other aspects as to what effects my mental health, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is a major one, in both positive and negative ways. I have faced isolation, abandonment, a lack of self-worth, neglect and so much more, but the journey has also shown me how to smile in the face of adversity, how to be strong and hold my head high, as well as how to be kind to others, even when they aren’t kind to you. The impact of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community has on one's mental health is never about how the individual identifies but rather is always entirely the way in which society treats us for being “different” then the norms in which it has set for us.
What do you wish more people knew about being LGBTQ+?
We are human too. As easy as it is to get caught up in all the labels we need to remember that a man loving a man or a woman loving a woman is no different than someone liking an apple more than a pear. YES, it is actually that simple. The world spends too much time freighting over how someone identifies and pressuring them to identify if they don’t already have it figured out. So, to all the people out there trying to “figure out where they belong”, you are exactly where you need to be, take your time, identify with one, two, or three things, or even nothing at all, that is entirely your decision to make. Don’t worry about “getting it wrong” because there is no such thing, they call it a journey for a reason.
Lastly, to all the people out there who think that because someone identifies within the LGBTQ+ community that it somehow makes us less of a human, you are so very wrong. We are human just as much as anyone else and we deserve the same amount respect.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You deserve to be happy. You are an incredibly resilient human being who has faced so much and should be proud to have made it out the other end. Remember to take care of yourself, it is never selfish to put yourself first for once. Lean on your family and friends when you need them, as much as you may drive them batty at times they will always be there. As for your mom, she loves you, never ever doubt this. No matter who you are she is going to be right there looking out for you, because you're her son and she wouldn't have traded you for the world.
Who is a Role Model to you?
Oh boy, it is hard to pick just one, as so many people have influenced me along the way, helping shape me into who I am today. In saying this though I would have to give credit where it’s due, which would be to my sister-in-law. She has never left my side since day one and has never given up on me, even when I pushed her to her limit. She has always believed in me and encouraged me to strive for my dreams. My sister-in-law is honest, kind, supportive, understanding, an amazing mother, and when everything fell apart she had the strength to carry the weight of an entire family, one in which she only married into. She’s the coolest and most inspiring person I know.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sunday?
Well, I commonly work Sunday nights, so that being said all my self-care on Sundays gets done in the morning. Every Sunday I will go for a walk in the morning with a friend, which we often explore new trails so it is always an adventure. The other thing I like to do is spend some time blogging and painting. For me, spending time outside is the best recipe for self-care!