I was sent to conversion therapy as a teen. Now I'm an influencer who uses humor to work through my trauma.

Blake Lynch is known as "Nurse Blake" on TikTok and uses comedy to cope with the trauma of having been sent to conversion therapy.
Blake Lynch is known as "Nurse Blake" on TikTok and uses comedy to cope with the trauma of having been sent to conversion therapy.Blake Lynch
  • After I was outed, my parents sent me to conversion therapy from ages 15 to 18.

  • I realized I still live with the trauma from that experience after I had an anxiety attack at 27.

  • Now I'm 31, and as an influencer on TikTok, I've turn my trauma into comedy for my followers.

I knew I was gay from a pretty young age. Well, I did go on one "straight" date when I was just a kid; we went to a Spice Girls concert — so, yeah, it's always been clear I'm interested in men.

When I was 15, my cousin caught me kissing another boy in the driveway. From there, everything changed.

My parents pulled me out of school — I was literally taken out of lunch the next day — and brought me to a therapist that taught conversion therapy.

For three years, I was enrolled in a program designed to make me straight. It caused me a lot of trauma that I still deal with today, but now, as an influencer, I try to foster a community of acceptance through humor.

I went to a Christian Bible school and a conversion-therapy program

For one week each year, my family sent me to a camp away from home, where I was forced to listen to speakers and counselors. From the ages of 15 to 18, I attended this program, known as Exodus International Freedom.

The program involved a lot of private conversations — both in large- and small-group settings. I remember being forced to share personal sexual information about my homosexual experiences. We were then told how to refrain from those thoughts so we could live "normal," heterosexual lives.

As a minor, having to explain my sexual experiences to adult strangers in detail was very traumatic.

One of the hardest parts about this time was the isolation. My Grandmother Nan was, and has continued to be, my biggest supporter, and yet I couldn't see her for over two years during my conversion therapy. My parents kept me away from her because they thought she would influence me to "stay gay." I just felt more and more alone.

The trauma of conversion therapy has caused a lot of the anxiety I still feel today

During my time at the camp, I was constantly listening to a team of people who told me how horrible I was, and that messaging can get stuck in your head.

While I was going through conversion therapy, I was very confused about my sexuality. But in my early adult years, I suppressed it all, just wanting to survive. So, I kept myself busy with school and work.

The trauma really didn't hit me until I was 27 years old. I was driving home from work when I had my first panic attack out of nowhere. After seeing a counselor about that panic attack, I realized that a lot of the stress and trauma stemmed from the years in conversion therapy; it just took more than 10 years for it to surface.

In my adulthood, I've seen a range of counselors and therapists who have helped me work through this anxiety. I still struggle a lot with identity and being comfortable in front of people, but I know I'm one of the lucky ones. Too many people have taken their own lives during conversion therapy, which led Exodus to ultimately close its doors in 2013.

After becoming a nurse, I tried to turn my trauma into humor online

Since I was young, my parents always steered me toward healthcare. There was never another option for me. Luckily, as I got older and more comfortable in who I am, I found my own reason to get into healthcare: helping the LGBTQ community. I wanted to be a voice and provider for this community because I didn't have one growing up.

While I studied to become a nurse, I was experiencing a whole new realm of anxiety and mental-health issues. So, I started creating funny videos on TikTok to feel relief, and the response was incredible. I realized that I could build a community of people who have shared struggles by making them laugh. I became "Nurse Blake" on TikTok, and my community has now reached 900,000 followers.

My followers love that my conversion therapy didn't work. Honestly, my parents should get a refund.

Now that I have a voice online, I make sure to use it

It was a long road to get to where I am today. After feeling so alone and isolated during my teenage years, I've made it my mission as an influencer, a nurse, and a comedian to help others feel loved and accepted.

Through my videos and upcoming comedy tour, I hope to inspire people around the country to feel like they have a place in this world — because that's what my younger self needed all those years ago.

Read the original article on Insider