It’s that time of year again, and once again my depression keeps me from wanting to do anything at all. To top it off, my dysphoria has become so bad that I can hardly bear to be conscious in this body that I have. It’s ironic, because changes are so close. On Christmas Eve (tomorrow) I’m going to be signing a form that will be sent off to the local endocrinologist for a low-dose testosterone referral. In the new year, I will be getting a date for my top surgery. Yet somehow, at the moment, I cannot see beyond this body that I’m trapped in.
I used to be able to push away a lot of my dysphoria, to ignore it when I had to. But even training at circus, which used to let me forget my boobs for an hour and a half while I climbed silks, doesn’t work anymore. My one escape from all of this has become just like the rest of my life. Pain.
It’s impossible to explain what it feels like to be trapped inside a body that feels wrong, wrong, wrong. To make matters worse, I still have all of my documents in my old name and I have to sign on again, which means being referred to by my old name repeatedly.
I have my deed poll enrolled in the Irish High Courts now, which means that I can change my passport and apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate, which will be the preliminary move to taking a court case against the Irish government to get them to recognise non-binary gender. To do this, I have to get certified copies of my deed poll from a solicitor, which costs money that I don’t have. My mum suggested getting this done with the solicitor who originally witnessed my deed poll so I’ll probably do this while at home for a few days over Christmas. It’s all happening, but it’s just taking a long time. I also want to change my name on my passport and driving licence, but I really don’t want to change my name but to still have female written on it, so I’m in a catch 22 situation where I can’t make a decision about this.
All of this makes it excruciatingly hard to deal with as it means that I will still be referred to by my old name for any official business, including signing on.
My depression has become really bad again. It’s different from what it was before. It used to be that I would feel incapable of getting out of bed or feeding myself. Now it’s less paralysing in that way, but it makes me feel really disengaged from people. I can tidy my room now, and get out of bed and have breakfast, but leaving my room is extremely difficult, and only happens at times of desperate need, or due to previous commitments that I’ve made. I don’t bail on social engagements anymore either, but I push all my depression and dysphoria to one side, put on a smiley face and have a good time, only to collapse for several days afterwards in a comatose state of inactivity and social phobia.
The effect all of this has on my personal life is quite significant. I don’t really want to see anyone or talk to anyone. Everything that used to make me feel better just gives me temporary relief that results in intense exhaustion for days afterwards. I’m trying to maintain a relationship at the moment that at times seems completely impossible. I don’t want to be touched. I have completely lost my sex drive to the point where I find passionate kissing to be extremely challenging. I don’t really want to speak but to communicate by thoughts alone, because opening my mouth to talk costs all the energy that I possess. I can’t even do anything for anyone else – usually the last thing to go for me, because it’s easier often to do things for others than for myself.
I simply want to sit here and feel everything that’s coursing through my body at the moment. The hatred, the grief, the exhaustion, the fear, the loneliness – I want to feel it ALL without someone trying to cheer me up or distract me or make me feel better. Because when that happens, I just push it all a little deeper inside me again, and it just wants to burst out again and explode a little bit more. I need to feel all the things that I haven’t let myself feel for years and years and years. I need silence and peace and TIME. Time to process everything, to get my thoughts together, to get over my past and to accept my future. Time to make decisions about who I am, where I want to be and what I want to do with myself.
I know that all of these decisions DON’T have to be made overnight, but at the moment it feels like I’m just waiting until Christmas is over before I can start trying to live properly. Everything seems to end and begin with the new year. 2015 has been one of the hardest years of my entire life, in good ways and bad. I’ve learned a lot about myself that I don’t think I would’ve taken the time to learn if I hadn’t been forced into it. I’ve come to understand that things can’t be forced, that situations sometimes have to be accepted, and that things have to get much, much worse before they get better. I’ve realised that I have to work out who I am first before I can move forward in my career. I’m unable to engage anymore with anyone who uses my old name for me, and that closes off a whole lot of work opportunities unless I’m willing to out myself to a whole host of employers in Northern Ireland, something that I simply do not have the energy for at the moment.
All I want is a part-time, boring desk job to supplement my freelance editing. Something that doesn’t require me to engage with many people, which keeps my mind busy, and which bring in a regular income so that I can stop signing on for job seekers and housing benefit irregularly. I’ve been late with my rent, I owe the bank and the government over £3500 combined, and I’m not even meeting the interest payments on the bank so the money that I owe just keeps increasing and increasing. I somehow seem to have gone backwards in my life rather that forward, where money and jobs are concerned. I know that it will all sort itself out, and that money is just money, and not something to get my boxers in a twist over, but it’s there. It’s hanging over me and so far there seems to be no way that I can even begin to pay it all off.
The worst bit is that suicidal thoughts have become a regular occurrence in my day-to-day life – not to the point were I actually start to make any plans, but just as passing thoughts in the same way that I used to think of travelling. An escape mechanism with a morbid twist.
I have a habit of trying to keep it all inside, especially when I know that expressing my thoughts will worry, scare and confuse people. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in the past, I haven’t taken responsibility for my own actions, and I’ve run away from difficult situations. I’ve never really just allowed myself to FEEL the moment that I’m in, the intensity of the emotions that I’m experiencing. The result is that now I’m starting to feel ALL the emotions that I never let myself feel before – everything. I can remember every emotion connected to every happy or upsetting situation that I can remember, ALL at once. Every single feeling has become connected, so that when I feel happy, I also feel every other time that I felt happy, which makes me remember the times when those happy situations became sad, so I also feel all the sad emotions, all in one big, tangled mess. And all this because someone in the present might have made me laugh slightly.
It’s difficult to write about this, because, to be frank, I think I’ve gone slightly crazy. Feeling everything in one go is like suddenly turning all the sounds on high and hearing them all as though they are all at the same level. Simply being conscious hurts.
I don’t really know what I’m going to do about all of this. I know that I can’t take it much longer, and I also know that I’m not going to “check out” of life either. Which doesn’t leave me with many options other that to just continue on, which isn’t appealing to me at the moment at all.
I know that Christmastime is hard for many people, because it’s all about family, and many people don’t have their family there for them. But there are also people like me, who do have their family there for them, but who have forgotten how to engage with anyone, and therefore struggle to engage properly with their family. There’s this idea that depression recovers on a straight upwards path, which leaves the worst of the depression behind. This means that people expect me to be better now than I was this time last year. In fact, I think I’m worse. But how can I explain that to people without worrying them. I KNOW that I’m OK right now, I just need to be left completely alone for a while. Because engaging with people makes me feel ALL the things, and I can’t keep feeling EVERYTHING, ALL the time.
There are those who dread Christmas for different reasons, and right now I’m one of those people. Bah humbug. Bring on the new year.
P.S. Shout out to Against Me, whose album Transgender Dysphoria Blues I stole the title of this article from.