Today is meant to be the last day that I take Citalopram, and tomorrow is meant to be the first day that I start Venlafaxine. However, I’ve decided to delay starting on the new anti-depressant for another day as tomorrow is the last day of my holidays (I’m skiing with my family) and I don’t want to feel sick tomorrow. I know that there will be side effects – there was with Citalopram – and I’d rather save the nausea for a non-holiday day!
I’ve been tapering down my Citalopram dose, doing 1 week of 20mg and 1 week of 10mg. I struggled with the 20mg but the 10mg has posed the biggest challenge to me. I’ve had several days where I’ve been close to tears for absolutely no reason whatsoever. One evening I had to go to bed early because I was too close to tears and couldn’t control it – again, for no reason. My worst day was when I woke up feeling extremely low and ended the day feeling very suicidal. The following morning I struggled to get any energy to do anything at all but my mum encouraged me to get out of the house and hit the slopes (skiing holiday, remember?) and I felt loads better afterwards.
Sometimes I think it takes me to hit rock bottom in order to pull myself together and look after myself. My mood has been gradually getting worse and worse over the last month, and honestly it was just lucky that I hit rock bottom while on a family holiday. The combination of intense physical activity and constant company prevented me from slipping into a longer-lasting low mood.
This week has had me feeling pretty crappy about myself. My family are all quite high achievers, which doesn’t do a whole lot to the self confidence when you’re unemployed. Add that to the fact that I’m the oldest, turning 30 this year, and in some serious debt, and you’ve got a fantastic cocktail for self-pity, self-loathing and a general overall feeling of intense failure. This week has me considering a change in career, as I cannot face yet another year of irregular income, fights with the dole office and housing benefits office, feelings of failure, frustration with lack of work and general anxiety about being misgendered, dead-named and having to out myself to complete stranger who may or may not hire me.
I feel like a lot of things are overlapping at the moment. I’m trying to change my documents to match my name, which requires money (which I don’t have). I’m trying to find a job with a more regular income (which requires outing myself to employers, as all my “official” documents are still in my old name). I’m trying to figure out what to do with my future, as I promised myself that I’d give myself a year to get into editing as a career, but that year is up and I still can’t make ends meet. I have intense body dysphoria that isn’t going to go away until I have top surgery (which has been postponed three times now and I still don’t have a date) and get some low-dose testosterone into my body (still waiting for an appointment for this also).
Part of the issue with job applications is that I’m required to chose whether my gender is male or female. As it is neither, I cannot answer that question, but I can’t proceed without picking one or the other. So what do I do? Do I suck it up, pick one and deal with the horrible feeling of being unable to correctly identify my gender on a form? Or do I stop filling in the form? I used to suck it up, but more recently I’ve found myself simply cancelling the application and feeling incredibly frustrated with the systems that the working world is built upon (seriously, what the hell has anyone’s gender got to do with a job application???)
With the career change, the thing is that I KNOW that I have the potential to be a decent editor (video) but the opportunities just aren’t there. I spent all of last year calling every production and post-production house I could think of, and I managed to get two regular employers, but the work just isn’t enough to keep me going. I always knew that I wanted to try giving the “ideal job” a go before I could settle for something else, but time slips by and I’m running out of excuses. I’ve been looking into doing a masters, and I’ve been trying to move into trans activism, but neither of these areas provide a guaranteed income. The trans activism is something that I will do regardless of monetary reward, but it would be nice to get paid to do it. The problem is that I have spent the past year waiting on promises for work that have rarely come through, and working as a trans activist is just more of the same – empty promises of future payments. I need something solid, an income that can give me SOME sort of a lifestyle that doesn’t require buying food that’s past it’s sell-by date from North Street Market, cooking beans and pasta to keep me going, dealing with landlord and housemates who hassle me for unpaid rent and cutting my own hair terribly because I can’t afford the £10 it costs for a basic haircut. I don’t have any obligations – no children, mortgage, partner or parent to support – so I don’t require a particularly high-income job in order to improve my life. But at the same time, I don’t want to do any more dead-end jobs that make me hate myself even more than I already do. Catch-22 really.
Compounding all of this is my struggle with depression, and this is an ongoing battle. I want to believe that if I had a regular job with a regular monthly income that I would be able to cope with my depression better by being able to afford a gym membership, better quality food and an occasional trip to the cinema. But applying for jobs requires more energy that I possess at the moment. Another Catch-22. I suppose there will be movement one way or the other at some point, but in the meantime, I have a fight with the dole office and the housing benefit office for claims dating back to Christmas. I’m really not looking forward to going back to Belfast to face into this, but it has to be done, regardless of how I feel about it. I seriously hope that next week is better than I expect it to be, because last week was 100 times worse than expected, and this week has been a temporary trip to the therapy land of sun, snow, family, excellent food and wine and time away from my shitty, shitty life back in Belfast. Here’s a picture of me on the slopes, as a reminder of the good times.