Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Transgender and depression

In other posts, I've alluded to the low point in my transgendered path, well here's a post about it. One of the most laborious posts I've written, it's sat in "draft" mode for a long while and received countless edits as I've found this to be a rather difficult story to tell.

From my mid teens until my early thirties, I suffered a cycle of depression as I tried to suppress my transgendered side. 

Depression, clinical depression that is, not "I'm feeling a little sad" depression, is one of those things that defies description unless you've experienced it. If you have, you'll know, if you haven't maybe this post will help explain.

Do you suffer jet-lag? Most people do. Have you ever been shot to hell from a 5 hour time difference, only to meet some bright spark who claims never to have suffered it and insists that if only you either pull yourself together or follow some old-wives-tale remedy then you'll be right as rain? Have you ever wished you could administer a resounding slap to people like that? I have. And believe me, I can deliver one hell of a slap.

And so it is with depression. It's not simply “being a little down, perk up!”, the bright sparks will as little get it as they will shut up and leave you alone. There was a point when I seriously and rationally expected not to live to see my next birthday and started to think about my affairs in that light. I sought some medical help, but did not find it to be as useful as I'd hoped. As I met others with the same condition I found I had covered up my depression rather well and ended up feeling rather embarrassed when I realised in how much more dire straits some of them were. Like the time a few years before when I had found myself in the eye hospital receiving treatment for an injury I felt as though I was a healthy person who'd somehow ended up in a group of far more deserving genuinely sick people.

In the end I found some relief in meditation techniques I learned outside of NHS treatment. They did not cure the problem, but they brought some calm to its symptoms and allowed me to regain a bit of control in my darker moments. For the cloud to truly lift I had to do two things: understand exactly what I was gender-wise and cease to bottle it up, tell my wife about it. The effect of that was, my wife tells me, remarkable. I can still have stress periods, but touch wood I've not slipped over the edge again.

My experience with depression has so far had a happy ending, but I know not everyone manages it. The turmoil of understanding your transgender is enough to push anyone over the edge and not everyone is in such a fortunate position as I am to have such an understanding partner. All I can say is, if at all possible don't bottle it up as I did. I wasted an entire decade of quality girl time that way.

3 comments:

  1. I hear ya, sister. I was in a helluva funk for three months, deeper by the day, until I finally sought out a therapist and a support group. Desperate times, desperate measures. When I feel it coming on now, I try to get out in front of it. I still get depressed, but not like that.

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  2. I believe it's made me stronger to have come out of it, it's given me a fervent drive to have fun at all costs which has made the whole process of dealing with transgender once I acknowledged it a lot more pleasurable. It's as though instead of interspersing bad stuff with good stuff the bad stuff all came in those decades and all that's left is good stuff.

    If it helps, I can put you in the direction of the meditations I used

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  3. I agree that people who haven't experienced true clinical depression have no idea of how crippling it can be. But then, how can they? It's so much easier to empathise with the inconvenience of a broken leg..

    Post-natal depression damn near destroyed me, and only now, almost three years later, am I realising how I was a ghost in my own life.

    So kudos to you for suriving not only depression, but depression with a root that you felt unable to share with anyone, and vastly more complicated by our rigid, and quite frankly stupid ideas about gender.

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