If you’re not a friend of mine on Facebook, or don’t personally stalk me, then you might think that I have already gotten my top-surgery, because I was planning it quite awhile ago. The truth is, I had to embarrassingly and painfully postpone the surgery a week before flying out, because of a major disagreement with my mother. I won’t go into the details, but as a result, I fell into about a month-long depression that crippled me with dysphoria.
Over the past few months since I postponed the surgery though, I learned a lot about myself and the way I deal with my dysphoria. I thought that I had it under control, but the truth was that I was completely suspending any dysphoria I was feeling until top-surgery. In some ways, this allowed me to have a lot of peace of mind. It allowed me to think about other things, and to let my dysphoria go.
I don’t regret doing this. Because of it though, all of the dysphoria that had been building up completely steamrolled me all at once when I decided to postpone the trip.
Things that didn’t normally bother me became impossible. I could barely leave my bed, let alone my apartment. I had to have friends buy groceries for me because I couldn’t leave the house without panic and dysphoria settling in. There were times I had to call friends to come over for my own safety. Waking up, drinking coffee, staring at my ceiling, sitting on my balcony, putting on a shirt, taking a shower, cleaning my dishes, not cleaning my dishes…all of it hurt. I had to take my mirror off of the wall because it made me dysphoric even to catch a passing glance at myself while I threw myself back under my duvet to try and feel both nothing and everything at the same time. I felt guilty for not working, but couldn’t imagine facing humans. I was stressed about money, and bad luck kept hitting me at all angles. Every time I pretended I was OK, I could feel a small chunk of my heart dissolving in acid.
One thing I’m truly grateful for is that my girlfriend basically told me at every opportunity, “No, stop trying to pretend you’re OK. We know you’re not OK. Go lie under your duvet and don’t move.” So I did, and it was exactly what I needed.
It made me rethink how I dealt with my dysphoria. I’m generally very good at talking about my feelings, and processing my feelings, but this was different. It required me to trust my friends, and to be forward about my discomfort.
I was talking to my girlfriend, and she hadn’t realized that my dysphoria was relatively constant. Apparently I hid it well on a day-to-day basis, to the extent that even she didn’t know I was feeling anything at all. Well done me, but also it made me realize that simply sharing my honest, negative feelings helps her and my friends better understand and help me.
This was hard to swallow, because I’m a big fan of pretending everything is OK. Part of my transness is seeing discomfort in other people because of my identity, and making them feel better about it to avoid uncomfortable situations. For me, this is also a subtle kind of activism for me, because I prefer to relate to people as a human, allow them to feel comfortable with me, and then start conversations about transness if they want. It’s rarely about whether I feel comfortable, it’s about whether I can avoid uncomfortable and/or aggressive situations.
In the end, what brought me out of my depression and dysphoria cocktail was lying under my duvet, and singing. I wasn’t able to sing for awhile, but then two of my best friends brought a choir gig to my attention to sing the Mozart Requiem and Schubert Mass in C. It’s always been a dream to sing the Mozart Requiem. It’s a masterpiece. Period. Even whilst singing it for a week straight, 4-5 hours a day, I didn’t get sick of it. I was able to take my mind off of my body, and focus on music. Deeply, profoundly sad music. I would go home and cry and listen to the ‘Lacrimosa’ movement sometimes (everyone did though).
Fast-forward a few months, and my surgery is now finally in the works. I’m leaving next week for Thailand with my amazing girlfriend to take care of me, and have the financial security to buy some tailored clothes as well.
In a way, I was lucky that I had a month of depression, because it showed me that I really can rely on my friends for help, and that I’m never really alone. It showed me that my dysphoria probably will never go away, and that I should deal with it moment by moment, and confront it head on instead of suppressing it for a later date.