We walk and talk, exchange pleasantries. We say the appropriate automatic answers to how are you. We keep up our public face.
We do this until we crumble into dust, some into malaise, some into a hospital, a heart attack, suicide. Men more than women but they say depression and anxiety disorders are one of the greatest psychological challenges these days.
Four and a half years ago I started my journey and I naively thought that when that journey was over that the depression would be cured. That is far from the truth. What is true is that if I had not transitioned I would not be functioning today regardless of the medications I’m on, and not being around would have been a serious possibility. Every time I tried to face a future living out my life as a male I shriveled up inside. I had reached a point where I could not say no to being who I truly am.
I really am Rachel, Rahel, Rach, Rae and most definitely not that guy. I’m proud of him and what he did, but he suffered.
I walked the halls at work that year before I came out and I smiled at people and I was exhausted to the bone. My therapist says doing that pretending takes enormous effort – I believe her. I was constantly trying to hide, and all the while between my ears depression build and a deafening insistence on starting hormones was building. Louder, louder, and louder. It screamed at me when I tried to work.
It screamed at me sometimes in the middle of the night. It’s screaming coated me with gray goo and made my life a misery. It wore me down until I couldn’t move, and then it finally pushed my jaws apart and made me say the truth.
The first step to freedom, the first small burden lifted. Yet this was like taking one grapefruit out of the sack a child is carrying. It helps but the load is still too much to bear. Finally, a bit over a year later, I’m better with my meds adjusted and some therapy under my belt, but there’s still a half a sack of those grapefruits. I start HRT. Now we’re talking, I drop the sack.
Compared to before I’m no longer depressed. It wasn’t true, but the contrast was incredible. Before I was really miserable. I was trying to be everything to everyone. I was trying to satisfy my spouse, myself, and not rock any other boats. After I felt like I had done the right thing and that everything else would do what it needed to do.
When I went full time some months later I found out there was another sack I didn’t know about. It dropped off and I felt still better. From then until now I’d say my depression has mostly been well controlled. Most days are good, and some days are not.
If you don’t have depression but live or love those who do, understand this. What we who have it do is somewhat under our control. But we can’t make the bad days good, and the medication isn’t perfect. Hopefully we’re trying out best.
You can find my earlier article here.