Most days I do fairly well and I manage to stay reasonably motivated and even legitimately cheerful. I don’t struggle to work, to concentrate or with insomnia. Most days. I’m like a lot of people with clinical depression who are being successfully treated with medication and who have tried to remove stress and conflict from their lives.
Depression is not a curable disease. There is no magic combination of meds (as far as I know) that will keep you out of it 100% of the time. I presume people exist who are lucky enough for this to be true, but I am not one of them.
Today is not a particularly positive day. On days like this instead of thinking of what I am overcoming, I think of the obstacles in my path. Instead of coping, I give in to inaction and a degree of despair that things will not only not improve but get worse.
One of the hardest things I heard recently about my depression was that far from being able to get off the drugs over time given that I have and am still resolving issues that take joy away, I am likely to always need them due to Parkison’s. Parkinson’s is also figuring more as I feel I’ve gotten a bit worse over the course of the eight months I’ve been diagnosed, although the truth is that symptoms ebb and flow. I’m fortunate that all I deal with is a tremor and I pray that’s the only issue.
I consider myself fortunate. What I deal with today as depression is nothing like the deep sense I had back in 2012 where all joy and color had left my life. This is not just the medication, my transition had an enormous positive effect on my life.
In the first two years from 2012 to 2014 I got better via medication and therapy. Yet if I read what I was writing leading up to going on HRT, I was still deeply depressed and in a great deal of trouble. The first huge relieve was going on HRT. It wasn’t that estrogen was a magic elixir, it was that I had taken a huge step forward away from guilt and indecision and toward a resolution of my main issue at the time.
I still had substantial depression and anxiety over the next six months between going on HRT and going full time. This was made better as I was able to not have to live as a man outside of work, and as I was able to integrate as Rachel with my religious community and friends.
I count my real recovery as starting in early March 2014 when I went full time, two years almost to the day of when I came on on April 22, 2012. It was a giant leap after an interminable count of baby steps. I wasn’t entirely well, but I was a great deal better.
In the next two years I’ve made progress in pulling out of the self absorption that transition brought, improving my empathy and compassion for those I affected deeply and reengaging with things that bring me joy.
I hope next year will see more growth as a woman living in this world, separated from the world men exist in by the tiniest thin barrier of plastic wrap. It would be wonderful if that barrier weren’t there, but let’s hope for the attainable.