It probably goes without saying that my childhood, along with my being transgender all add up to some serious mental health obstacles. This ranges from dysphoria, CPTSD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, crippling lack of self-worth, suicidal ideation (2 attempts as a teen), the inability to keep jobs (before I graduated at the age of 36 from college I had held 60 jobs), and just absolute anxiety and depression (don’t worry I am sure you will all get to read about all of these things multiple times).
I never liked talking or admitting my family had problems growing up. It was even more extreme for talking about my own problems. So I just tried to keep myself going. I just pictured myself as a knight in armor whose only job was to make sure those I loved survived.
I lucked out in finding my husband, he has helped me a lot even though he hadn’t heard most of the details of my childhood and teen years beyond some basic broad strokes. Without him I would have ended up in some very very bad places and I doubt sincerely I would be alive past the age of 25.
Within a few years of being married to my husband I thought most of the problems had gone away. I didn’t wake up with nightmares, I didn’t hear voices sometimes and I felt my life had a purpose.
What I hadn’t realized is that the mental health problems were still there, but had become so bad that I had become so depressed and disassociated that I was numb. I was like that for more than 20 years. I didn’t have the positive and negative emotional surges and it had just become a grey cloud I walked around in. I kept large insurance payout on myself and just sort of wished I would disappear. I think the one reason I am still around is because I was worried about taking care of my husband and my parents.
Coming out and transitioning has been a godsend. I have found a great therapist and the depression has lifted. The problem I have come to discover is the depression is what kept my moods at a fairly stable level. A depressed foggy level that I was so depressed and numb that everything was grey.
Now at the age of 48, for the first time in my life and the first time the husband has ever witnessed, I cry sometimes. Not to alarm you and let you think it is only bad emotions I have, I also have a lot of good reactions as well, the crying though didn’t even happen at the deaths of both of my parents. I had this feeling inside I couldn’t let that emotion out or show that kind of weakness at any time in my life.
All of my mental health issues are still here, but now I am not depressed on top of it and I can feel really good about myself and my life. Sometimes I look at a picture of myself and for the first time I think I look cute, or at the very least look closer to who I am supposed to be. I hated my image in every picture I have taken since I was 15 or older up until the last year or so. Even when I was skinny and not unattractive I hated them.
I am fortunate that both my husband (who was a mental health nurse for over a decade) and my therapist, warned me that the depression lifting didn’t mean that my other issues faded away. It prepared me for the rollercoaster I am on now. Sometimes incredibly happy, sometimes incredibly dark in my head. I can show emotion now though, or at least real emotion, and that makes me feel more like a human and less like a robot or an empty suit of armor meant to protect someone else.
It is a new world for me to explore, the ups and downs. I still sometimes get ideas of suicide or self-hatred. I also get times now that I am so incredibly happy with my life in general and my husband and my new self specifically that I feel like my heart is going to burst. On top of this my HRT isn’t settled yet so I am like a hormonal teenage girl and that is sometimes obvious to my husband.
Even with the rollercoaster up and downs of emotions, I am having right now, I wouldn’t trade it. I like the way I look, I love my husband and I like my life. The lifting of the grey clouds of depression might reveal the negative, but it also gave me a life back inside and made me for the first time in my life since I was a child to live and find a way to be happy.