Credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.netDepression is defined by wikipedia as being "...a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well being". The beginning of long definition that includes examples of emotions experienced while depressed. Words like sad, anxious, hopelessness and guilt to name only a few. Depression is one of the most damaging diseases know to humanity. It takes so many lives day after day and no one seems to really notice yet we all knew when Angelina Jolie is having her boobs done. Can you imagine yourself struggling day after day to get out of bed, barley making it through your waking life like a half asleep robot, the only color you see is gray. It matters not that you're a successful person, nothing really matters.
Now Imagine that not only are you depressed, but you also have gender dysphoria. Your transgender and the entire planet seems to have an opinion about what you should wear, how you should walk and where you can use the restroom. You look at your body and it doesn't seem to fit, like an outfit made for a slightly smaller person; it just doesn't fit. You feel that, somehow, you should have been born the opposite sex society says you are. These feelings are strong and the dysphoria rocks your entire being. You look in the mirror and you hate your body, you are jealous of other peoples bodies and you think about punishing yourself for failure; as if somehow you are responsible for this mix up. You feel an incredible drive to make your body into the gender which you most identify with. When you are reminded of the fact that you were born transgender by thought or deed, the dysphoria kicks in like a rush of weakness from getting up too fast. Then, you get the depression. You feel every single emotion and thought that comes from depressed mindset, mixing with your dysphoria and drowning you in a swirl of multicolored emotions. Your dysphoria feeds your depression and the depression feeds on the dysphoria, like a snake swallowing its tail your stuck in an endless loop which can be incredibly hard to deal with, "every time I get out (it) pulls me back in".
Credit: Image courtesy of [Master isolated images] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net How do you deal with living like this on a daily basis. You can also count on society not accepting you in your new gender role as a given for most of us. There are the lucky few who blend in and have no trouble, sometimes going elitist and contributing to the deluge of abuse and hurt showered onto transgender people on a daily basis. For most of us however, we must face discrimination, mistrust, misunderstanding, fear and yes, hatred simply for being true to ourselves. You know, like the commercials on TV who proclaim BE YOURSELF! while selling this or that. But we know that is the opposite of what society really wants. Go against the grain and you will feel the pain. The dysphoria and the depression are intertwined like a pair dancing, venomous, snakes.
So now your depressed, dysphoric and dealing with discrimination and harassment on a massive scale. You face an inward battle that may cost you your life; the constant reminders that you don't pass like your chosen gender drip like water into your bucket of woe. Yet these men and women get up every morning, dust themselves off and get ready to face another day of this assault on your identity, your being and your very spirit. Just think for a second now, how strong you really are... Cisgender people would not be able to handle a fraction of what you are experiencing as a transgender woman or man. Yet you, we, put on our faces and go out there and face all the garbage and hate people throw at us and we get on with our day; one day at a time. You are alive, fourty-two percent of us are not, and the count is rising. But you have survived just one more day of life as a transperson and that is an incredible victory! Your strength and resolution to follow the path God has chosen for you show just how much more powerful and courageous you are! Do not, please, succumb to the dysphoria and depression double team, even if it's just for one more day. You made it this far, you can make it one more day but here are a few tips on how to make your daily battle a little less damaging to your heart and soul:
- Reach Out: Reach out to someone, anyone who you can talk to that might have a modicum of understanding. Take to your doctor for options in dealing with the double dragons. Find people who are going through the same process you are and ask for support, not financial support (because most of us are forced to live below the poverty level due to many factors), but emotional support, advise and a caring ear just to listen. If you find hostility amongst the transgender community, and you will due to a high rate of lateral hostility, just block them and move on. Don't fight or give them an opportunity to troll you and make your life worse. Block them and move on because there are plenty of caring, helpful transgender people out there willing to give a hand when needed. We simply need to concentrate on the fight and not the frustration.
- Do other things: Do other things that have nothing to do with being transgender, watch a movie or read a book. Take up a hobby or start collecting something. Get involved in life outside the transgender community. You will find transgender allies out there also willing to help out with transgender issues. Play computer games or surf the net; ride a bike or take a walk. It helps to take your mind off of the dysphoria, at least for a while and the depression will lift a little bit, giving you a little more wiggle room. Over time you end up spending a lot more time thinking on life itself and your dysphoria will take the back seat for a while. Relief can come like taking off a pair of shoes that are too tight, free for a time until you have to put them back on. The break from the dysphoria will energize and invigorate you, giving you the strength you need to make it through one more day.
- Think: When you go out and about during the day think about where you are going. Is it a hotbed for transphobia? Have you been harassed there before. Is there any way you can avoid or cut down on the amount of transphobia you receive by a simple change in lifestyle. If you can afford to get a car so you avoid the looks and comments as you have to walk down the street. If a car is out of reach, get a bike and you will be past them before their hate chip kicks in. Going out as a transgender person can be a wonderful experience, just use your head and play it safe. Don't go alone anywhere that alcohol is involved because bad things happen to transgender people when men are drunk; always have a friend or don't go, no matter how badly you want to. I cannot stress this enough, I ended up a victim of violence, please don't become another me.
- Exercise: Get out there and do something physical, even if it is only going for walks. It will help with your depression by breaking up your pattern and you will become fit and healthy; which can help a lot with the depression. You can join exercise groups like yoga and tai chi; it's harder to think about your dysphoria and depression when your practicing a martial art or a healing technique.
- Be Useful: I feel much better about my day when I can help someone else out. "When I clean my kitchen floor I have only cleaned my kitchen floor. When I help you clean your kitchen floor I am helping you clean your kitchen floor" ~ Babylon 5. If you have a job then be good at it, be helpful and happy if you can, no matter what kind of things go on there. If you have a lot of time on your hands then volunteer, it's very rewarding. You get out and meet new people who may have similar issues. Not everyone out there is transphobic and you will find that out. This fact alone give you more hope for humanity itself.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food" ~ Hippocrates. This one is simple, if you eat better you will feel better. Fast food diets can contribute to depression as your body will probably lack essential vitamins and minerals to maintain you in a state of health and happiness. Vitamin D is massively important so keep up on it. I suffer from depression and dysphoria and, I know to think something as basic as vitamin D could help, but it does immensely.
You can see how the depression and dysphoria can intermingle and cause a transgender person great distress. Which is why we suffer a suicide rate higher than any other segment of society at forty-two percent. Try to remember that if and when you ever fall to the depths of harassing a transgender person, especially if your transgender yourself! There are things you can do to combat the two deadly snakes that intertwine in an effort to ultimately take your life. This is for real, the depression is a disease and it is trying to kill you like any other. Don't suffer it alone, please reach out to someone...anyone. The most courageous thing you can do, more courageous than anything else man is capable off on this planet, is you staying alive for another day. You are one of God's most unique and beautiful people on this planet. A rarity to be cherished as a boon to our society. Remember that, even if no one else does.