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My Take on My Depression

Anxiety and Dysphoria Suck, Too

By Vanessa CachePublished 6 years ago 8 min read

Depression: A mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.

Anxiety: A nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. May also include a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Gender Dysphoria: The feeling one's emotional and psychological identity as male or female is opposite to one's biological sex.

Words to most people, just letters in a dictionary, or a text-book. To me, It's everyday life. I wake up with it, I go to bed with it. No matter what I do, or say, it's still there. So what can I do? I take pills for it, I talk to someone about it. Does it work? Sometimes. But most of the time, it just dulls it a little. It's still there, still lurking around the corner, waiting to pounce.

"But, you can't have depression," I get told, "You're too laid back and happy looking." "Anxiety? No way, you're too friendly to dislike people or be anxious." Yeah, that's it. I am making it up! I can't really feel so low that I don't feel like getting out of bed some days. I'm too "laid-back and happy looking." No way my heart feels like it's going to explode out of my chest and I feel like I'm going to pass out in the grocery store, even if nobody is looking at me. I'm "too friendly."

Most days I am happy, just because I woke up and was given another day on this spinning ball in space.

OK, let me explain that last comment with some back story. Late November 2014 and all of that December was what one could call a "throwaway month." 2012 was what one would consider a "throwaway year."

I spent one day, every other week, for 75% of 2012 in a doctor's office, hooked into a pump, getting chemotherapy drugs pumped into my body to battle cancer. For the rest of the days during that period, I felt too sick or tired, or both, to do much of anything. So yeah, the stuff discovered while experimenting with mustard gas was getting pumped into me. Outlawed on the battlefield, but just right for my body! So yeah, that sucked. I wanted to throw up most of the time, I was always tired, felt weak, and couldn't taste anything. Fun time, right? But, I overcame, and persevered.

2014 ended pretty crappy too. I was feeling over all rotten, and it hurt to move, so I went to the ER. I got subjected to a spinal tap (which hurt like hell), and a diagnosis of Lyme disease. To add to my misfortune, the doctors screwed up, and the hole they poked into my spine didn't close. So I got to spend the better part of a week in the hospital. I couldn't sit up, because if I did, spinal fluid drained from my skull and it felt like someone was squeezing my brain. It sucked. They had to take blood out of my hand and use it to patch the hole, which meant another long needle in my back making the whole experience even more fun. After I got released I got to spend all of December visiting my doctor, every day, to get poked, and antibiotics pumped into me. More fun.

OK, I got a little off track there. My point was, after all that bad stuff, I still get to wake up every day. I'm happy for that. I am grateful for that. It does not mean that I wake up to sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. I usually do not. Most of that has to do with the after-effects of the chemo. It has caused a great deal of complications. Long story short, most of the stuff I enjoyed doing, including working, have been taken from me. Where are those lollipops again?

So what do these terms mean to me? Let's start at the top and work our way down, shall we?

Anxiety. I hate it, and I don't like using the word "hate." When it comes, it has many forms. Sometimes, I feel like my heart is beating a million miles a minute, or I feel like I'm having a heart attack. Other times I feel like I can't catch my breath and start hyperventilating. What triggers it, you ask? Anything. I can be sitting on my couch, and BOOM, panic attack. My mind races from one thought to the next, so it's hard to pin down what thoughts trigger it. Most cases is when I have to go out somewhere. I'm not a big fan of large crowds. That's when the heavy breathing and feeling of passing out cold comes along. On the way to the store, I feel my speeding heart and chest pains. Some of it can be negated by sticking to the perimeter of the store, and only "diving" down an aisle if I need something in it, AND there is a clear path. If there are too many people in the aisle, I'll skip that part of the list and come back. "So go shopping in the middle of the night, with fewer people there," I get told. That would be nice, if the closest 24-hour store wasn't 30-40 minutes away. There is no quick fix, that I can see. I have pills I take (yay pills), that take the "edge" off of my anxiety, and dull it down a little, but it's still there. I thought about naming it. I name my pets, I name my cars, so why can't I can't give my anxiety a name? It'd be a little more discreet telling someone "Patty" is coming, than blurting out I'm going to have a panic attack, no?

I did name my depression. I call it "Dick" because it's a big ol' hairy dick. But, I've come to realize, after a lot of thinking, therapy, and admitting to myself, Dick has been around a lot longer than I though. I've had a negative self-image most of my life, and have had Dick with me most of my life as well. When I was young, a person I trusted to have my best interests in mind, told me I was "worthless" and would never amount to anything. That was 3rd grade, so I was 8-9 then. Why was I doomed to this fate? Because I was not the best at multiplying. That was, unbeknownst to me until many years later, a very traumatic event, and one that would go on to shape not only the rest of my schooling, but also the rest of my life. My 3rd grade teacher said these things to me, and I believed it. Granted, I have done some pretty great things in my life. I was a firefighter. There are people who might not be walking the earth today, or still have their home, if I wasn't there to help them. But I disparage even those positive effects. "I'm just part of the team." I don't see myself as someone special, or deserving of praise. Why would you praise a worthless person. That's why my therapist says I should build a "positive" self-image. I've carried my negative one for almost 30 years. This is easier said than done. That's not the only cause of Dick hanging around. There are many factors. Have been ill, living with the after-effects of said illness, having a couple more added on along the way, all played a hand in it. My current living situation, not being able to work, being broke (disability claims take forever), or do lots of things I used to enjoy, and an additional problem, that I'll get to in a minute, mean that Dick is a rather large dark cloud of doom hanging over my head.

Gender dysphoria: the newest issue to come into my head has, in hindsight, been around almost as long as Dick. This one is harder to put into words, because I'm not 100% sure how to explain what it means to me. I might not even fall into the "dysphoria" group at all. There are a few terms that might work, and new ones popping up every day, so I might fall into the group of "Gender (insert term here)." Anyways, so for me, like I said, this is a tougher nut to crack. Some days, I feel like super "Macho Man" (ooooooh yeah), and some days I feel like the pretty little damsel waiting to be tied to train tracks, or some other distressful situation. These feelings can change hourly some days too. No, I don't only feel like a woman when I want to be tied up, just to get that out of the way. But I best describe it to someone who asks, like this: I was born a man, and have my male parts, but I'm just as comfortable wearing skirts and heels as I am in a t-shirt and jeans. In other words, I am comfortable "portraying" either gender. I could be sitting home, and watching TV, or doing something on the computer, and something inside me will "click," and without questioning it, I'll go put on my breast forms and a bra, and go back to what I was doing. Have I gone out in public while in "woman mode?" A handful of times, but always after dark, and somewhere where I have little to no chance of someone else coming across me. Would I like to go out shopping as my female persona? Yes, but I have two problems with that. Living in a small town, and that pesky little bastard called anxiety. Maybe someday I will have the courage to do it. Who knows? Have I told anyone in my family about this? No! Do I plan to in the near future? Not likely. I have one really good friend that I have "come out" to about being trans, and she has been super supportive! But family members are different. They frighten me and the fear of being rejected by my family members frightens me more.

So what am I going to do with these issues? Live with them. Give them names. Take a bunch of pills, because my doctor tells me to. Not much more I can do than that. Sit and wait. For good fortune to come my way, for an absolution that may never come, for a winning Powerball ticket. Given my current situation, that's all I got for now, so I'm making the best of it. There's always tomorrow, I hope.


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