Thursday, 19 March 2015

Dealing with dysphoria

The physical and mental state of dysphoria was never anything I thought I had experienced throughout my years living as a woman. 

Most transgender people I speak with tell me they struggled with and even hated their bodies growing up, and particularly during adolescence when they started going through puberty and realized they would not become the men and women they had hoped to become.  However, I do remember trying to hide my tiny breasts in baggy shirts when they started to sprout up at the age of about 12.  I also hated getting my period, which was nothing too out of the ordinary, as most girls did.  I've never met a woman who has said, "I love my period!"

I got through adolescence and then started dating women, happily enjoying my adult life as a lesbian.  I even married a woman.  Now, looking back, I was not very happy.  Although I did outwardly appear content with my life, there was always something not quite right.  I was never sure what it was, and just put it down to feeling marginalized and different as a gay person, but there was something more.  It was a feeling much like trying to be someone I was not and I felt like an imposter most of the time—like I was hiding something.  Well I was, even from myself.  I was also very depressed and had remained so since my teens.

In the years to follow I would experience a divorce with a woman I had been with for 22 years and two failed relationships and I still wasn't happy.  

It wasn't until I was 53 years old and playing street hockey with some workmates that I had an epiphany.  I felt comfortable for the first time, like I was meant to be there, not just the token girl playing goal.  A few days later I made an appointment with my GP and I started my journey.

I realized then that the depression I was suffering was the dysphoria I felt about being born in the wrong body, growing up in a female body, but feeling male.  Once I began taking testosterone on a regular basis, I started feeling calmer and more comfortable in my body.  Once the hair began to appear on my legs, chest and face, I felt fantastic.  I felt normal for the first time in my life.  I was elated.

Once I completed my chest surgery I began to feel even better, and then most recently with my surgical procedure, a metoidioplasty (meta) in California.  But, after about a month and a half post-surgery I began to realize that the procedure was not successful and did not provide the results I was expecting.  That’s when a depression like no other I had ever felt began to set in.  I spoke with my doctor about it and he changed my prescription for anti-depressants, but I knew this was not going to provide relief.  I would stay in bed most weekends, and force myself to work during the weekdays.  I began to isolate myself from friends, activities that I used to enjoy and became despondent.  My emotions were all over the place.  I would go from sadness to anger and began to hate myself and most of those around me.

I knew that the only solution was for a surgical revision.  But, I had no more money, having paid out of pocket for chest surgery and the meta in California.  The surgeon was distancing herself from the issue by saying that she had informed me of the possible results, but she did not.  In addition she said that she could not perform a revision because she is not a plastic surgeon.  There was no point in “beating a dead horse”, so I looked to a local surgeon who assured me he could remedy the problem.  However after a recovery of several months following what is called a “mons revision”, I was basically left at square one.  Over the past several months I roller-coaster between feeling okay and spiraling into deep depression.  As much as I try, I cannot seem to dig myself out.

My only recourse is to keep writing about it and to wait for a consultation with a surgeon in Montreal who may be able to perform another revision.  It is the waiting that I find the most difficult.  Unfortunately, the BC government will only fund surgery at the transgender clinic in Montreal, and paying for a revision myself at this stage would be too costly.  It could be up to a year until I am scheduled for surgery. 

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