I’ve been experiencing some horrible depression for a long time.
More than half a year ago, I was at a point where the stress of one and a half years of gender transition was becoming too much to deal with. I felt the urgent need to rest, to disconnect from all the stressors somehow. Yet, I didn’t really know how to rest, at least not as deeply as I seemed to need.
At this perfect moment, my partner, who I was deeply in love with and who made up almost my entire social life at the time, left me.
The trauma of the event itself left me feeling like I was dead but somehow still hanging around in my body. I couldn’t even make toast for the first week, and was utterly dependent on my parents for help with such things. For a month after that, I was able to feed myself but pretty much nothing else.
I’ve had my ups and downs, but the general outlook since then has been bad, and has gotten worse in some ways. I went in and out of depression at the beginning, seeming to mostly improve over time. Then, however, I decided to try an ill-fated experiment; seeing as I no longer had the financial support of my partner, I wanted to try living radically cheaply (on around 50€ a month) in order to be able to focus on my writing without getting sidetracked.
This experiment turned out to be immensely stressful, and after just a couple of weeks of living this way, it plunged me into a deep depression, perhaps what you’d call a burnout. I started having panic attacks at this time, for the first time in my life. I’ve kept having panic attacks since then (for two or three months). These are twitching, hyperventilating, sometimes screaming fits which occur when my stress levels get too high.
I can usually tell from a weird feeling in my body when I’m close. At this point, pretty much any stressful thing can push me over the edge. And if I’m not so close, it’s still possible that a more intensely stressful situation will push me over the edge.
I recently went to two large social events, both of which gave me panic attacks. I guess it’s not surprising, since I tend to get overloaded in such events at the best of times. Still, such events are highlights of my life and sometimes the only places where I can see some of my friends, so it bothers me that I may need to stop going to them (for a while?).
I have noticed that when I’m outside of my home in Berlin, particularly in Sweden and Barcelona, I seem to do quite well. I believe one of my main problems here is that I am so isolated; I’ve never worked out how to have a proper social life in Berlin. I’m thinking quite seriously about returning to Barcelona therefore, though the prospect scares me. I hardly have the energy to do anything here, so how would I find the energy to move country again and try and set up a new life? That said, I suspect I would have more energy there.
Some part of me wonders what right I have to be a self-help author if I experience such intensely negative states. A smarter part of me realises that these states are not the result of being particularly unenlightened, but because of a set of incredibly difficult circumstances. (Also, you don’t have to be perfect to give advice… and you shouldn’t try to be).
Actually, I see this depression as being of a very different sort to my first great depression of some years ago. At that time, I was depressed because I had problems in myself. I didn’t know who I was, I had horrible low self esteem, I didn’t know how to have friends, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I had existential angst and felt a need for Universal answers, and so on.
Now, I don’t have any of those problems. (Except I find it hard to make friends with Germans, but I guess that’s either a cultural thing or because Germans aren’t friendly). While I still have stuff in myself to work on, I feel generally secure in that I know myself and how I relate with the Universe. There isn’t this fundamental feeling of “wrongness” about life; I don’t feel like something is fundamentally “missing” like I did.
Instead, my depression seems to be rather more circumstantial. People treat me like shit for being transgender and my emotional resources are depleted. I lack enough good and committed friends where I live. I’m subject to financial pressures and don’t feel like I have the energy to deal with them.
Suicide has occasionally appeared in my head as an attractive option. I actually don’t fear death at all (I fear plenty of things, just not death), and in general it doesn’t seem unattractive to me. My main issues with it are that I don’t want to leave the ones I love, and that I still have dreams which I’d love to see happen. As I contemplated suicide today, I also thought of the things that make life seem worth living: looking into the eyes of a lover; enjoying my body as it becomes more and more female under the influence of hormones; lying on the grass and looking into the sky on a sunny day.
Most of all I love being in love. I have the gift of falling in love easily, and though I do experience pain when I fall out of love, it is always worth it to me in balance. I feel such passionate feelings, such true feelings. I don’t want to give that up.
Today I felt hopeless, feeling such a need to make a change and yet so little energy to do so. It’s easy in these situations to feel like things will never get better. I guess I’ll just have to try and have faith that they will. I’ll wait till I have more energy, and when I do, I’ll make steps to change things.
If you want to help, I can think of two possible ways. If you want, you can donate some money, especially if my blog has influenced your life in some way and you want to express gratitude. Or, if you feel affinity with me – which I guess many of you do, seeing as you’re reading my blog – you can come over and visit me in Berlin. I have a sofa bed you can sleep on. (Note: if I don’t know you I’ll want to just make sure you really are a nice person by talking with you first… don’t be offended).
Incidentally, I wrote that last bit because I think some people might wonder how they can help, but I don’t want to make it seem like I’m expecting it or begging for it or pushing it on you. Badly as I’m doing, I still feel like I can basically take care of myself. After all, I have to.
Anyway, I hope you guys are having a less shitty time than me, wherever you are.