For the past 10 to 15 years, I’ve been suffering from depression, and I don’t feel like a fully human at least for a few hours every day. I spend 30 minutes running on a treadmill. The remaining time is for working or sleeping or surfing the internet. Sleeping gives me the breathing room to be away from my own conscious s hell. Running has allowed me to be productive while I am awake; it gives me the boost I need to get on with each day. On the rare occasions that I don't run, I feel extremely negative about myself and life in general. Specifically, I would feel uncomfortable with the way I look, and I’d get so nervous and close to having panic attacks.
Running is just a band aid solution for me though. As the effects of endorphins die down, and the euphoric feeling I get from running dwindles, I start losing my concentration, Negative thoughts resurface and multiply, and I go back to my old habits of numbing myself with unrestrained internet surfing, binge eating and other self-sabotaging behavior.
Years of depression and social anxiety have caused me to lose touch with myself. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t medicated with one pill or another. On my good days, I feel like a walking shell. On my bad days, I cannot stop thinking and worrying about people and everything that goes on in my surroundings.
I haven’t always been this way, not until I was into my adolescent years. The most important lesson I learned in high school was self-loathing. I was called a loser and abused everyday at school by bullies, and I was paralyzed with fear. The bullies made me feel worthless. I also started hating myself because I believed I was an ugly faggot, not worthy of having friends, let alone being loved.
Since the bullying, I became desperate. The way I feel about myself depends entirely on whether I have a boyfriend or any friends at the moment. II came to see myself as someone who cannot be fixed because I internalized myself to the extent that my entire identity is my depression, social anxiety and self loathing. Since I spent my formative years hating myself and living with the mental health issues that have arisen due to bullying, I never had a chance to develop fully into the person I was meant to be, nor have I really come to term with who I am. I was labeled a faggot before I became aware of my own sexuality, and my gender identity came into question when life became unbearable for many different reasons, such as never feeling like I was a man to begin with, and never feeling self acceptance or acceptance from others. What will my identity be if I am ever fixed?
Different psychiatrists and psychologists have worked with me, to no avail. I was put on one medication and another. Nothing changed how I feel about myself or about life. One mental health professional told me my depression is not related to my gender identity or sexuality, and that I should not transition to a woman until I made the transition to be a fully functioning human being. I did not take his advice. Instead, I felt rejected. I visited another psychiatrist and he told me I have gender identity disorder after half an hour of speaking with me. He gave me the green light to start hormone therapy and I never saw him or any other psychiatrist again.
My life hasn’t gotten any easier since I began my hormone therapy. In some ways, I met even more discrimination and prejudices. On the other hand, the way other people see me, and the way I see myself has improved as I start looking more like a female with each passing day. I met a few men who have shown me true understanding and love, who made me feel better about who I am. Nevertheless, I still have trouble changing the way I feel about myself. It is true that “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”
My issue with self acceptance is made even more complicated as I continue to struggle with my identity: Am I a woman or a man, or both or neither? More importantly, depression and social anxiety are still my only constant companions and reminders of how little I have changed over the years and how much my history of being bullied informed the kind of person I am today. The paralyzing effect of fear and self loathing continue to put my life on hold, perhaps indefinitely, so the only thing left for me to do is to run.