Depression is an odd beast. I’ve spent my life being either depressed, anxious or blissfully happy, never anything else. I know it’s a wonderful combination of my soft soul, hard upbringing and genetic predisposition to sticking my head in an oven (doesn’t work nowadays, which is good news for my generation of the family tree – I often get asked how long-lived my family is and it’s a difficult question given the majority of them on one side have found interesting ways to leap off of the mortal coil), but still, depression is a hard one to describe.
Firstly, if you’ve ever been depressed, you know that *nothing* anyone else says has any effect on what you are going through. It’s not an ego thing, nor is it a cry for attention. Being depressed is like being covered in a wet quilt combined with everything in your mind tasting of ash. It’s not a case of ‘cheering up’, when you are depressed you just don’t have the capacity or tools to enjoy *anything*.
So, I’m guessing you’ve either bailed at this point or you’re sat there nodding your head in agreement.
So what has this to do with Sarah?
Lots of things. It seems to be a standard side-effect of certain types of gender-confusion to suffer from ‘the black dog’. Cause and effect, effect and cause, who knows? We’re all different in genetic make-up, life experiences, capacity to be the person we want to be, yet the majority of people in the community I talk to have the same history, to some degree or another, of dealing with the ‘down’.
With me it’s an odd time. When I get down I get down, I sink into a place where nothing is light, nothing is uplifting. I don’t get the weeps, I don’t get the anger at the world, I don’t get the fatalistic stuff I used to. I just go quiet and distance myself from everyone.
Because I’ve learnt that it is all a chemical imbalance. It has nothing to do with Sarah, the time of year, worries, anxiety, the phase of the moon or amount of rainfall. It is simply a chemical imbalance in the unhelpful lump of material between my ears.
So I pull myself back from interacting with people, because when you’re in a dark mood every comment is a stab in the back, every smile is mocking, every offer of help is pity at your feeble inability to be normal.
It isn’t, but that’s what depression does.
Being Sarah is a wonderful thing, but when I’m depressed it becomes very dangerous to think about being her. Because it throws all of reality into sharp relief, and the concept of gender confusion is a dangerous rock to turn over.
Part of wanting to be Sarah, and actually being Sarah, has a component that tells me I have failed as a man. It’s probably the echo of an uncaring parent, or memories of growing up in a time when being different was seen as some kind of disease, or even a sin. Things that are absolute rubbish in the bright sunlight of 21st century realism can become death knells of internal hate when you’re down.
In the old days the depression would feed the urge to purge, and like a septic feedback loop they’d power each other until, sick with guilt and feeling terribly down, I’d take all the things that I’d bought, I’d collected, I’d loved, the things that made me feel more of a person, a nicer person, a more loving and rounded woman as opposed to the prickly, self-conscious, screwed-up idiot I am in real life, and I’d bin them. Or burn them. And the self-righteous masculine damaged part of me would cheer, and the depression would numb, and we’d all be one happy little broken, sad drone.
Not now. Even in the darkest place that I wander at the moment I’ve had no urge to throw her away, to ‘clean’ myself. Because it’s all a chemical imbalance.
I’m not down because I feel guilt over being Sarah. I’m not down because I’ve done something wrong. I’m down because some receptors in my head are mis-firing, some endorphins are not being absorbed correctly. And my mind is interpreting that as deep depression.
It’s nice to realise that that is the truth. It doesn’t help at all, but that’s not the point. It just eases the voices inside that rail against the discovery of the inner girl.
So, thanks for sticking with me on this one. I will be brighter soon, I’ve got some more Sarah time coming up imminently and for some reason being in a corset, a frock, stockings, heels, wig, nails, lipstick, it helps with the imbalance.
I’m going to write another blog entry as soon as I finish this one. That one will be a frock-tale, and it will be gloriously effusive and, in the older meaning of the word, gay.
Because that’s how you deal with depression. You ride through it. You don’t rail against it, you deflect it until the brain snaps itself back into histological balance.
And you can never talk too much about frocks.
Stay beautiful, stay well and if you’re in a dark place, take a deep breath and remember that the sun always rises, the clouds always disperse.