Monday, 14 January 2013

A to Z: Depression

This is likely to be quite dry, and less about gender than some other posts. However it's one of the key problems I wanted to try and solve with this blog so here we go. Sorry there aren't that many drawings in this one, I couldn't think of any that really went with the words and wouldn't be really depressing :(
I've never been burdened with an overabundance of cheerfulness, I'm naturally a pessimist and just don't have a sunny disposition in general; both of which aren't necessarily bad things in of themselves. I also seem to have "moderate to severe depression" if I remember correctly from what I was told several years ago by a doctor who based that off a piece of paper that asked me how I had been feeling over the past two weeks; which from the start is subjective and meaningless. What I do know is that I seem to have some of the symptoms so, I dono. I wouldn't call myself clinically depressed but that's probably because that's really depressing.

It makes it hard to do things, like keep this blog updated. I often feel rundown and apathetic. It's an odd kind of stress that comes from having things to do, but no energy or drive to do them. Now it's not exactly an odd or unusual thing to feel however the annoying thing is I constantly feel guilty about the way my life is going, it's feels like a massive weight on me that I find really hard to shift. It's also not rational or based on any rhyme or reason. There are things that I know make me feel more depressed, but thinking about them doesn't always coincide with becoming depressed. Instead I tend to focus on these areas when I'm down which just causes me to feel worse.

My personal future is often an area of concern, I currently have some low pay contract work which doesn't keep me distracted as much as I would like and doesn't pay particularly well; however the money is useful and when the work is there it is rewarding and enjoyable (if sometimes stressful, not in the sense that the work is hard or time consuming but instead I have to deal with the general public, and the general public are often infuriating) however it's not a full time position and it's not entirely in the sector I'd like to work in. As much as I know that I graduated at probably the worst time since the 1930s with a degree in the sector that gets hit first and takes the longest to recover, and my preferred job is in an emerging sector which is extremely tough I constantly blame myself for not getting a full time job, or even an interview in 4 years. What am I doing wrong? What's wrong with me? I must be a complete failure and a terrible human being. Maybe I'm just not trying hard enough.

I think the route of it is the fear that people might think I'm stupid, that I have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm not worth listening to, and that I have no real skills anyone would want to pay for. Clearly not getting a job in a long time leads these issues to run back into one another and just ends up making me feel worse.

The other area that causes me to feel awful is my crossdressing, as I said before I've still not come to terms with that part of myself. I'm also not a great fan of my own appearance or weight (I'm not fat per se, I'm a little overweight and I'd like to lose some). One of the key things that gets me down is seeing someone wearing something I really like, but know that A) I don't feel I could wear it out, B) it probably wouldn't suit me anyway and C) I'll never look as good as they do even with extreme measures (as it were).
The main reasons I'm writing this blog is to try and overcome my discomfort with myself. I question if I should be doing it at all, if I'm "too old" to be doing it (not that I actually believe it to be possible for anyone, myself included, yet I still apply it to myself). I'm not sure what I want to do about it, do I want to transition? Do I want to somehow walk the line between genders? I have no idea. The issues roll into each other, as I've mentioned about being worried regarding how my crossdressing will effect employment.

It comes and goes, sometimes lasting a few days, sometimes lasting a month or so, flip flopping between the two major sources without an obvious trigger. There are things that help me pull myself out of it, mostly Izzy, friends, and actually doing things. Being productive and looking back at something I've done (presuming it's something I'm proud of) does help however it's never long before I sink back down to a general low. I'm not incapable of having fun, smiling or expressing joy, it's just that my default mood isn't particularly positive.

I've tried talking to people but it doesn't really get very far. Apparently Ely doesn't have any NHS counselling services that my GP can refer me to; I've been told there are some self referral places in Cambridge but I'm not entirely convinced by that, not sure why. I feel like it's giving in, admitting that I'm broken and need help. It almost feels like any progress I've made in any part of my life will be whipped away and I'll be tagged with another label. The idea that someone might think or say 'Chris has depression so we have to treat him differently' makes me feel sick. People have said before that they pussy foot around me and I really hate it. I understand that I can react badly to things but at the end of the day it's my problem; and in the cold hard light of it I'd rather know I'm pissing people off and (eventually) deal with it than think everything is ok. I am a rather paranoid person and I have a habit of assuming people aren't being entirely truthful with me. Not in a malicious way, just for my own good or in order to avoid an argument.

I'm not very good at expressing levity, in general I'm quite a serious person who wants to be light hearted and silly but can't break out of the rigid expectations I've set in place for myself. For a while I managed to subvert those feelings for the first few years of uni, but for whatever reason it didn't last, and on the whole I do think it's probably been a positive move. While I do miss some aspects I didn't like the person I became.

Part of the problem with this seriousness is that it takes a bit of silliness to look past who you are now, and to who you might be, even if that new person is much happier. The person I am now doesn't sing or dance, maybe the person I want to be does. The only way to breach that gap is to embrace the possibility of making a fool of yourself and trying it.