Tuesday, August 18, 2015

8-18-2015 Entry: Overcoming Depression and Faceless Voice Chat Anxieties


Hello my lovelies. I hope you are all doing well. I’m sorry I haven’t been posting many entries lately. These changed circumstances are proving to be rather difficult to overcome. The most tragic part of all of this is the fact that I have so much to talk about! I have so many things to share, so many new experiences, both good and bad, in my new life as Emma but I just can’t seem to find the time to share them with you all.


I want you to know that I am working through my depressive fog and seem to be coming out the other side. I won’t lie, in order to overcome the near overwhelming urge to commit suicide I had to turn to an old and familiar drug to help me cope with my distress. During my college years as Robert, I played a lovely and addicting game called World of Warcraft and have started playing it again.


Try to contain your laughter and eye-rolling. I know it sounds completely silly that in order to overcome my depression I turned to an almost destructively addicting MMORPG but I have found that since reactivating my account for the first time in 4 years, I am feeling extreme relief from the more dramatic grief I was experiencing. Perhaps it is a bit ridiculous that a stupid video game could be the one and only thing that brings me joy and fills me with a desire to keep living, but I’m not going to question it. In fact, my therapist gave her seal of approval on this decision and I can see why.


Rather than being at work, feeling hopelessly bored, burnt out, and stir-crazy inside my cube, I spend my hours at work counting down the minutes until I can go home and log into WoW. It gives me something to look forward to, something to feel eager and excited for, something that fills my need to have a bit of control over my life during this period of a severe lack of control.


I hate my job. I hate it. Plain and simple. The people I work with and work for are nice enough, and they have certainly been good to me during my transition, but there is no escaping the fact that I hate being a paralegal. I hate the stress. I hate the drudgery. I hate the near-thoughtless paper pushing I do on a daily basis. I am completely unchallenged in the work I do and I now know that I will NEVER be challenged by it. There is nothing in my current field that will challenge me intellectually, but, sadly, it is a necessary evil for a while.


As much as I wake up every morning and consider just calling in sick or just quiting via email and going back to bed, I must keep going. I have bills to pay, I have a wife to take care of, I have 4 mangy mongrel-babies who depend on the money I make from this job. I have to keep working as a paralegal until I can begin working as a therapist in a few years out of necessity. If I wish to maintain my life in our house, with our car, with my insurance, with my prescriptions for HRT, and with all the amenities that come from middle-class living, I have to keep going.


In order to make the next two years bearable, however, I have to have something that keeps me going; something I feel happy, excited, and eager for. School is exciting and I am eager for it, but it’s also going to be stressful and a lot of work, and I already have so much of that. World of Warcraft, as completely lame as it might sound, gives me a respite from the trials of everyday life. It gives me somewhere I can go and just be free from obligation or stress. When I soar around on my flying mount, farming ore while listening to techno, I feel unburdened; I feel happy. I don’t want to kill myself when I’m doing that, and that’s the point.


Yes, it is an addiction. Yes, it is a drug. Yes, it is a coping mechanism, but it’s also what we call damage reduction. Will world of Warcraft adversely affect other parts of my life? Probably; but it’s keeping me alive. Better to be alive and neglecting things occasionally than to be broken and eventually dead, right?


For now, it is the drug that causes the pain to subside. It is the salve that heals the wounds of my heart, and it doesn’t come without some unique opportunities to overcome gender dysphoria and fear about my gender. It also presents wonderful opportunities to practice certain aspects of my gender presentation without the fear of being seen, like my voice.


I have recently joined a guild and that guild recently signed up for a voice chatting system where players can talk to each other. I have been using this system and I have to say that it is amazing the kinds of fears and anxieties that come up when you begin talking with people who believe you to be female and cannot see you.


When I walk around the world wearing my female clothes, my makeup, and my wig, it is MUCH easier to get away with having a not-so-passable voice. All of those other social ques help solidify the gender expression in ways that cannot be discounted, but voice chat with strangers holds no safeguards.


If I sound too masculine to these people, they are not going to just assume I’m female because they can see how female I look. The typical rationalizations the brain does on an almost unconscious level aren’t there to say, “Hair = female, Face = female, Clothing = female, voice = not entirely female…. Analysis says 99% certain female”


They are going to wonder if I’m just a guy pretending to be a girl (there are a lot of them in WoW, apparently, although usually not via voice chat) and that’s probably not going to end well. So far I think they likely believe I’m female although it’s difficult to say. I have no idea how I’m sounding when I chat with them, so I have no idea what they are hearing.


I may honestly never know because they may never say anything to me about it. What they say to each other when their push-to-talk button isn’t pressed down is beyond me. Is the wife asking her husband if this Emma-Mellendra (character name) sounds weird to him too? Is she thinking that I’m a guy? Or has the picture of me on the chat, my name Emma, and the consistent insistence that I’m a girl been enough to seal the deal in their minds?


It has be extremely nerve wracking to talk with them and I’ve been relatively quiet and shy in voice chat as a result. I don’t want to forget to use the appropriate voice, which I tend to do if I get too excited or angry. Despite the nervousness I’m finding the experience to be rather rewarding. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice talking as Emma that I’ve been sorely missing. Talking to my wife or friends doesn’t bring out these stresses because they understand I’m still in the process of raising my voice, but talking to strangers who can’t see me pushes my boundaries and takes me out of my comfort zone, which only promotes growth and eventually confidence.


I have so much more to share and so many experiences to talk about, but for now I must leave it at this. I’ll try to write again soon, I promise. Emma is not gone and isn’t giving up on writing in the slightest. I love coming here and I hope that you do too.

With love,


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