Hello my lovelies! I have missed you! Have you missed me? I mean, how could you not miss all of this fabulous? ;)
Anyways, inflated self-importance aside I wanted to check in since it has been awhile since I last wrote. Things are going pretty well over here in the Emma-verse. I’m not sure if I divulged this previously or not but a few weeks ago I made a huge life decision.
Up until this point in my life (nearly 30 years) I have struggled constantly with depression since about the age of 12 or 13. A great deal of this depression was tied to my gender dysphoria, as we have discussed at length, but not all of it; and that’s the important thing to understand right now. Despite taking back our identity, despite burning the proverbial closet to the ground, and despite beginning a new, amazing, rewarding, and free life as Emma, we were still struggling with a great deal of depression.
Certain factors in our life definitely exacerbated this depression by triggering some of our deepest and darkest traumas and beliefs about ourselves that take root all the way back to the very beginnings of our life. Beliefs and ideas that have been part of our personality since the foundation of us as an independent, conscious being were wreaking havoc on our life and our mental stability.
We recently divulged to many of our friends that we were struggling a great deal with thoughts of suicide. So many good things were happening in our life, and so much positive change was occurring, yet we still wanted to stop living. Life just felt so difficult and draining. It felt like even just breathing and moving about in the world was an exercise in futility. We kept thinking what was the point? Why keep going? It wouldn’t matter if we were gone anyways…
Three weeks in a row we went into our weekly therapy appointment and had to confess to our therapist that we’d been considering suicide. One time we even had to confess that we had made a plan and had decided to finally do the thing we’ve been so afraid to do. We ultimately decided we couldn’t put our wife through that pain, at least not on that day. It wasn’t a decision to forgo suicide altogether as much as it was a temporary stay of execution. She had just started a new job and to inflict such a terrible loss upon her during an already stressful time seemed too cruel, even in our hopeless state. It was ultimately the fear that she would choose to follow after us into the great beyond that stopped us.
We couldn’t bear the thought of being responsible for her death as well as our own, and so we decided to wait. Perhaps time would reveal a more opportune chance to depart those we loved in such a way that they could have stable enough ground to hold them up while they grieved our death.
Our confessions of our thoughts, ideas, and plans regarding suicide three weeks in a row prompted our therapist to ask us to make a formal agreement that we would call her if we found ourselves so close to the edge again. We said that we would, but we knew that the agreement was a hollow promise. The crushing loneliness that we felt during the darkest moments were far too powerful to permit us to reach out to others. We believed that if the day came again that we made a plan to kill ourselves, nothing was going to stop us. There would be no phone call, no last minute reaching out for help, no more trying to find a reason not to do it. It was going to be the end.
That day nearly came a few days after we made our hollow agreement. Sitting in our cube at work, overwhelmed by the crushing emptiness and loneliness we felt about our life, we started to write our goodbye letter; something we’ve never had the nerve to do previously. Enough had finally been enough and it was time to say goodbye. We had to explain to those who loved us that there was nothing that any of them could have done to prevent this. We had to let them know that they hadn’t failed us. It wasn’t their fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was simply the inevitable outcome of our life and the decisions we had made.
We wanted them to know that we were coherent in our decision to kill ourselves. We wanted them to understand that we had done this willingly and by our own volition. We wanted them to take comfort in knowing that it was a deliberate choice, taken after great consideration, and that they were not to blame. We wanted them to know we loved them, and that we didn’t want them to mourn our loss too much. We wanted them to know that all of their extensions of support and love were appreciated, but in the end, there was nothing anyone could do to stop this from happening.
We didn’t want to go out of this world like one of our friends who took his life without much explanation. The anger and devastation left behind was too great, so we wanted to explain why we had done what we’d done. We wanted those left behind to understand that we had chosen to do this deliberately, and that it wasn’t meant to hurt them, only to alleviate the pain we felt inside.
The letter finally came to the part where we were going to address our wife directly, and that’s when everything unraveled. Our somewhat controlled demeanor up to this point melted away and we couldn’t hold the tears back anymore. We had to leave our computer and seek out a private space to cry. How could we explain to her why we’d left her? How could we convince her to keep living when we’d chosen to do the opposite?
Stepping away from the computer and letting our emotions wash over us did something we cannot really explain. As we sat, weeping almost uncontrollably, we thought about what we were doing and the enormity of the decision we were making. What we experienced then can only be described as fear. How had we allowed things to become so bad? How were we at this point in our life, closer than ever before to killing ourselves when so much good was happening to us?
Something was wrong, and it was beyond just circumstances at work. Something was truly amiss if this was where we were. We had spent so many years struggling with depression naturally by stubbornly refusing to take medicine, believing that we could overcome our issues through diet, exercise, and positive thinking and life changes without the help of big pharma, but was that struggle worth it if we were just going to kill ourselves anyway?
Our therapist had suggested anti-depressants a few months earlier and we had dismissed the idea completely, convinced we could survive without them. Prozac and Paxil in our teenage years had done little more than to numb the pain by stealing away all of our emotions and leaving us incapable of feeling anything at all, but was it time to reconsider our stance on anti-depressants?
We had a doctor’s appointment the following day, and so, as we sat in our private place, crying, feeling overwhelmed and terrified at how dire things had become, we decided maybe it was time to stop being stubborn. Maybe our therapist was right and we should talk to our doctor about anti-depressants. We decided then that we would at least consider opening the door to that discussion which had previously been forever barred.
We returned to our cube, looked over our suicide note and decided to delete it. Not today, we decided. We wouldn’t kill ourselves until we’d exhausted every possible means of feeling better and there was still one alternative, however unappealing, left to explore. We went through the rest of the day feeling a bit better. When all had seemed completely lost, a door, even if it was one we’d vowed to never step through, appeared to remind us that things are never truly lost.
The next day we went to the doctor’s office feeling slightly better than average; probably because we were eager for her to see us for the first time as Emma instead of as Robert (our last appointment had been right before going fulltime). The day had been so much better than the one previous that we almost didn’t want to talk about our depression. As we sat in the waiting room, filling out the intake form, we debated if we were really going to open the door to anti-depressants. We’d removed the bar that had sealed it shut the day before, but were we ready to unlock it as well?
We hadn’t talked with our wife. We hadn’t talked with our therapist. We hadn’t talked with anyone about what we were considering. We didn’t want to be influenced either way. If this decision was to be made, it had to be our own.
After several minutes of debate, we ultimately decided that we had to do it. There were no other solutions beside suicide or the complete unravelling of our life, which would ultimately still probably lead to suicide. If we were ever going to overcome this problem, then now was the time. With more reluctance than words can do justice, we put depression down as a reason we were there to see the doctor.
Once we were called into the office the intake nurse reviewed our form and saw depression listed. This prompted her to hand me that test they always give you where you circle the numbers next to questions like “have you had thoughts of suicide in the last two weeks?”
I filled out the form after answering some questions for her. The doctor came in, didn’t really say much about my vastly different appearance, although she seemed pleased at the sight of me. She eventually remarked that she thought I was feminizing really well, which I took as a good sign. The majority of our visit, however, centered around the depression. Again, I had to confide in another person that I’d been considering suicide recently, which of course raised the typical red flags.
She discussed the various options available to me. She explained that anti-depressants have come a long way since the days of the Prozac and Paxil I tried 12 years earlier. She asked me a few questions about my energy levels and whether or not my anxiety manifested in jitteriness or just depression. After some discussion she said that if I was going to go on a med that she had a recommendation and that’s when the life changing decision happened.
The amazing thing about this moment was that it occurred simultaneously with a very powerful bout of déjà vu. Throughout my life I have very frequently dreamt very peculiar dreams that ultimately came to pass in real life some time later. Sometimes they are random, passing moments without much significance, but more often than not they come right before I make a decision about something.
There is a line in the second matrix movie that the Oracle says to Neo and it goes, “we can never see past the choices we don’t understand,” and I have found that to be the case at least 7 out of 10 times I have déjà vu. This time was no exception. If anything it really was the most significant deciding moment I’ve ever foreseen. As I sat in the office, trying to answer my doctor’s question of whether or not I wanted to go on the anti-depressant everything became so familiar. The art on the wall, the look she had on her face, the way I was twisting my hand inside the palm of my other hand, the smell in the air, and the feeling I had inside. I had lived this moment before.
I had dreamt it, but in the dream I didn’t understand why I was in that office. I didn’t know why the decision I was making was important but I knew that it was. I started to laugh, just as I did in the dream. My doctor gave me the same confused look she had in the dream, and I responded exactly as I had seen previously. I told her that I was having a major bout of déjà vu and that I’d dreamed this moment some months ago. She gave me the same, “okay…?” look that she had in the dream and the feeling began to subside.
I was finally here, living this moment a second time, and the words of the oracle rang in my ears. We can never see past the choices we don’t understand, and I realized that this was the turning point. The choice I made right there, right then, would forever alter the course of my life; of our life. It could very well mean the difference between life and death, and there was a reason we’d seen this moment. We knew then that we’d foreseen that moment because of how critical it was that we made the right decision. Everything would change based on that choice. Like Neo being asked to choose between Trinity dying and risking everything to save her, we were being asked to choose between allowing ourselves to mentally decay into suicide or risking everything we thought we knew about ourselves to save our life.
We knew then that we had to take the pills. We had to try them. We couldn’t go on as we had been, even if it meant we might lose some part of ourselves to the influence of the medicine. The risks were too big, the stakes too high to keep gambling on our ability to handle everything on our own. We had to sacrifice our mutual pride in order to keep going. We would take on the stigma of mental health medicine if it meant we could finally live in peace and happiness.
That was 16 days ago. We have been taking the medicine for two weeks now, and the difference is unbelievable. Within about 2 or 3 days we had an epiphany as we marveled at how happy and at ease we’d felt right away after taking the first dose. As we looked back upon the recent months and years, we realized just how sick we’d actually been. We use the word sick with reservation, although there is no word to better describe what we saw as we reflected on our life.
Our brain, for all of its intelligence and ability to solve complex issues, was unable to solve or even really see the biggest issue of all: it, itself, wasn’t working properly. Somewhere along the way something had broken, or gone amiss. Like a car engine that misfires and sputters, something inside of our physical form wasn’t running the way it was supposed to. Eventually we had become accustomed to the sputtering engine, learning ways around the misfires; that is, until HRT.
Going onto hormones was somewhat like throwing gasoline on a small, relatively contained fire. The longer I was on them, the more gasoline was thrown onto the fire until it could no longer be contained. The flames raged and started to burn down things around it. Little by little the inferno spread until everything was engulfed and all seemed lost.
Taking the medicine was like a sudden raincloud appearing above the fire and unleashing a downpour of rain. Within 24 hours we felt better than we had in ages. We felt amazing. Life was so good! Everything was going so well for us! Why had we even been sad at all? There was nothing to be sad about, really. Everything was working out magnificently! Sure our job sucked, and we were denied not only a raise that we requested, but also a request to reduce hours as an alternative, but otherwise so much was going so well. Being Emma was amazing!
And that’s when the epiphany hit us. We weren’t sad because of life circumstances, we weren’t sad because we had no worth, we were sad because our brain didn’t know how to shut off the sadness valve. That’s a technical term btw =p::
Our brain just couldn’t stop producing the chemicals that were driving us into depression, and the stress of living was increasing the flowrate. We were literally drowning in depressive chemistry and the nature of that chemistry can blind a person from seeing the cause. Now we see the cause. Now we understand, but it wasn’t until we started the medicine that it became obvious just how bad things had become. This is why we say we were sick, because we really were.
No amount of positive thought, no amount of meditation, no amount of healthy eating, no amount of exercise, and no amount of denial could cure our mental health disorder. Are the pills a permanent solution? Only time will tell, but for now they have cured us of our depression and our suicidal thoughts. They have shown us just how clouded our vision had become, and just how sick we’d become.
Most days we are happy, sometimes even elated to be alive. Some days stress still gets to us and a lack of sleep hasn’t helped recently, but overall the difference is enormous. We haven’t thought about suicide since we began the medicine and we haven’t been anywhere near depressed. Frustrated, sure, irritable, maybe, but never depressed.
So, if you are struggling with depression and nothing seems to be helping, I promise medicine isn’t as bad as it might seem. It has helped me enormously already, and it might do the same for you. There is nothing to be ashamed about. Mental health disorders are real, and they can kill if not taken care of properly.