TW // Dysphoria.
This wasn’t a planned post. I had scheduled something else for today but this morning was different. I woke up feeling defeated, worthless, with a toll of anxiety engulfing me. I had received some personal troubling news over the phone. I wanted to stay in bed for the rest of the day. But then I sat thinking about the future waiting for me, I thought about the special person whom I have not met but will meet, I think about the person who will be proud of what I did to get up off bed, that person was me.
So I got up. Still anxious. But there’s progress. Because you see, every other day, it would have been easier to stay in bed and not face the world. Living with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and GD (Gender Dysphoria) takes a toll on me, it’s an ongoing battle, constantly. There were many things I wanted to speak out, I just didn’t know how. Don’t know where to start. Don’t know how it will be received. Don’t necessarily have the privilege to just speak out honestly on how I feel in this sinking place, in this Asian upbringing and all else that feels, traditional, archaic.
But I am going to try.
I am going to try my very best to journal all these feelings. Not always on the internet, but when I feel it’s necessary for such. It’s not the brightest and happiest place to be in the dark, cold closet. Even growing up, I was confused on how I was feeling because words were inadequate; society was unhelpful. There was no impetus for me to understand the condition in my mind, my feelings, and all the things I was going through. Even in times where I knew I was broken, I downplayed my own brokenness by comparing my life with people who had or have it worse. I thought being grateful was all I needed to push through and see life in a better light.
What I didn’t know was I needed help.
I needed support; unconditional love.
Not the kind of love that excuses me from doing vile things and exercising unbecoming practices, but the one that knows despite everything I say or do, I am trying my darn best to be sane. You see, when I was discovering myself, I possibly already knew who I was, but I was uncomfortable with it. Tried all the tricks from the book to look like a normal feminine woman. Tried to date guys to feel pretty and see that being a female isn’t so bad as I’d make it out to be. I was uncomfortable with so many things but went along with them convincing myself it was all part of growing up and blossoming into adulthood. I didn’t know things was going to get messier with me slowly coming to terms with myself. I wanted to deny myself.
In university, I hardly dressed up as a guy. I would try to wear something more feminine to appear more female outside. Would try hard to feel like a lady, wearing the tight dresses, flowing skirts, high heels… would remember feeling empty after a prom night looking at the mirror. All I remembered from the proms—wasn’t the food, not the performances, no, or how that emcee particularly sucked at their one job. No. The women were beautiful, so were the men. Yes, the men. I was envious. I looked at them in their tall stature, the suits they wore, the different tones in their voice… and realizing that could never be me.
Staying in the college apartment too prevented me from dressing up as a guy because I was sharing the place with people who would not understand. Going shopping with my female friends, I already got used to smiling when they would choose a dress out of the rack for me. “Very nice,” I’d tell them, “but it would look better on you, not me.” They’d still insist I looked the prettiest out of them. When someone tells you how beautiful you look, you’re supposed to be happy. I knew their intentions, it’s going to be alright, right? Right.
But you see, no one knows what goes up inside my head. I would still get scared shopping alone for men’s clothes in the mall. It wasn’t just the stares that would make me uncomfortable, but the fact that I had to cover up when being questioned about my ‘fashion choices’, “It’s not for me. These clothes are for my guy friends, my brothers.” Those clothes were for me though.
Dealing with relationships and the opposite sex too would take a greater damage to my dysphoria. I would only dress up as a guy alone in my room or when I knew I was heading out alone where others wouldn’t find me. It felt lonely. It’s still a lonely place. It’s always a lonely place when you are afraid to be caught and questioned. And I tried, I really tried so hard to love me as a female. I wanted to achieve bigger things, make something out for myself, be that friend who listens when someone’s in need. Joining an English Society, I met some amazing people, hanging out with all sorts of people who supported me, helped me out of my shell, where I learnt to give public speeches… Performing on stage gave me confidence and I was ‘kind of’ getting used to being in public with my outward female appearance, but there was still pain from hiding at home. I still hung on to life and hope things will get better.
It was a terror to come to terms that I am actually, not the person everyone think I was. I mean, hell. I’m female in offline. I’m male online but I am still talking the same behind the screen. But I was only, I was only female offline because that was how I was born. Does this all mean, I am mentally ill? A freak? Hitting puberty when my chest began to develop, it felt unnatural, then looking below, down there, I’m missing something—I felt foreign just as my own chest felt unfamiliar.
I wanted to make an effort to talk to the close friends about it. I was experimenting on androgyny. I had to learn make-up, and look androgynous—androgynous enough that I felt like I did not have a label on me because when people cannot tell if you are male or female, they tend to simply ignore you or refer you as ‘that guy’. I had a lot of friends that love me, I was fully aware of that. I do, and I would be there for them, naturally, even if I was more close-knitted to some than others. Even then, I could see that I was distinctly different than them and some close friends could observe the same in me. I just don’t think it would’ve been easy for them to ask either. I mean, who goes up to their friend and asks, “Hey, are you possibly trans?”
Do I have to answer that? Anxiety, distress, pain. All in one go.
After graduation, moving out from my siblings and started living on my own, as I weighed in all my thoughts of wanting to disappear from this world—Disappointment was profound. And still cuts me skin deep. I wonder how I got by those days in college.
The days keep passing and passing.
Every thing is on repeat, on repeat.
The man inside of me would slip away, slowly… slowly…
I had hoped he’d disappear.
It got me thinking to this day that I am stuck here and destined to live a life colourless and pointless. Black and white? Grayscale? I called it 50 shades of pain. I wish this description, all these written words sounded less dramatic and extreme, but it’s not.
This is how I am feeling.
This is what I go through daily.
Living my failure of being a female, a sister, a niece, a daughter.
My coffee laced with self-rejection. I’ve pushed out so many beautiful things in life I could’ve experienced. I hurt myself thinking about the worst possible scenarios about how my family would hurt if I opt for a top surgery, take hormones, and start life anew. Not only family, but friends would too, would have to get used to this ‘new’ person who had always been there in their life as a female.
I would hyperventilate and cry at the thought of confessing to my friends. To admit that I want to have top surgery, and that I am considering going on testosterone. There’s an overwhelmingly terrifying prospect of being rejected. Am I strong enough to do this? I don’t think I’m independent enough to live with this identity yet. Not only is it comforting to be known as Lucid Green, but it also makes me feel safe when not everyone can be sure of my sex. But regrettably, I don’t think I have a bag packed that’s all enough and says it is all set to leave when I open up to my family. I sure as hell don’t know how well they will receive the news. And I love my family, too much to break their heart.
Have your ever tried to have a conversation with a friend in a loud environment? Where your friend’s talking as loud as he can and you can’t make the most out of what it is because everything else is so loud? All that background noise makes the situation incomprehensible. You try to understand and enjoy your friend and the conversation, but it’s exhausting. My condition is a lot like that background noise, and it’s always there, every waking hour of my life. Some days the noise is bearable, but some days it gets sickeningly loud. An unsettling pitch that makes me scream. Because I’m still scared. Some people wake up feeling scared of what they might lose, I’m scared of what I’ve already lost.
I just don’t know how to go about it. But I’ve learned to live with it. Because I know, someone, somewhere, out there, they are going through the same thing. I want to tell them, “You’re not alone in this. One day, you are going to wake up and see everything in its right place.” I’m still female in appearance, my thoughts are all very much the same and still mine, but I’m going to be honest with the people that I care for. The ones that stay, I know they are the keepers. Am I going to ever get a surgery? I don’t try to think much about it, but what I will do is make each day count by trying.