Aug 28, 2022
3 mins read
Unlike Star Wars, I saw Dustin Hoffman’s The Graduate when I was only 17 years old. The movie is from 1967. So, it’s understandable that a lot of people nowadays have not seen it.
You know what was terrible? Dial up internet in West Virginia in the early 2000’s. Unlike today pornography was not ubiquitous. The Graduate is not a pornographic film in the least but it is highly erotic and for 17 year old discovering their sexuality and gender, knowing that certain taboos can be broken was freeing in a way. The story is also punctuated with tones of loneliness and heartbreak and accentuated by an iconic soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel. If you haven’t hear the song, The Sound of Silence, I implore you to stop reading this right now and give it a listen on youtube or spotify (but do comeback after that). The title of this post is from that song and it is not a stretch for me to say that it is one of my favorite songs.
“Hello Darkness, my old friend” isn’t that one of the most succinct ways to putting forward feelings of depair, loneliness and angst? In fact, I would call it genius. For a transgender person, their darkness is gender dysphoria.
The UK’s NHS describes gender dysphoria as “A term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity”. If there was ever such a thing as a gross understatement then probably it would be that definition.
Let me describe gender dysphoria for you. It is a feeling of dread that NEVER leaves you. You can do all you can - exercise, go on a diet, have surgeries, use makeup, go on HRT, go to psychotherapy and any number of imaginable cures but it doesn’t go away. It gets better. It certainly gets better to a point where you can go about your daily life without this constant buzzing in the back of your head whether you look the way you should look, whether your appearance seems like a joke to the people around you. But it doesn’t go away.
I know this isn’t the best analogy but a few years ago a friend of mine, who is a few years older than me contracted a skin condition called eczema. With medication and treatment it went into remission but it never went away entirely. She still gets flare ups from time to time. I suppose, it is the same with gender dysphoria. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
However, there are times when you can expect it to hit you hard. For example, when you have been diagnosed with stress-induced depression like I was a few weeks ago and got put on Lexapro. I have put on weight. I don’t feel attractive and that’s why I haven’t been posting on Instagram. Overall, in the weeks leading up to my diagnosis I had put on 16 pounds. All those feelings of dysphoria had come rushing back to me. It was only at that time that I decided to visit a shrink.
Since then, over the last 3 weeks or so, I have lost about 7 pounds. I am working on myself both physically and mentally and trying to draw boundaries between myself and my family. One of the things that my psychiatrist told me was that great change can be brought about by hope and effort. So, I am making an effort and hoping for the best.
Some of you, may know that I had gotten a second gig as a technical writer for a startup in the Bay Area so that I didn’t have to beg for donations like this. Unfortunately, my mental condition at the time was such that that fell through. Another setback, not much I can do but I am hanging in there and getting better little by little. Every day at work (I am RN for those who don’t know) is a struggle but I am making it through.
Thank you all so much for your support and I hope to be able to talk to you more frequently in the coming days as my condition improves.