If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that lately I’ve been less… opinionated, shall we say.
Okay, let’s be honest; the right word is angry. I’ve been less angry.
I’ve been known to go on rambling Twitter rants about trans representation or trans rights more often than I probably should. That stuff grinds my gears easily and blowing off steam on Twitter has been soothing and apparently educational to others. So I’ve happily let loose countless times. But over these last two months I’ve been quieter, more often than not just tweeting about life or little things.
This has been on purpose. I suppose Mental Health Awareness week is as good a time as any to admit that I’ve been struggling mentally, which eventually led to my choice to back down.
Recently all my motivation and ambition completely shrivelled up. I started to feel exhausted over how monotonous my life was, but I had no drive or energy left to fix it. I’d get home from work and just wait until I could fall asleep, too tired and apathetic to do anything else. I felt lost, like I suddenly had no direction anymore. Worse, I stopped feeling happy altogether. I just felt perpetually glum, often for no reason. It was like I’d suddenly been flipped onto autopilot, all my emotions had been turned off, I felt on the verge of shutting down altogether.
I was aware that what I was feeling wasn’t normal, but knowing that didn’t help me do anything about it. Nothing had changed or occurred to me to inspire these feelings, they just crept up on me with increasing regularity until they were the norm. Though I have a feeling that a few factors are to blame.
Keeping myself at the centre of all the news about trans people, reading every lying editorial, watching every sinister documentary, taking in every horrible piece of news, it can really drain you. When it’s your life, and your friends, who are being directly impacted, you can’t forget it. You’re witnessing your own humanity be debated as if it’s in question. My default when it comes to absorbing that information is to turn to anger, my trusty self-defence mechanism.
Anger can be useful, in the past it’s given me the push to speak up for myself and to keep going. But I’ve come face to face with the obvious too many times to ignore; anger isn’t sustainable. Not indefinitely anyway, sooner or later you burn yourself out.
What made things worse was seeing the same arguments repeated over and over. For a time it felt like literally every weekend there was a new hit piece against trans people, with the same ideas and language we’ve seen for years. Those sharing the article weren’t open to changing their mind, they were just gleefully happy to see us under attack. When you try and formulate a response to those attacks, it quickly feels pointless when you know those on the other end aren’t listening.
On top of this, in the back of my mind I’m constantly aware that time is ticking away on my employment contract. Thanks to private appointments and GIC travel costs, I’ve been financially wiped out. Getting to the end of the month without hitting zero on my bank balance has become a struggle. More than once, the kindness of caring friends and thoughtful strangers is the only reason I’ve limped over the payday finish line.
If I can’t find a replacement job soon, I’m going to be in trouble very quickly. There’s no backup plan.
Meanwhile, I recently found out my hormone levels have fallen through the floor. They’ve inverted from far too high to stunningly low at a dizzyingly fast pace. Common sense implies that this rapid chemical change can’t be without consequence, it could even be the main driving force behind my sudden shift in mood.
Regardless of what factor played the bigger part, these three themes had teamed up to wreck my mental health.
So I consciously stepped back, to focus on myself. Because ultimately I knew it was what I needed, even if I only very reluctantly wanted to do it. Truthfully, I’ve felt a responsibility to stay tuned in and alert, to continue to be informative or entertaining on Twitter and this blog, but I know I’m no good to anybody if I’m left miserable and worn down.
This burnout is also the reason I’ve not written much recently. I did force out some words but the finished drafts were just dead and uninspired scraps. Nothing worth sharing. So rather than guilt myself into producing content, I decided to pause that too and step away.
Thankfully, I’ve been steadily getting back to normal.
Starting last weekend I’ve shaken up my HRT regime. In agreement with my doctor, I’ve gone back on a T-blocker, after the last 6 months have shown signs of needing one again. I’ve also spent some time meditating and had a long think about what I want and where I’m going in life. It’s given me perspective, a reminder that it’s okay to focus on just being happy and content.
Meanwhile, I’ve tried to get outside more, using my recent trip to London as an excuse to aimlessly sit in the park, for instance.
So far, it seems to have worked.
Today I decided to write from the gut and wrote two pieces that I’ll be putting up soon. The words flowed like they used to and all that grey fog has gone. Otherwise I’m feeling more like myself, more optimistic and less stressed out. Even as I face my bleakest financial situation in months, I’m confident something will work out. I just need to keep trying.
So there you go, I thought I owed people an explanation and I wanted to be honest. I’ve been sitting on this information for a while, wondering how to word how I’m feeling and what to even say. I didn’t want to worry people, so I’m happy that I’m able to end this update on a positive.
Of course, I know mental health is immeasurably complicated. There’s no quick fix. But right now I do feel like I’m getting back to normal, or perhaps a new normal? I’ve no plans to regularly tap into that anger again and go back to ranting away every week, but I’m not going to step away if I feel I have something to say.
On the whole, I’m going to try and stay positive, firstly for my own mental health, but also because I think I can be more effective aiming to support, empower and inform through my writing, rather than consistently pouring on more outrage.
Likewise I’m trying not to get caught up in thinking about the future and instead just focus on what I want and need right now.
Anyway, if you got this far, thanks for reading! I’ll keep everyone posted on how I’m doing going forward.