More than I bargained for: on dealing with my mental health…

Dealing with mental illness as a transgender person can get complicated, and it is often hard to seek support. Especially when you are surrounded by cisgender friends and colleagues. You see, there are so many aspects that can get so specific, and so triggering, that makes many usual coping strategies or solutions a lot more difficult.

In the last weeks I’ve had a resurgence of severe depression, triggered by a few specific traumatic experience in what I thought was a safe space. In dealing with this, I’ve had all sorts of advice from friends, but still it all rang a bit hollow.

What do you do when dealing with a psychologist or other mental health practitioner in itself can be a triggering experience? The bulk of my experience with mental health professionals has been me lying to them to fit their predetermined criteria of a “transsexual woman” in order to access services; it was being essentially told that me being a transgender person is being mentally ill just by definition. And even any other services provided by NGOs feel so focussed on the “being transgender” part, even if they aren’t based in pathologisation of my expression and identity.

Another friend suggested something that helped for her: gym. Working out can help, sure, I accept that. Yet what people forget is that going to gym when I am mentally stable is already full of safety prep; gender segregated bathrooms and changing rooms are the most visible and obvious. I don’t want to go to gym, and I can’t, not when I can’t mentally prepare myself for entering that space.

And finding safe spaces, spaces where I can find solace; sometimes that helps, but when the trauma happened in a what was perceived and sold to me as a safe space in the first place… you come to the realisation that really, no place truly is…

As bleak as I sound here, I don’t want to discount the support that I have received… But I merely want to raise a simple thing here: when it comes to the mental health of transgender persons, a different mindset is needed…


3 thoughts on “More than I bargained for: on dealing with my mental health…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s