My experience of gender dysphoria | Dylan F

OK, so a while back, I suggested to the lovely Megan that I do a wee blog for her. Now you don't know me from Adam, or Eve, or Edam (that terrible pun will become clearer as I go on, I promise).

I should probably introduce myself, huh? Well... this may take a while as I'm going through some changes. My name right now is Elspeth, but I'm trying out the name Dylan, as much as I can really try it before going hell for leather with it. I'm changing my name as I want to have a name that's less feminine and more gender neutral, with perhaps a gentle masculine bent on it.

Yes, folks, I'm non-binary. That is to say that I don't identify with being either male or female. I'm sort of a mixture of both, hence the cheesy pun earlier (oh dear, I did it again, didn't I?). Anyway, I'm an AFAB (assigned female at birth) trans-masculine non-binary person. Try saying that three times fast.

Anyway, as I'm sure you're well aware, people suffering gender identity issues can suffer badly from mental health issues. They can range all over the shop, from anxiety to depression, to body dysphoria (extreme unhappiness relating to their bodies). The purpose of my post is to discuss my own experiences in the vain hope that they may help you understand a bit more, and that it may even help a few folks get to grips with things, just as I'm trying to right now.

Word of warning - my tone may darken a bit in its nature from here on in, but stick with me, reader, I will try to make it worth your while.

Ok so... How have my gender issues affected my mental health in the past? Truthfully, I wanted to ignore my body. I wore mostly baggy clothes, despite being slim. I walked with a hunch so as to hide my budding breasts. There were occasions that I'd don the heels and make-up (in fact, I went through a HUGE nail polish phase) and wear short skirts, and I just... I didn't feel like me.

Now, I didn't have a clue what was going on, but it didn't feel like something I could or should discuss freely, so I hid it. I hid everything. My apparent homosexuality, my body discomfort, everything. I swallowed it down into the pit of my stomach, where it festered and churned. Because, folks, you can hide these things from outsiders, but you most definitely can't hide them from yourself. It will burn and keep repeating on you, like acid reflux. It didn't help that I had an undiagnosed anxiety disorder and cyclothymia (a form of bipolar disorder) waiting to smack me in the face, as it later did. 

Now, at least I know that I have generalised anxiety disorder and cyclothymia. I say that because looking back I think that the two often got merged. Heck, they still do now. I mean, there are days I find it hard to leave the house, and then there are days I find it hard to leave the house and I'm crying because I have boobs. But I'm much more aware of the differences. I now get anxiety about going to each of my gender-related appointments. Not just because each one means I'm getting closer to actually having to do things, like come out to my parents, but because I will have to face the dysphoria afterward. I wasn't expecting it the first time when I discussed things with my doctor. I came out feeling a little elated, but that soon crashed as I got back to my house, and sat down and thought about the questions she'd asked about my breasts, and vagina, and my feelings towards each. I sat and considered my responses, and became increasingly aware of body parts that, unless I was in a sexual situation, I spent most of my time ignoring. I brushed as much under the carpet as I could muster. 

So, all in all, I think it could be said that while the gender dysphoria has a profound effect on my mental health, the fact that I have separate issues doesn't seem to help matters. Each issue has a knock-on effect with the other if that makes sense.