Swimming in a Sea of Dysphoria
by Mila Madison
The only difference is that today is supposed to be a good day. My wife and kids are taking me out for a surprise trip to celebrate our version of what we used to call Father’s Day. It has been a long week and I have been burning the candle from all angles recently. I was looking forward to a little downtime with my family.
My wife said to be ready by noon as she was picking my youngest up from school after she finished studying for one of her final exams. She would pick her up and swing back home to get me. Our destination was to be a surprise. As exiting as that sounds, I am not good at surprises. The reason being that I don’t know what situation I will be in. Being transgender and not knowing where I’ll be could turn into a dangerous proposition. Most likely my own insecurity, but a sad reality none the less. I like to be mentally prepared for what I am about to do. I like to feel safe.
“I AM SO FAR ALONG IN MY TRANSITION, I WAS DOING SO GOOD, BUT HERE I WAS, SWIMMING IN A SEA OF DYSPHORIA.”
So the anxiety starts to set in. My nerves are going. My hormones have been out of whack lately due to my Endocrinologist being clueless, but she is my only option at this time. The slightest bit of testosterone in my system and I am a mess. It is already beginning to be one of those days. I am starting to feel it. As I am getting ready the mirror starts to turn into a carnival fun house, the usual when my dysphoria starts to kick in. I battle through it the best I can, but the spiral begins and I start to get upset with myself. I am so far along in my transition, I was doing so good, but here I was, swimming in a sea of dysphoria.
I make the best of it. I haven’t really worn summer clothes in a while and shopping is something I haven’t had time to do recently. I put on some white Capri’s that I bought last year, but they are falling off me now. “Was I that big?” I thought to myself. At least It was something to be happy about. I put on a cute tank and do the best I could with my hair and makeup under the current conditions of my brain. But then I see my daughters who are all dressed in skirts, my wife as well. I now feel as out of place as possible. I have no clothes and nothing else to wear and I don’t want to be the oddball of the bunch when everyone else looks so gorgeous. I spiral even further.
“I FEEL HORRIBLE, I FEEL VAIN AND SHALLOW, BUT I AM UNABLE TO GET MYSELF OUT OF IT.”
“Where are we going that we have to be so dressed up?” I asked my wife when she came home to pick me up. She downplayed the situation by pointing out that the girls just like to look nice. I am spiraling and panicking however. My wife helps me find a skirt we also bought last summer that I haven’t worn yet. It is also very big on me now, but this is the best I’ve got. So I find a cute top and make the best of it. I explain to my wife how nervous I am as I don’t know where we are going. I am already beginning to ruin our trip. I feel horrible, I feel vain and shallow, but I am unable to get myself out of it. Feeling bad, she tells me they are taking me out to the lighthouse on the east end of Long Island and we are going to have a picnic. Now I feel horrible. I really don’t know how these amazing women put up with me.
Feeling a little better we head out on our adventure. It takes us about an hour to get there. We are all hungry so we have our picnic, an amazing display put together by my wife and kids. I bask in the glory of how fortunate I am to have them in my life. I feel a little better. We hike our way up to the lighthouse. My skirt is falling off me as I guess I lost more weight than I previously thought. I am uncomfortable but trying to make the best of it as I hold my skirt up as we walk. We are a few hours late due to my morning episode and I feel guilty as we won’t have time to go up in the lighthouse as it is closing. We instead decide to check out the gift shop. As I am looking through the cute trinkets and things, I turn around and catch a glimpse of myself in this big mirror on the wall. There I am, a big hot mess looking ridiculous in her over-sized skirt. The spiral begins again. All the things I don’t like about myself taunting me, staring me back in a reflection. I am a bit checked out as I feel that physically I am there, but outside myself looking in. I am desperately trying not to ruin an amazing day.
Fortunately I was able to pull it together a bit. I remembered I had an emergency stash of Spironolactone that I had in my bag. My Endocrinologist had taken me off it about 8 months ago because my body was simply not making testosterone. My contention was always though this was the case, there were times when my body did make it and my reaction to it doing so was never good mentally of physically. I had saved a few pills for emergencies such as this, so I took one. I am not sure if the pill did anything or if it was just placebo effect, but I started to feel better. I looked out over the vast ocean with my wife. I feel bad that she has to put up with me in times like these. I am not sure how she does it. As I gazed at the water I realized that I was just swimming in a sea of dysphoria.
“I REALIZED AS HARD AS IT IS TO DEAL WITH, MY FAMILY WAS NOT GOING TO LET DYSPHORIA RUIN OUR TRIP AND NEITHER WAS I.”
I was feeling better. The girls showered me with amazing gifts, new clothes, a new bag and some jewelry. My wife and daughters wrote me the most amazing cards. I again realized how lucky I am. We headed back home and stopped at the most amazing ice cream shop. We sang songs and laughed. I realized as hard as it is to deal with, my family was not going to let dysphoria ruin our trip and neither was I. They have been my strength in these times. It turned out to be an amazing day. I thought about how lost I would be without my family, but I already knew that. They are the loves of my life. They are my everything. And though I haven’t fully shaken this most recent bout of dysphoria, even at this moment, I know it shall pass. I will feel better. I will feel whole. I will be me again. I have the best family in the world to support me and for that I am truly blessed. I get to realize that I am the luckiest girl in the world, and that is the greatest gift I could ever receive.