My experience with ftm post-op depression

Wow, the old blog. I haven’t posted here in over a year. Life got in the way, as it do. I left my marriage, got an apartment, got into a wonderful new relationship, legally transitioned, and have been medically transitioning since December 2017. I had a hysterectomy on February 6th and top surgery on March 26th, 2019.

My biggest fear going into top surgery was post-op depression. It’s a very common thing, attributed to a hormone crash, and is said to involve general depression and a temporary sense of regret. I did end up getting post-op depression, but my experience with it was so much more complex than the impression I was given of it beforehand that I really wanted to take the time to write it all out in detail, now that it’s over. I think this might be needed.

The first thing I want to mention is that for me at least, regret had nothing to do with it. The quality of the surgery was also fantastic. So why would I have any negative feelings at all? Well first of all, I don’t believe this was related to a hormone crash, because I doubt if that’s possible after having a hysterectomy. Most people get top first, but I was put on the list for both at the same time and the hysto just happened sooner. So there’s little to no estrogen left in my body to even crash from. Instead, I think these were very valid feelings based completely on circumstance, on the nature of what I just went through.

The first factor is pain. If you or someone you know has chronic pain, you know it can get emotional at a certain point. It’s like the physical feeling just spills over into your mind. You’re irritable and sad just from having to put up with it. Remember to stay on top of your pain meds! When you’re not in pain you’re just uncomfortable. You can’t lie in certain positions, and you get tired of being laid up, of having restricted mobility, and of wearing the post-op binder 24/7. This is the kind of discomfort I could do for a few hours or even a day standing on my head. But after a straight week I was just beyond over it.

Next came fear. Even after over 15 months on T, I’m androgynous at best. Now, I’m sure this is mostly if not all psychological, but there was this sense that before I could still pass as a girl if I “had to.” Don’t ask me what situation could possibly come up that would necessitate that. I don’t have an answer. It’s a security blanket, a mental safety net to comfort me when I’m worried about being attacked on some level for being trans. Now, as someone who looks in the mirror and sees a girl’s face with a body over the tipping point towards male, I feel more visibly trans, and the safety net is gone. There doesn’t need to be a plan to use the safety net. And I know the “need” for this isn’t necessarily fully logical (for you it might be entirely logical and even necessary). But losing it definitely inspired some fear. As a small appendix to this, there’s also comfort in what’s familiar, and something that was familiar to me, even if it was wrong, was now gone. So this is something that just takes time to get used to. For me, time will fully solve this issue.

The last big thing was anger. I was angry that I was going through this ordeal while knowing there are still a shit ton of people out there who would STILL think I’m not valid, that I just need psychological help, that I’m still a girl. Of course, I don’t do this to please anyone. I do this because it’s the only way for me to live a comfortable life free of depression and misery. But I think it’s still valid to be upset about this. It didn’t help that I seemed to be randomly coming across a lot of transphobia in comment sections without even trying, while I had so much time on my hands. I got defensive, and I was furious. I’m sick of having to defend our existence to people who don’t even care to listen. Especially when I was in pain just trying to live my authentic self, something so many other people take for granted. It’s about helplessness, knowing there’s just nothing I can do to “earn” the respect I should get by default just by being a decent human being. I’ll stop before it becomes more of a rant than it already is and end on a positive note. Ignorant asshole strangers aside, my own friends and family have been phenomenal. I can’t say enough how grateful I am for them. They’ve surpassed my highest expectations. Don’t assume how people will treat you, for better OR for worse.

All these feelings lasted a week, a VERY short amount of time compared to what other people experience, from what I gather. But that didn’t make it any easier to deal with. It consumed me, and I didn’t know when it would end until it did. Everybody is different here. Your feelings, their intensity, and the length of time (and whether you end up going through this at all) could be very different. But the fact that mine were so different from what I was hearing was why I wanted to write about it. I only saw one or two other articles about this online. There’s a taboo against us saying anything negative about our transitions, for fear this will be misinterpreted in a way that hurts our community. I think being silent hurts us more.


My Thoughts on Ageing

I feel like I want to put something in perspective here, even if it’s just my own opinions and nobody shares them. I think a lot of people are wrong about the reason they don’t want to get old. They worry about getting wrinkles and getting fat, and things like that that in the grand scheme of things seem incredibly insignificant. I mean do you really think those who love you like that will love you any less because you’re older? Hell no. I watch these hair dye commercials and I think “what the fuck is wrong with you? There is NOTHING wrong with grey hair!”
You know what I think it really is? We’re afraid of running out of time to do the things in life we plan to do. Think about any age a person can be. What’s wrong with it? There are things that suck about getting old, but no more things than suck about being young. Did you really enjoy being a teenager? Being a kid? Even being in your 20s and not knowing anything about your future, struggling to piece it all together? I mean honestly, not just the pleasant bits and pieces of memory you’ve taken with you. I didn’t think so. Do you not look up to the older people in your life, impressed that they can be so wise, so cultured, so experienced in life? Of course you do. To get old is not a change in the quality of life, though I wouldn’t say the same for illness, which I admit can and does accompany it. No, it’s just a change. And you’re focusing on the wrong things.
Like I said in the My Thoughts On Weight post, don’t look to the wrong role models. As you grow old, don’t look back on the people who are younger than you with jealousy or longing. The fact that you’ve already passed that point in your life is something to celebrate. Those bad times in particular are over, and you’ve grown from them. You’ve gained knowledge, love, and experience from them, and you are all the better for it. Your looks be damned, they don’t fucking matter.
But the real fear, that of running out of time, is a reasonable one. What do you do about that? Live your life without regrets. You’re not dying right now, but we all know life doesn’t last forever, and as much as you know you won’t get to do everything you want in this one life, you can at least try to do as much as possible, and start as early as you can. Don’t waste it. If you enjoy your life, milk it for all it’s worth, be happy, and focus on all the best parts, then you can’t be as down about being older. You can only be proud that you did the best you could, and gained so much.