I live as a transgender person, and I also have bipolar disorder. While being transgender is not a mental illness, these two things still have a lot in common. Over the years, I've reflected on what these two things share. Today, I'll discuss the commonalities between them and what it feels like to live both as a transgender person and as a person with bipolar disorder.
You can feel yourself slipping away. Again. You don't feel anything. You don't see the dirty laundry and dishes that have piled sky high. You don't hear the kids yelling, the dog barking or your wife talking. Life is on mute. Or quite the opposite, you find yourself in such emotional chaos that you see, hear and feel everything simultaneously. You can't think straight. You don't care about anything or anyone anymore. Except you really do which is why you decide to seek support in addressing your mental health issues. However, finding LGBT friendly mental health care can be very challenging, particularly for the uninsured. I've been there.
Hurting other people, especially those we love, is inevitable. Living with mental health issues like Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, Depression, Addiction and other mood altering conditions, means we will also have to live with the fact that we hurt other people with greater frequency and sometimes with greater depth than those who are not. So if we are going to have healthy relationships, learning to acknowledge our slights and ask for forgiveness is essential.
Talking about holiday stress, this time last year (2011), I was a holiday wreck and my mental health was in shambles. I searched high and low for a reason, any reason, to celebrate the holiday season. But I was still recovering from a severe bout with post-traumatic stress and overlapping bipolar moods that left me anxious, agitated and unemployed. My relationships with nearly everyone important to me, including my wife and children, were suffering in some way. Nothing really made sense to me (least of all happiness) and my ability to reason had temporarily left me. It was an odd feeling, being so pessimistic and not being able to help it. For the sake of my kids, I always managed to be an instant party in a box! But I could no longer counter my inner darkness by being the light of family photos and dinner parties. There was no energy left for coordinating gift exchanges or any other festivities. I just didn’t have it in me anymore.