I was recently asked to share what mental health means to me using naught but a single word. The cliche of my astrological sign being Libra aside, I responded by saying that to me, mental health in my life, in one word, is represented by balance.
For me, I am at my best when all aspects of my life are in equilibrium. At the introduction of entropy, one area of my life descends into chaos and the resulting anarchy is quite difficult to bring to order; for then the various elements of my life come toppling down like dominoes. For the past three weeks, the initial domino has been teetering on it’s edge and threatening to incite said chain reaction.
My life operates on a schedule and is filled with routines. I abide by the same general pattern everyday and the resulting routine brings with it a sense of order. The repetition lends itself to familiarity, and the familiarity, safety. So when my routines are interrupted, I tend to have a knee-jerk reaction akin to panic.
Lately, having acquired additional responsibilities at work which require more client engagement, my “typical” day at the office has changed drastically. A significant portion of the time I would be utilizing to do actual work, is now being spent in lengthy client meetings which are less than ideally productive. My perceived lack of productivity is irritating; especially given that I had some crucial deadlines for the end of February.
Another event which altered my pattern was the Sigma 5.6k Run. In an effort to be relatively well-rested for the race, I had to rest on days that I would usually workout or run. Now I’m back in the gym, but my body is so unforgiving, that I am paying dearly for my one week of absence. I also feel like I haven’t been sticking to my workout plan – despite the fact that I have been indubitably running consistently – because of my missed gym workouts.
My personal life has been experiencing some turbulence as well, but that stress is residual; as it is being transferred to me due to the circumstances that some persons who are close to me are currently dealing with. However, that, in conjunction with the anomalies regarding my job and exercise regimen, started to disrupt the delicate balance I had created in my life.
To add the proverbial feather to the camel’s back, my dysphoria hit me full force weekend before last. It had been quite some time that I had felt so dysphoric and I could feel the despair beginning to set in. My sudden mood swing was not only due to inadvertent changes to my routine, but a set of physical changes which occur every month in a healthy female of childbearing age. Yup, you guessed it. The dreaded monthly cycle.
The bloody thing plagues me every single month and is intolerably aggravating. Always on time, never late and never skips a month. It’s akin to one’s salary deductions and taxes, but with aggrandized physical discomfort. Thankfully, I am doing much better with identifying when my equilibrium is being threatened and not letting my hormones wreak havoc on my life, but I also become a lot more impatient during this period.
My immediate thoughts are concentrated on starting my transition; undergoing hormone replacement therapy, completing my surgeries and finally living life the way I have always envisioned: as a man with a body which is congruent with his gender identity (and free from the shackles of Mother Nature and a womb). The fact that currently none of these services are legally and readily available, and I do not even possess a timeline for any of them is beyond frustrating. So much so, that it’s risky to even think on these things for an extended period of time lest I get swept away by a tide of distress and despair.
Even the usual verbal harassment that I would tend to brush aside affects me. The question: “Yuh a man or woman”, only serves to remind me of my plight and render me even more self-conscious than before. I check the mirror to see the degree to which my rather pronounced chest is visible, and desperately wish that there was even a little peach fuzz to adorn my face. It’s a torturous cycle with no end date in sight and my increased sensitivity only adds insult to injury.
Given the difficulties that I continuously face, I have decided to place even more focus on my mental health going forward. Monitoring the energies which I allow into my life and with which I subsequently interact, assessing my “balance” every day, or at least once a week, as well as meditating and cleansing my aura more regularly. I am also placing more trust in the routines I have implemented; that they, once followed, will help to keep my life in equilibrium (more or less).
These are a few of the strategies I have arrived at thus far – in addition to identifying my triggers and managing my responses – to assist in keeping me grounded. However, regarding the things which are currently outside of my control, I can only hope that the day never comes where the feather becomes so heavy, such that it topples my scales.