Transition as a Survival Mechanism
Depression and Transition Both Kept Me Alive
In the maze of life, we sometimes find ourselves in the darkest corners, grappling with the shadows of our past, struggling to make sense of our own existence. It was during one of these moments that a friend uttered something that struck a chord deep within me: "Transition was a survival mechanism; it helped you survive." These words reverberated, casting a spotlight on a journey marked by both triumph and tribulation, and they made me realize something profound.
A few years ago, such a statement might have puzzled me, even as I embarked on my gender transition journey. Back then, I was in the early stages of my transformation, and the concept of transition as a form of survival seemed foreign. Yet, as time passed, and I matured in my understanding of the world and myself, it became clear that almost everything we do can be viewed through the lens of survival.
In retrospect, I've come to see that even my depression was, in its own way, a survival mechanism. It was a maladaptive response to the tumultuous sea of life, but it kept me afloat when I could have easily drowned in despair. It shielded me from the harsh realities of existence, numbing me to the overwhelm of life’s complexities, and starving off rabid anxiety. Depression wasn't a choice; it was a desperate attempt by my nervous system to endure the unendurable. It was a cocoon I wrapped around myself to ward off the storms, a temporary haven in an otherwise turbulent world.
It's not easy to look back on that period of my life without feeling a pang of shame or regret. I often wonder if there could have been a better way to cope, a less damaging path to survival. But life's paradoxes are intricate, and sometimes, the mechanisms we employ to survive the night inadvertently become the habits that bind us to our shadows. Depression, like transition, was a double-edged sword, cutting both ways.
As I reflect on the intersections of depression and gender transition, I realize that they both share a common thread: survival in the face of adversity. We, as humans, have an extraordinary capacity to endure and adapt. No matter how dark the night, we find a way to navigate through it. Depression, with its crushing weight, was a manifestation of my inner turmoil, but it also served as a lifebuoy in a sea of uncertainty. It tethered me to the reality that I was still here, still fighting.
Transition, too, had its moments of turmoil. It involved loss and grief, both physical and emotional. Yet, it was, at its core, an act of survival—a way to align my outward self with the person I wanted to become, on the inside. It allowed me to step out from the shadows and into the light, even if it meant leaving some parts of me behind. Transition was my declaration to the world that I was ready to live authentically, even if it meant enduring an unnecessary loss of my natural body to realize what being authentic truly meant.
In our quest for survival, we sometimes make choices that hurt us in the long run. But it's essential to remember that these choices are born from a deep, instinctual desire to persist. My depression kept me alive during moments of despair, and my transition allowed me to find myself, amidst the rubble. They are both chapters in my survival story, testaments to my resilience and tenacity.
As I continue to navigate the labyrinth of life, I carry with me the understanding that even the most painful experiences can be viewed through a lens of survival. The shadows of depression and the light of transition have shaped me into the person I am today—an individual who can stare into the abyss and find not just despair but also the will to survive and, ultimately, to thrive.