(wo)man in the mirror

I always have trouble calming down. Always anxious. My eyes flit here and there, and I can hardly finish reading what I have in front of me before switching tabs or putting the book down. It’s this feeling of your mind racing. Your body is tense, and you have to tend to it and focus to make it stop. Sometimes, stopping yourself from being anxious ends up just making you more anxious. Your mind races about your mind racing, ad infinitum, until something distracts you sufficiently to finally stop doing it.

Now, imagine you have to fake being who you are for years, knowing that if you failed it could cost you everything, on top of your already overflowing anxiety. A lot of you might know what I mean, who read this. It’s come to the fore to me recently after starting HRT.

The reason is that my doctor told me recently that I had really high blood pressure, and I asked why that could be. I’m 26, my bloodwork was good, all my other vitals are fine. She said it could be genetic, or, it could be — a lifetime of anxiety. At first it struck me as odd, but with reflection and refraction of my memories and some things I’ve read, I came to know it was truth she had spoke.

Franklin Foer said, in an article about something quite different, “Anxiety is the mind’s alert system, a mechanism guarding against the possibility that terrible things will repeat.” It’s hard to think that being around family and friends, or reading things on the internet, or just being any way besides alone would make your ‘mind’s alert system’ go off. But, by Venus, it’s been happening for years.

That same feeling, the flitting, the tenseness, the feeling like shit when everything around me was fine. It happened so much. I ‘flowered’ socially in college, but even then it was hard to be around folks. Before then I mostly just went home after school and read books or played video games. Strangely enough, I’ve discovered I’m not much of an introvert. It was just exhausting, confusing, disorienting all the time to be who I was supposed to be. I would drink a lot in more recent years, because that feeling would go away. The burn of liquor on my tongue was an invitation to a sort of freedom.

I think that this is an experience a lot of trans people face, or LGBTQ people more generally. Maintaining a double identity means you have to feed two mouths and two souls on one stomach. I’ve been more mindful lately, and I’ve gotten on medication that’s helping (who knew Spiro would turn out to be a blood pressure med?). I encourage all you other queer folks to take care of yourselves. The anxiety of keeping up a front, it can hurt you physically. It will bend your body like your soul, and that won’t end when you come out. Stay safe my siblings.

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