Exercise Lists Mental Health

How To Cope with the Lows of Your MtF Transition

Some days suck. For a variety of reasons, or no reason at all, you’ll feel lonely, inadequate, ugly, fearful, listless, or unmotivated. You won’t have the energy to practice anything, and it will feel hopeless anyway. The worst days are when you question yourself or your choices, and wonder if it all would have been easier if you’d continued repressing your true gender identity.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Every woman who has transitioned has had these days. Transitioning is an incredibly hard process, and there are bound to be some days where you just don’t feel up to the task.

And that is perfectly ok. Some days you don’t have to be up to the task. Some days, it is perfectly ok to dress in your old clothes, forget about bras and makeup, and just watch TV.

Generally when I’m feeling this way, it is for some common reasons:

  1. Lack of sleep: whenever I don’t get enough sleep, my mood and motivation take a nose dive. Everything feels hard, even simple things that I usually enjoy doing. Even an hour less a day can have this impact, and it usually takes a few days to fully recover.
  2. Over-exercise: when I exercise too much and don’t rest enough, I feel really anxious and, obviously, tired. Over-exercise raises cortisol levels and creates that sense of overwhelming fatigue that makes regular things feel impossible.
  3. Hormone changes: I notice that any changes to my HRT regimen can cause a few weeks of pretty bad moods. Spikes, or dips, in testosterone or estrogen can cause both euphoria or depressive feelings.
  4. Alcohol and unhealthy food: I notice that my mood can be materially impacted by what I ate, particularly if I’ve been drinking alcohol and eating really fatty foods. Both can have a really profound impact on my mood, and this seems to be getting worse the older I get. A few drinks and I don’t sleep very well, leading to a rough morning.

And then, sometimes, I’m just having a bad day for no reason I can identify.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, here are a few things you can do.

  1. Take a nap: if you really are exhausted, a nap can do wonders. Especially if I’m in a really bad mood, I find an hour long nap can really make me feel a whole lot better. Don’t sleep too much though, or it might affect your sleep cycle, which can lead to more fatigue.
  2. Take a sick day: mental health is just as important as your physical health. In the same way you shouldn’t hesitate to take a sick day if you can physically function, you shouldn’t hesitate to take a sick day if you can’t mentally function. It is totally ok, and in fact, demonstrates that you care for your whole self, not just your body. Sleep, watch tv, go out to eat, visit a museum; do whatever you need to do to recharge and build up your mental reserves again.
  3. Do some light exercise: it may seem counter-intuitive, but light exercise can actually make you feel more energized. Take a walk, or do some stretching or light yoga; anything that gets your heart rate up.
  4. Lean on your support network: nothing can make a bad day better than a hug from someone you love. Your friends and family are there to help you in times like these, so lean on them. Even if you are estranged from those you love the most, there is someone in your life who thinks you are great just the way you are and will be happy to tell you that if you ask.

And lastly, don’t forget: you are wonderful, brave, capable and beautiful. No matter what you feel in this moment, it will pass, and you will feel better. Until you do, be gentle with yourself, and know that its ok to be whoever you are in this moment.

By Abbey

Investor, technologist, coach.

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