Dysphoria is the feeling that your body does not match who you are, that almost constant form of anxiety which trans* people often experience on different levels. Every person experiences dysphoria differently, having different triggers for that anxiety and having different levels of mental and emotional pain based on the misalignment of their sex and gender identity.
Dysphoria is hard. It is sometimes crippling, sometimes unexplainable. A good day can turn into a bad one simply by looking in the mirror, taking a shower, or running into someone who may have known you at a previous time in your life and doesn’t know you don’t use your birth name anymore. Sometimes it is hard to get past those little things, and we all have different coping mechanisms, some we may realize, some we may not. For example,I have noticed I don’t really look at myself in the mirror because it is easier not to be faced with myself and how that image does not necessarily reflect me.
My dyphoria stems from many different triggers. Recently, I went hiking with a friend to a waterfall. Reaching the pool below, we came across several men who had just taken off their shirts and started swimming, and I felt something between jealousy and dysphoria. I often have problems in swimming situations for those reasons. Other things which can sometimes be triggering depending on how I am feeling are being misgendered, dealing with anything having to do with periods or gynecologists, or perhaps even having a shirt which may be too tight. There are so many different things which have the potential to be triggering.
But what do you do to keep moving, to try to keep the day a good one? Here’s a list of things I try to do or remember to stay positive:
- Put on your favorite clothes, the ones you can put on and think, “I look damn good.” My friends can often tell I have been having a bad day if I’m slightly more dressy than normal, Perhaps out in a shirt and tie with jeans instead of just a t-shirt.
- Read. Putting yourself into a book and living in another world is often a fabulous distraction.
- Hang out with friends who support you and can make you laugh. Sometimes it is enough to hear people close to you use the correct name and correct pronouns. And laughing always helps.
- Listen to music you love, preferably upbeat. Certain songs and bands help me to keep going. Anything by fun., Sara Barielles, or Jack’s Mannequin.
- Go outside. Hike, run. Do something physical even if it’s inside.
- Talk to a friend about what you are feeling. Even if they cannot fully understand, having someone to listen and give you a hug can often help.
- Remember the things you have done to move towards being able to be yourself. Realize even if it’s something as simple as buying your first pair of men’s or women’s jeans or as complex as changing your legal name, every step is still one in the right direction.
These are the suggestions I have for how to handle dysphoria. How do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments or you can message me here or on tumblr.
And here is a song to help keep you positive.