The Slow Death of Manageable Dysphoria

Note: This post talks about gender dysphoria, briefly mentions suicide, and uses stalking as a metaphor.

I just finished a consultation for laser hair removal. For the first time in my life, I can actually afford a full round of treatment. Six sessions, roughly once per month, will take out a decent amount of facial hair. Hair that has plagued me for more than 20 years.

I have the money to, for real, get rid of these annoying fuckers. That knowledge has unlocked feelings of shame and embarrassment. Feelings I kept at bay because the situation felt hopeless. If I’m in pain, and I know I don’t have the means to make the pain go away, what is the point in letting myself feel it? Isn’t that pointless torture? My subconscious seemed to think so.

All the time I knew I couldn’t afford hair removal, I felt dragged down. I was alive enough to avoid misery, but not alive enough to chase after what makes me happy. I dedicated myself to recovery work. Recovering from trauma was an easy task: Something hurts, so fix it. I fell into a predictable rhythm. Pain, work, relief. Pain, work, relief. Once the pain was gone, though? I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I would sit back, do nothing, and let my life fall apart. I would build myself up, lose my drive to continue once I broke even, and then fall back down into the negative. I couldn’t push myself above zero. I could only meet zero, over and over again.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I believed it was pointless to pursue happiness. If dysphoria would always be there, ruining everything, then why bother? That was the belief that has ruled (and often ruined) my life. It is why I haven’t been able to write these past few months. It is why, when my life is the best it’s ever been, I can’t seem to do anything but let entropy break it down.

I felt dramatically different after my hair removal consultation. When I realized that the money worked out, that I could for-real afford this, my whole body felt different. The world around me felt different. It was like a tiny preview of what life might be like once the hair is gone.

What will it be like to no longer dread the bathroom mirror in the morning? To wake up and not have this gross stuff on my lip and chin? To me it doesn’t even feel like hair. It feels like dirt, like a stain I cannot scrub away. Even though, compared to a lot of other trans women, I don’t even have that much facial hair. Shaving is enough to make it invisible to those that aren’t looking for it. That’s the problem, really. After I took care of the Serious parts of transition—the do-or-die, “if I can’t fix this I will kill myself” parts of transition—the rest could be managed. It could be tamed. I could shave my facial hair, and that was enough. I didn’t have the money for hair removal, anyway, so that had to be good enough.

It wasn’t actually good enough, though. The presence of facial hair was still destroying me from the inside out, just in less dramatic ways. Maybe I didn’t want to kill myself, but I avoided making new friends. I hesitated at every job opportunity. I dreaded getting ready in the morning. Every. Single. Morning.

Dysphoria is a sinister beast. It doesn’t care if other people notice anything “wrong” with you. It doesn’t care if you’re pretty. It doesn’t care if you can blend into the crowd. Dysphoria isn’t a blemish you wish would go away. Dysphoria is that creepy guy at the party that doesn’t take a hint. You can run from him all you want, but he’ll still lurk in the crowd somewhere, waiting for you.

You want to talk to your friends, but dysphoria keeps butting into the conversation and leering at you. It keeps placing itself between you and your social life. You miss every other word your friends are saying, because dysphoria keeps distracting you with its annoying bullshit. When you step onstage to sing karaoke, dysphoria is the one awkwardly cheering you on like it’s in a relationship with you, when you don’t even know its first name. It ruins the whole fucking vibe. All your friends get the wrong idea and think you two are best buds. Which makes it even harder to connect. Then a bunch of people want to go out back and start a bonfire, and you want to go, but you just know that goddamn annoying-as-fuck parasite called dysphoria will tag along. You can’t have fun with that jerk following your every move. So who cares? Why even have friends? Why even go to parties? Why not just stay home, alone, forever?

The only way to make dysphoria go away is to kick it out of the goddamn party. And ban it for life. And file a restraining order.

After I do that, I’m chasing down genital dysphoria with a huge fucking axe.

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2 thoughts on “The Slow Death of Manageable Dysphoria

  1. Hi, really happy for you! Facial hair removal, once it had had a few months to work, made a huge difference for me and now I look back on the time before it and wonder how I managed to cope. Same goes for HRT. Relativity is weird.

    • Thank you! I’m really wishing I could just fast forward a few months to when it’s all taken care of! But alas, I gotta wait and do the whole “linear time” thing…

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