It's my freshman year of college and I feel myself waking up after another night filled with tossing, turning, and begging for an end. "Please, please God let today be the day…" was always my first thought as soon as I came to.
The "day" I'm referring to and what I wanted so badly was to not wake up at all.
Every night before I fell asleep I begged that this would be the last time I would close my eyes, never to awake again. No matter the amount of sleep I got, I was always exhausted. Exhausted and drained from living in this shell I was forced to call my body. Miserable, weak, torn, broken and defeated, I lay in bed trying to find the strength to face another day.
The summer following my freshman year, I decided I was worth it, that life was worth living, and I started my life-saving transition from female to male.
Since then, a question I am often asked is "What does it feel like being transgender? How did you know?"
And let me tell you, it is a hell I would not wish upon my worst enemy. Figuring out who and what I was, was the most frustrating and hardest struggle I've ever endured. I battled with myself every single day of my life. I hated everything about myself with everything I had. Looking in the mirror or catching any kind of reflection of myself made me physically ill. I knew something was terribly wrong with me, but I didn't have any idea what it was.
I was filled to the brim with so many questions I knew no one would be able to answer.
The depression that loomed over me daily caused me to isolate myself from absolutely everyone, so who could I confide in to try and help seek these answers? I was numb. Barely eating, no communication with anyone other than what was absolutely required to make it through the day, existing but not living, auto-pilot every second of every day. What was wrong with me? I didn't have any trans friends and wasn't very educated on what "transgender" even meant, I was lost.
When I was a young child there was never a time I was ever "girly," my hair needed to be cut short, I loved dressing in my brothers hand me downs and getting me into any feminine clothing was a physical battle, so naturally a question I got asked far too often was, "Are you a boy or a girl?"
I knew something was wrong with me because every time I was faced with this question the answer I right away jumped to was, "A boy."
Responding with, "I'm a girl" left such a sour taste in my mouth and made my mouth twist in such disgust. Whenever a stranger called me a boy I felt a sense of victory deep within and was always left in complete confusion.
I was often labeled as a boy in public while I was with my mother.
And without skipping a beat she would get defensive and say "this is my daughter!"
I could literally feel her anger and I feel as if though that is a reason I buried this sense of questioning deep within and never brought it up to anyone; I did not want to disappoint or upset my mom, my hero, my best friend, but all along all I wanted to be able to say to her was "no mom, I'm your son."
As a pre-pubescent child, I enjoyed walking around my house shirtless when I knew no one was around to judge me or tell me it was wrong. I remember a specific time in my life when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I was standing in front of the mirror fresh out of a shower, cringing at the sight of my bare and developing chest.
"This isn't right. These shouldn't be here. Why do I have these?"
I sat and stared in the mirror, not at myself but at the body I was living in, feeling physically ill and began to cry in frustration. I even tried physically ripping them off, and when that didn't work I wrapped ace bandage around my chest so tight I could barely breathe.
I sulked off to my bedroom to be left alone to punch holes in my wall, scream in my pillows, and beg the question to God, "why me? What is wrong with me?" I spent countless nights lying awake in bed at night wishing this terrible and draining feeling would go away, wishing I loved myself, wishing I had answers, or simply wishing my life would end all together, at such a young age.
Before I figured out and came to terms with the fact that I am transgender, simply living was the worst pain I've ever experienced.
Gender dysphoria is like seeing a body that doesn't belong to you but mirrors your movements. Have you ever had a nightmare where someone is chasing you and you're fearing for your life but no matter how hard you try to force yourself to scream, run, or wake up, you just simply can't? That was what life was like, every day. It was like waking up in a stranger's house every morning, instant anxiety, but that house is your body.
It was living in black and white while everyone else was in color, it was drowning above water, and being homesick for a place you've never been. It was living without being alive. Looking back at it now, it breaks my heart knowing I spent all of my high school experience and two years of college, the most important years in one's life, in such a depressed, isolated, and miserable state.
Although I'll never get those years back and while thinking back at the dark mental state I was in for such a long time puts goosebumps on my arms and sends a shiver down my spine, what is more terrifying is the thought of going on any longer living life as someone I was not meant to be.