My head has been all over the place over the last few days. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I’ve been experiencing ups and downs that have confused the hell out of me. A bit like mood swings, I suppose. There have been periods of calm, where I feel completely numb and ambivalent about my life – almost like my life’s an unimportant dream where I can pretend none of this is even happening, in a bid to reach the end smoothly. That’s always interrupted by a sudden overwhelming panic and fear about everything – an urge to escape all of this by any means possible, and as quickly as possible. It’s been mentally exhausting constantly swinging from one extreme to the other. With everything going on, I’ve been so tempted to down some tablets and become a vegetable. But I can’t. It does scare me how much I want to take them. I wouldn’t go overboard, just a sensible amount. Even when I’ve been feeling ok, I still feel the need to take some, just to feel even more ok. Just in case I’m suddenly no longer ok. Those tablets are my little saviours in a blister pack. Taking them has become synonymous with peace and happiness. Right now, I can’t even take paracetamol without the urge to also take something else. Everything is a reminder. Maybe this is why I’m feeling so messy right now? Without anything in my system to keep me numb, I’m having to face things on my own??
Inside my head, behind the scenes, a lot’s changed since I was discharged from psychotherapy a few years ago. Stuff has happened or been happening that nobody outside of my head knows about: I’ve been able to feel emotions again over the last few years. However I’m not as “back to normal” as I originally thought. After all my psychotherapy came to an end, I naively thought I was back in touch with my feelings or emotions. Nope. Since starting this blog, I’ve experienced a deeper level of emotion that I never even knew existed. Over the last few months, things have felt so intense. It’s a lot to take in. I never used to cry. My parents always told me boys don’t cry, and so one day I forced myself to switch that off. After all, I was supposed to be a boy. Now I think the gates have been opened fully by all of this gender dysphoria and identity searching. Recently, I’ve cried more than I have done in the last 5 years!! Not just over sad things: anything!!
A couple of weeks ago, a customer came in to discuss her first tattoo: something in memory of her husband, whom she tragically lost last year. She happened to mention that her husband always said he’d get a tattoo before her. I asked what he would have had and she said a portrait of their dog. I could tell she was in so much pain still. I thought to myself she should be sitting there with her husband, discussing doing a portrait of their dog, not having a tattoo for this reason. It hit me really hard. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t due to being at work. I was so sad for her but wasn’t allowed to show it. I randomly asked if she’d ever have a portrait tattoo. She admitted that she’d certainly consider it, after all that’s happened. Suddenly, I knew what I could do to try and help her: I said as long as she was ok with her first tattoo, and that she wanted it, we’d do the dog portrait for her. I knew how much it meant to her and I didn’t want her experience of having tattoos to be a negative thing. She almost burst into tears when I told her that. I nearly did too. When it came to booking her in, I warned her that we were booked up in advance and offered her the next available appointment. She immediately started to cry. I felt so guilty all of a sudden. Truly awful. I immediately apologised asking if it was because she was hoping to get it done sooner. If that was the case I would have opened up earlier or stayed open later just to make sure it happened. No, it turns out the day I offered was the day after he died exactly 1 year ago. She said it was meant to be. I speak to a lot of people and each one really does mean a lot to me. After she’d gone, I did cry a bit. But not before the old me quickly resurfaced and told me to pull myself together. To be quite honest, I have absolutely no intention of charging her for the portrait tattoo. If she does want to have it done, we’ll just do it. No cost at all and we’ll surprise her with the news. Doing this job is not about the money. Yeh it pays the bills, but for me it’s a lot more than that – more so in the last few months. It’s a chance to connect with people on different levels and to play a part in their individual journeys. It gives me purpose and allows me to be somebody.
In many ways, I still feel very under-developed. Most people are equipped to deal with stuff or have been able to experience stuff throughout their lives. It’s like I’ve only just woken up and have a lot of catching up to do but with so little time left. If there’s anything I regret right now, it’s that I’m no longer in therapy. Maybe if I allowed myself to explore this side of me in therapy, things would be better for me now? To get back into therapy now, I would need to start all over again: get a referral from my doctor and then be placed on a waiting list the size of a phone book. But I think I need it. I need it asap. I have a feeling the periods of calm are going to disappear soon, leaving me to live in a nightmare. Yes, I’m feeling a lot more these days but I’m also stuck in limbo right now, trying to figure what I should be feeling about my own identity. Have others found it this difficult too, or have they been able to quickly establish who they want to be or what they should do?
Featured image: via Google
Featured video: “Happy Song” by Bring Me The Horizon (via Bring Me The Horizon’s YouTube page)