Shuffling Up the Hill

Today is day 18 post-op.  Day 11 of mope-fest.  I thought I would feel different.  I thought I would be just thrilled and bursting with joy of being rid of my tits.  By now, I thought I would be happier.  Please don’t misread that: I never thought surgery would be a salve for all my emotional problems, and I did in fact know surgery would likely bring up some issues.  But I also thought there would be some blanket of relief, some fireworks.  I am waiting for a sense of relief; I am looking for the sense of myself that I thought would come with finally seeing a part of my body reflect the way I always wanted it to.

And now I see that I am judging my emotions based on other people’s responses, and that is making me more depressed.  That is, in the moment of the big reveal, I was not as happy as this kid, at two weeks I don’t have thrilling moments in the mirror like Maddox.  And so that is a problem, too: I have to stop comparing my process to the process of others because that shit is only making me feel worse.

But I am not unhappy with the results–the results are great, and I like how I look in a t-shirt now.  I am a little nervous about going outside.  I get anxious when I am going to see friends for the first time since surgery.  I think people on the street will think differently of me now that I don’t have tits.  Like they will see me and immediately think “tranny.” Ha!  For God’s sake, I wasn’t exactly flaunting my tits before.  I look mostly the same to the average person on the street and since when do I care what strangers think–what the hell is this really about? I don’t know.

I went to work yesterday to drop off my doctor’s letter and it actually felt really good to be there.  No one treated me any differently (that I could tell) and some folks were genuinely happy to see me.  I’m not close to the people that I work with, and some of them can be quite difficult, so I was very relieved, and somehow reassured, by the responses I got from my co-workers.  I actually missed work.  And that’s when I realized that this melancholia is probably more to do with a lack of a regular routine and little to no daily social interactions outside my house than to do with some hidden realization that I am not trans, or didn’t want the surgery, or some other ridiculous and unfounded fear.

So I think I am sad not so much because of the surgery, but more because I am sitting on my ass for most of the day, alone, watching Netflix, wondering why I am not as happy as everyone else who has had top surgery.  I think this is a social isolation/internet-induced sadness now, and actually might have more to do with feeling useless without work and lonely for 10+ hours at a stretch.  I have to get the hell out of my house, is what I am saying.

But still, I hate the goddamn bandages and am tired of the ointments.  Most of the trouble is behind me, the discomfort, the surgical binder, the drains.  I’m at the point in recovery where I’m mostly mended, but just so tired of not being well, of not being my standard healthy self.

Oh yeah, and there is some added anxiety because I am going to see my family for the first time post-op in two days…think that has something to do with my feelings of nervousness and sadness?  Suppose I should have mentioned that earlier…

To those of you who have had this surgery: how did you deal with it, with seeing your friends and family post-op?  Were you at all a bit self conscious about it?  Am I alone in this post-op sense of deflation?

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

27 thoughts on “Shuffling Up the Hill

  1. I love the fact that I’d started a post on routines (and the lack thereof being responsible for at least some of my mood things), and up popped your post in my inbox, proving once and for all that THERE’S SOMEONE RATIONALISING THE SAME THOUGHTS AT THE SAME TIME AS ME!! Mwah ha ha for the (trans)human hivemind!

    Ahem. Anyway. Calming down now. The relief and fireworks WILL come. They will. And good luck with the family-ing 🙂


  2. Yes. Of course seeing your family could have something to do with how you’re feeling. But you know that already right?

    It seems you may have the same superpower I do, of somehow finding only things on the internet that make you feel like shit (which is not to be disparaging at all to folks who sail through, or get their jolt of happiness and relief sooner than you). Also, how easy do you think it is to write publicly about the hard stuff after surgery? Right. It’s not. If you wanted it this bad and moved hell and high water to get here, which everyone who walks this path has to do, it’s awfully hard to say things aren’t perfect and amazing. Thus, if you are feeling kind of crappy, it’s going to be hard to find company.

    And goodness sitting around in a house will make you feel like shit. Can you just get out to a coffeehouse? A park? Anywhere that isn’t your couch? Can you at least take a bit of a walk?

    Sending good thoughts.

  3. I think that if I was you, I might feel a bit raw about what anybody thought of me, and if even going outside feels risky and revealing, certainly seeing your family is an intense thing to have on the horizon. But you are a good person and a whole person, and I think it will get easier! Do lay off of punishing yourself with other people’s experiences, though. Keep writing you own 🙂

  4. Slow down! You don’t have to tell the world about this just yet.

    Family can be stressful, and I’ve found I’m great at keeping that stress at a very unconscious level (no matter how much you know it stresses you out, you’ll always be in denial of exactly how much).

    To be fair, I was working throughout – yeah, even on day 3 pumped up with codeine I was answering emails to customers (not recommended btw). I had the support of my father, my girlfriend, and one good friend. And I wasn’t planning on telling anybody anytime soon. I put the gender freakout stuff aside for a few weeks and just focused on my recovery.

    My advice is: get out of your head and get busy. You clearly have too much time to worry. My depressive mood is often strongly correlated to the amount of time I spend drowning in the internet. You can always keep writing and let it out too.

  5. I totally felt self conscious when I showed my dad and my mom my chest. More so my dad because he didn’t approve of what I was doing at all. My mom had to take care of me so she saw it daily. I felt really weird and kind of depressed after seeing my dad and getting his responses. I felt like I had maybe made a wrong choice by showing him, but that was only due to his negative reaction afterward. My friends all have been supportive, the ones that have been with me through the whole process and before. They are glad to see my life come together now and want me to be happy, so they are excited about my chest and love feeling it up when they can and asking questions. I wasn’t afraid to tell them. I do get self conscious showing other people though. People who are closer than acquaintances but not friends to me, I mean. I also am afraid of showing my sisters when they are home (they live in different countries/states) this summer because they have had little to do with me and my transition the whole time (or what to be a part of it, either). All in all I’m pretty all right with things, but do feel myself slipping into that self conscious mode more often when around certain people.

    • I also should mention that I was really aware of my self consciousness when I was at Pride this weekend. I did not like taking off my shirt (and didn’t do it in the grounds) because I knew it would out me as trans and I didn’t want to have that happen. In other circumstances I am fine, like in a private setting. I’m not quite there yet to take off my shirt willingly and be all right with it. It’s still kind of a mind fuck for me because I have/had been taught not to do that my entire life because of my chest, for one, and another I just don’t want people asking questions that don’t know my situation. I would like to be as anonymous as possible.

    • Thanks Alex.

      I think part of it for me is also that I am on the fence about T, and so I am inhabiting that weird middle space…and I don’t know how long I will be in that space, or rather how long that space will feel weird to me.

  6. Eli, I have no words of wisdom or experiences gained to share with you, but speaking as someone who identifies as non-binary, and has toyed with the idea of surgery off and on, reading the raw truth of what you’re going through is incredibly powerful. All I have to offer is my gratitude for your open and honest words.

    • Thanks Thomas. 🙂

      oh, and by the way, I went on Blogspot today just for kicks and checked out some of your photos (the first hundred or so) and they are really great! I enjoyed getting to “know” you in that way, since I had never seen a pic of you. You’re taller than I thought you would be. 🙂


      • Thanks! That project turned out to be way more challenging than I initially thought, and looking back on the photos I feel a lot of “I should’ve” moments, but as they stand they remind me of the entire year so overall I’m happy I did it.

      • They look great, for sure.

        K and I tried taking photos of ourselves for a full year: it lasted a few months, and most of the photos were last minute shots of us in bed. 😉

  7. Just felt like I needed to comment, because I can relate. Am nearly 2 weeks post op and feeling down, but mainly because I don’t have a job and there’s no one around. I’m so glad with my results, though and am not nervous about seeing family, because I don’t care what they think. I’m just so damn glad I was able to get the surgery I wanted 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Dominic, and I am so glad to hear your surgery went well!

      I am doing much better, and feel as though I am through the woods, through those particular woods, anyway. 🙂


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