Depression and dysphoria.

I’ve had an unpleasant relationship with my body for a long, long time. It started when I was very young — think single digits — and had something to do with TV. I’d look at the screen and see women I thought were lovely, and think (I shit you not, this is verbatim), “I believe I have her face.” Oh, how deeply the hooks sank in.

I don’t know how old I was when I actually dared to look in a mirror, but when I did — and I chickened out several times before I finally managed it — I experienced a profound sense of disappointment. My age was still within single digits, and I was never consciously aware of being taught to be unhappy with how I looked, but that’s the way advertising works, isn’t it? It’s fucking insidious that way.

It wasn’t until my 20s that I more or less came to terms with my appearance. I reasoned that I was stuck with what I had, and I might as well get used to it or be miserable forever. Being miserable sucks, so I opted to try for the former, and largely succeeded — or so I thought.

Two decades later, the tables have flipped, and not in a way I ever conceived they would.

It wasn’t until I tried on my first (too small) binder that I realised just how much I hated my chest. Really, really hated. I was relieved to see it gone. I also hate the way the rest of my bits look, even more than my chest, but there’s nothing short of drastic surgery I can do about that except not look at them, and, well, that doesn’t really help.

The other night, I altered my face with a makeup pencil, and for a moment I saw myself differently: for the first time, I was utterly thrilled at what I saw in the mirror. I looked Really Good to me, and it was an extremely odd feeling to have. If nothing else, it strengthened the tentative thoughts I’ve been having about myself the last few months, and confirmed that a certain doctor’s waiting list is where I should be.

To paraphrase my gyno: I’m 41 years old. If I’m going to live another 30 years, I might as well be happy for them.

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Impermanence.

A thought I’ve caught myself having quite often these days concerns Things.

I look at my shelves and see hundreds of items, the overwhelming majority of which are books: art, how to art, “art of,” language dictionaries, cultural explorations, memoirs, how to write, grammar guides, philosophy, religion (one’s mythology is another’s religion, I say), history, fiction, Japanese manga, graphic novels, comic book trade collections, science fiction, and fantasy. Oh, so much fantasy. Those were the worlds I escaped to when life became hell, and I escaped a lot. Still do. Would that I could actually escape to one of the worlds I read about, as in Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart A Doorway, the book I needed when I was younger.

But I digress. Sort of. The aforementioned thought has to do with the ultimate, permanent escape, the one we’re all guaranteed to have as a consequence of life.

I’m on a few mailing lists, a couple of which involve some really neat science, tech, and geeky items. Every time I see an item that appeals to one or more of my interests, my brain leaps at it with figurative grabby hands outstretched. Immediately afterwards, my gut quashes the desire with melancholy: not only can I usually not afford the item — living under the poverty line is a hundred kinds of ass — but I also know that, in the end, it’ll just be junk after I’m dead.

Junk. Trash. Garbage. Unwanted, unpleasant mementos of the one who owned them.

I realise that capitalism depends on the desire to have those cool Things, whether they signify long-lasting interests  or passing fads. Capitalism also depends on a person’s disposable income, which, of course, I largely lack. As a result, I’m extremely picky about what non-survival items I do spend money on, and being divorced from TV Land in general means that the neverending pied piper tune of BUY BUY BUY rings hollow and shallow in my ears. You can’t take it with you, as the saying goes.

Is it even worth acquiring anything at all if it’s just going to end up in the landfill?

No. No, it isn’t. Not to me and my already shortened lifespan, anyway.

Nothing lasts.

I’m scared.

I look back at things I wrote years ago and don’t recognise myself in the words. Different time, different person, different brain. I’ve lost so much to these brain disorders that I no longer remember what I had to begin with. We say we’re formed by our experiences, but whom do you become when you can’t recall those experiences anymore? Who or what are you? Automaton? Zombie? Maladjusted manikin?

What do you do when you can’t live in the present because every moment is the same: utterly forgettable through no choice of your own? There is no sense of time; only the clock tells you the last moment you were conscious of was six hours ago. Everything else is dandelion fluff in a never-ending fog.

The bridges between mind and memory are burnt. Nothing makes it across, let alone through the fog, to long-term storage. Every would-be memory is a lemming walking blithely off a cliff to its death. I’m honestly shocked if I remember something at all, but even when I do it’s temporary.

I hate being this way. The world equates memory with intelligence, ergo I’m a hopeless, helpless moron. I can’t fix those bridges, and it’s just going to continue worsening.

How long before I forget my own name, I wonder?