Like many people this year, I spent thanksgiving alone. However, this was not because of the coronavirus, I decided to not spend the holidays with my family for a different reason. I am not out to anyone and don’t have any plans to come out soon. In light of this, I decided not to visit any family during the holiday (the coronavirus ultimately cemented that decision). I don’t think that the physical changes are that noticeable, but I didn’t want to take any chances. Despite making this decision, I have still fallen into a mental and emotional malaise.
My mental health has always suffered during the holidays. I don’t do very well mentally with large amounts of idle time. I require activity and purpose, something to do. Without a purpose, I get depressed and anxious. Unfortunately, there is often not that much to do during the holidays. You can only clean the apartment so many times (I have already done it twice in 3 days). Without something to do, I fall into a malaise. I feel awful physically and mentally, which creates a self-reinforcing cycle. I feel awful, so I don’t want to do anything, but not doing anything makes me feel worse. It is a vicious cycle, but it is one that I am used to. I have been dealing with this since at least high school. The only cure is a return to my normal life and schedule.
At its core, this malaise is philosophical, not necessarily emotional. If I try to relax and do something mindless, I feel guilty and anxious. Guilty because I am using my time in an unproductive manner and anxious because I am wasting my time. I am constantly aware that every minute spent is a minute that I won’t get back. In light of this, I feel driven to spend every minute of my life optimally. This has had positive implications: it is part of what drove me to start transitioning. I wanted to spend as much time as possible as my real gender, so that meant starting as soon as possible. But it also has other effects. I am unable to just relax, I need to be doing something productive simultaneously. I can’t just watch television, I need to be doing something “productive” while I watch. I am alienated from my own experiences. I don’t know what the solution to this problem is.
This malaise will go away once I go back to work on Monday (at least, I hope so). But just waiting for it to go away seems like a stop-gap measure. What is the solution to a dearth of purpose? I had hoped that my gender transition might help and it certainly has in some ways. I feel less alienated from myself and my body. I am happier. But it hasn’t answered the existential question of what to do now. And so, I still suffer from this malaise.