Depression and taking testosterone pt. 2Posted: March 2, 2015 Filed under: Testosterone | Tags: androgyny, depression, emotions, gender identity, genderqueer, hormone replacement therapy, lgbt, medication, mental health, non-binary, testosterone, trans, transgender 11 Comments
A couple of months ago, I wrote about my aversion to antidepressants and how I’ve felt like testosterone has been acting well, in that way for me. A reader had asked if I have experiences with being on antidepressants while starting T, and since I hadn’t, I asked for thoughts from others. That post is here:
Depression and taking testosterone
I’m going to elaborate on some of those thoughts now because I am currently depressed. I’ve been feeling this way for close to two weeks now, and I acknowledge that it might be a little while before I really pull out of it. It’s not all that surprising or hard to swallow. I suffered from a break from reality and a manic episode 6 weeks ago, and then I spent some time (weeks) in a hypomanic and slightly agitated state. Usually what follows naturally is a rebound depressive episode. My brain is still sorting itself out.
I’ve been spending a lot of my free time sitting and thinking. Or laying down and thinking. Or sleeping. The thinking isn’t doing me any good / getting me anywhere. It’s a lot of dead ends and connecting things to fear responses. But it feels like all I can do at times. Reading has been challenging. Socializing has been challenging. Feeling like doing anything extra has been challenging. Writing (surprisingly) is doable, and always has been when I’m depressed (as long as it’s personal writing as opposed to fiction or academic writing). I’ve been feeling forgetful, and like it’s tough to grasp the details of what is going on around me.
I’m trying to go easy on myself – not berate myself for sleeping 10-12 hours a night. Accepting help from my partner and telling her how much it’s appreciated. Letting myself off the hook for not conversing with others the way I’d like to be, or not doing the things I should really get around to doing…
Things that are sad are even sadder than they’d normally feel. I haven’t been crying; instead I feel a sinking numbness. Things that should be joyful and exciting are just things that happened. Hopefully I’ll feel the joy and excitement later on, like a delayed response once I’m past this? Like I’m storing up the joy for later? Because some good things have been happening; I’m just not feeling it.
There is a bright side though, and that’s what I wanna focus on. I still do think that testosterone is acting as an effective antidepressant. Not so much on my mind / thinking, but definitely on my body / energy. Although I’ve been oversleeping, when I’m awake, I feel good. I don’t feel drained of energy or crushing physical pain, which is so common with depression. It’s not hard to go through the motions of living, even though I really am just dragging my brain along for the ride right now. That feels like a win.
My psychiatrist keeps asking, “How is your depression,” and saying, “If you’re depressed, we’ll add an antidepressant.” And I keep saying (so far) that my depression is fine. I don’t want to add more pills.* I know this is stubborn thinking, and if it goes on too long, I hope I’ll have the wits to just gracefully change my tune. But I really feel like this is a blip, and within a month, I’ll be feeling more like my usual self.
And that’s another win – a lot of times, that depressed feeling is accompanied by a conviction that it will never lift. I don’t feel that. I feel like I’ll be out from under this in no time.
And my brain and I might be friends again before I know it.
*I had been on Geodon, an atypical antipsychotic that was causing some strange hormonal side effects for me. I’m currently switching to Latuda, another atypical antispychotic that has been approved in the US for about a year now. I’m hoping this will go better.
Wishing you a peaceful and speedy recovery. Hope you feel like yourself soon.
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Thank you a bunch.
I hope everything picks up soon. Like you say, this is likely just the recovery process and I’m sure it’ll fade out soon enough.
Hang in there!
Thank you! I’ve been hearing “hang in there” quite a bit, and it always helps.
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If you don’t want this comment posted I’ll understand.
For me, an MtF, my life long depression lifted when the testosterone was suppressed. I wasn’t expecting that – at all. I don’t believe any script of antidepressants or anti-psychotics would have had any truly positive and lasting effect, because the depression was an aspect of my gender thing: T didn’t match my personality. By your descriptions, your bouts sound unrelated to your gender thing. No? In such a case, using T for help seems more like using booze or weed. That is, even when you find that best dose of T, will you truly be free of needing other chemical help?
Wishing you find peace.
It makes sense that your lifelong depression lifted once you got your hormonal balances sorted out; glad that turned out that way for you!
My experiences with depression are both very much related to, and also separate from, my gender identity. I acknowledge my struggles with mental health are somewhat separate, but at the same time, adding testosterone had everything to do with improving many areas of my life – feeling whole where I once did not quite feel complete. Although I’m not exactly FTM, and am more on the non-binary spectrum, having the right hormonal combination is no less vital for me.
Applying testosterone gel is nothing like using alcohol or marijuana, which I would equate with masking or covering up emotions / states of mind temporarily (and also just having fun, which is fine). It also feels more essential than any pharmaceutical drug ever would. I had, in fact, been off all psychotropic drugs for 10 years, and I plan to go off of them again once it seems safe enough to.
Everyone is different, of course. Many trans-people find the right balance with hormones and psychotropic drugs. I just don’t see myself as one of those people, long-term.
Glad there is a bright side for you, and I hope you get well soon.
No advice, just a big bear hug, chum.
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i’ve been thinking about you a lot! ❤
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Thanks! I miss you.