This is so hard (2020 edition)

Anna sitting on a park bench during the summer. She is wearing a green face mask, and her hair is vibrant red and blue. There is a green hedge behind her.
In the park in the summer

By this, I might simply mean writing this blog post, but I could be talking more generally about writing anything, or communicating with people in any way, or doing anything much … or even just existing. It’s been that kind of year. *sigh*

It’s been a year when I haven’t managed to blog much at all – and my previous two posts were both unposts. That being the case, it didn’t take me long to review my musings from earlier in the year.

‘Before’

Reading in my first post of 2020 that I hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch or even been outside all decade – it was only the second day of the decade! – I am reminded of more innocent times! Recently I’ve seldom been up in the morning, and lunches are a rarity. As for going outside, it’s been unusual for me to venture out more than once a week – and a few times I’ve stayed in my flat for more than three weeks on end.

That post also talked about my optimism for 2020 (sorry if I jinxed it, everyone – I’ll try not to be optimistic about 2021). I spoke about my hopes for ADHD diagnosis, which I’m still on a waiting list for, about getting back to regular electrolysis, which simply hasn’t materialised (though I paid for a few private sessions in February), and about the prospect of GRS happening some time in the year.

In fact the very next day I heard that my GRS was likely to be in ‘early March’ – and 11 days later that was narrowed down to 3 March. So in January and February I had my last two triptorelin injections before getting the train down to Brighton with my friend Jo on 2 March. (Brighton, where someone had recently contracted a strange new virus!)

My week in Brighton passed without incident (well, without unplanned incident!), and I was very well looked after in the relatively luxurious private hospital to which NHS Scotland then referred all its vaginoplasty patients. (I believe arrangements may have changed slightly since.) The train journey back to Edinburgh on 9 March was much more comfortable than I’d expected (though I did choose to travel first class to be on the safe side!), and I anticipated a couple of weeks of confinement to my flat before gradually being able to get out and about.

On 23 March, of course, lockdown began in the UK, so I couldn’t go out anyway (especially as my GP told me to consider myself ‘vulnerable’). I wasn’t able to have my follow-up appointment with my surgeon either (and still haven’t had it, though it nearly happened last month). Still, I was lucky to have had GRS at all. There were of course people booked in for surgery not long after me who had to have their operations postponed – and many still won’t have had them!

Also in that early and optimistic part of the year I went on an ADHD nutrition course (thinking it might help me get my eating in order, even if I don’t have an official diagnosis). The course was run over eight weeks by Dusty Chipura (@dustychipura), and I enjoyed the company of a lovely group of people trying to work out how to organise our food and eat better. Other things got in the way of me making the most of this, I think, but I also constantly felt as if I was falling behind the rest of the group, some of whom seemed to have way more energy than me.

Mood graph for the first quarter of 2020, a relatively positive part of the year
How 2020 started (according to Daylio)
Mood graph for the last quarter of 2020, much of which is below the mid line
How 2020’s going

‘After’

Since Covid-19 changed the world, my general mood (as captured in graphs from my mood-tracking app) and my executive function have both declined markedly. Not going outside much, being too scared to go outside because other people don’t seem to care as much, not eating well, not sleeping well (and becoming slightly nocturnal), hardly having any contact with friends: none of these things help, and they all feed into one another. I’m sure most of us have experienced something of this.

And though I’ve found Twitter helpful for maintaining some kind of contact with the outside world, the news from outside has also been pretty depressing. Racism and white supremacy have surged in America. And other parts of the world, including the Brexit-scarred ‘United Kingdom’, aren’t that far behind. Hatred for LGBTQI+ people has also grown in the US, the UK, Poland, Hungary and elsewhere. Outright discrimination against trans people in particular has become practically mainstream in UK media, government, law and health care. Ableism is on the rise too, and in discussing the pandemic, eugenicist ideas are openly espoused. (And our global climate is still being destroyed by us while all this happens.)

I may have found it difficult over the last few months, but I don’t want to end on a negative note. Though I haven’t done much more than survive, one thing I’ve really enjoyed is preparing music for online church services. My relationship with Christianity may be going through a somewhat tenuous phase, but being forced to record music without musicians being physically in the same place has meant that I’ve had an opportunity to learn music editing and mixing skills (things I’d wanted to learn how to do for a long time). It’s been a real pleasure to work virtually with church musicians of varying abilities to make the best of our current circumstances.

And on a more trivial note, I don’t think I’d have been able to get through this year if it hadn’t been for my newly acquired Nintendo Switch and Animal Crossing New Horizons, which has been a brilliant almost daily escape into an ordered and predictable world of cuteness!

So this has been my third blog post of the year, exactly three years to the day since I started my blog. I won’t make any promises for next year, but I’d still like to write about some of the things you encouraged me to write about back in May, and lots more besides. Hoping at least some of you have a good 2021 and that everyone at the very least manages to make it through the year as unscathed as possible!

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1 thought on “This is so hard (2020 edition)”

  1. Lovely to see you made it to GRS as you had hoped. I pinged an email to Ed.ac.uk but, of course it bounced back. I’m not sure why they still list you if they’ve shut your email account. Best wishes David H (neighbour at efc)

    Liked by 1 person

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