Circles Of Depression… and what to do if stranded abroad

Before I transitioned I suppose that, thinking back on it now, I did exhibit signs of depression which perhaps I just didn’t recognise – I had long periods of feeling really, really down because life felt just wrong, but at the same time my firm determination to get where I am today drove me on; I did have occasions when I had tears too, especially when I knew I couldn’t go on with life until I was able to lead it properly, and although it took some effort and planning to transition I did it, and the only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner.

So, now that I am happy with the way I am living, so comfortable in myself, I certainly didn’t think I’d be depressed any longer… and yet for much of this year I have been. I expect some of this is due to being on hormones and thus being somewhat moody, but more than that I think it has made me more fragile and if something doesn’t go so well then it can really upset me… and this is what has happened. February and March’s depression was largely due to work – very early on in the year it became clear that my workload was far too great, something that my boss noticed but even when he indicated as such he failed to do anything about it even though I made noises in this respect. Things deteriorated further when it came towards the time for doing my annual review, and although it’s perhaps best I don’t comment in detail on here about it I’ll say that one little thing was blown hugely out of proportion and some critical comments for growth that I received concerned points that I hadn’t even been given as objectives the prior year. This all got to me and I spent several days coming into work and then spending the whole day wanting to burst into tears, also feeling very low, and sometimes wondering what the point of my life is and that I wouldn’t be missed for long if I wasn’t around. Things were made worse when I told my boss of my depression and he simply told me that I’m being negative – this is the LAST thing someone who is depressed wants to hear. I went to HR and the long and short of it is that my opinion of HR is that they are there to defend the company and its employees from anyone who voices dissatisfaction against one or the other.

So I decided to go to my doctor and she was properly sympathetic, and showed that she actually remembered previous issues around my employer that had got to me last year around shoddy handling of system amendments for my old/new name. She also gave me the phone number of a local charitable counselling service called “Talk It Over”, which I haven’t yet availed of just yet, and when I told her that I was about to go on holiday she said “oh, that’ll do you the world of good”! Little did she know…

Anyway, I went on my holidays, to the Canary Islands, a long spell for me there of nine nights, with an initial two nights on Tenerife, then six nights on La Gomera (which I had not previously visited), and then a final night on Tenerife. The first 2-3 mornings when I awoke I felt very fragile, but once I got going with my day’s walking and exploring I was okay, and after that period I started to enjoy my holiday and feel relaxed. The final day came and once I had left the hotel it was pretty much a disastrous day… ending in catastrophe in the afternoon when, at a quiet viewpoint, my bag was stolen from my car by a guy who had been watching me, and I was not more than 20m from the hire car when it happened 😦 The bag had my passport, driving license, purse with my credit cards and every last cent and penny that I had, my mobile phone, tablet, my home/car keys, and make up bag too. Once at the airport, the Ryanair desk proved of little help, confirming only that I couldn’t fly without a passport. I went upstairs to the local police office but nobody was there, and then to the security desk where the guy spoke no English but called someone from airport information who came after about forty minutes. With her mobile phone I was able to cancel all my credit/debit cards, and then phone the British Consulate… who were closed, and thus the call was diverted to London where a guy was not particularly sympathetic and essentially said that I would be able to get a temporary passport there but that the Consulate do not offer any financial assistance. She didn’t allow me any more calls but then took me to the National Police in the airport, where again nobody spoke English, and so I had to answer a load of questions over the phone to someone who created a police report for the theft, which was printed locally in triplicate and signed by them and me. The lady led me away, bought me a sandwich, and then I was left to my own devices until the next morning. I found a nice Irish couple who I persuaded to lend me a mobile phone so I could phone my parents and, once I gave the phone back, I burst into tears – the lady got up and hugged me and then her husband leant me a €50 note! How kind was that! I spent the night curled up in a locked cubicle of the ladies toilets because it was the only place I felt safe, especially with a couple of dodgy looking locals about pretending to be homeless. After a long wait from 8.00am another woman from airport information, rather less friendly than the previous one, let me make a call to the British Consulate – this initially was very depressing because she said they weren’t normally open to the public on that day, but when I explained the situation she said they’d help if I got there by 1.00pm. So I took a bus to Santa Cruz and then a tram up a few stops to the consulate – once inside a sympathetic lady explained the process, and then I had to phone my dad to get his credit card details to pay for my temporary passport. Once paid for, I did the application online, nipped round the corner to get some photos of a bedraggled, grumpy looking woman (me), and only when I got the passport could I arrange for some of my own money to be transferred to an organisation called Western Union from whom I could obtain the funds locally – this I did at a nearby post office, where nobody spoke English, and where it was insisted that I provide an address even though I had none as by that time I was supposed to be home already. With money, I hurried back to the airport and bought a new ticket to get back to Dublin, then had my first decent amount of food in over 24 hours. At Dublin, I checked my car was still at the car park, for reassurance, and then walked back to the airport to spend a few hours curled up in a dimly lit place where other people were waiting overnight for flights. At 6.30am I got a bus into the city centre, then had expected to get a bus to Newry… except that there was a bus strike on so I had to resort to the more expensive train option where I ate breakfast obtained from a nearby supermarket. At Newry I got the free bus to the town, went to my locksmith where I was luckily able to get a replacement key (as they did my original locks), then got a taxi home – after a quick wash and change, I got my spare car key, then walked a mile to my village, got the local bus to Newry, picked up a nice lunch to treat myself and then train back to Dublin, bus back to airport, and then was able to drive my car home… where, after some essential shopping with a backup credit card from home, I arrived some 42 hours late; much of that time I was either in tears or wanted to be.

Since then it has taken me some effort to get things sorted out, car and house locks changed (to cover the remote eventuality of the stolen keys making their way over here and me then not being insured for loss), new credit cards arriving very quickly, passport being replaced promptly, and replacing some lost things myself; the only thing the insurance would cover was my car lock replacement, and so this has been an expensive lesson.

Over the last 6-7 weeks since the incident I have felt more fragile, some low periods characterised by being afraid of contacting friends or spending time with them for fear of bringing them down, especially when they are so busy with their own lives. One thing I have felt very positive about though is that I have fired myself up at work and taken the initiative in quite a few ways, formulating my own strategies for taking on the team management that my manager wants (and telling him not to interfere in the team’s daily activities) as well as learning a new technical skill by myself.

I decided to join a dating site about 5 weeks ago, because my incident had made me feel particularly lonely… and have cancelled it after one month – it is quite apparent that, despite the best efforts of the BBC, people around my age are not ready for transsexual people and I have had generally naïve comments and guys who were really interested in me until I explained what transsexual meant (at which point they hurriedly departed) – I had one guy that was interested, but that was at least partly because he was a sex animal and had an assortment of fantasies involving my bottom (tmd?). This has got me rather down too… although there is one tiny ray of hope that I may write about at some point in the future.

Alas one thing that has taken a ridiculous amount of time to replace is my driving license – the DVLNI have had my application form nearly six weeks now (since 12th April at 8.55am, signed for) along with a covering letter that I included that explained my situation and that I would be in need of my new license by mid May, but despite two emails to them, I have had only one wishy-washy reply confirming receipt and advising that they would get an indication of progress from their manager that I am still yet to receive.

At the start of the year I decided that, as I am such a keen traveller, as I reached the milestone of becoming 50 last September then I would treat myself to a holiday of a lifetime, to a special place that is on my bucketlist. I did a lot of research early this year, and booked flights and a carefully planned selection of hotels to Iceland, a country with some staggering scenery, especially some monstrously impressive waterfalls as well as a coastline and volcanic regions I was keen to explore. However, thanks to the DVLNI processing my license well outside of their advised guidelines despite my letter setting out my situation, I have had to cancel this whole holiday, losing more money – as I write, I am supposed to be in a hotel in Hella on the south coast of Iceland having visited some geysers and waterfalls… but instead I have spent the day at home.

Below is my favourite photo that I took on La Gomera, a beautiful island, lovely and quiet compared to busy, tourist-burdened Tenerife on which vile people prey on vulnerable trusting (and stupid) ones; I won’t be writing a blog post about that holiday, I am still having occasional flashbacks of the incident and am just trying to forget the whole thing 😦

Thus, so far this year has been pretty lousy…

P1000152 LR Alojera Walk

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3 thoughts on “Circles Of Depression… and what to do if stranded abroad

  1. So sorry you’ve been having such a difficult time, Andrea. Depression can affect anyone, is misunderstood by so many and something we don’t talk about enough. Well done to your GP for signposting some help, but I also know how difficult the simple act of picking up the phone can be, too – which of course self-referral requires.
    What your boss said is wholly inappropriate and unhelpful, and it’s disappointing HR isn’t more helpful. Are there any employee well-being services or occupational health teams you could turn to? Some large organisations have them.
    Stay strong, and keep talking to us. X

  2. As I read your post, I was struck by the different types of personalities you encountered, from the ill-seeking man who stole your bag to the Irish couple that lent you money without a second thought. It’s no wonder we’re up/down/all around when it comes to our health/mental health. I’m sending big hugs xx

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