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Question From A Friend And My Response -- Post Surgery Depression

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This is not the only place that I post things and communicate with Trans people.  A person I like talking (typing) with over on Face Book asked a question about depression hitting during GCS surgical recovery,  At 6 years + post I have developed a bit of perspective on what did hit me and what was  going on during the winter and spring of 2013 when I made a series of posts about my recovery from my January surgery.  I offer this as something to think about and discuss with your therapists as part of deciding if surgery is right for you.  A person whom I only knew through mutual friends passed away two days ago as the result of a totally fluke complication she developed during her surgical recovery and it is heavy on my mind as I think of my own journey.


From <not a member here>

Please: This is a serious question for my friends that have GCS. Did you feel any post operative depression after surgery?

My answer--

At about your third month post op, the "rush" and stress high of your preparation for the surgery has drained from your system. Your new health regimen has become a chore and not a novelty. While dilation is not excruciatingly painful, there is a nagging discomfort that is not the "sexy" experience you dreamed of. You feel that you no longer know your own body in ways that seem to change daily. You are in a new almost unexciting routine, and people who once called you Brave and Courageous with awe have gone back to their routine lives and see nothing special about you anymore. With all of those considerations. you do find yourself in a virtual hangover, where you feel let down, and your need for continued healing all the same just gets to you. You do just sigh and if you can cry a bit.

Today, 6 years and some months later, I have come to recognize that I was suffering from some depression then, but I will not use the word “depressed” for others who will go through all of this, since the idea of depression has been weaponized against us, and some will deny the condition lest it become a weapon to keep them from following their hearts and goals.  It is in knowing and having experienced all of this that I will not encourage anyone to have GCS.   After they have had surgery from their own discernment of need I will be readily available to any sister or brother and I will be carefully listening to them during those times.

At about a year, the recovery matters resolve themselves and healing is more complete and their bodies now belong to them again with new purposes and better feelings.  Minds are no longer on the nearly crippling Dysphoria of the times before, and the holes that the resolution created have been filled with possibilities and some new dreams and regret free reality.  


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I read your post and I see very well what that person mean. I would add to this post that your recovery can be harder then the one the person seem to have. on 4 people I know who had GRS 3 had difficult recovery and less then cooperative health experts. This can add to the depression if you have complications and a doctor refuse to help you or stuff like that. One could say : don't be an alarmist. But it seem not that uncommon (at least in my part of the world). One have lots of UTIs and granulation and the other lost feelings on her legs, 1 round spot on each legs. Another that had the surgery at the same time as me and it reopened and she nearly bled to death and had to take a lot of painkiller.


on the other hand I had the textbook recovery, I had 1 complication but a very minor one. Even then I had to do research to relearn my body. Since it's sexual and people are very prude it can be hard. One can even be lead to think what they have is less "able" then it really is just because there's so much lack of ressources. I did not had any depression problems, on the contrary. However I am asexual and I can observe that it's not perfect, you still have to deal with the questions and less then ideal reactions sometimes.


I concider myself the ideal person to receive the surgery. I am asexual so it's purely purely for myself that I did it. I never had any pain to speak of after the surgery. Did not had to take any drugs or painkiller really apart from the one I had just after. It's, on some level, better when I'm using it then what I had before. I also made a lot lot lot of research before I had it. Still, I wouldn't recommand GRS unless absolutely necessary.


If I said something wrong it's ok to delete my post. I just want to add to the very good post that Vicky wrote. I think that sometimes a very real (yet anectdotal) portrait of the reality of some of us who had it can help those who are on the fence.


very nice post Vicky




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This is a very good point to make Vicky.  This type of surgery can certainly produce bouts of depression.  Although when I had major surgery for cancer I had also had a "down" time.


1 hour ago, VickySGV said:

While dilation the healing area is not excruciatingly painful, there is a nagging discomfort...

You've been out of work for a while and out of commission socially.  Friends stopped calling.  You wonder if your body will "normalize" and this will be a (not so fond) memory.   You really have to let your body heal but this is harder than you thought, and not just the physical part.  The emotional part is something you never planned for.   The good news is it does end, you get back to normal albeit a new normal.  All is well again.  


Now this can be complicated by the notion that we have "elective" surgery for GCS and while it is a somewhat a "choice" for us it is no less important than a medically necessary procedure.  When I had my trachea shave and was in the hospital overnight I felt embarrassed to be there as compared since vast majority of patients who were not there for a "elective cosmetic-type" procedure that I had.  This got me down.  So it can be a simple or a major thing that puts us in a spiral.  


2 hours ago, VickySGV said:

...I will be readily available to any sister or brother and I will be carefully listening to them during those times.

We need to be in-tune with our bodies and minds, and that of our friends who go through this.  Life goes on and we can be supportive by thinking of them and being there to listen when they need an ear.  Whether they know it or not.


Thank you Vicky.  Great post!

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