I get annoyed when people say “I’m coping” or “I’m struggling” with depression. I just say “I have depression – shit happens.”

I was never one of the cool kids at school. I was always a tomboy and super super nerdy - I was a member of the chess club and Cliff Richard was my favourite singer.

My depression kicked in when I was sixteen. I had major back surgery which put me off school for two months. Because I was in so much physical pain people didn’t really notice the depression. A lot of the time I would just go to bed and not want to do anything so I’d say that my back was sore even though it wasn’t.

Going back to school was awful. A lot of people were quite rude and asked things like “can we see your scars?” It kind of made me feel like a freak.

Around seventeen I started having panic attacks. I’d step out the door to go to school and I just couldn’t leave the house. I just started getting really overwhelmed with everything and the more stressed or depressed I got the more my obsessive compulsive disorder flared up.

Y’know when there are certain things that need to be done a certain way and there is no option but to do it that way. Even how I got dressed in the morning - it had to be done in the same order every day. It made me feel like I was in control.

Up until then I hadn’t even really thought about sexuality and gender. But from about eighteen I started experimenting and came out as queer when I was twenty.

That same year I was diagnosed with depression. When the doctor said it I was kind of a bit shocked because he had named it. Until then it had been a kind of undefined misery. But by naming it, it meant I had to do something about it.

Initially he put me on a green-type prescription, natural anti-depressants like St John's wart, and told me to get some more sun and exercise and see how I go. About six months later I went back and said it wasn’t working so he put me on anti-depressants and sent me to a counsellor.

I think I got worse for the next couple of years. I was put on a sickness benefit and met up with some people who weren’t particularly good for me - we kind of encouraged each other’s bad behaviour.

With most of the counselling I’ve been through, sexuality and gender are what they jump on first. It just gets a bit frustrating because I don’t think they’re issues within me. I’m not agonizing over begin queer or trans but I do find how other people treat me really hard. Y’know when people constantly remind you that what you are is not the norm. They think you don’t feel things the same way and that’s what I get so depressed or anxious about.

I was pretty much a mess in my mid-20s when I was coming out as trans because there’s so much explaining you have to do.

I got quite bitter and resentful that I had to keep explaining just the way I am. It’s like as soon as someone finds out that I’m different that’s automatically a reason to start asking me all the questions they’ve had bottled up for ages. Even when people just make flippant remarks it triggers all the bad stuff in my brain.

The last six months have been better. Even though my depression has been giving me a rough time the ways I’m dealing with are a lot healthier.

I’m settling more into my gender. It’s like when you first come out - you’re so fiercely defensive about it. Y’know I use to wander around saying “I’m gay, I’m gay, I’m gay” to anyone who cared. And I was like that when I first came out as trans as well “I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man” – re-enforcing it at every possible opportunity.

But just in the last few months I’ve come to realize that if people still see me as female that’s really not my problem. So even though my depression’s been really bad on one level I’ve been a lot healthier mentally.

The depression’s been there for so long that I never really expect it to fully go away. I try to make sure that everything else is working well so that the depression doesn’t affect me too much. Things like watching what I eat, making sure I sleep properly and not spreading myself too thinly.

I think a lot of people are quite prone to offering advice but I think deep down most people know what they need to be happy. It takes a pretty strong person to actually do it but it’s worth it - it’s about being true to yourself.

Sometimes I wakeup and say “god, being true to myself really sucks today”. Y’know - being queer and trans - sometimes it’s quite hard just being me. But I just want the person in the mirror to be a decent reflection of the person I am on the inside.

Definitely I have off days and I can’t be bothered and I just wish I was normal. But my good days – which are most days – are really good and I’m a lot happier and confident in being who I am.