When I finally stopped bullshitting myself and accepted that I am trans, the first thing that happened was all the carefully-constructed defence mechanisms and coping strategies I had stopped working. Straight away.
I'd shift from various social coping mechanisms when I felt discomfort to just finding myself entirely unable to cope, often smoke-bombing from a social event before anyone could see that I'd started crying or panicking.
It wasn't fun.
I spent the next six months being very cautious using my social energies, and ensuring I had friends there who were aware I may have trouble, and an escape plan for if I had an (even minor) breakdown.
Thing is, that's not always helpful. Sometimes just going to the shops was a harrowing experience, despite nothing unpleasant happening much. The fear of having a breakdown was always there.
I began to wish I had my confidence back.
Thing is, it wasn't a real confidence. It was a constructed confidence. I would walk in to a place - a bar, cafe, shop, party or what-have-you - and feel like I was performing.
"Everything will be okay, if you just act this..."
Later on, I came to describe it as "putting on my boy-suit and playing a character", because that's what it felt like once I began to accept just how unnatural much of that behaviour felt for me in general terms.
I never had confidence. I realise that now. I could feign it pretty good, by the end, at least until it all came tumbling down for me.
But still, I'd often think, "Fuck, I miss being able to play being that confident in myself".
Which brings me to now.
I realised something: I still have bad moments, bad days and even slumps that sometimes last longer, but in general now, when I am out in public, being gendered correctly and feeling increasingly comfortable in my own skin... my confidence is genuine.
Something as simple as asking a shop attendant for help used to stress me out. Now I just smile and ask. Even with the occasional twinge of fear I'll get a weird reaction because I'm trans, feeling a genuine confidence and comfort now makes all the difference in the world.
Like many things, it's only now I can look back that I realise just how bad it was for me, and how much I was kidding myself when I kept telling myself I could cope with it.
It's true - I could cope. At least, I could cope... until I couldn't. Then my life and my ability to function began to collapse. Even if that huge crash hadn't happened last year, I hope that I would have eventually realised that nobody should be forced to "just deal with it" in the way I forced myself to believe was a normal and acceptable state of being.