Plaster On a Gunshot Wound (Conventional Treatment)

I’ve been back on 15mg of Mirtazapine for the past week and while it has helped me fall asleep, I wake up feeling like I’ve been binge drinking the night before.  It has also caused nightmares that are both long and traumatic, causing me to either wake up in a state of panic or even crying.  I had a particularly vivid and disturbing dream last night involving an ex-partner, which has affected me quite badly.  I can’t even say that I notice any improvement in anxiety or mood; in fact, my mood is worse in the mornings.

In the 15 years or so that I’ve been seeking help for my depression and anxiety, I have not found anything that helps, except for sleep.  Many of the pills I’ve taken have made things worse, particularly SSRI’s.  SSRI’s seem to do nothing but make me feel like a zombie or even induce mania and clarity of suicidal ideation, which made me even more likely to actually commit suicide.  Citalopram did nothing for me, although perhaps I needed a higher dose.  Paxil caused me to feel so disassociated that I ran away from where I was living, to the cliffs of Beachy Head in late 2002.  The withdrawal from stopping was worse than any drug I’ve taken.  When 2 psychiatrists in Florida diagnosed me as bipolar, one put me on Mirtazapine (then called Remeron) for the first time, which rendered me useless for the first 6 hours of the day and caused Matrix-like hallucinations.

I was formally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder last year by a psychiatrist in Watford (I was living there at the time).  I am more inclined to go along with that diagnosis than I am of bipolar, although a few people have told me I have many of the traits of Asperger’s Syndrome.  He wanted to put me on mood stabilisers, but because that was never communicated to my GP before I ran away to America for the second time last September, I never got to try that option.

When I left to stay with a friend in New York, I managed to see a therapist and a psychiatrist there.  He was actually a great therapist and his train of thought was more along the lines of PTSD, rather than BPD.  The psychiatrist there put me on a drug that wasn’t FDA approved, but was used to treat war veterans with PTSD.  This actually worked as it severely reduced my nightmares and flashback experiences while awake.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the drug and it isn’t even available here in the UK, so I could no longer take it upon my return to the UK in January.

Anyway, the fact of the matter is that neither therapy or medication will ever fix my gender dysphoria.  No one will ever be able to convince me to be comfortable in my own skin without further physical changes (GRS, voice feminization, electrolysis on my face and a rhinoplasty to reduce the size of my hideous nose).  Unlike BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), this is both distress caused by real (versus imagined) deformities and because my voice and aspects of my body do not match my identity at all.  I do not wish to diminish the struggles of anyone with BDD, but gender dysphoria is a pain that not even people with BDD would be able to fathom.  The only therapist I’ve been to that at least respected that and didn’t blame my thought processes was the therapist I saw weekly during my 4 months in New York.  Other mental health professionals have done little or nothing for me, aside from giving me a chance to vent out my frustrations.  Some have made it worse, through their lack of understanding and knowledge regarding transgender issues.  I even had a support worker while I was living in Watford who almost intentionally misgendered me, even though she knew it caused me major distress.

body

I take the blame for misdiagnosis pre-transition though.  I could not even tell mental health professionals that at least 3/4 of my depression was caused by my desire to have a sex change.  In late 2001, I did try to tell my therapist at the time, although I couldn’t even bring myself to tell her flat out what I was.  I did manage to tell a couple of online friends at the time, I tried to tell my best friend at the time.  I told my mother that same year, but her reaction at the time was “But you’re male”.  That, plus the fact that I felt too hideously ugly to be a girl since I was young made me bury it again, until it resurfaced in 2011.  But had I been honest with myself and with doctors and therapists, I would have fully transitioned long ago and at a time when the gender clinics were far less swamped.  I would never have lost all those years in my 20’s and who knows, I may have been content and at least comfortable in my own skin by now.  It was truly an opportunity forever lost.

What worries me about my mental health is that it will put my sex change operation at risk, if I make it that far.  BPD does cause identity issues in many sufferers, but one of the few things I’ve always been sure about is my gender identity and who I am in that sense (a woman).  Assuming I do have BPD, it does cause other conflicts in my identity, including my sexual orientation, although I have learnt to accept that my sexual orientation is fluid (sometimes I feel straight, sometimes I feel lesbian).  But my gender identity, my political and social beliefs and my sense of humour have always remained constant throughout my life.

Today is Saturday and I feel pretty low, mood wise.  My mum and her husband get back from their short break tomorrow, so I have to somehow find the courage to go out and walk to the supermarket on my own, as I need to replenish the food I used and buy what I need to make dinner tomorrow.   I am absolutely dreading it, largely because it’s the weekend and I’m far more likely to bump into kids and teenagers.  I will explain why I am so afraid of kids and teenagers in another post as that is a separate topic, but it makes it very difficult for me to go out, except during the week and during times of the day when most of them will be at school.

I just feel too tall and too ugly to be seen by anyone and this is both gender-related and non-gender related (just plain old ugliness).  I would love to be a foot or so shorter.  Perhaps I could accept other flaws, if it weren’t for my height.  Being tall, ugly, shy and transgender is the worst combination you could possibly have if you suffer from social anxiety and social awkwardness.  What makes it worse is when people do not understand the severity of it or are completely dismissive and disbelieving.  I’m not only sick of feeling this way, but I’m sick of having to justify why I feel this way and then still be seen as over-exaggerating or making excuses.  I feel totally hopeless, as there seems to be no help for much of this.  I feel like I’m living on borrowed time, waiting for the next catastrophe to be the final push I need to attempt to end this existence before I go truly insane.

 

Transgender People & Crowdfunding

I have had a GoFundMe account for some time, which I put out there in desperation to try to raise money for procedures that may or (most likely) may not be covered under the NHS.  I updated it recently as the two main things I need to pay for will be voice feminization surgery and finishing laser treatment on my face, which I got about half way through while still living in Florida.  My voice is something I simply can’t live with and without going into too much detail, YouTube videos haven’t helped.

Last week, I received an email via my GoFundMe account from a researcher working for the BBC.  I replied back, hoping that she was interested in hearing more about my story as far as being transgender goes.  I actually spoke to her on the phone later that day, but it turned out she was gathering material on a potential program regarding why so many transgender people are resorting to crowdfunding campaigns.  We spoke for about half an hour and I told her about my own situation.  She may or may not contact me again in the future, but I said that I would be interested in contributing, if it sheds light on the plight of so many transgender people, either unable to afford treatment or where treatment is seemingly out of reach because of endless waiting lists and bureaucracy.

I regularly post my campaign on Twitter, Facebook and anywhere else I can find.  I also re-blog or re-tweet the campaigns of other transgender individuals.  I was harassed on Twitter for doing so earlier, but what must have been a TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist), who replied:

“Awww, did I trigger you?  He should pay for his own transition”.

I didn’t engage with this turd; I simply blocked it.  It deliberately misgendered the trans woman and had a pop at me for simply sharing a campaign and stating that it’s difficult for transgender people to get jobs in the first place, never mind save that kind of money.   Medical transition is an identity issue, not a cosmetic issue.  The costs of which are completely out of reach for so many, particularly in countries such as the United States, where most states do not mandate private insurers to cover trans procedures.  Many of these women can’t even get on hormones and are forced to either take massive risks and try to be themselves anyway, or hide who they are.

The suicide attempt rate for transgender people is higher than any other demographic, at 41% (Transgender Suicide Attempt Rates Are Staggering).  Risk factors include rejection from friends and family, harassment, inability to “pass” (although I prefer the term “be recognised as their true gender) and sexual assault and/or violence.

ussuicidetrans

Granted, these are US statistics (I started my own medical transition in the US), but it highlights the scale of the problem.  I myself have attempted suicide once and have wrestled with suicidal thoughts since the age of 9 or 10, when it dawned on me that I wasn’t who I was supposed to be.  Unfortunately there was little knowledge or understanding when I was a child and there was no internet.  I didn’t know what the word “transgender” was until my teens; I just knew I was meant to be a girl.

Getting back to the topic of crowdfunding, I hope I’ve made my point as to why so many of us resort to crowdfunding in the first place.  Those who can pay for all procedures out of pocket are privileged, Caitylyn Jenner being an extreme example of this.  She literally transformed overnight, which proves my point that the phrase “Money can’t buy you happiness” does not apply to transgender people.  Money would buy many of us safety and the ability to be completely stealth.  To those who say “Pay for your own transition”, I would like to see you try to find a job in this situation.  All the anti-discrimination laws in the world won’t ultimately stop companies from refusing to hire you, because they don’t have to give a reason and they’re not going to tell you it’s because you are transgender.

My mental health has deteriorated and I find it hard to function outside of the home without help, never mind go out and find a job and attend job interviews.  It’s a combination of non-trans mental health issues caused by past trauma and childhood bullying and the trans related aspect, which is mainly caused by my male sounding voice and my height (I am unfortunately stuck with being tall).  I don’t want to die, if it means that I can soon look forward to a life where I’ll at least have had surgery, got rid of any facial hair on my face and altering my voice.  But without these things, I will merely be existing, not living.  All transgender people have varying degrees of dysphoria (some claim to not have any at all), but mine is particularly bad and no amount of therapy or pills in the world will make me comfortable with my voice.

So that’s why I have resorted to crowdfunding and that’s why so many other transgender people do too, who are either suffering as I am or worse off than I am.  I will keep putting my campaign out there, in the hope of a miracle, as I don’t see myself being able to come up with that sort of money myself and I doubt the GIC will do more than continue my hormone treatment, offer therapy and the operation to give me the right part between my legs (this is based on other trans people I know who have not received electrolysis or help with their voice).

Here’s a novel idea though: let’s lobby our governments to allow all transgender people the right to medically transition.  The cost wouldn’t break the bank in the grand scheme of things and we’d be saving thousands of lives and change people’s lives for the better.  Cost should not be an obstacle to help people be who they need to be, neither should the legal system.  For now, I will keep sharing my own campaign on Facebook and Twitter, in hope of a miracle.  I hope that the BBC will come up with a documentary on this topic, even if it’s just to spread awareness.

Transgender Patients In England Face Long Wait Times For Appointments

Transgender Woman Crowdfunds For Breast Augmentation

Becca’s Transition Costs GoFundMe Page

 

 

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation (Two Wires Once Intertwined)

As June is LGBT Pride Month, I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss both sexual orientation and gender, from the perspective of how both were buried beneath my masquerade as a straight cis male.

Like many transgender women who only started expressing interest in men after transition, I have been accused of “faking” attraction to men.  I have always been attracted to both, but it wasn’t until after I came out as transgender and began physical transition that I felt comfortable expressing my true sexual orientation, including attraction to males.  Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different wires, but in my case, they were intertwined and buried.

I came out as bisexual in late 2013, but after coming out as transgender, it was a non-issue and I think many people suspected it anyway.  As I learnt about pansexuality and after much going back and forth, I eventually realised that pansexuality was a better label for me, although my sexual orientation is very much “fluid” and unlike many other pansexuals, I am not gender blind (I’ll save the topic of gender blindness for another post).

Prior to transition, all but one of my relationships and sexual encounters were with females.  However, my first sexual experience was with a male when I was in my early teens (I won’t go into specifics).  Even then, I knew I was a girl and I thought of myself as his girlfriend, even though I was presenting male and kept my gender identity very much buried.  Our relationship was very much kept as a secret, although it didn’t seem wrong to me.  I secretly fancied a few boys and school, along with a few actors and musicians.  But I wanted to date girls, largely because I wanted to be one.  However, I had very little success finding love as a cis male, because despite my appearance at the time, it just wasn’t me.

My gender identity was buried and that in turn was burying my sexual orientation.  I was a pansexual female playing the role (badly) of a straight cisgender male.  I neither wanted anyone to see me for who I was or know that I was attracted to males.  If I’d been a gay male, I would still have had a difficult time coming out, due to how badly I was repressed.  Only now are both aspects of my identity free.  As a result, I tend to express attraction to males much more than females.  I also tend to seek out relationships with males, although I haven’t had much success to date as most of the men who were interested in me just wanted “fun”.

So to anyone who accuses me of faking interest in males in order to appear more feminine, I hope that my reasons are enough to explain it, although frankly, I don’t owe anyone any explanation.  I am sure the same is true for other transgender people, who also repressed their sexual orientation.  I’ve known of other transgender women who dated females only all of their lives up until transition, then started dating men.

 

Suicide and Legal Euthanasia

**TRIGGER WARNING**

I recently read this article about a Dutch woman who chose to end her life via assisted suicide, which is legal in the Netherlands in extreme causes of mental illness:

A Dutch Woman Suffering From Mental Illness Chose To Die By Assisted Suicide

I fully support legalising euthanasia and I support this woman’s decision to end her life and her suffering.  She had been suffering over a period of 15 years and clearly, nothing would have made a difference to make her life liveable.

We assume that all mental illnesses can be effectively treated if the patient wants to be treated, but that isn’t the case.  Medication and/or therapy helps many individuals, but not all.  Our knowledge of the human brain is insufficient at this present point in time to come anywhere near close to curing serious mental illnesses.  We drug people, victim blame them, guilt them into not committing suicide and most people are simply left to rot in the !”community”, which is the biggest tragedy of all.

Those who are suicidal will find a way to commit suicide, regardless of whether it’s legal or not.  I’ve read many stories of people who have committed suicide by placing themselves in the path of a moving train, especially here in the UK, where it is very difficult to obtain a firearm.   I’ve read countless comments people leave calling the deceased selfish and empathising only with the train driver or other witnesses.  While I agree that such suicides do cause awful trauma to those who witness them, empathy should also be given to the individual who was forced to choose such a gruesome method to end their life.  Perhaps if we legalised euthanasia and had clinics where people could go to die with dignity, people would not be forced to resort to such methods.  Perhaps if we, as a society pushed our government more to invest in mental health, more people who could be saved by the right treatment would be saved.

I have to be blunt here, but in my case, I would gladly choose to die by lethal injection.  People assume that I haven’t killed myself yet because deep down, I don’t really want to.  This isn’t the case; I have experienced suicidal; thoughts since age 10 or 11, mainly due to realizing that I was trapped in a body and a life that did not represent who I am.  I am here because I am a coward, too afraid to attempt suicide because I am scared of the pain, or the possibility of the attempt going wrong and ending up severely injured (which would happen, knowing my luck).  But I am a coward; I am trapped in this existence with no hope for the future (without hope, what is there?).  I am a burden to my small family and to the healthcare and welfare system.  I haven’t worked in over a year and a half and given my mental state (inability to function outside my safe zone), I don’t see that changing any time soon.  I am what I consider to be a “net loss” under the capitalistic system we have.  I am a coward, plain and simple; too scared to attempt suicide, but too scared to live.

I’ve been hearing the same “It will get better” or “Love yourself” platitudes for years.  I know people usually say such things with well meaning intentions, but they do more harm than good.  I know myself; I know that not only will it not get better, but it will most likely get worse as I age.  I currently have no children, no partner and hardly any friends (none I see regularly anyway).  It would be no loss; the world would continue being fucked up just fine without my presence.  I have tried so many pills for depression and anxiety over the years, none of them made a difference and some even made it worse.  The only therapy I’ve had that has actually helped me was during high school, when it was an excuse to get out of class and talk to someone about some of my problems.  The other therapy that helped was the therapist I saw in Florida as a requirement for starting hormone therapy.  I saw a therapist recently while staying in New York, who at least helped me understand myself better and did not tell me to just accept my flaws, some of which make it very difficult for me to function in society.  Believe it or not, I have tried so hard to make it work.  If you knew me in person, you’d know that I’m of sound mind as far as decision making goes.  I am not crazy or acting on impulse.  These feelings have been with me since childhood, as has the reality that I’m simply not meant to be happy.

We put animals that are suffering incurable pain out of their misery, so why can’t we do the same for human beings?  I believe it’s because as individuals, we fear our own mortality so much and cling to life that we cannot see an alternative point of view, or just don’t want to because we fear death so much.  Many countries still have the death penalty, which I do not agree with.  Why is it acceptable to many people to execute a criminal, but not to allow someone in pain the right to a peaceful and painless death? 

I could literally go on forever about this topic, but I will leave it at that.   Please note that I am not planning to kill myself any time soon and I am not a danger to myself in any way.

Suicide-isnt-cowardly

 

Misgendering

Misgendering doesn’t hurt any less, whether it’s accidental or on purpose. It’s like someone taking a knife and stabbing you in the heart of your identity, telling you that no matter how hard you’ve worked, you aren’t who you say you are.

I would rather be punched in the face than misgendered. I would pay any price to never have to be hurt by male pronouns ever again.

This is not a plea for pity, but rather an attempt to educate people about the pain caused by misgendering. If you do accidentally misgender a transgender person, just correct yourself and move on. Don’t dwell on it or try to explain it.

Guilt (Pre-Transition Relationship)

Before I came out as transgender in May 2013, I was married to a woman for almost 9 years.  We had divorced earlier that same year, but were still living together as roommates.  After years of binge drinking and trying to avoid  the problem, she found out in June 2011, because I had confided in an ex girlfriend while drunk, thinking it would be a good idea to “test the water” with someone I used to date and tell them about me being transgender.  Of course, that backfired.  She contacted my ex wife on Facebook and I ended up telling her the truth.  Because of my depression, drinking, my inability to be honest with myself and with my ex wife, lack of sex (my fault) and the fact that we had simply drifted apart, the relationship was as good as over anyway.  In fact, about 3 weeks prior to her finding out, we talked about a separation; her moving to Massachusetts as planned and me moving to New York on my own.

Finding out who I really was badly hurt my ex wife.  I don’t think it was so much that she was hurt because of the relationship being over, but because I had lied and not been honest about who and what I was when we first met.  One of the first things I remember her telling me after I broke down in tears was “I want a divorce, I’m not a lesbian”.  There were other things she said to me too, which looking back, had an awful lot of meaning.  She told me “You made love to me with hate”. meaning because I hate that tumour between my legs, I hated making love to her.  This wasn’t the case; I made love to her in spite of it, at least when I was able to push my self-hatred aside enough for me to do that,.

Like me, she also suffered from depression and anxiety.  In not being true to myself, I managed to severely hurt another human being; someone I considered my soulmate, despite our differences.  I (selfishly) thought that by moving to America and starting a new life with the woman I was so madly in love with, I could learn to accept my then male shell, if other aspects of my life were otherwise good.  I though I was escaping my problems, but you cannot run away from who you are.   She helped me so much in the first few years that I lived in South Florida with her.  She supported me financially for almost a year before I could work legally in the United States.  She took care of most of the immigration paperwork, came with me to appointments and pushed me to get help for my mental health issues.  She put up with my dreadful anxiety, worry and neurotic behaviour, while she was also suffering from her own issues and dealing with living with her mother.

I have not seen my ex wife since I left Florida in early January 2015.  We tried to be friends and roommates, but that ended in disaster.  I know she felt utterly suffocated sharing an apartment with me and that’s why we fought a lot.  We did get back in touch late last year and were on friendly terms, until I ruined that by telling her that I miss our good times.  She interpreted that as me wanting to get back together with her, but I gave up hope on that years ago when I quickly realised that there was no chance of her accepting me for who I was and giving it a shot.  Some couples do survive a partner transitioning to the opposite sex, but it takes a special relationship to switch from becoming opposite sex to same sex.  There was no way that this would’ve worked with my ex wife.

While I accepted long ago that our relationship was over, I still miss her and I don’t think I will ever stop.  I take almost full responsibility for what happened and the guilt and sadness I feel sometimes hits me like a ton of bricks and renders me useless until I’ve managed to get my head (somewhat) back together.  My transition has caused so much pain and has hurt people who didn’t deserve to be hurt.  I had no choice in the end though.  I tried hard to re-bury who I was in 2011 after me and my ex wife moved to Massachusetts and managed to keep it in until I overdosed in May 2013 and ended up in the emergency room.

I honestly don’t think that I’ll ever love anyone else as much as I did her.  I’ve had partners since then, but I still find myself looking for a non-existent soulmate in them.  I wish I hadn’t hurt her so much and I wish I hadn’t taken up 11 years of her life with my bullshit.  If I had come out as transgender years before that, it would never have happened and I would never have lost all those years, wasting away and either drinking or taking drugs.  She tried really hard to support me too, despite how devastating it was to her.  I know she did her best and I know it put immense stress on her.  Instead of at least trying to meet her needs and communicating, I chose to drink my problems away and remain silent.

I’m not going to mention her name.  I don’t want her to see this and I have no intention of even contacting her again, as it’s best that I just sever all ties and never look back.  She will always have a place in my heart though and I hope that she finds the happiness that she so deserves and someone who will love her and cherish her.

The video below is a song that always reminds me of the happier times of our relationship. particularly the trips we took:

Stereophonics – Dakota

 

“Positive and Negative People”

Human beings love to box people into categories.  This includes labelling someone either a positive person or a negative person.  We tell one another to see the glass half empty, but half full, while I just see a glass containing liquid.

Because I tend to express my negative feelings and thoughts more, I often get accused of being a negative person.  This isn’t true at all, as I am able to appreciate many things in life that other people don’t appreciate.  By labelling someone “negative”,. you are actually engaging in negative behaviour yourself.  You are judging a person, just because they do not seem positive enough through your own eyes.

Being either overly negative or positive can be bad.  Many of the people I’ve met who accused me of being negative tended to have a very rose tinted view of the world and of others, or they were simply blissfully oblivious to society’s flaws or their own flaws.

While negative thinking will never get positive results, overly positive thinking can set you up for major disappointment.  When we tell someone “You can be anything you want to be”, we are essentially telling a lie.  We all have limitations, whether caused by genetics, brain chemistry, physical or mental illness, where we are born and who our parents are.  I (secretly) wanted to be a model or an astronaut when I grew up, but I quickly learnt that those were both unattainable.  I would love to have had a fully female reproductive system, but that isn’t reality (at least not yet).

In summary, assuming positive thinking will lead to positive results is incorrect.  Assuming that a person is either a positive person or a negative person is also incorrect, because that is black and white thinking.  Stop putting people in boxes.  I am neither positive or negative; I am a realist.  When life is good, I’ll be the first to sing its praises.

“I am not a big fan of positive thinking. The term suggests that there is something negative that you have to counteract by being positive. That is an artificial duality.” Srikumar Rao

glass