Category: December 2012


New Year2012 was a quietly difficult year for my partner and I. Whilst there was no major drama, and nothing that was all that visible from the outside, there really weren’t many highlights or ‘ups’ to counteract the ‘downs’.¬† Both of us were working through a lot of personal issues, and whilst there was never any fear that our relationship would falter, there were times when we seemed to be living parallel lives rather than forming equal parts of a unit. In Will’s words, it was ‘a year of trudging’ – just keeping on going whatever happened, and hoping that we’d get there in the end.

However, we made it through, relatively unscathed, and it’s nice to look at the year ahead with a bit of hope for improvement. I was never brought up to think that things would be handed to me on a plate, though, so I’ve tried to come up with a few ideas for how I can be the master of my own destiny, and iron out some of the creases that seem to have formed in my day to day happiness.

Yes, New Year’s Resolutions. We all know they’re made to be broken, but I like to think that starting 2013 with the right frame of mind will help shape the year, and perhaps get my head in the right place to deal with the inevitable crappy bits to come. There’s not much SMART about these targets, for all you teaching or business types out there, so apologies for any fluffiness! Here goes:

1) I will be good to my body.

The better I treat my body, the better I feel about myself. I’ve been losing weight steadily over the last few months, and it’d be nice to continue that, and lose the wobbliness that is my stomach post-testosterone-induced-fat-movement. I want to go to the gym more, too, in the hope I’ll come out of 2013 as a lean mean buff machine. Failing that, I’ll just be trying to keep moving, and hopefully stop pretending that beer and sugar are food groups!

2) I will be good to my head.

I’m a delicate little flower, emotionally, and experience has proved that unless I keep a sharp eye on how much I am taking on, and how much that stresses me out, I find it hard to cope. There have been times in the past when I was so stressed out I couldn’t choose a pair of socks in the morning (I kid you not) and fortunately those days have gone, but I promise faithfully to myself that I will prioritise, and remember to say ‘no’ a bit more often.

3) Get away from the keyboard and actually meet people.

I know a lot of people online. Not that this is a bad thing – I have a support network spreading from Canada to Australia, via some pretty cool places in between. Online relationships can, contrary to popular belief, be very genuine. I met my lovely partner online, after all, so there’s proof positive that the internet isn’t just full of weirdos (she might disagree). All that said, though, I’d like to make 2013 a year in which I actually meet some of my online buddies. Perhaps not those who are in far-flung corners of the earth, but starting at home. Real human contact is good stuff, and as socialising has never been an easy thing for me, I figure meeting people I already *know* will be valuable.

So those are my resolutions. Those are the things I am going to try to do to make 2013 less of a trudge, and more of a pleasant saunter. In return, there are just three things I’d like. Call me shallow, and impatient, but if I could have these, my life would be even better!

1) Voice changes:

You may have gathered from my blog that I have been having problems with my voice. After nearly 2 years on testosterone, I still sound like a chirpy girl, and that needs to change, for both professional and personal reasons. My doctor has recommended speech therapy, which I am reluctant to pursue, as I just wanted my voice to do its own thing, but now, perhaps, I’m more willing to agree that the hormones need a helping hand. Could this be the year that Mark finds his Manly Growl?

2) Masculinisation:

What a long word for a simple thing. I always knew that starting transition at my age, my body wouldn’t just bounce into masculinity. Sadly, though it’s easy to see changes, the best I can really claim is androgyny. Whilst I don’t have too much of a problem with that as a concept, it would really help if my body could spend the next few months coming up with some more masculine pointers to help people out when they’re trying to work out ‘what’ I am!

3) Lastly, but never least, I have gone another year with no contact from my daughter. I can only hope that things will change in 2013.

Happy 2013. May it be a good one.

 

 

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RashI’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. At the faintest whiff of a symptom I’m off to Dr Internet to work out what on earth could be wrong with me. Recently, I was finding it very uncomfortable to swallow, and could feel a definite swelling¬† at the base of my throat. It did, indeed, feel like I was gargling golf balls. Cue panic, mental re-writing of my will (that didn’t take long) and much tapping at my keyboard. Of course, I am also a sensible person, and concluded, on the basis of previous experience, that my throat issues were just the result of testosterone doing its job. Again. When the pitch of my voice dropped a note or two a couple of days later, everything fell into place.

The thing is that with the knowledge and experience I have, I am able to discern sensible reality from hypochondriac panic relatively easily. But my own reactions to feeling ‘not right’, even on such a small scale, beg the question of how many trans* identified people hit the internet before their GP’s office before coming to the knowledge (sorry, diagnosis) that they are, in fact, suffering from gender dysphoria.

I have a history of going to see my GP with a fairly clear knowledge of what might be wrong with me, and this has led people to think that I am, in fact, a bit of a charletan, in that I pick an interesting sounding diagnosis, then convince the doctor that this is what I have. That gives a lot of credit to my long-term acting skills, but does rather cast me in the role of attention seeker and fraud.

I like to assume that the various professionals I have seen over the years haven’t just looked at my original diagnoses, scratched their chins, and decided to go along with it. Over time I’ve been told that my bipolar diagnosis wasn’t true, contrary to, I think, the opinions of 4 psychiatrists, countless therapists, and a CPN or two, not to mention the entire staff of 2 wards in a fairly prestigious mental hospital. Conversely, it has been suggested that I’ve only been diagnosed with gender dysphoria because I was on a bipolar ‘high’ and therefore unstable enough to convince myself, 2 GPs, a psychiatrist, a specialist counsellor, a gender specialist and a surgeon, that I was right. I’m good, folks, but not that good.

The trouble is, when coming to your own realisation that perhaps the gender you were assigned at birth, validated by apparently having all the requisite ‘bits’ for that gender, is not the same as what resides in your head, heart and soul, being told that this is just some sort of extreme hypochondria can be terribly hard.

The diagnosis of gender dysphoria relies so much on the person involved being honest about their thoughts and feelings that the medical profession has put in place many gate-keepers, all of which are designed to ensure that the medical and psychological help being given is appropriate, timely and necessary. Some people do realise on their journey that they have taken the wrong path, and I respect the courage they have to face that and change their route. However, for those of us who find happiness, strength and fulfillment in our new roles, please save words like ‘Hypochondriac’ for when we’re complaining about sore throats.

 

 

120724-111653I am not generally a giver-upper. However, sometimes you just have to admit that a decision wasn’t the right one, and look at the best way to resolve things.

I started off using Testogel, and was overall really happy with the physical changes I was experiencing, and the fact that my moods were distinctly more even with testosterone as my main fuel. As I have Type 2 Bipolar disorder, it is super important for me to feel in control of my moods and emotional reactions.

However, my initial feeling of being Master Of My Own Destiny rubbing on a sachet of gel a day started to warp into a serious case of dysphoria. When you have to apply a medication every day to be the person you already know you are, it can get to you, and how. See T and Me for a full description.

As you’ll know from this blog, I decided to speak to my doctor about Nebido – an injected form of testosterone that you have every 12 weeks. It sounded perfect: every 3 months, go to the nurse, have a jab, and go back to the business of living a normal life. Theoretically, I couldn’t lose. However, I didn’t count on my body’s apparent reluctance to work with testosterone given over such a long interval.

I didn’t have the best of starts – no loading phase meant that my T levels plummeted during my first cycle. My description of how that felt can be found in my post Running On Empty. My GP suggested I have the injection after 10 weeks, rather than 12, and I hoped that this would fix the problem. Sadly, it didn’t. After 8 months, I was experiencing debilitating drops in my mood, reflecting low T levels.

The trouble is, when you already have a mood disorder, it’s impossible to tell whether feeling depressed, paranoid, tearful etc. etc. is “just” low testosterone, or if it’s a depressive episode. I used to experience bad PMT, and I was experiencing very similar feelings on a grand scale for around 3-4 weeks out of 10. Not. Good.

I rely on those around me to let me know when my mood is deteriorating – most manic-depressives have to do this, as often we don’t see changes until long after those close to us do. I bit the bullet and asked my partner to tell me honestly how I’ve been since I started Nebido.

“Your moods have been much more up and down, you’ve been more down, mopey and angry than usual.”

Feeling so lousy, knowing that it has been affecting my partner, and other people in contact with me has not made for a pleasant few months. My job involves constant contact with other people, in person and on the phone, and I know that I haven’t been doing my best. When a problem is affecting home and work, something needs to change.

I was due to see my doctor in London yesterday anyway, and I think I knew what I wanted before I even saw him. I know that I could spend time fine-tuning my Nebido injection to minimise the problems I’ve had, but honestly, I don’t have the emotional energy. Looking at the sheaf of blood test results I’d brought with me, he agreed that with my mental health history, and the way my body seems to use testosterone, I’d be better off with the ‘little and often’ approach of using Testogel. Let’s not forget that he put me on the gel in the first place for very similar reasons.

So, I will soon be going back to the ritual of slathering on cold gel, and doing the Testogel Dance to dry off before getting dressed. I’m not sure how I am going to deal with the dysphoria I experienced before, other than just to suck it up. There are, of course, other alternatives than Nebido, but right now I need to be back on the level with enough testosterone in my system to keep me well and healthy, both physically and mentally. Watch this space.