Tag Archives: counselor

Of Psychiatry and Surgery

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Nearly two weeks ago I had my last appointment with my psychiatrist. In it, we discussed where I’m at and where I’m going. There wasn’t much to the appointment, really. He determined that my dose on the sleeping pill was so low that it wasn’t actually doing anything and I should stop taking them when I felt I was okay to (most likely after my surgery). He also felt that the hallucinations I experienced were likely caused by my lack of sleep over a year and a half ago and that now that I’m sleeping properly, I shouldn’t need the antipsychotics. He suggested that once things are stable (so likely after my surgery), I should try going off the antipsychotics and see if the hallucinations come back. We were to discuss my sleep study as well, but the clinic didn’t fax the information over. As of now, I still haven’t heard anything, which probably means it found nothing of note, so don’t worry. The milestone I reached with this appointment is that it was my final one with a psychiatrist for the forseeable future. I’ve been determined to be stable, and in good mental health. There’s no need to continue to see a psychiatrist, though a therapist or counselor wouldn’t hurt.

Five days ago, I stopped the sleeping pills. The first night was okay. I had two rough nights, and the last two nights have been good. I think he was right and I don’t need them. Which is awesome because I’d rather avoid taking medication if at all possible. One down one to go.

Now we move into other territory:
Immediately before that psychiatry appointment, I called the office of my surgeon (for top surgery as the next step in my medical transition to manhood). I wasn’t expecting anything beyond knowing where I was on the waitlist. Instead I was given a surgery date: May 3rd.

At first I was excited. I told everyone. It was awesome, finally have a date! No more waiting! Once the initial excitement wore off, I got nervous and scared and started second guessing myself. I realized that the bulk of the excitement was for the fact that I’m finally able to move forward with my life, since surgery’s put my life on hold for so long. I realized I wasn’t sure my exact reasons for wanting top surgery other than knowing that it was the next step in transition. I also realized that I wanted to breastfeed my kids, which isn’t possible after the kind of surgery I’ll be getting. I freaked out.

I talked to a few select people who generally seem to think if I’m freaking out this much, I shouldn’t have the surgery. To better get a grip on where my head’s at, I scheduled an appointment with a (trans community recommended) counselor, a friend who is a counselor and trans, and the surgeon to see about getting a reduction instead of a full double mastectomy and still have it covered. These appointments are all within the next week and a half, so hopefully I’ll have a better sense of things by then.

I do know, that now that I’ve had a bit of time to think about it, I’m more used to the idea of getting surgery and am kind of looking forward to it again. I still talk like I’m going to get it and the more often I say “surgery’s in two months” the more used to the idea I am. Maybe it was just jitters, but better to get some handle on my thinking before I do it anyway.

I imagine, unless something radical happens, from this point forward this blog will follow my mental health in association with transition and living life. It’s good to know that my brief touch with mental illness was not a step on the true descent to madness.

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First Diagnosis

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It’s been a while and there’s things to update.

After seeing my new psychiatrist a few times, he was prepared to make a diagnosis. I’ve been diagnosed with Hallucinations NOS or nonspecified hallucinations. That means that I hallucinate with no known cause. It’s not linked to any other mental illness. It just appears independently. While I’m happy to have a diagnosis (and am glad that there’s not some greater mental illness), I’m disappointed that there’s no known cause. Maybe that will come with more time and conversations with therapists.

At my last appointment, I brought up the fact that I stopped sleeping and my psychiatrist decided he would start investigating. It’s been a year and a half since I stopped sleeping and finally one of my doctors is asking why. I’m so happy about it. The first step in that is a sleep study that will be done later this month.

At my second appointment with my psychiatrist, I got put on Latuda (instead of Risperidone). Within a week, I noticed a marked difference. I was connecting with the world significantly better. I was feeling more emotions. Customers were responding to me more positively. My coworkers commented on me being more positive and outgoing, so did my mom. It was incredible. I had no idea how disconnected I’d been, how distanced from the world I’d been, until I started to reconnect with it. Now I know, and I hope to never experience that again.

Unfortunately, Latuda isn’t covered by my insurance, so I had to change the meds again. This happened at my last appointment (a week ago) where I was put on Abilify. It’s too soon to tell how much it will impact me, but from what I’ve read of other’s use of it, it seems to work well.

In the non-mental health side of things, I’m still waiting on the CT scan of my pituitary gland to find out why I’m lactating. There’s still no word as to when it will be. I hope it’s soon.

In terms of transition, well, I found out that the three to four months until surgery after consult that I was quoted was wrong. It’s actually closer to nine to twelve months. So, instead of being at a point where I have less than a month until surgery, I’m waiting at least five more months. I’m disappointed, but I should have known better than to hope it would be so fast. Maybe there’ll be a cancellation. I do know that I have enough money saved up now to cover my expenses for two months off work, so that’s a stress off my mind.

In general, currently, I’m doing okay, a mix of good and bad. I officially dropped out of university. The program I was in just wasn’t a good fit for me and I failed both classes. I also realized that the work I want to do doesn’t require a degree, so why am I shelling out the money for the degree? I cancelled my loans for the second semester and am just waiting on hearing about repayment to find out what it’s going to cost me each month. Hopefully not much as it was a fairly small loan. My brother and sister in law got me colouring books for Christmas and I’ve been slowly working my way through them. I find it relaxing and engaging and it’s nice to do something other than just staring at my screen all the time. On the down side, I’ve lost a lot of motivation to do anything. I’m finding it very hard to convince myself to do anything and am not even getting out of bed until the last possible minute before I have to go to work. I’m not going out to meet with friends (not helped by my work schedule where I’m scheduled to work the only two days anything happens with my friends). And I’m not going out of the house to do anything except buy the necessities, go to work, and go to the doctor. I’m trying to find something more to do with my time, but I don’t even know where to start. I’m hoping the colouring will at least help. Part of the lack of motivation to do anything is impacting my sleep as I’ve lost the motivation to go to bed. I still don’t get tired, so it’s hard to convince myself that I need to go to bed. I’m finding more and more that I’ll only actually go to bed when I get bored with what I’m doing on the computer. In the last week, I’ve had 3 sleeps. I know it’s not good, and not healthy, but I can’t seem to convince myself otherwise. I’d rather stay up and actually do things than go to bed where I’ll stay until I absolutely need to get up, sometimes twelve or fourteen hours later.

Here’s to hoping things will improve.

Time Flies

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I suppose I should update, since it’s been a while.

I got in to see the counselors at the university, specifically, the counselor that was recommended by my counselor at the college. He’s a great guy, listens well, helped me get in a good headspace. I saw him twice before I realized I probably don’t actually need counselling right now. I’m in a pretty good space right now and don’t feel the need to work through anything.

I also got in to see a psychiatrist at the university. Finally. The appointment was over an hour and a half long and went through my entire mental health history. He actually read my files going back years. He took me seriously. I recognized my need for a diagnosis and is working with me on that. He gave three preliminary names of what I might have, but he wants more information before he actually gives a diagnosis. Schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, and Asperger’s (high functioning autism). He gave me a printout to have my parents fill out and they went over it when I was up to see them for Thanksgiving. Hopefully that will give him some clues. I’m ready to be armed with a diagnosis that will help me find ways to cope and make things better.

In a non-mental health vein, something happened with my physical health that has been weighing on my mind as well. A couple months ago, I started lactating. I saw a walk-in doctor first and she ordered a battery of bloodwork. I saw my GP a week later and he didn’t see anything alarming in the bloodwork but suggested I talk to my endocrinologist (who I’m working with through my gender transition because I’m on hormones). I saw him a couple weeks later and he was concerned by my bloodwork. My prolactin level was 99, normal is 25. He didn’t seem to think that it was because of my being on testosterone (though that’s a common problem) and ordered a CT Scan and some more bloodwork. I’m still waiting on the scan, but it should happen soon. He said that the scan would look for a growth on the pituitary gland which would cause the spike in prolactin. My research has found that the growths are fairly common and mostly benign, but I’m still worried. What if it isn’t?

In terms of transition, everything’s on track. I got in for my consult for top surgery a couple weeks ago, which means the surgery itself will be in three to four months, a lot faster than it was originally going to be. I’m excited and more than a little nervous. Part of the nerves come from wondering if I’m going to have enough funds saved up to make it through the two month recovery. I hope so.

I think that’s everything of note.

Counselors

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I’ve continued working with my sleep counselor at the college. She currently has me not reading in bed and getting up at 11am every day. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. It takes longer to fall asleep if I don’t read in bed, and I can’t seem to convince myself to get out of bed in the morning, even if I’m wide awake. I see the counselor again this Thursday and that’s the last time I’m going to see her. It just doesn’t seem like there’s anything else she can help me with. She has spoken with my GP and he’s going to investigate my potentially having restless leg syndrome and maybe send me to the sleep clinic to have an evaluation and see if there’s anything else going on. Beyond that, I don’t know what to do about sleep. Everything seems to circle back to it being a problem.

I saw my regular counselor at the college last Thursday. That was my last appointment with her. She’s given me the name of a counselor at the university (where I start in the fall) and I’m to make an appointment with him. She also agrees that I need to get in to see a psychiatrist. (I had a friend/coordinator helping me with that and he got nowhere with general psychiatry, same as I got nowhere with them.) The counselor reminded me that there’s psychiatrists at the university for students and suggested I get on with one of them. I’ll have to go to their doctor’s office and get a referral through them, but it should work and I should get in to see someone fairly soon, at least reasonably soon.

Other than that, nothing’s really been going on in my life. I need more going on in my life, but I don’t know where to start, especially since I’m not getting up in the morning. Maybe that’ll change with time though… maybe.

prescriptions and consultations

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A week after I went to the hospital, I saw my GP. He decided to up my dose again. I’m now on 3mg of risperidone. He prescribed me three months worth of that and the sleeping pills and had me book a followup in August.

I heard from general psych a month and a half after I got the referral from the hospital. They referred me to the gender psychiatrist I saw and refuse to talk to me further about the problems with that referral. I have yet to hear from the psychiatrist, so we’ll see how that goes.

A week ago, I had an appointment with one of my therapists at the college. She’s the one who specializes in sleep. She has me doing another 2 week sleep log to see what it looks like with me on my meds. So far, it doesn’t look that bad, except I’m sleeping too long and not getting out of bed after I wake up in the morning. She seems to think that I might have restless leg syndrome, which is contributing to my inability to sleep. I don’t disagree. In order to get a diagnosis, though, I need to do a sleep study. In the meantime, the sleep therapist wants me to try sleep training a bit to get into better sleep habits. This means she wants me to stop reading in bed. Reading’s the only thing that gets me to sleep. I’ve tried reading then going to bed and I just lay awake for hours on end. I see her again in a week.

Today, I got the news that I have a consultation for top surgery (breast removal for female to male transgender) in January. I’m very excited about that and can hardly wait.

Over the last few months, I’ve seen my mom a fair bit and every time she’s said she thinks I look spacey and seem flat. I agree that I’ve been flat. I don’t know what the trigger was for that change, but it was worse than ever before. One of my customers even mentioned it to me. It’s gotten better in the last couple weeks and I’ve been excited and happy, smiling and joking again, so I think I’m on the mend from that bout of depression?

During that same time, I was experiencing heightened anxiety, specifically around going to work. The way my coworkers were acting towards me was making me anxious. I got talked to about my own behaviour at work and how I contributed on a shift, which really didn’t help any. Our store moved though, and since the move, things have slowly been getting better. I’m less anxious now than I was a few weeks ago, which is really helpful for the rest of feeling better.

Other than that, I seem to be doing okay. As far as I know, I’m not hallucinating, though I suspect I’m seeing flies that aren’t there, but can’t confirm. I’ve been eating decently, not great. I’ve also been more active riding my bike. Riding the bike is tough, especially with the sleep schedule, but I’m working on it and getting better at just doing it. I want to be in better shape, not just in general, but specifically for top surgery.

I think that’s it.

Back in the System

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Yesterday I had my appointment with my GP. I think it went well, even if I didn’t really get everything I wanted. My risperidone was doubled (from 0.5mg to 1mg) to help deal with the paranoid thoughts and the hallucinations (I saw a fly that I’m pretty sure, but not positive, wasn’t there at work on Wednesday night). I got a refill on the sleeping pills. I’d run out about two and a half weeks ago, so sleep was back to being horrible. The new prescription is for double the dose of the last one, 20mg of amitriptyline a night.

He also referred me back to the crisis mental health clinic that I was at before. The theory being, I need oversight, I want a diagnosis, that’s only going to come from a psych and they have my file at that clinic. I was hoping for something more long term, but I guess not. Hopefully this time it doesn’t become a game of telephone tag again where they refuse to even process my case like they did last time.

Other than that, things haven’t changed much, we’ll see how the new dosing on the meds work, hopefully they do their jobs.

Oh! On an unrelated note, I got a referral to a new surgeon for my top surgery (double mastectomy). The one I was originally referred to has a waitlist two years long and I was looking at seeing him in February 2017. The new surgeon has a much shorter waitlist, my buddy got his surgery less than 8 months after referral. So, within the year! (In case you’d forgotten, the other half of what I’m dealing with is gender transition, female to male. This surgery is the only one I want for now and will masculinize my figure significantly.)

“They’re” a problem

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“Get the infection out of my face, the infection they put there.”

The last few months have been productive and things have moved forward, and not. I’ve graduated from Business Administration (official ceremony is in June, but I’m officially done). I went to all my appointments with mental health (the therapist and the psych). I’ve been released from them and will have to get a new referral in order to see a psych again if I need to. I’ve continued to see the counselor at my college, though because I’ve graduated, I won’t be able to continue to see her for much longer.

There was no diagnosis of anything and only vague assumptions as to what might be wrong with me. I’m not pleased with that and want better answers.

My risperidone (the antipsychotic) has been reduced down to 0.5mg, the lowest dose I can be on without going off it entirely. I’m still on the amitriptyline (sleeping pill) and that was increased to 20mg (2 pills, double the original dose).

I’m working with my counselor at the college to connect with a counselor at the university as I should be attending there in the fall for a new degree. I’m also working with one more counselor at the college specifically on sleep. We’re not making much progress and I don’t really want to push it right now.

I see my GP on Thursday and want to ask to go off the antipsychotic. My logic? The hallucinations came all at once and I went on the sleeping pills and the antipsychotic at roughly the same time. There wasn’t a chance to see what hallucinations were caused by the inability to sleep and what were caused by anything else. I want to find out what hallucinations I have that are not related to sleep problems. I also want to see if there are any other symptoms of note. I have nothing really happening this summer beyond a few family things and work. I would rather have another mental breakdown, or whatever you want to call it, this summer when things are relatively calm than in the fall or winter when I’m back in school. I’d also like to have a diagnosis, or a partial diagnosis so that there’s something to work off of if things go south down the line. I’ve told a few people that this is what I’m going to ask for when I see my GP and they all seem to agree that it’s a good idea and that they’ll be there for me if/when things start going south.

The last few days I’ve noticed something new that really has me worried. I’ve started getting intrusive paranoid type thoughts. Like the one at the beginning of this post. “They put an infection in my face and I have to get it out.” (zits) “It’s their fault.” (I slept late.) I don’t know who “they” are, but the thoughts pop up whenever I get thinking about something that’s happened or is happening. I stop and logically work through where fault really lies and what’s really going on, but the thoughts keep popping up and I don’t like them.

The paranoid thoughts are new, not something I’ve ever experienced before. I really think they’re a part of everything else that’s going on and I should probably mention them to my GP when I see him, if I remember.

I keep getting stuck in circles of thought being anxious about my future and what it holds for me. The degree I’m hoping to start in the fall is Child and Youth Care. This is something I’m really passionate about and really look forward to. I love working directly with kids and helping them grow. I worry that whatever diagnosis I wind up getting will be something that inhibits me from working directly with kids on a regular basis and will force me to rethink my career choice. I really want this, but health and safety come first.