Tag Archives: trans

The Chaos of Life

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At the end of December, I asked someone out. I’d met him a few months earlier and we had hung out with friends on a regular basis, but hadn’t ever managed to get time to hang out just the two of us. I asked him out and our first date was 4 days before New Year’s. New Year’s Eve was our second date (at a friend’s house that we’d both been planning on attending anyway) and our first kiss. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of amazing things.

He studies mental health and psychology and is totally aware of the delicateness of certain situations. We started out by sitting down and defining what “going slow” meant and setting boundaries of what we’re willing to do, when, how far, and even how often we’re allowed to see each other in a week. It’s a constant conversation of boundaries and if things are going okay.

A couple weeks in, we were laying on my floor and I looked up at him and my mind went blank. You can probably tell from reading all this that my mind is never blank, there’s always a constant turmoil running through it. It went blank and I stared up at him and one thought crossed my mind, just one, so loud that it echoed between my ears. “I love you.” I have never felt that way about anyone (though I have said it) and that feeling hasn’t wavered.

About a week or so ago, we were laying on his bed, kissing, with our shirts off. It was as innocent as affection can get, but as we lay there, he was suddenly replaced by someone I wish I could erase from my memory, someone who tricked me, lied to me, manipulated me, didn’t listen to the words “no” and “stop” and who forever changed the way I treat friends who may see me as a potential partner. My boyfriend saw the flashback on my face and heard it in my breath and stopped. He asked me if I was okay, asked if we needed to stop. He helped me get grounded, he helped me get my shirt back on and led me out of the bedroom to lay on the floor instead. He helped me come down. There was never a moment of pressure to continue, never a moment to do anything more or anything I wasn’t okay with or even anything else that night. I don’t want flashbacks to happen again, but I know they probably will. However, I am so grateful to have a partner who knows when to stop.

(A note on the flashback and negative past experiences: Near the end of summer, I took the first steps towards the path of healing past traumatic experiences and signed up for a course to get into a counselling program at a local sexual assault clinic. They require that their patients do a course on healing skills and foundations before they receive any counselling so that they can cope with the negative things that come up in therapy. The course I took ran from October to December and was incredible. It was a small group, and I made some friends, but it gave me a toolkit of skills that I’ve been working to access on a regular basis. I’ve built myself a collection of containment boxes that each have a different purpose: affirmation, worry/stress/anxiety, comfort, and relationship. I’ve been building grounding skills, and finding better ways to deal with the daily stresses of my life, as well as the big ones that pop up. It was skills I learned in the course that helped me come down from the flashback.)

Near the end of December (before getting the boyfriend), I found a new apartment. The new apartment is much closer into town, closer to both work and friends, as well as to everything that I like doing with friends and on my own. I ended up having a one month overlap on both apartments. I ordered new furnature from Ikea and slowly packed up the old place and moved it into the new one. Today, the junk removal people removed the last of the stuff from the old apartment. Tomorrow morning, first thing, the carpet cleaners come and do the carpets, then I’ll hand over my keys and be done with the old place, which is so absolutely amazing to be able to say and I’m hoping it will be a huge relief on my mind.

However, between the costs of paying for two apartments at once, paying for new furniture, and paying for the move out expenses, I’ve managed to max out my credit cards and clear my bank account. I have nothing left for anything else that I want or need to do. Somehow, I have to track down 1.5k by the end of February to pay for my educational assessment. (Not sure if I’ve written about that, but I got an assessment to figure out if I can get any sort of diagnosis that will help me get accommodations for post secondary as I’m intending on going back.)

The sleep issue has been, well, managable. I didn’t get to the point of hallucinations (I think) and stayed on the sleeping pills until last night. I didn’t take any last night and managed to get decent sleep, so I’m going to trial not taking them for a bit to see if I can actually sleep without assistance or if it was just a fluke.

I’m now calling on a regular basis in hopes of getting a surgery date for my mastectomy. I really want to get a date for sometime between end of June or early August so that I will be well enough to attend classes in September. I need the date as soon as possible so that I can actually register for school without wasting any more money that I don’t have. So far, nadda.

A week and a half ago, I went to the doctor to have a mole removed. It took fully 3 walk-in appointments to actually get it removed, but they did it and sent it off to see what it looks like at a cellular level. There’s melanoma in my immediate family and I was instructed from a young age to keep an eye on eight of my moles as they may change and become cancerous. When I was 12, I had one removed which turned out to be benign. I’ve been keeping an eye on the other seven. A short while ago, I noticed that one of them had changed colour and become raised in the center. The doctor agreed that it should be excised given my family history and the recent change. So now I play the waiting game. The doctor who removed it told me that it would take about 2 weeks for the results to come in. If I haven’t had a phone call in 3 weeks, then it’s benign. Waiting, I hate it.

The most recent physical manifestation of my stress has returned and I’m now in aching pain from head to toe on a constant basis. I’m hoping that it will subside as things get slightly less stressful in the next couple weeks.

I’m sitting here and I’m doing everything I can to not give my notice at work. I absolutely love my job, it’s seriously the best for me in the industry I’m in and I’m one of a kind for the position for who I work for (they’ll never be able to find someone to do quite what I do). I couldn’t imagine having a better job doing what I do, however, I’m done with it. I’m done with sitting in the holding pattern I’ve been in. I’m done with playing the waiting game and putting my life on hold. I’m ready to move on with things, ready to take the next step. I’m kind of hoping that I get my surgery date for much earlier than I originally wanted, but I know that it will throw things out of wack long term. I don’t have the money saved that I need to cover the time off work for surgery. With school looming on the horizon, I’m ready to dive in headfirst, but even if I could quit my job tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to start classes until September, so I still have to wait. It sort of feels like I can see the end in sight of what I’m doing with my current job, and the feelings of being ready to move on are paired into that which is making me want to quit. I know I can’t, I know I’m needed, and I know I need the job. I also know that the job will help move my career forward as it is actually relevant to my desired career field. Maybe it’s just the chaos of the last month, the insomnia, cancer scare, new boyfriend, new apartment, and calling for a surgery date, that are all working together to make me feel less motivated with work. I need to dig deep and find some motivation to keep my energy and engagement up when I’m working because I can’t slack off or it will ruin a lot of the work I’ve already done and leave me in a bad place for future references and referrals.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time (before christmas) doing crafting in various fashions for christmas gifts, and have realized the calming nature of the activity. It has given me new techniques for calming down, unwinding, and refocusing. I’m hoping that as I have more time in the next few weeks, I’ll pick it back up. I’ve also put my studying (pre-study for the program I’m going to take at university, to give myself a stronger foundation and a head start on what’s needed) on hold, which I’m hoping will come back as I’ll have no internet at home anymore and more free time to pick up the books I need to read and study. I’ve also been attending my support groups regularly and the university’s ASL group, which have all been amazing. Combining all that with time spent with my boyfriend and with my other friends, and I feel like I’m in a solid place to both move forward and re-energize and re-focus.

Happy New Year… Here’s to a good future…

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A Return to the Past

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An interesting thing happens when you get to re-experience something you experienced in the past, especially when you revisit it with a shifted mindset and clarity.

On November 26th, my dose of testosterone was increased from .2ml/wk to .4ml/wk. There was a shift in my sleep patterns in the weeks that followed. I had been, for a couple weeks, not going to bed at 1030-11 as I had scheduled myself to. I was facing a certain level of self induced exhaustion and had been since I started that. However, in the weeks after my dose increased, my exhaustion shifted, imperceptibly, and only on reflection do I realize it.

On Saturday night, January 6th, I had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. I spent hours just laying in bed, reading, thinking, exhausted, but not sleeping. It was a familiar state, and one that I had been dreading, but I chalked it up to anxiety. (There is a lot of other things going on right now that are contributing to anxiety, however, that is for another post.) I slept 4 hours that night.

On Sunday night, I felt myself enter that same all too familiar state. I got 4 hours of sleep that night.

Monday night, last night, it repeated itself again, this time, with 3 hours of sleep.

I have a friend who is a nurse. We became friends some 8 months ago and shared our stories. He told me, when I was thinking about restarting testosterone, that he would help me track and make sure that I’m sleeping. When I didn’t sleep, I called on him. Today, he went to the walk in doctor with me, as backup support (that didn’t end up being needed) so that I could ask for sleeping pills. I got prescribed ammitriptyline, the same medication that worked so well 3 years ago when this whole journey started. Tonight is my first dose.

There’s an interesting thing that happens when you re-experience something with a new mindset and clarity. When I first experienced the insomnia due to testosterone, it came on suddenly. I had an erratic sleep schedule. I was regularly having nights of no sleep and didn’t initially attribute the insomnia to anything other than a cycle, thinking it would end soon. I self medicated with sugar, reading, and social time. It went on far too long before I sought help.

Over the last two years, I have put a lot of work into living healthy, including my sleep habits and hygiene. I have everything down to a schedule and rules I have to follow to ensure proper sleep. My body is now used to getting between 6 and 9 hours a night, often more on the weekends. My brain is used to it as well. If I have a poor night’s sleep, I can expect to feel physically exhausted the next day or two, with little energy for running around and chasing the kids I look after. (Though, I’m always up for reading and talking for hours, if I can convince them, no matter how physically exhausted I am.)

With the insomnia this week, I noticed a shift. My body was ready to play. I had energy to do everything I wanted to do physically. My brain, on the other hand, did not. I couldn’t focus on anything, still can’t. I feel mentally exhausted, like I’m dragging myself along and have to force myself to do every little task. Yes, let’s play a chasing game, ride our bikes for hours, run, climb, but please, don’t make me read out loud or ask me difficult questions!

I also felt a deep seated hunger that wasn’t sated by normal meals. The only thing that rectified it is sugar, in large doses. I remembered this hunger from descriptions I’d used in the past. I’ve always sugar loaded on insomnia days. When I wasn’t sleeping and going to school, I was constantly eating chocolate and candy or drinking pop. At work, I’d drink 2 or 3 pops in an 8hour shift. I’d keep myself in a steady stream of sugar.

With the shift to living healthier that I’ve done in the last year and a half, I’ve almost completely cut processed sugar from my diet. The last three days have been fraught with craving after craving and a gentle pain in the pit of my stomach. When I was at dinner tonight with my friend, I drank two glasses of pop and felt, for about an hour, a clarity that I’d missed all day. I had focus enough to hold an in depth conversation about our friendship and how things are moving. I was also better able to relate to him my symptoms. After it wore off, I was back to the way I’d been all day, bouncing from topic to topic to topic, sometimes in the same breath.

I do not feel this way when I don’t sleep because I haven’t gone to bed.

There’s a clarity there now that I didn’t have the first time around. I will be decreasing my dose of testosterone on the weekend. In the meantime, I really really hope that the sleeping pills work as effectively this time as they did last time.

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.

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.

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.)