It's been regretful that I had to stop contributing to this blog but I was struggling to deal with everything and to have continued writing would have led to some very depressing reads. I did not want to inflict this on people who don't know me and kept my support to my circle of contacts and friends.
Things have changed now and I am now progressing towards my GRS (Gender/Genital Reassigment/Reconstruction Surgery). This following is what has happened over the last three months. It could get long, but I want to clear this up now and then start on more exciting matters!
It's been a tough time and I now know what depression feels like. I have never used the term to describe being down, as some do, and am glad that I haven't. Depression is absolutely nothing like being down and is a different beast entirely. I have had months where one moment I feel ok and then suddenly I am in tears and struggling to cope with feeling of emptiness and pointlessness. It got to the point where I didn't even know what the triggers were and the randomness of it all was as distressing as the symptoms.
Added to this was a massive dose of anxiety. It is often paired with depression but the two are completely different issues. The difficulty is they they both follow or trigger each other so you are often left with little reprieve. I could count the number of days in the last four months on one hand that I have been completely free of either. The reason for my anxiety falls squarely at the door of the Laurel's gender clinic due to their past mistakes leading to a massive distrust of the medical profession. This carried on to my referral for surgery and even now I do have severe worries that my surgery will still not happen.
In over three months I had had no communication from the hospital concerned unless I had contacted them. My GP had at one point, due to being concerned for my state, written to them but they rang me back saying they could not even guarantee which quarter next year it would be. During early October I was told by a contact that dates would be issued very soon and indeed I found people on Facebook posting their dates. No phone call ever came for me and I contacted them. Typically, the surgeon had released his diary for January and February and they released the dates only to run out immediately on reaching my name in the queue. I would be contacted again as soon as more dates were released and I was first in the queue for March. They told me they were currently hassling the surgeon for more dates and it would be soon.
This eased my concerns for a time but gradually the anxiety returned and I started worrying that they had forgotten me again. I got to the end of October and during an appointment at the Laurel's, my therapist rang them to query what was happening. I managed to overhear the whole conversation and it was not pleasant. In fact it was a shouting match by the end and heard that I would have to wait until December at least before more dates would be released. This was Wednesday fortnight ago and I was in a dark place. The next day however saw me a little better and at least I didn't have to wait for the phone to ring any more. I could put this to one side and forget for a few weeks.
That very day (Thursday), the hospital rang and spoke to my partner. Suddenly, after being told I would get nothing for at least 5 weeks, they had a date for me! She said I would accept anything but they advised that they needed to speak to me. I was out and my partner sent me a text message advising me of this. I drove home like a maniac and got straight on the phone. The formalities were discussed, a couple of cancellations had occurred and I was offered Tuesday 13th January as my date for surgery. I needed no time to think about it and accepted there and then.
During these troubling few months, several very positive matters had progressed in our lives outside of all of this. One of these was securing some social housing with the local council. My partner could no longer handle the stairs in our house and we needed ground floor housing for her to be able to live comfortably. Getting our flat had been a very hard fought battle and we were very excited about moving in. The news of my date was the day before our move and suddenly the good news threatened to derail everything! I had to keep focused and concentrate on first hand issues. I had my friend Susan helping us move and it was good that she was there when I received the news of my date as she has been very important in helping me get through it all.
I had worked incredibly hard with our flat, with 6 whole days painting and several more packing, moving and unpacking. This led to a situation where I could not quite get to grips with the reality of my surgery and it has only been the last few days where the depression has completely lifted. Now I have a realisation that it is not far away; just over 8 weeks in fact. Today has seen me find all the information and paperwork involved and it has been good to refresh myself on matters.
Another important development during the last few months and that was achieving a normal BMI. I had written previously about weight loss and despite my depressive state, I was able to stay focussed on my exercise and eating. For the first time in my life I got my BMI into the mid 24's and am managing to keep it this way. I only needed to get below 30 and am very pleased to have literally gone all the way in this regard. I have needed to completely replace my wardrobe though but now that I am a size 10/12, I find charity shops contain many good clothes that now fit me. Another plus of our new flat is that I have fitted a full length mirror in our bedroom and I can see the effects of the weight loss. Believe me, it looks good!
My voluntary work has also seen some changes since the summer. I still had my work in the charity shop but then at the end of September, it was announced that it had to close for financial reasons. Suddenly I was left in a position where I was going to have nothing to do whilst waiting for my surgery. Luckily, Mandy and me went to a disability exhibition and we encountered someone who worked for a charity that had supported us last year. When I told her I was going to be without anything to do, without hesitation she asked if I would like to join their organisation. I mulled it over and last Friday I started training to become a case worker helping disabled people fight for their rights. I work up to the end of the year in a training role and then return probably in April with the intention of having my own clients and cases. I have gone from factory environment, to shop and now to office based work. This is a massive change and I feel perhaps I have found where I should be with the talents I have.
So, in amongst all the doom and gloom, there have been some massive steps forward. It is only now I can see what Mandy and me have achieved and I feel well positioned for my upcoming surgery. I have had some interesting emotional changes with regards hormones and I will write about them in another post.
I have quite a lot to sort over the next two months and I feel that January is going to arrive quite speedily. In fact, December 2nd sees me stop my hormones in readiness and that seems very close indeed! I look forward to writing about everything up to the surgery and depending on how I am with it all, as much as I can during my recovery.