I have mentioned recently about an issue regarding my mental and emotional health. I self referred myself to the area mental health team and last Thursday I attended my assessment.
The need for doing this was necessitated by finishing my transitioning. An event happened in my life about four years ago and it left some deep scars. Whilst transitioning, I could devote so much time, energy and thought towards doing so, and was able to conveniently put this event to the side. When I completed my transitioning, I realised how clearer the world had become including this nagging issue. Suddenly the realities of what happened were crystal clear to me and they were frightening and overwhelming. They were also partly responsible for the emotional difficulties I had for a couple of months post-op.
I wish I could lift the lid on what happened, and I think doing so would be beneficial to me. However, there are extreme risks in doing so because they concern others. There would safety concerns as well as the risk that it could be extremely triggering to some people. Nope, the truth has to stay off the Internet for the time being and instead I should focus on the realities of the situation.
I had my appointment at Foundation House in Taunton. It was an interesting experience visiting there, because 30 months prior I had been here for my psychiatric evaluation for my referral to the Laurel's. At that time, I felt I didn't have any issues and it was just a small matter of convincing a psychiatric doctor that I wasn't delusional and deserved the funds for my eventual gender reassignment. Thankfully for others, that system is now gone and they do not have to go through that process.
Visiting Foundation House with a mental health condition was a different experience. Instead of being here for hoop jumping, I was now trying to get myself some help. I have heard so many stories of those who find it impossible to get treatment for their conditions and this made me a little nervous. Was my issue serious enough to be eligible? Today's appointment was just a triage assessment and I assumed that it would just be taken by someone a little lower down the skill ladder.
I was called in by a lady called Anita. We decided early on that it would be first name terms and I soon discovered that my assumption about skills was completely wrong. Anita knew what she was doing and we were soon in at the deep end talking about what had happened. I assured her it was nothing to do with my gender dysphoria although it had become a little entwined with it. There were quite a few tears and I had noted the conveniently placed box of tissues on entry to the room. 45 minutes in and I was told that I probably have a mild form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is in turn triggering worry and anxiety.
I was told the brutal truth that I will never get over it due to the circumstances surrounding it. I think I had realised this anyway, and I was told recently by a factor in the original event that I should get over it and move on. To then be told I will never get over it was kind of reassuring in a way as it makes those that tell me to do so, wrong.
Instead, my treatment will involve cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with the aim of developing techniques to deal with the worry and anxiety I encounter as a result of the past trauma. Anita made it clear that the sessions will be intense and I will be expected to attend them all alongside having to do homework. She did say I came across as a determined person and that I would probably work hard at getting the most out of it. This led to a bit more discussion about my transitioning and she seemed genuinely interested in some of the processes. She was particularly surprised by the fact I had never needed a minute of counselling. I explained that once I had come out and started dealing with it all, I had no issues accepting my new found self. She seemed even more surprised when I stated that I was actually glad of the opportunity to transition rather than have been cis-gender all my life. It has has it fair share of downs but the experience had been incredible at times.
Finally, I was given a relaxation CD to take home and use. I admitted that I found little time for myself although dilation was something I found relaxing. She seemed intrigued and I explained it all. We agreed though that because it still requires some effort, it does not count properly towards a complete relaxation unless I wanted to leave dilators in for over 30 minutes a time! I was told that the relaxation is important and to focus on the goal that this is for my benefit.
I left, collecting Mandy from the waiting room. It gave me a lot to ponder on and I tried out the CD on Saturday. It was not quite the relaxing experience it should have been however. My initial aim was to rip the CD to MP3's and use my MP3 player. I inserted the CD into the drive and found my PC would not read it. Mandy suggested it might have had copy protection. I tried it in her laptop which was also pointless. So, thinking she may have a point, I then tried it in the sound system I have in the kitchen. The player read the CD and its TOC (table of contents). Damn, she was right I thought. However on trying to play the CD, I found it wouldn't play any of the tracks on it. Ahh, so she was wrong, it was just a dud CD all the time! I did then look on-line where I get my MP3's from but they have such a multitude of relaxation MP3's and I just did not know where to start. My kind of music I download is more towards the rock / heavy metal genre, and I am out of my depth on this one. Instead I emailed the mental health team and they are sending me another one.
I was in two minds about even posting any of this. Despite a slow change in attitude towards mental health problems in society, there still feels a stigma attached to it. Even recently, there has been suggestion from one tory candidate about how the mentally ill should have to wear different coloured wristbands when in public to allow for easy identification. Society still has a long way to go when it comes to dealing with anything outside of the norm so it leaves me with a sense of wariness about wanting to admit any of this. However, I am not abnormal, I just have an issue that needs dealing with. It is part of my life, and this blog reflects my life so therefore it makes sense to include it all. We are all at risk of developing a mental health issue and I wonder whether anyone truly makes it through their entire lives without some form of difficulty in this regards?