Thursday, 5 March 2015

Turning a corner and back on the up

I must admit that my writing has taken a darker turn the last few weeks but it has been an honest reflection of my emotional state. It is not good me pretending to be smiles and happiness when I am in a very unhappy place. To the outside world, I do portray that image because a happy face makes it easier to get around in public, being miserable WILL get you read more.

But once home, I have found that the mask slips and life has been seriously difficult. I am super-sensitive to everything and often I get overwhelmed when too much is happening. This has led to a great deal of tension between Mandy and myself, and we have had to try to develop coping mechanisms to get through this. She now knows that when she returns from her day centres three days a week, she needs to come at me in a more gentle manner. I often have quiet days when she is away and she returns excited and boisterous and it is very difficult for me to handle. I am also finding dealing with problems an issue and I have had to get Mandy to explain to people that although I am physically very well, emotionally I am still resting and need time before I can deal with unimportant issues.

The lowness of my mood has recently got to scary levels. It has been frustrating because looking at it from outside, I should actually be really happy. In a way I am happy in some aspects, I am still overjoyed at having my new vagina and the novelty is far from wearing off. It is healing really well and the post-op discomfort is lessening. It's just that life itself has become very unsatisfying. I then start to have thoughts of what is the point and why am I bothering any more. Whilst I have had such thoughts in the past, they were situational related but this is not so much. I was not quite at the point of reaching for the phone to Samaritans but I think it may have been close at one point. Because of my past work with them, I was able to realise that I was having such thoughts and try to deal with them.

I have tried and tried to get to the root of this and am still very convinced that hormones are playing a large part of the problem. I heard again today that some find getting hormone levels correct after GRS can be very difficult. I was told that the dosage was tripled and this is the second time I have heard this. It seems to be gel delivered oestrogen that is the culprit and although there is no evidence to support this, the theory could be skin changes over time and how the gel is absorbed. Hearing that others struggle has helped, it makes me feel less inclined to blame myself. I have a blood test next Thursday and we can look at it from there. It's however a woman's prerogative to blame her hormones, and I therefore invoke that right to do so!

That aside, I may have found a couple of other factors that may have been a major factor in my low mood. The first is isolation. I spent a week in hospital and then nearly four weeks in my flat. I was incredibly grateful for my visitors in the first week I was back home and then it all dried up. I spent a lonely few weeks until my friend Susan came over for a week and this gave me a reprieve, and it was almost the other way because it was tiring at times. I must also thank another friend, Becky, for taking me out for a coffee for a few times when I couldn't drive. Without those few trips out, I think I may have been a great deal worse.

Of course, I have been driving the last few weeks and every other day, I drive into town for a coffee and do our shopping. This is however, still very isolating because I have no one to go out with and sit reading my book or writing notes while I have my coffee. It is still better than being at home, but I was still feeling isolated. I am missing my voluntary work and being with other people but I am just not ready to be dealing with work related problems at this time.

I realised that isolation was the problem yesterday (Wednesday). As soon as a week after coming out of surgery, I was sent an email inviting me to a disability discussion forum scheduled for yesterday. I looked at the dates and felt I would be ready for this. I had been to one last October and found it to be an engaging affair with opportunities for me to push my boundaries. As important, it was away from trans* issues and more about my own issues with Mandy and myself.

So, off I went yesterday and found it to be as enjoyable as the one last year. I seemed to end up talking into the microphone a great deal, something that still scares me now because my voice is not brilliant. I even managed to bring in the trans* community because there was a lady from the local council discussing local swimming pools and I asked whether they were interested in helping the trans* community use their facilities. I did this in front of everyone and it really piqued the interest of the lady who approached me afterwards for more information. This forum also had lots of breaks and it gave me an opportunity to speak to other people and I had some deep conversations with a couple of ladies. One of these is interested in starting a group with no particular purpose other than to meet up and chat. This is exactly what I think I might need in my life and I hope we can get this off the ground. 

I was buzzing by the time I got home and I realised just what a positive experience this day had been and how the effect on me was helping me get back on my feet. Today too, I have had another group meeting although this was trans* related. It was still a positive factor and involved meeting at the Laurel's gender clinic. It was really nice to have so many of the staff ask me how it was all going. I was apparently the source of much humour when they rang me on my hospital bed in Brighton to tell me not to turn up at the last meeting. At the time, I did explain that it would have been difficult seeing as I was bed bound and it was over 200 miles to get there!

Of course there was one other factor that may be a contributor in my low mood and that is the issue of "the void". This is a phenomenon where a transgender person reaches the end of their transitioning and finds there is nothing left to do. I knew about this and felt it would not be an issue for me. Sadly, I think it has been more than I have realised. The last 5 years  have seen me have to be so driven to get what I needed. If I had not been like this, I would still be waiting for my GRS. It could even be another 12 months or more away, this is how hard I have pushed things. My determination with my transitioning was like driving a car, you need to push that accelerator hard and then suddenly you reach your destination going at full speed. You simply can't stop suddenly and I feel the momentum is still very much there but with nothing to focus on to slow it down. This could explain the feelings of "what is the point", it's like there is nothing left to strive for in life. There is no longer an end goal to work for as there has been.

I think by recognising this, I can now move forwards and start to deal with it all. It's like a grieving process of it's own, I need to lay to rest my transitioning and start to think about my future without it all. I have mentioned just after I got back from Brighton about how nice it will be to do everything without the "noise" of transitioning but I now think in retrospect that I was not ready to dispense with it at that point. Now, I think the time has come and I can use my physical recovery to speed this along by being able to do more things such as longer walks and hopefully soon get back to my running.

I truly hope that this is me turning the corner now and the future can start to develop into the life I always wanted. I will always have a trans-past but I am cis-gender now and the gender dysphoria is now gone. It is time to realise this and start doing all those things I wanted to do before my transitioning got in the way.


  1. Lucy, although my situation is different to yours, with little prospect of GRS, I identify strongly with much that you have written. In particular, I find myself alone - either at home or walking in the countryside - a lot of the time. The male 'me' had been so very busy, and not that long ago. Now life is very different, and though I'm able to spend nearly all of it in my chosen gender, there was a huge void in my life. I told myself that I ought to be happy, but it wasn't feeling like that. Perhaps the knowledge that I had reached the end of my particular path to transition didn't help either.

    There are no easy answers, but I've been trying hard to find wholesome activities away from these four walls, and where I meet other people. One activity has been a resounding success; another was a gigantic flop. So the search goes on, as it surely must for you. That disability discussion forum clearly helped you a lot. May there be many more like that.

    Angie x

    1. Hi Angie,

      Yes, I remember your quest for other pastimes and the difficulties involved. It is also easy to get sucked in to the trans world, but I need to move away from that to an extent. It will be an ongoing process, but I will work it out in the end. The forum I went to, they are usually every 4 months so sadly not a massive opportunity to socialise. I will seriously need to keep looking.

      Lucy x