Leaving mental health care (!)

When I started to write this blog, I wrote a lot about mental health, mainly depression and anxiety. At the time, both were making my life a misery. Some days I would wake up and not want to wake up, some days my anxiety was so high I could not get out the house. It was shit.

Well, after being with a community mental health team (CMHT) for god knows how long, I have just broken off with them – my depression has gone, and my anxiety is under much better control. I no longer have a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) to see regularly, no longer have a support worker, no longer have access to their “on duty” phone line and fast call outs. Hours upon hours upon hours of help, advice, patience, caring and not giving up on me got me to this point. All on the NHS. Many of the CPN’s and support workers I saw were overworked and lacking pay raises, yet all of them felt passionatly about the NHS and keeping it a free source of health care for anyone in Britain. In fact, I can’t remember anyone i’ve spoken to recently who has thought the NHS is a bad idea. It’s sad to think the Conservatives are slowly privitising it on the low-down. It’s sad to feel powerless about it and see it crumble. I hope everyone comes together to fight for it in the future.

I will continue to feel grateful for the NHS, especially with operations on the horizon (one next week for chest revision) , trans medication and general healthcare. Being out of CMHT does not mean the end of all medical stuff for me unfortunately!. I now need to reduce down some anxiety meds, and try get off them altogether. I also need to sort out my Nebido injection and Prostap + regular bloodworks. Nothing as intense as before though.

So much is changing at the moment. Wales is now a dot in my rearview mirror, I sit writing this at my parents house in England. My gear is piled around me. I look out to trees & shrubbery rather than a whole town and the mountains coming down to reach the sea. But its OK, there is enough green here to keep me satisfied (for now). I don’t think I will be settled for a while, but I don’t feel like settling quite yet anyway!

Revision surgery – The pre-op went smoothly. 3 hour round trip for a 10 minute appointment. Literally: weight, blood pressure, swabs, questionnaire, bloods, go. Im going to be totally put under, but after I have woken up for 2 hours and eaten I am free to go. Liposuction could cause quite a lot of brusing, but there is a chance I will just need to wear a compression top, not a proper wrap-around binder – we’ll see. I am already mourning the impending lack of exercise.

Can’t believe comparison picture week has come around already – but here you go, hopfully you can see some facial hair growth this time!

Comparison Pic: day 28 vs day 588 (week 4 vs week 84)

 

Goodbye Wales!

I leave this small seaside town in a couple of days, so as a last farewell my housemate and I have been doing a mini tour of the area, which has been great fun. The day before last saw me on a beach jumping into the sea again. Had to deal with a double whammy of trickyness:

  1. The beach was really busy at the carpark end. So we had to walk through droves of screaming kids, sunburnt adults, windbreak fortresses, sandpit traps, toddlers wandering aimlessly around in nappies and wet dogs running towards us and sniffing about. Got my anxiety cranked up a bit, but we kept walking until a quiet bit (which was only a 5 min walk, which no one seems to want to do).
  2. Getting changed on a beach. Already had my trunks on, so fine getting changed – although got a bit iffy about my chest; i’m looking forward to some changes with top surgery revision. Then afterwards I only had a tea-towel like piece of cloth to dry myself with- a few dog walkers straying outwards from the carpark end of the beach got a nice image of my arse.

NewB 220817 (5)

So quite emotional, I will now be landlocked, with no miles and miles of views to look out to every morning (im sure there is someone primeval about liking a good view, it feels good – like “hell yeh, im guarding my land”). But back towards my home town there is some beautifal places also, so long as I go out and find them.

Packing to move is as fun as always – so about as fun as petting a terrapin. I have brought vacuum bags for my clothes which is proving a nice distraction as I like to and watch the air get sucked out (simple things give me pleasure). Other stuff I am succeding in moving from one side of the room to the other. I now have spare time (my first free week) since I have finished my dissertation, so I can take time with things and enjoy not feeling like I should always be getting back to work. Although talking about “real” work, I need to start looking around to be ready post-surgery. Hopfully everything will slot together nicely.

Coming up is my pre-op, so will be updating on that next week. All a bit of a faff for some bloods, blood pressure and weight etc but hey. Needs must. Everything else transition-wise is going well. Nebido is working its wonders and everyday I add a new day to my “life as Seb” which I can look back on. Building up a history in a new identity takes time, but when you do it as an adult you appreciate seeing each new memory you create, it adds to a book that is paper thin at first, but soon grows! 🙂

Note: Please ignore the cheesyness

 

 

 

 

The cliff of post-Uni

Life is picking up the pace. I wont be in this house much longer. Which in some ways in kinda sad, cause its got awesome views and I have lots of space, but I did not live here long enough to get too attached (7/8 weeks). And I think i’m part Nomad now anyway.

Next week sees me moving to my parents for a bit pre-surgery. I need to attend a pre-operation appointment, and just get in the right frame of mind for it. After that I will be heading to my brothers house, who has kindly let me stay with him and his partner for a few weeks during recovery! Then I will bounce back to my parents who will hopefully tolerate me until I get a job and a house share in the area :-).

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Basically I will be living out of a suitcase for a good month if not more. It’s going to be a teeeeny bit of an upheaval, but it makes sense, and it’s a plan – my plan. I’m kinda learning to be comfortable with just doing what I think is best for me, and not what other people think is best. It’s taking some time, cause sometimes I just wanna follow what someone else says, cause the known path is the least scary. But slowly i’m trusting myself, and the more I do, the better i’m feeling within myself. All good stuff!

I’m selling/donating/chucking some of my gear to make it more transportable. I.e. can all fit in a standard sized car. The only big thing I am reluctant to sell is my bike, so i’m keeping hold and ensuring my other stuff is small enough to squeeze round the bike with its wheel/s off in a car. It’s pretty refreshing really, the more you throw the lighter you feel. I try assess each item for the likelihood of using it in next couple of years. I sold my office chair today, and felt stupid for having a mini heart tug at seeing it go. Soon got over it though.

I have (kinda) finished my dissertation! My supervisor is having one last check, and then I just need to add page numbers and BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!! send it in for printing 😀 . I am going to a nice fish resturant on Saturday evening to celebrate. Uni no more.

Transition wise – well, they say all forms of testosterone are the same – so it must be the dose – but Nebido is great. I’m finding it easier to gain muscle (than Testogel), and facial hair is coming in at a much faster pace. It’s like Popeye has just eaten an extra strong tin of spinach. I bet if he had grown out his facial hair he would have looked like a walking carpet.

Anyway, all this life changing stuff means I am leaving CMHT – no more mental health support for the first time in 3? years maybe. Which, i’m not going to lie, is shit scary. But I feel I am ready for it now, I will have to keep a check on my anxiety. I will have to take deep breaths often. I will have to let go and move with the flow more often. I will have to smile and enjoy the present. I am excited about what is round the corner!

London

 

 

 

I dont saunter, I sail

Yesterday I did what i’ve saying i’ll do all summer, and went to a summer activity session run by the University. I chose sailing, cause it’s something i’d never done before. And I faced a whole host of challenges, including being on a minibus full of strangers, getting changed in an open men’s changing room, and standing around for ages on a shore-line trying to make sure it didnt look like I did not have a d*** downstairs. And you know what? I flipping well got through it all. I had this mentality…

“If I wanna travel, if I wanna live abroad, then I can’t be someone who bails on an afternoon trip on some boats just cause there are a few hurdles to get past”

and it worked. Each challenge came up one by one, and each time I just questioned what I would do if it happened in Japan, or in a random hostel somewhere. Turns out sailing was no quite as exciting as I had hoped, spent 4 hours on the trip and only 10 minutes sailing a dinghy boat, but hey, I got talking to a few random people which was nice. Yep, my anxiety has dropped to that level now, I can talk to strangers without erecting a pop up greenhouse, stepping in and staring blankly out of it like there is a signpost trying to talk to me.

It was a stark contrast to the day before, where I had a bit of a shit meeting with my CPN. They were basically trying to pressurise me into going on a walking group with other members of CMHT (i’ve been before) but I was having none of it. I was not in the mood, and felt I was better off working on my dissertation. Ended up cutting short the meeting cause it all got a bit “argh”. I dont like it when someone trys to push me into a corner. Anyway, the high of yesterday has left a nice “karma” balance to this week so far.

I have also just passed the first stage of a teach abroad programme (got an email an hour ago)….arghhhhh

Pic from the beach this weeked – I could not resist rolling down a sand dune and getting sand in every crack and crevice. A mate was round which was really nice, travelled to some of my favourite areas again 🙂

NewB Aug 17 (4)

 

The end is nigh

August has come with the stark reality of the end of this Uni course. I will have finished most of my dissertation in about 2 weeks, and completely in 3 weeks. Then the pages have not been written yet. I can follow no course, instruction manual or guide to the following part of life. Without boring everyone, I basically am investigating a few avenues. 1) A 9-5 job, 2) Teaching abroad 3) WWoofing abroad 4) Hogworts.

I started writing this blog in the months of dark depression and leading up to being well enough to start a Uni course (albeit with high levels of anxiety). That was a huge leap, leaving the security of a flat, good mental health support, family, and an area I had grown up. I followed my gut back then, and i’m happy i’ve ended up here now. Maybe it’s time for another leap.

I find the idea of getting to midlife and realising I did not do what I wanted, and could have done, in my earlier years more terrifying than the actual decisons I am making now. I feel I need strong coffees, Maryland biscuits and lots of long walks to come to a firm conclusion.

Transitioning stuff

I went to the Doctors to ask about staying in Wales and transitioning and GIC stuff. After waiting 3 weeks for the appointment, then 45mins in the waiting room past my time, it was a bit shit. Well…nothing wrong, just she had no idea and said she would look into it. I get the feeling she will come up with the same answer everyone else has given so im not holding my breath.

It’s the monthly photo day today, and hopfully you can see the improvements of my facial hair! I have not trimmed it for 5 days just to see what it ends up looking like. It’s a bit scraggly but im so overjoyed that it’s coming in that I don’t care. I have seen no noticeable changes in body shape recently. Mentally I have had a bit of a boost, I believe due to the Nebido shot kicking in. At least i’m aware now of what to expect towards the end of each shot cycle – lethargy, bit of grumpiness.

I’m trying to get mentally prepared for revision surgery on my chest, now only about a month or so away. I hate the recovery time and faff, so it takes a while of getting my head in the game so to speak. I want it done, I just wish it was a “snap fingers and voila” type thing.

Anxiety

I have not talked too much about this recently, but I feel things are improving steadily. I am still seeing a CPN and support worker every week, doing stuff like walks and going to coffee shops, having lunch places, trying to meet people etc. It’s getting me out and about and gently challenging me, proving that I can cope in situations I thought I would not cope in. As always, it seems the key is just exposure again and again and again until it’s second nature. I really have to work at it, particularly now when I have nothing I have to go to in terms of work or lectures.

Damn it, I really don’t think you can see my stubble in this pic….maybe in 2020.

Comparison Pic: day 21 vs day 560 (week 3 vs week 80)

 

 

The Creature & Darkness

Creature & Darkness

A creature steps out into the blinding light. Confident and aspirational, it soaks up the feelings of fresh air and a thousand possibilities. It’s shallow eyes and lack of lines the only indicators of a spring innocence, a lack of grasp on the firmness of the setting; the hardness. It trips. No problem, this creature is strong. It get’s up, a little shaken, but otherwise OK. The creature realises it should probably get moving..after all the light is blinding. Which way is out of the light? The door behind is shut. It starts walking, direction can hold no importance in a sitution like this. SLAM. It’s walked into a large metal lamp – the source of the light. What the fuck? The bulb flickers, then fails – *pinggg*. Darkness steps up in an instant, feeding time. Before the creature knows whats going on, darkness folds itself tight around it, squeezing and pushing, trapping the creature in it’s cloak. Panic takes hold and a coldness sets in, a damp kind that mixes with fear to create a sweet, tasty dish for the predator. Darkness starts dragging the creature away, feet first, further and further into it’s home. It dumps the creature and casually and very slowly starts picking out it’s brains – not it’s phyical brains, for it has no need for flesh – it’s the mind, it’s very existence it craves. The creature feels a tearing.. a hopeless loss. It shudders. Sometimes it puts up a fight and screams and squirms against its bindings. After a while, it just lies there and feels more and more empty, more confused and disillusioned.

Suddenly, something is wrong – darkness is in a mood, quite clearly more than a little pissed off. It has reached a part of the brain it can’t get to. The creature is subconsciously doing some bloody gnarly psychological gatekeeping. More time passes and darkness decides to get out it’s “Mind-Meal Problem Solving – Series 1” book. The creature stirs – noticing a relinquishing of pressure. Everything is still pitch black, of course, but it opens it eyes anyway, looking all around. Slowly, very slowly, it picks itself up and starts crouch-walking – again, in any direction. It keeps stumbling, shit scared and having no idea why it’s running or what/who it really is anymore. A light flickers. The creature is so un-accustomed to it that it shuts it’s eyes, squeezing them tight. The light then comes on, and stays on. Through shut eyes it follows the gradient between shadow and light. SLAM. It walks into a large metal lamp. Something registers in the creatures mind – quick as lighting it lights a candle. The light bulb flickers, then fails – *pinggg*. Darkness swoops and swoops, attacking at all angles. The creature holds up the faint light of the candle and shivers. It starts walking – it still does not have a direction, or a purpose – but for now, as long as the candle stays lit, that’s all that matters. The creature has just survived it’s early twenties.

Windemere, UK

Transition stuff

Well, I stuck two needles in myself. Result! (I realise I might have weird concepts of achievement) Last week I got to inject my Prostap jab and my Nebido jab, which means I can now self-inject at home at my leisure :-). I found that I’m a bit strange when it comes to needles – shoving one in me does not phase me in the slightest, if anything I feel a bit detached from it – like i’m focusing on doing it correctly to someone else.

  • Prostap – easy peasy. You snap a seperater in the needle and a powder and liquid mix. You screw the needle on. You then inject at a 90 degree angle, needle going 1/2 way in. Takes about 5 seconds to inject, then leave for 5 seconds to make sure the last bits absorb a bit. I felt nothing – seriously, nothing. Afterwards the arm turns kinda achy numb for a while. No biggy
  • Nebido – more complex! You have to draw up the liquid from a vial, then change needle. Push air bubbles out. Locate injection site and wipe clean (top quarter). Tense leg……then relaxxxxxx leg. And then stick a pretty large needle 3/4 way in (intramuscular). It’s thick, so you slowly inject over 1-2 minutes. It’s a bit of a balancing act, trying to push it in whilst making sure the needle does no poke in too far whilst leaning round at an odd angle. Then leave again for 5 seconds for absorption. Then slowly pull out. And let blood start pouring out! (ok, its best if this does not happen, as it means you have hit a vein/capillary, but its not the end of the world). Was told not to aspirate (pull back slightly) at the start as its now not NHS practice.  First 3 mls went in ok, the last 1ml was a bit harder, like my body was going “no more I tell you!!!“.  Just aches a bit now.

I just need to get everything sorted now for next time, like needles, syringes, set up getting the medication etc. It’s kinda irritating because I think I may be changing GP surgery before the date of my next shot. But i’m pretty good at not worrying about things in advance now.

Facial hair is coming on well, and i’ll have an update pic up next week. Maybe it’s a deciduous plant that comes into it’s own in summer?

More pointless trans rules

Last battle to be able to stay in Wales looks defeated. Despite studying here for a year and wanting to find a job round here, at least in the short term, I will have to move away in September. It’s all because of the differences in funding between NHS England and NHS Wales. With NHS England, you can go to any Gender Identidy Clinic (GIC) you choose. Being with a GIC is essential for your transition. It give you access to being assessed by a professional, which in turn gives you access to being prescribed hormones and being referred to surgery(s). NHS Wales don’t have their own GIC – they used to, but budget costs shut ’em down. Everyone in Wales wanting access to a GIC has to go to London Charing Cross, as this is the only GIC NHS Wales will fund.

Well“, says I originally, “this is fine, I am already with a GIC (further North), so NHS Wales will have to keep funding for me going to an ongoing secondary care unit

Computer say’s no“, says the system. “You have to cut off your care at the other GIC, spend 2 years on a waiting list to Charing Cross that is currently blocked/delayed for Welsh patients because of arguments over funding (heard through the grape vine), then have a starter meeting with Charing Cross, then on your second meeting start talking about referrals”

But…”

Computer say’s no

F*$)^£*

The problem I have, is that IF I were to get a referral for lower surgery, then I could get one in the next 4-8 months with my current GIC, compared to the circa 2.5 years if I swapped. That referrel would be the last thing I need the GIC for – my hormone care could now be taken on by an endocrinologist. It’s just so friggen awkward and annoying. It makes me feel trapped due my health care and it surprises me that NHS Wales can act like this towards transgender people from England, it’s basically pushing people like myself to stay away from the country. Surely the funding differences between a London clinic and a Northern clinic can’t be that different??? (if anything I would think the Northern ones to be cheaper).

I think the decision has probably been made by some finance minister people with no knowledge of trans issues, bogged down in bureaucracy, thinking it would make funding issues easier to concentrate on one clinic, where in reality it’s just caused one big headache. Particularly for recent graduates from Welsh Universities who have fallen in love with the country and are willing to invest their time in staying and calling it home. Rant over.

Lets insert a picture of me happily crabbing to lighten the mood.

Crabbing Seb (2)

Transition

I think being due my shot next week is making me snappier and sleepier. I have wayyyy less energy, which is shit because I have an exam on Saturday. I spent 3 hours during the day yesterday just sleeping.

I’m not nervous at all about self-injecting Nebido, I have a pretty high pain tolerance and needles don’t freak me out. Just wanna get it done. Bring on T-shot day.

My facial hair keep on coming through at the moment. It’s kinda fustrating though cause I can see the gains, but to someone 2 metres away there is nothing there, ‘cept maybe a bit of a moustache shadow.

I got misgendered this week

It was shit

I was working in a computer room with a woman beside me. A dude comes in with a woman, glances round the room, then say’s

“Are you ladies the only two in here?”

*Silence*

Then the woman beside the guy awkwardly said

“Umm, thats not a lady…”

He kinda mumbled some shit, and then they did some stuff on the computers in the room. When he spoke over to us again, he only ever looked at the woman near me. He would not look me in the eye AT ALL.

To be honest it really shook me up for an hour or two. I felt like I had been shot back a year and a half to the old struggles I thought I was way clear of. But i’ve spoken to a few people about it, and I think all that happened was:  he glanced real quick round the place – I dont have facial hair – maybe he just said it automatically…and I think he was pretty embarrassed afterwards – hence the no looking at me thing. So i’m OK, it has not dragged me down for weeks into a slump, it was just a bit of a jolt. And something that could have happened to a cis-guy, but without having the transition history, they would probably not think half as much about it as a personal thing than I did.

Anyway, I’m sure these blogs get longer the more work I have to do.. avoidance tactics!  See you next week 🙂