The World’s Worst Blogger Returns

… and is ready to belly-flop into your inboxes once again.

So I’ve managed nearly six months of digital inactivity*.  “Achievement” is probably not the word.  It’s been a harder year than even I’d expected, and the longer I went without posting, or even reading, the harder it became.  Which, I guess, is the story of my phobey life.  And whenever I did have time left over which could have been spent wordspinning for your, erm, entertainment, most of that time was instead spent trying to figure out what the hell I was thinking starting a blog at the same time as a chemistry degree.

But life has not been dull.  Well, it has, actually, in many respects, but I’ll be reporting some of the highlights (and lowlights) because changes have happened, and progress has been made as well as lost.

I’m aiming to do separate reports on gender things, uni things and mental health, because all three together might be a bit on the concentrated side, like trying to drink a bottle of mouthwash in one go.  Gender things first, because I can report on those more easily.  Ready?   Here I go.

Bad news first.  I found out yesterday, as the last Thing in a long line of Things so far to hit me on my holiday (which have proven to be ultimately sanity-shattering, especially when timed so expertly), that the referral onto the NHS pathway – which I thought had happened in March – has not been done.  My GP referred me to the mental health service for assessment by an NHS psychiatrist in November, and I got a (rescheduled) appointment in March, which lasted no time at all, and where I was told that there were no problems and the referral would go ahead.  I knew there were long waiting lists, so I hadn’t expected to hear from them for months anyway, but apparently they’ve not received any of my paperwork.  So that’s something I’m going to have to chase up; whoopee for incompetence everywhere.  Anyway.

There have also been problems with my injections – although there’s been a glaringly obvious correlation with stress which doesn’t need explaining – where I’ve found it harder and harder to self-inject as time’s gone on.  I’m not remotely needle-phobic, nor am I any more pain-phobic than anyone else – as far as I know – and I never had problems to start with, until uni started again.  Then I started having problems; it took me longer and longer to psych myself up, and last time I couldn’t do it without help.  I know why – it correlates with stress, and I could probably set an equation to it, which has been worsening steadily as uni’s progressed.  But that’s another post for another time.  Point here is that I’m working on it.  There’s no way in hell I’m letting myself go backwards permanently.  A lot can be said for stubbornness.  So there.

So that’s that.  On to happier things.  I actually have some, which should count as a Happy Thing in itself, as far as I’m concerned.

Surgery.  It’s been researched, and I know what needs doing and when, so it’s just a matter of setting a date now.  I meet the criteria for top surgery on 30th June, then I need to obtain a letter confirming it, and then I’ll be off to Brighton – haltingly, twitchingly, phobic-ly off, of course – some time this summer to rid myself of those unmentionable alien shapes.

That’s all I can manage for the moment.  I promised myself I’d post as soon as I had the time, but I’m doing less-than-brilliantly.  Trigger warnings for food related issues under the cut (also, I’m explaining my current mental health, so please don’t bother reading if you don’t want to!).

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Posted in Gender, Life, Mental Health, Updates | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Frustrations

And so, here I am, with three weeks of “free time” on my hands… and still no posts.  It’s not personal, internet, I promise.

Be warned: here comes the unirant of all time.  Hey, look, I invented a word.  I did not, however, invent the practice.  That one’s been around long before I had anything to do with it; even though I could rant for England, I can’t take credit for this one.

OK.  So, before the reality checks and “be grateful for…”s come flooding in, I’d like to state that I’m far from the only one struggling here.  I have a friend, also with more than one disability, who is having to restart the year – simply because our department refused to make any effort to help her or even understand the problems she was having.  She did everything right; believe me, I’m a very good pesterer, and I know that she told the right people at the right times, and she asked for nothing unreasonable.  But now she, who has far more of an interest in chemistry than I ever will, has been put off (hopefully not for life) coming back because they were so damn disinterested in making allowances.

There is another person I know of, not by name, but through my disability mentor (who regrets that she can do no more than pester them on our behalf, without really having any Shiny Pushy Power or anything).  He has multiple disabilities as well, including mental health concerns since childhood.  He was also one of those Huge Achievers in the first year, so you would think there would be even more incentive in his case for the department to keep him happy.  But nope, sorry, no cigar.  He came to them with concerns (the nature of which I’m not privy to, all I know is that it’s mental-health-related), and was clearly failing in his attendance and coursework and most everything else.  And what was he told?  Work faster.

I kid you not.

When I came to them with my own mental health concerns and trouble keeping up, I was advised to get study skills help for my time management failures.  And I’ve also been put forward for specific Aspie mentoring (which is a more time-consuming thing than what I’m already having, in that I will be assigned a person who stays with me all the time and… erm, helps, I guess).  It seems like I’m the only one who can see the problem here: all these things take up time, which, since my time management skills are clearly so lacking (you know, in my inability to fit in 50 hours of extra work into 20 free hours a week, etc), is less than helpful.

I’ve seen a disability rep for the Student Union who has confirmed that my uni is very good with lip service or even practical good appearances, but awful with, you know, actually helping people in the way they need them to.  He’s chasing things up on my behalf, because – believe it or not – I’ve not had the time, so we shall see how well that works.

We were supposed to have a uni version of half term (which was when I’d been hoping to post originally).  Last year, they scheduled a compulsory group project during that week so we couldn’t leave uni in the first term, and they had labs through that week in the second term.  And the third term doesn’t have one because it’s all exams.  This year, we had lectures throughout, and coursework (for which we were given precisely zero notice; in case I’m not angrily explaining enough, that’s guaranteed to be an Aspie nightmare), not to mention the lab introduction and precursory work, for which there was even less than zero notice.  I won’t even go into details on that because steam will start coming out of my ears any second (just thinking about it).

So my Unknown Aspie Comrade is expected to catch up over Christmas, whether he’s medically able to or not.  Even without that expectation, we have enough work to successfully stop any chance of festive celebration (or even sleep).  I have to catch up on the entire term’s tutorial work and try and salvage my understanding of materials chemistry from the two-thirds of lectures missed because of a clash with maths for chemists, with another chemistry option, for fuck’s sake (ie. through no fault of my own)… and then do the rest of the expected work and revision and General Chemistry Death.

Not only is depression “a problem for loads of students and therefore their problem to deal with”, according to my department, but if you can ask them for help, clearly “it’s not serious enough to actually be affecting your life”, and of course, therefore undeserving of help, and of course it’s also “chronic, so there’s nothing can be done [in other words, by them] to make it better”.  This was my aforementioned friend’s experience of asking for help, please note, not mine, who was being medicated and therapy-ised for depression at the time, and who had doctor’s notes from the university GP practice.  Suffice to say I was smashing things by the end of her story.  Ahem.

When I went to my GP about mental health problems, I was asked what subject I was doing.  When I answered, my doctor became immediately concerned, and “warned” me about trouble in the chemistry department.  I replied that I was no stranger to it.  Even those with no Shiny Additional Difficulties are struggling, many quite badly.

Still.  I think my rant is coming to a close now (please note that I am typing this spontaneously and am posting without checking or editing, so please excuse the spillage of word vomit all over your nice clean screens), so feel free to breathe a sigh of relief… now.

My final point being my doctor’s advice for my own mental health concerns (being people-evasion-related and anxiety-related more than depression, not that I expressed it very well, since I was, you know, ANXIOUS ABOUT IT).  She asked if I’d been to the Student Psychological Services – they’re the uni-run free mental healthcare people, and are the first port of call in most cases.  I said that that had been my plan since the first year, actually, but there’s a Sparkly Form to fill in… and therein lies the problem.  It’s quite extensive, and you have to tick boxes for when you’re free, so they can offer you an appointment.   It’s split into mornings and afternoons, and both years, I have looked through my timetable (for both terms), only to realise that there’s not a single morning or afternoon I could spare (through timetabling, that is, not in an “I refuse to give up my free time *stamps foot*” kind of way).  And yet it’s my time management that’s a problem.  Nothing whatsoever to do with their ability to schedule more into a day than there are free hours.  Sigh.

So, painfully long story shortish, I have been medically advised… to miss lectures.  Deliberately.  In exchange for my sanity.  It’s a situation about which I am enormously pleased, as this post clearly demonstrates.

And with that, I will stop typing and go and jump out of the highest (ahem, metaphorical) window I can find.

Posted in Chemistry, Life, Mental Health, Soapbox, University | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Lungs: Functioning. Brain: Not So Much.

Hello again, Shiny Internet People Who I’ve Missed So Much.  The above point being that I’m still breathing, even though coherence eludes me, but I’m taking another stab at posting in the hope that it makes something approaching sense.

Term finished officially today, and although we budding chemists don’t apparently get those “holiday” things we’ve heard so much about, there should be more room for blogging over the next three weeks before I (quite possibly) disappear into a reluctant silence again.

I like to think I have a good reason for not posting (namely murderous amounts of work), and I have independent witnesses to back up my claims if anyone’s that interested, but my frustrations are being saved for another post… and I thought last year was bad.  This post is a gendery one.  Because I like talking gender, and there’s definitely genderstuff to talk about.

Changes on T
I’ve been on T for five and a half months now, and there have been Changes.  With a capital C.  The details from month to month can be found over at my transition-specific space, in which I also swear a lot, in case anyone really wants to hear me say the same line over and over again to prove my voice is finally mine, you know, Real Exciting Stuff.  But in an overall-y sense, I’ll do bullet points (and try to make them as brief as is realistic for a person who can turn a single banal point into a dissertation, as this point itself is proving).  Here we go.

  • The Voice.  Said voice had changed already, the last time I posted.  It’s gone through the process of cracking, deepening, squeaking and cracking some more, and now it’s finally started to settle.  I think it’s safe to say that speaking is a lot more pleasant now; it comes a lot more naturally.
  • Hair, hair everywhere.  I didn’t realise that my legs were hairier because I no longer have a bath, but on a weekend home I noticed far more of a change than I’d originally thought.  I have a line of dark hair leading up to my navel now (whatever it’s called), the backs of my legs are as hairy as the fronts, and I never thought I’d be so excited about it.
  • I am also the proud owner of a single shoulder hair.  I thought it was worth mentioning.  It’s quite long, but I think it’s starting to get lonely.
  • Very early on, dark hairs on my chin and above my upper lip started appearing.  I shave them and can still feel the stubbliness afterwards.  They are fine still, and wouldn’t be visible unless you were looking for them (and if I wasn’t shaving them, obviously), but the fact that they’re there is a huge comfort.  There are more and more of them every day, but they’re still far from being Proper Shiny Facial Hair.
  • My hunger has stabilised, and I’ve been steadily gaining weight.  Very very comforting, since I have always had trouble gaining weight in the past.
  • Time has been hard to find, and since starting T no extra deliberate exercise has been done, but I’ve been doing a lot of walking.  I’d not expected anything to come of that, because it’s no more than I did before (when I’m stressed, I pace, and an anxiety disorder means I’m pretty much stressed most of the time).  But my legs have changed shape completely.  They’re chunkier, more defined, and my strength has increased massively.  My upper-body strength has boosted noticeably as well, despite nothing having been done to catalyse it.  No complaints here, that’s for sure.
  • My fat is redistributing, but I never had that many curves to begin with, so it’s not that noticeable yet.
  • I’ve been told by others (including Dr Lorimer, who’s only seen me twice) that my face looks different, but I’ve yet to notice much there.
  • Lo and behold, the acne’s back.  With a vengeance.  It’s driving my senses crazy so I’m seeing a doctor next week in hope that they’ll come up with something to help.  During Puberty Number One, I did over-the-counters, prescription topicals, antibiotics and even oral contraceptives (which, thinking about it, is hilarious, given that not only was I a FT…erm…Not-F trans person taking a testosterone blocker, but I was – and still am – aromantic and asexual, but there we go), and nothing made any difference.  I started getting acne, although admittedly not badly, when I was eight, and I’m 20 on Tuesday, so I think it’s fair that I want it sorted out, don’t you?
  • And speaking of Odd For Asexuals, I now officially have a sex drive, which – for those who don’t know from experience – is not a good mix with gender dysphoria.  That and the acne are so far the only things I could do without.
  • I also have some extra growth.  And that’s all I’m saying.

So I think that just about covers it.

Passing
I’m passing most of the time now; in that people assume I’m male without knowing any of my history, apart from one Very Stubborn Person who apparently remembers me from last year (although I don’t know him personally, and I don’t think we’ve ever spoken) and will not get his pronouns right.  But then again, I’ve not corrected him, because he doesn’t speak to me, just about me while I’m there, and I see little reason to.

Lots of positives though.  Everyone at uni uses the right name, and the right pronouns, and only my parents have ever slipped up.  Ever. They’re still slipping up regularly, and they still talk about their “daughter” with their friends and the family I have no contact with (by choice), which is probably not helping.  Sometimes it feels like they’re ashamed, but since I don’t interact with the people they haven’t told, it’s not up to me to force the issue, and it only bothers me because it hinders their ability to get their names and pronouns right.

But at uni it is glorious.  It seems as if no one is remotely surprised to hear about my being trans, and their ability to switch so easily almost reinforces the point that it makes more sense to them too that I’m better in my trans configuration than in the false female one (and since I’ve never really presented as female with much enthusiasm, if at all, that might have something to do with it).  Even my Personal tutor and the lecturers who knew me from last year had no trouble adapting.  Huzzah for humanity!

Some people at uni – those who don’t know me or my history, that is – have even been so sure about my gender that they have corrected others who have been less sure.  Yes, you read that right.  With no prompting or awkward explanations on my part.  And even better, those who have been corrected usually seem relieved, as if they had previously just been guessing, and then accept it without question and get it all right from then on.

It’s incredibly comforting, and as much as I hate to sound all mushy and float-y-thinking-y (explaining that term would take up a post in itself, so I’ll just pretend you all understand it), empowering.  Support, even when unintended as such, can have a profound effect on the general outlook of a person.  And knowing that my coming out adventures (especially because I’ve ended up doing more than I’d expected to) have not only gone well, but have been accepted as if they’d all been waiting for me to say it from the start, is helping me reach that critical point.

Now I’m of the general opinion that people will hear it, whether they want to or not, and then they can take it and deal with it the right way or fuck right off.

And that’s where I’ll end… on an, erm, high note.

Posted in Gender, Life, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Apologies Galore

Hello all…

I’m still alive.  I’m on the verge of a meltdown at the moment, as a result of both my workload at uni and various other mental-unhealthy things, so I’ve been neglecting both my blog and everyone else’s, so I wanted to apologise.

There are posts in the pipelines, but right now I have no idea how long it will be before I’ve saved up enough free time to type it all out.

Hugs to all in the meantime, and I promise to catch up as best I can as soon as I can.  Until then, here’s some complimentary digital *support*, to be saved away until it’s needed.

That was all.

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An Attempted Murder-by-Disorganisation, Perhaps?

My department is trying to kill me.  I’m not joking.  I hate these introductory lectures, you know, where someone stands up and does that Big Strict Growly Thing, the purpose of which being to panic the procrastinators into paying attention with the threat of failing if you do pretty much anything, and the actual result of which being that the procrastinators miss the threats completely – because they’re, you know, not paying attention – and the earnest nerdy types are reduced to quivering wrecks by the end, thinking that they’ll never manage to, erm, manage it all.

Sigh.

I had my first lecture today, which was meant to be an introduction to the laboratory course starting on Monday.  And honestly, I’d forgotten how awful lectures are on my senses and anxieties.  I could go into more detail, but I won’t, or you may well die of boredom, dear reader.

First, the lecturer starts off, a perfectly nice bloke – nothing against him, by explaining how the laboratory course will work, but without the slides prepared for the occasion, as he’s forgotten his cable.  Good start.

Then, we are told that the first lab session starts on Monday, and we have been split into groups, one of which will do Mondays and Tuesdays, and one of which will do Thursdays and Fridays.  Which group we are in will be revealed… by Monday morning at the latest.  Cue mocking laughter from those who aren’t really bothered by preparation times like weird old me.  Cue slow shrivelling into a speck by the Aspie in the front row.

The entire template of the lab report (to be handed in a week after the first lab day) is different from last year – which I’d not been warned about any time recently – and requires a hell of a lot more work to complete.  There’s work to be done in preparation, as always, but in a book which we won’t get until we arrive.  There’s some logic for you.

There was a load of, erm, let’s just call it Construction Noise because I don’t know what it was specifically but I know something construction-y makes a noise like that.  And it burst through the walls frequently, completely drowning out what the lecturer was saying; I had no hope in hell of keeping up, since my Noise Filter is chronically and irreparably bust, so everything gets in.  So I missed the part – thanks a bunch to the Law of Sod – to do with health and safety, reading ahead and All That Jazz.

Sigh again.

Not to mention that I’ve got several Shiny Important Gendery Things coming up through the next few Saturdays, so I’ll have to plan around it all with expert precision.  Which I don’t have.

Next Saturday will be the first Lab Report Panic Weekend, and also the time when I’ll lose the majority of my Saturday commuting to my fourth testosterone shot, plus first blood test (to compare levels between then and one week later) and another follow-up appointment with Dr Lorimer a couple of hours later.  The next Saturday will mostly be lost commuting to the follow-up blood test as aforementioned.  Lots of commuting, but very worth it.  And, sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s the important stuff.  Everything else, life included, comes second to my increasingly-excellent progress on T.  Because it’s excellent.  Increasingly.

I will also be going home on weekends for the sake of my sanity, to essentially keep me in the land of the neuro-vaguely-typical.  Because otherwise I’d end up publicly talking – loudly – to myself, in different voices, in no time at all.  Home is organised.  Ish.  Home is routine-filled.  Home is calming and sense-relaxing.

… and I can help myself recover from the panicked over-planning throughout the week.  Seriously, I’ve found out the hard way, after having almost 20 years of essentially the same routine for getting up in the morning and going to bed in the evening, that if I enter a new space with a new layout, I can’t do anything without serious thought.  I’ve spent most days this week walking around with one sock on, cleaning my teeth before realising that I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, washing my hair and forgetting to dry it and then having to do it all over again… and so on.  And it’s all because there’s a shower; at home, we have a bath and no shower, so my entire routine is disrupted by it.  I won’t go into the painful details – because they’re painful – but it turns out that after years of reading about Aspies who have trouble with organising their daily routines and being grateful that I’m not so affected, I’m actually one of them.  Who knew?

Really, I’m typing all this out because otherwise I’d forget all the things I have to do to prepare myself (and thus alleviate the masses of anxiety I’ll be feeling over the coming few days); this way, I type out a complaint and simultaneously “log” in my brain that I must do X, Y and Z to counter that complaint.  See?  I’m not just moaning.  Well, I am, but it helps.  So there.

I’ve also got a 2-hour-per-week (out of 3) clash between my two optional modules, which I’ve been approved for, but it makes me nervous about being able to manage my time.  Last year there was a single lecture slot each week which I couldn’t attend, simply because of its location, which my In-Between-Lectures Routines wouldn’t allow; I’d not be able to get from one place to the other in the time available and still have enough time to comfortably do everything I needed to do to stay calm.

I pride myself on being proactive, though, and am an expert email-pesterer, so I’ve already done my research and emailed the appropriate person (hopefully) about recording the clash-y lectures using the Shiny New Lecturecast System which is luckily installed in one of the two lecture venues.  I’ve also asked permission, if recording the lectures isn’t going to happen, for my DSA-funded recording equipment to be used in my absence so that I don’t miss any more than I absolutely have to.  So watch this space; my sanity may be saved after all.

I think that’s all I’ve got to blather about for the moment.  Last week’s antics, along with the productivity of this week’s, have yet to be uploaded.  I’m still working on finding a keyboard for my netbook that doesn’t cause my senses problems, so all my blogging is being done via the uni computers.

Still.  I think I’m enjoying this year’s Freshers’ Week more than last year’s, mainly because there’s no obligation to go to anything.  But it’s odd in a different way, because I’m now worrying about potentially ignoring people I know because I can’t recognise faces well at all, especially in crowds like you’ll find – ooh, I don’t know – at universities where there’s free stuff galore all over the place, and new-found independence is being milked left, right and centre.  At least last year I knew that I didn’t know anyone or anything.

I guess I’m just going to have to (deep breath because I hate this) Wait And See.  With any luck, things will sort themselves out soon.  But my favourite way of explaining the not-so-smooth running of my transition (ha ha, blah blah) to the second year is Killy With a Side of Death.

If I’m still alive in a few days, I’ll hopefully be more active with my responding and stuff.  But for now, I’m going to collapse.  Au revoir.

Posted in Chemistry, Life, University, Updates | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Incoherent Plus Panicked Equals This Post

Once upon a time, an Aspie went to Halls.  But not just any Aspie.  The Aspie-est, anti-social-est, pedantic-est Aspie ever to walk the Earth, with a T-shot on top.  And who was that Aspie, you (probably don’t) ask?  Good question.  The answer, of course, is this one right here.

Suffice to say it’s been an eventful week.

I survived the parental panics, travelling through the torrentials, the instructions at the entrance getting lost in translation (read: my senses jumbled up everything I heard), and the hell of forced solitude.  Yes, that’s right, solitude can be hellish even for those who enjoy it sometimes.  Don’t even try and understand the logic there; there’s a serious risk of brain splatter.

And now I’m all moved in, after an incredibly painful run-up, with nothing better to do than to type about it, apparently.  So that’s what I’m doing.

There’s a more detailed post to come on exactly what’s been happening this week, but I’m too exhausted to go into it now.  For the moment, the short version.  Monday, I met with my Personal Tutor in hope of sorting some things out to prevent the second year from becoming one long continuous panic attack.  And I left feeling reassured, which I’d not been expecting; still, watch this space.  Wednesday was Adventure Day, where I did a recce of my Hall’s surroundings in hope of reassuring myself further.  For the most part, it worked, although I got lost on the way back (don’t even ask; I’ll go into that one later).

And Thursday was Panic Name Change Day, where I met with the Dean of Students – and didn’t have a panic attack beforehand, despite the opaque door and lack of clear instructions, I’m proud to announce – to sort out my name change and gender change on the uni system.  Also went better than expected.  Then the next three days were spent packing, panicking and puking, mainly, because I’m just that cool.

Herein lies my problem, while I sit here and think about it far too much for my own good.  I have to do that sodding coming out thing again.  People I know from school know I’m trans, my family know I’m trans (and those of them who don’t will have an interesting surprise when they next see me and my voice has broken), and the odd person from uni already knows as well, when I’ve had the chance to bring it into conversation (not an easy one, I know.  “Yep, the acid’s over there, and by the way, I’m not female, despite some evidence to the contrary.  Pass the acetone, please.”), but the vast majority of people I see daily at uni do not.

But my voice is deeper now, and I’ve not had much of a chance to go into details with anyone other than my Personal Tutor and Aspie Mentor.  For all I know, my explaining that I’m trans to the few that I already have done has been taken in the opposite direction, and they think I’m transitioning to female instead of away from it; I never really got much feedback.  I don’t really know what I’m doing, as it’s easy enough when you can hide behind a computer screen, but when you’re seeing people all the time, if you don’t say something, questions may well be asked.

Yes, even if you’re an introverted social phobe like me, intrigue can still be present, even if you’ve spent the year hardly speaking to anyone.  And it scares the hell out of me.

I don’t know how to handle “normal” conversations, about the weather or the latest lab report; they’re hard enough, but at least there are guidelines to follow.  Don’t go too far off topic, don’t talk so loudly or forcefully that you spit on anyone, don’t headbutt or punch anyone, and don’t forget to smile, and you should be fine.

But there are no guidelines here.  There’s no Trans Handbook.  And if there were, I’d imagine that the section for my gender would be the tiny, crumpled few pages at the end that no one could be bothered to type.  “I don’t have one but prefer to be gendered male rather than female if you can’t avoid gendering me completely, which would be nicest” is kind of a hard one to explain, even to myself most days.

Maybe people won’t notice the voice.  Maybe I’m being paranoid as usual.  Maybe I’ll go so long without a conversation that no one will even need to refer to me by name.  The trouble is, that’s a hell of a lot of variables, and I don’t deal in possibilities.

I’ve not even considered the possible reactions.  Everything I’ve done so far in my transition has been to make life easier for others as much as possible without nullifying the purpose of transition.  My first name was a parent-pleasing exercise; the jury’s still not out on how successful that has been.  My transitional route was to avoid as much paperwork as possible for others.  I’ve been putting off a hell of a lot of stuff to avoid putting others out, and while I expect nothing from people other than to accept the changes and not make it harder than it already is, I’ve had very little support so far.

There’s the typed kind, which is always nice.  And it’s been sanity-saving much of the time, more than you all realise.  Then there’s the verbal kind, which has much more effect when I’m there to hear it.  But there has been virtually nothing practical in terms of support, other than by the specialists themselves.  I’ve yet to meet another person who respects my choices enough to deal with me in person.

I expect it, the Bad Reaction.  I have to stop myself from adding on the get-out clause when coming out: “It’s OK if you can’t handle it, just let me know.”  I expect to be excluded, avoided, and isolated.  But I expected that anyway, really, trans or otherwise.

All the way through last year, I hated myself for not having a Group, or a Friend Circle.  Despite enjoying my own company, the presence of others’ mutual enjoyment of each other’s company rubbed in the fact that I didn’t have that option even if I wanted it.  And occasionally I would peek past the Pessimistic Curtain to realise that actually, it’s not all that surprising that I don’t have People if I use a separate (isolated) entrance to every lecture by choice, and avoid every tutorial because we’re expected to talk in front of others, and spend so much of my Lab Time panicking that I rarely notice what others are doing, and then rush home as soon as I possibly can (I was commuting from home that year, remember) without acknowledging anyone around me.  I had to admit that I wasn’t exactly helping myself.

But still, interactions will happen.  And no one really knows me well enough to have to put up with the task of understanding my gender (a feat in itself) and respecting it.  I don’t want to have to keep “Oh, and by the way”-ing people who really just want to be kind, when they have better things to do.

And I still don’t know how to go about it.  If anyone figures it out, let me know…

Posted in Life | 4 Comments

The Big Amalgamation Post

I’m still alive.  Apparently.

OK, so I’ve been off in my own little world for some time now, which isn’t unusual, especially around this time of year (when my brain unfailingly decides to mutiny).  I’ve been rethinking lots of things for lots of reasons, mainly the Big Important Futurey Things, and have unsurprisingly self-inflicted a lot of anxiety.

I’m still in something of a panic about restarting university, and whether or not my brain is up to the challenge is yet to be determined.  But I’m finally being more proactive – which isn’t easy with the whole lethargic indifference that typically accompanies my August And Apparently Also September Brain – and trying to make things better rather than wallowing.  The plan is to go into Halls to avoid the exhaustion of commuting 3 hours a day, hopefully be successful in the whole responsible independence thing (even when surrounded by non-adult-brained students), handle the workload of a UCL chemistry student (be thankful if you don’t know quite what that means) and simultaneously make clear progress with the ol’ social phobia.  Oh, and deal with the trans stuff successfully as well.

I received an email a month (ish) ago, warning me of the imminent opening of the re-enrolment service.  After hearing nothing from them for a fair while, I checked up on it all, to find that it had indeed opened, and they’d failed to mention it (which they said they would)… and then I enrolled.  Fairly simple logic there, yes?  You know…  The enrolment service opens, and you have to enrol to continue your course for the next year, so you enrol.  The steps kind of follow on well, right?

Yep.  Well, it made sense to me too.  Until I received a letter, several weeks after the original enrolment email, from the Chemistry Department.  And it instructed us not to enrol until after term had started, because we were expected to discuss our options with the staff and assumedly have it approved before we could actually get on with things.  But it had apparently not occurred to them to, you know, mention that fact before the generic enrolment emails had been going round.  So now, I have to try and find a way to un-enrol and then re-enrol later.  And so far, I’ve been failing miserably.  Clearly much more logical than the enrolment-service-opens-so-you-enrol progression above.  Clearly.

And I’ve emailed my Personal Tutor to keep him updated and to set up some kind of let’s-calm-the-ol’-nerves-type meeting where we essentially discuss how to keep me from losing my marbles any more than I already have.  He was on holiday, and now he’s back, I’m still waiting for a reply.

So, I guess all I can say about uni is watch this space.  Followed by an internal sigh.

—-

OK, I suppose the most logical follow-on point is about my mental health in general… or indeed, my lack thereof.  I’ve already mentioned the whole Brain Mutiny thing, but because I’m strange and probably repressed in some way, I’m not all that good with clinical words so I never explain it very well.  So now I’m going to try and do better.  Usually, around this time of year, I have a major depressive episode; it’s usually caused – at least in part – by having too much time on my hands, leading to introspection and inevitably overanalysing in every possible way, coupled with a lack of human contact (which is only partly my fault; I can hardly blame social phobia for the fact that no one wants to see me).

And this year’s one was right on time.  Except this time, there was no wavering, fluctuatey period at the beginning before The Crash (the August ones often have bouncy, let’s-decorate-the-house-with-tuna-and-shampoo-type starts to them); it just led in quietly.  So quietly, in fact, that I didn’t notice any warning signs until it was too late and I was floundering.

I’ve had largely no help from those around me, not that there’s much that could be done anyway.  My parents don’t know what to do, and are so used to my low moods now that they are noticeably freaked out when a good mood comes along.  In fact, by their reckoning, during Good Moods I’m too loud, do things too quickly, “hyperactive” and generally an exaggerated version of what they’re used to.  But it seems rather unfair to judge someone to be “hyperactive” when all they do otherwise is sit around, typing or staring at a screen somewhere.  Moving on.

So I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  Nothing heavy, just escapist alternative-universey fiction.  I don’t have the brain- or willpower to do Deep Analyses right now, so I keep myself distracted from even Deeply Analysing myself.  It’s working better than I’d expected, so I’m trying to keep it up.

The only problem so far: I was enjoying a series, recommended by my mum and borrowed from the local library.  All was well.  I got through the first three books in the right order (although my mum originally got hooked on Book Three without realising that it was a sequel, then read B1 and B2 in order).  The fourth one was nowhere to be found, and is due to reappear in the library after I’ve gone into Halls.  Which kind of defeats the object.  And there are two more books to be read after that one and one just published, but I refuse to read it in a weird order; my mum, however, does not.  She’s now read them like this: 3, 1, 2, 5, 6.  And I’m considering buying the book I need just so that I can keep my sanity levels within a tolerable range.

But at least I’ve found something to help.  That’s progress, right?

—-

Next up… transition.  I’m now on T, and have been for two months (and two days).

So far:

  • My voice has deepened, although it’s far from broken yet (it still squeaks when I least expect it).
  • I’m hungry all the time.
  • I’ve not gained as much weight as I’d expected to, but my muscles are less smooth and more, erm, liney is how I usually describe it, although I think “defined” makes more sense outside of my brain.
  • I’ve yet to notice much in the way of body hair, but I’ve been told I should be expecting it around now.
  • My chin is getting fuzzier – this is a reported change, and not one that I’d noticed.  Facial hair is apparently the last change to arrive, so I’m not getting my hopes up, but after it had been pointed out, I noticed it: just a higher density of peach fuzz on my chin, and some darker hairs above my upper lip.  It was rather comforting, even if deluded, so I’m counting it.
  • I’ve stopped menstruating.  I’ve been period-free for seven weeks now, and apparently that was to be expected, so all is well (and extra hassle-free).

The pain from the injections was the same for the first two injections; three days of not being able to straighten my leg or walk without making lots of strange faces and jumping around.  Third time around, the pain didn’t extend to my knee at all, and remained localised in my thigh, so walking was much easier, and I barely notice it now.

I can also now self-inject without supervision.  I was shown how to do it the first time, then instructed and supervised while I did it myself (although I could have put it off if I was still apprehensive; luckily I wasn’t, because one of the few things I’m not phobic about is needles) the second time, and then I was left to get on with it the third time, but I was still with the nurse so I could have asked if I needed help.  Just one more paid visit to go (plus blood tests, peak and trough testosterone and liver and things), and then I’m set for life.  Mwah ha ha.

Unless I change to nebido, that is.  But I don’t understand how most of it works, so I’ll try and take it as it comes.  There’s also the possibility of switching to gel if the supply of sustanon and enanthate is still going funny by the time I’ve finished my five month supply.  It was hell on earth trying to get hold of any at all, and pure luck that we managed to fill the prescription.  So I’m crossing my fingers now because I’d really rather not go on gel, because of sensory issues mainly.

And that’s about it on the transition front.  I’ve typed more details and things as they came up, along with voice updates, on my transition-related Tumblr, which can be found here if anyone’s interested.

—-

Finally, social things.  None to speak of.  I recently went to the cinema with my oldest friend (from before school), her sister (and also my friend) and our respective families; we saw Brave and made plans to watch a few others as they came out, although nothing’s come of that yet.

Other than that, I’ve not done anything social since April.  Which is no great surprise, really.  There’s only so much hope one can have for making progress with social anxiety when one has little reason to socialise, other than the self-motivation-y ones.  And self-motivation’s been somewhat lacking, for the exact same reason: feeling like even tolerable company can be hard when there’s no supporting evidence.  But there’ve been Bigger Thoughts on this whole “being tolerated” thing, and I’m working on my responses to it, hopefully for the better.

I’ve not done much editing of this, because I’ve put off posting for long enough.  I apologise if I’m not coherent, but I wanted to do something other than panic, so type is what I did.

More to come.  Thanks for reading, and for not giving up.  I’m still alive.

Posted in Gender, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments