depression, self love, transgender

Consent to Nightmares

Often I find that when I am at my most self-loathing I am most unlikely to express it.  It is exactly the most important time to express it.  My brain calls me undeserving, unworthy.  Who wants to listen to all that negative crap?  Why should I burden anyone else with my difficulties?

It’s simple really, this is when my self-love is tested, my empathy to myself.  This is when I’m challenged to respect the ones I love and allow them to help me.  To allow those I love to help me is to allow them the chance to show their love for me.  It’s easy when things are going well, but more difficult in hard times, problem is, there is so much less to gain when things are going well compared to when things are bleakest.

When that voice tells me how much of a failure I am, how useless, how undeserving I am, it leads me to mistrust others, unwilling to seek their help, I cry invisibly for them to notice and lament alone for assistance I would reject anyway.  I automatically assume people are sick of listening to my crap, even though I don’t tell it to them.  They rarely ask, and when they do, I reject it.  I have a poor attitude.

I write a positive post and I am a fraud.  Do not take the word of someone who cannot apply lessons to themselves, those who say they know the path but do not lead along it.

What has been a month of brutal anxiety, anger and panic attacks has roiled over into a depression.  I may take that as a positive, depression I understand, how that part of the primal mind with nothing to hunt must make up reasons to feel inadequate.  Quite often the depressed state is wrong, ‘Ooooh, no-one cares about me’, and all of a sudden I realise someone does, then I cry, feel guilty and ashamed for being so silly and find a new way to be unhappy.  It’s a very difficult chain to break, especially when you know and expect it to return.


All of it boils down to one thing, self-love.  To think of the perception of how others perceive me is impossible and immensely damaging.  With self love, the perception of how I believe other people see me is irrelevant; with depression, it becomes auto-cannibalistic, because it is a deflection from the self.

A friend of mine told me about her relationship paranoia, and I said I believed it was because she also had a lack of self love.  I opined that a good, stable relationship must have four factors:  Your partner loves you, your partner loves themself, you love your partner, YOU LOVE YOURSELF.  Without all four, there is trouble.  Her response was along the lines of ‘Oh dear, so the relationship will be unworkable if I don’t love me?’ the only reply I could give was ‘You say it like just loving yourself isn’t a consideration.’

If only I treated myself like I treated the ones I love.  I love to help them, I love to give to them, and I love to spend time with them.  Instead I give my heart away, rather than giving what my heart is, and it can never be returned in as good a shape than if I cared for it myself. A lack of self-trust.  One person, one heart, full responsibility.

If only I believed they could think to treat me in the same way – Can it be so hard to believe?  That my loved ones love to help me, they love to give to me, and they love to spend time with me?  To believe anything else is either fear or arrogance, to prevent them from doing this is to deny their expressions of love.  Put simply, by not loving myself, I am being selfish in refusing help, in refusing to be vulnerable, I am being a bad friend in not allowing them to know me by not giving them that chance to grow mutual, irreplaceable love.

It is selfish to not allow good friends the opportunity to enhance our friendship through gaining trust in adversity, but in expecting their help when I refuse to help myself, I show a lack of self-respect for my own capabilities.  I feel that if I take help then I owe someone, it creates a heavy pressure and makes relationships transactional rather than human.  After all, why would someone help me unless they thought they were getting something from it?  Why would someone help me at all?  So stupid, it’s not just about me, sometimes people do get the same joy out of helping me that I do in helping them.  Self-loathing negates the value of this and takes so much away from relationships with others.

What a twist this puts the depressed mind in.  ‘…if I don’t love me’, how could I when my mind says I suck and don’t deserve it?  It becomes a spiral.  There is only one direction to look to find the answer I believe, inwards, lest everything else becomes a reflection to self-despair.


I am in the midst of some of the most difficult few months in my life in one of the most dejected mental states.  For well over a month now there has been no joy, just a continual grind to try and make my life better whilst embracing none of it.  How could I possibly expect to make my life better with success when success tastes like ash?  Yes, I do things because they need to be done, but ultimately, there is no point if it means nothing to me.

I’ll be honest; this transition has become a nightmare.  The more intense and real it gets, the more I pull away from myself, the more I try to go alone, the further I get from understanding and embracing my identity.  Exercise, healthy diet and so on are great tools, but tools are useless without confidence of the wielder.

Yesterday I signed the consent form for hormones, the most major medical decision I’ve ever made and in all likelihood, the forbearer to a stroke in an orange pill bottle.  In two days I put my only hope of genetic offspring into the hands of strangers with the risk of losing it all.  So so so so heavy.  This coming week I have laser, a voice lesson, and a pro make-up session which is a terror all of its own.

On top of this is the soul-destroying voice practice.  Morning, noon, evening and night, they remind me that there is no rest anymore, no relaxation, and for each shade of personal darkness I drop a semitone, compounding the difficulty.

I’m preparing to move house and town in just over two weeks, even though I am far from ready to being capable of employment, have limited funds and few friends.  The only time I see friends is when I make the effort to go to them, so I know they won’t make the effort, and I wish I could say that was only self-defeat, but it is recorded true from experience.

At a point the load becomes ever more difficult to bear, but like I quoted in my last post, it’s how I carry it.  Still, I feel utterly crushed, alone within myself.


Oh yeah, gender transition.  Woopy-do.  The therapy session yesterday was difficult.  We discussed potential changes on hormones and got caught up in a debate about breasts.  She asked why I don’t care about them and I explained about my dysphoria being a sub-conscious deal rather than conscious.  She argued that many/most transfolks feel their gender consciously, and transwomen want breasts and so on to feel their femininity.  She challenged that if I’m not that bothered about my body, then why should I even want hormones.

I don’t care about my gender, I care about dysphoria.  However on the way home I thought a lot about it.  Two words came up, bright and bold.  SHAME.  GUILT.

I’ve rarely felt through my life that I have deserved anything for myself, this is why I give away so much more of myself than I have to give, destroying myself and close relationships.  This is why I never took my dysphoria seriously.  It is why even now I feel that I don’t deserve to have the body, mind, soul of what my heart tells me I am.  I am ashamed to want any of this treatment for myself, the same as I am ashamed to present my true self because my negativity asserts that my true internal self isn’t worthy of expressing.  A lot of the time, I don’t feel I deserve to live, though what’s the alternative.

I feel guilty complaining about all the appointments that I go to, knowing that there are people who are incredibly physically sick, missing limbs and so on who must go through even more intense treatment programs, yet I am completely healthy and going to appointments which will ultimately destroy me whether I endure or not.  I feel guilty that I would get any treatment at all, when I could just keep trying to find a way of dealing with this even though I don’t think there is any other way.  I can’t think of a more bizarre medical treatment option for a situation.

Some of these feelings seem reasonably typical at this point in transition, when reality begins to take its’ toll, when the limits of endurance are pushed, when the determination of resolve is tested.  Dysphoria is the only constant.


I feel like I’ve totally screwed this up, that instead of a time for freedom, openness, expression, love and joy, it has become a nightmare of depression, anger, panic, loneliness, anxiety and self-loathing.  I still think too much and feel not enough.  No success is a victory for the self-loathing – for example, I will have quit all forms of smoking for a month tomorrow, I have such reason to be proud, yet I don’t care.

The only salve is to somehow love myself again, to make time for it beyond anything else, to make it more important than anything else.  It is not selfish, it is selfless.  It has been said since humans could speak, ‘Love thyself to love another.’

I cannot love outwards unless I love inwards first.  If I am hollow, my intentions outwards are loving in intent, but they are still hollow.  If I am full, the love I give is full.

The truth is, we are all equal, so when I disrespect myself, I disrespect others.  When I respect myself, I respect others.  Once again, it is arrogant to hold myself to a different standard than others’, it is unreasonable to expect myself to be so much more capable, and to be able to cope with more.  It is unreasonable to say I should receive special punishment for mistakes no-one is invulnerable from committing.  A counsellor one asked me, ‘What have you done that is so bad that you don’t deserve to be as happy as anyone else?’

Alternatively I’d take a cuddle and a cry but neither of those seem forthcoming, and I’d refuse that too, I’d need someone to force me into their arms, to not let go as I crumple into teary anagnorisis.  I am afraid to be vulnerable, I am afraid of the rejection of experienced all too often, yet I know I have to keep trying to bare the open wounds to see who might sew them in positions that I cannot.

At this point I’m so lost that I don’t even really know much about my identity, I don’t know how other people could help me more, and I am really struggling to find a way to help myself.  For so much as I despise myself, the most despicable thing I can do is to not make time to confront who I am once again.

I feel like I am so busy that I can’t make time for this most singularly important need.  How ridiculous that I can fret over all matter of minutiae and neglect the core of being.

“I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.”- Ghandi


Depression is a temporary state, just like any authoritarian regime the lies and oppression will come to an end when I demand my freedom.  The tyranny of despair will end when I fight for my happiness.  I don’t need to know how, I just need to know to never to give up, to expect and move past failures, to ask for help, to not know just that I can get there, but I that I will.

♣ Amy Xx ♥

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gender, hormones, transgender

When you can’t calm the waves, ride the storm.

There are always going to be low points, really low points, in anyone’s life.  Transition is a neon bug-catcher around the neck, the buzzing swarms of fear, anxiety, stress and panic crackling away, dying and brought back to life in never ending attempts to torment.  What matters is what you can do now, even if in screaming and crying through the whole process you can do what you need to do, it shows not weakness, but the highest level of courage imaginable.  The harder the process is, the braver you become.

Through it all, remember and celebrate each little success, for they are beautiful, and incomparable to what most people will ever know. Rejoice in your unique experience, the quality of self-knowledge, and the enlightenment of your understanding of the world at large.

At the moment, I only really know three emotions – stress, anger and panic.  In the past year I’ve developed somewhat of an anxiety disorder, mostly through the stress of work, cruel betrayal and heartbreak by loved ones and feelings about my situation in life. At times it is greatly exacerbated by the sheer weight of the transition process.  I dealt with depression for a long period in the distant past, but anxiety is a different animal; it doesn’t make me unhappy, rather it makes me feel like I’m not in control of my shifting emotions and how I express them.

I have a bad habit of comparing my life situation to that of others’, and being trans for me unfairly highlights my shortcomings in a more profound way than ever.  This way of thinking can never work, one is only ever comparable to oneself and what I need in life is relevant only to me.  If you’re also just a regular Jane, you probably notice that many people consider their lives sucky to an extent – working for just enough to pay the bills; having problems with partners; watching as friendships are lost to the realities of adult responsibility, work, marriage, kids.  All the things teenagers say they’ll never do; how we’ll never lose touch or ‘be like that’, yet we follow the exact same path each generation does.  Life goes on, as we either grow closer to ourselves, or further away.

‘It’s not the load that breaks you down…it’s the way you carry it.’ – Lena Horne

I used to pride myself on being able to deal more effectively with more difficult problems than those I would try to help; now I see myself on the other end.  I want to be stronger, I need to be stronger.  In a lot of ways I am ashamed of my attitude, I see videos of little kids in hospital beds waiting to die and I bawl my eye’s out at their simple insurmountable strength in the face of doom.  I read about a woman who didn’t know she was born with XY chromosomes who had to suffer serious medical and social indignity through puberty and developed osteoporosis amongst other ailments just for being born with the condition, whilst I complain about a bit of facial hair and a masculine voice.

I’ve spent the last year preparing to build my life back up from scratch after losing everything – my apartment, my job, what I mistook to be a loving relationship.  It’s only now that things are picking up for big positive change, and there are a lot of big changes coming.  An opportunity has arisen to move into an apartment in the capital city (Belfast) without having to sign a contract, with a good friend. I’m taking the risk with my savings to move up at the end of this month in the hope I can find work and stay there.  The plus to this is that most of my trans related appointments are in the city anyway, but the downside is that I have so many appointments a day job would not be sustainable.  By moving up with the money I have, I’m basically putting myself on a timer to find a reliable source of income or I’m screwed, but if it somehow works, possibility can bloom.

Also in a month’s time, I’ll be off to Barcelona for nearly a week, my first holiday in a long time, and I’m trying to prepare for it in consideration of my place in transition, which is pretty stressful.

‘What do you mean, every month?!’

The crux in this is the appointments.  Gender therapy, laser therapy, voice therapy, fertility appointments, and soon endocrinology appointments, each of these building pressure on top of each other and taking up massive chunks of time and money trying to get there and back.

Voice therapy is humiliatingly embarrassing and feels like no progress is being made, so it’s important to take as much humour as possible, and to realise that the only way to get there is to persevere, to never give up because it will take a long time for any of the progress to feel like progress. The constant daily practice is incredibly draining. Keep going though, it is the only way.

I had my first fertility appointment, where it was explained to me the various risks should I ever get the opportunity to have a child.  Waiver after waiver was signed, informing me that freezing could irreparably damage the sperm, that the machines could break down, and that IVF will be my only method of having genetic offspring.  These are huge risks for me and enough to unsteady my commitment to the medical pathway, because having my own kids is more important to me than my gender.  The catch-22 is to show those future children the way to live in fear of themselves by not being resolute in myself.

This first appointment was only a consultation, at which I gave blood to test for hepatitis and HIV.  At the second appointment I will have to give a sperm sample to check for viability before freezing and then I assume a third appointment to give the sample for freezing.  Two words I never thought I’d hear together ‘Ejaculation Timetable.’  It will be interesting to work on because my sex drive is still basically non-existent. Another stressor is that these appointments are normally attended by couples, and the whole sperm sample thing generally by cis-men, not transsexual women, so it’s not a fun waiting room.

Hormones on the way?

All of this is in anticipation of Hormone Replacement Therapy.  The minimum wait for diagnosis in Northern Ireland is six months, with the Gender Identity Clinic here apparently notorious for making people wait at least a year.  I got diagnosed at exactly the six month mark, I wonder why.  I think it’s because I’m very clear, rational and unwavering as to what my transition goals are: to abate so much as possible the impact of dysphoria, and to be able to get on with my life.  I’m not doing it to have boobs or a cis-normative seeming body; I don’t need hormones to be a woman, I don’t need to label myself; I’ve been through enough crap in my life to hopefully be able to deal with it; I’m aware of the risks and limitations.  Hey, it would be nice to blend in flawlessly, but I accept that it will never happen, no matter how amazing I may look, no matter if I ‘pass 100%.’

Now is the time for deep research.  When the decision to take oestrogen is made, life branches off on a new path and the old paths close forever.  The clock starts ticking, with initial decisions for bottom surgery in my opinion needing to be made concurrently.  You can jump on this ride, but you can’t jump off and hope for things to be as they were.  This decision for me has never been ‘OMFG I’m finally getting ma hormonez!!’ No, it’s come to Jesus time, honey.  This isn’t someone else’s body; this isn’t watching transition videos on YouTube or meeting with other transgender successes.  What this definitely isn’t, is the ideals in your mind dysphoria have created about how you would hope to be.

Hormones will not change you in the ways that you dream, they may do a lot, but they will never do enough.  My hope is simply that hormones are a hammer with which to beat down dysphoria effectively.  This is the process of attempting to align our bodies with our minds, not our minds with our bodies, so no amount of modification on its’ own can beat dysphoria, you will only ever be able to ultimately cage (not vanquish) it with your heart, your soul and your mind – not medicine, not surgery.  Being a woman is not a special achievement, having boobs and a vagina is not a special achievement, this is a normalization process, not specialisation.  Being a woman will only get you as far as women go, and if you are trans, it quite likely won’t even get you that far. However, remember always that we are all equal and we can all go as far as our determination carries us.

I’m not trying to be brutal, but you have to understand the likelihood of realities here.  Medical transition can and does make unbearable lives into exceptionally amazing lives for some whose lives are unbearable because of extreme dysphoria only.  It is not a perfect treatment, is extremely risky and requires lifetime maintenance.  If you are quite unlucky, oestrogen will give you deep vein thrombosis, a stroke, or a pulmonary embolism.  The hormonal shifts might drive you to madness or worse, the surgery may leave you inorgasmic and feeling mutilated creating a new nightmare of intolerable suffering.  You don’t have to do any of these things to be the gender you experience yourself to be.

Please note that I haven’t done my research to the level I feel comfortable discussing intricacies, and I’m not trying to instil fear, I’m just saying there are some fatal scenarios and that whilst for some there is no choice, if there is a choice, be aware of the negative possibilities.

Life doesn’t wait.

Another thing that is holding me back is simply the lack of real life support.  Yes, I have plenty of amazingly supportive friends and family, and while I don’t expect them to understand exactly what I’m going through, I worry for their knowledge of what I’m about to go through.  The attitude I get is usually ‘Good for you, I’m so happy you are finally getting the chance to be yourself, I’ll do whatever I can to help.’  This is beautiful, I love and appreciate it so much, but what it feels like to me sometimes is a template, that they don’t understand these dangers, that they don’t challenge my decisions, that they don’t ask me about transition unless I bring it up, and even then I can tell they know basically nothing about transgender people, and for me that’s dangerous, especially for my decision making since I cannot do it alone. I understand their reticence, it is my issue, my journey, and they do what they can, and they do so much for me.  I need their help because I trust them, I rely on them.

One of the stressors I have is that my friends are all isolated from each other; they don’t meet up or talk to each other so the only thing that is holding my network together is me.  Because of this I find myself running around like crazy trying to maintain these individual friendships and it takes too much energy on top of everything else.  I feel like they support, but they are unable to help. I totally understand; everyone is busy with their own lives, they don’t want to be offensive, they don’t know what to say, they expect me to educate them, and I maybe expect too much. One thing I am is completely grateful for the impact they have on my life in general, how I am accepted and cared for, and I know I am so lucky to have just that simple acceptance, when they could so easily have abandoned me. If anything, I have to try harder for them, to be more open, more vocal, because they know I don’t like being made a fuss of.

The best thing for me would be to have some real life support from other trans individuals, yet every time I reach out in my community my confidence gets raked.  Each time I build up the nerve to speak to a trans-person in this country, or a support group, I’m met with overawing awkwardness, coldness, misery and most generally silence which really impacts on my confidence and emboldens the idea of feeling like an outcast within the community and instilling an unhealthy lone-wolf attitude.

The most reasonable transfolk I’ve knowingly encountered have been through this blog and on YouTube, and I am indebted to those who so freely share their stories and encouragement. I’m hoping when I move to the city I’ll be able to foster some new vital bonds.

However, currently without this feeling of help, taking HRT now is going to be a difficult path, yet with therapy rules in the UK, I could put myself back by months or years if I fully indulge in my issues which will have the ironic impact of extending the duration of the difficulties that impact me daily. Problems like this can’t be let lie, so I’ve arranged for a regular counsellor to help through these issues. Never be scared to talk to someone if you have to, and if you are, do it anyway.

You’ve got male.

One struggle I have noticed is that of testosterone and male anger.  I feel I can distinguish between regular anger, and the anger brought on by testosterone, though it’s only hyperbole.  When I get the male anger, I want to be violent, I envision scenarios in my head where someone might say or do something disrespectful or dishonourable enough that I would get to inflict damage upon them, a seething rage to hunt, kill and screw.  I have to do some serious exercise and mindfulness to help abate these feelings as they have always been scarily abhorrent to me, but they are getting harder to control.  Indeed, I’ve often considered the sign of a strong man to be his ability to quell these very natural emotions and inclinations.  I’ve spoken with male friends and many accept they have these same impulses and agree they must work to supplant the urges to conquer, to destroy.

The anxiety has been brutal, I am not myself, in some ways I am less of a person than I was before my realisation, but at the same time I can’t say that I wouldn’t have felt like this anyway if I weren’t trans due to how I feel about my position in life.  Going through transition however is basically like trying to maintain the workload of two lives within the space of one.  For everything I think of, note down and try to do, I can think of about a dozen other things to do.  When I write my daily to-do list, it ends up becoming non-exhaustive and it can be very difficult sometimes.

Still, persevere.  There is a lot to do and there will be lots more to do, with ever more life changing decisions to be made.  Cisfolk don’t understand the nature of how transition impacts almost every aspect of life.  Every time I open my mouth, I’m transitioning; every time I get dressed, I’m transitioning; every time I leave the house, I’m transitioning; every new situation I introduce myself as female in, I’m transitioning, whether it’s relevant to the situation or not; any time I think of where my life is going, I’m transitioning.  Any time I do any of these things, I am facing fears, both new and entrenched.

Feed. Me. More.

I have a list of simple fears, and I am going to eat them, fears that a cis-person would generally never even conceive of as a need for concern. Things like using a public bathroom; shopping for clothes; getting my makeup done; going swimming; going to a support group; wearing clothes that show any of my skin other than my face and hands; using a changing room. I embrace the challenge, even if I am not up to it yet.

There is great strength to be earned through all this – the more fear we face, the less fear can impact us;  the more pain we endure, the less that can hurt us; the more we commit to our understanding of ourselves, the less we need to question who we are;  the more we do, the more we can do; the more we surprise ourselves, the more we realise how deep the wells of our capabilities are; the more we decide to take care of ourselves and our dreams, the more we realise what we are individually worth.

Doing it through pain, tears and fears, is still doing it. The toughest journeys make the best stories. Life is a battle that can never be won but must always be fought. We learn that when times get tough, we can be tougher, and that when we can’t always calm the waves presented by both our internal and external lives, we certainly have the ability to show our true resolve and ride the storm.

Amy Xx

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