TRIGGER WARNING AND DISCLAIMER– Depression, Suicide, Sexual Function.
My transition has been unremarkable thus far. Hormones work in a similarly unremarkable way. However, over time one realises that things have changed, and it’s not a case of missing the alterations, it’s just that they are each so miniscule and consistent that it takes up too much energy to record or even stay aware of each little thing.
It’s not a bad thing, focusing on thinking too much about gender can create a tangled mess of dysphoria. Rather, feel it: Breathe in – feel the turmoil inside, all the words, possibilities, permutations. Breathe out – Let as much of it as you can go. Focus on the important things, not all the little things, they’ll take care of themselves as products of appreciation borne from a simple, guided, determined intention.
I cannot dismiss HRT as an interminably important force in transition, but as expected, I’ve found it is more difficult to wait for them with shining desperate eyes than to deal with the reality of the tectonic pace of change. Unless one is prepared to stare into the mirror all day every day with a magnifying glass scouting for changes, hormonal transition actually makes up for very little of the day.
Mentally however, the flux of completely replacing one set of sex hormones for another can be a massive tumult. My experiences seem indicative of puberty: my moods are very fragile and subject to change; I’m incredibly insecure sometimes; I like sitting in my room listening to loud music in the dark writing about how I hate everything; lamenting how no-one understands me; being obviously upset but when asked how I am, replying ‘I’m fine.’ However settled I may feel at times, there’s no telling when the next uncontrollable emotional episode is on its way. Sometimes I can wake up and know that it’s going to be a hormonal day, but even then the malaise can be sneaky, trying to turn physical symptoms into mental wars.
According to my therapist, many transfolk on the Testosterone blocking injection of Leuprorelin (Prostap SR) suffer from listlessness and therefore an increased incidence in depression. I understand this well, having fallen into a deeply anxious self-imposed hate cycle without any reason to feel that way, isolating myself at home, my transition fading, my hopes dwindling.
It all came to a head on Hallowe’en. It was to be my one year celebration since my first proper public outing as trans, and it was a disaster.
I had regained enough resource in my spirit to attempt presenting truly again, making my plans and readying them for action. On the day of Hallowe’en I was to meet my Mum and Nan in town, giving my Nan a first chance to see how little I think I’ve changed. Instead of getting up early to get appropriately dressed and put on my make up, I opted for a sleep in, put on the dude jeans and t-shirt basics and left the house.
I’d never felt so bad, this wasn’t me. I couldn’t cope with being seen simply as some cis-male. My mood plummeted to new depths and the afternoon was deeply troubling.
Later, I was to go out clubbing with a whole bunch of friends. Instead of embracing this opportunity, I sat in my room, in the dark, bawling, and my friends were freaked out. At one point I left the house to stand by the road wondering how fast a bus or a van would have to be going for me to step in front of it. Later I was found by a friend sitting in an alley sobbing.
I assured everyone I was fine and they went out to party. Then I made this video:
TRIGGER WARNING – Depression, Suicide
Soon after this, I was made aware that there would be a house party in a few hours and that I was invited. Something clicked; I told myself that there was still a chance to make tonight work. So, I pulled out of my slump, I ate, I washed and I got ready the way I should expect myself to get ready. I didn’t want to be a stereotype, I didn’t want to be a statistic – I know my experience is very average but I wanted to inspire and be inspired so I decided I would make this happen.
I made this video soon after the first, to show that there is always a way back from the brink, there is always a silver lining. Sometimes, the best yielded seeds are sewn in the aftermath of a disaster:
It wasn’t the best party ever, it didn’t need to be, it was an opportunity and I took it. I decided afterwards that I could embrace my identity again and I’ve been feeling stronger everyday since. We can all make this happen, what opportunity will you grasp that you thought you would let slide by?
As far as physical changes…it is so hard to describe sensing that maybe something might maybe maybe possibly almost maybe be changing, trying to decide if it’s real or a trick of the eye. However, I know things are changing.
I know how interested I was about the effects of HRT before I even thought they were a possibility, so I share my personal log of changes. There is no real pattern of regularity as to the frequency and qualitative properties of noticed differences, but each one raises a special smile only for me. Or mostly manic laughter, it’s so strange!:
Day 42 – Leg hair seems to be growing in more slowly and sparsely.
Day 44 – I felt a little lump under my left nipple.
Day 45 – The lump feels hard under my areola.
Day 49 – Lump now visible at top of areola. Still no feeling on the right side.
Day 55 – Veins seem less prominent on my hands at rest. I haven’t had a release in a while, nor a single erection I haven’t coaxed as a weekly necessity. Ejaculation doesn’t necessarily equate to orgasm, and I’m pretty sure I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to that department anymore.
Day 56 – Left nipple much harder, the lump has moved past my areola. It has been nearly two weeks and no feeling in the right. It feels odd, but in the grand scheme this is no time at all.
Day 61 – I look decidedly less male. The crying thing isn’t an issue so much anymore but the depression is harsh. Right nipple where the left was about three weeks ago. I seem to be getting more back fat than hip fat.
I actually noticed a few days ago that my handwriting has changed a little. There are more diagrams, more colours, whilst even some of my lettering has changed, the sharp stabbing lines of a ‘w’ now more often a curved ‘uu.’ This isn’t contrived, I just sometimes feel like maybe brightening up the drab walls of black text. Which I know I should work on with this blog too.
I haven’t been out in the world too much this month, it has been very difficult. I am cheating a bit because I’m closer to 3 months but just including notes up to the two month mark.
The hormones really did a number on me, that was a tough tough month, but I’ve been feeling better. Can’t let those bad times define you. The night out on Hallowe’en helped. Writing to myself afterwards, I decided to write as if I was having a conversation with my own sense of hope, if it still existed (it always does because hope never dies). When you listen to your heart through a depression it can be a powerful moment. It takes a long time to push back through, trying to have a sense of holding on long enough until the next chance to beat it comes along.
Next blog we’ll have lots of positive fun, ok?!
Thank you for reading 🙂