Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Changes, mental pt 2 - how being yourself changes your head

So this chapter is all about the, let’s say, psychological changes that I have gone through as a result of starting hormones. And also coming out cause that is Huge! The emotional changes that I would suggest are not changes as a result of changing head chemistry – placebo effects I guess I could say. The changes I had read about that I hoped I would experience as a secondary effect of the hormones – and the ones I was somewhat sceptical about.

Taking the hormones. Well, I said in an earlier post that I felt ready to start hormones but, once I had them, I was suddenly weirded out by everything. At first, sure, I was apprehensive about taking the pills – but this was my dreams in pill form, dreams built over 30 years. So I just said “sod it, see what happens”. Well, straight away having started the meds it was no longer a dream. No longer something I wondered about. It was reality. Part of the apprehension comes from “what if they don’t do much? What if I still look like bloke? What if they make me ill?”. These are valid questions.

Some trans folk start hormones with insane expectations. Sometimes they will have a huge effect on your body and mind. But there are also women about who have taken them for years and honestly still look like blokes in dresses. I am not being mean, these people are amazing – the courage to carry on when you stick out must be so hard. Then there are the kids I see who just take to the changes like they had never been born male, they have it so much easier. Again, not easy and I still respect them hugely (with minimal but some jealousy) – transitioning is never an easy step. I wish everyone could take to them so easily.

And I hope, so much hope, that I am not one of those that does not have any visual changes. I expect that I will be clocked, that I will have tell-tale signs of m2f transition – but I don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb. (Oh how amazing makeup can be in this respect!) So I watched a whole bunch of transition timelines on YouTube. The inspiration you get from middle age men, who look like builders at the start and after a few years look like women – it really is an inspiration. 

It gives you hope. And this is a big part of writing this blog. Mainly it is a diary for my friends to understand me. But maybe at some point some folks will read my story, find the similarities and it will give them hope and courage to move forward, as I have from so many before me. 

Hope is such a huge word during transition. The biggest word in the English language.

So yes, I was scared and sorta remained so for about a month. But once you start taking them you realise you are finally doing what you always wanted to do. This is an amazing thing. You have hope from watching other internet folk. And yes, just knowing that you have made that step. It is amazing the boost you get from that. And then you start to notice little changes. Little changes here and there. It does not take much. But once you notice a little something the smile that creeps across your face. Oh gosh, I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat at such little things that no one else noticed. But to me they were huge. Maybe not at the difference itself but at the hope it gives you.  There are changes – there will be more. So you have lost of the stress of wanting to start hormones – and then you lose the stress of worrying they will not do anything. And it does not take much for this to happen. 

You suddenly feel that your dreams are within reach.

So it is happening. You are hopefully changing physically. (Two folk told me they thought I was ill because of how different I looked before I ‘came out’.) Now, I had planned to wait to go full time until I return to the UK (and finish my current job so as to not rock any boats). So I thought to myself  “ok, I do not need to tell anyone till then”. But as I say, I saw my mum a few months in and the changes were enough to let her know something was going on so keeping folk in the dark becomes harder. And then there is the other thing – you become happier. Noticeably so. And you wanna talk about it. So bad. Within a month of deciding not to tell anyone I had started slipping up all over the place. And once you tell one person you want to tell more. (Assuming, as I had, that everyone you know is super amazing. I guess in different circumstances I would be less keen – and understandably so. For those out there that get pain for coming out, I feel for you so very, very much. Xx)

So think about this (if you ain't been in a similar situation yourself) - you have this huge secret. You keep it to yourself. For me, this was for thirty years. Most of my life I had this big massive thing that I couldn’t even tell a therapist. This secret that I had hidden so deep that I had erected huge barriers to prevent anyone knowing anything. You have the fear of rejection. You have the fear of making your life difficult - opening yourself up to abuse from strangers. The knowledge that you will affect your job / career options. The fear that those you love will reject you or see you so differently that your relationship is forever changed. In my case, I never believed this – I know how amazing the folk in my life are. But even thought I did not believe it, it does not mean I did not fear it. Hell, I was not even sure that admitting this stuff would not change how I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF, after 30 years of contemplation, so how can I know what others would think?

And you are not just keeping things from people. If you keep a big secret you know how bad it feels. But when it is something that affects most of your waking life, as GID does, then you have to lie. You have to cover up things. You have to fudge truths. You have to change facts. You cannot give sensible reasons for things you do sometimes. For me, this hurt. I hated the situation and I hated the lies. I care about my family and friends too much. This gives you so much baggage. Each year an extra bit adds to the baggage. And it gets heavier and heavier.

But then you tell people. - and the order there is important. But you gain confidence as you go along. If you are lucky, like me, those you tell offer support and love and – best of all – total acceptance. And, damn – no more secrets. You can explain stupid things you did. You can explain flimsy lies you told folk. Ha, some folks immediately realised some of my past 'untruths'. You can be honest. The weight disappears and you really do feel like you are floating. 30 years of stress – gone. And in my very, very lucky case – without hurt or ‘losses’. In fact, I had so much support and understanding. All my lies were forgiven. Yes, I am THAT lucky! And you can talk, discuss, share. Be yourself with your friends for the first time ever. Amazing.

I should stop being teary now. But – that is how happy it made me. And still does when I remember.

So, you are reaching for your dreams, you have faced your biggest fear and you have released all the stress built up over years. You can now discuss things openly. And I can make up for 30 GOD DAMN YEARS of hiding!!! With this, there comes a sense of maturity. You just start to see things differently. You are finally able to start growing mentally as all the bad stuff takes up less of your brain power. And so you do feel yourself grow in maturity (despite having 14 year old girls boobs!). Do not get me wrong. I am still very silly and childish. My growing My Little Pony collection is a testament to that.

There are two vloggers I watched quite a lot before I started hormones (and as I started). These two women had ideas and thoughts similar to my own and made me feel less alone – given that a lot of vloggers are over the top camp kids I do not relate to. Both said a similar thing – but as one put it “who you are is not who you will be". This sounds odd. But the idea is that as you start hormones you will be able to deal with the changes better as you go on, as you mature. Do not worry about what will happen as you'll develop the mental tools to deal with the changes. This is so true. I am the same person. I have the same hobbies and likes. But I have gained a different perspective on things. I do see things from a slightly different angle. I put this down to the increasing maturity and a less cluttered brain. I am the same, and I feel the same. But I also feel different. Two very dear friends have told me separately that they can see how the weight has lifted; the constant dark cloud above my head has dissipated. How happy I am. And how comfortable I seem to be with myself.

And I guess that is it. I am comfortable with myself for the first time. And it feels amazing. I want to tell everyone. And I shall…

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