Over the last almost five years I have adjusted to the waves of my grief fairly well, yet both at the beginning of the year and around the anniversary of her passing I go numb for up to a couple weeks just stuck in the sadness of missing her and not being able to share all that has happened since that day with her. Luckily I know that this too will pass and whether it’s a couple days or a couple weeks I will bounce back and feel as I normally do again. This was not always the case, I was number for about a year and a half after her passing where all I felt was a numbness inside. No passion, or joy, or even hope just numbness.
This year it has hit me a little differently, but I think that is due to my upcoming surgery and actually having some things lined up for life once I’m post OP. It may have taken me a few years, but it feels like I am finally moving forward with my grief instead if living entrapped by it. Yes I still miss her, and I still cry, but that will never go away, it just happens significantly less frequently now. Grieving the loss of one of my childhood best friends at only seventeen years old, certainly helped when it came time to acknowledge and accept the grief that often occurs through points of a persons medical transition.
I am fortunate that my grief comes in waves that hit at the same times of tear annually so all I have to do is check the date when I feel that nothingness and acknowledge the source before letting the feeling pass after I’m done feeling it. For example today it hit me first thing in the morning so I decided to treat myself to enjoying my caffeine in my warm sunny backyard while music played in the background. This resulted in allowing myself to unpack what I felt and having the opportunity to get on with my day. Yes I enjoyed all three cups of coffee while a constant bead of tears streamed down both checks, but there’s nothing wrong with having a good cry from time to time as long as the feeling doesn’t control you.
I hope you are all well, do not hesitate to reach out to your support network when you need to talk.
We all get lost from time to time, whether you just lose parts of yourself or you have lost all of yourself that you have previously known. Personally I lost a lot of myself for a few years when I moved home to recover and transition. It has taken me upwards of three years to get back to the central parts of my being, most of which was taken back throughout my transition. Living an inauthentic life took me in various directions none of ,which were bringing me closer to where or who I needed to be, thus I was lost.
With my GRS coming up in a few weeks I have been stressed, while trying to preoccupy my mind. This has lead me down each adventure and memory of my transition and left me grateful that I’ve made it this far since my paralysis. On the other hand it has me trying to line up my next adventure as well as post secondary again. Everyone that knows me knows I like to keep myself busy, so you probably know that waiting on this operation and the college admissions waiting process has me antsy.
One of the many perks of my fair ride of a life is that even in young adulthood I have the physical and emotional coping skills to tie myself over until after my surgery. I’ve been spending a tonne of time both making music and getting back into a calisthenic workout routine so that I’m not just getting in shape, but being creative as well. I may always have a remaining physical impairment, but it taught my humility, self love, and true perseverance so I will continue to just embrace my paralysis as one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Moving back home to transition has been rocky at the best of times, but that was partially my own fault for leaving a majority of my friends and socialites about 10 hours away. Moving back was not a brilliant idea, but it certainly reminded me of the resilience still left in me to not give up on my own goals no matter how hard it gets, or how rltemoted I was to walk away from everything. I’m even trying to plan my move to somewhere relatively far away within a few months after my operation to commence a new chapter in this odd little life of mine in a brand new place.
How’s everybody doing?
Few things are as empowering and equally as lonely as making the choice to transition medically. From the isolation to the generalized misunderstanding outside the trans community the entire process can be pretty rough. Most of us have to make concessions to be able to transition medically, for reasons of social wellbeing, financial wellbeing, and or overall health. My move back to BC was both for my recovery and my transition, but moving back here also meant being back in my hometown with all the acquaintances and friends I never had here. Recently I started the process of my legal name change to actually be Addison Blake on paper and have never felt more comfortable in my own skin.
Between my weekly/monthly physical improvements and knowing that my medical transition is done and I’m just waiting for surgery, I no longer feel as trapped here as I used to. After I get my grs (hopefully this year) I can go live wherever I want and even go back to school if I want to. Now as I continue to heal it has started to become easier to get social and make new friends, which would have been much more appreciated through the beginning of my transition when it would have helped to have a local friend by my side on the journey. It has only been a few months since I started to feel more comfortable in my gender and less concerned about how I may be perceived publicly in a place that is not exactly the safest for any queer minority.
The stigma behind the ridiculous concept of ‘passing’ is real. I am lucky in that I confidently try to not look cisgender in my daily life as a non binary individual. The other day I even got misgendered dropping off signed copies of my novel at a local joint and instead of being offended I just quietly chuckled to myself, which seemed to embarrass the person. The best part of my name change is that for me it’s a fresh start of who I have always seen myself as internally. instead of having an overtly masculine name my first and middle names are fully gender neutral, which is perfect for me because I am fairly androgynous. There are tonnes of people who will tell you that they hate being trans, but I am not one of them. I am glad i live in a day and age in a country where i have the ability to be who I am, whatever that may be. Even in spite of how lonely parts of my journey have been I am grateful to be on this journey being visible for the following generations to witness and see that authenticity is a possibility.
What is something you’ve done to live your fierce authenticity?
Every single one of us, no matter the amount of external sunshine has a darker less sparkly side of themselves. The one that keeps you lying in bed morning after morning because you just do not contain the desire to start your day or any day. I’ve been stuck in a rut for a few weeks for sure now. I should be happy with how feminine I have become with the help of fourteen months of hormone replacement therapy, but instead I am left here on edge feeling unsafe due to my appearance. The last time I looked like this I unfortunately experienced some trauma and just having a very similar figure to that time period leaves me in tears.
How I cope with everything is by staying fit and getting those endorphins flowing so that even if I don’t feel the greatest in my body I’m still in a relatively decent mood and day. I called this post dancing with my demons because when I feel anything negative I dance it out. I just sync up some music and I dance until I feel better whether that takes half an hour or four hours does not matter.
I know I’ve been absent lately, but I’m hoping to get everything from my recovery to my pain back on track. Finally taking the advice I’d give anyone else in my position and take each day as it comes with minimal expectations. Recently I even invested in a binder for days where my girly figure makes me feel uneasy and it has been helping that aspect of my dysphoria and mental health in a big way. Just one of the Joy’s of being in the non binary section of the gender spectrum.
What’s one thing you’ve done recently to make yourself feel better?
I’ve been doing this for what feels like a long time now and no matter how much I overdo it or if I have a balance between my recovery and my leisure I hit a wall and sleep for a day or two every 3 to 6 months. This past weekend I hit that wall and despite getting my normal amount of sleep, as soon as I completed my daily routine I curled up and fell asleep for the rest of the day. Normally I wake up a bit angry for wasting a day, but this time I felt at least partially rejuvenated and it was glorious. Continue reading “The Perpetual Burnout in Recovery”
This one was another reader suggested topic so here’s my attempt. With all the ups and downs of the roller coaster we call life it can be quite a task to learn to see things in a positive light and not kick ourselves when we are down. In both my transition and my continuous physical rehabilitation finding the positive aspects and internal happiness has been a skill I had to learn to not throw in the towel every other day.
One of the most helpful tricks I rewired my brain to do subconsciously and modify my own thoughts was to acknowledge the bad, but only give attention and focus to all the positive aspects of any scenario. Life truly is about finding the balance so instead of wallowing in the bad parts I figured out how to enjoy even the worst of my dysphoria days and the static days in recovery.
Some days I have limited to no functional mobility in my hand to this day, especially when I am stressed or sleep deprived. Instead of focusing on the anger I sometimes feel towards my paralysis I thank my body for not giving me any say and forcing me to take a rest day that I never take unless I cannot function. A day off here and there shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re a workaholic towards your personal goals like myself.
When my dysphoria get’s so bad that I wish I could rip my own skin off I find one part of my body that I at least like and find a clothing article that emphasizes it so that even my own attention is drawn to it all day. For me this is usually my bust despite all the pain it causes me. Sometimes distract-o-boob is all I need to get through an escalated dysphoric day.
I promise that if you can find one positive in every day and hold onto it that you will make it no matter the struggle. If you are struggling also do not forget to reach out to a friend or connect with your mental health professional and learn some healthy ways to cope.
Love and light,
Earlier this week I was honored with the opportunity to speak about my experiences as s transgender person at an event tied into the transgender day of remembrance along with help out with a couple other events. This was the first time I have ever spoken about the violence I experienced as a trans person and it was a truly amazing experience even with a darker topic. Even with its hiccups I will admit the day was a success
While projecting my words with several cracks in my voice my eyes welled up and I let it all out in a full room of strangers. This was a level of raw vulnerability I had yet to experience. The room welled up with me and laughed with me when I tried to lighten the mood by joking about the cooler happier things I have accomplished like my recovery and my novel. They appreciated the attempt and let out a chuckle. It was incredibly intimidating, but everybody in the room was an ally solely there to be better allies to the community. With a few days to process the event I can say that personally, I found crying in front of a room full of people to be cathartic and emotionally I feel lighter and happier.
My community may not be the best, but over the last few years it has gotten significantly better thanks to allies stepping in and joining the fight to a better tomorrow. The other members of the society I was representing were equally emotional throughout the day and at the end saw the day as a success. It may have been tough and the reason I have been quiet for a while, but if I am available next year I hope to partake again. There is literally nothing more rewarding than a day of healthy, open conversation with people who are just trying to learn.
P.s. I’m going to try to get back into a weekly post for you guys.
If you’re reading this right now there is a chance that you’re wondering what the next step to living your authentic and potentially less boring life. I get it every step I took between childhood and now was on for safety and to position my now disowned family further away so I could be as happily queer as queerly possible. I do not care and I do not want you to care at all about what the societal norms are, because if they do not match up with your happiness they do not really matter.
As long as you aren’t breaking laws or hurting anyone (including yourself) why should it matter anyways. I came out as gay at thirteen just to hide the reality of being transgender from my family. I was not even attracted to men I just faked it really well just as I did pretending to be a cisgendered male. Years later once I came out as trans i was told that if i wore gender affirmative clothing to a family dinner i would not be allowed to eat because it was disgraceful. To very abruptly tell the hostess off I wore the hottest dress I owned and painted just my middle fingers with nail polish. Out of pure jealousy of my figure she proceeded to tell me how I needed to lose weight and did not speak with me the entire event. People ask me why I disowned my family for my own health and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Having to fit into their picket fence expectations never worked so I stopped.
If you have to move out of your province or state to get as far from family as possible to find yourself and your happiness, do it. I did it for a year and despite being the hardest year of my life it was one of the most rewarding years of my life. Wait until you can afford to do it, but it is fairly rewarding if I have to say so myself. If you have to cut out all your friends and acquaintances to start being yourself, do that to. It will be lonely too at first, but you’ll gave room for those that fully love and support you in your journey to authenticity.
While my family was on vacation a couple of weeks ago I went all out with my recovery and that part was all fine and dandy, but it was not gauging my pain levels correctly that knocked me on my behind after a day of vomiting from unmanageable pain. I may be really good at recovery up until this point where my limits are significantly blurred, but I know that like all things this too shall pass. Even before I was paralyzed I have always gone onward until I crash and burn hard. Instead of sleeping it off like I used to I have to spend a whole day or two resting and only doing enough to keep my circulation right in my affected side.
With the family on vacation I have been able to just get up and go as early as I want and putting in eight to ten-hour days. I have reincorporated Neuromuscular electric stimulation (as mentioned in Paralysis: Beating the Odds) to further stimulate my nerve endings when I am sore from other therapies and exercises. There has also been a solid amount of meditation worked back into my daily routine because I love the peace it brings me. The day that I overdid everything I was in enough pain that I was holding back tears at a social function and almost left before it ended. When I got home i crawled under a heated blanket, which helped the pain but did not cut the muscle tightness so I had to go soak in a steamy Epsom salt bath so that muscle cramps wouldn’t wake me up. After getting home I got to try to reduce my pain and fatigue for over four hours in hopes of a better tomorrow.
I hope that this stage is short and fast and that it becomes easier to read and evaluate my levels and how much I can do in a day so that I do not end up pent-up on a couch like a hangover day without the enjoyment or celebration the night before haha. Those recovery days are a fully assault on my mental health. Not being able to work as hard as I can towards a goal is one of the worst things possible for me. I would much rather be able to push and push and push and just be sore, versus pained. Where it stands right now I should be taking a day off about every third day and that’s a little too frequent for me, but I don’t want to jeopardize the rate that I am healing at right now in any way.
People often ask why I have so many creative outlets, and instead of just saying for my health as I normally do I thought I would elaborate on it a little further. Whether it’s sketching, writing, painting, or practicing an instrument all of my creative outlets come with more than one benefit. They both help to better my mental and physical health and why would I argue with things that all around help me feel a bit better?
The human brain responds differently to each different type of therapy (physical, occupational, music, art, etc.) So other than my recent focus on physical therapy and music therapy I do my best to keep it well rounded so that all areas of my brain and my injury are getting the attention that they need. As of late my body has clearly been responding better to music therapy so that’s how I exhaust myself on days when I can focus on my physical health.
Even before my paralysis, art has always been my outlet. From visual and fine art to performance arts they have consistently been my go to. Even bored in classes I used to just sit and doodle through lectures because my teachers and instructors never said anything that was not already in the textbook haha. The sooner one finds healthy ways to cope with what life throws at us, the sooner we can thrive. Then there were my teens that were very dark so I always just drew what I was feeling. I actually went through all my old sketches from that time period last week and realized i was in a lot more pain than i acknowledged at the time. From faking happy to being genuinely happy in an 7 year timeframe, it’s an astronomical difference.
In the comments share with me what your devices are.