delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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A brief history of rho
delirium happy
rho
Based on comments, it seems that there are (at least) several people who are unsure about where I'm at now in terms of my transgender issues, and how I got there. This is not remotely surprising, given the way that things have panned out for me, over a whole lot of years.

As such, I present a brief timeline. Since a lot of my problems have been down to the interplay between the transgender issues and the depression, I'm going to cover both of them in the timeline.

1991 (age 10) - We moved house across town. I never really made any friends in my new area.
1992 (age 11) - I started a new school. I was bullied somewhat.

In hindsight, I look at these two things as being the genesis of my depression. They made me a lot more insular, introverted and wary.

1992-1997 (age 16) - The bullying got worse, most notably on the coach to and from school. I was not a happy camper. Crying myself to sleep at night was a regular occurrence. My sleep patterns started to go to pot, and it was quite common for me to sleep 4 or 5 hours a night through the week, and 12 hours or more at weekend.

1997 - This was when I started being more self-aware. I grew better at ignoring the bullying and adopting a "fuck you; your opinion doesn't matter to me" attitude. I was also better able to avoid it by, for instance, not sitting anywhere near the bullies on the coach to school. I'm not quite sure how that one didn't occur to me in the 5 preceding years. It was also about this time when I first became aware of my gender issues and started, for instance, growing my hair out for the first time.

1999 (age 18) - I left home for the first time to go to university at Oxford and I crashed and burned horribly. I'd had a very sheltered life, and was completely unprepared for the autonomy and independence I then had. I was also completely unused to work that required any sort of actual thought or effort. Without my dad nagging me to get up in the morning, I stayed in bed the whole day, and then spent the whole night in the computer room, when there were no people. I was horribly shy and had practically no social contact. I saw the other 4 physicists in my year from my college when we went to lectures or tutorials and I sometimes also saw slovakia (who I'd gone to school with) and miss_corinne (who I knew from the Internet) but that was about it.

On top of all of this, this was when I was first actually starting to deal with my gender issues. If memory serves, it was November '99 when I first went to see Dr. Russell Reid, a psychiatrist specialising in transgender issues. Then in December I started taking hormones for the first time, starting initially on Ovran, a combined oral contraceptive pill, which he tended to prescribe because of how cheap it was to get privately. (Interestingly, the first Ovran tablet I took was the first time in my life I had ever taken any sort of pill or tablet. Before that, I'd never even had so much as a painkiller. I'm currently taking 5 pills per day.) I forget the exact time for this, but I think it was also around late '99 when I first came out to my parents (which I chose to do by email because I was a moron and a coward (aka, I was 18)).

2000 (age 18-19) - In January 2000, I changed my name legally by statutory declaration. I think it might have been on the 22nd, but I can't recall for sure and am too lazy to go and hunt down the paperwork.

After my second term at Oxford, I officially dropped out, at around Easter 2000, returning to live with my parents for 6 months or so. The depression just got worse and worse over this period, even though I was still vehemently denying that I was depressed at the time. Looking back, I think that on at least some levels I knew that I was depressed, but wasn't willing to admit it because I was afraid that if I did then that would in some way detract from the validity of my gender issues.

In autumn 2000, I moved down to Canterbury, where I lived with kimble and 36, both of whom I knew from on the Internet, and also to attend the University of Kent. This attempt at university was even more of a spectacular failure than my first attempt, and lasted only a few weeks before the depression overwhelmed me.

Through 2000 and 2001, I carried on seeing Russell Reid. I can't remember the exact timing of everything here, since I was fairly racing through the process at this point. I added Androcur (Cyproterone Acetate), an anti-androgen, to the Ovran. I changed from taking Ovran to Zumenon (oestradiol hemihydrate) and Duphaston (dydrogesterone), a progestin. At this point, I passed fairly well (sample picture of me from 2000). I could, for instance, go out in public wearing a skirt without feeling remotely self-conscious. It was at this point that I had my passport changed over to an F (the process at the time was to get a letter from a psychiatrist saying that I was living full time, and to send it off to a special department of the passport office; I believe that this has since been changed).

In terms of my gender issues, this was probably the time in my life when I was most comfortable and at ease with myself.

2001-2003 (age 20-22) - However, this was also absolutely the worst time for my depression. for most of my time in Canterbury, I pretty much lived in bed. It really wasn't at all pretty. I'd get up once a week or so to go to the supermarket for food, and as needed when I had to go to the toilet or fill up my water bottles. I tended to keep my food in my bedroom rather than in a fridge, which was about as grim as it sounds (though not with things like raw meat; I wasn't quite that stupid). I'd sometimes go a day or two at a time without eating because I'd run out of food and was too depressed to get out of bed to go and buy more. I lived in what can only be described as a state of absolute squalor. Like I said, it wasn't pretty and I have no clue how my housemates put up with me.

As it finally became obvious even to me that I was depressed, the gender stuff started slipping back as a result. First off, I stopped taking Androcur since, among its many other nasty side effects (mmm, hepatotoxicity), it serves to act as a clinical depressant. Needless to say, this is not the sort of thing you want to be pumping into your system when you're too depressed to even get out of bed. This alone served to cause somewhat of a regression in terms of passability, especially in terms of dealing with facial hair.

I then also stopped seeing Dr. Reid. I was too depressed to want to make the trip up to London to see him, and my GP was prescribing me my hormones, so there was little motivation to go see him. I didn't feel that there was anything that I needed from him at this point.

2003-2005 (age 22-24) - After kimble finished her degree in Summer 2003, all my other housemates were moving out, so I had no choice but to move out myself, once again going back to live temporarily with my parents. My depression was abating somewhat at this point a well, so in autumn 2003, I decided to give university another shot, this time going to Lancaster University. At first, I was going there while still living with my parents in Chorley, and while the commute was a bit of a git, this was good as it meant that I had my Dad to motivate me out of bed in the morning again while I started to get back into some semblance of a routine.

In early-mid 2004, I moved into my current flat in Lancaster. My Dad is in the construction industry, and this block of flats was built by the company he was with at the time. This flat had been earmarked for me for a good while before it was finished, which was why I was commuting up to university for the first couple of terms.

This attempt at university was significantly more successful than either of my previous two tries. The first year went by fairly uneventfully, and I passed the end of year exams with flying colours. The problem that it was still a lot of effort. Dealing with being around people so much. Trying to fit my square-pegged sleep patterns into the round hole of my class schedule. And so on and so forth. It was just exhausting. By my second year there, I was becoming more and more exhausted. I was missing a lot of classes. I was seeing a counsellor. I did just about manage to scrape through the second year, but that was as far as I got. Fairly early in the third year, I burned out and crashed quite hard. The depression was back with a vengeance, and I had no choice but to drop out. Again.

What was worse, was that through all this time, I hadn't sought out a GP in Lancaster. I should have done, and I always meant to, but I was always too exhausted, so it was always something that I'd do "next week". No doctor meant no hormones, which meant an ever more masculine appearance, which meant increasing difficulty dealing with people, which meant more depression, which meant... I was into a nice vicious circle again.

2006 (age 25) - I'm not sure what happened to 2006. I suspect that most of it was probably spent playing Guild Wars in a depressed stupor.

I think it might have been 2006, or possibly late 2005, when I finally got a GP again. Needless to say, he wasn't willing to prescribe me hormones straight off the bat, since I hadn't been taking them for a couple of years or so and hadn't seen a psychiatrist in a fair bit longer than that. Which really is fair enough.

2007 (age 26) - Now. This was when I started seeking medical help again. The thing I'm doing this time which is different from what I've tried in the past is that I'm trying to deal with the depression and the transgender issues simultaneously and in parallel to each other, rather than just dealing with one and ignoring the other. At the moment I am taking fluoxetine (Prozac), which is prescribed by my GP, and oestradiol hemihydrate (Zumenon), prescribed by Dr. Curtis, my gender specialist psychiatrist. I'm also seeing a therapist, for CBT.

As of next week, I'm also going to be starting a course of laser hair removal to deal with my facial hair. I'm also seeing Dr. Curtis again next week, and am planning on asking him or Goserelin (Zoladex), which is a GnRH agonist. Provided he's willing to give me this (which I suspect he will be), it will have a similar result as the Androcur I used to take, except with a completely different mechanism, fewer evil side effects, and will generally be more effective (if more expensive).

My general hope, at this point, is that the goserelin and the laser hair removal combined will go a fair way to increase my passability, which will also improve my self-confidence, and my willingness to leave my flat, interact with people, and such likes. I'm hoping that this will then help to start off a positive feedback loop in dealing with the depression, with the CBT to help push me along and work out any knots along the way. My long term goal is that once I'm generally functional and happy is to have sex reassignment surgery (which I don't think I want to have before I'm functional and happy since that seems a recipe for post-operative depression as I realise that surgery hasn't magically solved all my woes), but I think that's sufficiently far away that it's not something that's a main focus for now.

Blimey. That turned out a lot longer than I was expecting it to be. Hopefully it helps to explain things somewhat better, and helps people understand the bizarre limbo state I'm in at the moment. Any questions?

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Thanks for sharing this. I admire how open you are discussing the personal details of your life, and wish I had similar willingness to be so frank. Your situation is so unique that I don't think I would have felt comfortable asking you about random things I wondered, but I don't have to because you're explaining it already.

<3

Interestingly, I tend to find that the more I do share the less of a big deal it seems. For instance, when I was failing to get myself a GP here, it felt like a huge big deal, and I was really quite ashamed of it, and didn't want to mention it to anyone. Once I actually mention things, then people generally fail to be shocked or appalled or ostracise and shun me, so it seems like maybe it's not so bad after all.

And if you do ever have any questions, or random things that you wonder about, please feel free to ask. I'm happy to answer almost any question and even with the few that I'm not happy to answer, I won't take offence at any genuine question.

I did think of one more question. During all of the time that you weren't taking the medications for your appearance, did you have more of a problem dealing with students and people around you treating you like a man? Or more of a problem with them not knowing how you treat you? I'm not sure what would be worse -- being different, or not being a woman.

Oh, the whole gamut. For random people who I don't know at all it always tends to be "him" or "sir" or whatever. For people who I do know, mostly they just treat me as me, and the question of gender really isn't that important a whole lot of the time, though I have had a few "he... um, she... er, whatever" type moments.

It's all quite painful, in a way. A lot of what's worst about it is knowing that if I hadn't made all of the mistakes that I'd made in the past, then I'd be passing no problem. I'm generally pretty good at not beating myself up too much over that sort of thing, but it's still there as a little pang every time I get "sir"ed.

The other big problem is the random asshats on the street, who like to shout homophobic abuse at me. While I don't generally give a toss what any of them think, it does get very trying and wearing after a while. Which is bad, because it makes me less willing to ever leave my flat, which is bad for the depression. It also makes me worry for my physical safety sometimes too, and makes me wary of doing anything overtly feminine with my appearance while out in public.

I tend to err towards being very solitary and isolated, and part of the reason for that is avoiding the gender issues. It just makes everything more complicated, so mostly I end up just not bothering at all. I have precisely zero friends local to me at the moment. My social contact comes from the Internet, my parents (who live about half an hour drive away) and the occasional chat at the supermarket checkout.

And I've sort of babbled here rather than actually directly addressing what you asked. Does that answer your question, though?

Yeah, it does. I sort of wondered what was easier, to just go around without explaining anything, or to be very specific about who you've become to people in hope that it would be like peeling off a bandaid and then they'd understand and move past it (the way I think people do on the internet, much more easily than face to face.)

I was just sort of confused about how you presented yourself while going through that kind of crisis. I know *I* would be confused how to deal with it.

You're right, talking about things do help. I love LJ for that. <3

The thing is, when you first meet someone, jumping right in with personal information is awkward. I feel it tends to come across very much as jumping down people's throats, and tends to scare people away. I don't like to make that the first thing that I tell people about me, because then it seems like it's what I consider the most important, defining factor of my personality, which it isn't. But at the same time, if I let people think I'm a guy, then it makes me feel uncomfortable, and also feels as if I'm lying. It is all very confusing.

I see your point, and yeah.... that makes a lot of sense. -hugs-

Oh well. you'll always be the classy woman Rho, with a hot ranger, to me.

Thanks *hugs*

Now all I need is for the rest of the world to realise that I'm that classy woman, and everything is sorted. :D

hopefully they won't think you're a handsome ranger...

That school (and I know which school because I went there too) was the start of much bullying in my life too. I used to cry myself to sleep because of that place, between the years of 1990 and 1995 (when I left because of the bullying to go to a different 6th form college).

I hated the coach because it was the source of a lot of the bullying. Even now I am uncomfortable travelling by coach because of the memories it invokes.

Hopefully your life is on the up again now. *hugs*

Interestingly, I don't think that I've travelled by coach at all since leaving school. At least, if I have I can't remember doing so. I tend to choose other modes of transport when available, which I'd never thought about but is possible a throwback to those days of bullying. The other odd one is that I feel twitchy and uncomfortable every time I come across someone called Rishi, which was the name of one of the most obnoxious asshats on my coach.

I got bullied by the girls on the coach a lot. Girls of school age are bitchy cows, and they seemed to delight at zoning in on the fact that I was very effeminate. How wrong, ironically, they were in their assumption I was gay.

It also didn't help that when younger I had sticky out ears. The kids older than me used to take the piss out of me for that, and of course then the kids younger than me picked up on this and took over the gauntlet thus ensuring I suffered five years of hell.

I remember a couple of months before I finally left I was found by my Physics teacher crying in the toilets. I never had the guts to tell him how I really felt and what was really wrong. At around that point I was offered the option of going somewhere else for sixth form by my parents, and I took it.

I keep having these irrational urges to braid your hair.

If you ever happen to be in England, you're welcome to do so :D

(Though you'll have to fight with shehops who apparently has exactly the same irrational urges.)

And me, because I want to braid your hair, too!

Also, thanks for sharing this. It helps to understand why you are this way and who you have become. Plus, it's kind of interesting to learn about the issues you face and how you deal with them. It makes me respect you tons more.

*hugs*

No questions. Good luck with all this; it's hard to have to deal with one of those issues, much less both of them at once. Will keep a couple of spare fingers crossed that the new treatment plan has the effects you're hoping it will.

Keep us up to date on how things are going, hm?

My friend compilerbitch sent me a link to your post. I can completely identify with it. Not but 4 monthes ago i was locked into a depression shut away in my apartment. That lasted 4 years from beginning to end. I luckily had got an orchiectomy (castration) right when i began to shut myself in. I think this exacerbated the situation a little, but I remember the days of playing guild wars, final fantasy online, or WoW in complete depression. I would get take-away delivered and lay on my couch all day and end up sleeping there playing whatever mmo I was into at the time. I thought I was the only one who had ever been through that. I luckily got out of that situation and moved across the US from Philadelphia to the Bay Area (near San Francisco). The change in environment and social circles has helped though has had an unexpected side effect of a bit of culture shock. Wow I am just amazed someone else went through something so similar to me along my journey dealing with my gender issues.

Let me know how the laser hair removal goes, if you would. I've been considering getting it myself off and on over the last five years or so because I loathe shaving so much, dislike beards, and never want to grow one myself. Plus, I feel better when I have no facial hair for some reason. So, if it works out well, let me know. :)

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