It’s been a while, for no reason other than I haven’t really had much to talk about. When I started this blog it was with the intention of helping people by sharing my story, and also to remind people they aren’t alone. I figured there wouldn’t be any harm in sharing a few of my coping mechanisms for things that happen in my head.
The three things mentally that I have to deal with are dysphoria, anxiety and panic attacks, although the latter hasn’t really happened for longer than I can remember with one recent exception which I’ll go into later.
1: Dysphoria. This is something that I deal with almost every day, and something I still haven’t fully got to grips with yet. It’s basically when I wake up in the morning, may face or body doesn’t even slightly resemble whats in my head and I feel like killing myself. Step one: go back to sleep. Step two: start again. Sometimes even 10 minutes back in bed (sacrificing my breakfast and eating later on/at work) can help start the thought processes again and make me feel less horrific. I’ve mentioned before about girls days and boy days, and 95% of the time I am on girls days now. Boy days tend to happen when I have to shave and my face reacts badly to the razor, for any number of reasons, leaving me with a shadow that I can’t cover up. On those days, it’s jeans, a hoodie, no effort at all and generally trying to hide from people. Days like this usually mean my skin will be bad the day after too, so at least I can prepare myself for having a bad day the day after. When I start to take hormones my face should start to clear up and the above will become less of an issue, although for now I don’t quite have a solution – other than going back to sleep.
2: Anxiety. For me, this is something that’s linked in to what I choose to wear. If I’m having a particularly good day and I’ve gone for the big heels, lots of leg and something to maximise what I have discovered to be my excellent ass, I’m usually relatively unstoppable, and I’ll do the shallow thing of an Instagram post knowing that the comments are often incredibly encouraging, something which helps keep the anxiety at bay (see photo below of a recent Ann Summers purchase that I never, ever thought I would have the guts to post publicly). Now, I can only assume that most other girls have the problem of ‘OH MY GOD ALL MY CLOTHES ARE SHIT AND I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR’ because since dressing as one, I get that too. I have three almost identical black pencil skirts and I spend 20 minutes deciding which one to wear, that’s normal, right? This is where the anxiety starts to set in, the feeling of ‘none of my clothes look good’ starts to remind me that I still very much have a male body, something I don’t particularly want to be reminded of. When this happens, I have a nap again (there’s a theme here, right?) and that tends to help.
When I’m dressed up like a sassy bitch, fucking nothing can stop me. Getting there can be a challenge but when I’m ready and I’m out, I’m happy. I don’t care if people stare at me or look me up and down or if an old guy in the queue at the post office tuts at me and shakes his head. It’s not my fault I look better than them. A street cleaner in my home town approached me the other day and said he’d seen me about and had talked about me to his mates before and wanted to tell me that I was brave, ‘had balls’ (for lack of a better expression) and that I shouldn’t give a shit what other people think. He was right about the last bit, I don’t. People in the street very rarely shout abuse at me or say things that make me uneasy. They stare, they tut, they may not understand but they aren’t looking for a fight if they say anything. Hopefully that last bit is encouraging to anyone wanting to come out… be yourself, it’s not as bad out here as you may think. I can count on one hand (at the time of writing) the things people have said:
- on the way to work ‘there’s something hanging out from under your skirt’ L O L how original
- walking through town ‘have you got a mangina’ (I fucking DIED laughing at this, he was about 12
- leaving a pub ‘fuck off you girl’ FROM A GIRL like, fuck off, bitch, I’ll slap the make up off ya face *walks off like the sassy bitch that I am and buys cheesy chips at the kebab shop*
- leaving the toilets in a pub ‘have you got a fanny or a cock.’ Who remembers Dick and Dom In Da Bungalow? Dom said it. Or maybe it was Dick. Who cares? He apologised after. I just laughed and walked off.
If someone does shout crap at you, ALWAYS keep walking. They don’t care enough to follow it up. And if they tried to, you can run faster than them. Don’t feed the trolls, real or on the internet. Honestly, people on the whole want to say nice things, I have run out of body parts to count the compliments on.
3: Panic attacks. Luckily, these don’t really happen anymore *touches wood* and it’s been some time since one has. I never knew exactly what used to cause them and to be honest I don’t know exactly why they’ve stopped. I used to struggle to identify when one was happening which would often mean I’d have left it too late to get out of. So I guess the first bit of advice is learning to understand your body and changes in it that feel uncomfortable. Things like elevated breathing or heart rate, increased senses of anxiety or awareness of yourself/your surroundings and things like being increasingly uncomfortable towards a normal task can all be indicators (from my experience, at least) of an impending panic attack.
I have had one near miss since learning to recognise when I was about to have one and I was lucky enough to get over it, mainly because I recognised when it was about to happen. Calming down is much easier said than done (reeeally slow breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth is good, as well as stretching excessively and clicking your fingers in turn a few times) but can be really effective if you ‘do it early enough.’ If you’re past this and your body is filling with adrenaline, I find that closing off my senses then doing something fast and active is good. Luckily for me I’m a drummer, and drumming is a stunning what of buying off excess adrenaline. When I started to feel panic recently I found an isolated spot (I was at work but the shop was shut so again, lucky), put Glitches by ETID on my iPhone and proceeded to drum along in the air with my eyes shut. The movements are fast and precise and require your entire upper body to perform them. Panic attacks often induce increased breathing, leading to excess oxygen in the blood and this kind of activity is a great way to use the O2 up. Closing my eyes allowed a memory of the the band performing the song to fill my mental space, a memory that is positive and treasured to me and one that can flush out panic and its associated emotions. By the time I made it to the end of the song, I was in the clear.
In Laymans Terms, I isolated all my senses by ‘playing along’ to this track. Any one can do this – it might not work but anything is worth a try, I guess – isolate yourself, find a song you associate with positivity, crank it, and move/dance/jump/pretend to play drums until the song is over, with your eyes shut. It’s not for everyone, but if it works for one other person besides myself then this blog post has succeeded. DISCLAIMER – this might not work, it might make your own panic attacks worse. I am giving advice that works for me and it is not gospel for all. I haven’t directly told you to try this and I’m not responsible if it doesn’t work. Alright? Alright!
The final line of that song is ‘No Need To Panic,’ something I didn’t even realise until after picking it as my go-to song if ever I get close to panicking. Strange, that.
That’s it for this post, so as always, thanks for reading. For those of you following this blog because of my gender related battles, I have no updates as yet. The clinic I have been referred to are working slower than ever due to excessive numbers of people being referred. This is good and bad – it shows that the need is there and that more people are feeling comfortable enough to come out or get help, but it also means the waiting lists are getting longer. It’s a good thing our UK government care about the NHS, mental health and gender related illness.
That last bit was sarcasm.
For anyone interested, I have currently been listening to:
- Don Broco – Priorities
- Converge – The Dusk In Us
- QOTSA – Villains
- Aeges – Weightless
- ’68 – Two Parts Viper