Growth

I’ve had a lot of time to think recently, since submitting my dissertation I’ve had a lot more time to think about what’s gone on in my life over the last few years and I’ve realised I’ve grown as a person. Not just in the sense of I’m older. I feel like I’ve genuinely grown up.

As a trans individual that lost a parent at a young age who never really dealt with my grief I became a person that I’m not proud of.

I became angry, distant and not the person I truly am, not the person I was brought up to be.

I’d love to say my degree has helped me discover things about myself I wouldn’t have realised before but it hasn’t. Honestly, my degree has been kind of pointless. I haven’t really learnt anything new about the topic I’ve studied. I have however learnt a lot about me as a person.

I understand why I became the person I did. I lost a parent and went straight back to school, I didn’t talk about how I felt I just tried to ignore it and those feelings came out as anger. Now I’m not saying I was a violent, aggressive person. I wasn’t, but I was angry. Angry at the world. I was angry and upset that my mum was gone, I didn’t know how to trust people. I didn’t know how to deal with this turmoil of emotions I was experiencing. I was angry at myself for never being honest with my mum about my gender. I hated myself for that.

I was angry because people blamed my gender dysphoria on the fact my mum was dead and I “didn’t want to be myself anymore.” At the time I didn’t understand why they were saying that and I got angry at them for it. It put a strain on my relationships with people, with family.

Looking back at the person I was a few years ago I’m not proud of that person but I understand that going through that period in my life has helped me to grow as a person. It has helped me to become the person I am today.

I’m not saying I’m now a perfect person because I’m not. I still have my issues and I think I will for the rest of my life, I am however learning to deal with these issues.

I was talking to a manager at work the other day and he said something interesting. Something I already knew but hearing it come from someone else made it sound different.

The first step in changing is acceptance

It made me realise I can’t keep running from the person I was. I need to accept it and learn from it and I think I’m finally beginning to do that.

Life isn’t easy, it’s never going to be easy but how you deal with the problems you’re faced with is what is important. In previous years, I haven’t dealt with my problems and I believe that could be what has made my life feel like it’s so difficult. By not dealing with my issues they’ve snowballed, they’ve become even larger and at times it’s felt like I would never be able to get past them. It felt as though I was trapped in a room that was blocked by this snowball. What I didn’t realise is the way to escape this room is by slowly breaking down this barrier. Dealing with my issues slowly, one at a time.

If I keep running away, the snowball is just going to follow me and it’s going to get larger and larger.

I don’t have all the answers. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with all my issues but I’m going to make a start. I want to get my life back on track and I want to start breaking down this snowball so that it doesn’t chase me until I eventually get so caught up in it that it ruins my life.

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Manchester Arena Bombing

On May 22nd it will mark one whole year since Manchester was viciously attacked whilst many young children attended a pop concert, a night that was supposed to be filled with smiles and laughter. A night that these young people were supposed to make many happy memories.

I will never understand why someone would do such a terrible thing.

The arena bombing shook the lives of everyone in Manchester. As someone who has lived in Manchester my whole life, only moving away to university with every intention to return to the beautiful city. I was heart broken when I heard the news. Not only as a Manchester citizen, as someone who had friends attending the concert that night. The minute I heard about the explosion my heart went out to each and every one of the individuals at the arena that evening.

Even nearly a year later when I go near the arena it breaks my heart to know 22 people lost their lives that night and hundreds more were injured, some with life changing injuries.

I can’t even put into words how horrific what happened was, I’m sure I don’t need to, anyone that saw the news knows how horrible it was.

Having said that, I am insanely proud of the city I grew up in. The way we came together in the aftermath of the attack. The emergency services and all the work they did that night, both at the arena and behind the scenes.

A terrorist decided to detonate a bomb that night, by nature of the word, the aim was to terrorise us but we didn’t let it because that’s not Manchester.

Hundreds of people laid tributes to the victims, hundreds more attended a fund raising concert for the victims. We didn’t allow this event to scare us, we stood together to get through it, we are still standing together. A city consisting of 2 football teams that usually divides us became one a City United.

Looking back at the events that unfolded on the 22nd May 2017, my heart still aches for the victims and their families but my heart is still warmed by the response of our amazing city and that’s one thing no one will ever be able to take away from us, the kindness, loving and caring nature of the Manchester people.

I’ve been living away from Manchester for 3 years now at university and I’ve been counting down the days until I can return to Manchester because there is no where quite like it in the world.

I ask one thing of you all, on May 22nd at 10:31 pm, take a moment to remember those who were there that night, those that are no longer with us and their families, those that had their lives tipped upside down, those that will live with the mental scars of what happened for many years to come and the emergency services that attended the arena that night to aid those in need.

Rest in Peace

Saffie Rose Roussos, 8,

Martyn Hett, 29,

Georgina Callander, 18,

Olivia Campbell, 15,

Elaine McIver, 43

John Atkinson, 26

Kelly Brewster, 32

Alison Lowe, 44 and friend Lisa Lees, 43

Marcin Kils, 42 and Angelika Kils, 39,

Nell Jones, 14,

Jane Tweedle-Taylor, 50,

Michelle Kiss, 45,

Sorrell Leczkowski, 14,

Chloe Rutherford, 17 and Liam Curry, 19,

Eilidh MacLeod, 14.

Wendy Fawell, 50

Courtney Boyle, 19 and her stepdad Philip Tron, 32

Megan Hurley, 15

Post-op depression

I recently had female to male chest reconstructive surgery and I’m over the moon with my results. My scars look amazing. Not having to wear a binder everyday is life changing and I honestly couldn’t be more grateful. However, 3 weeks post op and I’m starting to feel the effects of post-op depression.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so so happy with my results. I couldn’t be happier with the shape and size of my scars. I do not regret having surgery in the slightest. It’s just I feel kind of sad at the minute.

For me, I don’t think it helps that I’ve been off my antidepressant medication for about 6 months because I just decided I couldn’t be bothered with it. So I went from a high dosage to nothing over night, which isn’t healthy and you shouldn’t do it, but for me I didn’t experience any negative effects of it so I was fine. I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in a long time but recently I’ve been kind of low.

I think there’s a few reasons I’ve been feeling like this.

Reason 1

For the first week post surgery I was at home, I couldn’t drive or go out anywhere and loads of my friends said they would come and see me and they just didn’t. My dad was home which was amazing because he kept me company and my brother and his girlfriend came over to visit me which was lovely, but not being able to see my friends sucked. I just wanted to be able to chill with my mates and have a catch up and a few of them said they would come round so I had my heart set on it and they just never came and that was tough.

Then the day I was able to drive again, I arranged to go out with a friend and they cancelled and then I came back to uni so I’m nearly 3 weeks post op and I haven’t seen any of my friends apart from my uni friends but they don’t know I’m trans so I can’t be happy about surgery with them because they don’t know what surgery I had!

Reason 2

I can’t do things I’m used to being able to do!

I can’t lift heavy stuff, I can’t stretch too far, I can’t go to the gym. I know this is all part of recovery but I’m fed up! I just want my life to go back to normal and it’s taking ages. 3 weeks isn’t the long I know, but it’s 3 weeks of not being completely independent. Now I’m back at uni, I have to be careful about what I buy from the shops because I know I have to lift it up to my room and if it’s too heavy I won’t be able to.

I’m also a lot more tired than usual, so I will go for coffee with a friend but I’ll come home and be exhausted. Again, I know that’s recovery and it’s because my body is working hard to repair itself so everything is a lot more tiring but it’s so irritating and it’s getting me down!

I also can’t sleep how I normally do! I usually sleep on my front but I obviously can’t do that so that’s annoying!

Reason 3

I’m not healing properly, I know everyone heals differently but there’s a 2-4cm section just under my arm that isn’t healing. It’s still open, I’ve been to the doctor and they sent me to another place who have put a dressing on it, I have to go back again in a few days for them to look at it again but it’s annoying. I don’t get why it won’t just heal! The rest has healed and I just want this little bit to heal because then I can start my scar treatment. I can try and get on with things but this wound and the dressing and things is just an inconvenience. I feel like I’m constantly worrying that I’ve pulled it too far and opened it again or I’m scared to wear certain things incase my top gets stuck to the dressing, I can’t wander around topless because I’ve got this stupid dressing on it.

My back is also really dry and I can’t moisturise around where the wound is because of the dressing, but the dressing keeps coming off because my skin is so dry! It’s so irritating!

Reason 4

I have nothing to “look forward to” since I was about 16 and realised I was trans I’ve wanted top surgery. It’s been this thing I’ve been working towards. Everyday I was one step closer to surgery. In recent months I’ve had a countdown. “X days till surgery” but now I have nothing.

I don’t want lower surgery at the minute. I’m not too keen on any of the lower surgery options and I’m still young. I feel like I’m 10 years time there might be a better surgery, they may be able to transplant penises (or is it peni?) or they may be able to grow one in a Petri dish.. I just feel like medical stuff is improving all the time and I don’t want to go for a surgery I’m not 100% find of when I could wait ten years and they may have a new type of surgery I would prefer.

So now I have nothing to look forward to, I’m “done” in a way and that’s difficult to come to terms with and I’m struggling with that.

I know I should be happy about it. But it is strange because for 5 years I’ve had a goal and now I don’t and I’m not really sure where to go from here.

I guess it’s frustrating and that’s what’s getting to me.

Alone at Christmas

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For the first time in my life, I was alone for the majority of Christmas day. I don’t mean alone in respect of being in my room whilst everyone was downstairs, I mean alone in the house with no one else here. Now I don’t want sympathy because I did get to spend the morning with my family. Which I know some people don’t even get to do, but being alone for the evening was weird. Its something I have never experienced before and its made me think.

I was alone for Christmas Eve afternoon, Christmas day afternoon, boxing day and I’m going to be alone until tomorrow afternoon.

It’s been strange, I’m so used to being surrounded by family all over the Christmas period but now we are all getting older, that’s bound to change and I understand and accept that.

It wasn’t all bad, I got to chill out, watch TV, relax and not have to wear actual clothes, I could wear my PJ’s which was nice.
The part I struggled with was when I wanted to use my presents. I got some board games as my main presents and because I was alone, I couldn’t play them. I tried, but it isn’t possible to play scrabble alone.

It also made me think about my future. I’m not in a relationship, I’m not even friends with anyone where it could potentially lead to a relationship. I’m not on any dating apps or anything of that nature because they’re not my kind of thing.
I kind of realised, if I don’t start looking for a relationship, then I’m going to spend a lot more Christmases on my own and I don’t want that. I also realised that soon, I’m going to finish university and I cant live with my dad for the rest of my life, I’m going to need to look at buying my own house or flat… but I also realised that I don’t really want to live alone, I’d get bored, I’d get lonely, I wouldn’t be happy. I also don’t think I would be able to afford a house on my own, or at least not a nice house where I would be happy.

This Christmas has really made me think about things and I’ve realised I’m surrounded by people, but I’m actually very lonely. I don’t even have any friends that I would feel comfortable spending Christmas with, I don’t have anyone that I can just call for a chat, I thought I had friends, but when I actually think about it, I’m really quite lonely and I don’t like it, but I also don’t know how to change it, I don’t know how to make friends as an adult…

Mental health update

I’m struggling

For the past few weeks/months I’ve been okay. To be completely honest I’ve been quite good in terms of my mental health.

I started to accept what was going on at work and the fact every time I went in for a shift something else had changed. I started to come to terms with the fact my dad was seeing someone new. I started to rebuild my relationship with my best friend that had become a little torn because of the distance with university. I also smashed my first u oversight essay of the year and got an A (or as we call it here, a first) I even got to meet up with my old support worker as friends, because I overcame the dependence I had on him and the relationship we had was a strange one anyway as I had known him so long we had become friends as well as having a working relationship. So all in all, things were going pretty well. I hadn’t felt the urge to self harm. I wasn’t dreading getting out of bed, if even go as far as to say I was positive about the future. My finances were on track and things were the best they had been in a while. I had even come off my antidepressant medication!

Then this week came along.

The weekend started off well, I went to my works Christmas party and had an amazing time. I’m not one to usually go out drinking but I pushed myself and I’m glad I did. The evening started off a little tough as I didn’t know how to go about being in a club or ordering a drink from the bar as I’m not great in new places or in social situations, but my friends helped me out and the evening turned out to be incredible!

When I went back to university it all became a bit much for me and I didn’t go in this week, I didn’t even do work from home. I have literally been in bed all week because I couldn’t face being around people. I got up, showered, went back to bed.

Yesterday I went to work and I did struggle. I knew in myself I was struggling but I pushed through and I ended up winning a day off from a little quiz we did which was nice.

It was the evening that got to me.

I came home, I watched tv then I went to see my brother. We spoke about Christmas and I came away from it realising that I’m likely going to be on my own for most of Christmas Day as my dad is going to his girlfriends, my Mum has passed away and my brother and his girlfriend are spending Christmas with her family this year. So that really upset me, Christmas is a time for family and for me, I only have my dad left really because my brother has his own life, he’s about to get married and start his own family and my Mum is up in heaven. So the fact my dad would rather spend Christmas with his girlfriend of a year than spend it with his son hurts. A lot. Especially because i can’t exactly spend it with my mum. I mean, I probably will spend most of the day at the cemetery. I have already thought about trying to find a picnic rug somewhere and take my laptop with me and watch a film sat by her grave with a big coat on to keep me warm.. but it’s not going to be the most enjoyable thing in the world.

I went to sleep last night and I was upset. I had urges to hurt myself. I didn’t want to get up this morning for work. I didn’t want to do anything apart from stay in bed and cry. Eventually I fell asleep.

When I woke up today I was tired. I hadn’t slept very well. I hadn’t had a good night and I knew I was about to face a day in work of being screamed at by customers.

Not what I wanted.

The urges were so bad and I couldn’t see a way to get through today with the urges so I gave in. I self harmed again.

My previous ones had all healed. They were fading but now there’s more.

When I got to work it started snowing and that made me even less excited about work because I just wanted to build a snow man because for me, building a snow man is what I’ve always done and it is what feels normal when it snows. Anyone that follows my blog knows I don’t like change so to change this habit I have of building a snow man is going to be difficult. Even if I am growing up now.

Work was tough. I kept getting this wave of anxiety that I’ve not had for a while. I kept feeling as though I was about to throw up. My chest kept going tight and I couldn’t breathe properly. My head was pounding. The noise was so loud. People talking all the time. No peace.

I asked if I could change my 2×15 minute breaks to 3×10 minute breaks because I knew that I would struggle only have 2 occasions to get outside in the quiet.

I emailed a manager I feel comfortable with and I tried to explain how I was feeling but she didn’t reply. I tried to push that I needed the 3 breaks but my new direct line manager wouldn’t let me.

It was such a crap day. I just felt so crap all day and I struggled so much.

When I got home I slept.

I’m meant to be going out tomorrow to the Christmas markets but I don’t want to. I don’t think I can. Im not mentally strong enough right now to go out and socialise

I’m struggling a lot. I feel as though all the progress I made had just come tumbling back down and it’s so difficult to keep positive and try and begin making progress again.

I just feel so low and so fed up and I don’t know what to do or how to fix it.

Golden Gate Bridge 

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The golden gate bridge in San Fransico was opened in 1937.
It’s an iconic, beautiful structure that can be identified worldwide but for me, every time I see an image of it, or I see it on TV I can’t help but be taken back to a very dark time in my life.

As most of you will know, the Golden gate bridge has been used by over 2000 people as a way to end their lives.
That statistic is harrowing. In 2016 alone 39 people died by suicide on the bridge, 184 people were talked down from suicide by the bridge patrol.

For me, in my darkest days, I considered purchasing a one-way ticket to San Francisco.
Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t. I wouldn’t be where I am today had I purchased the plane ticket, my family would be devastated. My friends would have been heartbroken.
Its taken me 5 years to be able to see this. I still struggle, day in day out but I know that I made the right decision closing down the web page and not completing the transaction.

Recently, I’ve seen the bridge a lot on social media and TV shows.
People driving across it, people taking pictures and admiring it but I can’t help but think about all those people who couldn’t see a way out. Those that jumped to their death because they felt so alone, so scared like there was no other way out.

I’m glad to see that a suicide prevention barrier has been installed on the bridge, a net that stretches down the whole length of the bridge and goes 20ft out on either side. I hope that by installing this, fewer people will take their lives and more people will access the help and support they need.
Even if it saves just one life, its worth the money that was paid to install it.

So many people suffer in silence.
Its okay to not be okay.
Its okay to ask for help.

I recently saw this video.
If you have 5 minutes, I think it is well worth watching. Its one man’s story of surviving the jump off the Golden Gate bridge. Its upsetting, but it is also incredibly touching.

If you are struggling, ask for help. Dont suffer in silence.

Change

Not so long ago someone said to me;

“You’re not an odd person, at least 50% of the population are opposed to change.”

I’ve tried to get to grips with this idea and I decided to do my own research. It turns out current research shows that 62% of people are opposed to change.

It’s quite a lot when you think about it, but then again, without speaking to every single person on the planet. How can we possibly know if these statistics are accurate? From where I’m sat, it feels like I’m one of only a few people who doesn’t like change.

Let’s look at it this way. Decorating your house, people often change the colour scheme, it’s considered a relatively normal thing to do. Buying new clothes, a different style to usual. A new haircut. Buying a new car, people rarely buy the exact same car they have just had, they upgrade it, get a newer model, maybe a different colour.

For me, I hate all of these things. They upset me. My dad recently changed a picture that had been hanging on our wall for 5 years and my first instinct was to change it back.
He also moved the room around so the sofa wasn’t touching the radiator so we can have the heating on during winter. When I walked in and it had changed I sat in my room for 3 days and wouldn’t sit downstairs because it had changed.

I hate change. 

The magnitude of it isn’t normal.

Change upsets me. It makes me uncomfortable and it makes me anxious.

In my job, things are changing at the moment. I knew they would eventually, but the changes seem to be happening very quickly. With me only working there 2 days a week, the changes seem to be happening very drastically and I don’t know how to cope with it all. I’m not programmed to deal with change.

I tell people I don’t like change and they say they understand. They say that I’m not alone in disliking change but when it comes down to it, I am alone in these thoughts because no one truly understands how difficult change is for me.

Apparently this week the team I work on has changed, the colleagues I used to sit with have been moved and they now sit elsewhere. I cannot begin to explain how anxious this has made me. I don’t know what I am going into on Friday. I don’t know who I am sat with, I don’t know if I have moved desks.
This shouldn’t be an issue, this shouldn’t be making me feel the way it is.

I feel so confused like I don’t know what is going on anymore because things aren’t the way they used to be and that makes me uncomfortable, it makes me nervous and I hate it.
I know change can be good but its hard to see it at the moment.