The lifting grey clouds.

It probably goes without saying that my childhood, along with my being transgender all add up to some serious mental health obstacles. This ranges from dysphoria, CPTSD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder,  crippling lack of self-worth, suicidal ideation (2 attempts as a teen), the inability to keep jobs (before I graduated at the age of 36 from college I had held 60 jobs), and just absolute anxiety and depression (don’t worry I am sure you will all get to read about all of these things multiple times).

I never liked talking or admitting my family had problems growing up. It was even more extreme for talking about my own problems. So I just tried to keep myself going. I just pictured myself as a knight in armor whose only job was to make sure those I loved survived.

I lucked out in finding my husband, he has helped me a lot even though he hadn’t heard most of the details of my childhood and teen years beyond some basic broad strokes. Without him I would have ended up in some very very bad places and I doubt sincerely I would be alive past the age of 25.

Within a few years of being married to my husband I thought most of the problems had gone away. I didn’t wake up with nightmares, I didn’t hear voices sometimes and I felt my life had a purpose.

What I hadn’t realized is that the mental health problems were still there, but had become so bad that I had become so depressed and disassociated that I was numb. I was like that for more than 20 years. I didn’t have the positive and negative emotional surges and it had just become a grey cloud I walked around in. I kept large insurance payout on myself and just sort of wished I would disappear. I think the one reason I am still around is because I was worried about taking care of my husband and my parents.

Coming out and transitioning has been a godsend. I have found a great therapist and the depression has lifted. The problem I have come to discover is the depression is what kept my moods at a fairly stable level. A depressed foggy level that I was so depressed and numb that everything was grey.

Now at the age of 48, for the first time in my life and the first time the husband has ever witnessed, I cry sometimes. Not to alarm you and let you think it is only bad emotions I have, I also have a lot of good reactions as well, the crying though didn’t even happen at the deaths of both of my parents. I had this feeling inside I couldn’t let that emotion out or show that kind of weakness at any time in my life.

All of my mental health issues are still here, but now I am not depressed on top of it and I can feel really good about myself and my life. Sometimes I look at a picture of myself and for the first time I think I look cute, or at the very least look closer to who I am supposed to be. I hated my image in every picture I have taken since I was 15 or older up until the last year or so. Even when I was skinny and not unattractive I hated them.

I am fortunate that both my husband (who was a mental health nurse for over a decade) and my therapist, warned me that the depression lifting didn’t mean that my other issues faded away. It prepared me for the rollercoaster I am on now. Sometimes incredibly happy, sometimes incredibly dark in my head. I can show emotion now though, or at least real emotion, and that makes me feel more like a human and less like a robot or an empty suit of armor meant to protect someone else.

It is a new world for me to explore, the ups and downs. I still sometimes get ideas of suicide or self-hatred. I also get times now that I am so incredibly happy with my life in general and my husband and my new self specifically that I feel like my heart is going to burst. On top of this my HRT isn’t settled yet so I am like a hormonal teenage girl and that is sometimes obvious to my husband.

Even with the rollercoaster up and downs of emotions, I am having right now, I wouldn’t trade it. I like the way I look, I love my husband and I like my life. The lifting of the grey clouds of depression might reveal the negative, but it also gave me a life back inside and made me for the first time in my life since I was a child to live and find a way to be happy.

 

Things I forgot

You would think that I would remember my childhood all the time, the violence (not on us by parents, but surrounding us), the alcoholism, the homelessness, but evidently I forget huge chunks for years at a time and am surprised when my PTSD pops things back up.

We went to the movies to see Rambo Last Blood. Yes it is horrible, outdated and I will probably see another one if Stallone does it. It just is a tradition. However, I did have something happened that was jarring.

It was during the first half of the movie. Stallone was beating up a man, he broke the man’s collar bone and started twisting it out of his skin. It was ultraviolent but not more violent then a lot of what I watch. However, I found myself curled up into a ball in my theater seat, hiding under my leather jacket trying to catch my breath. Evidently it gave me a huge anxiety/panic attack.

That is when I remembered once when I was 10-11 or so and we were out at my dad’s friends in Granite Falls. My parents had run to the store, and a couple of the guys there were working over another man in a room very seriously. You could hear the beating in the room I was in next door, the whimpering, crying and growling/grunting from the people.

When they were done, one of them came out and asked if I could keep an eye on the man in the other room, so I got up, went in and sat on a chair while the two men who beat the person in this room left to have cigarettes.

First, let me be clear I never felt I was in danger. I never was threatened, harmed or anything up until a couple years after this when some of the same people attacked my family (they owed my dad money and thought they would be better off removing us instead of paying, but that is a different story).

Also, when my parents got back to the house my dad lost his shit on the two guys. He didn’t want me seeing that or being around that. My parents were open about everything they did. I had even saw cocaine deals happen regularly involving kilos of cocaine, but the violence on someone in front of me really upset my parents, so we didn’t go back out there for a few weeks after that.

I can’t say I remember everything clearly. I have always had a hard time remembering specific details, but I remember feeling bad for the person there. Also I know he wasn’t killed or anything (at least then) because I saw him a few months later and he acted like nothing had happened.

However, this left me in the theater panting, and panicking for a short time. It passed and I told the hubby about it. I figured it was one of many stories I have told him about my childhood. He was surprised and had never heard this story. I guess it turns out and  I was evidently wrong. I hadn’t realized how much of my life I haven’t even told him.

I am sure this came up partially because of my transition. I am having to rethink who I am, what I am and where I go. I am also seeing a therapist fairly regularly, and they are having me start to delve into things. Finally I think the thing that triggered me was Rambo wearing his green army jacket. It reminded me so much of growing up where I was surrounded by my dad’s friends and associates who all wore army gear, things like that green army jacket.

It has been a couple of days now, I can start sleeping again, but I do feel like a wuss. Nothing bad had directly happened to me. I had seen ultra violence in real life more than a few times before I went into that room. I guess maybe this means the therapy and self review is starting to unlock some of my shit I locked away. Maybe I can start working on it now.

Food Security and Emotional Issues

I have always had a weird love/hate relationship with food resulting in some issues. I do emotionally eat, counting calories freaks me out and I have the hardest time leaving food on the table.

I grew up extremely poor (living in a car poor). This meant from the age of 8 or 9 on we were on food stamps. Contrary to what the DSHS people said back then (and the conservatives) they do not give you enough food stamps to feed a family. Nowadays DSHS  just say its only supposed “augment” someone, not be the sole food support. That is all fine and good if you are a single or adult couple, but anyone who seriously thinks its ok to only “augment” feeding a child is full of shit.

We ate well at the beginning of the month (no, it wasn’t all steak and caviar, fuck you conservatives). By the middle of the month the food was running out and we were living off of food bank contributions. By the end of the month there was donating blood and whatever other ways to scrounge up the money. All of this meant I had stretch marks on my hips and belly.

Coming back from the food bank. I have learned since then how to photograph better.

You heard me right, as a teenager I was skinny, and the weight fluctuations between the beginning of the month and the end of the month left stretch marks on my sides and belly that were there until my early 20s. The girls I was intimate with were usually disturbed by it. Even Wolsey commented on it when we started dating. I didn’t understand that stretch marks weren’t normal. I had just assumed that was normal.

We might have lived in a car, but it was a stylish car.

Food was a big deal in my family. If there was a holiday, or if some emotional trauma occurred my parents would beg, borrow or sell things to buy us something special. On the super rare times, we went out to eat, we finished everything brought to us. Hell, we finished everything at home for the same reasons. You never walked away from your plate with any food on it.

Things have been weird now for 25 years. I have always been ok with food security since I moved in with my husband, I have been in a stable relationship and within a few years my stretch marks left. We have always made enough to cover our bills and groceries and this scarcity hasn’t been an issue.However, I still fight with the following:

  1. I literally have to force myself not to eat all my food on my plate, especially when I am in a restaurant. It freaks me out that it is a waste of money (which it isn’t, and I can afford easily anyways). The thing is I logically know this even if it bothers me a lot.
  2. I can afford to emotionally eat. While it was a great internal relief as a child/teen because it was a rare occurrence, nowadays if I am upset I crave sugar, especially something like jelly beans and licorice I can buy it at will (and I do some of the time).
  3. The worst part is counting calories. I don’t know why, but it makes everything else in my life just explode. I can follow a regimen, eat the same thing every day, but I then get compulsive in checking. Then I just get aggravated, then the hubby gets my venting. We have tried it off and on for years, but counting calories, and diets in general do not work for me. The panic attacks are not worth it. I still can’t tie out why this bothers me.

I thought I would just ramble about this because I am looking at working out more. I would like to build up my stamina (and hey, losing fat isn’t a bad thing). I know that diet is more effective, but I don’t see myself changing my eating habits by a lot. So, I guess I am just explaining why a diet isn’t part of my future conversations about working out. I will try and eat a bit better, but no calorie counting, or crazy (e.g. stupid) diets.

Today was a sharing day.

Old Building and Anxiety Dream

The sign for my dreams probably creepier.

The sign for my dreams probably creepier.

I woke up this morning (or should I say last night, around midnight on 9/6/15) with an anxiety inducing dream.

I dreamt I was living a huge wooden structure. It had families living in it, but I got the feeling shops used to be open as well. It was an older wooden structure, tattered, slowly collapsing into rot.

I lived in this building, as did my family and I think Jello. My age was hazy, it sort of went between being a high school age kid to being my current age depending on when I looked.

What I do remember was I kept losing teeth. I kept pulling chunks of my teeth out. Funny enough some of them were fillings, but when they got pulled out they were in the shape of miniature tools (one specific memory was the shape of an axe head, sort of like out of minecraft).

I just remember people rushing me down stairs, and evidently to a dentist on the bottom floor. There was lots of teeth pulling by the dentist (in real life I think I have had 8+ teeth pulled out when I was younger, I was poor and couldn’t afford dental care).

I got taken down to another set of rooms. I knew that my mom and siblings (young kids at the time) were moving to a different room downstairs.

I knew my dad was upstairs, and so I went up to see him. I found him in a bathtub in an old commercial attic. He was drunk, wearing a leather top hat (sort of like the one Slash used to wear). I noticed the floors of the attic were rotten and bubbling.

I was furious, asked him if he really started drinking again and he said yes.

I woke up super anxious. Naturally anything to do with my teeth and to do with my parents drinking is a huge button. The sucky part was I woke up around midnight. This just started a series of bad dreams (I would call them the level of nightmares) for the rest of the night.

I think I definitely need to take something to help me sleep tonight. At least it is a three day weekend and I have no obligations.