A journey to San Francisco to become no less than Me. (BLOG REBOOT: Former site of Hairy Legs.)

Posts tagged ‘depression’

So I guess this is my quitting blog.

Earlier this year I fell into a severely depressed state, which is part of the reason why I haven’t been blogging as much. I started smoking weed to ease my depression, among other aches and pains and the sort of thing that most people call Life. I will say that it probably is fine for a lot of people, but not all medicines work for all people. It’s not working out for me.

At first, I really thought I was on to something- it seemed like a magical cure-all. Psych meds making me unstable? Smoke weed, it calms you down. Too depressed to do the dishes? Smoke weed, it makes ALL chores fun! Back pain? Weed. Crying fits? Weed. Fight with bf? WEED. Broken tooth? Forget conventional dentistry, we GOT this. Bored and lonely? Weed is your friend. Hanging with friends? Well, everyone smokes these days! About to do something really fun? Hold on, I gotta get high for this! About to go to DMV? This is gonna suck, better toke first.

As you can see, for a brief time it really just became my standard answer for everything, and I started to realize something: By comparison, being sober really sucks. This is a really bad realization for a stoner to have, because the obvious answer is to be high ALL THE TIME.   Basically it got to where the only time I wasn’t high was when I had work stuff to do. Obviously this isn’t an economically sound way of life.

Also I was pretty constantly stupid, which annoyed me, but not enough to face my depression and deal with it in ways that weren’t so self destructive. It started as a way to get me through a rough patch when I couldn’t see my doctor to get my meds adjusted, and several months later, I still haven’t followed through on that. I haven’t followed through on a lot of things. I have paperwork to do, a house to clean, projects that have sat untouched, while I used a cheat code to get to the satisfaction that comes when you’re on top of all that shit and actually earning your happiness. I was doing everything wrong.

The thing is, for a really long time I thought it was the depression keeping me from doing stuff, and for a time it may have been. But after really examining myself, I realize that there were weeks worth of days when I would have been doing something to fix my problems instead of patching them over and ignoring them, if it hadn’t been for weed. It was always a better idea to smoke than to sit down and sort my mail, after all.

When something like weed can make you more productive, by taking your mind off the pain etc. etc., then it’s a good fit, but when it causes you to pretty much falter in every aspect of life, then you know it’s got you by the balls and you’re just letting life pass you by. I was slowly and foggily coming to this conclusion over the course of a few weeks, and man, it sucked. But still I continued onward, blazing a trail of absolutely nothing positive or constructive

I don’t know why I decided last night that this was a good weekend to quit smoking weed and cigarettes all at once (I know that my relapse into smoking cigarettes was comorbid with picking up weed and if I want to quit one, I have to quit the other, and vice versa). I could have picked any day before or after today. On the one hand, the problems that it’s been causing have been going on for weeks without really any uptick in intensity, so it’s not that I got fed up in one moment.

On the other hand, the problems it’s been solving haven’t lessened any, either. I didn’t have any divine revelation, my depression didn’t lift, I didn’t get a sudden kick of manic bursting verve for life that made me decide to get my shit together. I think what it all came down to is, I just got fed up with handing my money over to the jolly green giant.

It came out of the blue, yesterday afternoon. I was running low on weed and getting that familiar panicky feeling I get when I know that I’m going to get off work tomorrow and not have a soft hazy cannabis coccoon to fall into. It was Life, staring right down the shotgun barrel into my face; I was going to get off work and be all achy and stressed and just have to deal with it, like I hadn’t been forcing myself to do for months.

Part of me- a big part of me- would have been scrambling to call any and all my friends with a connection so I could get some bud TODAY so there wouldn’t be a dry gap where I’d sit at home after work, bleary-eyed, watching Adventure Time and biting my fingernails, wishing I had my next fix and furiously ignoring the filth accumulating around me. Those days were unpleasant, mainly because they were days where I was forced to think about my problems and how much I didn’t want to deal with them, as opposed to watching the same stupid cat videos on youtube, laughing like a doofus and eating copious amounts of cheese. (I will say for the sake of transparency that, at this moment, this still sounds like a fuck-all good time.)

But there was another part of me that looked at the stoner part of me, and quietly said, “No.” It wasn’t my guilt (which was a pretty big monster by now), it wasn’t my sense of responsibility, my moral code, or my psychological issues. It wasn’t the ghostlike voice of my parents chiding me for throwing my life away, or my sense of urgency about settling up my job situation before the year of relatively cheap housing runs out. It wasn’t my creative side, begging me to stop numbing myself so that I could paint and draw again. These are all reasons that have been nagging me to quit but none of them were quite loud enough; I could always shut them up with a toke.

No, the part of me that finally made me say “I’m fed up,” ironically, was one part laziness and two parts greed. I just didn’t feel like putting the work into acquiring weed that it normally took, and when that joined forces with my growing realization that my money was getting out of my control, suddenly I finally had enough motivation to tell weed to fuck off and die.

Saying it was one thing, doing it is another.

I think there’s a saying that goes, “Quitting cigarettes literally causes bad things to happen to you, within mere hours.” I used to say in Stop Smoking Class that there’s never a good day to quit so it might as well be today, because you can’t quit in a vacuum- Life keeps happening around you, and no matter which day you choose, you’re going to be stressed out and every little thing is going to be a crisis and you’re going to scream “WHY TODAY” to the heavens and potentially run out and buy another pack. I used to think it was just a matter of perspective- the day you quit is always going to be the worst day ever, no matter what happens.

I now believe that is a lie and quitting actually forces a black hole of negativity to open somewhere in your spleen, which creates a field of bad luck which draws all potential bad things directly towards your face. I think this is governed by the same science that makes Murphy’s Law tick, but it hasn’t been proven yet.

I have been working at the same hotel for months, and aside from one or two minor incidents near the beginning (and the Night of Vomit), every night has been smooth as butter. Not last night. Within hours of smoking my last cigarette, a car literally sped off the median, flipped, and crashed, right in front of the hotel, on Market Street, causing chaos and far too much interest from my tenants. After convincing them the apocalypse was not nigh, I settled in and hoped that was the excitement for the night, which it was far from. Someone snuck into the hotel and was stealing money from tenants, one of my tenant’s guests started breaking house rules left and right, and I got yelled at and written up for forgetting to make a phone call. (I’m probably actually in a lot of trouble for that, and probably won’t hear back about it till my work meeting Wednesday.)

It was right about the time that I was through getting cussed out over the phone that I realized it was a classic moment for a cigarette. All these nights I’d had a pack with me for just moments such as these, and been taking smoke breaks to keep from getting too bored. Now that I actually needed one I had literally just smoked my last cigarette a couple of hours prior. I got to sit and let my stomach churn for hours, wondering just how fired I was going to be come Monday when my boss got in and saw the reports.

I had a couple of choices. I could fold and get a pack and say that IT was my Official Last Pack, since clearly this quitting idea hadn’t been planned well. But I steeled myself and figured, if I can keep my resolve on a night like tonight, then the rest is cake.

And so, somehow or another, I got off work at 8am in a good mood (luckily the desk clerk who always relieves me, and hates my stinking guts, was out sick this morning, so I got to report my wrongdoings to a temp, and I believe that is an example of the negativity field temporarily lifting after the first 8 hours. He was considerably more forgiving than the woman who, for example, basically threatened to report me for not moving one sheet of paper from a clipboard to its proper binder before she came on shift.)

Somehow, I made it to the bus stop without making a certain phone call to a certain guy who would surely have the goods, somehow I made it home without stopping at the corner store for more Death Sticks. As I said I was actually in a pretty good mood, and had the idea to come home and start blogging about my quitting experience. I got a little excited; I thought I’d do a blog a day for 30 days, with a little drawing depicting how I feel each day. Since this whole weed thing has been eating my creativity, it seemed like a good step.

I got to the bus and started to draw a hilarious, melodramatic PSA-reminiscent montage of a giant evil weed leaf stomping around a town, literally smashing buildings and destroying lives. I got about ten minutes into that drawing when I realized I totally fucked up the legs and the city looked stupid and I’d never hated a drawing more in my life. I despaired of the whole project, ripped the drawing out angrily and crumpled it up, feeling defeated. Ten seconds later, I opened my sketch book again, determined to come out with at least a simple drawing. I decided to take the evil weed leaf montage and run with it, but instead of stomping buildings, I thought I’d do him with his foot on my chest and me laying on the ground in defeat- still melodramatic but simpler.

I literally got ten seconds into it, starting with the face, when I realized that drawing heads upside down is not my forte and in a fit of rage I ripped the second drawing from my book, feeling like a failure at life and everything I hold dear. When did I lose my ability to draw everything? It came out looking kind of like this face, only upside down and ten times derpier:

adventue

 

 

 

 

 

 
I would show you but I already threw them away out of shame.

So for now I’m just going to do the blog posts, because apparently drawing is still too much of a challenge for my fragile brain. I thought about just drawing a sad smiley and calling it good as a placeholder until tomorrow, when my creativity will surely return, but that’s too much of a cop-out for the first day. Maybe I’ll draw more later today. I don’t know. All I know is, I’ve made a lot of impulsive decisions in my life, and the impulse to quit without really thinking it through can’t be all that negative. We’ll see how this goes.

LAST NOTES: Again, for the purpose of transparency, you should know I’m not quitting cold turkey. I’m taking a week off, but next weekend at FanimeCon (which is the event I’ve been waiting for since the last time I got to attend Fanime like 4 years ago), you bet your ass I’m going to party it up- my last hoorah. You see, it’s easier to quit at first when you tell yourself you’re only quitting for a week. Then you get your closure, and after that, you can say to yourself, I did this once already for a week, I’ll bet this time I can do TWO weeks. And then you just keep going. You have to play sneaky tricks like this on your stupid brain to get around addictions and bad habits. I intend to blog on those days too so it should be entertaining. Stay tuned.

1 year on T!

As of yesterday, I’ve been on T for one year.  Hey,  I’ve been growing a little facial hair, you know?

invisible hair

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s not much, but you know, it’s there.  Time to shave, it looks ridiculous.

I’ve been struggling with depression.  There’s nothing there that I haven’t been over a million times, so yeah.

I don’t know what else to say.

I’m tired, and kind of sad.

It’s always a good idea to write a blog when you’re in a good mood and have a positive outlook on the world.  You’re putting good energy and advice out there, and probably writing something that might actually be a pleasant experience to read.

It rarely happens.

When you’re in a good mood, you just ride the waves of your current awesome events and experience life.  You don’t necessarily feel the need to sit in a darkened room with your fingers alternately resting on the keys and on your temples, pointing your examination inwards and pontificating on page what exactly went wrong.  I find it’s only a depression that makes me slow down and take stock.  Necessarily, that makes the majority of my writing dark, negative, boring and awful.

That’s not to say that I’m a dark, negative, boring and awful person.  I spend a lot of my time on the upper end of the scale, going around doing positive things for my community and fun things with my friends.  Just last night, I went out with a couple of friends, wore some seriously anachronistic hats, chemically altered my perception just a smidgen, and had a rousing time on the town.  How can a pirate and a repressed englishman from the 1890’s not delight?

But you don’t write about these things, you just do them.  Well, unless you’re that irritating facebook sort that feels the need to update whenever you’ve successfully completed laundry, or made it out of the DMV in one piece*, or woken up, or are going to bed, or stumbled across a particularly impressive bowl of onion soup.  (*There are some allowances for the DMV thing, as making it out alive is sometimes an impressive accomplishment, and also there are some fertile joke breeding grounds there if you don’t mind your humor a little warmed over from the 90’s.)

The point here is, I’m sorry.  I have a lot of guilt and shame attached to dumping out my negative shit on the internet because there is already so much of it here, and I just don’t like adding to the landfill.  Furthermore, I’m an adult now.  My prefrontal lobe has developed, and now, it’s easy enough to distinguish the difference between

1) an emotional/spiritual apocalypse of doom and depression and angst, and

2) my brain chemistry being kind of temporarily fucked due in part to my hormone levels and in part because my meds are being adjusted.

Like, I get it.  Logic is engaged.  I know in my brainmeats that this isn’t an eternal state of ugly feels, despite the fact that the depression is inherently just engineered to feel like it’s going to stretch out for an eternity and there’s no hope of ever recovering.  That’s why it’s called a depression, that’s why it’s so effective at being the horrible thing that it is.  If I could see the light at the end of the tunnel from where I’m standing, it wouldn’t be a depression.

As far as facts and figures are concerned, I get that I’m feeling icky, due to physiological factors beyond my control, and it will pass.  I understand that this isn’t the end of the world and eventually I’ll swing right back on up to feeling like that superman who can handle eighteen thousand things at once (for better or worse).  I understand that, until that happens, for the meantime, the best I can do is ride it out, hope it’s not my meds doing this to me but some other factor (so I don’t have to switch my meds AGAIN) and try to not to anything destructive.

But fuck it’s hard to keep some perspective when I’m like this.

It’s like being in a house of mirrors.  The state I’m in means that my energy is very, very low.  That doesn’t translate to “I’m feeling lazy”. What it translates to is, “I don’t have the capacity to process very much without getting immediately burnt out and ragged.”  What it translates to is “it does not take very much to overwhelm me right now, and overwhelm is very very bad for a mind that is teetering dangerously close to suicidal and self-harm kind of thinking.”  What it translates to is “too much stimulation and input very easily leads to panic attacks and uncontrollable lashing out.”  What it translates to is that I need to be very gentle with myself and take a lot of things off my plate.

That kind of self care is very, very difficult for a Type A personality. You get crippled by the shame.  People like myself constantly have a tittering demon on our shoulders telling us that we could be using our time more effectively.  That’s good on most days, because it means a lot gets accomplished.  On the (rare) depressive days, that leads to panic, guilt, shame, anxiety, frustration, and suicidal thinking.  If you had an overbearing schoolmarm breathing down your neck 24-7 telling you what a useless lazy sack of sludge you were, and if one day you got exhausted enough to slow down enough that you felt like the words she was saying might actually carry a grain of truth, you might lose your will to carry on a little too.

I think that’s the word I’m scared of more than anything.  Laziness.  Just about that second that I realized how fast life goes by,  I realized that I had such a limited amount of time in this life to actually accomplish the things I want to do.  On the days when I have the energy to go out and make things happen, that’s a motivating kind of thought.  On the days where finding my shoes is a task that crumples my resolve like tin foil, it’s a sucker punch to the gut that sucks any and all life, positivity, motivation and enjoyment out of anything that I could be doing at any given moment.  It’s a mind-shattering realization, one that makes you feel futility in any endeavor, from going back to school to drawing your next breath.

So, my conclusion here is that manic depression is a really dangerous disease for Type-A sorts to have, because the downtime days are just so much more devastating to handle for someone who is so driven that absolutely almost nothing can stop you.  When something as simple as your own brain chemistry trips you up, and there is nothing you can do to fight it that doesn’t put your mental health in serious danger, it’s a real kick to your self-esteem, and that deepens your depression further.  It’s an exponentially folding, billowing well of tarry black darkness and shame that encompasses everything, chokes your air supply, snakes down your nostrils, tangles your limbs, and commands every sensory input until the only escape is sleep.  (Hey check out the imagery in that last sentence, I’m a depressed 17 year old with a livejournal.)

I think what I’m saying is, if I could relax for five minutes, maybe this whole depression thing wouldn’t be so fucked.

1 Year Manniversary!

So, it was this day last year that I made the decision to start living full time as male.  I’ve pulled this from the first post on my blog:

“This is Day 1.  Ground zero.
Today’s the official start of my transitioning process.
Some day, I won’t be the only person who sees me as a man.  Some day the whole goddamn world will without a second guess.  And it’s only a matter of time.
Joaquin Jack, the rootin’-est tootin’-est outlaw in the Wild West.”

A lot of things have changed since that day.  The most recent change?  I’m now officially a working stiff.  Yep, that volunteer gig I’ve been talking about since April?  They finally offered me a full time, paid job with benefits.  My medical insurance starts in September, and I can start the process of medical transition this year.

Social transition started a long time ago.  Most people I know call me Tommy, even in the workplace.  Most of those people call me by male pronouns, except for family and people in the workplace.  I don’t know how I’m going to navigate that when I start looking and sounding more male, but I have a very cool and understanding supervisor who is used to dealing with people in unusual personal situations, so I’d be surprised if she treats me unfairly.

Funnily enough, my attitude towards pronouns has gotten a lot more lax lately, mainly because I’m just so tired of seeing people struggle with it.  I’ve even had a few people who have been trying their damnedest break down and cry over it, even when I wasn’t pressing the issue.  I can tell with these people, they genuinely want to say the right things around me and it really gets to them when they don’t, and it’s gotten to the point where I frankly don’t give a shit anymore.  I mean, it’s awesome when I get sirred in public, but there’s nothing I can do right now about the fact that I look, sound and smell female, and asking people to do mental acrobatics around it is a little unreasonable until I’ve been on T for a while.

That’s not to say that I let people walk all over me, though.  Recently a few friends and I were hanging out, and I was telling this story from back when I was still doing the whole “chick” thing, and one of my brodudes said, “Hey, FYI, you’re still a chick.”

I punched him in the face.

It was kind of awesome.  His head slammed the wall behind him and he came up dizzy and checking if all his teeth were there.

He got the picture.  We were cool from then on.

***

What else has changed since last year?  Hm…
– My car works again, feels good to have independence.
– I’ve finally gotten back into the habit of showering and brushing my teeth every day- I care about my body now that it might actually belong to me one day.
– I’ve been eating less junk food and soda and crap and staying active, and I’ve gained some muscle and lost 23 pounds worth of spare fat.
– I’m on my way to quitting smoking (which I’ve never really mentioned on here because I don’t want to make any of my  former smoker transbros start jonesing, but I feel it’s worth bringing up at least on my manniversary.)
– I finally got together the balls to cut my hair last year, feels awesome not to have an extra blanket of heat coating my neck and back in the summer.
– I’ve become an expert at using an STP at public urinals, and have broken the fear of using the men’s room.
– I’ve come out to my dad and we even talk about it at lengths these days, and he (sort of) accepts me as his son, off and on.  It’s all I can ask for at this point.
– Have been wearing a real binder, not an improvised one that could distort my ribs, for probably about 9 months now.  Of course I’ve been binding off and on for a long time, and every single day for a year now, but using one regularly that doesn’t hurt my back has done wonders for my self-esteem and general health.
– Since having them compressed every day, I’ve lost at least a cup size.  I used to be a full C, and now I’m kind of a saggy B.  Not as attractive with my shirt off, but much easier to bind, and sometimes I can even wear a baggy shirt without being self-conscious.
– I’ve pumped off and on all year, and let’s just say my microcock is a lot easier to see these days.
– A lot of other smaller things that I don’t feel like recounting.

The only negative thing is that I’ve become a lot less comfortable with sex these days.  Since being with someone who doesn’t neccessarily find my trans situation attractive and kinda made me feel like shit about myself in several ways, and becoming more and more wary that any guy I’m with will want to do me in the manhole, I’ve lost my sex drive almost entirely.  This has led to even more anxiety about it, since, as a general rule, “males have a bigger sex drive”, and since last year, mine has only shrunk.  Of course, it’s all a performance anxiety and self-consciousness issue.  But it’s kind of positive that I’m less desparately, widly depressed about how small my dick is and more generally just not interested in sex right now.  I’m sure when I find the right person, all that anxiety about my genitals will go away, and having my sex drive boosted by T won’t be as soul-crushing.

Anyway, my manniversary celebration turned out to be a lot less exciting than I originally planned, but then, I originally planned to be taking my first T shot right about now.  I’ve basically only had my best friend over today and we’ve surfed the internet all day and listened to music.  That’s it. It just seemed superfluous to make a big deal out of “Hey, I decided something this day last year!”  I’ll probably go buy a cake or something when I actually get on T.

***

I think the biggest point of all this is, I held my own Real Life Test, just to know for sure, for my own purposes, that this was what I wanted to do, that not only could I handle the societal pressures of being male, but the problems that come with living as one gender when the world percieves you as another.

It went far better than expected.

I’ve been living with genuine peace of mind in myself for a year, despite the storm raging all around.  I’ve come to know who I really am, and that person wasn’t as cool as I originally thought he would be, but I’ve settled with being a big dork, and I’m happy with that.  I haven’t been experiencing any delusions or hallucinations, the dissociation has ceased, my emotional turmoil has settled considerably, and since having a cool and sane head, I can see that a lot of the world wasn’t as big and scary and dramatic and bad as I thought it was.  I’ve developed a sense of responsibility to myself and others now that I have a cemented sense of identity and I don’t feel like a visitor to this world operating an expendable avatar.  I’m comfortable with myself and my friends tell me that I seem happier.  There’s no more being constantly on edge for fear that my own mind will revolt and I’ll have to account for yet another day lost to someone I don’t know.  I’ve gotten used to what it’s like to be the only person in here, and it’s surprisingly simple, even if at first it was a little claustrophobic.  I feel much more real, I feel connected to the consequences of my actions, I feel in control.  I feel… normal.

That was something I never expected.

On the search.

I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to ask here, but really, I just want to know where all the transguys hang out online.  I’ve come across plenty of forums, but there’s never really anyone online at the time I show up.  The most I’ve ever seen in an FTM chatroom was 4, myself included, and they were mainly idle.  Is it just that FTM’s tend to be lone wolves, or am I looking in the wrong places?  Because I KNOW there must be some place out on the interwebs where I can go to chat and there are at least a few dozen transguys on there at all times, having lively conversations about crazy things, just like every other group I’ve ever been involved with.  There’s a vibrant chat room out there for everything that I can think of.  I mean, I know there are more of us than it must seem like, so why, when I go looking, is it always so DESOLATE?

All I really want right now is a sense of community.  I want to have somewhere I can go, that when I step in the door, I feel comfortable and have a sense of communion and family- where I can look around and think, “these are my people.”  I feel like I’m a member of an endangered species.  And I’ve looked everywhere I can think of.  I’d join the youtube community if I had a camera, because that’s the closest thing I can find.  But I figure, if there’s a chat room out there for people like us, I’d better just start asking around, because I haven’t had any success looking myself so far, and I’ve been looking for a year.

I feel more alone these days than I’ve felt in a very long time.  I just want to be with my people.

Sex.

So, to put it bluntly, I’m having a problem I didn’t think I’d have.  Not only am I having issues with my given unit whilst in bed, but I’m having trouble letting myself be on bottom, period.  I don’t really want to go into all the gory details because I’m sure I’d manage to offend someone out there, but let’s just say that this has led to a lot of heartache and tears for both parties.  I can’t enjoy being in bed anymore unless I’m on top, which basically means I haven’t had sex in a week, because my partner and I are clashing on who gets to dominate.

I never thought I’d be that person who would let those sorts of problems get to me so much that I’d start having feelings of worthlessness and depression, panic, general inferiority and anxiety about it all.  It got bad.  I started tapping out whenever we’d start to do something- down there- and recently I nearly threw up, immediately after which I lost consciousness on my floor next to trash bin.  I spent so long trying to accommodate him and let him know that he wasn’t losing the person who could once upon a time be anything and everything for him, but I pushed it too far, WAAY past the point of being comfortable, to where it seriously started screwing with my mind.  I haven’t felt such a disjunction between my identity and what I was trying to be in a long time.  There’s a lot more going on in my sex life than I care to continue going on about, so let’s just say it’s not going well.  I feel like I’m coming apart at the edges again.

Anyway, I’m starting to feel less lenient on the subject of of bottom surgery.  Last night, I dreamt that I went to a prison, and was told that if I was everybody’s love slave, then I could eventually grow my own penis.  It was horrific, and symbolic in ways that I don’t really care to point out.  I really think that I should pursue bottom surgery if I want these disturbances to stop.

Transmen Haiku

A haiku about my perspective on the beginning of transition-

We are all young boys

Fighting for our puberties

Held back as children.

~

I’ve been feeling more like that lately than ever.  It seems like my childhood was stolen from me, and we have to fight the whole world, at every step, tooth and nail for our rights to have that experience.  But when we’re going through it, we’re gaining back our boyhoods, day by day, at an age that’s way too late, along with having to deal with the responsibilities of being adult.  At best, I’d say it’s a unique perspective through which to see life.

(I’d like to point out that I don’t mean this to be offensive- I don’t view a state of femininity as a childlike state in any way!  I just feel denied the hormones that I should have gotten around the age of 13.)

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