Anxiety and dysphoria – Just an average day.

So I’m going to write down what a typical day is for me and probably a lot of other trans women. I don’t dare assume it’s the same for all of us as we all feel things differently, but anyway, for anyone who wants a deeper glimpse into my head, here goes. This may go some way to show people why I act as I do when I’m having a rough day, how I cope with things and how present circumstances have a bearing on everyday life. As usual I’m not leaving details out so expect talk about my body and various functions.

I usually start off waking up and disappointed that a certain thing hasn’t dropped off in the night and a foof has magically appeared. This is doubly disappointing as I usually get woken in the night because the thing is still somewhat active as I’m presently going through the process of getting onto testosterone blockers which will more or less kill any remaining functionality it has. Basically I don’t use it for intimacy and because it doesn’t get used it’s shrunk a great deal and any time it does move and grow it’s horribly sensitive and instantly wakes me up. Even though I’m wearing knickers and a panty liner for comfort and to keep it tucked and out of the way I still feel it and it bothers the hell out of me. Basically I wake up set to a default state of moderate dysphoria. Getting up and getting ready for work only notches the background dysphoria up further as shaving is still a thing. I’ve lost some 60% of my facial hair now, there’s a hell of a lot less to shave and I’m typically done in 30 seconds instead of taking 10 minutes and looking like I’d fit in as a victim from a slasher fic or having tried DIY follicle removal but it still feels wrong in my mind.

Getting dressed is next, great because I can see how the hormones are taking effect and how my body in general is being reshaped into something I’m finally comfortable with. This time is also bad because that means changing knickers and liner and seeing and touching the thing and resisting the urge to take something sharp to it. Reminding myself I need to reluctantly look after it until I can have surgery I pack the thing away so it doesn’t move and cause distress during the day and try and forget about it at least until I need the loo, which is usually ten seconds after sorting myself out because I’m amazingly organised like that. Hair gets done and make-up goes on, which I keep simple but pay a lot of attention on covering up the give-away shadow caused by my facial hair (snow white skin and jet black body hair, awesome combination for laser removal, terrible for concealing) and I’m more or less set for work.

I inevitably spend some time on Twitter and Facebook while doing breakfast and wishing I had a magic wand to sort out the troubles various friends and family are having with their own lives, being the empathic person I am and wishing there was more I could do from the end of an internet cable half a country away than offer reassurance and advice where I can. Plodding along on the new exercise bike before work most days is also a thing, because keeping the BMI somewhere sensible is required for the future as well as the fact I need to do something about my general fitness which has gone to hell since I quit cycling four years ago.

In short, most mornings I’m dysphoric, anxious about my friends and family, anxious about myself and how I appear before going out and anxious about work as there’s stress from transition related issues and because we’re due an inspection any time now and people are panicking about stuff.

Some days I cope better than others and some days my anxiety is heightened for a combination of reasons, be it knowing work will be particularly trying, my dysphoria’s being particularly bad, if I’ve had dreams which have upset me in one way or another or I’m having a particular bad day emotionally, either because of mood swings or because of grief surrounding losing dad and Richard’s granddad. Richard’s health is another concern of mine, especially when his chest is playing up like it seems to be doing so often these days. If I’ve got an appointment coming up is yet another thing that can set my anxiety off.

When my anxiety is high my tolerance for various social situations drops even lower than usual. On these kind of days getting out of bed and doing anything is a struggle, never mind going out, doing stuff and being a halfway functioning adult.

Case in point this morning, I got so worked up over a number of things I got stuck mentally and my sister ended up organising my mess of a mind for me so I could figure out what really needed doing and what could get lumped onto another day. A few days before I got so anxious about something I had a panic attack and Richard had to physically drag me out of the house to go do something else I had planned to try and snap me out of the stuck phase. I sometimes wonder if I have a touch of autism about me but I only get this way when there’s a lot going on so I don’t know.

Getting back to the point, because of my anxiety I ended up ditching several things I’d ordinary like doing, including going to a trans support group I enjoy going to, but I was trying to juggle that in with chasing up an appointment, supporting mum with an issue to do with dad, do a couple of important things for myself and trying to support a couple of friends with some big things going on. I also wanted to spend some time with Richard and as he said he wasn’t going to meet me at the group tonight that would have meant me working all day, going to the group and not seeing him at all. It was too much and I became an anxious tearful mess again, hence needing some help to trim things down into something manageable.

Now I do have some coping mechanisms for when my anxiety gets a bit much. My favourite is music and I often have the earplugs in when I’m going out as I find I can cope better when I’m away in my little isolated bubble. This is in part down to a decade of bullying at schools when I grew up and shrinking away into my bubble was the only way I barely able to cope with everything that was thrown my way, and then various experiences as an adult which required similar reactions. I’d retreat into myself and not come out as that was preferable to getting hassle for various things. Another thing I do is find something to keep my hands occupied. If you see me steadily shredding a tissue in my hands absently then that’s a good sign I’m struggling, flexing and bending my fingers is another giveaway and both are preferable to the self destructive and stupid ways I used to cope.

Anyway I get to work after the usual fun and exciting bike ride in where I may or may not have to rely on Jedi level reflexes to avoid being run off the road by idiotic drivers (I swear some days the bike has a cloaking device). I sort my hair out and touch the make-up up and get on with things. Transition at work has been pretty good all things considered, but there is one resident who’s struggled and as a result rotas have been changed so other staff are doing the shifts I can’t do now and I feel bad about this because it puts a strain on them and I have heard comments about this. Not about me and not aimed at me but remarks about how they’ve had stressful days with the resident and not getting too much of a break from him because of this. Needless to say I’m feeling amazing around about now.

Work goes on, I get stressed to various degrees, depending on what we’re doing and who I’m working with and I spend most of the day wearing a mask and trying to hide the chaos that’s going on upstairs. It’s something I’ve had a lot of practice doing over the years. Some days I may take to twitter and chat away with friends, either for support or just to have a laugh and joke about the maddest of things and then we’re all wondering how X led to Y and so on. It breaks the day up and makes a hell of a difference to me especially on a bad day or if someone’s said something that may seem innocuous but because of how I’m feeling it rips through me like a hot knife through butter and triggers a dysphoria attack which usually results in me finding somewhere quiet and shedding a few tears before trying to regain my composure. Because of the hormones I’m generally going through a second puberty and as such my moods and emotions fluctuate wildly and has made me very sensitive to anything that can set me off like this.

Somehow or another I get through another day at work (often reminding myself this is paying for useful stuff like hair removal and appointments and generally helping do something about the things I listed earlier that make me feel dysphoric) and I get back home to Richard. I’ve usually been messaging him during the day, especially if things have been tough and we have a good hug when I get in before I disappear behind the laptop and unwind, usually to a combination of music, video, writing and twittering away for a bit.

Showering and getting ready for bed gives the general dysphoria a good kick. Showering means seeing and touching the thing as keeping clean avoids nasties like UTI’s and taking the make-up off reveals the facial hair I’d almost forgotten about until that point. Bedtime causes anxiety of it’s own if Richard feels frisky. Intimacy is a tricky subject right now, as this just magnifies the general battle that goes through my head all day everyday. I enjoy it, but then the thing pops up, my mind goes ballistic and then the mood is killed and tears ensue. I hate keeping him at arms length but right now it’s the only way I can deal with this right now. I hate going to bed fully clothed so I can avoid being reminded about the thing as we love being skin to skin and just cuddling up, again it’s the only way I can cope right now and the knickers at least mean when the thing tries getting up at night it has nowhere to go and can’t get up.

In short a large chunk of an average day is spent dealing with the open warfare that goes on between mind and body because of my ongoing dysphoria and why I need to get things sorted out as soon as the GIC will let me.

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