Thursday, 25 July 2013

This Morning I Told My GP

So, this morning I told my GP. The wait to see her took forever, and every time a name was called up over the tannoy my anxiety ratcheted up a notch which considering I waited for 45 mins, meant I worked myself up quite a lot before getting to see her. When I finally sat down with her I told her how ive been feeling over the past 3-4 weeks, depressed, on the verge of tears, low self esteem, difficulty being motivated or concentrating, and so on.

Considering I was off work previously with work related stress the obvious starting point for her was to ask how it was going, which all things considered it is ok. Its never going to be stress free since this is the nature of the job but comparing now to what it was like last year it is so much better, and I am happier there too. However what im feeling now is a lot different to what I had last year. Less stress, more emotion.

So she then asked about my private life, and this was my opening. So, my hands waved around and my mouth opened and closed a few times while I considered where and how to start before I told her that ive been struggling with what I believe is Gender Dysphoria, and that lately its been difficult to manage. It was at this point I almost cried a bit, that lump in my throat that has been there for weeks almost gave way. I told her I was a practicing Transvestite which sometimes helps and that the last few years I have been trying to manage it but recently have been struggling to.

I forget exactly how the conversation went. We talked about me coming to realise it wasnt going away, getting some clothes in to try and explore things, telling my girlfriend, how I thought things were getting better, and even briefly Sparkle too. I talked about the thoughts that never go away, the white noise in my head, the fact it gets in the way, and the frustration and obsessing. I also told her I have looked into self-medding a few times over the years too (which I dont think ive admitted to anyone before). In an effort to assure me I suppose she told me that they do have some Transgender patients who go there so they do have some experience in dealing with people like me.

She asked what I want to do, I said I want to manage it. I dont want to transition or anything like that, she kind of looked surprised at this. She asked if my partner wasnt in the picture would I be giving the same answer, and I probably wouldnt be. Like I said to the counsellor I went to see last year, if I wasnt with her id probably be on a very different path now. She asked if I have told her how ive been feeling, and I havent. She is a worrier, and someone I love very much. If I told her all it would do is fuel her paranoia of me wanting to go FT, which if I ever did it would mean the end of our relationship, which is the last thing I want. Im confident there must be a way of living with this.

My GP said if I had walked in and said something like: "I want to be a woman" she would have referred me but since im not in a position where I know what I need, she couldnt, which is fair enough. Ive been signed onto the waiting list to speak to an NHS counsellor which will take about 6 months, for the depression she has given me anti-depressants which unlike last year I have accepted this time, and I have to go back and speak to her in a few weeks time.

Ive missed a lot of the conversation out to be honest, im never good at remembering the details but above is the general gist of it.

Did I leave feeling relieved, elated, or cured? No. I was going to dress up today, I bought a few new dresses from New Look yesterday too and wanted to try them on but I feel so low and demotivated im just not in the mood at all. But at least im in the system now, I have a doctor I can talk to about it. Something is happening.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Low-Mo Update

The past few days in work has been a nightmare. I wake up ok, start feeeling crappy on the way into work, and then this continues for most of the day. I cant concentrate, im procrastinating like mad, im just spending my days sat there staring into space when I should be working. When I do try and work I cant keep it up for long before I have to take a break and hide in the loo for 5 mins while I get my act together. Just to make things worse yesterday at two seperate times through the day I had two members of my team in absolute tears due to personal issues at home, which obviously cant be helped but really was the last thing I needed yesterday. I wasnt in the mood to be empathetic, or patient. Im a manager not a bloody counsellor, and ive got my own stuff to work through at the moment.

Conversation easily distracts, so when I get home it usually does calm down a little. But when I am in work and at a time where I cant really talk to my team, my mind wanders and I start feeling really crappy about myself.

Ive got a GP appointment booked in for tomorrow where I shall be telling her I think my depression is coming back. I shall also be telling her about being Transgender too as I do feel the two are linked, unless of course I chicken out! And no, I dont feel its anything to do with some kind of a Sparkle come-down, although that probably hasnt helped. I was noticing some of my depression 'tics' about a week or two before Sparkle, and my GD has been kicking right off as well since before that.

Hair. Girls hair seems to be my thing lately. I shave my head as it is receeding a little at the front, plus my girlfriend doesnt like long hair on men, but whenever I see long hair on a girl (which is quite a lot surprisingly!) it really makes me feel bad about myself. I want it! I want long hair, I want to wear it up, I want to tie it back and leave some bangs or a fringe sweeping across my face, I want it blonde, brown, black and/or red, I want it straightened and/or curly. It doesnt seem to matter, but it seems to the thing defining my feminine desires at the moment, and it is so frustrating!

In other news, as of yesterday we now have a cat. Well, a kitten. Its currently lying on the couch next to me sleeping but it does seem to like hunting my feet with its claws and teeth out, which is quite annoying! Its a tabby that we havent named yet, and we also dont know what sex it is either until we have been able to get it to the vets for its jabs. Suggestions for cute cat names are welcome!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Post Sparkle Blues

Well this week I have gradually been feeling worse and worse about myself. Ive put off writing this for a few days because I want to try and avoid typing 'rage-posts' like I used to when feeling low, at the same time the problem with this is I have forgotten some of clarity of my thoughts and feelings over the past week.

For maybe a week or two before Sparkle, I started noticing on occasions I would exhibit some of the little behaviours I used to have when I had depression. Putting myself down while saying it out loud, occasional low mood for no apparent reason, difficulty sleeping, irritability, etc. These mostly dissapeared over Sparkle weekend, apart from the occasional talking to myself moment I was happy. Post sparkle though, they are back and I have noticed other symptoms too. Feeling really miserable, short temper, feeling like I want to cry for no apparent reason and more. Not only that, but these are coupled with obsessive thoughts over my T side, hating the male characteristics showing through after being groomed for sparkle (body hair regrowth, horrible skin, etc), and feeling off physically, which I can only describe as feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Sometimes, specifically in work I can be distracted from most of what I am feeling, or at least can put on a front. Other times I have to take extra breaks because I just feel so off and I cant concentrate on what I am supposed to be doing.

This is the final straw I think, im going to book a GP appointment this week. Either my depression is coming back or my GD is getting worse, or both. This time though work is not the culprit since I have been relatively happy there for a while, which means im going to have to tell my GP about Aimee. Im fed up of feeling like this. I can go ages feeling fine and then for no apparent reason my 'I want to be a woman' thoughts are back and im miserable. I need to do something about it.

I was meant to be going to a house warming party tonight but cancelled because im not exactly in a social-able mood, I ended up having a little argument with my girlfriend over it because this is turning into a regular thing now where my social anxiety has got in the way of things and ive deliberately made excuses not to go (not telling her about the anxiety though). This time however its a little different.

Monday, 15 July 2013

My Weekend At Sparkle 2013

So this is going to be quite a lengthy post about my weekend at Sparkle, I think overall I had a good time but am having difficulty justifying going again. There were definitely pros and cons but im having difficulty deciding which one tips the scales.

The Weekends Events

I spent the whole weekend in the company of my friends ML and CP who live near me, and who I have met once or twice before. Ive actually been out with ML before when we went to BNO in Milton Keynes last year. We journeyed up to Manchester by train and met one of their friends Nancy at Piccadilly Station. Nancy knew Canal Street and was sharing a room with CP for the first night but had to go home Saturday lunch time. She walked with us to the hotel, we checked in, and then we made our way to our rooms. Myself and ML were on the third floor in separate rooms although just across the hall from each other, and CP and Nancy were on the first.

For the first night I thought I would dress a little more casual so I wore my new blue dress with spots on it, leggings and sandals. When I was ready, I met Maya and then we made our way down to CP and Nancys room to meet them. When we were all ready we then made our way towards the hotel lobby which was down a flight of stairs just around the corner from their room.

It was quite a feeling hearing the roar of the hotel lobby getting louder knowing I was dressed as a woman, it was broad daylight and that there were a lot of people down there. We were all lined up walking down the stairs, then carried on out of the building, and I was at the back of the line. I was a tiny bit nervous but for some reason I was feeling really confident and just went for it. We were making our way across the lobby and there was no fuss or anything, but my first time in public in daylight was never going to be so easy. As we got to the door there was a massive gang of teenage girls just hanging around outside the door who saw us, and we were greeted by laughing, giggling, squealing and more. There was no escape, we just had to push through them and keep walking! The thing is though is that it never really bothered me, I actually found the whole situation quite entertaining to be honest! Its just my luck that this would happen!

So we then made our way to the famous Canal Street which conveniently happened to be just around the corner from our hotel. Its basically just one massive long street which has tons of gay bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels and it was very busy with all sorts of people, gay men, lesbian women, straight people just passing through and t-girls in all shapes, sizes, and different degrees of gender expression. It was definitely a sight to behold! We managed to get a seat at a table outside a restaurant and had food out in the sun. It was really nice to be able to do something normal and enjoy being outdoors the way that I was. While chatting and eating I was quite happy just watching the world go by, and taking in the variety of people. Afterwards then we spent the evening checking out a few of the bars and clubs along Canal Street, before finally ending up in Napoleons where Nancy was meeting a friend of hers. The only problem with the bars and clubs on Canal Street is that they all seem to play the same music, which seems to be the campier the better, and always loud! A bit of choice would have been nice, im sure not all people in the LGBT community only like music like that, and having somewhere quieter to go would have been nice too.

On Saturday we had breakfast in drab so we could see Nancy off, and then went to get ready to go to the Sparkle in the Park event. I settled on my brown and blue stripey dress and decided that since it was such a nice day I would have my legs out, and this was a decision I did not regret. It felt amazing to feel the breeze flowing around me wearing a dress, its definitely something I could get used too! One mistake I made was to take a leather handbag, those things can heat up quickly in the sun and can make you sweat! After getting ready we made our way down to the park which was actually situated near the end of Canal Street, so we really didnt have far to go to get there. The event was made up of stalls along one end of the park, selling clothes and wigs, and promoting TG social and support groups. And then at the other end was the stage with all sorts of music, drag, and dancing acts on. I will be honest, I thought the majority of the entertainment was pretty poor. Im not a fan of cabaret, as often it is very amateurish and far too camp for my liking. Also, im not a fan of drag queens either, I think they help perpetuate the comedic image that we are often associated with. There was one act on though that was actually really good though, a lone female singer and acoustic guitarist, although I forgot their name unfortunately. It was the most 'normal' act that I saw while I was there and they were definitely talented. One irritation though were the amount of cameras there, a lot of people were taking sly photos as well without the subjects knowledge, myself included. No doubt my face is now plastered across a few corners of the internet although I suppose im not really too bothered by that, im more bothered about if I looked good or not! Plus, I want copies!

Something I was surprised to see there though was quite a lot Furries dotted about the place. Ive got nothing against them at all, ive worked with a few over the years and got to know one of them quite well too, and he was a really nice guy. They are harmless, I was just surprised to see them there. Will we see LGBT becoming LGBTF in the near future? ; )

Later on in the afternoon we then made our way back to the hotel via a restaurant on Canal Street and proceeded to get ready for the evening. After stressing over what to wear I decided on my new Numph grey and black dress and decided I wanted my bare legs out again I reapplied my makeup and then we made our way back to Canal Street for another night of drinking and dancing. I actually quite liked a club called View, it was definitely less camp than most places on Canal Street and had on some dance music I felt I could put up with, but I felt very old in there! For the first time that weekend I had a little go at trying to dance and think I did ok, it turns out that if I tone down how I used to dance when going to Hard House events many years ago the footwork is very similar, I just had to do less with my arms. After a while though we ended up in Napoleons again since its fairly quiet in the downstairs room, and we had a few drinks before heading back to the hotel. We almost had a quick drink in the hotel bar but it looked a little busy and I dont think ML or CP were too keen on the idea.

All over the weekend, the people there were really nice and friendly. Staff in every bar and restaurant always used female pronouns when addressing us, and didnt look at us any differently than they would their other patrons. It was a nice feeling to be accepted this way at face value. On the flip side of this however are the 'admirers'. I was told by CP on Saturday that on our first night in Napoleons I was getting a lot of stares from men who were there, and at one point she deliberately stood in the way of someone who was trying to make a beeline for me. Im not sure what to think of this really but I suppose it is to be expected that at some point I am going to have to deal with men. I just hope that they accept that no means no.

On Sunday we checked out an hour early so we could grab some breakfast on the way, but then we had some major travel issues getting back. We were meant to change twice, with 15 mins at each stop to find the next train, however there were some complications. After our first change, there was a problem with the line in the middle of nowhere and we were stranded for about 20-25 minutes, then when we got to the next stop the train was so late that they just cancelled it, by this point we had missed the connection we were meant to have made. We then had to wait for another train to take us to where we were meant to change to get our final train to our destination. When we got there, we were in an unfamiliar station and when we finally found a board with the train times we found we had 5 minutes to catch the next train going our way! Just to complicate things, the platform number was not signposted anywhere apart from round a corner above a lift with a queue in front of it, which was apparently the only way to get to the platform! By the time we got down to the platform the doors were just closing but someone on the train kindly opened them for us, phew! What a nightmare!

Ponderous Thoughts

So over the course of the weekend I had a lot of time to ponder about my take on the trans scene, the people in it, and my place in it too as a straight part timer. On the one hand, its difficult for me to see myself as a regular on the scene because of the inextricable link to the gay scene. Just because im dressed as a woman doesnt suddenly make me want to dance round my handbag to high camp disco classics like 'its raining men'! But this seems to be what some (most?) t-girls want to do for entertainment.

I suppose in some ways though I think there is still some inner turmoil around what I am trying to get out of this too. Some of the t-girls I saw over the course of the weekend were stunning, and I dont just mean in looks, but in movement and speech too. Then there were the natal females too who were out on their girls nights out drinking and dancing, and next to them was me, who certainly looked the part but wasnt in the same frame of mind as them. I couldnt help but compare myself to the girls around me, I want to be like them in body and mind but it is a futile struggle to try and achieve that, I just cant seem to make myself 'femme' enough to get anywhere near that level, and I dont think this is just a physical thing, but a mental thing too. The thing is, a lot of the other t-girls seemed to be having no problems with this. They looked the part, acted the part, and were really getting into being their feminine selves but I just dont think I am feminine enough. My male mind seems to only want to go so far and it rebels at the thought of acting and thinking femininely. I suspect this might have been because of the company I was with, some kind of silly male pride in front of people I know. If I was alone I may have found it a lot easier!

So what is the point of dressing up if in the back of my mind I dont want to be feminine? The thing is, im not sure this is entirely the case. Some of these people have years and years of experience, maybe I just need to keep doing it and practice? After all, ive got 31 years of being a man to try and and unravel a little. Practicing isnt going to change my taste in music (thankfully) but I might be able to at least get myself in a more feminine state of mind, and loosen up a little. Something to try on my next outing perhaps? It just feels a little fake to camp up my act a bit, although im sure this would get easier with time.

One positive realisation I had afterwards was how normal it felt to be out like this. Being out in public dressed up didnt bother me at all. Even though the majority of the time it was in the safe haven of the gay village, we still had to walk down a few busy roads to get there and I wasnt fazed at all!

Social Anxiety

I knew this weekend was going to test my social anxiety, and I wasnt wrong. Being dressed up in the middle of the day on a busy Manchester high street, no problem. Talking to people? A bigger challenge apparently! Over the weekend I met Nancy who was someone new, and also bumped into AP who I have chatted to on Angels and Flickr in the past, and also Davina who I chat to occasionally on tvChix.

In all 3 cases I found conversing really difficult. If we were chatting one on one I dont think I would have had much of a problem but being in a group made me hyper aware of what I was saying because of the audience. Because my brain was over-analysing everything I found myself mixing words up or saying the wrong thing, which then just made me feel stupid even if I knew it was just a minor thing and this caused me to just over-analyse even more. More often than not I just avoided conversation all together. This was easier with Nancy since she knew ML and CP already so I could leave the conversation to them. However, with AP it would have been rude not to try and make conversation with her but with the audience I found it quite difficult to engage brain. Davina I was meant to be meeting over the weekend anyway but I randomly bumped into her twice on Saturday. She was someone that only I knew out of our group, which was even worse because all I could think of was ML and CP standing there listening to what I was saying. I just felt on the spot and was over conscious of every single word that fell out of my mouth. After a quick chat I made excuses and we went on our way, I probably came across as a little rude (and if you ever read this im sorry!) but I was really struggling!

I do want to take this opportunity to apologise to Becca, who takes the time to comment on here and give me advice when im struggling, and who was at Sparkle as well and would have liked to meet up. I could have made more of an effort to meet with you and I really would have liked to as well, but I just wasnt comfortable with the social circumstances I was in over the weekend. I just felt awkward and I didnt want to leave you with any kind of negative impression of me like I probably had with others I had met over the course of the weekend.

Ah, being mental is fun!

Final Thoughts

Well, Sparkle is an amazing event to go to if you ever want to finally leave the safety of your own home dressed as your female self. Its safe, accommodating and friendly. You dont need to worry if you look good or bad, since there are many people there with varying degrees of style and convincing-ness,  and you will be accepted as the person you are presenting as. As long as your are comfortable that is all that matters.

Since I dont really feel a part of 'the scene' and dont have many people I would use it as an excuse to meet up with, im not sure I would make the effort to go again. But it has definitely filled me with the confidence to go elsewhere. The only questions now is, where?

Friday, 12 July 2013

Sparkle Today!

Well ive just booked my taxi to take me to the train station, the train leaves at 12.50pm and now its feeling kind of final. Ive packed my case and my bag, ive showered, shaved, plucked and trimmed, and now ive got an hour to burn until the taxi gets here.

Frankly, im crapping myself. I feel so under-prepared for this. I really have no idea whats in store for me this weekend.

I went out yesterday before work and bought 4 dresses with high necks in order to cover the spots all over my chest, I was quite happy with them and thought they would do nicely, until I got them home later that evening. One doesnt fit at all, there is no way it is a 12 I cant even shut the zip! Another one I thought looked nice in the shop but when I got home I realised I didnt like the print on it at all, it was too girly even for my girlfriend! Another one im kind of 50/50 on, I might wear it but im not too sure. And finally, one I bought from Dorothy Perkins actually looks quite nice, and I know this is a little trampy but I am considering wearing it on 2 nights because im just not happy with most of the outfits I have. If I didnt have these spots on my chest id have a lot more options! Grrrrr!

Im not happy with my body image, outfits or makeup, and my confidence has gone through the floor but im just going to have to go for it now. Im feeling pretty anxious about the whole thing now to be honest, but im too committed to back out at this point.

As much as I can appreciate there will probably be all sorts of people there who express themselves in all sorts of different ways and whether I look 'convincing' or not probably wont really matter, I still want to be happy with my presentation of my feminine self. Im not naive enough to think I am 'convincing' because I am far from it and I know that, but I still want to present myself in the best way that I can because I am going to be out in public, and I just dont think I am there at the moment.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

What To Wear, What To Prepare....

There is just over a week to go till Sparkle and im still no closer to figuring out what to wear or what to prepare. Its stressing me out a little now. The loose plan is to go out for food followed by a bar on the Friday night, maybe take it easy so we wont be struggling the next day. Then Saturday have lunch and go to the Sparkle day event, and then for the evening try and find some kind of alternative place to go to. Im trying to find some dresses/outfits that will be cool enough in case it is warm, but also cover my arms and chest because of my spots.

They are still spotty from the last time I shaved them a month ago and im thinking im going to have to plan my outfits accordingly. I have booked in to get my upper torso waxed next week just in case they have gone down enough but I am not holding my breath. I did want to go for a full body wax but my girlfriend isnt happy with that idea. She said me being totally smooth makes her uncomfortable, and while I have been totally shaved before she isnt happy with waxing it all because it will last much longer. I was a little annoyed at this since I really wanted to go all out for Sparkle, but it looks like I will just have to make do. I should be happy enough she lets me get away with what I do as it is.

Anyway, back to the outfits. I ordered a few things the others day which arrived and once again will be sending most of it back. Ive also ordered a few dresses from Amazon which should arrive tomorrow and might order a few more items today. I seem to have a thing for a brand called Numph lately, I really like their style and the prints they use. For the evenings, im thinking dresses and sandals, and for the Saturday day I think I might wear some trousers, sandals and a top. Im going to stay away from heels I think, although I might stretch to getting some low wedges. These are the dresses ive got/are getting:

In other news, on Sunday it is my male sides birthday (my T side is 4 days after), and to celebrate getting one year older me and my girlfriend are going to a spa for the morning. Im getting a deep tissue back massage, a scalp massage, and a facial too. That will be a nice way to loosen up before the next weekends stressing out. Afterwards some lunch and then we are just going to town to do some shopping, I have pre-warned her I want to pick things up for Sparkle so we will be out shopping for Aimee, and she is fine with this. It is my birthday after all! Then a meal with a few close friends and thats it, an early night then work the next day. I could have a party and invite loads of people but to be honest I dont like making a big deal out of it all, im quite happy keeping it low key. I havent even told or reminded most of my friends just so no fuss will be made.