Family, Gender, Health, Life, Mental Health

The long break

I’ve been gone a long time. Since 2016. With everything going on with me I think I just couldn’t process it in writing. I feel like I’m ready now to get back to this blog on a somewhat regular basis. So here is a short and sweet update of what has happened over the last two years.

  • I won my SSDI case. The judge ruled in my favor and gave me four years of disability. I’m receiving benefits and am on Medicare. This has been an amazing help. The fact that I have to go back in a couple years and fight for it again has, however, been a constant cloud over my head. My depression and anxiety will never be cured. Even electroconvulsive therapy just manages my severe depressive episodes for a limited amount of time. My doctors and therapist think it is impossible that I will ever be able to return to the workforce. Yet, rather than give me permanent disability I was given a limited time. So this is not the end, only a reprieve.
  • I have continued on testosterone for the last two years. So many changes! My voice is so deep and I’m covered in hair. My only complaint is that my facial hair is patchy still. I really would like a full beard but apparently my body isn’t ready yet. Some things on T happened so fast. Some things take a long time. You never know what will be what because it all depends on the individual body responses. Patience is hard but required.
  • I met up with my Dad! After 20 years of not talking or seeing each other we have reconnected. He has been amazingly supportive. His change of heart has been…unexpected. I’ll be writing about that experience later.
  • I had Top Surgery! On March 19th of this year I had surgery. I’m so happy with the results. I’m still healing. It’s only been, what, six and a half weeks? I’m working on breaking up scar tissue to make sure my scars are as small and light as possible. I’ll be writing a whole post about my top surgery experience later. This will include tips and tricks I learned for the healing process.

So those are the big things. The major happenings of the last two years. Hopefully, I’ll be writing another post soon. I’m no sure on what. I have a lot of ideas. Things like my experience getting top surgery, which would include some words about being a fat guy in the medical system. I want to talk about transitioning at an older age (I’m in my 40’s btw). I want to talk more about balancing mental illness and when I know it is time to go back to ECT. On top of that, I still have all my regular day to day interests that may sneak in. I hope you will come back and enjoy.

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Gender, Life

A new voice

Last Friday I got my third shot of testosterone. My partners have been pointing out little changes they have noticed but that I don’t see. This weekend, however, I’ve noticed my throat going rougher and my voice deeper. I can’t tell for sure if I’m just getting a cold or if my voice is actually changing. I don’t have any other symptoms of a cold though. Also, other trans guys have mentioned sore throats and having to clear their throats as a part of voice change. I’m deciding to assume it is a voice change. 

I had something happen on the phone this morning. I was talking to our veterinary assistant about refilling some prescriptions. She said she’d call me back when our veterinarian approved the refill. When she called I answered with that girly high-pitched “hello” that afab (assigned female at birth) people are trained to do. I’m still trying to train out of pitching my voice higher when talking to people I need to help me. The vet tech said “Um, I’m not sure who I was talking to earlier….” I told her it was me she had been talking to. She didn’t recognize my girly hello! She recognized my deeper, speaking voice that I returned to though. That was the first outside family confirmation that something was changing.

I’m both excited and scared of this change. It is scary to enter into a non-stealthy place about my trans-ness. I’m starting to wear my non-binary identity out in public, were anyone can see. This is what I want though. I thought for a long time about how I want to present in the world. This is who I really am inside and it is time for me to be that on the outside as well.

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Mental Health

The disability dance

I’ve shared before that I’m pursuing SSDI for my mental illnesses. The saga continues. How in the hell do people do this without a spouse who has a really good job?! They live in abject poverty, that is how. I’m so fortunate to have an amazing spouse who happens to have a good career that he loves. We are so lucky. 

But that isn’t what I am posting to talk about. I’m posting because I got notice of my follow up trial has been scheduled for September. This trial is needed because the judge at the first trial didn’t realize they still did “shock therapy” anymore. (I can’t believe he kept calling it “shock therapy.”) He wanted to talk to a doctor about this treatment. Since my procedural psychiatry department is the only one who does outpatient electroconvulsive therapy in the state, I’m not sure who this judge will be getting to inform him who isn’t treating me currently. This should be interesting. 

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Gender

T-time

So today is the day for me to announce something big. I’m taking another big step in my gender process. As I have mentioned before, I am genderqueer. I use they/them pronouns. Over the last year I’ve realized that my most comfortable presentation is transmasculine. To that end, I have started hormone replacement therapy (HTR). Today I got my first shot of testosterone! 

I’ll be posting progress selfies on my Instagram & Twitter, @yeledov. Follow along if you like! 

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Life

Up the ante

Unilateral electroconvulsive therapy was helpful but not enough. I still struggle with a lot of intrusive thoughts and depression is still a part of my daily reality. As a result, one of my ECT doctors suggested I consider bilateral ECT. This means they put electricity through both sides of my brain. It is more effective but it has increased side effects. There are more chances of memory loss and confusion. 

After a long talk with Author and Monkey we decided to go ahead with bilateral ECT. I’ve had two treatments so far. It is amazing how much better it works for me. I’m not cured but for all of two days I didn’t have passive suicidal ideation! It starts to degrade after that but it is a help. I do lose some of my memory. It’s minor though. I also get a little more confused the day of the treatment….and a little after. I sometimes find it hard to think complex thoughts. It is worth it though. It is worth it for myself and for my family. 

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Mental Health

Up the ante

Unilateral electroconvulsive therapy was helpful but not enough. I still struggle with a lot of intrusive thoughts and depression is still a part of my daily reality. As a result, one of my ECT doctors suggested I consider bilateral ECT. This means they put electricity through both sides of my brain. It is more effective but it has increased side effects. There are more chances of memory loss and confusion.

After a long talk with Robot and Monkey we decided to go ahead with bilateral ECT. I’ve had two treatments so far. It is amazing how much better it works for me. I’m not cured but for all of two days I didn’t have passive suicidal ideation! It starts to degrade after that but it is a help. I do lose some of my memory. It’s minor though. I also get a little more confused the day of the treatment….and a little after. I sometimes find it hard to think complex thoughts. It is worth it though. It is worth it for myself and for my family.

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Mental Health

Up Down Up Down

I had such a good day yesterday. I felt strong and stable. Suddenly, at about 8pm last night, my mood dropped hard. Intrusive thoughts started to get louder. It was such a fast turn around! 

Now it is the next day and I feel depressed, intrusive thoughts are loud, and I don’t feel I can leave the house. I’m experiencing a kind of mood whiplash. I keep thinking “but I was so good yesterday!!” But yesterday is not today. This is very much the nature of my depression. I can have good days in the middle of a bad episode. It makes things so confusing. I feel even more depressed because I lost that feeling I had just yesterday. It is a kind of torture to have that feeling ripped away so suddenly. Like my brain is purposely fucking with me. It makes me bitter on top of everything else. 

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Mental Health

Without a trace

Content Warning: Self-Harm

I started cutting myself at age 8. It started with pieces of glass found on the playground. Just deep scratches then but it didn’t take me long before I learned to draw blood. I didn’t stop hurting myself until I was 26 years old. It has been 15 years since I cut myself. I still have the urges, sometime they almost overpower me. Currently, sharps in my home are hidden because I had another few bad weeks. But I have support now and skills to keep myself from harm when the thoughts buzz through my brain. 

What I don’t have is scars. It’s not that I didn’t cut deep enough to scar most people. I certainly did that. It’s that I don’t scar. I’m 41 years old and I don’t have one single scar from anything. I’m lucky, I know that. Lucky that I survived those years of trauma without any marks. Lucky that I never have to explain strange scars to people. Either tell them the uncomfortable truth or hide it by making up barely believable lies. 

Sometimes…if I’m being completely honest, I’m jealous of other people’s scars. I know that is almost heretical to say that. Who would want reminders of that pain? Constant outward signs of the emotional turmoil? Who would desire that stigma? But sometime I feel like, without those scars, I’m left in a space of self-doubt. Did I really do that? Did it really happen? Also, I have nothing physical to remind me not to do it again. There are no physical consequences for my self-harm. I have only the scars left on my mind, invisible to the world, and easy to dismiss as fake or self-indulgent. So, sometimes, I wish those cuts had left their mark on my skin where I could see proof of my pain and my strength to survive. 

I know I’m actually very lucky but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

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Mental Health

Two steps back

My mental illness got in the way of treatment and now I have to practically start all over again. The electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) brought my depression under control enough for my anxiety to take over. I started freaking out before ECT appointments. It got to the point that I cancelled my ECT because I was too anxious to go. So I stopped doing ECT for January and February. My psych team got me on meds to treat the anxiety but the depression inched its way back. I finally made it back to ECT this month but it is hard to schedule me lately. I’ve had a couple treatments but I’m getting worse anyway. Yesterday was really bad. Now I’m being sent back to intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) again. I’ve done that program before, back in 2014. So I’ll be doing that every day for five hours and some days I’ll be going to ECT. Yeah, I’m that bad right now. Mental illness is a bitch. But I’m surviving. I’m still here. I must still have a little hope that I can feel better someday because otherwise why would I be doing all this? That’s right, for my partners. They deserve better that me like this. 

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Life

Big sister duty 

I have two little sisters from my father. When I came out to my Dad they were children. (I’m seven years older that the oldest of the two.) I couldn’t be in contact with them because my father had cut me out of his life due to his homophobic beliefs. Once they became of age, however, I stayed out of contact for fear of rejection. This has always bothered me and I never stopped thinking about them. It was my big regret that I wasn’t there for them as a big sister. 

Well, my chance to make up for that has come. The eldest of my two little sisters has reached out to me. I asked my Dad about them in my last email and he passed on my contact information. She wrote excitedly about being in contact with me. I’m excited to be in contact with her. 

This is such a mindfuck though. I haven’t seen her since she was about ten years old and haven’t spoken with her since she was a young teen. Now she is in her mid-thirties, a grown woman. I have so much to learn about her. I missed so much. 

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