Self-Administering T

needle

Considering that yesterday, and today, I was starting to feel strange mood swings – lots of feelings that I usually don´t have – I decided to do my shot one day early. That, and I also really wanted to just get it over with, because this time, I was supposed to do it by myself. I was nervous about it and with good reason, because I tend to get shaky.

For readers who are also preparing to do shots themselves, it really helped me to watch different videos on YouTube by guys explaining how they do their shot. This video in particular helped me because he first shows how it´s done, and in the second part he talks about anxiety and about the different ways you can handle the injection.

The idea that I did not have to stab myself with that sharp thing, but take my time, really helped, and also the advice (elsewhere) that you need to breathe throughout the process. So I injected slow, while breathing normally and then went to lay down on the couch with my legs and lower back on a pillow and my head low.

I felt a bit nauseous, but allowing the blood to return to my head in this way, made it considerably more bearable. If you tend to get nauseous too, I can recommend it, and take something with you to distract you, something that is enjoyable, like a mobile game (Fallout Shelter for me). After fifteen minutes I felt normal again.

For the injection I used a twenty-two gauge needle, as the pharmacy did not have anything smaller in stock, but you can also use a twenty-three to twenty-five gauge, although I recommend not going too small because then injecting will be very slow and possibly more difficult. To draw up the testosterone itself I used a twenty-one gauge.

In the future I might switch to subcutaneous injections, which I have read can also be done with sustanon 250. They are less painful and from what I gathered, just as efficient. I will keep you up to date, and if you are planning on doing injections yourself, don´t fret, it´s really not as frightening as it can seem.

The Dysphoria Trap II

dysphoriatrap

In The Dysphoria Trap (holy crap, it has been a year), I described the relationship I have to dysphoria and the ways in which I tried to keep it under control. It should be mentioned that back then, I was not on testosterone, and dypshoria does tend to shift while you are on HRT. It can become better and it can also become worse.

For me, the dysphoria lessened a lot (and I mean a lot) in the first six months of HRT. My body changed very fast, I soon had hair all over the place, a very different voice, and other much welcomes changes. Unfortunately, after that my dysphoria got way worse. Sometimes I´m not sure I can even survive it at all.

The advice I gave in the above post, is that one should try to dis-associate dysphoria from mental constructions. Whenever your mind attempts to make a connection between breast movement, for example, and your ideas of manhood, you simply observe that this is happening and then distance yourself from this mental process, by staying calm.

You become neutral territory, so to speak. The battle rages between your brain (dysphoria) and the signals that your brain receives (looking at your chest or nether regions). Instead of choosing sides (identifying with either your body or your brain), you realize that you are neither and merely observe any feelings that arise.

In all honesty, if you can do that, you are a zen master. What I´ve found is although I was able to dissociate from this body-brain exchange previously, I am not able to do so now. Any physical trigger encourages my brain to scream murder and persuade me that I should react either by panicking, self-harming or feeling suicidal.

Battling this trigger has been my biggest challenge so far. More about this in the third part of The Dysphoria Trap.

Beneficial Rage II

roaring

Any negative emotion conveys power regardless of the message we choose to draw from it. If we merely accept that we feel insufficient or lacking, and project this unto other people – or unto ourselves, then hatred is damaging. If on the other hand, we choose to harness the hate and take a look at our selves, it can be constructive.

I´m telling you this because hate is a predominant topic in my life. I´ve felt hate very often. Most of the time, the anger and resentment I was feeling stemmed from being made to feel inferior and obsolete. As I internalized these feelings, it was easy to believe that I was truly inferior, and consequently hate the world for it.

The emotion of hate stemmed from a gut feeling that the world was wrong for putting me in an inferior position. And so, by accident, I had discovered my own truth: that the feeling of inferiority was untrue. The hate I was feeling told me that I should drop the idea that I was inferior and embrace my own power.

Unfortunately we are human and we never learn our lessons at once. Instead we stumble on and repeat the same old tired pattern until we´ve fooled and bruised ourselves a thousand times. Hence, despite these things I´m typing, I still deal with the same old tired emotions of inferiority and rage.

The difference, after taking hundreds of hits, is that now it takes me three months to recognize the nature of these emotions – instead of six months. And when I do, I can stop fooling myself and stop believing that I can be conquered by dysphoria. I can choose to look myself in the mirror and embrace the force of these emotions.

It´s a journey without end, for us to recognize and wield our emotions as a force for good, instead of becoming entangled in them. And while negative emotions can drive us to despair and even unto the brink of suicide, it is the same force that can give us that push we need to stay alive, and trust ourselves.

Beneficial Rage

kingofthejungle

Quite a while ago, I posted two posts that dealt with hate. In those posts, I stated that hate, as an emotion, is not always negative. The feedback that I got was (understandably) that hate is necessarily bad and that it isn´t constructive. I disagree. By this I do not mean that hate crimes are great and hating other people is fantastic.

No. I don´t mean that. What I mean, is that hate, as well as other overwhelming negative emotions, often conveys messages and insights to us. Most of the resentment, intense anger and hate we feel results from either suppressing ourselves (for example, denying our own sexuality) or being actively suppressed by others.

Hate and rage carry overwhelming power. And I mean overwhelming. They can be so devastating, that when people project their feelings of insufficiency onto the world, it often results in violence. Other times, the feeling of not being sufficient is projected unto ourselves and we direct this violence towards ourselves.

Nevertheless, if we choose to look into the mirror with witch these emotions present us, there is quite a lot we can learn. They tell us that we are actively ignoring or suppressing a part of ourselves; and that we are not harnessing the power of these emotions to live up to our entire potential. Instead, we use them to hide from ourselves.

The fact that people are scared of these emotions makes sense. Because – when we feel these emotions, we often feel that we are lacking, or criticized, or inferior, anything horrible and negative that you can think of. We actively judge these feelings of hatred and resentment and turn them into something that they are not – damaging.

There is one thing that is present when we feel intense negative emotion. Raw power and unfulfilled potential. Rather than letting them destroy our sense of self, and using them to inflict violence, we can wonder what these emotions are trying to tell us, and how they are trying to help. When understood and embraced, they show us who we are.

Tug-of-War

tugofwar

2017, so far, has been a lot more tolerable than 2016. Which is not weird considering that social media declared 2016 “worst year ever”. For me 2016 could be summed up as “fractured two bones, complex regional pain syndrome, wheelchair and crutches, suicidal, self-harm, depression“. Starting T was a turning point.

Although taking hormones has made a big difference, things are not great. Whereas in the past I used to suffer major depression and crises, now I have moved into a tug-of-war that involves optimism and pessimism. Optimism says; things are better than before! Now, you can soar to great heights!

Pessimism hangs on to the negative, with an obsessive tenacity that I have described when I wrote about The OCD Monster. Instead of normal dysphoria, I experience crippling rage at the fact that the chesticles are still there, and do everything in my power to make them disappear, using kinesiology tape and a binder.

As I´ve proven in the past, I am perfectly able to ignore the chesticles and downward area when I am in a state of mindfulness. When I achieve that state, pretty much nothing bothers me. Mindfulness in today´s society however is a rare thing to achieve, and getting there does not mean it will stay, either.

Since the workings of our brain are complex,  imbalance of any kind can easily destroy your new-found ability to cope. Too little sleep, lack of a certain vitamin in your body, hormonal fluctuations, lack of sunlight, lack of neurotransmitters… they all influence your ability to be Zen. And then well, you might fall apart.

Pessimism will use these negative situations to its own advantage, and is not easily persuaded by any optimism. Battling it has taught me that you need  to outsmart it at every turn. When it tells you to freak out, remain calm. When it tells you to hide in your bed, go outside and sit in the sun.

By taking away credibility from it, little bits at the time, it will essentially subside. It takes cojones and a good deal of insight in who you really are. After all, the tendency to be pessimistic is not a part of my personality, and neither is it part of your personality. Pessimism is fear, fear of personal change.

Victimhood

victor

Experiencing life from one side of the boxing ring can be tough. Whether you´ve been bullied, harassed, or the target of assault – our brain has this annoying habit of reinforcing its own perspective. Feeling repeatedly defeated has a tendency to knock the life out of us, dim our willpower, make us question our own strength.

At the same time, believe it or not, victimhood can feel comfortable. It´s sheltered. If you crawl away in a blanket fort and blame everybody else, and isolate yourself, you might feel like you are safe. This type of thinking has been with me for a long time and I find it difficult to detach myself from it sometimes.

Though isolation can be productive – when used properly – in this setting, it´s rarely productive. Withdrawing from life usually reinforces the exact patterns of thought that perpetrators try to instill. “I am not resilient, I am losing out in life, there is no way that I can handle this, better find somebody else”.

Being either a victim or a victor doesn´t require two separate individuals. To the contrary; it´s quite possible to be experiencing this exact struggle in your head. Faced with a difficult situation, your brain might scream: “the responsible party is doing this to me! They are forcing me into an inferior position and I hate them for it!”.

The archetype of the victor, on the other hand, is calm. “I can handle this“, they say. They are not bellowing some kind of victory chant. They breathe in and out, they stay composed. They know that the situation will floor them if they let it, so they choose not to engage with emotions of defeat at all.

I experienced this first-hand, in my business with the landlord, who is trying to squeeze money out of me (read more about it in the Rent Mess). My first instinct is to hate her – because I feel that she´s taking advantage of me. I tried to calm down and phoned a friend. “Put it out of your mind“, – he said – “until you remember your strength“.

So remember this. If you feel like a zero, absolutely worthless – it is much easier to be victimized. It is much easier for someone else, because they will recognize you are not stepping up and standing tall. You alone hold the power to remain cool in a situation that would suggest a defeat. You make the final decision.

Open Binding II

binding

In the first part of my post, I explained how I started using KT tape rather than regular binders to see how it would work out. Whether or not open binding is bad for your skin, probably depends on the way that you use the tape. The recommendation is not to leave it on for longer that five days, and to peel it off only according to the method the producer describes.

I would urge you to never (!) rip any tape off your skin. KT tape and other brands of tape are designed to adhere to your skin for days – their adhesive is very strong. Instead, slowly peel it off when you´ve taken a warm shower. If your skin still hurts when trying to lift it, apply some baby oil to it – let it sit for a good while – it´ll be easy to take off then.

My experience with taping over skin is good – it tends to peel off at the extremities (especially if you stretch those) but stays on really well, even when exposed to water or prolonged movement. However if you use multiple layers of the tape, you will find that it does not adhere very well to other layers. Parts of tape that touch other layers, tend to peel off more quickly.

Being 5 centimeter in width (1.96 inches), you usually need several strands to be able to bind the chest completely. For this reason I´ve been searching for other tape with a bigger width and discovered a different brand of kinesio tape called Rock Tape. It´s price tag is a little bit steeper than KT tape, but it comes at a width of 10cm (3.93 inches), so you would require less tape.

From reviews I´ve read, I learned that Rock Tape is thicker and sturdier than KT Tape. While it tends to stay on longer, the functionality and use is pretty much the same. Personally, I will replace the KT Tape with Rock Tape sometime soon and test if it´s a better choice for open binding.

The relatively good news is that I´ve fixed to see the surgeon next month! Regrettably there is a waiting list that now spans about six to eight months, so in the best case scenario, surgery (mastectomy + hysterectomy) wouldn´t take place until March 2018. In the meantime I´m still looking at opportunities with surgeons abroad.