Chaos in Transland II

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As previous micro-dosages had obviously been too high, the next time I used, I took half of what I´d previously used. This time, there were no hallucinogenic effects. I did not notice much of anything at all, to be honest. I felt “meh” at best, and the breakdown, again, was quite intense. Not as much anxiety as before, but still quite exhausting.

Microdosing is usually done over a longer period of time, but after these three times, continuing seems like a bad idea. It is possible that the substance has some good influence on my mental and emotional configuration, like being able to notice my own tendency to over-analyze everything, and perhaps trying to quit that and just exist.

Another difference is one I noticed only after these tree micro-dosages; in the middle of the most horrible panic attack, where again I was having suicidal thoughts, I felt the roaring anger within rear its furious head and scream at the suicidal thoughts: “Go f*ck yourself, I want to live!” with an intensity I never experienced before.

I find myself, still, in the middle of a tug of war between the desire to rest (permanently) and the desire to live. The main difference is that I do not want to live while trapped in my body, while I do want to break free, and with the help of surgery I will be able to do so. However surgery still seems far away, five months is a long, long time, for me.

As long as every day is longer than the last one, and every day I´m thinking “this could be my last day”, those five months seem like an eternity. I know it isn´t, and I know that when I make it (not if) I will be eternally glad that I did not end my life when I had so much life and potential ahead of me. Dear God, just help me get myself to that point.

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Chaos in Transland I

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In the first part of my post, I told you about my hard times with dysphoria, and my rather desperate attempt to find anything that could help mellow me out besides my regular medication. In any experimentation with drugs, I´m always very careful not to mix the wrong substances, and very conscious of the dosage and use.

Microdosing is not very well known in mainstream society. What it means is that you take a minute amount of drugs, a fraction of what you would need to trip, and then repeat this for a certain duration, with a certain amount of days in between. The first two times I dosed, the amount was too high, resulting in a mild trip.

The first trip was very pleasant. It did what I wanted it to do: disconnect me from my top dysphoria and put me in a perspective where I could analyze my feelings from a calm, rational point of view. In this tranquil state of mind, I not only accepted myself but also felt happier with life in general. It did not give me a “crash” or hangover.

When three days had passed, I took a smaller amount and went for a walk in the forest. Mistake, it turned out. It was still strong enough to “enhance” everything around me: I could feel the life in the plants and trees around me, and details, like water trickling down from the tree bark, were amazing. I spent a couple of hours there.

While I´d felt good in the forest, microdosing also kicked my thinking in overdrive. And by thinking, I mean this vaguely conscious and incessant over-analysis of everything I see, everything I feel, and everything I think. In a brain that is always looking for meaning, even when there needn´t be any, this is not necessarily good.

I did not have any dysphoria during the trip, but when I came down, I sure did. The protective barrier that usually filters input between stimuli and the brain, was gone. Completely gone. This ensured that I felt dysphoria more strongly, but also everything around. Any street noise, any small noise at all in the house. So I went to sleep.

Chaos in Transland

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Well, the last couple of weeks have been… interesting. After my accident with the scissors in July, I felt pretty much messed up beyond all recognition and very much in need of something strong to forget all about this mess. My experience with marijuana for anxiety relief had been good but at the same time, it made me complacent.

I found myself being more and more dependent on smoking it, needing each time a stronger amount in order to feel the same buzz. When I mentioned it  to my therapist, she said something about marijuana decreasing the strength of your mind, temporarily enabling you to feel less, but also sort of softening your brainpower, so to speak.

I did not like that. I quit for a while, but the anger at myself for having chesticles became so overwhelming, so bewildering and scary that I needed to do something dramatic to overcome it. I found myself being able to handle the situation by doing mindfulness practice some days but not others. Those days, it´d become destructive.

Perhaps others, in similar situation, would turn to drinking. I don´t know. I know that whenever I try to drink any type of strong alcohol, I have a gag reflex immediately – which is something recent and something I can´t quite explain. Yet, there still was something else I could try – microdosing.

I´d read that ingesting minute amounts of psychedelics (like magic mushrooms) over a longer period of time can help some people with depression. In the past, the experience I have had is that psychedelics show me my flaws, most often giving me a message to be more kind towards myself. So I thought, why not try and see what happens.

Let´s Talk Gynecomastia

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Gynecomastia, a disorder of the endocrine system which causes an increase in male breast tissue, is usually attributed to cisguys. It is caused by an irregular amount of estrogen in the body, either due to a hormonal imbalance or the use of anabolic steroids (which will make the body produce estrogen in order to counteract testosterone).

I´m grateful for cisguys who speak up about this issue, because just like transmen, they deal with self-esteem issues, self-harm and even suicidal thoughts because of this. Many said they very much wanted to “shave off” their chest, and were too ashamed to take off their shirt or go swimming, some even having been ridiculed by women.

I´m glad that cisguys talk about this because they understand the ways in which even a benign condition, medically speaking, can destroy your confidence and turn your world upside down. Since my coming out, my experience is that there are people who tend to talk it down, even saying that “if they had breasts, they would not mind…”.

Obviously there are people with breasts who do not mind, and that´s fine. However it kind of bothers me when people who have no serious dysphoria tell me that if they were me, it would not be a big deal. You just have to love yourself, is what they say. Or it doesn´t matter if people judge you, as long as you cherish your own body.

Although such advice is probably well intended, I have a very hard time believing that these people have such superhuman levels of confidence that body-shaming and dysphoria would not faze them at all. I still to this day have to meet the person who is confident with everything while having dysphoria, trans or otherwise.

It´s encouraging to know that there´s cis folks out there who go through similar problems, that being trans isn´t about having unique problems that will just go away by upping your confidence. I say kudos to anyone who can love themselves despite it, and to the others; hang in there, this situation isn´t permanent.

The Dysphoria Trap III

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It´s been really warm today. I´ve spent most of it inside, waiting until the temperature drops, so I can escape my room and get some groceries. Since I don´t have a lot more to do and there are no more episodes of Last Week Tonight, I figured I might as well write the third part to the dysphoria trilogy.

In my first post, I explained how it´s possible to deal with dysphoria by distancing yourself from any mental associations your brain may create. Sort of observing yourself without judgement. This method requires that you either have or create a lot of mental fortitude, for example though meditation or working on your general awareness.

Testosterone lessened the dysphoria for me, before coming back with a vengeance and making it unbearable. With my body looking gradually more masculine, the zen-master approach no longer worked for me. The chesticles and genitals were a sore reminder of the fact that I was not born the way that I wanted to.

When the surgeon first declined my referral for top surgery, I flipped out and hurt myself quite a lot, wearing the KT tape way too long and also intentionally damaging those areas. Neither mindfulness nor being active, nor taking calming medication was helping anymore, so I resorted to the last option I had; going to the coffeeshop.

The coffeeshop here is a place where you can get not just coffee, but an array of weed and hashish. To any outsider it may seem strange that you can just wander around the block and buy some drugs, although in my opinion it is no different (even more benign) than buying alcohol or getting a prescription for antidepressant drugs.

I am not advocating that everybody with dysphoria just go to the dealer and buy soft drugs. After all everybody is different, and marijuana may or may not help you with anxiety. For some people, it makes anxiety worse. I personally am glad that I tried this last resort. It was the only thing that helped ease the extreme stress I was in.

The Dysphoria Trap II

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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.

Being (Un)happy

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I had not gone running in ages, due to my depression and due to the dysphoria. When I run, things shake (even when thoroughly packed in all kinds of wrap) and it takes a lot of willpower for me to ignore it. So usually I don´t run. However when on Saturday I went for a walk, I felt an urge to bust through the stagnation.

So the next day, all the time while hyperventilating and trying not to self-harm, I put on my running shoes and went. As usual when I go anywhere, I avoided the traffic and chose streets with lots of trees and shadows. It makes me feel better. Breathing in exhaust fumes isn´t my idea of a healthy workout.

I ran through streets bursting with bird song and spotted a sprinkler system with a reach too big for the tiny garden it was in. I ran towards it and waited for it to come my way. Big drops rained down on my head and my shirt. They brought back memories of running through my grandma´s garden as a kid.

They also brought back memories of enjoying sensations on my skin, the way I felt before extreme dysphoria. I imagined how wonderful it must be to have top surgery and run around in the rain. For a short moment I remembered that being alive can be great. Which is a feeling I haven´t had in a long time.

All this being unhappy is wearing me out. Though this year marks my thirtieth birthday, sometimes I feel as though I am aging much faster than time suggests. For example, last year feels like three years ago. It´s hard to fathom that back then, I wasn´t on testosterone yet. Time brought changes and a bunch of wrinkles.

I am hoping that I will slowly crawl out of the stagnation of mid-transition. I can´t wait to approach surgery and know that my body and my life will finally be changed for good. I have big plans for the future – when all this over, I want to go to wonderful places, where nature reigns wild, and enjoy the cr*p out of life.