Journey with Estrogen, Pt. 3

One of the first things I noticed when I went off testosterone was that I started crying a lot. It wasn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes I cried because I felt grateful. Another very interesting change, at least to me, was that I started getting goosebumps from music like I hadn’t in a very long time. Possibly before I started T. It started happening all the time and it felt really good. Music just became such an emotional, physical experience in a way it hadn’t since I had to/ decided to give up smoking weed and drinking.

I want to reiterate that this is just my experience. I imagine it is different for everyone. A lot of my reactions to estrogen fall in line with gender stereotypes, but that doesn’t mean they do for everybody.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that some of my psychosis can come back when my estrogen is higher. Could be a coincidence, because it’s also happened before on T. But I do notice a pattern that it happens more with estrogen. I started having very paranoid feelings about the safety of our pets and our family. I also started seeing these dark, shadowy shapes all the time. It was scary. Luckily we adjusted my meds and that seemed to take care of it. I was also under a lot of stress with the election and covid.

I started feeling a spiritual connection with the moon. I left crystals out under the full moon light to charge them. I built an altar in the pine woods. I’ve been drawn more and more towards the mystical. I really would like to reach out to people who are pagan and learn more about how I can develop my spiritual side and a spiritual community. I’ve been really needing that, and its something that I struggle with. My interests are Celtic paganism, with a queer and anticolonial lens as I connect with my ancestors. I also really like a lot of the teachings of Buddhism. I feel like I need more structure with this.

I’ve always loved hard, but it feels even harder with estrogen. Sometimes I just look at Joey, or even just think about him, and I’m overwhelmed. It isn’t just emotionally, but bodily. I will remember a kiss and I literally get weak in the knees and have to rest for a moment to collect myself. It was ridiculous seeming at first, but it actually feel great. I’ve been celibate for mental health reasons for about a year, so I can’t say how estrogen effects my sex life. But I can guess it will enhance it. I feel more in tune with the moment. Of course, this is due to lots of factors, but the hormonal shift is definitely when of them. Waiting for sexual attention isn’t as excruciating, and fantasizing is much more rich.

Now, a story.

On one of my ketamine treatment trips, I imagined all the people in my life as a pride of lions. Thinking of holy cat creatures is a reoccurring theme. I imagined myself, and what kind of lion I would be. I imagined a sort of female lion, with some masculine characteristics (a small tuft of mane). I would have the female responsibilities (except I couldn’t be a hunter so….well, whatever.) I would be attracted to male lions and my partner would love me best of all the female lions in the pack. I wouldn’t get pregnant, but I would be submissive in a consentsual way, and I would be joyfully protected.

I also thought about myself in a “primitive” society, more in tune with nature, and how I would be likely more accepted (well, depends, but play along) as a gender nonconforming person, and how colonialism and christianity was what messed that up. I think I’d be an artist, and also learning the art of healing, with herbs but also spiritually. Including the healing powers of psychedelics.

Anyway, lastly physical. It’s weird to know that I can get pregnant right now, if I wanted. I sometimes have longings for it, believe it or not, or maybe just freezing my eggs. I also have very strong desires to get married. I do not wish to give birth physically, and I know I am not ready. But I NEVER expected to have maternal or even parental instincts in my life. It’s very surprising.

Some more bodily changes: curvy hips. More pronounced bottom. Softer skin. My beard grows slower and lighter, as does the rest of my body hair. Slimmer stomach. Honestly, I’m just thrilled with all of it.

Oh and for the record, I still use he/him/his pronouns most the time and I’ll tell you nicely if that changes.

Ok, I guess this is all about my journey with estrogen for now. Thanks for reading this 3 part series. A lot of this stuff is invisible, and I feel like no one sees me for the real me. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to be known. Good night.

Just some stuff

It’s better to write something than nothing. It doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking book tonight. This helps me wind down for bed.

I had a positive experience of coming out to my DBT class as trans and in a same-gender relationship. I’m glad I did. In early posts, I mentioned how it was holding me back from expressing myself. Everyone was really nice about it, including the instructor. That was a relief. I went for the first time today with everyone knowing, and it just felt right.

I’m still dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety. I react to anxiety lately by sleeping. I know that probably sounds weird but it’s true. It’s a way of putting off my stress. Everyday things cause me tremendous anxiety. Today I was proud of myself because I biked to downtown, which is a good 30-45 minute bike ride from our house. I think I am going to try it again tomorrow and hopefully it’ll be less rainy.

Working at GC has been sporadic. I struggle with getting bored and overwhelmed, which usually feel intermingled. I am trying to just stay in the moment and focus. This week has been weird though because of Joey’s schedule shifting, and blah blah blah. The point is I haven’t worked much this week. Which is making me feel this nagging guilt, which is really not necessary.

I started a new anti-depressant which is really slow to start. My psychiatrist is hopeful it will give me a mood boost though, which would be….great. I also ordered a date book because I’ve been feeling really lost in time without one. When that arrives it will be a relief.

Something I’ve been thinking about is closeness. It relates somewhat to what we are covering in DBT (interpersonal effectiveness). I’ve been trying to be more open to my partner, and hopefully other people soon too. I sometimes have expected it to be a one way street– what I mean is, I’ve been upset because I “don’t feel close,” and I tell him this and it seems to just get worse. I’m working on instead accepting the feeling as my own, and trying to instigate activities to be close, and be more present when we are together and a better listener.

 

The day I did nothing.

Today is already difficult. It’s 8:49 AM and I don’t have plans. I’ll be spending the day alone. I tried working a bit on my novel over coffee, but it feels very strained. My interest isn’t there. I have a number of creative projects in my queue that I don’t feel like doing. I want something new.

It’s at least sunny. I struggle worse on days without sunlight. The trees are bare, but from where I’m sitting, I can see a bird nest. The light is refreshing. November through February are hard in upstate New York. I’m trying to appreciate the sunlight, rather than wish I were somewhere else.

And so, I decided today would be the day I did nothing and to try to feel good about it. It was nearly impossible to feel all that good. I spent most the day sleeping, after picking up the apartment. I read over some of my literature for my mental health-related classes, particularly DBT. “Today,” I thought, “I will just observe.” My legs were sore from walking around Ithaca so much lately anyway. I noted colors of things. I stood outside and practiced 4-point breathing.

The most that can be said about today is I haven’t gotten really upset over anything. So there is the silver lining I suppose.

A mental health post

It seems like I am always acquiring more mental illness labels. This time, it’s psychosis. Of course, it was drug induced. I was smoking marijuana daily. But I think I was still smoking less than a lot of people do. I think I have a predisposition. I read today of a schizophrenia spectrum. I find that really interesting.

I have exhibited some traits of schizophrenia throughout my life. It got really bad this summer, with a combination of pressure and marijuana over-usage. My official diagnosis was, again, Depression with Psychotic Features. It’s a bit embarrassing to talk about, but a lot of it centered on the release of the movie England is Mine and Morrissey’s new album, Low In High School. I avoided these things for a while, because I think I had a subconscious sense that Morrissey is a trigger for my psychosis. I wonder if other people experience this… It makes sense, because so much of his work is about mental illness. But its always been kinda weird, how I have felt like he was singing to/ for me. Other people describe this. I guess it was more like, he was singing an opera of my life. Like our experiences were linking up.

I fall into a line of thinking where I believe he and I are spiritually related. And this summer, when my life and relationship was in flux, there was the new album. And a movie, which I was quite convinced was informed by my books.

I remember, at it’s worse, I was very high, standing in my room with my partner. I had just played “I Wish You Lonely,” I believe. And I said, trembling, “I think he read Refuse, and I think he liked it, and I think it influenced him. And I think he wants to meet me. And I think I am going to finally be in a band and my books will sell and I am going to be rich.”

This wasn’t what prompted my partner to suggesting I be hospitalized. It was when I announced I was leaving, and I wouldn’t say where. We called my doctors. Everyone agreed I needed to be hospitalized….except me. I thought everyone was overreacting. I was also being pretty abusive and accusing others of being crazy.

All through hospitalization, I still held out hope that Morrissey and his band and people were coming for me. I also believed I was on the government watch list…and something to do with Chelsea Manning…and that they would be helping my family and I flee the U.S.

I still believed I was going to meet Morrissey when I went to see him perform in Philadelphia. My friend had bought my front row tickets, and I was going to try to give him Refuse for the third time. I wrapped it and included a neclace. Unfortunately, Morrissey cancelled.

I still was convinced this had something to do with me.

My anti-psychotics were raised. I started to see how foolish I was being. I realized how horrible and paranoid I had been about people in my life. I also lost a great deal of my creative drive.

What is it about Morrissey’s music that has this weird effect on certain people?

I have now accepted that there was no plan for us to meet up. But the malady lingers on. Not psychosis. Depression. Unemployment. The meds make me sleep way too much. I attend classes that are supposed to help me, and I think they are. “Mindfully living with depression.” “Dialectical Behavioral Therapy” ( a more Buddhist, feminist approach to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Maybe even “Help with Employment” eventually. I am lucky that my partner has supported me through all this.

I miss marijuana on a daily and nightly basis. It’s like grief. It made me happy in a way that I hadn’t experienced since childhood. I hope one day, I can smoke again in a safe, controlled way.

Now, my days are mostly empty. This is the most I’ve written in awhile that I’ve felt pretty good about. I’m still in Ithaca. I have shelter. I have food. I have my cats, and some crappy old instruments, a computer, and notebooks. I have some friends that I am trying to get to know better. It looks like we will be here for awhile.

I enjoy yoga. I’m not drinking or smoking. I’m also going to addiction related programming.

I lost my therapist and got a new one. This was hard, but probably for the best. I had come to see her as more of a very close friend. Still, I grieve the loss.

I’m not really able to get into any project. I’m hoping that changes soon. I’m trying to lessen my negative self-talk about being a burden for my family, etc. It doesn’t fix anything. It will get better in time.

I am having lately some horrible conundrum of gender identity. I begin to feel I want to be feminine and lay off T some, and dress differently. But then it switches. Call it DID, being bigender…I don’t know. It’s saddening.

Anyway. This is a blog entry. I feel good getting it out. It makes me hopeful more will come soon.