johanna_alice: (Default)
Don't want to get up. Should do so I can eat and take my pills. Having serious difficulty engendering any enthusiasm for even oestrogen tonight - surely one night off can't hurt...

But I'm too awake to go back to sleep, too creative to not rant online at anything that triggers my WTF! gland, too addicted to give up the interweb, and too hyper to read.

Not taking mood-stabs would probably be a really dumb move right now...
johanna_alice: (Default)

New Government Back-to-work Scheme

"The highest payments will be up to £14,000 for someone who had been on incapacity benefit for a number of years, then secured a job and was still in employment two years later."

Fine. Give me £7k a year on top of my basic rate of incapacity benefit and to pay me do something to promote what really would be 'Big Society'. Am pretty sure that would work out as about a 'living wage' that I could come off housing-benefit with. I am after all a far harder task-mistress to myself than anyone else could ever be.

Oh-no, our stupid, increasingly right-wing Con'Dem' Government wants to pay it to back-to-work companies by results. Privatising our well-being even more.

This country is F****D. Soon there'll be more marches and demonstrations. If dissatisfied people can protest by civic disobedience in countries with brutal, oppressive, regimes like Tunisia, Egypt and Iran, what exactly would prevent it here? Last time it was some irresponsible nut job throwing a fire extinguisher off Millbank's roof and woman pulled from her wheelchair and a boy with serious brain injuries. Next time it could be Millbank in flames, hundreds of the public and police injured or even killed and no end to the protests in sight.

Yes, cuts are needed. But I'm with the increasing number who are crying, 'Why does it have to be so far, so fast?', and, 'Why are you destroying our public services and amenities behind the false promise of inclusion in a mythical Big Society?'

I remember powercuts and cold evenings when I was small. I remember the Winter of Discontent. That happened because of cuts and freezes as well. Don't for one minute think it couldn't happen again Cameron. The more you push people up against hard walls, the harder they'll push right back at you. Your political career is already dead in the water after your five years. Not so dead as Nick Clegg's, but dead regardless. But you won't be able to stop yourself taking thousands of lives with you into ruin in your zeal for a society where everyone contributes much and receives little from the State. This isn't middle England where days are long and sunny and money can usually be found along with plenty of time to 'do your bit'.

This is twenty-first century multicultural Britain where successive governments have tried failed experiment after failed experiment in how to govern. We need safety, we need health, we need education, we need jobs that pay enough to live and we need houses we can afford to live in. It's not f***ing rocket science. Not, that is unless you're a slave to banking and big business.

The police and armed forces are already pissed off with how they've been treated. The nationwide public sector is gearing up for action. The students have already been out in protest...

Soon there will be even more people planning to misbehave.

Next there'll be a Tweet or a FB page.

Then...
 

johanna_alice: (Default)
I want to sleep more. About twenty hours a day should do some good...

If I'm asleep I'm not thinking, not eating and not being upset at myself/the world/Natwest(for not posting my new card fast enough). That makes the four hours in between somehow more bearable - focussed even - but sadly I can't sleep that much. Instead I need alternatives...

Read more... )
johanna_alice: (Default)
A very nice person has bought me six months of paid account time with DW. Thank You! :)

I'm guessing you'll be reading this at some point and there's a little more significance than might be obvious about today for me. The twelfth of February 2007 was when I made one of the biggest changes a person can in their life. In a very real way it is Johanna's birthday because that's when I first faced the world as I am without any safety ropes or possibility of going back. I was as sure then as I am now. Because a lot of the anniversaries of the day I was born on have very bad memories attached, I treat today completely as my birthday.

So on a very significant day for me, when I've no access to money, nothing arranged with friends and just a quiet night planned for myself it's so very wonderful to find someone has thought of me.

Thank you again.
johanna_alice: (Default)
Appropriateness is:

Caring about the people around you.
Being friendly and interested in others.
Sharing personal stuff you feel comfortable with, that others will also be comfortable with.
Touching base with someone who's away because you thought of them.
Knowing where the lines are.
Not giving the wrong signals though your lack of insight into what you're doing.
Understanding that all of the above taken together can add up to a friendship in a working environment.

I'm not writing about JT this time. That's bugging me because there is the SG meeting soon and I need to be sane during it at the same time as pressing for definite answers to my questions.

I'm writing about my current volunteer supervisor, JC. She's off work with a fracture and I just emailed her just to say hi and I hope it's feeling better. I like JC and feel we have a good working relationship and a good working friendship. She's my supervisor and I'm a vulnerable adult volunteer - anything other than a working friendship would be inappropriate. But that doesn't stop me from caring how she is or occasionally going for a coffee away from the office whilst I'm volunteering.

The big question in my mind is whether I can tell what is appropriate myself or am I learning by example?

Maybe I did allow myself to be placed in a vulnerable position with JT - but that wasn't my responsibility and I shouldn't have been placed in that position. I suppose what I do have responsibility for is being more aware in the future and understanding that sadly I shouldn't take people at face value.

That feels like an erosion of the way I like to see the world, but I don't want to feel this way again in the future. It's so reactively emotive and self-destructive when bad things happen...
johanna_alice: (Default)
i'm feeling sorry for myself. It's probably quite pathetic and self-indulgent. i'm not hurting anyone though, so...

There's all kinds of feelings tied up inside me with no obvious ways out. Volunteer work stuff is still at the forefront of my mind. Or rather the stupid degree of contrast between what happened when i said i didn't feel safe doing trans-stuff and just how competent i was presenting material to healthcare professionals when i was doing recovery training earlier this week.

How can it be that i feel i'm good at this kind of stuff, get good feedback and yet am still tied to what happened in August? i don't want to see ugliness or jealousy in others, but just how many reasons can there be for someone to turn on you when you haven't - in fact made a great effort not to - criticise them whilst expressing upset?

Meanwhile i want to do stupid things (to myself) because i can't cope with the idea that i might be good at something but can't do it anymore. It's just going round and round in my mind. Over and over, what did i do wrong??

The other thing is a friendship i'm finding difficult right now. i don't have any rights or claim to someones time or friendship, but i do have feelings and would like to spend time with people i care about. One of those friendships seems to be growing further and further apart and there's nothing i can do. To even mention it would bring pain and i'm not prepared to do that, which means i'm in a morass of pain and loneliness.

It's sad to say, but i've only seen one friend (Sez excluded) for an hour or so in the past few months. i'm withdrawing from life quite extensively because it all hurts so much. Or feels empty and pointless. Or like i could be good at it, but am prevented from doing so. Coping with so much negativity is very wearing.

Not got any recovery stuff on next week, but i do have a meeting with Lothian NHS's Head of Diversity to talk trans-stuff. Not via the STA or other organisation, just me doing some research and asking who i could talk to. After all this is about my treatment. i'd like it for every trans-person in the area, but again, sad to say, i'll settle for just me getting access to hair zappy stuff because it affects me so much. Then again it may well go incredibly well...

The contrast between me working at near full capacity and how i am right now is shocking in degree. i feel like a Spitfire with a dodgy throttle, one minute i can take on difficult tasks and perform wonderfully, the next i'm incapable of doing anything significant at all.

Wanting to hide is so very far away from where i want to be...

Futility

Jan. 10th, 2011 09:24 am
johanna_alice: (Default)
Today everything seems pointless and futile. Like no matter what I do, I'm unable to change the things around me for the better. I'm not asking for it to be easy - that would be lazy and arrogant. Yet I also would like to be able to see my time, efforts and abilities making a little difference. Call it ego, this desire to see something, anything. How are you supposed to get a sensible idea of what you could do if there's literally nothing to reference yourself against?

My values do tend to keep me trying. I'm not someone who can lie down and not try again if I fail, but each time I manage to pick up some of the things that are important to me, it gets harder and harder to keep hold of them. It's awful seeing this process at work because I know what I can do / should be able to do.

There's always some kind of disparity in what I think and what others do when it comes down to what I'm trying to do. The world isn't ideal - nothing is perfect - but when it comes down to the things I know about, think a lot about or that I am, I generally have a good idea how to make things better. That's not ego either. I've talked about some of my ideas to some very qualified people and they ALL seem to think there is something to my thoughts. It's hard not to believe you can achieve something if that's your feedback. Yet so often it comes down to argument, unreasonableness and entrenched opposing viewpoints.

I'm sick of it. Sick of seeing further than some of those around me. Sick of seeing things done in a mediocre fashion, and sick of my own conscience not allowing me to remain quiet. Sick enough to want to walk away from everything and fade into a life where I don't have to see all the inadequacies and inequalities that drive me to want to change things. Sick enough to look at myself and what I've got and decide I shouldn't try to help people and share what I know or have experienced.

This is depression talking. Not seeing a way forward, not wanting to push myself into continuing...

That I'm mentally ill shouldn't make a difference to how the content of what I say is listened to, that I have fears that seem very intense doesn't mean my viewpoint is being affected by anything other than those fears. That I want to have issues resolved quickly, amicably and informally so I can go back to working productively is, I am afraid, absolutely reasonable.

Safety. I don't feel at all safe right now. Circumstance is conspiring to make me very edgy and somewhat paranoid. You know the kind of thing, where things could add up to something if your assumptions of unknowns are correct...

I'm going to tiptoe close to the line here:

Everyone has the right to liberty.

That means free of constraints being imposed upon them. Constraints like fear, because when you're afraid you find the choices you have in a particular situation limited. You might not be able to do what you would choose to do without fear. You feel your safety is compromised.

It doesn't matter what the fear is, big or small it's real to the person who's safety is compromised.

In my little world, people aren't afraid to voice their fears. They know they'll be listened to, reassured and having their safety being restored a priority. Things would be dealt with quickly, fairly and conclusively. If there was blame to be attributed, it would be with a view to educate and develop insight into why a person felt afraid and how to ensure such a situation did not happen again. And when it was over the person who felt unsafe would be reassured that their voice had been listened to and taken seriously. Life would go on.

Only that is in my little world. I feel my safety has been seriously compromised and that others could be too if something isn't done about it. I feel that I'm being ignored in the hope I'll go away and anything awkward I've said can be swept under the carpet. Being left alone without any communication or progress can do that to people.

I'm not people though. I'm me, I'm not conventional, I'm not afraid of offending authority or breaching the unwritten rules of dispute. I'm bipolar and that's the single biggest factor in how I will react. Today I want to hide and let everything go because I can't bear the thought of going through any more turmoil with no resolution near. In an unknown quantity of time I'll be someone who won't give up and be kicking up the biggest fuss I can - probably in the most destructive way I can. I've been dealing with those extremes for months now and trying to maintain some kind of median line where I don't do something so negating as withdrawing into myself or as destructive as I can make it. I don't know how much longer I can cope.

At the back of my mind there's a hypothetical conversation:

Me: I don't feel safe doing that.
X:   Why not?
Me: [Explains]
X:   I see and understand why you aren't happy. How about we do _____ so you aren't in that position again?
Me: That sounds great.

Yes, not doing something might limit my options, but I'm kind-of used to that. I'd rather not be able to do one specific thing than do nothing at all. That seems reasonable. As does taking steps to ensure the situation doesn't recur for someone else too.

Note there is no blame, guilt, negativity, censure or dispute in the way I would ideally have dealt with things. I cannot believe in any bit of me that that isn't the right way to go about resolving issues. I suppose I am determined that my idea of this is absolutely right. Sorry, not ego again. I've seen far too much conflict and paid the price of winning far too often to think attributing blame is a good idea if you want to move forward.

So I want to hide. I don't want to face what is increasingly seeming like a reality I've forseen. The moment where I have to make a choice whether to push as hard as I can or withdraw completely. I'm also afraid it will be the former. There are all kind of ethical concerns for me that go far beyond my own safety and the same things that tell me I should try to make a positive difference tell me that I'm strong enough to deal with the consequences of drastic actions and too weak to allow my values to be compromised by my inaction.

Those dinosaur-killers in parking-orbit are looking attractive, just to make this turmoil STOP.

What happens to me if suddenly at 3AM, I don't want to hide anymore and instead want to shout as loudly as I can? What if I decide that something is intolerable and I need to do whatever necessary to remove it?

This isn't to say I'm going to do any of those things. I'm trying so hard to be patient, calm and constructive. But I can see my language becoming catty and sarcastic as try to I hide my emotions and hurt once more. I can see how much time I'm spending thinking how nice it would be to make things black and white. I can see how much I want to stop.

What I really want is to have some resolution and closure before it gets too much for me.

Because if I don't, I'll cry into my pillow for a while, maybe cut myself a bit, sugar binge massively. Then once I've finished doing the things you do to write-off things you care about, I'll mood-swing again. And use phrases like duty-of-care, discrimination and the rest, whether in public or private doesn't matter. A huge bit of my life would just be closed off to me.

Because I didn't feel safe and said so out loud...

Isolation

Jan. 9th, 2011 12:49 am
johanna_alice: (Default)
Despite my convincing a psychiatrist that I am competent to make one of the biggest decisions one can make about oneself, I'm still a screwed up neurotic girl. Since I got home, I've been sleeping fitfully and not eating. The last may finally be me accepting I need to loose weight as I'm toying with the idea of food now.

Being so neurotic isn't so easy to define. I think it's not part of my bipolarity directly. The obsessive-compulsive bit is, but the real lows, inability to cope with the idea of trying to cope and withdrawal are not solely down to it. Maybe I should think of b-p as an aggravating factor to the other stuff.

Reality is that I've always had people around me and that now through one reason or another I don't. Yes, I've got the small handful of people I trust as friends. The thing is, that trust is that they won't turn around one day and walk out of my life for reasons incomprehensible (to me). I might not always know the boundaries of sociable behaviour, might do crazy things and might seem loud and intimidating - the latter especially when I'm being passionate about something. But underneath all the idealism and angst, I'm very, very, lonely.

The last six years have taught me some very distressing lessons. That even if you are tactful, appropriate and reasonable, you can still get blamed should the someone you are those things towards manage to portray you as the protagonist in a situation they did not deserve to be in. I've learnt that love is blind and that it can be used to manipulate me with a great deal of success. I've learnt that very few people actually question things others tell them about you, particularly if you really are exhibiting some part of the behaviours you are supposedly inflicting on others.

I've learnt that mental illness and transitioning can be used as convenient excuses to exclude you.

Anger is irrelevant here. All there is is an empty feeling unless I'm with one of the wonderful people who have remained with me or become a friend since I transitioned. Up to now it's been easier, if I don't want to even explore the possibility of a sex life (and it's necessary doing stuff where I might meet someone) because my body is wrong then it's easy to place safely away and ignore it.

Only now, it seems my body will soon be as it's supposed to be and those reasons go away. I could compare it to being very excited about visiting a new place, only when you begin to see it on the horizon, it's nothing like you had imagined.

I know GRS will not make my life suddenly better and complete. I always did. But here and now, I can see how easy it is to delude yourself and how crushing the disappointment would be when you realise that everything else is exactly as it was before and that the only thing to have changed are your expectations.

Which means I have to face some cold realities. Loosing people from my life because they're transphobic and either seeing that directly or hearing the true reason via someone else is fine. Transphobia is bigotism and the only way I wish to engage with bigots is in campaigning to make their prejudice socially unacceptable. Loosing people because of my own behaviour or because others have told exaggerated or untrue (factually that is - I realise that perceptually someone may believe something is true, especially if mental illness is a factor in their perception) is far, far, harder.

There's one other thing that I've been on the wrong side of from differing perspectives twice now. Inappropriate behaviour. The first was down to my inexperience and naive belief that helping someone a bit more than above and beyond was OK. OK, until I had to distance myself when I realised what was going on. Far more recently I've been on the receiving end of someone being unaware of appropriateness in a relationship where I'm the vulnerable one. I'm unemployed, mentally ill, transitioning and very idealistic in my need to try to reduce the negative influence these things have on peoples lives. It was easy for me to misinterpret signals that the other person wasn't even aware of sending out, because I was so happy to have maybe found a new friendship... I'm still clearing that mess up and the person concerned most likely thinks this is some kind of vengeful vendetta because I got upset. It's not. I know about appropriateness and this time all I did was trust someone, it's so easy to do when you're vulnerable. It's purely about making sure another vulnerable person isn't hurt by their lack of awareness of what they're doing.

All those things are crashing down on me right now. Things I can't ever change and haunting memories of relationships I treasured until they evaporated like mist in the sun. I know I have my faults. Insensitivity, obsessiveness, inappropriateness whilst hypomanic, thinking I am right, not letting go... It would be hard to not blame myself woudn't it?

This isn't a historical retrospective. This is what's happening to me here and now. I know what the problem is, and have no idea how to change it:

I'm dealing with learned pattern behaviour that makes me unwilling to put myself into situations where I could get hurt. Since that's virtually any situation that doesn't involve the few I trust implicitly, that means every other interpersonal interaction with any degree of emotional content. I'm realising I'm unwilling to unilaterally trust anyone for fear of being hurt (again). And I have no idea how to change it.

Don't want to try to regain some of those past relationships. They're years dead and all the changes that people go through have been happening. Especially to me. I know I've changed for very good physical (hormonal) reasons. But if for example, someone thought I'd done something four years ago, there's been nothing in between to change that impression. Besides the relationship I valued so much's innocence is gone. I don't want to be looking over my metaphoric shoulder in paranoid fear of being hurt again.

I'm really not the type for dating sites/events. I'm idiosyncratic, stubborn, self-conscious and (it affects how I interact, so it's a real factor) bipolar. Structured settings with the implication of relationships would just be cutting against the grain with me. I'm curious about heterosexual sex, but I'm really, really not attracted to men. It's just a kind of if-I'd-been-born-with-the-right-bits-would-I-have-tried-it?- sort of curiosity. I'm not about to go and look for company because I'm so desperate to feel close to someone I'll ignore all the other things that contribute to my wellbeing (like personal safety and freely expressing my sexuality).

I'm unemployed. No way to meet people through work. Well there is - but my volunteer work is pretty much office-based and last time I thought merely a friendship was growing led me to four months of mental anguish...

I'm someone the world calls transsexual (if they're being polite), tranny, gender-bender, queer, homo, or any of the other wonderful descriptions the world seems to generate for people who don't fit in and too trapped behind the memories of my own bad experiences to want to even stick my toe in the water. Not a nice place to consciously be in.

I know there's no quick answer, there isn't something someone could tell me to do to change things and that any positive change will have to come from with in myself. I suppose it's even better to knowingly be aware of this than futilely wondering what is wrong. But right now, in the middle of being happy and excited I will be able to finally close the chapter of my life labelled: Transition sometime in the next six to twelve months, I just have no idea what could or should come next to address all the other things I have been able to deprioritise because of transition and bipolarity.
johanna_alice: (Default)
Getting closer to Friday and that long scary, exciting trip to London. Just had a surge of panic and had to reassure myself I've got all the travel arrangements right. Again.

I know what I'm wearing: long sleeves! For obvious reasons to do with the scar pattern on my left arm.
I know I'm taking a spare set of clothes - just in case!
I know where all my paperwork is: Gathered around me in neat piles and a project folder.
I know there's a bus to get me into town on Friday morning.
I know where I'm going. Google has provided me with maps and street views.
I even know there's a model shop to visit near Holborn Tube Station which is on the Piccadilly Line I'll be using to get from Kings Cross to Hammersmith. Despite temptation I'm going AFTER my appointment. They're open until six and my train is at seven from a station allegedly three minutes tube travel away. Cocking that one up would make for one hell of an expensive model aeroplane!
I've even charged up some batteries and coaxed my battery-backup iPhone thing to function, though I intend to make it out for a lead from Tesco later.
I've got a table seat and a power socket reserved
There's night buses to get me home when I get back at midnight.

I don't know what I'm taking to read.
I have no idea what to take to eat, though Lucozade WILL figure heavily this time. I'll try to be good next time, but being in the steaming metropolis and stressed-out is not a good time for me to be without glucose and caffeine.
I hope they don't hold having a cuddly crocodile in my bag against me. Croc is a blatant comfort blanket and also acts as a useful pillow on long journeys.
I don't know what I'm going to do about making sure my appearance is as good as possible beyond trying to get to use a disabled loo in one of the stations for some privacy.
I don't know if I want to smell of vanilla, snow fairy or citrus.
I don't want to have to go to London for this. It's nerve-racking enough already.

I'm trying to remember Dr Myskow told me I'll be fine. I'll try to remember to get some impression of what the new specialist is like to report back to her with.
I'm reminding myself this is no biggy. I went to London earlier in the year is worse circumstances and travelled to Sweden too.

It's just yet another hoop to jump through for a rubber stamp in the ticky box. The GIC are responsible doctors and need to assess me over a period for themselves. I should be more worried if they weren't doing this.

So why am I so worried?
johanna_alice: (Default)
What do you do when anything you do will escalate a situation that is already quite bad?

What happens when you need some kind of closure on something increasingly traumatic?

Where does the frustration of someone not in control of where their emotions take them ground itself?

What do you do if you can see patterns of circumstance past, present and future even when you close your eye?

How badly are you coping if this blots out other traumatic memories that have haunted you for years?

As you look back on the ruins of your efforts to deal with a problem informally, all you can ask yourself is what is so wrong with you that you are so inept at communication?

What should you think about people who you feel your respect for slipping every day you're left without responses?

Why does trouble always center on you?

Why does having a mental health problem make you, 'emotional', and even if you are, how exactly does that detract from the words you're saying?
Read more... )

This is absolute torture to go through and I keep thinking it's all my fault, that I'm the one who screwed-up, that I deserve this. I'd probably have or be contemplating self-harm, but I'm off for my first appointment with Charing Cross's gender clinic on Friday and having fresh cut on my arm doesn't exactly portray the kind of stability they'll be looking for.

johanna_alice: (Default)
The title says it all here, but I'm being necessarily vague. I suppose that this is all about coming to terms with myself and working out if it's more important to follow my thoughts or my feelings. It feels difficult to make a choice and I can't think of a way to compromise between the two. With indecision eating away at my stability and time passing quickly I know I need to do something. Just not what.

I know what is wrong. I've talked about it with others who aren't involved, I've waited and watched myself and how I act. And now I have to decide what is most important to me. To give you an idea of what kind of a scale this is in my mind: I can see the very same potential for destruction that some of my more dramatic episodes have caused.

That isn't going to happen here. Not this time. That's all I know really, but I'm comforted a little by that knowledge. On the other hand my doing anything will hurt me no matter what, just doing nothing will eventually make me self destruct completely (again). Right now I'm telling lies in order to buy time, and using that time not to think about this. Out of sight is sometimes out of mind when I'm distracted.

What is actually at stake here are my principles. Something similar to but subtly different to saying, '...I hate what you're saying but I'll defend your right to say it with my life...'. Of course life isn't black and white and easy to pick the right course. This is endless shades of low contrast greys blurring into one another. It's about the interaction between big and little pictures, and whether process or people is more important.

Ultimately it's about learning a little more about coping with myself and the rollercoaster my emotions take me on whenever I perceive potential conflict and have to make hard choices.
johanna_alice: (Default)
I've said before that I'm a stubborn bint. What I haven't maybe mentioned directly is something I've been thinking about a lot this weekend - the degree of equality I enjoy in my day-to-day life.

To be honest, except for some very rare occasions, gender isn't an issue in my day-to-day life. I go out, shop, interact with others and just live my life without much fear I'll face inequality because I my gender was not assigned to be female at birth. I'm also quite good at standing up for myself and know what my rights are, which makes things a lot easier if something does happen. I enjoy a great deal of equality right now.

There are things I could do which would alter that. I don't have a GRC, so committing a crime would see me processed through the legal system as a male, which would cause all kinds of psychological issues for me. But I'm not planning to break the law. I could get a disease that is specific to male physiology and need treatment in a specialist ward - again causing issues, but I hope my physical health continues to be good apart from the inevitable bouts of IBS when I get stressed...

The most important thing here is my confidence in myself and who I am. I don't have to try to be me, I just am. That lack of my feeling I am adapting or playing some kind of role in society is what lets me just live my life without worrying about how others may perceive **my** gender too much.

This isn't the same for everyone. There's all kinds of things to go wrong and a lot of people who don't conform to the gender they were assigned to at birth encounter horrible hardships both internally and externally. I hate that, which is why I do the kind of work I do.

The conversation I've been having and thinking a lot about this weekend regards cis-privilege and how that affects trans-people. From a personal viewpoint I'm a woman (here, one who has transitioned) who automatically demands that self-same cis-privilege. Demanding isn't the same as getting of course, but perhaps there is something about obviously having the confidence to demand it that makes it more likely you'll receive it.

I wonder if the transgender community is maybe a little too shy and non-confrontational? Not the in-your-face hard-line confrontation that causes even more issues than before. More the here-I-am-and-I'm-not-going-anywhere attitude that is basically the template for successful civil disobedience in protest situations. It's hard to tell because so much for me is backwards. I think of myself as too confrontational and that my lack of fear of being in those situations is a weakness. My mental health issues are not gender-related. I don't define as trans anymore... I'm an anomaly (who sometimes does quite enjoy being unique) and that lets me often look at situations and events with a different perspective to others who seem similar to me on the face of it.

There must be something in what I'm saying. I live my life as the woman I am. I move around my city and don't worry about or receive abuse (often - I get it about as much as I suspect any other boy-ish girl would and in a similar vein when it does happen). In this area at least my life is very successful and I'm so happy in myself now this is what my life is. This is all real and definite, not a biased opinion of myself. I've got it pretty much right (for me).

I've just had another one of my ideas (all this being the preamble to it). I'm wondering how much of the issues trans people face is down to language. Both the derogatory language used against trans-people and the language trans-people use amongst themselves. 'Passing', is (as usual) my case in point. The very word implies falseness hidden just below the surface, of fooling those who come into contact with you that you're something other than you are. That's great if you get your kicks from misleading people and I can see how it would be something that would be of relevance to transvestites who don't live full-time in the opposite gender. Transsexuals aren't trying to mislead, they're being. The other kinds of transgendered seem far closer to the concept of being as well, only what they're being is a blended gender mix. The issue there is the wider community just cannot cope with non-binary genders effectively.

I'm beginning to think that perhaps trans-language needs an overhaul and recreating to reflect a world where transgendered or transitioned people expect and demand equality. With a new, meaningful, vocabulary to engage society as a whole with, hopefully some of the concepts would start rubbing off and trans-education and awareness become more widespread - thus increasing trans-equality.

One to follow up individually with a few people and then perhaps get a group together to talk it over...

Equality is being able to be yourself without fear and respecting others rights do be able to do likewise. In my own view of equality, it's every bit as important to grant others equality and defend your right and obligation to do that, as it is to demand and defend your own rights.
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Had to go out yesterday. Psychiatric appointments are important. Related some of my tale of woe to Dr S. He took his usual practical, helpful line, which in this case was to coordinate between gender-specialist, GP and himself to find out exactly where I stand when it comes to modifications to my mad-pill dose affecting things at Charing Cross. Couldn't stop shaking all the time I was in there, which is no reflection on him, just on my general state of anxiety at the moment. Very glad I pulled myself together enough to go though.

Also made myself go to Waitrose - of all supermarkets, its the most bearable as people in there seem to always manage to do the little things like not shoving and saying excuse-me when they want to get past. I now have stuff to last a few days and at least two crumbly cheeses (Betraying  my roots a little here as they're Cheshire and Lancashire) and reduced flapjacks. Wasn't fun, but needs must and I was out anyway.

Have carefully planned it so I need to go out today too. Possibly meeting N for lunch at the Filmhouse which is good and not at all scary in any way **despite any errant thoughts that the Filmhouse could be scary if I let it**. I am also out of mad pills - didn't have any tonight, but the half life is such that one day doesn't make any physiological difference - but the balance is waiting for me at Shandwick Place (Using Boots for pharmacy services doesn't count against boycotting them through November - especially when I put the script in in October and they owe me the balance).

Staying at home is far too easy to do unless I plan ahead of myself and put myself into positions where I have to go out. But best start small... Thursday is definitely a duvet day though!
johanna_alice: (Default)
And as usual, I'm in the middle of something else and a thought occurs to me. Must get it pinned down in words before it flutters off:

I just wrote, '...I know how important ease of transition is...'. On a completely different subject, but gender-related things are never far from my mind and the t-word cascades all kinds of connotations.

It stuck me that transition **should** be normal, for a given value of normal, for the person transitioning. Just an extension of the thought that trans-people aren't any more or less special or important than anyone else really. But as well as keeping tracks of the large and far more common smaller waypoints in the process of transitioning gender, perhaps striving for normality should be something that's seen as something that counts as a goal, and feeling normal is something successfully achieved.

After all successful transition is essentially feeling and being completely normal in your gender.

It doesn't all come at once, but knowing what to look for in your life and recognising things like the smiles women share between themselves and having someone hold a door open for you is a big thing. From a personal point of view it was huge and marked the difference between trying to learn and being.

So perhaps a kind of Gender-101. Things to try to do more often, things to avoid better and above all things to recognise as success that you should give yourself credit for.

More thought needed, but normality definitely seems like a worthwhile concept to keep bearing in mind.

johanna_alice: (Default)
Where to start?

At the beginning? It's so long ago now. So much water under the bridge and so many lessons learnt.

At the end? It's so specific and would mean I've not learnt the lessons of the past properly.

At an ending? Maybe. It feels like an ending, a pretty big one that's going to upset me when it comes, but one I have at least some ideas of how I can manage to carry on after it.
Read more... )
johanna_alice: (Default)
There is such a thing as a positive-feedback loop. One extreme example is nuclear fission once critical mass is achieved. The thing about positive-feedback loops is that they tend to run away out of control and eventually destructively disintegrate. Hence the atomic explosion...

Oh yes, tonight it's physics analogies for myself again.

I'm in a positive-feedback loop. Sometimes leaving something alone and not poking it is exactly the wrong thing to do and it really feels like I should have been poked some time ago. Hence runaway insecurity and lack of confidence in my ability to do very much at all. But what are you supposed to do when you think that talking about a problem will in fact make it worse, not better? Honesty hasn't served me and continuing with a policy of absolute truth seems like it would have an effect on me similar to one of those dinosaur-killers I'm fond of comparing my own destructive aspect to.

Back to the analogy. Control rods, those are the things I need. I can't stop the things that go through my mind, but I can try to control and channel them - hence holing up in my flat. I'm intelligent enough to know that prevarication and doing nothing is often a temporary respite from having to deal with something that can backfire horrendously sometimes. Nevertheless doing nothing is the best of a series of bad options. I've ended up thinking in a completely alien way for me and done something completely inoffensive which seems to have slowed things down a little - at least for me.

I have to ask where this will end though. I'm pretty much running away from shadows and this can't continue without me going completely to pieces at some point. Last time it took five years for me to start thinking I was becoming more able to cope and I really don't want to spend another five years like this. Something has to change for me.

Just in a situation where I cannot effectively communicate the idea that just as too much is bad, too little is even worse, I have no idea how to proceed.

Positive-feedback loops - they sound so great and constructive. Until the last word...
johanna_alice: (Default)
It's so easy to be negative. The perversity of the Universe tends to a maximum after all. The last few days have felt like my world was crashing in around me, and I was drawing conclusions based upon past experience and future conjecture. I'm not going to say they were wrong, they were one possible future that could have come to pass. One of many, but I'm me and usually see only the worst possible outcomes. Seriously Cassandra should be my middle name.

As it was I was (not) functioning in a complete silence in which it was only natural for my fears and anxieties to grow. Not feeling capable of dealing with that vacuum is pretty typical of me as I usually find myself torn between addressing my issues and how my doing that could affect others.

For some reason this afternoon I just thought, 'Screw it!', and sent an email. A very short one just asking was everything OK. A short time latter a reply arrived. Communication! Whoo! Cue slight mood-swing. From desperation to Johanna's Theory of General Negativity. I'm still fairly sure that nothing good will come of this. But only fairly, not completely. I'm still anxious and hesitant and will probably need a lot of reassurance to relax again. Not sure I can even ask for that kind of support.

I'm not happy still. To many things up in the air and I'm no good at juggling. Until (and if) life returns to what passes for service as usual, I suspect I'm going to be quite a lot like a rabbit in the headlights. Resolution is always questionable and closure is often just a fevered pipedream.
johanna_alice: (Default)
Not functioning right now. As usual it's because I'm in the middle of a contradiction I can't resolve. So I'm waiting. Doing that is hard for me, when my emotions and instincts are all telling me to do **something** almost do **anything** to change things. Doing nothing at all is just as wearing as actually risking doing something but doesn't actually burn any bridges - I can always plead mental illness as an excuse for my vacation from reality.

That's really sad isn't it. Not least because it's true. Doing this does impact very heavily on my mental health and as more time passes I see more and more signs of my relapsing into the more severe end of the depressive part of my cycle. I know enough by now to know that's not good, and have set myself a must-resolve-one-way-or-another date, so this is just a finite interval, not a spiralling descent into incapability and reclusiveness.

Several courses of action are open to me - each with benefits and drawbacks:

I could walk away from the problem. Definitely a resolution, but really, really not the best one for me and recovery. On an impersonal basis, it does the least collateral damage and affects no one but me. It seems the most responsible choice, but I'm fed up of loosing people and things and feeling like a victim.

I could address this directly. I'm good at that. This is pretty much a dinosaur-killer approach that would either resolve the issue or result in massive collateral damage that would also impact upon myself. In the legalese of a 'reasonable man test', it comes out favorite, because I think I am being reasonable. Whether I am or not must of course be subjective.

Or I could use an intermediary. Essentially someone not tarred with bipolar-spectrum disorder to filter my feelings and especially my emotions through to ensure that; 1) I am being reasonable in a way other people can understand. 2) What I'm saying is taken seriously. Has a reasonable chance of success and possibly minimises collateral damage. But there are very few people who may be in a position to be able to help me in this way and involving them will impact upon them too.

This feels like the issue I thought was resolved because it is that issue, mutated into one of my worst fears about resolving the original thing - lack of trust and distance as a result of bringing up something that really upset me. If this were anyone else and I was offering advice, I know exactly what I would say to do, because it would be the best thing for them to do. But I can see implications beyond myself and have to choose between my priorities.

This is not fair or right. I'm taking responsibility for dealing with something that was a big issue for me, that I tried to deal with tactfully and by offering non-judgemental solutions affecting just me. I've felt attacked and insulted at the responses I had to bringing it up and felt at the time that I was being pre-judged on my mental health because I said the issue was affecting it.

Now I'm in a similar place. My mental heath care is ultimately my responsibility and I know I am in a position to direct my own recovery and competently make decisions about it. It's something I spent September learning a lot more about and the insights and knowledge I got from that do give me the certainty that I know what is best for my mental health in this instance (I won't always know and it's fine that sometimes decisions may have to be taken for me because I'm hypomanic as long as those decisions are taken with my input and with a view to my overall safety, not just in the moment. I'm a person and have complicated needs just like anyone else and reducing me to just a mentally ill person and acting accordingly without my knowledge or consent is discrimination).

Which about sums it up. Eventually I'm going to have to jump one way or the other. Don't want to have to. Both are bad for me. I'd like to think I have some importance to other people here too and think that my first option would be negative for them too, should I walk away. But I really don't know if that's genuinely a little bit of self-worth, or the desperate hope that if I did walk away there would be an attempt to change my mind.

In the meantime I can't do much. I can't talk directly about what is upsetting me to many people. I'm supposed to be doing stuff, which I'm letting slide. I'm supposed to be seeing my GP, but I'm scared that this quite real distress will be seen as a deliberate relapse to ensure I keep my benefits. I'm supposed to have a life and to see my friends and do all the everyday things you do in a life and I can just about contemplate going to the Co-op for some milk. When I actually run out. Tomorrow...
johanna_alice: (Default)
Feeling very negative right now. Almost as if all the passion in me is burnt out and all that's left is cold ashes that are becoming damp from a thick fog hiding anything else from view. I'm faced with a choice. Do I stay here and try to coax some warmth from the cinders, or do I try to go somewhere else to find shelter? Perhaps I should try for a little while, just in case. Besides the fog is so thick and featureless I have no idea which way to go were I to set off.

All I know is that this feels terribly familiar. Sitting beside cold embers not knowing what to do whilst my fears grow closer and closer the longer I'm without light and warmth. Of course they'll chase me forever, this is an analogy after all. Yet this was a huge blaze and sent those fears running out of sight into the mist. I could still hear them yelping and crying as the light held them at bay, but distantly and muffled as though the same fog that hides everything else was silencing them too.

It takes so long to gather wood here. The ground underfoot is slippery and dangerous. The wood is often sodden and brittle. When I can find some in this greyed out place that is. The only features I can find, only when I'm on top of it but a feature nonetheless are the traces of where I passed to get here. At least I think they are. I might have made these whilst wandering around the fire when it was still burning and I could see a little way.

There's an almost anti-phoenix-like quality to the fog. The flames pushed it back but as they guttered and died the smoke just added to the mistiness closing in around me again. It feels so much like this has happened before, possibly many times. It's hard to tell, the fog is in my mind as well as all around me. I wonder how long I've been going through this cycle of wandering, lost in the fog and occasionally being able to set a fire to give warmth and light to my surroundings for a little while? Nothing appears to grow here - except the fog. The trees are leafless and mostly fallen long ago. Not even fungus inhabits this dank place. And if not even fungus lives here, who and what does that make me?

Am I a prisoner here, breathing Letheian fumes with every breath, living in an endless moment of now as the past constantly leaves me? Certainly I have no recollection or understanding of how I got here. Or did I make this place in some misguided attempt to create a refuge from something worse than charcoal greyness? After all there's nothing here but me. My thoughts are the only things that seem to change...

So the choice: Stay or go? I really don't know. Which is a decision in itself - doing nothing is a choice.

I'm not a happy girl today and the world feels like it's crumbling around me with a terrible sense of deja-vu. I might have confidence in myself, but that changes me, not the world. I've been here before, in a time when it was fight or flight. This time I've had more choices and yet the outcome still seems unavoidable. I'm sick and tired of feeling like I'm making choices and being strong enough to take consequences on myself. It would be nice to be able to be more myself, more vulnerable and in need of reassurance right now. I can't though. In a place where saying, 'I feel bad and don't want to feel like this again.', elicits defensive reactions and counter-attacks to a nonexistent offensive, I don't know how to cope. I've been honest and haven't blamed. I've communicated the reason for my distress and offered ways to resolve it. I've been patient and not dropped dinosaur-killers, not even really revealed what it is that upset me to anyone even remotely connected to it. Yet I feel excluded, untrusted and blamed.

I've stayed and tried for almost as long as I can bear it. That time is running out for me though and I need to think about how I might protect myself in situation where I'm essentially on my on in the cold. All I have is determination not to blame or resent and the conviction that fighting this would just make things even worse - I can imagine what my capacity for destructiveness could do here all too well. But I am really fed-up of making these decisions where I always seem to come out worse off and being thought of as an instigator, not a victim. Why is it that no matter how much I change, however hard I try, I just end up back here, hiding from my world falling down around me?
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I think I'm free. In a strange way, I've won. An outright victory that would never mean anything to anyone but me.

Still no names. I'm not writing about other people, just me and how I feel. About the world I have to live in and where I have to decide where the lines of right and wrong are, what to keep and what to discard from my life.

After however long this painful interlude has taken, I feel different. Not as though something has gone, the things that were leaving left long, long, ago. More as if a weight has lifted from me as uncertainty and questioning is replaced by just knowing. I suppose on a very basic level this is about knowing myself and being able to look at that person without feeling a bit like Dorian Gray...

What surprises me is the form and nature this freedom has taken. Absolutely nothing has changed beyond my feeling differently about me. Sometimes it's said that difficulties bring out the best in someone, and though I wouldn't claim that, my recent trauma (And yes, trauma is an appropriate description on a personal level) has shown me what I can do, that I can express myself honestly and without hesitation. That matters to me an awful lot - especially when some of the things I said were things I never thought I'd have the courage to say in the midst of dispute.

But I did, for good or ill. Whichever is irrelevant, it's what I did in that moment that matters, when I was vulnerable as hell and somehow said what I would have liked to have said. Just as I did all that time ago.

I suppose it's a little bit about control. For me it has to be because I'm someone who's emotions can carry them away in a flooding torrent. The control is of myself. Nothing else. I don't want to impose my idea of right upon the world or make people do things. But I do want to be able to express myself as the emotive, passionate woman I am without the fear of hypomania rearing its head just because I'm dealing with intense feelings.

In other ways it's about caring. I cared about the person(s) involved in last months angst. A lot. And I still do despite feeling useless and stupid and oversensitive for a month and being in the middle of a huge communication malfunction that was at least partially to do with my own ability to be wonderfully vague - unless you know me really well, when I suspect I'm pretty transparent. But I don't want to stop caring about someone just because an issue has arisen between us. I suppose I know that that's OK now.

The other weirdness was running into a pretty good lookalike of someone from my past in Sweden. Did a very incredulous double-take and might have talked utter nonsense briefly as I adjusted my reality slightly. Never spoke to them but did see a reasonable amount of this person over the few days of the Council. Call it aversion therapy. A non-venomous species that had no interest at all in me... That's slightly catty. **shrug** I can be catty sometimes. I even have the outraged hissing down pat when it comes to it. Nevertheless aversion therapy it was.

Doesn't change anything back in the external world, but internally I've learnt a bit more about how to slow down my emotions when they try to railroad me into fight or flight.

This isn't about anyone else. It's about me learning how to deal with some of the things in me and finding strength in strange places far from home. It's about knowing my feelings are valid for me and understanding it's not a matter of guilt or innocence, attribution or blame. Strangely it is about self-confidence. I'm not quite so scared of myself and what I could potentially do to other people anymore. That's quite big on the Johanna-Scale of personal bugbears to overcome...

It's been said the past is different country, and that much is I think true. But the bit about you can't visit it isn't quite right. You can go there over and over in your mind, dwelling on paradoxes only you can see. But that's memory not reality. It's not quite true because the past can visit you. It doesn't hurt me quite so much when it does now though.

And that is all I really want. To stop feeling immediate tearing pain at some of my memories. I'll always remember the pain of course, but the memory of pain is not the same as feeling pain at memories...