Sunday, September 14, 2014

Update/Mental Health

So first, I was talking to my Bishop, and it's probably worth pointing out that when I share our conversations on here, that's only how he chose to handle it, and isn't reflective of how all LDS Bishops must handle this situation. It varies depending on the Bishop and the person he's talking to and the promptings he receives. I probably won't be posting in the future as much detail about our conversations as well, simply because of that reason - I can post generally how the reaction was, but not specific things because those are really pretty personal reactions for me that may be different for someone else. Also that, not only do my Bishops and Bishops in general consider conversations with members of their congregation private (so if say someone has a confession they won't go telling other people about it), but to an extent I should probably also consider it private as well for that same reason, because my Bishops often share things that are personal about them as analogies to help relate, because they aren't trying to preach to everyone when they talk to me and aren't planning on what they share being posted in something public like this, etc. So I'll still share some of what they say I think because it's relevant here, but not without asking first, and it will probably be in a more general way than specific conversations.

The second thing is that, honestly, I've just been really struggling recently. We increased my anti-androgens and estrogen a bit ago, since my levels were still a little different than normal female levels, but, as expected, it made me experience my emotions differently, and just generally feel more. It basically caused me to wake up and feel extremely suicidally depressed, then sorta after I got going be doing better, then by nighttime I would be very very motivated and almost hyper - like every night for a few weeks after changing the dosage I would like figure out what cause in science I'd like to dedicate my life to and stuff, then the next day I'd wake up and just not care about it again and think that was kinda pointless and continue in the cycle. It made it really hard to function well, to say the least, since school is starting up again.

So I've been debating changing the dosage, because it's possible that we changed things a little too fast, but honestly it seems that, after about a month, I was doing much better. My emotions were way more in control most of the time, and I wasn't so violently depressed in the morning and hyper at night, so that was nice. However, just generally I felt pretty depressed, which was nothing new, but still inconvenient. Every morning I'll take my anti-depressant, anti-androgen, and estrogen, and then every night I would take my anti-androgen again (that was just the cycle they told me to follow). A few nights ago I accidentally took my anti-depressant and estrogen at night though (that's never happened before), and it was really bad. I started having panic attacks and stuff that night, and just generally this overwhelming urge to hurt myself, one that I hadn't felt since February or March or so. I realized that, honestly, my anti-depressant (lexipro) was basically what made me feel that way (that I wanted to hurt myself). Because I knew it gave me anxiety attacks and stuff, but it felt that I got used to that after a month or two of taking it, and then it was other things that gave me anxiety instead that are pretty much under control now, so normally anxiety luckily isn't an issue, just depression. And that was also true for those self-harm related feelings - it seems like now that I'm kinda used to my anti-depressant they aren't really an issue anymore. Hormones I think have helped those really panicky times that it felt more pertinent to I guess hurt myself as well, since since I started taking estrogen around feburary I didn't feel nearly as much desire to hurt myself, even though I had started the anti-depressant around last november or so (so that probably wan't me just "getting used to it").

Anyway so my point was I don't know if my anti-depressant has really helped anything. It's effects didn't seem as severe as the other two (mania or emotional flat-lining), which is why I decided to stick with it, because my parents were insistent that I try and treat the mental health side of this first which probably makes sense, so I figured if I was on an anti-depressant and suck through the side-effects (anxiety and stuff of this one) then that would give me better reason to be pursuing transition and stuff because I've addressed the other things first. If it seems odd that thought panic attacks and self-harm desires and stuff were more bearable than mania or emotional flatlining, because for those that have gone through anxiety they knows how much it sucks, for me it was just that, anxiety was something that I could deal with by myself. Because it didn't really affect my emotions, What I mean is that those other two meds made it way harder to interact with others - because it changed my emotions so much I basically had to relearn how to be social and stuff, because my reactions and stuff to everything was so different, if that vaguely makes sense. But so far, lexipro/estrogen/spiro, though they've had some inconvenient mental health type effects, they didn't really change my reactions to people that much, so that's why I tolerated them. Estrogen and spiro (my anti androgen) have their own benefits as well that I really like too, so that helps :)

But the thing is, I've started to realize that lexipro has had an effect on me that I didn't really realize was because of lexipro until more recently. There was the self-harm effects, but I think that was just as much from a lack a female hormones that that's debatable whether or not it was exactly from lexipro so I'd probably handle those. There was also anxiety, but at first we were able to treat that with other meds that didn't really seem to have any big sideffects for me (anti-hystamines), and eventually the anxiety just wasn't an issue anymore because I'm lucky to be in less triggering situations now since my family is using the right pronouns and I can generally present as female, and because I got more used to the anxiety itself with time.

There's also another effect though - motivation. Specifically, before I started on lexipro, I was very very motivated to do things. It's why I could do well in school - I'd have these bouts of depression, but even during those I you could almost even say comforted myself with just learning more things. Generally learning is just something that I've always enjoyed. For example I probably spent every/every other night for an hour or two just programming something I found interesting, or learning a new math technique, or something like that. And I got kinda worried because, as I started hormones, not only did I start having much much less of a desire to research things like that I enjoyed and were a big part of my life, but I also just generally felt this cloudy fogginess where I didn't feel like I could think as straight. I figured it wasn't too bad and worth enduring, but it was still annoying because I kinda had to force myself to do something that I used to enjoy, before I'd start sorta enjoying it again.

That's the main reason I'm iffy on reducing my hormones level now though - once we increased the levels of hormones a big ago, that mental fogginess was lifted. I feel that I can think as clear as I did before hormones, if not moreso because there isn't those raging emotions at time of self-hatred as much. So that's been really nice. That also meant that I started having more of a desire to be learning and stuff on my own (and enjoyed school and stuff more), which was really really nice. However, I still did kinda have this lingering just lack of desire to do much of anything most the time. That's probably what I mean by depression myself - sure there are bouts of sadness, but I feel like that's probably normal for everyone. For me the biggest way it seems to effect me is through the lack of motivation to do things that are really important to me, say schoolwork or just learning in general.

So my point was, it seemed like lexipro wasn't helping with the depression where I felt like I wanted to hurt myself - and possibly making it worse - and though it might have made my sadness less extreme at times, that came at the cost of losing a desire to learn new things. And learning is such a huge part of my life, I don't know if that trade-off is worth it. So, we might end up trying something else in the future, I don't know. For now I'm just trying to stabilize again from accidentally taking an extra anti-depressant, and it just takes time. Also the other effect lexipro seems to have is I just have way less of an appetite - and as a result I've actually lost about 10 pounds (from 150 to 140). It's not like I really needed to lose any weight (I'm about 5'8), but I'm not complaining about that, and that was probably the biggest reason I was happy to stick with it. But I'm kinda thinking that even that isn't worth it, in my opinion, so yea I'll meet with my psychiatrist in the next little bit and we can see.

And that's kinda where I'm at. In terms of transition, supposedly I pass pretty well, and pretty much everyone uses female pronouns all the time - even if they are just meeting me and have no idea I'm trans - I guess because I look pretty much like a girl, so that's nice. I've also learned the art of eyeliner/lipstick/my laser hair removal seems to be slowly working/I had my eyebrowls professionally waxed/I've had quite a bit of breast growth/my hips are maybe bigger or whatever - basically I just have more of a vase shape which is nice though that could just be my clothes highlight that better, but either way all of that is nice and helps. Like I wear female clothes basically all the time now as well, and my brown wig/sometimes a beanie when it's not too hot, and my hair is almost grown out to the point that I might be able to just style it well enough so with makeup I simply look like a girl with shorter hair. Now I think I'm just figuring out how to stabilize the mental health side of things, but it looks like possibly trying a different anti-depressant or some kinda med might make the most sense for that in the future, so that's what I'm working towards.

Also I'm meeting with a therapist for the first time really this year this Wednesday, so that should be good. Insurance wise meeting with her will be covered, and she's also LDS but said she'd be supportive of me transitioning and such, so hopefully that should go well.


  1. This sounds awesome, Dani! I’m so happy for you! When can we see some new pics? ��