I feel like people grow up learning that doctors and dentists and such are authority figures, because as children we are small and they are adults and specialists and it breeds an unhealthy mental relationship. If you ever are belittled, or don’t feel safe or listened to by a medical professional, you need to advocate for yourself. You can get other referrals. You can fire them. They are not your superiors because they went to school for a long time. YOU are the expert on your symptoms. You are a goddamn grown human being with worth and value and they are too. You are EQUALS. Remember that. You are not inferior to someone with more education. Your sickness doesn’t affect your inherent worth and value and shouldn’t affect your treatment.
I think I deeply underestimate the effect of pain on my mental health.
Oftentimes that pain will lead me to seek out medical care.
That medical care will fall short in myriad ways.
The most damage is done when I am treated like I do not know what I am talking about(which I do, it’s my body and I’m a smart cookie).
They go on to not listen or ignore symptoms.
Ultimately, ineffective treatments and I have wasted hours, expending myself mentally and physically, with nothing new tried, no answers, no treatments, no referrals, no belief that it would improve, a whole mess of micro aggressions, and worsening pain.
I was writing my suicide note in my head while driving home.
I wasn’t worth listening to. I wasn’t worth respecting. I wasn’t worth treating. I was a drain on the system.
A creature of pure torture and it wasn’t going to get better.
Because I will always be the person that writes “LOL” when a form leaves 8 spaces for you to put your medication list.
Because I will need multiple specialists who for some reason can never coordinate their blood work requests.
Because the combined costs for the surgeries I will need to no longer squirm like a child at a funeral just at the idea of being in my body exceeds that of most suburban homes.
Because I have wanted to die as long as I can remember, and only regular therapy, medication monitoring, inpatient hospitalizations, and the occasional emergency interventions keep it from happening.
There’s so many stories lately about resuscitating addicts. Someone mentioned a “three strike rule,” where they’d no longer administer emergency medication.
So where does that come in with suicide? How many times do you wake someone up with a smile and tell them they aren’t worthless and sit beside them coloring and chatting as they stare off in to space and beg the universe that JUST ONCE someone would have thrown up their hands and said “well I guess they weren’t worth saving after all.” How many times do you say hello and goodbye to the staff that all knew you anyway before the EMT blacklists your house?How many interventions does it take until when a patient says “I’m worthless,” the reply is, “Well, you’ve met your mental health value quota so, yeah, you’ll have to find some worth somewhere else in life. ”
The mental health system is slow, toxically still full of stigma, and prey to every -ism.
But here I am still.
I was past three strikes years ago, folks.
I thought a line should go in my suicide note- “In lieu of flowers, please send letters to local hospitals and your congressmen.”
I came up with some clever lines. Even some stuff about the selfishness of suicide.
Because it’s not. It’s not about you, and you’re being arrogant if you think that. If anything, it’s selfish of you for wanting to keep someone who is suffering that much around, just so you can feel marginally better.
Things like that mindset guarantee I’m not pleasant to be around, I’m pretty sure I don’t have all that many friends, mostly acquaintances.
Profound mental illness, it turns out, is uncomfortable.
I hide behind biting sarcasm a lot. It’s actually the shield that bites back.
Then I got to thinking about family. Ain’t that a can of worms.
I thought about the funeral. It’d probably be at the church I grew up in and was chronically awkward in. The one that was 400 people that met in a pole barn when I was 2 and vomited on someone’s shoes and will never live down. I was there as it expanded. As it moved. As it kept rejecting me socially. I was there for the newest addition, millions upon millions of dollars raised. I toured it it when it was scaffolding, sheets of plastic and exposed concrete. I watched as it stretched a video outreach across the globe and my father would occasionally do some paint touch up work on the pastor’s massive boat.
Somehow non-denominational is its own particular denomination. Whodathunkit, it has some very traditional and conservative mindsets.
I knew that without a legally changed name and gender marker, I would be deadnamed among my family until we were all dirt.
And when I came out as pansexual I was told that “a line has been crossed in the eyes of God” if I would ever touch a woman.
And when I came out as transgender I was told that “this was an exploration” and “I will find a revelation.”
“God loves her more than we love her.”
You can change if it’s supposed to cut or be supportive depending on what you emphasize.
My dad had said in the session with my therapist that I have an “emotionally built feminine psyche” and that “guys don’t deal with these emotions.” He figured that a part of my transition goal was to get over trauma through that reasoning. He also said he has nothing but compassion for those that are internally conflicted, which I have been for a very long time.
He challenged me to find one person who was truly happy having done this, 10 years out, figuring that anyone who was transgender would just be so conflicted that they’d never really improve their lives.
Months later my mother was teary eyed when she asked me if I thought I was still saved.
She said “I have to hold onto the thought that you might still be in heaven.”
I wondered at the hellfire that was currently eating her alive, fresh and meaty and ripe, right on this plane of existence.
I thought of all this while I plotted my suicide note. The idea I could be so wrong, so broken that I would be cursed to brimstone and damnation had such a hold on her heart. I fumed.
I spewed. You know, in my head.
Then I craved. I wanted someone to read the note at my funeral. Read the note at the church I was raised in.
I wanted someone to tell them that this is not the gospel. Christ’s blood was spilled so no more has to be.
I got home.
I took some medication.
I pet fuzzy animals.
I relaxed on the bed.
I felt a little bit better.
Then I got angry.
Angry enough to do some good.
When you are low enough that you’ve almost stopped feeling bad, stopped feeling anything, you can find angry.
You can tap into it.
I realized that no one is going to do my advocacy for me.
I may already be fighting hard.
I will have to fight every damn day.
And it will keep hurting.
But I can’t give up and leave my mantle for another, they must carry their own.
I have to be vulnerable.
I have to do it myself.
I have to tell my story myself.
I have to live long enough to improve MY life myself.
To show who I am.
To prove it.
Maybe only to myself.
Soft and silent in a combative way, my self hatred spawned from a young, young age. It sat at my brain stem and sent little twitches of loathing, as central a part of my being as breathing or eating.
I am reclaiming my hate.
I’m coming for it.
Ink and hormones and surgeries will bring me closer.
Time spent in the gym will bring me closer.
I love what my body does.
I love the powers it has, I love the strength I have that no one expects of me.
But I do not love my body.
I don’t know that anyone who is trans can embrace a traditional form of body positivity.
I will seek out my male form, though.
I will sculpt it from underneath my hips and my breasts.
I will find a way to present myself, somewhere under there.
I weigh 333 pounds.
It’s a pretty number, but it’s not a pretty sight.
That’s up five pounds from three weeks ago, when these first pictures were taken.
Why did I take them?
I was starting Plexus. And I’m a skeptic.
Granted, I’m a skeptic with impulse control issues and poor budgeting skills. I wanted to try it out, and I wanted reference. I’ve gone up and down and up and down in my weight, over and over again. I usually try to not be entirely honest with myself about my body. I find its better for my mental health.
However, I’m on the cusp of some major changes. Testosterone for my transition. Bariatric surgery. I want to track how I change. I want records. A little bit of supplementation is a minor place to start, and easy enough.
They’re expensive, and sold through multi-level marketing. Does this mean there’s cheaper equivalent products out there? Maybe. But this is what I was going to try, after seeing how great my friend Susie and her family was feeling with them.
Naturally “becoming an ambassador” or buying in to the sales program gets you cheaper prices. I signed up. I got my shipment. I started my Triplex.
There’s the Bio Cleanse, which is basically a fancy magnesium supplement that’s supposed to help keep you regular. There’s more to the pitch than that, but that there’s the basics.
Probio5 is a probiotic that’s supposed to have great success surviving to get to the gut and actually do its work, it also has chitosanase which is supposed to cut through yeast overgrowth super effectively.
Then there’s Slim, the pink drink. You add one of these drink packets to your morning routine, and it helps to keep your blood sugar balanced and energy up. I can honest to god tell the difference on days where I’ve forgotten my Slim, I’m sluggish and crabbier and have worse cravings. It tastes a lot like a cherry tootsie roll pop. Not just the candy coating, not just the chocolate part. The whole damn thing at once.
I’m not big on thinking that shitting more regularly and an extra bottle of water each day are going to cause much of a health shift. It’s been three weeks, and I did not change my routine. I didn’t change how I ate. I intentionally set out to “work out” exactly twice.
I also have less joint pain. Fewer headaches. I’m less forgetful. Not as sore. And there’s tiny sections around my body where it almost looks like I’ve been pricked by a pin and am deflating slightly.
I see fat loss in my arm, the top of my belly and sides of my hips. I see more definition in my shoulders. The changes are subtle, but they’re there.
I’ve also gained those five pounds, proving that you have to measure victories on more than just a scale.
I don’t give a rip if you decide to try the Triplex. It’s great if you do, I’m excited to share the journey with you, but I’m not gonna go around trying to be a salesperson.
The person that I care about getting this stuff to most? Myself.
I’m kinda selfish like that.
Wanna check it out?
I have been positively blown away by how lucky I’ve been and how good that the system has been to me. I called my PCP’s office to see if I could get in earlier than my next med check to discuss the potential of starting hormones at some point after my bariatric surgery. They had an appointment available the next day. He was absolutely awesome, and referred me to an endocrinologist, saying that it’ll probably take me two-three months to get in.
The endocrinologist’s office called me that day, and THEY had an appointment available the next day. Absolutely unreal… I feel so blessed.
So I went to that endocrinologist that morning, picked up the vial from the pharmacy at like 11, and on Thursday I have my instructional session.
They said I can start before the bariatric as long as I skip the injection a week or two directly before it.
This way might be a little harder. I don’t really know.
I’ve never been more excited for a shot in my life.
Also, today I got a haircut. Witness!