Even When I'm Blue

Sunday, August 25, 2013



Hello all! Hope everyone is doing well. :c)

I have been a bit scarce around these parts lately, I know. 

That is not due to a lack of things to discuss, however. 

Quite the contrary.

In my last post, I wrote that I had emerged from a period of feeling less than my best. 

As I learned since that post, that assessment was, in fact, a bit premature.

But I also learned that I am a far, far different person now than I was pre-transition.


Unfortunately, I know my assessment was premature because I suffered another panic attack on Tuesday morning this past week.

Like the others I have suffered this year, this was less than pleasant. They are genuinely terrifying, both in their intensity and their seeming randomness. 

In fact, it is that unpredictability that is most disconcerting. I have been living with the knowledge that one could strike at any moment - a most unwelcome constant companion, as you can imagine.

Once again, my manager L was wonderful. She did her best to help me calm down, telling me to take care of myself first and foremost. She never once threatened to kick my butt this time, so I knew she was serious. :c) (Or perhaps it is simply well established that she can, in fact, kick my butt any time she wants!)

R was also a godsend, going out of her way to check in on me regularly over the next few days. (I worked at home for several days, for fear another attack would strike while I was in the office.) 

She not only tolerated my rambling, even-less-coherent-than-usual text messages like a trouper, well past the point all but the most patient of friends would tolerate. 

In short: she listened. And in doing so she helped me begin to sort out what was going on. 

Thank you so much, sweetie. You are a gem. :c)

I had a session scheduled with M today (Saturday), thankfully. That helped me enormously, knowing I would be able talk things over with her.

And it did.

***

Trying to understand what I am feeling, let alone why I am feeling that way, is an ongoing challenge. The variability and intensity of my emotions still take me by surprise - frequently.

Beginning in puberty, I spent most of my life doing my best to suppress my emotions. I learned at a young age that they were bad, dangerous things. They seemed to only lead to pain and heartache. 

So I stopped allowing myself to feel them.

In retrospect, I can see that I did so to survive under challenging circumstances. As I have learned, I did the best I could at the time.

But I paid, and still pay, a high price for doing so.

The problem, of course, is that you cannot pick and choose which emotions you feel. 

My transition, in large measure, has been about learning to trust myself to feel - to really feel - for the first time in my life.

This week I was reminded that learning to process even less-than-pleasant emotions is infinitely better than suppressing them. 

Because, of course, they are NOT suppressed. That energy has to go somewhere

In my case, it manifested itself in frequent bouts of depression, coupled with an anger that often frightened me with its intensity over seemingly trivial matters.

Happily, that anger - rage, really - is long gone. I still get angry, of course. But it is much more measured, and in proportion to what perpetuated it.

Those episodes of depression, too, have lessened greatly, to near non-existence. 

M, my therapist, has expressed her surprise that I managed to function all those years without resorting to unhealthy measures to ease the pain. There are several reasons why that is the case, I suspect. But I am grateful I avoided those pitfalls.

But those demons are still there, as I realized this week, even if they lack the ferocity they once had.

I spent much of my free time this week trying to determine exactly how I felt.

It was difficult, at times frustrating. (And again, R was an invaluable ally in this journey.)

But I was determined. I was not going to pretend those emotions were not there, nor was I going to use them as a cudgel with which to pound myself senseless.

After talking with M on Saturday, I now have a good idea of what the likely cause was this time. 

Or, to be more accurate, what the likely causes were. 

I would prefer not to go into all of those causes here. 

The ongoing difficulties at work was a factor. As M noted, 18 months of ceaseless stress has taken, and is taking, its toll.

We also worked out that this attack was in part delayed emotional fallout from telling my parents and my brother and sister-in-law

It is fair to say those did not, and are not, going well. 

I realized today, while talking things over with M, that I have not been myself for a long while now.

I felt, for lack of a better description, washed out. 

Getting through even a regular, stress-free day took a major effort. I was exhausted, both physically and, as I can see now, emotionally.

Even when I spent my vacation week as myself <ADD LINK>, which was a wonderful experience, I simply did not feel well.

As I mentioned, one evening I was so tired that my friend J joked to F and T that they were going to have to flip a coin over which of them would have to sling me over their shoulder and carry me to dinner. :c) (Happily for them, the answer was neither.)

That exhaustion - depression, in fact - has been present for a long while now. 

So long that I think I was not aware of it.

Until this week.

***

In retrospect, it was an event unrelated to work and my family that triggered the panic attack.

I prefer not to disclose what it was here. It was a personal matter. 

More accurately, it was an event that was the culmination of a matter that has been lurking in the background for quite some time. And this event forced me to finally pay heed to it, and try to understand why it affected me the way it did.

Suffice it to say to that we spent most of yesterday's session discussing it.

More accurately, we spent it discussing my reaction to it.

Because that is what was important.

Happily, we made a great deal of progress.

As I said earlier, I now realize the futility of trying to ignore my emotions.

It is no longer possible, now that I am approaching two years on hormones.

And that is a good thing.

I greatly prefer experiencing the full range of my emotions - happy, sad, and in between.

Feeling everything is infinitely better than spending the rest of my life living as a shell of a human being - even when I'm blue, as the song goes.

M, as always, was wonderful. She knows precisely when to let me use a pause to continue my thought process and when to interject, gently, with a comment that invariably helps me clarify my jumbled thoughts and emotions.

She offered several suggestions to help me further explore my reaction to the event I alluded to earlier. She expressed her hope that doing so will help lessen the likelihood of further panic attacks, as will another upcoming event. (And again, I promise that I will share that news VERY soon! ;D)

As we wrapped up our session, I thanked her profusely for her help, telling her that I would not be where I am today without her. She truly has been a godsend.

She graciously accepted my thanks, as is her nature.

Then she spoke.

"When you were confused by what you were feeling earlier this week, and then when you had your panic attack, you didn't try to ignore those things."

"You didn't use them to beat yourself up, or to further convince yourself you're a bad person, or an unworthy one, as you would have done in the past."

"You spent the time to try to work out what was going on as best you could. And you asked for help when you went as far as you could on your own. That is tremendous progress."

"I am so proud of you, Cass. You've come so far since we first began working together. And you've done it the right way - by working extremely hard on yourself."

"I've told you you're on a rocket ship several times now. Because you are, and that work has made it possible."

"You're already seeing the results. Today is a perfect example."

"And soon - very soon - you'll really begin reaping the rewards. You'll be working from a solid foundation that you built yourself over the past two-plus years." 

"So give yourself credit for making this possible."

I felt much better after leaving, as you can imagine. It was wonderful to hear such positive reinforcement from someone I respect so much. 

I also know I could not have reached this point without help from all of my wonderful friends, near and far. Thank you once again to all of you! Hugs and love all around! :c)

***

Here is the wonderful Steve Earle song I used as this post's title. It's from his 1988 masterpiece, Copperhead Road:


And just because it's such a great album, another of its lesser-known, but still wonderful, gems:


Happily, he is still going strong, as this year's superb album The Low Highway proves.

5 comments:

Stace on August 26, 2013 at 2:43 AM said...

Sorry to hear about the depression - but very pleased that you have the support you need!!!

Look after yourself.

Stace

Jenna on August 26, 2013 at 3:08 AM said...

Your so lucky having a counsellor like M. Finding someone that you can work with like that is so difficult.

Diana Nicole B on August 26, 2013 at 2:10 PM said...

it is interesting in that many people including my cousin that are ts and transitioning seem to also suffer from depression.
i am glad to hear you have a good counselor as from your photos of the out side view of you in have a delightful almost impish smile and it would be a loss to the world at least around you if you were not a part of it.

Diana Nicole B on August 26, 2013 at 2:11 PM said...

ps oh and my father says after getting to know my Diana side " the outside of us is just there so that other's will be able to recognize us but the inside is the true person"

Cassidy on August 26, 2013 at 9:41 PM said...

@ Stace: Thank you, sweetie. And thank you for your private message as well. You are a true friend. :c)

@ Jenna: I am *very* fortunate to have M. She has been indispensable.

@ Diana: Oh dear… PLEASE believe me when I say that I am OK, and that I have no intention of going anywhere other than forward! lol

I have worked much too hard and come much too far to let a down spell slow me down. Besides, I have a number of new outfits I haven't even gotten to wear yet! :-p

BTW, your father is one smart cookie, from the sound of things!

Thank you all; I feel quite lucky to have such wonderful support!!!

Mega, mega hugs,
Cass
xoxoxo

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