Things are going well. I’m into my 3rd day of the new quarter here in college. I already like it much better than last quarter. Taking more classes I thrive as the structure helps keep me accountable and busy- last semester there was just too much down time. I bought a binder to begin wearing this year, when it came in the mail and I saw it I was like “Yikes!” it looked so small, especially around the stomach area. I’ve been wearing it for 4 days now; usually only the first half the day while I’m in my classes. There is some discomfort when walking and I can’t slouch, which may be a good thing. But I really like the way I look. I want to buy a few more, as I just bought one since they are sort of expensive and I wasn’t sure how I’d take to it. The thing is it’s really hot, which is fine in this rainy wet weather we are having now, but what happens once hot summers come? I also found new boxer briefs that don’t ride up and practically become like woman underwear. I bought 4 more mens shirts and my dad just gave me some more money for the month. I think I’ll buy another couple shirts.
My classes this semester are 2nd quarter Greek, 4th quarter Spanish, New Testament in Greek, Upper Division Writing, and Gender, Language and Society. There are 5 classes but the New Testament class is just one hour, once a week. I also have an ungraded connection that meets once a week around the common interest of being a Future grad student. I’ll be pretty busy this quarter.
Counseling will probably be cut to every other week so I can go to gender group, also because I’m doing well right now. If I start to have problems we may change apps to Friday or I may go later on Wednesdays and skip Gender group sometimes. When I see the therapist at the end of the month I’m going to ask her AGAIN about when I will have a consult with the gender therapist, I know I was in crisis in November and then in December she had to cancel because she was sick but I’m running out of patience. I just found out today my psychiatrist has a reminder set to have a phone appointment with me on the 20th, then we will talk about reducing the Latuda we had to increase at the end of November because of the psychotic symptoms.
Sine the increase of the Latuda I have been doing much better. I’m still feeling the increase effects, so mind slow and sleepy so I am overcompensating with caffeine (Red Bull and Starbucks) unfortunately the increase had to be made the week before finals, but hey what can you do. Probably in a week or two my body will just and I’ll no longer feel the mind slow or extra sleepiness and be able to lay off the extra caffeine, plus school will be out so not much will be going on anyways.
I’m worried about going back home for break. Less structure usually means worsening of depression symptoms. Being home means less experimenting with/exploring gender identity. But there is more people looking at me, so I doubt I can stay too inactive and let myself fall apart too much. I just don’t want to un-grow.
I haven’t needed the extra DBT skills since the Latuda increase, but have a feeling I’ll need them when I’m home on break. I’ll still have my apartment so maybe some time I will come here to get away. I hope to get off the extra Latuda by the end of January, but that may not be realistic- we’ll see once school starts up.
I attended a thing on different types of attraction yesterday that the LGBTQIA center put on yesterday for Asexual Awareness Day. I’m trying to figure out things and for now I’m thinking gay grey A and biromantic. I’m not sure how it will fit in with my gender identity and all that but for the most part I’m more attracted to women. And I still identify more as woman if you make me chose a binary, but gender variant under the trans* umbrella otherwise.
Just got off the phone from my psychiatrist and it’s just what I needed. I had no intent to go to classes today. I couldn’t sleep again last night with the voices and the paranoia and when the thoughts started to turn to sleeping under the bed to hide “just in case” I got out of bed and took some extra PRN Latuda and Valium. This helped me get to sleep, but unfortunately I woke up with nightmares that Trump had declared war and drafted all the men to go to war. When I got up to go to class I managed to take a shower. I really needed one, since Monday I just wore a snow hat and pajamas to school. However, that put me over the edge and once dressed for school I became fearful and crawled back into bed. I set my alarm for my 2nd class but near time to attend, turned it off and resent it for a trans clothing fair I hope to go to. My psychiatrist called and we are upping my antipsychotic Latuda by 1/2 which is what I have PRNing on a regular basis until I feel less vulnerable and more confident in DBT skills. He wants me to not associate taking a pill with the behavior which is fine, as long as I have some medical relief. I will also be using my coping skills I use- mostly DBT to deal with what voices, paranoia, and distress break through. And yes some always break through. Medication is no cure. During thanksgiving break I’ll go through my packets and go over some skills. My psychiatrist wasn’t me to set up a phone session with the therapist to go over how DBT skills are working with this stuff. So far I have the music skills I’ve been using and rationalizing. It’s been 2 years without voices so I need to re-look through my skills.
Safety plans in place, and I guess I got my psychiatrist all worried. So I saw my case manager on Friday and told her legit what was going on, and also that I was NOT going to go to the hospital. I told her I told the therapist what was going on but not how bad it was, because she doesn’t know me as well and probably would’ve hospitalized me based on my symptoms. I wrote my psychiatrist a message earlier in the week about my symptoms and he talked to my case manager and the therapist and he’s all freaked out and made an appointment for me next Friday. My case manager was talking about how he was invested in me and worried, lol. I think he’s just frustrated we found some meds that finally worked and now they’re now working again. My sister is holding on to my extra pills, so I don’t have them at my apartment- I’ve been extra suicidal so that’s part of me trying to be safe. I also put a Trans crisis line in my cell phone. My case manager reminded me she’ll be off this week for thanksgiving, but to feel free and call for an emergency appointment the next week and she’ll get me in. Although I gave my sister the extra pills, I put in my chart some extra PRN of Latuda (my anti-psychotic) and Valium in case the voices get to bad and I need to calm down. Just 3 more weeks of school to get through. Then 5 weeks of vacation, and I don’t care if I have to go to the hospital then- I mean I prefer not to but it’s a hell of a lot better than missing finals. Hopefully during winter break the symptoms let up, or I can adjust.
I live in California a pretty democratic progressive state, everyone was outraged, sad, angry, pissed, scared, and a variety of other bad feeling when Trump won- well most everybody. My dad would have voted for him if he was in the states. Everyone who lived in my court voted for him and I knew others that did. I was sad and scared, but mostly shocked, it took awhile for the real feelings to kick in.
I’m 33, 34 in two days. I’ve waited a long time to start transitioning. I haven’t felt safe to do it in my own home. Now I don’t feel safe to do it in my country and worry about government policies and procedures that may prevent me from doing so. I already know it won’t go quick as I like because of my pre-existing mental health conditions; especially the episode a couple weeks ago with the voices. Now I feel set back, hopeless, suicidal. I wonder if I should abandon myself, my progress of the last few months with transitioning and the last 5 years of so with accepting my sexuality. I don’t want to be unsafe but at the same time I want to die. But I’d rather have it be by my own hand than some hateful bigot.
It’s been interesting lately. And of course by interesting I mean a combination of hard, no one knows what is going on, and yet I keep my head above water. I’ve given hints, but some family reads this and I worry what they will think- but I started this for me. About a week ago my nephew was born, about a week and three days ago I started to transition in wearing male clothing and bought boxer briefs and switched my jeans into male ones (though I’m still having trickiness with sizing.) The voices came back soon, they said the baby was going to die unless I went back and stopped making my changes. The voices were the back 1s, the voices that used to be the constant companions, not the episodic side voices like usual. Also the back 1s in the past have been positive, negative, neutral, or narrating so this was interesting that they came back for this to take a stance. I didn’t listen and added coping skills and increased my anti-psychotic. Unfortunately it was during midterms, otherwise I may have just went into hospital for respite/relief. I had actually taken extra Latuda the night before and morning of a Greek midterm and managed to still get a B, with double dose in me and active voices. My case manager thinks the voices are back because of my sister having the baby and that they want ME to hurt the baby and that’s not the case, that’s probably come from side voices. All my midterms are done, 2 B’s and an A; I didn’t try hard so I’m happy with my grades. I’m not very motivated, when not in class, at a club or workshop; I’m usually sleeping. I’ve been home weekends a lot, I don’t know if that’s better or worse, it prevents me from sleeping the weekend away. This weekend is my birthday, most my family is gone anyways, so I’m going to visit 20 somethings friend. Since I told my case manager about the voices I know it’s going to slow down transitioning, medically wise and I really don’t want to tell the therapist because I don’t have as good a relationship with her and it’s harder for me to tell her this is two separate things- even though I’M SURE they are.
The transphobic narrative from practically everywhere and the voices are teaming up, even though at this point I am coherent enough to know this it doesn’t help much. Hearing voices in your head saying your baby nephew is going to die because of how you identify and the changes you are making in your life. I’m not sure how far the psychosis will go, if I can bargain with it, even if I want to. I took an extra half of my anti-psychotic so hopefully that helps and a Valium because the words were so upsetting.
I don’t know if I want to bring this up in counseling tomorrow, because I don’t want another reason for them to cross contaminate the gender identity with my legitimate mental illnesses and screw up my process and progress for transitioning. I also don’t want to end up in the hospital before my last midterm, which is next Tuesday. If the voices are still there in the am, I’m going to take another extra 1/2 of my anti-psychotic in addition to my regular dose I am still taking.
I wish I could get my studying done that needs to be done for tomorrow mornings midterm. I wish I had someone to talk to. All I can do now is wait and I have my ear phones in blasting music, blocking the voices till hopefully the meds kick in. Then I can study, they don’t even have to go away completely, just I need to be calm enough to study and not as loud and distracting voices.
Today is World Mental Health Day. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be moved out from my parents house, going to a 4 year university and hadn’t been in the hospital for almost 2 years I would have thought you had to be kidding me. I am amazed at the progress I have made in the last two years. With four official diagnoses, 8 prescription medications, and a few appointments a month I’ve managed to stay stable for the first time in 10 years. My counseling appointments are decreasing from every week to every two weeks or sometimes three. I have few self harming urges and while the suicidal thoughts still come and go; I don’t have the urge to act on them like I use to and tend not to ruminate. I used to think that I would be trapped in my lower state of functioning for the rest of my life, I hung on mostly for other people and out of guilt. Now (most times) I actually look forward to the future. I anticipate flare ups and relapses, I know I have acute chronic illnesses. But I am enjoying the moment and success I have right now.
Today was the first Official day of the convention although there was an extra track yesterday about first episode psychosis that was rather interesting. The convention this year is in Denver, Colorado last year it was in San Fransico, California. I live in California so last year me and mom drove to the conference and while she didn’t go, she stayed in the hotel with me. This year I flew by myself and am staying by myself for 4 nights. The night before I chickened out, was really physically sick with stomach issues, and if my dad wasn’t home would have just not gone. But he’d ridicule me and not understand so I sucked it up and went on little sleep and little faith.
The first day was just registering, checking in to hotel, the one track, and I went to sleep early. I liked the talk. I was proud I was able to fly, get a cab, and check in to the hotel without having a melt down. I went to bed as soon as the program was over and my sleep was weird with bad dreams. There’s no bath here and I forgot my hairbrush. So I just called the front desk (hardest thing so far) and asked for a comb) I combed my hair and put on my hat. The other hotel has a hair brush I bought so I’ll try to shower tomorrow.
The one good talk yesterday was about getting people with psychosis to engage in treatment. It talked about the negative symptoms of those with psychotic disorders like: lack of motivation, isolation, lack of interest in things, flat affect, monotone/don’t respond much. Yet there is still the need to belong and the desire for connection. Sometimes the problem goes to we can’t do what we use to do. Example when I had to stop working I never talked to old boss till years after though we were very good friends and went to the movies a lot. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do at points of illness, like attend school or social events so I just lost everything related to that. When nothing feels great you stop trying because you don’t expect it to and why put in the effort. We prefer hobbies to people and don’t engage in the community. Sometimes we are protecting ourselves but sometimes it holds us back. In order to help these negative symptoms which have underlying problems such as defeatist beliefs you need to let the individual set the goals for therapy. No ones life’s goals. Is to get up and shower. To make their bed. To take their Meds. As the speaker humoursly suggested maybe your ambition is to live independently with a soda machine in your apartment?
- Then ambitions are broken down. Steps are concrete.
- Action towards the goal is the therapy target
- Obstacles are addressed as they impede action
- Conceptualization is the key to the obstacles
- Achieving the ambitions reinforces the curative beliefs
That was yesterday. Today talked about policy and government. A good workshop on peer workers though there were two VOCAL audience members who should’ve been kept in better check. I’ll scan the awesome resource document when I get home. I also attended another sessions on first episode psychosis programs; there was a lot of that at the NAMU National Convention 2015, so no real new info.
I hope I sleep better tonight. I can take a quick shower in the morning without my sensory issues going crazy. And noticing my interactions with people vs the rest of the convention the more likely I fall on the ASD spectrum. I’ve talked to one person since I got here. Most have depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD, or are a family member of someone who does. There are board members and stuff too but even them usually have some relation.