Hey look, a donation button!

I just added a donation button for surgery to my blog.

For years I rejected the idea of hormone therapy or surgery for my own body. I've known since puberty that watching my body develop further and further in an entirely mismatched direction would only get more difficult with time.

Even then, I completely underestimated the toll it would eventually take on me. On my ability to function, even.

Throughout my adolescence I never once sipped alcohol or tried a recreational drug. I still haven't. But from seeing so many of my peers do both, I was curious about the impact of alchol in the brain. I buried my adolescent head into whatever articles I could find about alcohol. I read something about alcohol contracting brain tissue and depressing the central nervous system. Something about destroying brain cells that do not regenerate. Basically, everything that I read completely and entirely stripped alcohol of any potential fun factor it could've had for me before I even had a chance to try it.

Same deal with recreational drugs. At least for my brain.

So the idea of hormone therapy? No way! I rationalized that hormone therapy and/or surgery were weak and irresponsible options. I would never, ever do either. I told myself that I was strong and smart enough to "think" myself out of it. My body wasn't "broken", ... it was just, mismatched. And there had to be ways to cope with it that didn't involve hormones or surgery.

I tried various coping methods. For instance, during my adolescence I started to avoid the unclothed sight of myself in the mirror. It was too jarring and unsettling; not in a way comparable to if I happen to gain a little weight or get acne - something triggering on an entirely different, extremely subconscious level.

Even though I've always had a high self-esteem in regards to myself aesthetically; the sight of my own chest or anything typically female anatomically triggered that disconnect.

As an analogy, I suspect it's a phenomena very similar to what people suffering from phantom limb syndrome experience (which Vilayanur S. Ramachandra has been researching).

To stick to my drug free guns and to take pride in my ability to cope with my varied predicaments I listened to straightedge bands of the 1980s like Minor Threat and Uniform Choice, Straight and Alert from the Screaming for Change LP with lyrics like:

I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and fuck my head
Hang out with the living dead
Snort white shit up my nose
Pass out at the shows
I don't even think about speed
That's something I just don't need

and

Who drinks the barley?
Who drinks the grain?
Who shoots that shit into their veins?
Is there really the need for the use of dope?
Does it solve ones problems
Can it help one cope?
As an adolescent, I developed a very strong sense of drug-free pride. Possibly mostly to abstain from the tempting option to escape from dealing with that pain of disconnect. I also avoided dating until I was 17. Which opened up a whole new world of triggering possibilities.

The mismatch between my brain and body is quite honestly the one thing that has consistently brought me the closest to spiraling into a world where it feels like my only options are to escape through any means necessary, just to lessen the pain. This despair became so easily triggered over time that I began avoiding intimacy, the trans community - anything that wasn't a distraction.

I tried to avoid, I tried to naturally transition... I tried everything I knew of and, at long last, by the time I went to see a therapist I just exploded into tears and let it all finally surface.

Those years were all wonderful, but the gnawing from deep down got louder and more unavoidable with each new year - and ultimately brought me to step it up and see a therapist. But, I had also become too hard on myself, and let my mind turn against me and tell me that hormones or surgery were "weak".

Fortunate for me, my therapist helped me break away from that bullshit. And, over time, I developed a positive attitude about transition. Instead of a "weakness", I realized that it was necessary and pro-active; something that would contribute to my overall happiness, stability and ability to function.

The consequence to this, however, is that I waited until the breaking point. So desperate to finally fuse the disconnect, I started to hormone therapy even though I was nowhere near financially ready to afford top surgery out-of-pocket. This has led to a number of social complications. By having very visible and male-typical secondary sex characteristics, while also having breasts. This sucks for my brain the most, but it's terrible trying to navigate the world safely - like at the gym and bicycling. And, while binding helps tremendously with both, it results in extreme physical discomfort, exacerbating back injury via binding, and acid reflux. It's terrible to bind, but better than the alternative.

Despite my relief with the brain-map matching that I have experienced at long last through hormone therapy, my chest continues to trigger and prolong the pain.

For some time I felt guilty and even embarrassed about the idea of asking for any help gathering up enough funds for top surgery - especially when there are a million things in the world that I would love to see people donate to (esp. No More Homeless Pets!). But, thanks to the lesson I learned about being too hard on myself, I've decided to get over it and just add a little donate button to my blog - right there in the side bar! (scroll up)

I can't imagine the relief top surgery will bring. It's going to happen, I just know it. Even with the simple things, like this guy who video blogged about his first topless run in the rain.

I can't wait. I just keep reminding myself that with each new day I'm closer to my very own day.

15 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're taking steps to being happier in your life Mel. I wouldn't view all drugs as a bad thing or be polarizing about the subject. Especially things like hormones and prescriptions.

    BTW, i can't help but debate :). Alcohol kills dendrite, glial cells but unless you are a heavy alcoholic (i.e. get drunk everyday) you rarely kill neurons which are the only types of cells that never regenerate. Although i'll say this about drugs and alcohol: always in moderation, otherwise nothing.

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  2. fwiw, brain cells are now known to regenerate. otherwise i enjoyed the post.

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  3. Trevor: Yeah debate! However, I'm not finding much to debate about here. I just feel informed, more than anything. Moderation is the golden key to everything! ;]

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  4. Anonymous: For serious? Send me info post haste!

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  5. I can't wait until you are done and through with the surgery. It seems that your dream is coming to fruition. I love you-mom

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  6. MEL!!!!! I got the fellowship! which means I'm going to be making banK! I'm dedicating my first paycheck to your top surgery fUND!

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  7. sorry i couldn't give more, so happy to help, though...

    (lindsay aka elbie)

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  8. Wow! This is such a great, positive, and probably difficult post.

    I've also always seen drugs, meds, etc. as a weakness for me. My stance is that some people aren't built to handle their pain, or depression, or a number of other issues, but until I KNOW that I am one of those people, I would rather learn to cope on my own. I'm also a control freak who is big on taking responsibility for her actions, and I was afraid of changing, or hurting people.

    I eventually tried alcohol anyway, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I'm a very happy and nice drunk, and that I can drink a lot without truly getting out of control. I've still never tried any recreational drugs though, and I avoid taking meds unless absolutely necessary.

    Oddly, when it came to hormones I quickly rationalized that they were changing my body, something I can't do with my mind, and I've had almost no qualms about it.

    Good job putting up the donate button, by the way! You absolutely deserve to be happy. =)

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  9. Neekrs: Awwwwwww!!!!!! You're so cute. Thank you. :] And congrats on the fellowship!!!!!!!!!!!

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  10. ViviBlue: Thank you. :]

    And yeah, I think I may have a bit of the control freak thing going on, too. Low and behold, I think the ultimate line is just doing what is healthiest/happiest in the long-run!

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  11. I definitely deal with the drugs = weak mentality. That's not so awesome to have when you struggle with depression. But I'm definitely glad you're coming out of it! I can't donate much but I know you'll get there.

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  12. C.Moore.Run: I would NOT call that a "weak mentality". You're not weak. I think that all of us have our own experiences and mechanisms to cope and, hopefully & ultimately overcome.

    And thank you! I am getting there, thanks to help from my friends and loved ones. I feel so frickin' lucky and excited. Every day is closer to THE DAY. :]

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  13. Elbie: Don't you dare apologize! THANK YOU for helping. Every.little.bit inevitably gets me closer to the funds needed for surgery. It all adds up, bit by bit.

    Again, thank you. :]

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