Through sheer happenstance the two counsellors I was referred to – one by my work and one through the GIC both forgot about me when I asked at the beginning of the year. Now both have been in touch recently and arranged virtual appointments on the same day.
I rarely turn down help, and if I find it too much I may need to rejig, but it means I can set aside an afternoon and try to deal with my issues, one surrounding general malaise and discontent with who I am and what I do and the other focussing on basically the same, but actually dealing with my gender.
So the interesting one first, at least for anyone reading this blog. This is a registered psychosexual counsellor, it is a bit of a catch all term, but she is literally the only person in the area who is qualified and trained to deal with issues like gender dysphoria. This was an initial meet – which means basically we both committed to a fortnightly session with the option to cancel with as much notice as possible. She will treat everythin I say with the strictest confidentiality unless I say something that threatens myself or someone else in which case she’s duty bound to pass it on.
As it is through the NHS I also had to answer a series of generic questions supposed to cover things that could indirectly correlate to any issues – so my relationship status “divorced”, physical intimacy “none”, drinking, recreational drug use and smoking – all none. When did my issue reach a critical point? 2 years ago, right after my ex left me and part of the panic attack was making sure I wasn’t just going totally mental. A quick explanation of my first time dressed female in public along with the euphoria I felt and the come down when I had to go back to being me, and she said it was like I had been given permission and that was what broke the dam I had used to protect myself. Was I on any medication? nope. Had I had any surgeries that could be an issue? I explained about my vasectomy, but that I am delighted with the children I have and would not want more.
These types of forms may seem quite invasive for someone I’ve just met, she certainly kept apologising for needing to ask, but I am used to them and know that any identifying info won’t actually be going anywhere. She also categorically stated that she does not see gender dysphoria as a mental health issue, other than it can help exacerbate or cause them and that she has had 25 years of working with transgender men and women, though transgender men are far rarer in her personal experience. She reiterated that her office is in an estate filled with other offices where veryone is always dealing with confidential issues so I could go as whomever I chose and no one would bat an eyelid, if I needed to leave a message I could be vague and they would pass it on regardless.
Once I had listened to her read out all 3 pages of gumpf and acknowledged it she asked if I had any specific questions.
I did – is there a target for the sessions? or am I simply here until I feel I have my own personal issues dealt with? I seem to yoyo from being absolutely certain about being trans to wondering if I am dodging other emotional issues, I was informed that the Dr at the GIC is a clinician and signposts quite a few people her way, her job is to make sure that people are absolutely sure of their decisions before they proceed with something like permanent body modifications, her referral can speed up the psychologists appointment before starting HRT. All good to know.
I had already answered quite a few personal circumstance questions and while the time was too short to get into anything proper she did point out that growing up in a househld with 5 women would impact my upbringing especially my views on gender roles and men. My homework for the next time is to go away and think about my childhood and list any memories, and what adult me thinks about them with regards to my gender.
I got an hour to get my breath back before I started with my work counsellor. This one is weekly, and while you may not think so, it is important for me – I have let so many things pile up that I cannot simply point to one thing and say if this is fixed my life will be better.
I do know that I got to vent about many of my frustrations to someone who understands what I do and who was able to point out that when I talk about the things I do enjoy doing my whole energy changes and I visibly lift. It was nice to be reassured that I have been doing valuable work even if others don’t see it. Still not sure if I will tell her about being trans – I trust her, but am not 100% convinced it is the right space or time yet.
All of this has left me with a mild headache and absolutely no energy, I popped out on my bike after dinner for 15 minutes just to keep up my daily exercise, but I really did not want to.
For now it is pj’s and vegetating until I decide my bed is comfier than in front of my computer.