Social Distancing

Throughout this global outbreak we’re all supposed to be self isolating as much as possible to prevent and slow the spread. If you are chronically pained like me you may have been practicing social distancing or isolation for years already and enjoying a bit of a break from your social calendar to focus on your health (mental/physical/or spiritual). On the other hand I know a bunch of people that are experiencing cabin fever while cooped up in their homes. You’ll either enjoy the break or you’ll hate being told what to do and having to be safer from illness in your home.

If you’re bored out of your mind at home I would suggest reading books or participating in your hobbies. This break has been less favorable for my creativity due to my roommates being home, but has been great for reading and maintaining my physio therapy and workout routines. I’ve also been adapting to phoning the friends I would regularly see to both catch up and check in on them instead of just sending them a text. I’m finding it better to hear someones actual voice and laugh than to just read a text in their voice. I have been playing guitar and songwriting here and there but in the last three weeks I have not been working on an projects seriously or consistently.

This too shall pass, in the grand scheme of things we just have to make the most of it and access what worked for us and pick and choose what we want to return to when we have the opportunity to. I truly hope that social distancing is done before I move so that I can go back to school in the fall, but just like everyone else I’m just taking it all one day at a time.

What are you doing to make social distancing easier for you?

Playing the sounds of my Soul

Music has always been a large part of my life even when I was just a kid. I started to learn the acoustic guitar at six years of age, around ten I began to learn the organ, in high school band it was the alto saxophone. So it was to nobody’s surprise that I took the opportunity to relearn guitar as music therapy to rewire my hand after I experienced left side hemiplegia.

Now making music is my biggest cause of sukha. This is why I do my best to sit down every day, find the key that fits my mood and sing out whatever is stuck on my mind. It is my most common source of peace and emotional release. I used to bottle everything up until I was in tears, so for me music has been a way where I connect to my inner self and work through whatever is going on in my mind. When people think self care, they often just think its pampering yourself, but in reality it’s about taking care of yourself so that you feel better. Whether I laugh or cry my guitars and daily play are a part of my self care routine that keep me the most level.

When it comes to genuine songwriting I try to take a more deep and meaningful approach to lyrics and piece together the TAB after I’ve got the lyrics roughly drafted. For the music I’ve been writing for the last year and a half each song was either about a love or a trauma. For me it has been telling the not so kind truths that were all cut from my novel in a way where despite some of them not being the most positive topics, they still remain heartfelt songs.

We all have that one thing that brings us peace and I’m truly grateful mine is not fishing.

What brings you peace?

Physical healing and emotional Regeneration

Disclaimer; this is entirely my own theory to which I do not have the resources to prove incorrect or correct. I do not think there’s science to back it, but I’ve always had a theory in reference to my paralysis that it was a physical manifestation of all of the emotional turmoil that was compartmentalized into different areas of my body as physical ailment. I say this because as I have dealt with a lot of “my shit” and in times where I have noticed an improvement in my mental health I have also noticed coinciding and parallel improvement in my recovery rate or rate of improvement in a muscle movement or strength.

I know for fact that I hold a lot of tension. While some have “no chill”, I have ” no relaxation”. I have been previously described as one of the most tense people some know. Everyone is always trying to get me to relax. This is why I have a pick that I fidget with whenever I leave my home these days. I find it significantly more discreet to flip a pick between just three fingers as if I were fiddling with a pen. There are however a few people in ny life that just being around them can bring me to a calm, zen place mentally where I feel most hippie-esque. It’s not just the zen in those scenarios it’s knowing that with those people I can let my guard down and be honest to a fault without social consequence. The ones who check on me when I’m quiet because they suspect that I’m not sleeping or my pain levels are higher than I’m openly admitting to.

Being chronically ill I fully acknowledge that I count my energy in spoons, sometimes I have five for the day and others it’s five for the week. I have no desire to be around those that suck the life out of me like a positive vibe leech. I prefer to only spend my free time with people that recharge my batteries with laughter, connection, and good conversation.a few acquaintances recently claimed that they never laugh as hard as they do with me with other people. I guess I’m just willing to try and find that heart chord in conversation that will make someone laugh until they cry because I am familiar with what used to be an internal abyss of darkness.

More recently, last year I got back into counseling after my bottom surgery because I needed to process some old trauma aloud and I was finally ready to say my piece to find my peace. After each session I noticed my body starting to hold less pain and less tension as I was healing this seventeen year old soul wound. It continued to improve and eventually I started to feel a lot better on my good days and even the days where I cannot get out of bed due to physical pain are not as bad now that i survived my own mental prison. Even if it was the movement of a single digit of a finger or toe I notice a functional difference each time my emotional space improves.

That delicate balance between using and saving spoons

It requires years of self analysis and knowing my own physical limits to even begin to gauge the amount of energy (spoons) “re spoon theory” to try and gauge how much I can do in a day. Some days I have the spoons to complete an entire weeks to do list in half the day and others it takes me all day to complete a single thing because my pain levels are just too high. My transition and getting my hormone levels corrected was an act of creating more physical energy in my body and during good months even having more good days than bad.

Prime example: I recently had a 6 day migraine that left me with zero daily spoons so I mostly just ate when I had to, bathed, and rested. I can tolerate the pain, but the light sensitivity and nausea really knock me down a lot. I’m still trying to bounce back from it, but I’m regaining energy daily thanks to proper exercise and nutrition. The week prior to this pdin spike I had had more energy than I had in quite some time and was getting lots done so I anticipated being knocked on my ass, although I did not anticipate it being so bad.

With a little bit of caffeine I can push through most levels of pain expect my max pain tolerance, which in turn makes it that much harder to notice thet I’m pouring from an empty cup that lacks physical energy. At least I’ve gotten better at taking a week off when I need to. I may be stubborn and willing to do what I have to to get things done, but I understand that in being an empowered, disabled, two spirit woman I need time to rest and recharge, and I will enjoy every second of it.

What do you do when you need to rest?

It’s Been almost 6 years

complete reference guide to the first 36 months in recovery

It’s been a hot minute since I was left hemiplegic and my life changed forever. I sit here staring out the window on a overcast winter day with tears rolling down my face. My body trembles with the acknowledgement of all that has changed and what has maintained its original form. I wish I could say that I am still that person, but like a healing plant I’ve experienced some photosynthesis and began to blossom into an entirely new existence.

From wheelchair to Walker,

from cane to cane,

From leg brace to ankle brace,

I never left a trace,

The spirit of him still exists inside me,

But he rarely shows his face,

From from paralysis recovery to gender transition,

I never thought I’d be in this position,

I continue to heal to no appeal,

I wish someway we could just get real,

The pain lives on with me still in that feel,

Somehow I sit here it’s beyond surreal,

Behind this smile is the tears of my past,

The rivers from my eyes grew so vast,

Finding my culture hungry like a vulture,

From parallel bars to winning interpersonal wars,

I’ve always been up for the battle I’m getting back in the Saddle.

Love and light,

Addison Blake

The Calm in The Storm of Grief

Over the last almost five years I have adjusted to the waves of my grief fairly well, yet both at the beginning of the year and around the anniversary of her passing I go numb for up to a couple weeks just stuck in the sadness of missing her and not being able to share all that has happened since that day with her. Luckily I know that this too will pass and whether it’s a couple days or a couple weeks I will bounce back and feel as I normally do again. This was not always the case, I was number for about a year and a half after her passing where all I felt was a numbness inside. No passion, or joy, or even hope just numbness.

This year it has hit me a little differently, but I think that is due to my upcoming surgery and actually having some things lined up for life once I’m post OP. It may have taken me a few years, but it feels like I am finally moving forward with my grief instead if living entrapped by it. Yes I still miss her, and I still cry, but that will never go away, it just happens significantly less frequently now. Grieving the loss of one of my childhood best friends at only seventeen years old, certainly helped when it came time to acknowledge and accept the grief that often occurs through points of a persons medical transition.

I am fortunate that my grief comes in waves that hit at the same times of tear annually so all I have to do is check the date when I feel that nothingness and acknowledge the source before letting the feeling pass after I’m done feeling it. For example today it hit me first thing in the morning so I decided to treat myself to enjoying my caffeine in my warm sunny backyard while music played in the background. This resulted in allowing myself to unpack what I felt and having the opportunity to get on with my day. Yes I enjoyed all three cups of coffee while a constant bead of tears streamed down both checks, but there’s nothing wrong with having a good cry from time to time as long as the feeling doesn’t control you.

I hope you are all well, do not hesitate to reach out to your support network when you need to talk.

Finding Yourself In Times of Transition

We all get lost from time to time, whether you just lose parts of yourself or you have lost all of yourself that you have previously known. Personally I lost a lot of myself for a few years when I moved home to recover and transition. It has taken me upwards of three years to get back to the central parts of my being, most of which was taken back throughout my transition. Living an inauthentic life took me in various directions none of ,which were bringing me closer to where or who I needed to be, thus I was lost.

With my GRS coming up in a few weeks I have been stressed, while trying to preoccupy my mind. This has lead me down each adventure and memory of my transition and left me grateful that I’ve made it this far since my paralysis. On the other hand it has me trying to line up my next adventure as well as post secondary again. Everyone that knows me knows I like to keep myself busy, so you probably know that waiting on this operation and the college admissions waiting process has me antsy.

One of the many perks of my fair ride of a life is that even in young adulthood I have the physical and emotional coping skills to tie myself over until after my surgery. I’ve been spending a tonne of time both making music and getting back into a calisthenic workout routine so that I’m not just getting in shape, but being creative as well. I may always have a remaining physical impairment, but it taught my humility, self love, and true perseverance so I will continue to just embrace my paralysis as one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Moving back home to transition has been rocky at the best of times, but that was partially my own fault for leaving a majority of my friends and socialites about 10 hours away. Moving back was not a brilliant idea, but it certainly reminded me of the resilience still left in me to not give up on my own goals no matter how hard it gets, or how rltemoted I was to walk away from everything. I’m even trying to plan my move to somewhere relatively far away within a few months after my operation to commence a new chapter in this odd little life of mine in a brand new place.

How’s everybody doing?

The fierce pursuit in becoming your true self

Few things are as empowering and equally as lonely as making the choice to transition medically. From the isolation to the generalized misunderstanding outside the trans community the entire process can be pretty rough. Most of us have to make concessions to be able to transition medically, for reasons of social wellbeing, financial wellbeing, and or overall health. My move back to BC was both for my recovery and my transition, but moving back here also meant being back in my hometown with all the acquaintances and friends I never had here. Recently I started the process of my legal name change to actually be Addison Blake on paper and have never felt more comfortable in my own skin.

Between my weekly/monthly physical improvements and knowing that my medical transition is done and I’m just waiting for surgery, I no longer feel as trapped here as I used to. After I get my grs (hopefully this year) I can go live wherever I want and even go back to school if I want to. Now as I continue to heal it has started to become easier to get social and make new friends, which would have been much more appreciated through the beginning of my transition when it would have helped to have a local friend by my side on the journey. It has only been a few months since I started to feel more comfortable in my gender and less concerned about how I may be perceived publicly in a place that is not exactly the safest for any queer minority.

The stigma behind the ridiculous concept of ‘passing’ is real. I am lucky in that I confidently try to not look cisgender in my daily life as a non binary individual. The other day I even got misgendered dropping off signed copies of my novel at a local joint and instead of being offended I just quietly chuckled to myself, which seemed to embarrass the person. The best part of my name change is that for me it’s a fresh start of who I have always seen myself as internally. instead of having an overtly masculine name my first and middle names are fully gender neutral, which is perfect for me because I am fairly androgynous. There are tonnes of people who¬†will tell you that they hate being trans, but I am not one of them. I am glad i live in a day and age in a country where i have the ability to be who I am, whatever that may be. Even in spite of how lonely parts of my journey have been I am grateful to be on this journey being visible for the following generations to witness and see that authenticity is a possibility.

What is something you’ve done to live your fierce authenticity?

Dancing With My Demons

Every single one of us, no matter the amount of external sunshine has a darker less sparkly side of themselves. The one that keeps you lying in bed morning after morning because you just do not contain the desire to start your day or any day. I’ve been stuck in a rut for a few weeks for sure now. I should be happy with how feminine I have become with the help of fourteen months of hormone replacement therapy, but instead I am left here on edge feeling unsafe due to my appearance. The last time I looked like this I unfortunately experienced some trauma and just having a very similar figure to that time period leaves me in tears.

How I cope with everything is by staying fit and getting those endorphins flowing so that even if I don’t feel the greatest in my body I’m still in a relatively decent mood and day. I called this post dancing with my demons because when I feel anything negative I dance it out. I just sync up some music and I dance until I feel better whether that takes half an hour or four hours does not matter.

I know I’ve been absent lately, but I’m hoping to get everything from my recovery to my pain back on track. Finally taking the advice I’d give anyone else in my position and take each day as it comes with minimal expectations. Recently I even invested in a binder for days where my girly figure makes me feel uneasy and it has been helping that aspect of my dysphoria and mental health in a big way. Just one of the Joy’s of being in the non binary section of the gender spectrum.

What’s one thing you’ve done recently to make yourself feel better?

The Perpetual Burnout in Recovery

I’ve been doing this for what feels like a long time now and no matter how much I overdo it or if I have a balance between my recovery and my leisure I hit a wall and sleep for a day or two every 3 to 6 months. This past weekend I hit that wall and despite getting my normal amount of sleep, as soon as I completed my daily routine I curled up and fell asleep for the rest of the day. Normally I wake up a bit angry for wasting a day, but this time I felt at least partially rejuvenated and it was glorious. Continue reading “The Perpetual Burnout in Recovery”