This one was another reader suggested topic so here’s my attempt. With all the ups and downs of the roller coaster we call life it can be quite a task to learn to see things in a positive light and not kick ourselves when we are down. In both my transition and my continuous physical rehabilitation finding the positive aspects and internal happiness has been a skill I had to learn to not throw in the towel every other day.
One of the most helpful tricks I rewired my brain to do subconsciously and modify my own thoughts was to acknowledge the bad, but only give attention and focus to all the positive aspects of any scenario. Life truly is about finding the balance so instead of wallowing in the bad parts I figured out how to enjoy even the worst of my dysphoria days and the static days in recovery.
Some days I have limited to no functional mobility in my hand to this day, especially when I am stressed or sleep deprived. Instead of focusing on the anger I sometimes feel towards my paralysis I thank my body for not giving me any say and forcing me to take a rest day that I never take unless I cannot function. A day off here and there shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re a workaholic towards your personal goals like myself.
When my dysphoria get’s so bad that I wish I could rip my own skin off I find one part of my body that I at least like and find a clothing article that emphasizes it so that even my own attention is drawn to it all day. For me this is usually my bust despite all the pain it causes me. Sometimes distract-o-boob is all I need to get through an escalated dysphoric day.
I promise that if you can find one positive in every day and hold onto it that you will make it no matter the struggle. If you are struggling also do not forget to reach out to a friend or connect with your mental health professional and learn some healthy ways to cope.
Love and light,
Earlier this week I was honored with the opportunity to speak about my experiences as s transgender person at an event tied into the transgender day of remembrance along with help out with a couple other events. This was the first time I have ever spoken about the violence I experienced as a trans person and it was a truly amazing experience even with a darker topic. Even with its hiccups I will admit the day was a success
While projecting my words with several cracks in my voice my eyes welled up and I let it all out in a full room of strangers. This was a level of raw vulnerability I had yet to experience. The room welled up with me and laughed with me when I tried to lighten the mood by joking about the cooler happier things I have accomplished like my recovery and my novel. They appreciated the attempt and let out a chuckle. It was incredibly intimidating, but everybody in the room was an ally solely there to be better allies to the community. With a few days to process the event I can say that personally, I found crying in front of a room full of people to be cathartic and emotionally I feel lighter and happier.
My community may not be the best, but over the last few years it has gotten significantly better thanks to allies stepping in and joining the fight to a better tomorrow. The other members of the society I was representing were equally emotional throughout the day and at the end saw the day as a success. It may have been tough and the reason I have been quiet for a while, but if I am available next year I hope to partake again. There is literally nothing more rewarding than a day of healthy, open conversation with people who are just trying to learn.
P.s. I’m going to try to get back into a weekly post for you guys.
If you’re reading this right now there is a chance that you’re wondering what the next step to living your authentic and potentially less boring life. I get it every step I took between childhood and now was on for safety and to position my now disowned family further away so I could be as happily queer as queerly possible. I do not care and I do not want you to care at all about what the societal norms are, because if they do not match up with your happiness they do not really matter.
As long as you aren’t breaking laws or hurting anyone (including yourself) why should it matter anyways. I came out as gay at thirteen just to hide the reality of being transgender from my family. I was not even attracted to men I just faked it really well just as I did pretending to be a cisgendered male. Years later once I came out as trans i was told that if i wore gender affirmative clothing to a family dinner i would not be allowed to eat because it was disgraceful. To very abruptly tell the hostess off I wore the hottest dress I owned and painted just my middle fingers with nail polish. Out of pure jealousy of my figure she proceeded to tell me how I needed to lose weight and did not speak with me the entire event. People ask me why I disowned my family for my own health and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Having to fit into their picket fence expectations never worked so I stopped.
If you have to move out of your province or state to get as far from family as possible to find yourself and your happiness, do it. I did it for a year and despite being the hardest year of my life it was one of the most rewarding years of my life. Wait until you can afford to do it, but it is fairly rewarding if I have to say so myself. If you have to cut out all your friends and acquaintances to start being yourself, do that to. It will be lonely too at first, but you’ll gave room for those that fully love and support you in your journey to authenticity.
While my family was on vacation a couple of weeks ago I went all out with my recovery and that part was all fine and dandy, but it was not gauging my pain levels correctly that knocked me on my behind after a day of vomiting from unmanageable pain. I may be really good at recovery up until this point where my limits are significantly blurred, but I know that like all things this too shall pass. Even before I was paralyzed I have always gone onward until I crash and burn hard. Instead of sleeping it off like I used to I have to spend a whole day or two resting and only doing enough to keep my circulation right in my affected side.
With the family on vacation I have been able to just get up and go as early as I want and putting in eight to ten-hour days. I have reincorporated Neuromuscular electric stimulation (as mentioned in Paralysis: Beating the Odds) to further stimulate my nerve endings when I am sore from other therapies and exercises. There has also been a solid amount of meditation worked back into my daily routine because I love the peace it brings me. The day that I overdid everything I was in enough pain that I was holding back tears at a social function and almost left before it ended. When I got home i crawled under a heated blanket, which helped the pain but did not cut the muscle tightness so I had to go soak in a steamy Epsom salt bath so that muscle cramps wouldn’t wake me up. After getting home I got to try to reduce my pain and fatigue for over four hours in hopes of a better tomorrow.
I hope that this stage is short and fast and that it becomes easier to read and evaluate my levels and how much I can do in a day so that I do not end up pent-up on a couch like a hangover day without the enjoyment or celebration the night before haha. Those recovery days are a fully assault on my mental health. Not being able to work as hard as I can towards a goal is one of the worst things possible for me. I would much rather be able to push and push and push and just be sore, versus pained. Where it stands right now I should be taking a day off about every third day and that’s a little too frequent for me, but I don’t want to jeopardize the rate that I am healing at right now in any way.
People often ask why I have so many creative outlets, and instead of just saying for my health as I normally do I thought I would elaborate on it a little further. Whether it’s sketching, writing, painting, or practicing an instrument all of my creative outlets come with more than one benefit. They both help to better my mental and physical health and why would I argue with things that all around help me feel a bit better?
The human brain responds differently to each different type of therapy (physical, occupational, music, art, etc.) So other than my recent focus on physical therapy and music therapy I do my best to keep it well rounded so that all areas of my brain and my injury are getting the attention that they need. As of late my body has clearly been responding better to music therapy so that’s how I exhaust myself on days when I can focus on my physical health.
Even before my paralysis, art has always been my outlet. From visual and fine art to performance arts they have consistently been my go to. Even bored in classes I used to just sit and doodle through lectures because my teachers and instructors never said anything that was not already in the textbook haha. The sooner one finds healthy ways to cope with what life throws at us, the sooner we can thrive. Then there were my teens that were very dark so I always just drew what I was feeling. I actually went through all my old sketches from that time period last week and realized i was in a lot more pain than i acknowledged at the time. From faking happy to being genuinely happy in an 7 year timeframe, it’s an astronomical difference.
In the comments share with me what your devices are.
Yes recovery is painful. Yes some days you will not want to get out of bed. Yes the internal struggle will eat right through you on the bad ones. All in all the good days are worth it. At the beginning of my physical recovery the days with small wins were few and far between, but now years down the road they have become more frequent, which in turn makes it all a lot easier to push through. About once a week I have a day where my pain is so high that I cannot get off the couch but it is still worth putting in eight to ten hour days just to get my body back to where I want to be.
Even on those days when I have absolutely no desire to roll out of bed I remind myself that if I get moving my brain will release dopamine and the day will get better. Followed by having my physical therapy routine down to a bunch of things that I enjoy. When I got to a stage that I could make my recovery enjoyable I began to dread my recovery less. Mindset in recovery can make a serious difference in recovery so do not mope around like a “negative Nelly” if you genuinely desire a full recovery.
It Is not just physical recovery that is all about the small wins. Life in its entirety is about the little things every day that make you smile, or bring a glimmer of hope to your eye in place of your pain and sorrow. I am happy continuing to recover because even if my body only gets better at a task on a weekly basis it remains that I’m still a step closer to where I need to be. Some weeks it’s one step forward and two steps back, but I promise you’ll continue to get better. If you have any interest in finding out how I got to where I did three years after being left hemiplegic click here.
As you know ive been quiet for a while now. I’ve been busy focusing on my recovery by means of trying to relearn all my guitar chords. A couple weeks ago I also had an interview for the living without disguises project. Similar to my novel it’s never a dull moment here.
Since being back home I had casually been playing my roommates electric guitar and I knew that in order to get more serious about playing I needed to buy myself an accoustic so I bought my yamaha Apx600 in oriental blue burst. It’s been s couple months with her and it’s clear that I was missing music therapy. I continue to practice my chords, but one day I’ll be able to master those scales.
As for my interview with the Living without disguises project. Since my misgendered review I’ve been trying to step up my queer visibility so it was perfect timing to speak out on how I got here. Feel free to read the interview here.
Just as how I finished my novel I will continue to recover for the rest of my days. Never forget that you can do anything you put your mind to as well.
No matter what you are working to recover from one day you will wake up and realize that you are not who you were before said thing. For me “One day” was about four and a half years after my paralysis. For those of you that follow my timeline or read my book you will know that this realization was fairly recent. One day last week I woke up and noticed that each goal I was working towards was for the old me and had no relevance in my life where I stand today. The realization that for years I had been plugging away at things that had no meaning or value to me anymore left me sobbing.
It was a bitter pill to swallow, yet at the same time It took a huge weight off my shoulders. As someone with extremely high self expectations, I had to stop beating myself up for no longer wanting any of those old dreams to come true. It was tough, but it is no surprise that the most trying years of my existence would force me to reevaluate and in turn want the exact opposite of what I strived for before. The more I pondered the more I realized that If I pursued my old goals I would never have the time to do the things that make my heart beat.
No Matter the cause we all lose ourselves at some point in life and what really matters is getting to a point where you are happy and flourishing again. I could say that I have a plan for whats coming next, but from day-to-day I am just going to go with the flow and see what happens. Some days I will write, others It will just be physio, and that’s okay because I am finally going to take the time my body needs to continue to heal.
It has become apparent to me repeatedly recently that I need to step up how proud I am to be a transgender person. Being genderqueer is one of the highlights of being me. From interview misquotes to even today while I taught at a conference.
Today as I walked the banquet hall looking for individuals that needed help I was pulled aside by a lady who wanted to talk. At first I was a little weary not sure what she wanted to discuss, but I was open to see how it panned out. As it turned out she just wanted to hear about my journey and how things got better after I began my transition and started living an authentic life so she could better support a family member in their journey.( not that I announce my transness to the world, but it could have been the five o’clock shadow beginning to show through my foundation) The conversation melted my heart and was just the reminder I needed today.
I will admit that transitioning is not easy in any way, but it is well worth working through. Once I gave up my nineteen year facade and started working towards my authentic life I found a level of joy and happiness that I had never experienced before. Since I started hormone replacement therapy everything changed as it is supposed to, before HRT I identified as a she and within a few months after I started I knew that I was more in the middle of the spectrum.
Being a they is the most authentic me I’ve ever been, sometimes that’s masculine, sometimes its feminine and thats ok, most people don’t understand that both gender and sexuality are spectrums. I didn’t even fully understand it until I started my journey.
For all the young queer folk out there I hope that you get to live your authentic lives from a younger age.
Happy pride month,
As you know I had my book launch in April and one of the attendees was kind enough to review the book. I will warn you that “he” was used repeatedly so don’t be too surprised. Yeah I’m trans I’m just non binary instead of female. Check out the review at the link below: