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,
In a few days I get the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the date of my paralysis and the increase over all these years of my chronic pain. Well that was an extremely dark intro and while yes I may be celebrating those things there is no one thing that has led to more personal growth, internal struggle, and pure happiness from within. On that note I’m going to talk about all the things I’m grateful for thanks to my recovery as I sit here writing this today.
The last 5 years I have been my own personal science experiment day in and day out. Whether it included applied past knowledge or I was just learning along the way once again I became the expert of my diagnoses learning what was best and worst for my recovery. With that knowledge I know I can tackle any task at hand no matter the time or effort it takes.
Having to be in a very committed relationship with my recovery despite all the struggles and even the times where I pushed my body past limits to where it got unhealthy. Every day despite wanting to fold and walk away I decided to fight it and prove everyone including myself wrong. It was the traumatic situations that I ended up in as a queer person with a physical disability that taught me to fight even while having flashbacks for days on end so intense I barely slept every night for a year afterwards. Knowing how far I had come and with the support of a few phenomenal friends I made it through.
3. Indomitable Spirit
Despite the hundreds of bad days I’ve had in this period I still got up every day and trudged on with a smile on my face. It was only this year that smile stopped being a mask of my physical and emotional pain, but hey we all have to fake it until we make it sometimes. This year I also started having flashbacks to the moment that my paralysis set in and I had to find the hope to recover instead of getting trapped in the fear of what was to come and the waterfall of tears pouring down my face.
4. A Modified Prospective
Trading one illness for another and adding a loss of some of my visual field in both eyes. Literally I see everything a little bit differently now. This is amazing I used to hate life so much and even with less joy than struggle in recovery the light has been so much more valuable post paralysis. It was the beginning of a streak of traumatic events that taught me to find the positive aspect in every situation. Now I am always looking for the lesson in the bad and appreciating the good.
5. My Authentic Self
My paralysis taught me that no matter how hard anything is I can make it out on my own so after my body was what I considered healed enough to begin my medical transition I did. With the loss of muscle mass the muscle tension in the left side of my body was conveniently reduced and it became easier to heal once again. As most trans people would tell you starting that process was the beginning to an end and removing that weight of not being yourself makes every day a lot easier. Yes I had to disown most of my family once I took those steps, but the self-love that took their place in my life more than made up for it.
I guess the really cliche thing to say would be I love my imperfect life.
Most people do not come equipped with the singular focus or dive to Male their recovery from anything their top priority. One of the best things for my physical recovery was the singular focus that comes with being atypical. Since the day I decided I would beat this it has been my top priority and a bit of an obsession. I was one of the lucky few who knew at the time of my paralysis because I was a martial artist and a pole fitness practitioner. Even almost five years later my recovery is my top priority and nothing will get in my way until I am 100% recovered no matter how long it takes me.
Making ones health a top priority is isolating, can be lonely, and at times will make you feel like you are going to lose your mind. Even within friendships the time spent together had to be mutually beneficial otherwise it was another thing that added to the long list of things I felt obligated it do and eventually died off. Anyone who consistently took time away from my week got cut off. For example I had an “acquaintance” that thought they we fiving me something to do when they would pick me up just so they had a buddy while running their errands all day once a week. I’m sorry but if I want to accomplish nothing and just be there to fill a space I would rather it was my space on the couch doing something to heal my body like occupational therapy exercises.
I’ve never met anyone else that sits down with a pot of coffee every day and assesses what tweaks can be made in every aspect of their physical rehabilitation to improve the balance to get where they need sooner. Martial arts may have never been my thing despite the nine years I trained, but it did teach me that every day you can make something better if you are willing to put in the time and effort required.
My paralysis set me back in every aspect of my life but no matter the loss of potential earnings or being several years behind where I want to be. Friendships lost, opportunities not taken, I still see my paralysis as one of the best things that has ever happened to me because it taught me that I can make it on my own no matter the odds. When I heal and am ready to pursue all the things I want accomplished it’ll be a hell of a lot easier because I know how to not give up.
I have learned a lot even since I published my book, what do you guys want to know more about?
I would like to start off by saying I’m sorry that I have been AWOL for a while and I miss interacting with you guys. Up until the holidays i have been trying to mentally prepare to see my family this holiday season and it did not work. I only know a couple of people who normally do not struggle with the holiday’s and these people were on the same ship sailing to the same unknown destination.
As rough as these last weeks may have been I can say that some awesome things happened too. For example I got the chill with a bunch of friends instead of seeing my disowned family on the twenty-fifth. Thanks to struggling with my upcoming trauma dates I have been tackling my mind with obsessive amounts if exercise and have made some progress with my micro movements. Seeing the good in the bad has been one of those beautiful skills I had to learn since hemiplegia
Spending the holidays with a bunch of queer friends where nobody’s gender identity was an issue or hot topic was nice. It may have even been the first time I ever got those warm fuzzy holiday feelings that I have heard people rave about my entire life: Pizza, board games, friends, laughter. The kind of event that makes me not want to spend another holiday with someone that shares a gene pool or bloodline with me ever again.
I need to slow down again I have been pushing myself too far for too long and it is probably why my pain is high resulting in varying levels of sickness. I might even make it a goal for next year: be less sick haha. I hope you’re all doing well and are having love filled holidays.
I sit here a little overwhelmed at everything that is going on right now, but realistically I am coping pretty well. Both physical and emotional pain have been high for a couple weeks, and I’m doing what I can to deal and push through it. With my pain levels as high as they have been my progress has slowed, and I’m trying to accept this as just a step in the process.
Let’s start with the emotional pain: this week my brain acknowledged that a handful of trauma anniversaries are coming up all within the next two months and I’ve been using every coping mechanism I have. I’m lucky enough to know myself and exactly what I need in these times because, December and January have been tough ones for me for years now. My most used tools this week were: square breathing, meditation, physical activity, and getting musically creative. If you are struggling this season do not forget to reach out to someone you trust and talk about it.
Between a spike in my chronic migraines and recovery pains I have gone back to having more rest days than productive ones and being the perfectionist I am is quite frustrating. So much of this time is spent pent up on the couch staying as still as possible so I don’t make the nausea worse. Probably why I used to play three instruments that took little to no torso movement before paralysis haha. As the body heals and muscles grow so does the pain. It feels like every other day the pain is a new game. I have to wake up and take each day as it comes, no plan, only a general direction and the internal drive to continue to heal.
I am hoping that next week is at least physically easier so I can get some of my personal goals back on track. Whatever happens happens and will continued to be honoured as just part of the journey. How are all of you doing this week?
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.
The topic of surviving emotional and physical pain was a suggestion from one of you lovely followers.
Making it through the turmoil of simultaneous physical and emotional pain can be a tricky game. The rules of the game change depending on which one is worse from day-to-day, but unlike fight club the first rule is not that you cannot speak of it. Despite my chronic pain I generally resort to making as many muscles ache as I can when I just cannot deal with the emotional pain at hand. Yes that results in an eventual burn out after you’ve run through the chemicals that working out releases in one’s brain, but that’s inevitable.
People often forget how physical recovery can be extremely emotionally strenuous all on its own. No matter whether they are positive or negative emotions it can be a little more than overwhelming paired with the hours of day of rehabilitation one has to do. I have recently talked of the negative so I’d rather focus on how emotional the positive days can be. All it takes to shed happy tears for the rest of the day is a minuscule improvement in strength or range of motion in a toe or finger. To any average person it sounds like nothing, but as someone who has the flashback of being told they would never get anywhere near where they have in recovery it results in being overjoyed.
From the day that I went from having no hope to knowing that even if it took my whole life I would heal, time got faster. In that moment I began to grieve and process my entire recovery journey. Honoring every toe wiggle and finger twitch has aided immensely in loving my body enough to train it and feed as it needs every day. There are people who think I fell off the face of the earth because sometimes I shut down, but really I’ve just been quietly feeling and accepting every emotion I’ve had towards my paralysis. Even my closest friends barely hear from me right now as my only priorities are health and happiness.