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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Disassociation, self-esteem, and self-care (Trans*)

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Author Topic: Disassociation, self-esteem, and self-care (Trans*)
Captain Troy Handsome
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So I belong somewhere on the trans* spectrum, but am unsure where. This used to upset me, but I tend to do better with it than I used to. Sometimes I still stay up late at night worrying about whether I should go on hormones someday or not, but I'm getting better at coping with the uncertainty. However, I have a fairly low self-esteem because of my body. It's so bad that I disassociate a good deal of the time, not just pertaining to sexual activity, but as a blanket statement. Being aware of my body on a day-to-day level is a struggle, and it stresses me out to preform some of what should be basic self-care activities. Mostly the ones that involved being centered and aware of my physicality. Forget sex, it's just too stressful. I rarely ever mastrubate, and can count the number of orgasms I've had this year on one finger. And that was the first one in months! Sometimes even making out with my boyfriend is too much to handle. He's so supportive, but I can tell it wears on him that I sometimes have to ask him to stop touching me entirely. No hugs even. Sometimes I wonder if I was abused as a child, because the strangest triggers pop up for me.
I want to get to the point where I can feel comfortable enough in my own body to have a sexuality. First, I want to get to the point where I can take care of myself and feel positive about the skin I'm in. What can I do to get there? Browsing the self help and sexuality sections at the book store can only get me so far. I'm searchign for a therapist, but haven't found one yet. What should I do in the meantime to make living in my body more tolerable?
Finally going to listen to the body and get some sleep. Ignoring my exhaustion isn't healthy. I hope to get some useful advice. Thanks,
Captian Troy Handsome of International Rescue.

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Heather
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I have no idea if Captian Troy Handsome of International Rescue is a reference to anything, but whatever it is, that's seriously awesome. [Smile]

It certainly sounds like you've been needing some help for some time, and really struggling without it.

Can you fill me in first on what you've read so far and been able to do for yourself so far? With a trans-friendly therapist, what's the barrier for you right now? I think starting there would help a lot, so if we can help you find that, I think that'd be really important.

Can I also check in with you about if a sexual relationship is something you even really want right now (or did in the first place)? It certainly sounds like it'd be uncomfortable right now, and like having sex as any kind of expectation from a partner at this time is rough on you.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Djuna
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I believe Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue is a Doctor Who reference (and a Thunderbirds meta-reference), yes? [Smile]

I just wanted to drop in as a fellow trans person and say hey, and welcome to the boards! I don't want to cloud the discussion here just yet but know that you have another person in your corner over here.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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bump on a log
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Following patrickvienna's good example: Hey. Also on the trans spectrum over here. Nice to have you around. [Smile]
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Saffron Raymie
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Hello and welcome to Scarleteen from me too - also aboard the spectrum. Also loving the name!

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Captain Troy Handsome
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Oh, wow. So I got anxious about coming back to reply and didn't. Yeah, the name is from Dr. Who, but I didn't know of the Thunderbirds reference.

I'm just struggling to find a therapist I want to talk to who has experience working with children of BPD parents who also has experience with trans youth, and anxiety/depression, and works where I live, and will work with my ridiculous schedule.

I definitely wanted to be in a sexual relationship at first, and I think I still do, but the triggering aspects sometimes get overwhelming to the point where even autoeroticism is out of the question. I like the feelings that go along with good sex, but because of my mental state, good sex is hard to come by. It not only has to be physically good, it has to line up with a healthy mental state, which are rare for me these days.

I'm not sure what Heather means by "what I've read sofar". I've read more books and blogs about gender than any cis person could ever estimate at. Feinberg, Borenstein, you name it, I've tried to locate it at a library. Pretty much everything but Bono xD. I've been to a trans conference and talked about sex with men two to three times my age going through similar problems, and I've been studying DBT for a year or so.

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Captain Troy Handsome
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Oh yeah. The other thing I forgot to mention was that this is still going on in full force. I managed to trigger myself last night by touching myself :/
I got out of the situation by wrapping myself in blankets, and reading a book about animals being happy. (Yes that is the topic of a 200 page scientific photoessay.)

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Robin Lee
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Welcome back! [Smile]

I'm sorry to hear things are still really tough, though it sounds like you dealt with that trigger really well. [Smile] A big part of having difficulties of any kind isn't necessarily making them go away but being able to recognize them and know what to do when they crop up.


Of all the books and blogs you read, did something resonate with you more than other things?

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Robin

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Captain Troy Handsome
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A lot of a bunch of things have resonated on little levels. For instance, the idea of being so uncomfortable in your own body as to refuse to let anyone touch your genitals. This is a common theme in my life; I still have a sex drive, but I don't feel able to express it. And it's not as strong as I would like.
Another thing that stands out for me is this idea of being in limbo, not able to sit safely on one side of the fence.

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Captain Troy Handsome
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I often get depressed by the shape of my body, yet find myself unwilling to commit to going through with seeking out hormone replacement. I don't know why. I envy those who do, but I'm not sure it's right for me. Sometimes I feel like a man, other times I just feel like a very dapper woman.

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Captain Troy Handsome
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An update: I have been having a really hard time restraining from self-harm. I'm glad that my partner was here this weekend to help me cope when I got my sixth period since December. Because, quite honestly, I was contemplating attempting suicide the next time I got one. But he was here and made me feel better.
I know, I need to see a therapist. I have actually made progress now though. Emailed two local ones about setting up consultations, gonna email a third tonight.

As for my apparent orgasmaphobia, I enjoyed some really good sex this weekend, but whenever I got close to coming, I had to tell my partner to stop because I would start to panic. So eventually we just decided to focus on other things that were lower risk. I just wish this wasn't a problem for me. It makes me feel hopeless, especially combined with my hormonal issues. And the fact that none of the doctors I have seen have an explanation.

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Robin Lee
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Have you heard back from any of the therapists?

I am glad to hear you have the support of your partner.

I'm not clear though: what is it that your doctors don't have an answer for?

It's really okay to take stressful sexual situations off the table while you're dealing with so much. [Smile]

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Robin

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Captain Troy Handsome
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I have a consultation scheduled with a therapist for Friday, that should be helpful.
I guess I forgot to mention a huge part of this. What the doctors can't explain is why I have three periods a month. I've been told to just take birth control, but it makes me so depressed to remember about my birth sex every morning at the start of the day, I can't do it again.
Yeah, my boyfriend is pretty awesomely supportive. I don't know how I'd cope with all this without his help.
If I thought that this was something that had an end in sight, I would gladly put off sex until then. But the thing is I have been coping with this crap since I hit puberty, and I want to be able to just live my life, you know?

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Robin Lee
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Yeah, I hear you.

I know that it feels as if you've been dealing with this for a long time, and you're taking steps towards healing.


Having a consultation with a therapist is a big step. I'm glad you were able to get an appointment and I wish you a lot of luck.

There are other hormonal birth control options besides the pill. How would you feel about talking to your doctors about exploring other options. The depo provera shot, for example, is given every three months, and might, I'm thinking, feel less stressful for you as you won't have those daily reminders.

Three periods a month is a lot, and given what we know about how periods affect mood for many people, getting those hormones regulated might help you in a more general sense. Mind, I'm not a doctor, but I do know that there are other options besides the pill and that it's worth chatting with your medical professionals about those. What do you think?

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Robin

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Captain Troy Handsome
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Thanks for all the support you're giving me. It feels helpful to have someone listen, even if there isn't a good solution. I just wish it weren't so complex and frustrating. There are all these things I wish were differently that I cannot control. Particularly the whole inability to have an orgasm because of anxiety attacks makes me feel broken in some way.

I balk at the idea of putting more estrogen and/or progesterone into my body. I know it may end up being my only choice other than dealing with the periods for now, it just is so psychically upsetting to even think about. I know that my hormones don't dictate my identity, and that all people have varying levels of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, but I can't convince myself to consider it. It is just too upsetting. I don't know what to do.

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Robin Lee
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I think you said your therapy consultation was today (Friday). Wanted to check in with you to see how that was.

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Robin

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Captain Troy Handsome
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It actually went pretty well. I feel like this therapist is someone I can work with. I'm really nervous about examining all of the stressful things in my head, but I figure I need to actually do it eventually, or it will just come back to bite me later.
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Robin Lee
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Yeah, it's tough to think about actually sitting down and unpacking everything. Sounds, though, like it's already affecting you far more than is ideal.

Very glad to hear you felt comfortable with the therapist.

I'm also wondering what kind of peer support you have from trans spectrum folks themselves. I think I recall you saying you've done a lot of reading, but I don't remember if you've been able to connect with other people.

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Robin

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Starfire&Shadows
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Hello, Was the book you were reading "The Exultant Ark"? [Smile]

I'm trans as well, if you'd like to talk. Nice to meet you.

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We are all made of Star Stuff...
-Carl Sagan

...Their eyes beheld, first of all things, the stars of heaven.
-Silmarillion

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Captain Troy Handsome
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Why yes it was, Starfire. You wouldn't happen to be in my class, would you? xD It was required reading this term.
As for community, Robin, I don't tend to get along with many of the trans people on my campus. I have some issues with socialization in the first place, and to make matters more difficult I have had negative experiences with some of the trans people on campus both on a personal and a political level. I'm trying to find people who are trans who I connect with and get along with, because I really do need support from somebody who lives nearby. I have my boyfriend, who is understanding of my struggles because he is trans as well, but he lives in another state and we can only see eachother every one or two weeks.

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Captain Troy Handsome
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On a tangent: So I'm considering trying using sensate focus exercises to get myself to a place of feeling more comfortable with my (hormonally-imballanced, trans, anorgasmic, chroncially fatigued) body, and maybe eventually get past the trauma I have in feeling like my body has "betrayed me" to better enjoy sex.
One thing I noticed when doing research about this technique was that many proponents suggested a period of temporary celibacy during the treatment phase. I wanted to know just how useful that is. Would it be in my best interest to take masturbation and/or sex off the table while I sort through all of this?
I am fairly certain that my boyfriend would be fully supportive of me doing this, because it has a shot at helping me feel more comfortable, but I need to work on my own guilt, because I have in the past struggled with the idea that because I am trans and neurodivergent and thus undesirable (messed up logic, I know), my sexuality is all I have to offer a partner. If sensate focus could be helpful with my anorgasmia, would temporary celibacy be reccomended? If so, what can I do to continue to have pleasurable tactile interactions with my partner? Sex just makes me feel more (physically and emotionally) connected to him and I don't wanna take it off the table without having a plan of what to do instead.
Taking sex off the table without figuring out what else can meet my needs for physical intimacy seems bit like going vegetarian for my health but not planning out what kind of iron suppliments I need.

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Hello, I'm Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.

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Robin Lee
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Hey There,

I'm sorry to not get back to you for a while... [Smile]

Completely understood re having political differences with some of the trans folks you've met. I hope that you can continue to meet people, and find some you do connect with.

Re sensate focus and temporary celibacy: I'm not an expert in sensate focus, but with all things, I think you can feel free to experiment. Leaving the topic of sensate focus aside for a sec, it does seem that if sex is causing you so much emotional discomfort, taking it off the table, or changing what sexual activities you do, would be a health-promoting move for you.

What can you do instead? Any kind of physical things you and your partner like to do. Cuddling, massaging each other...things like that are the more obvious answers. What about dancing? Going for walks together? Perhaps if you think about what needs the physical contact fills for you, you can come up with some physical things to do. Perhaps you and your boyfriend can have a brainstorming session?

How are things going with therapy, btw?

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Robin

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Cricket
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In response to your comments about periods and the stress/scariness of using birth control - I am genderqueer and use birth control, and I felt absolutely awful the first few months I did so. It got better, though. I got through by basically doing some mental reframing - not thinking about it as birth control so much as something that put control of my hormone levels in my own hands. Sometimes I would pretend it was an oral form of testosterone. Also, the brand I use is Sronyx, which is a) very low-dose, meaning that the amount of estrogen in my system isn't dramatically more than it was before I got on meds and might even be less, and b) comes in red packaging, not pink or purple, which I find surprisingly comforting. I also know there are styles of the pill that give you fewer periods, so you could maybe look into those. For you, it doesn't have to be about birth control, it's just a matter of having control of and feeling safe in your body. The pill is whatever you want it to be.

When I was freaking out about my period and feeling really dysphoric, another genderqueer friend suggested I get a menstrual cup, and I have to say that worked wonders for me, too. I can wear it all day and forget about my period, I don't have to carry tampons or pads around, and because it's such an "alternative" menstrual product (the only other people I know who use menstrual cups are environmental activists, on the queer spectrum, or both), it doesn't have the same sort of intense gender associations as tampons or pads do for me.

It's hard for me to know if any of these strategies would be right for you, since I can only speak from my personal experience of gender, but I wanted to at least give you my perspective and some ideas to consider. I hope therapy is helpful and that you get to more of a place of comfort with yourself.

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