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Sex and all the complications

Posted: Fri May 08, 2020 9:04 am
by ShadowSong21
First of I'm sorry to be bothering you again, I know how busy you all are and upfront I appreciate all the feedback.

This post is somewhat a vent, but I also appreciate all the feedback, I need to share with someone all the things that have made me frustrated and confused for quite a while.
I do want to have sex, I like it a lot, but it's very difficult. For a while now I've had trouble with my body being sexually somewhat numb. Nothing brings me such a physical sexual pleasure like it used to. I have trouble reaching orgasm it's almost impossible good chunk of time. With my front, I need to imagine things a scenarios that are dysphoric and uncomfortable to reach orgasm or watch porn containing them. That way I can have an orgasm but it leaves me dysphoric and feeling like trash. And it's also difficult to imagine such things when I'm having sex with my boyfriend out of respect and love for him. With my back I can reach something resembling an orgasm but it takes a lot of time and effort.

On top of that whenever I think about having sex I feel like crying, and I often start crying during sex. That makes it hard to initiate anything without fear and concern. And feeling bad doesn't help relaxing and reach physical sexual pleasure either. My boyfriend is also somewhat afraid of initiating sex out of fear about my dysphoria. He also isn't used to initiating sex and gets lost a lot of time how to go about it. On top of that we're both depressed and on antidepressants which make us less emotionally active, available, and more indifferent and it's hard to feel the lust we used to.

Before you say anything about getting help, I wanna tell you that I've been going to a sexologist Bartosz Grabski for 3-5 years and he decided there isn't anything else we can do together to help me, so he decided to stop seeing me to free up my spot. I've also been in therapy for the same period of time, but it didn't too much, and my psychologist decided that she doesn't have enough free schedule time to see me as much as she finds necessary, so she told me toolkit someone else, and was gonna help me find someone, but due to pandemic, she hasn't contacted me for past 3-4 months. I feel like I'm a lost cause at this point and destined to suffer for the rest of my life

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Fri May 08, 2020 10:33 am
by Sam W
Hi Shadowsong,

I'm sorry to hear two of your mental health supports seem to have run out, though I would definitely follow up with your psychologist about her connecting you to someone else; yes, the pandemic has thrown things into whack, but she should still follow up with you about transferring your care.

Can you maybe tell me a little about what suggestions from those care providers haven't worked? I don't want us to unintentionally recommend things that you've tried and not found useful.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Fri May 08, 2020 11:08 am
by ShadowSong21
I mean they haven't had any suggestions to be honest, other than at the same time suggesting me the surgery and saying to not get it unless completely necessary.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sat May 09, 2020 9:39 am
by Sam W
That sounds like an incredibly frustrating pair of messages to be receiving, especially from mental healthcare providers when you're trying to address some pretty complex issues. You mention working with a sexologist for several years. Was there anything over the course of those years that you two worked on that helped you, even a little bit or for a short time?

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sat May 09, 2020 10:23 am
by ShadowSong21
Most of his role was, checking on my life (without much feedback), sending me to run tests on my body (blood, USG etc.), having me do the psychologist opinion, and all the stuff required here to change legally your gender marker, and after 3-4 years he put me on HRT, discussing with me multiple times the effects it will have on me ( which I already know in 95%)

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sun May 10, 2020 7:04 am
by Jacob
Hi ShadowSong, sorry you're having such a crap time!

I have to agree with Sam, that I don't think you've been getting the best care here.

Being assessed psychologically to qualify for your gender to be recognised sounds to me a lot more like it was focussed on complying with gatekeeping policies around trans healthcare than actually supporting you.

Have you thought about seeing a therapist or counsellor who is independent from the process of accessing hormone treatment and gender recognition etc? Because even while this process is ongoing there's no reason why broader tactics to help with mental health shouldn't be useful!

I know many trans people who have had problems with therapists treating transness as 'the problem' they are treating rather than all the feelings a person is experiencing and processing or soothing those feelings.

There are also a wide range of therapies available from Art therapy, movement therapies, mindfulness and all of that.

Some of those are things that you can do on your own too. Are there activities, sexual or non-sexual that do feel good for you?

I'll add that libido and difficulty with orgasm is something that is a very common side-effect of anti-depressants, so there is likely a big physical factor which is helping to make sex difficult.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sun May 10, 2020 7:41 am
by ShadowSong21
Those two specialists are considered to be the best in Poland you can get.
Yes i have thought about getting a different therapist and as I said earlier, I am kind of looking for one (as I am being made to), but I haven't heard of ones athat are respectful and could actually help me instead of hurting me.
And yes there are many things sexually that make my body feel good, but all of them more or less make me want to cry.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sun May 10, 2020 12:45 pm
by Jacob
I'm glad you've managed to see people who are well respected, but being considered the best by some in their field in general (i.e. with many patients, and/or in their research or writing) doesn't mean that their specialisms or style are a perfect match for you as an individual unique person. I think it's always worth looking outside of 'the best' if 'the best for you' could be something else.

In terms of of wanting to cry but also your body feeling good... If that's connecting to feelings of dysphoria, is that dysphoria closer to being reminded that your body isn't how you'd like it to be, or more because the acts themselves feel like they represent a gender or a body that you don't identify with?

I ask because, how your dysphoria works for you as an individual could be one way to look for wiggle room. Whether its reimagining what those acts mean, or showing care for your body in other ways (a bath, some fancy body cream, doing self-portraits, or creative writing, whatever it is) there might be ways of beginning to bridge the gap... I'm not recommending any of those right now because I don't know what's appropriate for you but some timesthese small comforting things can help us through the big psychological things.

I'd also say that if you anticipate that you're about to do something that could feel good physically but emtionally takes you to a place you doin't want to go, then it could be better to actually avoid that thing altogether... If your boyfriend seems uncomfortable or you're scared that some dysphoric dread is about to descend, I would really avoid the urge to just 'power through' and instead stop as soon as you can.

Protecting yourself from that is its own form of self care but it also is not nice to go through that again and again in a way which you will no doubt loom heavy the next time you want to be sexual. Massage, or dance or just talking in honest caring terms could be a much nicer and more helpful way to spend that time, which I imagine would make the evolving menu of sexual things that might start to appear into something much less traumatic.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sun May 10, 2020 1:24 pm
by ShadowSong21
I'm already scared how much the healthcare that I can get could be worse than that, especially considering the country that I live in.

I'm not sure to be honest. I guess it's more the first ("is that dysphoria closer to being reminded that your body isn't how you'd like it to be") than the later ("or more because the acts themselves feel like they represent a gender or a body that you don't identify with?")

I've tried many things like that but none of it ever worked.The more I focus on myself and not something else the worse it can get. Showers can be also triggering and traumatic daily. My boyfriend already prepares beforehand I get out of the shower that I can come out crying, or dysphoric or devastated.

I mean we're trying to pick times that are better for me (which is already not many times we can pick from), and not power through anything, but if I were to avoid it, I'd have to avoid sex altogether and we both have some needs about that.
Massages are also bad, same with dancing. And none of those things can provide sexual experiences.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Mon May 11, 2020 4:51 pm
by Mo
It sounds like you're having to navigate a pretty tough tradeoff, where not having sex at all is something you aren't willing to do but that having sex, or sometimes even initiating or starting to have it, is causing you a lot of dysphoria and discomfort. My advice, to be honest, would be to step away from sex at any point that it's causing you a lot of distress, even if it means you wind up taking a break from having sex at all for a while, but it sounds like that isn't something you and your partner are comfortable with.
I just want to acknowledge that you're in a really tough situation, and that it's really unfortunate it's so hard to access good healthcare right now.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Tue May 12, 2020 6:09 am
by ShadowSong21
Ok i'll take into consideration limiting sex or quitting it, but the problem is that if I avoid sex for longer period, or it doesn't happen it also makes me feel bad. Unattractive, like a freak, less worthy of attention etc.

On top of that if I avoid the topic all together, I feel like nothing will ever change about that and I will be doomed to live like that to the end of my life. it feels like avoiding the problem and not solving it. On top of that my relationship can suffer from it.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Tue May 12, 2020 9:32 am
by Sam W
I wonder if there may be some ways to mitigate some of those negative outcomes, to make it at least a little easier for you to take that break. You mention being without sex tends to make you feel unattractive; have you ever brainstormed things outside of sex that could generate that same, or a similar, feeling of being worthy of desire and attention? Too, can you say a little more about how your relationship tends to suffer when you steer clear of sex?

I do want to say that, while it might feel like defeat, taking a break isn't a sign that you're doomed to deal with this situation forever. It may help to think of it as a pause, rather than an end, you know?

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Tue May 12, 2020 10:21 am
by ShadowSong21
I have brainstormed a lot all of the possibilities, but I can't see anything else that would give me such feeling. I mean people have sex for multiple reason outside of sexual pleasure, so it must be pretty effective.
I think we'll grow more distant, there will be some resentment and tensions about that. Will probably be both increasingly frustrated.

I fail to see how taking a break will do anything to help with the situation, and how things will change if I can't work on them in any way. Will they change on it's own?

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Tue May 12, 2020 4:37 pm
by Mo
I really don't know if the issues you're having with sex will change if you take a break from sex entirely for a while, but I feel pretty strongly that it's unlikely that they will be resolved by continuing to have sex when it's causing a lot of stress for you both. It sounds like dysphoria is a big part of why things are feeling so bad during sex but while a break from sex isn't going to make your dysphoria better, I worry that actively engaging in sex when you know it sets off those dysphoric feelings may be making it worse, at least in those moments if not overall.
There are some things that can be improved by gritting your teeth and pushing through the tough parts, because they'll get easier over time, but sex isn't one of them; if something isn't feeling good, continuing to do it is unlikely to make it feel any better.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Tue May 12, 2020 6:30 pm
by ShadowSong21
So what you're saying is that I should actually stop having sex altogether for the rest of my life because of dysphoria, because it's not gonna change?

At this point I'm getting confused, because you recommend me to take a break that is apparently indefinite, because i shouldn't have sex while being dysphoric, but I also won't stop being dysphoric through avoiding sex...

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Wed May 13, 2020 12:40 pm
by Jacob
Mo wasn't saying anything about "the rest of your life". I am sure you don't intend to sound accusatory, but please try to remember that we are volunteers offering insight and it can be quite hurtful to be paraphrased in such a way.

Seeing improvements will almost certainly have to involve taking some risk of not knowing whether something will help and doing it anyway to find out.

If anybody is doing any type of activity that provokes a long term difficulty to flair up we're going to recommend they stop that activity, to allow for healing, to make seeking treatment easier and leave the question of when they might want to restart that activity until a later time.

We aren't claiming to see the future of that 'later time', we just point down a path where, at least our experiences have taught us, that you're most likely to see some improvements and low level healing ahead of any deeper treatment. So it's not avoiding the problem. It is admittedly, avoiding the pain, but less pain is generally a good thing!

All of that said I don't know how this is from your perspective, if that doesn't seem like the right choice for you that's ok. It sounds like there isn't much which you'd like to change right now, so waiting and trying to be patient until you get hold of formal treatment might be your only option.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Wed May 13, 2020 2:55 pm
by ShadowSong21
i'm sorry, I wasn't trying to imply that Mo meant it that way. It's just more like how I feel about the situation.

What do you mean by taking risks to see improvements?
Also you said treatment and healing a couple of times, but I don't really know what you meant by that.
What made me sound like there isn't much I want to change, and in what regards?
And yeah, i have to admit that making myself quit sexual activity altogether doesn't sound helpful, or like something that would be for me. But thanks for the advice anyway.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Thu May 14, 2020 9:13 am
by Sam W
I think what Jacob was getting at with risk is that stopping sexual behavior, a behavior that holds some importance to you, is in some ways a risk. It's a risk because you're not sure if it will have the outcome you might hope it would. But risks of that kind are often necessary for someone to find ways of improving a situation.

Right now, you're in the course of healing from various things, and in the course of treating some of the factors that are influencing your ability to enjoy sex. Those factors can include things like gender affirming treatments. I think part of why Jacob phrased it that way was that it helps to remember that you're in the midst of a process, and processes often involve both time and trial and error.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Thu May 14, 2020 11:35 am
by ShadowSong21
Oh I understand what you meant with the risk.

I don't really have anything planned as far as changing anything in terms of "gender affirming", so I don't think what could change about that really...

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Thu May 14, 2020 1:26 pm
by Jacob
Yep, Treatment would include therapy, which you've said you're looking for an appropriate person with.

When I say healing I mean the the types of improvements in mood, health and whatnot that can happen when we are having a break from stressful situations, whether that's time off work, time off sex, or time off weight-lifting. It's more of an automatic thing than treatment.

But it aleady sounds like a sex-break is a big no for you so we don't need to dwell on the possible benefits of a thing you don't want to do.

Just rewinding and looking through your posts, I saw that there was a post back in October that said a lot to me about where you're coming from, including having experienced an assault... I feel like it'd be worth including some of that here, because it seems super relevant.

It really doesn't feel like I'm the one who decides what I should do and what's good for me.

...what I do or would do in sex isn't portrayed anywhere so I feel like an invalid freak. Feels like I'm broken

Nothing really helps me when I get dysphoric. Almost everything I do just worsens it. Only playing games and detaching from reality can help. I meant both sexual intimacy and physical intimacy including hugs, touch and kisses.

It sounds like there is a big sense that everything, even things which have enjoyable elements are inevitably upsetting because of this sense that you are broken...

So when we say "Hey this tactic might work", the suggestion perhaps doesn't matter as it doesn't account for the deeper feeling that no tactic will take away the fact that you have to be you, including the body you have and the brokenness that feels baked in to your transness. With all off that going on, oooooh gosh it's a hard thing to approach but I'm glad we're here and still thinking about it.

How do you feel about those quotes... I imagine you still feel similarly?

The gaming part made me think about how it's important to have something that helps us escape when we need it. I also have some thoughts about that desire to feel our sex and sexuality portayed, if you'd like to go down that route?

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Fri May 15, 2020 10:26 am
by ShadowSong21
I can consider having limited sex and backing up front it when I feel I not in the best headspace at the time, but full on break from sex is rather unlikely.

Yes I have been raped twice, but most of the people including professionals, family, most colleagues and others didn't care too much or make much of it. Only few friends and boyfriends got concerned. I can add to that that I quite regularly remember randomly the things that hurt me in the past, and that quite regularly I have what you might call "sexual nightmares"

You know you could've just asked, instead of going back reading and quoting my old posts. And your interpretation of it brought me a lot of distress pain and crying. I only said that, I feel broken because what I do with my body and how it is or how I want it to be and what I want from sex isn't portrayed in media or porn etc.
It's you who said that "no tactic will take away the fact that you have to be you, including the body you have and the brokenness that feels baked in to your transness". The quotes don't say, how I feel about my body or how I feel about "transness". In fact those quotes, and all my posts in this topic don't mention transness, just dysphoria, yet it's been brought up couple of times by staff already.

Answering to how I feel about my quotes:
1) Yes i still feel like others know better what I should or shouldn't do with my body and how is it suppose to look. And in other regards of my life similarly
2) Yes my interest, my outlook on myself and sex still isn't portrayed anywhere, and it still feels very invalidating.
3) Yes detaching is still most effective, and not much else helps when I get dysphoric. Most of the time i'm easier with touch than I used to be when it comes to dysphoria.

I'm willing to talk about anything that the staff think might help me.

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Fri May 15, 2020 10:43 am
by Sam W
Before I touch on the other things, I want to say I'm so sorry that many of the people you opened up to about the sexual assaults, including professionals, did not take the incidents seriously. The fact that you have moments of randomly remembering the things that hurt you and that you have nightmares involving sex are common after effects of trauma, ones that the right people could help you address. Have you had any luck contacting resources that are trained to help sexual assault survivors heal from trauma? If not, is that something you're like our help locating?

I feel confident Jacob didn't mean to distress you by pulling those older quotes, but I'm sorry that they brought such a tough mixture of emotions up for you. It's really common for all of us here to go back and read over a users older posts in a thread or elsewhere to be sure we're not missing context or accidentally suggesting the same solutions over and over. You mention that only dysphoria and not transness has come up in this thread, but we keep mentioning the latter. Generally speaking, the kind of dysphoria you describe is linked to the fact a person is trans. Does that not feel like what's happening in your case?

Can I ask where you think that feeling that others know what's best for your life and body comes from? Is it mostly internal, or is that a message you've gotten from other people?

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sat May 16, 2020 6:14 am
by ShadowSong21
No I haven't reached anyone who would be trained to help rape victims, cause I don't see how they would help me, and I'm also pretty sure that they wouldn't take it seriously as well, considering how they society functions and thinks, and especially in the country that I live in.

I don't think it's necessarily the same. People can be trans without being dysphoric and people who are not trans can be dysphoric.It's not quite that I feel dysphoric because of being assigned the wrong gender at birth, but it's more of the thing that I kinda feel uncomfortable with the body I have, what society says it's meant to do and what society says it should be done to it, and what society says it means. I feel it's more externally stimulated than internally. I feel that if I could live in my own bubble, then MAYBE I'd be more at ease with it. Also I haven't seen, or am aware of a body type I'd be happy with having, or that I'd want to have.i just get jealous of people who are happy with their body, whether it's cis men and women, trans men and women ( both post-op and non-op). Seems like grass is always greener where I am not.

It just feels like everybody has an opinion and tries to push it on me. All the messages around me saying this is good, or that is good, this is valid and this is not, and the fact that I don't know what I want or what to do, it all mixes into feeling like I have no autonomy or authority over myself or my body. also with people who are entitled... It's hard to describe and wrap into words...

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sat May 16, 2020 8:41 am
by Sam W
Of course, you're going to have the best sense of the cultural issues, but I do want to give you this resource if you ever decide to seek out help specifically for survivors: People who work at rape crisis centers are trained to believe survivors, so it's safe to assume they would take your experiences seriously if you did reach out to them. Too, they're often able to connect you with other service providers, be those therapists or something else, who are trained to actually work competently with survivors.

That's actually a really helpful clarification on what you mean when you refer to your dysphoria. To make sure I'm understanding right, it sounds like a lot of what you're feeling stems from you simply not liking your body, but also not seeing a body type that you think you'd be happy to have. Did those feelings ever come up when you were working with the different therapists?

Do you feel like you've gotten very few chances to practice sorting what you want (or don't want) from what everyone around you is telling you should want? If not, do you think it would be worth finding ways to practice doing that?

Re: Sex and all the complications

Posted: Sat May 16, 2020 9:29 am
by ShadowSong21
The contact you've given me, I know that NGO and they say they only help women who are survivors of many types of abuse and violence. They also say that they work to reduce discrimination, yet they also say they only provide help for women victims. And that's also the issue, general awareness is that only women can be victims of rape or violence or abuse, and they can never be perpetrators, especially in Poland, which is why most people accuse me of the one being rapist, and they shrug off any consequences of what happened to me, even police.

Yes this is pretty close how you understood it.Yes it came up many times, I've said it many times and nothing came out of it.

I wanna say that I tried as much as I could but it's pretty hard, and I feel lost in it. If there is an opportunity I'd like to, yes.