8 Months on Testosterone - FTM Transition Update Journal
I haven't written a testosterone update post in quite some time... I've been sticking to the video format since about the 2 month mark. My videos tend to be quite long though and I want to give people another way to view my updates if video isn't their preferred format. I will continue to shoot video updates, those are available on the blog here or on my YouTube channel.
It's honestly a little surreal to be at 8 months on testosterone. Sometimes I still feel like I'm back at the beginning and filled with the unsteady feeling of embarking on something big. Over these past 8 months I have grown considerably. Yes, physically I've grown but as a person I have changed. The process of transitioning has made me want so much more out of life. I'm filled with a sense of motivation to do more, set goals, and accomplish things. In the past, I've been motivated but never like this. When I started T, it was really my second chance at life. Even though there have been bad days (I'll talk more about that), I still feel incredibly grateful to be here. This journey has given me a new lease on life. I hold it as sacred. I love myself and want to experience life to it's fullest. Once lost, I truly do feel found in terms of who I am. I don't have it all figured out yet, far from it. I am different though and the difference is incredibly encouraging.
A few things have changed from month 7 to month 8. I have experienced more facial hair, which is great. It's starting to fill in. I've started letting my side burns grown in. They are a little thin but they grow long now and grow from my hairline all the way to my jawline. The hair on my cheeks is starting to come in but still in patches. I shave that every 2 to 3 days now. My chin hair continues to grow in thicker and I leave that. My mustache is finally starting to fill in a little more and grow longer. That has been taking a surprisingly long time from what I originally expected. There is hair coming in that now connects my chin hair to my mustache. I'm loving the way that my facial hair is coming in, it's great!
In other hair updates... my eyebrows are getting thicker and growing up and out. I shave around them to keep them clean, otherwise they connect to my hairline which is not a look I'm going for. Ha. My hairline has stayed strong and hasn't thinned. Fingers crossed that it stays that way. For body hair... I'm seeing the hair on my stomach move out more and across my entire belly. It's fine but it's expanding. There is more hair on my chest. My arm hair has darkened this past month and my leg hair is definitely thicker. Body hair has been really nice at aiding to make me feel more my age. I didn't know that I would care about it that much in the beginning, now I really enjoy having it and feel like it suites me.
My facial structure has changed slightly although it isn't as drastic as the early months. I've noticed that my nose continues to get wider along with my chin. My neck is considerably larger than it used to be. I have noticed that my Adam's Apple is sharper and more defined. This is a new change. I've always had an Adam's Apple but now it is growing.
I have noticed further fat redistribution changes to my legs and waist. Both are changing shape. A lot of my body changes have to do with how I train and my diet. I have been bulking for almost 36 weeks at this point and the entire time I've tried to stay below 15% body fat. I'm bigger all over on my body but leaner than ever. Even though I look in the mirror and feel puffier than I used to, I know this is an illusion. I'm really seeing the muscle mass on my body change and that changes the outer shape. I've started to see the outline of my abdominal muscles which is really exciting. What's weird is that I'm really starting to like my butt. I never really cared about it before or how it looked and now I find myself wanting to train to have a better ass. Surprise, surprise I guess. It's nice to have this new found body appreciation and acceptance. It makes me want to care for myself in a way that I never did before transitioning.
MENTAL HEALTH UPDATE
I don't normally do a trigger warning, but this next section contains very candid and honest talk about anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, and mental health.
Oh mental health, what a beast you are. At the 7 month point, I had reached the longest streak I'd gone of having an anxiety attack in the past 3 years. I was feeling hopeful that the anxiety was at a better place but yet I couldn't shake this low level everyday consistent anxiety that I was feeling. My chest was locked up, I was in a worried state and having trouble focusing. I couldn't relax and felt that if I wasn't working or doing something productive, everything was going to fall apart. I knew this was irrational, yet I couldn't shake it. Doom was following me and it was starting to make me really nervous.
I was pushing through this low level anxiety daily when it finally caught up to me. About a week after my 7 month mark, I had a few mini anxiety attacks. They came on quick and out of nowhere. My anxiety attack symptoms include nauseous, sweating, shaking, convulsions, shortness of breath, panic, severe doom thoughts, suicidal ideation, twitching, loss of appetite, and energy depletion. The attacks usually last anywhere from 15-25 minutes. I had two of these attacks and rode them out. I figured that was it and that my body would now expel this negative energy. I would be able to function normally for another few months. False. A few days went by and then I experienced the worst anxiety episode of my life.
It started on a Friday night... I was feeling pretty good overall. I'd been in the house alone most of the week, so I decided to go out and be around people. I went out for a few drinks at some local places. My intention was never to get drunk or use, I just wanted to have some fun and be out in public. For some reason, the alcohol hit me really hard that night. I went from fine when I left to go home to nearly blacked out. The last thing I remember is being home in my bathroom having an anxiety attack and intense suicidal thoughts.
I woke up the following morning and that memory hit me right away. Again, I went in intense anxiety mode. I thought, maybe I'm just hungover but it didn't feel like a hangover. Something felt very wrong with me. My whole body was extremely weak, it was difficult for me to stand or walk. I proceeded to have a series of anxiety attacks, each lasting around 20 minutes or longer. What's worse is that I started having convulsions and involuntary movements. These continued even between and after the attacks. At this point, my muscles were so tense and tight that my stomach started to seize up. I started dry heaving and having waves of nausea which kept me from being able to intake fluids. The entire time this was happening, I felt very out of touch with reality. My surroundings seemed off and I couldn't get grounded.
I decided that I needed to be in communication with people in order to be safe. I called my wife, then my friend, and hours after it continued... my therapist. I wanted her to talk me down on the phone but I was having trouble staying present and felt very foggy. She ended up coming to me and after seeing my physical state talked me into going to urgent care. She drove me there because I could still barely stand and I was still having involuntary movements. Once in urgent care, they gave me an IV and anti nausea medicine. The doctor said to me something that stuck with me... "If our mind feels crappy but out body is ok, our body can help our mind. If our body feels bad but our mind is ok, our mind can help our body. You mind and body both feel bad, so you're having trouble helping yourself".
It was true. I was having a lot of trouble functioning at all. I felt horrible about being in urgent care. I figured that they thought I was just some drunk with a hangover, but I set aside my shame and just tried to focus on surviving that day. Once my stomach stopped cramping, I was able to let a little tension from my core go and some of the twitching settled down. Once the fluids were in me, I started to think a little clearer. At this point, I'd been going through this for a good 5-6 hours. I just wanted to be able to rest and breathe. I left urgent care feeling like I could do those two things. My wife picked me up and took me home to relax.
I rested and put rest as a priority for the following week. It was a terrifying and scary experience that made me take my anxiety much more seriously. I have decided to look into different treatment. I am not on medication and do not want to go on daily meds. I would like to have something to help me when things get really serious and slide into the bad zone. I'm not suicidal and I'm no longer depressed, so going to that dark place when I have anxiety attacks is dangerous. I can no longer take it lightly and try to just keep shuffling along through it. It's serious and needs different care.
My mental health has changed a great deal since starting hormones, for the better. I no longer have long term depression and my anxiety has lessened. It is still there though and comes on differently now. It seems more aggressive and shorter. Like little bursts of energy that need to get out. I've started incorporating more movement into my day like walks and running. I also am taking my rest days more seriously, caring for myself during them. Most importantly, I'm accepting that I'm scared of my anxiety. I am not going to just "tough it out". I am going to accept that is is fucking scary. I'm afraid of it and that's ok. Instead of running, I'm letting myself feel scared and frozen by it when I need to. This won't work itself out in a day or week or month. It is an ongoing battle for me but I survived that last big fight and I intend to keep surviving any other attacks that come my way.
FUNDRAISING FOR TOP SURGERY
Even though I've had that bad recent mental health experience, I continue to move forward and feel hopeful... and overall good. One of the things that I've put some of my energy into lately has been finding creative ways to help raise funds for my top surgery in December of this year (2017). One of the panic triggers for me is the fact that Top Surgery will put me in debt. It's stressful as a business owner to be in debt and know that it will take time to recover from that financial hole. To combat this, I decided to put creative energy into ways that I could raise funds. This helps me feel like I'm doing something to help the situation but also gives me a creative outlet for expression... it's a win win to me.
I have a GoFundMe for my top surgery but in addition, I'm fundraising through a store on TeeSpring. TeeSpring allows me to offer custom designed pieces for purchase. The proceeds go towards me top surgery. This has been such a fun and personal way to offer designs to people. As a designer and artist, there's no better feeling than knowing that my creations are out floating around the world.
Check out the store here and if you do make a purchase please tag me in an image of it. I'd love to see who purchased the items, that's a very fulfilling thing to see! My hope is to test out designs and ideas to use on future projects. I'd love to help others with their campaigns and maybe even create custom designs for them. If you are thinking of fundraising for your surgery, feel free to contact me to see if we could work on something together.
Thank you for all the love and support,
Thanks for joining me on this transition journey. Please feel free to leave a comment or browse the other sections of the blog. My goal in sharing my experiences is to provide personal information to anyone seeking out advice on gender transition, mental health, and wellness. People's personal stories have been a huge inspiration and source of information for me, I'd like to pay that forward. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or just need a sound board.
Thanks for stopping by!