Self-care is acknowledging a problematic feeling but not dwelling on it
This morning I received the news that my lower surgery date has to be changed from 17th July to 8th August due to some issues with the surgeon.
I am of course upset, but dwelling on it won’t change it, it’ll just make me feel worse. It has taken me many years to get the balance right between acknowledging feelings and avoiding dwelling on them.
Positive thinking is often misinterpreted, as meaning, we should push bad feelings away, but this is not the case at all. Thinking positively isn’t about denying your emotions, this is just as damaging as dwelling on them. It is instead about changing our perspective on how we view those problematic feelings.
Our feelings need to be validated. For example, it is understandable that I am upset about my surgery delay and it is ok to feel those emotions. When we acknowledge feelings and allow ourselves to just let them be, they will then pass naturally. What causes us problems is moving from emotions to thoughts. For example by playing it over and over in our mind, ruminating over the injustice, the inconvenience etc. This is when we move from the acknowledgement of feelings into dwelling on feelings
Allowing myself to not be OK is never easy for me. This is especially true when l have good things in my life, like now with my new partner. I think to myself, “why am l sad? Things are good!” But just because you are sad about one thing doesn’t mean everything else in your life can’t bring you happy feelings. It’s not black and white. I am very sad about mum, and that will be the case regardless of all the other lovely stuff in my life.
I think I also worry that, being in the early days of a new relationship, I don’t want him to see me low. I worry that it might put a downer on our time together. This was one of the reasons for not wanting to introduce my new partner to my mum. I knew that with mum having dementia, she wouldn’t really be able to comprehend my happiness. This on its own was upsetting but I also worried that having my partner with me at mums, would make me completely fall apart and I also didn’t want him to see that.
I am so glad I share in the way that I do, on here and on YouTube, as it gives me the chance to reflect on these things. When I uploaded my recent vlog about my dilemma about whether to take my partner to see my mum, I had some really kind and helpful comments. In the end I realised that seeing me upset is seeing the authentic me and that is what I want in a relationship. I also realised that I would be more upset if mum passed away having not met my partner. The sadness of that would far outweigh the sadness of her meeting him but not comprehending who he is.
As it turns out, it was a lovely meeting. Mum was quite out of it, she has been for a few weeks, but we got a few words from her. On asking her what she thought of my partner she replied, “He’ll do.”
We laughed a lot in that hour and both myself and my partner shared some damp-eyed gazes at each other. The meeting certainly wasn’t what it would have been pre-dementia days but it was special in its own way.
This year has without doubt been one of my most challenging, marked with incredible highs and lows and so much profound change.
The beginning of the year started with a devastating backwards step in the surgical part of mygender transition journey,causing my dysphoria to sky rocket and my mental health to plummet.
I did not expect to surface from all that until my surgical issues had been fixed but to my great surprise l met someone who was to heal me of both present and past dysphoria and catapult me forwards into a journey of exciting sexual awakening and sexual exploring.
Now, approaching the end of the year l am facing the prospect of losing my mum. Whether that’s losing her to the numerous complex medical issues the hospital just can’t manage to solve, or losing her to the emerging vascular dementia which is causing so much confusion and disorientation. Either way, my mum is rapidly disappearing.
On top if this I received a date for surgery to finally sort out the issues that began at the beginning at the year. It was such poor timing and l wasn’t sure l could manage it mentally or physically with all that’s going on with mum. However, l am glad l decided to go ahead as the surgery was apparently a very simple and successful fix.
If l was to pin down the one thing that has enabled me to get through this incredibly rocky year it would be gratitude. My ability to be grateful is the most effective tool in my mental health tool kit and l consider my ability to be grateful in any situation to be the greatest gift l own.
Gratitude is such a magical gift, akin to alchemy it can turn the most awful situation into one of hope, promise and possibility. By simply switching ones view away from what’s lacking or missing towards even the smallest thing you can find to be grateful for, you can turn sadness into joy.
Once you start noticing those small things to be grateful for, it sets off a snowball effect and before you know it sadness and difficulty is made much more bearable By the warm blanket of gratitude you find yourself enveloped by.
Gratitude is an action induced feeling, you cant sit around and wait to feel grateful you have to put the work in and actively decide you want to be grateful and look for things to be grateful for. Once you start this practice you will strengthen your gratitude muscle and find it starts to become automatic.
Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. Sit and write a list of ten things you are grateful for and notice how your whole sense of self shifts into feeling lighter and your face softens into a smile.
I am so grateful for the ability to practice gratitude. Such a magical gift indeed.
As always after a documentary on TV regarding trans people, even when done sensitively as in the case of Horizon’s “being transgender” last night, I always spend the next day reading numerous misinformed and bigoted comments across my social media. I could stay quiet, I could just blend into the background, but I wont. I am blessed to live in a country where, although far from perfect, I have access to medical treatment, allowing me to transition which has without doubt saved my life.
I would not have access to this had it not been for brave trans folk who came before me and fought, in even worse circumstances than we have now, for our treatment and safety. I feel drawn to pay this forward, which is why I share as honestly and openly as I do. The payoff, in the amount of love and support I have received and in the messages from people I have helped or who feel better informed from my sharing, make this all so very worthwhile.
So to all the haters and bigots out there, throw at me what you will, leave your hateful comments on my videos after all, your doing so helps in our fight for equality and understanding as you help to highlight just how much opposition we face on a daily basis, in simply trying to live our lives comfortable in our own skin as is the right of any human being.
In the words of Frank Turner, “I won’t sit down, and I wont shut up”
I make videos and write blogs about mental health, recovery and gender transition. I share honestly about very intimate aspects of my life. I do so in the hope that my transparency may encourage and inspire others, who feel as desperate as I once did, to find ways to make changes in their own lives