Read This First Please...........

Whats this blog about?
I suffer from Gender Dysphoria, a medical condition that sets the mind against the body. It's more commonly know as transsexualism and is commonly percieved as a 'choice' or sexual in nature. It's not. It's a genetic quirk, a birth defect - no more a choice than having blue eyes or being left handed, and has nothing to do with sexuality or gratification. It is not a mental condition but a physical one of the hormonal system and the way it interacts with the brain. It's been with me since I was 3, but always pushed away as 'wrong' and a foible of my mind. in late 2008 it exploded back out into my now normal life with a loving family. It's put me into the pits of depression with this, and have been close to suicide twice now. I'm not going to fight anymore. I give up - I can't beat this and I now accept that I will have to transition to female at some point. Or I'll die. It's as simple as that.
I am, and always will be a family person, so one thing I can promise is that this blog will not contain content likely to be regarded as being offensive. It may make you think, but will never be salicious or rude. So I've blogged about fighting being trans before and I've blogged about running before. It's time to start to normalise apparently contrary things in my life [ha!] and accept that all parts of life are not incompatible.
So it's 20/12/10 today as I start this blog. In April 2011 I'd like to run the Highland Fling as a male vet. At some point in the years not too far ahead I'd like to run it as female. Now there is a target.
Please do stop by and leave comments

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

"Se la vie" said the old ones (it goes to show you never can tell)

Yes - It's the old Chuck Berry song, but appropriate I think here.
I had always assumed my parents would not react kindly to discovering I was transsexual (nice bit of understatement there btw). That really stemmed from my feelings about it when I was little, my general upbringing and my relationship with them. They have always been quite traditional and fairly strict, and we haven't always seemed eye to eye at all. That and one incident when I was thirteen or so and hoping my TS feelings could be 'discovered' and accepted defined the way I thought about them and this. I think it's also one of the major reasons why I didn't try to transition when I was 19ish. Totally in fear of them in many ways, afraid if I talked to the doctor they would find out, fear of rejection, of anger and isolation. That's not to say they are responsible for it - far from it. Not only was I way too naive, innocent and unprepared to have transitioned, but I also have never had the sort of self belief and strength of character to transition so young - really it was my idea of them that was the problem not them themselves of course. As you can maybe guess there is of course a twist coming here.
About eight weeks ago I had a really bad day. It was a monday morning and I had upset LJ on the sunday night, due to my thoughtlessness, aided by some massive internal pressure and a fair bit if wine if I'm honest. Not going into the details here, but monday was hellish, and at lunchtime I was almost ready to top myself. As I sat in the car crying I thought about calling the Samaritans, but instead called my folks. For the first time since I was little I wanted my mum.
As it happened I got my dad, or rather he got me, crying incoherently down the phone to him. He's not really a talking, emotive sort, but coped with me in floods of tears as everything came out. More than anything he listened and did not judge or comment. He probably saved me that monday lunchtime. Later on I spoke to my mum who had been out, and slowly more things emerged, but still probably confusing to them, so I wrote a long email trying to explain what I'm suffering from. In response I got the most wonderful email, that despite being essentially private is too good not to share.

"Thanks for the Email, your mum and I have read it fully and think we can understand your suffering. We will put together an email later as we try to understand how we can help. The fact you have told us is perhaps the first move along the road to a less stressful situation.
You have our full love and support in every way.
Mum & Dad"

They have been so good about this and so understanding. I actually feel closer to them both than I have for over 35years. Now I know they do not yet fully comprehend (maybe they do), but there are some things best played out slowly for all of us I think. The point is, that for years and years we invest our own internal picture of others and what they experience, just as they never knew about their son always really wanted to be their daughter. Now the screens have been shattered and I'm sure they now find themselves reading things they probably never even considered (I did make sure they had links to good info on this and didn't let them google away blindly and find some of the more unsavoury things out there). It has to be said though, that finding yourself speaking fairly matter of factly to your mum about the constant thought that I ought/need/want to be female must be right up there in terms of surreal experiences. As I said; "Se la vie" said the old ones (it goes to show you never can tell).

What else to talk about? Well I didn't run the Fling as has been obvious really. Hoping to make the Clyde Stride though and have started doing some hill running, including my 2nd munro (just a little one) and a few 2250footers. There is a certain feeling on the hills, a certain solitude and peacefullness I can find nowhere else. That and the long time on the feet will surely help the training for an ultra. It has been a tough year with the depression limiting my energy levels and ability to get up (never mind get going to) and while the depression has moderated a tad, it still hovers around the moderate - moderate/severe level mainly due to the ongoing problems with sleep, energy and occasional 'dark thoughts'. I had a 2nd opinion from a psychologist in February which appears to have confirmed the diagnosis, to the extent that when I saw my psychiatrist last week, he said he was happy to arrange an appointment with a gynecologist (ironic I know, but they are the hormone specialists round these parts) to discuss starting hormone treatment. Really looking forward to starting on them, to see if they can make things more sustainable as they are. As I've said before, if I can survive without splitting from my beloved family I will try to, and I know that the pressure will wax and wane over time to transition (it does), so every bit helps so to speak. On the same subject the facial hair removal is going well, with less shaving required and less time and plaster required for anytime I head out. I have also started attended the local trans support group which is held in a lovely (and accepting) country pub at last. It's good to meet others going through the same process at various stages, from just starting to GRS. They are a great bunch of girls, they really are.
Overall all these things are helping develop my presentation skills as I try to learn all those things 40 something women are supposed to already know. For instance I had decided to attend my psychiatrist appointment presenting as female, and despite having two fairly rough looking guys sitting opposite me, nobody really batted an eyelid. Not sure if it was me 'passing' or them not caring, but either way, no hassle is always good, no matter when or where you are. Why did I attend presenting as female? It seemed appropriate, given all my other appointments have been in my usual male office wear, to do so more than any other reason tbh. It also seemed natural to do so.
So, to close this first post in ages and ages let me close with this quote I found yesterday (and absolutely love)

‎"Having an opinion about transsexuality is about as useful as having an opinion on blindness. You can think whatever you like about it, but in the end, your friend is still blind and surely deserves to see."—Jennifer Finney Boylan

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Back in the groove [just]

February was a total wipe-out for me. Not in the Argentinian, bouncy castle sense, but in the sitting on bum doing nothing sense. The depression had wiped me of any energy and just could not manage a run at all. Not only that but the joy wasn't there either [apart from the last week where I had va va voom but a stinking chest cold]. But yesterday I made it out for a whopping 3k. But it was an enjoyable 3k and tonight I did a bit more and enjoyed it. Fairly sure the Fling is off, but I might just enter and see how far I can get in a walk/run strategy. No matter, might look at the Cateran Trail or the Clyde Stride as alternatives, assuming I can keep the black stuff away.
Mood wised I've been very mixed. For instance Monday was gloriously sunny and so was my mood. A fairly trans free head helped, but come midday, the sun stayed out, but the trans noise was getting louder and louder and my mood lower and more anxious. This comes back to the core dilemma of this. If I can stay as I am and with my family I will, but every time I get a 'I can beat this' feeling, it hits me hard again. Today was pretty bad as well, but I did resort to some retail therapy by buying a new denim stretch skirt. I rarely wear skirts, as I'm never happy with the look on me, but this one works well. Will probably wear it on Saturday night on my first visit ti the local support group.

[Ok the pic is in the dark, not because I never go out in the light, but because it's not light in the evenings yet!]

My 2nd opinion appointment was mixed. I was very upbeat and said exactly what I felt at the time - that is, if i can survive male I would, but did say I had been in tears because I had to transition just weeks earlier. Not sure what the outcome was, but I am getting an appointment to speak to an endocrinologist about getting on hormones to calm my head.
My hope for running is to get out every day in march for 20mins or more [a trans-athon if you like] and get back up to a decent mileage. It is great to read the whwblogs as source of inspiration. Doubt I'll ever make it onto the listings, but fabulous readings all the same. Hats off to all the WHW family as inspirational people to us all.
So safe runnings and hope you all never have to get GID. It sucks.

Monday, 31 January 2011


Depression is a bit of a pain really. I was doing so well getting running again and was fairly hopeful of making the Fling this year. Well looks like I've overdone it. Not the usual running injury type, but the more hard to pin down damage to the limbic system depression causes. The flush of energy and drive I had just collapsed and I've been just plain old dead, crawling in at night and having to sleep before dinner, yet being unable to sleep well at night and impossible to get up in the morning. This weekend we were decorating and even with that level of exertion I had to have a snooze late both afternoons. I know you need to rest when training for an ultra, but you also need to be able to run as well. Right now I'm pretty unable to stay awake all day never mind run. 
This general 'shatteredness' has coincided in a couple of bad weeks mentally. Last week I was down, the feeling of hopelessness and mild suicidal thoughts started to return. Was really feeling like I'd rather die than hurt my wife and kids [not that that makes sense anyway and dying will hurt them more]. Anyway this cumulated in me breaking down into tears on the phone on thursday to my beloved wife. "I hate this!" I cried, "I hate being trans and I hate hurting you - it's sh*t!". Bless her, she was brilliant [always is] and I while I knew I was just feeling sorry for myself, it was nice to have someone to talk to. But I know this is just passing and that was just a very bad week. My PHQ-9 depression score is coming down slowly and constantly as a long term trend and this is just a blip.
But it's improving. Still extremely tired and even had to stop and have a snooze on the way to work today. I'm off on wednesday and may, I say may, head over to the WHW for a jog/walk. I'd rather run, but know that would be too much too soon, but would be nice to get out there for an hour or two.
Other immediate plans? I have more IPL facial hair removal this week, hypnotherapist on friday, seeing my GP next tuesday and hope to have my head back together for my '2nd opinion' appointment with the shrink in just under two weeks. So it's hopefully back to running this week and trying NOT to fight the trans stuff. Seems every time I try to resist it in any way, it always beats me up!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Ups and Downs

The week started off with reasonably expectations even though I knew I was going to miss a day or two through a business trip to Paris. I'd had two great runs up the hills with pups on saturday and sunday in the snow and was looking forward to the weekMonday night was off with the head torch around the countryside roads, before heading to the castle and back into town. On the last stretch the road heads down a long fairly steep brae as it descends into the town. All the way round the footing had been 'OK' - a bit icy but nothing too bad. Suddenly as I rounded the corner I felt my feet slip, but I didn't fall down. Instead I just started sliding slowly down the hill while apparently standing still. The whole road was one sheet of ice and even the path was the same. It took me probably 10-15 minutes to edge my way down the roughly 400m long hill, until I could get to a sane piece of road.
Tuesday night was traveling to Paris and wednesday was meetings there and flying back, so complete right offs as far as any running was concerned, but since I knew that was going to happen I was cool with it and was looking forward to a longer run on thursday. Well that didn't happen either did it. One of the things about depression is that it robs you of energy and ruins your sleep. Although I've been on the happy pills since october, I'm still having trouble sleeping and am constantly tired -mid-late afternoon is the worst. Since I'd had two late nights with work travelling, I knocked off a bit early on thursday still with the intention of running, but just before I got home, a huge wave of tiredness and sorrow came over me. Couldn't do anything except go to bed for an hour. Just completely wiped out. When my depression was at it's worse in sept-nov, this was what most nights were like, but I guess maybe I've been doing too much with the running and the travelling can't have helped. It's not very nice having sh*t like that hitting you as you feel your getting better.
Anyway friday night was another appointment with the hypnotherapist. I really can't recommend her highly enough and it strikes me as almost being like classical psychotherapy in that it helps pull the subconscious through and makes you aware of it. This is about the 4th session now and I'm going down into a very deep state very quickly. This time my arms felt like concrete they were so heavy and I couldn't move them at all. We were looking into some stuff from my past again, some stuff with my parents, when I was a kid, the night I met my wife and being completely smitten by her [still am] and looked ahead in this 'book of my life' to the future. It's important when doing stuff like this not to edit what comes through in your head. When I turned the page in this imaginary book inside my mind to the future what I saw was startling clear. A tall bridge over a gorge. The bridge had a circular arch with columns from the arch to the road. Behind the bridge was a fir forest. In fact it looked a lot like the bridge over the Garry at Killiecrankie. The message is clearer than ever. We've seen before that I see myself internally as female - the image is very clear at times. This is not so obvious but the gorge is clearly my fear and the gap between being male and being female. The bridge is what I have to cross to transition. I can stand one side or the other, but not in the middle.
She also read a fable by Friedman to me  called the Fable of the Bridge. I didn't quite understand it as far as my situation is concerned, but the essence seems to that I can release my responsibilities if they won't come with me. But do I want to release my responsibilities - that is my family. No. Absolutely not. Still thinking the fable through through.
Finally I got my '2nd appointment through'. For those of you not up on the Standards of Care [SOC] it takes so separate mental health professionals to give a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria. I've seen various people about this and have had probably 4 meetings with Dr Callendar in Aberdeen. I have not seen him since october and what should have been a 6 week wait has been nearly 4 months with my appointment being mid february. So looking forward to it as that then sets the course clear for a final '3rd' appointment and a formal diagnosis. From there? Who knows, but until then it's back to running!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

2011 and things

Well 2011 is here and I'm falling in love again with night time running. I really am. There is almost nothing so satisfying right now as plodding my way round a nice route with the cone of light from my head torch defining the limits of the world at large. Whether it is going through the woods near home, or out in the countryside, the peace and solitude are hard to beat – it gives you time to think, while the running endorphins help take the edge off the mental stress of Gender Dysphoria. The hypnotherapy I've been having has helped big style. I'm fairly sceptical about some stuff like this, but this has really worked, helping me clear my head a bit, and somehow giving me more energy and drive. I would highly recommend the woman I use for anybody with any problems at all.
So the planning to get me to the Fling start line is getting put in place. A realistic plan has been drawn up on spreadsheet [John Kynaston would be impressed], maps bought, the WHW ran on, if only for a few miles in the ice, and most importantly I’m starting to get the miles in slowly but surely. I was planning to do a 'Jan-athon' - running every day in january for a minimum of either 3 miles or 30 mins, but this isn't quite going to be possible. I've only missed one day so far due to a family day out to Aviemore and I know that next week I have a business trip to Europe which will blow at least one day out. But still going to try for every day and reach 90+miles for January. The plan for the next week is to get a decent run in at the weekend, hopefully up the nearby hill with the mad pup, and then run home from work next thursday [12mil] one night, along with the usual daily 3 milers. OK - I know it's hardly Jez Bragg mileage, but building up from zero again will take a bit of time. It's going to be a challenge to be able to do the mileage required for the Fling, but right now I'm up for it.
All this running and the anti-depressives has taken some of the edge off the GID, but I'm hoping not to fall into the usual trap of going 'Oh! it's gone - I can go back to a normal life again!' - that only ends in pain as the GID comes back soon enough. This time I'm not hiding it, not repressing it, so tonight it was back to the salon for a second IPL facial hair removal session. The first session hurt like nothing on earth, but this one was much much less painful. Really looking forward to seeing some more improvements, although the first session has made a huge difference.
As a bit of inspiration I was looking through Jennifer Mccreath's blog this evening. She managed 6 marathons in 2010 with 5 within a 33 day period. I do hope I can keep that level of activity up as I transition. 2011 looks like her year for GRS [surgery], so here's hoping she recovers quickly and gets back into running again soon. I also found this link to this article from runners world.

Friday, 31 December 2010

End of the Year

It's been a good end of year. I've rediscovered my running mojo, accepted, as best I can at the moment, my trans-ness and overcome the worst of my trans induced depression.
First the trans stuff.
I've been seeing a hypnotherapist as a way of helping me calm my head. She's very good as far as I can see, and if nothing else, is filling the gaping hole in the NHS mental health service. If you cut your finger, you go to A&E and get seen. Have a breakdown and it is probably 3-4 months before you get seen. By that point you've either topped yourself or found your through. Once again I'm not being theatrical here. Topping myself has been a valid way forward twice in two years now, and it's no joke to find yourself googling how best to hang yourself. But - thanks to my wife wife and my GP [and my basic positive personality] I'm 99% through that now, and can only look back in amazement at what I must have been like 2 months ago. Any way - the hypnotherapist is proving very good. I'm not going tio be cured, but it might make the thoughts a bit better. Oh BTW - before anyone asks, there has been about 100 years of study into trans-ness so far. The first 50 focused on fixing the obvious problem, the mind, but that didn't work. Nope psychotherapy, ECT, Hypnotherapy -you name it nothing worked. The only proven way to relieve the intense pain, is to change the body.
What I'm finding, is every time I visit the hypnotherapist, my energy and outlook improves. I've had one or two reallyg good trans free days, but last night was hell. From 9pm till 9am I was subjected to internal turmoil, sleeplessness and restlessness - all driven by the overpowering though that I MUST be female. I HAVE to be. This is no quirk. This is bl**dy agony.
But lets look at the running
I've had a great couple of weeks. I've fallen in love with the fell shoes I bought last year, but never wore. They have been great in the snow near home. Had a great night time head-torch run up the glen with the dog the other night. Nothing but stillness, the beam of the light and the joy of the dog to run with. so invigorating and so fulfilling. I lost a lot of my fitness through this summers depression, but it seems to be coming back quite quickly or so it seems. Unlike 3 months ago where running was just hard work and a chore, it's like floating on air now and full of joy. It's so nice to enjoy running again. I'm not fast, I'm not clever, but I do enjoy the Tao of running. So to finish the year off [hogmanay] I went for a run on the WHW near Tyndrum. It was lovely. Only saw one or two other runners skating about in the ice, but it was really good to finish the year on the WHW ahead of Fling in April. Hopefully, I'm going to be able to recover my fitness without descending back into depression [clinical depression is actually blowing a chemical fuse, and once it's blown it can take quite a time for the lymbic system to re-set itself fully - at least 6 months after you 'feel better']
Hopefully this year I'll manage to do the Fling, make better progress in accepting my trans-ness and retain the love of my family. Acceptance is hard as it means accepting physical change is necessary. There is still a battle there to be had, along with a few terrifying conversations TBH.
So, to anyone that reads this - have a cracking 2011. May you run long and far and may you cherish your loved ones as they cherish you.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

And so...

As I 've written in the intro above, I've realised that I can't beat the gender dysphoria [or GID] I suffer from. I've fought it hard for two years to try and stay as I am and be a good husband and father, but it's obvious I can't win. I 've been running for a few years now, but my late 2008 GID explosion relegated my running in 2009 to a few pitiful sessions. In early 2010 I somehow got the notion to run an ultra. In retrospect I was using this as a way of repressing the gender issues - my mantra was every time it kicked ' I HAVE TO run'. It worked, I completed an ultra and hoped to do more. In may the gender stuff cranked up the pressure, followed closely by some running injury. My one way of repressing it was retreating as the issues built. Result - a decent into severe depression through the summer as I came apart mentally trying  to cope with what was happening to me. Suicide seemed more and more like the only way out between hurting my family and accepting transition. Mid summer I went to see my GP, and arranged to see a gender specialist psychiatrist. My GP had seen me during the previous serious episode in 2008/09 and I had seen various councillors and gender clinics at the time. Back then all I wanted was to stay with my family. 
What happened this year then? As I descended into a mental hell, my GP and shrink helped pull me out. I'm on anti-depressants now, and the shrink let me meet a girl [who had a family] who has transitioned - that showed my life in the gutter or death wasn't the only way out. So two separate episodes of severe depression later, with two separate points where jumping into the river seemed like  a sensible move, I've realised that fighting this is useless. It's too deep, too structural, impossible to beat. If I fight it I'll be back as a quivering wreck in 12-18 months and at some point I know it will get too much and I will have to jump. The only way to survive, and I'm not being theatrical about this, is to transition. It's a big jump - still one of the great social taboos and I'm scared witless. It's not going to be fast - might be several years, but I know I must not fight this if I am to be healthy.
The whole episode has destroyed my running fitness. I had no energy or drive - literally couldn't run for 3 months, but in the last few days I 've got out again, and actually enjoyed it. Sunday was a trot out with the dogs in the snow, and last night was a fantastic 4 mile run along the coast to a castle with the head torch on. Really enjoyed both of them. So I know I need to loose weight - I'm naturally big and I really don't want to be a woman with a big manly belly. I know starting on HRT tends to put weight on as well, so that comes in there as well.  I've been quite fascinated with running on the West Highland Way for a bit now, but will probably never do a full WHW race, so the intention is to get running again with a target of completing the Highland Fling race at the end of April. Don't worry - you won't know it's me, I'll not be wearing a pink wig or a dress and moustache or anything else stereotypical. I'll just be there in the men, as another hopeful middle aged bloke with a gut. Only difference is I hope to be there in some year not too far any as the  middle aged, slightly plain woman with a big bum I feel I am.
So this blog, will cover some of my gender issues, some of my training, but one thing it will not cover is my precious family. Hence the slightly anonymous profile. Being trans is still regarded as being a bit weird in Scotland and I neither want to be exposed to abuse personally or more importantly have my family exposed to it [some of who still do not know about my trans-ness]. If you know who I am in everyday life, please do say hello in person. I won't be embarrassed and I'll be happy to talk about this to curious polite people. If you don't like this, please have the decency to keep your opinions to yourself.
Bye for know
The Slow Trans Running.