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A tale of two needs March 12, 2008

Posted by Tina Simmons in Uncategorized.
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I feel as if sometimes I am caught between the pull of two opposing needs.

On the one hand, I am married to a wonderful woman, and have two great children.  I love them so much, and the last thing I would ever want to do is to cause them any pain.

On the other hand, I have a strong need to assert my female identity.  Accepting my trans-ness was important for me to become more honest about who I am and to others in my life, but that was only a first step.  The issue of what does it mean to me and how I need to express it has come to the forefront for me.

To be totally honest, it’s not as if this is something new.  It has always been inside of me.  It’s just that now that I’m not hiding it from people I care about I want them to know exactly how I feel about this.

And there’s the rub.  To let them know how I feel can cause them pain.  And causing them pain causes me pain.  And so I tend to go back to my comfort zone and repress my expression of my female side, which causes it to build inside of me like a dam holding back a river – without an adequate mechanism to relieve the pressure the dam will burst.

Put another way, these needs are so strong in me that I feel as if I’m being pulled in two opposite directions, and I am afraid that the pull is going to rip me in two.  And sometimes it is very hard for me to bear, and it makes me very depressed, and worsens the depression I’ve been keeping inside of me for years.

So my solution has been to get help.  I recently started to see a psychologist who I spent a lot of time vetting out.  I had her name in my speed-dialer for at least six months, ready to make the call when I thought I needed it.  I finally needed it.  While she doesn’t have gender training, she has a very good background in handling depressing, family matters, women’s issues, and even gay and lesbian issues.  I found a lot of quotes from her in newspapers, and I read a couple of journal articles that she co-authored.  I had a feeling that she knew her stuff, had a good background in working with people, and would be very sympathetic to my plight.

And so far, it’s been good.  I’ve had two visits so far, but it’s somewhat early in the process.  Both have been basically me telling her my story, sharing with her some of my blog postings, and suggesting some books she could read to learn about gender issues.  I helped her order a copy of My Husband Betty as I thought that is a pretty good introduction to trans-people like myself.

Again, I have a long way to go to resolving my struggle balancing these two strong needs in my life.  I really cannot tell the outcome.  Walking the middle-path that I am walking is very uncharted territory for me, and there are very few role models for me to follow.  But I’m going to deal with it, and I have faith that I will eventually find that peace for me.

About my depression July 2, 2007

Posted by Tina Simmons in optimism.
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This is really hard to discuss, because it is so painful and personal.

I am dealing with a low-level depression. Some of it has to do with being trans, but not all. I also have lost people near and dear to me over the years, including my mother when I was a late teenager and my father at the end of 2005. He suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for several years before he went. The day I had to move him into a home was the hardest day of my life, and while I know it was for the best, it was also the beginning of the end. Two and a half years later he was gone.

I’ve had several friends pass away over the years, including seeing a friend get sucked underwater by a strong current when I was very young and another who had a similar experience in his early 20’s (and of whom a portion of his body was found 24 years later in the area where he disappeared). The latter was a really good friend who helped me deal with my mother’s sudden death and even stopped me from taking my own life out of despair way back then.

I’m also depressed about the roller-coaster relationship with my son. Things are going better than before, but he has finally been diagnosed as bipolar, not just depressed. He has gone through hell, and we’ve been there for the ride. Sometimes I think of the smiling little boy I used to read bedtime stories to and who just gave me hugs and told me how much he loved me. Now I’m glad when he doesn’t scream at me too much. I know he cares, and there are other transgendered people who are separated from their kids because of circumstance, but it still rips your heart out, let me tell you. But I focus on loving him. The past month, though, has seen a dramatic improvement in how we relate to each other. He did have a major relapse about a month ago, but I think that how I handled interacting with him about it went a lot better than the last few times, and I think he senses I’m really trying to reach out and be sensitive to him.

Because of my depression, and a recent relapse of my son, I’ve also gained 8 pounds. I now have to work very hard to diet. I lost 25 pounts last year, I can’t afford any give-backs. The problem was when my son went through his recent hard period I would just reach into the pantry and grab out whatever tasted good. And keep on grabbing. My father was a baker, and we learned bad eating habits when I was growing up because he would come home with a big box of day-old baked goods. It wouldn’t last the night, but the habit has lasted a lifetime.

And the kicker is – I am normally an optimist. I know I’ll get through this. I also hate to wallow in self-pity, but I don’t like to keep things hidden. (what a change for the trans-person who was hiding for 40+ years and is still hiding from most of the world). I really don’t like being dishonest or lying.

So here I am. I am not being treated for it, but I acknowledge its existence. I feel like accepting depression is a lot like accepting being transgendered. I don’t know if I’ll get treatment for it or not – my wife is not too into therapists (her experiences have been with bad therapists in the past, so I can’t blame her) and I’d really like to try to see if I can deal with it myself for a while. At least accepting it has made me more sensitive to my down moments, and that’s a good thing.

See? I told you I was an optimist!