Surviving lockdown/winter Part 2

I’m back with some more exciting lists lol, although these are a bit more interesting then the last ones.

I wrote two separate lists of activities and self care activities, some do overlap and that’s cool because we all do need to be doing self care everyday and I know its maybe an overused maybe wish washy expression but basic self care is having a shower, feeding yourself, sorting out a bill, doing some laundry all of that day to day boring adult stuff we all have to do is a form of self care. Self care isn’t all about extravagant spa days and buying yourself expensive gifts, its getting those most boring jobs done, because that is you looking after yourself and that’s what self care is about. You know changing the bedding may not feel like an exciting form of self care, but getting into that fresh bedding, feels so so good! The task itself sucks! but what you get from it is what makes you feel good.

I wrote down a list of activities and self care things as I’ve said before I’m quite a visual person so its good for me to have something written down. Also I find some days I don’t know what to do with myself and I find that so overwhelming that I end up doing nothing and feeling even more frustrated with myself, so having a list and a rough plan for the day give me that bit of structure and feels much less overwhelming, so its easier to decide what to do.

Here’s the Daily activities list

Walk the dogs

Blog – Try and write at least once a week

Listen to music and podcasts

Watch tv (I’ll often re-watch stuff I’ve seen a million times which helps ease my anxiety)

Have a day of total rest, do nothing at all and make a cosy resting spot

Online course (not found anything interesting yet)

On rainy days play inside with the dogs, bubbles, balloons, fetch and treat toys

Play on my PS4

Write/draw/doodle/colour/read

But don’t feel the need to fill EVERY second of every day, its ok to rest and relax and keep in contact with mind and body.

Here are my self care activities

Shower in the morning and evening if I feel like it

Make sure I get outside everyday for at least 30 mins no matter what the weather.

Take morning and evening meds and do my sinus rinse twice a day

Journal – Write every evening

Blog

Continue counselling (currently via video call)

Nap and rest – meditation and breathing exercises

Cut hair / bleach and dye it (I find cutting my hair and colouring it very theraputic)

Treat self to something I want

Don’t force myself to eat dinner or cook dinner. If I only want snacks for dinner or a takeaway that’s fine do it!

Do things that make me feel happy and good, don’t force myself to do anything especially if it doesn’t make me feel good.

Make a cosy place on the lounge floor lots of pillows and blankets (my inner child bloody loves this)

Or get comfy in bed and watch films on my laptop with snacks, pillows and candles

Don’t forget to reach out! Take time to message friends and interact on FB groups

Play with fidget toys (they help me to concentrate loads and just help me feel calmer)

Bake cakes/cookies or make bread

Don’t wait to long to take pain killers, take them when I need them, don’t wait till the pain is unbearable

Don’t force myself to be happy, let myself feel how I feel.

Keep on top of hospital appointments, blood tests and medications

Take a day where I don’t reply to notifications and try to not spend too much time just scrolling through social media. Try and do that once a week, just to shield myself from constant negative news

Feel tension in my body and chest, stop take and deep breaths and exhale slowly, do that a few times and slowly unclench my jaw, drop my shoulder and just sink into it the breath

When the evenings start t get darker earlier use the SAD light once a day to help with my mood during the winter months

Regularly wash face masks (I suck at remembering to so this lol)

Use weighted blanket when feeling anxious or just need some comfort

Take photographs and use clip on lenses

Hunt for mushrooms and other autumn things (my new interest)

Take a moment to stop and ask myself what I need in that moment.

That’s all I have written down and some may seem really obvious and simple but our lives and minds are often to busy that the simple things get forgotten.

The most important thing is to find joy in the things you do, even in the boring tasks.

Hopefully this list will be helpful and its something you can incorporate into your life to makes things run better, to maybe help you feel better. Obviously tweak, it change it and make it work for you, these are just my ideas and what’s been helpful to me, but won’t be helpful to everyone.

Peace out

Zak

Gratitude Journal

Trying to remain grateful and trying to remain positive has been hard, but I’m still trying and I’m doing my best to keep going.

I have been doing a mantra meditation course on an app called Oak – Meditation and breathing. Its a really good app and its actually been nice to have moments of peace and restfulness during these meditations. I’ve been trying my best to make time each day. I don’t know why I find it so boring, just the thought of meditation makes me feel like its pointless and a waste of time, but right now I’m not doing much else right now and meditation is just like sleeping or breathing, its necessary to find that inner calm, that inner peace to get through the day.

I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to be super productive during this lockdown, which is adding unnecessary pressure, stress and anxiety, to an already stressful situation. I’m trying not to feel guilty about not doing anything and just sitting around. Some days I am productive and get things done but it ebbs and flows and I’m trying my best just to chill and go with it, without judgement and guilt.

Its a strange situation we find ourselves in, we’re all trying to navigate our way through it. There is no right way to get through this epidemic, some people will be super productive, some wont, some will get into fitness, some wont, some will be chill and cherish this time, some will really struggle. But whatever you do, however you get through this, we’ve got a worldwide connection, we’re all going through the same thing. We’ll get through this as a collective, keep loving and supporting one and other.

Peace out

Zak

Self care + Chronic illness

I have a really cool book that’s called Health Minder Personal wellness Journal, its really detailed and its great for keeping track of your physical and mental health.

I’ve not used it in 2 years and I thought since I have a lot of the Covid19 symptoms anyway because of my autoimmune disorder, I thought it would be a good idea to start filling it in again as a way to keep an eye on my symptoms and notice any changes there maybe. Also its a good way for me to check in with myself in the morning a and evening, which may help me connect with myself.

I was gifted this book from a friend, but you can get them on Amazon, eBay and MemoryMinder Journals website.

For me it is all helpful but my temperature is usually lower then the average 37 degrees. My temperature can range between 35 degrees and 36.5 degrees, anything higher then that for me indicates that I have a fever. So if I do get sick this book will be good to show to the doctors so they can see what my temperature is usually, so they can see that 38/39+ is a very high fever for me. Plus them being able to look at my symptoms and how things have changed etc and saves me explaining things over and over again.

I think it will be good to keep an eye on the slightest changes in my weight, temperature and symptoms, so I can make sure I am keeping as well as I can and not picking up any infections, whether that be the Covid19 or my usual sinus and chest infections.

I hope you’re all keeping safe and keeping as well as you can.

Peace out

Zak

Podcast revelations

Listening to The Happy Place with Fearne cotton and Catherine Gray, talking about alcohol addiction and the effects of alcohol and it’s definitely food for thought.

I started drinking more last year when I was in a relationship then I did when I wasn’t with someone. We ended up getting into a bit of a rut and drank most weekends and sometimes in the week, when we hung out.

To clarify, I’ve never had an addiction to alcohol, I’ve only actually ever been drunk a few times as I really don’t like being out of control, that’s probably cuz I’m a bit of a control freak and perfectionist. That’s a whole other issue to unpack lol.

Listening to Catherine talk about alcohol and anxiety, social anxiety and being a introvert, made real sense to me.

It was last year that my anxiety became a big issue for me again. As I talked about in my last blog that was mainly due to feeling trapped and having to keep things in, keep my relationship a secret etc.

I’m thinking now that my increased drinking also has played a big role with my anxiety issues. It would make perfect sense and fits perfectly time wise. Even now I’m not in a relationship I still have a few drinks most weekends, usually at home on my own.

I’ve decided to do an experiment and between now and Christmas I’m not going to drink a single drop of alcohol and see if that helps lessen my anxiety.

Obviously I need to replace it with better habits and I think I’m going to write a list of things I can try to do instead to ease my anxiety. Like drinking camomile tea, breathing exercises, meditation etc.

They also talked a bit about love addiction, which I think I have struggled with especially in my younger years, going from one shitty relationship to another because I felt so unloved and unworthy I needed someone to fix me.

I’ve realised now, only I can fix me and I am loved and I am worthy, but I can still have these incredibly high expectations and put the other person on a pedestal and need them to be my everything.

That’s far too much to ask of another human being, it’s too intense and only leads to feeling let down and disappointed. But I still recognise I can still be a bit love addicted and that’s ok, it’s something to be aware of and work through.

So with all these revelations that keep coming up from different places it can only be a good thing to help me learn and grow and be the best version of myself I can be.

Peace out

Zak

A day in the life of a trans guy – Top Surgery

I’ve not posted anything in a while, I always think I have to be ‘in the right mood’ in order to be able to write a good post, but I realised that was just me being lazy and procrastinating. I decided I just need to get over myself and WRITE! I enjoy writing, it always makes me feel better, so I’m not sure why I stop myself.

A lot has happened in the last 2 months, since my last post. The main big news is that I’ve finally had top surgery! I had it 5 weeks ago 20th August! Everything went really well, my scars and new nipples look amazing! I am beyond happy! I’m still having to wear a compression binder..Urgh! But hopefully another week longer and I’ll be free!

I have a check up on Thursday, as I have a clot of blood sat on my right side of the chest, that they just need to drain and hopefully after that I won’t need to go back again. Wearing the compression binder has been pretty brutal, as I’ve been wearing it for nearly 5 weeks straight. I’ve had a few days where I’ve taken it off and given my chest a break. My skin is a bit sore where the binder has been rubbing on my skin and my ribs on the left are a bit swollen and this is exactly why I didn’t wear a binder in the first place, because its just too painful, uncomfortable and hot.

I have had a handful of good friends who’ve been so great during this time, I was so grateful to have people take me to the hospital before my op, bring me home, friends looking after my fur babies and friends taking me back and forth for check up apps and a couple of people coming over. It was one of the things I was worried about but I got there and back and my fur babies were look after, those were the most important things. So that made things easier.

Recovery has been a bit more difficult, its been pretty lonely and boring. I think week 3 of recovery was when I went out on my own, as I was so bored and I just needed to get out and then I also took the dogs out for the day which was great but man did that put me on my ass for the next few days. I’ve been trying to walk and get out as much as I can to start building myself up again, but still gotta take it easy and there’s still things I’ve got to be careful doing. I can’t reach my arms over my head yet and I can’t lift anything heavy still either.

Just been trying to occupy my time with different things, reading, meditation, gaming, playing inside with the dogs, napping, Netflix, colouring in. I keep I suppose its disassociating and just sitting staring and hours pass by and I haven’t moved or done anything. I also keep getting bouts of really bad anxiety, like anxiety I’ve not experienced before, it’s been so bad that I can’t move, I can’t tolerate noise, I’m just frozen and I felt so exhausted. Some days I was able to push through and make myself get out of the house, even just to walk to dogs, but even that was a massive effort. So things haven’t all been great just because I’ve had surgery, like it doesn’t solve all the issues, that I previously was struggling with. I think loneliness and isolation has really made it worse, as usual. It sucks not being able to volunteer and not having the energy to be out as much as I would like to be. It has had a huge emotional toll and I still haven’t really processed it and I think that’s another reason I’ve put off writing, because it means I don’t have to empty my guts out onto a page and examine what the fucks going on in that crazy brain of mine. I suppose this could be the start of the process but who knows.

So yeah its not been all flowers and rainbows, its been hard. I think the first 2 weeks after surgery, I kept having moments of feeling so blissed out, which was incredible. But then like I said the issues I had already before surgery reared their ugly heads again. But I mean I’m ok, I’m just frustrated, I miss not being in a routine and just doing things, I miss volunteering and seeing people. Kinda feels like a bit of a step back with the isolation… but I mean yeah.. I’m sure that will get better once I can do stuff again.

Above are pictures of my hospital room, me before and after surgery. I’m pretty impressed with how incredibly well my body has healed so far. The body is an amazing thing! I’m so blessed not to have had any major complications and everything has gone relatively well.

Just before surgery I had to have a ultrasound scan of my womb, as I was coming up to two years on testosterone, so its something they do. Results came back to say the lining of my womb is still thick and it shouldn’t be, so gotta go to gynaecologist in Dec, not overly looking forward to that, but its good they are looking into what might be happening.

2 days after surgery was my 2 years on testosterone anniversary 22nd August! I can’t believe it! It’s gone so quickly! I look so different too! In spite of all the mental health stuff I have going on, I do feel better on a more spiritual level, I feel more me, I just feel right now, well getting there, but I do feel more comfortable being me. I’m sure as more time passes the better that will get. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and I still have a way to go, but I’m finally on the road I want to be.

Well that’s all for now, I hope whoever read this, enjoys it.

Peace out,

Zak

Dear friends,

Dear friends, old and new. To those who I’ve known for 20 years and to those who I’ve known for 2 months. I wanted to write this to catch everyone up on where I am and where I’ve been.

In January, I was in a really dark place, which is somewhere I haven’t been for a long time and I feel like I’m only just coming out of the other side of it, but I still have a way to go.

As a result of this darkness I removed everyone from my Facebook for a good 3/4 months. I was angry, frustrated, isolated, depressed and struggling to survive.

But in that time I did a lot of soul searching, I know such a cliche, but I did.

I realised that over the years I’ve been quick to shut people out of my life, I’ve been quick to give up on friendships. I was trying to cut out “bad energies, drama” etc but in doing that I closed myself off to the good energies and good stuff.

I think I became so closed off because I’m so willing to help everyone, that sometimes I get burned. That’s not necessarily down to people themselves but due to my lack of boundaries and respect for myself. I thought if I made other people happy then I’d be happy but it doesn’t work like that.

Then about 5 years ago I started exploring my gender and came out as trans and I began my journey. Which again I was really open about but I was also wary of being people’s token trans friend and I was just anxious about not being accepted or whatever. So again I made my friend circle smaller.

In making my world smaller, I’ve missed out on living. I’ve missed out on friendships with some really great people. I gave in to the negative inner voices and the darkness, I allowed myself to become isolated and alone, the anger and frustration grew within.

January was my breaking point but in the weeks and months after I spent most of time alone, thinking, reflecting and meditating.

I started to allow myself to be open, slowly I began to add people back on FB, I began to reach out to friends. I started to ignore the negative inner voice and the darkness and walked towards the light.

It’s by no means perfect, I still struggle with anxiety and depression but I’m finding it a bit easier to deal with.

I often felt my expectations of people were too high, but I realised I rarely expressed my expectations in my friendships, I can’t have expectations if people don’t know what they are.

My voluntary work has helped me so much, it’s helped me with not being so isolated, I’ve made some incredible new friends who’s friendships I am so incredibly grateful for and hopefully in 20 years plus we’ll still be friends, still having adventures and experiencing this life together.

For those who I’ve not spoken to in a long time, who I’ve recently added back, I hope you’re well and forgive me for being so distant, I had to go off in order to grow into a better version of myself and I hope to hear from you soon, much love to you.

For everyone else, know that I appreciate you, I may not say it as often as I should or even show it but I do very much appreciate every friendship I have. You’ve kept me going even when I didn’t want too. I will continue to try and be open with you about everything, it’s something I’m still working one. But I’ll get there.

Thank you to everyone for your patience, love, support and sheer awesomeness!

I love and appreciate you all!

In 6 weeks time I will embark on the next stage of my journey, my physical transition, my spiritual journey.

I’m excited, I’m a bit scared, I’m nervous but I am so ready for it, I know it’s going to be a challenge but I’m ready to face it head on.

I know I will have my friends by my side helping me through and I’m so excited to have you guys with me! I can’t wait for this next adventure!

Peace out

Zak 💜

A day in the life of a trans guy – Chest binding pain vs feeling happy/confident out in public

Chest binding pain vs feeling happy/confident out in public

It’s a difficult dilemma, especially in the summer and as here in the UK it’s been a lot hotter for a lot longer then it usually is in June/July or ever actually lol. In the winter I tend not to bother to bind as I can hide my chest with baggy tops and hoodies, so it makes life a bit easier.

It’s also difficult because I have an auto immune disorder which causes joint pain/inflammation etc and I’m more susceptible to broken bones (a few years ago I fractured 5 bones in like 6 months)… so I have to weigh up when is safe to bind and for how long. It means listening to my body and how my body feels. For example if I’m tired and achy then it’s probably not the best idea to bind for 8 hours straight or at all. But I don’t always listen to how I feel, because I’m often disconnected from emotions and my body, I know I need to work on it though. I try and connect with myself by writing, meditation and just sitting quietly. I’ve been trying to do it more often as it does make a difference and helps a bit with the disconnect between mind and body.

The last 3 days I’ve worn my chest binder and 2 days I’ve worn it for the majority of the day and my ribs at the end of the day ache so bad and all I want to do is get home and take it off. But those 3 days I’ve been out in public, so beach one day and the other two days I’ve been around people I don’t really know that well and wearing the binder has made me feel a bit more myself, a bit more confident, less anxious and a bit less self conscious.

Tomorrow I’ll need to give my body a rest a not bind all day. It’s not recommended that you bind all day every day and definitely not recommended to wear it for 8 hours straight, especially when it’s hot.

I’ve been careful to make sure I’m drinking more and eating regularly too. So I’m not dehydrated or hungry.

Chest binding is exhausting, I’ve had mine on for nearly 12 hours… and I can feel it. I’m exhausted, hot and in a lot of pain but it was totally worth it as I’ve felt really good all day… so it’s a real dilemma.

Because of my health issues, I’m used to dealing with joint pain, some days are easier then others. But I know this pain is fairly temporary, cuz as soon as I take the binder off and relax then pain will subside which is good.

I use a high impact sports bra to bind my chest, as I’ve found it the most comfortable (as chest binding can be) an the material isn’t too hot, itchy and scratchy. I’ve tried a range of different chest binders but have found this to be the better one. So it is really important to find a chest binder that feels as comfortable as possible and makes you feel good cuz ultimately that’s the main point. What suits one person may not suit another, so it’s a bit of trial and error. But it’s definitely worth it if you find a binder that you feel comfortable with.

Peace out

Zak

Transition update – Week 41 on T

Its so strange how things can change for the better in a second. I’m feeling so much better then I have done over the past few months. My financial situation is finally sorted and I got a back payment. Its such a weight off my shoulders, I feel like I can breathe again.

I’ve not spent all the money yet and what I have bought so far has been an investment of sorts. I’ve booked a short holiday in Devon with a friend, I’m super excited as I’ve not been on holiday for about 10 years. I booked to see Eminem in July! with my best friend, we are super excited for this. I got myself a Nintendo switch, a tattoo session and a new hoover. I intend on doing an online course and get my passport sorted. So I feel its not been a waste, I’ve actually got stuff to show for it this time around. So I’m quite proud of myself, as I’m not the best with money lol! I’ve also paid off the people I owed money too, so that felt good.

So I feel right now that my mental health is much better then it was, I’ve had a few anxiety attacks but there’s been a real reason behind them and not just anxiety for no reason. I feel back to myself again, I can enjoy life again rather then just trying to survive. I’m looking forward to the future rather then dreading it. I’m 100% committed to moving forward and bettering myself, I don’t want to be stuck in this place forever. I feel like apart from the transition and coming out as trans, nothing else has really moved forward in the last 5 years or so and I feel now is the time to do something more worthwhile. I’m not going to dive into anything, just small steps, small changes and things will start moving.

Transition stuff is going ok, I had my fasting blood test this morning to check my T levels and then I had my injection. I’ve got to have another fasting blood test next week and then hopefully I’ll get the results before I go away. I’m still not 100% that my levels are right as the last 3 weeks my emotions have been all over the place and I’ve found it really hard to hold myself together. Part of it has been high stress levels but I also think some of it is hormonal as well. Its a waiting game and I realise it takes time to get theses things right and I know it will be an ongoing thing.

Gender dysphoria has been ok-ish and its been manageable. Some days its easier to deal with but other days its so much harder. It makes me feel anxious, agitated which makes me detach and disassociate. I intend on trying to ground myself daily in order to help me deal with the gender dysphoria and disassociation. I’ve been writing in my journal again and that’s helped me express how I feel daily and its been helpful to look back on it and reflect on how I’ve dealt with things and how I’ve been feeling. I also intend on looking after myself and my needs again properly as I’ve let the self care side slip a bit, so I have made a promise to myself to put myself first.

That’s all for now 🙂

Week 41 on T

^ This weeks picture

^ This weeks video

Peace out

Zak

Transition update – Week 20 on T

5 months on testosterone today! WOOHOO! I did my 6th injection this morning, after the fasting blood tests and everything went well. I got my second bloods next Tuesday, to see how where my testosterone levels are.

Not really sure what else to say… um my facial hair is starting to get long and wild lol! which is pretty cool and I can still hear slight changes in my voice which again is really cool.

I got an appointment with my ears, nose and throat doc soon, I’ve had sinus issues for the past few weeks so I’m hoping he can sort something out. I’ve been getting nosebleeds and just so much snot its ridiculous.

Mood wise, I’ve been ok I suppose. Just been disconnected really, neither up or down. But I suppose that’s a good thing, because I’m not really depressed or anxious, I’m just nothing. I think its a coping mechanism to deal with all the overwhelming feelings and intrusive thoughts.

I’ve been trying really hard to look after myself, so everyday I’ve been meditating and doing something to look after myself. Like today I booked in with a charity to help me with filling in forms for PIP (personal independence payment) and I rang up to claim the forms. I’ve been dreading this for so long but I took the plunge and I’ve got the ball rolling. It actually feels good to have got everything started and I’m just hoping its not as traumatic as last time.

Self care is super hard, its so much easier to look after others. But its so essential , if you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of others.

 

IMG_6807

^ This weeks picture

^ This weeks video

That’s all for this week

Peace out

Dyllan

Transition update – Week 6 on T

I missed updating on week 5 as I just didn’t have the time, as I mentioned in my last post I was at my friends place looking after her two boys and her dog, along with my two dogs.

I thought I would have time but looking after kids is hard work, there’s school runs, cooking, tidying up, homework…urgh homework! etc and on top of that they gave me their germs, it started off with a cold but now I’m on antibiotics for a chest infection.

The change I started noticing last week was dark hairs growing on my chin, which is pretty cool. I’ve tried to take a picture of it but haven’t been able to get the right angle or lighting. I already have a pretty dark moustache area, I always have done and I used to get bullied a lot about it at school but I have noticed that my moustache area has got darker and the hairs are coming further down which is all cool by me.

I don’t think I’ve ever examined my face as much as I have since starting testosterone. I’m constantly looking at myself, looking at and squeezing spots that are all over my forehead, constantly checking for hair in the beard area. It’s funny because I’m not a huge fan of looking at myself in the mirror but now I’ve just been scrutinising ever inch of my face, several times a day.

Week 6 – I’ve not noticed any new changes, its hard to notice if my voice has changed much because of my chest infection and I just sound like I’m ill.

Since starting T my mood has been pretty good, I’ve had a few up and down days but nothing major. Today my mood has been pretty shitty, I think I woke up feeling in a bit of a funk but the days events just haven’t helped how I’ve been feeling at all. I just tried to ignore how I’ve felt and just carried on but as the day went on and things irritated me. The more things irritated me the more I’ve felt really fucking frustrated and angry, yeah I get moments when I’m angry and frustrated but I usually get over it. Today I just feel low and irritable and I can’t seem to get out of it. I’m notching it up to the testosterone and its ok to feel low and irritable and after all I have a chest infection so that is probably impacting on my mood as well. I’m feeling more tired, more achy and just feel ill right now, I just need to look after myself and do things that are good for me, like resting, napping, meditating, reading, being outside in nature with the dogs, eating well, the usual self care stuff.

Anyway below is a pic of last week and this week

Week 5 on T

^ Week 5 on T

Week 6 on T

^ Week 6 on T

Peace out

Batman