Going To A Treatment Facility

Yesterday I went to a treatment facility. It’s a place which houses inpatients, day patients and has services for outpatients, like me. I met a therapist in this building which looked a lot like an old Victorian mansion where Lords and Ladies would have spent their time doing nothing but being rich and entertaining themselves. It also wasn’t particularly helpful that they were playing funeral music in the waiting area.

It was strange to be in a place purely dedicated to the treatment of mental illness. Before now I’ve only gone to hospitals and surgeries which treatment both mental and physical illnesses. There though, every patient was there for a broadly similar reason, yet still none of us would meet each other’s eyes or, if we did, it would only be for a brief self-indulgent second. Maybe that’s part of what the stigma around mental illness does to, it makes you internalise a sense of shame for being ill which not even being around other people in similar situations can heal.

I was taken up a grand staircase, trailing this woman that I knew I would have to open up my heart and soul to; a stranger with my life in her hands. The upstairs part of the building looked like a posh English boarding school with it’s cracked brown leather chairs, folders sprawled across the floor, art and books haphazardly covering every wall, a battered wooden desk and regal window frames that were not fit for purpose. It was surreal to be in this messy office and know that this would be the site where I would have to fight tooth and nail for recovery.

I answered the same questions I’ve covered with many, many people before over and over again. Initial mental health assessments all really follow the same formula and there never fails to be not enough time to cover everything you wish you could explain. I think I did the best I could though. I was scared and wanted to burst through the heavy door, run away and never return as soon as I took a seat on the sofa. There’s still a large part of my mind and body that wants to fight against and avoid treatment despite knowing that I need it. I stayed though and answered the questions. Then I accepted an appointment for next Thursday which makes it seem real to me – I really am returning to therapy.

The psychologist I saw also said that she was keen for me to see a psychiatrist and said that she would try and arrange an appointment. It’s difficult to know how to feel about that, considering I told her some things that I never told anyone else before. For now, I guess I’ll leave this here before I bore anyone reading this into having to click off this page! Thank you reading this far through, if you’ve got here.

 

If you want to hear my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter.

Some of my other mental health posts:

Six of the Most Harmful Mental Health Narratives

Daily Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

I’d Be Invisible

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Mental Health Treatment Is Not Fair

It is the patients who fight relentlessly to be heard, who chase-up their delayed referrals, who refuse to leave appointments until they are seen by those necessary who will find quicker access to mental health services, at least in my experience. However, this is completely contrary to how treatment needs to be supplied at the point of access. The energy and mental effort it takes to reach out for help when you are struggling with mental illness is hard enough as it is, without then having to deal with the rejections and knock-backs you are then subsequently put through. The turmoil you are put through having to be vulnerable with your most inner-held thoughts is enough to go through once when you are trying to reach therapy or other help, let alone having to repeatedly stress the situation you are in and justify your requests for help. Having reached out for help countless times and gotten nowhere seemingly on most of those occasions, I can tell you without doubt that gaining access to mental health care is not simple, quick or easy.

A recurring theme of attempting to access mental health treatment is having to prove again and again that you are sick enough to be treated. This is a fact that makes me sick to my stomach. Patients with mental illnesses are not believed often enough to have early interventions and because of this people are forced to deteriorate  with their mental illness before they get help. It’s not until people hit rock bottom that they are deemed worthy of getting help, which is disgusting. So many people go through unnecessary suffering and trauma because of this.

 

Sorry but I needed this rant. In no way am I discouraging people from seeking help by the way, I just needed to get these feelings of impatience and annoyance off my chest.

 

If you want to see my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter.

Some of my other mental health related posts:

Daily Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

Mental Health, Medication & Stigma

A Mental Health Update

What Am I Going To Do?

As I said in my last post, I have withdrawn from University for the time being and I’m aiming to restart my second year in September. Obviously this leaves me with a lot of free time that I was not expecting to have and have not planned for. Apart from trying to gain access to therapy, I know that I will need to occupy my mind during all of this free time. If I’m not being productive in any way my mood plummets and negative thoughts are free to take hold of my brain. So, I have decided on some (admittedly small) goals that I want to achieve during my time out.

What am I going to do?

1) I want to re-learn French

I did French at school for about 11 years. Although I got an A in the subject at GCSE my ability to speak the language was never good and, because I haven’t studied it for three years, a lot of what I learned has left my brain. I think learning a language is a really constructive pastime and I’m determined to be able to speak French fluently at some point in my life.

 

2) Grow my NBA social media accounts

This is a fact that most of you probably do not know about me but I love basketball. I have a Twitter and an Instagram account dedicated solely to basketball news and my opinions on what is happening in the NBA. Watching basketball is a relief for me, it de-stresses me and takes my mind to another place, so I want to make it an even bigger part of my life whilst I’m not at University.

 

3) Talk to you more!

Recently, I have neglected my blog quite badly but I get a lot out of writing down my thoughts and interacting with you guys. Writing a post makes me feel like I have achieved something and reassures me that I am at least capable of completing some tasks. So, I would love to get back into the swing of things and post more regularly on here!

 

4) Exercise

I am writing this goal with a certain amount of reluctance because exercise and me have not gotten on well together since I was about 10 years old. I feel very self-conscious whilst I am running or just being active generally because my self-esteem is so low. However, I cannot ignore the fact that I want to feel fit rather than panting every time I go up a flight of stairs! If you guys are interested, maybe I will document my fitness journey?

 

5) Tackle my to-read list

I have a lot of books in my room, many of which lie neglected and unopened and I want to change this. I firmly believe that reading, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, can teach you a great deal. Also, I love the escapism which engaging in a good book gives you. If any of you have some good book recommendations, please leave them in the comments below so I can check them out!

 

This is the end of the list of things I am going to do whilst I am taking time out from University. I know many of these things will see small and insignificant to some but I am going have to be patient with myself and take baby steps to try and get to a healthier state of mind and being. Thank you for reading this post and if you have any suggestions for future blog posts I should do please comment them below!

 

If you want to hear my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter – @RyanBInNature

January Recap/The Worst Month Of My Life

TRIGGER WARNING: REFERENCES TO SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, SELF-HARM AND ALCOHOL MISUSE.

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted on this blog in quite a while. In all honesty I have not been mentally well enough to build-up the energy required to write a blog post. January has been a whirlwind of anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, confusion and excessive amounts of alcohol. I had four assessments (two exams and two essays) to complete during January in order to finish my first semester’s classes. However, I did not turn-up to either exam and I did not write the essays, let alone submit any. During the week I was supposed to do my assessments, I spiralled out of control and eventually had to tell an advisor at my University’s Student Life Centre that I no longer felt I could keep myself safe. So, the day culminated in my trip to Accident & Emergency where at least I felt I was in a safe and protected environment.

For context, over a two week period, I had been getting black-out drunk everyday, self-harming, unable to eat properly so I was faint and found it difficult to walk and having brutal panic attacks. So, I became suicidal. I felt like life was not worth living if I was going to have to struggle miserably through everyday of my life. I was shocked by how low I had become so quickly, I had never once come close to skipping exams and abandoning deadlines or felt in such a depth of crisis. So, I abused my body; hoping to die of alcohol poisoning due to the amount I was drinking, cutting became a refuge in which I could express my self-hatred. Intrusive thoughts filled my mind everyday, graphic images of committing suicide and hurting myself. I was hopeless.

I returned home from University and realised that only option was to temporarily withdraw from University and restart my second year in September. I knew that if I went back in February when my next semester was to start I would be putting myself in a very vulnerable place because, honestly, there was no way I could cope with being at University and pretending all was well with my as I continued my studies. So, I have now withdrawn from University until September. It’s hard not to feel like a failure at the moment, like I have disappointed myself and those around me greatly. However, I know that this is what I needed to do for my health’s sake.

Since being at home, I’ve had to have difficult, honest conversations with people. I have felt guilty burdening my family with my daily presence considering how low and anxious I have been, I know I am dragging the mood down everyday. I feel helpless. I have spent a lot of my time trying to find a psychotherapist, even considering committing to day hospital. For now, I’m not sure what I will do.

 

If you want to hear my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter – @RyanBInNature

Fading Away

I don’t want to talk,
Don’t call me ‘brave’ or ‘resilient’,
I just want to fade, be numbed,
Feel a spiritual anaesthetic in my veins –
Don’t give me compliments,
Their falseness turns my stomach.

Childhood Memories

It is hard for me to remember;
Part the sea of hazy vague glimpses
Which comprises my childhood memories.

An adolescence spent at war,
With the nucleus of my life,
Leaves little room for remembering
Or understanding what it was like before –
Before something else became my normal.

Instead I am left only with fragments,
Small throw-away details,
Seemingly without value,
Like opening fruit shoots with my teeth,
Falling over in a car park,
Eating rice cakes on a family walk –
Small moments,
So tiny, they may seem insignificant
When you are not the owner of this brain.

I Will Write What I Write

Time pressure is on,
But I don’t mind what I write.

I was told to be ashamed of the subconscious in me,
But, in everything, I just let what the deeper me, be what I am.

I love being an anigma; being a crazy secret; the letter/the symbol I inhabit,
The letter that I am,
The reality that I create;
The person I am.

Trans Stories From My Childhood

 

I got the idea for this blog post from Ashton Daniel’s video on YouTube called ‘trans kid stories’. In the video, he spoke about how, upon reflecting on his childhood, he can see early signs of his trans identity in many of the choices he made and the things he did. So, here I have compiled a list of some of the stories which I think show that I was aware of my trans identity from early childhood.

[I might do a part two for this as I think there are some more stories I could write about, let me know if you would be interested in reading a second part to this].

1. I refused to wear a bikini top when I was a little kid on holiday

I refused to believe that my body was that of a female because I knew in my head that I didn’t feel like a female. Also, I knew that if I wore a bikini top, that would mark me out to other people as definitely being a girl. So, I fought my mum and refused to wear a bikini top and just ran about the beach topless. I hadn’t grown a chest by that point and my mum (and social expectations) put a stop to this before too long and soon I would just opt to wear a t-shirt and shorts to the beach or be in my wetsuit to go bodyboarding (we always went on holiday to Cornwall, so the sea wasn’t that warm anyway).

2. I stood-up to pee

I didn’t want to pee like a girl, so I would stand-up to pee. I feel sorry for the person (probably my mum) who would have to clear-up the mess I made later but this is another story that, with the benefit of reflection, tells me that I was already questioning my gender by the time I was old enough to go to the toilet on my own.

3. Little Ryan: ‘I have a willy too!’

I refused to believe that I had female genitalia and convinced myself that I, like my brothers, had a willy. One day, I said something about this and my brothers corrected me. Then ensued a shouting match between me and my brothers in which I adamantly told them that ‘I have a willy too!’. I was probably about 4 years old when I said this and I found it very frustrating that nobody took me seriously.

4. Wearing trousers to school

Every girl at school, with only one or two exceptions, wore a skirt as part of their school uniform, so the option to wear trousers was mostly ignored by the female pupils. I hated wearing skirts which I saw as marking myself out as a ‘girl’, so I decided to wear trousers instead. This may not seem like a big deal but at 11 years old, I was very self-concious and I knew that people would do a double-take when they saw me wearing trousers because barely any other ‘girls’ did the same.

5. Wearing boys’ school shoes

Following-on from the last story, when my mum and I went shopping for school shoes (which was a trip we both dreaded every year), I told the man at the shoe shop that I resolutely wanted boys’ shoes. I think I was around 13 years old and, out of exasperation and wanting desperately to get out of the shop which was rammed with stroppy kids, my mum didn’t really try to convince me otherwise. So, for the next school year I went around wearing what looked like clown shoes on my little feet but I felt so happy that I didn’t have to wear the flowery school shoes which the other ‘girls’ wore!

6. Wanting to change primary schools

From the ages of 4 to 11, I attended an all-girls’ school whilst my brothers attended an all-boys school. I vividly remember dreaming at night during this period about being able to attend my brothers’ school instead and being treated as a boy. I longed to have a place in their school, which evidently did not happen.

7. Playing in boys’ sport teams

I used to play cricket when I was younger and, up until around 12 years old, I would play in an all-boys’ team. Up to this age, there were no regulations against it and considering that cricket is a non-contact sport and there weren’t many girls’ teams in existence, my parents and the coaches did not have a problem with it. I enjoyed this experience, except for that opposition teams would always make a fuss about wanting to ‘get the girl out’ (me) and it was deemed especially shameful if you were gotten-out by ‘the girl’ (for some reason they never addressed me by my then-name, they only called me ‘the girl’!).

8. Asking to play rugby

At about six years old I mustered all my courage and asked my parents if I could play rugby. I knew that, in their eyes, it was essentially a male sport (it is quite a rough contact sport) but I so desperately wanted to play. They said ‘no’ because playing rugby ‘wasn’t feminine’ and I felt angry and frustrated. I had hoped that they would take the same position as they had with me playing cricket with the boys, but no such luck.

9. Showing-off my strength and anger

At times as a child (and probably still now), I attempted to over-compensate in shows of my masculinity to convince people that I wasn’t ‘girly’. I saw anger, aggression and strength as typical male traits. At about 5 years old, I remember throwing a stool across my bedroom in a bid to appear masculine and impress people with my strength. All it resulted in was me breaking my stool and getting a big telling-off from my mum!

10. Screaming about and hiding clothes

I detested the clothes my mum bought for me. Going clothes shopping was an ordeal as I would walk miserably around every girls’ clothing section, trailing after my mum, and grow more and more angry as she put clothes she saw as ‘pretty’ into her arms to buy for me. Sometimes, when we got home, I would hide the clothes she had bought for me, stuffing them behind bits of furniture or at the bottom of wardrobes under all sorts of clutter. My reasoning was that, if she couldn’t find the clothes, then she couldn’t dress me in them! I remember the tears I cried and the tantrums I had about being made to wear dresses for family occasions and I now see these as examples of my trans identity already being prominent in my youth.

11. Playing ‘dad’ or ‘son’

At my all-girls primary school, my friends enjoyed playing ‘families’. I would always immediately volunteer to play the dad or son and would be angry at the mere suggestion of me playing a female character. For the most part, people welcomed my willingness to play the dad or son because they always wanted the female roles to themselves.

 

Here are some resources for trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming/questioning people:

Mermaids UK

The Stonewall Blog

A list of organisations over at All About Trans

 

My Goals For 2019

As 2018 comes to a close, I can’t help but wonder what 2019 might hold in-store for me. Creating long-term goals and having aspirations for the year ahead can be positive for my mental health; it gives me something to keep going for, ways to occupy my mind and shifts my perspective on what I can do with  my life. So, I decided to write down some of the goals I want to achieve in 2019. The reason I’m not using the term ‘resolutions’ is that ‘goals’ sounds more positive to me and gives me more room to adapt my plans throughout the year rather than having to stick completely to what I have resolved to achieve for the entirety of 2019.  

My Goals for 2019:

1. To stop playing scratch-cards

2. To find a more permanent/secure living arrangement

3. To create a treatment plan for my mental health

4. To at least be on the waiting list for top-surgery by the end of the year

5. To do more advocacy for mental health and transgender rights

6. To read 25 books

7. To do regular volunteer work for a charity during my summer break

8. To get my drivers’ licence 

9. To let go of toxic relationships and to not harbour unhealthy anger over them afterwards

10. To improve my relationship with food and achieve a healthy weight

 

If you want to see my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter – @RyanBInNature.

 

Feel free to leave some of your goals for the New Year in the comments below!

 

The Hogwarts Tag

I first saw this tag over at My Bookish Dream and I thought that it looked really fun, especially considering that I am obsessed with everything magical and Harry Potter related! You can go over and read her post here.

1. Are you a Pure-Blood or Half-Blood?

According to the DoQuizzes quiz, I am a pure-blood. I don’t know whether to be happy about this or not but coming from a magical family sounds like an interesting childhood!

2. Which wand chose me?

According to Pottermore, it was an alder wood wand with a unicorn hair core, 10 inches long and quite bendy.

3. Did you take a cat, owl or toad with you?

This is a difficult question because I would love the company of a cat but I absolutely love writing and sending letters which would be an easier task with an owl. Also, leaving the owl to be looked after in the Owlery would be less responsibility than having to look after a cat yourself the whole time at school, plus Hedwig totally won me over and made me an owl fan. So, I think I would have taken an owl along with me.

4. Where did the Sorting Hat put you?

I am in Slytherin; the house of the most shrewd, cunning, resourceful and ambitious students!

5. What House did you want to be placed in?

I always had a sort of affinity with Slytherin, however I could see the merits in being in any of the four houses, so I wasn’t too desperately attached to the idea of being in either.

6. What lessons are your favourite and least favourite?

My favourite is Defence Against the Dark Arts because it is the most practical of the classes and involves learning a lot about every area of magic. My least favourite is divination because honestly Professor Trelawney gives me the creeps a bit and those lessons would get me easily bored I think.

7. What is your patronus?

My patronus is a buzzard which is quite cool considering that it is an animal which can fly.

8. What does your boggart look like?

Me in my old age having never undergone my gender transition and still feeling the same level of anxiety and sadness which I feel on a daily basis now. This is the most scary thing I can think of to be honest, if I let myself down and never make the progress I want to in life, I can’t imagine living in the same level of emotional pain which burdens me on a daily basis currently.

9. Do you partake in any magical hobbies or school sports?

It would be quite cool to use magic to do cool craft projects, like Mrs Weasley does with her self-knitting needles!

10. Where would you spend your spare time?

In the Slytherin common room probably or chilling-out at The Three Broomsticks!

11. What would you most likely get detention for?

Probably for being late to lessons because my sense of direction isn’t brilliant so I could easily end-up getting lost on my way to class.

12. What career do you want after graduating Hogwarts?

I would be an author of fiction books for witches and wizards and would hope that my stories would be common knowledge amongst magical families!

 

Anyone reading this who fancies doing this tag, I tag you!

If you want to read my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter – @RyanBInNature.

Find some of my other Harry Potter posts below:

The Harry Potter Tag

The Wisdom of Rubeus Hagrid

5 Lessons I Learned From The Harry Potter Books