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.

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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.

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

The 12 Questions of Christmas Tag

I saw this post over on Northumberland Mam’s site and thought this tag looked really fun (plus I thought my blog needed some more festive content on it!).

Go see her post here.

1. When does your Christmas tree go up? Who will decorate it?

My Christmas tree went up on the weekend, at my brother’s insistence! One of my brothers is very into Christmas and loves having the lights, tree and decorations up around the house, so I just helped him when he asked. It was odd actually taking part a little bit in decorating the tree this year because I have sat that activity out for so long. Christmas is often one of the toughest times of the year for me mental health wise, so in recent years I have tried to live in denial that it was approaching.

2. Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

I prefer Christmas Day, mostly because Christmas Eve consists of a lot of tension in my house as we are all convinced that we must have forgotten something! Also, when it’s Christmas Day, I can see the end of the festive period in sight which is often a relief when I have spent about a month feeling low and anxious in my Christmassy surroundings.

3. What is your favourite Christmas advert this year?

The John Lewis one with Elton John at its centre. I grew-up listening to a lot of Elton John, so his music and story always makes me feel nostalgic and a bit sentimental!

4. Is there anywhere you would love to visit at Christmas?

Hogwarts! Jokes aside, I have never been to the Hogwarts in the Snow feature at the Warner Brothers’ Studio Tour in London and I think that would be an amazing spectacle to go and see, especially for a Potterhead like me.

5. What traditions are you looking forward to most this year?

Probably seeing my dogs open their presents on Christmas morning! Their excitement is hilarious and seeing their tails wagging fast is really sweet!

6. What are some food and treats you can count on having every Christmas?

There aren’t many staples that I insist on having every Christmas. Especially as the only vegan in my family (everyone else eats meat and dairy), I don’t join in much with the food-aspect of Christmas like everyone else does. However, seeing as I will be alone for most of Christmas Day this year, I can tuck into all my favourites (which probably means having cereal for lunch!) without feeling awkward. 

7. When did you stop believing in Santa?

I can’t remember what age I was exactly but it was pretty early because I had older siblings who didn’t believe in him. To be honest, I think I was quite relieved as I didn’t like the idea of a stranger coming into my house at night, even if he was delivering presents!

8. As a kid, did a sibling or friend ever receive a present that you wished was for you?

Being given girls’ clothes when I was kid was obviously quite problematic for me being a trans person, so I think I was always jealous of the clothes my brothers were given and wished that I could receive similar things too.

9. Do you like giving gifts or receiving them better?

I prefer giving gifts because the attention is less on me at that point.

10. Are you guilty of peeking at your presents or do you like the surprise?

The reason I have never peeked at my gifts is that my mum would have been completely outraged if she had ever found out! Also, my paranoia plays into this one quite a lot because if I’ve convinced myself for a long time that if you know you are going to be given a gift then you will jinx yourself and never be able to receive it (I know this doesn’t really make sense, it is one of my irrational thoughts which comes with my mental health issues).

11. If you could be in any Christmas movie what would it be?

The Polar Express! For some reason I find trains magical and it beats being in ‘The Grinch’ and being accosted by a green, furry man who lives on a mountain. 

12. What would you like to find under your tree this year?

I don’t get too invested in what presents I want for Christmas anymore. However, if someone buys me a book, I will be more than pleased!

 

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

Find some of my other Christmas-related posts below:

Anxiety At Christmas

The Christmas Tag

Unpopular Opinions – Christmas Edition

 

Night Guard and Onto 40mg?

Today was the day I had been waiting for in fearful trepidation. The thought of going to the dentist and the hygienist is truly nerve-wracking for me, so I spend the week-or-so leading up to the appointments worrying about what might happen and agonising over everything that could possibly go wrong. I am relieved to say that both the dentist and the hygienist were very happy with my teeth and gums. However, I did have to be fitted for a night guard to wear over my teeth at night to prevent me damaging my teeth and jaw through grinding and clenching them. I already knew that, due anxiety and stress, I clench my jaw in my sleep but the dentist wanted to prevent long-term damage coming from it, so wearing a mouth guard in my sleep is going to be an experience!

I went to my GP again last week and was told to double my antidepressant dose from 20mg to 40mg. To me, this is nerve-wracking, as this particular antidepressant caused me side-effects when I went on it initially (after trialling Sertraline unsuccessfully for a year), so I am worried that these side-effects will return. However, I do see the logic in doubling my dose because I have been particularly low recently; having suicidal ideation and engaging in destructive behaviour. It feels slightly like I am in a catch-22; if I don’t double my dose I risk carrying-on feeling this way, however if I do make the increase then I face having all of the side-effects return which will possibly make me more depressed because they may leave me unable to do much.

Recently, my focus has moved away from criticising myself for the things I do and the ways I feel towards accepting these negative aspects of myself and trying to protect myself as best I can from them. Constantly fighting against the dark parts of me has been making me feel lost and hopeless, so until I get the therapy I require to attempt to undermine these negative thoughts and behaviours, I will instead just try to prioritise protecting myself from long-term damage. Hopefully, when I eventually do get more treatment, I will be able to rebuild my habits in a healthier form with the help of a mental health professional, right now trying to do this on my own seems an insurmountable and possibly dangerous task.

 

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

 

Find some of my other mental health related life-updates here:

My Relationship With Alcohol

Antidepressants and Nightmares

A Mental Health Update

10 Facts About Me

I thought I would try to give all of you an insight into me and my personal history through these 10 facts which you probably do not know about me. Let me know in the comments if you are surprised about any of these facts or share one of your own!

1. I broke my leg when I was 6 months old

2. My favourite hair colour I have had is purple

3. In year 6 I was my primary school’s librarian!

4. I am a taurus, although before the horoscope dates changed I was an aries

5. The most pain I have ever been in was when my eardrum perforated

6. When I was 13, I had 7 of my teeth taken out so that I could have my braces put in

7. I once did an obstacle course up the side of a cliff

8.  I travelled to Copenhagen to see my favourite band in concert

9. My favourite day-out is going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London

10. I nearly drowned at a birthday party when I was 4 years old

 

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

See some of my ‘unpopular opinions’ posts below:

Unpopular Opinions – Christmas Edition

Unpopular Opinions – Harry Potter Edition

Unpopular Opinions – University Edition

Unpopular Opinions – USA Travel Edition

Unpopular Opinions

Daily Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

Anxiety manifests itself in a huge variety of ways and the massive presence it has in mine and others’ lives means that it inevitably takes a toll on our bodies and physical health. So, below I have listed just five examples of how anxiety translates into physical symptoms on a daily basis.

1. Headaches 

When I’m feeling stressed for extended periods of time, I usually end-up getting what I call ‘stress headaches’. When I am anxious and worrying about things, my whole body becomes tense; my shoulders rise, I curl-in on myself and I don’t let any of my muscles relax. The result of all this pent-up tension in my body is that I will get a headache which, in turn, makes me feel worse because I am unable to be productive during this time and I have to wait for painkillers to kick-in.

2. Grinding and gritting teeth

I have been told-off numerous times by the dentist for the toll which grinding my teeth all night has on the condition of my teeth. Despite wearing retainers, I still manage to cause myself damage by the extent that I grind my teeth together due to the anxiety I feel even whilst I’m sleeping. This habit also makes my jaw-ache a lot which then contributes to me getting more headaches; so it is easy to see that the physical symptoms I have from anxiety interlink and worsen when they combine with each other.

3. Exhaustion

The amount of energy I use-up and expend on a daily basis because of the anxiety which courses through me means that I tire myself-out. My fatigue is very frustrating because my mood becomes worse and worse when I am not being productive and exhaustion really slows me down throughout the day. It is like my body is constantly existing in conflict with what I need and want it to do. Whilst I feel exhausted a lot, I am also on-edge for most of every day because I am anxious – so the conflicting symptoms I experience leaves me feeling uncomfortable and unsure what to do with myself.

4. Weight loss and fluctuation

For me personally, when my anxiety took a turn for the worse a lot of weight simply dropped-off me. I am now underweight and people frequently comment on how small I have become. Some people find that the opposite happens for them when they go through a bad-patch of anxiety because they use food as a way to comfort themselves, however when I am anxious the thought of eating makes me feel nauseous and I cannot manage to tackle having a full meal. 

5. Skin problems

Anxiety causes both my acne to flare-up and rashes to appear across my body. I have had acne since I was 12ish but there is a definite combination between the state of my mental health and the state of my acne, which is furthered by the fact that I do not eat and drink properly when my anxiety is at it’s worst. My skin becomes painful, red and irritated during these times; almost like it is a physical representation of what I am feeling on the inside! 

 

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

 

Here are a few of my other mental health posts:

Anxiety At Christmas

Mental Health, Medication & Stigma

Protecting Factors – What Saves You?

Anxiety At Christmas

The festive season comes with all sorts of pressures and expectations which is a shame because these details detract from what should be a relaxing time in the company of loved ones. The ideal Christmas image leads us to think that we have to achieve perfection in everything we do; in how we decorate our homes, buying expensive ornaments and gifts, maintaining completely harmonious family ties, being a social butterfly and flitting from one Christmas party to another and immersing ourselves in an environment centred around food, alcohol and indulgence. Whilst all of these things are part of the Christmas image we are sold and look good in the Instagram pictures we are inundated with, they can also produce a lot of anxiety in the many people who worry that they cannot achieve or keep-up with this level of so-called perfection.

Christmas isn’t supposed to be about competition; who’s got the best Christmas tree or how many designer gifts someone has received but the airbrushed images we are presented with lead us to believe that there is a certain standard we have to live-up to, no matter how unattainable it really is. For many, anxiety can be produced as a result of fearing failure or worrying about external expectations. When it is expected for people to attend their big work Christmas parties, for example, fear of being overwhelmed by the hectic environment and the unnecessary pressure to do everything in excess are not a part of the conversation. So, each person who struggles with anxiety at this time of year feels isolated and alone, like no-one else is going through the same things as them.

The following can be sources of anxiety during the festive period:

  • Christmas shopping in busy areas
  • Seeing relatives you do not meet with often
  • Christmas parties
  • The expectation to be festive and merry in all of your interactions
  • Buying gifts and worrying if they are adequate
  • Receiving gifts and stressing about opening them in front of the giver
  • The expectation to indulge in food and alcohol when, for many, our relationships with these things are complex

And so many, many more situations, which others may view as tiny details in the bigger picture of their Christmas, can be anxiety-provoking.

Christmas is meant to be a time we feel the opposite of isolated and fearful of judgement. So, let’s make mental health and inclusion a part of the discussion within the bigger picture of Christmas this year and make sure that no-one feels iced-out of the celebrations.

 

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

 

Here are some more of my Christmas-related posts:

The Christmas Tag

Unpopular Opinions – Christmas Edition

 

Don’t feel alone this Christmas (resources about the festive period and mental health):

Support at Christmas – Mind, the mental health charity

Coping at Christmas – The Priory Group

Real Christmas – Samaritans