20 Weeks on Androgel – What’s been going on

1) The following video is 3:37 of blackness featuring an overlay of the peaceful bellows of the humpback whale.

2) During the following 3:37 feature you will experience the mournful song of the yeti.

Kidding. The first one (if you watched the video with the human in it) is indeed 3:36 of a very dark night, but rather than the whales, you’ll hear me singing a song 4 years ago. The second one features me singing the same song today (17 August 2014), having been on Androgel for 20 wks. The song is “I’m Still Here” by Johnny Rzeznik (the song is from the movie Treasure Planet… you’re welcome).

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15 Weeks on Testosterone and Video

So it’s 15 weeks!? I haven’t been the best about posting — what with guests an existential crises at hand…

Additionally, my doctor says my testosterone is STILL too high. I’m really lost as to how this is possible, but I’ll have to ask him since he moved my next appointment up by two months. I’m on the lowest dosage of Androgel, and I’m nervous about getting much lower.

I have been extremely emotional for the past couple of weeks. Mood swings are reminiscent to estrogen fluxes related to menstruation and it’s unnerving to think that my estrogen levels might be creeping up. Still, I need to learn to let go of anxieties related to my hrt – it’s hard to trust doctors, especially when it seems their main motivation is to legally protect themselves rather than worry about my body. At our last appointment, the doctor’s explanation for decreasing my testosterone levels had less to do with maintaining my health and more to do with lawyers. 😦

Anyhow, I’ll ask more pointed questions (I hope) at my next appointment.

Also I don’t think my voice has actually dropped any (maybe a little) since the last video, but it’s good to check in!

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I Made a Video

This is a (sort of bad) introduction video. I haven’t made one before, but I wanted to get started (gotta start somewhere).

Enjoy 🙂

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Testosterone Update: 12 weeks

 

So, this is 12 weeks on Androgel. Actually, it will technically be in 4 days, but who can wait for that? It’s Sunday NOW. Also, Father’s Day. Also, today I shaved for the first time (I sort of didn’t need to, but I was definitely over the shadow-stache)! I also shaved my unibrow (which I immediately regretted, but it will grow back!) I usually have a shaving addiction (I love the sound). It’s best to err on the side of caution.

Now for some unflattering mugshots followed by some more flattering selfies:

Face-shot before T and now.

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Repeat-photos — Pre-T (Left), 1 Mo. (Center), 12 Wks (Right): 

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(I think my eyebrows got darker)

And one picture of my fuzzier side-of-face (which I refuse to shave):

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OK no more pictures, I promise. Although I do have a muscle photo…. This is the last one, I swear. I’ve been doing some intense yoga. The Hawaiian shirt helps (lol):

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I have a doctor appointment tomorrow, which is going to be awesome. I remain on the one-pump-per-day Androgel dosage, and that is going swell. I still have mild hot flashes, but nothing ridiculous. I like them, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. So the newest stuff is moar body hair (I’m no longer a fish). Menstruation has stopped (mostly), but I think last month was the sad, sputtering last hurrah (hurrah!). I’m feeling more confident. My chest has not shrunk, but the shape has changed as muscles develop. I don’t think I’ve changed weight, but I cannot say for sure since our fitness center’s scale is broken (likely for the best!). I did take measurements, but the only changes are I’ve gained 1/2 inch around my waist (to 29.5″), lost 1/2 inch around my chest (to 35″), and gained 1/8 inch around biceps (to 12″). 

I think my voice is getting deeper, as well. My counselor asked me if it was last week (I don’t know if she was just trying to boost my mood). I have noticed that it is even more full and round and boomy. I’m more likely to speak too loudly now, rather than speak too quietly. I can also sing in a range previously unreachable to me, although singing in higher ranges that used to be comfortable are a super struggle. I keep having dreams about it cracking. Maybe that will happen in the next couple of months.

I’ve not been posting lately because I’ve been quite depressed, but I think I’m finally coming out of the funk. It’s summertime and my partner and I have been doing fun stuff in the city lately, indulging in my childhood dreams. We saw a dinosaur exhibit at the local science center, went to Cahokia Mounds, etc etc etc. My counselor gave me homework to attend a donation-based yoga class. She offered to attend one with me today, but had to cancel because it’s Father’s Day (which makes total sense). This has been my homework assignment for 3 weeks now, but I still haven’t had the courage to do it. Afterall, what the hell should I wear!?

Anyhow, I will update again after my doctor appt on Monday, or sometime afterwards. I’ll wait and see if they call me about my dosage. It’ll be a blast.

 

 

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Sorry I’m Ranting About My Feelings

TW. Eating/Weight/Purging/SelfHarm/Anxiety

Oh my gods. I really just can’t handle all of this right now.  I’m really glad it’s Friday and I hope nobody minds if I have a quick rant…

Last night I took my partner with me to my therapy appointment. I am always anxious before the appointments, and I am always so awkward. I feel like anxiety makes all of the ASD things about 92% worse, and my awareness of ASD things (now that I know what they are) makes me even more anxious, and so on and so forth. By the time I’m in the waiting room, I’m practically shaking, my mind is going too quickly to process what is happening around me. By the time she (my councelor) comes to get me, it’s bad.

In the room, I don’t know where to look. I can look in her eyes, but I usually look away, stare at a place in the bookcase while we talk. I never noticed that I do this before I started learning about ASD. Now when behaviours like the eye-contact thing occur, I have an intense internal conflict. Part of me doesn’t want to look at her, and part of me is screaming to just make fucking eye contact because I know it’s weird to not and I know it’s a stereotypical trait of ASD and ‘are you trying to be more weird?’ Same goes for the stims that happen, the stuttering, the verbal repetition, the inability to translate thoughts into words, the inability to think beyond the moment, the shifty-ness, etc… I feel the things happening and they feel natural, but I know she is probably going to notice them. I know she is going to associate them with ASD. I wish I could control her thoughts so she wouldn’t be thinking those things about me, but the best I could hope to do is to just stop acting like I have ASD, which I can’t do unless I just don’t interact. So I have these entangled thought processes that lead to self-depricating thoughts. I get so worked up that the sound of someone walking by outside leaves me pressing my hands into my eyes or cheeks and feeling overwhelmed.

And my partner was there last night, watching all the things I was doing. He said they are all things I normally do. He said I did them before he told me he though I had ASD. I just don’t see it. The situation in the therapy room is so different – everyone is looking at me, so I look at myself. And I am embarrassed and frustruated with it.

All of these things are distracting. All of these things make me more susceptible to having an emotional breakdown during the night and day following the appointment.

And now I’m at work. I don’t want to be here. I feel nauseous at the thought of everyone else getting here (I always get to work at 6 am, while others arrive around 7-8 am) and walking around by my office door, or having conversations too close to it. I want to run off at the thought of engaging in conversation. I want to repeatedly punch my stomach, or run to the bathroom and vomit. I feel helpless and I feel out of control of my life – hopeless that this is going to happen for the rest of my life.

I’m gaining weight because of HRT, or maybe because I’m allowing myself to eat more. I need to resolve my feelings about it. I was trying to gain weight. Now I’m terrified of it. Maybe because it’s actually happening – the numbers are changing. I think my clothes are fitting differently, and it’s distracting. Something is rubbing differently here or there, a waistband is tighter, a binder that used to fit snugly fits too snugly. So I didn’t bring any lunch today. I didn’t want to deal with it.

All I can do is sit here. Just sit here in my office. I’m listening to Pompeii by Bastille on repeat to calm down and not have a melt-down. Maybe sharing all of this helps, too. I’m just so sick of myself. I’m sick of being so self-aware, having to participate in conversation and think about what is okay to say or just hear myself blunder through everything and pick out the instances of what I think are social abnormalities. I’m just sick of it. I’m sick of it but there’s no escaping it.

For the rest of my life I’m going to yearn for a connection with people, but for the rest of my life I’m going to be exhausted by trying to understand people. I wish I didn’t want that connection.

I don’t know if anyone has any advice? Any experiences? I don’t want to be trapped in this cycle anymore.

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Testosterone 8 Week Update (3 Days Early)

So I am going to be travelling over the weekend and I won’t have time to make the 8 weeks on Androgel update on the actual 8 weeks day (Friday the 23rd). Here it is now instead!

I’m re-doing photos from before starting HRT. The one on the left was taken about 1.5 years ago (age 23). On the right I am 24 (current).

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Stats.

Height: 67.5″

                Pre-Testosterone                                 1 Month                             8 Weeks

Weight:    132-138 lbs                                              136-139 lbs                        139-142 lbs

Chest:      32″                                                           32.5″                                   35.5″

Waist:       27-28″ (27″ 27 March 2014)                    27.5″                                   29″

Hips:        37.5″                                                         37″                                      37″

Bicep:      10 3/4″                                                      11 3/4″                               11 7/8″

Thigh:      19 1/2″                                                      22 7/8″                               22 3/4″

Wrist:       ~6″                                                            6″                                       6″

Neck:       11 1/2″                                                     12 3/8″                                12 1/2″

               New Stats @ 1 Mo.              @ 8 Wks.

Calves:             14″                                   14 1/8″

Foot Length:     9 1/2″                                9 1/2″

Foot Width:       3 1/2″                                3 1/2″

Hand Length:    6 3/4″                                6 3/4″

Hand Width:      3 1/8″                                3 1/4″

Updates since 1 month.

So not much has changed. I think my voice is getting gradually deeper – very gradually. I can sing songs with male vocals that I struggled with or couldn’t do before. That is super exciting. Not so exciting? My smell is definitely changing. I can smell myself, which is a weird experience (especially since I apparently never went through this the first time I went through puberty? — or else I blocked that memory out — it was a shitty time). My partner has commented on how I smell ‘like a man’ and I am really self-conscious of my smell at work particularly. I want to shower frequently (although I really hate showers) so I am certain I don’t stink (though my partner has not said I stink – yet).

Anything else? Oh, there is getting to be more hair. They’re all blonde little suckers, but they’re getting longer and more frequent. I’m getting fuzzier along my jawline and sideburns as well (all peachy and blonde). I think I’m developing a uni-brow which irks my sense of vanity. I went for a summer with no eyebrows voluntarily, but I become squeamish at the thought of them joining together into the harmonious union of the uni-brow.

I’m also getting every so slightly more vein-y. In places where a couple of veins stood out before new ones are rearing their tiny heads. Nothing drastic, just more slightly so than last time.

I have had 3 deep zits on my face in the past 2 weeks. That’s more than I’ve had in the past 2 years. It’ll probably get worse, but I’m holding out.

Also, testosterone-brain is for sure aggravating my Aspergian inability to communicate with co-workers (and relate some-what emotionally with my partner 😦 ). I keep floundering around in social situations, throwing out gems like “your new perfume smells good” completely out of context in the middle of running samples while staring off into the far distance. I explained to my co-worker that I am socially encumbered due to ASD and she said it helped to know it. This was all inspired by an interaction in which I completely cut her off in conversation and was apparently demeaning towards her – made her frustrated with my apparent dis-ingenuity and lack of emotional insight. She forgave me easily, though it was embarrassing and I felt pretty ashamed. I blame it all on my newly aggressive approach to social situations – no more hiding behind silence for me! Unfortunately that makes it much harder to not appear like a complete bumble-head.

It’s all for the better.

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Ich bin ein ‘Liebster’

Thank you janitorqueer for naming me on your Liebster Award. This seems like a fun sort of thing to participate in, so I’ll give it a shot. Here is a link to the rules for the Liebster Award for anyone I name who would like to participate!

I think I’m supposed to put a picture.

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I don’t have a huge list of blogs I’m following, but I have been keeping up recently with the following two blogs. Some good bloggers here!

Yin Xiu Yi

aspiesooz

 

Here are 11 answers to 11 questions (taken from the link).

1. Why did you start blogging?  I don’t know what they answer should be. I guess I wanted a medium to express my ideas that would also connect me to other people who have similar ideas and experiences to mine (since I know so few people outside the internet).

2. Who, what, and/or where does your blogging inspiration come from? My blogging inspiration comes from my experiences – good and bad – with the world. I don’t think I’m ‘inspired’ to write in the blog in the same way I’m ‘inspired’ to write a screenplay (I don’t write screenplays). I just write what I think.

3. What does you family think about your blogging? They don’t care to know.

4. What time of day do you write the best content for your blog? Between 4:30 and 5:30 am — before work.

5. What is your favorite quote? “Great clouds rolled over the hills bringing darkness from above.” from Pompeii by Bastille – it’s been on repeat in my head for 1 week and 1 day.

6. What is the best thing about you? I have a good work ethic.

7. What makes you laugh out loud? I feel like something made me laugh recently… I can’t remember. I laugh at things that are funny. I have a dry sense of humor.

8. If you were the main character in a movie, which actor/actress would you want to play your role? Nicolas Cage. It would be epic.

9. What did you want to be when you were a child? A dinosaur, specifically Deinonychus antirrhopus. My sense of duty later developed and I evolved into wanting to be a vertebrate paleontologist or paleontological illustrator.

10. What was your favorite class in High School? I really liked geometry as a freshman, but I think I mostly looked forward to my art classes.

11. What is your favorite social media? I guess Facebook. I can keep up with my friends and family on it. I don’t have a Twitter or Tumblr or anything else. 

 

Now I will put 11 random facts about me. I’m terrible at this, actually, so I apologize in advance.

  1. My partner and I recently had to make a forced effort to get me to not put Sriracha hot chili sauce on everything I ate (including pancakes) since it was causing damage to my digestive tract.
  2. We have two cats, one is just like my partner, and the other is just like me. Her name is Ella. #3 is a picture of me kissing her head:
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  4. My favourite place to be is rolled up tight in a blanket or rug. Like a burrito
  5. I love burritos, specifically Taco Bell. I always get the same 3 burritos and eat them in the same order. First I eat a bean burrito fresco style, then a seven-layer burrito no cheese and no sour cream, then a black bean burrito with no cheese. It is my favourite dinner.
  6. I almost didn’t go to college, but my boyfriend of the time made me submit my application even though I didn’t think I would be able to get in. I got in with grants and scholarships. We broke up before I even left for my freshman year. Last year he committed suicide. I wish I could tell him how grateful I am that he pushed me – believed in me – even when he didn’t believe in himself.
  7. I have younger brothers who are twins. We never fought growing up. I love them.
  8. I am allergic to cats.
  9. My partner knows Ancient Greek, Latin, French, and German. He is getting his masters in Philology and Classical Culture.
  10. I’m a lousy driver but I hate to admit it.
  11. My job right now involves professionally ‘abusing’ prescription pain meds – I am working in the development of new products that will hopefully deter the abuse of pharmaceuticals.

Thanks again for the nomination! This is a cool idea.

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Executive Function, Employment, and Grad School

So I’ve been thinking about Asperger’s a lot lately. I just spent an entire weekend with my partner — it was super nice but now I’m all disoriented because I’m used to being alone while he does work for his graduate program. It also might be because we spent the entire day yesterday eating, laying around, and watching the entire 3rd season of American Horror Story.

Anyhow, I’m trying not to feel anxious (although I have had 2 shots of espresso). (lol).

So I’ve been wanting to identify what ‘disordered’ behaviour or qualities there are to me, since I haven’t really had any idea previously. I’ve been feeling guilty that I haven’t been able to go to graduate school for chemistry. I was originally planning on a PhD, but I told my professors in undergrad that I wanted to take some time off to explore the industry, see what I wanted to do with my degree.

The truth is that I couldn’t take the GRE, and I don’t think I would ever be able to make it though graduate school.

Why? Executive function. I just finished an article about it:

http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/executive-function-disorders/what-is-executive-function

I struggle with holding on to thoughts in my head on a regular basis. Sometimes in mid-conversation I’ll forget what I was saying or where I am. I struggle with becoming distracted while working at the computer (I am a contracted scientist at a small pharmaceutical company), and I recently learned that I’m not good at taking verbal direction and tasks assigned to me have to be either physically demonstrated or explained in painstaking detail. Last week, my boss asked me to organize 3 powerpoint slides for him breaking down the data my team and I had been collecting for the past 2 weeks. I was super stoked but when I gave him the slides, he said they were good but not what he had asked for at all. I summed it all up to him not being able to communicate and explain what he wanted in the first place (he is from South Korea and struggles somewhat with English) – but maybe I just didn’t understand something he might have been implying or took for granted that I would understand. I felt like a fool when he had to explain exactly what he wanted over the phone later — sounding rather annoyed.

At least I’m learning that this is a thing to work on… 

Back to the GRE. There are probably many reasons I failed in this task. One, the biggest thing of all, is that I didn’t know when to ask to use the restroom. I was afraid of the strict rules. I was afraid of screwing up my opportunity to get into graduate school. I was afraid of being wrong and not knowing. I was anxious. And I had to pee. It’s super embarrassing. That was the first attempt at the test. I had to leave early, forfeiting my examination because I had wet myself. It’s worse that my partner was there and he excelled in his exam. He thought I had finished early because I’m a genius, but thought it was hilarious that I hadn’t been able to relieve myself from the exam long enough to relieve myself… Anyhow, I made a second attempt at the exam. This one was much less horrifying, but still terrible. I couldn’t concentrate on the computer, I kept getting distracted by the small timer in the upper right-hand corner and the stern woman who kept circling around the examination area. I left the building, confident because I had at least finished. However, my scores were abysmal. I thought it was a sign that I am not meant for graduate school. My partner’s worst subject is maths and science, and he outscored me dramatically in this area. At least I did pretty well on the essay.

So, in terms of executive function, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to get a graduate degree. I am also afraid for my future at a company. I work so hard, but sometimes I appear to be incapable of listening or performing simple tasks. I hope they can see that I’m trying, eager, and ready to do whatever they ask me. I just want a chance to be normal, to have that position at the pharmaceutical company as a scientist where I can be around data every day and get paid for it. It’s the perfect job.

 

And I’ve had too much caffeine. Happy 5:30am!

 

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“Letting Go of Asperger’s” and Rambling

“Letting Go of Asperger’s” and Rambling

I enjoyed reading this. After finding out I may have Asperger’s, I spent a long period of time (about a month) obsessing over it, monitoring my every move to ascertain whether or not the diagnosis could be right. I still doubt that I am autistic, fearing that by accepting a label like ‘Aspie’ or something related I am being disingenuous. I was afraid of having a ‘disability,’ even though the label didn’t change anything about who I am or how I relate to the world. It took me a while to turn that fear around and realise that the label was like connective tissue, and opened the door to a world of people who may have similar daily experiences and modes of thought to my own. It was that idea that somewhat replaced the anxiety in the end.

It’s interesting because ASD is something that straddles a line of ‘disability’ and ‘personality.’ That is one thing I struggled with the most. I am not really disabled – I am high-functioning. I have extreme routines and obsessions, but those do not keep me from having a regular job. I have serious social handicaps, but they don’t stop me from learning how to interact with people. As a 24-year-old, I am much more socially able (though no less awkward) than I was when I was 12. So why do I even need a label?

Well… because it makes me feel good to categorize myself in that way. Being a transgender male explained about 24% of all the weird things I experienced as a child and teenager. Guess what explains the final 76%? Asperger’s. But if that is the case, why was I never diagnosed? Why did it take a group of transdudes and my boyfriend to be like “I think you’re autistic” …

I don’t know.

But I want to know.

Because if I am truly classifiable as an Aspie (or on the spectrum), that means the adults in my life somehow neglected it in my childhood, which makes me feel neglected. If I am not really classifiable, then why do I have all these problems? Could I be making them up? Who the hell am I?

Why does any of this even matter?

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T News and Melt-Downs

This is a quick update as I am leaving soon to see Jonathan Warren and The Billy Goats play. (I know, I’m actually doing a thing people do on Friday nights. wut!?)

 

First – Testosterone News

Last Tuesday I received a call from my doctor regarding my blood work — actually they left a message 15 minutes before closing and didn’t say what was up, so I got to spend all evening and most of the next morning worrying about what could have possibly gone wrong with my blood work 😦 … ANYHOW … what was wrong? Apparently my 2 pumps of Androgel 1.62% per day has led me to testosterone levels that are TOO HIGH. (?) 

So I guess the stuff is getting in me just fine.

It was a let down for me, since I half expected him to say I will be increasing my dose. It would have somehow meant that I was progressing, I suppose. BUT I’m also weirdly proud that I had super high testosterone level, esp after starting with a ‘normal’ low dosage. It’s like I was the best at absorbing testosterone through my arms. It’s like I should have a trophy for it or something. Why is everything a competition?

Making it a good thing took away the blow of changing my routine, though. I still don’t like only doing one pump, but the doc knows best (rule of thumb) – at least this doc knows best (he specializes in hrt for transmen and transwomen). I’m actually feeling a little more physically well-composed. I was having a whole lot of really intense hot flashes with two pumps. Now I have some mild hot flashes, but not the crazy, sweaty, leg-prickling ones that I had only last week. So that’s good!

Second – Advice?

In other news I spoke with my counselor about my most recent issues with anxiety and ASD stuff. She was reassuring but worried about it. I was overwhelmed for most of that day anyhow due to the news from the doctor, and that night I had a meltdown while my partner was trying to study for finals. I feel bad that he has to put up with that stuff.

The issue with my meltdowns is that I become impulsive and destroy things, then shut down for about an hour or so afterwards before I can finally calm down enough to remember the English language and communicate what is happening. My partner is transmasculine, queer, and physically smaller than I am. The other night he confided in me that when I have meltdowns he is afraid that I am going to hurt him. This made me feel just awful (more awful than I already do), and I never want him to feel afraid to be around me. While I know that I would die before ever doing anything to physically harm him, I understand that my meltdowns are scary… they’re scary for me, too. The types of things I do include destroying food, throwing things (to the floor or to a wall), ripping or destroying papers or books (that belong to me), harming myself by punching or induced vomiting, or throwing a classic ‘temper-tantrum’ on the floor… It’s super embarrassing for me that these things happen and I’m nervous about sharing them online. Anyhow, I don’t know how to alleviate his anxieties about these issues, since he had an aggressively angry father who would hit him or choke him in similar fits of impulse when he was a kid…. 

In general he lives on edge because he doesn’t know when my tolerance for stimulation or anxiety or whatever is wearing thin… I don’t know if there are ways for me to better control for reaching that point. I have been somewhat successful with simply avoiding too much stimulation, but you can only do that so much when you’re trying to be a normal person with a normal job in the city. Before this meltdown, I went at least a month without feeling like I was overwhelmed enough to lose control. I just want to be able to keep our relationship strong, let him know he can trust me to never harm him physically in those circumstances, and reassure myself that there is hope that these kinds of problems don’t have to be the downfall of all of my relationships.

Do any readers have any ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc about this type of thing? Any experiences?

Thanks so much.

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