What they don’t tell you about depression recovery

Being wildly depressed and actively suicidal for such a long period of time as I had leaves the road behind you smoldering.

Anyone I’ve interacted with in that time and was honest with about how poorly I was doing has been affected by me and my actions. Anyone I’d leaned on for support or desperately clung to has taken on some of my burden. The aftermath is war-torn.

Some of my friends are no longer my friends. Relationships have been severely damaged. People are tired of me. Some people aren’t, and some people don’t really seem to bothered. But I feel like almost everyone I care for deeply has grown tired of me.

I think of all the desperate calls for help I’ve left on my shapchat story or all the people I’ve canceled on our plans with. I think of how as far as give-and-take goes, all I could do was TAKE TAKE TAKE because I had nothing to give to anyone. The exchange was all one-sided.

What they don’t tell you about depression recovery is that if you were bad at existing with depression (even if it wasn’t entirely in your control), you have to now live with your actions and you don’t even have the convenience of killing yourself. Now it’s like, how many times can I apologize to the people I love before it sounds like a tired buzz? How many people do I just cut ties with because the damage is so severe it just doesn’t matter? How many realizations do I have to go through about the next three months and yet ALSO try to practice enough self care to not hate myself in the process?

For the first time in over a decade, suicide is not an option. It’s a victory. But now I miss it because it’s easier than dealing with all the unsightly holes in my personality.

It sounds selfish and that’s the root of it all. Depression has made me selfish. It’s made me self-serving. And yes I’m self-aware more than most people I know, but that means NOTHING if I can’t/don’t change anything or make significant progress in doing so.

This is what I’ve been struggling with today. Before I’d stay in my bed all day because I didn’t want to live. Now I’ve stayed in bed all day because I don’t want to live with myself. I feel like the worst person who’s existed. That can’t be true, because I’m not Trump (#BriefComicRelief), but it’s a really hard thing to justify why I’m not dead in the first place. This recovery so far has only manifested in literal survival. “Tip of the iceberg” comes to mind. I thought the entire battle was just overcoming my drive to end myself, but I think that was actually only 8% of the problem.

If you’re reading this and you agree with me, even if it’s just a small part of you, I beg that you have patience with me. I don’t even know where to fucking start.

Here are some action items, though, because I have to turn this post around somehow:

  • Delete my snapchat (which only serves the purpose of self-torture)
  • Stop engaging in political discussions for now (I find them draining and also they make me very angry and I don’t like who I am when I’m angry) (I realize not everyone has this luxury to stop engaging and I’m sorry for that, but I need to step back)
  • Give everyone in my life some healing space (this must be done without bitterness for it to work)
  • Give more of my text-replies a full 60 seconds before I respond (I’ve done a lot of responding fully informed by my immediate reaction-feeling and not very much on anything else)
  • Feel a little more grateful, a little less sorry (I’ve started doing this some more already, but thanking people for their patience instead of apologizing for my existence is probably a better way to go about it)
  • Initiate contact with people with the focus on them, now that I don’t need to come with desperation and crisis (thanks Lamictal)
  • Offer favors outside of myself (trying to push some good into the world to counteract the black hole sponge effect)
  • Gently ask for what I need instead of demanding it (when suicide is always on the line, people felt pressure to cave into my needs)
  • Forgive myself (this is going to be the hardest one, as I feel like I’ve ruined everything with everyone)

If I dare ask for one more thing from anyone who’s listening and cares, it’s that you understand I was ill. And now I’m getting better. And I want to do better and be better and be as good of a person in your life as you were for me.

Being unwilling to kill myself is not enough to be truly living. Now the real work begins.

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Change the course of Februaries

Last Sunday, I think I dipped to my lowest low. A week ago I had conviction for dying in a way I hadn’t before. I won’t go into it in any more detail than that. But it was a wild day. I cannot believe it was only a week ago.

Since that Sunday, I’ve felt pretty great. Of the 168 hours that have passed since last Sunday, I was probably only suffering for 24 of them total. What joy! This is compared to a 160/168 hours of suffering ratio that I’ve had pretty consistently since like October or so. Twenty-four is a dream.

Now that I’m (cautiously) feeling optimistic about the future of my mood and my mortality, it’s time to catch up. It’s time to clean up all the spilled milk of the last three months. Now that I’m capable, it’s time for unabashed self-care, and one of the ways is to prepare for the month of February, it its entirety.

If you love me and your birthday is in February–fear not. I am happy you exist. But the month itself is a black hole, no offense.

As you’ve heard time and time again, two of my friends died in the same month in the same year from suicide. One of those people was a trans brother, a dear friend from high school. Both friends were shining lights of the universe, and now they’ve both ceased to exist in my world. February brings very difficult anniversaries and memories.

It’s not just suicide; it’s about how February is the shortest month of the year and yet perseveres as the longest-feeling month of the year. In Minnesota it is dark and dreary–there are typically few days of temperatures over a solid 15 degrees. It’s a time for vitamin D3-deprived Minnesotans to walk around like hungry zombies, for single-and-also-miserable people to cry on the 14th, for rent to be the same amount but fewer days are lived in your space. It’s basically just a bogus 4 weeks, tbh.

On the 20th, the anniversary of the day my trans brother took his life, it hits the heart too much. Last year around that time I was just starting to date my current girlfriend. I texted like six of my friends and asked them to hang out with me so I wouldn’t be alone on the arguably worst day of the year for me. All six, for reasons that are probably very innocent, bailed. My now-girlfriend came over and held me close and it held me together.

In the past couple of years I’ve just kind of braced myself for the month but done little to try to actually set myself up for success. This year I want to do it differently.

Just because these lives ended in this month doesn’t mean mine has to.

I mean that figuratively and literally both. I don’t have to stop in my tracks and dive so far into sadness. Being sad won’t bring him back–it won’t even bring me closer to him, unless I’m trying to just connect with his final hours. Fuck that. I’ve always seen so much of myself in him, but I am not the same. Sometimes it takes a lot of reminders. But I gotta show up for myself, you know?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s normal and healthy (in moderation) to be sad about the deaths of those we have loved dearly. As long as I’m moving forward, whether it’s a downward slope or upward slope, sadness is appropriate. What gets dicey is feeling like my world is ending just because it ended for someone else.

For February version 2017, I made two very intentional, thoughtful goals for myself (taken from that linked post):

  • Do something for Aidan. February 20th is my friend Aidan’s anniversary of his passing and I happen to have the day off from work for President’s Day (??). I think that’s a good opportunity to try and volunteer or at least write about him. Something like that.
  • Express daily gratitude in some way. I want to do something like make a FB post or write a blog or send a grateful message to someone every single day in February. It’s the shortest month of the year, so I think I can manage.

How can I turn this grief into something productive–not in the capitalistic sense but in the sense that I must turn this energy into something that will not destroy me. I must take extra care of myself. What am I going to do for him? I don’t know yet. But it will be something I prioritize.

As for the second goal, I think this might be hard since this isn’t my normal habit, to intentionally express gratitude this way (my current version is pretty intermittent), but I hope I make this a thing. I hope I realize even in the bowels of February that this is good for me, and I can only benefit from that kind of act. Maybe if I make a clever hashtag out of it, it will work.

(That was simultaneously a jab at myself, a facetious statement and also a stroke of inspiration. We’ll see what happens).

PREPARE for February. I once wrote this poem about Februaries, which is the inspiration for this blog post’s title. It’s from my first little book of poems, and even though I wrote it “so long ago” I still think it’s among my favorite I’ve written:

 

Februaries

we’d write poems with shoulders touching
with long hair we didn’t want
it’d be years before we’d cut it
in another life.

the last word you said to me was indeed
I’d made vague plans to meet you in three weekends
your invitation declined
in favor of getting laid in St. Paul
I said I was sick and I was.

under a February moon
someone told me of your ended life
and later they asked if I wanted to know
how you did it–
and I said no.

if forgiveness is found in a casket let me know
if I had just said yes
if I had come when you said come
I could have changed the course of Februaries.

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There’s Trump, and then there’s focus on personal projects for survival

In honor of “President” Trump, I really needed to focus on something I can do right now. Part of why I made this blog in November is because the election happened and I felt powerless. I felt there was no hope. I still feel that way, tbh, but there’s also this duty in which I MUST persevere.

One of the best ways I feel better during hard times (when I’m not also overcome by debilitating mental illness) is to focus on a project. That’s why I created #180to180, and that’s why for January I made a goal to start a new writing project.

  • Kick off a new writing project. I haven’t written a poem in a while. I think it’s time to end this break and get going again.

The outcomes are unclear, but I know there will be a good one. Do I want to do the exact same thing I’ve done three times—make and self-publish a chapbook? Do I want to try and get my work published by someone else? Do I want to write a full-length book and spend three years editing it? Not sure yet.

But I’ve started writing poems again. I have a folder called Old Stuff and my previous projects are in it. My Poems folder has five new poems. Are they good? Not yet. But we are on our way, people! It feels good.

I will work on this project becoming my default when I have nothing to do in the evenings (right now my default is eating too many snacks and going to bed). I want this thing to be on my mind at least once a day, becoming part of me as I navigate spaces and interact with others. I want to be writing poems on napkins again—interrupting people’s stories (including my own) to say, “Sorry, I gotta write that down.” I want to be frustrated when I’m doing something because I’d rather be writing instead. I miss that shit.

I don’t know if five poems counts as a ~started project~ but I’m calling the shots in my own life and this is what I’m doing. I am starting a project.

I’ve been pretty good this week. From Monday night to Thursday night I was actually supreme. I wasn’t high or manic or anything, but it felt ENLIVENING to be legitimately present again. Everything from my relationship to my bowling scores benefited.

Then Thursday night I took a bit of a turn. Friday morning I remained sad. By the afternoon, I felt a whole lot better. It’s a bummer I was a bummer, but this bounce-back action I’m witnessing is much more important to me than three days of mental peace. Yes, I still experience the downfalls of humanity. Trump is indeed President (for example). I may even dive because of them. But I’m able to not dive so deep, and I’m able to bounce back into normalcy after a little time-out and a little self-care. This was not possible 4, 2 or even 1 week ago. I don’t care what they say—just because chocolate or exercise exists does not mean it cures you from your own mind.

This upswing and upcoming mood balance has been brought to you by magnesium glycinate, Lamictal, 10,000 IU of vitamin D3, and a whole lot of tireless love from J, B, A, M, and M. (and others) (I’m going to start referring to my care team as JBAMM)

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24 goals

I’ve been trying a tiny bit to explore the WordPress community. I LOVE when people “like” my posts or comment or interact with my work in some way, but I have previously never returned the favor. I want to get better about that.

In my scratching of the WordPress surface, I’ve found this blog that has New Year’s Resolutions that are actually small goals for each month, all laid out already. Now she’s going to record her progress for each goal as the year goes along. I think that’s pretty rad, and it allows for smaller but still important experiments to happen.

As we know, I’ve already made my big New Year’s Resolutions post, but in addition to these goals, I kinda want to follow whiskywolfcub’s lead and try some smaller goals each month too.

Oh, writing these made me realize that these might sound like really boring goals, or not very adventurous, or something. But I’ve been working on this post for two weeks (I often write blog posts in one sitting and publish them right away) trying to think of goals that are important to me, even if it just means they are chores that I’ve put off for a long time. When they get deadlines, suddenly they have some power potential. ALSO I don’t want to say a goal I don’t actually care about, even if it would be good for me. For example, a goal like “drink 8 glasses of water every day this month :)” is cute and stuff but first of all, I’ll never do that, and second of all, I really don’t care about my water intake. Not a thing I think about. Anyway:

JANUARY

  • Schedule an appointment with at least one new therapist. Sometimes therapists’s calendars are full, so I don’t want to guarantee that I will see someone new before the end of the month, but I want to prioritize this process. (I crossed this off already because in the process of writing this post, I’ve completed this task. woo!)
  • Kick off a new writing project. I haven’t written a poem in a while. I think it’s time to end this break and get going again.

FEBRUARY

  • Do something for Aidan. February 20th is my friend Aidan’s anniversary of his passing and I happen to have the day off from work for President’s Day (??). I think that’s a good opportunity to try and volunteer or at least write about him. Something like that. I usually fall apart in February, so I want to intentionally do something healthy and hopefully productive in his honor.
  • Express daily gratitude in some way. I want to do something like make a FB post or write a blog or send a grateful message to someone every single day in February. It’s the shortest month of the year, so I think I can manage. Again, this is a goal that will help me get through what is normally a very difficult month for me.

MARCH

  • Do my taxes if I haven’t already. No waiting until April 14 bullshit.
  • Cook dinner for someone else. It’d be great if I picked someone other than my gf just because it will be more out of my comfort zone. I hope this goal will help encourage me to make this cooking thing not just a phase but a habit.

APRIL

  • Attend one writing group session. There’s a writing group in my town that meets every Saturday at like 9am or something, and it seems very chill and very cool, but I never make time for it. I want to at least check it out. I picked a month with five Saturdays just in case 😉 .
  • Wash my truck. This sounds kinda funny but I always put off washing my vehicles, and after a winter and spring of grossness, I’ll definitely need it by the end of April. This truck is like my favorite possession so I should probs take care of it. If I’m feeling ambitious maybe I’ll even get it detailed.

MAY

  • Change my name with Social Security if I haven’t already. Talk about problematic procrastination! My name is legally changed and it’s changed with the bank and everywhere important… except with the Social Security office. It’s only really been an issue once and it worked out fine, but it’s still something I need to do. It involves a few hours of my time on a business day, but maybe planning ahead will actually make it happen.
  • Get my eyes checked. I could probably use an updated prescription by this point. I already sense some changes in my vision, but it’s not a huge deal right now. I have good insurance for eye stuff so it will be worth the time.

JUNE

  • Go to the dentist. You might be like, ew, why do you have to schedule this out so far, what the hell. That’s fair. But I haven’t been to the dentist in like 5 years and I really really don’t want to go but this will help motivate me to put a deadline on this.
  • Sing karaoke again. I’ve been thinking about a couple of songs. I might go country. I know you didn’t know this (it’s not your fault) but I’m actually Keith Urban in disguise.

JULY

  • Go somewhere new. This can be a vacation or just going to a new restaurant. I want to keep this open. But I tend to even stick with the same restaurants once I like something. I like new things too ok! I just don’t prioritize them.
  • Try canoeing or kayaking or something. I’m not much for swimming because wearing a swim suit when you have boobs but don’t want them is complicated. Maybe by July I won’t even have boobs, who knows, but I think kayaking or some other water activity like this can be pretty dry but still really fun.

AUGUST

  • Go see a show. I want to keep this open. Is it a play? Is it a concert? Is it a jazz trio in a quiet club? Don’t care. Go see a show.
  • Treat myself? I am thinking like creating an amazon wishlist or something and choosing an item I never prioritize but am pretty interested in. For example, I’d really like one of those wireless bluetooth fancy speakers so I can sing in the shower more effectively. But when I’m out and about, I never think to get one or care enough to drop the cash on it. This goal only makes sense if I’m responsible with my money in 2017, which I plan to be (don’t we all). It also only makes sense if I do/buy this thing with some intentionality. So like if I just buy something I want, that doesn’t count. What GIFT am I gonna give myself?

SEPTEMBER

  • Find an open mic and read a poem at it. I’m gonna h8 myself later for this.
  • Successfully move or successfully stay. At this point, my apartment lease will be up and I’ll have to decide where I’m living. This might seem like a cheater goal but moving can be really fucking stressful and I want to be sure I don’t sign up for too much. I want to take care of myself in this process! (I guess).

OCTOBER

  • Watch 7 youtube videos that will teach me something. I know of YouTube (lol), but I don’t spend like any time on it at all (the only thing I use it for is to practice karaoke). It seems like a resource I should consider. It’d be great to watch a bunch of videos teaching me how to change a tire or do car things or like, do something crafty. This would be fun to blog about too, like I can list what videos I watched and if I found them useful.
  • Spend time with a dog. This should be all 24 of my goals. October has historically been a challenging month for me, and even if I’m feeling wonderful in October 2017, I think going out of my way and seeking out a dog is extremely legit. This can be my parents’ dog too–I don’t think that’s cheating, since she’s like, the best dog of all dogs.

NOVEMBER

  • Host a Friendsgiving of some kind. Maybe make it a pot luck so I don’t have to feel scared of cooking for a bunch of people by myself.
  • Make a list of movies I want to see and maybe even fire up a Netflix account. I think a lot of people in my life want to watch fewer movies/tv shows because they have so much screen time. But I’m completely movie illiterate, and it’s not for hipster I’m-too-cool-for-movies thing; it really just means I miss out on a bunch of pop culture stuff. Also, another thought behind this: as it gets colder and winterier and sadder I want to have a little indoor project.

DECEMBER

  • Write a Christmas letter. For a few years I wrote my family’s Christmas letter and I loved it. It was so fun to do a recap of the year and touch base with people I don’t talk to all the time. I regretted not writing one this year. This letter task also includes collecting addresses to mail them 🙂
  • Read a book. LOL. So you’re probably like, hey, don’t you read already? No. And chances are, I’ll make it for the entirety of 2017 without reading a single book. So I want to put this in here–I want to read a book. I can spend 11 months deciding which one if I want. But by the end of December, I want to be one book more well-read.

That’s all! If you want, you can copy me (or copy the WordPress user I copied). I have a few friends that are starting blogging a bit and this might be a good way to stay focused/consistent. 🙂

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Relinquishing boobs is no gravy train

I bring forth this cheeky and lighthearted title to mask my immense disappointment.

If I may, I’d like to talk about my top surgery consultation from this afternoon. I’m mostly writing this because I am having a hard time articulating what went wrong exactly. A friend even went with me and I wonder if she saw anything go wrong. What I do know is that I felt like shit after this appointment. It seems rather hopeless, even though it probably isn’t.

I will start with one thing I’ve figured out so far. The surgeon was not gentle when it came to my body and my body image. When it came to physical examination, she didn’t really tell or ask me if she could touch my chest–she just kind of did. And then she went on and on about how I really need to lose weight or she will have to leave a bunch of breast tissue so I don’t look “dented.” She explained the process and it makes logical sense but there was nothing kind or gentle about it. It felt judged for being fat.

And like, I have gained weight. My driver’s license says one thing and the scale says another. She was pinching the slight fat rolls that have accumulated near the front of my arm pit and she said, “You’ll want to get as close to your goal weight as possible so I have something to work with.” And it was just devastating. Maybe everything she said was true but I felt like a walrus. She went on and on about it. I felt disgusting. She was going back and forth about how she could do the equivalent of a tummy tuck for certain parts of my chest while she’s doing the breast removal–something I never asked for. It’s hard enough being vulnerable with an open medical gown and having a stranger touch your unwanted breast tissue, poking it, pinching it, squeezing it. That’s bad enough. But then receiving a bunch of evidence that you are indeed fat and you need to get your life together–well, my heart can’t take it.

So that was the first thing I can articulate.

Secondly, I have some advice for anyone who’s seeking top surgery: do not break up with your therapist the day before your top surgery consultation. You need a letter from a therapist saying you indeed should proceed with top surgery because being transgender has become medicalized to be a disorder and you apparently need ~proof~ from NOT ONLY a doctor BUT ALSO a therapist.

I see a number of things that are problematic about this, one of which is that not every trans person needs to see a therapist. I, for example, see a therapist because I’m depressed. We do talk about gender, but hardly more than anyone else? It’s not like an irrelevant part of my life, but it’s by no means the focal point. Why do people need a letter from a therapist AND a doctor?

And this process is not this particular surgeon’s fault, it’s just the way it works to get covered by insurance. I should be over the moon that it’s even possible. I feel like I should be grateful it’s something I can move forward with. But I do not feel that way right now.

The surgeon did talk about how removal of breast tissue is a very important decision, how it’s very rare but some people do change their minds, how this [problematic] process is in place to protect me because what if I want boobs again someday?

Hella barf. I’m sorry, but I would not have dragged my ass to that plastic surgeon office if I didn’t know this was good for me. People can do all sorts of plastic surgery without needing permission from two health providers. But because it’s boobs, a highly sexualized body part, we gotta protect them and make it harder.

Absolute bullshit.

Also the first words this surgeon said to me when she walked into the exam room were “You didn’t bring your paperwork!” Like, nice to meet you too? Jesus Christ. It wasn’t a good start and I felt pretty much increasingly worse as the appointment went on. Even the nurse ahead of time asked me, “So when did you start ~going as male~?” To someone not particularly well-versed in queer careful language, this may seem innocent. But really it implies that I’m not male, and I’m just putting on a costume each morning and playing a boy all day.

I am sorry this post is so negative. But I’m truly disappointed. I was nervous for the appointment but I thought it would go WELL. I thought it would generate hope. Now it just feels like this process is way too hard and maybe I just shouldn’t do it. I’m apparently too fat to get good results anyway.

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How to find a new therapist (in the overwhelming sea of therapists)

Especially just coming off a bad depression bout, it seems like bad timing to make a switch like this, but sometimes your therapist reveals to you how unhelpful they can be in your greatest time of need.

I don’t want to sit and talk shit about my now ex-therapist because she did help me in a lot of ways (probably including some I won’t realize for years), but I needed her to be emotionally present during my crisis modes and she couldn’t be for reasons I understand but cannot work around.

Whatever the case, I’ve had two or three very bad sessions in a row that made me realize it’s time for a change, no matter how inconvenient. I was describing to her how bad I’ve felt and she was trying to explain to me how she didn’t think I’d actually kill myself. She said the words “you didn’t even attempt.” And it was just so incredibly invalidating. I deserve a therapist who is there for me when I’m at my worst, for fuck’s sake. I’m pretty sad about it. I was laying in bed feeling like it was kind of a break up in the sense where I would think about it and my chest would feel like it’s caving in a little bit.

Nonetheless, it’s time to move on, and for the mentally ill, it’s probably not good to take some time to be “single” for a while if you truly do benefit from therapy in general (which I think almost everyone in the universe does, if they find the right person). There’s no tinder of which I’m aware for therapist-finding, but there are a few ways to do your search that are a little more useful than just sitting in your kitchen panicking (as I am apt to do).

I don’t really like list-articles normally (listicles rhymes with testicles for a reason) but here are a few tools to consider when doing a therapist search.

1. Determine what you want out of therapy.

Yikes, the first step is also the hardest for some. I guess start with your current diagnoses, if you have them, or start with symptoms, if you have them. Do you have a need for resilience and mindfulness coping skills? Try DBT therapy. Do you find you’re unable to break out of harmful, self-sabotaging cycles and you’re not sure where to start? Try EMDR. If you want a clinical experience, try a psychologist. If you want more of just someone to talk to, you might try a counselor instead. Maybe you already know you’d rather talk to a woman about your feelings than a man. Legit. You might decide that location of the therapist is super important because your transportation is limited, or maybe your insurance coverage is essential. Some therapists accept sliding scale rates, so if you don’t have insurance at all, maybe look into that?

I would make a list of everything you can think of. Then I’d pick the top ones of that list to determine what you CANNOT live without. Here’s a list of mine as an example.

  • Needs to be chill about transgender things. They don’t have to be queer but they do have to be informed at least so I don’t find myself in a teaching role during my therapy sessions.
  • Needs to take my insurance and be in-network.
  • Needs to understand the relationship between PTSD and depression.
  • Needs to be within 30-minute drive of my work, since I’ll be coming to therapy from work most of the time.
  • Has EMDR experience and practice.
  • Has mindfulness incorporated into their practice, but isn’t hokey in any way (sometimes that’s hard to find, and it shouldn’t be).
  • Probs identify as a woman, since I connect way better with women than men usually.
  • Maybe someone who will give me homework?

2. Use Psychology Today’s therapist-finder tool to take a look at area counseling resources.

What? There’s a catalog of therapists you can sort and filter by your needs? Yes. Here’s the ~Link~. It’s fun even to just browse. I should say that not every therapist ever is in this catalog, but there are many, and I think most if not all are VERIFIED in some way so you don’t end up with some creep from Craigslist.

Since I’m a writer, I’m very picky about people’s bios they write for themselves on their profile. I notice if they write in 1st or 3rd person and make judgments based on that (for example, someone who writes their bio using the “I” pronoun is perhaps more approachable and informal than someone who refers to themselves by their own name). If the bio is condescending in any way, that’s an immediate turn-off. But if a bio captures my attention and maybe reframes my problems before I even meet them, now THAT is impressive.

If you find one that really looks awesome, there are usually a couple contact methods available. Or else you can just make note of a few and return to them if you want to keep searching first.

3. Ask around for informal or formal referrals.

This is tricky but it also can be a godsend. The only good news about embarking on the journey of finding a new therapist is that millions of people have gone on the same journey before you. A lot of people have already done some ground work in figuring out who’s good in your town and who’s not.

This can be as micro as asking your friends for ideas or as formal as asking your family practice doc for official referrals. I’m part of a queer Facebook group which is pretty cool because there’s thousands  of people on it from my metro area, and members can ask for recommendations for these types of things, with the needs-to-be-queer-friendly lens. Are there any special interest or identity groups of which you’re part or could be part? Try those folks!

One thing to note is that just because a therapist is the best therapist for your college friend doesn’t mean that that therapist will be any good for you. And that doesn’t mean they suck. It’s just so personal and subjective. But please remain motivated! If you try a few and none of them work (I think a good rule is seeing a therapist 2 or 3 times before deciding, unless the first session is god-awful), keep going. It will be totally worth it in the end. There are so many therapists out there, which is overwhelming, but it’s also good because one of them will meet your standards. 🙂

I hope this will at least get you started if you’re about to embark on the journey to find a therapist. Finding a therapist can seem pretty insurmountable, especially if one of your reasons for going to therapy include anxiety! But at least knowing there are tools available can start to narrow these things down for you. Good luck. Feel free to share this post with someone if it made you think of anyone (respectfully).

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New Chest’s Eve

Tomorrow is the day I meet with a plastic surgeon to have my first consultation for top surgery. This is a meeting I’ve canceled before, in part because of insurance uncertainties and in part because of cold feet.

I rescheduled a month or more ago, and now it’s tomorrow. It’s kind of surreal. I feel shy.

Because most of you had something to do with the ability to pursue this (many of you gave money to my GoFundMe or you shared my post or you looked me in the eyes and said you were excited for me), I want to keep you posted on how it’s going. I feel like it’s the least I can do.

Tonight I feel kind of nervous, like tomorrow I’m going to a job interview and I have to choose what I should wear. Do I need to impress her? Do I need to prove how badly I want this? How can I prove the tissue closest to my heart needs to go?

Here’s a poem from my latest chapbook. I don’t have a lot of words right now, but maybe this will do:

Chest

the first time you suggested we shower together
I placed a hand over my chest
bound to my lungs with spandex.
you undressed in front of me
smiling and kissing me between
each garment.

I sat on the toilet lid fully clothed
while water plummeted your nakedness
behind a curtain.
I don’t know if you saw me
but I got up several times,
pulled an arm through the sleeve,
put it back out,
sat back down,
put my head in my hands
combed my hair back with my fingers
pulled–

you told me I didn’t have to join
but after standing up several times
just to sit back,
I walked out of the bathroom
let the steam go.

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