I’m happy to report that I’m feeling much better this week. After doing some research, talking to therapists, and soon to confirm with the endocrinologist, I’m convinced that while the depression is real, I have an aggravating condition I’ve been previously unaware of: PMS.

You see, I’m on a four week cycle for my estrogen injections: at the end of every fourth week, I inject my estrogen dose intra-muscularly. For a while now, I’ve had suspicions about the timing of these worse than normal bouts of depression. Part of my reluctance to go on anti-depressants was a desire to not muddle what I thought was the effect of the waning estrogen with the main effect of the anti-depressant.

As I believe I mentioned already, now I want to see if I can correct the PMS-type symptoms with a different dose or frequency of estrogen. If not, one of my therapists recommended the anti-depressants for only the week of PMS. While anti-depressants work best over long periods of time (I’ve been told that 3 to 4 weeks is a normal wait for the full effect), my therapist feels that even the minimal serotonin boost from the anti-depressant during PMS week only would be enough to keep me from wanting to self-harm or suicide.

For a while, I’ve been concerned that I’m not exhibiting sufficient control of suicidality. As my therapist and I discussed this in detail this past week, one thing really stuck out: Before I started transitioning, I wasn’t suicidal and I wasn’t in the habit of self-harming. I previously had those impulses under control, and what I’m dealing with currently is more a product of the HRT than anything else. That I’ve identified the root cause of the distress and have some potential solutions to make it better is a good thing and indicates that I’m really taking things seriously and working to improve my quality of life. In a sense, I am exhibiting a significantly better state of mental health: I have not suicided, and the fact that I was that depressed indicated to me that something was wrong even in spite of the painful circumstances that have often coincided with PMS week.

I also clarified one other point: my RLE start date was April 9th, 2009. It was Maundy Thursday and I went to mass dressed like a woman. It wasn’t just that I went dressed as a woman, because I’d done blouses and pants at church before. I presented as a woman. Previously, I’d been trying to hide my breasts, I’d skip jewelry on Sundays because even though that heart necklace was really cute, it wouldn’t be appropriate if I wasn’t trying to pass as Jessica. But that night, four days before Easter, I was. It was the first day that I started presenting as a woman with no exceptions, and the name change in July was just a formality.

The one year anniversary for my RLE is important because it’s one of the criteria establishing eligibility for surgery– that’s the next place for me to go, the next step for me to take, and I’m starting to get my eyes adjusted to that view. It also gets me thinking about Christine Daniels, the former sportswriter for the LA Times. There’s plenty of info online about her very public transition, de-transition and suicide. The reason I bring her up is that when I started this process back in the fall of 2007, one of the things I ran across in some of my preliminary information gathering searches was the story of Christine’s transition. That encouraged me, and I remember thinking “Go Christine!” on more than one occasion. I was deeply saddened to hear about her de-transition in 2008 and subsequent suicide in November of last year. I didn’t know her, but I was going through a PMS week at about the same time, dangerously close to suicide myself. About five days before Christine was found dead in her home, I had a razor blade about 1/8 of an inch deep in my wrist.

The thing that got me off the floor of my bathroom last year, the thing that kept the razor blade from going deeper was thinking that it wasn’t fair for me to be the one bleeding to death. It should really be all the people who couldn’t understand that calling me by my old name wasn’t just rude, it was cruel. With the fresh perspective of Christine’s suicide, a suicide I believed was at least partly due to her unhappiness at detransitioning, I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me that my RLE was anything less than a smashing success just because my parents decided to be assholes about my transition. I didn’t want them to have that kind of power over what I have left of my life.

I remember thinking that detransition and suicide wasn’t so much Christine’s fault as much as a failing of her support network. In a way, the shakiness of my last several months has been a failing of my network: I was overly reliant on people I thought ought to be supportive (such as my parents), and not as reliant as I should have been on the people who really were (such as a good number of my friends). When I look closer at that, I see that it was really my fault as the manager (if you will) of that network: I had all the wrong people in all the wrong positions.

And now as I’m working on salvaging something of the relationship I had with my parents, I understand that they’re never going to be the strong support I had hoped they would be. I initially had wild hopes of teary-eyed parents confiding in me that if I had been born a girl, they would have named me such-and-such. I am under no such illusion any more. The other day, I was having lunch with my Mum, and the topic of surgery came up. She said to me, “That’s too hard for me to hear. This (she opened her hands and gestured) is hard enough.” My parents aren’t gone, and the relationship is at least in better shape than it was, but they’re not up for what I need. As much as I want to include them in the new life that I’m creating for myself, I fear that it’s just too much for them. It feels like they’re not ready to go on and up. The things I regard with excitement and possibility, they see only with fear and dread.

Right here and right now, two of the most important people in my life aren’t really there for me anymore. I worry that if or when they’re finally (and really) ready to catch up, I’ll be too far ahead. I’ve had similar problems before, and I resent having to backtrack and pick up people that I’ve lost along the way. On one hand, I’m impatient with being the trans woman—I just want to get on and live my life already but I also realize that if I do that, then there might be some irreparable harm to important relationships. I think that’s a risk I’m not only willing to take, I think it’s a risk that I have to take.

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