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Greetings all, I'll start by saying that I can have trouble putting my thoughts to words at times, especially when anxious, etc. I'm a young adult, amab. I've been coping with a mix of stress, anxiety, depression and the like for a few years now. Though amongst that mix of feelings, I've also had waves of what I'd have to describe as gender dysphoria. I can't say the first time I really noticed it, though in the past couple of years it has come on more frequently, and progressively more intense. The first specific case that I can recall with a moderately precise timing is July of 2017. I awoke from a vivid dream, in a mix of emotions. In many ways the dream felt real, though shortly before I awoke I started to know it was a dream. Trying to avoid the tangents I feel myself prone to including, the important thing I really took from that dream was the knowledge that I knew I was female in my dream, and it felt somehow right. Afterwards, I spent a solid week hardly able to sleep. In the heart of my day to day, I wasn't able to think too much of it, but in the quiet of the night my thoughts would start racing, scampering like a panicking mouse. It was a jumbled mess that I struggled to make heads or tails of, but I'd glance at the time and next thing I knew it was almost sunrise and I was still wide awake. I was seeing a general therapist, and decided to bring it up during a session. I was losing sleep over it, and it was preoccupying my mind during social gatherings as well. Talking it out helped a bit, though so much was still a mess. The thoughts subsided afterwards though, at least to a point I could resume my life as it was. I know I can have a tendency to procrastinate and supress things, especially when my depression and such are more active, so I let those thoughts and feelings get buried for a while. They returned again for a short time in the spring of last year, though I didn't act on them. Back in January however, my sleep schedule had devolved into a total nightmare. Waking up at 6pm one evening, not going to sleep until mid morning two days later. During that time, those thoughts and feelings returned with a vengeance. It was subtle for the first few nights, perhaps I was just too exhausted to entertain them, though it eventually hit me like a truck. I had very intense feelings of wishing to be female. For the next week and a half or so, I spent each night with those intense thoughts. Doing things like repeating in my head 'I wish I were female', even practically crying myself to sleep on a couple of nights. During this time I was utterly disgusted with my body, I couldn't even look myself in the mirror. Overall since then, those thoughts and feelings have been in the back of my mind at almost all times, sometimes more prevailent than others. A few weeks back, it came to my mind to start looking into it a bit, rather than just ignoring it. I finally managed to bring myself to expressing it, and hoping to start making sense of it all, and hopefully being able to accept the answer I come to, whatever it is. I don't have anyone in my life that I know I could talk this stuff over with, other than looking into therapy options. There a couple of people I *may* be able to talk to, but I wanted to build myself up to that first. I've been low self esteem and self conscious about things for basically as long as I can remember. Much of my family comes off as the type of people I wouldn't want to bring this up to, at least not until I have my answer and can accept it. My mother died when I was young, though her side tends to be more accepting. My dad and his family on the other hand seem a bit more socially stigmatizing, with several of them under the assumption that I was 'gay'. I feel like being brought up in that environment has certainly contributed toward my supression and uncertainty on this topic. In general, my social relationships are probably the most important thing in my life. So I feel its only natural I have this fear that this path of discovery I'm looking toward may very well strain that which I hold so dear. As a side note I want to add that beyond those more direct feelings of dysphoria, I have thought back through my life as much as I can really recall and noted several other things that stick out in my mind as clues that something is off. Back in middle school, I recall vocally asking a friend if he ever had thoughts of what it was like to be a girl. He only really responded by giving me a weird look. I didn't really think much of it at the time. Then in sophmore year of highschool, I got really into writing fiction. I began fleshing out this whole world that my brain had sort of worked on for years while my imagination roamed in those minutes before sleep. At first, the main character was a character I came up with on the playground in elementary: Delta. In many ways he was a personification of myself, my masculin self. Though shortly down the road, as I finished the first arc of the story, I introduced a new character. This new character was the focal point of the second arc. Eventually, as I revised the story a few times over, this character became the main character. The whole storyline was being retold from her perspective, and as such I made most of it told in third person, but her parts in first person. She is the character I have since fleshed out the most, by far, to a point where I felt alienated from Delta. This new character had interludes and spin offs of sorts. I would fall asleep imagining her adventures. In some ways, she is ever present in my mind. An alter ego of sorts. When something is bothering me, and I'm not frustrated or stressed to the point of irrationality, I sometimes have the thought of "how would she react." or "how would she deal with this." Sometimes it even helps me through whats bothering me. I've come to the realization that in many ways, she is the embodiment of who I wish I were. Yet at the same time, it isn't straightforward or simple. It's still a confusing mess. Maybe its my uncertainty, or my overactive passivity or indecisiveness. Though the feelings of dysphoria always come in waves. Sometimes stronger than others. I'm not sure its fluid though. When I mentally acknowledge the feminine aspects of who I am, I often get a feeling of relief. When I'm not feeling extremely feminine, I'm basically ambivilant at best. One thing I'm almost certain of, is my inner female is overall more dominant than my inner male. Yet I find myself afraid and uncertain. Unsure how to move forward, wanting to slink back into supressing it.
I'm confused and depressed and anxious. I just want to know? Am I just a confused tomboy? I don't know. Because I feel like this is something more than just being tomboy. Because I feel different and it's hard to explain. Anything feminine makes me very uncomfortable like makeup, skirts, dresses, skinny jeans, shaving, periods. I hate my chest and I think it could be dysphoria. But I don't know. I've hated my long hair for years. I've never felt connected to my name. I hate being called words like girl, girly, lady, cute, pretty. I'm afraid of the future and I just don't want to end up doing something I might regret. How to know if your genderqueer or ftm? Whats the difference? How did you realise it? How to know if your experiencing dysphoria or low self esteem or something else?