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LittleRed

Confused, questioning, exhausted - 5 months into HRT

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LittleRed

So I'm 5 months into HRT and find myself questioning things over the past few days. Thoughts of "what the hell am I doing?", "am I really a trans woman or am I just non-binary (somewhere between man and woman)?", "am I crazy? (my therapist keeps telling me not to use this kind of self-talk)".

 

Up until a week ago, I was only out to a few close friends and to my workplace (I work remotely from the other side of the country so this one was easy). Now that I'm out to the entire world, I'm challenged by some thoughts:

 

1) Up until this point, I only publicly presented female on occasion and always did it in places where I wouldn't be recognized. I'm finding I don't have near the amount of clothes I need for the summer to go full-time. Thrift stores are all shut down still and stores that do sell clothing are not accepting any returns for the foreseeable future. There isn't a single place with a changing room to try on anything to see what fits. This is making it difficult for me to do anything to find something comfortable to wear.

2) I'm out to the world now. I'm struggling with "unspoken expectations" of presenting and being authentically me. I'm finding that its easy to be in guy's clothes when I have to run in and out of the house doing errands - I'm a really busy parent / spouse. But at the same time, I really want to be feminine more often and publicly visible. I'm really conscious because I feel like I forced the spotlight on me by coming out publicly. I just don't want to have to think about all this.

3) Dysphoria is really messing with me too. It's 90+ degrees out and I'm finding more and more that my manly tendency to sweat a lot when doing even the simplest things is really dysphoric. At the same time, I look at my sore chest with the small growth I've had over the past months and I really love what I see. But I'm so confused as to if I'm even doing the right thing for me. I still have my "beer gut" and while I can suck most of it in, just having it there is dysphoric enough. My voice is really dysphoric.

4) Politics, news, current events, social media has clouded my brain with this "trans vs. transphobic" world that we live in. Every day I see advances making towards our freedoms and liberties and every day I also see steps taken backwards. So many people are against us and so many are supporting us. 

5) Work is completely exhausting me. I'm a technical lead in one of the most critical areas of my company and so much of our company's success has rested on my technical capabilities. I've been putting in 50-70 working hour weeks since COVID-19 hit (most of the amount of time I've been on HRT has been during COVID quarantine). I've barely had time to think about things. And now out of the blue, there are company politics going on at 2-3 steps above my pay grade, which is potentially impacting the team and people I work with. Things are really uncertain right now. I'm scared that if I decide to get back on the job search, or if I have no choice, I'll struggle as a trans woman to find a job. Will it take me longer to replace my position? Will I be able to get the pay that I've worked so hard over the years as "John" to get? Will I be able to find as an accepting culture for trans people (i'm really blessed to be where I'm at)?

 

My mind is flooded with confusion. Too many questions. So many doubts. I know I'm transgender. I love the changes HRT has been making on my body but I know that reversing them would be very expensive and painful. I don't think I would want to stop HRT and go back. At the same time, I'm afraid to even walk out of my home. To add to this, I have a very long history of suicidal thoughts and depression. I have a wife and six children I'm committed to - they all have accepted me as one of their moms. My wife is supporting me thought this process and we plan to be together no matter what. But she expressed her concern last night that I'm asking these questions while in the middle of HRT and she doesn't want me to end up having regrets in the future. I totally see where she is coming from and I too have the same concern.

I don't know what to do. And yes, I do have a therapist that I'll see next week but its hard to sort though my mess with only 45 minutes a session.

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KathyLauren

Sorry to hear that life is being confusing for you. 

 

I see nothing in your post that indicates confusion about who you are or what you want.  It sounds like you are pretty clear that you want to continue on HRT, and you have support from your family and therapist.

 

What I am hearing is causing you the most distress is not being able to present in public as your feminine self in spite of having come out to the world.  I totally get that that would be dysphoric and distressing.

 

Thrift shops are great, and I have gotten a lot of my clothes there.  However, with those being unavailable right now, you may have no choice but to buy some new clothes.  That can get expensive, so don't go wild, but it sounds like you are gainfully employed, so perhaps you can afford one or two nice, casual outfits. 

 

Perhaps you can enlist your wife's help to measure you, to make guessing sizes easier.  Perhaps, also, she can help you choose styles where an exact fit is less critical: flowing lines, elastic waistbands, etc.  Check for sales to economize.

 

Good luck!

Kathy

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Tori M

1.  Shorts and pretty t-shirts or tank tops are easy to shop for.  Maybe not what we really want to wear, but it will get you by for awhile.  I've been doing this for 17 years and I still wear jeans and t-shirts to the grocery and Wally mart when I'm busy.

2. Just because you're out doesn't mean you have to look completely femme all the time.  In the everyday world, people aren't expecting anything more from you than what you give them.  People are busy and times are weird now.  They're not paying as much attention as we think.  The only one putting a spotlight on you is you.  We're all having to forgive ourselves for what just isn't safe or practical right now.  Other women understand that learning takes time and experimentation because they went through it too when they were young.  Let yourself be a beginner for now; it's ok, really it is!

3. It's always a good time to work on our voices, especially now when we have lots of home time.  Try focusing on the little things you can do.  Remember, scent and touch is a major part of femininity, so lightly scented soaps, pretty stud earrings, and noticing your hair touching your shoulders can give you that reassuring feeling you need even if just for a moment.  Assuming you're wearing bras, a lacy one can be affirming.

4. Forget about it!  Remember the news is only 1% of 1% of what's going on in our day-to-day world.  99.9% never makes the headlines and despite some setbacks, things are still headed in the right direction for us.  Trans life is 500% better than it was 2-3 decades ago.

5. This might be the crux of all your current confusion.... 70 hour exhaustive work weeks is going to affect all of your other thinking.  Been there, done that.  Plus 6 kids?!  I can't imagine!  Hon, your mind is tired!  A tired mind is a confused mind.  There aren't many people who can work that much and still think clearly, so give yourself a break about not feeling yourself right now.  Forgive yourself until work calms down.

 

As a trans woman, it sounds like you've been very fortunate (accepting job, accepting wife and kids, accepting yourself) so far.  Why doubt that would continue?  Remind yourself of that when the doubts about your future creep in.  We all imagine catastrophes but most setbacks in life are minor.  The construct of your post shows very clear and organized thinking, so I would predict that you are likely to continue on your journey with only the usual small bumps of life.

 

You sound like a very devoted, caring woman.  I hope something I said helps brighten your day a little!

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Jani

I know this is difficult Jennifer. 

11 hours ago, LittleRed said:

I just don't want to have to think about all this.

In a way its like a test part where you get to see it was easy looking in from the outside, but not so easy being inside.  If you persevere you will be rewarded though. 

 

As to your "beer gut" it just needs to be a goal to remove it.  Exercise and stop drinking, and eat less than you think you need.  Yes its hard to do, but the reward is sweet.  As you've noted concerning your breasts, "I really love what I see."  

 

As to the news and politics, try to stay abreast of things but tune out the noise that will clutter your mind.  Its just not worth it.  If your work area is truly critical, then have faith in your position.  And if you do need to shop for a new job, take heart that you will have a decent opportunity even as a transgender woman (I recall your field is IT).  

 

The fear of leaving your home is real but you WILL get over it and it will soon be a non-issue.  That you are having questions is good.  You're not in the "middle" of HRT at 5 months but it has caused enough change to invoke these emotions and fears we all have faced.  That your wife and children support you is a wonderful gift.  

 

Take a deep breath and take stock in all that has transpired over the last year, six months, week.  I am certain the change has been huge.  You've gotten this far one day, one step, one conversation at a time.  Yes we need to look to the future but that can be a nebulous goal.  Focus instead on tomorrow, next week or maybe next month.  We don't jump to the next floor of a building, we take one step at a time, stopping to rest as we need to.  This is life and it's certainly transition life.  Please know we are here to support you as best we can.

 

Write a few goal oriented questions for your therapist to help you with at your next session.  Also keep us up on what's going on as we are interested and here for you.

Hugs,

Jani    

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Carrie

Hi

When I came out at work the company was supportive but the people I worked with were not. I still worked there for somewhere between 2 and 3 years.  I guess that was enough time to settle down and work things out.  I found another job a few weeks later it was the best job I had ever had and the worst job.  It was the first job where I was accepted as a woman where my past was not known. But the job itself was awful but it was great to work as myself.  a year later I found another job and have never looked back.

It is hard at first but it does get better as you find confidence in yourself.  Just keep going and you will be fine.  A few ups and downs but that is normal for everyone. 

Good luck!

Carrie 🙂

 

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KayC
23 hours ago, LittleRed said:

My mind is flooded with confusion. Too many questions. So many doubts. I know I'm transgender.

Hi LittleRed.  Nice to meet you!
I have no frame of reference because I have not started HRT yet .. but I just wanted to ask, do you feel better on HRT?  Not appearance wise, but inside .. your thoughts and your heart .. does it make you feel more like you think you should feel as Transfeminine?

For me, that is the primary reason I want to start HRT .. to change that feeling from one of confused anxiety to one of calm acceptance.  Others in this Forum have taught me that that is their number one benefit of MtF HRT .. to calm the testosterone demons and have a new clear perspective on their self-identity.

That fact that you have a loving and supportive family (and therapist) is a huge positive, and that is not always a common thread in the Forum. 

You job situation is another factor .. and the anxieties over that (I have similar) I assume can rollover into your identity issues.  Others here have also mentioned sometimes there needs to be tweaks in your HRT meds.  I'm not a therapist or an Endo, but it might be worth bringing both of these areas up to professionals.

Deep breaths ... one step at a time❤️

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VickySGV

This damn virus thing has even those of us who are retired and naturally at home talking to the spiders up on the ceiling. (Even worse, the spiders are talking back to me.)  It does have everyone's nerves shot to heck and back, you wife's and children's as well as yours. Cabin Fever is no joke at all.  No one else has suggested it but if you can take an hour or so every now and then, there are Trans support groups having Zoom type meetings just about around the clock.  We no longer have to go to our local LGBTQ center to meet others like us, and a huge chunk with exactly the same issues you are having.  Getting in to something like that, even once every two weeks could help you to realize you are not alone.  The one-on-one therapy is fine (I agree with the therapist about not putting yourself down) but speaking a little more free-form with other Trans folks helps adjust the breathing and blood pressure.

 

Draw string shorts with a flower or butterfly patterned T shirt, even two sizes too big, are a sanity saver as far as clothing goes.  I have gone through my pile of Pride T-shirts with exactly that kind of shorts on for the last two months.  They even make skirts like that.  When you figure out the beer belly thing, let me know, I earned one before my Transition 11 years ago and still have it, but it really has not affected much overall.

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Just Lee

You know women sweat too. My sister Becky sweats a LOT and it just happens. Please don't worry about that small factor as it's a real thing for lots of women. 

 

If you're having a hard time finding the right clothes, get creative. Find a place that sells t shirts and buy a few in attractive colors. Next, order some fabric paints and a  free e book. You can decorate a few T-shirts to whatever you like. Get some glitter to top it off. Look up fun and cute sayings and easy deco for them. You can look feminine in your clothes with even the simplest of additions. Put a big pink heart on the center of a shirt and write SASSY on it. 

 

In the end, working to appear feminine or masculine takes a little effort but there's nothing wrong with that. It helps boost your esteem to add those extra touches. Buy a few fake flowers and arrange them in vases around your house. Pop off a few of them and attach one to a barrette to put in your hair or on a headband. Looking pretty shouldn't cost a fortune. You can do this Little Red! 

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Astrid

Although I don't sew well, I can and do sew, and it's another possible way to explore clothing during this stay-at-home time.  If you have access to a sewing machine, you can learn and explore with bits of fabric. If you don't,  you can hand embroider , hand stitch hems, etc.

 

Hugs,

 

Astrid 

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Astrid

Oh, and I forgot ... for those interested in getting introduced to the hundreds of terms that are associated with women's clothing and fashion (even if only to get familiar before eventually returning to stores and shopping), Kohl's has a simple but thorough glossary of terms here:


https://www.kohls.com/ecom/valueadded/Glossary.htm

 

I've picked up a lot of terminology from this.

 

Best,

 

Astrid

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Carrie

You know women sweat too

Well Just Lee i take exception to this. I never sweat. Indeed what a thought.  As my mum would say we glow!!!

🙂

 

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Jani
7 hours ago, Just Lee said:

Next, order some fabric paints and a  free e book. You can decorate a few T-shirts to whatever you like. Get some glitter to top it off. Look up fun and cute sayings and easy deco for them. You can look feminine in your clothes with even the simplest of additions. Put a big pink heart on the center of a shirt and write SASSY on it. 

 

Great idea.  I've seen that even the local Walmart has fabric paints available!  Look in the arts and crafts area.  You can look for a book but use your imagination and have fun. I bought some "puffy paint" a few years go to decorate a shirt for my granddaughter.  Draw, then iron it to get it to puff up!   I'm sure your kids would have fun too!  

 

@Astrid what a great find.  I didn't know this existed.  Thanks for sharing. 

 

Jani

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LittleRed
On 7/1/2020 at 7:41 AM, KayC said:

I just wanted to ask, do you feel better on HRT?  Not appearance wise, but inside .. your thoughts and your heart .. does it make you feel more like you think you should feel as Transfeminine?

 

Hi KayC,

 

So to be totally transparent. Before getting on HRT, I read lots of stories of people saying that they really felt a difference as soon as they got on HRT and other trans people were telling me that I'll "feel" a lot better and I'll just "know" that it was meant to be. I feel like I was given this impression that HRT was going to shoot rainbows in the sky and I'd be on cloud 9 or something.

 

To my disappointment, I really didn't feel anything different when I started HRT. After a month, it really made me question if it was even working because I didn't feel any different and I wasn't experiencing anything magical or feeling any more feminine just by being on estradiol. What the hell was going on?

 

I had conversations with my therapist about this and basically to my understanding is that hormones don't necessarily have any immediate affect on how you feel or on your emotions. Over time, you experience change. People who immediately feel something amazing may be having a placebo affect (not to offend anyone, this is coming from my therapist, not me).

 

Over the course of several months, I began to notice some things:

 

1) My chest became sore, which as annoying as it is, it feels wonderful and affirming knowing something is starting happening there.

2) My skin felt quite different. Very soft compared to what I'm used to feeling. I feel like I really like my skin for the first time!

3) I noticed that I don't sweat at night when I sleep and my hair doesn't get so oily (it was really bad. Pre-HRT, I had to take a shower every morning because my hair was so greasy the next day. I couldn't stand it and I obsessed over my morning shower just to be able to wash my hair).

4) At some point, I started to notice (like a month ago) that I am able to cry. Something that would happen maybe once every 5 years under extreme circumstances. I found myself crying over a stressful situation at work that I normally would only feel anger or numb.

5) Which brings me to... with pre-HRT, my emotional states were: amused, numb, depressed, or angry. Now I feel like I'm just beginning to feel other emotions. I don't necessarily feel as "lifeless" as I used to.

 

I'm still going through problems with depression, doubt about transitioning, etc. But I feel like HRT is helping. Just don't come into HRT with the expectation that you're going to feel something significant right away. It didn't happen to me and it was really discouraging for a while.

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Tori M

@LittleRed, that should be pinned to the top of the HRT forum.  The real HRT experience.  My new endo asked me how my anxiety was when I was on hormones previously.  "About the same," I replied.  Some things don't change.

 

And some things do, unexpectedly.... believe it or not, less than a week in this time, I am already feeling a touch of a forgotten calmness and patience.  It must be the T blocker kicking in.  Good riddance to my usual hurried approach to everything!

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SaraAW

For me, I think it was the act of taking charge of my life and moving towards living honestly, that HRT represented that made me feel better early on. At about 3 months I really started to notice my emotional range expanding significantly, as well as the beginning of the physical changes. At this point I have 0 doubts that I made the right decision in beginning to transition and starting HRT.

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Jani
8 hours ago, LittleRed said:

I feel like I was given this impression that HRT was going to shoot rainbows in the sky and I'd be on cloud 9 or something.

No not really!  I felt happy after starting but no fireworks.  As you have found changes do creep up on you and all the things you note will present in your life soon enough.  As to depression, talk to your doctor and get something for it.  There is no need to have this cloud over your life. 

 

Jani  

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KayC
12 hours ago, LittleRed said:

5) Which brings me to... with pre-HRT, my emotional states were: amused, numb, depressed, or angry. Now I feel like I'm just beginning to feel other emotions. I don't necessarily feel as "lifeless" as I used to.

 

I'm still going through problems with depression, doubt about transitioning, etc. But I feel like HRT is helping.

Hi LittleRed.  Thank you so much for answering my question in detail ❤️ It was very helpful and exactly what I was looking for.  Your final comments were affirming for me that there truly is a benefit for those like us (who still might be Questioning). 
I am not looking for rainbows and unicorns (unicorns is my word ..hah!)  But I do want to get rid of this constant underlying anxiety fault line that keeps rumbling inside of me.  So, I haven't started HRT yet, but I am pretty much convinced I will benefit from it .. but, therapy first!

I noticed you didn't mention your are on testosterone blockers (T-blockers)?  but I assume maybe you are?  I am thinking for myself, being on some level of T-blockers will be beneficial for me, just to help tone down these male hormones that put me on constant libido cycles that don't help with my anxiety or my relationship with my wife.  The positive body changes of E would also be appreciated but I am not Out yet except to my wife.  So I have to take care on the timing of this.

Again, having the support of your wife and family must be a huge relief and beneficial to your progress.  You are fortunate.

 

Thank you again for your direct and honest response.  All the best❣️

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