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Sudden Intense Dysphoria


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I just cut my hair super short yesterday (thanks everyone who responded to my intro thread). It was definitely an experience and I've never ever had my hair this short in my whole life. I really love my hair now and don't regret doing it at all. However, it's really hard to look in mirrors or other long reflective surfaces right now. At first I thought I was fine since I had no problems looking at myself in the mirror at home, but then I spent the night at my boyfriend's house and it became really difficult. The major difference? None of the mirrors in my own home show my body.

Suddenly I don't feel okay with my body at all. Like, I'm AFAB and I have learned to live with my massive chest (among other things, but that's the most visually obvious). Most of my clothes are somewhat neutral and I typically wear larger t-shirts so it's not so obvious. I also like wearing skirts and dresses sometimes and I typically wear more fitted shirts with the skirts. I've been wanting to get a binder, but I never felt like my body was that wrong until today. Now the idea of wearing any sort of really feminine clothing just feels sort of wrong.

I know it's probably just a reaction to the haircut. I look much more masculine now. I'm trying to give myself some time to adjust. So far all the responses to my hair have been really positive so I'm grateful for that. I'm just a bit scared that the dysphoria won't go away. I thought I was mostly okay with myself, but now I don't know.

Anyone else have a similar experience after making a big change?

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2 hours ago, Kiara said:

I know it's probably just a reaction to the haircut. I look much more masculine now.

Hi Kiara, I wouldn’t read too much into it right now. The mind plays cruel tricks on us on occasion. Just give it some time and let yourself get acquainted with your new look. I’m not saying what your feeling is not real. It’s just that we see ourselves for so long as one way and when you make such a huge change, it can be a jolt. 

 

A bad haircut at a salon can have this affect on me too so I can relate in a similar way. I had an experience in July 2019 that sent me spiraling for two days. I actually came out of it ‘ok’. I deal better with change like that now but I still recall how difficult a time it was right after leaving the salon.

 

I hope you’re able to adjust to the change easily and quickly. Knowing it’s reversible in time if you decide it’s not for you, may help a little.

 

My Best,

Susan R🌷

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Hi @Kiara
I understand those feelings too.  As I came to accept myself as Transfeminine, I became totally disconnected with my male clothing, styles and appearance (even though I am not Out and I still have to wear them daily and present male).  I can't say my dysphoria about this is that intense, but its just little things that are constant reminders.


What I have done is to just look for any additional small things I can do/change.  Your hairstyle was a BIG change for you, but the next change maybe does not have to be as significant or noticeable.  Progress is going in the right direction ... not necessarily how big of a leap you take.

 

Small steps can help ... and therapy 🙂

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    I am bald and actually shave my head so that the few peripheral hairs don't make matching hard.  I put my wig on first thing in the morning and only take it off before getting ready for bed.  When i do see myself it can be a bit of a shock.  For several years after going full time i was immediately down,  dysphoria swept in.  Over time, I've come to accept myself as i am.  I have done all i can to be myself.  

The Serenity Prayer has helped.

   "Grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

   Perhaps so much of what we face as trans folks is finding and accepting a path to acceptance.  It is different for all.  My time here where i could express the struggle and gender therapy has helped immensely.  I see myself in others.

 

Hugs,

 

Charlize

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Years ago my spouse lost her hair due to chemo treatments.  She still looked great.  By the time it started to grow back (1/2") we went to a wedding where she didn't wear a wig.  Admittedly not everyone there knew why her hair was short but it didn't matter.  The first few days are shocking.  It will normalize soon. 

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Thanks everyone.

 

I've never had a problem looking at myself in a mirror despite the fact there have been times I really didn't like what I saw. This is a completely new thing for me to be that uncomfortable seeing myself to the point that I will actually avoid reflective surfaces. Wearing an old hoodie helped a bit yesterday, but I can't wear that to work tomorrow.

I'm trying to give myself time, but it's difficult as I'm also struggling with going back to work. I know my coworkers with likely be fine with my hair, but I work with the public and some of our regulars are... How to put it? Not very open minded? I was hoping dealing with them would be my only problem. I didn't anticipate having this much dysphoria. Thankfully I have enough neutral-ish clothing that it hopefully won't be terrible, but there's a ton of glass and now a lot of plexi due to the pandemic. I never really noticed my reflection so much before, but now it's going to be hard to avoid. The only saving grace is that Mondays are typically very busy so hopefully I'll be too focused on work to notice.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's been over two weeks and I'm not sure what to make of things right now. It has not gotten easier to face myself in a mirror if I have to see the more female parts of myself. I'm grateful that it's cold out now so that I can wear layers. I can wear long sleeves and a large t-shirt and that helps a bit, but I don't have the jeans I want so from the waist down is still very feminine. I know we have underaged members so I can't go into details, but I'm no longer comfortable with intimate physical contact from my partners.

It's been really hard for me. I don't really have anyone to talk to who would understand. My husband loves and supports me, but he is the very definition a sort of white bread person who doesn't know or understand much beyond his sheltered upbringing. My other partner is more familiar with things, but is still a cis-male. Any time I've talked with him about anything LGBTQIA+ I always end up feeling patronized. I haven't talked to either of them about my feelings. I've managed to hide most of it behind the fact that my period has been awful this month (which is unusual for me). I'm sort of hoping that maybe things will improve once it's over, but I know myself well enough that it's not just my cycle.

I know it sounds more like I need therapy at this point, but I've had awful experiences with therapists in the past. I'd much rather talk to people who have been down this road and understand. I find myself questioning everything in my life and wondering how much have I been just "playing my assigned role." I hate to say I was never given the option (to be male), but the more I think about my upbringing the more I realize that maybe I was brainwashed. My mother was very much a man-hater despite her supposed search for a husband after my parents divorce. Everything male/masculine was bad in her eyes. I often thought of myself as a tomboy and not an actual boy, because obviously boys are the worst and girls are much better.

I'm trying to give myself time. It hasn't been that long and the timing is a bit bad with everything else going on in my life and the world. It's just hard when I see some of myself and I'm happy with it, but then I see other parts and it just feels horrible.

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17 hours ago, Kiara said:

I know it sounds more like I need therapy at this point, but I've had awful experiences with therapists in the past.

Hi Kiara.  For me, going through different levels of dysphoria, questioning, and doubts has been something I have come to understand as just part of the journey.  A painful part, but we have to start somewhere.
I cannot and should not give you any specific advice, because its impossible for me to know the intimate details of your life and situation.
But, even if you previously had bad therapy experiences, maybe it was just the wrong time in your life and/or the wrong therapists.
I just know how much therapy has helped me.  It cannot "solve" all my issues, but it definitely helps me deal with them in a more positive, productive way... and in the process I have learned a LOT more about myself that has little to do with my gender identity.  A good therapist can do that for you.


Also, do you have any connections to LGBTQIA+ in your area?  I am sure that would be a great help to be able to connect with others.

In the meantime, we are all here on the Forum as a Community to support each other.  So, I am happy you have a secure place to share your feelings.  Wishing you the best❣️

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1 hour ago, KayC said:

Also, do you have any connections to LGBTQIA+ in your area?  I am sure that would be a great help to be able to connect with others.

 

There's the Pride Center of NJ not too far away. I know they hosted support groups pre-pandemic, but I've always been hesitant to go. I know pass as cis/het and very much give off that vibe. It's served me well as protection against additional discrimination in my life, but I worry that I won't be welcomed into LGBTQIA+ spaces because they'll see me as just another straight ciswoman invading their safe space.

I realize that they're probably doing virtual meetings with the pandemic, but that's difficult with my husband being home all the time. Our apartment is on the smaller side and we're usually always together even when he's working. I'd rather not have him know what's going on. He's had some ongoing health problems and he finally has a doctor that will listen to him. It's been very stressful and things are possibly worse than we thought. I really do not want to add to his worry or stress right now.

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Hi Kiara,

 

2 hours ago, Kiara said:

I worry that I won't be welcomed into LGBTQIA+ spaces because they'll see me as just another straight ciswoman invading their safe space.

I felt this too at one point. I didn't contact my local LGBTQ community for fear of "not being trans enough" or "gay enough". My worries were put to rest by a very nice (although tardy - they took 4 weeks to answer me) reception and I was redirected to a nice local trans woman. We still haven't mannaged to talk but we'll get there.

 

What I mean is, it is our fears that hold us back. Your situation will be understood by the right people in your local LGBTQ community.

 

Also, given how much you are copping right now with, a gender therapist could be a huge help. I know it made all the difference for me. It's true that you need to find the right therapist for you. Working with a person you don't connect with will make more harm than good. But the right therapist for you is out there and they could help you a lot. Don't give up on that possibility.

 

Meanwhile, we are here to support you.

 

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4 hours ago, Gabriel said:

What I mean is, it is our fears that hold us back. Your situation will be understood by the right people in your local LGBTQ community.

This is so true!  Don't let you fears hold you back.  Get out there!

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Heather Nicole
23 hours ago, Kiara said:

I know it sounds more like I need therapy at this point, but I've had awful experiences with therapists in the past. I'd much rather talk to people who have been down this road and understand.

 

At one point I felt like I had a whole revolving door of bad therapists I was going through (just general ones, not gender specialists). Eventually I gave up. I felt the same way about therapists.

 

Fast forward to now, and the first gender therapist I met with (virtually) ended up being great. I also had a virtual intake with a doctor at a local LGBT+ clinic who was also great. As far as I'm aware, they're both cis/het. Of course, there's never any guarantee ahead of time that someone will; be good, but my point is, I think the people who work as professionals with an LGBT+ focus, or especially Trans/NB in particular, it seems they tend to have enough training and direct experience with LGBT+ people to have a much better understanding than the average cis/het folks do.

 

So I think it's worth giving it a try, I think the odds of getting a good one may be better with an experienced gender therapist than with general therapy. In any case, the best way to guarantee you don't find a good one is to not try any.

 

6 hours ago, Kiara said:

I worry that I won't be welcomed into LGBTQIA+ spaces because they'll see me as just another straight ciswoman invading their safe space.

 

I've had the same worries too, and that's kept me from visiting any groups. But if the people here are any indication, I suspect that LGBT+ groups (and especially trans/nb) are already well aware that a person's appearance has very little, if any, bearing on how they're feeling inside, because after all, they've lived through same things, too.

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1 hour ago, Heather Nicole said:

At one point I felt like I had a whole revolving door of bad therapists I was going through (just general ones, not gender specialists). Eventually I gave up. I felt the same way about therapists.

I've only ever had good experiences with therapists. I first started seeing one when I was 16, newly diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. She was there to help me learn to be comfortable walking in the hallways at school and eating in the cafeteria instead of forgoing lunch to instead read in the library. I saw her until I graduated from high school. 

 

A few months later, unable to get my doctor to prescribe me my anti-depressants, I found my way back to that office. My previous therapist wasn't accepting patients, but there was another I could see. This one helped me to work on my communication skills, something I had been struggling with. I had trouble even getting words out, as well as dealing with the anxiety I felt rarely, but when I did was so powerful it exhausted me. She taught me how to ground myself and use mindfulness to calm myself, and to communicate with others. She was there as I called around to local trans health resources, helping me through the process. Finally, I was ready for discharge after a year, after a visit to the emergency room got me a new primary care doctor who would prescribe me my medicines and also diagnosed me with ADHD. 

 

My first therapist helped me to be more comfortable in society, the second helped me to be more comfortable conversing with others and to deal with my health, of which I am thankful because I could make an appointment to start HRT after years of wanting to. 

 

I can't imagine having a bad therapist. I know they exist, but I've learned so much from mine that it's weird to find someone with a different experience. Bad teachers on the other hand...

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Thanks everyone.

 

I've seen at least half a dozen therapists during my childhood/teen years. All were picked and approved by my abusive mother who made sure they were on her side in making her out to be the victim and me the problem. The one therapist who saw her for what she was I only saw once and never again. There are tons of bad therapists out there including the one of my partner's ex-wife saw that literally told her to deny him physical contact in order to get him to man up. That's led to my partner having serious issues around asking for comfort when he's upset. He does see a therapist and has a really good one so it's not like I'm not aware of the fact that not all therapists are terrible. I just don't think they're a good fit for me.

I understand how it's all supposed to work and I've done fairly decent job of working through things myself. I won't say I've handled everything well, but I've handled it. This is perhaps the first time I've run into something beyond my current ability to handle on my own, but I'm just not sure I have the spoons to shift through the endless sea of therapists during a pandemic while my husband is struggling with his own health issues that also involves shifting through an endless sea of doctors to find someone who will listen to him.

For me, knowing as much as possible is the best the way for me to work through a problem. I've always been able to find some sort of solution to a problem by learning as much as possible. It's lead to me being constantly sought out at work and introduced to customers as "the one who knows everything." It's not that I know everything, it's just that I've developed the skills to find the answers. I also often prefer to seek out certain information from honest sources with first hand experience. It's part of the reason why I'm here. Everyone here is going through something similar even if our journeys are different, each and every one of you understands and can share your own advice and experiences. For me that is far more beneficial than some professional sitting in a chair asking me super uncomfortable questions with a strict time limit imposed on me to answer.

 

I will try to be brave enough to actually maybe attend a video support group in the LGBTQIA+ community online. It's very difficult for me to venture out from the underside of my "rock" even digitally. I have social anxiety so everything is a struggle.

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