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Overalls Bear

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It's difficult for me to recall how long ago this was. I must have been in my early to mid 50's. I'm now 72. So... say 20 years ago give or take a couple of years? I had never done therapy of any kind. (I was brought up with the notion you don't air your dirty laundry in public. The lesson stuck.) Around the age of 50 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer & ended up undergoing a radical prostatectomy. This was a very strange time for me. Because, on the one hand, I was about to lose / did lose something at least one part of me didn't want to begin with. But I also knew there was the potential I would become impotent & incontinent. On the positive side, though, the cancer was caught at an early stage and I was able to avoid radiation or chemo therapy.

This was the starting point of my downward spiral into overt mental illness. (Prior to this I had always managed to keep the cork in the bottle, so to speak.) Anyway... without going into a lot of detail... it came to pass that I finally decided to see a therapist. And one of the things I knew I wanted to discuss was my life-long struggle with gender dysphoria (not that I was aware of the term, or the terms transgender or transsexual either, at that point in my life. All I could say was I had always thought I should have been / wanted to be a girl. [Yikes!]) And so after some not inconsiderable wrangling with my health insurer at the time I was finally able to make arrangements to see one of their psychologists (a Ph.D. none-the-less)! I knew, going into this, I'd be too embarrassed to meet with my new therapist & simply blurt out that all my life I thought I should have been a girl! But I also didn't want to beat around the bush, especially given how hard a time my health insurer had given me to begin with. So I decided I'd write a letter and get it to the therapist prior to my appointment so he'd know, going in, what I wanted to discuss. This is what I did.

The day and time of my appointment soon arrived, my new therapist came out to the waiting room of the clinic to fetch me, and we walked back to his office where we, of course, sat down. He asked me why I had come in. I mentioned the letter. He began flipping through the files in the file drawer of his desk and after a bit of digging pulled out my letter... unopened. He thereupon proceeded to open the envelop & read what I had written while I sat there feeling foolish & no doubt red-faced. Upon finishing my letter he looked up and said: "Oh... I just heard about this." (Great!) I don't recall anything that was said beyond that. But, at the end of the appointment, the therapist walked me back out to the waiting area. And, as we walked, he suddenly said: So which one would you rather be male or female? Taken aback, I think I said something to the effect that I wouldn't care. I just wished I didn't feel like both. (Later on it occurred to me I should have also added: "and neither at the same time".) I saw this therapist a few more times. (He was actually a nice guy.) But it quickly became clear nothing was going to come of it. So at what would end up being my last appointment I told him I was sure there were other clients who needed his services more than I did. And that was that. A few weeks later I made my first major suicide attempt which landed me in the psych ward of a local medical center.

Since then I've tried seeing a few other therapists mostly to no avail. The last therapist I saw (following my second major suicide attempt) was actually someone who was experienced in working with transgender clients. Talking with her about things I had kept hidden my entire life was a great comfort. But I knew I had to maintain my male role (the therapist talked with my wife at one point who said she could not / would not tolerate my transition.) So my therapy appointments felt more like hashing things over with a close friend rather than actual therapy. And, after a half dozen or so appointments I quit one evening when I was in a rage over something that had nothing to do with gender dysphoria or therapy. (I've always had a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater as the saying goes.) And that was the end of that. My first attempt at therapy was frustrating at the time. But I can chuckle about it now. I think, periodically, about trying therapy again but have no plans to do so.
 

OzGirl

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Overall bear, I haven't had much luck with therapists, and so am currently not seeing one. I struggle with having to transition after making my mind up not to, and my psychologicist gave the sage advice "You need to get over that", but no hints on how I could do it! Gender ID is a medical condition from a small change in your brain during development. It can't be changed medically or psychologically, and the treatment is to allow you to live with this ID conflict. Medically, it is by changing your body to more closely align with you gender ID, but psychologists can't do much more than support you in this process. Dysphoria is the uncomfortable feeling caused by the gender incongruence, and some people don't really recognise it, but it sounds like you did. It can vary in strength but it will never go away, and depression is it's insidious tool. I am so sad it took you to such limits, but most of us have been there.

It is amazing you have been so affected by dysphoria, and haven't succumbed to transition. I have not found happiness in transition, but it has significantly reduced my dysphoria. I resisted for 65 years, and truly, if I could have found another way, I would have taken it (except suicide). I was so much happier a few years ago, and so I hope you can enjoy life as much as possible!

Hugs,

Allie
 
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Linde

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Bear, I am a person who has a very good therapist, and who received lots of help from her. I changed therapists 3 times, until I found her. I have to pay her out of my own pocket, but so far, every $$ I spend for her service was very well spend money.
I really don't know where I would have ended up without her help and guidance.

I hope you have the chance to find a good therapist who can help you with your struggles.

Hugs
Linde
 

Katie

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It is best to have some predefined goals before meeting with a therapist. I wish I would have when I started. I was a mess and really had no idea what my goals were. It took me more than six months to finally figure out that transitioning was my ultimate goal and I decided that my meetings with my therapist needed to be focused solely on that.
 
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Overalls Bear

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It is best to have some predefined goals before meeting with a therapist. I wish I would have when I started. I was a mess and really had no idea what my goals were. It looks me mother than six months to finally figure out that transitioning was my ultimate goal and I decided that my meetings with my therapist needed to be focused solely on that.
Yes I realize this now. However about a dozen years ago, when I was finally seeing a therapist (briefly) who was experienced in working with transgender clients, I didn't. I was just out of the hospital following my second major suicide attempt and what I thought I wanted to talk about was how I wanted to transition but could not out of concern for my wife. In retrospect, that was really putting the cart before the proverbial horse. What I should have done (now wish I had done) was to go back to where it all began (to the extent I would have been able to recall it) and work my way up to what was then the present (12 years ago). (There's a lot more to this that I haven't even begun to touch on here. Some of it I probably never will.) I still think, occasionally, about seeing a therapist again. But, really, at 72... that train left the station a long time ago... (sigh)
 

Katie

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Obee, that is basically what I ended up doing. I wrote a super long email (like 20 pages long) to my therapist, saying I wanted to start over from the beginning and then laid out my whole life's history of gender dysphoria. I still remember that night. I stayed up all night in a hotel room in Fargo, ND writing that letter. We had already covered quite a few things in our sessions, and spent the next month (meeting twice per week) going over everything I had written. At the conclusion of it all, I told the therapist I couldn't continue living as a man. And that was the beginning of the transition journey. After having nearly ended my life on the way from Jamestown to Fargo, I realized that I wouldn't be much longer if I didn't do something.
 

Linde

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But, really, at 72... that train left the station a long time ago... (sigh)
Well my young friend, compared to me you are a youngster, and I don't think that my train has fully arrived yet at the station. It is never to late in life to find happiness!

Hugs
Linde
 
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