Another Relapse – 07/21/15

Other than my anxiety level being at a constant 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10 my mental health has been pretty good for the last 6 weeks of so.  I had gone over a month without self harming, without voices and without constant, unbearable physical pain…

Until last night.

Last night the voices and physical pain came back with a vengeance. I was getting shots of pain all over my body. The voices were screaming in my ear; I could feel them breathing on me. Something  I couldn’t see enveloped my body. I laid on the floor curled up in a ball in the dark for a few hours. The urges started coming back. I could picture the blood running down my arm, I could feel the sting of the blade. I couldn’t resist anymore, I picked up my box cutter and ran it across my forearm seven times. It felt like all that was wrong, the pain, the anxiety leaving my body through the cuts, like steam rising after cutting into a baked potato.  I could feel whatever was holding me let go and I felt my body hitting the floor with a loud thud, even though I was already on the floor.

I laid on the floor, wedged between the sofa and the coffee table, letting the blood flow from my arm onto my stomach. I stayed there maybe 20 or 30 minutes, letting the voices escape one by one. When the last one left my body I felt a chill, I had goose bumps and the hair stood up on my arm. I stood up, cleaned up the blood and bandaged my wounds and went to bed. Today I feel drained, as if all of my energy was taken away from me. I look at the scars and realized that I have to start all over again from day one.

Widespread Panic – The Aftermath

I should have known there would be consequences.

Saturday (six days ago) I had a severe panic attack at work and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. The ER doctor recommended taking two days off, so I returned on Monday, apparently flying under the radar. My regular days off were Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday (yesterday) I called in sick again because of the anxiety.

Today, I went to work and the moment I logged into my computer I received an instant message from the Human Resources Manager. That’s never a good sign; he asked me to come to his office as soon as possible. This automatically sent me into anxiety overdrive because in the nine months I have worked there I have only been in his office once, now I was being summoned. I arrived in his office and he asked me to close the door, I could feel my heart sink. He made small talk, asking if I was feeling better and so forth. Then he dropped the bomb… because if the incident last Saturday, I had to take a drug screen.

I have never been asked to take a drug screen by a current employer before.

I’m really torn up over this. I had a genuine medical issue and the first response is to force me to take a drug test. I was not the least bit concerned about failing it, I have been clean 426 days today. I have always considered and still consider a drug screen to be a violation of my privacy. I have never exhibited any signs of being under the influence at work, there no need to invade my privacy in this manner. I asked what would happen if I refused to take the test, I was told that would result in immediate termination.

I’m hurt, I’m angry, I’m embarrassed. My word is no longer adequate.

HRT – 18 Months Later

I began Hormone Replacement Therapy 18 months ago this week. Every day I look in the mirror hoping to see changes, hoping to see the feminine reflection that I have pictured in my mind since I was a child. Every day I look at my reflection and am disappointed, it seems as nothing has happened at all. I still see the old me and hate myself for looking the way I do. Days like today I am glad that I have documented my journey, taking photos every month, recording the changes incrementally. Comparing photos from the week I started HRT to photos this week, there are changes. As subtle as they may be, I am much closer to what I had imagined than I was 18 months ago.

**EDIT – I removed the photo I had posted with this entry**

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Changing genders at work: Inside the Fortune 500’s quiet transgender revolution


A very interesting article about coming out and transitioning in the workplace.

Originally posted on Fortune:

In early 2011, Ginger Chien sat at her desk at AT&T’s Redmond, Washington office, scrolling through AT&T’s online document library. She doesn’t quite remember what she was looking for. It was something starting with a T.

“It would’ve either been information about AT&T stock [fortune-stock symbol=”T”], since its ticker is T, or it would’ve been this internal collaboration system that we use. It was very routine business stuff,” says Chien, who is a device applications architect at AT&T and has worked for the company for 19 years.

While thumbing through the documents, one entry caught her attention: AT&T’s transgender guidelines.

The 19-page document laid out how an employee would transition genders while on the job, including the steps required to change his or her name. For Chien, 52, who had been presenting as a woman everywhere but at the office for the past five years, it was also a life-changer.

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The “D” Word

I had my final session with session with the therapist from my company’s Employee Assistance Program. We reviewed my progress and the tools we have created to help me get through everyday life. I told her about the trip to the Emergency Room over the weekend and about my anxiety even being on the property. For the first time since we have been meeting she brought up the dreaded “D” word… Disability. She told me that even with the progress we have made that I may want to pursue disability rather than making my overall mental health worse by continuing in the hell that is my job.

Hell is the perfect word to describe my job. Working in a call center for a cable company is hands down the worst job I have ever had in my 30 years in the workplace. I am not the only one who feels this way either. Of the 19 people who were in my training class only 8 remain after eight months. As miserable as I am I am proud in an odd sort of way that I have outlasted over half the class.

Widespread Panic

Yesterday I had the worst panic attack I have ever had. I was at work and the first call I took was a complaint from a woman who was not receiving all of the channels she should have. She was rude and abusive, refusing to allow me to ask any questions, or to speak at all really. After about ten minutes of verbal abuse she demanded to speak to a supervisor. I passed her over to a supervisor and my first instinct was to run. I ripped my headset off and ran for the door. By the time I was to the door I realized that running wasn’t an option, so I went to the restroom and vomited. After vomiting for what seemed like 20 minutes I returned to my desk. My heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was going to explode. I was having a hard time catching my breath and I felt like I was going to pass out. Not wanting to get hurt if I dod pass out, I sat on the floor and tried to regulate my breathing.

One or more of my coworkers alerted my supervisor who came over to check on me. Her first reaction was to have me call the employee nurse line. After being on hold for about ten minutes I described my symptoms and the nurse asked to speak to my supervisor. She told my supervisor to call 911. The ambulance arrived shortly thereafter and took me to the hospital. At the hospital they gave me an EKG, blood tests, oxygen, and a saline IV. After spending close to four hours in the ER, they let me go home, agreeing with me that it was indeed a panic attack, and told me to follow up with my own doctor.

Today I am feeling much better, the only lingering effect is a large bruise on the back of my hand where the IV was. The ER doctor told me I can return to work on Monday. I am kind of worried about going back. My coworkers saw me in a vulnerable position, with absolute terror in my eyes. During one of the phone calls I can’t remember it was 911 or the nurse I was asked if I took any unusual medications, I blurted out something about antipsychotics. The fact that I take a large dose of antipsychotics is something that I didn’t need anyone I work with, particularly my supervisor knowing. Everyone that was there yesterday saw exactly how fragile my mental state is, and will now think lesser of me. I am really not looking forward to going back.

Another Day, Another Therapist, Another Diagnosis

While I really like the the therapist I have been seeing through my company’s Employee Assistance Program, our time s coming to an end, and she sadly doesn’t accept my insurance, so the search begins anew. I met with a new therapist today. I think this may work out well, she was nice, well versed in transgender issues, and easy to talk to. She did mention the possibility of a new diagnosis:

Unipolar Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Features.

Wow, that is a mouthful.