Friday, June 13, 2008

Sure I ramble, Brain Fog, gender identity and other issues

Yep, I ramble.
Its a part of the way I think, the curse of creativity that there is always more than one subject being considered in my mind at one time.
And the 'brain fog' of chronic fatigue syndrome means that on a moderate day these thoughts can run together somewhat along whatever line they may be linked and on a bad day... on a bad day my brain can crosswire and my mouth says one word while my brain thinks another.

Brain fog. It sounds like it should be announced melodramaticly in a deep echoing booming voice accomapanied by a theramin. Some days thats exactly what it feels like too.

It's hard to describe what it feels like. It is a sort of fog in an abstract sense, it interferes with my vision and hearing for example. The light gets into my eyes, the sound into the ears but the data doesn't go through to the brain right. Sounds end up not being recognised or seeming dull and distant. An object right in front of the face doesn't attract attention. It is an impediment to awareness.

It's a little like being groggy, half awake, in that state where dream and reality combine and reality is sort of blurred and indistinct.

And this week, this week it's bad!
Brain fog impedes reasoning and concentration too. It's not like just being walled in by fog, it's in the car with you. It's in the brain not just between the brain and it's senses. It reduces the IQ by, according to stuff I read almost a decade ago, up to 40 points. I can attest it does get bad. I remember the day I couldn't recall what the number 6 meant.

Oh sure I knew it was a number, but the links and connections, the associations you build between numbers, the awareness of the significance of the number six was a big blurry blank in my mind.

Thats not fun. Its not just unpleasant. Its sheer unadaulterated HORROR! To have something so basic, so familiar be suddenly wrapped in void can trigger utter panic. Especially when so much of my life has been wrapped up with my intellect.

So a couple of days ago when I couldn't remember the name of my nice next-door neighbour I realised that this week my brain fog was really, really bad again. I almost butst into tears right then and there but I didn't want to cry in front of the people I was talking to.

I certainly have done a fair bit of crying lately which would be good as I would consider that I was unbottling a lot of the emotions I had to supress over the years but its often been random. Only about 60% can I attrivbute to a reaction to something or other and the rest just hits me seemingly at random.

And like everything else in my life my self-acceptance is affected by the variation of my symptoms. Finding a balance between expressing my feminine aspects and getting basic housework done is not easy. Fail at either and misery is the result and when my brain fog is bad i can find myself procrastinating, thats always a bad sign.

Procrastination often means I'm starting to repress or avoid something important again. A stupid and hurtful reflex. It had it's purpose though. If I'd expressed my gender variance as much in the past as I do now I'd be dead for sure. I suffered enough ostracism, bullying and attacks of physical violence as it was through my school years. But now its just a bunch of old infected wounds that need to be cleaned to heal, bad habits, bad reflexes I need to undo.

I'm still not sure why my gender variance was something I repressed when I have always been so anti-conformist. Not that it was ever utterly repressed after all I wad teased aplenty for being feminine anyway but I kept telling myself I was just an effeminate boy and compartmentslised my crossdressing, kept it to enough of a minimum to ignore as an important part of who I am.

I remember getting upset over conflicted gender issues back when I was three or four. I know it was no later than that because it was before my parents seperated. I don't know the order of events though. I was kicked out of ballet for being a boy. I'd done nothing wrong, I loved ballet. I went there on doctors orders to strengthen my severely poor arch muscles in my feet. But some parents were upset that there was a boy in the class with girls, even a perfectly behaved boy that young. I was told I couldn't have a couple of toys because they were girls toys. I don't remember the situations well but I remember one toy well, a treehouse playset. I recall another time at the show, they were selling these 'antenae' things attached to hairbands and I wanted one but also got distressed because they were 'girls' and i thought i wasn't supposed to have them. The memories are fragmentary. But somewhere even back then I had this deep conflict of feeling like a girl and liking girl things sometimes and feeling that it was wrong.

Through my life it's been like that. Somyetimes it wasn't a problem, sometimes it was. Some days I was happy being a boy, weird sensitive boy that i was, and other days I'd cry myself to sleep hoping that this time, please this time, when I woke up I'd be a girl. I'd come up with excuses to watch shows like She-Ra and Jem as well as He-Man and Transformers and convince myself of them till I could believe them for a while.

Why? I don't know. I just locked up those feelings and pretended they weren't there. Something I wouldn't have been able to do if they were constant, or of constant strength perhaps.

Like the day I found all my muscles and joints weren't hurting was the day I realised they had been hurting non-stop for years. Those days I thought they were hurting I realised they'd only been hurting more. It took the absence to reveal what the concious mind had adapted to. So have even on my most 'male' days I been still rather female? How can that be tested? Experience is so subjective anyway.

So here I am. Too tired to shave away the light fuzz of beard growth since the day before yesterday, fingernails painted black and decorated with little white and green skulls, clothing of mixed sexes (mostly only mixed cause some of the guy stuff I have is warmer) and some lipstick on just to let enough girl out to stop crying or wanting to scream and just keep screaming. Just pouring out my feelings, letting them through the chink in my logical and rational mind. The stream of underground water that eats away the limestone that forms the hollow that is the cave of rationality.

Cause frankly my brain is just too blurry to try and write poetry. And my hands shaking from the CFS too much to paint or draw today.

And then there is the anger.
I have plenty of that.
You don't go through life as an outsider without picking up some. You can wear it as armour of course but like steel in the sun it can scald as well as save. I've known my share of bigotry. I've suffered for not liking 'male' things like sport and cars, for looking feminine (and/or 'gay' for those numbskulls who don't notice their are masculine gay people too) I've suffered for being intellectual, for being a goth, for appearing to look like a particular ethnicity, for my actual ethnic heritage, for having a different skin colour to my brother even though we at other times have been mistaken for twins so it was assumed we had different fathers. Oh I know what bigotry feels like, what it tastes and smells like.

With all its petty excuses and false justifications.

You know what I'd like? I'd like to meet a non-bigoted HBS supporter! One who can handle the notion of 'transgender' identity being as valid as HBS, of crossdressers and non-hbs definition yet self-identified transexuals still having the same human rights as them. All the ones I talk to claim that it's just about their own self-identity and a medical definition but they fight against the possibility that crossfressers and drag queens et al have the same rights, the same validity. Thats where their bigotry shows. Even if there was proof that non-HBS transgender people are all of purely psychological causation which isn't as conclusively proven as they often claim the human rights of those people are undiminished! Their right to self-expression, to self-definition, to decide what treatment they do or do not undergo and how their body may or may not be modified is no greater or lesser than any other humans! Being Homosexual were it biological or psychological is nonetheless a human right. Gay people are equal to straight people. There are those who claim that religiosity or conservative or liberal outlooks are biological in origin too. It matters not one iota to the validity of those people.

When I meet an HBS supporter who can handle that, who can support transgender peoples rights and needs and recognise their validity as much as they want HBS to be recognised and who can handle the possibility of people holding different views on the medical and scientific arguments of each... that day I'll be happy because so far all the ones who I meet on the net are a pack of bigots hiding behind their self-created medical definition as an excuse for their anti-trans views. Any genuinele decent and reasonable HBS suporters risk being stigmatised by association with these bigots.

I have plenty of other things to be angry about of course.
CFS is one of those 'invisible' disabilities. People assume your not disabled till they know otherwise. Not a lot is known about CFS in the general community, little is raised for research and the CFS resources are crap because of the past stigma of 'yuppie flu' reporting, assumptions by biased researchers that the illness was spychological in origin and all the sufferers are all too disabled to run support services. CFS is socially isolating, deeply disstressing and just plain unfair! Even the reports of people dying from it hasn't raised it's public profile much.

I've been managing a moderate social life but it's taken a tremendous effort to do so.

And then there's all the pain and anger left from my last relationship.

I'm generally an optimistic and positive person, not that this post shows that.
But sometimes it's good to express the pain and fear and anger and suffering. It's a part of being human after all.

Is there any value to a reader? I can't know. Nor if anyone will even read this. But I feel a bit better for having said it.

So I guess i should wrap up this rambling mess of a blog post, find something uplifting and affirming to remind me of the joy of being transgendered and then crawl into bed with an issue of Fortean Times and a hotwater bottle and the hope that my head will be clear enough tomorrow to follow and enjoy the science, psychology and philosophy shows on the radio.


Zoe Brain said...


As you know, I'm an HBS supporter, and I'm also bigoted.

But... I try to keep my bigotry under control. It's a disease, and I think I might be making some progress in curing it. In no small part thanks to you.

The first step for anyone dealing with such a loathsome situation is to have some insight into their condition. You've helped me a lot there.

If that's what you do when your IQ is down by 40 points, you must be pretty darned intelligent.

Best wishes for a complete recovery, if that's possible. Hell, even if it isn't. If anyone can do the impossible, you can.

Hugs, Zoe

Battybattybats said...

Wow! My first comment and.. ok typing isn't easy through tears especially with that darn chipped nail and I never learned to touch type.

o.k. got some composure.

Thanks Zoe!

I didn't count you as an HBS supporter as such, rather a supporter of a neurosexual model of transexualism but if thats what you call yourself fair enough!

No human is without some bigotry, generalisation is how our brains work. It was a good survival mechanism when dealing with varying environments when Smilodon had us on the menu.

I became aware of mine one day as a kid when some at a new school mistook me as asian because of some of my features and in that moment I realised both my own racism and the wrongness of it. So I made a habit of regularly trying to find such biases I might be developing and challenging them directly, making friends with people I would otherwise have judged, learning from them and always looking for exceptions to stereotypes.

And yeah I used to be quite intelligent. Several teachers in primary tried to have me skipped ahead as I was 2-3 years ahead of my classmates but at both schools the higher-ups didn't approve of anyone moving forward out of their age group. Not sure what my IQ was back then but I sure miss my full faculties.

I did the basic Mensa entrance test along with my brother in high-school when my brain fog was so low I hadn't noticed much impact except in memory and maths skills and we both scored very high but they didn't give an IQ number, just whether we could proceed to the final test to join and we never ended up arranging the final supervised tests to do so.

As for recovery from CFS.. most people recover after only a few years, those for who it persists for more than 5 years don't seem to recover often and I've had it more than 15! Some have even reportedly died from the condition. Still theres always hope for treatment in the future. Theres been the epigenetic discoveries and there was some interesting trials involving a medicinal chocolate in Ireland that sounds like a lovely way to get better. So my hope remains.

Thanks for your wonderful words.
You rock Zoe!