A Chance To Start Over

As many of you know by now, I am currently preparing for a major shift in my life.  I’ll be moving to California, where I will be attending classes in culinary arts and hopefully working as a chef.  It’s a huge change from being a software engineer in Indiana, but it’s one I’m ready to make and try to make work.

Some of you may be thinking, “Why?  You’ve got a great degree and a great job in a great field.  Why give up all that?”  Well, honestly, it isn’t all that great to me.  Turns out after four years of college and three years in the industry, it just isn’t something I see myself doing until I retire.  The day-to-day stress of going to work and being productive for eight hours is tearing me apart.  And at the end of the day, I don’t even feel like I’m making any slight bit of difference.  Don’t get me wrong, I like programming, and I like software architecture, but there’s so much more stuck in my mind that I just don’t have time or energy to get out.  Software work is draining my ability to be productive and, essentially, my ability to be alive.

You see, what a lot of you don’t see or choose not to see is that I’m slowly dying working the nine-to-five office job.  The pressure of succeeding in an office environment day after day is stressing me out and making my anxiety much, much worse.  I’m always so afraid of doing something wrong that will end in a complete meltdown of my way of life, which is only making the stress worse.  The stress and anxiety then give me insomnia and kick my depression into high gear, which then lead to more stress and anxiety because I’m even less productive.  Not to mention my sleep cycles getting completely out of whack, leading to me getting up later and later, which only helps to feed the cycle.  And if I continue this way, I will most definitely either commit suicide or cause an accident resulting in the death of myself or others.

My most recent suicide scare over New Years really made me realize that this was where my life was going.  I decided I needed to change something, and I needed that change now.  So, when the opportunity arose to move across the country without being homeless, alone, and poor, I grabbed it.  Plus, I can get away from one of my biggest fears:  being transgender in Indiana.  I won’t have to worry so much about discrimination, transition paperwork, or bathrooms, so all those worries will be off my mind or greatly lessened.

Really, this move is a way for me to turn over a new leaf, to figure out how to live before I figure out how to die.  This isn’t me running away from anything or acting out some childish impulse.  Rather, if anything, I’m running toward my problems.  I’m accepting that what I’ve done so far isn’t working, and I’m going to try to figure out what does work.  I’m going to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, learn new things, and live like I never have before.  And hopefully when I look back at this time, I’ll know I’ve made the right choice.

Bleh

I’ve all but checked out.  I just can’t take this any more, and I’m tired of all the tedious, boring crap I have to put up with day in and day out.  I want to get out of here, and I want to do it now.

The beau and I have made a decision:  I’ll be moving out to live with him and his parents.  And while he’ll be working to start his career in software, I’m going to be working toward my dream of cooking for a living.  The exact plans aren’t hammered out yet, but it’s looking like I’ll be getting everything I’ve wanted the last couple years, and he’ll get to be with me, which will definitely boost his productivity and mood.

We’ve decided that I’m probably going to be moving out there mid-February to give me time to pack and prepare my current workplace for my departure.  The problem is, though, I’m ready to make the move now.  I don’t really see most of my work as complicated enough to require a knowledge transfer, especially since a lot of my knowledge was garnered just from watching and stepping through the code.  On top of that, it seems as if everything I’ve done recently has been sub-par and/or superfluous.  And not to mention the fact that I don’t want to work on anything major so I don’t start something that won’t get finished.

So where does that leave me?  I’m tired of going to work, but I can’t make the move just yet.  And at the same time, I’ve basically already left, but people are still counting on me to do stuff.  Bleh.

Words Are Hard

I’m obviously not too terrible at putting my words into written language.  I grasp the English language at a rather high level, I can spin thoughts, fantasies, and emotions in elaborate detail,  and my vocabulary is pretty expansive.

What many of you probably don’t know is that I have had some pretty serious issues expressing myself in the same way verbally for years.  I have a mild stutter when under slight pressure to communicate, I often forget or mess up words mid-sentence, I tend to include a ton of irrelevant or minor details, and sometimes I never get to a point in what I’m saying.

Now, for those of you who have communicated with me verbally, watch this video.

When I first watched this, it was like everything suddenly made sense.  That sounds like me!  I may have gotten a bit better than this over the years, but when I was her age, this is exactly how I sounded.  And it’s still how I sound when talking about complex subjects like politics, religion, science, and philosophy.  When I’m talking, I just can’t seem to string the words I want together, and when I do string them together, they’re not always in the right order.  Of course, you don’t really see that in my writing because I’ve got more time to think about it, and I’ve got more opportunities to get it right before anyone sees it.

So, what does this all mean?  Well, the causes of developmental expressive language disorder are unknown, and there isn’t really any treatment for it beyond speech therapy if the disorder is too hindering, so really nothing right now.  However, it may better help to explain why I get on some of my friends’ nerves sometimes (sorry).  Also, this disorder is yet another symptom on the autism spectrum that I exhibit, which is really beginning to make me lean toward looking for maybe a diagnosis and treatment in that direction.

XX Male Syndrome

*Warning, this post contains some probably-TMI, NSFW information*

So I stumbled across some stuff on reddit today that got me thinking about possible reasons behind being transgender, exhibiting several autistic symptoms, pre-existing hormal differences, depression, anxiety, etc.  And yes, it turns out hormone levels can directly affect most if not all of those.  While in this research hole, I found one genetic mutation that seemed to have some eerily similar symptoms to some things that where definite or inconclusive even before I began my transition.

XX Male Syndrome, or De La Chapelle Syndrome, is a genetic disorder where the person exhibits sex organs that outwardly appear and function as male ones, but the person actually has two X-chromosomes.  It is an incredibly rare syndrome, occurring in approximately 4-5 individuals in 100,000.  It’s also much harder to detect than it’s counterpart, XY Female or Swyer Syndrome, because the symptoms and complications associated with it are much more severe.  It’s cause is due to a mutation that results in an X chromosome that contains genetic material from a Y chromosome.

People who suffer from XX Male are phenotypically male and often are not diagnosed until fertility tests are conducted, as all XX males are sterile.  Individuals sometimes have feminine characteristics, but not always.  The most common symptoms include undescended and/or small testicles, infertility, reduced libido, small stature, feminine pubic hair distribution, hypospadias, gynecomastia, low testosterone levels, reduced hormone production, high FSH levels, and low LH levels.

Huh.  I had small testicles, reduced libido and low testosterone levels even before I started hormones.  My pubic hair wasn’t distinctly feminine, but it wasn’t distinctly masculine either.  I’m not statistically short, but I am the shortest AMAB in my family, and I actually closer match the women in my family.  I definitely had a little case of the moobs, too, but I’ve also been overweight basically since starting puberty.  And though there’s no real proof either way whether I was sterile before beginning hormones, I can say there were a couple scares in my first relationship (sorry mom, but I’m sure you know what we were doing) and she never tested positive.

Generally, people who suffer from XX Male identify as male, as well.  They live their lives as men and are completely comfortable being men their entire lives, and they only find out they have two X-chromosomes after fertility tests.  However, there are extremely rare cases of individuals with XX Male that do identify as female.  Given the rarity of both transgender and XX Male individuals, there isn’t much of any information readily available about this situation.  At this point, from a cursory Google search, I haven’t found any scientific information, but there are a couple anecdotes that I did find.

But what does this chance really mean for me?  Well, first off, if I do get diagnosed with XX Male, I’ll be considered intersex instead of genetically male.  And although that doesn’t seem like a big difference, it makes all the difference for medical insurance reasons.  My HRT, endo visits, blood tests, and potential surgeries would no longer be considered cosmetic and optional.  Instead, I’d be getting treatment for a genetic disorder and surgeries to correct incorrectly configured body structures.  It’d also make the gender marker changes on things like my birth certificate and with the social security office much, much easier.

But there is a catch with this.  The only way to test if I am XX Male is through genetic testing at this point.  And that test is $200, which is a little out of my budget right now.  Hopefully that will change in the near future, but at this point, i’m just sitting on this information, and it’s kind of driving me crazy right now.  But either way, it’s a really interesting thought, and I’d love to participate in tests if someone needs a thesis to write for med school (hint hint).

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XX_male_syndrome

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XY_gonadal_dysgenesis

http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/d/de_la_chapelle_syndrome/symptoms.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2593770/

 

Why I Can’t Be Wrong

I have a really hard time with being told I’m wrong.  A rejection is as bad as being told I’m about to die.  It takes my entire mental capacity to keep from breaking down after being told no.  Criticism destroys my psyche.  Corrections are personal attacks directed at my heart.

Some would say I’m an entitled brat because I can’t handle it.  That mommy and daddy gave me everything, and so I can’t deal with something not going my way.  I must have not been disciplined well when I was little.  Or maybe I’m just another immature snowflake that can’t be told I’m wrong or it’ll hurt my special snowflake feelings.

But really, my problem comes from the opposite.  I can deal with the criticisms.  I recognize I’m not infallible.  I can see what’s wrong, and accept the truth.  No, my real issue isn’t a problem with rejection, it’s a problem of self-worth.

My self-worth has always been directly connected to my ability to be right.  When I was growing up, my family had a constant focus on success.  It was the only thing that received any notice.  If you did as you were told, followed the rules, got good grades, and stayed involved, you were loved and shown attention.  Otherwise, you had no worth.

My sister got through this relatively easily by being a social butterfly.  She was in tons of extra-curriculars, played a few sports, was active in the community and the church, and got decent enough grades that my parents didn’t worry about it with everything else she was doing.

I didn’t get it so lucky.  I didn’t have the work ethic or the discipline to do sports, being bullied in elementary school ended up making me somewhat of a social recluse, and I was never really religiously-minded.

And so, I was left with one thing to prove my worth.  My grades.

Through high school, this wasn’t much of a problem.  I made nearly straight A’s.  Ended up as salutatorian of my class.  Was often the teacher’s pet.  Was often the lynch pin of the academic team, often bringing in the top scores of the team.

But any time I was wrong, especially when it came to personal interests, it was always a severe issue.  A slip-up as minor as even a B in a class was a problem.  I was yelled at or worse for literally every mistake and poor choice I made.  I can’t count how many times I was basically told I was only allowed to keep my hair long and play video games because my grades were good. My dad tried to throw me out of the house twice in high school for the audacity of having mental breakdowns and standing up for my feelings.

And then came college.  I struggled through college for a number of reasons, but mostly because of my untreated depression, still-unnoticed dysphoria, and an emotionally abusive relationship that only strengthened the idea that I was worthless if I didn’t meet unreachable expectations.  My grades tanked after my freshman year because of years of unmanaged mental issues and constant pressure from home.  And, of course, to top it all off, it turns out I was heading toward a future I didn’t really want because I was trying to meet the expectations of those around me.

At this point, I was basically just trying to survive amongst the world falling apart around me.  And I retreated to the only thing that had been constant since I was young:  my ability to be right and the fear of being wrong.  Being right was the only thing that gave me worth, so if I just constantly tried to avoid being wrong, then I would always be right.

And so I developed anxiety.  And the constant fear of my life being destroyed because of a mistake bred anxiety about making any decision at all.  And insomnia from having so many things to handle at once.  And more frequent bouts of depression from being constantly sleep-deprived and worrying about my impending doom.  And OCD to remember, organize, and process all my anxieties.  And suicidal thoughts because even if there’s nothing after life, it still has to be better than this.

So now I’m stuck with all this bullshit combined with my depression and some childhood trauma and my dysphoria.  I’ve got a nice little cocktail of mental problems that makes me nearly unemployable in a typical workplace environment with experience and a degree only useful in that kind of place and medical bills and student loans  that are only affordable with that kind of job.  All because I didn’t know I was oh so wrong when I was just trying to be anything but.