Exhaustion

I am tired.

So incredibly tired.

I have worked above and beyond my contracted hours every week for nearly a month. I have taken on tasks, roles and responsibilities that really, are not my areas to be dealing with.

Work is something I enjoy. I like my job for the most part. Kids I can deal with. Managing groups I can deal with. Staff not being able to get a grip drives me up the wall!

I am doing 4 peoples jobs at the moment, 5 if you include my own. This is not sustainable for much longer.

What makes this so much more frustrating is that by the time the weekend comes around, I am so tired and so fed up from the week that I am not in the best of moods to see my friends or spend time with my partner.

It isn’t fair for those who are around me. I am well supported on the whole at work and my manager listens to me but that doesn’t change how challenging it is at the moment.

I’m not quite sure how much longer I can manage this for. I’m also not sure how much more of my low mood and tiredness my partner can take…

How do you cope when work gets tough and feels like it becomes all consuming?

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Roasted veg and a burn mark

I really enjoy cooking. When I have the time and space to do it I can really get into it and try new things, although this doesn’t happen as often as I would like! Life, work, tiredness, lack of food in the fridge all get in the way of being more adventurous with the meals I make.

My partner isn’t into cooking… at all… and when I say he isn’t into it, what that actually means is that he hates it. His job also means that he is out from 7am most days until 6pm, so the idea of having to come home and cook is not one he relishes! Most days of the week I will cook us dinner but on those occasions where I have worked a 12 hour day, dealt with various staff issues and challenging young people, it is usually the last thing I want to do!

Anyway, I have digressed.

Tonight I cooked roasted veg and scampi. I love a bit of roasted veg and it’s so easy to do and with so many different vegetables. Genius!

However, in all of my wisdom and tiredness I managed to lean over the tray that just came out of the oven and catch my arm on it. I now have this lovely red mark which is blindingly obvious. Tomorrow I have to stand in front of 25 people and talk for 3 hours… with a huge red mark on my arm. Great.

On the plus side, the roasted veg was really nice and I have some left over for tomorrow!

Internalised homophobia – The sad truth

I came across a blog, which I shall not name, that made me really sad.

The blog is written by a guy who knows that he is gay but has been conditioned by his religion and by his family to believe that being gay is wrong/bad/disgusting/abnormal etc.

He writes about having sexual urges and thinking about relationships with men. He writes about how Jesus is the one who guides him away from temptation. How he has found other people like him with same sex attraction but not acting on it. Other men who bury their feelings and live in a mask. Getting married to a woman, having children, leading the ‘perfect dream’ life.

I feel so sad for these people. I am sad that their religion has removed their right to be true to themselves. I’m sad that they are living a false life with others being drawn into their false world (women and children). I’m sad that these men are stopping themselves from being in loving, caring and committed relationships because their/their families interpretation of their religion means that they can’t be.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this amount of internalised homophobia so openly expressed. I want to reach out to him. I want to tell him it’s okay but I think I will be fighting a losing battle with religion (and he has comments disabled!)

Internalised homophobia is, I think, something a lot of gay people experience on some level. It is certainly something I have experienced and will continue to experience to a point. However, to be dictated to by a religion is a whole other level that is creating vast amounts of internal struggles for this man in particular.

I hope that he finds some peace within himself, with whatever God he follows, and is able to eventually be who he really is.

Three years on – Losing a friend to suicide

You have been gone for three years now. I still think of you often.

I think about you when I visit our old university campus. I think about you when I go past the place you are buried. I think about you when I watch a silly YouTube video. I think about you on your birthday and mine. We were the same age.

You are in my thoughts so often and whilst I think of you with fondness and happiness at the memories we made together, it is still painful.

I found out that you’d died whilst I was in Amsterdam, at the airport waiting for my flight to come home. Surrounded by people and not able to have the space and time to process what I’d just found out. Without being told, I knew you had taken your own life. It was just a sense I had. I’d known you were struggling with depression for some time. I was there when it first hit you. I remember you telling me how difficult you were finding life. I saw you deteriorate. At that time I did not think it would lead to suicide. I don’t think anyone did.

I wasn’t around for the last few years of your life. I was very much wrapped up in my own shit and trying to hold myself together. That is no excuse for not being there for you. I’m sorry.

I will never have the chance to tell you how grateful I am that you were in my life. The first Christmas I had to spend alone, you were there for me. You and your family took me into your home, made me feel welcome and loved at an incredibly difficult time in my life. I will be forever grateful for that.

To know that you were in so much pain that you wanted to die is difficult for me to get my head around. Images fly around my head, picturing the moment that you decided to take the pills and thus take your life. I can’t shake that image, even though it’s an image of my own creation. I wish I could have been there for you. I should have been there for you and I wasn’t. I let you down.

Even though there is a part of me that knows on a logical level that I probably could have done nothing to stop you, it doesn’t remove the guilt. Guilt is a normal feeling when someone takes their life. However, I probably could have done more to help you be aware that you were loved. You were important. For me personally, you saved me when everything else was falling apart.

I respect that you made the choice to die. I find it difficult but who am I to judge the decision you made. I can’t imagine the pain you were in to want it to go away that badly. I’m so sorry that you felt death was your only way out.

It’s three years on. I still think of you often.

I miss you.

Return to counselling

Counselling has been a part of my life since I was about 14 and is something I have dipped in and out of through adolescence and adulthood.

It has taken me a long time to find a counsellor that I like and click with, and who knows me well enough so that I don’t run rings around her. She knows that humour is my defence mechanism, that I will use every distraction technique to not go into something difficult (discussing her room arrangement is the usual distraction) and that I really find it difficult at times to connect emotion to an event. She knows me well enough to be able to challenge me in a positive way where I don’t want to never go back to her.

She has been a valuable part of learning about myself in the last four or so years.

Going back to counselling is slightly daunting. I know that there are things I need to talk about and work through. Things I have avoided discussing with her in previous sessions. Things I have been burying deep for 10 years or more. Burying them deep kept me safe, kept me from having to deal with them. Now, they are seeping through. Anxiety most likely a symptom of PTSD. Anger most likely a result of challenging relationships. Low self esteem most likely created by an abusive ex and unreliable friends.

These are all tough things to begin to talk about and unpick.

I lay myself mostly bare in counselling. I let some of the darkest, most painful parts of myself become exposed. I know that feeling. That feeling is scary. But, I have to go there if I want to improve my quality of life moving forward. I have to go there to help myself.

It could be a long road ahead, the journey is likely to be bumpy but I feel ready.

It is Thursday today. I have my first session back on Monday. I have a bit of time to work out how to answer the question I know will come…

“So how are you?”

Scars

Scars, I think, can be an important thing to consider as a person with a trans history. I don’t really have any major issues with my chest scars (the only ones that people would see). My scars are not that obvious in comparison to other guys I know. I guess I should count myself lucky in that sense.

My scars aren’t necessarily something I try to hide but equally I don’t feel the need to show them to the world. And this is where my issue comes up… my scars are private. They are private because they relate to a part of my life that is private and that no one else has the right to know or ask questions about unless I have said it is okay.

So… when people post images of their scars online for the world to see, or ‘star’ in documentaries about trans stuff, I take issue with it. Not because they should feel that their scars should be hidden or should cause shame, but because by showing their scars to the world, they are by default disclosing other people’s trans status. I know this isn’t a deliberate intention, and I know that it probably doesn’t cross their mind. But… this is the reality.

I know that there are other types of surgery that could create the same type of scars. I know that I am not specifically being outed. But I cannot help but worry about the next time I go swimming, or the next time I take my top off because I’m concerned someone may have watched or seen something about trans men and surgery and so know what the scarring looks like. Every time a new documentary comes out about ‘trans surgery’ I worry. I’m not aware of any other type of surgery where people share their scars in such obvious ways. It seems strange to me.

I wish people would just think a little bit more before sharing really overt images of post surgery scarring in a public way. Just to consider what the repercussions for other people may be.

You might want to share your scars with the world, but some of us do not.

Life of a Youth Worker – Pride

Feeling proud is something that comes in huge bucketfuls with youth work. Pride comes in many shapes and sizes, and I find myself, more often that not, feeling proud of the children I work with.

The kids I work with can be vulnerable, challenging and disengaged with life for so many reasons. Even though they tend to access my organisation for one very specific need, as a youth worker I must see and work with the whole child. So they may come in for one reason but it means they can get support for lots of areas in their life if they need it.

For a lot of them, self esteem and confidence are very low and so doing activities where they can increase this is a must!

I recently took the kids to a skatepark where there were qualified instructors to help them learn the basics. Some of them had some experience of skating, others did not. I spent a lot of my time helping the youngest children to overcome their fear of falling down and hurting themselves. For the first 15 minutes there were tears, refusal to participate and lots of fear.

And then… enter resilience!

Even though these kids felt all of the difficult feelings that come with trying something new, give them some encouragement, praise and support and they bounce back up. Some of the kids started with being terrified of falling off and refusing to give it another go, some of them were scared to go down a ramp, some of them didn’t want me to let go of their hand but… each and every one of those children, by the end of the session, had achieved something.

I am proud of every single one of them. Not because they learned how to skate but because they were resilient. They encouraged each other. They persevered in the face of fear and they grew in confidence. Some even ended the session by wanting to start proper lessons. Achievement!

I am so proud of the kids I work with. They will continue to inspire, amaze and astound me. As grown ups, we could learn a thing or two from them!