Thank you Dad…

Thank you for horsey rides and piggy back rides
Thank you for around the world kisses
Thanks for teaching me how to ride a bike and to stand and pedal
Thank you for family bike rides
Thank you for sharing chips with malt vinegar
Thank you for letting me ride in the truck with you to the Motorola picnic
Thank you for teaching me how to skate. I might skate like a hockey player but I skate.
Thanks for our cat Spotty
Thank you for toboggan rides
Thank you for scratchy kisses
Thank you for swinging with us, even if the swing broke once (darn cheap swing)
Thank you for letting us put barrettes in your hair, you looked so pretty at the gas station
Thanks for walking with us on Hallowe’en
Thank you for the camping trips
Thank you for explaining glaciers and why bedrock has scratches in it
Thank you for campfires
Thank you for barbecue dinners
Thank you for your motor-sickle song
Thank you for nights watching tv in the bunny hole
Thank you for taking us to work with you
Thank you for teaching me how to dance
Thank you for listening
Thank you for teaching my kids how to ride a bike
Thank you for being there for us
I love you Dad

Happy Father’s Day

Dad and I

A tapestry of support…

I hear a lot about support and lack thereof. Reading posts by people who have cut family off entirely for not supporting their trans child. And, depending on the family, I get it. But what’s support?

Julie (Jeremy) informed me a few days ago that her Nana is supportive of her transitioning but that Grandad walked past and told her that he will never see her as female, she will always be male to him. That’s not supportive. And yet…

We see them every single week and talk to them daily. They bought us a tent as a very early joint birthday present for our family camping trip and are going to drive us there and back. They listen to Julie’s talk about computers and support her dream of going into robotics. They have been there for Julie her whole life.

Transitioning is a big thing but it’s not the only part of Julie’s life and, thankfully, Julie knows this. Her response to my Dad’s comment? A smile and the remark, “he’ll look silly saying I’m a man once I have breasts” followed by, “it’s no big deal though, he’ll change his mind when I start looking more like a girl.”

Every change takes time to get used to and this one is no exception. My Dad will get used to Julie’s transition eventually. Until then he’ll continue to be as supportive as he can.

Baby steps…

I had my breakfast on my balcony today, while Jeremy slept in. The sun streamed down on me while I read a book on my phone and sipped my hot chocolate.

balcony bliss

Yesterday I went for a walk with my friend J and her dog to the local dog park. I warned her that I looked like hell and was not very chatty. She didn’t mind and told me I could come in my pjs if I wanted. Which was actually tempting until I lifted my shirt to put on deodorant and took a good whiff.

She sent an old computer home for Jeremy too and zie went into raptures over it.

“Oh wow! Mom! This thing has a molex connector. I can’t believe it!! And the power box is dead but I can fix that. I’ll just have to set it externally because it’s a Dell.”

I got the Dell part, I already knew they can’t be modified or upgraded without certified Dell parts; although Jeremy apparently had a work around for that. But molex?

“It’s the connector that came right before the sata connector,” Jeremy explained patiently.

I still didn’t understand but I know when I’m out of my depth so I just smiled and nodded. Soon the computer was not only set up but online and connected to our network. Well, Jeremy’s network. Zie has it set up, modifies it regularly, and looks at a wave graph to make sure our connection is set up to a barely used frequency so it can go faster.

The only computer class this kid has ever taken was a basic keyboarding class. I fought the school board for years to allow zir to take computer classes but they insisted it would be too hard for zir. Meanwhile zie’s already planning that the next computer zie gets will run DOS “because that would be fun to learn”. I was a teen in the 80’s. Fun and DOS are not words I’d ever used in the same sentence before.

And then there was last night. Jeremy laughed and talked to zir new computer for several hours while setting it up. Zie laughed while I made dinner, giggled and ate dinner while watching The Young Turks, ran to the bathroom to vomit, and continued laughing.

Jeremy settled back down with TYT while I checked my dinner post on Facebook to see when I’d served zir (technology is wonderful sometimes). A half hour earlier. Was that long enough for zir to have absorbed the medication? I quickly called the pharmacy and headed to Google “how long does it take effexor to get into your system”. What popped up was more relevant to zir than me…

“How long does it take for Effexor to work? Sleep, energy, or appetite may show some improvement within the first 1-2 weeks. Improvement in these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working. Depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may need up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve.”

This would have been so nice for the doctor to tell me. I’ve heard the two week line before but I’d gone into the hospital feeling between 0 and 1 on a scale of 0 to 10 and went up to 4 by my first appointment. I knew I was still having problems. I knew things weren’t right. I wish someone had told me it would take over a month to reach anything close to “normal”. I honestly thought I was losing my mind.

I sat on hold, singing along with the Everly Brothers. The pharmacist interrupted the second song to tell me zie’s fine. It’s absorbed within 20 minutes.

I’m trying to take things one day at a time and break everything into manageable pieces. Some days are easier than others. This month I don’t qualify for any sort of assistance so I’m sitting here grateful for my obsession with stockpiling food. I have a list of papers I need to obtain (along with some lovely phone anxiety). My application for disability is timed, which means I have to start filling that out on top of applying for Employment Insurance (which I qualify for).

*deep breath* it will get done.

I’m grateful for the friends who message me, visit, and call (even from California). I’m not the best conversationalist these days but I try. I’m grateful for my family who I’m seeing tomorrow. We’re going to the garden centre and I’m going to plant a fairy garden (complete with fountain). Last, but not least, I’m grateful for my kidlet Jeremy who can be annoying as hell some days and almost certainly has Pathological Demand Avoidance (a diagnosis I found when sent a link by accident). But zie also is funny, kind, and supportive… offering me hugs when needed and suggesting I go sit in the rocking chair and rock if I seem overwhelmed.

My next baby step is a walk to the lake with Jeremy where we’re going to try to get photos of the almost full moon rising over the water. It will be fabulous.

Battling depression…

Today has been one of the hardest days of my life. I told the truth. It’s not that I’m a chronic liar, it’s just that I don’t tell people anything. Telling people things hurts, it makes me feel exposed, and I’d rather just curl up in a ball and hide. But depression doesn’t wander off, it hides right along beside me, whispering in my ears… telling me how worthless I am and how everyone would be better off without me.

L convinced me to tell people and I sat at my computer this morning, still crying, and wrote a heartfelt message about how I felt. It was messy, ugly, and the truth. I figured people would think I was whining for attention. So many people have it worse. But people listened.

Karen listened. She called me from work and drove me to the hospital, where she sat beside me for hours, while I told the truth and explained over and over, how badly I’m eating and sleeping and exactly how I was planning to die. Then my Mom took over because I wasn’t supposed to be left alone and she held my hand while we waited more. I finally saw a psychiatrist, who’s taking me as an emergency patient, and I’m staying with my parents for a few days. I don’t fly. No one wants me near the balcony. I don’t want me near my balcony either, at least not until my meds increase.

Depression lies. I thought my family didn’t want me around. The truth is I get overwhelmed in crowds and scroll on Facebook or talk to Lenny to calm down. They saw me hiding in the corner on my phone and figured I didn’t want to be around them.

I’ve had a headache for several days and am not at my best. I’m fuzzy headed and forgetful and exhausted. But I’m here and I’m safe for a few days and hopefully I’ll get better. I’m so tired of grey.

The people we leave behind…

Meme from the blog early mama

Sometimes I wonder if they think I’m blind; if they think I don’t notice their absence on Facebook… the empty space in my like and comment sections. Sometimes I wonder if they even see my posts or if they’ve quietly unfollowed me. They’re there… but at the same time they aren’t.

I grew up in a wide spread family. My grandparents lived four hours away by car. My great-grandmother four hours away by plane. The rest were scattered across the country (and now the globe). When we all got together, we were a close-knit group and our visits were full of laughter and hugs. While we were apart I was assured our family was always together in spirit.

Our last big family reunion was almost a decade ago; combining both a wedding and a memorial service. It was nearly two weeks of family bliss. Everywhere we turned there was family. We took up huge tables at restaurants and booked half a motel. I loved introducing Emma and Jeremy to cousins, uncles and aunts… showing them the family they belonged to. We went to the town my mother, grandparents, and several great-grandparents were born and spent a glorious afternoon on a nearby island, simply sharing time together. I collected several chunks of sea-worn beach rocks from there, along with shells and driftwood, that I’ve kept on my fireplace mantle ever since; a visible reminder of family and our time together.

Newcastle beach

The first one to disappear off my statuses and updates was my sister Amy. We’ve never had a close, sisterly relationship. Our relationship could be described as tumultuous at best; when we meet, we tend to clash. The closest we’ve ever gotten is online. Then this thread happened last year, when I shared an article on Facebook discussing gender neutral washrooms in Vancouver BC.

screenshots

Click to embiggen. If Amy ever wonders why Jeremy’s not all that fond of her, this is the reason. Zie’s rarely on Facebook but did read this whole thread.

Amy hasn’t commented on a single post or picture since then. Birthdays, the death of two pets, Christmas, etc… all passed without a single like or comment from her. She also has yet to respond to my private message regarding Jeremy being trans.

Then came my big post, at Jeremy’s request, outing zir to our family and friends. The support we received was overwhelmingly positive and almost completely from friends. The solitary family member who responded on that post was my cousin’s uncle. And since then there’s been silence. The only family who likes and comments on my posts are Karen, her husband, and my Mom. To be fair, most of my relatives rarely go on Facebook but the ones who do make their absence felt. And it hurts. Ironically, I don’t think it’s because Jeremy’s trans. It’s because this should be private and I was uncouth enough to make it public. I’m being ignored because I’m socially inappropriate.

What they don’t seem to get is I’m not doing this for them. I’m not doing this for me either. I’m doing this for Jeremy, who is still floundering and still needs my emphatic and visible support. Jeremy still tries zir hardest not to think about gender or sexual orientation. Zie still isn’t sure what zie likes to wear (other than loose and comfortable). I don’t talk to Jeremy about sexual orientation at all as it’s a sure fire way to start a furious and hysterical argument on zir part because zie’s straight damn it! Even though zie tries zir hardest not to think about guys. Even though zir first reaction when they killed off the 9th Doctor in Doctor Who was “why did they have to kill the cute one?”. Even though when zie handed me the brochure that came with my camera, zir comment was “you should like this, it’s full of landscapes and cute guys”. I flipped through to discover the people pictures were split 50/50 with males and females; apparently zie never noticed. Even though zie stares at zirself in the mirror and wonders why zie looks so good in women’s clothing… before taking it off and pulling on an old t-shirt and baggy shorts.

I want Jeremy to be comfortable at home. I want zir to know this is a safe place… that I’m not only 100% behind zir but willing to step out and be in front of zir too, in the times zie’s too scared to walk alone. When zie briefly pondered wearing a dress outside, I assured zir that I’m like a pitbull, small and usually cuddly, but willing to cling on and rip out someone’s throat if zie’s threatened. Zie laughed. I wasn’t kidding.

“Mom! Guess what?”

Jeremy ran into my room, zir smile as wide as the sky and just as sunshiny.

“If I spend $6, I can subscribe to Cool Dude! I can go into his exclusive Steam group and play on Gary’s Mod with him. Oh and he’s gay.” I hadn’t thought Jeremy’s smile could get any wider, yet it did.

I will stand for Jeremy until zie’s able to stand on zir own and then I will continue to stand beside zir. If my family’s not willing to stand beside me, I’ll stand on my own. I’m grateful for the friends I have with me and the family who has stayed strong. Maybe someday the rest of the family will join them but I will not back down. I will not quiet myself for their comfort.

My child needs me. They can catch up if they want.

It’s finally spring…

There’s so much to post about. Some good… some bad… and they’re all tangled together. I find that life is like spring. Some days are grey, cold, and absolutely horrid. The wind throws water, almost too cold to be considered rain, into my face and hiding under the covers seems like a viable alternative. While other days are so amazingly perfect I want to hold them against my heart forever.

I’ve taken some baby steps in the past few days. Filing my income tax, making a doctor’s appointment for Jeremy and dentist appointments for both of us, and we had an appointment to get zir onto long term disability now that zie’s aging out of children’s programs. I don’t mention zir autism much on this blog but it is a big part of our every day life.

Jeremy’s still struggling at school and missing more days than zie attends. The GSA was one of the few safe places for zir at school except the teacher who runs the program found zir too talkative and has asked that zie only attends with zir EAs, the same ones who argued that zir gender was a personal choice. I was going to argue with the school except zir counsellor has signed zir up for a small teen trans group which should start soon. Besides, zir teachers are likely going to be on strike in two more days. Jeremy’s hoping they’ll strike forever.

Spring has truly started here. The grass was completely brown last week and now it’s almost completely green, while fat buds sit on branches… seemingly seconds away from popping. Jeremy and I went for a walk in our local green space a few days ago. The trail was beyond damp…

April puddles

I’m thinking we’d have needed hip waders for the valley portion of the walk. We ended our walk a bit early, when the trail began to look more like a lake, and we were still in the highest parts of the park. Despite the sogginess it was so nice to spend some outdoors time with Jeremy. Bonus is the weather’s amazing again today and we have a Scentsy party to attend this afternoon plus the party is right beside a gorgeous walking trail! I bought some scented wax a couple of months ago and Jeremy promptly stole all of my Dulce de Leche wax for zirself. I told Jeremy zie could pick some for zirself today.

We’re going to a barbecue at my parents’ house tomorrow. Karen and her kids have been on vacation for a month so it’ll be a mini reunion. My Mom called to chat and invited us a few days ago then she brought up Jeremy’s pronouns. She explained that she feels bad but just can’t bring herself to use them, maybe she’s too old. We had a long and very positive conversation in which she mentioned Jeremy never seemed to notice that she always uses he and him. I explained that zie’d talked to me about the pronouns before and explained that zie knows she loves zir and was trying the best she could. The conversation ended with her trying out zir pronouns. I got off the phone and gave Jeremy a high five. Zie was thrilled! I don’t know if she’ll ever use the pronouns in general conversation but I’m proud of her anyways.

The person filling out Jeremy’s intake paperwork for disability had a long list of questions to read. One of the questions had to do with home and if there were any concerns about the youth facing a lack of support and needing to leave. The worker shook his head and stopped reading the question while saying, “Nope. No concerns there.”

And now it’s time to wake Jeremy up and head out into the sunshine. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

Depression lies…

To me depression is like being underwater in winter clothes, except you can breathe… mostly. It clings to you, dragging you down, making every movement a supreme effort. Noises are oddly muffled or painfully loud and don’t always make sense. And no matter how many people are around, you’re alone… completely alone.

We used to travel across Canada when I was a child and I vividly remember the tunnels through the mountains. You’d see them in the distance, a circle of blackness drawing closer, distinct against the brightness of the day. And then the blackness would swallow everything. The tunnel was grey monotony, punctuated by identical dull lights. No way to judge distance… no way to tell how long was left. It felt like forever until suddenly blue sky appeared ahead, and once out, the tunnel no longer seemed real.

Depression clings and says it’s forever, showing no sign of a way out. It whispers in your ears and tells you that you’re alone, no one could understand. It claims life is hopeless and that you have no future.

IT LIES!

Just like the tunnel, depression doesn’t last forever. Eventually there’s a glimpse of blue sky and suddenly you’re in fresh air and sunshine, taking deep breaths and listening to the wind through the trees. More importantly, you are not alone in this world. You are never alone.

Reaching out while depressed is one of the hardest things imaginable but please, try. No matter what depression says, there are people who care. They might not be the people who are immediately around you but they are there and they will help.

I’ve told my children repeatedly that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Yes it ends the pain but it also ends everything else. It ends the warmth of early morning sunshine streaming across your cheeks… spring birdsong… the cool sweetness of an ice cream cone… arms wrapped around you in a hug… how bright the stars are on a crisp winter’s night… the smell of wood smoke… the gooey warmth of a melted marshmallow… the rasp of a kitten’s tongue.

My nephews would have had an aunt except she killed herself when her marriage ended, years before they were alive. She never got to see her brother marry my sister… never got to marvel over their oldest son when he was born… or comfort and hold her brother when her nephew almost died of meningitis when he was a few weeks old. She missed seeing them buy their first house… every Christmas… every birthday… every camping trip. She’s missed her youngest nephew’s wild gymnastics moves and trampoline stunts.

It’s been over twenty years now. She missed every possibility of moving on from her husband and every chance of finding someone new. She missed the chance of having children of her own and watching them play with her nephews… every chance of watching her parents cradling her babies. Yes, she was depressed, but it wasn’t twenty years worth of depression. Depression claims it’s forever. IT LIES. Death is forever, depression is a loud and painful bump on the road by comparison.

Reach out for help. If you find it too hard to call then reach out by text or email. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to talk. The first time I was majorly depressed, I sat in my doctor’s office and cried. They’ve seen it all, I still walked out with a prescription for anti-depressants.

I have a list of resources here with world-wide suicide lines.

Just, please. You are unique, you are treasured, and you will be missed. Give yourself a chance.