Sunday, 9 June 2013

Building back up

Thanks to all of you for you comments and mails over the last few days (I am getting around the answering them, hopefully today!)

Oh, and sorry for the long post!

After the real low of Tuesday I have started to build myself back up again - I'm not great yet, but getting there. And it's down the amazing people that I have around me!

On Tuesday evening I spent an amount of time talking, and snoozing next to, Mrs Stace. Just trying to relax that little bit. Oh, and complaining about my knee! Whilst going for the 7km run was good for my head it seems that walking for 5km in my heeled boots (and running for a bus in them) before hand was not the best! (A day rest did it the world of good though!)

Wednesday morning I went back to work and did my best to concentrate and get the important things done. When my concentration nosedived (too often...) I went out into the sun and tried to recharge and regroup. And spent the time there chatting with friends about Tuesday. During one of those talks I laughed about the mistake that tipped me over the edge on Tuesday for the first time. Something that felt good.

In the afternoon I had an appointment with my boss for a personal catchup. He had something new to say to try and help me. Lots of people have told me I have to stop being a perfectionist at the moment, that I have to accept I will makes mistakes and that everyone who is working with me knows just how big the process is that I am going through and completely understands, and not to think that I am being judged.

What my boss has told me is that I have to stop being a control freak. Until now I have controlled the process pretty much how I needed to. I decided that I was going to transition, when to start laser, when to actually transition (almost - I did it a week earlier than planned due to some news in the office) and when to start hormones.

But, my boss pointed out that I no longer have that control. I will get told when the operation is, and stressing about it will not change that fact - I have to accept that. The other one is the recovery. It will be as quick or as slow as it is, and apart from looking after myself before and after the operation there is very little I can do to try and organise it now - which is what I am trying to do - when can I start to telecommute, when can I start back in the office, when can I start to walk to the shops and build up to going running again. I cant answer any of these questions and it's driving me insane!

He did tell me that over last two and half years that we have worked together he has been amazed at the mental strength that I have had throughout the process, and that I have to stop being so hard on myself. I think that it also part of the issue now. I have not really had the major meltdowns that I was told to expect until now. I've had low days, but nothing like I have had since starting this phase of the process. The fact that I coped so well until now just makes this all the more shocking to me. And all the more like a failure (I know it's not, but have to realise and accept that as well).

I had spent some time on Wednesday making a list of all the jobs that I have at the moment.  And which ones I thought I could cope with and which I would like to pass on to someone else. I thought I was being over the top in what I was going to ask to pass on to someone else, he thought I was not being realistic with what I wanted to keep. But the ones I have I want to do! We are going to speak about it in a few weeks and see how I am doing, if I'm coping then fine, otherwise I'll get rid of some more projects.

Thursday was a great day for me, I was doing the things that I love at work and seeing the result. It started with a meeting with external people, for my main project of the year. Initially I was really nervous - this was the first time I was going to hold  meeting where I was the only representative from my company since 2002. The weather helped break the ice - it was nice weather and I asked them if they would rather be in the meeting room that was reserved, or would they rather sit outside on our terrace. It's wonderful to see the look on peoples face when they return the question: "We can sit outside?!"  :)

After we covered the basics the meeting kind of got stuck, which got me concerned, but we got over it and came with a good plan at the end that we will follow up in two weeks. I got lots of positive comments from my colleagues who saw me outside on my own with 5 external visitors and were impressed with how I was holding myself (after all two days earlier I had a complete breakdown in the office, and I'm from IT - I'm not supposed to be able to talk to people ;p )

And I did almost all of it in Dutch! (I am happy I managed that!)

In the afternoon we had a production problem, something that was quite serious and needed some research to find the cause and solution. This type of thing is where I get in my element. Whilst we should never get to this state of affairs, I love crisis management. It took the entire afternoon, but we found and fixed the problem.  Phew :)

Friday...  Well, nothing special for the morning. I was in a meeting with architects for the renovation of the building in the morning.  3 hours of presentations, brainstorming and trying to figure out how to make the most of the space we have.  Quite exhausting!

After lunch I had a chat with a colleague as I said something in the morning that got him nervous - he made a comment and I accused him of making fun of me. But I did it in a rather too English way - without large enough sarcasm tags :) We cleared the air, and then had a catch up about how I was doing. He is a great listener and we had a good chat about everything that's going on - including that I am not doing too well at the moment.  The comment that sums it up best, and that I used with him was: Being transsexual sucks. Sure, since transitioning life has been much, much better. But going through it does suck - you just have to try to do the best that you can with it.

Then it was time for my real one to one with my boss, the one we have every other week to catch up on projects and outstanding issues. The things that he refused to bring up when discussing which projects I wanted to keep and which I needed to give  to someone else - he said we had a meeting for that, and the Wednesday meeting was about getting me back on my feet.

And then, as it turned out the last thing of the day, I had a chat with the woman from the business about the project.  Questions from the meeting with external people the day before, and a general update for the other companies that we are working with.

Once we were done she asked how I was doing, and again it was a great chat. Just talking about it really helps - it means that it's not sitting stewing in your head.  She said the same as everyone else, stop being a perfectionist and stop beating yourself up. We talked about where I am doing well, on how far I have come and where I will be when everything is done and dusted. I loved one of her comments: Just think Stace, when all this is done you are going to be able look in the mirror and see you yourself, and not just when you're dressed! (I had commented to her that generally I'm fine now - recent stress excluded - except for when I go to the bathroom or have a shower).

We also talked about what I feel I missed when growing up, and the three life phases that I am going through at the moment (self discovery that should have been done when I was really young, being a teenager - both in hormones and self discovery and of course being a mid 30s woman trying to move my career and life forward). When you are growing up, especially as a teenager, you are playing at being an adult, learning who you are and how to interact  with your peers. I spent my teenage years trying to fit in as one of the guys (failing most of the time) and trying to work out just who I was. And not figuring out how to be one of the girls. That is something that is only happening now, in my mid 30's.  And it's actually quite hard! She bought up that I work in a department that is 15 people and only 3 women. And that situation is not going to help me, and so if I ever want a chat I need to call her and we'll go out into the sun for a chat. Assuming I can bring myself to do it, I think that is a great idea.

And then it was time to go home and start the weekend.

I've also had a great weekend, though I think this post has already been long enough (congratulations to anyone who has got this far!)

I'd like to finish with how I started.  Thanks to everyone for the messages and support. With that, the support at home, and with that of my colleagues I am in a much better place now than I was on Tuesday. I don't know how long it will last, but at least I know that I have to support to recover!


  1. Hi Stace!

    So, so happy to hear you are feeling a bit better! Good for you for recognizing you needed help and asking for it. That is difficult for we control freaks, I know. ;-p

    You are so right about needing to learn to let go. I had bloodwork done last week, and was frustrated that my testosterone level was still much too high (although lower than my previous reading).

    My doctor essentially told me the same thing: I am doing everything I should, and now I simply need to wait and let my body do the rest.

    She assured me that when the time is right it will have simply drop to where it should be. It's hard, but I know that worrying about it won't change anything.

    You clearly have a great manager and supportive colleagues. They recognize not only how hard you work and how much you care, but what a good person you are. No wonder they are doing their best to help.

    Know that your support system on the other side of the pond is fully operational and ready to help at a moment's notice! lol (Seriously - my work colleagues and friends have asked me to keep them updated how you are feeling.)

    Hope you have a wonderful week, hon!

    Mega hugs,

    1. Hey Cass,

      My therapist has also been telling me about the control freak thing. It's costing me energy and concentration, and nothing is going to come from it. So, it's wasted effort, and there are so many better things to think about.

      I do have a wonderful support network, and that is something that I have to keep in mind as well!

      You can tell my trans-atlantic support network that I am on the mend, and just need a holiday to recharge my batteries!


  2. Someone wise said Rome wasn't built in a day.

    I don't know how you view yourself professionally but I am guessing from the way you write and the feedback you have mentioned you are highly regarded (despite spending far too much of the companies money on coffee).

    This period of time and stress will pass and then when its all behind you, you will be able to give yourself 100% to work. In the meantime this period is about you time and what you need. Time to keep yourself fit and healthy, both in body and mind.carrying a bucket load of stress around with you isn't helpful.

    Many are there to support you, no doubt many friends as well as family plus your colleagues at work - take that help - that's what most women do.

    I am glad that you are starting to let go of something's and whilst I know there are things you want to retain why put yourself under extra pressure? I guess you know best but consider that there will be other opportunities in the future, ones that you can concentrate upon without the backdrop of anxiety.

    Take care of yourself


    1. Ah, the coffee isn't so bad - most of the coffee I drink is at home (OK, that is bad - the coffee we drink at home costs a fortune ;p)

      I'm using the support network now, and it is making a difference. I'm also listening to my body (I should be running right now, but pain in my legs, and the sleepiness in my head are saying rest today, run tomorrow). That also makes a difference.

      Why the project that I wanted to keep? Because it was something totally new for me. As it happens it was cancelled at the upper management level anyway, so it's gone :)


  3. Hi Stace,

    This was a very interesting post and I saw a lot of myself in what you wrote (regarding your job, your control thing, etc.). I could also see myself melt down in that situation, and I've come close to that many times, but on the inside and not the outside. I'm a very good actor. Add transition to it, however, and I don't think I could bury my emotions and stress. It would be just too much. Anyway, I'm glad things seem to be working out.

    I did send an email. It's been so long since we exchanged emails, that I'm not sure if I sent it to the correct address.

    Calie xxx

    1. Hi Callie - it's been too long since we talked!

      I can manage to contain myself most of the time when I am approaching a meltdown. And most of the time I can pull myself through it. But since hearing about the op, and it being made to sound like an imminent think, rather than a distant thing, I've found it increasingly hard.

      Hopefully I can find my balance now, and once the op is done and I'm recovered I can get myself back to full strength again.

      I got your mail - it went to an account I don't use very often any more. You should have had an answer with a few new addresses in it :)