Chronic Pain & Dysphoria

Fair warning before I start this: it might
get a little heavy so if you’re not up to that, if listening to me talk about pain and
dysphoria is not something you want to deal with right now, I’ll definitely understand. If you need to leave by all means do. With that out of the way I think a good place
to start is that I have been in pain every day of my life since I was ten years old. It varies from day to day, some days I’m
mostly fine, others I am decidedly not, but I am never completely pain free. I don’t really remember what it’s like
to not be in pain. I know what it’s like to be in only a little
pain. When all there is is some slight back pain,
or a dull pain in my ankle, but there’s always something. So one of the first thing I learned how to
do was ignore it. Because if I complained every time I’m in
pain, that’s all people would ever hear from me. Remember I was ten when this started, I didn’t
have ready access to painkillers, because I was a child, and my dad was convinced I
was faking. This lead to that, instead of learning how
to read my body and know when too much pain was too much, I learned how to shut it out. How to distance myself from my body and just
move along. I developed, as my mom put it when I brought
this up to her “near nuclear strength denial”. This is a thing that I still do. Nine years later I haven’t managed to unlearn
this. I do this with doctors. I’ll just lay there completely blankly while
they examine my leg joints and it doesn’t matter what I feel, as long as it’s not
extreme, I will not react. Sometimes I don’t even properly register
any pain or discomfort so when the doctor asks for clarification I’m left floundering. Now, “what does this have to do with dysphoria?”,
you may wonder. Everything. Literally everything. For those of you who don’t know, hi, hello,
I am a trans man. Moving on, I do have dysphoria, but I experience
very little of it. I have disconnected myself from my body to
the point where I only know kind of in the back of my mind that “yeah, that’s a thing
that’s there”. It’s not constant, sometimes I get moments
of clarity where I suddenly want to violently claw at my chest for an hour, but the disconnect
is still there, and it definitely has something to do with my less than stellar coping mechanisms
when it comes to all bodily pain and discomfort. Now, you may think “But Van, dysphoria is
the worst, why the hell would you want to experience more of it?” and you’re right. And I don’t. Which, maybe you might have picked up on why
that presents a problem here. Learning to be more in-tune with my body is
something I logically know I need to do. It would be better for me and I’d be able
to take better care of myself, I might even stop pushing myself past the point where I
really should be resting. But it’s still something a significant part
of me does not want to do. Because dysphoria sucks, and there’s nothing
I can do about it. If I invite my body back into my life, I’m
not only inviting back the physical pain, I’m inviting back the dysphoria. Physical pain I can do something about. I can take painkillers, I can lay down, I
can rest, I can do any of a million little things to help make my days easier. Dysphoria is just there. I can lessen the effects somewhat by binding,
but I can only bind for so long before it becomes dangerous. I’m on testosterone now, but that doesn’t
immediately make everything better. I have at minimum two years, probably more
what with the terrible state of the trans process here in Finland, before I can get
top surgery. What do you do when what’s good for you
in one way, is terrible in another? Truthfully, I don’ have an answer. It’s something I’m still trying to figure
out. I know that getting more in-tune with my body
is a good thing. I also know that denial is terrible for me,
mentally and physically. I know this is something I have to fix, I
just don’t quite know how to go about it. For now I’m just kinda powering through,
forcing myself to relax and check in on my physical condition every now and then, but
that’s about it. So that’s a rather unsatisfactory end to
the video. I just figured in case there was anyone else
out there in a similar situation, you’re not alone. And hopefully in a few years I’ll be able
to come back to this video with actual advice. Bye. [music fades in and plays until end of video]

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