It started as a good day. Despite being another year older, which in itself usually ends in some kind of tears, it was good. A beautiful lunch surrounded by decore capturing a concentrate of Italian cues and the ambiance of a fresh spring day and time with my family but by the late evening I’d fallen. I hit a low point but didn’t share it with anyone. The only thing I could do was just sit it out or as it happens lay it out in bed until the next morning.

The morning came quickly and the sun glimmering through the tiny gap in the dark south facing curtains lead to at least a sprinkling of happiness. I had to get away for the day. By early afternoon I had found my bench in the bay along the coast in a sun trap along the boardwalk that sheltered me from the cold almost icy breeze that had returned promising that it wasn’t quite summer yet.

I’d taken my self-help book. It was my own appointment with a counsellor in the form of ink on paper that I can book without waiting. I simply had to open the page. I wasn’t really that far depressed that I felt I would have to call the hospital for an emergency out-of-hours help line; this is the danger in itself given that it could show that I haven’t recognised that I might be lower than I should be. Calling that particular line for help would, as Dr Neil said, result in medical help until I was able to see someone. In other words anti depressants to get me out of a rut until Dr Neil could seem me. I didn’t want to be a zombie for the rest of the weekend or longer. I wasn’t in a deep hole so it would remain a last resort and something I hope I never need to do..

The day before, Friday, I had decided that I would call the mental health unit to chase up the decision that I’d still not heard any news. The problem was the morning had come and gone and before I knew it late afternoon was upon me. “Twenty to five.” I though, “They should still be there.”

I called and guided myself through the automated telephone system until there was a ringing. It went on and on until the system cut in, “There is no answer for this extension, would you like to keep trying? Press one.” I pressed one multiple times ensuring that I gave them plenty of opportunity to answer but given this is the public service and a Friday, especially over the Easter holidays, it was unlikely anyone would answer. I rushed upstairs to my locker box and pulled out all my previous letters from the mental health unit until I found an alternate number. It ended in much the same response, “Press one if you wish to continue to be ringing a darkened office not to be populated until next Monday.” Okay, it didn’t say that but that would have been the reality of the lone phone ringing in a starkly empty office just a few miles away.

On reflection I think this is a good thing. It made me think about who I was and what I actually wanted out of this. It made me realise that if it’s that urgent that I want to get things moving then why don’t I pay a small fortune with a private practice and get moving or even look at the relatively iffy practice of self medication but under the care of a local GP. Neither are needed. Not really. May be I could look at a private practice to I feel I’m achieving something or look into other routes to hormone medication to get my body moving but really I should be looking at myself as a whole and not just the formalities. It’s probably just something I should wait and see.

At my bench today the sky was blue and the water catching some of the colour distorted by the waves of the constant breeze – my legs air conditioned through my ripped jeans at the knees and thighs. It was busy, my face getting a hint of burn and the overall pleasantness surrounding me gave me the little lift I needed. I eventually got to open the self help book in between drags on the straw of a Starbucks coffee frap. I was already getting towards the end of the book but one line stuck out, “No matter what has happen to you up until this point in your life, you will always have choices about how you move forward.”

It was that little reminder that allowed me to collect my thoughts on what I’d forgotten. That my job was a temporary solution to money and not a permanent place of work. I should now move on. It was the reminder that I can wear what I want to some extent, even at my special bench where I escape to in the spring and summer by the sea. It was the reminder that I need to do what is right for me and not what I think will make other people happy, as hard as it may seem. I am in control of my future, whether hospitals are slow to respond or are reluctant to help because I have options and all this aside I can come to my bench and just soak up life and allow my problems and depressions to just blow away on the breeze allowing them to float away to the horizon in a blur of black and white nothingness.

The walk back to the car was a long sun drenched path with slow tourist and day trippers and me in my ripped jeans. Almost showing off and my relaxed nature of what mentally felt like slender legs in skinny jeans and a pony tail catching the wind making the few strands of hair flyaway and making me wind swept. Some people will look. Usually men out of some testosterone driven reason and women out of some curiosity. It is freedom time to be me and damn the public. I almost forget how I look on the outside because this halfway house of my dress code is now normal. It’s mostly daily and has become acceptable to me. Being acceptable to me means more than being accepted by others because it means I’m not feeling stressed or uptight. Like Sheryl Crow sung, ‘If it makes you happy, why the hell are you so sad?’ this couldn’t sum it up any better. Therefore my transition within my own thoughts as well as the clothes I decide to wear is at a pace that is suitable to me feeling relaxed. If I’m not enjoying what would be the point. No longer the ecstasy thrill seeking reasons of the days of Bristol nights out, this is reality and who I am.

Until next time


The First Ten Months by Hannah James

Out now for free download – The First Ten Months e-book. Containing the first ten months of blogs edited for book form and e-readers. Includes unseen and blog archive material.

The First Ten Months Download Page

4 thoughts on “Bench

  1. We sometimes place so much reliance on the health service to validate us, that we forget that it’s really us who are in control.
    We take the path that’s right for us and nobody else.
    Forwards ever forwards.
    Take care and keep moving.

    • Thanks Rachael. I think it’s a case of keeping a level head which I’ve always had until of course the delays. The bigger picture as they say.

      Hannah x

  2. Well firstly happy belated birthday 🙂 and I know from experience that it can be secretly ( or overtly) a sad day, but you have to be thankful of the other things life brings as well, and I know you do, just from your wonderful writing.

    I agree with Rachel’s comment that we do tend to put a lot of reliance on the health service to validate us. It’s like we wait for them to say ‘ yes, you are who you say you are’, however it REALLY is you who is control.
    They wont (or rarely) offer hormone medication until you are living full time and they see all that as part of the diagnosis, and if someone then hates what the hormones do to them then that person has done their work for them 🙂
    They are only doing a job after all and, well one case looks like another after a while I guess, so what is a highly important thing to you is just case 9638 to them; ‘yawn, what’s the hurry’ they might say.

    I think you are doing ok. I like your approach, and if you are able to gradually change your presentation through choice of dress and you are comfortable then that’s got to be a good thing.
    The hormone thing is a slow process and takes many many months if not several years to weave all their subtle affects. There are things which I believe have greater validation, like choosing to change your name and putting your past behind you which have a greater impact on self. If that’s too big a step right now maybe going for electrolysis or IPL to remove hair could act as a palliative. At least that’s what I found when I was where you are right now, but you have to make your own choices.
    Yes those hormones are a validation that yes the doctors agree with your thoughts, but they aren’t necessary for you to move forward if you feel you can, and living your life as you truly want to is a far far bigger validation of your self than waiting for a doctor to get round to ‘giving hormones a try’.

    Btw, I know that you understand this Hannah 🙂 I know that making that choice is a big big thing, and that you will feel uncertain of the outcome for a while, but if it’s truly what you feel inside then things really will work out in a positive way.

    Debs x

  3. Thanks Debs. Yes, all things that I’m painfully aware of. The blogs tend to be those thoughts that are ‘thought’ before spoken. Uncensored and before conjecture and judgement 🙂

    I still haven’t phoned them!

    Hope you’re well.

    Hannah x

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