A strange thing happened to me as I came to acceptance with my path to transition from male to female; I became a hypochondriac. What? Yeah, basically I did, and it really surprised me.
At first I didn’t really know what was going on. But I found myself making sure I was putting on my seat belt whenever I was in the car, double checking intersections when I was driving, making sure I was washing my hands really well so I wouldn’t get sick, and hoping I didn’t catch some sort of illness. I also became hyper-aware of sensations and feelings within my body, you know, like the little twitches you feel here and there, or the little pains you get every once and a while, or the ‘tingly’ feeling you get after exercising or whatever. I became hyper aware of all of this.
At first it was a real problem because I wasn’t really aware that I had become more aware of all this stuff. I just felt myself getting more and more stressed out about all the little things going on in my body; feeling a twitch and thinking, “oh God please don’t let me have a neurological problem”, or having my foot fall asleep and thinking that maybe I’d never feel my foot again. It got to the point over a period of a few weeks to where it was disruptive of my life and even kept me awake at night!
I finally figured out what was going on after thinking about when my anxiety started, and reflecting while in my therapists office.
For just about my whole life I’ve felt a kind of disassociation with my body. Not like I felt like I was having an out of body experience all the time or anything, but just like I wasn’t invested in it. I mean, even as a kid I remember telling my parents that I thought I wouldn’t live to be old – that I’d probably die early, and that I was totally okay with it and that they shouldn’t worry (of course this in itself made them worry, but whatever). I just didn’t feel that invested in my body, sort of indifferent about it, and disconnected from it in terms of investment – and at times I sort of wished that there was some way to get out of it too so I wouldn’t feel this disconnection. What kept me from going too far down that road was the unconditional love I received from my family and many in my community. I lived for that, and them.
But this sense of disconnection has kinda kept me from really investing much in my body. I mean, I’ve never been motivated enough to become more healthy, or lose weight for example. But that has changed recently. As I’ve come to realize the path before me I have automatically started caring more about myself. This feeling is entirely new for me.
On one hand it’s meant that I’ve had a new burst of energy in treating my body better, and losing weight (I’ve lost about 50 lbs over the last couple years, most of it recently), but on the other hand it’s meant that I’ve gained this awareness and concern (excessive concern) over what’s going on in my body.
And this new feeling has made me go a little bit overboard with the concept of “listening to my body”. I’ve been listening alright, and then I start imagining all these horrible scenarios that end up with me in the hospital, or on life support, or something crazy.
My therapist helped me see this as a positive thing. That for the first time in my life, I actually want to be here, in “me”, in this body. Transition has given me a kind of awareness, and a desire to live to be an old person. A different kind of interest in life that I didn’t have before.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been able to recognize and embrace these new feelings of connectedness and investment in my body as a positive thing, and that has helped me to not be such a hypochondriac. Actually, I haven’t had any anxiety over the normal little things going on in my body for a few weeks now.
But it’s interesting how transition has brought this new element into my consciousness, of actually feeling like I want to be in this body, of feeling connected to it on a deep level for the first time, of being grateful for it. It’s wonderful.