Approximately every two weeks I have my scheduled appointment with my Veteran’s Administration therapist. Over the years I have drastically changed my expectations of therapy.
Many years ago when I visited my first therapists I thought they would be some sort of a mind reader or on the other hand, I would be paying another person to talk about me for an hour. My very first visit to a therapist is difficult to remember. It was so long ago in the 1980’s. What I do recall is he seemingly refused to take me seriously about any desires I may have to dress or act in a feminine nature. The only thing I got from him were my first mind altering meds, without much explanation of why I was supposed to take them. Needless to say, it was one and done with him.
Several years later when my wife and I lived in Southeastern Ohio (near the Ohio River) I was compelled to seek out the services of another therapist. At the time I had learned of her from other attendees at several of the transvestite and/or crossdresser mixers I went to in Columbus, Ohio. An example of how rare the therapist was she was known as one of the only psychiatrists in the state who knew anything at all about gender issues.
As it turned out, I decided to make an appointment for all the wrong reasons. At the time I was really dealing with my gender dysphoria and it was winning the battle. I bounced between extreme depression and euphoria. Of course the only way I thought I had to cope was to cross dress as a woman, ignore the deal I made with my wife not to be seen in public and go out anyway. Predictably I was eventually caught sneaking out and yet another bad fight broke out between us. So, getting caught motivated me to seek help and supposedly save our relationship.
The gender therapist’s office as I wrote took me an hour to drive one way, was expensive but was very worth it. After I described my terrible mood swings and cross dressing she told me there was nothing she could do to change my desire to dress as a woman but there was something she could do about my mood. For the first time in my life I was diagnosed as being bi-polar. At least part of my life made sense and again I was prescribed medications that actually worked. Armed with this knowledge I felt better and headed home.
Unfortunately, similar to so many other times in my life and even though my moods had evened out, I couldn’t stay true to my word and kept leaving the house unattended. The gender therapist was right, she or no one could sway my increasing desire to discover a feminine lifestyle.
By now, many of you know my wife and I actually stayed together for twenty five years until her sudden death from a heart attack. Her passing tragically opened the doors wide open to attempt a final journey over the gender frontier.
In order to do this, I chose the Veterans Administration health care system. In order to be accepted in the hormone replacement therapy program I had to be seen and approved by a therapist. The potential problem I saw was having my bi-polar status hurt the whole process. After all, being bi-polar didn’t have anything to do with me being transgender but I was paranoid someone else may not think so.
At the time, I didn’t know how fortunate I was to be assigned to the therapist I was. She understood both of my issues were separate and even had knowledge of the gender issues I was experiencing. No education on my end needed!
The best part of the experience is we still meet after all these years.