It has become increasingly clear to me over the last month or so that self harm is still a healthy portion of the subconscious reasons for doing this. I don’t think that it was clear to me at the beginning that I was doing something other than some sort of noble, post-human experiment, exploring the overlap of gender and sexuality by removing it. I had broken my intentions down into three goals: something to write about, exploring gender neutrality as best as I could, and seeing what James was on about. There was, however, a fourth reason, a sort of undercurrent beneath all of those supposed good intentions, and it wove self harm through it all.
I have to admit that, the more I learn about both myself and the way people tend to work in general, I’m not really surprised. The same theme comes up for James in his own motives: he has discussed many times how part of the reason for wanting to remove his sex drive is because he feels guilty for feeling pleasure in anything at all, a remnant from his childhood. A lot of noble experiments and self exploration owe at least a portion of their existence to self deprecation and harm, though certainly in a much subtler way than something as drastic as actually cutting on oneself or somesuch.
So where does the self harm enter into this for me? It’s difficult to pin down, of course, being something of a subconscious effect. I think that there is definitely something revolving around my reactions to sex over the last year and a half or so. I’ve mentioned before that certain things about having sex don’t sit well with me, or make me feel disgusting, for one reason or another. To not feel good during an activity done specifically because it feels good is really disheartening, and I think that part of my subconscious reasoning for this experiment was to remove that avenue for feeling good. I felt broken, and my passive aggressive response was to say, “well, fine, then you don’t get to have any sex, if you can’t have it right!”
Another, more subtle aspect has to do with when I started the whole process. In May, when I started formalizing the plans, I was just putting my life back together after my suicide attempt, and I think that I was in that sort of self-destructive, new-lease-on-life mode. It feels liberating, sure, but I think that some of the ways in which people act in those situations aren’t exactly based on improving their well-being. I lost a lot of friends in that time, thinking that I was cleaning up the ways in which I interacted with people, when in reality, I was alienating and setting up a false persona with which to interact with the world. Even now, more than seven months later, I’m still realizing how much I have to put back together after that whole mess. Back in May, though, I thought I felt great and was ready to start out a new life trying all these interesting things. Really, though, I was trying to set up a dramatic change, knowing that depression was a possible side effect, just to say I was doing something different.
A lot of this sort of came to a head in the last three weeks, as a few things happened at once. First of all my tic disappeared, after a long decline. It felt good to not be embarrassed about going out in public anymore, and my neck was no longer constantly sore. However, the tick was an outlet for anxious energy, for me. It allowed my body to express the anxiety in a way similar to a pressure blow-off valve: each tic was a means of dropping the current level of anxiety in my system by a certain amount. With that outlet being removed, I wound up falling back on old habits from back around the time of the suicide attempt: cycling endlessly on morbid thoughts. Just as in March, however, these led to a strange split in my personality: some part of me was screaming loudly for me to wander out into one of the lakes behind the house and shoot myself in the head, while the rest of me was recoiling in terror (combine this with being surrounded by glass-walled heights in Copenhagen, and I had a very bad week – over the last week, I succeeded in welcoming the tic back in order to regain that outlet, thankfully).
Needless to say, as things started to fall into place, I did my best to reassess my intentions on this project, and wound up deciding to tone it down quite a bit. I cut the cyproterone out completely (from 50mg a day), in the hope that having close to zero testosterone in my body was the cause of the major depressive episode. Additionally, I started to realize how much I felt like I was punishing myself by not allowing myself to feel sexual along with my friend group, a sort of denial of fun.
All that said, I don’t think that I would classify the experiment as a failure. I learned a lot about myself, and in particular, the ways in which gender and sexuality are intertwined, as well as all of the subtle ways in which hormones affect the body, not to mention a foray into asexuality (or at least medical celibacy). Not to mention, the simple fact that I figured out how detrimental this experiment carries quite a bit of weight: there are things that are right about it, but there are certainly things that are very much worthy of concern.
The experiment is also not quite over, but it is changing. I’m still on the Depo shots for medroxyprogesterone as I taper off, and I am very seriously looking into seeing someone regarding HRT in the future; the gender thing has come to enough of a head for me, in some inexplicable way, that I think I might seriously start looking at hormone replacement therapy, in some capacity or another, if such a thing is possible to the extent that I feel comfortable (which is to say, closer to some middle ground than all the way across the gender spectrum). We’ll see. Beyond that, I think I am finished for a while, until I can think clearly enough to do something like this with a clear mind.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, as my libido starts to show, however slight (10-20%, perhaps). It feels good, and the rush of testosterone gives me the occasional feeling of manliness, which is unique for me, even before the experiment started. I know I wrote about self-harm a bit back, and thought it dismissed, but I’m just not convinced. It’s a strange time, but I feel better having digested some of my intentions a little further.