21 January 2013

I'm too big. :(

As I mentioned last week, I rediscovered the Saris that Su gave me when we met up to farewell her last year ahead of her relocation to England.

The Saris each came with a matching top. The design is plain on the front and ornate around the back of the neckline, which I assume is related to how the top is covered by the Sari. The tops also had provision for adjustment for different sizes, by way of multiple runs of stitching down the side seams, which run from the underside of the sleeve to the bottom edge.

I had tried one top on just after I got them, and it was clear that it was nowhere nearly big enough for me. Yesterday, I finally decided to make an effort and take some of the extra rows of stitching out to see if it would fit me. I took the rows of stitching out in matching pairs left and right and tried it after each row or two were removed and it got closer and closer to fitting until, after removing the second last pair (leaving the last row holding each side together), it would just barely do up with no bra or breast forms, with the shaping of the top leaving some room for breasts, but probably not enough for mine.

There no adjustment for the length of the top from shoulder to underbust, and I'm really not sure that even if I lose enough weight for the top to go from far-too-tight to wearable, the underbust position may well still be too high for me to wear.

The only way I'm going to find out is to lose some weight and try it again. Starting back at work today and the corresponding increase in stress level and comfort eating, however, means that the chance of losing weight any time soon is not very good.

20 January 2013

Facebook auto-unfriend?

From time to time, I notice that someone on Facebook has unfriended one or other of my boy and girl profiles. Sometimes it is clearly someone who has either taken offence at a difference of opinion and sometimes it is someone I barely knew, who has obviously decided to do a clean-out and remove people that they barely know. I've done the latter a fair few times over the years, and the former on a very small number of occasions.

Other times, though, they are people who I know well enough to be genuinely surprised that they have unfriended me. Because I'm not good at dealing with confrontation, most of the time I simply let it slide but it still leaves me feeling that somehow I've done something that they've been offended by, but I don't know what or why. I really don't like that feeling!

It's reached the point where I genuinely wonder if there is a glitch in Facebook that causes people to be unfriended at random. Particularly when a married couple somehow ceased to be friends with each other and are both adamant that they didn't do it!

Clearly I'm not the only one who this has happened to. A quick web search turns up numerous references to an unfriending glitch, such as this one on Yahoo Answers.

If this really is a facebook glitch, I'm left with another disturbing thought ~ that the person who I am no longer friends with thinks that I unfriended them!

PS If you're wondering about the Friend Tracker image at the top right, it's one of the features of Social Fixer, a handy browser extension that allows you to customise Facebook to some extent.

18 January 2013

The Spoon Theory and Depression

Some time ago, someone I know who is living with a chronic physical illness pointed me to The Spoon Theory. It's an interesting read, and not only does it help to provide an understanding of what people living with chronic illness are going through, but what I'm going to say in the rest of this post is based on it, so if you haven't read it before, you'll probably want to do so now, or the rest of this post probably won't make any sense.

I hope that the author  and fans of The Spoon Theory won't be offended by my interpretation of how it relates to depression.

In many ways, depression is like a chronic physical illnesses. The main difference is that both the pain and the struggle to do things are emotional rather than physical. Like other chronic illnesses, the daily allocation of spoons varies ~ the deeper the depression, the smaller your allocation of spoons.

Anything stressful costs spoons. For me, going into the office every morning costs a spoon because I am about to check my emails and that's the main method by which bureaucrats deliver threats to my livelihood. Often. Not checking my email costs more spoons than checking, because it creates the stress of uncertainty. In spite of the fact that they are usually completely wrong, it's up to me to respond to their bullying messages and prove that I haven't done something that would justifying them effectively shutting down my business. Just seeing one of these sorts of messages in my inbox can cost me all of the spoons that I had left that day and force me to borrow some of tomorrow's. A particularly bad one can cost me several spoons every day while I try to get together enough spoons to deal with it.

An interruption such as a phone call or a client turning up uninvited while trying to concentrate on writing something will usually cost at least one spoon. Even walking into the house while my wife is shouting at our son usually costs at least one spoon.

Borrowing too many spoons from tomorrow can mean not being able to see a way of having a tomorrow. I've been close to suicidal a few times in the past, and in the context of the spoon theory, I'd describe the downward spiral towards it as reaching the point where you thought that you had borrowed many of tomorrow's spoons, except that when tomorrow arrived you discovered that you actually only got a tiny fraction of the number of spoons that you expected, so yesterday's borrowing of spoons means that you've borrowed all of the spoons that you can see yourself getting. Ever. At that point, it's not that you can see nothing left to live for. It's that you can't conceive of there being any way forward except death. A suicidal person's cry for help is an attempt to get someone to help them see that, no matter how small, there is always a future supply of spoons.

The less depressed you are, the more spoons you get each day, so the best way to increase the number of spoons that you have is to do something that you really enjoy. A lift in mood raises your daily allocation, but the effect tapers off over time, as you gradually slide back to your default mood. Sometimes, you can get such a lift in mood that you can feel almost normal, for a while at least.

The catch is that, more often than not, it takes a lot of spoons to prepare to do something that you will enjoy. Often, a series of little things such as someone being in your way at the wrong time, something not working how it should, etc, can cost so many spoons that you can't continue preparing for the activity that would have given you that emotional lift that would have taken several days to wear off, and given you more spoons in the process.

There are also costs of spoons if an activity that was supposed to be enjoyable turns out to badly, and the fear of such an outcome before or while preparing. If the fear that the outcome will be bad is large enough, it can cost enough spoons to stop you from even trying, or combine with the little things going wrong to convince you to stop preparing. Eventually you stop even considering doing some things because the thought of it costs you spoons.

I describe myself as a social femulator (from fem·u·late (fem´ya-lat´) v., To imitate, copy, or try to be like a female) or social crossdresser. As a term, I much prefer femulator because I feel that it more accurately describes what and who I am, but not enough people know the term, so crossdresser is a fall-back term that more people understand. I prefix it with social to emphasise the fact that it is about socialisation for me. It is not about sex or whatever other motivation people might assume. To be able to present myself (hopefully reasonably convincingly) as a woman and have people around me interact with me as the woman that I present myself as is generally an enjoyable experience that lifts my mood and gains me spoons.

As I mentioned recently, I no longer feel welcome at the local cafe nights. That means that, even though I might enjoy time out en femme, the overall spoon cost of getting there exceeds the spoons gained from going. The other events that I did manage to get to last year each had a clearly positive result in spoon terms.

Similarly, in spoon terms my observation that having my nails long and painted relieves my need to go out en femme is because having them like that is worth at least one spoon to me every day. Positive comments and various non-verbal responses to them often lift my mood enough to give me more spoons.

16 January 2013

Implausible deniability

In response to my last post, Sarah posed the chicken and egg question:
Is it possible that they have not said anything to you because you have not said anything to them?
It's an interesting conundrum. We've been dancing around this for over a decade now. Several of my wife's and my friends and relatives are friends with me on Facebook. Others know and some of them acknowledge that they know.

There have been unsubtle conversations. I think that it's really implausible that my inlaws don't know, and yet, I say nothing and they say nothing. I think that we're at an impasse, and have been for years. Having reached that conclusion, I guess I have to decide what, if anything, I do next.

15 January 2013

Bite my tongue!

I probably should point out that this is a lighthearted reflection of an offhanded comment that amused me, and is not a reflection upon any of the people concerned.
I've mentioned before that my inlaws know about me but say nothing. I respect their right to maintain plausible deniability, even if I do find if somewhat frustrating at times.
We go to my inlaws' place for dinner once a week most weeks, and last night was no exception.

I had to bite my tongue when, over dinner, my mother-in-law made a definitive statement about 6" heels "that nobody can walk in". My wife agreed with her, stating that she also cannot walk in heels that high.

I immediately thought of the 6" Tony Biancos I wore at IMATS, the 5" Sirens I wore to The Lindy Charm School and my well-worn 5" Tony Biancos that I wore to Sydney to farewell Su last year.

No, nobody can walk in 5 to 6 inch heels.

Not only did I have to bit my tongue, I also had to make an effort not to start counting how many pairs of 5 to 6" stilettos I own, in case someone guessed what I was thinking. ;)

14 January 2013

Great theory...

I mentioned on Thursday that I wanted to get out en femme at least once before returning to work on Monday next week.

After a very hot day last Wednesday, I thought that I'd better check the weather forecast before making a decision. A prediction of Friday and Saturday being very hot meant that I ruled out both days and I set my sights on going out on Sunday.

I got to bed around midnight Saturday and up at 8:20 on Sunday, then wasted time online while waiting for my wife to get up. She got up around 10:30, by which time I was in a foul mood and felt that it was simply too late to bother.

Knowing that we're expected to go to the inlaws' place for dinner on Monday night, I decided that I'd go out Tuesday. That idea was blown to bits when I overheard my wife telling our son that her parents were going to come and take them to the movies on Tuesday. I don't know how long she had known about this plan, but she hadn't bothered to mention it to me.

So Tuesday is out. Wednesday and Thursday are probably already out too, because of other commitments, and it's predicted that Friday will be hot again! I also have to start preparing to return to work next week, and could easily spend all of this week doing so. I'm no longer expecting to get out en femme before I return to work, which also means no progress on dress shopping for the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival, which is  getting closer. I'm going to be very disappointed if I don't get an outfit together in time. :(

The highlight of the past few days is that I've been working on rearranging things and may soon have enough space to be able to get everything that I'll need out of the bedroom the night before. I've sort of done this before such as for the The Lindy Charm School and IMATS, but in a far more crowded way of stacking it all over the floor and on the chair and around the keyboard of the computer that I'm using to type this.

I've also rediscovered (under a pile of stuff belonging to my son) the Indian Saris and matching tops that Su gave to me last year before she moved to the UK. I need to adjust the tops to fit me and try to figure out how to put a Sari on. I have no idea where I'll ever wear them, but working out how to wear them is a challenge in itself!

10 January 2013

Oh, weight. I'm sleepy

Reading where I was up to last January and comparing it to now is a bit depressing. I ended 2010 at 72.5kg and ended 2011 at 83.5kg. I ended 2012 at 87kg, having peaked at 88kg between Christmas and New Year.

On a more positive note, around the same time as my weight peaked, I began making an effort to try to get my sleep pattern under control. I have managed to get to bed by midnight every night except for New Years Eve, when I got to bed just after midnight. To tie in with that, I've been getting up most days around 8am. If I can keep getting to bed by midnight until I return to work on the 21st, I hope to be able to keep doing it indefinitely.

One odd thing is that I still feel tired even though I've been in bed for 8 hours. For the first few days, I put this down to a jetlag type of effect from changing my sleep schedule, comparable to changing timezone by 2 or 3 hours. Since I've been married, I've woken a few times through the night most nights, but I think that it happening more often for the first few nights and then started settling back down.

Because I'm making an effort to get to sleep around midnight, my wife has also begun getting to bed closer to midnight, although she tends to read in bed for a while (which makes it harder for me to go to sleep, but I do eventually), so she's still getting to sleep later than I am. The odd thing is that apparently she is so accustomed to only getting about 4 or 5 hours sleep that she is getting up at about 5am because she wakes up and can't go back to sleep!

Which left me wondering if my trying to get about 8 hours sleep per night is actually leaving me tired due to too much sleep! I've been waking between 6:30 and 7am, thinking that I haven't been in bed long enough and trying to go back to sleep. After reading several conflicting web sites from various sources, the explanation that fits my experience best is that I'm actually staying in bed too long, which is contributing to my disturbed sleep.

Between 6.5 and 7.5 hours may be enough, so I need to get to bed by midnight but get up when I wake around 7am and see if I feel more tired or less. I've also noticed a few suggestions about taking a 20 minute nap around mid afternoon, because it's normal to feel tired then and a nap is the best solution. I'm not sure if I'll be able to do that once I return to work but I can try.

Interestingly, a couple of the other consequences I've found mentioned for too much sleep are depression and weight gain. Hopefully if I can sort out how much sleep I actually need, it may help with those problems as well.

I'm also thinking that I should push myself to go out en femme at least once before I return to work, too. I've been putting it off because I was hoping to get some weight off, but I need to find a 1950s style dress for the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival, and I'm not going to find one in time if I don't start looking soon!

09 January 2013

2012 - Very out but not very often

You may have noticed that I didn't post much last year. Like the year before, I have been feeling rather out of sorts and just not with it. I've finally come to acknowledge that I'm living continuously on the verge of a complete breakdown. I think that I've known it for a long time but not wanted to face it.

My living is dependant upon a government bureaucracy that, since I returned to work after Easter last year, is supposed to audit me at least once a year. I now suffer from anxiety with all of my work because there is no clear definition of what will be audited and what will be considered right or wrong. To say that my work output is down would be a massive understatement!

On top of that, due to family issues and a total failure to make progress on plans for house extensions and renovations that I hoped would make it easier to organise myself and get out more often, my life has basically ground to a halt and going out en femme has become a chore.

Given that going out en femme helps to lift my mood, I'm caught in a catch-22 situation of being too depressed to make the effort to overcome the other obstacles to going out, even though I know that I would enjoy going out and that it would help to relieve my depression. In recent times I've only managed to get out if I've made a significant investment in what I was doing, such as paying for a ticket or buying a costume in advance.

Consequently, I got out only a total of 13 times in 2012. Considering that I managed to get out a total of 73 times during 2010, last year's total is fairly sad.

I may not have been out often, but I managed to go to some events that I really enjoyed, including the The Lindy Charm School at MisKonduct Klothing, Halloween, IMATS, my trip to Sydney to farewell Su and the first Newcastle Beauty Heaven meet-up.

Sadly, I have been made to feel consistently unwelcome at the local cafe nights. A few years ago, one of the then regulars decided that she didn't like me and to this day I don't know why. She also convinced someone who used to be a friend of mine many years ago to also turn her back on me, which still hurts me to this day. In spite of that, I made an effort to keep going.

I am a political moderate (Libertarian), but I generally make an effort not to talk about politics en femme either on line or in person. Unfortunately, one of the other regulars at the cafe nights whose political position can only be described as far left persisted in making snide political comments in an effort to draw me into political arguments every time I went to the cafe. On top of everything else that was making it difficult for me to go out, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. My cafe night outings became sporadic but every time I went back and she was there, it happened again until I finally gave up. I have no idea if I will go to a cafe night again. :(

On the upside, I've come to realise that having long painted nails is a continuous form of self expression and declaration of non-conformance that relieves my need to go out en femme. I still want to go out, but having my nails done reduces the pain of not spending time en femme.