Why Stef Sanjati is my Inspiration

I’ve never written fan mail. This feels weird so… bear with me.
Thanks. – My Self-esteem

Who is she?

If you don’t know who Stef Sanjati is: She is a Canadian transgendered woman who has documented her transition on Youtube and is now a year into her hormone treatment. She’s also an amazeballs make-up artist (like camel sized amazeballs).

I was lucky enough to come across her videos a year ago so I’ve had the privilege of following her on this journey. I have learnt so much from her, her attitude towards life and the ferocity of her spirit deserves to be admired.

Her videos definitely speak to more than just the transgendered community. My friends, the people who knew me where surprised when they find out about my strong advocacy for gender reassignment surgery. Why would a 26 year old cisgendered woman be so invested in this subject? Which often led to the question ” Is their something  you want to tell me?” (To be fair I did write a play on the subject.)

No. I’m not questioning my gender identity. I know my sexual identity is bisexual/pansexual. I do have an unstable sense of identity and do struggle with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD)*. Unstable emotions and identity are symptoms of BPD. I’ve really struggled this year because I didn’t know who I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to do with my life, this was topped with a depressive episode that led to a short stint in a Psychiatric hospital. I’m now attending  Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.

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Did I mention that she’s totally gorgeous as well? – @stefsanjati

 

So why is she my role model?

She taught me to chase after my happiness. She knows who she is, she’s learnt to accept herself for who she is and she has worked hard to do what makes her happy. I, on the other hand, am so concerned with what others think of me.  I have to be the person they want and not who I want to be. In Stef’s (a.k.a Bread Mom’s) videos she discusses her whole journey, and explains how and why she decided to fully transition. Often stating that her choice is what feels right for her but may not be the right choice for everyone and that’s okay. She share’s how her mental health has improved since being able to accept herself and work towards reducing her gender dysphoria. I struggle with my own kind of dysphoria. I often feel a disconnected from who I really am. I know who I am but often my anxiety and depression suppress my ability to be who I am. I hide behind mask,  my own fears and insecurities preventing me from working to be the person I know want to be. To do what I need to do to be at peace with myself.

Stef Sanjati very openly states that she know’s who she is. She always knew she was a girl, no matter how hard others insisted she was a boy. She knew who she was and she’s worked to do what will make her happy and not let society’s opinions suppress who she is. She knows she is worthy of love and acceptance despite the adversity she has faced.

To learn about her journey in her own words watch her video:
My Transition Timeline (so far!) | 1 year on Estrogen

 

So I have decided to take steps to reach my own happiness.

Step one….

Knowing what I want.

  • I want to accept myself as I am and do what makes me happy despite fearing rejection for my life choices.
  • I want to openly accept my sexuality without feeling like its something to be ashamed about.
  • I want to be healthy but I also want to love my body for the way it is. – I know society says I have to look a certain way in order to love myself but I am learning that I really don’t have to apologise for my body, for my opinions.
  • I want to learn to openly and honestly express myself and to not be afraid about communicating my needs to others
  • I want to live lovingly and to fight discrimination against anyone who falls outside the parameters of ‘normal’. 

All of this is a work in progress but I’m getting there.

Stef will be undergoing her FFS (facial feminisation surgery) very soon and I’m so excited for her in this next big step of her life. Do check out her channel on youtube, watch some of her videos. I promise you’ll have a laugh and learn something new.

I’m gonna end this now before this gets all Kathy Bates…

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*Endnote: I don’t believe that being trans or having gender dysphoria is a mental disorder. I believe that HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and psychotherapy is the way to treat the condition. 

 

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Coming out the other side of a depressive episode

It’s hard to remember, what life was like before a depressive episode. In that state everything is black and white and days pass in a slow fog… I remember when I first saw the Psychiatrist:

“Are you suicidal?” 

“I have suicidal thoughts but I’d never do that to my family”

“How do you know you won’t act on them?”

“I keep telling myself I’ve got better before, and I’ll get better again”

Sometimes it was a fight to cling to that knowledge. It’s been a couple of months since I left the psych hospital and since then its been a bit of a bumpy road but I’ve been heading in the right direction all the same. Now, after completing my first month of DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) colour is flooding into my life and I feel myself waking up.
Everyday I have to work at getting better. I do my DBT homework, I follow my therapists advice, I take my medication. The work is paying off though, my motivation has improved, my attention span is longer, my mood is more stable. Suddenly I realise that I’m no longer enduring my life but living it.

Today, as part of my DBT homework I created a photo wall as one of my ACE activities (activities that give you a sense of Achievement, Closeness to others and Enjoyment)

I ordered polaroid photographs of my friends and family and strung them up as a reminder of all the positives in my life.

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Remember to look after yourself and to plan things that will bring you fulfilment.

This is a list of my ACE log

  • invite a friend to dinner (or even just a phone call if you can’t manage dinner)
  • Do something kind for someone else
  • Exercise
  • Sing along to music
  • Have a hot bath
  • Go for a walk
  • Bake
  • Write
  • Clean and decorate around the house (best done in small chunks)
  • Meditation or Mindfulness exercise
  • Setting a side a time for ‘life admin’ tasks

I consider myself very lucky to have a supportive network of friends and family around me that have enabled me to never lose sight of what’s important. I wouldn’t have made the progress I have if it wasn’t for their help.

For any readers that struggle with mental illness please take that step to reach out and ask for help from a friend, family member, or you talk to your GP or call Good Samaritans.

Endnote: This post is slightly more serious than the usual banter and for that you have my most sincere apologies (soz, not soz). Please feel free to message me if you have any questions or want to chat. I hope that sharing my experience can help others. 

Motivation

Oh the Shame!

It’s been almost a year since my last blog entry… So much for dedication.

I don’t understand what my problem is when it comes to sticking to a task. Any Task! Yes, sometimes it is just pure laziness, but I like to think that there’s more to it than that.

Either way, whether it’s keeping up with my online course or following a new hobby, I’m thoroughly enthusiastic for, say, the first week but after that things go downhill fast. BUT, there is hope. I’ve tackled this little motivation problem head on and so far I haven’t run out of steam. So, let’s go back to how my motivation project began.

Two weeks ago something snapped inside me, I was sick and tired of being fat. No, not just fat. Fat and Lazy. For months I was making excuses for my weight gain, like blaming England’s fatty foods and miserable climate. (although I do feel that way.) I love sailing but I didn’t want to go for the lessons because the water would be too cold. I wanted to do more leisure cycling but it’s always raining. I was going to start cooking every meal but it was too expensive for my budget… You get the picture. It’s very easy to make up a million reasons not to do something. Fortunately, the more excuses I made the more sick of myself I became. I used to just jump head first into situations and make things work as I go along, now my life consisted of pathetic excuses. No more I say. NO MORE!

And so it began.

First and foremost, it was truth time. I was fat and unfit, not because I didn’t have the time to exercise or plan my meals but I was simply being lazy and disorganised. I also had to settle with the fact that THIS IS ENGLAND and the rain is going nowhere. So, if I wasn’t going to get my exercise the way I used to, which was outdoor activities. I’d have to *shudder* join a gym. Now I hate gyms, no, I LOATHE gyms to the very core of my being.

Here is a list of reasons why I hate gyms.

  • The changing rooms – I don’t want to get naked in front of everyone else thank you!
  • Mirrors – my self-esteem is low enough without having to see my round red face staring back at me.
  • The people – I never see another person in the gym who needs to be there, everyone’s already perfect. It’s freaking intimidating.
  • The music – it’s crap.
  • I have no idea what the hell I am doing.
So the first step I have taken is learning to work out in a gym. I’ve done this by finding myself a personal trainer and as everyone knows, personal trainers aren’t exactly cheap. So this is only a step towards being comfortable and confident in a gym. – Although I’d train with her forever if I could, it’s only my second session but I never thought I could find exercise so fun.-
By going for about 8 personal training sessions I can learn a variety of cardio and strength exercises, and get to know my way around the gym equipment. Essentially like a crash course in gym training.
Alas, all this talk about weight loss and motivation is easier said than done. If, in a month’s time I still feel as motivated as I do now it will definitely be something to write about. There is one thing that is different… I’m now fully aware that weight loss and fitness requires hard work and discipline. I intend to change my entire life, not just by body.