Christian’s Interview

I believe I came upon Christian’s blog, “Translating Gender” back in June while looking for some posts about Pride Month.

While reading some of his posts I could feel his emotion as he wrote about his journey. So several days ago I asked Christian if I could interview him.

Following is Christian’s Interview. I feel you will see a man who has had his battles, still is.


Christian’s Interview for RTS

Christian tell the readers and myself something about you that is not found on your About Page.

I am a life coach, writer, traveler.  I wander for the sake of wandering and wondering.  For the longest time I thought I wanted to figure out who I am but I realize that identity is a moving target, or maybe not even a target at all, rather; identity is somewhat of an illusion.  We all have everything inside of us and I have chosen exactly who I want to be although I’d rather enjoy the journey instead of living my life as a means to an end.  I believe that, what we focus on expands.  I want to make a difference in this world.  I love astrology and I feel most in tune with myself when traveling and in fact, I have a road trip planned in October.  Stay tuned!

Why did you start a blog? What is your goal or expectation for your blog in the future?

When I first started the blog, it was a personal challenge to share myself, be less private, and “put myself out there”.  I have always been extremely private and by hiding myself I was hiding an opportunity to have a positive impact on people.  I wanted to conquer my own fear of judgement in order to be seen.  By being vulnerable, I gift others the opportunity to allow themselves to be vulnerable. This promotes deeper connections and I thrive off of intense, deep, transformative periods of growth.  I wanted to transcend boundaries- the boundaries people impose on themselves and also between each other.  I wanted to get people thinking that we are all more alike than different.

Eventually, I want to compile all the posts into a book to get published.  My hope is that my story can help others feel a little less alone and bring all people together.

Initially, I was obsessed with reaching as many people as possible but now I realize that if I can positively influence the life of one person, I have achieved success by my own definition.

Can you tell the readers and myself Christian, what it means to be transgender and how does it differ from all others in the LGBTQ community?

Being transgender means that I did not (and do not) identify with the gender assigned to me at birth.  I was labeled as female at birth which they determined only by genitalia but I identify and feel like a man, not a woman.  Transgender is a spectrum not a binary meaning people can identify as a man, a woman, both or neither and fall somewhere on a diverse spectrum.  Being transgender relates to gender as opposed to gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. which relate to sexual orientation.  Sexual orientation and gender are two different things.

When did you realize that you were different and are transgender?

I actually did not realize it until 2013 around the age of 30.  I did not come out until the age of 36.  I had a happy childhood and had all the normal milestones and successes and did not really know what being transgender actually meant.  I did not have a concept or the language to understand or articulate that a person could identify as the opposite gender from the one they were socialized and raised as.  It took 5 years for me to fully understand my transgender identity so that helped me to have an immense amount of compassion now for those who do not understand me or people like me.

I guess I am “different” but everyone is different and that is what makes us alike and beautiful.  People are afraid of what they don’t understand but when you remove all the societal or self-imposed labels, it is clear that we are all connected by universal human emotions and energy.

How did you break the news to family, friends, and co-workers?

Coming out to family was hard; coming out to myself was harder.  As far as coming out to family, there is never a perfect time to do it.  It came down to biting the bullet and stepping into the unknown.  I actually emailed my parents and sent a written letter via mail to my grandmother.  I told some of my co-workers one-to-one and also had a team meeting. Most importantly, coming out was a process not a definitive moment in time.  I “came out” to my girlfriend over a period of years which entailed a process of “testing the waters” and ongoing conversations as my understanding and self-awareness developed.  It was difficult to articulate something that I didn’t fully understand myself.

What type of reactions did you hear? Which one those reactions shocked you?

Some people said “Oh you don’t seem like a boy.”  Others thought it could be a phase.  Fortunately, most people were supportive and were happy for me that I my authentic self was now on display and saw coming out as brave.  Nothing shocked me but I was pleasantly surprised by how supportive people were.  As humans, I guess we tend to worry about the worst-case scenario which can be paralyzing.  In reality, I felt like I gave loved ones the opportunity to expand their minds, their worldview, and their sense of compassion for those who are different from them.  I also felt like people were better able to see their own sense of bravery through me.

Do you have a robust support system in place? Can you explain where you draw support from?

In September 2017 I started seeing a therapist – Dr. April Owen who had a profound effect on my life.  She believed in me and affirmed my gender identity.  After 5 years of working through internalized transphobia and the feeling that I could be crazy, she made me feel normal.  With her support, I was able to transition and words cannot convey how grateful I am to her.  If I could change just one person’s life in the way that she changed mine, I would die a happy person.   This is one of the reasons I chose to go into life coaching.   I also feel so much gratitude for my partner as she has stood by me through everything and with her support, I was able to transition without feeling like I could loose her.  Our process was not an easy one but she is open-minded and loves me as a person so whether I looked like a man or woman did not matter to her. I am full of gratitude for her. Her support bolstered my confidence to trust my truth of self.  We have been happily together for nine years!  My parents love me unconditionally so that provided a foundation of support as well.

Name one myth, if you can correct it for the readers and myself?

Myth#1: Transgender people all live unhappy, abnormal lives devoid of healthy relationships.  False.  Many transgender people live successful, happy, fulfilling lives and enjoy good relationships, meaningful jobs and friendships just like everyone else.  Trans people are normal people. 

Myth#2:  You can spot a transgender person.  False.  Many times, you cannot tell the difference between a trans person and a non-trans person.  You have probably met a transgender person without even knowing it.

What type of support would you tell somebody that wants to take the step to live as transgender?

Get a gender-affirming therapist, counselor or life coach who specializes in transgender issues.  Meet other transgender people in your community or at least online, through Facebook groups for example.  Being around other transgender people is important in normalizing transgender and also feeling a sense of solidarity.  Become mindful and develop good boundaries.  Know that your transgender journey can be different from everyone else’s and there is no right or wrong way to be transgender.  Be cognizant of your negative self-talk; you are worthy, you are normal, you are good enough, and you have the bravery and confidence to live life as your authentic being despite what society thinks of you!

Where do you see your life going as a transgender in the future?

I feel like the possibilities are endless and this is the most exciting and empowering feeling.  If I have the courage to come out as transgender, I believe I have the courage to do anything. I believe that everyone has the courage to be who they want to be!  Right now, I am focusing on my life coaching business so that I can help other transgender people and parents of transgender children.  I eventually want to write and have books published and also partner with other transgender people in the community to make the biggest impact possible.  I have a passion for helping society to re-frame how we think about being transgender and normalizing the transgender experience.  Transgender people are ahead of the times and I with a compassionate mindset, I want to help the rest of society catch up.  Adopting a wider perspective on gender not only liberates trans people, it liberates all people from self-limiting definitions of existence.

If there is someone reading this wants to talk with you can they email you, or any other type of communication?

Yes, I can be reached by email at:

ChristianJCoach@gmail.com

translating-transgender.blog

chrisjcoach.com

Facebook: Out and Proud Life Coaching

IG:@ ChristianJCoach


I truly hope that you found Christian’s story enlightening. Now take a minute a read his posts at: Translating Transgender

Christian, thank you so much for this interview. You provided us insight concerning transgender!


I am looking for others to interview. If that is you send a message by using the Contact Page. Looking forward to hearing from you!

The Interview – Overcoming OCD – Mark Wester

I first came upon Mark Wester’s blog, Overcoming OCD while researching about OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, due to a revelation by my daughter. I had no prior knowledge about this issue.

Since then Mark and myself have been interacting through our comment section. Several days ago Mark sent me a message through email that he would like to be interviewed. So, I took several days to gather my thoughts about questions I would like to ask. I sent the questions to Mark. I mentioned to him to take his time in answering them. Today I received those answers. Below you will find my interview with Mark Wester of the blog “Overcoming OCD“.


Mark’s Interview

Mark for the readers and myself tell us something about yourself that is not on your blog.

I have been telling a lot about myself on my blog so it’s actually pretty difficult to think of something that’s worth mentioning and that I have never talked about but let me try. I was raised in a very multicultural family – I am of Hungarian, Romanian, German and Jewish origin – and I think it’s because of my family background that I love learning foreign languages and I am addicted to traveling. I have been to most of European countries and my dream is to travel the whole world – obviously, only when the pandemic is over.

Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog last December when I was going through a pretty difficult period – I didn’t really know what I wanted from life and I had no motivation to do anything except working, spending money on useless things and going to pubs. Well, I know that the description I have just given you doesn’t really make it sound like a „difficult” period but believe me, it was. I was having a kind of existential crisis because I just didn’t know what I was going to do with my life and my drinking problem also started to go out of control

And then, one day I felt that I just had to write about the things that’d been going on in my mind. It was such an amazing feeling when I saw that my posts could actually help people so I decided that I would just carry on writing. And I would love to say a big thank you to all my readers for supporting me!

Where do you see your blog going?

I have never been much of a planner but what I know at the moment is that I will carry on writing about my OCD. And at the same time, I am planning to write more about other things that can affect our mental health – especially about LGBT+ rights or Learning & Development as these are the topics I feel very passionate about.
Furthermore, I would love to have more guest posts on my blog as we’re all different and the OCD management techniques that work for me may not work for all my readers. So I really think it would be important to have other people sharing their personal experiences on my blog.

Describe what is OCD, how it is diagnosed.
What is OCD?

Well, it’s difficult to give a short answer to this question as I could literary write tens of pages about it. But in a nutshell, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

A common example I can give to describe what obsessions and compulsions feel like is checking if the door’s locked. And by saying that, I do not mean that double-checking the front door means that you have OCD because it’s more than that.

Let’s take me as an example, I need to check my door locks several times a day. When I leave home, I will always need to check it 15 times. So, my checking habit is my compulsion and my obsession is that I think that if I do not check it enough times, something terrible will happen. And this terrible thing isn’t necessarily a burglar breaking into my home but it can also be a horrifying accident that happens to one of my loved ones. So there isn’t always a rational link between the obsession and the compulsion.

And in addition to the obsessions and the compulsions, there’s also the feeling of doubt and guilt. In the 19th century, OCD was known as the „doubting” disease because it can really make you doubt the most fundamental things in your life.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Only trained therapists can diagnose OCD – and I am not one, so I do not think I would be the best person to talk about the diagnostic process. However, I have found an article that I think could help those who’re interested in it:

When was it when you received your diagnosis?
Almost 10 years ago, when I was a senior in high school.

Are there medications to help with OCD?
Yes, there are. The reason why I do not normally write about this topic on my blog is that I am not a certified therapist so I do not think I have enough knowledge to talk about different OCD medications. Also, every country has their own regulations when it comes to medications as well as their own brand name – and I am based out of Hungary while I have readers from all over the planet.

However, what I know is that the medications that are approved in the US to treat OCD include Prozac, Zoloft and Anafranil.

Do you also suffer with depression?
No, I do not. But I know depression is one of the comorbidities that can overlap with OCD.

Do you have support [i.e. Psychiatrist, Group Therapy, Friends, and Family]?
I am a very extroverted person and I do have a lot of support from the people around me.

I think I am very lucky because my family, friends and co-workers have always been very supportive. They’re always there when I need someone to talk to and it really means a lot to me. Honestly, I do not know what I would do without them.

Do the citizens where you live understand what OCD is?
Now, this is a complex question. First of all, I can only speak from my own personal experience and I was born and raised in the city centre of Budapest, in a district that’s well-known for being open-minded and liberal – some people even refer to it as “the bubble”.

And secondly, according to statistics, Hungary has one of the highest overall rate of mental illness in the world with over 10% of the population experiencing depressive symptoms and about 4% suffering from OCD. What’s more, I recently came across an article which said that 1 out of 10 Hungarians has drinking problems.

The reason why I am telling you all this is just to illustrate that mental health issues are often talked about in our society. Again, I am not sure what it is like in other parts of the country, but I can tell you that in the capital, I haven’t really experienced any stigma or discrimination due to my mental health problems.

However, when it comes to OCD, I think most people do not really understand what it is – unless they’re suffering from it or have a friend or family member who has OCD. The older generations tend to think that it’s a form of depression and younger people who’re more likely to watch American TV shows have pretty much the same stereotype that I guess many of you are familiar with: that OCD is just about cleaning and orderliness.

What myths would you like to squash here in this interview? Go ahead take as much time as you need. People need to know these things.

That’s a very good question! There are a lot of myths I would like to squash. Might actually just give you a list!

  1. OCD isn’t just about cleaning or the love for symmetry

It’s a mental disorder that can turn one’s life into living hell (unless it’s properly managed, of course). While there are OCD sufferers who spend a crazy amount of time keeping things neat and organized, people with OCD can have obsessions related to a much wider variety of things including fear of harming others, unwanted sexual thoughts, fear of losing control or blasphemous thoughts.

2. You cannot be a “little OCD”

First of all, OCD is not an adjective and the letter “D” in it stands for Disorder. So saying that “you’re a little bit OCD” would be the same as if you were saying that “you’re a little flu”.

And while many people have intrusive thoughts or even obsessions that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have OCD. So if you think you have OCD-like symptoms, seek professional help to find out what’s going on. And if you’re just using the word “OCD” to describe your love for cleaning, there are plenty of words you could replace it with!

3. You can see when someone has OCD

If you met me in person, I am sure you would never figure out I had OCD. I’m outgoing, loud and I hate cleaning. So I guess I do not match the stereotype!

What advice would you give to someone who just received their diagnosis of OCD?
It will get better. Receiving a diagnosis is the first step to recovery.

This is what one of my friends said a few years ago when I felt that my OCD was going out of control. At that time, I thought it was just so cliché – like a typical thing people would tell you. But that friend of mine has OCD and she’s 10 years older than me so she really knew what she was saying.

And she was completely right. It has gotten better. Of course, it hasn’t been easy and I had to work a lot in order to learn how to keep my OCD under control – and I’m still working on it and I’m still learning.

OCD is like an evil monster that wants to make you believe that you cannot control your own life. But believe me, you can! It will not go away on its own and it’s you who needs to fight it and you’re strong enough to do it!

Last question, Where do you see yourself in maybe ten years?
As I mentioned earlier, I have never been much of a planner. I work as a Learning & Development specialist and I’m happy with my career and I think I’m pretty good at my job. My biggest dream has always been to become an author and I’m currently working on a novel that I’d like to publish. It’s about a guy whose life is ruined by OCD and alcoholism and about his journey to get his life back.

So, I guess I see myself working in the education field or if my dreams come true, as an author – I’m happy with either.


I hope that all who read this interview will take a few minutes and visit Overcoming OCD.

I would like to say “Thank You” to Mark for this interview!

Breaking The News

“The advice I’d give to somebody that’s silently struggling is, you don’t have to live that way. You don’t have to struggle in silence. You can be un-silent. You can live well with a mental health condition, as long as you open up to somebody about it, because it’s really important you share your experience with people so that you can get the help that you need.” Demi Lovato


The other night I was talking with my daughter somewhere during the conversation it turned to mental health. She already knew I was bi-polar but what I was about to tell her was that I tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills, Amitriptyline. I also told what led up to the mental health condition I was in.

I still know the city where I was living, Cambridge, Ontario, the street I lived on, Cedar Str. Down one block was a Tim Horton’s Donut store, going in the opposite direction was a Sobey’s Grocery Store.

I can remember vividly about my first night in the Mental Health Ward there. The reason being is that during a group session they had us watch the movie “Groundhog Day”. To me it made no sense of why we were watching. It was still back then that you could smoke in the hospital. They had a dedicated room for the smokers, it usually was filled with blue smoke, the smell of nicotine heavily filled the room.

After I was discharged I just couldn’t stay in Ontario for one simple reason I didn’t want my family to see me in the mental state I was in. It was probably more like I was ashamed of myself. Growing up going to church hearing all your life that suicide was sin.

Why did I wait so long to tell my daughter? Here is some reasons for that:

  • I wasn’t sure how she would react, I just wouldn’t be able to handle that she may rejected me.
  • I needed to create a safe place first. Through my best friend, then I started to tell my story here on WordPress.

Having those safe places allowed me to feel that I would not be shamed. What I found was support, people who understood exactly how I was feeling for they were there themselves.

The other safe place was on the Mental Health Ward in this city. There was no pressure to talk about your feelings, yet you could, that nobody would think less of you. Among that safe place was the nurses, the aids, and of course my psychiatrist. I also knew when I was discharged that if I hit a low spot I could return to that place.

I would hope that anyone who is struggling with mental health issues has a safe place. Someone they can talk with, a shoulder to cry on. Maybe a place they can go and feel safe to talk with others in a group setting.

So dear reader breaking the news the other night lifted the heavy weight off my shoulder. For the response that came back to me was, “do not beat yourself up for it”!

A Re-Blog: 10 Ways to Support Someone Who Has Bipolar — Dealing with Life Issues – Bi-polar first…

10 Ways to Support Someone Who Has Bipolar For the people who support us, there are ways to reduce stress, improve relationships, and make for a better overall quality of life for everyone. By Stephen Propst For those of us who have bipolar disorder, we are kidding ourselves if we think we can go it […]

via 10 Ways to Support Someone Who Has Bipolar — Dealing with Life Issues – Bi-polar first…

A Heaping Dose of Doubt

key-to-answer

“I seek strength, not to be greater than other, but to fight my greatest enemy, the doubts within myself”― P.C. Cast    Quotes About Self Doubt

This staying in is starting to have some ill affects to me.  Now, it could be things that have been ingrained in from my youth.  Today after I wrote my post, “Back to The Future” and I hit the publish button I just had a wave of self doubt come over me.  

Maybe, it is a total flop, people will have negative comments ( that has never happened to me). I just couldn’t shake those flashes of thoughts in my mind.

Growing up wasn’t a complete cake walk. Being bullied, laughed at, and only minimum support from my dad.  My mother did all that she could do to boaster my esteem.

 I found the great website that has all means of self esteem boosting sayings.  Click on the link directly after the above quote to find them.  I think I will use some of them on a weekly basis.

Everyone sometimes need a shot of encouragement now and then.  If you are having self doubt, I can tell you, you are not alone.

So, I am going to pull up my boot straps and get back up and keep on writing!

Familiar Things

apple-pies

It’s wrong to become a bully yourself or to take it out on other people, and in my case, I just retreated to a place where I was safe. And that place was my imagination, books, and television. Paul Dini
Read more at Retreat to Safe Places

Today I wanted to be around some things that felt familiar, things that made me feel warm inside, made me feel safe.  Places I was comfortable in.

Growing up my one place that made me feel safe, comfortable, warm, was my grandmothers place.  I always knew that I was welcomed, knew there was always someone to support me.

Today, like so many, this holiday feels like there is something missing.  At my home church every Good Friday, for as long as my memory takes me, there would be special music guests, and maybe a special speaker.  There would be two services with lunch in between.

What’s missing for me today are those type of moments, moments that you cherish the rest of your living days.  Days full of laughter, food, music, and enough pictures to fill several albums.

I can probably guess that I am not the only one in the world who is feeling sort of empty.  Easter for many in the world is a day of rejoicing.  Yet, the rejoicing today feels hollow without others to join in the event.

My most favorite memory of my grandmother is that every once in awhile she would say, “let’s go for a piece of pie and a coffee”.  It was rather nice to go to town and find a small cafe, order a piece of pie and coffee, then just sit there enjoying the moment.

It, sure would be nice to hear those words, drive to a cafe, order a piece of apple pie and coffee.  Just to sit talking with someone and soaking in the warmth of the moment!

What I Know and Don’t Know!

self-care-isn-t-selfish-signage-2821823

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. Leonardo da Vinci
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/knowing-quotes

For the past several days I have been pondering about which is the better; learned knowledge, or experiential knowledge.  Or could it be a mixture of both, I am just not certain.

There is a pattern in all the blogs I have read thus far of people trying to cope with some form of  mental health issue/s.

All the situations I have observed are unique, just as our fingerprints are unique to only one person.  Another observation I have made is that all remedies to each of the issues also vary from person to person.  These are things I do know!

What I don’t know are these: 

  • The situation/s leading up to the point in each individual’s crisis in mental health.   
  • The life experience of each unique individual.
  • Other challenges that the individual is having along side the mental health challenge.

One more thing I know and that is, I cannot assume I have any answers for a person.  I can only speak to the things I have experienced in my own battle with mental health.

So, I can have empathy, sympathy for the person I am listening to, for all I can do is be a pillar of support for him or her.