On Monday I had my long-anticipated mental health assessment. I guess this is the one that gets the transball rolling. After they find me clear of any mental health problems, they can refer me to gender identity clinic where I can finally be on my way to a physical transition.
I’ll write my experience down not as just another blog post, but also as a reference guide; if anyone is on a similar path as me, you can be sure to find exactly what happens here. Prepare for lots of boring detail.
I turned up early which was a good thing because I couldn’t find the place. Managed to get there, forgot the doctor’s name, but somehow ended up in his office. It’s worth mentioning that I was meant to have an earlier appointment with another doctor (a consultant psychiatrist) who does specialise in gender identity, but because of personal reasons, he’s taken leave, so this doctor is picking up his workload. He’s not a specialist or on a consultant level. So I guess that’s why it was so brief. I expected to be there an hour, but it only took half that.
He started at the very beginning with “Were there any complications when your mother gave birth to you?” He asked a lot about my mother and how she was during the pregnancy, and when she gave birth to me. And what happened after that – my developmental milestones – when I learnt to talk and walk, if they were on time. He focused a lot on the first few years of my life, crucial for child development, but of which I have terrible memory. I mean, I can remember feelings, fantasies and certain events that happened, but I find it really hard to pinpoint what age I was at the time. I guess certain feelings followed me around before I hit private school at 8, and then my focus shifted onto trying to live up to my dad’s academic expectations. The psychiatrist asked me about how I whether those feelings affected my studies, and how I performed as a student in general throughout adolescence.
He asked about siblings, and how well we get along, similarly, he asked about my parents and whether we’re in touch. Whether or not my family knew I was transitioning was a one-sentence answer and he didn’t pursue that in detail. (Thankfully. As we know, that is a whole other story.) He asked whether anyone in my extended family – dad’s side, mum’s side – have transitioned or felt similarly to me. He also enquired about history of mental illness in my family, and in my own medical history. He asked about whether I was on any medication, i.e. anti-depressants, SSRIs, etc, and whether I have been in the past. He asked briefly about certain episodes, but was very understanding, and didn’t judge me on what had happened in the past – he let me explain retrospectively.
He finally asked about whether I suffered any bullying, in school, or abuse of any kind, or suffered any major trauma. I assume he was wondering if this contributed to the way I feel now. He said it’s pretty straightforward why I feel the way I do, so everything checked out fine. I was waiting for a question on self-harm, but that never came. He noted down drug, alcohol and tobacco use, but that was it. The doctor ran through his notes, asking me to correct him if he was wrong, taking me through the history of me.
The only thing I am disappointed with is that he cannot do the referral himself – due to his status in the psychiatry hierarchy, a referral would take him 6-12 months. So he has to wait for the consultant to return (whenever he does, it’s indefinite) and for him to check through the assessment, see if it’s thorough enough (if not, another interview will be needed), and then a ‘speedy’ referral can be made.
So to conclude, another waiting game.