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The Importance of Knowing Where You Have Been, Where You Are and Where You Are Going…

My Story – #ChooseTRT

Ollie – 31

I’ve been sitting here for a long time trying to figure out the best way to write this. I don’t want this to be another clichéd “X changed / saved my life!” (though we’ll get to that). So let me simply give you my perspective and experience as honestly and forthrightly as possible.

Before going down the TRT route I consumed as much literature on the subject I could find. It’s now crystal clear to me from what I’ve read, heard and experienced first hand that testosterone is the very essence of the masculine spirit, physical and mental. When it’s there you feel strong, sharp, robust, vibrant, sexual, confident and calm. You have a deep sense that no challenge is insurmountable. You can’t wait to get out into the world to compete and achieve.

Unfortunately, this spirit doesn’t remain faithfully ours forever, and for so many men right now, it’s an early divorce as it was for me. You don’t realise that when things are going well your health, motivation and very sense of well being rely on the presence of certain hormones. You simply chalk everything going well up to you.

The other side of that coin is to blame ourselves for our lack of motivation and failures. But what if the platform upon which we build and support our very being is broken, how can one even begin to build a life or support those closest to us? Make no mistake – any healthy man out there who is embodying all of the positive virtues I listed above does so upon a solid foundation of correctly balanced hormones, of which testosterone is well and truly king.

I remember one of the pre-consultation questions was, “Do you feel your best years are behind you?”. I answered emphatically “Yes”. By this point I’d spent a year grieving over the loss of my best years, I was hopeful that the TRT might help get a little bit of that back, but I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams the extent to which TRT could and would touch every aspect of my life.

Prior to the TRT I’d become withdrawn, horribly anxious and depressed, and was just about ready to give up on everything. For a person like me – a person who had always been insatiably motivated to push myself forwards – this way of being devastated me each and every day, and quite frankly life was beginning to wear thin, bordering on unbearable at times.

I was in my own personal hell. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, complete my workouts, focus at work or in the studio, or even answer phone calls – I was no longer motivated to play my instruments and make music, and worst of all I couldn’t give my partner whom I loved so deeply the emotional or physical attention she needed and deserved. Some mornings I’d stare at myself in the mirror, unable to recognise the sad and lifeless face staring back at me.

I’d exhausted all possible treatment options by this point, or so I thought. Therapy, anti-depressants, exercise (if I could manage it), talking to friends and family. None of these had helped, so I often resorted to self medicating, mainly with alcohol. If I had to score from 1 – 10 how I was feeling each day, most days were a 2/10, and with the self medicating, in the evenings I’d be lucky to get myself up to a 4/10, the cost of which being a length hangover that would send me spiralling further downwards.

This clearly couldn’t go on, nor did I want it to. I felt like my horizon of possibilities, previously infinite, had shrunken to claustrophobic proportions. Right in front of me was TRT, and looming directly behind it was darkness and death. If the TRT had failed, it’s likely I would have taken my life at some point. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true.

So what happened when I started the treatment? I’m going to keep this as simple as possible and say that after the first 2 weeks all of my previous symptoms just … evaporated. I went from feeling 2/10 to 7 … 8 … 9 … 10 / 10. My mind felt clear and sharp again, my energy was back full force, no more anxiety, no more depression. Just. Like. That. I couldn’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and live my life again! Not only could I now finish my workouts in the gym, but I couldn’t wait to get back down there as often as my schedule would allow for it.

A real moment of clarity that sticks in my mind was the evening my partner said to me, “something is different today, do you know what it is?” I answered, “no, what is that?” to which she replied, “you don’t’ have a drink in your hand”.

It dawned on me that I hadn’t felt the need to self medicate, at all. Why was this? Now that my emotional pain and anxiety was gone, the need to self medicate was also gone.

Only a month in and feeling better each day. I’m still trying to process this. It’s hard for me to accept that I had to find out about this treatment route for myself, and I’m deeply disappointed that none of the healthcare professionals I saw within the NHS knew about this. It’s also scary to see just how close I came to the precipice, and it’s sad to think that there are no doubt thousands of men out there either looking over the edge, or already at the bottom.

I want to finish by saying for the first time in years I am truly happy to be alive again and that everything is moving onwards and upwards for me. I have my life back. This treatment brought me back from the brink and has reunited me with my masculine spirit.

A massive thank you from me, my girlfriend, my family and my friends to Dr Robert Stevens and the team, the work you’re doing to raise awareness and to make this truly remarkable treatment available is changing and saving lives.

Thank you.

 

Gareth – 42

Before I started TRT I went to a doctor and explained that there was something not quite right with how I felt (mentally and physically). I explained that I had always felt like this to a certain extent, but recently it had gotten worse. I mentioned the lack of energy, the feeling low – a general lack of interest in life. He tested my thyroid but when it came back normal, he just said “like cars, some people just aren’t tuned right”. That was it.

I then tried counselling, which I paid for privately. It was a great process that I really enjoyed and whilst I learned a lot more about myself it didn’t make me feel. I just felt numb. A term I found online called “depersonalisation” fitted how I felt, not connected to anyone or myself. Like everything was at a distance. Brain fog is another term commonly used in TRT, like a fog has descended and you can’t function like you did.

When I found out about TRT and it was a light bulb moment. I had never been fit, or able to exercise, but it was the mental health benefits that really got me interested in TRT – I didn’t want to carry on feeling numb forever. Since starting TRT it’s been real transformation. It’s not overnight, and I think other people notice the changes in you first as the process can be gradual. Has it made me happier? I am not sure. I think happy is a difficult benchmark as it always goes up and down and TRT doesn’t stop you having tough times, but it has made me feel more like myself and more connected to the people around me. No more fog.

 

Peter – 46

Since I can remember, I’ve been a thinker.  Always analysing. I’ve been very lucky to have found a career in a subject where my thinking has made me better at it. I’m grateful for this.  But for so long i neglected (didn’t know better) my health. This new topic of health has given me a new subject to focus my attention on.

I’ve learned through study and practise that my health revolves around certain paradigms. They are:-

  • Exercise and movement
  • Stress management
  • Diet
  • Rest and relaxation
  • Hormone health

Each of these practises affect one another and as a man in his 40s, their effect on one another can be profound.  Its a balancing act where the chief outcome is to feel well. There is nothing more important.

Now, i only realised that hormone health played a key part about 2 years ago when, after focussing on exercise and diet, i was not feeling great. I felt just OK but my thoughts were not mine at times and i was constantly sore. Sleep was the first affected and the knock-on effect was horrendous. I started doubting my own self and my abilities. It is hard to go to bed at night with worrisome thoughts knowing they might be there in the morning.  My work was not on point and my life became a drag. I didnt look forward to doing tasks at work or at home. I didnt think well of myself.

I knew about hormone therapy but didnt think it was for me.  Things dragged on. Not getting any worse but not improving.  I existed. I looked forward to nothing but persevered as a man should, i felt.

After a period of time whilst still researching about health in general, hormone health kept popping up. To be honest, my first proper engagement on the matter was a leap of faith like so many decisions i make. It was not a sudden realisation. More like the light bulb glowing dimly but increasing slowly in brightness. That’s fear of the unknown for you. I finally engaged my GP who thankfully was not completely dismissive of the idea but wanted me to consider SSRIs first. I refused as i knew I was not depressed. I suggested we try TRT. He agreed to blood tests. I was surprised to learn that my hormones were not optimal but pretty low. This was progress. I started on testosterone gel and almost overnight i felt different. My thoughts were vivid and i slowly stopped doubting myself. I had an enthusiastic energy like when i was a 20 something. I felt like me and i liked myself and had more positive thoughts. I found a group of people on facebook that discussed the topic and i asked questions, comparing and learning. My GP asked me to stop testosterone when my levels were measured better values. This i knew was a  bad judgement on his behalf. I was scared to be honest. I asked my friends in the group what they thought and they suggested i make an appointment to see this one doctor. I saved money for a few months and made an appointment to a satellite clinic and started with him as my advisor. He is great.  My hormone health is in his hands and it feels assuring to know i have a trusted guide. Its a work in progress.

So I have decided/feel that this treatment is important. It doesn’t take away all the things outside my life that aren’t mine to control but it helps me in the following ways:-

  • I sleep better (so important)
  • I see every person as my equal again
  • I like my imperfect self
  • I’m not afraid to deal with things.
  • I recover from training more swiftly
  • My body is more resilient against things
  • My mind is clear
  • I am energetic
  • I have that excited child mind again
  • I am positive without trying to be
  • I am a better person, father and husband.
  • I accept things as they are.

I love my life again.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and even with the downs, i can be assured of the ups to come.  I’m me again and it’s good. Not perfect. But good. And that is good enough for me.

 

Brian – 35

“When I look back on my life I believe I have actually suffered mild depression from my mid 20’s.  I wasn’t particularly sad however I didn’t really feel anything.  I was in a constant state of grey, interspersed with periods of anxiety.  On top of this I ruminated over everything (social exchanges, my work performance, personal relationships) andhad a persistent negative internal dialogue.

Since being on TRT these issues have improved immensely.  I have a sense of contentment and calm that I don’t think I have ever experienced before.  My negative internal ‘voice’ has all but disappeared and I don’t sweat about minor issues that would have consumed my thoughts for days.  As a result my self esteem has improved greatly.  I also believe the general increase in energy and vitality I have now has helped with my mental/emotional state.”

 

Anonymous – 23

“By the time I turned 19, there were few antidepressants that weren’t thrown my way. I had cycled through every benzodiazapine in the NHS arsenal, and a few antipsychotics too. There wasn’t much that I hadn’t tried in my efforts to conquer the “black dog”, and none of them worked for me.

I had abused drugs, alcohol and indulged in whatever self-destructive behaviour I could find to help me escape my reality; a truly dark time in my life.

At 22, I had spent several years clean of SSRI’s et al, and resigned myself to living a grey life; devoid of the “spark” I remembered having before the dark clouds came. I had forgotten what motivation felt like; life felt like a monotonous waddle to the finish line. Anxiety ruled most of my life and I was confined to the dark corners in my mind, living in my head. Concerns about my hormones were shrugged off by NHS doctors, much to my ire and frustration. I was told that I looked “athletic enough”, and so it was probably nothing to be worried about. I was told that my abnormal hormone results were “acceptable”. However, I was not ready to waive my right to the chance to have normal hormone levels. How unfair it seemed that I was expected to battle life with one hand tied behind my back. Needless to say, I was proven right, and TRT has changed my life. It was not a miracle cure by any means, but at least now, my battle with my demons would be a fair fight. I am more driven and determined than I’ve been in years. I sleep better. I have a libido again. I am more confident. And frankly, the list goes on and on. I know that my circumstances are not unique, and thus I would urge anyone resonating with my story to get tested for low testosterone. You are not alone, #ChooseTRT.”

 

Brian – 33

“I started Testosterone Replacement Therapy two weeks ago.  In the first couple of days, every time I took the treatment, I would get a rush. It’s difficult to explain, other than that the brain fog I was feeling seemed to lift & everything became sharper, clearer and more focused, but it was almost too much at first, information over load, rapid thinking. It was like switching my eyes/mind back on after a sluggish 6 months prior. I haven’t had an issues injecting, pretty much easy and pain free, no lumps or rashes or anything. The following few days there weren’t any marked signs that anything was happening, other than feeling like I had more energy. I then in the next few days seemed to slump again, but then gradually over the last week or so since I have been pretty much level.  When I say level, I mean I feel ‘normal’ again.  Normal as in I feel like a functioning human. I would actually go as far to say I feel like I’m 20 again, I’m 33. Here are the improvements:

  • Fatigue Gone – Strange after being so tired for the last 10 years. I’m now only getting tired at 10pm, i.e. a normal time to be tired after a long day. Due to this I’m more productive at work. I wallpapered a whole room the other night, usually it would have taken me a loooong time to do. But I had the energy and focus to just get it done. I used to fall asleep or be really tired after every meal. That’s starting to not be so much of an issue.
  • Stress Free – I feel like I can tackle anything (bit of a superman complex there).  Things that would have stressed me before and put me in a rage or a rant are now easy to deal with. I feel a sense of calm. The problems and stressors are still there of course but now I just deal with them better. The calmness is nice, I’m relaxed in the mind and energetic in body. To me that is a wonderful sensation.
    I’m a nice person again, I’m having happy thoughts. Like the negativity in my head, the over analysing everything has been switched off. Making room for happy thoughts. I have to stop and laugh at myself when I think of something in my head like… ‘Oh I’m so happy today I think I’ll go for a walk’, I’m seriously like wtf, who just said that. It’s me of course, the happier more content me. Just not heard him for a long while.
  • Weight Loss / Water Weight / Bloating Reduced – I weighed myself immediately before my appointment. I was 16st 7lbs. This morning I’m 15st 11lbs. My ‘pregnant belly’ as I used to call it getting smaller everyday. That is definitely strange sensation, must be how woman feel after giving birth!  When you get used to carrying that around for so long, it’s bizarre that it’s not there. It’s like something is missing. I feel like I’m so happy it’s reducing and going. But I I also feel a bit weird like something is missing.  I’m sure I’m not going to complain when it’s gone completely.
  • Strength – Muscles seem to be a bit firmer and I’m able to hold myself better. I’m walking tall, sitting straight. Which is weird cause I’m a sloucher, didn’t have the energy to hold my own body weight before.
  • Erections / Libido – Sexually things downstairs are working again. Albeit at random times and not with any consistency.
    I’ve not been able to get or keep an erection for about 8 months prior, I can’t recall the last time I had a morning erection 8 yrs+. I had pain in my testicles also.
    Since treatment the pain has gone. The erections are back, 4am every morning is a bit annoying as they are harder than ever and wake me up. At which point I’m then wide awake and can’t get back to sleep. Sexual stuff feels a million times better as it’s harder and more sensitive.

I’m very angry at the NHS I don’t think even this protocol will make that anger go away. Next time I see my doctor I’m gonna tell him to stick the antidepressants he offered up his behind! If this has truly been the issue all these years then their ignorance is disgusting and has severely effected my quality of life over the last decade. I’ve always rejected antidepressants, I have always pushed them to look further but have always been told everything is within range.”

 

Ross – 54

“I  had depression all my life and I am age 54 now. I can categorically say with total confidence it all went when I stopped being in conflict with myself.

I changed just two core aspects and I was cured almost instantly, but yours might well be totally different, so you must be heroically and brutally honest with yourself and the answers will be revealed.  However, some of it was also helped by watching a great film called  “The Secret”,  it was made around the foundations of a book by Wallace D wattles 120 years ago.

Here my two fixes but my grandfather once told me these wise words “always be true to YOURSELF”, it took me 35 years to work out what he meant.  He meant to be authentic to what you are and to hell with the world.

  1. I was in conflict about my sexuality so I fixed that and embraced that I am bisexual. That made a massive improvement by at least 50% . my inner conflict melted. it was very tangible and others noticed my improvement. over time.
  2. I was in conflict with the job/ career I hated over the last 30 odd years. I hated it to the point I wanted to die I felt so trapped. So I changed my job to something I love, it paid less but I was happy to do it free it was so rewarding, and that fixed the rest of it. I lost marriage but it was crappy anyway so it was all good.

Simples!  As the saying goes, I love simple fixes as I am an engineer.

So from my personal life experience, I have discovered that inner conflict is the root of my depression and my life’s mistake was to go along with my perceived peer group pressure and foolishly go along with what I thought society thought I should do and be like. This is well known in psychology that inner conflict is massive.  However few people are brave enough to metaphorically rip the plaster off and start again late in life.  I found that when you hit rock bottom in life ( excuse the pun ) you can only go up or exit badly. So since exit badly was a waste and darn tricky to kill myself I  opted to radically change my life. Hey I thought, what have I got to lose,and it worked a treat. Would not change it for the world.

I won’t mention what job I do now or my personal life but I can assure you it is totally fixed. My job is a little more dangerous but I would rather live life to my fullest and take the bull by its horns and  Choose MY  Life., Its On My terms now. Depression can be caused by chemical issues but it is also caused by inner conflict and your  OWN inner worry of outside peer pressure. The worry of how you should think or behave. blocks you from  being your  authentic self  and to hell with what others think

Funny thing is, In the end, nobody cares one hoot what you do. Fear blocks your mind and what others in your family might think or you might even lose family. Well, I would have lost all family if I ended it so when I took the positive leap everyone supported me eventually since it was up to me to carve out MY life and then others saw my commitment and tenacity and success and blatant happiness. I think my tenacity was driven by my opposing desire to not kill my self just yet, and change my life..

I would suggest regardless of what your earning to seriously look and ensure that whatever job you do, that it’s one you  LOVE. The long term aims for a career or self-employment as I did is to find one you love it so much you would probably do it free if bills were not an issue.

Consider downgrade of your lifestyle /bills if it pays less, it’s well worth it since when your happy you think better and you earn more eventually. If you’re not ready yet then work out a long term exit strategy out of your job or career or even lifestyle friends or family if they are not constructive. Fortunately, my family were ok, It was me who was in conflict and not them.

That was what I did. Find your passion and live life fully !.  Not for others not for parents, not for friends but choose YOUR LIFE. Remember you can only help others when you’re helped and afloat and strong. Avoid supporting others if your crashing and be kind to your inner voice that is probably telling you what you should do.

When your inner self is no longer deeply unhappy, then you naturally gravitate to the natural state you were as a child without a care in the world. .You  become happy joyous an free and others see it in you..Others then  gravitate towards you because they see you are happy and no longer in conflict. You then  become the go-to person for help ironically without even trying.

It takes heroic strength but less strength than ending it .So try this 1st before taking the other route and you will be wondering why you had not done it years ago.

One other thing to make a quick fix and long term fix is this fantastic thing I learnt from ” The secret”

saturate you mind with gratitude every moment of your life, Consciously look for all the things you are grateful for , supersaturate you mind with the small things 1st.  then eventually group 10 of these gratitude things in to  BIG single emotional FEELING of gratitude. You see feelings are what the brain runs off outside of unnatural languages of words both negative and positive. They are giant chunks of stuff and can be good and bad .but humans have a habit of looking at the BROWN in life, the crap so to speak. TV newspapers make good use of this negativity sadly,  so stop watching negative stuff there is a tsunami of it and you can drown in it. .

 So now you  have created your chunks of gratitude as  emotions , when you need to feel good you  can just feel gratitude emotions  and that e-motion  ( energy -In motion) in you comes out as an inner feeling.. You will notice in  a few days and months you feel a distinct dissolving of “captain negative” as I call it . It gradually shrivels up like a prune in you . But you must  keep at it like you would keep training a dog and use that time and respite  to change your life

Good luck and check out ‘The secret'”

 

Andy – 46