In 2014 my life had reached crisis point. I was having to work long hours, and finding it utterly exhausting, but the biggest issue I was facing was my gender dysphoria, which was leading to bouts of depression. I realised that I was struggling to cope with everything alone, and decided to seek some counselling.
I began searching online, but unfortunately, counsellors with experience of gender dysphoria, are few and far between. There was however, one who looked promising, and that was Patti Holden. I read Patti’s website ‘Shellsong’ with great interest, and discovered that she practiced Gestalt therapy. Although the term didn’t mean anything to me at the time, she seemed empathic and caring, and so I decided to make contact.
As it turned out Gestalt is a talk therapy, and that was just what I was looking for. Furthermore, Patti had a wide range of counselling experience, including gender dysphoria, and from our first meeting I knew I had picked the right person.
In the beginning I felt awkward about opening up to a relative stranger, about something I had felt embarrassed about and kept suppressed for years, however Patti was very supportive and non-judgemental, and I soon felt confident discussing all my worries with her. Initially I attended my appointments in my male persona, but Patti encouraged me to let the real me out, and I began to attend as Catherine whenever it was possible.
After a few months of seeing Patti, I realised that I needed to transition and live full-time As a woman, or I would never be at peace with myself. Unfortunately I was still lacking the courage to come out at work and to my family, afraid of what the consequences may be. Patti was always supportive and encouraging, and through discussion, eventually helped me to overcome my fears, and tell everyone that I intended to live full-time as Catherine.
Not long afterwards I did transition fully, and continued to see Patti, for both support and advice. In early 2018 I had my sexual reassignment surgery at Brighton Nuffield hospital, and without Patti’s help I’m not sure I would have ever achieved this goal.
My life has been considerably enriched by my decision to choose Patti Holden as my counsellor.