Saturday, 31 December 2016

One more year down

It's hard to believe for me that yet another year has passed. I feel as if it was just recently that I was sitting in the endocrinologist's office, discussing the prospects of surgery for my intersex condition and how to find the right surgeon. That was well over a year ago, though.

Lots of other things happened in between then and now as well, of course. Most noticeable the legal struggle between me and the owner of the apartment which I currently rent. Here I learned again that you don't have to do anything wrong in society to get punished harshly and potentially lose everything.

Early this year I had to pay the big punishment for having the nerve to have my PTSD triggered when other people are being inconsiderate jerks. It wasn't like I could have done anything to prevent the resulting blackout episode or what happened while I was not in control of my mind or body. I should just have listened to those nice doctors at the Amsterdam VUmc gender team and other hospitals when they said that I was just a confused boy who wanted to become a pretty girl.

I leave this year while feeling primarily bitterness because it feels as if in the end everything has to be my fault and I cannot expect safety or security because I deserve punishment, merely because I exist. Such nerve from my side.

This year is also the first year since 2007 that I am not taking any medication, hormones or otherwise. Just my vitamins. My body produces all the (female) hormones which I need now without external help, which makes me somewhat happy. It's great not having to worry about taking those estradiol pills or rubbing the gel on your skin every night. I won't miss having an estradiol overdose either. Regular PMS is bad enough as-is.

Next year the medical circus will continue, starting with a surgeon appointment in February. Hopefully the desired reconstructive surgery will be possible and I won't have to take too long for it to be performed. If this works out, I can have far more easily examined why I have these incredibly painful periods, with severe bloating at the start and horrid pains and discomfort at the end. Maybe by just having the female side opened things will function more normally.

Maybe it's endometriosis as feared, though, and I'm basically screwed as far as fixing the pain goes. Lots of questions still remain there. I still have the faint hope that if I have the surgery that I'll be able to recover in a comfortable house, not in this run-down apartment with its unreasonable owner. After a recent emotional breakdown while searching for a new place it's clear that I physically cannot do that any more.

In many ways I'm so reliant on others. For medical help. For finding a new place. For finding my way through life in a myriad of ways. I don't like it, because of the horrible experiences I have had with people over the past decades. I much prefer to be self-reliant, but this year that seems to have come to an end as well.

Maybe 2017 will turn out fine. Maybe not. It appears that I'm wholly dependent on others for my future at this point. That's not really progress, I guess. It's pretty much inevitable that this would happen after more than a decade of chronic stress and years of chronic physical pain, however.

I pray that a year from now I'll be laughing at how these fears were all for naught, and talk about the impending release of my autobiography. With as bonus feature the happy ending of 2017.

Here's to hoping.


Thursday, 29 December 2016

Mental health: you must, even if you cannot

It'll soon be exactly twelve years since I started looking for help with my back then only suspected intersex condition.

I remember all too well how completely done I was with everything and life in general after only two years of hitting brick walls and dead ends with the Dutch medical system. One night I was chatting with an American friend when I pretty much just broke down. She already knew about my situation, which made me feel that I could open up to her. About how horrible I felt, yet also about how I felt that I could not tell anyone.

"Why not just tell everyone?"

That one question, asked by her, pretty much changed my world. The positive feedback from those who learned about my situation - barely more than strangers - enabled me to make it through the next ten years. With this blog of mine I have been able to put down most of my feelings of frustration, but also of small victories. It's been already over nine years since I started this blog.

What sticks with me the most of the past years is how much of it involved around losing all hope and motivation to live, only to get up and try again. Fall down. Get up. Try again. Fall down. Get up. Try again. Fall down. Get up. Try again.

Over a decade of not giving up. Even when I could not do it any more. Even when I did not want to any more. Even when I would rather want to be dead than continue trying.

Even after I tried to commit suicide and failed, I continued trying. Trying to believe in humans. Trying to believe in myself. Trying to find help. I continued trying because I had to. Because I wanted to. Because I did not have any choice. What else was I going to do?

After twelve years it might finally be working out, depending on next year's results with the new surgeon.

I may have made it. Only at the cost of severe psychological trauma. Forcing myself constantly well past the point of what I could mentally take and suffering countless traumatic experiences at the hands of psychologists, physicians and others have left me in a state where I can barely function in society any more. I have lost the ability to trust others. Every sense of naivety has been beaten out of me.

I'm still hurting inside of what I went through. I'm bleeding inside. I'm a wreck emotionally and psychologically.

And I am being forced to do it all over again.

Some people who are supposed to be my friends, heck, even my own mother keep pushing me to actively seek a new place to move into because of the legal issues with my current apartment which are making me feel suicidally depressed. Seeking a new place requires trusting people. Requires taking risks which may have me end up in an even worse situation than the one I am currently in. I should know, because I have had multiple experiences over the past years where a place I had rented or was about to rent turned out to be absolutely not what was promised.

I do not trust people. I want, no must live somewhere quiet. Somewhere without people. Without worries about people. I hate people so much. They're dangerous. Untrustworthy. Yet I need them. I cannot live without them.

I cannot proceed from where I am currently. There is no way out. I am blocked by my own past. Yet nobody around me can see it. Or understand me. Or help me.

I am hurting so much inside. Hurting more every day. I'm feeling more often suicidally depressed these past months than I have felt since that last suicide attempt. I wish desperately there was a way out. Maybe I have to try to do this on my own again, yet when I take the first few steps towards finding that better place I break down emotionally again, feel terrible, cry and want to hurt myself.

Yet I must. I must. I must. Get up. Try again. Get up. Try again.

I cannot.

I cannot. Not any more.

I want to tear open this skin of mine. Scratch it until it bleeds. Break every bone. Bleed profusely. Become outwardly crippled in some way to match the hurt I feel inside. Maybe then people around me can see and understand. Maybe.

More likely they'll turn away and ignore me. The way they ignore everything which doesn't fit into their tiny, happy worlds with countless small, irrelevant worries. Worries which people like me would love to have. Just those silly little things as part of a boring little life. A life without any real pain.

We are all just left here. Alone in the darkness, with our own pains and worries. Faintly working up the courage to just bloody finally end it all instead of keeping up this charade of appearing happy and okay because it's so not okay to be mentally not well. To have mental problems. To not being capable of making it through a single day but doing it anyway.

Just us here, with our plastic smiles and dead-eyed laughter.

We will continue. Because we must. Because you force us to. Because we cannot live, but cannot die. Because we do not understand any of this yet, but hope we will some day, against our better judgement.

We will be bitterly disappointed.


Monday, 26 December 2016

The boy who really needs to finally die

Now that things are becoming a bit more quiet on the home-eviction front with a capable lawyer on my side and all defences in place, it seems that I can now go back to worrying about the many other things which trouble me. Such as this one person whose existence causes me no shortage of troubles and whose demise I'd gleefully celebrate.

A few decades ago, a boy was born, who grew up and got lost, before finding out that his life up till that point had been a lie; a mere deception created in a Truman Show-like fashion. This boy found out that he had in fact never existed. The end.

I'm not a boy. Never been one. Anyone with a modicum of sense can tell that I'd make for a very poor male specimen. Yet despite of all this, there are still those who insist that my life and that of this boy are one and the same. That I am this boy. That everything which I hold to be true and self-evident is in fact an illusion.

I know that I cannot be this boy, because I am a woman. I have the body of a woman, and all of the monthly joys that come with it. Been able to enjoy those since I was eleven years old along with all of the joyful hormonal fluctuations that are a part of it. Clearly the boy's story isn't about me. Never was. It's a fictional character. Someone who never existed. Who should never have existed.

I do not want this boy to keep existing any more. I can not take it that there are people who keep trying to force this fictional character on me, as if it somehow has got anything to do with me. Hopefully next year will see me undergo the surgery which should finally drive this point home with the reconstruction of the closed-off female side.

I do not know why some insist on trying to force their delusions on me even today. It took me long enough to learn to look past these delusions and see them for what they are. It's already far beyond the point where this boy should have ceased existing. Maybe in two months time I'll have to deal with that again. Maybe not.

Imagine living in a world where part of the people around you will tell you that you're something opposite to that which you know you are. You're not male, you're female. You're not white, you're black, or Asian. You're not tall, but actually really short. Feel the dissonance as you try to unify these two diametrically opposed truths into a singular view of one's self.

I'm a hermaphrodite, but I'm not allowed to be one. Not yet. I want to explore what it means to be... me, but I cannot do so. Not yet.

First the boy has to die.


Saturday, 17 December 2016

The fine line between trauma and simple laziness

How does one deal with something which is intangible yet part of oneself or another person?

This is the question which has plagued anyone affected with mental health issues, who were forced into poverty through forces beyond their control, or otherwise suffer because of the spectre of normalcy.

It's very easy to end up in a situation in one's life where one cannot proceed any further without help from others. Yet to ask help is still a taboo in today's society. Everyone is expected to fight for themselves, and if you cannot keep up it's your own darn fault. Homeless? Just get a job already and rent a place. Jobless? Plenty of jobs around. Feeling depressed? Just cheer up. Feeling suicidal? There's still so much to live for, so stop being silly.

One perception is that people who cannot extract themselves from such a hopeless situation are simply lazy, unmotivated or worse.

I mean, just look at how easy it is to get a job: apply at twenty places, get rejected at 19, get the lowest-paying job out of the lot in the end. Or to find a new place to live in: spend a year or two looking at dozens of places, run into unscrupulous owners, dodgy real-estate agents, hidden fees and defects and see ever place you really wanted go to someone else instead.

And that's for people without mental health issues.

I was and still am incredibly lucky that I came across my current employer who saw the potential in me and supported me far beyond what they were legally required to do. They allowed me get my professional career back on track and gave me a safe space in which I could develop myself as a person and software developer.

Could I have managed something on my own otherwise? I went through about a dozen job interviews in a few months time back in the Netherlands, before landing a job as a backend developer. It wasn't something I wanted to do, and the environment was horribly restrictive. Yet I had to because I needed the money. It was a demotivating experience which left me so traumatised that during the first year that I worked in Germany for my current employer I felt the same sense of terror and forced respect as I had for my bosses at my previous job.

I don't think I would have made it without this help.

Now that I am dealing with the current crisis surrounding my current apartment, having to get a lawyer again and dealing with another potential legal case, I can only feel dread as I think about this place, and the need to find a new place. Not that I didn't try to find alternative places to live the past years among too much time spend on medical issues. They all were given to other people, though, or the owner could not be trusted.

And that's when I hit the limit of compromising.

Last weekend, after looking at yet another place, I fell apart emotionally and mentally in a way which I had never experienced before. This was the point for me when I realised that not only had others basically not grasped what it means to search for a new home for a person with my level of severe traumatic experiences, neither had I.

Talking about it with my psychotherapist a few days ago, the term it came down to was 'compromise'. How my life has been just an endless series of compromises, renewed hope and crushed expectations for year after year after year, in a seemingly endless repetition. As I wrote before, there's no real difference between a doctor and landlord. Both are people you need, people who preside over your happiness and joy in life and who can crush both without a care in the world.

I cannot deal mentally, emotionally or even physically any more with the stress of finding medical help for my intersex condition. I am completely reliant on the help of others at this point, in particular my psychotherapist, my endocrinologist and gynaecologist.

Finding a new home taps into the same drained energy reserves. Finding a new home is something which has many traumatic memories for me, including eviction, suicide, domestic violence and abuse, etc. To look for a new place is to open myself to reliving those traumas, suffering new ones and worst of all slipping into suicidal depressions like last weekend.

I really wish that I could put better into words what I am trying to say here, but words fail me.

My point is basically that even if you cannot see it on the outside of a person, they can still be injured inside. You'd not force a person with a broken leg to walk. Similarly you wouldn't force someone with severe mental trauma to repeat the same experience again. It just won't end well.

What I have to come to terms with is that I need a new home, but I cannot look for it myself, or risk harming myself horribly due to the emotional destabilisation that would cause. This means that I have to rely 100% on others.

I wish I was just being lazy. I could use a horribly dull and boring life. It would be awesome.


Sunday, 11 December 2016

A safe and warm place.

I really want to leave Germany.

That's one of the thoughts I find myself struggling with today. After initially waking up this morning with the same migraine as yesterday, and the same horribly negative thoughts, including the strong feeling that I'd make a horrible mistake by moving into the place I looked at yesterday.

After trying for a while, I managed to fall asleep again despite the migraine, and woke up a while later with the migraine having subsided again. I managed to get out of bed, feeling very sick and weak, as well as very depressed. I found myself just sitting in front of my computer, trying to distract myself with YouTube videos, but feeling sick, nauseous and unable to really focus on anything.

It wasn't until I started talking with some friends on IRC that I began to feel better. Clearly it was a stress-induced migraine, and the source of the stress is absolutely related to my current living situation. Everything just feels wrong there. I don't feel safe, or comfortable. As I said on Twitter today, it's this feeling of 'me versus the world'. The dissonance of me struggling with something that keeps pushing me into a suicidal depression, while everyone else around me seems to not really care at all.

Nobody but these friends, who all live outside Germany.

It makes me want to move to where those friends live. I should maybe have stayed in Canada. Maybe I should have risked moving to Australia. Here in Germany I'm basically alone, fighting my own battles just like in the Netherlands. That's how it feels at least.

I have given up on the thought of buying a house here in Germany. It's too expensive, too much hassle and in the end I do not think that I'll stay in Germany much longer. Maybe it's just me being irrational and expecting life to be so much better in another country. Maybe it's just longing for this 'safe and warm place' which I mentioned in a Quora answer today [1].

In the end I just don't know. When I try to think of my situation, or what I can do or should do, my head just starts hurting, I feel nauseous and the migraine returns. I also cannot seem to stop crying since yesterday. I just don't know.

Rather than moving into a better place and improving my life, I fear that all of this is instead pushing myself so far out of my comfort zone and so far into unreasonable stress that I will just end up taking my own life to end the incredible pain. The urge to flee to another country is part of this as well. I want a way out, no matter what the cost.



Saturday, 10 December 2016

Isn't letting me do this by my own irresponsible?

After spending the past hours in bed, trying to sleep and failing courtesy of the migraine and thoughts churning through my head, I finally got to a state where I felt calm and pain-free enough to get out of bed and assess the damage.

In hindsight forcing myself to try and cook dinner despite the migraine and feeling clearly aggravated wasn't the best of ideas, judging by the first ever damage to the kitchen counter. I vaguely recall me slamming something heavy into it, like a cutting board for whatever godforsaken reason. I also seem to have bruises all over my body again. Physical pain to deal with emotional pain, I guess.

I'm not sure whether to ascribe such moments to PTSD or the Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) with which I have also been diagnosed. That I can still vaguely recall what my body did, but without recollection of the reasoning behind it is mostly confusing and worrying.

I am guessing that this sudden breakdown was due to the pent-up stress of the past weeks, with today's viewing of what's supposed to be my ticket out of this current run-down apartment as what was supposed to be a turning point. Maybe my expectations and hopes were simply too high.

Not that there was anything really wrong with the new place... just some poorly thought out choices with a very small kitchen in a large (95 square meter) apartment, which led to there being no place for a microwave, as well as a bathroom with no place for a regular sized washing machine. Annoying, but manageable.

Having to answer questions today about my work, current apartment, financial status, justifying going for such a large apartment (anything smaller is impossible to get, pretty much), and so on was probably the last trigger, resulting in the total breakdown once I got home.

All of it does make me wonder in how far I am capable of managing my own life at this point when what are annoying but manageable things come on my path. Maybe it's been those decades of figuring out and dealing with the abuse I suffered for my intersex condition which caused just too much trauma. Maybe that's what's making it almost impossible for me to deal with any of this, and only at the cost of further traumatising myself.

I wish more than anything that someone would come along and handle this for me. Just to shield me from the worst. Get me to a place where I can feel safe and secure, without having to worry about whether I made the right choice. I hope that I can hand off the legal issues with my current place to the support organisation with whom I signed up and talked with this week.

Beyond that... I have to carefully consider what's more important at this point: moving at any cost, or taking my mental health as priority.


Existing vs living vs happiness

This week a lot of things happened. I contacted another surgeon after a friend told me about him and his skills with reconstructive surgeries. After an initial hopeful response from the surgeon himself, I then made an appointment with the clinic, only to be told that the first spot is in July of next year. That's months after I have an appointment with this first surgeon. This was very disappointing.

I also got offered a new apartment I might possibly want to rent, courtesy of my employers as the apartment owner is a former employee. It's larger and more expensive again than my current place, but after viewing it today it's newly renovated and has a built-in kitchen (a rarity in Germany).

It's more room than I need, and I would love to spend less on rent, but finding something else in this city of Karlsruhe is basically impossible within a reasonable timespan. Especially now that I have the owner of my current apartment breathing down my neck. Even though I have done nothing wrong, legally, I'm still forced to leave.

Yesterday I talked with my lawyer about this situation of the building owner wanting to have me evicted and pay full rent over the past three years despite never having fixed all of the issues initially reported or those reported later. Essentially the best way is to protect myself and my possessions by cancelling the rental contract myself and move out. After that there's just the legal wrangling about those back payments which could still cost me many thousands of Euros.

Moving thus is inevitable, and urgent.

After returning home earlier, I found myself collapsing emotionally along with a severe migraine, presumably from the stress involved. Worries about making the wrong choices, about throwing my money away. Stresses about having to justify my decisions, choices and current status in society. Years of dealing with unscrupulous landlords, doctors, psychologists and kin have pretty much fully traumatised me in that respect. Why expect anything better?

I also know that this new apartment isn't where I want to be living for the next ten years, even if I could. It's just another temporary place for a number of years. Basically it doesn't change that I'll keep looking for where I want to settle and live. Where I can be happy.

I'm not sure I'll ever feel happy or relaxed. When I'm at work I feel reasonably happy and relaxed, as well as when I'm at the local hackerspace, but dealing with everything else outside it is pretty much just a confirmation of the hostility of human society. I prefer to forget that I have a body, that it needs a place to live, eat and sleep. That I do not control my own life or body.

I guess I'll see where life steers me next.


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Being good just makes you into a punching bag

After yesterday's highly unpleasant lawyer letter, threatening me with eviction and the forced payment of large sums of money, I sent a response back, highlighting that the building owner has not seen fit to fix the outstanding issues in the apartment. The response I got from the lawyer was brief: the owner believes that everything has been fixed, has the bills from repairmen to show for it, and that I should be paying up and moving out as soon as possible.

Only problem with that is that there never was any feedback from me, or communication from the owner's side about the issues being fixed and the reduction in rent being discontinued. This leads to the stance where I can easily point out the remaining issues in the place (rusty water, poor insulation, noisy heating system, lack of sound insulation with neighbours), and where the owner insists there are no more issues, or as her representative put it: "It's an old building, those things are normal."

Long story short, I have to get that lawyer ASAP, who will hopefully make short work of this matter. I have also registered with an organisation for those who rent their apartment, house, etc. and contacted them. Hopefully they'll be able to advise me as well.

Meanwhile I have applied for the first new apartment. If I get it, I'd be able to move next month. From the description it sounds pretty decent. It's a 1970s building, but fully renovated (my current place just had the windows renewed, poorly). It's even a little bit larger than my current place and should be very comfortable. Keeping my fingers crossed there.

Of course I'm still looking for new apartments/houses to rent in or near Karlsruhe. Same search parameters still apply: roughly 80 square meters, quiet, and some place for my bicycle as well as cable connection (for internet).  Please let me know if you know of anything there that's with a reputable owner.

Moving on, this whole thing definitely brings back a whole lot of unpleasant memories and thoughts. Once again I'm being accused of being something which I am not, through no fault of my own. I'm again left wondering what it is that people have against me, and then the nagging doubt of whether it isn't actually me after all who is the problem. Maybe I'm just thinking that I can manage this 'adult' thing but I'm in reality screwing up everything.

I spent over a decade 'debating' with physicians and psychologists whether I was just a feminine-looking boy, a male to female transsexual, intersex, crazy, delusional (actual phrase used by a psychologist), or just obsessed with proving that I was right. If it's often simply impossible to prove that your own, physical body is what it is and not what they say it is, then how does one deal with more abstract matters?

When years of such psychological (and physical) abuse finally took their toll and I blacked out in what was likely a dissociative identity disorder-related episode, I was blamed for the damage to a number of objects in that waiting room, even though I never wilfully chose to damage them, or was even aware of it. Yet how does one prove DID, or PTSD? You cannot measure it (except with fMRI scans, probably), or see it, only say with a reasonable degree of certainty that the person who claims to have PTSD, or DID blackouts, is telling the truth.

In essence, I got blamed for over a decade for everything bad that was inflicted on me, from the attitude of doctors and psychologists. My attitude was wrong, the German medical conclusions were mistaken, I was just being obsessed with the thing, I should admit the doctors were right and live my life as the guy I am. And so on. The disciplinary case I brought against the Amsterdam VUmc gender team was dismissed because they had 'done nothing wrong' in their assessment of me, this even after the first surgery in Germany and my legal gender change on the basis of being a hermaphrodite.

What have I really done wrong? I always stuck to the rules, followed the advice of professionals unless my own research made me question it. By the end of 2007 I was dealing with two completely conflicting medical conclusions, between me being a regular guy, or a hermaphrodite. Who wouldn't want to get the real answer there? Could anyone live with such uncertainty? Is it wrong to keep asking questions?

A while ago I had a collection agency after me because I supposedly hadn't paid Ikea for a delivery. That turned out to be fully Ikea's fault because they had never communicated to me that the automated withdrawal from my bank account had failed, because the delivery guy hadn't written down my information properly. Instead they sent me a bill and follow-up requests for money without further explanation, never responding to my emails to support. There the collection agency admitted this, Ikea admitted this, and I just had to pay the original amount. Their fault, their mea culpa, everything was fine in the end.

I'm hoping that something like that will happen here too. I am not aware of me having done anything wrong and from the (professional) advice I have received so far it does indeed appear that the fault lies solidly with the building's owner. Of course, my experience of being right and getting proven right is somewhat sketchy based on those previous experiences. The fear which keeps eating away at me is that despite being right, I'll still have to pay a lot of money, get evicted and have this marked on some permanent file, making it a nightmare to ever rent again.

Being the 'good guy' has to be pretty much symbolic with 'taking everything the less scrupulous throw at one', while only smiling and staying polite during the process. When one sees what others can get away with, it does make one wonder whether it truly pays to be good and whether the 'dark side' isn't really way more fun.

On the other hand, I think I'd make for a terrible villain.


Friday, 2 December 2016

Getting kicked out of apartment and hating myself

So today I got a letter from a lawyer, courtesy of my landlady. I have no idea how things ended up like this, but she seems to think that I'm simply not paying the full rent, despite multiple warnings, and that the rental contract was already cancelled in September. Maybe the contact person at the company who handles the communication never passed on (truthful) information to the owner. Maybe she is ignoring the broken things in the apartment. Maybe... I don't know.

At any rate I need to get a lawyer right away to handle this for me. If anyone knows of one here in Karlsruhe, please do let me know.

The worst thing about this all is not the prospect of losing my belongings and becoming homeless again. I have been there before and it sucks, but once you're at the bottom the only way is up. No, the worst thing is the feeling of failure. Why I cannot just find a new place, why I didn't find a new place during the nearly three years that I live in this place which I hate so much. What is wrong with me that I ignore something so crucial.

Of course, these legal threats against me shouldn't have happened as I have tried to follow the law to the letter to the best of my abilities, but that doesn't excuse my failure to just goddarn do something useful. It seems like all I have done these past years has been whining and moping and not improving my situation.

Yes, figuring out my situation at work took time and effort. Yes, figuring out a medical solution to my intersex condition has swallowed up a lot of time and energy ever since I moved to Germany. But I should have done something, anything, to ensure that I would not end up in a situation like this.

I still want to just buy a house, as I'm sick of dealing with landlords and kin after basically only negative experiences. I should do something now, but at the thought of actually, actively doing something about this I just collapse emotionally. I do not think I can do this by myself. Last time I tried it - a few months ago - I nearly got scammed out of my money by an untrustworthy landlady. I'm not eager to repeat that. I want to improve my situation, but it's all just too much.

At this point I have to admit that I cannot do this by myself. The emotional pain I feel currently again is so much that I do not feel that it's worth to continue living. There is no way out. Not without help, and everybody and everything seems to be against me.

If anyone who cares about me reads this, please help?

I don't want to die, but I cannot live like this =/