Monday, 23 January 2017

Analysing a shattered psyche

I am not well. I am not fine, or even 'okay'. In fact, I am only capable of functioning in society in a limited manner.

This may seem surprising to many who'll just see a person who is physically and mentally healthy, capable of carrying out a full-time job as a software developer with a healthy interest in other subjects and no obvious handicaps or limitations. So what's the problem?

Much as I have been saying for the past months, I am not capable of finding a new place for myself. Nor am I capable of handling medical contacts and communications myself any more. In the lawsuit against me, by the current owner of the apartment which I currently rent, this has become painfully obvious as well and forms the basis for my lawyer seeking to provide me with all the time I need to find a better place to move into.

It's not just sources of stress either. I cannot trust people. I struggle with feelings of being inadequate, of not being capable of dealing with life, and worst of all frequent thoughts of death and dying. It feels as though at times I can still kind of gather myself together and feel almost normal and happy, only to fall apart again soon after.

Tomorrow I'll be talking with my psychotherapist again about this, as we put together the formal documentation needed by the court. It helps me that I am not alone in this, that I have a supportive lawyer and psychotherapist who I think at least somewhat understand my plight. That I'm not just making things up because I'm a lazy, unreliable bastard. Or something.

The past time more and more memories are returning. Memories of events and things which I had forgotten about, because they aren't pleasant to think about. I guess the memory block which had formed over the past decades keeps dissolving, allowing me to recall increasingly more of my past. I guess this is both a positive and negative thing. Maybe I'll remember something of this person who I supposedly first met in high school and who later contacted me again. Maybe I'll remember what happened to me when I was not even six years old which led to me suddenly turning quiet and reclusive.

When I observe myself breaking apart emotionally over the past months any time I'm confronted with a source of stress it's not hard to miss the obvious fractures in my psyche. It's easy to point to the parts over the past decade where I suffered physical, sexual and psychological abuse and the impact this had. It's also easy to suggest that maybe I suffered sexual abuse as a child, just like my one year older cousin who ultimately couldn't go on with living. Yet the damage to my psyche is deeper and more severe than just those simple and distinct points.

I feel betrayed and violated by humanity and my environment in ways I cannot even begin to comprehend or understand, let alone communicate with others. Even as a teenager I had this deep-rooted feeling that something was amiss, then when I tried to find help with my giftedness and later my intersex condition things got unimaginably worse.

If I were to start with summarising what I think is all right in this world and with me, I think it'd be just anything to do with science, technology and reason. Anything to do with emotion, feelings and related - such as sexuality - is just this pulsating black mass of pure evil. Humans are mostly evil. Humans frighten and terrify me.

My online personality is that of a fluffy, innocent kitten. Who also happens to be interested in science and technology. I wish to flee into this world of innocence and hope. A world without negativity and where I do not have to be confronted with the parts of my psyche which I feel are at this point irreparably fractured. I can never heal to the point where I can be a functional adult human. Heck, I never was a functional human child.

I need an escape. Somewhere safe and quiet to rest and recuperate where I can focus on just these positive things in the world as I contemplate the rest. Maybe I can still heal. Maybe things can work out.

Maybe I can learn to trust humans again.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Emotion Sickness

Today I first saw the new place the local hackerspace will be moving into next month. It left me with mixed feelings. I have known the current rooms for nearly four years now, ever since I first visited Karlsruhe for work in early 2013. It's a very comfortable and quiet attic area, with a lot of good memories for me and many others.

There's the hope that the new place will be equally as good if not better, but looking at the construction area that's the new place it's hard to imagine. One's mind keeps comparing the two and part of oneself insists that it'll be the end of something good. That it's a mistake. It's a very similar feeling to what I go through when I look at a new place to live in.

For me this hackerspace is somewhat of a home, much like the office where I work at. They're places where I feel at home, where I like to be.

I do not like the negativity around seeking a new place and a new home. I do not like hearing people talk about lawyers, taxes and regulations. I want life to be simple and fun. I want people to be happy and joyful. I want people to be nice and friendly with each other.

I am so sick of the darkness and bleakness in the world. I do not wish to be reminded of death and mortality. I want to feel that life is worth living, yet there's so much which reminds me that it's pretty much all futile anyway. Just a futile struggle to find that home that does not exist. To find a place where one is happy only to have mortality take it all away again.

I want to feel like I am doing all of this for a reason, but I don't know what reason that may be.

All that I feel is this incredible pain inside as I convince myself to continue for just a little bit longer until it feels okay again. Until the next time that the world feels distorted and bleak again.

I hope that I can make it through this year somewhat okay, yet at times like these I very much doubt I will.

*physically hurts self again in order to just feel something*


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Trauma and our blurred perception of the world

Perception is what shapes the world for each of us. It's our interpretation and assigning of value to parts of the world around us. Just how we perceive the world is coloured by our experiences and thus also any traumatic experiences we have gone through.

As I'm typing this I know that I'm trapped, doomed to a horrible death of which only the details are missing, yet it's a death which will be drawn out and horrific.

I also know that nothing of that is true. Not at this point in my life at least. I know it to be just a collection of feelings, flashbacks and sensation of terror originating in my post-traumatic stress disorder. Having been there in that situation once. Having experienced those terrors for real have made it into reality.

Yet I am trapped in this prison cell. It has a small television built into the wall with a few channels on it, showing pictures of a world I can only dream of. A world in which people live their lives, have fun, fall in love, making friends, get to feel relaxed and bored, and enjoy themselves. I have a small shelf with a few books and other knick-knacks which I treasure and which keep me somewhat from going insane.

I occasionally get taken out of this cell for more beatings and interrogations, even if I do not know or understand why they keep doing this. I don't know anything. I just want to escape. Live a life like I have seen on TV.

I remember living a life like that, many years ago as a child. But that was a different life and a different person. Now a room and an apartment isn't a home, but just another prison cell. Moving apartments is just being relocated to a different cell block.

Freedom is one of those things people like to use a lot. Happiness, too. I barely even know what these words mean any more. At the very least my own association with them is what one feels when one manages to ignore the daily beatings and pain. A temporary, blissful moment of ignorance.

Even though I am often aware of the way my PTSD distorts and colours the world around me, I do have to admit to there also being very good reasons both for me thinking this way and for me being traumatised. Human society is one of the most cruel and unforgiving environments humanity has created for itself, outperforming its world wars and making nature look like a petting zoo.

I guess I have to keep living like this. Because I have to. Because.

Why again?


Friday, 6 January 2017

Thoughts on Brave New World

'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley is one of those classics, must-have-read type of books, along with Fahrenheit 451, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, Catch-22 and others. They're books which portray a world which is a dystopian version of our own world, taking elements from it and showing us a world which 'could also be'.

I first read Brave New World many years ago, and the story didn't really stick with me. So after working my way through those other classics last year, I decided to refresh my knowledge of Brave New World by reading it again. In conclusion, while not a bad story by any means, it nevertheless fails to reach the depths required to make the world it describes as tangible or realistic. This is a shame.

The book portrays a 'utopian dystopian' world, a world in which nobody has to ever feel sad, distraught or bad about anything any more. Through the means of careful genetic selection and the growing of humans specifically bred for a specific purpose and copious amounts of entertainment - not in the least through the use of 'soma', a type of recreational drug which erases all worries - as well as the elimination of sex for procreation, conflict is eliminated.

This carefully balanced world is upset when an individual from one of the Savage Reservations - where people still live according to the rules of the old world - is introduced to this seemingly utopian society. Chaos ensues, leading up to a confrontation where the reasoning behind the whole system is revealed. In essence it's the only way humanity could live in harmony, ergo it's for the good of the people.

What somewhat annoys me is that when one is used to a book like Animal Farm, or Nineteen Eighty-Four - both by George Orwell - the world of Brave New World does never truly feel alive. In Nineteen Eighty-Four one can almost feel the world and experience it. It's a grimy, gritty experience, easily visualised and imagined. There are no real gaps left in the story-telling and the end result is that of a crushing sense of defeatism and acceptance of the inevitable in the final scene.

No such thing with Brave New World. The concept could have worked, but it's all too light, too fleeting and distant. More of a glimpse at this world, but not enough time to truly explore and understand it. This sadly leads to an underwhelming experience.

That said, I do agree with the general premise of the book and it's utopian dystopian view of the world is spot-on when looking at today's world. Even if not implemented as described in the book, the end result is fairly similar. Recreational drug use is everywhere, as is casual sexuality. Everywhere is cheap entertainment and there is never any necessity to contemplate the world if one does not want to.

That is, unless one falls outside of this system. Those who cannot accept the status quo. Those who wish to bring freedom and justice to themselves and others. Those who cannot just accept society the way it is.

In that sense we live in a similar dystopia as in Brave New World. Yet it's also like the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Both stories - both worlds - are essentially the same, with some differences in how order and peace is accomplished, yet order and peace are there and will remain. No matter the cost.

Are they terrible worlds? The people in them are generally happy and there are few things to worry about, except on the battle lines between the three countries that remain in Nineteen Eighty-Four. If only one can accept the world the way it is.

The way I see it, both books are not about what people generally perceive them to be: commentaries on the threats of mass-entertainment, mass-surveillance, genetic engineering, etc. Instead they provide us with a mirror of the human mind in all its self-absorbed, easily entertained and distracted glory. They are more of a reminder that how easily subverted the human mind is to accept something is ultimately harmful to themselves and the rest of society.

They also provide a chilling reminder of what happens when one dares to go in against popular opinion, or the opinion of those in charge. It's a look back - and forward - on totalitarian regimes, who whisked opponents away to 'colonies' or labour camps, to be an outcast, re-educated or simply be worked to death.

In that sense Nineteen Eighty-Four did what Brave New World somewhat failed to do, even though the latter did something the former did not: provide a glimpse of a world in which one might actually want to live. None but members of the Party would truly want to live in the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, whereas the world of Brave New World would be an easy match for many members of today's society for whom it'd be only the slightest of changes.

Maybe that's why in the end Brave New World has the more chilling world, as it's one we as a society would be all too eager to slip into, not realising the consequences as we surrender every last trace of what ultimately makes us human, or simply not caring about such trivial matters before embracing the warm comfort of ignorance.


First dream about being a hermaphrodite

Last night I had the first dream in which I knew that I was a hermaphrodite. That may sound weird considering that I have known that I am intersex for nearly twelve years now, and a hermaphrodite since the first MRI scan in late 2007. The only dream (or rather nightmare) that somewhat came close was one in which I was lying on a surgery table, unable to move at first, while doctors talked about how they'd 'fix me'.

Last night's dream was different. I remember walking through a hallway, up some stairs and coming across this group of people who I apparently knew. I felt pretty much the way I feel when awake, only far more relaxed and self-assured. While talking with this group of people I suddenly clutched my abdomen in pain, doubling over. A woman in the group then told me whilst smiling that that was also part of being a hermaphrodite. They were just menstruation pains, after all.

This dream felt good. Relaxed. Comfortable.

That it took so long to have a dream like that in which I could just be myself is probably because society still doesn't allow people like me to be ourselves. We intersex people do not exist, officially. None of us are registered as such when we're born, but instead we have to live fake lives with fake identities. I may finally get medical help this year, or maybe not, again.

I really hope that this dream can become reality some day for me, and others like me.

It would be nice to not have to escape into our dreams for it.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Too terrified to feel anything

Two days ago I was led to believe that I could maybe rent this apartment in the city, providing an easy way out of my current situation of living in a run-down apartment from which the owner actively tries to evict me. On Monday I received the notification from the local court that it's now an official legal case against me.

Today I learned that getting this new apartment is anything but a certainty, as it'll have to be decided by a real-estate agent, making it impossible for the current tenant to just put me forward as the next tenant. Naturally this was rather disappointing.

The sensation I feel throughout all of this is one of terror. When pushing myself to figure things out and find a solution the terror is accompanied by nausea, ultimately resulting in a migraine, an intense feeling of dissociation and strong depressive (suicidal) thoughts.

There's nothing about any of this which invites me to feel anything. It's better to not feel anything. To not care. Nothing good comes from allowing my emotional side to have a say in anything. All I must focus on is survival, for which emotions and feelings are a liability.

After more than a decade of moving around the world, not having a home or place to settle down, of dealing with physical, psychological and sexual abuse, domestic violence and losing all my money and possessions, of losing any sense of self and interest in my own body, it's now all reaching a point where I feel as if I can no longer compensate any more.

I'm used to suppressing anything bad in my life, of looking on the bright side. That's how I got through the past decades. I'd always ignore anything bad which happened to me. From getting bullied in primary school through high school, from having my very existence and sanity questioned by doctors and psychologists, to the questioning of whether there is a place for me in this world.

At this point I'm left to wonder whether I have any true friends left who can help me. Whether anyone will, or even can help me. Rationally I know it all won't be that bad, with me not having done anything wrong with my current apartment, making an actual eviction very unlikely, but that's the rational side of the story.

After more than a decade of feeling like an outcast, of feeling actively hated, of having stalkers haunt my every move, of having to justify my existence against 'specialists, and so on, I just keep expecting the next bad thing to suddenly reach me.

Maybe it's a sudden letter in my mailbox, or an email, or a phone call. Who knows. I spend every day fighting off waves of irrational terror, trying to reason myself through it by assuring myself that things aren't that bleak and reminding myself of what I think will be the more likely course of events.

It's all just an assumption and best guess, of course. Rarely does anything for which I hope also occur. Dealing with severe disappointments and crawling out of very deep emotional throughs is basically all that I have done these past years.

Not that I want to, of course. Lately the memory block seems to be dissolving somewhat, causing me to more and more strongly and clearly remember things of my teenage years and youth, even as I can feel that many memories are still blocked.

Among those memories are many of a youth which, despite the problems back then, was quite peaceful and happy. Mostly thanks to my mother who allowed me to do things my way, even when my dad was far less understanding.

Compared to those memories this world I live in today seems rather hostile and hateful in comparison. I don't want any of this. I want a world in which everybody is happy and nobody has an ugly thing to say about anyone else.

Maybe it's because I have seen so many horrible and disgusting things over the past decades that I am so tired of seeing the same terrible acts and negativity repeated over and over again. It just seems that humanity makes life unnecessarily hostile for itself.

When people cannot find a place to live. Cannot find a job, or proper healthcare. When they are not respected or tolerated as a person, or never taught to respect themselves. All of those are terrible things. I am painfully aware that it's not just me who is dealing with such things, and that saddens me even more.

If so many others are also suffering despite doing their utmost to improve their situation, then what point is there to me trying to improve mine? Is there anything which I can do? Is there a way that I can ever feel happy, or just optimistic again?

I do not want to believe that this world, this society is just a collection of desperately unhappy individuals with plastic smiles, who are ruled over by rich, uncaring and ultimately also unhappy people. Yet that's what I am seeing: humanity as a tragicomedy.

Maybe this year will be when I can regain at least something of what I felt as a child and teenager. Maybe it's lost forever.

Regardless of what happens, the innocence and naive optimism which I felt back then will not ever return. That in itself is perhaps the real tragedy here.


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.