Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The countless branches of the future

Today I signed the form that terminates my current employment contract effective end of this year. Tomorrow I'll be registering as officially looking for a job, to ensure that I'll receive a monthly amount in the case that I haven't found alternate employment by the beginning of next year. How things will go from here is something that's basically up to however is judging my job application at those businesses where I applied at.

One company at which I applied and which is also based here in the city would be a natural fit, as they are looking for a senior C++ developer, with experience in automotive technology, both of which applies to me. Ideally I'd be invited to a job interview there, ace it, and get a job offer. That'd immediately end most of my current uncertainty and allow me to breathe a sigh of relief that my income is secure, I dodged months of bureaucracy at the jobs office, and I'd be working at a company of which I know that it's good for its employees.

In an alternate reality, I would fail the job interview, or not even receive an invitation. Ditto for the other companies where I applied at. The search for a new job would drag on, even as the deadline for welfare would draw closer. Moving to a new place would be the least of my concerns. This is the future where I would become increasingly more unhappy and depressed. Even with intensive psychotherapy this would be my definition of 'hell'.

There are many more futures imaginable, and it's impossible to tell what will happen these coming weeks and months. It's also pointless, as things will happen the way they happen, and all you can do is do your best every single day.

Of course there's a lot weighing in my favour, including my current resume (as found on my personal site) and my general level of experience. That gives me at least some comfort. But no certainty. That will have to come from others. All I can do is wait.

And regardless of what happens next, there will forever be the memories of my old employer. The offices I worked out, and some of the great people who I'll sorely miss. The memories of games we played together, whether billiard, Playstation 2 or GameCube games. The save files still stored on those systems for games which I'll never finish there. Projects which I was involved in for improving the office which now suddenly have lost all relevance to me.

I hope that soon I can make new awesome memories at a new company.


Saturday, 11 November 2017

A dream or being awake: same difference

I was on my way to my family doctor to make an appointment. Making my way through the hallways of what looked like those of a sci-fi-looking space station, I could see the GP office's entrance when I made the discovery that I could feel something weird in my groin. A quick check revealed that my testicles had regrown. This made me feel both unsettled and happy, as though unexpected, it would help me make the point towards the doctor that my body was doing weird stuff and that I would need help, stat.

Sitting myself down at a nearby table with the laptop which I was carrying with me, a waitress commented how great it was that one can look up information everywhere these days. I was readying to investigate what Google et al. would have to say about this phenomenon of organs which had been removed before suddenly regrowing by themselves. Then the scene shifted.

I was in a similar location as before, but with more large windows, with light pouring in. Some other people were there. I talked with one of them about a package that was lying in front of him on the table. It turned out to contain a brand-new Commodore 64, which he didn't want any more because it used the newer type of power plug. I said that I would gladly have it.

I was lying in my bed, suppressing feelings of terror and general fear and discomfort at the thought of all that is coming my way the coming weeks. Whether I'll be okay. Also the realisation of needing to sleep more. That sleep is essential if I want to get through those weeks at all.

I was walking through this shopping mall, admiring the fruit and vegetables that was put out. After a bit of walking I came to what seemed like a real-life demo for a video game. It had me walking into this room that had like a hill in it, everything with a slightly purple tint to it. Walking up the steps carved into the side of the hill, I got to a section with a wall that I could walk in front of. Walking to the right side, there was a section of the wall that I could take off, with a carving of a goat.

Next to this carving was a bit of netting stuck across the opening of a cave, inside of which I could hear a goat. Tearing the netting away allowed the goat and another animal that was inside to get out.

I was lying in my bed, nursing bad pains and numbness on the right side of my body. Getting out of the bed, I got some diclofenac gel to put on the worst part the pain, namely on my right hip. I noticed that I could barely walk from the pain, and was on the verge of crying because the pain was so bad.

After making breakfast and taking an ibuprofen I began to feel better. Donning headphones to block out any environmental noises helped even more. I'm assuming that I am awake at this point. Not because I'm typing this, but because I'm feeling cold and uncomfortable. I cannot recall ever having felt that in a dream.

Dreams are better, I think.


Friday, 10 November 2017

Take it one day at a time

It's all too easy to get overwhelmed by life. With medical, job and other issues piling up it quickly feels as if it's too much to all handle. Most of this feeling is caused by trying to look too far ahead. One cannot predict what things will be like a month from now, or one week, or tomorrow, for that matter.

Yesterday was a rather interesting day. I suddenly got a request for an interview by a journalist for USA Today, about the third gender thing in Germany [1]. It pleases me that journalist are still able to find me. Sometimes it's easy to feel invisible as an intersex person. Today I discussed the topic of my medical situation with my therapist along with the issue of finding a gynaecologist who might be able to deal with a situation like mine.

So far I have tried to contact a few people who might know a gynaecologist like this, but received no response yet. The suggestion of contacting the hospital directly doesn't seem to be an option, as one needs a referral from a gynaecologist. Catch-22 there. I guess this is one situation where it would be so incredibly much easier to be jusst a regular woman, I guess. Any tips would be most welcome here.

I also sent out a couple more emails along with my resume to a number of companies yesterday. Today I received a response from one of them (Microchip), informing me that they have received my application and will handle it as soon as possible. I'm hopeful that I'll soon be asked to come in for a job interview. Based on my interest in both hardware and software development, I think that such a company might be a good fit for me.

Beyond all of this all I can do is do my best the coming weeks. Do my best at my current job finishing up the climate control automation project and documenting it fully. Receive this engineer the end of this month along with my lawyer as my apartment is inspected for the claimed defects in the eviction case. Go to Bern, Switzerland a few days later to apply for an extension to my Dutch passport at the embassy there so that I'm set on that point until 2027.

Then wait to see what gets concluded in the eviction case, see how those job applications work out and hopefully get both sorted in a positive way. Find a new place to live around here, or maybe relocate to elsewhere in Germany or another country. At this point it's impossible to say which way things will go, or what my life will look like one, two, or three months from now. Whether I'll finally live in a place which I like and feel more comfortable in my skin.

Got to wait and see. Even if the waiting almost feels impossible.


[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/11/08/germany-must-allow-third-gender-option-registry-births-court-rules/843799001/

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Monsters inside your own head

I have always felt drawn to video games such as Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and films and series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Saishuuheiki Kanojo, Interlude, Kanon and Zegapain. Not so much for the horror, survival or action aspects, but mostly for the general theme of uncovering the truth through a haze of delusions, lies and deceptions. A journey which will inevitably lead to the harshest of realities.

Maybe it's because my life has felt like it carries a similar theme. From discovering that everything that I thought I knew about my body was a lie, to finding out the horrible truth about what was supposed to have been a care-free childhood. It makes one wonder how one can so successfully and fully deceive oneself. Or rather, how one's mind manages this.

Everything we experience is merely an interpretation, filtered through our memories, past experiences and biases. What I am finding is that I never managed to actually grow up. Intellectually, sure, but emotionally I never did. There was just this terrified child, shivering and trembling in that silent, dark room, always trying to forget the feeling of those hands groping around its body. Never more than that child.

But one has to grow up one day. One just has to find a way to stop being that child. To give those absolute horrors that were inflicted upon an innocent life a place. To accept that one's life did not end there, in that room. To banish those monsters, that darkness that feeds upon one's fears and terrors.

To accept reality, no matter how harsh. There is no escape. There is only the truth.

Embrace it. Accept the pain. Tolerate the suffering. Life is pain, suffering, agony, hatred and rage. Life is gentleness, a caring gesture... love?

To see the whole of reality. Of life. Of death. Of darkness and light, and the inevitability that comes with it. Joyful laughter drowned in screams of agony. A colourful flower blooming on a fresh grave. A birth. A wedding. A funeral. All gone in the blink of an eye, to start anew again, and again. The insignificance of a single life, and yet the incomprehensible preciousness of one. Until the universe ceases to be and everything is gone.

Is reality too much for a single mind to take in? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Only one way to find out. Beyond that silent, dark room. Beyond this body. Beyond this life. There is so much out there. So much time has passed and so much time will pass again.

Just hampered by those dark monsters inside our minds. Monsters that make us feel small, weak and insignificant. Which makes us prey on others for our own gain. Monsters which trap us in the darkest periods of our forgotten past.

One must fight back.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Chronic pain and exhaustion as excuses for procrastination

When I wrote my earlier blog post today, I was in a considerable amount of physical pain, with my right side hurting in an intense fashion. Currently just my right arm hurts, there's a numbed burning sensation in my right side and that's about it. While writing that earlier blog post the pain was much more intense.

I'm not sure whether it's just the pain that's making me sleep so incredibly poorly for months now. Using the bracelet that I'm wearing I can monitor how restful my sleep likely is. There I see that most nights I wake up repeatedly or at least am incredibly restless, without any recollection of this. By the time I wake up I'm feeling drained, exhausted and just want to get some sleep.

Most days I can force myself to get out of bed, get dressed and go to work and such, but I cannot remember the last time that I actually woke up feeling well-rested and energetic. Even after getting a solid seven hours of sleep in.

During the day will also suffer from these pains. They're distracting and drain my energy. As a result my ability to focus on things like work or projects has become ever more limited over the past years. Basically normally one would start with a full charge after a night's sleep, but for me it usually feels like there's no more than 10 or 15 percent available.

Then there's the effect sleeping poorly and stress in general have on psychological trauma and kin. When I'm exhausted I have almost no defence against anything negative. It feeds depression and negative thoughts, which in turn make one sleep worse again, and so on.

I'm currently not feeling the intense pain and agony as I did when I wrote today's first blog post. I'm still feeling decidedly depressed and anything but happy, but beyond a headache and a head that feels as if it's stuffed full with cotton, I'm otherwise more or less okay. Just really tired.

While talking with a number of people today who responded to the blog post, it was made clear that they do not think that I'm doing so poorly at this point. Walking in another person's shoes and all that, I guess. I'm still trying to figure out how much of my problems are just inside my own head. I know that some parts are not rational, such as my intense fear and distrust of others and feeling of being useless and worth absolutely nothing.

Trying to convince myself to beg others to maybe accept me for a job might take a while at this rate. There are so many options, so many companies and so many positions out there. I don't know what might be best or what to try, or what would work or what not. Yet this is still simple next to the Hell of real-estate, I guess. There one doesn't even have to begin to pretend that one can trust others there.

I should be fighting for my place in this world, but I'm so tired, and every time I close my eyes I see and feel those same nightmares again, of how people abused and hurt me.

If someone stood up and guided me through this process it might be easy, I guess. It should be easy for me, but everything out there seems to be aimed at overwhelming and/or demotivating a person.

One friend suggested that maybe I should move into academics. To that I replied that I could maybe see myself doing that, but that I would prefer R&D. Something science-like and gritty, with scary mathematics and horrific implications if one gets some detail wrong. That would be challenging.

Yet try finding something like that. Everything just has to be exceedingly dull, it seems. Sometimes it feels as if society is designed to drive people towards a depression from the sheer boredom.

I like things which can be reasoned and are logical. Things where one can see from the beginning which steps are roughly needed and where one knows what works. Things like a job and a home on the other hand seem like working on a project where you have to select from fifty-million different suppliers, most of which will deliver a sub-par product, yet there's no way to figure this out beforehand. I'd rage-quit such a project because it would be ridiculous.

I guess next week I'll talk things over with my therapist. See what his thoughts are. Maybe I'm truly just whining and it's all in my head. Maybe I'm the problem, or at least a significant part of it. Yet at this point nothing makes sense to me yet, let alone which steps would make sense. All of which feed into this depression and so on. Darnit.

*Hits the reset button on her life*


My one big mistake was to ask for help

The one simple truth about human society is that everybody is expected to just take whatever they get thrown at them. Wasn't born into a rich family? Your problem. Born blind or crippled? Your own burden to bear. Got severe psychological traumas as a result of fighting in a war, getting abused and so on? Tough luck.

If you can't make it on your own, then at least have the courtesy to not bother others with it. If you rid the world of your inconveniences, then so much the better. The thing about mental health and suicide is that nobody talks about it because the former is a personal issue and the latter an acceptable solution to society as a whole. Or so the subconscious and sometimes explicit reasoning goes.

Why waste money on those who cannot help themselves, after all?

In hindsight I was completely and utterly naive to expect to receive help from doctors and psychologists when I first asked for it, now nearly thirteen years ago. My intersex condition was just an ego thing. I should have kept it to myself. It didn't bother me too much, beyond the questions I had about who and what I truly was.

I shouldn't have started that fight. I should have saved that energy and time to work on what truly matters in life: survival. Getting a job, keeping the money flowing so that you can purchase property. Instead I wasted all that time caring about useless things such as my identity and self-worth, only to have both and along with it my mental and physical health trashed.

Now that I have to fight for a new job and a place to live, I am not capable of doing either. My energy has been spent. I'm too hurt and injured to continue fighting. It's just all more of the same. Yet a job is at least manageable. Without a sense of self-worth and the burden of critical thought finding a place to live is easy too. Just need to save your strength to focus on the acquisition of property and wealth.

Instead I focused on the luxuries in life, including figuring out my identity and the physical configuration of my body. In hindsight it might have been so much easier to just ignore my misgivings and stuck with the 'male' label, embracing the binary society. Survival first, and all that.

I made this mistake and now I'm paying for it. My failed suicide attempt a few years ago should have been a warning to myself, that I had to change things, but I stubbornly refused to just give up on those delusions. Having the courts actually agree to the assessment that I'm a hermaphrodite and not male must have emboldened me.

At this point my health is deteriorating without any prospect of medical help, I live in a hell hole of an apartment without the energy to change anything about this, and I'll soon be out of a job.

The only responses which I'm expecting to this situation are variations on 'I'll pray for you/I hope it works out', 'Here's a list of houses/jobs you do not have the energy/self-worth to look at' and my absolute favourite: 'Suicide is never the answer'. Oh yes, it surely is. For both sides, even.

The past days have been a complete struggle for me to continue living. This morning was the worst so far, putting me right back where I was just over six years ago during the final weeks before my suicide attempt. The same sense of devastation, of not seeing a way out, of feeling overwhelmed by life and the demands being placed on me. Those sudden glimpses and insights into that wonderful feeling of peace and warmth that I felt before I took the final steps which should have ended my life back then.

I gambled that things which would work out for me if I just got that identity and intersex issue resolved, but what should have take a few years, tops, turned into a decade and soon thirteen years. I gambled and lost.

I do not know how I'll get through the coming weeks, or months. It's quite possible that I will not make it. I'm not fully in control of my thoughts, or my body for that matter. Likely it's this dissociation, this DID, which keeps impulsively trying to harm this body of mine. Fun things like my hands trying to strangle me and me fighting back even as I'm choking. Or deflecting a knife that's headed for my abdomen, because there was this sudden impulsive thought that made me go from cutting up vegetables to trying to gut myself.

Well, I say 'me', but it's not 'me'. I feel fragmented. There's me and many other identities fighting for control. And this 'me' is losing. I wouldn't be surprised if I start suffering more blackouts the coming time.

Yes, I'm having major issues. Yes, it would probably be best if I put an end to it. Cull the weak. Not bleat for help that will not ever come.

It's gone on for far too long already.


Saturday, 4 November 2017

Adding 'losing my job' to my list of problems

It's been nearly four years since I moved to Germany, after taking on an invitation from the employer for whom I had been working remotely for months as a freelancer. They would offer to help me find a place to rent and eventually I got a permanent contract with them. Although the medical drama surrounding my intersex condition followed me from the Netherlands - worsening in the process - and I no longer believe that there's a home for me to be found in Germany even ignoring the current eviction case, I figured that at least I had a stable job. Until this week, that is.

I was originally hired as an iOS (mobile) developer, programming apps in Objective-C, and later doing Java-based programming for Android and servers, followed by a few years of doing an embedded C++ project. Throughout these years, the diversity of incoming projects from customers dwindled. First we stopped doing mobile apps, then the Java aspect vanished, leaving only the embedded JavaScript apps which one of our customers seems to prefer. Whether it's simply that being a JavaScript developer isn't my thing, or that the team communication didn't work out, fact of the matter is that I got told that they no longer see a future for me at the company.

I have been told to finish up the internal project that I headed involving IoT and the automating of room monitoring, controlling of AC units and the like, documenting it to a state where others can work with it. They will however help me find a new place to live, considering the impossibility of me staying much longer at my current apartment, even if I do win the eviction case. I'm expected to find alternative employment in the meantime.

While updating my resume, it somewhat pleases me that I have a lot of items to add to it. From the two books that I have written and which got published since 2014, to the designing of a custom PCB (printed circuit board) for a custom room monitoring and AC controller device [1] of which one is currently installed at the office and in active use. There's also my extensive embedded C/C++ experience with the ESP8266 SoC system and the MQTT protocol along with TLS encryption that I picked up along the way.

My resume says that I'm a capable person, with great interest in a wide variety of fields. Someone who is able to learn and acquire new skills rapidly and successfully execute complex projects that mix hardware and software design. That's all good, for sure. That's not the aspect which worries me.

Psychologically I'm not in a good place, currently. The weekly psychotherapist sessions which I have had for the past months have helped in some ways, but as uncovering those traumatic memories from my early childhood are also part of those sessions, it is also doing me absolutely no service at this point. As I dig through what feels like years of repressed memories, of people hurting and abusing me, it's very hard to not see it in context with today's events. Basically the whole 'trusting people' thing when one's earliest memories are of such utter betrayal by adults. It's not a step which I can take, yet.

Meanwhile there's the issue of my physical health. For years my intersex condition seemed to be something which was just relevant to my sense of self and as a somewhat academic pursuit for answers. Since 2014 it's now primarily about my deteriorating health, with severe abdominal pain, numbness and pain in my right appendages and other issues, yet so far without answers on why this is happening, or how it will develop the coming years, aside from becoming increasingly more agonising. So far medical help is still practically absent, despite thirteen years of searching. Having less stress is essential here at least.

As mentioned, the current apartment where I live is not a good place. Nor can I stay here much longer. What people usually do not understand here is that searching for a new place to live makes me feel suicidal. Has done so for more than five years now, probably due to a number of underlying traumas. I cannot do anything to help myself here. Not without risking killing myself, weird as it may sound. Likely the negative impact it has on my already low sense of self-worth is what kills it for me, if you'll excuse the pun.

I do however need to find an actual home. Because I cannot stay here regardless of the outcome of the eviction case (you try to talk reason with a landlord after they failed to evict you on false charges). Also because this place is not healthy for me. I'm one of those unlucky souls who seem to have all their senses cranked up to 11, which makes us hyper-sensitive to noise, movement, smells, touch, etc. From tags in clothes, to hearing everything from upstairs neighbours, to a noisy clock or heating system, or watching someone make repeated movements such as dangling a leg, there are some things which we cannot ignore.

Most people can ignore those noises, the sharp edges of clothing tags, people dangling their leg or similar, or strong smells, but for us that's not an option. It's like the noise or smell is inside your very head as a physical object, causing pain and discomfort. The only way to deal with it is to move away from the source. Or in the case of noise opt for headphones and earplugs. Which kind of work, within limits. I can still hear the ticking of the heating system here while wearing headphones when the music or video's audio is a bit quiet. It disturbs me.

Finally, there is the dawning realisation that I'm not just dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but likely also with something akin to a dissociative identity disorder (DID, formerly known as a multiple personality disorder [2]). There are those weird moments of amnesia which have plagued me since I was a child, including when I was supposed to have beaten up this one bully, of which I cannot remember a single thing. Current feedback from others also lead me to believe that I'm still suffering from DID-induced amnesia. Likely removing most of the stress from my life should help considerably with this, however.

What is abundantly clear to me is that I have reached a point where many things will have to change, fast. Also that I am highly dependent on the help from others. To find a home, a job, and a life which brings me peace. A life in which I can be that skilled developer and engineer which my resume promises that I will be.

One thing which I arranged yesterday was an appointment at the Dutch embassy in Bern, Switzerland to have my passport renewed. What I have realised is that I would absolutely not be opposed to taking on an offer of employment in another country if it was accompanied by support for relocation. To enable this option having a valid passport is essential. This is something which I can do. Something which I have control over.

I will be updating the resume on my personal site [3] this weekend. I hope that this suffices for others to help me. To give me that chance at a real life.

Thank you.


[1] https://hackaday.io/project/27548-wifi-ac-controller
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_identity_disorder
[3] http://mayaposch.com/cv.php