Saturday, 22 April 2017

The meaning of life when on death row

Imagine: there are two worlds, two realities. One is accessed via the internet-connected laptop you have, offering you contact with millions of people, access to a near-infinite amount of information and glimpses of a hope-filled and bright future. The other reality is the one you find yourself in whenever you aren't engrossed in the former world inside your laptop.

The former world fills you with hope and joy. The latter is the bleak reality of death row.

For years now I have had recurrent dreams in which I am walking through a crowd of people, all apparently gathered for a party or similar. They are busily talking with each other, all engrossed in whichever topic they're talking about. I do not talk with anyone, or even try to talk with anyone. Throughout this, I know with absolute certainty that come tomorrow, I will be executed, ergo why would I bother?

In these dreams, every time that I begin to feel interested in something around me, the feeling is immediately crushed by the bitterness of the futility of it all. Tomorrow I will die. None of what I do right now matters. Yet nobody around me can even begin to understand what I am going through. If they were interested at all, which none of them appear to be. I feel like I'm already dead and just wandering through the world of the living as a ghost.

I think that for me it all started around the time that I finished high school and before my parents divorced. That was the point where I began to fully lose any concept of 'self', or more specifically of what it meant to have a body. After being forced to move out of the house in which I had grown up, I fell back into myself, neglecting my body beyond the most basic needs to feed and clean it.

During the last year of high school I had finally found out one reason why I wasn't like the people around me, when a giftedness study at a Dutch university showed me to be both a 100% visual learner and highly gifted individual. Unfortunately this knowledge didn't come with associated help with how to deal with it, nor did it tell me what I needed know about what my body is.

For some reason it feels as though back when I still thought that I had a male body I had more freedom. Ever since I found out about my body being hermaphroditic have things gone from bad to worse. Yet I had to find out. I had to know. I did not expect to be punished for this. I did not expect that it would result in me suffering horrible psychological trauma, rape, beatings and getting locked up for crimes I did not commit.

That day in early 2005 when I first travelled to the gender team at the VUmc hospital in Amsterdam feels like the day when I got arrested and locked up for the crime of having been born like this. Over the course of the following years I went through countless appeals and medical examinations, all in the hope to overturn these charges of being transgender, crazy, etc.

Yet none of it seems to have changed anything. None of it matters. The medical evidence is still deemed contradictory, despite my body clearly not being male, what with a primarily female phenotype and natural female hormone levels and even a monthly cycle. It's all irrelevant. I'm still not getting help, nor will I ever be released from death row.

Dealing with the current eviction court case and the bleak prospects of finding a home only serve to reinforce what I already knew years ago: innocent or not, I will be executed. Soon the extra time I had for appeals and help will run out and I will cease to exist.

As a result I also know that none of what I might want matters, nor do any of my plans and hope for the future matter. Why would I work on any projects, or be really invested in work or getting money back from taxes, or feel remotely interested in pointless things like vacations, relationships and the like?

It all feels exactly like those dreams. The world around me goes on, but before long my existence will be snuffed out.

And none of this will matter.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

When you no longer care whether you live or die

Last week's eviction hearing was as hateful as expected, with the opposing side feeling eager to see me vanish and self-congratulating on doing such a good job at being absolutely miserable examples of human beings. In this I am up against one of the biggest real-estate companies in the area. They maintain their claim that the rent reduction was only for three months (not true), and that there are currently no remaining issues in the apartment. Which is also a blatant lie.

Naturally I got offered the chance to accept a humiliating surrender, pay up thousands of Euros, including the costs for their and my own lawyer. I will keep fighting, however, if only for the small chance on justice being served. I did absolutely nothing wrong, after all, and being forced to move will likely cause me to die.

Before the whole eviction thing started, my condition could be described as 'stable bad'. With thoughts of suicide being quite rare and still easy to contain. At this point my condition is not stable at all and my thoughts keep dipping into dark, suicidal thoughts every few minutes or so. Even just writing this, and having to accept this truth just caused me to lose self-control, scratch at my neck with my fingernails and hurt this body for being the cause of it all. Then start crying for everything about life just hurting.

Even though I have my psychotherapist backing me in that I cannot possibly be forced to leave the premises, the stress is still there, along with the realisation that I'm once again confronted by 'people' who couldn't care less or would even rejoice if I were to commit suicide. So long as I vanish out of their miserable lives. It's no different from those countless doctors and psychologists I faced over the past years.

The previous weekend I was away with my colleagues on a company-sponsored trip to the nearby Schwarzwald. On the way to the hotel with the bus I couldn't help but stare sadly out of the window, seeing countless houses, realising that everyone is apparently living in an apartment, with each house split up. Realising that apparently I'm so broken that I cannot be like others here and just accept living together in a shared house with others, ignoring noise, stress and frustrations.

It's why I know that Germany is the wrong country for me.

All I need at this point is for me to lose the eviction case to convince me that there's no point for me to continue living. I have spent the years since my last suicide attempt in 2011 trying to convince myself that life can be worth living, but this situation and the hatred which I must suffer from doctors, psychologists, landlords and others for merely existing is just too much.

I tried. I did my best. It's okay for me to just give up now. It's not my fault that there's no place for me in this world.

I want to believe it's not all my fault.

Is it?

The next months will find me dealing with neurologists, for the worsening loss of sensation in the right side of my body, travelling to another clinic for an appointment with another specialist and probably start more intensive psychotherapy from a second mental health professional. This is already far too much to deal with. I honestly cannot deal with anything more.

I'll have to survive somehow. Because others feel I must not die.

I no longer feel that way.


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The eviction hearing, or: Let's try this 'justice' thing again

Tomorrow just after noon the eviction hearing against me will start. The case in summary is that there were many larger and smaller issues with the apartment right from the beginning. A rent reduction was agreed upon. Not all of the original issues have been fixed: of the noisy heating the conclusion was that it 'would be too expensive too fix'. For the rusty water I would just have to run the water more often. The holes around the windows have been largely ignored.

This should be the easiest eviction hearing ever, with everything so clear-cut. Yet I have had to struggle through months of suicidal thoughts, the certainty that everything was going to end on this day, that I was basically being led to my execution. Even now I can feel the tenseness in my shoulders and tinges of sharp pain in my neck warning me that I'm one wrong move away from another pinched nerve and hours of agony.

Perhaps one reason is that my experience with 'justice' has been rather disappointing so far. From a case against the doctors who falsely diagnosed me originally as being transgender yet refused to do any examinations, even after the first German MRI report showing me to be intersex, to a claim against my insurance company for refusing to cover certain expenses because I am intersex and not transgender, even if the impact is sometimes the exact same.

And basically so on and on. Not very confidence inspiring, all together.

What do I hope for? That I won't have to pay a cent extra and get all the time and maybe help which I need to find a better place to move into. What do I expect I get? A short deadline to leave the premises of mere months and having to pay thousands of Euros. Why the latter when it is such a clear-cut case? Because justice is dead. That's why.

Tomorrow I should see the first signs of which way it will move towards. If the outstanding issues have to be examined it would still take months before a decision has been reached. I hope it'll be over soon, even if I will just have to accept whatever gets decided for me. I just hope that it won't be so negative that it will trigger more suicidal depressions. I still don't want to die, but justice is blind, after all.


Sciatica, or: welcome to another personal hell

Today while at work I had my right leg suddenly go numb again. It's the same thing as the previous times, basically: the leg turning wooden, being unable to move it voluntarily and only being able to wobble around on said leg as if it's a prosthetic limb, pretty much. Sensation is reduced to a numbness, with occasional sharp pains and tingling.

Earlier someone on Twitter recognised the symptoms as I described them and asked me whether it could be sciatica [1]. Unsurprisingly it's a good match. Essentially it occurs when the root of the lower lumbar and/or lumbosacral spine become irritated. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including pregnancy [2].

This diagnosis also gives an explanation for the pain in my hips, which is how this all started, about 5 years ago now. Back then it was mostly the pain in my hip, with occasional pain in my right leg. Over time this has become worse, to the point where there are now days when I simply cannot walk properly, and am in pain the entire time.

Another constant which I have noticed over the past months is that whenever I have these sciatica symptoms, I also experience pain in the lower abdominal and vaginal area, including the at times excruciating pain during a toilet visit. This is all indicative of there being something in the lower abdomen which is irritated, swollen, inflamed, or a combination thereof.

I have already contacted my GP about this and hope that I can get some kind of diagnosis now of the underlying cause for these symptoms. Most likely it's due to my period, the associated hormonal changes and my unique physiology as a hermaphrodite. Most worrying about it is that the symptoms are becoming more severe, which warrants immediate medical attention. Hopefully that will work out for once, and I won't be still writing about it in ten years, while crippled and bed-bound, or something.

Can my life please get boring yet? :(



Sunday, 2 April 2017

Just a terrified child

Just a few days until the eviction hearing. I'd be a liar if I said that it hadn't been the thing that's been most on my mind for the past months. I'd be an even worse liar if I insisted that it doesn't make me feel depressed, suicidal and want to cry and curl up in absolute misery.

I don't know what this 'adult' thing is that others keep talking about. At times like these I realise that it has nothing to do with me. I'm just a child, who just wants to play all day: learning more languages, playing games, soldering and programming projects and exploring the universe. Everything that is fun.

I don't know what these Adults want from me, with their Adult things. They're just big, scary, looming dark figures who keep yelling at me, demanding that I do things, or not do things, yet I never really understand why it's all such a big deal to them. They should learn to have fun instead.

Hopefully they'll leave me alone again soon.

There's still so much fun to be had.


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Living in terror of being killed

The past months at work have been absolutely great and fun. With a bit of a slowdown in projects for customers, I have had plenty of opportunity to work with a couple of colleagues on an internal 'Internet of Targets' (IoT) project originally aimed at measuring temperature and humidity using basic sensors and ESP8266 WiFi-enabled micro-controller boards.

Meanwhile the project has grown a bit, from the initial setup to a system of nodes which communicate via the MQTT protocol, receive firmware updates via Over-the-Air (OTA) updates and obtain their configuration and settings from a central command and control (C&C) server. In addition we stuck a couple of nodes on the coffee machines in the office in order to read out coffee use statistics.

The coming time we'll be refining this system. The past days I have mostly spent on building out the C&C side, making the server more configurable and full-featured and adding a GUI to monitor and control nodes. There are also plans to further automate and control the coffee machines and LED lighting. Last week I wrote a blog post about it on the company blog [1].

I like how this project gives me every chance and motivation to further develop my embedded C++ skills, as well as my electronics and soldering skills. There at the office is the perfect environment for me to develop myself further as I feel comfortable, safe and motivated. Quite in contrast with what's supposed to be my home.

I have let over two weeks worth of paid vacation days from last year lapse this month, simply because I did not want to be stuck at 'home'. I much preferred it to be at work, doing something I like and from which I can learn, to show off at a big event for one of our customers. Every day I loathe or feel terrified of having to head 'home'.

The noises, the rundown parts and the terrible memories make the apartment a place where I go to because it's where my belongings are and have not found anything else yet. I'm terrified of checking the mailbox because it may contain more horrible letters. I had to turn off the speaker on the doorbell because having the delivery guy spam all apartments would freak me out each time.

Meanwhile the hearing in the eviction case draws near. Just a few days to go. Then I have to face the accusation of withholding rent without cause, despite it having been agreed upon right from the beginning without any reason provided why it would have changed. Yet it likely means having to face the accusation of not doing enough to find something better.

If I hate this apartment so much, then why am I still living in it? Cue flashbacks of me spending an entire weekend crying, trying to distract myself with a video and games and cooking while resisting the urge to just use the knife to cut up this worthless body of mine and get it all over with because it hurts so incredibly much inside. Basically how I respond to a disappointing viewing of a new place. Happened twice in the last few months so far. I'm not eager to try that again.

A lot depends on whether the court can understand and accept that a) I did do nothing wrong, and b) I'm not staying in this place because it's in any way a voluntary choice, but for the stupid reality of finding something else being practically impossible.

Talking to others about either renting or buying a place - be it an apartment or house - the response is invariably that it's the wrong choice and even if I picked the 'right' choice, it's still going to be incredibly hard and I just have to keep trying and trying and trying until I get lucky.

Did I mention yet the effect searching for a home has on me, especially the disappointments? 'Stable bad' is what I called my current condition.

Add to this that for the past weeks the normal monthly pains have been ramped up with a severe pain in my right leg as if the bone has been fractured (pretty sure it's not) and a general sensation of pain and numbness in the entire right side of my body. Probably psychosomatic. Oh, and I'll soon be dealing with that new intersex specialist, I think, which would mean digging through my entire medical file, confront many traumas and likely having to undergo multiple medical examinations, whilst travelling around Germany.

It's easy to just think that the entire problem with my life is this body, as it's being stupid, all intersex and such, and it makes me require finding a home, which doesn't exist, just like how there is no medical help to be found for this stupid intersex body. It makes one think that punishing this body, even killing it is an acceptable way to solve the problem, or at least take out my frustration in the form of punching, cutting and otherwise hurting it.

It also makes me hate and distrust people around me. All people want is to hurt me. Ignore me. Abuse me. Profit off me. And whatever the hell it is that doctors want from me. To die, maybe. It feels like some kind of sick psychological experiment that I was born into.

I wish that I could have an actual home. Being a place I'd love to return to without feeling as if I'm headed towards my own execution. I want to feel safe. Not persecuted, hunted and scorned. Yet the past months I have had to honestly question whether such a thing is realistic; whether it's at all possible to get something better than this rundown place within the next years. Part of me just wants to give up on Germany. Move to a place that's less densely populated, somewhere where I may find a home more easily. Somewhere where people aren't making me feel as if I have to die.

Another part of me realises that things cannot possibly that bad, that it's quite unlikely that people are actively trying to kill me. Not directly at all. Ignore my PTSD and push me until something snaps again and I attempt to commit suicide again, sure. I guess that's my main fear with next week's hearing.

I do love it when people seem certain about things. Over the past twelve years I have learned that nothing is certain. I never was a boy despite it supposedly having been a 'fact'. Doctors rarely help people, despite what I learned about them. And so on. What are life's certainties? Just science and technology. The moment you add people to the mix is where things get ugly and unpredictable.

I don't know what I can do with my life to make me feel better. I feel as if I'm completely dependent on others with the medical stuff. Ditto with finding a home. Yet also that both are basically pointless as things simply won't get any better. And I don't know why.

Maybe this is all that I deserve? I really did try for the past twelve years to make things work, but it just didn't.

Just watch me being forced to find a new place within half a year or so or get kicked out of this horrible apartment to live my days out on the streets. That'd really be a fitting ending to a completely screwed up life which exemplifies why it doesn't pay to 'do things the right way'.

Just... meh.



Sunday, 26 March 2017

Trauma is meaningless in real life

The first person I knew who had suffered a traumatic event of which I was aware was a cousin. She was about one year older than me, but she has been dead for quite a few years now. It wasn't the fact that she decided to take her own life which angers my mother, myself and a few others. It was the attitude of those around her and that of the (justice) system which disgusted and angered us to no end.

This cousin, first as a young girl, was repeatedly sexually abused by her uncle and grandfather. Not just her alone, but also many other girls became their victims. Her mother, as well as other family members were basically aware of what was going on, or had strong suspicions. When it all came to light, the family as a whole covered for this uncle and grandfather.

Fast-forward a few years, and my cousin was still trying to cope with all of these horrible experiences, even as her own family treated her as an outcast and her mother refused to support her in the matter. Although it went through the Dutch justice system as a criminal case, the prosecution ended up making a few technical errors which resulted in the case getting thrown out. This left my cousin and all of the other girls who had become a victim without legal recourse.

I do not know what happened to any of the other girls, due to privacy regulations pertaining criminal cases, yet it makes one wonder how many more of them found themselves without proper support in dealing with this horrible violation which they suffered as a child. How many of them decided that, just like my cousin, life was not worth living any more. Not with such memories and such a complete lack of trust in society and fellow human beings.

My own mother was physically abused as a child, by her older brother. Her parents and older sister never interfered. Ultimately she was taken out of her home by the child protection service and raised by family. To this day she deals with the traumatic impact this left on her. To learn to trust and forgive. To not expect the worst from one's fellow human beings. She has had to learn about just how deeply hidden this traumatic impact can be.

Over the past years I have encountered many people who suffered such traumatic events. From rape, to being locked up and used as a sex slave, to physical and psychological abuse. To the horrible violations of one's bodily integrity suffered by intersex individuals. Each of them are events which essentially destroy something inside one's psyche which simply cannot be replaced or restored. Call it simple naivety or innocence. Call it trust or faith in others.

I may have suffered some kind of abuse as a child as well, though at this point I only have the observations of others and my own curious changes in behaviour as a child to go on there. I definitely did suffer rape, physical and psychological abuse at a later age, however. I still do not trust any other person to put their hands on me without my explicit permission, and I expect others by default to be unreliable and only capable of betrayal. It's impossible to think otherwise.

What I have sadly noticed by others and myself is that regardless of the traumas we have suffered, society couldn't care less. In general we are still expected to carry on as if nothing has happened. My cousin never got acceptance or help, but was expected to go on with her life, even as the court case dragged on and was ultimately thrown out. My mother tried to ignore what had happened to herself and put on a brave, friendly face to the outside world, until it all came back to her when my father betrayed her with another woman and divorced her.

Every time the same story for everyone I meet with such a story. It's one reason why I do not like talking with intersex and transgender people, because there's too much trauma and pain in their lives. Worst is when they cannot see it themselves yet, yet suffer the consequences all the same.

Currently, this insistence by one's environment to conveniently ignore and misunderstand trauma and its impact is a major topic for me again. Not just by being forced to keep asking uncooperative and ignorant doctors for help with my intersex condition - because the only alternative is suicide - but also by ignoring my inability to do anything but to strive for emotional stability.

Even as I try to make it clear that no, I cannot do things like 'searching for a new place to live', for the very simple reason that it makes me feel suicidally depressed and makes me want to hurt and ultimately murder myself. Yet even when I bluntly say this, others will just smile and inform me that I'll 'just have to keep trying'. I guess I can try walking again on a broken leg if others insist it can carry the weight. It's so frustrating and depressing.

To a traumatised person there's nothing worse than for people to ignore their pain and worse. If 'doing the very thing that carries a high risk of suicide' is regarded as acceptable, then it's society that's simply Hell itself for people like us. It's why I still do not blame my cousin for taking her own life. She is free of the pain and of this Hell called 'humanity' which'll never provide a home to people like us. In a sense I envy her because she succeeded where I so far failed.

I am well aware of the fact that most people do not actively wish me to die. Yet it's their ignorance and wrongful expectations and assumptions which are likely to drive me to suicide in the end, just as it did for my cousin and many others. Just like it does for far too many every single day.

Maybe it's just a kind of Darwinism. Us traumatised individuals are the weak links in society after all. Maybe that's why the rest are so unforgiving. Just like the weak individuals in a herd, it's better to cast off these weak, sacrificing them to the predators to make the herd stronger.

To be human is supposed to be about love and empathy, but that's more of a dream. Humans are despite everything still mostly beasts at heart, after all. It's kill or be killed. Those who get traumatised are merely the walking dead, because they failed to get properly killed in the first place.

Humans are disgusting and despicable.

Most of them.

It would be easier if one knew which ones to trust.