Thursday, 25 November 2010

German Magazine Interview

Some time after noon today I was visited by the German journalist as I mentioned before for my interview for the German magazine Maxi. She (Soerre Wieck) turned out to be a very nice person and we had a long (~3 hours) and fun interview. Interesting coincidence was that the copy of the current magazine which she had mailed to me some time last week ended up arriving just as we were finishing up the interview. We were joking about it being faster for her to take the magazine along next time than to mail it. I still wonder how it's possible for mail to be delivered with 1 day in the Netherlands and 1-2 in Germany, yet for it to take about a week to mail the same between these countries.

I learned that Maxi, the magazine, was looking at writing an article about intersexuality, and Soerre ended up searching on internet looking for inspiration. She ended up stumbling over my website. That she contacted me shortly after the broadcast here on national TV was simply mere coincidence. On which note, I put the edited and English sub-titled version of that broadcast online, on my website's Media page and on YouTube.

Using Sony Vegas I cut out the sections which didn't feature me as well as the intro. It felt kind of good to remove those parts, I must say :) At any rate it turned out to be a 13 minute, 25 second long video after editing. More than 250 subtitle lines had to be written. This time I used Aegisub instead of my usual Sabbu for the subtitling and timing, which was a positive experience after I changed my speaker setup to stereo as somehow it'd otherwise refuse to output on the front-left/right channels and thus my headphones. Weird.

I ended up having issues with VirtualDub with the x264 codec, resulting in out of sync streams. Using Avidemux's implementation solved this. It wasn't easy, but hopefully worth it :) Maybe Soerre will pick up a few more things from it as well. She said she'd watch it later.

Today's interview wasn't very different from previous interviews, though it seemed mostly focused on facts, with my feelings more secondary. It felt fine. She also asked a question which I don't really remember, but which resulted in me saying something about how I experience things differently from people without PTSD, which basically came down to that my traumas make me very vulnerable for new traumas and that's why I can't easily shrug off things others wouldn't give a second thought, such as meeting hurtful/negative people and getting hurt in relationships, as these can amplify existing or create new traumas. I think I got a few new insights there.

I'm pretty sure we treated every other subject as well. The interview was done in English, of course, and I had no trouble understanding Soerre. In other news, a German accent is kind of cute :) Also cute are my Hello Kitty plushies, according to her at least (me too, I guess :D ). At the end of the interview I felt satisfied albeit with a slight headache and feeling drained, as is usual after such an interview. It's not easy to do such a long interview and still feel alert afterwards. I'm glad I didn't have to drive home :D

According to Soerre the article will be published in January. Maxi magazine uses a publication schedule in which the month name on the magazine is one month out of sync with the actual month for some reason. The copy I got today, for example, is the November number, but is called the December number. It probably makes sense on some level, but at least it means that the article will be published one month sooner than I believed before.

Today was most definitely a good day, even if I'm now even more behind on my work schedule :P


Monday, 22 November 2010

Party Time

Saturday I went to the graduation party of a friend. This was also basically the very first party I have been to, making it in many ways a difficult first step. In the end, though, it really wasn't that bad. In fact it was actually pretty fun.

All the people at the party (except me) were musicians, and aside from me there was just one person who spoke Dutch so English was the primary language used. There were people from Israel, US, UK, Japan, Germany, Spain and other countries. The first thirty minutes or so after I arrived (around 8 PM) I made for a pretty wall flower, chatting a bit with this one German girl but otherwise feeling a bit lost.

This changed somewhat when I started talking with this American girl I had met before on Facebook. Familiar faces are reassuring at a party. I also had the first guy ever compliment me on having such pretty nails. I must say that male musicians in general tend to be slightly more... feminine in their behaviour than the average guy :) In general my impression was that everyone at the party was nice albeit mostly somewhat closed. As a stranger to most of them I think I talked with about 5 people total out of the about 30-40 present.

The most fun part was with the Japanese people; the girl in their group at one point sat down next to me and we just started chatting. Note that this was the first time I had ever talked to a Japanese person in real life. We ended up talking for at least two hours total, and it was awesome to discover that my Japanese wasn't that horrible at all - I actually got complimented on my pronunciation - and that I generally felt completely comfortable and at home discussing things related to Japanese culture in general.

I hope that I'll be able to meet up with this Japanese girl more often, and have fun swimming and helping each other with languages. I did think it was curious that yet again I end up talking the most with Asian people while finding little in common with Western people and those close to them.

By the time I left the party, together with the Japanese people, it was close to midnight and I still had over an hour to travel back to home. After a long, long journey through the Amsterdam subway, which does have very interesting types traveling in it at that time, and nearly falling asleep in an almost empty train I arrived home at about 1.30 AM. It was about 2 AM before I finally fell asleep.

Waking up at around 5.30 AM, I was definitely not that pleased, especially when I discovered that I couldn't go back to sleep. I felt too restless for that. After tossing and turning for a while I got up. At around 9.30 AM I was at the swimming pool, feeling kind of out of things with just 3.5 hours of sleep, but managing. It didn't seem to impact my physical capabilities too much.

At 3.15 PM Pieter, I and the girl I met before at the pool were at the cinema, to watch the new Harry Potter movie: Deathly Hallows, part 1. I had managed to cram in a few more hours of sleep before this.

For reference, it's not a particularly good or bad movie. It's just so-so. Even after 6 previous movies, the characters still have the depth of a sheet of paper, the story in this movie is vague and illusive, as the director has opted for an abstract way of shooting, with plenty of close-ups and scenics which just add to the distancing of what one sees with the story one knows is supposed to be occurring. It's very different from the previous movies and to be quite honest I'm not sure whether to like or dislike it. A bit of both and neither, I guess. It's cliche and two-dimensional, but it has its funny and interesting moments. It just seems to keep detaching itself from the story all the time, instead opting for this very airy, abstract atmosphere it maintains throughout the movie. If you've seen the previous movies, you can safely watch this one, although I do wonder how they're going to wrap things up in the next and final movie, Deathly Hallows, part 2. We'll see next year.

After the movie the three of us went back to Pieter's place, where my friend cooked us dinner. It was tasty. The ice cream dessert afterwards was nice too :) We watched The Princess Bride during dinner, which still has to be one of the most awesome movies ever, right up there with Space Balls.

With dinner and movie finished, Pieter went upstairs, while my friend and I kept talking for a bit until she went home. I went to bed after that and slept until 6.30 AM. Not bad.

Summing up my thoughts on this for me very unusual weekend isn't easy. On one hand I feel it was a very positive experience, meeting so many new, nice people and challenging my continuous feeling of loneliness. On the other hand familiar voices keep insisting that I'm still just deluding myself, that to a something like me friendship and anything more is just not possible. Part of it comes from fear, I guess. Fear of the unknown, fear of getting hurt again, fear of losing myself to this sometimes desperate feeling to be accepted and loved I feel inside. And of course this intensely bitter realization that I'm 'just a freak' who doesn't belong.

Emotional stuff isn't nice or pleasant most of the time, and whenever it is pleasant, it's a fading thing. Emotional attachment can only come to grief, as people's paths never cross for very long. Aside from the very rare cases in which two or more people seem so perfectly alike that they're called soul-mates, as though they're fragments of the same soul re-united. I like to believe that I have found one such person already in my best friend Trevor, and pray that I may encounter more of such wonderful people. Maybe then it will feel as though my own soul is finally complete.


Saturday, 20 November 2010


A while ago I encountered this girl my first impression of whom was decidedly negative, yet she kept hanging around. Some people near me actually did like her, and told me that she really wasn't a bad person, that she read my blog and actually cared about my situation. I couldn't decide whether my first impression was off, that I was overreacting in some way and that I could actually like her somewhat. Until yesterday when this girl finally showed her true colours, and made it abundantly clear in some comments on my blog that she doesn't think much of me, accusing me of many things I would never even dream of. This came as a relief because at that point I could firmly put her into the 'negative person' category and move on, as I refuse to interact with negative people. Chapter closed. Hopefully. I have a hunch I'll get harassed for a bit longer as that's generally how such people boost their self-esteem, like bullies on the playground. Which is something I'm quite familiar with :)

Yesterday I got invited to a graduation party of a friend, the British girl I used to date. It is today, in Amsterdam. I'm pretty sure I'll be going, if only to get away from things here a bit and mingle with people, even if I only know this British girl well, one friend of her somewhat and everyone else is a complete stranger to me :P

My work on my cousin's site is going well, albeit slower than expected. I'm still debugging the Content Management System for it, but fortunately it's nearly done. I'll be more than happy to hand over the keys to her. Of course, after that's all done I'll have to keep developing this Nyanko CMS as it's merely a prototype at this point and I think it's brave of my cousin that she's willing to use it for her company's site :)

The first playable version of TileWars will be ready by the end of next week, thus Trevor assured me. I have a feeling that I'll have to get back to working full-time on that game soon as there are still a number of things I have to do. Even more reason to be happy that NCMS is nearly fully working, I guess.

Next week Thursday I'll have a journalist of the German magazine Maxi flying over from Hamburg for an interview. This will be my foreign debut in the media, and I'm really looking forward to it. So far Germany has been the only country which has had a positive effect on my medical case, and maybe by appearing in a German magazine which is read by about 600,000 people something good will come out of it. As far as I know the article would be published in the February number next year, but magazines like to shuffle things around a lot.

All together still quite a bit to be relieved about, even if other parts of my life aren't really working out yet.


Friday, 19 November 2010

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Despite comments like those on my previous post displaying a complete lack of understanding of my situation and that of other PTSD victims in general, I'll provide a more detailed and descriptive list of what has changed recently for the handful of people who actually do give a damn and want to understand it. I'll be using DSM-IV, as summarized at Wikipedia:

First of all, let me establish firmly that in my case one can't talk of post-traumatic in as much as that the traumatic events aren't all over yet. I am suffering from what is called PTSD, but not all of the factors contributing to it have been removed as of yet, most particularly the medical factor, which is characterized by intense rejection without proper reasoning and a general feeling of being abandoned and unimportant. The existence of this factor most strongly contributes to a worsening of my general situation.

Anyway, here are criteria A through F in DSM-IV:

"A: Exposure to traumatic event"
Check, check, and continuing, with new traumatic experiences (noticable by me going into shock and such) being added almost weekly. The experience of asking for help and being coldly rejected being the primary event, combined with that of experiencing rape as secondary event.

"B: Persistent re-experiencing"
Strong and continuous flashbacks: constantly, mostly during the day, sometimes during dreams. They tend to completely overtake my sensory perception for a moment.
Recurring distressing dreams: I have described a few of such dreams on my blog before, and I seem to wake up from a not remembered nightmare on a regular basis.
Subjective re-experiencing of the traumatic event(s): together with flashbacks this is very common. Flashbacks come uninvited, re-experiencing is usually when my thoughts accidentally drift off into regions of such memories.
Intense negative psychological or physiological response to any objective or subjective reminder of the traumatic event(s): my worst issue by far. Anything related to sexuality, relationships, transsexuality, intersexuality, certain areas of medical science and some others contain a lot of triggers which cause such a severely negative response in me, leading to me feeling unwell or downright sickened (physically) and collapsing. This has been worsening lately.

"C: Persistent avoidance and emotional numbing"
I avoid any thoughts or feelings related to the events, I don't like talking about it, preferring a rational, factual discourse over discussing my emotional state. I avoid behaviours, places and people which do or may lead to distressing memories and/or feelings. I can not actively recall or passively remember large sections of what happened to me during my rape, or during more recent traumatic events, and where I can recall it, there's a distinct absence of emotional recollection.
My capacity to feel certain feelings is numbed to absent. I actively suppress some, others I simply can not experience at all. This has been worsening as of late.
I think that my previous post and many preceding it are sufficient proof of an expectation that my future is constrained in ways not normal to other people. This is where many, or maybe I should say most, people fail to grasp my situation most of all. I feel that this is why most people do not realize that resolving especially the medical stand-off is crucial, that there is no possibility of just 'moving on', and that this is the primary source of suicidal thoughts. It is also increasing in severity most strongly as of late.

"D: Persistent symptoms of increased arousal not present before."
A random reading through my blog posts the past two years should suffice to show the trend in this area. It has worsened considerably. Sleeplessness, insomnia, unusually strong outbursts of anger and sadness or grief, periods of paranoia, lack of concentration and strongly shifting moods in general leading to irrational displays of emotions.

"E: Duration of symptoms for more than one month"
I think one can safely say that I have been experiencing these symptoms for well over three years now.

"F: Significant impairment"
I quote: "The symptoms reported must lead to "clinically significant distress or impairment" of major domains of life activity, such as social relations, occupational activities, or other "important areas of functioning"."

I think that's another set of check marks.

The assumption often made by those who do not understand PTSD is that those affected have some kind of choice in their behaviours and general life. They clearly demonstrate ignorance on what a trauma entails, let alone something of the severity of PTSD. PTSD in particular is known to physically affect and change the brain itself:


Thursday, 18 November 2010


I'm experiencing somewhat of an existential crisis at the moment. Emotionally I fail to see the point of everything, basically based on nothing working out, being pointless and emotional stuff being useless when it comes down to it. Why waste so much energy on things which don't matter?

Besides, I'm burdened with a body I simply can not live with, that much is becoming clear to me these past few weeks. If I didn't keep myself in check rationally, I'd have done the most horrible things to my body and probably committed suicide already. There just isn't any point in living when it comes to emotional stuff.

Earlier today I had a discussion with Pieter on this topic, and he really can't see my point, let alone understand my situation. I have had to deal with an in my eyes useless body which is always frustratingly beyond understanding. At this point it's pretty clear that I'll never get any answers to my questions about it. I don't expect to hear back from the US hospitals and I don't expect anyone else to help me. I do not expect anyone to happen, ever, to help me understand what kind of freakish body I ended up with.

These thoughts lead to a rejection of emotions due to self-protection, a very negative outlook on things other people consider normal and even pleasant, yet which fill me with loathing and even disgust. And what I'm going through these past few days is absolutely nothing compared to any time before. At any point before this I had the thin, but ever-present security blanket of the hospitals in this country to deal with, and the hope that if I got famous enough someone, somewhere in this country would step forward and offer some kind of help. The first is gone, the second has proven to be another deceitful illusion.

The short version is that if I let my mind wander on topics like these, I will become depressed and I will end up killing myself. For the simple fact that it is more than I can bear. Only by ignoring it, my emotions and my body and all troubles associated with it can I prevent doing anything like that. This also means that anything which may lead me to start thinking about those dangerous topics is off-limits.

At least I'm feeling very numb about many topics which used to upset me. When Pieter announced earlier that he was going to his girlfriend again Friday through Saturday night, I first felt the all too familiar shock, like a knife being twisted around inside my chest, after that I realized that I really don't give a damn. Because it doesn't matter. Pieter doesn't matter. His gf doesn't matter. Anything they say or do doesn't matter. Life doesn't care about them. Life doesn't care about me. Life doesn't care about anyone. it just tramples over everything and the only way to escape it is to die. Or become immortal and rid oneself of this nuisance of being human.

In the end I'm more tired, mentally, than I have ever been before. I really should have been dead already, as I truly can't endure any more of this, yet it's this whole 'killing oneself' thing standing between me and escape.

Depressing, yes. But also the culmination of over twenty years of frustrations, pain, traumas and crushed expectations. Say the word 'happy', or show me something innocent and cute like a Hello Kitty plushie and all I can do is cry in helplessness.

I hate life so much...


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Sedation Experiment, Day 12

When I last described my experiences with valerian root as a sedative, I mentioned that it made it impossible for me to care about anything. Things have changed somewhat since then.

I guess the best comparison I can come up with is that of trying to sleep while the neighbours are having a very loud party, with the stereo cranked up to at least eleven. This describes my initial situation. Impossible to ignore, and leading to acts of unspeakable violence if it persists.

The valerian pills were then like the police dropping by those neighbours after multiple complaints from people about the noise, causing the stereo to be turned down to a more reasonable level, say around four or five. Much better, and it appears that one can finally get some rest now.

Sadly with the loudness gone, one's hearing refocuses on softer noises, meaning that now one can hear the stereo playing softly and people, lots of people talking and laughing and so on. It's distant and hardly distinct, but it's still there in the background, sometimes getting louder after a particularly interesting joke or topic has been addressed.

Did the situation truly improve? The noise is easier to tune out and there's actually a possibility of going to sleep, but it's still far from ideal.

Similarly my mind seems to have adapted to the lower 'volume' of my emotions, which I initially experienced as an almost complete absence. The past weekend I managed to nearly snap completely again, coming closer than ever to committing suicide. The cause was probably a combination of getting kicked out of the last hospital, nothing to look forward to media-wise or elsewhere and basically dropping into a black hole.

Oh sure, I can more easily bear the weight of this stress, but it doesn't mean that I can't be pushed over the edge any more. If anything it's worse now because I haven't fully adjusted yet to the signs of something going wrong emotionally now that they're far less obtrusive. Bloody double-edged swords.

I think the short version of my prediction about my future is that without help soon there's a snowball's chance in Hell of making it through next year. With the proper help there's a chance I'll make it, but I do need a break very soon now.


Monday, 15 November 2010

Ethical Science And Charities, Or: The Manager Infestation

Ethics are a main topic of discussion, in which everyone likes to claim the high ground. Science, especially medical, is a fertile ground for these debates. Science and technology enables, and large groups of people desperately try to push back the genie into its bottle over and over again. Instead of reasonable debate here we usually see irrational versus rational behaviour. One group acts upon their 'instincts', whereas the other uses logical reasoning. This is the reason why people who call themselves 'pro-life' can end up committing terroristic bombings and assassinations. Irrationality can be a scary thing.

Another fine example of irrationality is embodied into a group of people who seem to be multiplying faster than rabbits during a fertile season: managers.

Don't get me wrong, some level of management is necessary in any sizeable project and company, but this type is special. They are the ones who lack any qualifications for the work they're managing, are okay with getting paid four, ten, or even twenty times more than the average employee in the company or organization and their position is, when viewed rationally, wholly redundant or can be scaled down significantly. Meet the Manager Infestation.

One example of this infestation I read about a short while ago, with an article on what managers at the Dutch Cancer Organization get paid: around 200,000 Euro/year, or roughly 8-10 times as much as a well-paid employee here in the Netherlands. If you consider that all this organization is supposed to do is allocate donations to worthy projects and providing education to the public, then one can begin to wonder where these managers can show their worth. If there are even just five of such manager types being paid 200k/Euro a year, that's still 1 million which gets largely paid from, you guess it, donations.

Also outrageous was the recent series of bonuses given to top managers at certain large banks here in the Netherlands during the economical crisis. While they had to be supported financially by the government, and employees were being fired or had their pay reduced. If this isn't a sickness I'm not sure what is. Ethical it sure isn't.

Moving on to medical grounds, we can see a bureaucracy where managers have gummed up the wheels, making everything cost ten times as much as it used to, while making everything a hundred times less efficient. Here in the Netherlands this really began to happen after a previous, wonderful government decided to fully privatize healthcare in this country, because it would 'promote competition among hospitals'. Instead within a year or two the number of managers on each level of hospital management as well as at other care centers has more than quadrupled, with no appreciable increase in efficiency. This is the point where an ethical government should step in and end this crazy experiment.

Finally I would like to address another pet peeve of mine: terminal patients and drug trials. It's not uncommon for there to be apparently very successive new therapies and drugs for terminal diseases like aggressive cancers, degenerative diseases and more, yet these remain stuck in red tape for many years while they're being tested for 'safety' and effectiveness. Meanwhile there are patients out there who know that they'll die from such a disease sometimes in less than a year and are more than willing to volunteer for such a therapy or drug if it means that it would accelerate the approval process, and save lives that way.

Their requests are denied by the medical 'ethics' commission, which deny those people their last chance to really do something for others. If that is ethical, then I'm pretty sure we should review the meaning of what unethical means as well. In a sense, one can see this medical ethics commission together with the general medical bureaucracy as another example of Manager Infestation, where so many managers manage to clog the mechanism with useless meetings, rules and protocols while sucking out much-needed resources until everything just grinds to a halt.

When talking about nano technology there's the 'grey goo' nightmare scenario. I'd propose that we devise an equally catchy term for a world overrun by managers, in which nothing can exist either as it'll be managed to death.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

That Elusive Sense Of Peace

The past few years many people including me have made statements and predictions about my situations. At this point no attempts from my side or those from others have resulted in anything useful, lending a lot of credibility to those who pronounced my search for answers to be ridiculous. Yet even those people can not agree on whether it's ridiculous because they feel that such answers can't be found and I'll just have to accept things for the way they are now, or that there never were any answers to begin with because the questions I'm asking are delusional.

This weekend I finally watched the BNN show 'Je zal het maar zijn' in which I feature. The contrast between the two others in it who have chosen for their discomfort and me, who hasn't chosen for a life like this, couldn't be larger. Where's the obsession in my case? In my own view it's something I just can't get around, as it's blocking the path I need to follow towards a happy life. Only with the proper answers will I be able to clear this obstacle, but instead of receiving those answers many people have been very eager over the past few years to put in even more obstacles instead.

No matter what I do or decide now, I can not possibly participate in 'normal' life, as without those answers my body is just worthless. Oh sure, it's healthy and everything, but I am forced to abandon anything related to emotions, including relationships, sexuality and to some extent friendship as well, all because it doesn't make sense to me in my confusion and just leads to pain and frustration. I still do not really exist, neither officially or unofficially. My problem is still a non-issue, except to me.

One thing I realized thanks to a friend is that the reason why I started with the hormone therapy was not because I wanted to become anything, but because I was ready to accept my body for what it is. My body is that of a female, there's nobody who can or should be able to deny this. Clearly society as a whole isn't prepared for this, however. Even after working my way through so many difficult decisions, I still find myself in a situation where none of these decisions truly matter. There still doesn't seem to be a way out of this for me.

I had expected an answer from the US hospitals already, but none seems to be forthcoming. There are no answers to be found in this country any more. There doesn't appear to be anyone who can and wants to help me. Maybe what I'm trying to do really is a fool's errand and I'm just deluding myself in thinking that anything I do matters even in the slightest.

With absolutely nothing to show for my efforts these past six years, I feel more stupid and dispirited than ever. Is there really a point to this all? I say there isn't.

I'm not strong, I'm just a poor loser...


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

TV Broadcast Aftermath

Yesterday was the TV broadcast of 'Je zal het maar zijn' on Dutch national TV. I didn't see it yet, because I couldn't.

After dinner, around 7 PM, Pieter and I went upstairs after watching an episode of Columbo, to have some tea and watch that JZHMZ episode upstairs on the BNN site. I was feeling kind of nervous then already and was thinking that maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to watch it then, but I thought I could just push through.

Seconds into the show I was already feeling very uncomfortable, then began to feel physically ill and indicated to Pieter that I didn't want to watch it. Instead we ended up watching an episode of 'Who's line is it anyway' and an episode of Bob Ross's 'The joy of painting', with me crying randomly throughout this and Pieter awkwardly providing comfort. At some time after 9 PM I went to bed, took a sleeping pill and slept before 10 PM. I had turned off my mobile phone just in case anyone want to congratulate me with the broadcast or so.

I'm thinking that my usual troubles with late-night (anything after dinner) emotional stuff played a role, since I'm truly a morning person and therefore worthless after about 8 PM. Other factors may include stress from worrying about the outcome of this broadcast, changes in my environment such as having to find a new place in about three months time, rushing to release our first game before Xmas, and many other little things.

At any rate I felt so completely done with everything related to me, myself and intersexuality in general. I was thinking about quitting my website, a bit about committing suicide... it was quite extreme and quite sudden. Right now I'm feeling better, especially after reading some of the comments from people who watched the show, but I'm still not quite sure how I'm supposed to feel.

What's going to happen next? I have no idea. I have severe doubts about those US hospitals even bothering with a response, I don't know whether any other TV show is or will be interested in me, and basically just feel cast adrift with only my work acting as a kind of lifeboat. Everything at this point basically feels like I'm still in the 'before' phase. Before happiness. Before success. Before recognition. Before finding peace. Before financial independence. Before everything which would make me feel like my life is worth living.

In happier news, TileWars is approaching the finish line at a rapid pace now. Trevor is working on the collisions module which will finalize the gameplay and should be done with a day or two. After that we integrate the netcode (for LAN play) and AI (for people playing in their lonesome). Then it's down to finalizing the resources (models, textures, BGM, SFX) and playtesting. Seems like it's finally going to happen this time.


Monday, 8 November 2010

Test Results And TV Broadcast

I just got the results back from the last blood tests. Unlike what the UMCG hospital reported last year my testosterone levels are normal (0.7 nmol/L) unlike what they reported (2.4 nmol/L). With oestradiol also normal (401 pmol/L, range is 40-720) this is a kind of relief.

Also in the report are the values for PSA, or the Prostate-Specific Antigen. The value listed is <0.1>0.1 pg/mL? Perhaps a more sensitive PSA test is in order to obtain more useful results. Considering the clinical symptoms regarding my 'prostate' I'm tempted to say that all of the PSA in my blood serum is from other tissues, and not the prostate.


In other news, yesterday's sedation experiment went pretty much as I predicted on Saturday, with a spike in emotional unrest when Pieter returned home. I didn't have thoughts churning through my head, specifically, but I did have this general and quite severe feeling of unrest and of being agitated. Getting out of bed again to spend some time online seemed to do the trick, though. Around 12.30 AM I managed to fall asleep again without any sleeping pill.

Also remarkable is how much my attitude towards Pieter has changed. I made some remarks on this previously, but yesterday and today I got to verify my predictions. Emotional responses are minimal, responses to references to his girlfriend and similar subjects are characterized by a short, negative burst. There is no persistence of such negative responses. I can feel no emotional closeness to Pieter or anything beyond a more business-like, sometimes casual relationship.

I do feel a certain pressure on/inside my head, localized on the forehead, and yesterday I had episodes of hyperventilating. Apparently the decreased emotional response is still sufficient to trigger such symptoms.

Moving on, tomorrow is finally the day when the 'Je zal het maar zijn' episode featuring me will be broadcast. It's been a few months since that journalist asked me whether I'd want to participate in it, the filming and tomorrow's broadcast. On the first of August this year journalist Lydia van der Weide asked the question, making it just over 3 months from conception until broadcast.

What do I expect from tomorrow's broadcast? I'm not sure. I mean, it's not like it's the first time I have been in big media, although that was in magazines and maybe it wasn't the right audience. Being a mostly text-based media versus the full video and audio experience of TV is probably quite a difference as well. I guess I'll just have to see. What I do know is that the other two people who feature in this episode are the true freaks. They have chosen to abuse and mutilate their body whether it's through bodybuilding, or through tattoos and piercings. Neither of which are rational let alone sane or healthy choices and they're likely to die young.

The theme of this episode is 'Obsessed by one's body'. I figure that my dealings with my own body could be called an obsession, albeit one not originating from irrational and/or unhealthy impulses. Mine is a quest for answers about my body. I would never want to harm or disgrace my body by abusing it, or sticking pieces of metal through any parts of it. I do not even understand why anyone would want to do such a thing. It's like a kind of mental illness as far as I'm concerned. After watching tomorrow's episode I'm sure you'll agree with me on that.

I think you'll also agree that compared to those two people I appear very normal and innocent :) Anyway, still about 36 hours to go until the broadcast.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sedation Experiment, Day 4

Last night was similar to the previous one, aside from me taking a sleeping pill to see what would happen. The conclusion was that it didn't do a lot, as I still woke up around 4 AM. Ultimately I slept until 5 AM before I got out of bed.

Sedation has really become a safety blanket for me, and it is relatively often on my mind. Not being assaulted by hostile emotions is still a huge relief, and with each passing day that it holds up against the assault of external triggers I'm even more grateful. I'm convinced this weekend would have been extremely difficult again for me otherwise.

Today at the swimming pool even more so. This time it seemed like everyone in this city I have ever inadvertently hurt and who hasn't forgiven me was assembled. While I could now clearly see how my PTSD has manipulated me into saying things I didn't mean to, it's also clear that they don't see things the same, and other than begging for forgiveness things aren't likely to change. Next question is whether this is really such a terrible thing. I don't like the feeling of having done something wrong, and I dislike people who can not simply communicate. In the end it was like seeing part of my past being played back in front of me.

Moving back to the present, I met another fun person at the pool: a very friendly woman a few years older than me. We ended up talking a lot, and now she has found both my website and Facebook account. I hope we can keep in touch, as talking with her was a lot of fun. Her thinking that I was 15 years young was only part of the fun :)

Today I also once more made the observation how especially Dutch people really often look very negative and scary. When reaching out to others, whether it's just smiling or holding open a door for them, it's those types who don't say a word, even look at you with an almost hostile look. I think I notice it even more strongly now because I can feel how inside me positive emotions are far more frequent. Basically I just feel more often at peace, even happy. I'd say that it's the reduction in stress and the suppression of negative feelings which allows me to become more positive. More like myself, how I really am and already was as a child, as my mother would say.

At this point I'd like to add a quick update on TileWars: aside from the final integration of all the resources we're pretty much done. Trevor is hunting down a few puzzling bugs regarding the framerate but I have full confidence in his capabilities and expect big things before the end of next week. Tomorrow I'll probably put up the site for TileWars at the Nyanko site. I'll also update this blog by then with my thoughts on Tuesday's TV broadcast.

Stay tuned...


Saturday, 6 November 2010

Sedation Experiment, Day 3

Last night I slept reasonably well, I woke up once around 3 AM and fell asleep again until 5 AM when the dogs downstairs began to howl. I decided to get up at that point. Again I tried to assess my emotional condition and noticed an increase in the persistence of emotions, essentially in the proliferation of emotionally charged thoughts. After taking my first valerian pill of the day this quickly subsided until the pill truly began to work. This was noticeable by a distinct sensation of warmth throughout my body, combined with a feeling of peace and happiness.

My general mood can be described as distant. Functionally nothing seems to be amiss; my ability to recall and store memories seems unaffected, and I can perform my work without any difficulties. Communications with others, whether digitally or verbally - like earlier today when I went to the neighbours' to play a few games of Settlers of Catan - are as far as I can determine normal.

I can still feel the emotional responses, but it's as though they're at the other side of a padded wall, allowing me to only feel the vibrations of their pounding on the wall, so to speak. Thoughts of socializing, of friends and such largely emotional constructs fleetingly make their appearance before vanishing into the aether again.

What I'm most curious about is whether this all can be considered to be emotional suppression in the sense that the emotions are still there but ignored, or that they are truly just faint and unremarkable. This with regard to the possibility of an emotional backlash. Today I feel any emotions more strongly than yesterday and the day before that, but it is hard to derive any conclusions from this, as I know from previous experiences that weekends like this are accompanied by an intense feeling of loneliness, confusion and an almost pitiful desire for Pieter to return home.

It would be logical to conclude therefore that what I have experienced these past few days in terms of emotional response is just the usual pattern, but strongly reduced in amplitude. Tomorrow a similar feeling to what I feel today should then persist, which will then start subsiding again by Monday through the rest of the week, until the next time Pieter leaves for another weekend or so.

While I'm grateful that these pills have allowed me to gain a semblance of normality, one aspect I'm somewhat worried about, although it could be perfectly normal. This refers to an earlier statement of mine, on the fading of things the moment they're no longer actively being referred to. That statement referred to emotions in specific, but it seems to be more generic than I thought.

When I said that I no longer have to care about things, I should add that it's more like I just can not care. Not unless I really focus on it, or if it's something purely intellectual. My awareness of this world around me has changed together with its perception by me. The lack of emotions may play a role, in creating this sense of disconnect. When I look around my own room, I don't really feel anything. When I think about Pieter I don't feel anything. When I think about my family, I don't feel anything in particular. When I think about my body and medical situation I feel a tinge of sadness, but that's about the extent of it.

Is this a bad thing? After spending years in an emotional turmoil after snapping out of my 15-year emotional withdrawal it's actually kind of comforting. Emotions, when it comes down to it, are mostly painful anyway, and the more pleasant and innocent emotions I can still feel despite everything. I can feel joy, happiness, contentment and similar, maybe because they too are relaxing emotions, and thus aren't blocked by the increased stimulation of the GABA receptors unlike more negative or disruptive emotions which would instead go for the excitatory glutamate receptors.

So far I would say that this experiment seems to be going well. Tomorrow I'll spend the morning at the swimming pool. It'll be interesting to see how I'll experience that event.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Sedation Experiment, Day 2

My sleep last night was interesting; I slept soundly from about 10.30 PM until 1 AM, woke up, fell asleep again, and repeated this at least two more times during the night. The last time I woke up I was covered in sweat again, which indicates that I had a nightmare. I still felt rested, however.

Moments after waking up that last time this morning I could feel that the sedation had worn off. Not completely perhaps, but enough that I could feel myself respond far more severely and lengthy to impulses. It was kind of frightening after the peaceful daze of the day before.

Today I felt I responded better to the valerin pills. I had less trouble remembering things and had fewer memory issues in general. I managed to perform a significant amount of work and never felt particularly unable or unwilling to perform required tasks. Last night and right now I feel both tired and not tired, in the sense that I can close my eyes and feel a kind of weariness, yet I do feel alert and capable of performing tasks.

Also today a challenge took place, with Pieter leaving today for the weekend to visit his girlfriend. It's an event which previously caused a severe emotional response on my side, resulting from a number of causes, most particularly that of loneliness. Preceding Pieter's departure, about fifteen minutes ago, I didn't feel particularly agitated or focused on this event. At his departing I just found myself unable to focus on it at all, let alone respond.

One characteristic of being sedated like this is that I can still feel emotions, it's not like they have been completely suppressed. It's more like they have become very distant things, I can feel and observe them, but they're kind of remote and seem to move in slow-motion, allowing me to study them more closely than I could before. Acting upon any of those emotions is virtually impossible, because the moment I consider doing so, it has already begun to fade.

This weekend will be the real test, I guess, with nights still being the most tricky part of this phase of the experiment. During previous occurrences of this event, without sedation, I found myself completely unable to sleep in any form or shape unless I took a sleeping pill. Two weekends ago I managed to rack up three sleeping pills in a row, where I was only allowed to take a single one. It'll be interesting to see whether this weekend will be different.

One thing which should help is that if a feeling isn't being actively stimulated by something I see, hear or otherwise observe, it just fades. It is a pleasant sensation to not have to care about anything at all unless I choose to do so. To be quite honest it really feels like I'm more myself when my intellectual side is totally dominant like now, while emotions do not play any significant role. I would almost claim that at least to me emotions are a purely negative thing, serving no practical value at least where it concerns so-called 'adult' emotions. The simple expressions of joy and other responses from a child are an example of positive emotions. They're simple and pure, not the dark, polluted and most convoluted emotions most adults carry around with them.

On that note, I really enjoy being able to play Wii Sports again. It's a very simple series of games which still feel incredibly rewarding when one completes something successfully. I also like to really express my joy or disappointment at any results, in a manner I would definitely call carefree :) My favourite game is still Golf, and I like to think that I'm pretty good at it too :) I'm sure I'll be aching all over from today's Wii Sports session.

Anyone up for a Wii Sports session at my place? Other games are allowed too. Just remember to bring your own controller :)


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Going All Natural

Yesterday I had another episode were I got pushed too far emotionally during a conversation; with each passing moment I felt less and less comfortable not to mention less secure about my ability to function socially and emotionally until something just snapped inside of me. The end result was a number of bloody scratches along my neck, a nasty bump on my head and a clear conviction to banish everything related to negative emotions and above all sexuality and related from my life.

Of course, I have tried many times before to just ignore those aspects of human life which are the most traumatizing to me, but without success. This morning I woke up still feeling the same about those aspects, but also kind of upset. Then, somehow it occurred to me that I could try those valerian-based sleeping pills I kept unused in a drawer since they don't really help me sleep. So I took one pill, for 250 mg of valerian-extract.

The effect of valerian-extract on me is quite impressive. Any kind of emotional surge almost immediately 'fizzles' until it's gone. Getting angry, upset or even involved with emotional conflicts is just downright impossible. I have tried all day, but I just don't care about those things. Life immediately is a lot more bearable since now I can just take my distance from things which bother me, even those in my direct environment. The only negative thing about today's valerian experiment is that it does affect my memory in a noticeable manner, though the dose I took (two times 250 mg during the day) could be adjusted to compensate for that.

The best part about this solution I think is that valerian is a very commonly used herb for sedative purposes and side-effects are basically non-existent. There's no addiction (except in some male subjects, apparently), no loss of effectiveness over time and basically no significant risks. It has also been used for thousands of years and thus its long-term effects have been relatively well-studied. It works by affecting GABA receptors, the stimulation of which causes an inhibitory response in the central nervous system (CNS).

Basic information on valerian can be found at Wikipedia: (1)
A more detailed analysis can be found here: (2)
And finally some information on GABA: (3)

The effect of valerian on memory is well-known, and like other GABA-affecting substances it can inhibit the formation of new memories, which is known as anterograde amnesia. Most typical is that semantic (factual) memory is barely affected, whereas temporal memory is most dramatically affected. Even during today's experiment I can point to distinct episodes during the day where I seem to have lost some memories. Nothing major, but enough to notice it. It feels different from the usual 'I can't remember it' kind of thing everyone is familiar with.

Anterograde amnesia: (4)

During my research I also found out why valerian didn't help me sleep better, as described in (2). People who are generally regular sleepers do not seem to receive any benefit from taking this substance, and it seems likely that the cause for their sleeping issues lies elsewhere, not in a lack of GABA neurotransmitter activity.

A question many people seem to ask is whether caffeine, like in the energy drinks I take, has a negative effect on a GABA-based sedative like valerian. The basic answer is that it has no effect because they affect different receptors. Caffeine also isn't a stimulant; all it does is block certain receptors which are sensitive to neurotransmitters the brain produces while it's awake. In short this way not enough of those receptors can be activated to give the 'I am tired' signal to the brain, and thus you won't start feeling tired. The brain adapts really quickly to this pollution, however, and thus drinking more than 4 cups of coffee or energy drinks a week makes it quite ineffective.

The idea behind a stimulant is that it allows you to perform above your normal capacity, caffeine merely allows one to perform like one just woke up. Except if you're a regular drinker of coffee or energy drinks, of course. In that case you are merely taking care of the withdrawal effects of caffeine since it is relatively addictive. As any junkie can tell you, there's nothing worse than being without your next shot :)


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks

Yesterday happened what I expected to for a while now, but it still wasn't easy. In the email I received from the UMCG hospital, Weijmar Schultz explained that they do not wish to do anything more for me at all. No treatment, no help, no anything. Not until I accept that I'll never know what I am, that I will never have an official medical diagnosis, that I'll be neither male, female, transsexual or intersexual for the rest of my life. At that point they'd be prepared to help me get that official gender change. Makes sense? Not to me it doesn't.

They're prepared to talk about it with me in person on November 10th, but 3 hours of travel time to be told the same as in that email doesn't seem very useful. Pieter will send an email to the UMCG today informing them that we'll keep that offer in mind. Should I return from the US or wherever with answers I can live with I will at least have a place where I can go back to in this country. Even if part of it is to flaunt answers they couldn't be bothered to look for.

Despite knowing that this news would come, it nevertheless is still hard to actually read it. I just felt empty afterwards and even cried some. It's just a horrible feeling to be cast out like that, without anything to show for all of one's efforts. It is especially now that I'm really grateful for my contacts with the media, nice people like that photography student, and hopefully soon with politicians as well. If I hadn't put any effort in contacting the media and keeping up this blog and my website none of that would have happened. In the end I accomplished all of this because I refuse to give up.

Another nice thing which happened two days ago was a conversation with someone I know, who offered me some really valuable insights and assurances. Together with previous conversations with friends it has given me a lot to think about. The thing is that because I have PTSD people will often quickly explain anything they see as an anomaly in my behaviour as just another symptom of my traumas. The times people have done this and even had the nerve to suggest that I'd require immediate treatment are legion, and to be honest I'm quite angry at how they have manipulated me and that I have allowed them to do so.

I don't need to start using medication for my PTSD, I don't need EMDR treatment or similar, I'm not a socially and emotionally inept person. I have made it this far because I'm a strong person, socially and emotionally more than capable. I am emotionally very sensitive, true, and my ability to empathize with and understand others sometimes is very strong and confusing. Yet I am just fine the way I am, even if random strangers or even friends try to tell me that I'm a basketcase. Especially in the case of the latter it makes me wonder whether they're truly friends, or whether they're being influenced by others who most definitely aren't my friends in any sense of the word.

Anyway... it's been a very informative if slightly traumatizing few weeks. I have learned a great deal about myself, others, friendship and more. I feel I should focus more on relaxing now, outside my work of course :) Pieter just bought a Wii yesterday, the special Mario Edition with New Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2. And Wii Sports of course :D

Another thing I'd like to try both to be able to say I have done it and that it wasn't so bad is somewhat like an extension of me going swimming again. It seems to me that going to the sauna would be a useful and hopefully relaxing experience. Consider it therapy :) I would like to go with someone else, though, which is what this plan has been stuck on for the past months, if not years.