Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Gradual Recovery

This is mostly a quick update to let everyone who reads this blog know that I'm still here and still in relatively good health. I do not wish to discuss the events preceding my suicide attempt a few weeks ago or too many events afterwards as I'm already suffering far too many PTSD flashbacks related to them and reliving the events is decidedly not healthy or productive. Those months have really traumatized me like nothing before, far exceeding anything even the doctors and psychologists in this country have managed so far. Anyway...

What I have been trying to do these weeks I have spent in Rijssen so far is to put some semblance of order back into my life after having it derailed so cruelly and messy. Business-wise I'm more or less back on track; I finished some outstanding projects and after I bring the Intersection Online magazine online coming weekend after the last batch of Nyanko CMS modifications and upgrades, I will be resuming full-time work on the TileWars game so that it'll be ready for release next month. Later than planned, but there's little I could have done about it.

I have had an unfortunate run-in with the 'beauty-salon' here in Rijssen, the one in the medical center. Despite being ANBOS-certified (required for electrolysis), they managed to botch the treatment using old equipment, poor skills, wrong settings, lack of disinfecting before and afterwards, and so on, resulting in me walking around for over a week with swollen patches and scabbing. I sent a message to the ANBOS organization informing them about this and they said they'll take notice. Tomorrow I'll be going to another salon in Deventer, a nearby city.

Interesting this morning was my intake appointment with a GP, also at the medical center. This woman already triggered some warning bells during the beginning of the conversation when I told her about my intersexuality. She kept refuting commonly known medical facts, such as the number of intersexual births. Eventually she revealed herself when she said she didn't feel a 'connection' between us, and that the communication was 'difficult'. She didn't want to take me on as a patient, and refused to explain why not.

Based on her previous remarks it was pretty clear that her main objection was with my intersexuality. That she was a strict Christian person wasn't much of a secret, but her refusal to accept me as a patient without clarification showed her to be more than just strict. If she truly rejected me solely based on my intersexuality, thus my gender, then she would be guilty of discrimination. I decided to not bother with it, though. I didn't want her as GP, and it's not worth my time or energy to make such people see reason.

In the end I went to another part of the medical center where another team of GPs had their offices and made an appointment for an intake tomorrow morning. I think that tomorrow's appointment will go a lot better. I will also be able to pick up my new batch of hormones tomorrow after ordering them today.

My situation at this point is at best precarious. I'm under far more stress than would be healthy in the short-, let alone long-term. I'm prone to sudden and extreme mood swings, and have significant difficulty maintaining a positive outlook on life. My suicide attempt a few weeks ago was the clearest indication of how unbearable my situation had become, and no one can claim that my situation has significantly improved since that time. The terrors of the past months keep haunting my waking hours as well as my sleep, and as I wrote to my psychotherapist today, I need to somehow move forward to escape this situation.

Last week there was a minor break-through in this, when this man from the crisis center Almelo dropped by while I was having another emotional breakdown episode. He quickly recognized, also through his work with young, gifted autistic people, that my problem was not my gender issue, but my Asperger which makes it virtually impossible to deal with my current situation. What I need is help, and guidance; assistance to help me move forward until I get to a part where I can do things on my own again.

Next Monday I'll get a phone call from this same man and I'll hear what they exactly have planned for me and who is going to take care of me. To me it felt like a huge relief to finally be talking to someone who truly understands me, and those like me. The most crucial thing I think he said was that while Asperger people are on average of a higher intelligence than others, they lack in a few crucial areas which mistakenly gives the outside world the impression that they are intelligent and very capable, while this is only true in a few areas, all of them analytical and intellectual, and where their idea of how it all should be like works.

In my situation, for example, my idea of how things should work is that there is some obvious, clear way to find a place in or near Amsterdam where I can live, and some way to finance it all which is obvious and just works. Instead I find this tangled mess of discordant organizations and broken down system of regulations, subsidies and assorted other systems. This discord between my vision of how it should be and how things are causes a great deal of stress and uncertainty, and is the main cause for why things just seem to 'lock up' inside my head.

This is a common thing with Asperger people, or Aspies as they like to be called. Preparing everything in advance, and having the utmost difficulty when things get changed halfway through. Routine, certainty, space and rest are the central things in an Aspie's life. Take any of them away and stress levels go through the roof.

I really hope that next week will be the start of my new life, so to speak.


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lobbying, First Day: Linda Voortman

Yesterday was officially the kick-off for my lobbying efforts, with an appointment with Linda Voortman of the Green Left (Groenlinks) party here in the Netherlands. I arrived early, just after 10 AM, so while I settled in for my 11 AM appointment I began a conversation with the woman sitting next to me, who turned out to be an aspiring member of the Party for the Animals (Partij voor de Dieren). We ended up chatting for a while about our reasons for being there at the Tweede Kamer building, my situation and efforts and so on, until Linda Voortman showed up and showed me deeper into the building, through the many security measures, including RFID tags and airlocks.

As an aside, a juicy detail I heard from the security guard present at the X-ray machine was that guests for the controversial Party for the Freedom (Party Voor de Vrijheid (PVV)) have to be escorted into the building for security reasons.

Anyway, at around 10.30 AM I was already having my conversation with Linda Voortman. It pays to be early, I guess, as it got me half an hour extra during which we discussed the primary topics: improving the understanding of intersexuality under the general populace via the education system among other methods, and much more research into intersexuality and the development of protocols for the medical system.

I think Linda Voortman does share my conviction that the current situation has to change; she is going to discuss the matter with people who are involved in the medical world later this week, is actively asking for information on the subject including via Twitter, and she gave me a list of other politicians are other parties (VVD, PvdA, D66 and PVV) to also ask for their support, so that there can be multi-party support for this matter, which should help things move along much more smoothly.

The way home from The Hague was slightly eventful, with me having to take a detour with the train, due to a technical malfunction somewhere, and meeting this nice girl thanks to that with whom I ended up chatting and sharing my website's address for a while until she had to get off at Utrecht. It was very pleasant. I love random meetings like that. During the rest of the journey I mostly spent playing on my Nintendo DSi. Also fun :)

Another thing I discussed with Linda Voortman was my intention to set up this online magazine on intersexuality which was inspired by my good friend Vic. Linda was very much in favour of it, and expressed a willingness to write articles for it as well. So yesterday I registered the domain name and put a design together. Next up is taking care of the programming side and making things work smoothly. With some luck it'll be up and running next week.

It was really fun to truly become a part of Dutch politics yesterday. I got the impression that the issue at hand is being taken seriously and that this year there'll be a discussion at least. It was also a very positive experience for me since it made me feel like I'm part of something again, a big contrast with the sensation of being lost and alone of the previous period.

I finally got the recognition for myself and the issue I represent from the media and common people last year, and yesterday from politics as well. Next up is the prehistoric world of medicine.


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Joy In Life

I'm typing this while sitting in front of my computer which is currently located in the living room at my mother's place, in the Eastern part of the country. A lot of things have happened since my last post and I'm not sure that the full experience can be captured using mere words. A brief summary should suffice.

For the past two months I have found myself in an increasingly more impossible situation. It started when my then housemate Pieter started dating this woman, or maybe I should say she ensnared him. She and one of her friends then started terrorizing and bullying me, as well as brainwashing Pieter into believing certain things, like that I do not have PTSD, that I use it as a pitiful excuse. That this woman didn't traumatize me. That if I mention in an unrelated Twitter message that my weblog suddenly got a lot of hits from Capelle a/d IJssel - a city here in the Netherlands - and it happens to be this woman's place of residence, it suddenly threatens her life and that of her son. I still don't get that last one, and it shows how far Pieter got brainwashed by this woman. He actually got angry at me over it, something he never got before.

Anyway, after two months of what basically amounts to a weird, outrageous psychological stress experiment I was pretty much about to snap. The weekend when Pieter messaged me that he was going to have this woman over for dinner, even though he had previously promised he wouldn't do that, was the last straw. I got pressured into leaving the house before the end of last week, but not having found anything suitable and being confronted with my Asperger's like that combined with existing stresses and traumas managed to completely push me off the edge.

During last week I went to multiple health centers in Almere, talked to the crisis center and more in the hope that anyone could help me. I didn't want to go to home any more, spent 4.5 hours walking outside one night, couldn't stop crying and basically had turned into an emotional wreck. On Thursday night my mother came over to the house in Almere, got a frigid reception by Pieter and spent the night there because I had already gone to bed.

The next morning I greeted my mom relatively normally and she went downstairs to make some tea. I got dressed and took my usual medication, as well as all the sleeping pills I had collected up till that point and swallowed them all. I then put on day creme, brushed my hair and everything which is part of my usual morning routine. I wanted to look good. While brushing my hair my mom came upstairs and talked to me some, but I already had begun to feel the effect of the sleeping pills.

From what I heard later, I collapsed shortly after that moment. First my mom and Pieter thought I had merely withdrawn into myself, so he put me on my bed and my mom stayed with me. After a while when my lips began to turn blue it was Pieter who called the emergency number. About 6 hours later I more or less woke up in the hospital and got fired pretty much right away. There I heard that I had to go with my mom to her place, that I couldn't go back to Pieter place and that he had begun packing the moment the ambulance left. I was so dazed at that point that I didn't realize the full impact of what had just happened.

That came the next day, when my older brother brought my things with a van to my mom's place. I had decided that morning that I wouldn't want to eat or drink any more, and that I should have died that Friday. I became more and more suicidal after that until a psychologist of the crisis center Almelo came over after an emergency call by my mother. I threw a huge tantrum, locked myself in my room, yelled at the psychologist, tried to suffocate myself with a plastic bag and basically was just hysterical and impossible to deal with.

Once the suicide attempt failed because I began to feel really nauseous I somehow felt the strange energy possessing me ebb away, and instead I began to feel strangely calm. Talking to the psychologist, I realized that I had just thrown out part of the trauma, frustrations and pain of the past months, and that my suicidal thoughts and attempts could be attributed to this trauma. That same day I began to eat and drink again.

The crisis center couldn't help me further, though, as they agreed that I'm psychologically totally okay, and that all I need is to find an apartment, house or other place where I can live on my own back near the environment I lived in for the past three years: back to Amsterdam and surrounding area, basically. That's the part where I'm at now.

I try to sum up the joyous things in life but all I can come up with just sounds hollow and unimportant. I'm still essentially homeless, getting back onto my feet financially is going to take a lot of effort and help, today I realized how poorly I fit in these surroundings where everything is so firmly male & female-only, leaving no place for someone like me. I find myself wondering at which point I'll be allowed to have a life of my own. I used to have something like a freshly budding life a number of months ago, until it got crushed cruelly.

I am not saying that I'm feeling suicidal at this moment, but I do feel tired if not exhausted, am drained emotionally and everywhere I turn I find painful memories and reminders of what my life could have been like. I guess I'm just really, really sad.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Asperger Syndrome

The past few days have been a nightmare for me. I really didn't understand anything of what was going on any more, or anything about myself in a psychological fashion. That is until I remembered that giftedness is often linked with a form of autism (autism spectrum disorder). I also remembered that a psychologist in Zutphen where I have been from half-way 2006 until end 2006 performed a test from which was concluded that I'm mildly autistic. I decided to look at the official definitions of the conditions which are part of this autism spectrum.

The best match turned out to be Asperger Syndrome, also known as Asperger's:

DSM-IV (299.80) defines Asperger's Disorder as:
A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
(1) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
(2) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
(3) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
(4) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
(1) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
(2) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
(3) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
(4) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).

E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.

The above is pretty much a perfect fit for me. I have had multiple people remark the past days that they always figured I had something like Asperger, including today at the beauty salon when my beautician bluntly stated that she had always thought I had something autistic, especially since her grand-daughter is autistic too. During the talk I had today at the psychology center regarding my recent domestic troubles the psychologist and doctor present essentially confirmed my Asperger's.

Knowing this is a big relief, because no longer everything unusual about me can just be blamed on my giftedness. Instead I have Asperger's in the first place, which explains my clumsiness when it comes to social situations, my inability to make friends, my contradictory desire to be alone and surrounded by people, of course at my own terms, my sensory sensitivity, and many more things. It allows me to understand why I'm different from most people around me, and why I mix well with certain types.

Not that it's of much use to me right now, though. Here in the Netherlands it's apparently not important, there doesn't seem to be any guidance or anything unless maybe if you happen to be a young child, and I have no idea what my future is going to be like even one week from now, considering I am expected to leave where I am living now by Saturday. Considering that an aspect of Asperger's is a strict adherence to patterns and routines, and severe trouble adapting to changes, the coming days are going to be fun.

Will it work out? Will something go terribly wrong? Stay tuned for the next update. Or not, in which case it should be pretty clear what happened :)


Sunday, 2 January 2011

Good Times

I just found myself thinking back to the good times I have had together with Pieter. From going to the swimming pool, to simple things like grocery shopping or just drinking tea and chatting about random stuff, or watching him work on another quest in World of Warcraft and discussing raids and strategies and often the rest of the raid team failing at them...

It was Pieter who inspired me to work on this FPGA/ASIC hardware simulator project which while still immature has been a lot of trouble but still is a lot of fun to work on. It was also he who took days off from his work to accompany me to hospital appointments. He comforted me whenever I felt down and inspired me to get back onto my feet.

Looking back at those times it's hard to imagine why I didn't feel happier back then, because life was simply good back then, even with all those stupid medical specialists harassing me. Or maybe it's just the nostalgia filter, I don't know. All I know is that right now I would love to go back to those days, actually focus on work and make money so that I could have moved to my own place at my own pace and under happier circumstances.

At times like these I honestly can't say that I have any clue where my life is heading, except that things can't get a whole lot worse than they are now. I hope that in a few months time I can look back on these last few months and congratulate myself and/or those who helped me for getting me out of it. It's time for more good times.


Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

 Yet another year has passed and I only feel emptiness and bitterness at the arrival of a new year. Last night I nearly committed suicide already... and got paid a visit by the police who got requested to check up on me. Lots of fun to basically get dragged out of bed in the midst of the night.  Very embarrassing and unsettling.

I haven't been feeling well for the past few days; searching for a new place and all the uncertainties that come with it have drained my last strength resulting in my burn-out/meltdown yesterday. Today was little different. Receiving a text message from my housemate minutes ago with the best wishes for the new year just made me feel sick with revulsion. At my situation, at how everything and everyone out there seems to just want to make me feel more miserable.

I'll be taking another sleeping pill, second in a row, to ensure I'll actually get some sleep. I am now regularly violating the direction to not take more than one sleeping pill every three nights at most. I honestly do not see an alternative. Those who say that I have so many things to look forward to in this year truly have no idea what they're talking about.

*wipes away more tears*