Saturday, 31 May 2014

Seeking A Way Out Where Every Path Leads To Death

"The so-called psychotically depressed person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of  hopelessness or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire's flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It's not desiring the fall; it's terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling 'Don't!' and 'Hang on!', can understand the jump. Not really. You'd have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling." - David Foster Wallace [1]

For over ten years I have had to endure brainwashing by physicians and psychologists, eroding and distorting my sense of self into something ever so gruesome until I truly began to believe that I was mentally ill. I have been exposed to countless physical violations by the same physicians, as part of their attempts to brainwash me. I have been beaten up and tortured by police officers with lasting physical damage, without committing any crime. I have suffered rape and abuse by both men and women. There's almost nothing in daily life which doesn't at least in some way remind me of these events which also fill my dreams with torturous nightmares.

I don't even have to try remember and feel physicians penetrating and violating me, or see their self-assured faces as they would tell me that I am delusional and really do not have anything but a normal biologically male body. I can still feel the police officer sitting on top of me to subdue me, the bashing of my head against a car door and the sharp pain of the metal cuffs seemingly tearing into my wrists as I begged for them to loosen them. The intense sense of shame and violation as I got forcefully stripped off my clothes and thrown naked into a cell. This shifts into recollections of the many who have used me physically and sexually. Watching others hug or be intimate is too painful a reminder. Others rarely are allowed to touch me beyond shaking hands as it's too distressing for me.

That I moved to Germany was to escape the persecution and terrors I experienced in the Netherlands. Yet even here it doesn't seem like I'll get even a semblance of the help I require. Medically things are falling apart as I described in previous posts and unless the upcoming surgery is a success, this will be another wasted year. As for treatment for my post-traumatic stress disorder and other traumatic stress disorders I suffered over the past years, this too seems virtually impossible. Whether it's medically or psychologically I'm apparently too unique a case. There literally is no help for me out there due to being the first and only case.

As I'm slowly losing my sense of self again with the many recent confusing events and setbacks it rekindles the flames which keep me away from living a life. One cannot come close to a life when it's all on fire and even just coming closer hurts a lot. Thus one backs away, further and further. Yet there's only so far one can back away. Much like a victim trapped in a burning skyscraper, cut off from any escape route. While one fervently hopes that the flames do not come closer or will extinguish themselves, it becomes impossibly clear in one's mind that falling to a quick death is preferable over slowly burning to death.

I'm still in the 'fervently hoping' phase at this point, yet having tried to keep up hope for month after month, year after year, it's been chipping away at my resolve and patience one bit at a time until at this point there's precious little left of it. Don't get me wrong, I would like to have a life like everybody else. I have so many things I still want to do and enjoy. Yet the flames just keep getting in the way and burning me. It hurts too much. Apparently all due to having been born in a socially undesirable body and refusing to go along with whatever physicians wanted me to do. I can not win when the game is stacked against me.

In hoping for a miracle I would like to see clarity about my intersex condition and receive the reconstructive surgery. I would like to get support for my PTSD and DID traumatic disorders so that I can finally overcome the horrors of the past decade.

If no miracle occurs... the flames and open window are always there as a terrifyingly and normally unimaginable choice. As someone who wouldn't even want to jump out of a functioning airplane with a parachute, it's frightening to think that I could find myself in that situation again where one side I'd have the scorching heat and on the other the cool air and hundred meter drop.



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Reflecting On All That Hurts

Last week I went to see my gynaecologist to address the increase in period-related pain after the new hormone therapy he put me on. One part of it was an obvious improvement by switching from an oral form of estradiol to a gel-based, transdermal one which would spare my liver. The other was to switch from the anti-conception pill to pure progesterone. While using this new combination I noticed that the period symptoms became more severe than I was used to, so I wanted to express my doubts about this approach. The gynaecologist then recommended scrapping taking the progesterone completely and see what happens.

For the past days it's been more or less agony city for me. It's easier to describe the part of my body where I don't experience pain or discomfort. My hips were the most obvious point where the pain started, as well as the lower abdomen and the burning pain in the vaginal region making it a pain to sit down or walk. It's now these regions, my knees, feet, lower back, sides and everything in between where it's severely hurting much of the time or where I'm experiencing extreme to mild discomfort.

Where I just want to throw up my arms in the air in surrender whilst cackling like a mad person is that at this point nobody knows why I'm experiencing these pains. They started for me at the usual age of around 11 years, though the first question every physician here asks me cannot be answered. Namely whether or not I experience bleeding during these monthly episodes. Since everything is closed from the outside all I can say is that 'something' is happening. Something which causes a lot of expansion in the lower abdomen and presses on the nerves running from the lower section of the spinal cord to the lower abdomen and legs. Yet nobody here seems in any particular rush to address this. When I talked about it with my gynaecologist and the two most recent surgeons the former just told me to try this new hormone therapy approach and the latter said that they'd wait the 1-2 months for these genetic results.

Is it really a surprise in this situation that I'd opt to just go ahead with the planned surgery in less than two months regardless of what further happens? Experiencing severe discomfort and pain every month while everybody is telling me that there shouldn't be any reason why I would experience it is nothing short of a nightmare. What if it is something serious? Since my internal physiology as far as any possible ovarian tissue and other female reproductive organs/tissues goes is about as far from the norm as it gets, there is no existing situation in the literature or similar cases to point to. Nobody knows what's happening or what may happen in the future. And it scares the hell out of me. It could be nothing. It could be lethal. It could be anything in between.

That's another situation where I can only fervently wish that I was born normal instead of with this freakish body every physician seems to want to just ignore while waiting for me to wander off and die instead of bothering them. If had been a normal female I would have no mysteries and no agony like this. Even with a very heavy period like some have it would at least be something known benign and one could focus on ways to deal with it. Since I don't know what is causing these horrible pains there is nothing I can do. I don't want to take every single possible generic painkiller in the hope that it will help either as there is no way that could be healthy for me.

The whole 'normal' thing I can not shake off either. Seeing quite normal people around me every single day is in many ways maddening and makes me feel frustrated and sad at the same time. Seeing people around me live regular lives with regular relationships and doing all the regular things and putting it next to my life of persecution, medical uncertainty and the struggle for self-definition while never truly having experienced a normal family, friendship or a relationship, it all makes me feel even more like I do not belong. What in heaven's name happened that I ended up like this? Was all it took being born like this into an intersex body which seems to be universally loathed by physicians? Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been born into a horrible, intolerant country like the Netherlands, but who knows...

When it comes to the issue of relationships and the inevitable sexuality part I can honestly say that I would gladly not deal with it ever again in my life. Either get the 'perfect' relationship, or forget about it completely. I think that the latter is the most likely outcome. I can not stand relationships at this point anyway. Seeing couples in public or elsewhere keeps evoking the same feelings of sickness or longing, depending on whether it's a heterosexual or lesbian couple. Homosexual couples are fine for me and evoke no particular emotion. Lesbian couples I can feel a slight sense of longing, but also a sense of fatalism. Heterosexual couples only make me feel raging hatred.

Last Saturday when this guy in California shot to death a number of women I actually took the time to read the entire autobiography/manifesto he had published shortly before he went on his shooting spree, or Day of Revenge as he called it. The thing was that in his writings I could recognize a lot. Not the sense of entitlement, or the yearning for sexual contact, as if anything I feel pretty unworthy of anything and as far as the latter goes: been there, done that, only got the never-healing scars. What I did recognize was this feeling of loathing towards couples. Of feeling sickened at the thought of them having sex. The sense of wrongness. It's the same for me, only completely different. Yet it made me think.

I know it's all not real and that heterosexual relationships are not unnatural and men really aren't disgusting creatures who just want to assault and use women for their own pleasure and gratification. Yet that doesn't mean that the sight of a heterosexual couple holding hands doesn't make me feel sick to my stomach. I can not help hating and loathing them. I can not stop the thoughts of destroying them for daring to have filthy, gross, disgusting sexual acts. In this way my mind keeps torturing itself. I know that for me it's likely the PTSD which has distorted my sense of reality in this manner, because I know that I didn't think like this a number of years ago before I got raped and before the medical torture and brainwashing started.

As far as the physical pains go, I am still struggling to figure out for myself whether I can call them real or not. Having experienced psychosomatic pains on many occasions before due to excessive stress and combined with my low self-esteem/brainwashing part of my mind keeps questioning whether I'm not just making it all up. It may be one of the motivations behind this thought which keeps popping up in my mind to just let things play out and see how bad this physical pain goes. At this point it occasionally gets me to the point where I nearly collapse already, including early today while riding my bicycle. Only by suffering a major medical incident can I prove to myself and others that it's real and not faked.

As for addressing my concerns about these pains, I explained already that I have done so to multiple physicians, but that they just don't care. Clearly I'm not supposed to get medical help at this point. Maybe because I'm only making myself think that it's serious or even real.

Questioning oneself like this all the time really hurts, though.


Thursday, 22 May 2014

I'm An Activist, Scientist, Developer, Charlatan, Liar

A while ago I was having a Skype video chat with a group of American High School students at the request of one of them, who was holding a presentation about the topic of intersex. Through these and many media experiences I have come to realize that to many in the outside world I'm being regarded as an intersex activist. Someone who fights for the human rights of intersex individuals. Among these US students I drew a lot of interest, with many of them either hearing about the topic for the first time, or seeing and talking with an intersex person for the first time. I realize that these appearances are doing a lot of good.

Another aspect of me which I think I should be proud of is that of my scientific mind. Never ceasing to ask questions about how things work and always seeking to gain a better understanding of this world and universe we live in. Then to build new cool software and devices to further help this cause using the developer and engineering side of my personality. My ambitions are endless, their execution only hampered by how society treats me for how I was born.

And still I fight. To prove that I'm a developer and scientist by trying to show that I am right in the face of disbelief. To ascertain my claim that I am intersex as supported by some but not other physicians, as I honestly have no clue what else could be the matter with me. There doesn't seem to be an end to the fighting and proving. Just the endless demands, setbacks, queries for help and the postponing of any dreams I may have left.

My recent medical experiences in Germany turned sour when a third surgeon got involved, which resulted in any new tests being cancelled. At this point it doesn't appear that anything new will happen. I can't be bothered to fight it any more. I have no absolute proof that I have any specific intersex condition. I'm still being questioned on all my claims. At this point I'm not sure I care any more. I just hope that the surgery in just over a month will go ahead, even if it's incomplete, and even if it will work out or not. I don't care if I die on the operating table. All that I want to escape is the endless medical inquiries and questioning of every single aspect of my body and with it me as a person. With it the feeling the I'm deceiving everything with my fantastic stories of being a hermaphrodite. It burdens me to know that I am quite likely a liar and deceiving myself as well.

With my body essentially a useless, horrible shell like this, the other aspects of my being become ever so more important to me. That's where being put to question as a developer as the most recent development really hits hard. To me being a good software developer isn't just something I earn my living with. It's one of the last shards I have left of myself, of how I can define 'me' as a person and an existence.

I don't think I'll ever get my body back. I never had a body anyway. All those years that I was lied to about it being a male body, then the controversy about whether it is a male or intersex body. I don't know what is true. I cannot go and question everything every doctor says just because I think it has to be a certain way. In the end there's nothing that is certain. Everything just shifts and twists, including the basic facts about who and what I am and what this body is. Everything I say therefore is both an absolute truth and a complete lie.

I am still well-aware enough of things that I realize that these past weeks my dissociative identity disorder (DID) is getting worse and worse, much like my PTSD. Between constant triggers for the former and the enduring stress forcing my mind to protect itself by encapsulating all of the cancerous growths which threaten my sanity, it's a downright miracle that I'm still able to function so well. I am also aware of that this situation cannot last long. At this rate I will collapse, burn-out or worse. There is nothing I can do about it, much like I have never been able to steer or control my life in any form or shape. That's something reserved for the 'proper' humans. Not freaks like me. There's just forced surgery and the asylum for us.

I should stop worrying and learn to love fatalism.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Second Opinion On Surgery And DSD Makes Me Into A Freak

Yesterday I went to yet another hospital, again for my intersex condition, specifically to get a second opinion on the reconstructive surgery. To get the most pressing questions out of the way: the surgeon there thinks that she can likely not perform the requested surgery, but she is most definitely prepared to run all of the tests and perform all the examinations to get as much data and options as possible. This means that I'll be coming back to this hospital on the 12th next month for my first MRI scan with contrast dye. She'll also request the surgery report for my earlier surgery in 2011. They're doing all of the usual blood work and running some genetic testing on said blood as well, probably confirm the Dutch results of XY chromosomes and intact SRY gene.

The journey itself to and from the hospital was fine, with a single transfer in Stuttgart. The weather was partially sunny with some showers and at times a stiff, cold wind. By the time I arrived at the clinic it was sunny, however. I took this as a good sign, in which I was largely proven right. Naturally I was completely exhausted by the time I got back home in Karlsruhe.

It was not too hard to find where I had to go at the hospital. I had to ask at the front desk where to go initially - which I managed to do in German - but otherwise I quickly found myself in the right location. There I met the physician with whom I had had email contact. After a chat in which she asked me a lot of questions she took some blood and led me to the surgeon whom I met after waiting for about half an hour in a waiting room. Said half hour passed rather quickly as I started chatting with an older woman there who probably had heard me talk English with the physician. She enjoyed speaking English with me as she had grown up near the American airbase of Ramstein where she grew up amongst native English speakers. This was a pleasant interlude.

The meeting with the surgeon was brief and to the point. After some questions from her side I underwent a physical examination during which the surgeon concluded that I did indeed not have a prostate and also that the urethra followed a route more like what one would expect to find in a male. According to her this would make an incision in the perineum quite risky as it would put the urethra near the incision. The surgery report from Hamburg should help clear up how things look there exactly and how they dodged this risk. At the very least my request to not remove the penis was met by mostly nonchalance. Though unusual, it would not form an issue during surgery but instead make things a lot easier due to having to relocate fewer structures.

One thing which I found to be quite enlightening as well was that the skin of the scrotum can most definitely be used to make labia without having to destroy the penis in the process. At least the surgeon was quite certain of this.  This is definitely something which should be discussed with the surgeon in Erding if I do decide to have surgery there. There's one more surgeon I am waiting on to hear his opinion. Hopefully before the end of next month it will become clear what my choices are.

The only thing about yesterday which I can truly call negative was that they actually used the term 'DSD' at the hospital. For those who don't know, this stands for Disorders of Sex Development and is the term used by anti-intersex individuals to stigmatize a generally benign medical condition. When I told the first physician that I really didn't like them using it, she said that they 'had to use something'. Today I actually wrote her an email with some information and questions in which I also requested that she didn't use this term any more to refer to my condition, but 'intersex' or 'hermaphrodite' instead. As reasons I indicated that it triggers my PTSD and that it's neither well-accepted as term in the intersex community nor medically accurate. One can only designate a vanishingly small number of intersex conditions as disorders, after all, such as the one muscle-degenerative type of AIS.

To be honest I'm still very upset about this use of a term which to me essentially represents everything bad I have encountered related to my intersex condition. From brainwashing attempts so that I'd consent to a 'normalization' therapy to other assorted attempts to make me believe or see things differently from how they truly are. This surgeon also has regular contact with the gynaecologist at the VUmc gender team in Amsterdam, the same place where I suffered the worst of my PTSD. Now, I know this gynaecologist in a more or less personal manner and I don't think he's bad - not like the rest of this team - but I find it hard not to feel terror at the thought that maybe he'll convince the surgeon that I'm just a nutcase and that a normalization surgery to make me into a regular male/female is what I really need/want.

It's the persecution syndrome which I just cannot shake of. Not after ten years of actual persecution, brainwashing and harassment by the Dutch medical system. The DSD designation just confirms for me that I'm being seen as physically ill. Crippled. In need of medical care to 'fix' me. All my efforts every single day to feel healthy and normal get wiped away like that. I'm not normal. I'm not healthy. I'm sick and handicapped. I cannot live without a normalization surgery to 'cure' me of my intersex 'disorder'. It's a horribly pervasive thought which I simply can not fight against. Not when the whole system is set up against me. I can fight and resist, but in the end they will naturally win and I'll meekly undergo a normalization surgery to make me 'normal'. Because I'm so obviously a sick freak of nature with severe medical issues, I just refuse to acknowledge it.

It's so tempting to think that if things do not work the coming months I can take back control of my life and simply terminate it. I'm so sick of others playing with my life, manipulating it to fit their own sick, twisted ideas of how the world is supposed to look. I'm just a toy to them.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

On Systematic Discrimination In Video Games

Some of you may have heard about some people getting very upset with Nintendo for publishing a game somewhat like the Sims, featuring relationships. The thing was that you can marry your avatar in the game to someone else's avatar, but only if one is female and the other male, or vice versa. Looking at this issue in a broader light it seems clear to me that the people upset about this are merely shooting the messenger. The simple fact is that Nintendo is a Japanese company, thus based in a country where same-sex marriage is illegal. It would likely result in a lot of trouble if Nintendo released this game in Japan with same-sex marriages as option. If anything Nintendo is the victim here, caught between a rock and a hard place.

And really, there is a much larger issue with this game. Actually it's something which is wrong with every single video game out there which features human beings or similar representations. They are all horribly discriminatory against a large group of people by completely excluding their existence. I'm of course talking about intersex individuals. If I wanted to I could whine at Nintendo for not including intersex/hermaphrodite characters within their Mii avatar system. I just don't see how it would solve anything. In the end it's an issue with society, not with a video game.

A recent video game which I thought was coming closest to not imposing some kind of moral or ethical system on the sexuality and gender preferences of its characters was Saints Row IV, though even if it didn't explicitly include any intersex characters. Then again, it makes sense to wonder about what it would add to the game and how it would make people regard intersex individuals in general. Maybe it would make more sense to introduce the concept of intersex in a mainstream video game in a more focused fashion instead of just cramming it into any random game.

I have been giving thought for a while now to a possible concept for a game which could feature a main character who is intersex. One option there of course is a game-version of something like my own story, shaped like a kind of survival and detective or puzzle game, with influences from games such as Silent Hill, Persona and similar strongly story-driven games with an ever-present sensation of something being wrong as things go from bad to worse. It could be a dramatized version of real-life stories, possibly with multiple endings depending on the choices one makes during the game.

Best thing I think would be to have the player get 'into' the main character to really understand its experiences and motivations. This would be better than merely having, say, a hermaphrodite character in a Sims-like game, as for the average player their programming would kick in and they'd just discard it as 'weird' while not feeling motivated to understand the character. As they say, you have to walk in a person's shoes before you can understand that person. Maybe a video game like this could make intersex suddenly an actually well-known thing.


Saturday, 10 May 2014

Hugs And Other Forms Of Physical Intimacy

One thing I have been confronted with repeatedly over the past months thanks to the time have spent at the local hackerspace is that of physical intimacy. With the people at this hackerspace being quite friendly there is the common occurrence of people hugging each other, giving a shoulder massage and the like. To me this feels... weird.

When people ask me whether it's okay for them to hug me I really have to think about it. For me it seems to come down to perceived threat level. My default assumption is always that I can not trust the person and that they will possibly hurt me. To mitigate this other factors need to be assessed.

The first factor seems to be that of the gender of the other person, the second how I perceive the personality of this person. I tend to have a far less severe defensive response when the person asking it is female. I am aware of my bad experiences with men in general and my general distrust of men as a result of this and other experiences.

I notice this in different ways too, such as when I see couples. When it's two women it's fine for me, aside from a touch of longing. When it's two men it's also fine for me. When it's a man and woman I feel uncomfortable, in pain and even sickened. When they show intimacy towards each other I have to look away while wishing I had never seen it. It's honestly traumatizing to me.

It could be that this is all just due to how I have been treated in the past, with mostly men either taking advantage of me or being the physicians who violated me physically. While I have learned to suppress any feelings of discomfort when I get into an examination chair at a doctor's office for yet another physical examination, I have to admit that it is a horrible and traumatizing experience.

Add to this that most of the physicians who examined me this way were most likely lying to me; attempting to brainwash me into believing that I was something which I am not. This tied physical contact, sexuality, men and betrayal together in a horrifying combination.

To me even hugging is a form of physical intimacy which one doesn't share lightly with others. I'm pretty sure that I would think about it in a similar way if I hadn't suffered these traumatic experiences. Every time I got physically violated it added a bit more to the trauma to get to the current point where I have to admit that this irrational hatred and distrust I feel against men in general is a problem.

I know I still have to figure out exactly what the sources of these irrational feelings are and what to do about it. I do know that I have to dive deep into my traumatic experiences of the past. I just hope that I can have the surgery over with soon so that I can at least put an end to the horrible physical examinations.

Maybe after the surgery I can finally start thinking about healing from my traumas. At this point I can only suffer through them, every day again.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

Attuned To Misery, Or: My Brain Lies To Me

In an earlier article I touched upon the functioning of the human brain, in particular the 'inner universe' which surrounds the conscious mind. This inner universe is what filters, pre-selects and fills in gaps in the information trickling in via one's senses. This IU is also what gets modified when one suffers trauma, causing the whole process to derail significantly. This is the particularly troubling thing I experience when it comes to my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Simply put I regularly lose touch with reality.

Where things begin to go wrong for me are with my expectations and responses. This particularly when anything I attempt goes wrong it serves as a massive feedback loop, reinforcing the major concept in the IU that something is wrong with me, that I'm incapable of doing things right, that I'm a failure. This same feedback loop occurs when I interact with people, where everything is interpreted in the most negative way possible with the ever-present expectation that people will always want to hurt and/or abandon me. I call it a feedback loop because after it gets triggered it doesn't just destroy my self-confidence and ability to appreciate being alive, this reduction in motivation will more readily cause further negative responses.

After a decade of essentially just suffering through extreme misery following an earlier fifteen or so years of social rejection due to being 'different' I can only say that I would be more surprised if I hadn't ended up like this. Of course I cannot trust others when they never trusted me, including many of my own family members. Of course I hate this body I was born in when it's the subject of so much controversy and has led to me getting tortured in so many interesting ways. If I didn't feel like this something would be truly wrong with me. Being this heavily traumatized is normal and expected, albeit far from healthy.

Of course it's all lies. Everything my brain tells me is twisted and manipulated, barely resembling reality in any form or shape. Of course there are people who I can trust and of course things can turn out fine with the medical help I'm seeking. Yet that's just my intellectual side which is capable of seeing beyond the IU's lies and deceptions. My emotional side is completely incapable of this, a mere toy for these manipulations. This is why I have come to loathe emotions and feelings in general. For no matter what my intellectual side tells me, my emotional side will be completely in the thrall of the IU's imaginations and will be hurting.

As the emotional side is also linked to the centers of the brain responsible for feeling pain and as recent studies have shown that there is no appreciable difference in the way the brain experiences physical and emotional pain, the pain I experience on a virtually daily basis is beyond excruciating. In a sense it's like being terminally ill. Suffering agonizing pains which keep you from functioning at all. There is only the overwhelming pain, as its own micro-cosmos.

The isolation from society which PTSD sufferers report is due to the attunement of their IU not matching up with that of their surroundings. Where their surroundings are focused on happy, joyful things, the IU of a PTSD individual has become attuned to what can be summarized as misery. That's why they can no longer truly feel happy or experience joy, yet they will respond very strongly to both negative experiences (e.g. suffering of others) and highly positive ones such as kindness.

This is why one of the best ways for me to deal with PTSD is actually not to focus on happy things, but to watch a movie or play a game in which there is a lot of suffering. For some reason this matches up with the expectations of my IU: everything is about suffering, most people will betray you, death is right around the corner, hope is a futile delusion. It may sound negative and pessimistic, but it calms me down.

Of course, fixing the causes of my PTSD is even better, especially in the long-term. This is where hopefully the upcoming surgery will make a first sizeable dent by destroying most of the uncertainty and trauma of the past decade by giving me some real, proper medical facts to embrace and come to terms with. Even if the results of the surgery will be disappointing, at least it should end those horrible ten years with some kind of conclusion instead of letting it fester on like a never-ending nightmare.

It's probably the only way I'll ever be able to tweak my IU back into proper working order.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Shopping Around For Major Surgery

Yesterday I made an appointment at a nearby women's clinic. As it turns out, there are many places in Germany where they treat cases like mine. Instead of having just the one option in Erding I now seem to have this second option opening up and possibly a third one as well later next week. The first appointment I have at the nearby clinic is on the 13th this month at any rate. Just two months before my scheduled surgery date. It's definitely going to be a race to see which place can offer me the best surgery prospects.

In many ways I'm glad that I am getting all these options now, though I'm still intensely bitter regarding my experiences in the Netherlands. It's only through actually living in a medically sane country like Germany that I realize just how horrific the Netherlands truly was. Virtually all of the physicians and other medical professionals here are honestly intrigued by my case and are doing their utmost to help me. No more being treated like an annoyance and a delusional boy.

Not that I have a lot of contact with other intersex people in Germany, though. So far I have established exactly zero contacts and I am not really interested in contacts either. I'm not sure whether it's because of their damaging experiences growing up, or it's simply the few German intersex individuals who approach me, but I can find no common ground with them. I actually had to 'unfriend' one yesterday on Facebook after a message informing me that she was certain that I have PAIS based on 'looking at your pictures'. Right. PAIS for those who forgot is a form of AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) which results in various degrees of female development despite having a male genotype.

I know that I don't have a form of AIS because a) the symptoms don't match up and b) so far four German teams have confirmed genital duality, which doesn't occur with AIS. Yet this hasn't kept various people from making this claim over the years. The thing for me is of course that I do not have absolute certainty about this female side of mine in the sense that I can not drop my pants and confirm it beyond a shade of doubt that way. When people then claim that I'm basically deluding myself again, it's painful.

I know I have touched upon this a lot in my past posts, and I probably won't shut up about it for a while still. To know what I am is what I am looking for at this point. In the midst of so much contradicting 'evidence', opinions, statements, proclamations, and heavens know what else, it's reached a point where I cannot honestly look at myself in the mirror and know what it is I am seeing there. When then a friend tells me that I'm 'a pretty girl', I feel both happiness and a lot of pain and confusion. Because I don't know whether it's true.

Honestly, I feel as incorporeal as some mist. A wisp of smoke. Linked with it my horrible sense of insecurity. About my body. About my skills. About how people see me. About everything. It's a miracle I can still function in public at this point. I know that most of it is just part of my brain forcing the rest of said brain and with it my body to get along with the program for now and see where it all ends.

That said, I have managed to burden myself to the point of bursting from stress. With a full-time job, another full-time job writing a technical reference book, the shopping around for a good surgeon and the few moments of relaxation it's a miracle I haven't burned myself out yet. At least I have put the writing of my autobiography on hold for now after the writing of it in English didn't work so well for the Dutch publisher. As I don't have a contract with this publisher yet, I may just find an international publisher instead. With the surgery settled I could then use the time that frees up to resume work there.

In some way it would be a relief to not have a Dutch publisher any more. Having it only published in Dutch and sold in the Netherlands would be so utterly disappointing and useless. It's a story which concerns everyone in every part of the world. What happened to me is something everyone should be aware of so that no one else who has the misfortune of being born like me has to suffer the same kind of agony. Especially not those born in tyrannical countries such as the Netherlands.

It's been about half a year since I left the Netherlands and every week I feel a little better about it. Leaving there was the best decision I have made in my life. While there are many things I still have to fight for in Germany, at least they're not medical things and they're not dehumanizing. I as a person am allowed to exist here and hopefully I will also finally be able to find myself here.


Saturday, 3 May 2014

One Doesn't Just Leave Trauma Behind

"Posttraumatic stress disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder in the DSM IV; the characteristic symptoms are not present before exposure to the violently traumatic event. In the typical case, the individual with PTSD persistently avoids all thoughts and emotions, and discussion of the stressor event and may experience amnesia for it. However, the event is commonly relived by the individual through intrusive, recurrent recollections, flashbacks, and nightmares. The characteristic symptoms are considered acute if lasting less than three months, and chronic if persisting three months or more, and with delayed onset if the symptoms first occur after six months or some years later. PTSD is distinct from the briefer acute stress disorder, and can cause clinical impairment in significant areas of functioning." [1]

Last night I was forced to relive the memories of early 2011. Memories I had managed to suppress for a while, to the point where when I saw a police officer the past months here in Germany I'd only experience a brief feeling of discomfort and wariness without consciously realizing why. Last night the memories of the brutal police beating and torture I experienced those years ago resurfaced for no discernible reason, however. Maybe it was just the brief pain in one of my wrists combined with a few other loosely related triggers which brought it all back, but once the flood of memories started, there was no end to it.

Recollections of footsteps behind me, of being thrown to the ground, of metal objects very nearly piercing the skin on my wrists. My screaming and begging. Someone sitting on top of me or banging my head violently against a car door. The forceful removal of my clothes and being thrown virtually naked onto a prison cell bed. Spending a night alone in a cell with the bright lights never turned off while watched on cameras. Screaming and crying the whole night until falling asleep from exhaustion. The assessment the next morning by a team of Dutch psychologists that I was doing fine and could easily spend another few days in the cell like that. Hours of uncertainty, of being let out to air. Watching the sky through the metal grid above the airing grounds and hearing cars and other noises. Having police officers force one back into the cell while feeling only terror. Being released at long last and knowing that you'll never be the same person again.

The next months I would spend recovering from my ordeal. Physically at least. From the nerve damage in my right wrist to the bruised bone of my right knee and the many scrapes and bruises I had suffered from the brutal treatment. The charges against me gradually got dropped one by one, as I had done nothing wrong. All of my actions before the arrest were due to the years of psychological abuse by Dutch physicians, something even the judge presiding over my case found hard to deny. Thus things got slowly smoothed over as my scars and bruises faded. Yet the psychological trauma never faded.

I think that my recent advances in Germany in getting the medical treatment I need are partially responsible for triggering these memories, as it's all related. I have one surgery appointment in over two months already and am working on two other appointments for a second opinion on the surgery. It's all going so smoothly, it's amazing. Here in Germany no physician calls me crazy, or pretends that I'm just a silly transgender person with delusions. Both my GP and gynaecologist have expressed how interesting they find my case and how they enjoy dealing with something new. Yet even through these positive experiences the traumas can and will get triggered, for the simple reason that it's all linked.

Earlier today I figured that maybe I shouldn't be writing this post. That writing about my traumatic experience with the Dutch police would be a bad idea. Maybe it isn't a good idea. I already found out a few paragraphs ago that I can not write about it without beginning to cry. Maybe it's a good idea, as it gives the pain a way out. I do know that this is the point where I need to actively find help for my PTSD, as it's far too much for a single individual to deal with. I also expect the flashbacks to get worse over the coming months in the run-up to the surgery and with the second opinions.

Finally I hope to not have to visit the Netherlands this year any more. I would like to forget for a while that such a country exists and with it maybe reduce the impact of the traumatic experiences I suffered there.