Saturday, 31 October 2015

Some ways to ruin a weekend

Yesterday as the last working day of the week was winding down, I found myself not exactly enthusiastically looking forward to the weekend. My main issue was that of the court ruling next week in the legal case in the Netherlands [1]. The matter thereby is that even though I have been cleared of any wrongdoing which would necessitate punishment, they can still punish me by having me pay an exorbitant amount of money as 'reparations'. To me that's still punishment and current Dutch law agrees with me, but one never knows what the court will decide.

As a result I wasn't looking forward to heading into the weekend, knowing what is waiting for me after it. I'll just have to face whatever comes, but that doesn't make it any easier.

Then last night I began to feel quite nauseous. Heading to bed early, I figured it was just the stress and maybe the food that day. Today I felt just tired and soon began to suffer from the same nausea again, accompanied by stabbing pains in my head, focused on the top left side. I know from experience that this pain means that part of my skin in that area will soon be turning extremely sensitive.

The nausea was new, though, or at least this particular flavour of nausea. This one was more subtle than the usual types I suffer through. After the day is nearly over and while I am writing this, both the nausea and pain seem to have pretty much fully faded, though I can still feel the skin on my head tingling and otherwise feeling weird.

Also at some point during the day I decided to throw this stabbing-pain-in-the-head symptoms into WebMD just to see what it would throw up and there I actually stumbled over an interesting symptom in its list of suggestions. The symptom related to sudden, aggressive anger and linked to a condition called PMDD, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder [2], which is an extreme version of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) [3].

PMS is something I am of course quite familiar with, but PMDD was completely new to me. Of the PMS symptoms as listed on Wikipedia I am intimately familiar with the bloating, lower back pain, abdominal cramps, swelling and tenderness in the breasts, cyclic acne and joint (hips, knees) and muscle pain (legs mostly).

A few days ago I was complaining to my best friend that I was feeling so incredibly irritable lately, to the point where a single setback - no matter how minor - would cause me to want to incite in rage. When I wasn't feeling like that I would just want to cry and feel horrible for myself. While the latter symptoms aren't that unusual for me, the former definitely are. It takes much more than just something simple to make me want to throw something heavy across a room or choke a puppy. But there I was, constantly having to hold back from sudden outbursts of rage.

Of the symptoms listed for PMDD, I can recognise a number which overlap with my PTSD and other traumatic disorders I have been diagnosed with:

  • Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling out of control

Symptoms which I can more or less unique assign to PMDD would be the following:

  • Mood swings or frequent crying
  • Lasting irritability or anger that affects other people
  • Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Food cravings or binge eating
  • Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain

What is clear to me is there is likely a severe and developing hormonal balance issue forming within my body in so far as it hasn't already. From the appearance of linea nigra and other pregnancy symptoms to increasingly severe PMS symptoms, including migraines, it's becoming hard to deny that proper research is an absolute and urgent requirement.

I will have to compile all of the above along with the medical files and a summary of the research questions and facts so far for my appointments with the gynaecologist and endocrinologist the coming months. PMDD is however an interesting addition to look at it if the symptoms do not vanish by themselves if the stress factors are reduced or removed.

For all I know, this feeling of incredible tiredness and being quick to anger is simply due to normal PMS combined with stress, PTSD and general lack of sleep and rest. The heavens know that 'rest' is one of those words which have fallen into disuse over the past decades until they ultimately got stricken and discarded from my personal dictionary.

Not having to pay that ridiculous punishment, getting proper medical help at long last and moving to a new, quiet place would go a long way to alleviating much of the stress I feel burdened by at this point. Only the future knows what will happen next, though.

I hope that my body can stop being a bloody medical experiment, though. It really isn't fun any more...



Thursday, 29 October 2015

Reflections only ever lie

Today was a pretty warm day and silly me was wearing my winter coat as I had been doing for the past (colder) weeks as I cycled to the office. At arrival I was thus more than happy to take off said coat before heading into the building and let the warm Autumn air cool down my skin somewhat.

Walking inside with my coat on one arm and wearing little more than a tank top above my jeans, I waited for the next elevator together with this man who was already waiting there. Right from the beginning it was obvious that he liked what he saw, as his eyes scanned my body. Engaging in friendly conversation despite all this, I was nevertheless happy to get out of the elevator on my floor.

I know from experiences that heterosexual men consider me to be quite attractive. I think I can kind of understand why, yet at the same time it makes me feel confused and sad.

There are many times when I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflection somewhere and I suddenly realise that damn, I do look like a woman. Many times when I am alone I will stand in front of a mirror, acknowledging that I can only describe the body I see reflected back at me as that of a tall, ivory-skinned, reddish-haired woman. I will then proceed to tell myself in an ironic tone that I really, really look like a guy, as all of those doctors and psychologists have been telling me for over a decade.

Also, before that decade I was simply supposed to be a boy, then a guy, and that was the end of it. Now I'm a woman. Kinda. Depends on which doctor or psychologist you ask.

The two doctor appointments I have the coming two months are essentially yet again about bringing clarity to the question of what I actually am. What should I be seeing in a mirror's reflection? What do others truly see when they look at me? What is the medical and biological reality? Could I maybe truly be not only a woman, but also be fertile as one? What is the reality I should accept and embrace?

The fact that there are male to female transsexuals out there who look pretty much like natural-born women terrifies me. It feeds the fear that looks can mean absolutely nothing. That the outside is irrelevant and can be moulded into anything one likes. That the mirror's reflection lies to me.

That just makes it more important to me to learn what is going on inside this body of mine. Whether I truly have been menstruating for the past two decades and that this explains the monthly pains during that time. What my natural hormone cycle looks like. Whether I am overdosing on hormones right now because my body is far more feminine than I had assumed years ago when I tested my levels for the last time. Whether I have functional ovaries.

Whether I truly am intersex.

Part of me acknowledges that it is not a settled matter, that at this point I'm still a nothing, a no-body, a medical question mark. That at this point nobody can say that I am male, female, intersex or something else. Medical opinions are all over the board after all.

Some days I wonder whether I will ever know the truth, or whether there even is a truth. This then leads me to consider the point of continuing to live if the coming decades will be just like the past decades, filled with doubt, uncertainty, fear and continuing scorn and harassment from so-called medical and healthcare professionals.

I wish I was born normal, or not at all. Anything else is just a life filled with incredible pain.


Saturday, 24 October 2015

A 'safe space' probably doesn't mean what you think it means

A 'safe space', as in a place to which one can retreat at any point and where one can feel fully safe and protected, is something which I have concerned myself with a lot the past years. For decades, one could say, starting with when I first got bullied during primary school.

At first I could still go home and it would be fine. On the family farm I was in my domain and everything was all right. Then things got more difficult as I didn't feel like continuing my studies after finishing High School, feeling a distinct disinterest towards further schooling, but having no distinct plans for the future. While my mom supported my desire to take a while off and explore things on my own for a while, it reduced my safe space to just my room.

After my parents divorced and at first my mom and younger brother, then later just me, proceeded to move to a new place almost every year. My safe space got reduced to mostly just the internet. After all that is happened the past decades, I'm not sure there is a safe space left, however.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a permanent physical, neurological change to the brain, whereby the ability to properly recognize and regulate dangerous situations has been compromised. It is characterised by frequent and very realistic flashbacks which to the affected person means that they will often have trouble distinguishing reality from traumatic events in their past which caused the PTSD to form.

If there's still such a thing as a 'safe space' for me, it has to be the intellectual part of my brain. Not the emotional part. That one has betrayed me long since already and cannot be trusted any more. It explains why at this point only intellectual pursuits and subjects are 'safe' for me and why the range of triggers for my PTSD is so broad.

I want to expand my safe space again. I want to feel safe inside my own brain again, as well as inside my own body. I want to have a room in which I can feel safe again. I want to feel safe from events in my past and the horrible memories they have left me with. I want to feel safe from the horrible things other humans may wish to inflict on me in the near to long-term future.

For that is the thing which I regret the most: that the biggest threat to me are humans. That the physical condition I was born with as well as my giftedness were used as excuses to torment, harass, abuse, rape, molest and brainwash me is irrelevant in all of this. Most of all I do not feel safe around or in anything related to people. I have a major trust issue there.

Yet I likely will have to trust some people to overcome this and reach a safe space again. Life is about big spoonfuls of irony, if nothing else...


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Intersex awareness day, or: mocking intersex people

In five days from now there'll be 'Intersex Awareness Day', or so some outlets have proclaimed proudly. In me as an intersex person this proclamation mostly evokes a sense of helpless outrage and frustration. Nothing about it is even remotely fair.

For over ten years I have fought to get acknowledgement of and (medical) help with my intersex condition. All it got me is one side in the medical community agreeing that I am indeed intersex, the other side disagreeing completely and stating that I am just intersex, and none of the medical help I need.

I have contacted specialists across the globe, have tried big medical centers and expensive specialists from anywhere in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. All to no avail. This year my body is increasingly succumbing to the effects of medical negligence as hormonal imbalances wreck my last remnants of sanity through near-constant pain, nerve issues, migraines and so on.

And I know I am not alone. Through my contacts over the years with other intersex individuals as well as so-called 'intersex organisations' (OII, ILGA, and others), I know that there are only intersex victims of brutal medical and psychological abuse. Intersex organisations are just a front for this abuse, offering no help of any type of intersex individuals.

The 'treatment plan' for intersex individuals as created by WPATH is still to treat intersex as a disorder whereby (forced) genital surgery and such to 'fix' the victim into one of the perfect binary genders is the only way this person can be happy. Meanwhile doctors, psychologists and even some brainwashed intersex people are moving towards fully accepting intersex as a physical and psychological disorder, by abandoning the term 'intersex' and calling it 'Disorder of Sex Development' instead.

The physical and psychological abuse and terror I have experienced over the past ten plus years and the resulting post-traumatic stress disorder have reduced my life to a state where I'm not sure where I can, let alone wish to, continue living. Being intersex is clearly a curse, with every intersex individual - whether a newborn, infant, child or adult - being fair game for medical and psychological experiments. It's not like we are really human after all.

But sure, do that awareness day thing and keep pretending that nobody, intersex organisations and physicians most of all, do not care in the slightest about intersex individuals. It's not like we intersex people have feelings or care about being mocked.

Is it really necessary to mock us like this? Why hold such events which make the victims of the Western approach to 'fixing' intersex individuals feel like slitting their own wrists over the induced agony?! What did we do to deserve such abuse? Why not help us instead? Just... go away...


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dutch justice: when punishing is not punishing

Today I received a message from my last remaining Dutch lawyer that the High Court will be deciding in the last remaining legal case I have currently running in the Netherlands. Early next month I'll know whether I'll receive punishment or not in this case against me. This despite the ruling that I will not receive any form of punishment remaining unchanged in any case.

Sounds confusing? That's because it is. It all started back in early 2011 when I had just moved back in at my mom's place after my suicide attempt earlier that year. That suicide attempt followed about six years of psychological and physical abuse by Dutch physicians, involving constant brainwashing attempts, trying to make me believe that I had to be transsexual, regardless of the German evidence and regardless of my own experiences with my body, not to mention my own thoughts and wishes.

Pushed to the edge, I ultimately decided to take my own life, end the pain and suffering. Unfortunately that failed and I found myself back at square one [1]. After a few months of recovering under my mom's care, I tried to re-establish medical contacts, starting with a local family doctor. Unfortunately the first family doctor saw fit to reject me as a patient due to my intersex condition not fitting well with her Christian conviction.

I had the misfortune this time of living in the Dutch Bible Belt at this point, ergo the second family doctor was just as Christian, only this one did accept me as a patient. They soon became less cooperative, however, delaying help, not keeping up their promises. As I began to suffer psychologically from this behaviour and mentioned it to them, they simply ignored it.

After months of this I suffered my first black-out while I was with my mother at the doctor's office. When the receptionist dismissed them not keeping up a promise yet again with a dismissive gesture, something snapped inside of me. I remember only bits and pieces of what happened next, but my mother and the police report have filled in the gaps [2].

Apparently I went into a rage, smashing a vase or two, ripped a few banners off the walls and smashed a glass case holding a model. The police arrived shortly after, ignoring my mother and I as I was sitting there with hands torn up by glass, bleeding all over the place. Sitting there alone, I then sprung up, tore a glass display case to the ground and walked outside.

There I got consequently beaten up by the police, who kicked me to the ground, smashing my right knee hard enough on the stones to bruise the bone. They put cuffs on my wrists, so tight that they tore into my skin and caused me incredible amounts of pain. This part I remember most distinctly, from being dragged by unfriendly people, having my head bashed into a car door, people sitting on me, stripping me forcefully, being pushed into another car, more head-bashing, yelling and pain tearing into my wrists.

Then finally I was lying virtually naked in an empty cell and began to fully come to my senses. The enormity of all that had happened then hit me. I had never lost my temper. Never once in my life. Especially not so bad that I had one into a complete black-out rage. I had always taken my pain and frustration out of myself, through self-mutilation and ultimately that suicide attempt.

In the end I spent one night in that cell. Definitely by far the worst night of my life. I barely slept more than a few minutes, staying up all night tearing the sole roll of toilet paper into tiny shreds to give me something to do, while watching the programs on the small television screen built into the wall. The next day it took many hours of uncertainty and waiting before I was released. The guards refused to give me my medication (hormones) as well.

Only after getting released did I learn that my mother had visited the place where I was locked up, with a bag of goodies including books and other comforts. They had told her that they'd give it to me, but they never did. Before I was allowed to leave the place they had me clean up my cell as well, using my bare hands.

That was not the end of things, however. That was when the Dutch state started prosecuting me, for vandalism and initially also threatening with bodily harm, a claim by the family doctor but soon withdrawn when they couldn't substantiate it. This case has lasted for over four years now and costed me a lot of time and lawyer fees.

So far the charges of threatening with bodily harm got dropped, the doctor got all damages covered by the insurance and two judges so far have ruled that I am not to receive punishment, due to the circumstances. Specifically the intense psychological stress I was placed under due to being intersex and receiving no medical help whatsoever, but instead quite the opposite.

Only sticking point is that the big display case which also got pulled over contained some items not owned by the medical center this doctor belonged to, but instead to a local artist who had left expensive and fully uninsured objects there in a public space. Two judges so far have ruled that I have to reimburse this artist.

Interestingly enough, this used to be a legal practice in the Netherlands, until early 2014: then the law changed and enforcing a monetary punishment was no longer a valid option when the judge decided to not formally punish the person being prosecuted. I'm currently on my last appeal trying to get this ruling undone.

My lawyer has put almost everything on this changed law in this last appeal. The prosecutor has commented that while, yes, it's the law, one shouldn't take the law quite so, you know, literally. Pointing out some vaguely related cases, he insisted that the judge should use highly creative interpreting when applying this law.

There are two possible outcomes with this upcoming ruling. One sees this monetary punishment dismissed and I can say farewell to a legal case which has haunted me for years, not to mention reminds me constantly of such unpleasant events.

The other outcome sees me forced to pay many thousands of Euros, since these uninsured pieces of 'art' were apparently worth that much, plus the collected interest after these years. To that I can only say that back in 2013 I lost all of my money and possessions due to other, also very unfortunate circumstances. I had the luck that I got a well-paying job soon after, but rebuilding a life from scratch is expensive.

I see very little use in paying for the stupidity of an artist to not insure their displayed pieces, especially when the judge has already ruled that I was not responsible for my actions and have suffered enough already by what I have gone through before the event happened.

That then doesn't really fit with punishing me by coughing up what amounts to a significant part of my still meagre savings. That's not justice, that's just saying that you won't punish and then punishing anyway.

I'm not sure what I'll do if this ruling does not end up in my favour. I know this may sound small and selfish, but I may consider accepting donations if the judge wants me to bleed after all. I feel that I have accepted enough punishment already, just looking at everything that transpired directly after the event, not to mention my slow physical recovery afterwards including the resulting nerve damage from the beatings.

Just a few more weeks and I'll know, I guess. After that I can at least wave the Netherlands a not very fond farewell...



Wednesday, 14 October 2015

On health issues, depression and daily life

It's surprisingly hard to keep up a professional fa├žade when you notice that most of the sensation in your right leg slowly drains away during the day at the office. Near the end of the day you're just lugging along something more closely resembling a wooden leg, except for the stabbing pains in the hip.

For me this is an almost monthly event, often occurring after my body decides it's time to start menstruating. This first starts what feels like major inflammation in the vaginal area as the fluids cannot exit the body. I noticed this a couple of days ago when I was lying crying on my bed for a while as the pain was just so bad.

This nerve irritation, swelling or whatever it is then seems to work its way mostly into the right side of my body, with my right leg going numb during a couple of days. When I touch the leg's skin I can feel part of the normal sensation, but numb and accompanied by a tingling sensation. The pain sensation is nearly fully gone during those times when the leg is very numb.

All of these issues are monthly since over twenty years ago, increasing gradually in intensity over those years until reaching a crescendo this year. I could be overdosing on oestrogen right now thanks to my Hormone Replacement Therapy not taking into account an increase in oestrogen produced by my body, as the linea nigra - the vertical line on my lower abdomen - seems to suggest.

Next month I'm seeing a gynaecologist. In December I'm seeing an endocrinologist about it. I should feel hopeless, I guess, but after more than a decade of seeing specialist after specialist it's hard to feel anything but bitterness. Bitterness at being abandoned, at being rejected, cast away like some kind of failure, put away like a crazy person.

Every time some doctor or similar opens their ignorant faces and denies that I am intersex, but have to be transsexual, they are denying these struggles I have and still am going through on a monthly basis. They're denying my hormonal issues. They're denying the medical findings so far, including my absurd hormone levels as a teenager and undeveloped testicles. They're denying that I am the person who I know I am.

Suffice it to say that I'm not feeling very happy at this point. Chronically depressed with bouts of suicidal depression is more like it. Going through a day feeling like life might possibly be kinda okay is for me an exception achievement. Feeling like life is a goddarn chore and that I cannot wait to cast off this stupid, retarded body I was born into is far more common.

But really, why would I be happy after struggling with this body which between intersex, migraines, monthly pains and just being damn ugly has caused me enough grief already, and now seems to be gradually failing on me. Last weekend I spent mostly in bed, feeling like dying from the pain in my abdomen, as well as from the two-day migraine.

I'm not happy. I refuse to be happy, because it would be a lie. My life is a complete tragicomedy, with me as its unwilling victim. Knowing this doesn't give me any kind of pleasant, or raise in me the expectation that people will rush to my aid or that suddenly I will receive the medical care a hermaphrodite like yours truly absolutely must receive over their lifespan.

I have no expectations of life. There's just what I can do myself. Decades of brutal lessons have taught me that I can only trust myself. And I hate that feeling. I want to believe in happiness, in life, in others, in help, in sunshine and carefree days. Yet I cannot.

Struggling through daily life and observing others having dull, boring, uninteresting lives I feel pained. It's not jealousy, or something as basic as that. It's more like observing an alien species I have read about in books, but which is otherwise wholly unknown to me. Even if I know that I'm supposedly part of said species, there might as well be a meter-thick armoured glass between us.

There's just hate, bitterness, isolation and the enormity of living out my life in a hostile world where everything I do is wrong. Where me existing is wrong. Where me trying to participate in daily life has horrible consequences, whether external or internally via my post-traumatic stress disorder twisting my perception of the world around me into the perfect nightmare scenario.

Even if I do receive medical help this and next year, I do think it's better for me to just be alone, by myself. Maybe some day I will be able to trust people again. Maybe not. But I will not force myself.

And if I do not receive medical help again the coming months? I do not want to think about it. How much pain is too much? How far can one's psyche be pushed until it irreparably shatters along with one's motivations to keep breathing and living?

I just want to stop feeling pain. The pain of my body. The pain of my mind. The pain of my soul and psyche. The pain of nightmares haunting me in my restless sleep. Just make it stop... even if nobody helps me and I am left alone, by myself again, with just the one thing I can do.

I don't think I was ever ready for a life like this...