Saturday, 20 August 2016

It's so easy to forget that I'm a medical miracle

I spend quite a bit of time on informing people about what it means to be intersex, whether it's via the media, or websites such as Quora. I feel that it is important to shed light on a topic which is clad in such mystery and surrounded by lots of misinformation and myths. That said, this sadly also highlights for me how big the chasm is between intersex people like myself and the rest of society.

I was born into a body which doesn't just refuse to stick to the gender and sex binaries, but has the audacity to feature both male and female primary characteristics. It doesn't even stick to the usual form of hermaphroditism with ovotestes: having both testicular and ovarian tissue combined. Instead there's an obvious duality, with both the female and male side clearly distinguishable. In the medical literature this is a very rare type of hermaphroditism.

Placing this against what human society is largely about and one can clearly see the problem. While transsexuals and homosexuals both fit into the sex and gender binaries, hermaphrodites in particular defy what Western society is about to such an extent that we might as well be aliens. We're certainly being treated as such, with how much 'normal' people fear us, know nothing about us, or actively seek to wipe us out.

If medical science actually cared about this topic, half a dozen researchers would have jumped at the chance to publish a host of papers on my situation. Instead I spent the past decades essentially proving that I exist and have a right to just be myself without being forced to undergo 'normalisation' surgery.

In such a situation, one tends to try to forget about one's differences in order to fit in with society, yet none of this takes away from the issue that people like me live in a society which we do not understand, and which itself does not actively seek to understand us.

We're life... but not as you know it.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

When is it allowed to feel suicidal?

Just over four years ago my mental health was deteriorating quickly: after the divorce of my parents I felt I had lost the last home I used to have, had found zero sympathy or help from (Dutch) medical specialists for my intersex condition, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was suffering increasingly frequent bouts of complete mental breakdowns which had me either collapse in a paralysed state or send me into dark places where I'd tear and rip at my own flesh, choke myself until I passed out or inflict pain on myself in some other way.

At that point I was then told that I had to leave this person's place where I was staying at that time, even though I had virtually no money, no job, no education and zero prospects in my mental state at that point. I just went through the motions then: I found a room to rent (horribly expensive) and my mother would come over to help with the moving. I realised quite well that there was no future for me at that point.

Even if I did move, I'd run out of money in 2-3 months time, be unable to pay the rent and get kicked out. The night before the move I found the only way I could make peace with my situation. I ensured that the stack of sleeping pills were where I had left them and went to bed.

The next morning I got out of bed, got dressed, did my hair, my face and rest of the morning routine. Then I took every single one of the sleeping pills out of their packaging and took all of them with some water. After that I just remember walking towards the door of my room before everything went black.

I do not regret trying to commit suicide. I still feel it was the right decision and I would do it again if I were placed in the same situation. Without any prospects and no help there was after all nothing that I could have changed. I am also fortunate that my mother understands this and in a sense also was glad that I took that step as it managed to shake things up in a way which otherwise would have been impossible.

This then brings me to me feeling completely suicidal again this morning as I cycled to work. Not to the point where I'd veer into a bus or do something else impulsive, but more at the point where planning out a new suicide attempt seemed like a good course of action. I mean, why not?

At this point I'm also struggling with housing, true. I may also risk getting thrown out or at least face continued harassment by the owner if I do not find something else. Yet it's not just that. The main issue as far as I can tell is that I am not two people.

For the past eleven, nearly twelve years I spent begging, fighting, doing everything humanly possible to get information about my body and help with my intersex condition. When I finally got this help - early this year - it caused the most incredible sensation which I hadn't felt before in my life. Finally I had completed this one thing which had pretty much occupied me since I was five years old and had begun to feel ever more isolated from my body.

That feeling was one of emptiness, of a sense of aimlessness. But also of extreme tiredness. No longer did I have to fight. It was finally over.

Yet I am but one person. That life-long fight took it all out of me. Before I finally found help I was on the verge of giving up on it. This final doctor was quite literally a last-ditch attempt as I didn't have the energy to try it even once more afterwards. Yet even though it was at long last the success I had hoped for, I didn't suddenly, magically regain all my energy and shed the decades of trauma. None of that changed.

Thus it is that the minor effort yesterday of just occupying myself with replying to this one single email from the relocation service, explaining to them once again what it is that I am looking for and why, which has sapped my energy. The emotional disturbance caused by thinking about this issue and by some well-meaning advice by others then sent me spiralling into a suicidal depression which I only slowly managed to crawl back out of during today at work.

I clearly do not have the energy to help myself at this point, whether it be by hunting for houses being rented or anything else involving emotional stress. Not on my own at least. If this relocation service doesn't work out because families have priority, or since I'm single I must be satisfied with an apartment since houses are for families... then I may have to consider contacting a real-estate agent and look at buying a house.

Money makes the world go round, after all. Money also staves off suicide.

Money is wonderful.


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Dealing with depression, or: why do other people even exist?

It's commonly known that the first step towards dealing with a problem is to admit that the problem exists.

For mental health problems there is no exception. You admit there is a problem, you get it diagnosed, and then... well, theoretically solutions could then be found and implemented, but beyond stuffing the person suffering from the mental health problems full with drugs, one may as well not even try to find help. Sure, for serious things like schizophrenia we know too little to provide any proper solutions, but there are so many cases where solutions are easy and permanent.

I was officially diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2009, along with a host of other, related mental health problems. Along with this PTSD I suffer from frequent periods of depression, suicidal thoughts (with one failed attempt), and a general state of mental suffering. Daily life is difficult to get through, with very little required to send me spiralling back into another depression, PTSD episode, or worse.

To these problems I have admitted and I am frankly quite open about it. I'm chronically depressed. I have a severe stress disorder. I tried to commit suicide once before and may try again in the future. I admit to none of these things being a good thing, and I would be more than overjoyed to fix these problems.

I can have pills, sure.

Find justice for the traumatic things which were done to me? Nope. Get help with finding a place where I can live without risking triggering my PTSD and suicidal depressions? Nope. Reach a level of emotional and mental stability where I can maybe feel relaxed and happy? Forget it.

I survived horrible things, and I frankly wish I hadn't. The bleak outlook for my future as I consider my mental health issues and being stuck in a situation where it is only exacerbated makes me think that it would perhaps have been better if I had succeeded with that suicide attempt, a number of years ago. I didn't want to survive it. I'm not glad I did.

A handful of people truly do care about me and would help me if they could. The rest might as well not exist for all the effect they have on my life. From 'professionals' calling me insane for claiming to be intersex or making fun of me for saying that I suffer from PTSD, to regular people taking advantage of me.

I think something broke again inside of me a while ago. I'm currently keeping myself somewhat sane by focusing on work and hobbies. Things unrelated to emotions. Everything else will just go wrong on its own anyway. I'll get kicked out of my current apartment at some point, I'm sure. If it doesn't drive me to commit suicide first, that is. More people will come along to claim money from me and to generally make me feel even less safe and happy.

It's pointless to fight against those things. Whatever I do is pointless. Whatever I try is meaningless. Nobody who can help me will help me. Admitting to having a mental health problem is utterly useless. There's no hope. No salvation. Just hanging around, waiting for the inevitable.

The last time I felt truly happy was when I thought I was about to end my life.

I couldn't even do that.


Saturday, 6 August 2016

Children aren't that important, anyway

For the first two decades of my life, I - and those around me - assumed that I was just another guy who'd grow up to likely find a nice girl to get married and start a family with. Puberty did however confuse me more than it should have, when I began to grow breasts and had male clothing fit extremely poorly, among other hints that something was off.

When I discovered that I was intersex - now over eleven years ago - thoughts about my future vanished to be replaced by more immediate concerns and questions regarding who and what I actually was. Now, throughout those years I have learned that all I had all those years ago was the illusion of choice. Not only was I never a guy to begin with, but with only partially developed reproductive organs on either side there never was any question of me being fertile at any point in my life.

It isn't that I feel some kind of incredible yearning or pain at this point for not being able to procreate, but more that it's just another one of those reminders that merely by being born intersex so many choices were taken from me. Sometimes it feels like it just isn't fair.

Then again, when is life ever fair?

By having the nerve to be born both intersex and highly gifted, I had to waste over a decade of my life on meaningless, antiquated medical biases and outdated social systems, not to mention circumvent an 'education system' that's more of a hazard than an asset to those who aren't perfectly standard. In that regard the medical and education systems can shake each other's hands as they're both equally outdated and dangerous.

Yet enough of that. I never had a choice in this particular situation even though I was once led to believe that I did. That hurts. Through my own experiences trying to find help for my intersex condition I can somewhat understand the lengths some couples go through to obtain a child of their own, even if both situations are hardly the same. Yet the drive to 'fix' something is similar.

I will never have children of my own. I'm fine with that. I am likely to remain single. I'm fine with that. I may never get that reconstructive surgery. I'm fine with that. None of those things are essential or required in any way to be or become happy. Happiness is an internal thing, only accomplished when one has found, identified and resolved all that bothers one inside one's own mind. Letting go of things which are not relevant is part of that.

Life is too short to worry about the inconsequential.