Sunday, 17 September 2017

Amnesia, or: Why it's all your damn fault

It's one of those images which just remain with you forever. Seeing these people whom you know to be classmates come walking around the bicycle shed and crawling through the gap between its boards and the concrete foundation, as they make their way towards you. Slowly, inevitably. Standing on the field behind the bicycle shed, you know that all you can do is await the inevitable. There were probably a few dozen of them. It felt like hundreds.

As they circle around me, the jeering, insults and egging on starts. Pushing my way through the throng, I leave them behind, but knowing very well that I cannot escape them. They'll always be there. Each lunch break. And outside school time as well, as I noticed one day when they tried to block my way while I was cycling home. Only by quickly leaving the bicycle path and passing their blockade by using the road was I able to avoid whatever would have come next. Nothing good, I imagine.

I remember well that time I got punched in the stomach. It hurt so much. As I stood there on the parking lot, buckled over in pain, I just heard others laugh at me, and call me weak and a sissy. Or that time when someone spit straight into my face. I never told a teacher about any of this. I ignored it all. Maybe it would go away?

Years ago I learned that I had apparently taken on the main bully from back then, during primary school. Apparently I had confronted him and beaten him up something fierce. After that he stopped bullying me and we sort of became friends. Funny thing is that I do not remember any of this. A lot of my primary school time is like that: gaps where significant events should have been. Things which I should have remembered. Like getting revenge on this bully.


In hindsight it was likely that I suffered a blackout, as a result of the trauma I suffered as a young child. Abuse is all the same, after all. Likely something had finally snapped inside of me, after suffering all of that abuse. Same as how I suffered a blackout a few years ago, due to the abuse I suffered at the hands of doctors and psychologists. There's a lot one can take psychologically, but at some point something just... breaks.

When possible, one's mind seeks to just cover it up. Put the memories deep away, where they can fester and hurt without one consciously realising why one struggles with all of these painful feelings and weird if not disturbing impulses. I guess in that sense I'm glad that I'm beginning to remember things now. Things of my childhood, mostly.

The memory I recalled a while ago of the big man standing over 5-year old me is becoming more clear now. Most recently I seem to remember him yelling at me. Accusing me it all being my fault. Everything that had happened. Everything that was just done to me. All my fault. I did it. If only I hadn't been there. If only I didn't exist. Everything was my fault. I should just have cooperated. Followed orders. I think that after this I was left alone in that dark room. To cry and feel horrible. To leave and try to forget what had happened. Maybe it would go away?


It never goes away.


I always feel it's my fault. Something is just wrong with me. Something which justifies getting abused as a child. Which justifies getting bullied during primary and high school. Which excuses everything about the horrors inflicted on me by doctors and psychologists. The very reason behind why I'll never find a home again. Ending up homeless and dying on the streets is the only fate that's acceptable for someone who is such a terrible person like me.

I cannot stop hearing this man yelling at me. It is my fault. I believe it, somehow. If only I hadn't resisted. Hadn't struggled. I am just a child, what do I know?

I'm still that 5-year old child. I'm still suffering the same abuse, the same yelling, the same terrible darkness and loneliness afterwards. Over and over again. It never ends. I try to argue that it's not my fault, that none of what happened to me was my fault. Somewhat like the struggle to stop blaming myself for being raped in 2006. Anger is helpful there when it's a past event.

When it's still ongoing, one can only keep putting the feelings and memories away. To let it fester and sap away one's mental strength. Things like the medical madness, with doctors and psychologists blaming me, saying that it's all my fault. If only I would just accept what they keep telling me about me being just a boy. Why can't I just follow orders? I'm less than them. They know better.

Or with the eviction case. It's my fault. I shouldn't have reported issues. I shouldn't have attempted to reach an agreement on reduced rent. I should just have suffered the abuse. Like a good little child. This is an adult's world. Your opinions and thoughts are irrelevant. We know what's best for you.


It's all my fault. It has to be. Or maybe it's just that man's voice which keeps haunting me. Yet I do not feel the confidence to say that what this man yelled at me was incorrect. Maybe everything is my fault after all, even if other people tell me it's not. I don't know who is right. Between all of these horrible memories and fragments of this rapidly fading lie of a carefree youth, I'm not sure who is right, or what reality is any more. Who to trust, either.

Why are people such horrible creatures who have to keep inflicting so much pain upon others?

I don't understand any of it. I just want to get away. Somehow. Make this pain inside of my head stop.


Even if...


Maya

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A question of identity

It's interesting to contemplate the meaning of 'self', in the sense of one's identity. What I have found over the years is how tightly this is bound to one's body. Naturally I learned this by having the very definition of what my body supposed to be repeatedly completely changed from what I and others believed it to be.

During my youth and puberty I was supposed to be a boy, so I tried to be one. The past decade could have been spent on me coming to terms with the fact that this assumption was essentially wrong, if it wasn't for those always helpful doctors and psychologists insisting to me that I was and always would be 100% male. Maybe I might be transgender, but that would be about it.

The resulting confusion would last until late 2015, when my body was found to have entered a proper female puberty, with my ovaries producing normal levels of oestrogens, and with my breasts and further accessories growing as expected. No matter that I had been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for years prior to that. This time my body would show how it was done.

It's now approaching two years since I went off HRT, and my periods seem to be getting slightly less painful now, though in how far that's to do with the effects of the contraceptive pill has still to be seen. My breasts are still growing, with me having to change bras repeatedly and with me having to face the reality of having actual cleavage. Suddenly I am confronted with the prospect of becoming an actual adult woman. It's a very different image that I have to confront in the mirror, suddenly.

The impact is that of me wondering about how old I truly am. Physically my body seems to be that of a 16-year old girl or thereabouts, at least considering the current developments. Having to deal with the joys of acne and the emotional realisation of a changing body further add to this. I definitely feel that in my current state I might fit emotionally far better in back in high school.

It's all very confusing.


So then what or who am I? The 'what' is hard to answer, as I have no idea what my body is doing, why it's doing it, and where it'll end up at. Maybe it'll turn out to be a 'regular' puberty and eventually everything will flatten off and normalise. At this point I'm also a bit amazed about how quickly some of my old scars seem to be changing, possibly disappearing altogether. I wonder what it all means.

As for the 'who', the remembering of those old childhood memories of me suffering some kind of abuse have forced me to look at myself in ways I had clearly avoided in the past. Along with many answers I also found many new questions, about many things. I think the worst realisation that came out of this was that my supposed 'care-free childhood' as I had often referred to in media interviews turned out to not really have existed. A few happy years, probably, yes. Yet looking back with new eyes now, I can see how troubled and unhappy I was.


So who am I then? Someone who likes to lose themselves in science and technology, because they are fully rational, logical worlds. Everything there makes sense, or can be made to make sense through study. As for me in a more social and emotional sense, I don't really know. I know that people often regard me as 'distant' and 'without emotion', but that's just the shield I have put between myself and everything that I do not understand about myself yet. I cannot open up myself fully without having made sense of things, emotionally, first.

There are too many questions, uncertainties and terrors that I cannot trust or rely on people. Thus I prefer to approach a situation logically and rationally, not letting emotions interfere. Because this is safe. Yet it's not really 'me'.


I am well aware of the fact that 'personality' isn't a fixed thing, but shifts and changes with one's collective experiences and memories. Thus my ego and self are both bound to this collective mass of recollections and experiences. Both the traumas and the positive events. As a result I seem to bounce between two extremes within my psyche, between a state of severe depression and helplessness, and one of boundless energy and optimism.

I feel that the latter state is more natural to me, that it reminds me of all the aspects of myself which I appreciate and like. I want to be like that all the time, if I can. I also feel that the former state is merely one that has been forced upon me by my environment. Brought into being by childhood abuse, by being constantly bullied, ridiculed, called a liar and worse. By rarely having anyone put actual faith into me as a person. By always being the odd one out, due to being too smart, too different, too weird.

I absolutely hate the person who abused me as a child. I both despise and appreciate getting bullied, because it hurt like hell, but also taught me to fight back. I find the behaviour of most doctors and psychologists so far despicable, in that they didn't dare to admit to their own ignorance, instead seeking to actively harm me. Something of which they'd presumably have been aware.

Yet I do not wish to fill my heart with hatred and darkness. I want it all to be gone. To be a thing of the past. Yet nothing I do seems to suffice to make that happen. Worst is when people start accusing you of looking for trouble.


Maybe I already know who I am better than I have yet realised. Maybe this realisation merely waits for this long-awaited spring after more than two decades of confusion, pain and darkness. The light at the end of the tunnel, to put forward a tired cliché.

I'd like to just sleep until spring, really...


Maya

Monday, 4 September 2017

Child abuse and the end of one's life

It's been quite a few years now since a cousin of mine committed suicide. Through my mother I have learned much about what she had to suffer through. From the sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of an uncle and grandfather - along with a number of other girls - to the wilful denial and dismissal of what she had gone through by her family, including her own mother. This all culminating in the criminal case against this uncle and grandfather for multiple cases of child abuse getting dismissed in court due to a formulation error on the side of the defence.

I used to think that I understood why she decided to took her own life. Both my mother and I sympathised with her decision and were nothing short of venomous about the actions and outright betrayal of her own family and the justice system. Yet now I realise that I didn't understand it at all. Before I was just able to sympathise on an abstract level. Now I can directly feel the pain she must have suffered.

Looking back, it's amazing how long these memories have remained buried, even though I always wondered about this sense of incredible sadness and loss that I seemed to harbour in the depths of my mind without understanding why. Now that I am finally able to give these feelings a place and context, it's possibly even worse. What used to be dampened and lessened in its impact through the veil of ignorance, I now get to experience directly.

What happened to me when I was five, maybe six years old basically ended my life. What I recall most strongly is this figure standing in front of me, like a dark shadow, reaching up so high and appearing so incredibly threatening to me. I try to defend myself. Brace myself against what I know will come next. Knowing full well that there is no way that I can do anything to help myself.


Of course I didn't want to remember any of this. I might have been much happier if I had never remembered any of it, but unfortunately its impact has reverberated through and largely shaped my life. Just because I could not remember what had happened didn't mean that it didn't affect my life. Maybe it was the generally safe environment in which I grew up which allowed me encapsulate these memories and pretend none of it happened. Maybe I just couldn't deal with it and pushed it away.

I don't know what I should do at this point. Part of me knows that I died back then, at the hands of this monster. Another part of me is just in pain, unable to function any more. Only a sliver of me seems to be still capable of dragging myself through daily life, as I noticed today at work. Everything is just pain, incredible sadness and rage.

I need help at this point. Some kind of support. I hope that my psychotherapist can help me there. I hope that the court can protect me and not fail me like they failed my cousin. I hope that I won't find myself alone and abandoned like my cousin did, whose own mother called her a liar. What she went through was the worst kind of loss, first of one's body, then one's self, then to be cast out and thrown away by everyone else, thus losing literally everything.

Deep inside I can feel this terrible sense of loss. I finally understand why I was so negligent and abusive towards my body and myself over the past years. Why at some points early on I tried to deal with this loss by reflecting what had been done to me onto others, maybe in the hope that it might help somehow. Which of course it didn't. Most importantly I can see this hole inside of me now where the real me was supposed to have been. Not this scared, terrified child that could never grow up because it never could trust others again.


I will not just submit myself to the eviction case or anything else like it, like a willing victim. I do not care if that's 'how it's supposed to be'. That's what I got told as well while I was being abused as a child. It's likely what my cousin and all those young girls got told as well by those monsters. Cease your questions and objections. Just go along with it. We're older and wiser. We know best. This is how it's supposed to be. How it's supposed to work. Now let us do our thing.

Whether it's a black-hearted landlord or family members, doctors and lawyers devoid of empathy, or just regular people wrapped up in their delirious layers of ignorance, most often it's not consciously observed by most what damage is being wrought, until it's too late. Every person has a right and duty to defend themselves against this, no matter what. To survive and hopefully live on to maybe thrive.

Sadly, at some point the only way to stay in control of one's life and not submit to injustice and suffering is through the abandonment of one's very existence. Anything else is to accept the death of one's Self. Since nobody reached out to help my cousin, she had to take this last, terminal step to remain true to herself. I share her pain and grief, as well as the rage she must have felt at a world which abandoned her like mere trash.

I mourn that she was forced to take this step. I pray that I won't have to follow her footsteps. Even though I try to keep an open mind and stay positive, it's painful to be reminded over and over again how little the average person truly cares about others. Maybe it's because they have never truly experienced suffering that such a level of empathy remains closed to them. I do not know, but it makes me worry that in a matter of months it'll be my turn to definitively take back control over my life.


Please, do not abandon me. Please, protect me against those who seek to harm me. Just this once.

Please make this nightmare that I had to keep reliving since I was a child finally end.

I cannot do this. I need others to help me. They must.

If they do not...


I guess I was already dead anyway. This was just one long nightmare before the curtains finally close.


But what if...


Maya

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Truth always beats ignorance, even if it hurts like hell

After my sudden recollections of youth trauma yesterday, both friends I talked with and myself questioned whether it were truly memories of what happened to me when I was about five years old, or that it was just an interpretation of my mind, mixing real memories with recent traumas. After one night and most of today to reflect on these recollections and my response to them, I'm convinced that they're real.

It all fits together too well. It explains so much about myself, about the things I have struggled with for so many years. It also feels as if a part of me which had remained a child has... vanished, for lack of a better word. It also hurts so much. At this point I can barely function, feeling emotionally distraught and prone to fits of crying. I mostly feel intensely sad and angry, as well as frustratingly helpless.

I also know that what triggered these recollections was mostly the prospect of the eviction case against me soon continuing, with an official inspection of the apartment in November. Previously I didn't quite understand the blind terror which this evoked in me, but now I do. Me trying to get away from this... person who had done something so unspeakably terrible to me, and the complete loss of trust in others which this triggered in me as a young child, it's all just being repeated again.

No matter what I do, no matter what I try, this person, or even just a representative of him will always be there, always to haunt me and continue the raping of my mind and body. It's been like that since I was five years old. It will continue forever. I cannot, will not ever trust others. Yet I cannot get away from them.

I don't understand why it had to be me. Why all of it had to happen to me. Why it keeps happening to me. If there's nothing that I can do against it, then I may as well... give up. Just walk away from everything, whether in the literal or figurative sense.

I fervently pray that somebody will interfere, to shield me from this new horror that comes hurtling towards me like a freight train. Just dealing with these recovered memories is bad enough. I do not think that I'm strong enough to take any more stress. I really want to live through this year, to maybe reach a point where I can actually feel safe and not feel forced to think about terminating my own existence or just walking away to never return as the only two options available to me.


Yet even though these recollections and new details that I can now remember have completely unsettled me, the change that has come over me will in the end be positive. Finally I am able to understand so much about myself, to grasp why I felt certain ways. It feels as though I can now finally proceed with my life, after having been partially stuck in the past for so many years.

I just hope that I get to live to see it.


Maya

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Recalling childhood trauma really hurts

For the past days I felt quite fearful, without any real reason, though likely triggered or at the very least worsened by the noise of presumably construction in the apartment above me at very early and late hours, often startling me. This sensation of being fearful just kept increasing.

Today I woke up from extremely loud drilling in the building, shaking the entire building and making me decide to leave for the office instead of staying at the apartment. There are the office I had quite an okay time, enjoying the peace and quiet while working on some projects, both private and for work. After the thunderstorms had passed in the afternoon I went back to the apartment.

Once back, I was relieved to note that the drilling had ceased. Beyond some shuffling, scraping and bumping on the floor upstairs for a bit everything was quiet again. I took that opportunity to read a few more chapters in the book which I'm currently reading while relaxing on my bed. I felt okay after this, though with a slight headache, still.

Then, as I sat down on my computer chair, something hit me. Suddenly I was a child. A young child. Some figure was looming over me. Threatening me. A man, I think. I felt terrified. I had to protect myself, shield myself. Get away. I felt exposed in my genital area no matter what I did. I think something was hurting there.

Even though I was still aware on some level that none of that was real, the sensations and feelings of terror were too real to ignore. I found myself cradling myself, shielding myself from this horrible figure that was threatening me. Running away and hiding. Cowering. Crying.


Eventually I managed to pull myself out of that state, but the memories remain. Even now they're recollections more real than life. I feel that something has changed inside of me, as if part of me has been ripped open and something oozed out of the wound. Something terrible. Something of which I had always felt that it was somewhat there, but this is the first time that it has felt this real.

It's no longer something distant or theoretical to me. Not a vague if disturbing sensation that just nags me in the back of my head. This is reality.


As I type this my head hurts and I am struggling with chaotic feelings. I had expected that I would one day be able to recollect again what had happened to me as a young child, but I had not expected it to happen like this. To be so incredibly painful and disturbing. So terrifyingly real. I think I'll be okay again. Eventually. Once this horrible pain stops and I can breathe again.

I'll get through this. I must.

I must accept this. I can no longer hide from the truth.

I cannot believe this is real.

I cannot believe this truly happened to me.

Please let it just be a nightmare.


Please let me wake up. All safe.


This hurts...


Maya

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Insert more guinea pig and lab rat noises

The past months have been for a large part been about figuring out what's going on with my body, starting with me raising the alarm about the right side of my body going numb. One thing led to another there, and one MRI scan of my head and one lumbar puncture later I have at least learned that I actually have a brain and that I have white spots in my brain, which presumably are lesions from old migraine attacks. Or maybe not.

Currently I'm recovering from the effects of said lumbar puncture, as the taking of just a few mL of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from my central nervous system seems to have knocked me out of commission for at least a good week. Starting on Wednesday I found myself with severe headaches, nausea and so on. I consulted with the neurologist on Thursday and learned that it's normal to experience 1 to 2 weeks of headaches after an LP. Swell.

During that same appointment with the neurologist I also learned that so far the CSF looked good, but they're now waiting for the important tests, all of which will take time. My next appointment with the neurologist is in October. Presumably I'll get the all-clear then, or maybe they have found something else. Not something related to the numbness in my right leg, at least, as I seem to have found the cause for that already.

Well, a good suspicion of the cause, at least. As my body keeps transforming into a regular female body along with all of the hormonal fun that encompasses, various tissues in my body are responding severely to this. During a recent ultrasound at my GP's office I learned that my intestines are unusually active, likely also triggered by the much stronger hormonal cycle that my body is going through. This might explain some of the excessive bloatedness of my abdomen each month.


Another interesting thing that I have noticed is that older and more recent scars on my body seem to have become sensitive all of a sudden, as well as more visible, with the scar tissue seemingly vanishing. This would fit in with other signs of rejuvenation which I have noticed so far. It feels as if my body is reshaping itself; becoming younger and changing into what seems to be a more feminine form.

It's all very strange.


At this point it's mostly just me trying to figure out what is actually going on with this body. I expect the neurological examinations to not result in anything remarkable, leaving that as a dead-end course of investigation. Even though I have a licensed doctor now handling the finding of medical help for me, the going is slow. The clinic in Hamburg turned out to be a dead-end. Now the focus is on Berlin. It seems irrational to expect any kind of medical help with whatever is happening to my body.

Then again, hope is a purely irrational thing. Even though I have zero expectations of any doctor ever finding themselves interested in my case and also capable of helping me, it's impossible to eradicate the yearning and hoping for exactly that kind of help.


In short, my body is beginning to feel ever more alien to me, even though many of the changes do seem positive to me. The main issue I have with it is that I cannot say why any of it is happening, and which other changes I may expect. There's also no backup from doctors or the like as all of this is going on.

There's just lil' ol' me, trying to manage the medical experiment that is my body as well as I can.


Maya

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

To have a body which defies basic biology

Even after over twelve years of actively dealing with this highly unusual body of mine, there are still new things which I am learning about it. Most recently I went back to take a more detailed look at my first puberty (starting around age 11), due to the current changes affecting my body since 2015 as a result of my second puberty.

This second puberty involves my ovaries producing normal female levels of oestrogens. It also involves my breasts growing by one cup size (and continuing...), despite years of boosting my female hormone levels with artificial oestradiol, and also very significantly far more intensive and painful periods.

Because of all these changes, I got curious what actually had happened to my body during my first puberty and why. One of the most significant findings, I feel, is that although most of the secondary sexual characteristics development to my body during that time were quite underwhelming, my skeleton was the one exception.

Although basically ignored by doctors so far, I have a normal female pelvis, along with the typical shape of the arms to fit a feminine curvature. This to me isn't new, but previously I hadn't really looked at what triggers the skeleton to shape itself like this during puberty. As it turns out, an elevated level of oestrogens is one of the primary triggers. This essentially means that together with what I experienced as menstruation pains at the age of 11, it's very definite that at least one of my ovaries began to work around that time, causing my first period, the onset of breast growth and these changes to my skeleton.

And beyond the latter very little really changed, until a few years ago.


At this point I'm still trying to learn about this body of mine, even as it changes again and again. As I recently discussed with two of my doctors - alongside a fresh ultrasound of my abdomen - at this point many of the pains and discomforts I experience are those normally experienced by a human female during and after puberty. Only I haven't really experienced puberty before. Not fully. Not like this.

It makes me wonder what exactly underlies these changes. Was having the underdeveloped testicles and with it the already relatively low source of testosterone (~1.2 nmol/L, relative to <0 .7="" and="" female="" level="" normal="">7 nmol/L for males) instrumental in this? Was it something about me using the contraceptive pill which somehow kickstarted my ovaries into producing normal levels? What's so special about my current hormone levels that it caused breast growth to resume, after it having stalled despite years of hormone replacement therapy?

Maybe it's to do with the fact that I'm a chimaera: possessing two distinct stem cell lines, both from my (XY) brother and (XX) sister. Maybe the latter cells are taking over now, enabling my body to respond differently to existing impulses and triggers now. Maybe this is actively reverting my physical age as well, by replacing older cells from the XY stem cell line with previously dormant cells from the XX line.

It's very likely that I will never find out the answer to these questions, nor to the cause behind whatever is causing inflammation-like effects in my lower abdomen during menstruation, in addition to pushing on nerves innervating my right leg, causing the pain and numbness there. Doctors seem to have no interest in my case, preferring to ignore my unusual biology, instead stuffing me into a standard category and dismissing me as such.


Meanwhile this body is the daily reality I have to live with. It's what I see, first thing in the morning. It's what I have to dress, clean, feed and which allows me to move around and exist in this world. I'm still coming to terms with that. I'm no longer a child. I cannot keep up that fantasy any longer.

I feel that my body is changing. It, too, seems to realise that I am no longer a child. Maybe this is what it feels like to turn from a child into a woman. I guess in practical terms I'm physically and emotionally roughly on the level of a 15- or 16-year old woman. Just a teenager, rediscovering her own body and with all the emotions and thoughts that come with it.

Yet I am also alone. So terribly alone. No mother, father or siblings around. No friends or classmates with whom one can share stories and experience, in order to deal with this confusing time together. I try to get answers and understanding, knowledge from where I can, yet I feel the distance growing between me and 'normal' people, even as doctors still refuse to accept even the basic reality of my body's anatomy, or provide conflicting opinions on what they feel reality should be like.


Dealing with all of this is really tough, and I do not feel that I'll ever truly feel like I can relate to all of these 'normal' people around me. The way they have and continue to experience life is just too different. A lot here depends on how the coming time will work out, of course. I now have assistance with finding medical help which might allow me to get these answers, as well as psychotherapy to help me cope with my post-traumatic stress disorder and other assorted traumas. Maybe I'll also be able to dodge becoming homeless this year, due to other external forces beyond my control.

Maybe I'll even figure out one day what and who I am.


Maya