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...


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...


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...


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.


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...


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.


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.


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Finished my new book

I realise that I haven't written about this at all before, and there are a number of reasons why I didn't write about this new book that I was working on before. Suffice it to say that after more than half a year of work I finally completed my new book titled 'Mastering C++ Multithreading', with it hitting the stores last Friday.

The book was published by Packt Publishing, and can currently be found for a mere 10 Euro/dollar on their website [1] with a normal retail price of over 40 Euro. It is also available via Amazon [2].

So far this has been my second book to be published. The first one was also published via Packt, on the topic of game development on Android devices. This new book was a lot easier to write for me, to be honest, as I have far more extensive experience in both C++ and on low-level topics such as multithreading.

Having such an interest in low-level details shows for example in the second chapter of my new book, where I dive deep into how multithreading concepts as well as general processing is implemented in the hardware. Though chapters like these cost me an enormous amount of time in research, one of the things which I have learned over the years is that the most important thing for a software developer is to understand the underlying hardware.

I guess I had quite a bit of fun writing this book, even if it was quite an ordeal, with the past few weeks consisting out of me racing deadlines in order to get the book ready for publication by the end of this month. Yet I made it, and now I get to indulge in not having any imminent deadlines and immediate responsibilities.

One of the reasons why I decided to accept the task of writing this book when someone from Packt approached me with the idea is because I absolutely love both the C++ programming language and fundamentals such as multithreading and associated concepts such as atomics. C++ is wonderful to me - even after over 15 years - for being a highly flexible, multi-paradigm language. Computer hardware fascinates me to the point where I'm working on writing my own CPU architecture in VHDL, targeting FPGAs. To write about this passion was pretty much irresistible to me.

Do I feel that the resulting book is perfect? Far from it, but as one notices after using a language like C++ for nearly two decades, there's always so much more still to be learned. Worse, there are new concepts and new inventions just waiting around the corner. Much like older languages like COBOL, I expect C++ to be around in 20, 40 years time, each time adapting to new hardware and implementing new concepts. I look forward to updating the book with any such new concepts over time.

The last two chapters cover relatively new concepts, pertaining to distributed computing (clusters) and GPGPU. The latter topic especially is of a lot of interest to me, as adding a powerful vector processor to a system can give an immense boost to certain types of operations. I'm looking forward to experimenting more with that over the coming years.

For now it's onwards with new projects :)



Saturday, 22 July 2017

The struggle to recall buried memories

Usually in films the process of recovering buried memories and similar involves flashbacks and sudden flashes of recollections. As I'm currently finding out, it's somewhat like that, but also completely different.

For me the goal is to figure out what happened when I was about five years old, which apparently involved a single or multiple events which led to me withdrawing into myself, refusing any form of physical contact for many years afterwards, along with the development of an intense hatred of sexuality and a strong distrust of people in general, and men specifically.

So far I haven't been able to uncover any concrete memories, even though I have a significant number of memories of things which happened before and in the years after the event. What I have so far is this very strong feeling of... wrongness that has bothered me since I was a child, but which has become more pervasive over the years.

As I'm working through things with my psychotherapist, I'm often asked to remember things from my youth and childhood. Over the past months I have found that this is slowly making me remember things from my childhood. Mostly neutral memories, of sights, smells and sensations, such as me holding and looking at a dried sea horse at my grandmother's place as a child.

Alongside all of that there is this strong feeling of having been violated. Assaulted. Humiliated. Of feeling terrified and apprehensive of something or someone. Just no associated memories. This part of my recollections where the distrust of others and hatred of sexuality culminate is still blocked off to me. Only these feelings related to that time are readily accessible.

They are horrible feelings.

Earlier this week I got to this point with my therapist and as soon as I opened myself up to those emotions, I simply broke down into tears and could not talk for minutes as I struggled to regain my composure. It's just a raw feeling of wrongness. Of having been forced to do horrible things, or having them performed on me.

I do have some idea of what likely happened to me, as in the years afterwards I would suddenly show very unusual sexually dominant behaviour, essentially seeking to victimise others. This is commonly referred to as inverting or reflecting traumatic experiences as a way to deal with them. If that's the case, then it appears that one or more men forced me to perform sexual acts and likely were very rough about it, to leave me feeling so distraught.

I guess I can kind of understand why. Imagine being a five-year old child, who suddenly finds themselves in a situation that's so unfamiliar to them, and then there are these scary men saying and demanding things which just make you want to run away. Find someone who can protect you. But there's nobody there. There won't be any help.

And then it's over with, and you're let go, never to speak about it again. Only it's still there, all the memories and experiences, to gnaw at your very being like a slow cancer for the rest of your life.

I just wish I could remember what happened exactly and who did it to me. Something to allow me to make some sense of it all and give an opportunity to give it a place, instead of having it eat at me like this. To give me an opportunity to maybe learn to trust people again.

Somehow I think that it's still going to be a long and difficult road.


Friday, 23 June 2017

To experience puberty twice, once as a boy, once as a girl

Around the age of eleven was the first time that I entered puberty and began to notice changes to my body. As I was expecting male secondary characteristics, I only really paid attention to those. The regular abdominal pains I dismissed, along with the period of breast growth. Instead I noticed the (slight and not very impressive) facial hair, the (slightly) breaking of my voice, and more body hair. Looking back it wasn't a very impressive male puberty, with in hindsight also the development of secondary female characteristics, including breast growth, the development of female hips and the start of a monthly cycle.

This all left my body in a slightly confused state, which didn't really resolve itself until a few years back. I guess having the undeveloped testicles removed helped to change the hormone balance of my body from one that was neither male nor female to one that was distinctly female, with normal oestrogen levels produced by my ovaries.

Looking back, 2014 or 2015 was roughly the start of my second puberty. This would see me develop the aforementioned female hormone balance, restart the growth of my breasts and generally change my general appearance more to that of an adult female.

At this point I feel like I'm about 14, maybe 15 years old. Body-wise and also emotionally. With everything that has happened so far a lie and hopefully just a bad dream, it's as if this is me finally doing part of my life correctly. Of course, normally I'd experience this puberty as a girl while still at home with my family. Going to school and hanging out with my friends there. Learning about how things work that way.

I roughly know what it means to have a female body, but it's still weird to see all of these changes happening to my body. Weird, but exciting. It all feels right, though. This is the way that things were meant to be.

Not all that happened before, however. Not this other... puberty that I remember, or this person that I was supposed to be. This... boy. That never happened. It cannot be. Not when I look at myself in the mirror and see these changes. I cannot accept that as part of reality.

I'm 14. Maybe 15. I'm just a normal girl growing up. I cannot have lived as a boy. It must be a lie. Just look at this body of mine.

I cannot integrate these two realities. One of them must be false.

Yes, my body is also different, but it is still that of a young woman. That's the simple truth which I cannot deny. That I also have... male genitals doesn't take away from that fact. Maybe that's where what I referred to as 'being an involuntary female to male transsexual' comes into play. I never wanted to live in a male gender role. That just got forced upon me.

Much like with countless intersex children who suffer the horrors of intersex genital mutilation (IGM), I, too, was forced into a gender role not of my own choosing. Something like that cannot go right. I am still fortunate that I did not have my genitals chopped up by these butchers who like to call themselves doctors, as they do to so many others less fortunate every day again and again.

At least I get to find my own identity in an undamaged body. It will just take time.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Living in a world without sound

It's interesting how the way one is born and raised affects one's sense of normalcy. For me it wasn't until I underwent an official test for giftedness as a teenager that I became aware of a very significant way in which I am different from most other people.

During that test I had to repeat strings of numbers and letters, increasing in length with each successive string. The interesting thing was I failed to correctly repeat the first, shorter strings, but repeated the next, longer strings flawlessly. I remember developing a method on the fly for memorising those sequences. The same pattern repeated itself for other tests, every time the test was auditory, i.e. in spoken form.

Further research showed that this pattern is commonly found by visual learners with an auditory deficit. Or in short, I'm a 100% visual learner, with anything auditory being essentially foreign to me. This suddenly explained a lot to me about many struggles up to that point, both regarding the visual way of learning, and my trouble with following and remembering spoken texts and instructions.

It's interesting to consider that the way that I experience the world around me is not like how most others experience it. The fact that I do not experience sound, but just the visual representation it invokes in me. Yet also the limitation I face in that almost all communication between humans happens in an auditory fashion.

I experience music and random sounds as images, almost as tangible objects which I can look at and touch. They have colours, shapes and textures. Human speech too, only if I wish to interpret its meaning, I have to actively process it further, basically treating it as if it's written text. This takes a considerable amount of focus and energy.

The result of this is that I cannot focus for very long on anything with a strong auditory focus. Films are generally fine, due to the strong visual aspect to them. An audio book - or most meetings - is extremely hard and draining for me if I wish to follow it. The audio books which I have tried had me drifting off after less than a minute. Long meetings often have me feeling exhausted and sick afterwards because of the mental effort it took to pay attention to everything that was being said.

I do not mind being different like this. I just wish that others were more considerate and understanding of this difference. Not everyone can handle spoken words as easily as they can. Not everyone can learn and work the way that they can. In some ways my... condition is akin to being deaf, I guess, though admittedly less dramatic.

Pushing myself to ignore the mental strain of focusing on spoken words does come with a high cost, mostly in the form of headaches, migraines and extreme exhaustion. It's sadly still an ongoing struggle to make this work in daily life, especially as it pertains to my work as a software developer.

With popular strategies such as programming in pairs and frequent meetings (daily stand-up, retrospective meetings, etc.), all of which are auditory, it's not easy to exclude myself from such events. Or even to address the subject, as it doesn't seem like something which the average person seems willing to accept. At least I haven't had much luck with it so far.

Some days I think that it would be nice to be just like everybody else, instead of different in almost every conceivable way from the norm. Then again, thinking exclusively in images also means that I am fully immune to so-called ear worms: bits of music which just keep looping in one's head. That's got to be worth it, I think.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Relativism and four lights

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Chain of Command', captain Picard finds himself captured by the enemy [1], who attempt to obtain crucial information from him through torture. As part of this torture, Picard is made fully dependent on the person who performs the torture. All Picard has to do is to give into this person's demands, answer his questions and the pain will stop. All he has to do is admit that there are in fact five lights.

The lights in question are bright lights mounted behind the desk of the torturer. There are in fact four of them. Yet towards Picard it is constantly stated that there are in fact five lights, and that he just isn't seeing things right. After being rescued, Picard admits that, near the end, he had begun to believe that he was actually seeing five lights.

When I first watched that episode, it was still years before I would embark on my quest to figure out what my body is, and it was just an interesting story to me, with a deep psychological insight in the effects of torture and mental manipulation. As I now recall the episode's story, it has taken on a far more gruesome note to me, however.

For me there weren't four, nay, five lights. For me there was the knowledge and realisation that what I was seeing was a body that was intersex, yet when put in the room with my torturers (doctors, psychologists, etc.), they'd persist in their notion that I was seeing things wrong. My body was not intersex, or even feminine, but just that of a male.

Much like with what Picard went through in this episode there were many times when I got offered what seemed like a way out. I just had to admit that my torturer is right and everything will be fine. Just admit that I'm not intersex. That I don't look like a woman. That I'm a transgender male. They'll make sure everything will be fine if I just admit to the truth.

Picard was locked in this room and couldn't just walk away from the torturing. I was, and still am, locked inside my body and cannot walk away from the torturing. Not unless I destroy this body. The four lights are always there. I can see them. I know that there are four. Not five.

I only have to glance in the mirror or catch my reflection to see my female curves. I know that my body produces its own female hormones without assistance, from the ovaries with which I was born. I know that my body is not that of a male. That'd be as ridiculous as to say that four lights are in fact five lights. Yet for twelve years and counting that's what doctors, psychologists and kin have been trying to convince me of.

Fortunately since the end of 2015 there has been a shift in this behaviour, with me finding more and more doctors and psychologists who agree that there are four lights, not five. Yet most still seem to believe that there are five lights and that convincing me of this very fact is paramount to my emotional well-being. Even as severe post-traumatic stress disorder and related traumas have been diagnosed by me and I undergo intensive psychotherapy in order to cope with this trauma.

I do not feel that I have been freed yet from this torture. Not while I'm still surrounded by people who insist that my perception of reality is false. That four lights are in fact five lights. That I am dreaming this body of mine, and so on. The torture sessions continue. Relentlessly.

I guess the most comforting thought throughout this is the one which played again through my head yesterday after I headed back outside after work. Whilst descending the stairs, I pictured myself as just a collection of electric impulses zipping through the neurons which make up this brain of mine. A brain suspended in spinal fluid, inside a bony cavity, itself suspended on a spinal column connected to limbs which move this entire contraption around.

Sensors are how we - as a neural network - perceive the world around us. Yet we also make up so many stories around it, adding our own interpretations and flourishes. How much of that is truly real? Aren't we in the end just these weird, biological constructions which lumber around on this planet's surface? Isn't that what humanity in the end is, with everything else just dreamed up inside these bony prisons?



Monday, 12 June 2017

I want to stop being the eternal victim

For a while now I have been trying to recover the memories associated with whatever happened to me as a child when I was about five years old. It was an event which my mother and others in my environment saw as me changing practically overnight from an open, energetic child who loved to hug and befriend people into a withdrawn child, terrified of others and refusing to be touched or hugged, even by my own mother. A child which would later display bizarre sexual behaviour reminiscent of role play one would see in sexual abuse.

As I come closer to the truth I'm ever more reluctant to uncover what happened. At times I can almost feel as though I can reach those memories. Amidst the memories of losing that blue balloon, playing on the farm, of getting that new puppy, family visits, birthday parties and sleep-overs there is... something else. It's so strange that many of the memories of when I was around five or six are so clear, yet when I try to follow my development and my attitude towards others around that time it's as though there's this wall of translucent ice I can't get a hold on.

For each memory of me as this child, I have to change it from the third-person perspective into a first-person perspective. Recall my emotions and feelings at that time, then follow that thread to earlier memories. Then do the same with those memories. Until I hit that same wall again. There's something there of people being horrible to me. Of things happening which I did not like, but which I was powerless to fight against. Because I was just a child.

It makes me wonder whether part of the reason why I stayed a child - emotionally - for so long was also as a form of defence against the world. So long as I did not grow up, I wouldn't have to face reality, or something. I don't know. I'm an adult now, so I don't have that excuse any more. Just these horrible memories and sensations of being victimised.

Memories of which I wish they were just limited to early childhood. Not that I needed them to be compounded by the horrible acts committed against me during primary school when I got severely bullied and made to feel like absolute trash. And again during the first few years of highschool. Just a freak and trash. That's all I really was.

Losing my way in life after finishing highschool and getting rejected by my father after my parents divorced. The hell of trying to find some kind of acceptance for me being gifted and lost in life. Then the far worse hell of finding out about being intersex and suffering the horrific physical and psychological abuse by doctors and psychologists as they abused, humiliated and brainwashed me. Because I'm a freak. Because I'm trash. Because I'm crazy and refuse to accept that I'm male and transgender. Or just crazy. And delusional. They all knew so well what was wrong with me.

Getting raped by a 'friend' because I thought I could trust this person, but that was not what he wanted from me. Me making one poor decision about who I could and couldn't trust after another. Getting stalked by those who wished to bully me into me trying to commit suicide again. And succeed this time.

Having all of my possessions stolen and becoming homeless. Living on the scraps others would toss at me, out of pity. The continuing abuse by doctors and psychologists. Then getting deceived and abused by landlords as I try to find a place to live. Today again getting an update via my lawyer making it clear that my current landlady would gladly ignore the signed statement by my psychotherapist indicating my fragile psychological state and risk of suicide. Supposedly I'm just stalling to keep off the eviction.

They're okay with me committing suicide. It'd probably make them overjoyed as it'd speed things up significantly. Too bad for them so far the court has decided to wait until November this year before the building inspector will take a look at the issues in my apartment, meaning that nothing is likely to happen until then. It's a small comfort.

Part of me wonders whether the abuse which I likely suffered as a young child is something that continued afterwards up till today, with no end in sight. Especially dealing with this eviction case and the fear that there's nothing standing between this horrible landlady and me losing everything again makes me consider that possibly the only way that I can make a fist against being the eternal victim is to commit suicide.

When I'm dead, I'm free. I'd no longer be a victim. Nothing would matter any more.

Of course, that's the easy way out, or so people keep telling me. The real way to make a fist and to get revenge on all of those who have wronged me is to live a great life. I'd love that. I really do. I just wonder how realistic it is.

This past weekend I have spent in pain again, as whatever is happening inside my abdomen at the peak of each monthly cycle is causing incredible pain and discomfort. Today as well. It has me regularly bend over from the pain in my lower abdomen, which along with the sharp pain in the vaginal area is at times too much to bear. Toilet visit have become the usual nightmare.

Next month is the follow-up appointment with the neurologist. He'll have looked at the scans of my brain and spinal column and likely conclude that there are no signs of inflammation or other issues would would offer an explanation for the numbness and pain in the right side of my body. The next possible diagnosis of endometriosis is then likely the correct one, also since now after a couple of months of using the contraceptive pill again I can conclude that with it I seem to barely experience this numbness and other symptoms. Just the horrible pain and discomfort in my abdomen.

To have that examined, however, I absolutely need to see this intersex specialist. Even though my medical coach has been calling after this for months now, progress there is slow. Maybe I'll have an appointment this year. Maybe not. I have been at this for over twelve years and counting. It may very well take twenty years in total to get some kind of proper diagnosis of my intersex condition, and possibly a treatment for, or solution to these horrible monthly pains.

I'm just tired of feeling like the eternal victim. It's as though I am a horrible person who deserves all of this. Maybe this already is Hell. It might very well be. I keep trying, yet with every setback I have to really wonder whether it's worth it to keep fighting. If I will always keep having horrible stuff happen to me, it has to be a problem with me, no? In that case there really is no point in trying to continue to live if I cannot seem to fix whatever it is that I'm apparently doing wrong.

...yet that'd also make me into a victim again. I don't want to die or commit suicide, or even think about such horrible things. I want to tell all of those horrible people that they can go f*ck themselves, catch spontaneously on fire and die horrible, agonising deaths. Because a bit of anger is good and proper here, I think. They want to screw me over along my future? Not like I am going to care in the slightest about their well-being, then. F*ck that.

It's the classical struggle for any victims of severe, long-term trauma, I think. Part of one's psyche wants to blame oneself. The other part wants to lash out at those monsters who caused the trauma. There's the blame, anger, self-doubt, suicidal thoughts, crying, depression, self-harm and rage at the world in general. Just the process of trying to make sense of 'why'. Why me. Why did they have to do that. Why did no one stop them. Why didn't I say no. Why didn't I just leave. Why. Why. Why.

I guess I am beginning to slowly accept that I am most definitely not doing okay, and that me accepting help from not just one but two psychotherapists for simultaneous therapy is an absolute necessity. Me handling both the psychological and medical problems in addition to my daily struggles was more than any person could possibly take. Off-loading most of the first two to others likely will save my life.

There was a time when I'd smirk at the thought of psychotherapy. I always figured that I didn't need to talk about things. That such things were useless. I figured that I'd be strong enough to handle any emotional issues on my own. Maybe some day I'll write that long-promised autobiography so that others can read about how incredibly weak, and yet how incredibly strong I was throughout this ordeal. Weak and strong in so many different ways. Ways one doesn't truly realise until long afterwards.

I'd like that.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

How feminism made me loathe Wonder Woman

I never really was into super heroes as a child. Mostly because most of them were so unrealistic that I could not imagine how they would appeal to an audience. Regardless, over the years I have caught up on this craze through watching various films and cartoons featuring these characters.

Of all of these super heroes, I like the anti-heroes the most, to be honest. Especially characters such as Dead Pool and Wolverine. They feel like real people, with a real background and personality with whom you can relate. The X-Men series in general appealed to me because it features characters who were just thrown into that role through genetic fate, causing lots of struggles as they came to terms with their condition. Many of these characters are quite relatable as a reason.

I have seen a few Super Man films as well, but as with characters such as Captain America and kin, it never felt real. With an unrealistic premise, ridiculous forced character development and a cardboard cut-out for a personality, such films never connected with me. I definitely liked the Bat Man films more there, as Bruce's character was relatable in its imperfections.

One of the few characters whom I had not seen in a cartoon or film before in any significant fashion so far is Wonder Woman. She just seemed like yet another one of those 'me too' ridiculous over the top American super heroes with truly one of the most ridiculous outfits (easily beating some of the more extreme Cat Woman outfits). Fighting in such an outfit? I'd have trouble merely catching a bus wearing it.

So then there was this Wonder Woman film this year, and people got all excited about it, because it was supposed to be really good. And presumably it was. Yet I doubt that I'll try seeing it, because I can't get this grimy taste of smug, third-wave feminism out of my mouth whenever I think of Wonder Woman now.

What mostly repulses me about Wonder Woman in general now is that she has been made into this feminist symbol which will inspire young boys to always be nice to girls and women, and young girls to... grow up to wear costumes which show off lots of cleavage and
come to prefer hot pants. Or something. Or to not take cr*p from anyone while wearing such a ridiculous costume. I guess.

I have always been quite frank about my dislike for feminism, just like my mother. This mostly due to the inherent discrimination in third-wave feminism. My mother saw it all take shape over the past decades while growing up as a young woman. My generation now has to live with its consequences.

As some may have gathered by now, I wasn't raised in a traditional female role. Courtesy of having been mistaken for a boy due to my intersex condition, I initially got brainwashed into the stereotypical (for the Netherlands) male role. Thanks to having been raised by my parents in a gender-neutral fashion, I was able to transition fairly easily into a female role instead after I discovered that my body is primarily female (just with male genitals as bonus).

What irks me the most about feminism as a result of my experiences so far is just how self-centred and self-serving it is. Albeit supposedly feminism is supposed to be about 'equality', in reality it is anything but. Although I'm also a woman, I'm in the first place a human being. Secondly I'm a hermaphrodite. And I do not feel that I am included in feminism.

Feminism is about enforcing the gender binary. About segregating people into 'men' and 'women'. About assigning stereotypes and allocating victimisation quotas. About telling young girls that they should be 'proper women' and being different from 'those men'.

Feminists do not give a fig about us intersex 'women', or the troubles (and genital mutilations) we suffer. Few Western feminists even care about the troubles suffered by women in non-Western countries. Instead we just get Western feminists cheering over a fictional character in a fictional universe somehow going to pull 'those men' into line and somehow inspiring 'girls' to become whatever. Not like a character such as Ripley in the film Alien from the 1980s being a far more realistic role model. I thought she was pretty rad, at least.

But really, if it's about equality, then it should not matter which genitals, gender, sexual preference or such a role model has. If it does, one merely discriminates. All that should matter is the person themselves. How they treat others, expect to be treated by others and their goals and path in life. An idol has to be stripped of such mundane attributes which ultimately do not define them as a person. Things like genitals.

I could have watched the Wonder Woman film the way I watched the Super Man films: as a way to stay updated on popular Western culture, and maybe enjoy a film, similarly to how I watched Dr. Strange recently and found it to be an interesting film. Yet it has become impossible for me to watch this new film now. It has become too tainted due to these connections with feminism, ruining any chance of me enjoying the film.

This rant sums up the basics of my feelings on this subject. I have long thought about whether I should write this at all, because I have seen the flak caught by those who dared to object to Western third-wave feminism. As an egalitarian and humanist, I do feel that people like us should speak up more often, to stem the populism of feminism and its damaging effects on society. For the sake of equality and egalitarianism.

I do not think that feminists are terrible people, just misguided. I think that they truly believe that they are doing good, but they haven't gone through the same life experiences as others. Sometimes they really need to step back and reassess their interpretation of reality. Maybe realise that their version of reality does not include a large group of people, and likely butchers biological facts into an overly simplistic interpretation.

Maybe then I could finally just be able to watch films without all of these unneeded connotations.


Monday, 5 June 2017

A dying fire's ember

Earlier today I published a new short story, titled 'A dying fire's ember'. It can be read here for free at Scribd:

For those who have already read the story, don't mind spoilers, or just wish to read my thoughts and motivations behind this story, please keep reading on.

As those who have read the story may already have gathered, it's a story about life and death, as well as how those involved deal with it. It is actually based on a real story, by an actual doctor who was on duty in an American hospital's ER one day when this one heavily injured girl was carried in.

After consulting with the on-duty surgeon, it was concluded that a major vein innervating the liver had become ruptured and it was impossible to repair the damage. Even as blood packs kept the girl alive and she was talking with the doctor, being fully lucid and fine aside from this one injury by a single ricocheted bullet, it was concluded that there was no way to save her.

This doctor was left to hold the girl's hand as the life literally slowly drained out of her, until eventually the light in her eyes (the 'ember' in the story's title) faded and she died.

Upon reading the story by this doctor, I could not stop thinking about it, and had to somehow give it shape, as it seemed so important to me. The primary thing which hits one about the story is of course the utter sense of helplessness. Even though nobody wants the girl to die, they are all powerless and in the end are forced to watch her simply die.

The other thing is of course that medical progress is the only thing which makes such deaths unnecessary. For the girl who died in the real-life story, there in that real-life ER, such a death would no longer be necessary, as damage to this major vein behind the liver can relatively easily be repaired now. Anyone like her who comes into an ER now will receive surgery and will likely be fine.

This is also why in the story which I wrote I took it a little bit further. Instead of merely a singular injury to a major vein - which would be easy to fix - instead I opted for major trauma, to many veins and arteries. Such large-scale forms of internal trauma are still basically impossible to repair today, although research projects exist which aim to handle such trauma.

Today Kathy still has to die, but hopefully a future Kathy would in fact be able to walk out of that hospital alive, apologise to Marilyn for taking so long to get her that book back and to return to becoming that scientist. Maybe she'd discover something that would save the lives of many other children like her, with injuries that are still fatal today.

And our story's doctor? He wouldn't have to watch on helplessly as his patient dies in front of his eyes. Instead he would be able to visit her at her hospital bed and maybe stay in contact later as well, possibly guiding her in her future career.

That, to me is the true message of this story. Even though things may seem bleak and hopeless now, with our combined efforts and intelligence, we can prevents and fix so much suffering. Lives which would have been cut short can instead go on living. It's a message of hope, of science and complete faith in humanity as a whole.

We are in this together. We can make life better for all of us. Because we are human beings.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

10th MRI and an inflamed brain

Yesterday was a pretty momentous day, involving my tenth MRI scan in almost as many years. This one was also special because it was the first MRI scan of my head and top part of my spine. At this point every single part of my body has been imaged by an MRI scan.

Goal of this tenth MRI scan was to clarify whether or not the numbness and pain which I feel on the right side of my body is due to an inflammation or swelling in my spinal column or brain. One twenty-minute scan and a brief wait later, I got invited by the radiologist to have a look at the results.

Though the spinal column itself looks fine, with no obvious swellings or inflammation, the brain itself did show a couple of spots which might be inflamed or similar. It'll be up to the neurologist to determine whether these spots are anything to worry about.

It's still very probable that these numbness and pain symptoms are a result of endometriosis, which was the neurologist's second option as well. For this I need to see an intersex expert, which is a process which may take a while. Fortunately my medical coach is handling the matter of getting an appointment at the right person, but just making the initial appointment is taking months already, with the actual appointment maybe still taking another few months as well.

On the bright side, since I started back on the contraceptive pill, the numbness and pain seem to be significantly reduced. Aside from a couple of days during which my abdomen felt like it was rotting away and severe pain in the vaginal area, the only thing which I'm really noticing currently is an incredible feeling of exhaustion. Far more than usual.

I'm not sleeping well, naturally, and maybe this is just the point where the lack of proper sleep and the constant feeling of extreme stress due to the eviction case is finally catching up with me. For all I know this stress underlies these possible inflammations in my brain, courtesy of my immune system being undermined by the stress that I'm under.

In short I'm still left with many questions and many uncertainties. Hopefully at least some of it will work out over the coming months.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

Having fun with electronics

Last year I noticed that my boss had two Gameboy handheld game consoles lying on his desk. When asking about them, I learned that they were the original 'family' Gameboys from the 1990s. They had served faithfully for many years, but unfortunately the years had taken their toll on them. Before they could be added to the retro gaming room at the office, they'd need to be repaired. I thus offered to repair them.

Fast-forward more than half a year, and I had not done so yet. Not because I didn't want to, or couldn't, but because I was struggling with depression, significantly worsened by the sudden eviction case against me. I wanted to be happy, to fulfil my obligations and have fun, but I simply couldn't.

These past weeks, however, things have been changing gradually. Even against the background of a forced eviction, becoming homeless, losing all my belongings and emotional destabilisation into suicide. Maybe it's just that I have been under so incredibly much stress the past months that I simply cannot care any more, thus learning to finally let go and not worry as much. Whatever the reason, I finally managed to fulfil at least my promise towards my boss regarding these Gameboys.

In the end it's an easy repair: disassemble the system, remove the rubber strip on the display's flatflex tape followed by heating it with a soldering iron to make the solder connections reflow and restore the pixel columns on the display. Then clean the contacts (both sides) with isopropyl alcohol and reassemble the whole thing again. Or put it into a new Gameboy shell, as the case may be.

Doing this kind of work is fun, and makes lots of people happy. I also recorded a video of the whole repair, which I hope to soon edit into a short video which I'll put on my new YouTube channel. I still have a Commodore 64 left to fix in my backlog as well, which I hope to get to soon as well, along with a number of other projects, including a robot cat, power COB LED module heatsink and power supply experiments, and of course the custom CPU architecture on FPGA project.

It makes me happy that I am now finally able to do these things, and have fun with them as well. Yet it's still hard to shake off the leaden feeling that I may only have weeks left to live, depending on the outcome on the eviction case and its effect on my emotional stability.

This week I sent an update to my lawyer that the owner of the building has seen fit to finally have some maintenance work performed on the building, which seems to have fixed the rusty water issue that existed from the beginning. That still leaves the incredibly noisy heating system and cold air pouring in from gaps around the windows during the winter, but it's a start, I guess.

I still hope that the building owner gets told off by the court, leaving me free to cultivate this small seed of normalcy that I seem to have found, as well as work out what I want to do with my future.

One thing which I have also learned from doing electronics for years is that it requires a lot of space. Buying that single-family home might be the only realistic way to move forward from here, yet there the medical issues take priority for now. I need to be healthy first before I take on more stress.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

When others feel the need to push you closer to suicide again

Over the past months that the eviction case against me has dragged on, it has become abundantly clear that what is at stake here is not just a place to live, or even something as abstract as 'justice'. Nay, as evidenced by my own feelings on the issue, and corroborated by the reports from my psychotherapist, what is at stake here is nothing less than my very life.

The official diagnosis is 'latent suicidal depression', in that I will generally not exhibit any suicidal behaviour or tendencies, but that certain events can trigger these. Events such as the forced eviction in early 2011, which led to my first suicide attempt, and later coming very close again, when after a physician- and psychologist-provoked PTSD/DID blackout episode, I was forced to pay for damages which I did not remember causing.

Dealing with doctors, anything related to intersex, transgenderism and sexuality also carries a massive risk. Yet with therapy and a quiet, safe environment in which to recover I should be just fine.

My fear is that even after resisting the horrible stress of the eviction case it will still result in me being forced to pay tens of thousands of Euros, get forcefully evicted, or a combination of these. There's no guarantee or certainty that this will not happen. That's enough to make it into a constant point of negative stress which keeps triggering a suicidal depression. Not strongly, fortunately, but sufficiently to keep up a feeling of constant existential dread.

When I try to think carefully about my emotional state if any of those scenarios were to happen, I have to admit that without any external interference, I will most likely end up killing myself. And that terrifies me even more.

There's always this misunderstanding that mentioning one's suicidal feelings means that one is either mentally ill or is using it as a hostage-style threat ('give me what I want, or I'll kill myself'). The more reasonable explanation in most cases is that each and every person has a psychological breaking point: a limit to what they can handle emotionally and mentally. The closer one gets to this point, the more it hurts, in a way that's worse than mere physical pain. This emotional pain cannot be shut out or ignored.

Reaching the actual breaking point is even worse; to reach this point causes a type of emotional agony that's worse than any physical pain which I have ever experienced, which includes fun things like kidney stones, abdominal inflammations, crashing on tarmac at about 60 kilometres per hour and very nearly having various limbs snapped off like a twig. Those are child's play in comparison. The only thing that came close was this one severe migraine episode, which nearly had me begging to be killed. Yet that one passed after I finally managed to fall asleep.

I think I reached my mental breaking point quite a few years ago already, probably around 2008, when things went rapidly south for me, to ultimately hit the low point of that suicide attempt a few years later. I have not had any significant therapy since then, let alone found a quiet place to recover in. My emotional and psychological health have been hovering around that null point for many years now. And now there's this new threat which may push me far enough that I would be forced to experience that blinding, numbing pain again.

And why? I didn't do anything wrong. Nor was there any reason for those doctors and psychologists to punish, rape and torture me like that. I guess that based on those years of experiences I simply must conclude that there doesn't have to be a reason. Doctors, psychologists and others who hold power over others will simply get whatever they want, no matter the consequences.

I really hope that I do win this eviction case, merely so that I can continue to go on living. Things are finally beginning to look up for me. I think it would be somewhat tragic if this is where my existence were to end, if still understandable.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Understanding an intense hatred of sexuality

For the past years now, there have been a number of things which instantly make me feel sick to my stomach, but without knowing or understanding why. Usually this takes the form of people showing (intimate) affection to each other, but things like pregnancy also triggers this strong sense of nausea and dull headache. Something about it physically hurts me.

Not that it's something limited to just the past years, either. I remember quite well how at the beginning of puberty, I felt disgusted by these sensations of physical lust. I wanted no part of it, and sought to banish any of such feelings from my life.

Part of those feelings of disgust may have been because of some weird sexual experimentation and experiences before that. I remember showing behaviour that was definitely over-sexualised, while not knowing why or who had shown or taught me anything like that.

For some reason it seems to come down to whatever happened to me when I was about five years old. Whatever happened back then might explain why I showed such bizarre behaviour, a couple of years later. Behaviour which unfortunately led to things which I regret now, or which hurt me in ways which I cannot begin to formulate, such as getting raped by a 'friend'. Experiences which led to me hating sexuality and everything related to it with an intensity that is simply absolute.

When I can only summarise it in terms which generally upsets others, it makes me again feel like something else is broken about me as well. From presumably getting sexually abused as a child, to not being able to give sexuality a place as puberty came and went, to finding out about being intersex, but having to fight over what essentially amounts to my own sexuality with doctors and psychologists.

Ever thought about what getting regularly 'physically examined' in one's most intimate regions by doctors who couldn't care in the slightest about one's well-being would do to one's emotional health? I didn't, and now I regret it. Last time a doctor asked me, I refused to comply.

I hate men. I want to see them all die horrible, agonising deaths for the monsters that they are. I hate women for being dumb creatures who just go along with whatever men tell them to. I hate that I feel this way, and do not understand why I feel this way.

I try to understand. I try to dig into my psyche and my memories as I attempt to find some clue, some memory which might offer an explanation. Yet I cannot find anything. There are just these intense thoughts and feelings which seem to spring forth out of a part of my psyche to which I do not have access. It's like a phobia, but even stronger.

I do know that it's not something about individual humans. I do not have a problem with them. I just have an issue with sexuality, with the entire physical part. I know from what my mother told me that before whatever happened to me as a child, I was a carefree, open child who loved to hug and be hugged. Then practically overnight this changed; I shut myself off from the world and did no longer want to be touched. Only a couple of years ago did I reach the phase where I allowed my own mother to hug me again. With other people it's still complex and generally I will pull away from any attempt at physical contact.

I hope that through therapy and by hopefully soon reaching a more quiet period in my life that I will be able to access this part of my psyche and memories where whatever causes these super-strong sensations are located. Just ignoring it and pretending it doesn't bother me doesn't work, much like how I could not ignore getting physically tortured and beaten.

I would love to reach a point where I no longer have to feel this horrible again due to this 'sexuality' thing. Maybe it will even allow me to reach a stage where I would actually be okay with entering into a relationship: being able to trust another human being to such an extent that I would simply not feel apprehensive or terrified around them.

I might even let this person hug me, a lot.

Yet for now, I'm basically more of a really smart machine. A machine which does not try to feel too much, too often.


Summary of my medical history

Since I now have an official medical coach, I needed to summarise my medical history so far, to help her make sense of all that has happened, been concluded and done so far. I must say that it's definitely an impressive list, if only in all the wrong ways.

Have a look, if you want:


  • Realisation of being intersex.
  • First appointment at gender team at the VUmc in Amsterdam.
  • Second appointment after half a year (with psychologist).
  • Blood test supposedly shows normal testosterone levels (results not found in VUmc file).
  • External examination by gynaecologist, who claims to see ‘no signs of intersex’.
  • Last talk with psychologist before being dismissed.
  • Letter is sent to GP describing Maya as showing ‘unusual behaviour for a transsexual’.
  • Start of therapy at psychologist in Zutphen. First appointment psychologist describes Maya’s thoughts about being intersex as ‘delusional’.


  • Psychologist keeps trying to convince Maya that she cannot be intersex, but should just go back to the VUmc and follow the transsexual protocol.
  • Maya relents and returns to the VUmc gender team.
  • Multiple appointments with psychologists follow. The one before last appointment, the psychologist promises that Maya can already start on hormone therapy and that the number of psychologist sessions can be drastically reduced because of the many sessions Maya has already had with a psychologist.


  • The last psychologist appointment, all of these promises are withdrawn and Maya is told to follow the usual protocol of half a year of talks before any decision can be made. Maya gets angry, throws her belongings on the floor and leaves the room.
  • The members of the VUmc gender team talk with Maya’s mother, asking her whether Maya is violent towards her, or even physically abuses her.
  • After hearing of this, Maya cancels all outstanding appointments at the gender team.
  • Maya orders testosterone blockers and estradiol via the internet and starts hormone therapy on her own, supported by hormone level tests provided by her GP.
  • After a period of experimenting, Maya settles on 25 mg Androcur/day and 4 mg Progynova/day.
  • On December 21, Maya has her first MRI scan in a private clinic in Germany. This shows her to have both male and female genitals (closed-off vagina, no prostate).


  • Maya’s GP sends MRI scan results to VUmc gender team. They immediately want to make an appointment.
  • Results of the first chromosome test on Maya’s white blood cells: show XY pattern.
  • At the VUmc, Maya is told that they didn’t see anything unusual on the MRI scans. They insist that she’s just a regular male.
  • Official first name is changed to ‘Maya’ from the male first name by a Dutch court on the basis of her clearly female appearance.
  • Appointment at the Erasmus hospital in Rotterdam. Leads to two MRI scans (September 11, November 6th). Both radiologist reports insist Maya is a normal male. Note is made of two testicles inside the scrotum, even though only one testicle ever fully descended.
  • Multiple appointments at AMC hospital in Amsterdam with endocrinologist and finally with a gynaecologist. The latter talks with members from the VUmc gender team and concludes that Maya suffers from autoparagynaecophilia, a term indicating that Maya thinks that she looks physically female, even though she is not.


  • Start of appointments at second Dutch gender team in Groningen:
  • Denial of any intersex condition.
  • Insistence that Maya is physically fully male.
  • Refusal to communicate with the German doctors who first diagnosed Maya with an intersex condition.
  • Basic chromosomal testing (white blood cells, cells from inside of cheek) show 46,XY pattern.
  • Insistence that Maya suffers from gender dysphoria.
  • MRI scan at Onze Lieve Vrouwen Gasthuis hospital in Amsterdam (December). Radiologist report indicates no sign of an intersex condition.
  • Diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by psychotherapist.


  • More appointments at the second gender team, mostly with psychologist.
  • Examination by urologist of the gender team, including a painful examination of the urinary tract and bladder. Conclusion is that there’s no sign of intersex. Entire day filmed by Dutch documentary team.
  • Appointments at VUmc gender team, who offer to ‘turn her into beautiful woman’, but no physical examinations, just the transgender course.


  • Suicide attempt using sleeping pills after a forced eviction. Maya wakes up in the ER and is taken care of by her mother.
  • Rejected by (Christian) GP due to her intersex condition.
  • Poor treatment by new GP leads to a black-out event (triggered by PTSD, possible DID), during which Maya is subjected to severe violence by police who were called onto the scene. Maya suffers bruised bone in her right leg, severe bruising and peripheral neuropathy.
  • Attempts to get help at John Hopkins Medical in the US, is rejected because ‘they don’t do sex-reassignment surgery’.
  • Appointment with urologist at hospital in Almelo, gets told to seek help in Germany, forget about The Netherlands.
  • Decision to focus on getting her legal gender changed, as her legal (male) gender does not match up with her appearance, which causes a lot of confusion.
  • Has surgery in Hamburg, Germany, whereby the testicles are removed via an incision on the lower abdomen. An exploratory incision is made in the perineum whereby the entrance of a vagina is found.
  • The biopsy of the removed testicles shows that they are underdeveloped, explaining the low testosterone levels and making clear that they never produced sperm.
  • The use of Androcur is no longer needed and is dropped.


  • Maya’s legal gender is changed to ‘female’ based on the surgery’s findings of her having been born with both male and female genitals, using a never before used (1980s) Dutch law.
  • Beginning of pain and numbness sensations on right side of the body.


  • Multiple appointments with a Dutch surgeon who specialises in reconstructive surgery, to determine the possibility of reconstructing the (closed-off) vagina.
  • MRI scan at the MST hospital in Enschede. Radiologist concludes that there’s no sign of intersex.
  • The surgeon refers Maya back to the VUmc gender team.
  • Maya moves to Germany.


  • A reconstructive surgery is agreed upon with a German surgeon, but the surgery confirmation never comes and calls to the clinic go unanswered.
  • Multiple appointments at the university hospital of Tubingen. Physical examination by surgeon. Blood test: shows 46,XY pattern for white blood cells, normal SRY.
  • Another MRI scan is made, radiologist report indicates no signs of intersex.


  • Appearance of linea nigra on Maya’s abdomen. Multiple appointments with gynaecologist.
  • Two MRI scans. The same radiologist first sees a healthy vagina, the second time no vagina or signs of intersex are seen.
  • Appointment at new endocrinologist. Multiple hormone level tests, with and without taking artificial estradiol. Maya’s estradiol levels without hormone therapy are found to be normal female levels.
  • Presence of at least one functional ovary is presumed, along with a monthly cycle since the age of 11.
  • Maya no longer takes any form of hormone therapy.


  • Linea nigra vanishes.
  • Maya awaits updates on a possible surgeon contact.
  • Monthly pains are becoming very significant, along with increasing numbness in right leg.


  • Surgeon appointment, with Maya referred to an intersex specialist. Surgeon is uncertain about Maya’s intersex condition.
  • Monthly numbness and pain spreads to the entire right side of Maya’s body.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Accepting help also means accepting that one has a problem

The past days has seen the numbness and pain in the right side of my body virtually disappear again, as my body goes through the motions of its monthly cycle again. It's a nice week or so of respite from having to worry about me turning into a permanently crippled person. Because of this variation in the symptoms, I do not expect that the MRI scan in two weeks will show anything to be wrong with my brain or spinal column. Best to be safe, of course. Plus it's nice to have that tenth MRI scan achievement unlocked, I guess.

As the scope of the medical and psychological help which I'm receiving slowly expands, I now find myself with a psychotherapist for regular therapy for my PTSD and other traumas, another psychotherapist who acts as a medical coach to handle contact with clinics, doctors and so on. Getting proper communication out of this intersex clinic - my next target - is slow, frustrating and thus I'm glad that I now have someone who is doing all of that for me, after twelve years of me dealing with it directly.

All of this means a large number of appointments and both help, but also the constant confrontation with my problems. From PTSD, various traumas and other psychological issues which have build up over decades, to the twelve years of horrible frustration and maltreatment of my intersex condition which may now be causing these physical issues that are causing me chronic pain. Even without an active eviction case against me this would be a lot to deal with. Add that to the mixture, realise that a negative outcome in that case may push me to try my luck at suicide again, and the need for intensive therapy and other forms of support becomes very obvious.

Without the stabilising influence of my day job and my friends, I would most likely already have been put on suicide watch. As things stand, I'm already skirting pretty close to the point where my therapists would feel obligated to interfere.

Here again I am confronted with the stigma of mental illness: you cannot see it, so it cannot be there. Me feeling suicidal must therefore be a conscious choice, ergo I can just stop thinking that way. The reality of the matter of course being that I am not actually a person suffering from depression, but merely someone who has felt so threatened and has been repeatedly attacked by others for over a decade, that it has made the thought of continuing to live... unpleasant.

I just want people to leave me alone. I didn't do anything wrong. People should just do their job and act like decent human beings. The past twelve years have shown to me beyond a shade of doubt that most people are (unknowingly) evil or just don't care. This is not the world I'd want to live in. Thus I focus on the decent human beings in the world, but one can only ignore the former nightmare world for so long.

Maybe I just have terrible luck and have come across every single terrible excuse for a doctor, psychologist, landlord, 'friend' and what not. While going through therapy, I have to go back to parts of my life which I do not care to remember, as well as some parts which I would love to go back to.

I still don't know what happened when I was a young child that was traumatic enough that it completely changed my behaviour. All I know is that my traumas likely started back when I was almost too young to remember anything. Likely someone did something to me, just like with what happened to my cousin when her uncle and grandfather couldn't keep their filthy hands off her body and those of other young girls like her.

It may very well have been that I grew up basically from the age of five with the knowledge and expectation that people are horrible monsters, who will always seek to take advantage of you. It would explain why I have seemingly always felt so apprehensive of others since the age of six. Even though I have been consciously trying to change this since I found out about being intersex in 2005 - pushing myself to return to that extroverted personality that I had as a child - along the way I come across the same traumas which pushed me into becoming introverted in the first place.

All I can hope for at this point is that I can at least win the eviction case so that I do not have to deal with that any more. I feel my life is complicated enough already at this point without others making it more difficult simply because they're greedy and care not about their fellow humans.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Who'll catch me when I fall?

Last Friday I noticed that after a meeting at work, my right arm had begun hurting quite a lot, along with numbness and strong discomfort in the entirety of my body's right side. Including the right side of my face. Even though I had been dealing with numbness and pain in my right leg and arm in some form for the past months (and years in a milder form), this was a disconcerting new development.

I didn't tell anyone about this issue, just went back to my place and took one, then another ibuprofen (800 mg total). After about half an hour the pain had decreased significantly and with an hour I was almost feeling normal again. Before the pain started decreasing, I feared that it might worsen to the point where I'd collapse and find myself in the ER again.

The numbness and pain in my body's right side just keeps increasing. The past months far quicker than before, progressing from just the numbness in the leg for a few hours and occasional pain in my right arm to a full week of an unusable leg and currently near-constant numbness and pain in the entire right side of my body.

On Tuesday I had a neurologist appointment for this issue, after my GP reserved an emergency slot for me. I now have an MRI scan scheduled of my head and neck region (tenth MRI scan, yay), to rule out any possible issues in that area. The neurologist does however think that something like endometriosis is more likely as cause, considering the cyclic nature of the symptoms. My hope now lies with this intersex clinic with which my psychotherapist and myself have been trying to get into contact with for the past months now, without much success.

Maybe the MRI scan will show something, but most likely not. Meanwhile I'm taking ibuprofen like candy as it's the only thing which actually seems to do anything about the symptoms. Exercise seems to make the symptoms worse, but sometimes lying in bed as well, which makes it hard to find an approach which always works. I have started again on the anti-conception pill in the hope that if it's indeed hormonal, it will reduce the symptoms. I should know soon whether this theory is correct.

Meanwhile it practically feels as if my body is splitting into two halves, with the right side slowly shutting itself down.

I have to wonder what the impact of excessive stress on this all is, as I'm still facing getting evicted out of this apartment despite not having done anything wrong. Except maybe not complain enough, apparently. The thought that there are people out there who quite literally would be fine with me dying on the spot (which would be cheaper than an eviction), and that there's no home for me out there is more than one can humanly bear.

What'll happen when everything goes wrong? I already know that if I am forced to find another apartment, or even pay a large sum of money, it'll destabilise me emotionally in ways which are more than just frightening. There'd be a real chance of me committing suicide. I know from experience that all it takes is to have access to an easy and acceptable method.

After months of excessive stress I don't really care that much about whether I survive or not. Between getting evicted, my body slowly failing and the intersex clinic between completely unhelpful so far, I don't have anything to live for. Not really.

I love my work and my hobbies, but it cannot stand against the incredible pain of being alive if all it means getting punished over and over again. Punished for being born intersex. Punished for following the rules. Punished for being an abject failure.

I expect to be evicted. I expect my body to fail me probably this year, rendering me a cripple or killing me. I don't expect there to be any help. I do not have the energy to fight to survive any more. I cannot deal with an eviction. I'd just give up. Live on the streets until I die. Because giving into fatalism is the only thing which I can do, along with punishing this horrible body of mine by hurting it for hurting me.

I need others to give me hope again. To make me see that life isn't only about suffering and death. That this body of mine is okay. That there's nothing wrong with me. That I do not have to fear landlords randomly kicking me out of rundown apartments for daring to complain about issues. That I do have a future.

I want to believe, but I cannot. All that I know, all that I understand, and all that I long for is this incredible sense of peace which I felt during those moments before I tried to commit suicide. I wish I hadn't failed. I so wish it all had ended already, six years ago. I regret failing at that more than anything. Next time I'll succeed at committing suicide. I promise.

So that I may finally find peace.