#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 24, 2021)

Hi everyone. It’s really sunny out this Sunday afternoon! How about you join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare. I had quite a lot of coffee so far today, as I went out to McDonald’s (well, through the drive-through) with my husband for lunch and had coffee there. It was better than the coffee I had at Subway last week. Then when I came back to the care facility, I had a cup of coffee again. If you’d like a cup of it too, I’m pretty sure there’s still some left, as my staff said her colleague had just made a fresh pot. Let’s have a cup of coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d almost invite you to the balcony. It’s sunny, after all, but quite cold. Besides, the balcony is covered in fallen leaves. So I guess we’ll sit indoors after all.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I managed to get in 12.5K steps yesterday. That’s a huge win, as I had thought my physical condition was declining slightly. Apparently not.

I also went on the elliptical for half an hour on Friday and am planning to go onto it for another 30 minutes later this evening.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that all this is slightly comforting in light of my probable IBS symptoms and the upcoming abdominal X-ray. I mean, if it’s something very serious, I guess I’d have other symptoms, such as unexpected weight loss or declining physical fitness. Please all still pray for me that the X-rays will show something easily treatable.

If we were having coffee, I would share that my husband bought a new car. Well, he’s going to exchange it for our current Volkswagen Golf on Wednesday. It’s a Daihatsu Cuore, a very small car. His VW is still in relatively good shape, but both of us wanted a cheaper car with respect to gas usage, insurance and tax. With the deal he got, my husband says he’ll have saved enough on these to cover the cost of buying the Cuore within the year. I must say I feel a lot better about this car than I felt back when my husband bought the VW.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I woke up after a nightmare early this morning. It wasn’t yet time for my one-on-one to arrive, so the morning staff helped me put on my music pillow and settle back to bed. I thankfully slept well for about an hour and a half after that. I am really hoping this means that the topiramate is working. I mean, my nightmares aren’t your standard scary dreams and as far as I’m aware, topiramate doesn’t suppress REM sleep altogether, but it does seem to make it easier to let go of anxiety-inducing dreams.

How have you been?

Treatment Plan

While in the mental hospital, every six weeks, or later, every six months, I’d have a treatment plan meeting. Not that my treatment or its goals changed anything over the 9 1/2 years that I remained in the hospital; my treatment goal was always to find me a suitable place to live and my treatment involved, well, what, actually? I honestly can’t tell you even now that it’s been over four years since I’ve been out.

What did change, were my diagnoses; from autism and an adjustment disorder (which explained my acute crisis that had led to my admission), to autism and impulse control disorder, to autism, dissociative identity disorder and PTSD, to eventually no autism at all and just borderline and dependent personality disorder and a little bit of depression (not otherwise specified) thrown in (just because with just personality disorders on my file I would have had to be discharged right away). The nurses said the psychologist who’d added depression, did me a favor that way. I think they were just completely clueless as to what they were doing with a complicated case like mine.


This post was written for the Six Sentence Story Link-Up, for which the prompt word this week is “Treatment”. I am not sure I did it right this time. I hope I did.

My Hands #SoCS

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) is “body parts”. I could of course write about how I’m scared for my abdominal X-ray this coming Tuesday and share all the details about my tummy ailments, but I’m not going to. After all, Lindda has asked us to warn our fellow SoCS participants if a post is NSFW and I generally don’t write that type of posts on my blog anyway. So, I’m going with another body part: my hands.

After all, what’s been worrying me most is that my abdominal complaints will be something serious, like cancer or the like. And if they’re cancer, that I’ll die. Or need to go on chemo. And if I’d need to go on chemo, I’d lose my nails. Not that I mind my nails that much in the sense that I like to polish them or whatever. I bite them like crazy, in fact. But I’d like to keep the function of my fingers please. So, with those scary thoughts out of the way (I hope writing them down doesn’t make them come true), I’m going to write about why I appreciate my hands.

Some staff say I have piano fingers. I can’t play the piano to save my life, but what they mean is that my fingers are relatively long and thin. I like that. They allow me to type on my laptop keyboard with relative ease. I used to make a lot of typeos. Not anymore. I don’t know why.

My fingers also allow me to read Braille. I don’t read traditional Braille books or paper anymore, but I do read a lot on my Braille display. If I lost my nails, I’m pretty sure I’d no longer be able to read braille, because, well, even if I could still feel the Braille dots with my fingertips (assuming they wouldn’t need to be covered in band aids or something), I guess my Braille display wouldn’t like all the stuff coming from my exposed nailbeds. Oh, is that NSFW?

Besides my fingers, my hands allow me to touch all kinds of textures. I love my large collection of stuffed animals, all with their different feels to their fur. I also love my two fleece blankets, one I got in my Christmas package from my old day center and one the day activities group with the sensory room bought for me so I had my own blanket to cover myself when going into it.

One exercise I used to do when trying to stay present when I’d often dissociate (not that I don’t dissociate anymore, but I find it harder to do the exercise), is to touch various objects in my surroundings and describe them as objectively as I can. Then, after I’ve named some characteristics of the object, I name the object itself.

My hands allow me to hold onto my white cane and onto someone’s arm when walking. I might find a way to walk sighted guide if I lost my hand function, but I still appreciate my hands for what they do for me now.

What do you like about your hands?

Gratitude List (October 22, 2021) #TToT

Hi all on this mixed-bag Friday weather-wise. It’s cloudy with some rain, but the sun tries to peek through here and there too. I seem to have given up on the blogging challenges entirely, but I’m still attempting to write as often as I comfortably can. Today, I’m doing a gratitude list. I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) as usual. Here goes.

1. I am grateful my staff, the one who is on sick leave, was happy with her presents. Like I mentioned before, I gifted her a handmade soap, hand cream and bracelet. Another staff delivered it to her house as to allow me to save money on postage. The staff who is on sick leave, later texted the other staff an audio recorded message for me. It was so sweet!

2. I am grateful for my nurse practitioner and community psychiatric nurse. On Sunday, I landed in a bit of a crisis and E-mailed them, along with my assigned day activities staff and my support coordinator. My nurse practitioner responded on Monday. Though I felt like he was downplaying my crisis a little, my CPN later said that she at least felt that I was doing well because I asked for help.

3. I am grateful my GP takes me seriously. This really could’ve been a grateful for last week, but I forgot to mention it then. As regular readers of this blog might know, I’ve suffered with what doctors think is irritable bowel syndrome with constipation for years, but it’s gotten worse and somewhat different over the past nine months or so. I saw my GP about it a few weeks ago and he initially sent me home with orders for the staff to fill out a rating scale on my bowel movements. Boy, was it embarrassing having to ask the staff to look at my poop! Thankfully, it did show that I hadn’t been misguided about my symptoms. Last week, we went back with the rating scale and the doc examined me again. After discussing me with the gastroenterologist, he decided to refer me for an abdominal X-ray. It’s been scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

4. I am grateful for my husband’s ability to put things into perspective. I have been worried sick (no pun intended) about the possible outcome of said abdominal X-ray. My husband though said that, since I’ve been having symptoms for as long as he knows me, it’s not likely to be anything serious.

5. I am still grateful for topiramate. The increased dosage does seem to do something in the end. Last night, I had dreams about leaving the care facility, but they do not seem to affect me as much as they used to. I call that a win!

6. I am so grateful for one-on-one support. I cannot say this often enough. I am so very grateful my staff aren’t leaving me when I’m in crisis.

7. I am grateful the chili con carne I had for dinner yesterday was better than I expected. I hadn’t had meal delivery company chili in a while since it’s part of their fall/winter menu. However, I’d remembered it as dry rice with dry beans and a tiny bit of mince thrown in. To my surprise, they’d actually added some sauce and there was more mince in it than I expected.

8. I am grateful that the people who were installing blinds on my side of the building, are finally done doing so. Originally, only the other side of the building had blinds on the outside, but some of my fellow clients suffered badly from the sun shining through their windows during the day especially in summer. It took the company several weeks of installing the blinds and they had to be in each room to program them too. Thankfully, they programmed mine to manual, not automatic. Otherwise, if it’s sunny, the blinds will go down, then if a bit of wind blows they will go up, then down again, up again, etc. I’d rather keep them up and just draw the curtains when it’s sunny.

9. I am grateful that, when they were working on my blinds this afternoon, my one-on-one took me to the snoezelen® room at the day center. After all, the noise was quite unbearable. I loved lying on the waterbed while there was no-one in the adjacent room. So nice!

10. I am grateful I had the energy to go on the elliptical for over 30 minutes this afternoon. When I first stepped onto it, it felt as though I’d hardly manage 15 minutes, but I did pretty well.

What are you grateful for?

Reading Wrap-Up (October 20, 2021)

Hi everyone on this rainy Wednesday. Today, I’m joining WWW Wednesday, a weekly book meme in which the three W’s are what we are currently reading, recently finished and are thinking of reading next. Here goes.

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up After the Cure by Deirdre Gould again after several months of letting it sit there. I am slowly moving through it, but I’m determined to finish it. If for no other reason, I want to prove that I can finish a book that isn’t perfect or near-perfect. After all, when going through my Goodreads shelf, I realized I pretty much only give books I finish four or five stars.

What I Recently Finished Reading

The Bad Room by Jade Kelly. See my review. I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, but honestly it should’ve gotten 4.5 stars.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I still have several books on my currently-reading shelf that I haven’t touched in a few weeks at least. That being said, I’m also very much interested in Fatal Intent by Tammy Euliano, which a fellow blogger (sorry, can’t remember who) recommended recently.

Then there’s Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, which I discovered several months ago already but only recently decided to get my hands on. This is a young adult novel about a Black, queer, trans person’s journey of self-discovery. I really would’ve loved this as a teen, since one of the first lines of the book blurb says how Felix belongs to just a little too many minority groups. That would have been me! Well, I’m White and cisgender, but I belong to other minorities. But I digress.

Finally, I was drawn to check out The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda when I saw it on Sam’s original WWW post. All three of these books, I downloaded off Bookshare. I hope I’ll find myself finding more time and energy to read soon.

What have you been reading?

Book Review: The Bad Room by Jade Kelly

Last month, I somehow felt inspired to check out abuse survivor memoirs on Apple Books. I came across The Bad Room by Jade Kelly and it immediately appealed to me, so I decided to buy it. At first, I raced through it. Then, I fell into a reading slump. I finally finished the book yesterday.

Summary

After years of physical and mental abuse, Jade thought her kindly foster mother would be the answer to her prayers. She was wrong … this is her staggering true story.

‘This must be what prison is like,’ I thought as another hour crawled by. In fact, prison would be better … at least you knew your sentence. You could
tick off the days until you got out. In the Bad Room we had no idea how long we’d serve.

After years of constant abuse, Jade thought her foster mother Linda Black would be the answer to her prayers. Loving and nurturing, she offered ten-year-old Jade a life free of fear.

But once the regular social-worker checks stopped, Linda turned and over the next six years Jade and three other girls were kept prisoner in a bedroom
they called the ‘bad room’.

Shut away for 16 hours at a time, they were starved, violently beaten, forbidden from speaking or using the toilet and routinely humiliated. Jade was left feeling broken and suicidal.

This is the powerful true story of how one woman banished the ghosts of her past by taking dramatic action to protect the life of every vulnerable child
in care.

My Review

I was pulled in to this book right from the start. The prologue was captivating! It immediately painted a picture of what life was like in the Bad Room. Then, as Jade describes her life before being taken into foster care, the story gets slightly less fast-paced, but it’s still very intriguing.

Jade is very candid about her own faults. Like, when she’s first in care with Linda Black, she genuinely believes she is different from the other girls in care and she won’t end up being treated like them. She is also open about the moments she tells on or even lies about the others in order to (hopefully) be liked by Linda more. This shows that Jade isn’t a saint; she’s just trying to survive.

It is truly heartbreaking to see how social services fail Jade and the other girls time and time again despite the massive amounts of documentation on their case. I can relate to this in a way. For this reason, I feel that this story is very important reading material for social workers and foster carers in the UK and elsewhere. Thankfully, Jade survived to tell her story. Others may not be so lucky.

Book Details

Title: The Bad Room: Held Captive and Abused by My Evil Carer. A True Story of Survival
Author: Jade Kelly
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: June 25, 2020

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 17, 2021)

Hi everyone. I’m rather late joining #WeekendCoffeeShare this week and I’m afraid there’s no coffee left. You can help yourself to a soft drink or a glass of water though. I also have chips in my cupboard. After yesterday’s crying fit over there only being the wrong flavor left, I decided to buy some myself. I did ask the staff to put them into a cupboard which they only have the keys to, but I’m pretty sure they’ll love to open it for you. Let’s have a drink and a handful of chips and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee (or a soft drink and chips), I’d share that this week is still quite meh. Early in the week, I was feeling a little more optimistic at the prospect of starting my increased dosage of topiramate soon. I started it on Friday and so far, unfortunately, no change. I am grateful though for no side effects either.

Over the weekend, I’ve really been struggling. I landed in a bit of a crisis earlier this evening, but thankfully pulled myself out of it. I did E-mail my nurse practitioner and CPN at mental health to let them know I’m worried about deteriorating. My husband said I’m not, but the fact that I keep increasing my meds, tells me otherwise

If we were having coffee, I’d moan about my orthopedic footwear after all. The shoes squeak and, though I’m still not in terrible pain, I cannot walk for more than twenty minutes on them without them feeling horribly uncomfortable. Mostly my left foot, the foot on which I wear the AFO, starts to drag. I haven’t heard back from the physical therapist, but am pretty sure she’ll just say I need to push through.

If we were having coffee, I would show you all the soap I made for my assigned staff, the one who’s on sick leave. I heard last Thursday that she’ll remain off work until the middle of November or so due to among other things her needing to use up all her days off for the year or they’ll disappear.

Like I said yesterday, the soap contains vetiver, lavandin and clary sage essential oils. I decided to use a white soap base and no colorants, because I felt the scents would speak for themselves.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that my husband came by today. We drove to Subway for lunch. I dutifully wanted to get out my CoronaCheck app, but my husband told me to wait. As he expected, they didn’t ask us for it. The taco beef wrap I chose, was rather boring and I’m pretty sure the mince they put in it was vegetarian rather than beef. Oh well, now at least I know what not to choose next time.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (October 16, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone. It’s becoming old, but I’m still struggling. I just dragged myself out of a crying fit that started over the wrong flavor chips (yes, seriously). Sometimes I’m a toddler like that. Writing that down made me chuckle in a self-mocking kind of way. I’m still sad though, albeit not about the chips. To cheer myself up, I’m writing a gratitude list. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. I am grateful for nice weather most of the week. We’ve had some showers, but it’s not like it’s been raining all day.

2. I am grateful for special lunches most days of the week. As regular readers will know, I don’t care for the usual slices of bread that make up a normal lunch here. On Wednesday though, my staff and I decided to make a salad. We still had some left for Thursday. Yesterday, the day activities group I would’ve been part of if I didn’t get my day activities in the home, made hamburgers and I could have some too. Yum!

3. I am grateful for even more essential oil inspiration. Of course, I already mentioned last week that I’d signed up for Lea Jacobson’s VIP club for a month. Like I said yesterday, this week, I decided to grant myself access to the essential oil safety files too. The combination of these resources has truly helped me get inspired in the aromatherapy department.

4. I am grateful I have been able to do some DIY skincare product making again. Like I mentioned yesterday, I made a hand cream. Today, I made a melt and pour soap with the same combination of essential oils.

5. I am grateful my now former behavior specialist was happy with her leave-taking gift. I gave her the butterfly soap I posted last week.

6. I am grateful the behavior specialist gave me a “gift” too. It wasn’t a physical present. Instead, she let me listen to a piece of music she’d played on the pan flute. I am not at all musically talented, so I have no way of knowing whether it was good or anything, but I liked it.

7. I am grateful my Fitbit is charging again. I’d had problems with the charger not making contact before, but on Tuesday, it wouldn’t make contact even after cleaning both the Fitbit and the charger. I got a new charger and thankfully, that solved the problem.

8. I am grateful my topiramate, the medication I take for my PTSD symptoms, got upped. I started my new dose yesterday. It’s not yet working, obviously, but I’m hopeful it will start to work soon.

9. I am grateful for time and energy to read again. I have been escaping into an inspirational memoir this afternoon.

10. I am so grateful my staff haven’t given up on me even though I’m often tempted to give up on myself lately.

What have you been grateful for lately?

DIY All-Natural Hand Cream Using Essential Oils

I finally seem to have found a bit of inspiration to create things again lately. Last Tuesday, I decided to buy the essential oil safety files at Lea Jacobson’s website. For $47 one-time, you’ll have access to the safety guidelines for over 240 essential oils and absolutes. This seemed a bit expensive to me at first, but given how hard it otherwise is to find exact topical dilution maxes etc. online, I finally gave in.

Regular readers will know that I love to make melt and pour soap and have occasionally made massage oils and body butters. I also made one hand cream. I however usually use fragrance oils, as essential oils can be more irritating to the skin and cause sun sensitivity. Now, with Lea’s safety files, I felt more confident that I’d properly dilute my essential oils. This means I could finally make an all-natural hand cream.

Ingredients


  • 50 g cocoa butter

  • 50 g coconut oil

  • 50 g sweet almond oil

  • 20 g beeswax pellets

  • Essential oils (see below on dilution)


You can use shea butter or mango butter instead of cocoa butter and any liquid carrier oil instead of sweet almond oil. If you want a vegan option, I think you can even use candellia wax instead of beeswax.

Now for the essential oils. I wanted to create a relaxing blend of essential oils. It is hard to find ready-made skincare blends online, so I used a diffuser blend and adapted it for topical use. This required me to know whether the essential oils I would be using, are skin-safe and, if so, in what dosage. For this, I used Lea’s safety files.

The blend I found online that I liked, contained lavender, clary sage and vetiver essential oil. Since I didn’t have lavender essential oil on hand anymore, I decided to use lavandin instead. I found out that, while lavandin essential oil is pretty skin-safe, lavandin absolute is not. For this reason, I made extra sure my staff checked that what I had in my box was the essential oil. It was!

The diffuser blend called for two drops of each oil. I decided to use three drops in my hand cream. This totals nine drops of essential oil, which isn’t even a 1% dilution. Usually, natural skincare makers use a 3% dilution, which would be safe with these oils. However, I felt the scent was strong enough already as it was now.

Making the Hand Cream


  1. Mix together the cocoa butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and beeswax in a microwave-safe bowl.

  2. Microwave in one-minute increments, stirring afterwards, until melted.

  3. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes before adding the essential oils. You could use a thermometer to check the temperature. I’ve heard most EOs require a temperature below 45°C. I don’t own a thermometer though, so I just wait until the mixture starts to set a little.

  4. Add in the essential oils.

  5. Stir with a whisk to make the hand cream more fluffy.

  6. Pour the mixture into a jar or pot.

  7. Let fully cool before screwing on the lid.

Since my hand cream will be a gift, I haven’t touched it myself after fully cooling. My previous attempt turned out a bit too thick for my liking, which is why I cut back on the beeswax a little this time.

I will probably be making a melt and pour soap with the same scent soon too. Then, I’ll add them both into a package I’ll send to my assigned home staff, who, as regular readers know, is on sick leave. I really hope she likes it.

PoCoLo
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Living With Sleep Disturbances

On Monday, I wrote about my relationship with the night. Today, I saw that the topic for Tale Weaver this week is sleep. I thought I’d use this opportunity to expand on Monday’s post a little and write about my various sleep issues. After all, being a night owl is one thing. Experiencing significant sleep disturbances is quite another.

First, there is of course plain old insomnia. I talked about this on Monday mostly. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a lot of trouble falling asleep. Once I was asleep, staying asleep usually wasn’t that hard, except during times of significantly elevated stress.

Then there was the opposite. I honestly don’t think I ever truly suffered with hypersomnia, but there were definitely times I slept far more than I should have. These were often times of low stimulation. IN other words, I was bored to the point of sleeping.

Then there are these sleep disturbances that I cannot really classify and, since I haven’t been to a doctor with them at this point, neither can anyone else. I get really weird half-awakening states where it feels as if I’m doing something for which I should clearly be awake, only to realize later on that I wasn’t doing anything at all and was just half-awake thinking of doing something. With this come weird sensations, almost like hallucinations, too. These half-awakenings currently are very scary. I’ve heard they might be a sign of sleep paralysis, but I don’t think I experience the actual inability to move upon waking up that comes with it.

Then there are nightmares. I don’t get your standard child’s monster-under-your-bed nightmares. Neither do I get violent nightmares usually. In this sense, my nightmares don’t fit the criterion for PTSD. Then again, probably neither does most of my trauma, as most of it was mental and emotional abuse. Rather, I get nightmares that relate to my anxieties, such as of being kicked out of the care facility.

With these half-awakenings and my nightmares, it’s no wonder that sleep often invades my day-time life and vice versa. I find that nightmares often seem to go after me during the day and half-awakenings scare me too. This in turn contributes to a fear of going to sleep, which contributes to insomnia.

One sleep disorder I need to mention here, which I thankfully don’t have, is non-24-hour circadian rhythm disorder. This is common in totally blind individuals and occurs because our natural biological clocks seem not to co-occur with exactly the 24-hour clock of a day. This is corrected in people with some vision by the perception of light and dark, which regulates melatonin production. I have hardly any light perception left, but thankfully my sleep-wake cycle does not seem to be affected as of yet.