When I Can’t Sleep

Today, Sadje asks in her Sunday Poser what we do when we can’t go to sleep. Now I must say I only occasionally suffer with insomnia nowadays. As a child, teen and young adult, I’d suffer with it a lot more often. When in the psych hospital, I even tried a handful of different sleep medications until they all stopped working and I just accepted lack of sleep. The one sleep medication I remember that actually worked for a relatively long while if I didn’t use it more than twice a week or so, was zolpidem. I liked that one best, but I actually still have a kind of psychological longing for the floaty feeling it gave me.

Anyway, now that I only occasionally suffer with insomnia, I usually still don’t like to just lie there and do nothing. The nice, floaty feeling on zolpidem would’ve helped with that at least. Rather, I usually get up and do some reading on my phone. Of course, I know that electronics are supposed to keep you awake and this may be the case for me even without the blue light (being that I keep my screen completely black). Indeed, I don’t usually find that reading helps me fall asleep, but at least it helps me pass the time until I’m naturally tired enough to fall asleep. Or until it’s morning.

I wanted to go off on a tangent here and talk about other sleep issues too. The most annoying of these is finding myself in a half-sleeping, dreamlike state where my mind seems to want to do things but my body won’t. This experience, which some people I know have said might be sleep paralysis, is extremely frightening. It usually happens when I take a nap, which is why I avoid taking naps if I’ve had this experience recently.

Which gets me to fear of sleep due to nightmares. I experience nightmares that actually affect my daytime functioning at least a few times a week. I don’t always remember my nightmares exactly and I’m not even sure those I do remember count as nightmares, as sometimes when I’m in them they aren’t fear-inducing. They however do trigger my PTSD flashbacks, if that makes sense. They usually are very vivid. I have had this issue more since starting on my antipsychotic, but now that I think of it, it’s probably more of an anxiety or PTSD symptom. I am really hoping the topiramate, which I’ll hopefully be starting within the next week or two, will help with this.

Disagree

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday (#FMF) is “disagree”. Initially, I was going to write a post about how (lack of) open disagreement with others was used against me. When my then psychologist diagnosed me with dependent personality disorder in 2016, she thought that my lack of open disagreement with many of her controversial opinions, proved I had this condition. It honestly to me proved that she was in authority even though she had no clue what she was doing.

I eventually deleted that draft and started over, but I still want to write along those lines.

In Christianity, we are often taught to not just respect, but obey authority. Children are expected to obey their parents in everything. Wives are expected to submit to their husbands.

As a survivor of childhood trauma as well as many abuses of power, I struggle with these commands.

That being said, the command to be obedient as a child and submissive as a wife, does come with its respective obligations on the part of the parents and husband. In Colossians 3:21, Paul writes for example: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” In other words, the Bible is not a reason for harsh treatment and abuses of power. Besides, of course the Bible does not say anything about people in modern-day, informal authority positions, such as the aforementioned psychologist.

Now, five years on, I am very happy that I eventually did stick up for myself and sought an independent second opinion on that diagnosis. Then I applied for long-term care. Now that I have the right people (loving, respectful people) around me, I no longer need to fear authority. I can respectfully disagree with people, whether Biblically I’m supposed to submit to them or not. I am still working on feeling confident in my role as a grown-up woman. God and His Word help me on this journey.

Okay, this post took me much longer than five minutes to write, as I had to look up what the Bible actually said and also because I got distracted several times. I hope that’s okay.

Final Exams

Today, this year’s high schoolers should have heard whether they passed or failed their final exams for graduation. This inspired me to use one of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week, which is to write a post on the word “final”.

It’s been sixteen years since I graduated from high school. At the time, mobile phones were already in use, but they weren’t as popular as they are now and smartphones didn’t exist. Nonetheless, we were instructed not to text each other that we’d passed. After all, those who had failed would be called first and then those who had passed their exams would be called in alphabetical order. Texting each other would ruin the surprise effect. All of us would receive a call between 12:00 and 1:00PM. Since my last name starts with a W, I knew that I’d either be called at five past twelve if I’d failed, or at close to one o’clock if I’d passed.

Even though I had gotten pretty good grades on my school-based tests, which would make up half of my final grade, I had no idea how I’d done on the final exams. You could check your answers with a grading sheet available online once the exams were over. I didn’t do this with most subjects, I think. I did it with English though.

I at the time had an 8.1 out of 10 GPA in English. An 8.5 would be a nine. Though six is enough to pass, I badly wanted the nine. This meant I’d have to have an 8.9 on my final exam. When I checked, I found out that, most likely, I would not reach this. It however also depended on how strictly they were grading. After all, if most students scored lower than expected, they’d use a less strict grading system. If the grading folk were less strict than expected, I could get my desired 8.9.

Once the day we would be called arrived, I sat by my home phone from 11:30 until I was being called. I got called shortly before one o’clock: passed!

We were expected to be at school that afternoon to look at our grades. I had a surprisingly high grade on my geography final. That one had been adapted by my teacher and I’d taken it orally due to my blindness making the regular final inaccessible. As it turned out, the independent review teacher who had sat in on my final too, had been so incredibly impressed with my (quite mediocre) performance that he’d upped my grade. This made me feel guilty, but thankfully none of my fellow students knew.

As for English: the grading folk weren’t so kind this time. I passed with an 8.8, so got an eight out of ten GPA in English.

I, in fact, only got sevens and eights in all subjects, seven eights and eight sevens. This just about meant I wouldn’t be able to get accepted into selection-based college programs. Then again, I wasn’t intending on studying medicine or the like. In fact, now I’m more than grateful that I don’t need my high school diploma for anything anymore. I don’t even know where it is, nor do I care.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Five Trendy Foods I Hate #5Things

Okay, I’m a day late with my contribution to this week’s Five Things. This week’s theme is food fads you hate. Like I said a few weeks ago, I got “only” eleven points on the picky eater test my husband had found online. Still, I’m quite a picky eater. I also don’t really know food trends, so some of these might not actually be food fads.

1. Mash. Okay, firstly, this isn’t really a trend. Mashed potato has been a popular food for probably as long as potatoes have been affordable here in the Netherlands and that’s as long as I and my parents and probably my grandparents too could remember. Mash isn’t even a holiday food; I bet that the average Dutch family eats some variety of it several times a week. Here at the care facility, I get mashed potatoes about four times a week if I don’t put mash on my “dislikes” list.

Speaking of the dislikes list though, I honestly can’t stand most things passing for meals here. I mean, seriously, cooked but otherwise not-seasoned beans as a vegetable?! And if you put those on your dislikes list, you also won’t get chili con carne. Thankfully, now I and several other clients get to pick our meals from a menu.

2. Celery. Okay, I will eat a little bit of it in a salad or in my mother-in-law’s lasagne. Other than that, I flat out refuse to eat it. My care facility’s meal service considers boiled celery a valid vegetable on its own too.

3. Ginger. Not sure this is a food trend anymore, but I’m pretty sure it was claimed to be some type of superfood some years ago. I’ve tried it, but honestly it just isn’t for me.

4. Raw cocoa. I can’t even stand dark chocolate, so I honestly can’t imagine liking this.

5. Sugar-free candy. This isn’t necessarily because I don’t like its taste, but because sorbitol and manitol both set off my IBS pretty bad.

Okay, this was harder than I thought it would be. After all, I do like most acclaimed superfoods, such as chia seeds, almond milk and acai. That being said, if I had to list five foods in general that I dislike, this’d be a list of food groups.

What about you? What food fads do you dislike?

Today Is Tuesday, June 8

I really want to write, but I’m feeling pretty uninspired. I already looked through my collections of journaling prompts, of which I have many. However, even though a few prompts spoke to me, I just couldn’t get myself to put fingers to keyboard and actually write. Until now, that is. Instead of writing an actually meaningful post, I’m just going to freewrite.

Today I got my original Braille display, the one with the water damage, back. The technician also explained why this model can’t handle even a little water on it even though the old model, the one that got the cup of tea over it seven years ago, could. This model’s Braille cells are somehow covered, so if water enters them, there’s no way it’ll get out. He didn’t explain the point of creating cells like this, I mean, what would make them better than cells that haven’t been covered like the ones in the old model. I think it might even be an effort to make the Braille displays not last as long, but of course the technician wouldn’t say so.

In the afternoon, my mother-in-law visited me. We drove to a relatively nearby forest and went for a short walk. Then we had coffee and apple pie. We also drove by a supermarket, where I got blueberries and fruit gums. The fruit gums, I already consumed.

Both my mother-in-law and my husband have been asking me what I want for my birthday, which is on the 27th. I have asked my parents to order from a specific jewelry-making store which is local to them. For my husband and mother-in-law, I really don’t know what to ask for. I mean, I’ve been tempted to ask for the interactive cat my mother-in-law originally wanted to buy me last year. Then again, that thing is over a hundred euros.

In the evening, I did a little more walking and had coffee. I more than reached my water intake goal for the day. I use the Water Reminder app on my iPhone again. It’s a pretty good way of keeping track of my fluid intake, as it also allows me to track other beverages. And just so you know, yes, it actually takes away water when you drink alcohol. That makes me believe its calculation of amount of water in beverages is pretty accurate.

I also read my Bible again. I decided to pick it up in Genesis where I left off when starting to read Daniel on Sunday. I don’t expect to be reading all the boring Old Testament stuff, but for now I’m at least sticking to a Bible reading habit.

And a writing habit. See? I can really make myself create a blog post if I just want it badly enough. And I do, since WordPress is now keeping track of my blogging streaks. Yay me!

Things That Made Me Smile (June 7, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi all! Today is a mixed day. I am in a bit of pain and feeling a little triggered as I write this. I originally planned on writing a post for the Weekly Smile today. Then I wasn’t sure I could really write a positive post. That’s me, almost being unable to connect my emotions if they’ve shifted. As an exercise in positivity though, I’m deciding to give it a try anyway.

The main thing that made me smile over the past week, was going to the monkey zoo on Friday. I mean, I of course can’t see the monkeys and due to COVID-19, we weren’t allowed to get too close. Before the pandemic, monkeys would actually be allowed to climb onto people’s shoulders. Not so anymore, which was a bit sad. The positive about this though was the fact that at least the monkeys couldn’t steal my stuff.

At lunchtime, my one-on-one and I decided to have fries and chicken nuggets. We had to wait on our chicken nuggets for like half an hour. By that time, some of the fries were cold, but they were still good.

The best part of the day though was going to the souvenir shop and buying myself a stuffed monkey. I originally planned on getting both a gorilla and this one, but this one already cost €35. This one is a ring-tailed lemur.

I have loved sleeping with the monkey soft toy each night since Friday. I usually lie on my back with the monkey on my left side and its tail covering my stomach left to right. My husband joked that its tail is half my height. One-third is probably closer.

Another thing that made me smile this week, was going to the city of Zwolle with my husband yesterday. Zwolle is about half an hour’s drive from the care facility. Since restaurants are reopening now, we were able to eat a grilled sandwich at a place called Tosti World. I remember going there once before in Nijmegen.

On our walk back to the car, my husband took a picture of me beside a canon. That, too, made me smile.

Writing this post has me be a little more positive indeed. Thank you for reading. What made you smile lately?

Accomplishments for the Day (June 6, 2021)

Hi everyone! I was feeling a little low this morning after a restless sleep. This afternoon, I felt even lower after I misinterpreted a comment from my husband about my (lack of) Bible knowledge as criticism. It thankfully wasn’t meant that way. Right now though, I am feeling quite accomplished. Let me share what things I achieved today.

1. Got showered and brushed my teeth and hair. Personal hygiene is a struggle of late, so I am very proud that I got these things accomplished.

2. Got weighed in. I had gained a little over a pound over the past few weeks, but I’m okay with that. After all, my diet hasn’t been too healthy lately. It could also still be the fact that I literally stuffed myself full of fries yesterday.

3. Made relatively healthy food choices. I mean, I had three meals that weren’t too unhealthy. For lunch, I had a grilled cheese sandwich at a sandwich place, but I don’t think it was very unhealthy. I had mini rolls for breakfast and my care facility’s meal service’s meal for dinner. I did have chips this evening, but I kept to one serving.

4. Broke my daily step record. This is the one thing that helped me move from feeling low to feeling accomplished. My old record was 20.2K steps. Now, I have walked 20.5K steps today. Only 200 more to go and I’ll have reached 100K steps in the past week.

5. Read my Bible. I signed up for the Bible in a Year E-mail service earlier this week. Because I had selected the start-to-finish reading plan, I’m now only at Genesis 21-23. Discussing my progress with my husband got me a bit discouraged. He recommended I, being a Christian, read the New Testament first, then got to recommend that if I read the Old Testament now anyway, I could start with Daniel. So I decided to read Daniel.

To get myself acquainted with the story, I got the Immersion Bible Studies book for Daniel, because I like Immersion. That study though combined Ezekiel with Daniel and I’m not intending on reading Ezekiel anytime soon. So I got a little confused and this further discouraged me.

Then I texted my husband in a bit of frustration. He thankfully replied that he had just meant that Daniel might be a more interesting story than most of the rest of the Old Testament. He wasn’t meaning to question my faith.! That lifted my mood again and encouraged me to study the Bible some more.

What have you accomplished today?

Misunderstood

I am currently reading Forty Days on Being a Four, a book of reflections by Christine Yi Suh, who identifies as an enneagram type Four. In the day one reflection, she discusses the story in Luke 7:36-50 in which an unnamed, sinful woman enters the house in which Jesus is eating with a Pharisee. The woman’s dramatic display of emotion makes Christine Yi Suh think she’s a Four. Indeed, she is greatly misunderstood by the Pharisees, who see just her sinful lifestyle and don’t understand that she is in fact displaying her faith, love and devotion towards Jesus.

The reflection ends with the question in which ways I, being a Four, have been misunderstood. Well, for one thing, I’m often not even seen as a Four. Others would most likely describe me as a Five, because I’m such a thinker.

In fact, one of the main ways in which I feel misunderstood, is that my intellect is overrated and my emotional life underrated. As a child, I was described as self-centered, selfish even. I often got the feeling that I was seen as unfeeling. I am not and never was unemotional at all.

Indeed, I do feel that the depth of my emotional life is often misunderstood. I used to joke that I should give my parents the table of contents of the DSM-IV (we were still in IV era at the time), so that they could pick a random disorder to label me with when I wasn’t being my desirable, intellectual self. I mean, they often labeled me as dramatic, psychotic even. I wasn’t.

People who really know me, know that deep down, I’m definitely sensitive. I may not show it on the outside as much as the unnamed woman in the story does.

Another way in which I am often misunderstood, is in terms of my behavior. Too often, my challenging behavior has been seen as a willful act of defiance. In this sense, I do relate to the woman in the story, who lived a sinful lifestyle up till the point she met Jesus. Like Jesus saw beyond her acts, so He hopefully sees beyond mine. Like this woman was saved by her faith, so hopefully am I.

I also see that other people who know me, look beyond my distant, intellectual façade and also beyond my dramatic emotionality. They don’t see my intellectual and distant appearance as a sign of lack of emotion. They also don’t see my dramatic displays of emotion as mere manipulativeness, like my family used to. They, in fact, see me as a sensitive but also caring woman.

Like the woman in the story, I am sinful. I mean, my challenging behavior was there when I was a child and in some ways still is there. However, I recognize that I am not just my behavior. Like Bobby Schuller says, I am not what I have, I am not what I do, I am not what people say about me. I am the beloved of God.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 4, 2021)

Hi everyone! I didn’t participate in #WeekendCoffeeShare last week, but today, I really want to. Even though it’s nearly 9PM, I honestly still crave coffee. So let’s grab a coffee or other drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would share that the weather has been great here over the past week! I mean, right now I’m almost soaking in my own sweat and wishing it could be a little cooler, but it’s much better than all the rain we had during most of May.

If we were having coffee, I would share that, due to the warm weather, I was able to meet my step goal every day of the week so far. In fact, by yesterday evening, I’d gotten in more steps than during the entire week last week. Woohoo!

If we were having coffee, I would share how much I’ve been enjoying nature lately. On Wednesday, I heard a chorus of frogs when walking beside the local canal. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me and, when I did later that day and yesterday, they weren’t as loud. I still fully intend on capturing some nature video sometime soon.

If we were having coffee, I would share that today, the water system in my care home had to be cleaned professionally because legionella bacteria had been found. It scared me a little, both the contamination and its associated risks, as well as the method of cleaning, which apparently involved chlor gas. I mean, we weren’t allowed in the building while the cleaning took place, but I somehow got it in my head that I’d be forgotten. I wasn’t, of course.

While we had to be outside of the building for the day, some of my fellow clients went to the day center. The staff proposed I go with some other clients to a monkey zoo called Apenheul, which is in the city of Apeldoorn, about a 45-minute drive from Raalte. I initially didn’t want to go, as I felt I’d just be overloaded. Since I would have one-on-one support for the entire day, my staff said I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to and could decide this morning to sit in the day center or do other activities. My husband tried to persuade me to go anyway and so I did. I didn’t join my fellow clients and took a shorter route through the zoo. Overall, it was a good experience. My one-on-one took some pictures with my phone. Unfortunately, the monkeys didn’t make many sounds.


If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I might finally start my topiramate next week. At least, the GP figured out my options for going on a different birth control (because topiramate blocks oral birth control) and okay’d my going on the depo-Provera injectible birth control. She said that she’d get back to my staff next week to make sure I can start it. Thankfully, a nurse at my care facility will be able to administer it. Please everyone pray that this means I can start the topiramate soon. I really could use some relief from my PTSD.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would however share how effective learning to be present has been for me lately. This is an exercise I found in the book Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation and it’s really quite helpful. I haven’t yet been able to practise it when very distressed, but when I’m at a moderate level of distress, it does help.

How have you been?

Just Rambling

IWSG

I really should be posting my Insecure Writer’s Support group post today, but I’m not fussed. I didn’t write as much over the past month as I’d liked to and the optional question doesn’t appeal to me. For this reason, I’m just going to ramble. I will post the #IWSG link and image on this post, but I won’t really be sharing much writing-related news.

I mean, the optional question is how long you let drafts sit there before redrafting. The short answer is that I don’t really do drafts. I write my pieces in one go usually and publish them onto my blog right away. Of course, I do have freewrites and some works-in-progress that I haven’t published anywhere, but even my one published piece that I wrote back in 2014, I wrote in one sitting.

Okay, now that we have this out of the way, let me ramble about other stuff. Today, like most of the past month, has been mixed. I was okay for most of the morning and afternoon, but in the evening, I’ve really been struggling. My feelings that, if I drop my mask (figuratively speaking), everyone will run from me and no-one will want to care for me anymore, are intense. For those who might be visiting from the IWSG: I live in a care facility due to my multiple disabilities, including challenging behavior. Lately, I’m spiraling more and more out of control and this seems to create a vicious cycle of anger, shame, self-hatred and more anger.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my psychiatric nurse practitioner. We decided there that I won’t go the diagnosis route for dissociative disorders, but that off the record at least we agree that I have dissociative identity disorder (DID). We won’t do a whole lot of system mapping. Not only have I done this already, but it seems counterproductive to the idea of needing to practice being present.

Speaking of which, I looked up the learning to be present exercise in the first chapter of Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation and had my staff write it down. The book is in English (at least, my edition is) and my native language is Dutch, so I translated the exercises and where appropriate, adapted them to suit my needs. After all, one of the exercises is naming three things you can see around you. As I am blind, this won’t work. I do find that other exercises do help me. One in particular is the butterfly hug.

Tomorrow, my GP will get back to me about my medication. I would’ve gotten topiramate prescribed to me for my PTSD symptoms, but found out last week that it’d block my birth control pill from working. My nurse practitioner would originally have prescribed the topiramate, but now I need to work something out about getting on a different contraceptive first. This will hopefully be sorted tomorrow or at least then I’ll know when I can come in to see my GP about it. I really hope this medication (the topiramate) will help, since I’m on quite an emotional rollercoaster.