Losing Myself and Finding Myself (Reena’s Exploration Challenge #96)

I remember when and where I lost myself. My old self, that is. It was November 2, 2007 at 8:01PM when I stepped onto the bus at Balustrade bus stop in Apeldoorn. I had decided this was it.

I phoned my old support coordinator at the training home. I’d just been told to leave the home’s premises, because according to the on duty staff, I was making them take unwarranted responsibility for me. I had come there in distress and a housemate had offered for me to spend the night with her, so that we had time to find me a new place to stay in the morning.

I wasn’t homeless. That is, I had a roof over my head. In the Netherlands, the word that translates to “homeless” also refers to people who are wasting away in their residence. And I was.

At 8:01PM November 2, I phoned my old support coordinator to tell her I was going to kill myself. I was on the bus and the bus driver and fellow passengers heard me. They called the police and, after a long wait at the police station, I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in the middle of the night.

At that point, my old self went away. I lost the self that went to college, had plans for working and lived independently.

I’m still not 100% sure who will replace her. When and where I’ll find myself. My new self, that is. I know my old self is gone. Even though I live semi-independently now, I do not have anything close to a “normal” life, whatever that may be. But that’s okay. I know I will ultimately find a new eqwuilibrium, when I’m in a living facility that suits me.

In September of 2006, I wrote a post in my online diary about the two different images I had of myself. One was “white”. This image represented a “normal” life. Living independently, going to university, finding a job, marrying, getting children and whatnot. The other image, the “black” one, represented my need for support. It wasn’t that I needed 24-hour care, but that I needed more than just the once-a-week visit from a support worker to read me my mail that’s normal for people who are just blind.

By April of 2007, I knew the “black” image was coming true, but I was seeing the colors in it. I eventually did live independently and go to college, but I would get sixteen hours of home support a week.

And then that image too died, on November 2. It was hard. I grieved. But I didn’t give up. Gradually, I started to see how colorful a life I can have if I accept care.

The care facilities I’m looking at moving into, couldn’t be closer to the “black” image of myself. They are 24-hour intensive support facilities. Yet I don’t see that life as bad. I see it was exactly as colorful and rich as, or even more so than the “normal” life I envisioned for myself.

I am joining in with Reena’s Exploration Challenge #96.

Progress in Finding Long-Term Care

It’s been exactly six weeks since I got approved for long-term care, so that we could finally start finding me a supported housing facility. Things are moving slowly but steadily. Today, let me share how we’re doing.

Immediately after we heard I was approved for long-term care funding, my support coordinator contacted the care consultant for my current care agency. She made sure to get the paperwork in order so that, while we’re waiting for supported housing, I can retain my current support. After all, community support through the local authority was immediately stopped. My support coordinator also contacted the care consultant for the living facility in Raalte, which is with my current care agency too.

When it turned out the process with that living facility would be slow-moving, I proposed to contact the two blindness agencies to explore the possibility of my living there. One of them responded immediately with an appointment for an intake interview. This is, unfortunately, the one with the facilities in the far north and south and west of the country. Of course, we are talking the Netherlands, not America. However, my husband isn’t happy to travel up to two hours each week to visit me. We agreed on a maximum distance of one hour. This agency has nothing within an hour’s driving distance. We did however request that they help us by recommending accommodations a future living facility could make for my blindness. They will come by to observe me at day activities next week.

The other blindness agency has my file, but they haven’t yet scheduled an appointment to meet me.

I went to have a look at the facility in Raalte last week. It was great. The staff/client ratio is 1:6 to even at times 1:4 during the day and there is an awake night staff. They also have tons of sensory supplies, including a sensory room, rocking lounger and a bathroom with a tub. I will hear more about whether the psychologist and physician for this facility find me a good fit soon.

Then today I heard about another facility. It is with a countrywide Christian care agency. It is in the city of Ede, which is about a 45-minute drive from my current home. The facility primarily serves elderly people with intellectual disabilities. I don’t know whether that would be a problem. It might be, as the other clients are probably a lot less mobile than I am. Clients only have a bedroom to themselves, but I don’t mind. The care consultant would send my file to the psychologist for this facility too and then I may come for a tour.

It all makes me feel a bit confused but overall excited too. I mean, I still feel off applying to live in intensive support living facilities, being that I now live semi-independently. Of course, my husband does all of the housework, but still. It’s hard to believe that people suddenly aren’t rejecting me, saying I misuse care and leaving me to my own resources.

A Month Without a Laptop

I am writing this post on my new computer. I love it. Definitely a PC is much more user-friendly than a Mac if you are not too tech-savvy. My mother-in-law would say the opposite, but oh well. I’m just glad I got to sell her my Macbook.

Today, when I read on another blog about someone having to do without a laptop for a few days, I was reminded of the month I spent without a computer. Of course, people older than me will remember the years they spent without a computer and, in fact, I didn’t get my first computer till I was eleven and didn’t have access to the Internet till nearly sixteen. I quickly became addicted though, so when my laptop broke down in 2009, I was lost.

I had at the time just transferred from the locked psych unit to the open resocialization unit. The locked unit didn’t have a patient computer. This got me to consider getting a wireless cellphone-like modem for my laptop. However, at the time, I was too scared of getting Alzheimer’s from electromagnetic radiation. This meant that, in the early months of my hospitalization, before I was allowed on leave, I didn’t have access to the Internet. I had a computer though.

The resocialization unit did have a patient computer that was connected to the Internet. It didn’t have a screen reader on it, of course, but I just removed the network cable from the computer and plugged it into my laptop. And then one day my laptop crashed. This was, obviously, before accessible smartphones. In fact, though I had a phone that could connect to the Internet, I could only use it to make phone calls.

I was frustrated, but not as frustrated as I’d be now if I lost access to the Internet. For an entire month, I typed up my diary in Braille and listened to audio books and magazines on my digital talking book player. I do still have my Braille typerwriter and my digital talking book player, but both are pretty much useless.

Since having no computer for an entire month, I usually make sure I have at least two devices that connect to the Internet. Currently these are my PC and my iPhone. My old PC could probably be revived if need be too.

I also did finally get myself a wireless modem. I just threw it away yesterday, as I’ve not paid f or the data that goes with it in years.

I guess I could technically (no pun intended) deal without going online for a while now. However, I am always very happy to discover that a potential new living faciltiy has WiFi. I guess some people take this for granted, but the psych hospital didn’t have WiFi till 2015 and even then it was very limited.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 14, 2019)

Yay, it’s Sunday! I am once again joining in with the #WeekendCoffeeShare fun. It’s relatively early for me to write this post, so the most recent drink I had was actually coffee. I usually drink only one cup of coffee at breakfast )or lunch, as it was nearly afternoon), but my husband made me a second cup saying it’s good for the heart. I don’t know whether that’s true, but oh well.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my husband picked up my new Windows laptop on Monday and installed it on Tuesday. The adaptive tech guy came by on Wednesday to bring me a new Braille display and install the JAWS screen reader on my computer, so that I could actually use it. I have been playing with my computer ever since. I hope the tech company will get me training on the screen reader and Windows 10, but even without training, I like this computer much better than my Mac. Right now, my husband is resetting my Mac, so that my mother-in-law can have it. I think I just closed the tab with instructions on it from my iPhone.

My mother-in-law offered to pay more for the Mac than the Windows laptop had cost, but we refused. I don’t want to get extra money from switching computers.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share that I visited the living facility in Raalte that’s with my current care agency on Wednesday. It was great. There’s tons of sensory equipment in both the house and day center. The staff are also really nice. The house they felt was the most suitable for me, has twelve clients living there. There are two staff during the day and an extra staff during times the clients get showered and such. The manager and care consultant were a bit vague about the waiting list to move in, but I hope to hear more about that soon.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that yesterday, my husband had the yearly driver’s day at his work. He is a truck driver for a large transporting company and the driver’s day is sort-of-mandatory. I spent the day at my in-laws. Well, my father-in-law had just left for vacation, so I was alone with my mother-in-law. We went for a walk with her dog. Wow, it was hot and humid! My husband came to my in-laws’ house after a few hours when he’d had enough of the event at work. My mother-in-law cooked us dinner, although she was interrupted to pick up a kitten from the animal shelter. She volunteers to bottle-feed kittns that are too young to be kept at the shelter. The kitten was lovely!

How was your week?

Working On Us Prompt: Depression

Oh my, I seriously haven’t blogged in nearly a week! It’s not that I have nothing to share. In fact, a lot has happened this past week. However, I’m struggling to put these experiences down into words on the page. I feel terribly uninspired and also held back by my own inner critic. You know, the voice that says posts have to be “blog-worthy” to publish. I remember I originally intended this blog for me to let go of this idea. Not so, apparently.

Today, I’m joining in with Rebecca’s Working On Us Prompt. This week, it is all about depression.

The first question is to share what type of depression you suffer from. Well, it seems simple and yet it’s complicated. When I had my original mental breakdown in 2007, I was assessed for depression, but the psychiatrist couldn’t diagnose me with it. I just about didn’t tick enough boxes, probably because I didn’t understand half the questions. I was most definitely depressed, but acted it out as agitation. My diagnosis was adjustment disorder.

Fast forward nine years. I had lost my autism diagnosis, which had been replaced by dependent personality disorder (DPD). Because just an axis II diagnosis didn’t qualify you for this inpatient unit, my psychologist gave me an additional diagnosis of depressive disorder NOS. Yes, I kid you not: she seriously gave me an additional diagnosis so that I could stay on the psych ward for a bit. One of the nurses said she did me a favor, because in fact, the whole DPD diagnosis saga was meant to eventually kick me out of there.

I sought to get my autism diagnosis back through an independent second opinion. For the initial assessment, I was given a ton of questionnaires I had to fill out online. Among them was of course the autism spectrum quotient questionnaire, some ADHD screening tools but also a depression inventory. I filled it out as honestly as I could. It seemed as though the questionnaire had been designed for me! I scored as having severe depression. Eventually, I was diagnosed with moderate recurrent major depression. I also got my autism diagnosis back and DPD was removed.

Rebecca’s second question is about treatments. I have been on the SSRI antidepressant Celexa ever since 2010, so years before my depression diagnosis. I hardly knew why I took it and had no idea whether it was helping. This is until I noticed my mood dropping significantly in late 2017. I waited for six months for it to pass – because I didn’t want to misuse care – and then consulted my psychiatrist. She increased my Celexa dose. It has been a godsend. Without it, I’m pretty sure I’d still be very depressed.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 7, 2019)

Ugh, I’m feeling so off. I want to write so bad. Words are spinning through my mind, but somehow I cannot put them down onto the keyboard.

I am once again joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I had a delicious little apple pie with my cup of green tea this evening. Grab a cuppa and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that we decided to let go of one of the houses we were looking at this past week. It’s the house built in 1880 that my parents are totally in awe of, but we’d take a huge risk if we bought this. Inspecting the foundation for problems cost like 5000 euros and there is indeed a high risk that the foundation will be unstable. That amount of money is not something we want to invest before buying the house, yet we don’t want to risk finding out about it once it’s ours. I didn’t like the house to begin with, but my husband loved its appearance.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that next Wednesday, I am invited to go check out the living facility with my current care agency. It’s in Raalte, which is a little over an hour’s drive from my current home. My support coordinator was told not to get me too excited, so I predict the place has already almost certainly been taken, but oh well. We’ll see.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I bought some books on Amazon today. One is a collection of journaling prompts (yes, again!), which cost only 99 cents, but it’s still disappointing. It has a ton of typeos and characters VoiceOver makes out to be Chinese or Japanese in it. The other is Angels in Our Hearts by Casey Watson and Rosie Lewis. It’s a collection of previously published eShorts by these two foster carer writers. It sounds good.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that my husband ordered a new Windows computer for me today. My mother-in-law will pay for it, as she’ll get my Macbook. The computer he ordered is an HP Pavillion, which I’ve heard is quite a sturdy model. It doesn’t have a solid state drive like my Macbook, but it does have some type of thing attached to the hard drive that keeps stuff you use often in a sort of ready-access memory. The hard drive has 1tB of space, which is awesome. I no longer need to worry about getting it full and I can even copy all of my CDs to my PC now. I have a ton of CDs with music that’s hard to come by on streaming services, so that’s cool.

I think my husband will go collect the computer at the pick-up point near his work tomorrow. On Wednesday, the adaptive tech company is coming by to install JAWS, the screen reader, onto it. I called the company to let them know they’ll need to schedule the visit with me in the morning, as I’ll be off to Raalte at 2PM.

What’s been happening in your life lately?

Working On Us Prompt: If Disordered Eating Isn’t About Food or Weight

Today, I am once again joining in with the Working On Us Prompt. I hope the link works, as it once again gave me an error 404 when I tried to visit it. There are really two question prompts for this week’s Working On Us. I may post a separate post about the second question. The first asks what if eating disorders aren’t about food or weight? What are they about?

As a person with disordered eating tendencies, I can totally empathize with this question. I mean, yes, I am obese, but that in itself doesn’t qualify you for help with disordered eating other than a monthly kick in the ass from a dietitian. Well, that just isn’t enough for me.

Then again, I was told by my psychiatrist that I do not have an eating disorder, because the amount of food I eat during a “binge” isn’t big enough. Well, I understand. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my relationship with food or weight.

Because that is really what disordered eating is all about: the relationship we have to food and our bodies. It isn’t about how much you eat, how much you weigh, or how often you exercise. It’s about the thoughts that go on in your mind.

For clarity’s sake: at the time that I was told I do not have an eating disorder, I was in the early stages of recovery from purging, which in itself does warrant an eating disorder not otherwise specified diagnosis. I was never fully bulimic, but I was coming close. That’s not my point though.

I struggle a lot with disordered thoughts about food and my weight. In fact, I think about food the majority of the time and those thoughts are not usually healthy.

Once, when I read a book about someone with an eating disorder, her psychiatrist suspected she was an alcoholic too. She administered a simple screening tool, which asked whether the girl had tried to cut back on alcohol, was getting annoyed or angry when people commented on her drinking, ever had alcohol first thing in the morning, and then there was another question. She answered “Yes” to three out of four questions. Well, I can answer yes to the three I remembered here when substituting alcohol with food. I occasionally overeat first thing in the morning, have very regularly and unsuccessfully tried to control my food intake, and I do get angry like all the freakin’ time when someone makes a comment about my food-related habits.

Yes, I knnow that to the outside observer, I appear like just an unmotivated, overindulgent fatass. What they don’t see are the inner battles I fight each and every day to deal with my disordered eating tendencies.

Currently (July 2019)

I have known about the Currently link-up for years, but rarely joined in and never did on this blog yet. Since the start of the linky coincides with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, I have until now found it hard to find time to join in. But now here I am.

Reading

Blog posts, mostly. I haven’t really been reading a book in months, but I really want to.

I did get a few free Kindle books on Amazon and did renew my Bookshare membership last month, so really I should have plenty to read.

Enjoying

Firstly, cooler weather. It was really hot here last week, but this week, it’s about 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, which is nice. I even managed to exercise on the elliptical again yesterday, despite my room being the hottest in the house.

Secondly, I enjoyed my birthday gifts. Last week was my 33rd birthday and I got some lovely presents.

Finding

Myself a living facility soon, hopefully. I will be finding out more about the living facility with my current care agency next week, as I will be visiting there then for an orientation meeting.

Saving

Money. Or at least, trying to. I found out last week that, now that I fall under long-term care rather than community support, my copay for the exact same care will be 140 euros a month rather than nothing. It will be 330 euros once I go into a living facility. Ugh. Since my husband and I may be buying a house too (for him to live in full-time and me on week-ends), this may help us reduce the monthly cost for living there. Mortgages are usually cheaper than rent, after all. Still, it doesn’t hurt to save some money.

Tasting

Lentils. And I actually liked them. My husband made a rice dish with them in it on Saturday. I don’t usually (think I) like lentils, but in this meal, they were good.

What have you been up to lately?

#IWSG: Writing About Myself

Yay, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to come together and share our writing journey. This past month has been better than the month of May. I wrote twice as many blog posts and have generally been feeling more motivated to write.

I still want to be more courageous and creative with my writing. I have been able to venture somewhat out of my comfort zone with a few stream of consciousness writings. I would still love to try my hand at poetry and flash fiction again, but am too insecure right now.

The optional question for this month’s #IWSG day is about incorporating aspects of yourself into your characters. Since I no longer write fiction and almost all my writings are about myself, this question may seem off.

However, when I still wrote fiction regularly, this question was very applicable. Not only did I incorporate a lot of aspects of myself into my characters, but the other way around too. Let me explain.

As regular readers of my blog might know, I have (currently undiagnosed) dissociative identity disorder (DID). This used to be known as multiple personality disorder. People with DID have at least two separate identities or personality states, each with their own unique way of perceiving and relating to the world.

DID usually first develops in early childhood as a result of prolonged trauma, but people who dissociated early on, often continue to do so during times of stress into adolescence and adulthood. For me, the time of my most serious dissociation was adolescence. This was also the time I wrote fiction the most. I incorporated a lot of aspects of myself into my characters. Often, my characters were blind or, if they weren’t, they faced some other challenge that set them apart. Most characters had difficulty making friends like myself. The main character in the story I got the farthest with, didn’t have a disability, but her mother had multiple sclerosis.

I often used writing as an escape from reality. As such, with my dissociative tendencies, some of my characters developed into alters. These are called fictives. One of them is now one of the main fronters (personalities presenting themselves to the outside world). She was in a way deliberately created. At least, the character was. I had difficulty explaining myself and my struggles to my parents and teachers, so my high school tutor allowed me to express myself through fiction. That’s how Kirsten came about. Kirsten is blind and has many of the struggles I do. Currently, we present as her when we can’t show the world that we have DID but we’re feeling very much split anyway.