Reading Wrap-Up (August 31, 2020) #IMWAYR

It’s been a few weeks since I last did a reading wrap-up. The reason isn’t that I’ve not been reading, but that I moved through most books slowly and didn’t want to bore you all with updates about the same books week after week. Today, I thought I’d share what’s been going on in my (reading) life. As always, I’m joining in with #IMWAYR.

Life Update

Like I said yesterday, I’ve been using reading for escapism a lot lately. I can’t quite pinpoint the reason, but I’m struggling a bit. I often feel overwhelmed when in the communal rooms at my home, so I retreat into my room and read.

What I’m Currently Reading

Nothing at the moment. I deleted a few books off my “Currently Reading” bookshelf on Goodreads because I’d had them there for nine months to several years and didn’t believe I was going to finish them anytime within the foreseeable future.

I’m still only 6% done with The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, but I haven’t committed to reading it yet. By that I mean, I haven’t put it on my Goodreads shelf or decided I’m going to spend significant time devoted to this particular book.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished two books in the past week. The first was Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I finished that one on Thursday and wrote a review of it on Friday.

The second one is No Way Out by Kate Elysia. This is an abuse survivor memoir. I found this one by looking for other inspirational memoirs to read besides the foster care memoirs by the likes of Cathy Glass, Casey Watson, etc. I am thinking of doing a mini review of this one someday when I’ve read some other books I discovered too.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I really don’t know for sure! I still need to read the new Casey Watson and Maggie Hartley foster care memoirs that came out on August 6 and I think Angela Hart has a new memoir out too. I’ve not read anything by Angela Hart, as she isn’t discussed on the inspirational memoirs groups as much.

In addition, I discovered the preview feature on Apple Books just last week too. I never thought to actually download a preview of a book before buying the book. Don’t know why not. This week, I downloaded previews for two domestic violence survivor memoirs, before I ended up buying No Way Out (without downloading a preview first).

Lastly, in case I’m not into serious reading, Rebecca of BookishlyRebecca recommended the young adult romcom Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. I immediately checked if it was available on Bookshare and it was!

What’s up in your reading life?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 30, 2020)

Hello all. I’m not feeling like writing much right now, but maybe by just starting I’ll get somewhere. I just had a cup of coffee and a soft drink. I think the flavor soft drink I had is gone now, but we might still have coffee. As usual, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. Let’s have some drink – there are probably other soft drinks out in the fridge – and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you how your weather’s been. Ours is okay. Not too hot, not too cold, not too rainy and not too dry. I’ve been out taking regular walks most days. I don’t think I shared this in this type of post before, but come September, I’ll be starting a sponsored physical activity challenge called Steptember. It’s for the cerebral palsy charity. The idea is to get in 10K steps everyday – or as many days as you can get. I find it quite a challenge – both the sponsoring part and the step goal. However, I’m trying.

As regular readers might know, my Fitbit activity tracker broke down some months ago. I’m now using my iPhone’s built-in movement detector to count my steps. That works okay. I did reach the 10K steps on both Thursday and Friday.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I spent most of the week escaping into books. I’m okay, but I do need some escapism right now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about the appt with my community psychiatric nurse on Tuesday. It went pretty well. We did go in some depth considering her role as just a nurse. She also told me my nurse practitioner was going to refer me to the specialist center on developmental disorders (autism and ADHD). If the information on the website is correct – which I’m not sure of, as the date of the last update was August 27, 2019 and I’m not sure that’s a typeo -, the wait is several months for an intake interview and then another six months for treatment. I’m not sure that’s just for the inpatient units though, as I know that the workhome is part of the center too. That one has a wait of several years due to it being a living facility.

In any case, before I knew there’s likely a long waiting list, I had all kinds of worries and thoughts about it. I mean, I’m hoping to eventually get trauma treatment and lowering my antipsychotic is still on the agenda too. However, I’m very scared either of these could destabilize me. Then again, I just don’t feel my life right now is all it can be.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I spent the week-end in Lobith. It was good. My husband made us hamburgers with cauliflower and baked potatoes, all out of the freezer. I really didn’t taste that about the cauliflower and the burgers and potatoes were delicious too.

As usual, we spent some time together on the couch and some time apart in the two bedrooms. I have a desk in the master bedroom and my husband has his desk in the other bedroom. That one is also used as our cat’s place though.

Then this afternoon, my mother-in-law came to pick me up and drive me back to Raalte. There, I arrived just about in time for my dinner to still be shoved in the oven.

How have you all been?

Book Review: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass

Hi all, how are you? What have you been reading? After I finished Bloom last week, I couldn’t decide what to read for a while. I wasn’t really into fiction anymore, so I picked up a memoir I’d already started on: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I have since discovered a ton of other foster care and abuse survival memoirs I may still want to read.

Summary

The true story of a 6-year-old boy with a dreadful secret.

Oskar’s school teacher raises the alarm. Oskar’s mother is abroad and he has been left in the care of ‘friends’, but has been arriving in school hungry, unkempt, and with bruises on his arms, legs and body. Experienced foster carer Cathy Glass is asked to look after him, but as the weeks pass her concerns deepen. Oskar is far too quiet for a child of six and is clearly scared of something or someone.

And who are those men parked outside his school watching him?

My Review

I struggled a little to get into this book. Partly, the reason was that I’d gotten the idea that this would be Glass’s last foster care memoir. I also judged from the title and table of contents that this might not be a story ending on a positive note. Thankfully, this won’t be Cathy Glass’s last foster care memoir.

The story had many unexpected turns. This is partly because the summary isn’t too telling. There was far more to Oskar’s story than his quiet demeanor and the men parked outside of his school. I ended up loving this.

Oskar stays with Cathy for a long while, so I really got to know him in the story. I also joined him on his journey of progress from his neglectful home through other disclosures to a better life.

Overall, I totally fell in love with Oskar and this story eventually. This was Cathy Glass’s fifth book I read, so I already knew I liked her writing style. I gave this another five stars on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Too Scared to Tell: Abused and Alone, Oskar Has No One. A True Story.
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 20, 2020

Read With Me

Accomplishments for Today (August 25, 2020)

It’s been a few days since I last wrote a blog post. I just wasn’t inspired. I still am not. For this reason, I thought I’d revisit a type of blog post I did a few times before and share my accomplishments for the day. Here goes.

1. Stayed in bed all night. I’ve been struggling with keeping a proper circadian rhythm lately, sleeping a lot during the day and not at night. Though I didn’t have too restful a sleep last night, it was good enough and I managed to stay in bed all night. I went to bed at 9:30PM and got up at 8:30AM. I also only napped for about an hour this afternoon.

2. Ate three healthy meals. We had cheesecake with our coffee today because it was another client’s birthday, but other than that I ate quite healthily today. I had yogurt with crunchy muesli for breakfast, three slices of bread for lunch and carrots, potatoes and fish for dinner.

3. Brushed my teeth, hair and used deodorant. Personal hygiene has been a struggle again lately, so this is good.

4. Had a productive appointment with my community psychiatric nurse. We discussed some of the sources of my abandonment/separation anxiety and also went into my fear of being one giant attention-seeker.

5. Did 45 minutes of mindfulness. At the appt, my CPN suggested I try mindfulness more often. She said she used to do a 45-minute daily meditation and thought I might benefit from it too. She didn’t specify which meditation she used, but I selected a body scan off Insight Timer. I actually did pretty well doing it. Of course, I couldn’t keep still the whole time, as I just had to scratch a few times when I itched. That should get better though.

6. Read for an hour. This isn’t really an accomplishment lately, as I read most days, but it’s still good.

7. Went for two walks. This is more of an accomplishment now than it used to be, as I’m sometimes seeking excuses not to go for walks. I also used the stairs, which I’m not always doing of late.

8. Did some weight-lifting exercises. I just remembered to do these while writing this post and so took a break from writing to do them. I also did some hand strength exercises.

What is something you are proud of yourself for today?

Advice to Today’s High Schoolers

This week, one of the prompts over at Mama’s Losin’ It is to share advice you’d give today’s high school students. I cringed a lot at Mama Kat’s own post, as it was based on the idea that all high schoolers have parents who have their best interest in mind. I mean, I lied regularly as a teen. Though I wouldn’t advocate for that, it was all I could, because honesty led to harsh punishment.

I am not sure how much of my experiences was shaped by my neurotype, ie. being autistic. I mean, the main reasons I was ridiculed and punished harshly were because I was “weird”. However, there are lots of high schoolers who for whatever reason cannot follow Mama Kat’s advice, either because of their own situation or because of their parents.

For this reason, the main piece of advice I would give any high schooler is that it’s okay to be themselves no matter what. Whether your parents accept you, is something about them, not you. Do stand up for yourself if they are abusive or hurtful. You may be a minor, but that doesn’t mean your parents are all-powerful and all-knowing (especially that).

Also, seek out adult role models other than your parents. I felt helped a lot by being in contact with disabled adults. Even for neurotypical, non-disabled teens, it is useful to have people that inspire them other than their own parents.

Use social media, but of course use it wisely. There are spaces on social media for people just like you. Of course, I know most parents supervise their teens’ social media use and I think there is some good reason for that. Mine thankfully didn’t, but then again I was pretty careful not to engage in unsafe behavior online.

I do agree with Mama Kat that honesty is part of a good family dynamic. It has to come both ways though. As teens, it will help you to not give your parents reasons to snoop on your private life by being open about it. If your parents aren’t safe, seek out another adult to talk to.

What advice would you give current high school students?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Book Review: Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

I hardly ever read science fiction or fantasy. In fact, the only science fiction novel I can remember having read is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at age twelve. I only read the first book in that series and was maybe a little too young to understand all the humor. After that, I literally only read realistic fiction or non-fiction. That is until a few months ago I decided to broaden my reading horizons and downloaded a couple of SciFi and fantasy novels off Bookshare. The blurb for Bloom particularly appealed to me, but I didn’t get to read it till last week.

Summary

The first book in a can’t-put-it-down, can’t-read-it-fast-enough action-thriller trilogy that’s part Hatchet, part Little Shop of Horrors!

The invasion begins–but not as you’d expect. It begins with rain. Rain that carries seeds. Seeds that sprout–overnight, everywhere. These new plants take over crop fields, twine up houses, and burrow below streets. They bloom–and release toxic pollens. They bloom–and form Venus flytrap-like pods that swallow animals and people. They bloom–everywhere, unstoppable.

Or are they? Three kids on a remote island seem immune to the toxic plants. Anaya, Petra, Seth. They each have strange allergies–and yet not to these plants. What’s their secret? Can they somehow be the key to beating back this invasion? They’d better figure it out fast, because it’s starting to rain again… 

My Review

I was pretty easily drawn into the story. To be honest, the plot is already mostly summed up by the blurb, but the details were what made this amazing. I really wanted to find out what made Anaya, Petra and Seth special, both in terms of their everyday allergies and their apparent immunity to the invasive plants.

The story is told alternatingly from each of these three characters. That way, I learned not only about their special characteristics but about them in more depth. These characters are all very well-developed. I also learned about their mutual relations.

The story itself didn’t have many twists and turns that I couldn’t see coming, but I liked it nonetheless. After all, the details were all very well written out.

This book really got me interested in science fiction. The world building isn’t overly strange, but still fascinating. I am fascinated with and scared of toxic plants at the same time, so this was a really great story. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out next month.

Book Details

Title: Bloom (The Overthrow #1)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 10, 2020

A Time I Decided to Speak Up for Myself

The weather has cooled off some, but I’m still somehow lacking motivation to do much. For this reason, I scrolled aimlessly through some journaling prompt books I have in my Kindle app. In one of them, one of the prompts that caught my eye was to recall a time when you spoke up for yourself.

I am usually not one to speak up for myself easily. Especially not when the person I’m needing to advocate to is an authority figure. The memory I’m going to describe involves my last psychologist at the psychiatric hospital.

She was somehow convinced that I have dependent personality disorder. There are good reasons to think so, but her reasons were not among those. To put it bluntly, she thought I misused care.

More importantly than her diagnosis of DPD though was her removing my autism diagnosis that I’d had for nine years. She believed that I could not possibly be autistic because I had a brain bleed as an infant and that instead my diagnosis should be some form of brain injury. She ended up putting hydrocephalus (which I’d developed as a result of the brain bleed) on axis III of the DSM-IV classification and that apparently should suffice in explaining my difficulties. That plus, of course, DPD. Well, it didn’t.

Like I said, I have trouble sticking up for myself. This is indeed a DPD criterion. Honestly I don’t even care whether I might have DPD actually. I can see how I have some traits. But DPD is different from care misuse. And that’s what my psychologist was accusing me of.

So I finally decided to stand up for my rights and demand an independent second opinion. This was extremely hard and my psychologist had been successfully trying to talk me out of it before. Not this time though. In February of 2017, I had an appointment with a clinical neuropsychologist at Radboud university medical center in Nijmegen. Three months later, on my would-be discharge date from the mental hospital, I got my autism diagnosis back.

Autism, of course, doesn’t explain everything I experience. I might have DPD too. And God knows what else. But I don’t misuse care.

My psychologist, interestingly, claimed that I spoke up for myself really well. That’s a rather contradictory statement to the DPD diagnosis. After all, dependents are often seen as passive. I still wonder why she didn’t have the balls to “diagnose” me as a malingerer.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 16, 2020)

It’s been several weeks since I last joined in with the #WeekendCoffeeShare community. I was thinking of doing a post earlier in the evening, but it was just too soaring hot in my room still. Now it’s past midnight, so technically Sunday and I’m joining in.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you how the weather is where you are, only to complain about the weather here. It’s been over 30°C here all week. Today was slightly cooler, but the humidity made it very exhausting. I’m almost hoping for some thunderstorms tonight. You know, I’m scared of them, but I really hate this heat.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my computer crashed on Monday. I guess it got hit with the heat too. It was fine again Tuesday after leaving it off for a night and is still fine now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the woman who lives in the other home that’s part of my facility whom I often talk to, had her birthday on Thursday. I gifted her a keychain that I’d made and she loved it. She did feel a little uncomfortable when my staff asked her whether she’d like to have me visit sometime, but that’s because she needs time to process.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I made some delicious banana and strawberry milkshakes over the past few days.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I got a bargain on some peaches and blueberries at the local supermarket. They were three packages of fruit for €5. Blueberries are pretty expensive so I got a small package of those, but I got two large packages of peaches. They are the wild, flat kind of peaches and they’re delicious! I got them on Thursday. Though I ate all the blueberries that evening, I haven’t even emptied the first box of peaches yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I talked to my nurse practitioner on Thursdday. I sent him some piece of writing I’d done for my staff about how I’m feeling. I left the link to my blog in my signature, which I’m not sure was the right thing to do. He said he’d been browsing around a bit. Of course, that made me feel uncomfortable, so I asked him whether he had some type of weird idea about me now. The main reason I asked is because he asked about the meaning of my blog URL, which of course refers to my seeing myself as multiple. I’m trying not to care, of course, and I won’t be censoring myself based on who might read my blog. I know this is a public blog so to be careful about my and especially others’ privacy.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have a ton of ideas for blog posts in my mind, but for whatever reason (the heat, maybe), I cannot quite concentrate enough to write them. I’m also thinking of finally starting up my journal writing prompts blog, which I registered with WordPress some months ago. I will post a formal announcement when/if this happens.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that my husband came by for a visit today. We’d originally planned for me to go to our house for a night, but my husband proposed we eat somewhere and go for a walk. We ended up getting a burger and milkshake at McDonald’s. The walk was short, as I didn’t want to walk in a forest because I had my sandals on and it was too hot and humid to walk anywhere else.

How have you been?

My Daily Routine (Or Lack Thereof)

And still it’s incredibly hot here! It did start to rain last night, but it’s not cooled down much in my room. It’s already past 9PM here and I don’t feel like writing. Or doing anything else. But I bet I cannot sleep either. Therefore, I blog.

Today’s #FDDA prompt is “your daily routine”. My daily what, I ask?

Unlike many other autistics, I am not one for clear routines. In the mental hospital, I would just lie around and do whatever, just like I see many people do now during the COVID-19 lockdown. I didn’t have a set time I’d go to bed or get up. I didn’t have a daily personal hygiene routine, as I hated most personal care tasks and there was no-one to say I needed to do them. Well, there was the staff, of course, but it was their view that I was responsible enough to decide these things for myself.

Once I lived with my husband, I did go to a day center each weekday morning. This meant I did have to get up at the same time each day. I did have an okay morning routine back then, as my husband had instilled the importance of personal care into me.

Then I went into long-term care. Pre-COVID, I still had somewhat of a routine, as I was expected to go to the day center each weekday (except for every other Friday). I tried to maintain such a routine when the day center closed, but I cannot seem to really.

Still, I have some set activities I do each day. I go for a walk in the morning and one in the afternoon too. We also have coffee, lunch and dinner at the same time each day. Now that it’s hot though, I don’t go for walks and often skip coffee break too.

These last few weeks, the days have truly been merging into each other like time didn’t really matter. I do still try to blog most days, usually around the same time.

Sometimes, I wish I had more of a strict daily routine. That’s not really possible though and I’m not sure it’s really what would be best for me.

What about you? Do you thrive on routine?

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts (August 13, 2020)

Hello everyone! How are you doing? It’s still very hot out here. We got some thunder far away in the distance here, but no rain. I hope that will change tonight. Though I’m scared of thunderstorms, I really need it to cool down a bit.

early in the week, I got a lot of reading done. I finished Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott on Tuesday. I haven’t written a review yet and it’s too late now to write one today. Maybe tomorrow. Then nothing quite captured my interest. I tried to get started on The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, but it’s incredibly slow-moving right now and I’m not sure that’s the book or the weather or me.

I’m still interested in books. I keep looking at ones to download off Bookshare or even to buy, but I downloaded only two books this past week and didn’t buy any. I finally downloaded Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. It’s the first book in a sciFi series. I usually don’t read sciFi, but this one sounded great. Then again, it’s a little long that I can read it in a few days.

I’m trying to motivate myself for doing anything other than lying in bed or eating, but it’s hard. I hope once we get slightly cooler temperatures, I’ll feel more energized.

Yesterday I was in a bit of a mental crisis. I engaged in some eating disorder behaviors and was rather irritable. Actually, I’ve been irritable all week. Thankfully, I could write down my feelings and now I’m feeling slightly better.

I also spoke to my nurse practitioner this afternoon. Next Tuesday, he will be meeting with someone from the autism team to discuss my treatment. So far, this feels good.

How have you been? What have you been reading?