Today Is Sunday, November 29

I was originally planning on writing a #WeekendCoffeeShare post, but then discovered that the linky isn’t up this week. That’s okay, since I didn’t really know what to write for it anyway. However, now I’m left with a blank screen and yet with the intention of writing an entry today.

Today was a mostly good day. I lay in bed until nearly 10AM this morning. I had been awake last night for a pretty long while pondering faith.

When I got up, I got dressed and then ate breakfast. We usually have boiled eggs on week-ends, but had eaten them all yesterday. I just had one slice of bread with peanut butter.

Then my husband called. I was in a bit of a low mood, so he recommended I get some sunshine on my face. The sun was shining beautifully here this morning. I had a walk outside.

Then I had lunch – two bowls of tomato soup. I spent the first part of the afternoon napping. After having coffee at around 2:30PM, the evening shift arrived. She took me for a walk right after handover.

I was a bit stressed about possibly needing to eat in the dining room again, but the evening staff informed the extra staff, who came at 4:30, that I would have dinner in my room. It was pretty good, although the meal company’s definition of “vegetable rice” is rice with a few tiny chunks of carrot thrown in.

I went for a walk again in the evening. At one point, I somehow tripped over my own feet and fell. I’m okay though – just a tiny scrape on my knee.

I did break my step record again this week. In fact, I reached my daily goal of 10K steps everyday this week except for Friday. Unfortunately, my sister, who is my only friend on Fitbit, got in even more steps.

When the staff were having their own meal, I listened to yet another church podcast. First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge didn’t have their service online yet, so I chose First United Methodist Church of Austin, TX. The sermon’s theme was believing in hope. It was a very touching sermon that included several references to Holocaust victims believing in hope back then in spite of it being nowhere in sight. Of course, this year of pandemic is nothing compared to World War II, but this means we are even more required to keep hope.

After I had my evening coffee and soft drink with chips, I did get a little nervous when I found out a staff I don’t really know that well has the extra shift tomorrow evening. I’m trying to remember to stay in the present though and not to worry about things that may come.

Gratitude List (November 28, 2020) #TToT

Hello everyone. Like I mentioned yesterday, I have not been more grateful than I am now in a long while. Part of the reason is my recent depression, but part is also my increased attitude of gratitude. For this reason, I am trying to make posting about gratitude a weekly habit again. As always, I am linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. Quiet dinners in my room. Last week and early in the week, I was very stressed out about needing to eat in the communal room with the other clients. This has been a stressor for me for a long while already. I was given the opportunity to eat in my room if I didn’t cope in the communal room, but was struggling to say I didn’t cope on time. For this reason, me and the staff decided I for now will always have dinner in my room. Yesterday, a staff noted that I eat much slower now.

2. Extra staff. I may’ve mentioned this before, but there is now an extra staff member to support me in the evenings. I am not yet sure how they will cover this financially, but we’ll see. Today, I thought there wouldn’t be an extra staffer, but thankfully there was.

3. Podcasts. I’ve mainly been listening to church services. I am so grateful for my podcast app that enables me to listen to church services from all over the world. Oh and of course also other podcasts, like the Parcast Network originals.

4. The YouVersion Bible app. I have only a three-day streak so far, because I missed one day of Bible reading on Wednesday. I am determined to make this streak much longer though. Right now, I’m on day six of a seven-day devotional on forgiveness.

5. Soaping supplies. My day activities staff ordered 3kg each of white and clear soap base as well as a few micas (powdered colorants). She already ordered them early last week, but they finally arrived last Thursday. In addition, my husband brought my Christmas tree soap mold. I am really looking forward to soaping again.

6. Cake decorating. In addition to the extra staff in the evenings, there’s an extra staff in the morning on week-ends. The one who had this shift today, asked me earlier in the week whether I’d like to decorate cupcakes with her today. We ended up using regular slices of cake, not cupcakes, because these are easier to decorate. I loved it.

7. Beautiful skies and sunsets. I regret not having taken a photo of the pink sky we had on Monday. I didn’t really see it, but did see some and loved the staff’s description. Also, on Sunday, I saw the sunset. This was really cool.

8. Eating lunch in the car. My husband came by this afternoon to take me out to lunch. Since all restaurants and such are closed due to COVID, we drove to a Subway drive-through. We each had a chicken teriyaki wrap. It was delicious!

9. Homemade wraps. Okay, they weren’t as good as the Subway chicken teriyaki one, but they were good too. We made wraps with chicken and lettuce on Monday and, because we had some wraps still left over, made some more with minced meat and beans on Thursday.

10. Good talks with my husband. He keeps me interested with his knowledge of theology in particular.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Grateful for Love

Today’s Five Minute Friday (FMF) prompt is “Grateful”. It truly speaks to me, even though I, being from the Netherlands, don’t celebrate Thanksgiving this week. In fact, all I do for it is look all over the Internet to see whether the Apple Watch I want is on sale for Black Friday (it isn’t).

That being said, I haven’t felt more grateful than I feel now in a long while. Here’s why…

I feel so immensely grateful for my husband. He loves me and cares enough about me to show me his love multiple times daily even though we don’t live together. He must miss me, but rather than turn around and find someone else to live with, he tells me he loves me too many times to count. In fact, when COVID hit here first, we weren’t allowed to see each other for three months and yet he still loved me.

Last week, I wrote about grieving the loss of my “normal”, functioning self. Today, I am so immensely grateful to be loved for who I am. Not just by my husband, but by God as well.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)

I have been meditating a lot on this Bible passage and somehow come across it almost on a daily basis when reading about Christianity. It was the start of the Bible reading for the First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge, LA sermon I referred to on Tuesday. More than commanding me to be Godlike, it speaks to me in that my old self doesn’t matter. I am loved by God just the way I am.

Okay, this took me longer to write than five minutes, but then again it usually does. Sorry about that. In fact, I took probably about five minutes to find, read and copy/paste the Bible passage. Well, at least I tried to keep it short.

A Profound Appt with My CPN

Yesterday I had another appt with my community psychiatric nurse (CPN). At first, we went into how I’m doing at the moment. Then my CPN scheduled some appts for me with my nurse practitioner. Last Monday, after all, he and the behavior specialist from my care facility had finally come to the conclusion that I need to do some work on stabilizing myselves and developing inner cooperation before I can do EMDR or another form of trauma therapy. At first, the secretary said the first appt she had available was late December. It turned out to be December 17, so that’s pretty early considering how long I’ve been waiting already.

Then we got to discuss some issues relating to my diagnosis or the lack thereof. These were mostly theoretical, since I have no idea what my current diagnosis is and I really don’t care. I mean, the most recent treatment guidelines here in the Netherlands for complex dissociative disorders, aren’t suited to me (or most plurals, honestly), so I have no reason to want such a diagnosis. All I want is help in getting the inner turmoil under control.

Then I somehow got to mention my former psychiatrist’s comment when first considering assessing me for DID/OSDD in the summer of 2018. She held both of my hands and said: “You have just one body.” Then she went on to explain that, while she was holding our hands, none of us could put our fingers in our ears and pretend not to listen.

We then repeated this exercise. A staff always attends our appts with mental health with us. She now held both our hands and said that we can stay at the care facility. Someone asked cautiously: “Even if I need more help than I get now?” She then reassured us that yes, even if we need more help, we can stay here.

Then the staff asked our CPN what she’s supposed to do when we openly switch, as we had the day before. My CPN seemed not to know, so I suggested she do not elicit it, but do not fight it when it happens either. After all, when she insists that “Astrid” come back, this may create some trouble since “Astrid” is either everyone or no-one at all.

I really hope our nurse practitioner isn’t going to insist people only talk to “Astrid”, as the current guidelines on DID/OSDD seem to suggest as far as I know. I mean, we are okay all listening to the body’s name and won’t sign our names on E-mails or the like when it’s not appropriate, but one of our main issues is that there is no host who somehow “owns” the others. As such, the daily living parts or apparently normal parts or whatever don’t have access to every bit of information needed to cooperate.

Faith Is a Verb

Last Saturday, my husband told me about a book he had been reading. He said: “It’s a Christian book.” As a progressive believer who struggles with her faith a lot, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a Christian book. Two weeks earlier, he had recommended Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis to me and I hadn’t picked it up yet. After all, some of the passages he read to me had me angry.

My husband though explained to me that the book he was recommending now was perfectly suited to my recent struggles. You see, I have been struggling with feelings of worthlessness due to my not living the life my parents had envisioned for me.

The book is called You Are Beloved by Bobby Schuller. My husband was so convinced it’d help me, that he offered to buy me the eBook on whichever platform suited me best. I said I’d look whether it’s available on Bookshare, an accessible book service for the print disabled, first. And it was. I downloaded it as soon as I had access to stable WiFi.

I looked up Bobby Schuller first before starting to read the book. My husband isn’t very conservative either, but still more conservative than me. I wasn’t sure I’d like what Schuller had to say.

I so far only read the introduction, but was immediately enthusiastic. Not just for Schuller’s book, but for my faith in general.

I don’t have a church I belong to normally even without COVID. In fact, I usually listen to American church services despite living in the Netherlands. I hadn’t listened to them in a while though and the ones I usually listen to are so progressive they’re hardly Christian at all. On Sunday, I decided to listen to the prior week’s sermon (since the current week’s wasn’t available yet due to time zone differences) from First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, LA.

In it, the pastor discusses Ephesians 4:22-5:2, in which Paul tells believers how to be Godlike. The pastor also quotes an original Methodist work that explains the character of true believers. It said, among other things, that we are happy – always happy. The pastor uses this to tell the believers that the goal of the Christian life is not just to go to Heaven after we die, but to be Christlike in the current life too. This very much resonated with what my husband said to me when recommending Schuller’s book: that faith is a verb.

My husband meant to say that, if we truly believe that God loves us, we will also extend this to others and live an ethical life. He also said that the goal of every religion, not just Christianity, is to find true peace of mind. In other words, the goal is not just to sit on a cloud and play the harp after we die (in case that’s how you picture Heaven), but to experience the kingdom of God here on Earth.

Schuller’s main point, by the way, is that we are not what we do. We are not what we have. We are not how others see us. We are beloved by God just because we are.

”Grace

Gratitude List (November 21, 2020) #TToT

It’s been forever since I last did a gratitude list. I just checked and it’s been five weeks. These weeks have been incredibly hard. I am really struggling to stay positive. I am going to try to come up with some gratefuls anyway. As usual, I’m joining in with #TToT. I’m typing this post on my iPhone, which I hardly ever do nowadays, so sorry for any typing glitches.

1. My husband! Even with our not living together and only talking on the phone most days, he tells me many times a day that he loves me. I am struggling to feel such a powerful emotion due to my current state of depression, but I’m trying to love him back.

2. My faith. My husband, who I always thought was a strong atheist since leaving theology school, has taken a renewed interest in Christianity and this has encouraged me. Today, he recommended a book called You Are Beloved. I am a very progressive believer, but I’ll definitely give this book a try.

3. My staff. They have been so kind to me despite my challenging behavior.

4. My community psychiatric nurse. She has been very helpful.

5. Pizza. Okay, on to the superficial stuff. My husband and I ordered a delicious pizza today. No, not from Domino’s and I must say this one is better!

6. Cheesecake. Two of my fellow clients had their birthdays this past week and another client got to help the staff make cheesecake.

7. Homemade noodles. That same client made those for us on Monday. He used minced meat instead of chicken, but still it was so delicious.

8. Lots of walking. So far this week, I nearly surpassed my step record from last week. I didn’t get in as many minutes in active heartrate zones, but that’s okay.

9. The ability to write and blog. I am not writing as much as I’d like, but at least I’m still writing.

10. A good night’s sleep last night. And yay for no nightmares that I can remember!

What have you been grateful for?

Grief

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is Grief. When I first saw it, I knew I just had to write on it, but I didn’t know what to write. In a way, I still don’t know. But let me write anyway.

I have been close to clinically depressed over the past few weeks. I don’t know whether this is grief for something I have lost. Perhaps my old, functional self.

Then again, that functional self was a façade. A mask. Layers upon layers of masks formed within those early years of my life, when I still functioned. On the surface, that is.

And here I am, in a care facility, waiting for the manager and behavior specialist and the funding authority to figure out if I can get one-on-one support. And now I grieve the loss of that façade. I am intensely sad. I worry that if I am truly myself, if I peel off all the layers and layers of masks, an intensely wicked, horrible monster will remain. I can almost literally picture the monster in my mind’s eye.

Everytime I think I’ve found the real, authentic me, and it’s a good thing, it turns out to be yet another alter. I wonder what remains if they all go. Will the intensely wicked, horrible inside of me seep through to the outside world?

I am not very religious, but I do believe in God. Especially in these hard times, I pray. I pray that God will help me remove the layers and layers of masks I’ve put up over the years. I however also pray that, beneath them all, the monster will turn out to be some kind of prince(ss) from Beauty and the Beast or whatever. At least not as wicked as I see it as.

Okay, this turned out very different than I had imagined. This piece does reflect my innermost thoughts. For those who haven’t read my previous posts, I do not see my inner monster as some kind of universal thing, like original sin. In fact, I am convinced that most people are both good and bad. The wickedness applies only to myself. And yes, I know I’m not some type of criminal, but I still see myself as intensely bad.

Six Is a Blank

Today, in The 365 Journal for Empaths and Healers, I came across a prompt that asked me what the six-year-old version of me would think about my life today. This is really hard. I have very few direct memories from before the age of around eight. Those I do have, are clouded by the stories my parents told me.

I mean, they said I was a very cheerful, laid-back child before the age of seven. I am pretty sure I wasn’t. Lisel (formerly Little), my 5-year-old insider, holds some very distressing memories. These concern both my time at the mainstream school Kindergarten and my time in hospital at the age of four.

Then six is a blank. I do have a six-year-old insider, but she most likely formed much later. Same for seven. Suzanne is seven, but she only feels she has to grow up too quickly.

To be honest, yes, six is a complete blank. While I do have some memories of age five and seven, I don’t have any of the year I was six. I know I transferred to the school for the visually impaired about six weeks before my sixth birthday. I know I laid the first stone for a new care home for visually impaired children just before my sixth birthday. Then I remember learning Braille with giant dots, but that wasn’t till age seven.

I am tempted to think six was uneventful. Then again, when I was asked to recall a memory from age four for an interview at age seven, I didn’t mention going to Kindergarten, being in hospital or any such to an adult significant events. Instead, I recalled my getting my favorite doll at age three. It isn’t that significant events just aren’t stored in a child’s memory, since a classmate was very clear about the year he developed a brain tumor and lost his sight. Could it be I dissociated at such an early age already? Or does this mean my going to mainstream school, being in hospital etc. just didn’t have the impact I think they had now? I’m not sure.

Appointment With My CPN

Yesterday, we had an appt with our community psychiatric nurse (CPN). I can’t remember all that we discussed. I went into some detail about our sadness and overwhelm over the last few weeks and explained that we had signed a letter to the manager requesting more help.

I tried to ask my CPN to get me an appt with the psychiatrist to discuss my meds, as my overload and irritability are increasing. While I was trying to get this out, I constantly heard someone in my mind say I shouldn’t be asking this as it’s attention seeking or drug seeking or whatever. I don’t even want a med increase per se. In fact, I’m at the maximum dose for both my antipsychotic and antidepressant already. I might want something to help with sleep and especially the restless dreams/nightmares. I feel intense shame about discussing that though, as my nightmares aren’t your standard PTSD nightmares. In fact, my trauma isn’t your standard PTSD trauma.

That is another issue I’m facing. Yesterday, I read an elementary school friend’s story of child abuse. It triggered me to an extent, because I can relate. Still, my trauma wasn’t that bad. She is a child sexual abuse survivor. I am not. Though I endured some physical abuse, it wasn’t that which caused my complex PTSD and dissociative symptoms. The most significant trauma in my life was the emotional abuse and neglect.

Of course, I just told another survivor that childhood emotional neglect and emotional abuse can cause C-PTSD and dissociative disorders too. In fact, dissociative disorders are largely attachment-based, so anything that disrupts normal attachment, can cause it. Still, to apply that knowledge to myself, is quite a bit harder.

I eventually did ask my CPN to refer me to the psychiatrist. My nurse practitioner would normally prescribe my medication, but he does consult with the psychiatrist also. Besides, I’ve never even seen the psychiatrist. So my CPN was more than happy to get me an appt.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 15, 2020)

Hi everyone! How are you doing? Today I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon coffee, but there’s still plenty left for you all. We also have various flavors of tea and there’s cold water in the fridge I think. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was a rather rough one. I am already feeling slightly better now though. I’m still struggling to keep busy when I’m alone, but it’s okay.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the weather is pretty mild for november. It’s raining some of the time, but it’s also sunny some of the time and it’s pretty warm for this time of the year, roughly 15°C.

If we were having coffee, I would be proud to tell you that I got in over 65K steps this week so far. That’s a record! I’m probably still going for another walk this evening, so I may break my active heartrate zone minutes record of last week according to my Fitbit too.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m so immensely grateful for the extra supports my staff put in place for me. Like I mentioned earlier in the week, I was extremely depressed earlier and was seeing no way I could manage at this care home or in this world as a whole for that matter. Thankfully, I got some one-on-one support in the evenings, which are the hardest for me.

I did feel some pressure when a staff said she hoped that in a few weeks, I would not need as much support. This caused me some considerable anxiety, as I worried I’d be kicked out of this home if I didn’t improve in a few weeks. The staff didn’t mean it that way though.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that my husband came by yesterday. We drove for a bit and then went for a short nature walk. My husband had also brought me some apple pie his father had baked for his birthday. I did struggle to eat it properly whilst in the car, which I felt intense shame about. My husband was okay with it though.