An Eventful Wednesday

Hi everyone on this Wednesday evening. The weather was beautiful today. It was cold in the morning, but sunny and about 21°C in the afternoon.

This morning, I had an appointment with my community psychiatric nurse. I hadn’t seen her in four weeks, as two weeks ago she had had to cancel due to a crisis situation. This time, I was able to talk through some of my struggles. I vented some of my grief with respect to my blindness. I ended on a positive note though, sharing the wonders of VoiceOver Recognition.

At 1PM, I had a quick dental check-up. The dentist comes to our day center four times a year for these, so I didn’t have to travel. Thankfully, all was well and I was literally gone within minutes.

Then I had a talk with my support coordinator about my upcoming care plan review. We had to discuss my risk inventory. This is a long list of possible risks someone can experience, such as of choking, falling, epileptic seizures, aggression, etc. With each box, the staff have to tick of “Yes” or “No” and if yes, elaborate on the risk. I disagreed with several “No” answers, but then my support coordinator explained that this is within the current care situation. For example, there is no risk to my personal hygiene because my staff are there to help me with this.

I did get my coordinator to add a “Yes” to risks re social media use because my Internet use can often trigger me and lead to meltdowns. I did ascertain that these risk assessments are not necessarily associated with restrictive measures. In other words, just because there’s a risk associated with my Internet use, doesn’t mean they need to restrict my online activity.

Later, I realized there really needs to be a “Yes” in the box on risks associated with overweight too. I had said this at the meeting but my coordinator had said that since I don’t suffer with sores due to fat or the like, there’s no risk. I do feel there is, given that my BMI is above 30 and I need support in maintaining a healthy’ish diet.

I went on three walks this afternoon and evening. On my way back from one of them, my one-on-one asked me whether I wanted to photograph the chickens near the day center. A client at another care home here has always wanted to have chickens and he finally got his wish granted a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, only one of them lays eggs so far. The guy whose chickens these are says the other one’s crest needs to get redder before she will lay eggs. My husband said it might actually be a rooster though. I hope not.

Five Activities to Do on Rainy Days #5Things

Hi everyone on this cloudy and chilly but dry Tuesday evening. Today’s prompt for the #5Things challenge is to share our favorite activities for rainy days. It hasn’t been raining much here at all lately – I guess we’re making up for a rather wet summer. However, the fall and winter usually are our rainy seasons here. I thought I’d participate and share some activities I love to do when it’s raining outside.

1. Listen to music. Contrary to some of the other participants in the challenge, I don’t like watching or listening to the rain. In fact, the sound of heavy rainstorms scares me. To drown out this noise, I like to listen to music, particularly upbeat songs.

Interestingly, I do occasionally love to listen to water sounds on my iPhone, but not specifically rain.

2. Read. When I can’t go outside because of the rain, it’s the perfect time to pick up a book and read. I read a wide variety of books, but, as regular readers of my blog will know, I mostly enjoy memoirs and realistic young adult fiction.

3. Craft. Rainy days are also the perfect time for crafting. Now that it’s not raining as much anymore, I can totally see my creative juices drying up a bit.

4. Chill out. I look forward to relaxing in my recliner, which my husband cleared of most of the stuffed animals and other things that were cluttering it last Sunday. I also love to take extra naps or just chill out under my weighted blanket. Since the day center reopened, lastly, the snoezelen® room is also now available to me at times. All of these activities are especially great for rainy days.

5. Enjoy a hot drink. Particularly hot cocoa, but coffee or green tea will do as well.

What do you like to do when it’s raining?

Reading Wrap-Up (September 20, 2021) #IMWAYR

It’s been forever since I last did a reading wrap-up. The reason is the fact that I hardly did any reading over the summer. Over the past week or two though, I picked up some books again. Let me share what I’ve been reading. As usual, I’m joining It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? or #IMWAYR for short.

What I’m Currently Reading

First up is Thrive, the third book in the Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel. It already came out in May, but because its prequel, Hatch, had such a disappointing ending, I was reluctant to start reading this one. I’m still only 6% in.

Secondly, I may have mentioned starting A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa B. Sheinmel a few months back at the recommendation of another blogger. I am reading it at a slow pace, but I think I will finish it eventually. For those not aware, this is a young adult novel about a girl locked up in a mental hospital.

Lastly, the book that really got me back into the reading groove, is an abuse survivor memoir called The Bad Room by Jade Kelly. I started reading this on Thursday and am already at 28%. This seems like a fascinating read!

What I Recently Finished Reading

Uhm, nothing. Like I said, I hardly read anything at all over the summer. I still have six books on my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads and that doesn’t include Thrive as of yet. I’m a true multi-book girl or so it seems.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

Uhm, one of those books on my currently-reading shelf I didn’t read this past week, I guess. The good part about my not having read much at all over the summer, is the fact that I hardly read book blogs or Goodreads discussions either, so I didn’t add a ton of books to my TBR pile. In fact, I’ve also for the most part stopped checking out the daily BookBub E-mail with book bargains. Over the past month, I’ve added just one free book recommended by them to my Apple Books. I did download a few books off Bookshare, but most of them are self-help books.

I did download the app Bookly, in which you can track your reading time and progress. However, I’m as of yet unwilling to pay for the subscription plan and the free plan offers hardly anything, so I deleted the app again. Instead, I’m tracking what I’m reading in my private diary.

What have you been reading lately?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 19, 2021)

Hi all on this late Sunday evening! Boy, am I late joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’ve had all my coffee for the day and even had my last soft drink. If you’d like one, I’m sure I can still pass you one through the Internet though. Let’s have a cup of coffee or another drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the weather is still pretty good for September here. Temperatures rose to roughly 20°C in the afternoon and it’s been mostly dry with some sunshine and some clouds. Today while in the car being taken back to the care facility from Lobith, my husband even said I had to wear sunglasses. Now sadly the sunlight wasn’t particularly bright to my (almost) totally blind eyes, but yesterday I’d gotten a headache from what might’ve been exposure to bright sunlight that I wasn’t consciously detecting.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my husband and I had our tenth wedding anniversary today. We celebrated it yesterday with a large Domino’s pizza. We each had a milkshake too, but it was far too thick for my liking. I couldn’t finish drinking it, whether I tried the paper straw that came with it or my own silicone straw.

If we were having coffee, I would finally show you the picture of the present I gave my husband for our anniversary. It’s a polymer clay heart with the text “Assie houdt van je” stamped into it. Assie is my nickname (and no, in Dutch, there is no connotation to asses) and “houdt van je” is Dutch for “loves you”. There is magnetic tape at the back so that my husband could hang it on the fridge.

Polymer Clay Heart for My Husband

My husband really appreciated the gift.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the rest of my week was okay. I was a little sad and grieving the loss of my eyesight, as well as worrying about my upcoming care plan review. The review won’t be until September 30 and of course it doesn’t involve judgment and it isn’t a test.

However, I have been increasingly aware of my inner fight regarding my wish to stay here in Raalte and yet my feeling that I ought to be looking for another care facility or working towards living with my husband. In my paragraph about the bright sunshine, I almost wrote I was taken “home to the care facility” rather than “back”, as if our house in Lobith is less of a home to me than the care facility. My support staff would consider this progress, in that I’m beginning to feel safe here at the care facility. However, there’s an inner voice that tells me that this is betraying my husband. I know he supports me staying here for now, but I also know he struggles with the distance. Ugh, this is so hard.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I’m very curious about iOS 15, which will be out tomorrow. Like almost every year, there is one critic on the Dutch VoiceOver E-mail group who warns all of us to wait because it’ll be drama. This year though, the accessibility bugs seem not as serious as last year and especially the year before. Still, I’ll probably wait at least a couple of weeks until at least some of the other members of the group have actually installed the official release. I am really curious about live text in photos and improved VoiceOver image recognition though.

How have you been?

The Puzzle and Its Pieces #SoCS

When I was first diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) in 2010, I was already aware of some of my alters. I at the time explained to my therapist that the body or “Astrid” was the puzzle and the alters were the pieces. In other words, there was no host who “owned” the other alters as such. I felt that we needed to cooperate as one collective, not as one piece.

I was, at the time, unaware of the other significant meaning of the puzzle piece in my mental health experience, that is, its symbolism in autism-related lobbying. I mean, Autism Speaks and other cure-focused organizations employed the puzzle piece as a symbol of something being “broken” or “missing” about us autistics. That’s why autistic activists are so vehemently against it.

I personally till this day don’t mind the puzzle piece as much. I mean, I don’t like it that Autism Speaks uses it, but other than that, I’m not sure what I think of the symbol. I’ve heard the alternative is something like a rainbow-colored infinity symbol or something, which I have absolutely no concept of, never having seen the infinity symbol when I still had enough vision to picture it.

I do think the puzzle is a great symbol for plurality in general and dissociative identity disorder in particular. Another one is the kaleidoscope, but I don’t like that one as it is the name of the Dutch DID charity. That one is very exclusionary and kicked me out on the basis of not having a diagnosis given to me by someone they approved of.

So, the puzzle. The pieces, when cooperating perfectly, make up the proper image of what should be “Astrid”. Then again, that’s an ideal. Hard to achieve. I don’t think we ever will. And that, in my opinion, is okay.

This post was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS), for which the prompt today is “Puzzle”.

Gratitude List (September 17, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone! I’m struggling with grief a bit today. I thought at first that I wanted to write about it, but I’ve made up my mind. Rather, I want to distract myself and, for this reason, am doing a gratitude list. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for my husband. We’ll celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary this weekend and I’m so glad he’s put up with me through all these years.

2. I am grateful to be pain-free right now. I woke up in some pain a few mornings this week, but right now, it’s evening and I’m not in pain.

3. I am grateful I am doing relatively well sticking to a healthier lifestyle. I started two weeks ago and, in my first week, lost 800 grams. I’m going to weigh myself tomorrow morning again.

4. I am grateful for relatively good weather still. It’s still pretty warm, with temps rising to about 20°C each day. We’ve had some rain, but not too bad.

5. I am grateful for quick replies from the developer of Diarium, the app I reviewed on Tuesday. He’ll hopefully be able to figure out why the app isn’t showing up on the App Store for at least some people.

6. I am grateful for Diarium’s built-in “My Day” template. I am also grateful that Diarium is pretty much completely translated into Dutch, including the template, so that I can now easily journal in my native language. That helps me get out of “writing for an audience” mode. I am grateful I am on a four-day streak in Diarium (not that the app keeps track) now.

7. I am grateful for good books to lose myself into.

8. I am grateful for Pringles. My day activities staff, the one who had her 25th anniversary of working for this agency in August, celebrated the occasion officially yesterday. She gave us all chips, in my case Pringles, because I like those the best.

9. I am grateful to have been relatively creative despite feeling a bit meh over the past week.

10. I am grateful to be a child of God. I have been increasingly inspired to not just proclaim Jesus as my savior, but to allow Him to be Lord over my life.

What are you grateful for?

App Review: Diarium for Windows 10 and iOS

As regular readers of this blog may know, I’m perpetually looking for an offline diary to keep. The problem doesn’t seem to be the lack of apps available, though I find fault with each of them. Rather, it seems to be the lack of commitment to actually keeping a daily journal.

That being said, I’ve tried a lot of apps. Until very recently, the iOS app Day One was by far my favorite. Now, it seems to have gotten a strong competitor in Diarium.

Diarium was originally developed as a Windows 10 app. This was before I had a Windows 10 computer. At some point roughly three years ago, they however launched the iOS app. It was still far from ideal at the time. If I remember correctly, most buttons weren’t labeled and there was no timeline view.

In the current iOS version, the tabs in the bottom right corner allow you to switch between timeline, calendar, search, map and tags. I really love this.

In the top left corner of the screen is the button to add an entry. This will open a calendar with an ability to pick the date. Diarium, though it does seem to support multiple entries per day, does not automatically include the timestamp. Rather, you have to click a button while typing your entry to insert it. You can also add images (not sure if you can add just one image per entry or multiple), audio or files.

Also in the top left corner are buttons to sync your diary with OneDrive, iCloud Drive, Google Drive, WebDav or Dropbox. This is a paid feature, but the positive about Diarium’s paid plan as opposed to for example Day One’s, is that it’s €5,99 (if I’m correct) and is a one-time purchase rather than the €37,99 per year for Day One. To Day One’s credit, it does offer more features.

I have Diarium on both my iPhone and Windows 10 PC now. At first, I had no clue how to use the Windows 10 app, because it doesn’t work like Word or Notepad or any of the older Windows programs at all. For example, Alt or Shift+F10 doesn’t work to open a menu at all (there doesn’t seem to be a menu). I’m still figuring things out a little, but it seems most buttons at least are clearly labeled. When I tap the button to add an entry though, I have yet to figure out how to get back to my diary without closing and relaunching the entire app.

Diarium allows integration with several services, including your weather app, Twitter, Facebook and Fitbit. I so far only have integration set up with the iPhone’s weather app and Fitbit. I love how that way, my daily step count is included with each day’s entry. Unlike apps like Momento, Diarium as far as I know doesn’t create separate entries for your integrations, but rather includes them on each day’s main entry. This may be both a drawback and an advantage depending on your perspective.

There are two things I find slightly annoying about Diarium. The first is the fact that each entry is auto-titled something like “Dear diary” and auto-formatted to start with “Today I …”. It does look like you can delete or ignore this though. The other thing is the fact that, despite the fact that I turned it off in settings, my entire entries are still shown in the timeline. This might be a bug, so I’m going to contact the developer about this.

Overall, I really like Diarium. If, like me, you’ve been using Day One and would like to migrate, there’s an easy way to do that by exporting your Day One journal into a .Zip file and importing it into Diarium. Some of the preformatted stuff from Day One looks weird in Diarium, but it’s still readable.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 11, 2021)

Hi everyone. It’s long past my last coffee break of the day, but I’m still joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. Fancy a soft drink or a glass of water? I’m off to bed after I finish this post, but I think we can still have a catch-up.

If we were having coffee (or water or a soft drink, but you get the idea), I’d share that the weather was good for most of the week. On Wednesday and Thursday, the temperature rose to around 27°C. That’s pretty awesome for September, isn’t it? It was also sunny most of the time. We got some slight thundering Thursday and Friday, but thankfully nothing too bad.

If we were having coffee, I’d proudly announce that, thanks to the good weather and my feet cooperating, I was able to get in a lot of steps over the week. I so far got in nearly 75K steps and that’s not including Sunday yet.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Shoe Guy finally took my orthopedic shoes to his work station with him. He saw pretty quickly that, not only is the combo with the ankle foot orthosis (AFO) giving me problems, but the shoes are also both far too wide. Let’s pray he’s going to get both issues fixed soon and that’s the end of the footwear saga.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the day center reopened on Monday after eighteen months of being more or less closed due to COVID. I, thankfully, get day activities in the home. In fact, during the time of COVID, my one-on-one was combined with another client’s care, but I now have my very own day activities shift from 10:15AM till 3PM. I was kind of scared that this’d mean I had taken a staffer away from my old group, but apparently not.

I am allowed and more or less expected to visit my old group for a little while each morning, thankfully with my one-on-one accompanying me. However, last Thursday, I was busy preparing my niece’s birthday present, so I asked if I could switch my visit to the afternoon. That was totally okay. My fellow clients at the day center do definitely appreciate me visiting. That makes me feel so grateful.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve been busy with my husband’s wedding anniversary present today. That’s the secret project I mentioned yesterday, but I won’t disclose what it is exactly until my husband has received it himself next week. He did jokingly nag me a little, but I won’t spoil it to him either.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that, no, I haven’t lived under a rock all day, ignoring the fact that it’s the anniversary of 9/11. Okay, I did mention it in my other post today, only to blather on about myself. However, it could be me, but the news seems incredibly quiet about it too here. I don’t watch television or read newspapers, only scrolling through so-called “important” news on my iPhone’s home screen. I’ve seen announcements of the deaths of Peruvian terrorist leader Abimael Guzmán and Dutch former train hijacker Junus Ririmasse. There’s also another protest against Dutch pandemic management measures today. The only news article mentioning 9/11 I’ve seen today, is about some cartoon on politician Sigrid Kaag. I cannot see the actual cartoon, of course.

I do feel a little off having seemed to ignore the world’s major crisis of my teens. Then again, I’d rather live under a rock than get depressed by the world’s events.

How have you been?

How Far I’ve Come #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “Where”. Linda, the host, is probably referring to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and where we all were at the time when she says that she has a feeling the subject of many posts will be the same. I, though, think I already shared where I was during the 9/11 attacks. I was in my room, writing in my diary about being used for a reality TV show. I mean, in the taxi home from school, I was secretly filmed while talking to the taxi driver and then was asked to consent later to it being shown on TV. I obviously refused. I was only fifteen. My mother said they should’ve picked someone at least five years older than me.

I don’t want to revisit that day though. Instead, I want to reflect on where I came from and how far I’ve come in those twenty years since the attacks.

On 9/11, I was in the ninth grade at grammar school or a classics-oriented high level high school in my city. I was being mainstreamed despite being multiply-disabled, because my parents believed I was just blind and oh so intelligent (which they considered a disability too in some ways, but it really isn’t).

Two months after the attacks, on November 2, 2001, I experienced a major mental crisis, which was of course brushed off by my parents. Six years later exactly, I did land in the hospital when experiencing another crisis.

I spent 9 1/2 years in the psychiatric system, 2 1/2 years living with my husband because the psychologist at my last psych unit felt I was misusing care and should be living independently. Then I went into long-term care. It’ll have been two years on the 23rd.

In a sense, I’ve only deteriorated in those twenty years. On 9/11, I proudly told that taxi driver how I was doing being mainstreamed as a blind person in a high level high school. Twenty years on, I live in a facility with people with severe to profound intellectual disabilities. Even then, I’m the one who needs the most care, getting one-on-one most of the time.

In another sense though, I’ve come a long way. I’ve definitely become more like me, the real me, who doesn’t care what her parents or teachers or support staff for that matter think she’s supposed to be like.

Crafting Lately: Polymer Clay and a Bracelet

Hi all! It’s Friday evening and it’s been thundering a bit outside. I’m scared of thunderstorms. Thankfully, they’re not too bad. To get my mind off the weather, I’m sharing some of my recent crafting endeavors with you all.

I bought a whole lot of new polymer clay supplies earlier in the week. Among them are a bead roller, which I have yet to try out, bead piercing pins to put holes in the beads I create with the bead roller, and brooch pins.

I also bought both transparent and gold Fimo Liquid. I haven’t yet decided what to do with the transparent one other than to use it to soften crumbly clay.

The gold-colored kind though, I intend to use to color in my letters that I’ve been stamping into my polymer clay pieces lately. I think I didn’t even share those pieces with you yet. I got the stamping kit a few weeks ago and love it! Below is a not-yet-colored piece.

I tried to color it with the gold Fimo Liquid this evening. First, I was unsuccessful trying it on my own, but when my staff guided my hand, it worked. Here’s the finished piece.

I also got a new pasta machine. Probably needn’t have bought it after all. I mean, I thought the old one was shredding my clay but with these particular clays, the new one was doing the same. However, I’m still grateful I got it.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a few color recipes from Polymer Clay Loves. I didn’t have any of the four colors of Fimo Soft needed for mixing those colors, but I bought those too. Thing is, I just bought the small, two-ounce packets for three of the four colors and will likely need at least one of those for another project (which is still a secret) due to my other clay being too crumbly. You can totally see I’m still learning, eh? However, I definitely enjoy my craft!

In other crafts, I’ve also been enjoying basic beading again. The day center reopened this week and so I met some people from other homes for the first time in a long while. The staff told me one of them wore a lot of bracelets, so I immediately decided I’d make her a bracelet to add to her collection. Here it is!

As you can see, it is a simple threaded bracelet made with wooden beads on elastic wire. I personally don’t like wooden beads, as they connote child’s play beads to me, but these look pretty grown-up or so I’m told.

Have you been doing any crafting lately?

PoCoLo