Share Four Somethings (January 2022)

Hi everyone. Can you believe it’s almost the end of January already? I can’t wait for this month to be over with, honestly. February can be depressing too, but not as depressing as January. At least then the weather may start to warm up a little. Let’s hope! Anyway, today I’m joining Share Four Somethings. I think I joined this link-up once before, but am hoping to make it a regular habit now that it’s a new format. Here goes.

Something Loved

Essential oils. Yay, my three new oils arrived today! Though I haven’t tried them out yet, I will certainly be doing so soon. One, lemon, isn’t really new, but I’d had to throw out the old bottle because it’d gone past its shelf life. This really should be a motivator to use my essential oils more often. The other two, spearmint and sweet marjoram, I haven’t used before.

Something Gleaned

Honestly, I had to Google the definition of “glean”, so I could say I gleaned the meaning of the word. I guess my English isn’t as good as I’d like to say it is.

Seriously though, I have been reading the Bible everyday since January 1. While 24 days isn’t my longest streak ever by far, I do find that the more I study God’s Word, the more I learn. My most recent realization came from the story about the Bible passage I mentioned yesterday. The pastor sharing the story about the passage said that “favor” in Psalms 30:5 could also be translated as “grace”. This, until then, I’d always seen as a decidedly New Testamental term. Then again, I now am beginning to see that the Bible isn’t really strictly divided between OT and NT, but it’s all one story leading to Jesus. To those of my readers who’ve been believers for longer than I have been, this may seem obvious. To me, it’s a big eye-opener.

Something Braved

Well, as regular readers of my blog will know, this month was quite hard. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and PTSD symptoms. Even though one of my medications, topiramate, which specifically works to combat trauma-related symptoms, was upped earlier this month, I’m not yet noticing the change. On the contrary, in fact, it looks like I’m doing a little worse. That is, I might be noticing a slight positive change over the past few days, but it’s so early on that it’s hard to know for sure and I’m not sure whether the change is positive compared to how I did on my old dosage too. I thankfully will have an extra appointment with my nurse practitioner on Thursday to discuss how things are going.

Something Achieved

Two somethings here, is that okay? First, I have been writing more frequently and more widely than I did before. I am really proud of myself for this, as it is actually one of only a few ways in which I’m still staying active lately. Due to my anxiety, after all, I’m struggling to try new things such as crafting or even to go for a walk. However, I do try out new writing techniques and that’s something at least.

The other achievement is my diet. I started on a healthier eating plan with the help of a dietitian early in the month. Not with the aim of losing weight, although it would be great if I could lose the 1.5kg I need to lose to no longer be obese. My main goal is to experience less inner conflict about eating, as I have a history of eating disorder symptoms. So far, I’m sticking to it pretty well. More importantly, the one day when I couldn’t fully stick to the plan, because we had Chinese takeout, I didn’t resort to eating disorder behaviors. That’s quite an accomplishment!

Joy Comes in the Morning?

Today’s verse of the day in the YouVersion Bible app really speaks to me in a kind of interesting way. It reads: “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5 NIV) I particularly loved this verse because certain translations use “joy” instead of “rejoicing”.

Obviously, it is easy for me as a Christian to draw the comparison between the short-lived anger mentioned here and our life on Earth, and the rejoicing to our eternal life in Christ. After all, we all know our life on Earth is temporary. No-one, until the time of Jesus’ return, will live forever.

God also doesn’t promise us a hardship-free life. No, not even if we are as faithful as we can be. Ultimately, suffering is part of our life on Earth. God never promised us a rose garden, so to speak. That is, not yet. However, He does promise us that, ultimately, in Jesus Christ, we will have eternal life.

In addition, however, the verse shows us that God is quick to forgive us. In the story accompanying this verse on YouVersion, the pastor compared God’s attitude towards us to her own attitude towards her children: when they misbehave, she may get angry, but nothing can prevent her from loving her children exactly as they are. This is so touching! Similarly, God may show anger towards us in a moment, but His love will always shine through.

Lastly, the last part of the verse may also refer to Jesus’ resurrection. For me, this is hard to grasp, as this psalm was written by David, centuries before Jesus’ time on Earth. However, believing that all of Scripture is God-breathed, it is very possible that David was, at least on some subconscious level, aware of what would be coming.

During the night of Jesus’ crucifixion, there was intense weeping, but in the morning three days later, Mary shouted with joy when she met Jesus again.

When originally reading this verse on its own, I was like, I can see where this is coming from, but this is an Old Testament passage, so…? Now that I’ve dug a little deeper into its meaning and listened to the YouVersion story, my takeway is not just that life may be hard, but that ultimately everything will be okay. It is also that God’s love is, will always be and has always been, even in the time of David, far greater than His anger.

Linking up with Sunday Scripture Blessings.

Gratitude List (January 22, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. It’s time for another gratitude post. I’m struggling a little, but, as I’ve said many times before, this makes them all the more important. As usual, I’m joining in wiht Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful to have seen my husband on Sunday. We went to the Subway drive-through to get a sandwich. I chose a turkey one, to which my husband asked whether I took it because of my diet or because I was in the mood for turkey. “Both,” I replied.

2. I am grateful my mother-in-law visited me on Wednesday. We went for a drive around the nearby countryside and for a short walk in a nearby village.

3. I am grateful for muesli for breakfast. I am also grateful the dietitian allows me muesli with some nuts or raisins in it and it doesn’t have to be plain grain.

4. I am grateful for blueberries. When in the nearby village with my mother-in-law, we decided to get some groceries for her. I decided to get blueberries too.

5. I am grateful my dental chek-up last Wednesday was uneventful and, other than the fact that I have inflamed gums, everything was fine.

6. I am grateful for a good laugh with one of my staff on Thursday. I originally was anxious about her being my one-on-one that day, because a few weeks prior she’d triggered me with what she thought was encouragement of my independence. I thankfully talked it over with her and we then laughed our butts off at some silly jokes we were cracking.

7. I am grateful I am inspired to write on my blog. I still struggle to find the motivation to go on walks or to craft, but at least I’m writing almost everyday, sometimes twice a day.

8. I am grateful my nurse practitioner keeps trying to help me and takes me seriously despite how complicated I might be. I have been experiencing increased flashbacks to the time I spent in the psych hospital lately, but I try to remind myself my staff and my treatment team at mental health are different.

9. I am grateful it looks like the essential oils I ordered on Thursday, are on their way. I ordered with a company that doesn’t use the bank’s payment processing system, so I had to make my payment manually, then panicked worrying that I’d made a typeo somehow. Apparently not. Let’s hope the company isn’t altogether lying and will actually have shipped my essential oils.

10. I am grateful I’ve found the courage to experiment with essential oil blends that are slightly different from the ones I find online. For example, earlier I used tangerine rather than orange in a blend that otherwise contained cardamom and cinnamon. It smelled delicious!

What are you grateful for?

Flash Fiction: Can I Go?

“I just want to go to a friend for two nights,” Patricia yelled, asserting her words with some colorful language, as she grabbed the nearest chair she could reach. “You are NOT going to treat me this way,” nurse Nancy replied with more anger in her voice than she probably intended. More calmly, she added: “If you want to go on leave for longer than originally agreed upon, you need to discuss it with Marjorie, and she’s not available right now.” At that point, a blonde nurse in her mid-thirties entered the ward. As Patricia saw her, her anger rose and, heaving the chair off the floor, she threw it at Marjorie, barely missing her. Turning to the nurse’s station, Nancy told Patricia, not even looking at her: “Here are your meds and the address for the homeless shelter; for your severe aggressive behavior, you’ve been suspended until Monday.”


This piece of flash fiction is based on a true story from a fellow patient at the locked psychiatric unit back in 2008. I always felt rather conflicted about patients, especially those without a home, being suspended for severe challenging behavior. In this case though, the patient got exactly what she wanted.

I am joining the Six Sentence Story Link-Up, for which the prompt this week is “Shelter”. I am also linking up with Friday Writings, even though it’s Saturday. The optional prompt is conversations you’ve overheard. Though I didn’t exactly overhear this conversation, as it was told to me by the fellow patient later on, I thought it’d be fitting enough.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 21, 2022)

Hi everyone on this late Friday evening. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare, even though it’s a bit late for coffee here. I am going to grab a glass of water and some fruit in a bit, so if you’d like a soft drink or a glass of water too, you can have one. Let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d moan about the cold weather some more. Boy, do I hate winter! Several staff have been trying to coax me into going on walks because it was supposed to be sunny and nice outside. Then I’d invariably reply: “It’s 3°C outside too, brrr.” Usually, the air would become cloudier soon enough and we’d get rain.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, probably due to my lack of exercise, I didn’t lose weight over the past week even though I stuck to my healthy food plan pretty well. That is, I didn’t feel as though I was just eating carrots and lettuce all week, so maybe I accidentally sneaked in some extras I shouldn’t have had. For example, I am allowed 225ml of yogurt or 200ml of quark with some muesli for breakfast. On Wednesday, my staff poured half the 500ml can of quark into my bowl. Now quark contains only about 50 calories per 100ml, so that didn’t really make a huge difference on its own. However, given that I or my staff may’ve made other such slightly less healthy food choices over the week and I also hardly got my butt off the chair, this combined caused me to maintain. At least I didn’t gain any weight either.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I went to the dentist on Wednesday. Thankfully, other than slightly inflamed gums, everything was fine. I was pretty sure I’d be diagnosed with gum disease and have to be seen by the oral hygienist. Apparently not so. I was sent on my way with instructions for better teeth-brushing and flossing and an appt with the prevention assistant in February.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I texted with my sister this evening. I can’t remember whether I shared before that she’s pregnant again. She’s expecting another girl in May. So far, all seems to be going as it should be. My (other) niece (other than the bump, I mean) is doing okay too. I mentioned in August that she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. After surgery in September and a cast for several months, she’s now doing pretty well again.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that my husband is off work with the flu. He tested negative for COVID, but thankfully he wasn’t so crazy as to go back into work as soon as he got the negative test result. Back in early 2020, before COVID was known outside of China, he did go to work as a truck driver while sick with the flu. I am glad he doesn’t have COVID, of course, but regardless I’m hoping he’ll feel better soon.

How have you been?

Poem: Locked Up Inside

In my bubble
I sit
Staring out
At the world
Outside

From around me
I hear
People talking
To me
But I can’t respond

Through the invisible wall
I try
To reach out
To someone
But I can’t

A tight grip
Of panic
envelops me
Because I know
I’m locked up inside


I have had the concept of being “locked up inside” in my head for a few days now. I first came across the phrase in an E-mail support group for parents of children with selective mutism, a disorder in which a child is unable to speak in certain situations due to intense social anxiety. I have never had this diagnosis, but as a teen and young adult, did experience periods of mutism due to anxiety and dissociative freeze responses. I use the term “locked up inside” for a feeling of intense anxiety which causes a freeze response that leads to an inability to speak and sometimes move. The feeling of being “locked up inside” is particularly frequent and intense lately.

I am linking this poem to dVerse’s Open Link Night.

Most Relaxed When I Am Slightly Distressed?

I had a meeting with my nurse practitioner today to discuss my topiramate. Like I mentioned last Sunday, the increased dosage isn’t doing what it should. I was experiencing slight tingling in my hands and feet and, more annoyingly, increased drowsiness. Moreover, the medication wasn’t working for my hypervigilance; if anything, it was making it worse. The slight tingling in my hands and feet has decreased to the point of almost disappearing over the past few days. The drowsiness has not. Neither has the hypervigilance.

A theory I came up with recently, in a conversation with the care facility’s behavior specialist, is that my ideal level of alertness is really slight distress. In terms of the care facility’s signaling plan, phase 1 rather than 0 is really when I’m most relaxed. The reason, in fact, is that relaxation scares the crap out of me because it includes a sense of loss of control.

I am reminded in this respect of my last surgery as a child, when I was eight-years-old. I clearly remember going under the anesthesia – I had refused a tranquilizer to calm me beforehand – and I also vividly remember keeping on talking, even when my speech became slurred, up till the moment the anesthetic knocked me out. I was deathly afraid of letting go of my control.

I am also reminded of my fear of going to sleep, which goes back to early childhood. It may in part be related to my trauma-related symptoms, because of course my traumas started as early as infancy. However, I wonder whether this is also somehow related to the fear of losing control.

I once heard that benzodiazepine tranquilizers are no good for people with borderline personality disorder, precisely because the anti-anxiety effect causes aggression in them. I am not sure whether my current diagnosis includes BPD or not, but something similar might be going on with me. I don’t generally become aggressive when I’m under the influence of tranquilizers. However, as my nurse practitioner said, this thing does show that alertness and distress are not some linear thing on a scale from -2 to 3 (on my care facility’s signaling plan) in real life.

The bottom line is that we don’t yet know what to do about my topiramate. We’ve so far decided to wait another week or two to see if, since the drowsiness should decrease with time, this will cause the positive effects to start becoming noticeable. If not, we may go back to my old dosage, but I’m not yet sure what to do about my PRN quetiapine then. After all, we upped my topiramate in hopes that I could do without quetiapine then. Right now, I’ve felt like I would’ve needed a PRN medication quite regularly, but I’m trying to suck it up for now. That’s pretty hard. I’ve had a few almost-sleepless nights over the past week and am pretty anxious most evenings. But yeah, I’m muddling through. Thankfully, my nurse practitioner did give me an extra appointment next week to check in on the meds.

Abstinence

I bought yet another collection of journaling prompts, this one faith-based. It is called Journal-a-Day the Titus 2 Way and is about growing in Godly womanhood. Not all prompts apply to me. For instance, the ones that center on life as a wife or mother, for the most part, don’t. I mean, of course I am married, but I don’t live with my husband. However, Paul also instructs Titus to teach the women to stay away from addictive substances or practices. As such, one of the prompts in the book is a one-word prompt: sober.

I don’t drink alcohol. In this sense, the prompt does not apply to me either. However, sobriety can refer to other addictions too. In Overeaters Anonymous, it is called abstinence.

I have never liked abstinence-based eating disorder recovery programs like OA. I like to blame the fact that I struggle not just with overeating, but with purging and occasional restricting too. The real reason is though that I don’t want to give up foods I’m addicted to altogether. And, taking Paul’s letter to Titus literally, I don’t have to. After all, the Bible verse states: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” (Titus 2:3 NIV)

For this reason, I wonder, is it really God’s plan, as OA seems to think, that we abstain from addictive foods altogether? Doesn’t Paul write “much wine” for a reason?

I have a problem with the idea that, if you just admit that you’re powerless over your substance, you will – no, should – become sober through submitting to God. Not with the submitting to God part, but with the requirement of complete sobriety, which is human-made. Jesus as far as I’m concerned didn’t abstain completely from alcohol and if refined sugar had existed in His time, He’d probably consumed it too. Shouldn’t the goal be self-control instead?

I pray that God provides me with direction as I navigate my journey towards recovery from disordered eating. I pray that He will help me submit to His will, whatever this may be. Yes, even if this is complete abstinence from sugar, snacks inbetween meals and all other things OA says we need to abstain from. Amen!

I’m linking up with Let’s Have Coffee.

Reading Wrap-Up (January 17, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I’ve done a fair amount of reading once again over the past week. For this reason, I thought I’d do another recap of what I’ve read. As usual, I’m linking up with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

What I’m Currently Reading

Still reading A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. Being that the story is told in reverse chronological order, I found out pretty quickly that it was not going to end well (sorry if that’s a spoiler). However, also knowing that the story probably isn’t told in reverse order for no reason, I wanted to know what happened in the 86% after (or should I say “before”?) what I now think of as one of the main characters getting killed. Besides, I knew from the blurb that this book was about a hostage situation. In that kind of a situation, usually, people die. So I try to let my curiosity win the battle from my thought that every one of Picoult’s books has to end with the main character dying, because that’s what happened in My Sister’s Keeper and Handle With Care.

Other than that, I decided to pick up My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga pretty randomly again. I’d started reading that book early last year and pretty much left it unfinished, but I really want to know what happens at the end even though I think the writing style and character development are both meh.

What I Recently Finished Reading

First, of course, I finished Behind Closed Doors by Maggie Hartley. I reviewed it on Wednesday. I also finished Twilight, Say Cheese!, the first book in the Unicorn University chapter book series by Daisy Sunshine. I really liked that one, but haven’t been in the mood for children’s books since then.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

It probably depends on whether I’ll remain in the mood for adult lit or young adult novels or will want to read children’s books again. I mean, I still want to finish The Choices We Make by Karma Brown, another book I started back in early 2021. I also added a few free romance novels to my Apple Books via BookBub. Then again, I’ve never read pure romance and am pretty scared of the smutty, steamy stuff. It quite frankly creeps me out even thinking about it. Then again, I’m 35-years-old, so maybe it’s about time I start to grow up.

What have you recently been reading?

Moaning About My Meds

It’s 8:30PM and I’m probably going to bed before 10PM tonight. Since upping my topiramate (Topamax) a week ago, I’ve been more sleepy earlier at night and consequently going to bed sometimes by as early as 9PM or even earlier. Unfortunately, the quality of my sleep doesn’t seem to be better.

Last night, I had a horrible dream in which my staff were chattering among themselves and all the while I was trying to get their attention because I was anxious, but to no avail. That’s how I’ve been feeling ever since upping my medication: I am still anxious, but too drowsy to react to it. In fact, I’m not even 100% sure my experience last night was completely in my dreams, because, when I awoke, I couldn’t get to the level of alertness necessary to press the call button.

I don’t really mind the drowsiness as much. Or the tingling in my fingers and toes, which I’ve started to experience since increasing my topiramate dosage too. But the medication does have to work for my hypervigilance. And hypervigilance is not just an outer reactivity, or is it?

My assigned home staff did say yesterday that she judges from the staff’s reporting that I’m calmer, because I come calling out for help less at the times I’m not having my one-on-one. That comment triggered me intensely, because it made me think I’m supposed to take my topiramate so that I don’t ask for help outside of my assigned support hours. I’m reminded of my psychiatrist’s comment about meds as a “chemical nurse” again, something I now don’t see as quite as validating a statement.

This evening, I did E-mail my nurse practitioner my concerns. Of course, the topiramate’s positive effects might still need time to kick in, but if they don’t, I’d rather go back to my old dose. Which, of course, means we will need to find me a different PRN medication or something for when I go into crisis. It also means we’ll need to postpone my aripiprazole (Abilify) taper. Honestly though, I don’t really care about those.