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.

Things Can Only Go Up

Like I mentioned earlier in the week, on Sunday I was in a major crisis. On Monday, the manager came to reassure me that I wouldn’t be kicked out of the care facility. I wasn’t convinced though and got stuck on a comment that seemed to invalidate my need for more support.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I cried my eyes out. I felt that there’s no place where I truly belong. It didn’t help that my husband said I experience a lot of internal stress so wherever I go, I’ll take that with me. I’m pretty sure he meant it in a more positive way than I took it. However, I took it to mean I’m too wicked and needy and stressed for this world.

On Tuesday, I started envisioning a place I belong and don’t feel pain. Until that point, I had always assumed there must be a better place for me out there within this world. This had led me to check the care agency’s profiles for other homes pretty much on a daily basis. As of last Tuesday though, this “better place” became more like the afterlife. It wasn’t that I wanted to die, but I wanted the intense pain to end.

On Wednesday, I cried for what seemed like forever. I was crying alone in my room and at one point had the sense of clarity to press the call button. There is this extra staff who normally helps out between 6PM and 8PM. She came into my room and said she’d stay with me for the entire two hours. I cried and talked and let all my feelings out.

At one point, this staff asked whether I’d heard of one-on-one support. I had, but asked her to clarify it anyway. She asked me whether that sounded like something I might benefit from. I finally overcame my intense shame and said “Yes”.

Yesterday, I started the day off pretty sad and had some crying fits throughout the day. At about 4:30PM, a staff came to soothe me and said that that evening, I could sign something to get me more help. I wasn’t sure what she meant. Turned out she meant a letter to the manager requesting more support for me.

My assigned staff wrote the letter, with my input, that evening and I signed it. Now of course we still need to wait for the manager’s response. She may also need to request extra funding for me from the authorities. Even though I’ve known about one-on-one support for almost as long as I’ve been at this facility and have secretly wished I could get it many times, I don’t know that much about the technicalities. That’s not my responsibility though.

From now on, I believe the only possible way is up. Even if I don’t get the one-on-one support I need, the staff have a clearer understanding of my needs and will be able to help me more adequately. Also, with my signing of the letter, I sort of also signed for my wish to stay at the current home. I originally intended on breaking my habit of looking for another place today, but still checked. I wasn’t as affected by what I saw though.

If I Have a Good Day…: Ramblings on Fear of Joy

Today is a slightly better day than yesterday. I actually managed to make a soap for a staff and also go on walks. I even reached my daily step goal! In addition, I have been exploring my faith.

Still, fear of joy is haunting me. Until a few years ago, I never knew it was a thing. That is, I had read about it on a fellow trauma survivor’s website. That was many years ago already, but I never quite understood what it meant. I never realized I experience it. And yet I do.

I think this fear is intertwined with my core belief that, if people truly knew me, they’d abandon me. It is the exact opposite, in a way, and yet it’s similar too. I mean, if people abandon me regardless, why bother trying my best?

Deep down, I feel that people are going to abandon me if they find out how wicked I am. I also, conversely, feel that people are going to abandon me if they think I can cope fine on my own. And these different views are not mutually exclusive. After all, my psychologist at the mental hospital thought I was bad and manipulative, and yet she also thought I would cope fine on my own.

My belief that people don’t see the real me, the wicked, attention-seeking, manipulative me, makes me want to disappear. It makes me feel ashamed of my needs. But it also causes intense anger, because at the core maybe I want to prove myself right.

On the other hand, my belief that people don’t see my genuine need and think I can cope fine on my own, leads to actual care-seeking behavior. It’s not the same as attention-seeking, but maybe in my current context of a care facility, it’s worse.

I have a sense that both of these beliefs cause me to fear joy. On Sunday, I felt abandoned by the staff. Then on Monday, I was trying to “prove” that I’m more needy and hence more wicked than my staff believe. Today though, I’m feeling slightly better, but this scares me. It scares me because I’m convinced I’ll be expected to cope on my own if I’m managing.

Maybe that psychologist was right after all that I have dependency issues. I worry the staff will agree at some point and this in fact reinforces care-seeking behaviors. Which, of course, is counterproductive.

If The Staff Saw My True Nature…: Reflections on Not Belonging

Yesterday, I was in yet another crisis. I was majorly triggered when a staff told me at the dinner table to calm down or go to my room because she had other clients to attend to as well. This triggered both my fight and flight responses. I was completely convinced that this one remark proved that, if staff truly know me, they’ll abandon me. After all, if they truly knew my nature, they’d know I needed more support than they can offer. I was and still am intensely ashamed of this nature of mine, but for whatever reason, I cannot seem to change it.

I cannot stop this part of mine who thinks she needs almost literally one-on-one support all day. It isn’t even a sense of entitlement, since I don’t feel that I’m somehow deserving of more attention than the other clients. Or maybe at the core I do believe this. I’m not sure. My parents would say I do believe I’m somehow entitled to endless attention.

At one point, I lashed out at the staff member. This led to further intense shame. I was convinced that, in that moment, the staff had seen my true nature and that she was going to make sure I’d be kicked out.

For whatever reason, she didn’t. She did, I assume, write an incident report. Other than that, I must say she was incredibly nice all evening.

And yet all day I was convinced that, if the staff nor the manager were going to kick me out, they must not have seen how wicked I really am. I do know that, in truth, this was one of my worst outbursts of aggression ever. I’ve done more harmful things, but those were harmful only to myself.

The manager came to talk to me late in the afternoon. She reassured me that I won’t be kicked out. I tried to tell her that, despite my desire to be good, I feel I might need more support than my current home can provide. I wasn’t trying to elicit her pity or convince her to apply for more funding for me, but I was trying to make it clear that I may be more of a burden than she can handle. I don’t want to feel attached to the staff and the home and even some of the other clients only to be told in a month or two that after all I’m too much of a handful. The manager sort of reassured me.

And yet, when she was gone, I went online and looked at other places I might be able to move to. Not because I really want to move, but because that’s what I’m used to. I’m used to not being wanted anywhere. And it’s tempting to believe that, with how often I end up in crisis here, I don’t really want to live here myself. Ugh, I don’t know how to answer that question.