My 2021 Word of the Year

Okay, the first week of January is already over and people have come to say it’s weird to wish each other a happy new year even if this is their first time meeting in 2021. It may be a bit late for me to pick a word for the new year. Then again, it’s one of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week. Besides, last year I didn’t choose my word for the year until January 10. I had the flu to excuse it with then, but oh well.

Last year I picked “Wellbeing” as my word for the year. I was somehow convinced it’d be a bad omen though. It wasn’t, in the sense that I didn’t end up in a major health crisis in 2020. Then again, the world at large did.

This year, I’ve had a word in mind for several weeks now and yet I keep making up my mind about it. I want to deepen my faith this year, so shouldn’t something like “faith” be my word of the year. That’d be too easy though. Rather, I based my word for 2021 on Bobby Schuller’s book. It is: BELOVED.

I want to focus this year on the creed of the beloved as Schuller outlines it in his book You Are Beloved. It is:
I am not what I do.
I am not what I have.
I am not what others say about me.
I do not need to worry.
I do not need to hurry.
I can trust my friend Jesus.

I also want to focus this year on my relationship with God and with others. After all, “beloved” does not just apply to me, but to my husband and others around me too. The fact that I am a beloved child of God, also, implies that I need to accept God as my Heavenly Father.

Now of course my thoughts are going back to the idea that this word of the year would be tempting fate. I fear that, now that I chose “Beloved”, it will mean I’ll lose my husband or other important people in my life this year. Even if this happens, though, I can show my love for them. I can start to express love right now, after all.

What is your word for 2021?

Mama’s Losin’ It

2020: The Year in Review

So 2020 is almost over with, thank goodness! Not that it was a totally bad year for me personally, but I really hope 2021 is better for the world at large.

I started the year hoping to settle in at the care facility. I did, but it did take some more accommodating from the staff than I’d expected they would be willing to. In July, for this reason, I was granted the highest care profile for blind people (I had the second-highest until then). I felt very mixed emotions about it. I mean, even though I had originally asked my support coordinator to look at that care profile when applying for my long-term care funding, I do remember her saying I would definitely not qualify. It turned out that I did.

Then in November, after I’d been in some major crises, the staff suggested I sign an official request for extra care hours. I just heard this morning that it got approved. Next week, the staff and manager are going to discuss how to use the extra care and whether new staff will need to be hired.

I hoped to settle in at the day center. That didn’t work out, as the center closed down due to COVID in mid-March. It has since reopened to some of the homes, where clients can utilize a specific room for their home. However, many clients in my home fare better now that we get day activities from the home.

COVID also had its consequences for my marriage. I had just been trying to learn to use public transportation, like I’d hoped I could, when COVID hit the Netherlands and care facilities were closed to visitors. Even though we’re in a second lockdown now, my facility does allow visitors this time around. However, my husband and I agreed it wouldn’t be sensible for me to use public transportation as of now.

As a result of the first lockdown, I didn’t see my husband at all for March, April and most of May. Thankfully, our marriage survived.

Looking back at my hopes for 2020, I see I did pretty well considering the circumstances. I mean, I didn’t settle in at the day center or learn to use public transportation, but like I said above, that’s to blame on COVID.

Health-wise, I didn’t lose weight, but I am much more active now than I was in 2019 and I do eat okay too. I could certainly do better, like I tried for some weeks in late October and early November. I’ll need to activate my water reminder app again too.

With respect to my mental health, I certainly took good care of that. I had had it as a secret wish to lower my Abilify dose, but I never did. However, that’s okay considering I wasn’t doing as great mentally as I expected to be. I hope I did finally find a PRN medication that helps me though.

I also blogged much more regularly in 2020 than in 2019. I didn’t do any other writing projects, mostly because I feel too inadequate.

Lastly, that self-care excuse of a goal I definitely did attain. I love love love essential oils.

How was your 2020?

Dear Diary: 2021

A ton of ideas are floating through my mind for topics I want to write about. However, I’m tempted to just do another #WDIIA post. I also realize I signed up for the #AtoZChallenge and haven’t even started drafting my posts for it yet. Ugh, that’s me being a blogger. Instead of drafting a post in advance though, I’m participating in Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Sunday Writing Prompt for yesterday, for which the theme is Dear Diary. And no, this isn’t going to be a boring description of today. I hope it will be a diary entry I can write someday in 2021, when like I predicted last year, everything will be okay. Here goes.

Dear diary,

I just took a look at some old blog posts from last year. Today is September 30, 2021. My sister and brother-in-law have their fifth wedding anniversary today. Hubby and I just had our tenth on the 19th. It was wonderful! We celebrated by going out at my not-so-newly favorite restaurant, where both of us ordered unlimited piri-piri chicken. It was delicious! My husband had the following week off, so I decided to stay with him for the week. Since traveling still was discouraged last year, but isn’t this year, we took some time to vacation at a nice resort. I spent most of the time in the swimming pool. Boy, have I missed swimming!

I’ve also missed going out to dinner. Oh and ordering pizza. Though during most of the COVID-19 crisis, Domino’s still delivered pizzas, there was no-one to eat them with, since my husband couldn’t visit.

Oh, I’m so happy my husband didn’t leave me over that whole COVID-19 thing. I mean, it took several months before the no-visitors rule was lifted at my care facility. I was worried all of this time that hubby would want to have a real wife who could be with him. Apparently not. He wants me.

I’m so glad the worry is a lot less than it was last year. I’ve been working on my self-worth in therapy and getting EMDR for my childhood trauma. Thankfully, mental health resumed regular face-to-face sessions in June last year. By now, I feel better than I’ve ever before.

In 2019, I wrote on my blog that, by 2021, everything would be okay. I could not have predicted a pandemic making life much harder first. Thankfully, my husband and I survived and it’s made us and our relationship stronger.

A Letter Explaining My Life Right Now

Today’s topic in 7 Days 7 Posts is to write a letter to someone explaining your life right now. I have been thinking about reconnecting with the head nurse from the psychiatric resocialization unit for a while. She was one of the most supportive people I ever met during my psychiatric hospital stay, but still, she was a bit prejudiced. Here is a letter to her.

Dear K,

How are you? I hope you are well. Do you still work for the psychiatric hospital? When I last spoke to L (my named nurse from the resocialization unit), she informed me that the entire Nijmegen long-term care hospital was closing and moving to Wolfheze. Do you work there now?

When I last wrote to you and L, I explained that I was living with my husband in the tiny village and going to day activities. I didn’t inform you that I was struggling. I eventually got kicked out of my first day center with this agency and transferred to another one.

Still, I struggled with independent living with my husband. My husband is a truck driver now and his shifts are like 12 hours a day. For this reason, we finally applied for long-term care funding at the end of 2018, which after a long battle was granted in June of 2019. As of September, I live in a care facility for people with intellectual disability in Raalte. I know you didn’t want me to go into housing for people with intellectual disabilities. Well, I am happy here.

We involved the Center for Consultation and Expertise again when I was struggling at my first day center. The consultant psychologist assigned to my case assessed my needs. Among other things, she concluded that I function emotionally at a level of around 6-18 months.

I go to day activities at a group for older people with profound intellectual disability, most of whom live with me too. I go for almost daily walks. I love to go to the snoezelen® room too. I also do a weekly cooking activity with the staff intern. It’s sometimes difficult to figure out activities I can do, because the other clients mostly just sit around and I almost need one-on-one support with most activities.

I am still married to my husband. We bought a house in Lobith, but this is mostly for him to live in and for me to go to on week-ends.

I still see the mental health team, but have decided not to pursue any formal therapy program for now. Dialectical behavior therapy, which I used to try, didn’t work out because of my autism and my dissociative symptoms. I don’t feel comfortable going through the assessment for dissociation though.

Anyway, hope you are doing well. I suppose L is around retirement age now, but if she still works at the hospital and you still see her, send her my warm regards.

Astrid

Three Wishes

I’m trying to participate in 7 Days 7 Posts organized by Jessica from Daysixtyfive. That is, I won’t promise I’ll complete the challenge, as I’m having a nasty cold. Yes, again. I hope I don’t end up with a fever this time. That being said, if it doesn’t get worse than it is now, I’ll probably be able to do fine.

Today’s topic is about wishes. You have just been granted three wishes. What are they?

I initially thought that we’re supposed to have big, world-changing wishes like peace everywhere. Then I saw Jessica’s post and her first two wishes are just for herself and her family. Maybe we all are self-centered like this, so I don’t need to feel shameful about wishing stuff for just myself. Here goes.

1. Physical and mental wellbeing. I purposefully wish for wellbeing, not health, as the genie might interpret health to mean I want to get cured of my disabilities. I don’t. I want to remain blind and autistic and having mild cerebral palsy. I even don’t want to be cured of my dissociative disorder, in that I want to remain multiple. What I do want is to be is stable mentally, less anxious. I also want my chronic physical ailments to go away. And while we’re here, I wish this nasty cold away and not to return.

2. To be close to my husband. I would wish for a suited care facility in my husband’s area, so that I could visit him more often. A suited care facility would be much like the one I’m in now, with a day center on grounds, lots of sensory equipment, the staffing level for me to be able to enjoy regular leisure activities, etc.

3. Unlimited ParaTransit access. This was the first that came to mind after a care facility close by my husband. Bigger things like wellbeing hadn’t even come to mind yet. I could wish for an endless stream of money, so that I can hire my own taxi drivers, but I don’t think I’d feel any better then. However, the ability to travel wherever I want without having to worry about public transportation, is very high on my list of desires. Interestingly, for the cost it took to make all trains and buses wheelchair-accessible, the government could have made this a reality for all majorly disabled people.

What would you wish for if you were granted three wishes?

My 2020 Word of the Year

And I finally feel well enough to write what I hope to be a coherent post. Last Wednesday, I wrote one too, but I barely remember it and someone commented that she could feel the flu through the screen. I had a relatively mild case, as I only ran a fever for two days I think. I still have a sore throat, some mild nausea and feel generally unwell, but I’ve at least been able to stay up all day.

We’re already almost half through the first month of the year. This week though, Kristi over at Finding Ninee is hosting Finish the Sentence Friday with the theme of your word for the year. These are, like I said last year, always posts I dread making, as I’m never quite sure life will happen as I imagined it would and then I end up beating myself up. Like, in 2018, I chose “Be” as my word even though it was to be the most eventful year in quite a while. I was just very naive. This year, if I choose a similar word, intending life to go on as it has for the past few months, I’m sure I’m creating a bad omen. Then no doubt will I be kicked out of the care facility. Yes, I’m pretty superstitious like that.

So for this year, a lot of words floated through my mind. “Mindful” and “Calm” did, but I was sure the passivity of them would create a bad omen. “Growth” doesn’t feel right, as that seems like the opposite in some way, requiring me to make progress in some yet undetermined respect.

So, the word I’m picking for this year just popped up into my mind as I sat down to write this post. It is: WELLBEING.

Now let’s hope I don’t get into some type of life-altering health crisis this year. Then still if I do, I can still focus on my wellbeing within the limits my body will set.

2019: The Year in Review

Wow, can you believe 2019 is almost over yet? It was truly an eventful year. I want to do a review of the year. I originally intended on waiting till the 31st to do it, but I’m not sure I’ll have time for it then, as I’m celebrating New Year’s at my in-laws.

I had a theory when I was a teen that said life ran in cycles, by which every three years I’d find myself struggling significantly, then the next year would be one of hope, and the third year would be one of disillusionment, by the end of which I’d spiral into despair again. 2001, 2004 and 2007 were all years of despair, whereas 2002, 2005 and 2008 where years of hope. I didn’t continue to be superstitious about this past that point and honestly looking back each year was really a mixed bag. By this logic though, 2019 would have to be a year of despair. It was to begin with, but it ended on a really positive note, whereas by my teenage logic, the fall of the year of despair would be the hardest.

Well, let me say this year was extremely eventful indeed. At the end of 2018, we had just mailed out the application for long-term care funding. I started the year really hopeful by looking at a living facility and having my long-term care assessment in January. Then in February, I grew cynical. I decided everything wouldn’t be okay till 2021, as that would be the year people with lifelong psychiatric conditions would be allowed access to long-term care. I was right. My funding application got denied.

March, April and May were all largely months of waiting, as we sent out the appeal letter and my appeal was looked at. In late May, my support coordinator told me I would most likely not be granted long-term care funding this time either, but the lawyer in charge of my appeal was going to see if she could find a way to approve me anyway. She did somehow. I feel the long-term care regulations put people with multiple disabilities at a significant disadvantage. I remember writing blog posts explaining the legalities of long-term care back in like 2009 on my very first WordPress blog and I already felt the rigid care packages based on primary disability, were stupid. I don’t know how they managed to grant my appeal and even if I knew, I wouldn’t share it here.

By the time my long-term care funding was approved, my support coordinator had been informed that the care facility in Raalte with her agency had several available rooms. I started the intake process. By late August, just as I was losing hope again, I was told I would be accepted. I moved on September 23.

The past three months have been good. I feel a sense of calm, even though I still experience meltdowns. I had one tonight. Like a fellow patient on the locked unit said once, I can move around all I want, but I still need to look to myself for improving my own mental health.

When I looked at my review of 2018, I saw that my husband had been warming me up to us buying a house in his work city. I thought then that this may not happen if I go into long-term care, and indeed the house we bought isn’t in his work city. However, it’s still a house he likes. It is legally my house too, of course, which is good, in that I can move there if I ever get kicked out of long-term care. I also try to stay involved with renovation plans, but I struggle with this.

I took a look at my hopes for 2019 as I was preparing to write this review. I can be pretty satisfied with how I did on them. The only goal I didn’t meet, was to have a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I’m doing okay on the healthier eating part, as I haven’t had binges much since coming to the care facility and make sure I don’t indulge into my every food whim. However, I don’t exercise nearly as often as I want to, though I get about as many active minutes as I did when living with my husband.

I did buy a new computer. Two, in fact, as I wasn’t happy with the Mac I bought and sold it to my mother-in-law. I am very happy with my current Windows PC though. Having a working computer again enables me to do so much more with my blog than I could when only using my phone. This helps me keep a regular blogging schedule too. Finally having found a feed reader that works in my browser, also helps. That was my only initial frustration with my current PC, as my Mac had a good feed reader and I struggled to find one for PC.

My last hope for 2019 was to stay mentally stable. I’m pretty sure I have reached this goal, as I’ve not been in serious crises at all. I’m also more than happy with how my staff handle my meltdowns or short crises as they do happen.

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Today, the staff at day activities have been setting up the Christmas tree and other decorations. I know some people in other countries do so much earlier, but St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 5 here and it’s pretty much not done to set up your Christmas tree before then.

I have a book of Christmassy journal prompts. They start on December 1, but I haven’t written on any of them yet. Today, I’m choosing to write on the Dec 2 prompt, which is about Christmas trees.

Growing up, my family had a Christmas tree almost every year. The one or two times we didn’t, it was because of our cat. We had a live tree and our parents pretty much detested faux trees. We had the tree decorated with silver and red Christmass balls and bells that were made of glass. Almost each year, I would accidentally break at least one ball or bell. We also had a ton of wooden figurines including santas, snowmen, angels, etc. I particularly loved to play with these figurines. We had yellow Christmas lights on the tree. I’m not even sure other colors were available back then. We didn’t have a star or other large decoration at the top of the tree.

When I moved out of my parents’ house, I didn’t particularly care for decor. After all, I was totally blind by this time. No Christmas tree for me.

In the psychiatric hospital, we did have a lot of Christmas decorations. Yes, even on the locked ward. Of course, they had to be safe, so they couldn’t be made of glass or in any other way used to cause harm. I was admitted in early November and, by the time the decorations got put up, was still pretty unstable. One day, in an anger outburst, I pulled all Christmas decorations off the wall.

I still don’t really care for Christmas decorations, though I don’t really dislike them either unless they’re in my way. It is very intriguing to know how much people can put in my way in the name of decorating. At my last psych unit, I was in crisis almost every December due to having bumped into one tree or another (we had several) a little too many times.

This year, I know my staff will make sure to place the Christmas tree somewhere I won’t bump into it. Both at day activities and at the home, I’m not the only autistic or blind person. My staff asked me whether I want to make a Christmas decoration with one of them next week. I said yes.

My 2019 Word of the Year

It feels like forever since I last wrote, even though that was only last Friday. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’ve been wanting to write a lot over the week-end and did in fact write some each day. Just not for my blog. Today, I am going to write a post I’ve been dreading writing, like each year. It is the post in which I announce my word for the year.

Now why is that so dreadful? Because I have a lot of trouble, and that seems to increase each year, choosing a word of the year. I feel like I need to focus on my word of the year, but then again that doesn’t seem to work. I mean, if life is a bunch of choices, focusing on my word for the year should make it happen. That just isn’t how it works, and I’m still undecided as to whether that’s because I’ve not focused on my word for the year enough or because of things outside of my control.

As such, this year, I am going to decide on a word that should be relatively easy to focus on. It shouldn’t be like a heavy weight on my shoulder, like “progress” or “be” were when I chose those words in previous years.

With no further ado, here’s my word for the year 2019: CHERISH.

The word “cherish” was suggested to me by someone in a trauma self-help group. I had wanted to choose words like “self-care” or “nurture”, except that I’d already had those as words of the year previously.

In the year 2019, I want to cherish myself. This means, according to the dictionary, to hold dear, to show loving affection. I want to be kind and loving towards myself. It also means something akin to “hold onto”. In this respect, I want to hold onto life. Because of that, I hope this year I won’t be acting too impulsively.

I also want to cherish the people who are important to me, most notably my husband. In the process of applying for long-term care, it’s sometimes felt as though I was abandoning him. That isn’t my intention. I want to remain with my husband for life. As such, if and when I go into supported housing, I want to make the most out of the time I’m going to spend with my husband. Until this happens, I’ll also hopefully be able to show lots of affection towards him.

What is your word of the year?

2018: The Year in Review

The year is nearly over. I have been debating whether to post a review of the year for a while, since I didn’t start this blog till late July. As such, most of the people who read it, may not be aware of what’s been going on for the first half of the year and I might need to explain too much. However, I want to do this review for myself if for no-one else. Here goes.

The year started off rather bad, with me having a major meltdown at day activities on January 3. I didn’t know at the time how significant that event would be, but it was the one event that defined me for the rest of the year and probably into 2019.

I looked back at my old blog’s posts from January 2018, and I can’t believe how blissfully ignorant I was. In the second week, I chose “Be” as my word for the year, for I intended 2018 to be a year for rest and staying present. A week later, it was decided that my day activities hours would be cut and I would eventually have to find a new place.

In late January, when I had more meltdowns at day activities, I started thinking of involving the Center for Consultation and Expertise (CCE) on my case. They had been involved with me in 2010 and 2013 previously and I’d hoped they could help me find some perspective. For those who don’t know, the CCE is an agency that helps people who fall through the cracks in the care system due to complex care needs and severe problem behavior. I didn’t really know whether my situation was bad enough, but I was desperate.

I was first told by my community psychiatric nurse, who called the CCE on my behalf and minimized my problems, that I’d have to go to the blindness agency for support. My need for sensory activities, after all, was due to blindness and I couldn’t possibly have severe problem behavior, as that would mean I couldn’t be married or live independently. This assertion caused huge internal turmoil. Some parts of me thought we must be too good for day activities and that’s why we’re being kicked out. After all, aren’t we oh so intelligent? Most of the parts in me felt desperate though and didn’t care about my IQ or our marriage in this sense for that matter.

With the help of my support coordinator, I finally was able to get an orientation meeting with the CCE in May. I apparently expressed my despair well enough that they took me seriously and found a consultant.

In the meantime, my support team and I didn’t sit still. This was why we had already found new day activities by the time we’d start the consultation at the end of July. At the time, I was feeling a bit conflicted about my living situation. My husband was trying to warm me up to the idea of buying a house in the city where he works. I didn’t feel like it, but I pushed those feelings aside. Until late September, that is.

Thankfully, the consultation hadn’t been completely closed by this time. I finally gave in to my feelings and admitted that I want to go into supported housing. I initially felt a lot of shame about this. I didn’t know whether my husband would be supportive and I knew my family wouldn’t be. Particularly when creating my care plan and reading the application for long-term care funding, I felt embarrassed. There is this voice inside my head. It’s my mother telling me, shortly after my admission to the psychiatric hospital in 2007, that I can’t even wipe my butt without a support worker’s assistance. I can, but so what if I can’t?

My husband turned out to support me. The CCE consultant is willing to stay on my case until we’ve finalized the process of getting me long-term care funding. The application was finally mailed on the 20th of this month.

Can I say this year that I fulfilled my word of the year? Not really. However, over the past few months, since deciding to apply for long-term care, I’ve felt a certain sense of calm. It seems as though I hit rock bottom this year and I can only go up now.

Besides the day activities and living situation, other things happened too. My paternal grandma died. This, for whatever reason, helped me find the strength to distance myself a bit from my family of origin. Since no longer expecting them to be genuinely interested in my life, I’ve felt a sense of calm in this respect too.

I’ve also learned to accept mysselves, that is, my alters, as they are. I am still not fully at a point of accepting myself without the need for diagnostic labels, but I am getting close.

With regard to blogging, I’ve improved much in the past year. I’ve been able to keep a pretty regular blog for five months now. I am so glad I started this blog, even though sometimes I feel disappointed in my stats. This blog is where I can be myself.

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger