I’d Rather Not Ask

This week’s prompt for #LifeThisWeek is “Questions”. Denyse writes in her original post that she tended to be a question-asker until she was faced with a cancer diagnosis, when she felt too overwhelmed to ask questions. And maybe, I’m assuming here, also a little too self-conscious. She was able to ask some of her questions eventually but even still encounters things she didn’t even know she wanted to know.

I am not a huge question-asker. Like, over the past week, I’ve been asking lots of polymer clay-related questions, but I’ve felt self-conscious each time. I’d rather solve my own problems than ask for help.

Unfortunately, with me being multiply-disabled, that’s often hard. Even when my only recognized disability was blindness, I struggled with asking for help for those things that those who are just blind usually get help with. I’d rather figure things out on my own, only to get frustrated and distressed when things didn’t work out. I considered myself fiercely independent, but I really wasn’t.

As my father at one point said: “You have an issue with only saying when you think people should have helped you.” I realize that’s rather disrespectful indeed, because, well, other people are not mind readers and cannot have guessed that I wanted to ask for help. Then again, I didn’t necessarily want to ask for help.

I’m trying to learn to ask for both explanations and assistance when I need it now, but I often still feel very self-conscious. This happens especially online, where people can’t tell right away that I’m disabled. For example, people in the polymer clay Facebook groups often suggest I watch YouTube videos, so then I feel kind of obligated to say that those won’t work for me as I’m blind. I do tend to say that I’ll ask my support staff for help, because of course I can’t expect a random person online to explain everything in plain text. Each time I feel I have to mention my disabilities though, I feel some of my self-esteem go. I’m not sure that’s justified, but it’s the way it is.

Mid-Year Reflections

Hi all. How can it be the middle of July already? It’s amazing how time flies. This week, one of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop writing prompts is to look back at your new year’s resolutions for 2021. As I do each year, this year I called them hopes rather than resolutions as a way of lessening the pressure. As I look back though, I seem to be doing pretty well.

My first hope was to eat a somewhat healthier diet. Indeed, I am making sure to eat enough fruit and veg each day, unlike apparently during the last few months of 2020. I however still struggle to make healthier breakfast and lunch choices.

In the exercise department, I’ve not been as inventive as I’d hoped. I blame COVID, as, even though gyms reopened to the public a while back, I haven’t felt comfortable to go.

With respect to getting stable mentally, this is a work in progress. I’ve only actually noticed some seemingly significant improvement over the past month or so, after first falling deep into crisis in mid-June. I cannot say for sure the one-on-one support is helping me get mentally stable, but I do know for sure that I certainly don’t want to go back to the situation before the extra care hours were approved.

Faith-wise, I am still on my journey with God. I pray everyday, read the Bible everyday and am learning to put Jesus first. I am however still struggling. I really want to get baptized, but have no idea where to start, as I don’t currently even go to a physical church. More importantly though, I am still regularly tempted to think that, since God is in charge, I shouldn’t even bother with wanting to be saved.

On the leisurely side of things, I’m doing pretty amazing if I can say so myself. I have kept up a pretty good blogging routine and actually love jewelry-making and bath and body product making again. I am glad I didn’t resolve to be able to do these activities independently, as that’d be an unrealistic goal.

The only area I’m not that satisfied with myself about, is my reading. I did a separate post on bookish resolutions for 2021. I guess I should have called those hopes too, as to be honest, I haven’t really met a single of my goals as of yet.

How did you do on your new year’s resolutions so far?

Mama’s Losin’ It

A Perfect Health Day

I can’t remember when or why I bought the book 1000 Journal Prompts That Will Transform Your Health by Sophia Ley, but today, I felt myself drawn to it. In it, one of the prompts asks us to describe a perfect health day. Here goes.

I get up at 8:30AM. I start my day with prayer. This may not be a direct physical health habit, but it certainly helps me get in the right mindset for focusing my day on what’s right. I then get showered if it’s a day I do this or else I get a quick wash.

After I get dressed, I eat breakfast. I eat yogurt with a little crunchy muesli. This may not be the healthiest food choice physically, but it is something I definitely love and don’t really feel I want to give up on. I also eat some fruit.

After breakfast, I take a little break for writing in my journal and Bible reading. Then I go on the elliptical for 20 minutes. I’m assuming it’s a weekday. If it isn’t, I can go for my first walk instead, as my one-on-one will be there. In that case, I’ll go on the elliptical during the afternoon.

When my day activities staff arrives at 10:15AM, I have coffee. I don’t have a cookie with my morning coffee.

Then I go for a walk of about 25 to 30 minutes. After this, I usually will have some time left to do some of my crafting before my staff goes to help prepare lunch.

For lunch, I have two crackers or slices of bread with peanut butter or jelly. Again, these aren’t the healthiest food choices I can imagine, but way healthier than my current choices of lunch food on most days. I also have some slices of cucumber or some cherry tomatoes and a serving of fruit. I will have another serving of fruit in the evening.

After lunch, I will spend some time doing weight training and resistance band exercises. Then, when my staff returns from their lunch break, I’ll go for another 25-minute walk. Then I’ll have another cup of coffee, again with no biscuit.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon on my hobbies, such as blogging or reading. In the evening, I will go on two more walks with my one-on-one. In total, I will reach my goal of 10K steps.

I will have my evening meal from the meal delivery service as usual. For dessert, I will have a small serving of fruit yogurt.

In the evening, I will drink green tea rather than coffee. Throughout the day, I will also make sure I drink at least two liters of water. This means I will have a glass of water after each walk and with each meal, as well as with each medication round. I will obviously take my medications as prescribed. When it’s a perfect health day, I hope I won’t need my painkillers anymore, but that seems to be beyond my control.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, morning and evening. At 9:30PM, I will start to unwind for bed. I will say a prayer. Then, I will diffuse a relaxing essential oil blend and start a soothing sound track on Spotify. I will go to bed at around 10PM. I will probably fall asleep within half an hour and have a good quality of sleep.

Looking over this, some of these things seem relatively easy to include into my day. Some are harder. Of course, I didn’t take into account the possibility of a severely rainy day when I can hardly go for walks. I’ll have to think of alternative ways of getting active then.

#IWSG: Quit Writing?

IWSG

Hi everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet again. I’m more than happy to report that I didn’t get booted for my flaky post last month.

I’m feeling quite motivated to write as of late. It’s still mostly regular posts on this blog, but that’s okay. I know, I know, I resolve each month to expand my writing horizons by doing more poetry and fiction writing. I’m also resolving this time to set some time aside for a daily freewriting session in the app Day One. My yearly subscription payment is due at the end of the month and I haven’t made use of it in a while, so now’s the time to get back into things.

Now on to this month’s optional question: what would make you quit writing? Seriously? I guess my death or the loss of my hand function, though if I lost the ability to type, I could possibly still dictate my writings. That being said, I’ve always said that loss of hand and particularly finger function would majorly impair my quality of life, since it’d not just mean an inability to type, but an inability to read Braille as well.

I have had times when I’ve taken a break from blogging and occasionally even writing in general. The longest I’ve gone without blogging since I got an Internet connection has been six months in like 2012. Since I started this blog nearly three years ago, not a week has gone by that I didn’t write at least one blog post.

Even before I had a blog, I had a diary and wrote tons of short stories and attempts at young adult novels. I honestly don’t think that, even if I ever were to stop blogging, I’d really stop writing for myself.

What would make you quit writing?

Independence

In last week’s Sunday Poser, Sadje asked what independence means to you. Her question was related to Independence Day in the United States. Of course, one can view independence and freedom in light of one’s national political situation. For example, the Netherlands is a pretty stable democracy. The country has been independent in its current form ever since 1815, though Wikipedia even lists 1648 as the Netherlands’ independence year.

I for one, however, tend to apply independence and freedom much more personally. By independence, I refer to the skills I can do by myself, ie. self-reliance. This includes eating, toileting, dressing myself, writing my blog, etc. But it also includes the skills of self-determination.

I think self-determination is particularly important. By this I mean the ability to know what you want and make it clear in some way or another. Everyone, the disability rights movement assumes, has this capacity. Yes, even people who can’t talk and are labeled as profoundly intellectually disabled. However, it is so commonly overridden by well-meaning family or “helping” professionals.

I remember a client at the first day center with my current care agency for people with intellectual disability I attended. This client had severe cerebral palsy, was profoundly intellectually disabled, couldn’t speak, had epilepsy and was blind. However, somehow, the staff had figured out that bergamot essential oil was her favorite scent.

The same client was also sometimes called “spoiled” when she cried and then was quiet once the staff put a vibrating hose around her body. I’d say she was making known what she wanted. She was using her independence!

With respect to independence as freedom, I, for one, think that self-determination is more important than self-reliance. For example, I get help with my personal care. I myself asked for this after I noticed that it cost me a lot of energy to do it myself. Even though I could, with a lot of verbal instruction, take care of my personal hygiene independently if I really needed to, I decided this isn’t a priority for me. My staff, thankfully, agree.

What is important to you where it comes to independence?

I am also joining MMA StoryTime’s Word of the Day.

Historical Events

Today, in the journaling app Day One, the daily prompt was to write about the historical events you remember. I used to be a big news and politics junkie as an older child and teen, so I remember quite a few events.

I was born in 1986, so technically might’ve remembered the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, but I didn’t. In fact, the first important historical event I remember was the Gulf War of 1991. At the time, I listened to the radio and heard about it, but erroneously thought that Iran, Iraq and Kuwait made up Ukraine. I don’t know what news event there was about Ukraine at the time, possibly the fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

When I was nearly eight, I remember my parents taking me to the polling station for the national election in 1994. I remember both of the names of the candidates my parents voted for. I also clearly remember learning about the “purple” government, which meant that the Labor Party and the conservative party VVD were for the first time forming a coalition. Another party, D66, was joining them too and I asked what color they were and why that party’s color wasn’t represented in the mix. My parents explained that mixing too many party colors would make brown and that’d be a Nazi color.

When I became a teen, I got involved even more into politics. I obviously remember 9/11 when I was fifteen and the murder of Pim Fortuyn eight months later. That year’s election, nine days after Fortuyn was killed, was the most memorable election of my life. I remember kind of aggressively persuading my father to vote for the Socialist Party rather than GroenLinks, the leftist party he normally votes for.

During the fall of 2002, I myself joined the Socialist Party. I was a semi-active member in my local affiliate for a while. Still, I gradually lost my interest in politics and important news events. I left the political party in September of 2007, half because I didn’t like its rather undemocratic treatment of its members and half because I was tired of politics.

Since then, I haven’t really been following the news or politics much at all. I do find it intriguing to be a witness to the coronavirus crisis even though I’d rather have gone on like old normal.

As a teen, I wasn’t affected by the impact of important historical events. Like, I always wanted the stock prices on the AEX to be low for some reason I still don’t comprehend. Now, I understand the impact of economic crises more than I did before and it scares me. That’s why I’d rather put my head in the sand and not watch the news.

What historical events do you remember most?

My Declaration for My 36th Year of Life

Like I mentioned before, I turned 35 on Sunday. A few months back, I had downloaded a birthday journaling tool from the International Association for Journal Writing website. I didn’t really get to journal about any of the prompts in it, but one that stuck out to me is to write your declaration or decision for the upcoming year. It sounds a bit like an affirmation, but I’ll not just repeat it to myself. Rather, in this post, I’ll describe steps I can take to make my declration work.

First, my declaration is: “I will thrive, not just survive.” I will focus the 36th year of my life on improving the quality of my life in some major areas.

I have been debating whether in the long run, I want to stay in my current care home. I’m not yet completely sure, but my aim is to focus on getting as close to my ideal as I can get. However, it may take several more years to find me a more suitable care home, if we can find one at all. This means that I’ll need to focus on improving my quality of life with the resources I have available now.

To make this happen, I’m trying to focus on moving from anxiety and obsessiveness into some level of enjoyment, possibly even happiness. I took the first steps by writing down some things I may want to improve on during my day activities time. For example, I’d like to learn to do some more activities other than blogging and reading by myself, so that when staff leave, I am not completely left out. Today, I tried to work on a bracelet on my own and it worked.

This evening, some kind of staff supporter came round my care home to observe the staff as they care for several clients, including me. She recommended that, when staff leave me, they give me a soft toy to indicate I’m not alone. This also might ease my obsessign over the time they’re going to leave.

I also will be looking into starting some “bigger” project, like a course, again. I don’t think I’ll want to do Open University again, but maybe some hobby-related course.

I’m also thinking of acquiring a small fridge and simple microwave for in my room. That way, I will be able to make soap and body care products in my own room rather than in the overstimulating kitchen, so I should hopefully be able to do more by myself. Then, I’ll hopefully be more satisfied in my activities.

To sum it up, I will try to focus my attention away from ruminating about the past or future and onto enjoying the present. This is probably the hardest part. I am reminded of a Center for Consultation and Expertise case video about a young woman with lots of challenging behavior, for which the staff kept countless checklists of her behaviors etc. They were aiming to manage her behavior, but once they moved away from this and onto looking at how she can have a good day, the behavior also decreased. This might be the case for me too.

Looking Forward to Summer

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to share what you’re looking forward to about summer. Summer is my favorite season. I just love the sunshine and warm temperatures, even though I don’t care for temperatures above 30°C. In 2018 and 2019, we had a lot of crazily hot weather, with temps rising to nearly 40°C on several days each year. I don’t like that. However, usually our summers are warm but not hot.

The main thing I look forward to each year, is my birthday. My birthday is this coming Sunday – I’ll be 35. This year, I don’t really have much planned and am a bit apprehensive about it, but I bet I’ll still have fun once it’s there.

On Saturday, my husband and I are going to visit my in-laws. My husband talked about asking his Mom to make lasagne. Without celery, mind you. Yes, she usually puts a small amount of celery in her lasagnes and, while I am not so picky anymore that I’ll fish it out of my serving, I don’t like it at all.

I haven’t asked my mother-in-law for any specific present, so I’m not sure what I’ll get. Last year, she gave me a giant teddy bear.

On Sunday, my actual birthday, my parents will visit me and my husband in Lobith. They haven’t seen the house since we bought it, so my husband will likely have a lot to show them. I’m a little worried about topics to talk about, as I don’t want to cause tension by bringing up my own issues. My staff suggested I tell my parents that we went to the monkey zoo a few weeks ago or the like.

I asked my husband for an outdoors side table for on my balcony. From my parents, I asked for jewelry-making supplies. I really hope my creative juices will be flowing again soon.

I will probably return to the care facility by about 6PM. During our evening coffee break, I will treat my fellow clients at the care home to custard cupcakes or nut bars (those who can eat those).

As for my plans for the rest of the summer, I am hoping to visit some new places, like the local large playground. Aside from social distancing, most restrictions due to the pandemic will be lifted by this Saturday (hopefully not to return again by the fall). I also hope to go on many walks, as well as sit on my balcony some more.

What are you looking forward to this summer?

Mama’s Losin’ It

When I Can’t Sleep

Today, Sadje asks in her Sunday Poser what we do when we can’t go to sleep. Now I must say I only occasionally suffer with insomnia nowadays. As a child, teen and young adult, I’d suffer with it a lot more often. When in the psych hospital, I even tried a handful of different sleep medications until they all stopped working and I just accepted lack of sleep. The one sleep medication I remember that actually worked for a relatively long while if I didn’t use it more than twice a week or so, was zolpidem. I liked that one best, but I actually still have a kind of psychological longing for the floaty feeling it gave me.

Anyway, now that I only occasionally suffer with insomnia, I usually still don’t like to just lie there and do nothing. The nice, floaty feeling on zolpidem would’ve helped with that at least. Rather, I usually get up and do some reading on my phone. Of course, I know that electronics are supposed to keep you awake and this may be the case for me even without the blue light (being that I keep my screen completely black). Indeed, I don’t usually find that reading helps me fall asleep, but at least it helps me pass the time until I’m naturally tired enough to fall asleep. Or until it’s morning.

I wanted to go off on a tangent here and talk about other sleep issues too. The most annoying of these is finding myself in a half-sleeping, dreamlike state where my mind seems to want to do things but my body won’t. This experience, which some people I know have said might be sleep paralysis, is extremely frightening. It usually happens when I take a nap, which is why I avoid taking naps if I’ve had this experience recently.

Which gets me to fear of sleep due to nightmares. I experience nightmares that actually affect my daytime functioning at least a few times a week. I don’t always remember my nightmares exactly and I’m not even sure those I do remember count as nightmares, as sometimes when I’m in them they aren’t fear-inducing. They however do trigger my PTSD flashbacks, if that makes sense. They usually are very vivid. I have had this issue more since starting on my antipsychotic, but now that I think of it, it’s probably more of an anxiety or PTSD symptom. I am really hoping the topiramate, which I’ll hopefully be starting within the next week or two, will help with this.

Final Exams

Today, this year’s high schoolers should have heard whether they passed or failed their final exams for graduation. This inspired me to use one of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week, which is to write a post on the word “final”.

It’s been sixteen years since I graduated from high school. At the time, mobile phones were already in use, but they weren’t as popular as they are now and smartphones didn’t exist. Nonetheless, we were instructed not to text each other that we’d passed. After all, those who had failed would be called first and then those who had passed their exams would be called in alphabetical order. Texting each other would ruin the surprise effect. All of us would receive a call between 12:00 and 1:00PM. Since my last name starts with a W, I knew that I’d either be called at five past twelve if I’d failed, or at close to one o’clock if I’d passed.

Even though I had gotten pretty good grades on my school-based tests, which would make up half of my final grade, I had no idea how I’d done on the final exams. You could check your answers with a grading sheet available online once the exams were over. I didn’t do this with most subjects, I think. I did it with English though.

I at the time had an 8.1 out of 10 GPA in English. An 8.5 would be a nine. Though six is enough to pass, I badly wanted the nine. This meant I’d have to have an 8.9 on my final exam. When I checked, I found out that, most likely, I would not reach this. It however also depended on how strictly they were grading. After all, if most students scored lower than expected, they’d use a less strict grading system. If the grading folk were less strict than expected, I could get my desired 8.9.

Once the day we would be called arrived, I sat by my home phone from 11:30 until I was being called. I got called shortly before one o’clock: passed!

We were expected to be at school that afternoon to look at our grades. I had a surprisingly high grade on my geography final. That one had been adapted by my teacher and I’d taken it orally due to my blindness making the regular final inaccessible. As it turned out, the independent review teacher who had sat in on my final too, had been so incredibly impressed with my (quite mediocre) performance that he’d upped my grade. This made me feel guilty, but thankfully none of my fellow students knew.

As for English: the grading folk weren’t so kind this time. I passed with an 8.8, so got an eight out of ten GPA in English.

I, in fact, only got sevens and eights in all subjects, seven eights and eight sevens. This just about meant I wouldn’t be able to get accepted into selection-based college programs. Then again, I wasn’t intending on studying medicine or the like. In fact, now I’m more than grateful that I don’t need my high school diploma for anything anymore. I don’t even know where it is, nor do I care.

Mama’s Losin’ It