A Year Ago

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to look back at a year ago. Where were you then? What has changed and what hasn’t? Let me share.

A year ago yesterday, I had my intake interview and tour of the care facility in Raalte. We visited the sensory day activities group and snoezelen® room, as well as the home selected for me. At the home at the time was a respite placement for a man I knew from the day center I went to at the time. He greeted me excitedly: “Astrid!” He then went on to babble “respite fun”, “Mommy and Daddy vacation”, etc. I was shown around two rooms, one this man’s room at the time and one another client’s room. I think that client got moved to another room when I came and I now have his room.

Even though I had been invited on a tour of the facility, I didn’t know for at least another month that I had actually been accepted. The reason was that the staff all had to agree they could provide me adequate support and care, given that my needs are in some ways very different from the other clients’. They, after all, all have severe to profound intellectual disability.

Now, a year on, I’m settled nicely into the care facility. I didn’t get to attend day activities at the group they’d shown me. Now though, and for at least another two months, we get day activities at the home.

I think also around a year ago today, my husband had first seen the house in Lobith we ended up buying. I ended up moving to the care facility in the same week we got the keys to our new house. As such, a year ago today, I still lived in the tiny village rental house with my husband.

As I look back, I keep praising God that this whole COVID-19 thing didn’t happen last year. Even though the day center I attended at the time is slowly opening its doors again, community support is still mostly phone-based. I am forever grateful I got my long-term care funding approved last year.

In other news, the weather is drastically different now from last year. Last year, all weather records were broken with temperatures rising to 40°C. Now we’re lucky to reach 20°C and have a few hours of no rain each day.

How is your life different now from last year?

Mama’s Losin’ It

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.

What a Year! #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

What a year it’s been! It had a lot of ups and some really deep downs too. I will post a year in review sometime in the next few days, as I can’t do them in stream of consciousness form. However, today I already want to say that this year was huge. Really, I’m still struggling to grasp that my twelve-year-old wish to find a suitable care facility finally came true.

I’m not sure what else I can say about this year. I mean, the whole year has been filled with first applying for long-term care funding. Then it was denied and I had to keep quiet on my blog and social media about it, in case someone from the funding agency would find out and use my writing against me. I still wonder whether the funding people might’ve read that one blog post I wrote on June 3. It was essentially a suicide letter in disguise. I mean, yes, it was positively worded, as a letter from myself in 2021, when everything would be okay and I would be in supported housing. However, it was clear to anyone reading between the lines that I was in a very dark place. The next day, my appeal was granted and funding approved.

Then I had to wait for another two months to find out I was accepted into the place I wanted to go into. It was the second care facility we’d been checking out. The other one was closer to my old home (and is also closer to our current home), but the vacant bed had been filled up by the time my funding was approved. I had my doubts about that place already, as I heard at my day center that staffing was cut at the day center people from there went to. It would’ve been nice if I could live in that facility, at least in that it’s closer to our home, but it works out now too.

I had lost hope again by the day the care consultant for my current care facility called my support coordinator to inform her that I’d been accepted. No depressing blog posts this time though. This was August 20. On September 23, I moved in. Wow, that’s already been three months!

I feel calm now. Calmer than I’ve felt in a long time. Not just today, but in general. Of course, I still get frustrated when my computer doesn’t do what I want, when I don’t understand a social situation or when I need to clean up a mess I created and don’t know where to start. I still have very poor distress tolerance and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. I still find that everyday life takes a lot of energy. However, emotionally speaking, I feel better. I don’t experience nearly the level of irritability I used to. More importantly though, my post-traumatic symptoms seem to have lessened. Yes, I’m still dissociative, but I don’t experience nearly the amount of flashbacks I’d experienced before.

For 2020, I really hope to be able to be more alert. That probably requires me decreasing my antipsychotic dose, which is a goal I have anyway. I want to experience the full range of emotions more. After all, now that I’m not overcome with emotional flashbacks that often anymore, I want to open up my mind to what life has to offer.

I’m linking up with #SoCS.

Share Your World (July 29, 2019)

Today, I’m joining in with Share Your World. I loved today’s questions. Here are they and my answers.

1. Is it wrong to sell store-bought pastries at a bake sale?
No. It’s a little unauthentic, but it’s not morally wrong. In fact, with the licensing that’s required to sell food (or cosmetics), it may be wiser. I know this from the time I made handmade soaps for my staff and fellow patients in the psych hospital. They wanted to give me a small amount of money for it and I didn’t object, but I did make it clear that I didn’t have a license. When my staff sold a traditional new year’s treat in large quantities at my ward, the manager did make sure he had a license.

2. Have you ever interacted with the police?
Lots of times, mostly for my own safety when I was in a mental crisis. I have however also been in contact with the police for the mere crime of being (or appearing) lost. I will soon write a post on this topic.

3. What will you remember most about this past year?
So far, the most memorable moment of 2019 was my being approved for long-term care.

4. Is it better to have fungus on your toes, your tongue, or your pizza?
LOL. Since a pizza with mushrooms on it is called fungi at least here, I prefer that. Not that I like this pizza, but it’s much better than having a toe fungus at least. I am so happy my toe fungus was finally (mostly) eradicated after many years of suffering when I got oral medication for it last year. I have no experience with a tongue fungus and I’d like to keep it that way.

5. What is one slang word that makes your skin crawl?
I don’t know much about slang, but ableist slurs definitely make me angry. I’ll go with “lame” for now.

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?

My Hopes for 2019

Happy new year everyone! Today and hopefully throughout this month, I’ll be joining in with Just Jot It! January or #JusJoJan for short, organized by Linda G. Hill. Today’s prompt is to reflect back on 2018 or write about your plans or resolutions for 2019. since I already wrote about my 2018, I’m going to use this post to jot down my hopes, goals and plans for 2019. Here goes.

1. Find suitable supported housing. This is my main hope for 2019. Of course, given my experience with finding (or not finding) supported housing out of the mental institution, I don’t have my hopes up too high. However, I at least want to get long-term care funding approved. That way, even if I don’t find a housing place, I can get more support in my current home than I get now.

2. Get back on track with healthier living. I didn’t gain any weight over the holidays and in 2018, lost a pound or 500 grams, while I expected I’d gained. I’m proud of that, but I’m still obese. Knowing that I’ve experienced some time when my BMI was under 30 this past year, I badly want to lose those two or three pounds it takes to be back at just overweight.

More importantly though, I want to embrace a healthier lifestyle. I want to exercise regularly and eat at least somewhat healthfully.

3. Blog regularly. In January, participating in #JusJoJan means I’ll have something to write about each day, as Linda will be posting prompts. I plan on writing regularly throughout the year though.

4. Get a new computer. I have had this on my list of plans ever since 2017. This year, I’m serious about it though, as I finally convinced my husband too that my current PC is outdated. I am seriously considering getting a Mac, as that’d mean I could do without having to get a screen reader separate from the operating system. I already love my iPhone, but I feel I need a computer too.

5. Stay mentally stable. Over 2018, I’ve not had serious crises other than the one in January that eventually got me kickked out of my old day activities place. I’m still considering terminating mental health treatment once I’ve found suited supported housing. After all, I’m pretty confident that the depression I suffered early in 2018 and that required an increase in my antidepressant dose, was caused by my difficulties coping at home and at day activities. I do still experience trauma-related symptoms, but at this point, they’re manageable.

What are your hopes for 2019?