Gratitude List (October 16, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone. It’s becoming old, but I’m still struggling. I just dragged myself out of a crying fit that started over the wrong flavor chips (yes, seriously). Sometimes I’m a toddler like that. Writing that down made me chuckle in a self-mocking kind of way. I’m still sad though, albeit not about the chips. To cheer myself up, I’m writing a gratitude list. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. I am grateful for nice weather most of the week. We’ve had some showers, but it’s not like it’s been raining all day.

2. I am grateful for special lunches most days of the week. As regular readers will know, I don’t care for the usual slices of bread that make up a normal lunch here. On Wednesday though, my staff and I decided to make a salad. We still had some left for Thursday. Yesterday, the day activities group I would’ve been part of if I didn’t get my day activities in the home, made hamburgers and I could have some too. Yum!

3. I am grateful for even more essential oil inspiration. Of course, I already mentioned last week that I’d signed up for Lea Jacobson’s VIP club for a month. Like I said yesterday, this week, I decided to grant myself access to the essential oil safety files too. The combination of these resources has truly helped me get inspired in the aromatherapy department.

4. I am grateful I have been able to do some DIY skincare product making again. Like I mentioned yesterday, I made a hand cream. Today, I made a melt and pour soap with the same combination of essential oils.

5. I am grateful my now former behavior specialist was happy with her leave-taking gift. I gave her the butterfly soap I posted last week.

6. I am grateful the behavior specialist gave me a “gift” too. It wasn’t a physical present. Instead, she let me listen to a piece of music she’d played on the pan flute. I am not at all musically talented, so I have no way of knowing whether it was good or anything, but I liked it.

7. I am grateful my Fitbit is charging again. I’d had problems with the charger not making contact before, but on Tuesday, it wouldn’t make contact even after cleaning both the Fitbit and the charger. I got a new charger and thankfully, that solved the problem.

8. I am grateful my topiramate, the medication I take for my PTSD symptoms, got upped. I started my new dose yesterday. It’s not yet working, obviously, but I’m hopeful it will start to work soon.

9. I am grateful for time and energy to read again. I have been escaping into an inspirational memoir this afternoon.

10. I am so grateful my staff haven’t given up on me even though I’m often tempted to give up on myself lately.

What have you been grateful for lately?

What It Was Like Being a Patient on a Psychiatric Ward #31Days2021 #Blogtober21

I’m still not too inspired to write. Today’s optional prompt for #31Days2021 is “patient”. Obviously, most people will write about “patient” as in the adjective derived from patience. I won’t. I want instead to share what it was like being a patient in a psych hospital.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I spent 9 1/2 years in a mental hospital between 2007 and 2017. I spent my first sixteen months on the locked ward. This is pretty much as I imagined it before I entered the psych system myself: floridly psychotic patients screaming and exhibiting other erratic behavior, staff running around trying to control it. Like I said yesterday, I witnessed people being secluded and being forcibly medicated several times. I was an informally admitted patient, so I couldn’t be subjected to any form of restraint. This isn’t to say it didn’t happen, as I said.

The staff/patient ratio at my ward was around 1:5 during the day. This means there’s not much time for staff to keep regular tabs on what patients are up to if they aren’t kicking up a fuss. I, in fact, at one point got told I would be put into time-out if I “needed more care than we can provide”.

After those sixteen months, I transferred to an open resocialization unit and later another open ward. The staff/patient ratio there was around 1:10, sometimes even less. As a result, patients had to help one another out sometimes.

On the locked ward, I had treatment plan reviews once every six weeks. This was because the ward was basically a crisis intervention/stabilization unit, where officially you could stay a maximum of six months. I must say there wasn’t much in the way of therapy. Of course, most patients admitted to this unit, suffered with psychotic disorders, for which the main treatment is medication. For me, it was decided I just had to figure out a place to go after pulling myself out of the worst crisis and, for this reason, I had mostly contact with the social worker.

On the resocialization unit, I did get psychotherapy. This was where I was diagnosed with (complex) PTSD and dissociative identity disorder in addition to autism. Thing is, once I moved to the other ward, these diagnoses were all removed. It was decided I was just care seeking and dependent and needed to be kicked out of the hospital.

We did have day activities most days on each psych unit. However, not all patients were able to participate. I, for one, usually was not.

In summary, my entire psychiatric hospital stay was one lengthy journey of changing diagnoses, social workers who tried to find me a place to live but had a very narrow view of what I needed, limited nursing support and hardly any day activities. I did start two of my three current daily psych meds while in the hospital. However, I must say, looking back, I hardly made any progress during those 9 1/2 years.

Time-Out Rooms, Comfort Rooms, Snoezelen® Rooms: Special Care Rooms in Mental Health and Disability Services #31Days2021 #Blogtober21

Today, I’m not feeling too inspired. The optional word prompt for the 31-day writing challenge is “Comfort”. For some reason, probably the fact that I’ve been experiencing a lot of flashbacks to my time in the mental hospital lately, I was immediately reminded of comfort rooms. Then I thought, maybe I could use this post to raise some awareness of the different kinds of special care rooms used in mental health and disability services.

Back in my early days in the mental hospital in 2007, seclusion or isolation was pretty commonly the only intervention used, maybe in combination with forced medication, on disruptive patients. I was initially admitted to the locked ward only because the open ward had no available beds. During my first night in the hospital, I heard a lot of screaming and was later told that the staff “handled it appropriately”. Another patient told me that the screaming patient pretty much lived in the seclusion room. I was pretty scared out of my mind.

Once moved from my parents’ city hospital to my own city’s locked ward, I again experienced seclusion as a witness repeatedly. The ward I stayed on, was the less restrictive locked ward, so it didn’t have isolation rooms. Rather, ours were called time-out rooms, but that didn’t make them any better to be honest.

I experienced one hour forced time-out once, three months into my mental hospital stay. After that though, it was used as a threat repeatedly. This, for clarity’s sake, is illegal: seclusion can only be used to avert danger, not as punishment.

About three years into my mental hospital stay, some wards, particularly locked wards, started deconstructing their seclusion rooms and repurposing them as “comfort rooms”. A comfort room in theory looked nicer, as it had soft toys in it and maybe some special lighting. However, them being repurposed seclusion rooms did mean they still had the vibe of isolation about them. Indeed, the few times I was sent to the locked ward for a time-out once at the open resocialization ward, I spent my time in the “comfort room”. This did not feel comforting at all.

My last psych ward, which I spent four years on between 2013 and 2017, had both a comfort room and a time-out room. This comfort room was indeed actually comforting. There was an essential oil diffuser, a CD player, comfy couch and a few other things. What made it different though was the fact that you couldn’t be locked up into it. If you were to be locked up, it’d have to be in the time-out room.

At the end of my psych hospital stay, I first learned about snoezelen®. This, like I’ve explained before, is a method of helping people with significant intellectual or developmental disabilities by modulating their entire sensory environment. I wanted to experience what a snoezelen® room would be like. My psych hospital had an intellectual disability unit with a room like this, but my psychologist refused to let me visit it, claiming I’m far too capable for this type of activity. I stood my ground and got a place at my first day center with my current agency, which did have a snoezelen® room.

When I was at my first day center with my current care agency, the snoezelen® room was sometimes used as a time-out room for me, in that I was forced to go in there when I was irritable and not allowed to come out. Though the door couldn’t be locked, it did feel intensely triggering to me. It is one reason I still struggle to be in my current day center’s snoezelen® room if no staff is present.

Of course, I must say here that an old-fashioned time-out room has hardly any furniture: just a bed and a stool, both attached to the floor, as well as a toilet made of metal. The seclusion room the screaming patient from my first night in the hospital was locked into, was likely even worse. Comfort and snoezelen® or other sensory rooms are much better. Still, the idea that someone can be put into solitary confinement against their will, is rather disturbing if you ask me.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 11, 2021)

Hi everyone. It’s long past my last coffee break of the day, but I’m still joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. Fancy a soft drink or a glass of water? I’m off to bed after I finish this post, but I think we can still have a catch-up.

If we were having coffee (or water or a soft drink, but you get the idea), I’d share that the weather was good for most of the week. On Wednesday and Thursday, the temperature rose to around 27°C. That’s pretty awesome for September, isn’t it? It was also sunny most of the time. We got some slight thundering Thursday and Friday, but thankfully nothing too bad.

If we were having coffee, I’d proudly announce that, thanks to the good weather and my feet cooperating, I was able to get in a lot of steps over the week. I so far got in nearly 75K steps and that’s not including Sunday yet.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Shoe Guy finally took my orthopedic shoes to his work station with him. He saw pretty quickly that, not only is the combo with the ankle foot orthosis (AFO) giving me problems, but the shoes are also both far too wide. Let’s pray he’s going to get both issues fixed soon and that’s the end of the footwear saga.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the day center reopened on Monday after eighteen months of being more or less closed due to COVID. I, thankfully, get day activities in the home. In fact, during the time of COVID, my one-on-one was combined with another client’s care, but I now have my very own day activities shift from 10:15AM till 3PM. I was kind of scared that this’d mean I had taken a staffer away from my old group, but apparently not.

I am allowed and more or less expected to visit my old group for a little while each morning, thankfully with my one-on-one accompanying me. However, last Thursday, I was busy preparing my niece’s birthday present, so I asked if I could switch my visit to the afternoon. That was totally okay. My fellow clients at the day center do definitely appreciate me visiting. That makes me feel so grateful.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve been busy with my husband’s wedding anniversary present today. That’s the secret project I mentioned yesterday, but I won’t disclose what it is exactly until my husband has received it himself next week. He did jokingly nag me a little, but I won’t spoil it to him either.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that, no, I haven’t lived under a rock all day, ignoring the fact that it’s the anniversary of 9/11. Okay, I did mention it in my other post today, only to blather on about myself. However, it could be me, but the news seems incredibly quiet about it too here. I don’t watch television or read newspapers, only scrolling through so-called “important” news on my iPhone’s home screen. I’ve seen announcements of the deaths of Peruvian terrorist leader Abimael Guzmán and Dutch former train hijacker Junus Ririmasse. There’s also another protest against Dutch pandemic management measures today. The only news article mentioning 9/11 I’ve seen today, is about some cartoon on politician Sigrid Kaag. I cannot see the actual cartoon, of course.

I do feel a little off having seemed to ignore the world’s major crisis of my teens. Then again, I’d rather live under a rock than get depressed by the world’s events.

How have you been?

Crafting Lately: Polymer Clay and a Bracelet

Hi all! It’s Friday evening and it’s been thundering a bit outside. I’m scared of thunderstorms. Thankfully, they’re not too bad. To get my mind off the weather, I’m sharing some of my recent crafting endeavors with you all.

I bought a whole lot of new polymer clay supplies earlier in the week. Among them are a bead roller, which I have yet to try out, bead piercing pins to put holes in the beads I create with the bead roller, and brooch pins.

I also bought both transparent and gold Fimo Liquid. I haven’t yet decided what to do with the transparent one other than to use it to soften crumbly clay.

The gold-colored kind though, I intend to use to color in my letters that I’ve been stamping into my polymer clay pieces lately. I think I didn’t even share those pieces with you yet. I got the stamping kit a few weeks ago and love it! Below is a not-yet-colored piece.

I tried to color it with the gold Fimo Liquid this evening. First, I was unsuccessful trying it on my own, but when my staff guided my hand, it worked. Here’s the finished piece.

I also got a new pasta machine. Probably needn’t have bought it after all. I mean, I thought the old one was shredding my clay but with these particular clays, the new one was doing the same. However, I’m still grateful I got it.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a few color recipes from Polymer Clay Loves. I didn’t have any of the four colors of Fimo Soft needed for mixing those colors, but I bought those too. Thing is, I just bought the small, two-ounce packets for three of the four colors and will likely need at least one of those for another project (which is still a secret) due to my other clay being too crumbly. You can totally see I’m still learning, eh? However, I definitely enjoy my craft!

In other crafts, I’ve also been enjoying basic beading again. The day center reopened this week and so I met some people from other homes for the first time in a long while. The staff told me one of them wore a lot of bracelets, so I immediately decided I’d make her a bracelet to add to her collection. Here it is!

As you can see, it is a simple threaded bracelet made with wooden beads on elastic wire. I personally don’t like wooden beads, as they connote child’s play beads to me, but these look pretty grown-up or so I’m told.

Have you been doing any crafting lately?

PoCoLo

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 4, 2021)

Oh my, it’s September already! I at first was going to type “July” in this post’s title, then thought that it was August, only to realize that month too has passed. The weather is still pretty nice for late summer/early fall: sunny and about 20°C.

Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I already had all my coffee for the day, so a soft drink or water will have to do. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week has been a true rollercoaster emotionally. It started with my vision screening by the blindness agency. I really want to share more about my feelings of grief and denial about having lost all my vision. In fact, I still always want to put in a caveat about that tiny bit of light perception I still have left whenever I’m saying I’m now totally blind. But I guess that’s what I am: totally blind.

Then again, I don’t want to wallow in my sadness and would quickly move on to demonstrate VoiceOver Recognition and celebrate the powers of technology.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share that the day center is reopening on Monday after eighteen months of being more or less closed due to COVID. My day activities will largely remain in the home with my own one-on-one staff though.

That being said, I did hyperfocus a lot on the details of my activity program and the times staff aren’t directly available for me. This caused some major distress, but I eventually managed to put things into perspective.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I finally surpassed my Mom with respect to step count in the Fitbit app. For a while, I myself had been last among my Fitbit friends. I however did get in over 10K steps two days this past week. That’s a big win, considering I struggled to even get to 5K most days last week.

If we were having coffee, I would vent my frustration about my pasta machine, which I use for polymer clay, not working correctly. The thing I use to attach it to the table, won’t work. Thankfully though, the staff who gave the machine to me has a son who may be able to fix it.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that I’ve been doing a lot of inner work lately relating to my life as a dissociative (multiple personality) system. After some conversations with my assigned home staff, I finally decided to do a system mapping again. Like I mentioned on Thursday, I used to have a list of all of us here on the blog, but removed that as it was less relevant. My staff though do find it useful.

I also downloaded an app called Simply Plural, in which systems can keep track of who’s “in front” (the alter you see on the outside) and can do system polls on decisions too. I will probably write the developer about some bugs in its usability with VoiceOver and some suggestions, but so far, it seems quite cool.

I also finally decided to download some more books exploring trauma and stuff from Bookshare. I might explore the subject more, be it in my personal journal or here.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (July 18, 2021) #TToT

Hi all on this beautiful Sunday. I used to have this rule that I had to write my gratitude posts on Friday or they didn’t “count”. Then I would allow myself to post on Saturdays too. Now it’s Sunday. I think it shows I’m pretty rigid with my rules of what is the “right time” for a certain post. I mean, the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) linky is open till Tuesday and even if it wasn’t, that wouldn’t be a reason not to publish a gratitude post. Gratitude is always useful, so…

1. I am grateful my family and friends are still healthy and haven’t contracted COVID. Many are fully vaccinated by now too.

2. I am grateful I don’t live in the flooded area of the country, let alone in Germany or Belgium, where the flooding has been much worse. There’s been a lot of outrage at the way the Dutch handle the flood, but I think they’re handling it as well as they can. I am grateful we’ve not had any deaths due to it so far.

3. I am grateful for a sunny day here. Several, in fact. Since last Friday, the rain is pretty much gone out of this area of the country and we’re having warm summer weather.

4. I am grateful my GP took my abdominal issues seriously. Like I mentioned on Friday, I am back on a higher dose of magnesium. Here’s hoping this will work.

5. I am grateful I am still pretty motivated for creative endeavors. I’ve been making some jewelry, lip balm, as well as a melt and pour soap this evening.

6. I am grateful for the ability to online window shop without actually buying anything. I have so much I want to buy once my benefits arrive, but I’m glad I’ve restrained myself from spending any more money until then at least.

7. I am grateful for grilled hamburgers with cheddar cheese. We had those for lunch on Thursday.

8. I am grateful for a short chat with a woman from the care home a few doors next to mine. I mentioned her before, we used to talk a lot at day activities and she’s even had coffee in my room one time. Now due to COVID, we can only meet outside. I am however grateful I got to chat to her again and she’s well.

9. I am grateful my husband came by today. I hadn’t seen him in two weeks, as he had to work last week Saturday. Today, we went to Subway to have lunch.

10. I am grateful I found the Bible reading plan I’m currently following. It’s called “Hope Heals in the Midst of Suffering”. I can totally relate to the plan’s author’s experiences and they are so validating!

What are you grateful for?

Jewelry-Making #WotW

Hi everyone. Today I’m once again joining Word of the Week. I already shared some of my experiences from the week with you all on Friday. Today, I want to focus on an important positive aspect of the week: jewelry-making. Like I said last week, I got a lot of supplies from my parents for my birthday. I also bought some new supplies later this week.

The actual jewelry-making process is still sometimes hard for me due to my being blind and having mild cerebral palsy. I am making progress though in figuring out what works for me.

First, on Wednesday, I made a bracelet for my day activities staff. She had her birthday that day so was off, but my assigned support staff from the home came to sub. I did all the threading by myself and tried to tie the knot too.

On Thursday and Friday, I was even busier making jewelry. I made my first necklace in a long time. It didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped and I don’t have a photo, but it is nice enough.

I also made a football bracelet for a fellow client. I originally wanted to make something in the colors of his favorite club, but I didn’t have red and white beads. Instead, I chose green for the grass and added a football charm. This client has his birthday next month I think, so I already decided to make him something in the club colors then.

Lastly, I enthusiastically decided to make a necklace for my niece. She is 21-months-old and I had no idea what the appropriate age for wearing jewelry is. I also added acrylic charms that I later realized she might pull off and put into her mouth.

I texted my sister and she said two to three years is the recommended age for necklaces. I thought of keeping the necklace for my niece’s birthday, but eventually decided to give it anyway when my sister and her family visited me yesterday. I’m confident my sister will be able to keep it safe until my niece is ready for it.

How would you sum up your week?

Word of the Week linky

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.

Creating Lately: A Bracelet, Body Butter and Lip Scrub

After a difficult week two weeks ago and lots of frustration at not finding meaning in my activities lately, last week I finally found my creative mojo again. I’ve been pretty busy crafting and DIY’ing over the week.

First, I want to show you all this bracelet I created last Friday. It is simple and I didn’t even do all the work by myself. I mean, I struggled a lot putting the purple beads onto the wire, because my left hand kept spasming and I needed my right hand to keep the wire straight. I tried reversing my hands and letting my staff hold the wire, but it wouldn’t work. Still, I managed to thread some of the purple beads and all of the roses anyway.

I also have been doing a lot of body care creating lately. Last Monday, I made a basic body butter. I used coconut oil, sweet almond oil and cocoa butter. I added in a few drops of coconut fragrance oil for the scent.

I am considering getting a talking kitchen scale, so that I can weigh out my ingredients myself. Not that we used a scale this time – we just guessed how much we’d need.

Lastly, on Thursday, I made a lip scrub. I used coconut oil and cocoa butter for the base and added plain white sugar, honey and vanilla extract. This time, I did most of the measuring myself, even though I still mostly had to guess how much we’d need.

I had made a lip scrub once before, but that one didn’t turn out as thick as we’d wanted. This one is still thinner than most lip balms I’m used to making, but then again it’s a lip scrub, not a lip balm.

I am really loving looking at bath and body product recipes. I am not as good with them yet as I’d like to be, but I like to think I’m improving.

With respect to jewelry, I don’t look up tutorials, as they’re usually far too difficult for me to follow. I just create what I think I can.

What have you been crafting lately?