Thankful Thursday (May 14, 2020): Dancing!

I’ve been feeling kind of depressed lately. Or rather, less non-depressed than I was over the past month. I’m not sure how “normal” feels, being that I’ve struggled with depression off and on (and mostly on) since childhood. I was finally thinking I could be inspired and motivated for a while, but that while has stopped now I think. I hope my creativity and motivation return soon.

When I shared about my mood on an E-mail support list yesterday, some people responded by saying I could focus my attention on what I can do rather than what I can’t. Like, even a day without blogging mojo was frustrating me, even though in other areas, I’m pretty much my normal self. I’m still honestly pretty active. I’m not sleeping 15 hours a day. Okay, I slept nearly 12 hours last night, but I barely got eight the nights before. So as sort of a pick-me-up, I’m joining in with Thankful Thursday and the reason I’m thankful today is my level of physical activity.

You see, I reached my goal of 10K steps today! If this doesn’t prove that I’m fine, I don’t know what does. I went for two longer walks during the day and a short walk in the evening. I’ve also been “dancing” some. By this I mean walking in place and swinging my arms while music is playing. I have absolutely no sense of rhythm, but so what? I put the Cardio playlist on Spotify on and just moved. I honestly really loved it.

Besides getting me active, this helped me discover new music. You know, I normally only listen to classic country and some other oldie stuff. I can’t stand most of the workout playlists on Spotify, but Cardio was an exception. I loved it! Here’s one of the songs I listened to several times.

Do you like to dance?

Yoga and Other Movement-Based Self-Care Practices #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 25 in the #AtoZChallenge. Wowah, can you believe after today there’s just one more day in April? Time does seem to fly.

Today I want to write about yoga and other movement-based approaches to self-care. I know, I already discussed exercise briefly a few weeks ago. However, there are other benefits to yoga too.

If you are not a yoga person, that’s totally okay. Maybe you think it’s a little too alternative for you. Or maybe, like me, you believe you don’t have the physical flexibility or balance to do it. Well, let me tell you (and myself!) that yoga truly has some benefits that aren’t spiritual at all and that anyone can do it. You may need to modify the poses. For example, when I go into tree pose (putting one leg up to your other thigh), I always touch a wall with one hand. I just don’t have the balance to do the “proper” pose and never will.

Yoga is good for both your mind and body. As well as being good for flexibility and balance, it helps you develop deep breathing, calms the mind and can even help with pain relief.

There are many kinds of yoga. Hatha yoga is what most people in the western world see as the regular kind of yoga. Maybe I didn’t do it properly but it never quite felt like a workout except for my flexibility. There are however also types of yoga that are actually a real workout, such as power yoga. However, I don’t recommend you try those if you’re a beginner or starting back freshly after a while. No matter how eager you are to get moving in these times of lockdown, you’d much better start slow.

In addition to yoga, there are other types of movement that will help you get in physical shape. For example, pilates is a way of working your muscles. Dancing (even just hopping with music on) counts as well.

How do you get moving?

Diet and Exercise: A Healthy Lifestyle for Wellness #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter D post in the #AtoZChallenge. Usually when looking for inspiration this year, I have looked to The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care by Anna Borges. Today though, no “D” topic inspired me. Besides, I had basically already made up my mind that I was going to write about diet. Then I decided to add exercise to today’s discussion, as I already have an “E” topic in mind.

Having a healthy lifestyle can be hard for most people and it’s especially hard for those of us struggling with mental health issues. When I suffer with major depression, for example, all I feel like is sleeping and eating and I certainly don’t feel like moving. I’m not telling you that you should force yourself to have a healthy lifestyle all the time. That’s not possible for most people and, when you suffer with serious mental health issues, it’s often not a priority. If it takes all your effort to get out of bed, I’m not telling you to exercise.

But generally, it can really be helpful for your wellbeing to mind your diet and physical activity level. I, for one, need to lose weight to get to a healthy BMI. However, that number on a BMI chart or even on the scale isn’t the main reason I try to eat a relatively healthy diet. It makes me feel better mentally if I get enough healthy food in me and don’t overeat. Getting enough veggies is a struggle with the poor quality of food we get here at the care facility, but I do try to eat enough fruit.

Besides nutrition, hydration is important too. I try to make sure I drink at least two liters of fluids a day. This has been harder now that my days are less structured due to the day center being closed, but I really need to get my hydration habit back up. I use an app called Water Reminder, which is free (with a one-time in-app purchase to remove ads and add some additional features).

It also certainly helps me to get moving. Now I must say that I’ve not been majorly depressed in a long time, so moving comes relatively easily to me. I particularly love walking, as regular readers of this blog will know. I also try to go on the elliptical a few times a week.

Do you try to develop or maintain a healthy lifestyle? Does it help with your mental health?

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 31, 2020) #WDIIA

Okay, I assume Linda intended #WDIIA to be a daily feature and not only did I skip last Wednesday and Thursday, but I skipped the week-end and yesterday too. I’m still making use of the feature while it exists, as though I don’t exactly have to remind myself what day it is each day, a reminder every now and again can’t hurt.

I slept in till 9:15AM this morning. This isn’t unusual for a week-end and my staff said it was okay despite it not being a week-end. After all, day activities are still provided at the home.

I seem to have lost my exercise mojo a bit. Though I did walk three times today, I took “only” 8.5K steps and don’t feel motivated to go on the elliptical to reach the 10K mark. I haven’t been on the elliptical since Saturday. My sister did compliment me on having beat her husband on Fitbit last week though.

At least I haven’t lost my blogging mojo as of yet. Like I said yesterday, I don’t usually schedule posts in advance but I did tomorrow’s post for the #AtoZChallenge. I feel pretty motivated to write.

Someone from the adaptive tech company, or I assume their carrier service, came to collect my Braille display today. It has a few broken cells. I originally intended on waiting for it to be fixed till this COVID-19 crisis is over, but then last week the company sent out an E-mail detailing their continued service during the crisis. They don’t repair tech in the customer’s home anymore, but they still do collect and return. They also provided me with a replacement Braille display while they’re fixing mine. I doubt it can be reliably fixed though, as this was the second time some cells broke and I’ve only had it for nine months.

This evening, the prime minister held another press conference regarding the coronavirus crisis and its management. Schools are out till April 28 at least and the “intelligent” lockdown will remain in effect. This means, I assume, that the day center will remain closed until April 28 at least too. I don’t mind, as I actually rather like it this way. The staff noticed this too and they might find a way for me to retreat into my room if needed once the day center reopens.

How has your day been?

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 24, 2020) #WDIIA

Okay, so I’m back with another #WDIIA post. As I write this, it’s March 24, 2020, 8:50PM. My paternal grandmother, my last living grandparent, the one who died in 2018, would’ve turned 96 today. It’s weird that I think about that now, as I didn’t call her for her birthday for the last several years of her life. She was profoundly hearing impaired and had severe memory loss. Then again, I could’ve sent cards, but didn’t. I do miss her though. Still, I am thankful that she doesn’t have to suffer through the COVID-19 thing.

I awoke at 8:36 this morning. Had a quick wash, brushed my teeth and got dressed. Had another bowl of yoghurt with crunchy muesli for breakfast. Thank goodness they still had full-fat yoghurt. I normally have fat-free yoghurt, but the unbranded ones are so extremely watery they’re really disgusting.

I went for two walks today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Didn’t go for a walk in the evening this time, but did go on the elliptical for twenty minutes. I went on it for twenty minutes yesterday too and only burned 66 calories according to my Fitbit. Today I burned 90. That’s not very good, as a brisk walk burns off more. Still, I’m feeling my legs and back now. Besides, burning calories isn’t the only benefit of exercise. I do really hope that, when I can get weighed in again, I’ll have lost weight. I usually get weighed in at the day center once a month, but not sure that will be happening now.

The week’s groceries arrived today. Tomorrow, we’re going to make toasted ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch. I’m looking forward to that.

Not much else happened today. How has your day been?

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 23, 2020) #WDIIA

Well, this thing called What Day Is It Anyway? (#WDIIA) is presumably a daily feature during the COVID-19 crisis. However, I won’t promise I’ll make it a daily feature. I’d like to participate when I can though, as I must admit I lose track of the days too.

Today is Monday, March 23. I awoke at 8:29AM according to my Fitbit activity tracker. I got showered, brushed my teeth and got dressed. I then had nice yoghurt with crunchy muesli with nuts for breakfast. I bought it with the staff on Saturday.

Then I went back to my room for a bit, until it was time to have coffee in the living room, which is our day room now that the day center is closed. The day activities staff are still figuring out how to best help all clients in the seven homes that are part of the facility.

I went for two walks during the day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Then after dinner I went on the elliptical. Then finally while prime minister Rutte was delivering a press conference on the COVID-19 situation, I took another long walk. I reached nearly 12000 steps today.

As such, I didn’t hear myself what the prime minister had to say. I later heard on the news that people found gathering in even small groups can be fined up to €400 per person. It’s up to each city’s mayor though to take appropriate safety measures. Shops can (and probably should) have strict limitations on the number of people entering at a time. All events and festivals have been canceled until June 1. The prime minister will give out further details about school closures next week. But the good news is… no complete lockdown for now! Though the prime minister did say that people should really go outside alone if they’re outside at all, I doubt I’ll be fined for taking walks outdoors with just one staff. I hope not at least, as walks are true stress-relievers for me in normal times already and this time is definitely more stressful than normal.

Then again, I’m not sure I’m affected more by this situation than most others, or maybe even less. I am constantly on edge, but that’s my normal. That’s what living life with (C-)PTSD and BPD traits is like everyday. My distress level simply is never at a one and this time is no exception. Though obviously the lack of routine is distressing, I must honestly say it’s really more the usual things that cause me overwhelm.

Gratitude List (March 20, 2020) #TToT

It’s Friday and that means the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) linkup is open again. I haven’t participated in a while, but in these weird times, we need gratitude more than ever. Here are the things I’ve been thankful for lately.

1. Relatively tasty dinners. Here at the care facility, we get our dinners from a meal delivery company. Last week or the week before, I complained that we got boiled potatoes like four times a week and that I’d like rice, pasta or the like more often. Thankfully they customize the meals for each resident, so it’s not like if I want pasta, everyone gets pasta. I think my assigned staff told the company. In any case, I’ve had pretty varied meals lately. On Saturday, we got tuna macaroni and I loved it!

2. The sensory room. The real one at the day center and the makeshift one at the home. The day center was still open on Monday and Tuesday, so I was able to use the snoezelen® room then. On Thursday, some of the staff created a makeshift sensory room in the currently empty bedroom at our home.

3. Walking. Yay, we’re not in complete lockdown (yet)! I’ve been grateful for walks often before, but in these weird times, I get to appreciate it even more. I managed to get over 9000 steps everyday this week so far except for today (and I’m not going to make it today either).

4. Getting day activities at the home. I was a little scared that, once the day center closed, we’d get no activities at all. Thankfully, that’s not true. I brought some games from the day center to the home with me and we have enough staff to do activities with us.

5. Going on the elliptical. I went on Tuesday, thinking I wouldn’t be able to use it for three weeks after that. However, two staff members transferred the elliptical to the empty room in our home, so that it’s now a combined sensory and gym room. I went on it for like 20 minutes yesterday.

6. Modern technology. I’m so glad this pandemic is happening now that we have the Internet and smartphones and the like. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to connect to my husband, my family or the wider community at all. I’m so happy this thing does connect us all in a weird kind of way.

7. Meditation. I use an app called Insight Timer on my phone for meditating, but I hadn’t used it in a while. Then I checked it out and saw they have a whole section devoted to overcoming fear in these weird times. I loved listening to some guided meditations.

8. A phone appt with my CPN from mental health. We had a pretty good session. We actually did get started on some cognitive behavior therapy like we were planning on. She’s also going to get me signed up for the eHealth module with the agency.

9. My husband. Yesterday I was suddenly overcome with fear that I’d never see my husband again or that he’d want to divorce me due to our inability to be together in this crisis. My husband reassured me that I won’t lose him. He’s so lovely!

10. My health. I almost forgot that this thing is about a viral disease that takes actual lives. I so far haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19, but I’m confident that when (yes, it’s most likely a “when”) I do get the disease, I’ll survive.

What have you been grateful for lately?

COVID-19 Again

I was rather late dedicating a specific post to COVID-19. As such, you might think that not much has changed. However, then you’d be wrong. I guess our government was late with the infection spread prevention measures too. Then again, we didn’t have cases of the virus here in the Netherlands until some two or three weeks ago I think. I may be mistaken, as I hardly ever watch the news.

As such, I did not hear the prime minister’s two press conferences, one last week Thursday and one on Sunday. I did not hear his address to the public on Monday either. I did not watch the Lower House debate yesterday, in which the public health minister apparently fainted. I wonder how they did the debate, given that gatherings are now prohibited.

I did hear some about the news from my family and staff though. My sister called on Sunday, wanting to catch up. She works in a restaurant, so she’s out of work now. Thankfully, her husband works in an office job, so he can work from home.

My mother called on Monday. My parents are both retired, so they don’t have to worry about unemployment. However, my mother is 64 and my father is 71, so I do worry about their health should they catch the virus.

My husband’s work is still going on for now. He works as a truck driver in what is apparently a vital part of transport.

Like I mentioned on Monday, the day center I go to closed yesterday. The day center staff are now coming out to our homes to provide us with activities. I took some of my stuff from the day center with me to the home on Tuesday. Some staff even transferred my elliptical to the home.

Thankfully here, going outside for walks is not yet prohibited. I hope it won’t ever be. I’ve been going for walks with staff twice to three times a day each day now. I don’t need to worry about not getting my physical exercise for now.

I haven’t been in a grocery store yet since the measures took effect, since my facility orders groceries online. However, my husband said yesterday that the grocery store was completely out of regular bread, but it still carried lots of raisin bread.

I do feel that we live in a rather interesting time. It feels very odd, but in a way it feels comforting knowing that we have the Internet now.

Mama’s Losin’ It

#WeekendCoffeeShare (March 15, 2020)

Hi and happy Sunday evening to you all! I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare, although I’m not inviting anyone over for a real coffee. Like I said yesterday, it was recommended that my husband do not visit me for the duration of the anti-coronavirus measures. Two of my fellow clients still got visitors today, so I was feeling a bit jealous. Then this evening after the prime minister held another press conference, the staff decided people can’t visit here unless they really need to at all. Day activities are still going on as far as I know, but that might change. So anyway, you’ll need to grab a virtual cup of coffee.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how amazed I am at the virtual community building this coronavirus pandemic does. I mean, never before have I felt so much in common with my blogger pals from all over the world. Of course, I have a handful of blogger friends with whom I have a lot in common anyway, but with the #WeekendCoffeeShare community and the wider blogosphere in general, I don’t. Now we all over the world share in a common experience, no matter how tragic.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week has been pretty awesome in the exercise department. Though I only went on the elliptical once and never reached my daily step goal, I did get 316 active minutes over the week. That’s more than five hours! I did go for regular walks almost each day. Here’s hoping that the coronavirus crisis won’t ever keep me stuck indoors. I’ve heard in Italy people aren’t allowed to go out on the streets at all, but they sit on their balconies anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I did some great reading over the past few days. I’m not reading as much as I would ideally want to, but I’m at least picking up books again (figuratively speaking, that is, as I don’t raise my Braille display while reading eBooks).

If we were having coffee, I would share that my husband has been making great progress on living room renovations. We at least used to have softboard on the ceiling, which isn’t fire-resistant. My husband told me he took it all off.

He is a truck driver, so despite the coronavirus management measures, he’s expected to go to work tomorrow. He said it’d be crazy.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that I spoke to my sister on the phone this evening. My sister works in a restaurant, which is closing for three weeks at least. Her husband can thankfully work from home.

I hadn’t spoken to my sister in a while. She has a six-months-old daughter. I was amazed to learn about my niece’s development. I last saw her in November and apparently she’s making great strides.

How are you all doing amidst the coronavirus craze?

Monday, Merry Monday!

Today is a pretty good day. Of course, I did experience some anxiety while at day activities, but it was manageable. One of the reasons I was anxious was the fact that a new client was supposed to come to our home today. This woman isn’t going to attend my day activities group, but somehow this got me thinking of what if things change at my group and I get less care. Ultimately, the client’s move in was deferred for now for reasons unrelated to me.

I took a walk in the morning. In the afternoon, I went on the elliptical for twenty minutes. I struggle to make myself exercise, but I can tell it’s definitely helping to lift my mood. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my stats on my Fitbit activity tracker. Today, I managed to get 59 active minutes and get 250+ steps an hour for six out of nine hours between 9AM and 6PM. I took a short walk in the evening too.

In the afternoon, I also played a card game similar to Uno with my assigned day activities staff. I won all three games. When my husband and I were in the early stages of getting to know each other, we played this game a lot. Then we forgot about it or did other things. My day activities staff bought a deck of cards for me a few months back and I’ve played games a few times.

I read some Wikipedia entries this evening. Read up on the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus in some ways both scares and fascinates me. I mean, I heard there’s at least one confirmed case in the nearby town my husband and I visited on Saturday now. I’m not afraid of getting seriously ill if I catch the virus myself, but all the measures to prevent spreading of the disease do scare me. As far as I know, my care facility doesn’t have a plan on what to do if there’s an outbreak here. I do worry about lots of staff falling ill if there is. Back when the Mexican flu pandemic happened in 2009, I resided in the psych hospital. It didn’t hit the hospital, but if it had and lots of staff would fall ill, management and clinicians would’ve been expected to work on the wards.

As a side note, my iPhone’s spell checker still doesn’t recognize the word “coronavirus”. I think that’s funny.