Journal #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

Journaling is one of my favorite activities. That being said, I’ve taken forever to find the right means of doing it. I tried a regular Word document, at least twenty apps on my iPhone and a couple on my PC too. In fact, at one point I spent $100 on an app that didn’t even work.

I currently use an app called Day One on my iPhone. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I can get so far. That is, at one point there was an app called Dyrii that was better, but they went into maintenance mode and at the last update, messed things up pretty bad.

In addition to journaling, I love to collect journaling prompts. I probably have about twenty collections of journaling prompts in my various book apps and on my PC. I don’t use prompts as much as I’d like, but just the thought of having them at hand is helpful. It may be a kind of autistic perseveration, but oh well.

In Day One, I have four different journals righ tnow. One is a general journal that I rarely update. The second is specifically for my alters to journal their thoughts. The third is a prompt-based journal and the fourth is a gratitude journal.

Just yesterday, I thought of starting another one, specifically for chronicling my recovery from compulsive overeating. I also may want to start a quote-based journal. I so far decided against either of these, but Day One allows unlimited journals if you have the Premium version. Which I’ve had a couple of times but each time deactivated again. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep the Premium subscription now though.

This post was written for #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “Jour”.

Life Challenges I’ve Overcome

Earlier today, I saw Emilia’s post about challenging life lessons. It was based on a prompt from Listify. I have this book too and thought it’s an interesting prompt indeed. It asks us to list the challenges we’ve overcome in life and explain what life lessons we’ve learned from them. Here goes.

1. I spent the first three months of my life in the hospital. I was born prematurely and had to be in the incubator and on a ventilator for several weeks. Then I spent the remaining time I should’ve been in the womb in hospital. Of course, I can’t remember this at all, but it might’ve caused some early attachment issues.

2. I lost my vision. Okay, I was born legally blind, but still relied on my vision quite a bit until I was around twelve. All official documents say that I lost what little vision I did have at the age of eight, because that was when my parents and doctor decided not to pursue further sight-saving treatment. In truth, though right now I consider myself totally blind, I still have light perception in one eye and had it in both eyes until at least age nineteen. At that interesting age of eight, I still had about 20/1000 vision. Yes, I was considered functionally blind. That’s how sighted people look at it. However, when I attended the rehabilitation center for the blind in 2005, I was told by someone who’d gone from fully sighted to totally blind, that losing the last bit of residual vision was harder than losing most of the sight he’d had before.

3. I endured childhood trauma. I wrote some about this before, but I don’t know whether my family reads this blog, so I won’t go into detail right now. It mostly boils down to my parents not having a clue how to raise a multiply-disabled child and as a result being pretty harsh. None of the trauma I endured was severe, but the long-term nature of it still means I have significant complex PTSD symptoms.

4. I was bullied. At the school for the blind as well as the mainstream school I attended, I was regularly bullied by my peers. It didn’t help that my teachers and parents more or less blamed me for the bullying. I was too nerdy, too socially awkward, too dependent, too much and not enough.

5. I endured some medical trauma. Well, I’m not 100% sure of this being genuinely traumatic, but I certainly endured a lot of hospital stays, surgeries, etc. Most times, the doctors and nurses were really caring. A few times, they were ignorant. For example, when I had my wisdoom teeth extracted in 2010, the medical staff almost didn’t put a sheet over my face because “she’s blind anyway”.

6. I experienced long-term psychiatric hospitalization. I’m realizing more and more how much of an impact this has on me. With my not having felt safe with my parents at least some of my life, and me having been more or less in temporary placements most of my adult life, I’ve never felt that I can be safe anywhere. As a result, I’m constantly challenging my current staff, believing they’ll kick me out of here anyway.

7. I survived two medication overdoses. Both happened in 2017 and I wasn’t really suicidal at the time, but I wasn’t coping either. I never actually realized how things could’ve gone until my mother-in-law told me after my second overdose that the medical staff had asked me whether I wanted to be resuscitated should it come to that. I can’t remember the question or what I said. Both of these made me realize that I needed more help than I was getting at the time. At the time, unfortunately, I had a rather unsupportive psychiatric treatment team, who were very much focused on my independence. As a result, it took me a year from my second overdose to be truly honest that I needed long-term care.

My All-Time Favorite Food

I was feeling a little down on Sunday, so I checked out the gratitude section of the book Journaling With Lisa Shea. This is really a collection of ten 32-day guided journals and an introduction to journaling. I bought the entire thing for a deal price on Amazon several years ago.

I already covered some topics from this section before, but one I didn’t write about is my favorite food. The prompt asks me to recall what favorite food makes me brim with joy and sigh with delight. It goes on to ask whether I can remember eating it for the first time.

Well, my all-time favorite food has to be Domino’s pizza! I am not 100% sure whether this was the first time I ever had it, but I think it was. It was sometime in late 2010 or early 2011. My husband, then still my fiancé, lived in student accommodation in Kampen, where he studied theology. His studio was real close to the train station, the river IJssel, and several snack corners and fast food restaurants. Including Domino’s.

I can’t remember which pizza I took that first time. It might’ve been during my six months or so of trying to pass as a vegetarian to my fiancé, who was a vegetarian at the time. I might also have taken one of their chicken pizzas. I think I did that. I probably also chose red peppers as an extra topping, as I was and still am a lover of very spicy food.

Nowadays, I almost always choose a chicken kebab pizza, but I think they didn’t have that one back then. I also always look at the new and noteworthy category, because sometimes they have truly delicious pizzas. I particularly remember one called something like Chicken Zanzibar, which had a piri-piri swirl on it. I topped it off with extra red peppers. Since I took a large pizza and didn’t have the monstrous appetite I’d expected, I left my husband a slice. He pretty soon texted me with a list of swear words about how spicy the pizza had been. Even thinking back to that makes me laugh.

#IWSG: The Form Will Find Me?

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and regular readers know what this means: it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) posting day.

Well, let me say I’m pretty insecure indeed. I did pretty well on the blogging front this past month, but I always dream bigger than I actually live. I mean, I remember saying about four years ago that, within the next five years, I’d like to write my memoir and yet there’s not a single word down on the page. That plus I haven’t a clue where to start. Stories or pieces of non-fiction would flow so easily when I was younger. I have one work in progress that could’ve turned into a young adult novel if I’d just had the willpower to finish it. Not saying it’d be published – it certainly wouldn’t, as it’s rather unoriginal -, but well.

I keep remembering that Stephen King quote in DIY MFA about how you need to write 2000 words a day. I know, the author said this isn’t true, but I do need to write.

Thankfully, I do write. I got a premium subscription to Day One, a journaling app for iOS. Though I haven’t written in my journals everyday, I do find that the words come more easily already after a week of having it. As a result, I did write on my blog everyday for the past week. I really could use some guidance on how to transform my blogging practice into something more powerful.

Now on to the optional prompt question. It’s a quote that says that, although you may write in a certain genre, you don’t have to have that predetermined. Rather, the form or genre will find you once you write. I indeed must say I agree with this to some extent. Though I often set out to write in a specific form, my words don’t usually come out in that form eventually. Even if I do choose a genre in advance, my words often flow more easily when I let them rather than plan what I’m writing in advance.

Gratitude List (July 31, 2020) #TToT

It’s a hot Friday here and I have lots of things I could be writing about. I choose to do a positive post though and share my gratitude list for the past week or so. As always, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. Noodles. One of the day activities staff made those for us on Tuesday and one of the other clients helped her. He was so proud of himself! I loved the noodles with chicken and veggies and of course satay sauce. The staff had chosen the mild satay sauce rather than the spicy one, but I liked it anyway.

2. Going to the marketplace. On Wednesday, a day activities staff took me to the marketplace to get some fish for lunch. I also got a large waffle.

3. Day One. This is a journaling app for the iPhone (and Mac). I finally got the premium subscription to Day One and am loving making a daily habit out of journaling. Because I have the premium subscription, I can also E-mail my journal, so if I write something on an E-mail list, I can later send the same message to my journal easily.

4. My blog. It turned two on Saturday. Though I haven’t been as active lately with regards to reading other blogs and for this reason, didn’t get the engagement I’d like on my blog either, I still love it. I do need to make a note to myself to check whether comments are enabled on my posts before publishing them, because WordPress seems to have pulled the trick of disabling comments at random once again.

5. The weather. It’s been pretty good all week. Today it’s a little hot for my liking, but it’s still bearable.

6. AC in the living rooms. Some company came to install it on Monday or Tuesday. Some other clients, whose rooms get particularly hot, also got AC installed in their rooms.

7. Walking. I managed at least two walks each day. Some days I didn’t feel like going for walks, but I managed to kick myself in the butt anyway.

8. Having some energy back. I was really low on energy early in the week. One night, I even went to bed at like 8:30PM. Thankfully, I’m pretty alert now, though I can’t for the life of me remember when exactly some things happened, like you may be noticing.

9. Speaking to my husband on the phone. He’s so lovely! He said half-jokingly that he’d look at my blog to see the keychain I’d made for him, as he hasn’t seen me in real life since I made it. Then we got talking about whether he reads my blog and whether I write about him a lot.

10. Reading. I am loving reading foster care memoirs again.

What have you been grateful for lately?

A Productive Tuesday

Hi all, how are you doing? I didn’t write at all yesterday. That is, I wrote a lot in my new private journal. I finally got a subscription to the premium plan of Day One. Day One is an iPhone (and Mac) app for journaling. I discovered how to work it last April. Okay, I’ve had this app for years, but I didn’t know how to insert links, headings, etc. until then. However, even as I found out, I didn’t write a lot. I now do plan on writing in there everyday and have set a reminder to do so. I have three journals: one general one, one for chronicling my journey living as a multiple, and one for prompt-based journaling. I may copy some of those here, but the one I did today, isn’t really suited for this blog.

I also started reading fostering memoirs again. I bought Who Will Love Me Now? by Maggie Hartley. I’m loving it so far, although it’s a sad story.

I also got the littles a little picture book about emotions. I got that one off Bookshare. It’s called ABC of Feelings. I also still have a lot of free bedtime stories in my Apple Books and Kindle libraries.

This morning, I made yet another keychain. It’s for the friend at the other home that’s part of my facility I’ve mentioned before. She regularly gives me cards and, since she has a birthday in August, I thought I’d make her something.

This evening, I talked to a staff who doesn’t work here often. She told me she likes crocheting and I asked her to teach me. We did a little crocheting, but that didn’t really work for me. I then remembered I had a knitting loom too and we tried some loom knitting. I didn’t get far, but I got the first couple rounds done. She may bring a metal loom knitting needle tomorrow, as the one that came with the loom is made of plastic.

We also had a cooking activity this morning, but I didn’t participate in that. A staff made us noodles with chicken and veg. I loved it!

Oh, and I did go for three walks today. They weren’t very long walks, but it was good being outside.

Overall, the day has been relatively productive. I didn’t feel this way at first, because I didn’t feel inspired to blog. However, now that I got to write down all that I did, it’s quite a lot.

Roles I Want to Play in the Future

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the roles I play. This post was inspired by the first prompt in the journaling workbook The Year of You. The second prompt is to write about the roles you would like to play in the future. Here goes.

1. I want to be a student. I don’t mean that I want to go back to college full-time. That place has been passed and I’ll never revisit it. However, I would definitely like to study at the Open University or some other distance-learning college again. I considered signing up for the developmental psychology course at the OU for this fall. I’m not sure I’m ready though.

2. I want to be a writer. Of course, I am a blogger already and I have one piece of mine published in an anthology. However, I really want to publish more. I’m not so sure I’ll ever write my memoir as I was some years ago, but some short pieces should be doable.

3. I want to be a volunteer. I really hope to do some type of community service, ideally putting my knowledge of disability and mental health to use. For example, maybe I’ll do a recovery course again and maybe in the future even lead one.

4. I want to be an advocate. I am already with this blog, but I really want to be more of a voice for the disability community in the Netherlands.

5. I want to be a crafter. That is, I want to be able to find a hobby that I enjoy. I no longer have it as a goal that I’ll be able to do it independently.

6. I want to be a guide dog owner. I really hope to be able to get a guide dog sometime in the future. I’m not sure that is a realistic goal, but I can dream, right? I mean, ideally, I’d have a psychiatric service dog/guide dog combo. That would be awesome!

That’s it so far. Last year, I might’ve added wanting to be a homeowner, but that goal can be crossed off.

What roles would you like to play in the future?

Listening to My Inner Voice(s)

The day two prompt in The Goddess Journaling Workbook is about listening to your inner voice. This is incredibly hard. Not just because I have multiple inner voices, but because a lot of them carry shame.

Today I found out Onno van der Hart, one of the world-s top experts on dissociation, had his psychotherapy license revoked indefinitely for violating a patient’s boundaries. He was the main proponent of the structural dissociation theory. This theory is controversial in its own right, as it dehumanizes alters. For example, therapists are supposed to only talk to the host or apparently normal part, who is then supposed to relay messages from the other alters or emotional parts. One of the main problems with this is shame. The host often feels uncomfortable sharing the other alters’ thoughts because they are painful.

So, as an act of radical rebellion, I am going to now let each alter who’s willing to speak on this issue share their thoughts.

I knew this. DID is bullshit. It’s not real, at least in my case. I’m so happy I am not diagnosed, as this Onno van der Hart, a so-called expert, took twenty years therapying with a client only to make her dependent and then dump her like a pile of poo.

I’m scared. I wish I still had the diagnosis so I could get trauma therapy. I want my therapist to comfort me. I don’t want to integrate, but I do want to process stuff. I’m not sure. I’m scared that no-one will believe me now that the Netherlands’ top expert on DID lost his license.

I don’t want no fucking therapy. I don’t want to be forced to be anything I’m not. I just want to be me and be myself and be accepted.

Fuck. I’m manipulative. The whole trauma thing is made up.

Well, I realize I’m not really even capable of letting each of us share their honest thoughts. I still find that I was going to redact out the four-letter words. I feel tons of shame surrounding this whole controversy and the DID thing as well.

As a side note, Onno van der Hart wasn’t sued for his theory of structural dissociation. I think it will continue to guide psychotherapists and the multidisciplinary guideline for treating DID. Van der Hart lost his license for boundary-violation, including unloading his own personal problems onto the patient, sending her unsolicited, emotionally laden E-mails, etc. My husband said he was just trying to cash on her and if no-one saw it, something’s wrong with psychotherapists in general. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I Am My Top Priority?

Today I decided to buy The Goddess Journaling Workbook by Beatrix Minevera Linden. This book of journaling prompts focuses on the Greek goddesses to explore yourself and keep a manifestation mindset all through the year. The first goddess to be explored is Persephone. She was led into the Underworld by Hades and ate a pomegranate there. This fruit was the fruit of the dead, so Hades could really keep her in the Underworld forever. Eventually, Hades and Persephone’s mother Demeter reached an agreement to keep Persephone in the Underworld half the year and in the upper realm the rest of the year.

Persephone’s story is used as a metaphor for our darker side and our mistakes that follow us throughout life (like Persephone’s eating the pomegranate did). The first prompt in Persephone’s chapter is titled “You are your top priority”. It asks us when we didn’t put ourself first.

Well, my first thought is: am I really supposed to be my own top priority? My husband often says he values me more than himself. I tend to reply that I value him more than myself too. Whenever I doubt that I value him more than myself, I feel guilty. But really, I currently choose myself over my husband whether that’s supposed to be so or not.

It wasn’t always this way. Until I made the decision to try to go into supported housing on September 20, 2018, I always put others first. Not just my husband, but literally almost everyone seemed more important than me.

I was diagnosed with dependent personality disorder in 2016. Though the diagnosis was made for all the wrong reasons, there is some truth to it. I remember my psychologist used my lack of resistance to her opinions against me and she was right. Until I decided to ask for a second opinion in November of that year, I never openly fought her list of ongoing misdiagnoses and mistreatments. It’s interesting that, later, she said I am very assertive but maintained that I have DPD nonetheless.

What also comes to mind, is that as a child and even as a teen, I always did what others wanted and put them before myself. I remember at one point using the Persephone myth to describe how I felt about my relationship to my classmates in high school. (Remember, I went to grammar school, so the classics were taught a lot.)

Still, I was thought of as self-centered or selfish even by my parents. This is probably because, in a materialistic way, I did put myself first. I was often jealous when my sister got gifts. Indeed, she did get more than I did, but I got more attention, albeit most negative.

Now I do generally put myyself first. I decided to go into long-term care despite no doubt disappointing my husband a bit. I mean, of course I struggled greatly living semi-independently, but it wasn’t like I was dying. Or maybe sometimes it was, because I did take two overdoses that could’ve killed me. Then again, wasn’t I selfish for doing this?

Linking up with Life This Week.

Know Yourself: Self-Discovery for Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter K post in the #AtoZChallenge. This was a hard letter, but I managed to come up with something, though today’s post is brief. Today I will talk about how self-discovery can help you care better for yourself.

It may be hard to actually know who you are or what you need, but figuring this out is vital to actually meeting your own unique needs. I mean, there are lots of ways to take care of yourself – many more than I will discuss during this challenge -, but most of them are not suitable to everyone. So take time to observe yourself.

I find journaling is a great way of getting to know yourself. There are a lot of guided self-exploration journals out there. There are also tons of journals that claim to be about self-exploration but are really just random lists of prompts. The self-discovery journal I like best is the 23 Days Self-Discovery Journaling Challenge by Mari L. McCarthy. Her other journaling challenges are fab too!

Mindfulness can also help you discover who you are. So can going to therapy or counseling. Regardless of what approach you use, try to be non-judgmental. Like I once read on a website of a personality disorders treatment clinic, the best person you can become is yourself.