Gratitude List (December 5, 2020) #TToT

Hi everyone. I hope you’re well. Last week, I said I’d like to make gratitude lists a weekly habit again. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. My mood being slightly better than it was last week. I seem to be slowly climbing out of the pit of depression and overload. I am still in crisis multiple times a week, but it’s no longer an almost-daily occurrence.

2. St. Nicholas. This is celebrated today here in the Netherlands. Usually, kids get gifts then. We no longer celebrate it in our family and my niece is probably too young to understand the concept too. We don’t really celebrate it in the care facility this year either. However, we do have lots of special St. Nicholas candies.

3. My mother-in-law. She visited me on Thursday, which was good. I really had a good time.

4. Reading. Like I said earlier, the second novel in Kenneth Oppel’s trilogy is out this week and I immediately downloaded it off Bookshare. It’s a true page-turner.

5. Playing cards. I love to play the game of mau-mau or “bullying”, as it is called here.

6. A rainbow-colored ball. I can’t remember how I got it, but it’s among my toys. I have been loving throwing it back and forth with the staff.

7. The snoezelen® equipment we got at the home now. I may have said before that there’s an empty room that the staff had turned into a snoezelen® room when the day center closed. Then we got a client temporarily placed in that room, so its sensory equipment had to be removed. That client left though and it’s unlikely we’ll get a new placement anytime soon. So our staff bought some more sensory equipment. We now have a special sensory bed with speakers installed in it. I lay on the bed yesterday and loved feeling and hearing the soothing music.

8. Getting to the psychiatrist sooner than expected. Originally, I heard me appt isn’t till sometime in January. Thankfully though, the psychiatrist had a cancellation or something, so I was fitted in for December 22. Though my mood is slowly lifting, I am still glad I can see her.

9. Essential oils once again. Okay, I’ve shared about those before, but I keep discovering new blends. Yesterday I had one that included geranium and I hated the smell. I quickly emptied the diffuser though and then tried another blend.

10. Sleep. I haven’t had nightmares in a week or so. At least not ones that haunt me during the day. That’s definitely a win!

Yay, I got to ten. I know some are repeats, but that’s okay. And at least I didn’t include a ton of food-related thankfuls.

What have you been grateful for lately?

#IWSG: Seasons of Writing

IWSG

Today is the first Wednesday of December and that means it’s the last #IWSG day of the year. It’s already late in the evening and I’m not too inspired to write on the topic of writing. I guess I wasn’t too inspired during the month of November at all. I mean, I didn’t have any blog challenges to participate in, so I didn’t write as much as I did in previous months. My private journal and Drafts, an app I use for my random pieces of fiction and poetry, also remained largely empty.

I find myself scrolling past the many writing and poetry Facebook groups I’m in an not even looking at them. It isn’t that I don’t want to write, but it’s probably that I feel my creative juices have more or less dried up and I don’t want to see others’ beautiful work when I’m not able to contribute any myself. Call me selfish for that.

November is a hard month for me. Perhaps the hardest of the year. November 2 marks the anniversary of my major mental health crisis (which happened in 2007). That, combined with some form of winter blues, often has me depressed during November. I often feel less inspired when I’m depressed.

This year, my November was okay writing-wise. In 2018 and 2019, I published significantly fewer blog posts in November than this year. Then again, I’m doing pretty well writing regularly this year overall.

I am not sure whether, with the exception of blog challenges such as the #AtoZChallenge in April, there are any months I consistently blog more or less than others. With respect to my fiction and poetry writing, this tends to go in spurts and then stands still for a long while. This is the case for all of my passions other than blogging.

Gratitude List (October 2, 2020) #TToT

I already published a post today, but I want to write more. I originally tried to write this post using the dreaded block editor, because I’ve heard it’s being forced onto WordPress bloggers more and more. I however for the life of me couldn’t properly link back to the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) page I’m joining in with. Here is my gratitude list, starting with…

1. The WordPress block editor not being fully forced onto me yet. On both PC and iOS, WP is trying to coerce me into using the block editor in all kinds of ways, but so far, I’ve found a workaround on both. I can only guess how long this is going to last, but I’ll keep using the classic editor at least for posts like this one for as long as possible.

After all, one issue I’ve found is that the block editor won’t let me write lists without converting them to HTML numbered lists, which seems to mean I can’t write multiple-paragraph list items like this one. I also greatly struggle with adding links, like I said. So, anyway, I’m grateful I can still use the classic editor.

2. A fries and snack vendor came by the facility on Sunday. It was a staff’s last shift before retirement, so she wanted to do something special. Another home had asked the snack vendor to visit us, so we decided to tag along. I had tons of fries and two snacks.

3. My mood being pretty good. Except when I was muddling with the block editor, that is. Overall, I feel pretty relaxed lately.

I am also so grateful that depression hasn’t sunk in as of yet. I often start feeling depressed by late September or early October. November is usually the worst. Let’s hope I can skip it this year.

4. Lots of engagement on my blog. I attribute this partly to #Blogtober20, but I’m also more able to interact with other bloggers and they engage with me in return.

5. Interesting journaling prompts. I got a subscription to Journey, a multi-platform diary app. I cannot really use the app, but I love to benefit from the prompts.

6. Relatively good weather. Yesterday was a pretty rainy day, but the rest of the week has been pretty much okay for fall.

7. My creative juices flowing. And my ability to handle failure if what I had in mind doesn’t turn out the way I imagined it. I mean, I’ve been trying to make my own air-dry modeling clay using baking soda, corn starch and water, but I probably used way too much water. I ordered new baking soda and will try again next week. This did give me an excuse to order new essential oils too, as those are sold at the same store.

That’s it for now. What have you been grateful for?

I Want to Feel Better #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

I want to feel better. Or maybe I need to feel better. No, that’s not correct. Feeling normal mentally may be a want, but I cannot need to feel it everyday.

I’ve been really in a depressed funk over the past week. Maybe, like I said on Thursday, it’s just that I was feeling so well over the past six weeks or so. Now that it’s passed, at least for now, I feel frustrated and depressed. I feel tired too. I’ve been lying in bed most of the morning and part of the afternoon today.

So what am I going to do about it? I’m writing now at least. That’s better than lying in bed. I still at least have some writing mojo left. In this sense, it helps that this writing exercise is stream of consciousness so that I don’t need to worry about structure.

What else can I do? I could be forcing myself to stay out of bed, but this is hard especially on weekends. So I’m not doing that.

I will be going for daily walks unless the staff have no time to take me on a walk all day (which is rare). Then, I will dance in my room for at least 15 minutes and/or go on the elliptical.

I will continue to write everyday. If it isn’t “blog-worthy”, so be it, but I’ll at least try.

I will meditate. It doesn’t need to be a long guided meditation or anything. A few minutes is enough. But I’ll make sure to incorporate mindfulness into my day.

Hopefully, committing to these will help me keep depression at bay. And if it doesn’t, then at least I’ll know that I’ve tried.

This post was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, for which the prompt today is “want”.

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?

Gratitude List (May 2, 2020) #TToT

It’s been forever since I did a gratitude post. Right now I’m feeling a little frustrated with the fact that I am blind. I want to participate to the fullest in the social media thing, but it seems images are often required and I can’t do them. Other blind people apparently can, but I can’t. Anyway, to cheer myself up, I’m taking part in Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT. Here’s what I’ve been grateful for lately.

1. The beautiful weather last week. Okay, it’s been raining a lot this week, but last week-end, it was sunny and warm. I loved it!

2. Being able to take regular walks in spite of the bad weather this week. Somehow, my staff and I managed to find time inbetween rainstorms to go for some walks. Yesterday and today, I even took some late evening walks after most of the other clients were in bed.

3. Making plans for more activities I can do with my day activity staff. On Monday, we will be trying out a basic oatmeal recipe with banana. I remember my sister ate oatmeal for breakfast when she was little and I didn’t like it. I hope I like it with the banana added. I’ve also looked into overnight oats recipes. I definitely like that.

4. The orange puff pastry we ate with our coffee for King’s day on Monday.

5. Getting crunchy muesli for breakfast. It took the staff some time before we found the right one, the one with four kinds of nuts and crunchy muesli, not granola. Yes, I’m picky like that.

6. My teddy bear getting washed. I thought it’d gotten a hole in its fur, but it turned out to be just dirty. After I finish this blog post, I’m going to cuddle up with it in my bed.

7. My computer. I’m really enjoying using it. I know, I’ve had it for ten months already, but up till this week almost always chose my phone to do most things on. I’m now actually loving writing this post in good ol’ Notepad.

8. Having finished the #AtoZChallenge. I’m definitely proud of myself for actually getting it all done.

9. Keeping my writing mojo now that the challenge is over with. I don’t know for how long I’ll be motivated to keep writing, but we’ll see.

10. Being more alert in general. Okay, I think I may be a little overalert, but then again that’s a lot better than being tired and depressed.

What have you been thankful for lately?

Music for Your Mood #AtoZChallenge

Oh my, I guess I’m growing a bit weary of the #AtoZChallenge. That is, even though a ton of topics were available for the letter M post, I’m still not sure I have any substantial material to share. Today, I want to talk about using music to help your mental health.

Music, both listening to it and playing an instrument or singing yourself, can really help your mental wellbeing. I find, for example, that it gives me something to focus my senses on when I’m overloaded. Like I’ve said before, exposing yourself to a strong sensation can really help you feel more aware of your body. It can also help override other strong internal or external stimuli.

It really depends on you what type of music will help you when you’re in which mood. For example, for me, listening to peaceful piano or guitar music or soundscapes, helps me calm down. My husband says the same music winds him up.

When I need a mood booster, it helps me to listen to faster-paced songs, often with funny lyrics. For example, Tom Lehrer’s music really lifts up my mood.

Song lyrics can also help you describe your mood boost your self-worth. English being my second language means, however, that I don’t often completely comprehend them. I find “powerful” songs in Dutch to be really annoying most times. That being said, I do at times listen to songs with strong lyrics, such as contemporary Christian.

Also, my favorite song of all time is I’m a Survivor by Reba McEntire, which does have strong, relatable lyrics. However, most times even when I don’t fully know what a song is about, its rhythm, beat or melody appeals to me. That’s why I like ABBA, even though their lyrics aren’t all that powerful.

When I’m angry, I like to listen to the likes of Cock Sparrer, Booze and Glory and The Business. I do have an inkling of what their songs are about, but the essential bit is really the beat.

I can’t sing or play an instrument myself. When you can, it can be a true outlet for your feelings. Even when you don’t have any talent, you can still feel better by playing an instrument.

What music helps you right now?

#FOWC: Euphoric

I haven’t felt really happy for longer than a few minutes at a time in a long while. I mean, yes, sometimes I laugh out loud and feel pretty good for a few moments. Overall though, I feel irritable.

I have never experienced an euphoric mood as far as I know. Then again, in mental health, euphoria isn’t seen as something positive. It is one of the manifestations of the (hypo)manic phase of bipolar disorder. The other, dysphoria, is not as commonly recognized as a bipolar or mood disorder phase.

I’m not bipolar. I never experienced mania or even hypomania. I do however experience dysphoric symptoms. In fact, I’m almost always irritable.

Back in the day when the DSM-5 was being drafted, the term for what is now called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, was temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria. Neither term feels right to me, as someone who may’ve been diagnosed with DMDD as a child had it existed in the mid-1990s. I feel mood dysregulation disorder with dysphoria would be a better name. I mean, yes, of course these kids are disruptive, but the focus should be on their unstable mood. DMDD is characterized by the occurrence of frequent mood outbursts combined with a generally irritable mood even when the child isn’t experiencing dysregulation.

Thankfully, irritability was added to depression’s mood criterion in DSM-5 too. Before then, it was only a criterion in children and adolescents. I, however, have always experienced dysphoric depression. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m diagnosable with persistent depressive disorder.

This is one reason I might want to experience a bit of an euphoric mood at times. Maybe I do get it, but usually it happens at an inconvenient time. I mean, I occasionally experience an extreme flow of ideas combined with an urge to act on them. Usually this happens during a night I cannot sleep though, so I cannot act out my impulses immediately. Then often the next day I’m back to my usual, irritable and slightly depressed self. Even though I know that it’s not an entirely positive thing, I wish I experienced euphoria for a longer while at times.

Gratitude List (March 23, 2019) #TToT

This week was better than last week. Still, when I filled out a check-in questionnaire on an app called Pacifica, it said I scored as severely depressed. Well, apparently that’s my normal state.

Today, I am feeling pretty good. I want to share the things I’m grateful for, so I’m once again joining in with #TToT.

1. A full Monday at day activities. Like I mentioned last week, from this week on, I’ll be going to day activities three full days (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) plus Wednesday morning. I liked it on Monday afternoon.

2. Lorazepam. On Tuesday, I was pretty unquiet all day. Thankfully, I’d taken my PRN tranquilizer with me to day activities. I took it in the afternoon. At first, it just made me feel drowsy, but I eventually calmed down too.

3. Stuffed animals. I spent some time Tuesday afternoon at another group at day activities, where I tried to relax in a recliner. They have a large stuffed dog, which I was allowed to hold.

Also, last Thursday before leaving for work at 5AM, my husband covered me in stuffed animals as I went back to sleep. That’s so awesome!

4. Two long walks with my support coordinator. On both Wednesday and Thursday, we took an hour-long walk.

5. Yoga. On Thursday, I tried to do some yoga on my bed, because I couldn’t find my yoga mat. Turned out it had disintegrated and my husband had thrown it out. I ordered a new yoga mat on Thursday, which arrived at my in-laws on Friday. I picked it up today and it is great. It is not as thick as the one I used to have, but thick enough at 1.5cm. I tried some yoga again today.

6. Mindfulness apps. I tried meditating regularly using Insight Timer this week. It was good. I also, like I said, got an app called Pacifica, which helps me track my mood and health habits. I like it.

7. Beautiful weather yesterday. The temperature reached 19 degrees Celsius, which meant we could have coffee outside in the afternoon at day activities. The staff also put up the cocoon swing, which I always love.

8. Sleep. Yesterday, I was feeling exhausted and had a headache. My husband noticed an dtold me to go to bed. I slept for over twelve hours last night. Though my quality of sleep could be better, since I snore awfully, I feel okay now energy-wise.

What are you grateful for?

The Friday Four

I am struggling a lot. I got some really bad news, but I cannot share it publicly at this point. This has caused me a lot of stress, but it did get me to revive my offline journal, which I keep in an app called Dyrii on my iPhone. I have the app on my Mac too, but haven’t yet fully figured it out on there.

That being said, my not being able to share what’s on my mind publicly, did keep me from writing on this blog at all. To get myself back into the writing habit, I am participating in A Guy Called Bloke’s Friday Four. I get the impression that this is the last installment in the series for now, so I’m rather late to the party. I like the questions though.

1] If you are in a bad mood, do you prefer to be left alone or have someone to cheer you up?
I prefer to be with someone to talk to and for them to cheer me up, but I often act like I prefer to be left alone. I tend to withdraw when depressed.

2] What’s the one thing that people always misunderstand about you?
The (lack of) significance of my being of above-average verbal intelligence. I got a bad reminder of this last week (the stressor I cannot share about here). For those who don’t know, I have an above-average verbal IQ, but struggle in almost every other area of cognitive, social and emotional development, adaptive behavior, etc.

3] What do you think about when you’re by yourself?
Usually the current stressor du jour, which often involves the future.

4] What are three things you value most about a person?
Kindness, compassion, respect.

Bonus Series 1 Question
If heaven is real and you died tomorrow, would you get in?
Yes, because I believe there’s no special requirement to get into Heaven (like accepting some kind of savior) and I’m not an altogether evil person.