Mid-Year Reflections

Hi all. How can it be the middle of July already? It’s amazing how time flies. This week, one of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop writing prompts is to look back at your new year’s resolutions for 2021. As I do each year, this year I called them hopes rather than resolutions as a way of lessening the pressure. As I look back though, I seem to be doing pretty well.

My first hope was to eat a somewhat healthier diet. Indeed, I am making sure to eat enough fruit and veg each day, unlike apparently during the last few months of 2020. I however still struggle to make healthier breakfast and lunch choices.

In the exercise department, I’ve not been as inventive as I’d hoped. I blame COVID, as, even though gyms reopened to the public a while back, I haven’t felt comfortable to go.

With respect to getting stable mentally, this is a work in progress. I’ve only actually noticed some seemingly significant improvement over the past month or so, after first falling deep into crisis in mid-June. I cannot say for sure the one-on-one support is helping me get mentally stable, but I do know for sure that I certainly don’t want to go back to the situation before the extra care hours were approved.

Faith-wise, I am still on my journey with God. I pray everyday, read the Bible everyday and am learning to put Jesus first. I am however still struggling. I really want to get baptized, but have no idea where to start, as I don’t currently even go to a physical church. More importantly though, I am still regularly tempted to think that, since God is in charge, I shouldn’t even bother with wanting to be saved.

On the leisurely side of things, I’m doing pretty amazing if I can say so myself. I have kept up a pretty good blogging routine and actually love jewelry-making and bath and body product making again. I am glad I didn’t resolve to be able to do these activities independently, as that’d be an unrealistic goal.

The only area I’m not that satisfied with myself about, is my reading. I did a separate post on bookish resolutions for 2021. I guess I should have called those hopes too, as to be honest, I haven’t really met a single of my goals as of yet.

How did you do on your new year’s resolutions so far?

Mama’s Losin’ It

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 20, 2021)

Hi everyone on this sunny and comfortably warm Sunday. I didn’t join in with #WeekendCoffeeShare last week again. In fact, I haven’t been motivated to write much at all over the past week or so. Today though, I’m trying to get out of my rut and join the Coffee Share community again. I just had my afternoon coffee and will probably take a soft drink break midway through this post. If you’d like a drink, feel free to get one and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the weather over the past week has been beautiful. It was even a little too hot for my liking on Wednesday and Thursday and the nights were uncomfortably sweaty. However, I’m liking this much more than the rain we had over the month of May. We did get some thunderstorms during the night though, which scare me.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I went to the doctor with my lower abdominal pain that I’ve had for about a week now. I wrote about this on Tuesday, but hadn’t been to the doctor at that point. I went on Thursday and, even though the urine sample I’d sent off for checking, didn’t show an obvious UTI, I did get antibiotics just in case while the sample is being further cultured. The doctor explained that it’s unlikely I’ll develop resistant bacteria, as I hardly ever take antibiotics. I am also to take paracetamol for the pain.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been in a bit of a crisis over the last few days. On Thursday, while I was still in quite a bit pain, my care facility’s manager came by to inform me that I cannot get more support than I get now. I realize it may seem silly to get into a crisis over this, but I’ve been struggling with major anxiety lately and was really hoping that more support could help me.

With respect to the anxiety, my husband tried to be supportive, but I ended up being triggered by some of his words. Like, he said he thinks I might have dependent personality disorder. This was the exact diagnosis I got in the psych hospital in 2016 and which was used as an excuse to kick me out. I don’t want to be kicked out of long-term care. I guess that proves I’m just being dependent though, as like I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t dying living with my husband.

My husband tries to encourage me to do more things independently. While really I would like to be able to, the activities he mentioned (showering, for example) give me a ton of overload even now that my staff help me. Then again, who knows this isn’t just anxiety and dependency either? Apparently I’m not able, in my screwed mind, to make that judgment myself.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’m almost certainly going to start taking the topiramate in early July. I started the depo-Provera injectible birth control last Thursday and I will be able to start the topiramate once I’ve been on this one for two weeks. Now I’m only hoping the antibiotic won’t mess things up again.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that today, my one-on-one staff took me to visit her family’s horses. I loved petting the horses. One of them kept reaching for my lower abdomen. The family member whose horses these were, explained that she goes for the person’s body part with the most tension. I guess she’s right.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 4, 2021)

Hi everyone! I didn’t participate in #WeekendCoffeeShare last week, but today, I really want to. Even though it’s nearly 9PM, I honestly still crave coffee. So let’s grab a coffee or other drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would share that the weather has been great here over the past week! I mean, right now I’m almost soaking in my own sweat and wishing it could be a little cooler, but it’s much better than all the rain we had during most of May.

If we were having coffee, I would share that, due to the warm weather, I was able to meet my step goal every day of the week so far. In fact, by yesterday evening, I’d gotten in more steps than during the entire week last week. Woohoo!

If we were having coffee, I would share how much I’ve been enjoying nature lately. On Wednesday, I heard a chorus of frogs when walking beside the local canal. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me and, when I did later that day and yesterday, they weren’t as loud. I still fully intend on capturing some nature video sometime soon.

If we were having coffee, I would share that today, the water system in my care home had to be cleaned professionally because legionella bacteria had been found. It scared me a little, both the contamination and its associated risks, as well as the method of cleaning, which apparently involved chlor gas. I mean, we weren’t allowed in the building while the cleaning took place, but I somehow got it in my head that I’d be forgotten. I wasn’t, of course.

While we had to be outside of the building for the day, some of my fellow clients went to the day center. The staff proposed I go with some other clients to a monkey zoo called Apenheul, which is in the city of Apeldoorn, about a 45-minute drive from Raalte. I initially didn’t want to go, as I felt I’d just be overloaded. Since I would have one-on-one support for the entire day, my staff said I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to and could decide this morning to sit in the day center or do other activities. My husband tried to persuade me to go anyway and so I did. I didn’t join my fellow clients and took a shorter route through the zoo. Overall, it was a good experience. My one-on-one took some pictures with my phone. Unfortunately, the monkeys didn’t make many sounds.


If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I might finally start my topiramate next week. At least, the GP figured out my options for going on a different birth control (because topiramate blocks oral birth control) and okay’d my going on the depo-Provera injectible birth control. She said that she’d get back to my staff next week to make sure I can start it. Thankfully, a nurse at my care facility will be able to administer it. Please everyone pray that this means I can start the topiramate soon. I really could use some relief from my PTSD.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would however share how effective learning to be present has been for me lately. This is an exercise I found in the book Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation and it’s really quite helpful. I haven’t yet been able to practise it when very distressed, but when I’m at a moderate level of distress, it does help.

How have you been?

The Shifting Image of My Care

In September of 2006, when I was still blogging on DiaryLand, I wrote an entry about seeing my life in black and white. I meant not just my life in general, but my care needs in particular. I wrote said post in response to a meeting I’d had with a psychologist several weeks earlier because my behavior at the training home I lived in at the time was spiraling out of control. The psychologist asked me where I saw myself in three years’ time, referring to care needs.

In my response on my blog, I said that I constantly had two images in my mind about what my life would be like, one positive and one negative. These were represented by the two most important alter personalities I had at the time, Carol and Jane.

Jane was fiercely independent. She wanted to live completely on her own without any support, except for maybe a weekly visit from a person to read her mail and the occasional help with deep cleaning.

Carol, on the other hand, saw herself as needing more support. I, at the time, made a point of clarifying that my “negative” image didn’t mean I needed 24-hour care, but that I needed significant help beyond that considered “normal” for someone who’s just blind.

Six months later, I had already discovered that the positive image wasn’t going to come true, yet I shifted my two images. I started to believe that the “good” outcome would be the situation I would live in at my student apartment, which included sixteen hours of support a week. The “bad” image, then, became needing 24-hour care.

You all probably know that the “bad” image eventually came to be true. When I wrote about the 2006 post on my original WordPress blog in 2009, I said that the situation couldn’t get much worse than it had been already at the locked unit. If another three years later, it was worse, I reckoned that’d mean I was in prison or a homeless shelter and hence wouldn’t have access to the Internet.

It didn’t get worse, of course, right? Or did it? I mean, I lived with my husband for some years, but eventually got admitted into long-term care. I now have one-on-one support most of the day. And yet the images are still there.

Jane is still saying I should live independently. Not with my husband, mind you, but fully on my own. Then at least I can’t manipulate people into giving me more and more care and, by extension, cannot drive people away.

There’s another image haunting me. This image wasn’t in my mind back in 2006, or at least I wasn’t aware of it. It is the image of a girl, aged around sixteen, who was a patient in a psychiatric hospital in the late 1990s, where she had been restrained for weeks on end until her parents sought media attention. This is the true worst-case scenario I see in my mind now. But the worst part isn’t the restraints: it’s the fact that the girl was often left completely alone.

I had a few incidents of physical aggression towards staff recently. The staff keep reminding me that they realize that I don’t mean to be aggressive and that they won’t leave me if I am. I hope the worst-image alter, whom I call Rachelle, won’t prove them wrong.

A Very Intense Day Today

Today was an intense day. I started it with a weigh-in. To my surprise, I had lost almost 2kg. Last week, I had gained 1kg compared to the week before, so I had decided to try to cut back on snacks. That lasted all of one day and then I was back to snacking as usual. I don’t really trust my scale, as it isn’t officially calibrated, but well, who cares? I feel pretty fit and healthy and at least remain within the same 2kg range.

At 11:30AM, I had a nurse practitioner’s appt. My new’ish assigned home staff attended it with me rather than my assigned day activities staff, who usually does. Yesterday, this staff had been my one-on-one too and we had discussed my frequent dissociation and switching. She asked me whether I wanted to talk about it to my nurse practitioner and at first I said yes. Then later in the evening, I got anxious and decided to E-mail my nurse practitioner. I explained about the frequent switching and flashbacks. I also expressed my concern that, if the alters take over too much, my team will resort to denying their reality and ultimately to denying my reality as a whole. Then I will have lost all the trust I’ve gained in my team so far.

I can’t remember the entire appt, but at one point, Jane popped forward. She is the one most in denial of my trauma-related symptoms and yet it seems like she’s always the first to pop out and reveal our being multiple to a professional. My staff had probably already met her, and I think so has my nurse practitioner, but not to this extent. Thankfully, neither one objected to her being openly out.

I started feeling depersonalized after Jane was back inside and it didn’t fully clear up till just about an hour ago. In the evening, it got particularly bad.

Then for whatever reason, Karin, one of our fourteen-year-olds, popped out and started talking about a high school memory. We were still partly in the here and now, as she apparently recognized our one-on-one. Thankfully, our one-on-one reassured Karin that she’s now safe and the memories are in the past. She also told us that our teachers and parents, while probably meaning well, didn’t really help us and that none of our issues is our fault. That still feels rather off. I mean, of course I didn’t choose to be blind, but my parents reminded me over and over again that my behavior was definitely a choice. They always saw (and maybe still see) me as one giant manipulator, not an autistic, multiply-disabled trauma survivor. And they’re not the only ones. If I’ve learned one thing in my nearly 35 years of existence, it’s that sooner or later, people will always come to the conclusion that I’m one giant manipulator.

Recovering From Autistic Burnout

Today, the prompt for Reena’s Exploration Challenge is one word: burnout. This word evokes so many thoughts, feelings and memories in me! After all, though I was never diagnosed as suffering with actual burnout, the reason is more that burnout isn’t a DSM-IV or DSM-5 diagnosis than my not having suffered it.

That is, I did indeed not suffer the classic shutdown-type burnout where people are too exhausted to function. Rather, my burnout was more of the meltdown type, where I got so irritable and dysregulated that I couldn’t function anymore.

In 2007, I suffered autistic burnout. This is an actual thing and is more and more recognized by autism professionals too. It involves an inability to function in daily life as a whole, not just work, due to the experience of being overloaded, being autistic in a neurotypical society.

I have shared my experience of landing in a mental crisis in 2007 many times before. I was at the time living independently (though with a lot of community support) and going to university. That all changed within a matter of days: on Tuesday, I was sitting an exam, while the following Saturday, I was a patient on the locked unit of a psychiatric hospital. First, while there, I had to stabilize. I had to get back into a normal sleep/wake rhythm and regain my will to live.

Once I was no longer nonfunctioning and suicidal, however, I had to get my life back on track. My social worker thought I could go into supported housing for autistic people. I, at first, thought so too. Until I saw all the criteria relating to independence, lack of challenging behavior, trainability, etc. That wasn’t going to work out.

To be quite fair, I never fully understood my actual level of functioning until sometime in 2020. I had wanted to prove myself for so long. I had worn so many masks that hid the real, messy truth of who I am. Consequently, I constantly overestimated myself and my abilities. So did the people around me. Until one day, in November of last year, I crashed again. I probably suffered another burnout. That was when my one-on-one support was started.

There still are voices in my head telling me I could, should in fact go back to my life of before my first burnout in 2007. Back to independent living and college. Otherwise, how can I claim recovery?

The thing is, people who experience work-related burnout, usually don’t go back to their exact jobs from before their burnout either, if to the same job at all. Why should I then go back to a life I hated from the get-go? I try to see recovery from burnout not in terms of recovering lost functioning, but in recovering lost pieces of myself.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (May 2, 2021)

Hi everyone on this first Sunday of May. I still honestly can’t believe it’s May already, but it is. Today I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. It’s still early in the afternoon, but I didn’t want to be very late with my submission. I’m having my afternoon coffee in a bit, so if you’d like one too, that’s okay. Let’s have a coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week was a mixed bag weather-wise. We’ve had sunshine, clouds, wind and rain. The temperatures are still below normal though.

If we were having coffee, I’d be excited to share that, on Tuesday, I went to a playground in a neighboring village with my one-on-one staff. It was King’s Day, so we had the day off from day activities, but I had a lot of fun anyway. The playground had a trampoline, a seesaw and several swings. My husband wondered why I had my shoes on while jumping on the trampoline, but this was apparently allowed.

Me on the trampoline.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share that, on Thursday, I revived my Instagram account. That is, I had posted exactly one photo some four years ago and had deleted that a few months back. On Thursday, as you can see, I uploaded a photo of a soap I’d made with my one-on-one last week. I am not yet certain I will really be posting to my Instagram more often, as I don’t think my pics are really Instagram-worthy, but well. I had fun making the soap and wanted to show it somewhere.

Speaking of soap making though, I’m planning on making a lip balm real soon. I also found out early this week that I will be able to make shampoo bars after all, since it doesn’t require saponification with lye. Now the stuff that is used to make shampoo, is quite concentrated too, but I think I may give it a try after all.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the physical therapist once again urged me to wear my AFO after all. It still hurts and, to be honest, I feel as though she dismisses my pain. Then again, I understand the need for the AFO. Let’s just hope my semi-orthopedic shoes will be here soon. I doubt it though.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the manager came by on Thursday to inform me that the opening for a new staff had finally been filled. The new staff will start orienting at my home tomorrow. At first, she will not be working with me, but eventually she might.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I spent the weekend in Lobith with my husband. We had delicious meatballs for dinner yesterday. We also had rice and cucumber. In the evening, my husband gave me a picky eater test he’d found online to see if I had a high score. I scored eleven points, he scored six. Then again, I probably was a little strict on myself, as I said for example that I wouldn’t eat celery. This morning, it was in a salad we had for breakfast and, while I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it either. There are only a few foods I definitely will not eat. That being said though, the list of foods I’d rather avoid, is quite long.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 11, 2021)

Hi everyone on this cloudy and slightly rainy Sunday evening. I’m rather late writing my #WeekendCoffeeShare post this week. I’m having a rather hard time planning when to write, as I cannot concentrate on it when my one-on-one staff is with me and yet struggle to feel well enough to write when alone. I just finished my dinner, so no coffee for me as of yet (though with my parents, coffee after dinner was a ritual). If you’d like a Senseo though, I can make you one. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was rather bad weather-wise. It’s been raining all week. On Monday and Tuesday, it even snowed a bit. It’s been near freezing cold too. How is your weather?

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week, the physical therapist and orthopedic shoemaker came by to discuss my getting semi-orthopedic shoes. My current, store-bought shoes aren’t great for fitting my AFO in. They also have laces, which I can’t tie myself. I’ll hopefully hear next week what models they have available. I did try on a pair already, but this was just to get an idea of what I’d need.

Thankfully, the shoes will be fully covered by long-term care. This did lead to a bit of self-loathing, in that I feel like a burden for costing so much with my one-on-one, the weighted blanket and all the other costs and now this. I try to calm myself by thinking it wasn’t really my decision. Besides, I will most likely experience less pain when walking and be able to walk longer distances. Still, I can hear my inner critic say that I fake my mild cerebral palsy.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, last Friday, I was in a crisis. I don’t even know what led to me starting to feel triggered. At some point though, I left my room at night. On my way to wherever, I bumped into something and swore. Then I decided I’m unforgivable anyway now and decided to self-harm. I’m okay physical wound-wise and the night staff eventually calmed me down. Still, I have been feeling really unsettled all weekend.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share how proud I am of myself for continuing to blog each day and sometimes more than once. Of course, I’m busy with the #AtoZChallenge, but I also managed several other blog posts. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me.

How has your week been?

Things That Made Me Smile (March 29, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hello everyone. I’m still struggling quite a bit today. Like I said yesterday, I have been flooded with emotional flashbacks. To end my day on a positive note, though, I am participating in The Weekly Smile once again. Today, my smiles are food-related.

On Friday, one of the staff came to me to say that she was going to cook a meal for that evening with one of my fellow clients. He and I are the only ones who can eat solid food. Well, that isn’t 100% true, but the other client who can, is a very picky eater, who doesn’t enjoy the types of meals we do. Anyway, the staff gave me the choice between three different dishes we could make with Knorr’s World Dishes series of packages. These are packets of rice, pasta or the like, seasoning and spices, to which you add veggies and meat. The meals I could choose from, were köfta (a Greek meatball dish), nacho casserole and lasagne. I chose the nacho casserole.

The staff and this other client set about preparing the casserole in the afternoon. At around 4:30PM, the evening staff put it in the oven. It was so delicious! The casserole contained nacho chips, minced meat, onions and bell peppers. There was also lettuce to go with it as a side dish, but I didn’t have that.

These packages are for two to three people, so I had more than enough. I have fond memories of cooking köfta myself when in independence training in 2007 and would really like to help prepare it when we get to this one.

Then yesterday, my one-on-one support staff had brought ready-made cookie dough. We made cookies with this and they tasted awesome! Yesterday evening, I had two. I then had the staff take the cookies to the living room to give to her colleagues or any clients who may be able to enjoy them. I fully expected them to be all gone by today, but there were still some left! That definitely put a smile to my face.

What made you smile lately?

Runaway #SoCS

When I was still in the psychiatric hospital, I’d run off often. At the locked unit, this was dealt with by introducing seclusion and restraining measures. On the other hand, at the unit I resided at later, I was made to be accountable myself. This meant that staff wouldn’t go after me if I ran off. They believed that, if I got lost enough times, I would unlearn to elope. I didn’t.

I am a truly frequent runaway. Always have been. When I still lived with my parents, I would often run away too. Same when living independently. I had frequent police encounters because of this. They would invariably call the crisis service, who would refer them back to my home support team. They all had no idea how to handle my elopement.

Then, when I went into long-term care in 2019, I still ran off a lot of times. I usually didn’t get far, as my staff would come after me. I also did get some restrictive measures, such as a sensor that alerts the staff when I leave my room. The door of my care home is locked at night because of my elopement risk too. (The other clients can’t work the key and most aren’t safe outside of the home alone either.)

Since my one-on-one support got introduced last December, I hardly ever run away. It’s been a true blessing. Sometimes though, I still wonder whether I’m indeed just manipulating, like the people in the psychiatric hospital would say, and need a lesson in accountability.

This post was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday or #SoCS, for which the prompt this week is “Run”.