Early November 2020 Health and Wellness Update

Like I said a couple of weeks ago, I had a physical health check-up at the mental health agency. That wasn’t good. That is, my blood pressure was high and so was my weight. Even though the nurse said I might not have gained any weight compared to the last time I stepped onto the scales, as each scale is different, I was pretty alarmed. So was my husband. He asked whether I could be put on a diet. Well, no-one can force me, but I did agree on a food plan with the staff.

Now we’re a little over two weeks on. I didn’t get my blood pressure taken today, as my GP recommended we wait three months and then check it everyday for a week. I did get weighed in though. And guess what? I lost 1kg compared to the last time I stepped onto this scale in early September and 3kg compared to the health check. Only two more kilograms to go and I’m no longer obese.

Overall, I’m doing okay sticking to the food plan. I eat bread rather than crunchy muesli for breakfast, make sure I eat enough veggies and fruit and drink at least 1.5 liters of water a day. That plus coffee, which contrary to common belief does hydrate the body to an extent, and occasionally green tea. I do usually eat a cookie with each coffee break, while my food plan says I can only have a cookie with my evening coffee. However, each day that I skip a cookie, I’m proud of myself for making a healthy food choice. Same each morning with breakfast, which is a real struggle, as I’m not a bread person.

I also make sure I get in enough physical activity. Last week, I felt really lazy, but, according to my Fitbit, still got more than the recommended 150 weekly minutes in active heartrate zones. This week, so far, I got 341. I broke my personal step count record yesterday by getting in over 16K steps. I don’t go on the elliptical as often as I’d like, but that’s because after walking two to three times a day, my legs are often tired.

In other health-related news, I talked to my CPN from mental health about sleep on Tuesday. I usually get enough sleep, but I have very vivid nightmares most nights. They aren’t your standard monster-chasing-me nightmares. In fact, most revolve around my sense of safety here at the care facility. My CPN may talk to my nurse practitioner about it. She said I might benefit from medication to help with this. Thankfully though, having discussed the issue has already calmed things down a bit.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 1, 2020)

Oh my, it’s November already! Can you believe it? I feel this year is going both really fast and really slow. How about you?

Today, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’ve had three cups of coffee already today and it’s not even time for my afternoon coffee yet. Then again, I was up at seven o’clock this morning. I’m thankfully not too tired as of yet. Let’s have coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the weather is surprisingly nice. We were supposed to get a lot of rain this week, but so far, it’s been raining only some of the time. This means I’ve been able to go out for walks everyday. I didn’t get in my minutes in active heartrate zones, because most of the time apparently I walked too slowly. I also went on the elliptical once.

If we were having coffee, I’d ramble a bit about my idea of restarting the polymer clay hobby. I did this for a bit some years ago, but never got beyond a child’s level with respect to my sculpting abilities. Then again, maybe if the day activities staff help me read tutorials, I’ll be able to progress somewhat further. I’m not yet 100% sure I’ll actually invest in yet another hobby that might turn out to lead to massive failure. Okay, I’m not a failure at soap making, but I’m not a success either.

If we were having coffee, I would moan a bit about my diet. I’m not sticking to it 100% of the time, but maybe I’m doing an okay job of it. I don’t know, since I haven’t been weighed in yet. I, however, try to remind myself that everytime I make a healthy food choice, I’m doing a good job of caring for my body.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my sister, brother-in-law and one-year-old niece were supposed to visit yesterday. However, on Friday, I had a slight cold, which wasn’t fully gone yesterday morning. I also had felt slightly out of breath Friday evening. That’s probably just stress, but I canceled the visit anyway. Today I’m feeling as well as possible. We’ve rescheduled for next week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that tomorrow marks the thirteen-year anniversary of my mental crisis. I still find the month of November hard for this reason.

I also have been struggling with the end of daylight saving time. I’m more tired than usual and find myself going to bed very early and getting up early in the morning too. My Fitbit has noticed, as it said I seem like a morning person. I’m not. That is, right now, I’m mostly hibernating, in that even though I get up early, I sleep a lot during the day. I can’t wait for spring!

What’s up with you lately?

Self-Care Strategies for Coping with Mental Health Issues #Blogtober20

Today’s prompt in #Blogtober20 is “She Drives Me Crazy”. Many bloggers are using the prompt to inspire posts on organization, decluttering and mental health. So am I.

I’m not feeling too well today. Yesterday, my inner voices started back up with a vengeance. This led to a mini-crisis in the middle of the night. Today I’m feeling a bit low. It may be to blame on my lack of proper sleep last night, or it might just be a bit of the seasonal blues. I hope not, of course.

Anyway, here are some things I do to cope with mental health issues. Some of these are specific to a certain problem, such as depression or anxiety. Others are more general wellbeing tips.

1. Proper sleep and rest. I’ve noticed that, when I don’t sleep well, my mental health goes downhill rapidly. For this reason, I’m trying to get into a better night-time routine. I still use my computer or phone before bed, which I probably shouldn’t do, but I don’t know what else to do in the evening.

I currently am in the process of trying out a weighted blanket, which really helps with relaxation. I mean, even if I don’t sleep, I do rest more when using this. I also use an app called MyNoise, which allows users to customize various mixes of nature sounds or other sensory-friendly sounds. You can set the individual volume for each sound within the mix and there are about 150 mixes to choose from if you have the paid version (which is a one-time purchase of I believe €10,99). Last night, I ultimately fell asleep listening to a soundscape called Patagonia.

I do usually take one hour-long nap during the day. Most days, if I stick to just that after-lunch nap, I sleep pretty well during the night and still feel refreshed the rest of the day.

2. Sensory-friendly activities. I already mentioned the weighted blanket and the MyNoise soundscapes. In addition, I often diffuse essential oil blends into my diffuser. Just today, some new oils arrived, so I’m excited to try them out soon.

3. Staying active. Today is a bad day weather-wise, as it’s been raining most of the day. Still, I managed to squeeze in a walk in the afternoon. I also made sure to stay active and do something in the morning. I made a soap. This is not physically exerting myself, but it definitely gives me joy.

It helps me to stick to a routine as much as possible. Like, I drink coffee in the morning and afternoon, eat my meals at regular times, and do an activity in the morning and afternoon too. I also usually go for a walk in the evening, but today it was raining and the staff were too busy.

4. Mindfulness. I haven’t practised that today, but I find it can help me stay grounded in the moment. I sometimes try a body scan meditation. I also for one love guided visualizations.

How do you take good care of yourself?

For those who are interested, last April, I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge with the topic of self-care. If you click on the #AtoZChallenge tag in my tag cloud, you’ll find a lot of information.

#Blogtober20

Accomplishments for Today (August 25, 2020)

It’s been a few days since I last wrote a blog post. I just wasn’t inspired. I still am not. For this reason, I thought I’d revisit a type of blog post I did a few times before and share my accomplishments for the day. Here goes.

1. Stayed in bed all night. I’ve been struggling with keeping a proper circadian rhythm lately, sleeping a lot during the day and not at night. Though I didn’t have too restful a sleep last night, it was good enough and I managed to stay in bed all night. I went to bed at 9:30PM and got up at 8:30AM. I also only napped for about an hour this afternoon.

2. Ate three healthy meals. We had cheesecake with our coffee today because it was another client’s birthday, but other than that I ate quite healthily today. I had yogurt with crunchy muesli for breakfast, three slices of bread for lunch and carrots, potatoes and fish for dinner.

3. Brushed my teeth, hair and used deodorant. Personal hygiene has been a struggle again lately, so this is good.

4. Had a productive appointment with my community psychiatric nurse. We discussed some of the sources of my abandonment/separation anxiety and also went into my fear of being one giant attention-seeker.

5. Did 45 minutes of mindfulness. At the appt, my CPN suggested I try mindfulness more often. She said she used to do a 45-minute daily meditation and thought I might benefit from it too. She didn’t specify which meditation she used, but I selected a body scan off Insight Timer. I actually did pretty well doing it. Of course, I couldn’t keep still the whole time, as I just had to scratch a few times when I itched. That should get better though.

6. Read for an hour. This isn’t really an accomplishment lately, as I read most days, but it’s still good.

7. Went for two walks. This is more of an accomplishment now than it used to be, as I’m sometimes seeking excuses not to go for walks. I also used the stairs, which I’m not always doing of late.

8. Did some weight-lifting exercises. I just remembered to do these while writing this post and so took a break from writing to do them. I also did some hand strength exercises.

What is something you are proud of yourself for today?

Gratitude List (May 16, 2020) #TToT

Goodnight everyone. It’s past 11PM here and I can’t sleep. I’m feeling rather hopeless. To cheer myself up, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful. It feels like forever since I last did a gratitude list, even though I did one two weeks ago. Anyway, here goes.

1. Spotify playlists. I already mentioned the Cardio playlist on Thursday. Today, I discovered the Harp Music for Sleep playlist. It wasn’t created by Spotify staff, but whoever created it is awesome! I just tried falling asleep to it. That didn’t work yet, but it definitely helped me relax.

2. Lorazepam. As we speak, I’m recovering from a rather bad crisis. After an hour-long crying fit, I finally asked the staff to give me a PRN lorazepam and it helps at least a little.

3. Dancing. I mentioned this already on Thursday. Today I was in a rather low place and felt like lying in bed all day. I did manage to fit some dancing in though.

4. Pretty good food this past week. I had boiled potatoes only once and the pasta with tuna sauce I had today was truly delicious.

5. Whipped cream custard. To top it off, we had whipped cream custard for dessert today.

6. Insight Timer. Like I said earlier today, I plan on making meditation part of my daily routine. I listened to a body love meditation this evening. The instructor’s voice was a little off to me, but it was a great meditation.

7. A lovely card. Last Thursday, I got another card from the friend who lives in another home in our care facility. She had previously given me an Easter card. Now the card had written in it that she hopes to see me soon. (For context: due to COVID-19, we are currently only allowed to interact with clients and staff for our own homes.) The card was handmade and truly lovely. I will send her one (though not handmade) probably tomorrow.

8. Possibly seeing my husband soon. Currently, we are not allowed visitors at all due to COVID-19. Management though has said they’ll work out a plan on visiting next week. This may mean we need to see our visitors in an assigned room and may need to keep our distance, but anything is better than no visits at all.

This is all I can come up with right now, but it already helps. What have you been thankful for lately?

ZZZ: The Role of Sleep in Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the last post in the #AtoZChallenge. For my letter Z post, I have, each year that I got to it, used ZZZ at least among other things. And yes, it’s totally fitting with the self-care theme too. Sleep is so important! Today I’m going to explain a bit about how you can take better care of your sleep hygiene and how sleeping issues can signal other problems.

Most people have some sleeping issues at times. I have had quite a few nights in which I fell asleep late recently.

When I was a child or teen, anxiety would often keep me awake. Since I didn’t get any help for my anxiety then, the issue grew until I had to use sleeping pills for a while at age 20. When I moved into independent living, my insomnia grew worse and it was one contributing factor to my suicidal crisis three months in. The first medication I got, was again a sleeping pill.

Now let me be very clear: sleeping pills are not to be used long-term. When I got my first script in 2006, my GP said to take it no more than two to three times a week. I was taking sleeping pills for a few months early in my psychiatric hospital stay, but I eventually decided less sleep without pills was better than less sleep with pills. I did take sleeping pills on an as-needed basis for a while after that. However, except in extreme cases of severe mental illness keeping you awake a lot, you ultimately need to find other solutions. So learn to practise proper sleep hygiene. I honestly don’t do too well on this now that I write about it.

For example, one tip is to use your bed for sleeping only. Though I do that, I tend to nap a lot too. I am learning to get up after at most an hour, so that I won’t disrupt my night-time sleep.

Also, it is recommended to turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. I’ve heard this is because the blue light of your smartphone or computer screen can stimulate the brain to stay awake. As I always keep my screen curtain on, this isn’t an issue for me and it may not be with dark mode either. However, I do experience that keeping very busy shortly before bedtime keeps my brain awake.

Some people find that hearing some white noise or soft music can help them sleep. I usually turn on calming music when I’m struggling to fall asleep, but eventually turn it back off as it seems to lead to a more restless sleep.

Having a soft toy in bed does help me too. Occasionally, I diffuse some lavender essential oil. There’s no scientific proof that it works, but it may help.

In addition to insomnia, sleeping too much is also an issue. I find that I sleep way too much when I’m depressed. This, of course, in turn worsens my depression.

Lastly, waking up unrefreshed can happen even when you get the right amount of sleep for you. This can be caused by a number of factors, including medications you may be taking or sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. If this happens a lot, it may be time to see your doctor. Then again, doctors can be incredibly dismissive where it comes to fatigue.

Dentist’s Appointment

I shared last week that I was going to have a dentist’s appointment soon and was really nervous. I reluctantly agreed with the care facility physician that 1mg lorazepam the night before and 1mg about an hour before my 8:30AM appt should help me enough. It for sure must’ve helped some, but I was a little disappointed in how much of the edge it took off.

I had my appointment today. Went to bed at 8:30PM yesterday evening to hopefully get a good night’s sleep. I didn’t. I half-awoke at least eight times before finally waking up at 4:15AM and not getting back to sleep.

Still, I was calm’ish on the way to the dentist’s office. My dentist’s practice is at the main institution for my care agency in Wilp, which is a 45-minute drive from Raalte. I had fully expected to fall asleep in the car, but I didn’t.

I still didn’t really know what to expect, even though I’ve had a lot of cavities filled before. This was an old filling that needed replacing, so that should be easier. It wasn’t. I did get a topical anesthetic. That reminded me of why I hadn’t had it when I had seven cavities filled at age eighteen. The anesthetic is really, well, weird. I really expected the injection to hurt, but it didn’t. Instead, the feel of numbness and thickness was more annoying.

I was really anxious all throughout the procedure, but had no idea how to make it clear. I mean, my day activities staff was with me and she held my hand, but she apparently didn’t feel me pinching it. Then again, what could we have done anyway?

I had one filling replaced and a new cavity filled. It also turned out I have a pretty bad mouth ulcer near the tooth that needed the filling replaced. That will need to go away on its own. I will need to return in April to get some fillings on the other side replaced.

Now we’re twelve hours on and I do have some slight pain still, but it’s manageable.

I’m just trying to relax this evening. Had a pretty good day overall today. Having lunch with the anesthetic still wearing off, was kind of hard, so we chose to move the Tuesday morning cooking activity at day activities to the afternoon. The tortilla wraps were delicious!

January Health and Wellness Update

So it’s already been over six weeks since I posted that this time finally I was serious about my weight loss and healthier living journey. I still didn’t post an update. Now is the time for one. I’ll also include a general health and wellbeing update.

I didn’t get weighed in over the holidays. Even though I took some care not to overeat, I didn’t stick to a healthy routine either. In fact, on Christmas Eve, my staff ordered Chinese and I had three servings. That clearly was a bit too much, as I had a tommy ache afterwards. Over the rest of the holiday season, I did okay’ish.

I still use my water reminder app and make sure I drink plenty of water nearly everyday. Sometimes I forget to log it, but I can be assured that I drank enough at least. When at my husband’s, it’s still a bit hard.

In January, I’ve been eating healthily most days. I eat plenty of vegetables and particularly fruit, taking care not to go for the sugary ones like bananas too much. My day activities orders grapes regularly, which the other clients can’t eat due to choking risk. I can, so I usually have them all over the course of a week.

Then of course I got sick. I didn’t eat very well for a few days two weeks ago, so that could have led to weight loss too. Then again, I did eat dinner each day. As soon as I felt a bit healthier, I started eating a good breakfast and lunch again. Lunch is still a struggle, as I’m not a fan of bread, so I often skip that. This means I only eat fruit. I don’t eat bread for breakfast usually either, but I do make sure to add muesli to my yoghurt.

I musst say I still indulge into snacks at times, but I try to limit them, so that I’m not eating all day. After all, having high blood sugar all the time contributes to type 2 diabetes.

Exercise-wise, I do pretty well. I go for a long’ish walk four to five times a week. Over the past while, I’ve managed at least 150 active minutes most weeks. I didn’t when I had the flu, of course. Still, it’s extremely hard to get to my step goal or even close. When I go for one half-hour walk a day, I usually get about 4000 steps.

So did this pay off or do I need to work harder? Regardless, I need to work harder, as healthy eating is more important than weight loss itself. Given that I only managed to do okay in the healthy living department, I was surprised to see the result on the scale last Friday. I had gone down 2.8kg or 6lbs since early December. Of course, my sickness may’ve contributed. I hope I’m not down too much when I get weighed in again at the beginning of February. I mean, that would fuel my hypochondria. I hope for a maintain or small loss. Only two more pounds and I’ll no longer be obese.

In other respects of health, I did okay too. Like I said last week, my sleep is a little messed up, in that I get a lot of vivid dreams and nightmares. For this reason, I try to do a mindfulness practice or at least listen to soothing music before going to bed now. This seems to have helped some so far.

Another Crisis

As those who’ve been following along with my writing will know, I was in a bit of a crisis on Monday. Tuesday and yesterday were better, but today was bad again.

It started out with a horrible nightmare last night. I still can’t shake the thought that I’ll be kicked out of the care facility sooner or later and that was what the nightmare was about. I woke up all sweaty and fearful. I called the night staff to calm me down.

Then by mid-morning, I felt rather insecure. My day activities group is divided into two subgroups. There are three full-day staff for these two subgroups combined, plus one staff who has the short 10AM-2PM shift. Today, one of the three staff who would otherwise stay the entire day, had the short shift too. I didn’t mind as much, as still each subgroup would have one staff for the full day. Then one of the regular staff, who would stay the full day, had to attend to a client one-on-one. The would-be third full shift was a sub, so she needed help doing lunch. So at the end, my full-day staff ended up helping her in the other room and the short-shift staff was attending to my subgroup on her own. She had to help people get around, to the bathroom, etc., too, so I was feeling rather left out. Everything went a little chaotic and that led me to enter the orange phase of crisis prevention.

There are three or four phases: green for adequate coping, yellow for mild distress (this one is sometimes left out), orange for serious distress and red for crisis. I was eventually able to go back to yellow as lunch was served and I ate.

Then I wanted to go into the snoezelen® room to further calm down. However, the music, though it was my favorite calming record, was way too loud. After some time, I ended up having a severe meltdown. I wasn’t able to calm down once back at my group.

In the end, I decided to take a PRN lorazepam and go back to the home to lie on my bed. I slept for two hours straight. Now I’m back to green again.

I’m joining in with #FOWC, for which the prompt today is “Crisis”. The prompt couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

Attachment Issues and Other Ramblings

Hi people, how are you? I hope you’re doing better than I am, as I’m basically feeling pretty crappy. I tell myself I need to enjoy the good moments, good days even, here in the care facility. I believe that if I don’t feel happy here, then the staff could just as easily kick me out and make room for another person. I know paradise doesn’t exist, so can’t I just be happy with what I have?

That’s not the problem though. I’m not looking to leave this place or thinking I can have a better life elsewhere. I can’t. But still, I’m unhappy at times. Then again, isn’t everyone? And yet I beat myself up over it, which leads to more unhappiness, which leads me to beat myself up even more.

At the root of all this seems to be a deep-seated belief that there’s no place I’ll ever fit in, and if I do believe I fit in, the staff won’t agree and will kick me out. I feel as though I have to prove that this place is perfect for me – which it isn’t, of course. But it’s as close to perfect as can be and that’s enough for me. But is it for the people around me?

Last night I barely slept for two hours. At 5:30AM, I accidentally sent out a video call to my husband while trying to distract myself. He called back almost immediately, as he was at work already. He assured me that he doesn’t want to get rid of me and my staff don’t want to get rid of me either. I was happy enough with that that I could sleep.

This morning, a relatively new to me staff woke me up. She asked whether I’d manage getting started on my personal care. Normally, I get some help on Wednesdays, but I was too tired or confused or scared to ask her for help, so I just went about doing my morning routine. I was feeling pretty out of it, but I couldn’t explain.

The rest of the day was okay. I went to the dentist this afternoon for a check-up and because I’ve been having some pain. I have inflamed gums, but other than that my oral health is good. I was told I brush my teeth well, something I attribute to the electric toothbrush my husband gifted me for my birthday. Now I will need to use toothpicks too. One filling that I’ve had for like fifteen years needed replacement, but that will happen at my next appt.