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”.

Not Quite California Dreamin’ #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

When I was a teen, I dreamt of going to the United States in my third year of college. After all, I was going to be an English major, choosing American studies as my specialty. Then in my third year, I would be incredibly motivated and talented and would be allowed to go on an exchange student visa to the United States.

I had already picked my preferred cities to go to. Most were suburbs of Boston. First, it was Lynn. Then Somerville.

Then, at one point, I got obsessed with Columbia, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. Then, finally, Silver Spring, MD, a suburb of DC.

None of these were college towns as far as I know, but I always dreamt of going to college in the city and living in the suburbs eventually. Because, after all, with my incredible talent (ahum) and affirmative action, I calculated that I’d be allowed to stay for some professional career and never go back to the Netherlands again.

Now that I think of it, it’s interesting that I never dreamt about going to California for my studies. I would say that most people choose either the east or west coast. At least people from Europe most likely do, with the Midwest, South and Great Plains being far more conservative. I just envisioned living in New England or the DC area.

And just for the record, it all never came true. I never even majored in English at university. I still haven’t been to the United States, though I hope to visit there someday. Mostly to meet some people I know.

This post was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS), for which the prompt this week is “Cal-“. I could’ve written about calendar calculation, calories or Calibre (an eBook management tool). Instead, some of the other participants’ posts inspired me to write about my American dream.

What a Day, What a Year! #SoCS

Today I got my COVID test results. Thankfully, I’m negative. Like I mentioned yesterday, I went into room-based isolation with cold symptoms and a sore throat yesterday morning. That day in isolation was hard. I constantly imagined testing positive for COVID. That’d mean at least five more days in quarantine. It’d also mean I would have to alert my nurse practitioner and the facility’s behavior specialist, both of whom I’d seen on Thursday.

I felt intense guilt about possibly having infected my staff too. After all, when I was still only experiencing a sore throat, the staff tried to reassure me that I couldn’t possibly have COVID. It may be true – I had my second shot of the vaccine last week -, but I couldn’t be sure.

Can you imagine that, a year ago, we were just at the beginning of this pandemic? On March 12, 2020, the first local case of COVID-19 had been discovered. On March 13, the community service event that was due to take place at my day center as part of a countrywide volunteering initiative, had been canceled. The day center closed five days later, on March 18.

I hadn’t seen my husband since the first weekend of March I think and wasn’t going to see him again till sometime in late May. After all, at first visiting the care facility was discouraged, then it was completely prohibited except in rare cases when a family member was essential for a client’s care. My husband wasn’t.

I am so glad that now, during the second lockdown, care facilities remain open to visitors except when there’s an outbreak of COVID or suspected COVID, as in my case yesterday. I am so glad one of my fellow clients, who had her birthday on Tuesday, may receive a visit from her family tomorrow.

I had my own birthday on June 27, one day after the final restrictions to visiting were lifted, provided there’s no countrywide lockdown or COVID outbreak. Though we’re in a countrywide lockdown again, the lockdown policy remains that care facilities can be open. I credit the prime minister’s late mother, who died in a nursing home during the first lockdown or so I believe.

This post was written for today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) prompt of day/week/month/year.

Sky Is the Limit #SoCS

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) is “Sky’s the limit”. I was immediately reminded of a story in Stephanie Kaars’ book Speciale mama’s (Special Mommies), in which this phrase inspired a mother to challenge her son, Sky, who had severe cerebral palsy, beyond his apparent limits.

It then made me think of how challenging someone beyond their apparent limits, doesn’t mean expecting them to be “normal”. I mean, the phrase which inspired the mother says that her son is the limit. In other words, each child or adult is their own limit of what they can achieve and this should not be defined by the person’s characteristics, such as disabilities.

I don’t have as severe a disability as Sky. I mean, yes, of course blindness is seen as a “major” disability for statistical purposes, but it alone doesn’t qualify anyone for long-term care. Severe cerebral palsy does. That being said, I do have a significant combination of disabilities: blindness, autism and mild CP.

I don’t think these disabilities, or rather the stereotyped perception others have about them, limits me. I mean, of course my disabilities impair me, but that’s totally okay. I am not limited by others’ ideas of what a blind person (as that’s my most visible disability) can or cannot do. Because, you know, even though I am in long-term care with the highest care profile in the visually impaired category, people still sometimes say I’m quite capable for a blind person. No, I’m not.

I am also reminded of the current slogan for the National Federation of the Blind: “I can live the life I want; blindness doesn’t hold me back.” The old slogan was: “With proper training and opportunity, an average blind person can do a job as well as an average sighted person.” This may or may not be true for the hypothetical average blind person, but it certainly isn’t true for me.

Is the new slogan? Yes, I think so. I could really go to university if I pushed harder, maybe. Maybe not, I’m not sure. However, I have no desire to go to university anymore. Similarly, I wasn’t dying living semi-independently. Well, I almost was, if you count the two medication overdoses I took, but those weren’t due to blindness. Then again, I am happy to live in my current care facility. I may still have things I want to improve on, but I for the most part do live the life I want.

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”.

My Essential Oil Container #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

I’ve been perseverating a lot about essential oils, so when the prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) was “Container”, I immediately thought of my box of essential oils. The box was specifically made for storing 10ml bottles of essential oils. It was built by people with intellectual disability.

I’ve had this one box for many years and stored a large amount of essential oils in it. It can store at most 30 bottles and I had it full until I weeded out some expired oils at the beginning of the week. That is, I didn’t just store essential oils in it, but also fragrance oils. I have those stored in a separate basket now.

Currently, there are eighteen oils in my container. I bought them pretty much randomly, so cannot use all of them in blends, because that would require I had other oils to go with them. However, I enjoy each and every oil.

I have been counting and calculating which oils to buy next too. I don’t have many citrus oils, because I had to throw several out that were years beyond their shelf life. I may buy some basic ones, like lemon and orange, but not sure. I will maybe also buy some spicy ones, as I love the scent of litsea (may chang), but it is usually combined with spices such as cinnamon or clove.

I also created a folder on my laptop with essential oil blends and an index of the box. After all, I cannot read the bottle labels and I cannot label each bottle in Braille (that would take up too much space). So I have them sorted alphabetically, from field mint (which translates to “akkermunt” in Dutch and which I can barely use) and anise to tea tree and ylang ylang.

What are y’all’s favorite essential oils? I’d love to know so that I can decide on which, if any, to buy next.

Choosing Love #SoCS

Choosing love is important. Choosing that one person you would want to be with. Or choosing more than one if that’s your thing. Many lovers value their partner above themself. I’m not sure I do and that often makes me feel bad about myself.

I mean, I always say that Jeroen is the most cherished, best, loveliest person in the world. Then he replies that it’s me. Sometimes we go on to joke that it’s our cat Barry.

Yet, whenever I say I love Jeroen more than myself, I think: “So why did I choose to go into the care facility?”

I was fully expecting my husband to say the same when he visited me for the first time in over two months, since visiting had been prohibited until now due to coronavirus lockdown. I fully expected him to come and tell me he didn’t want to be my husband anymore. And yet he didn’t! I’m so happy that, even though I chose my own happiness over his, he chose love!

Written for this week’s Stream of Consciousness or #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “ch”. Also writing this using the new block editor.

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”.

Valid? #SoCS

I’m not sure I’m valid. I joined some groups for highly sensitive people and empaths on Facebook. I relate to literally almost every trait associated with being an HSP/empath. Then again, I’m also autistic and this means I don’t have the cognitive ability to know what’s expected of me in social situations.

I’ve heard there’s some theory about autistics being hyperempathetic where it comes to feeling others’ emotions but less able to know what another person needs. Something with cognitive empathy being lower than emotional empathy. Or was it the other way around? I have no idea and am too lazy to google it now.

I always feel like I want to see myself as a lot more positive than I am. I mean, some people close to me have said I even have some narcissistic traits. Some people think of me as a pretty stereotypical autistic and I’ve always felt good about that, as it validates my feelings of being different and my need for support. Empath/HSP only validates my feeling different.

Yet sometimes I feel that my seeing myself as somehow highly sensitive, is a way of obscuring my negative traits. It’s not that I don’t see them, but that I label them positively in a way. I mean, 90% of empathy traits are worded at least somewhat negatively. For example, have you been told you are “too sensitive?” Do you need alone time a lot? When a friend is distraught, do you feel it too? Heck, I sense negativity a lot, but isn’t that just me being a generally negative person?

I have a feeling that part of the reason I want to see myself as unique somehow, has to do with an external locus of control. I don’t want to see my huge flaws and instead go label them as assets or blame them on my childhood trauma.

And yet most people say I have a negative self-image. My CPN from mental health wants me to do a module of cognitive behavior therapy on helping me get a better self-image. Maybe I need to learn to see myself as just the ordinary person I am without either negative or positive stuff that make me different. After all, when I say I’m a pretty good writer, people close to me often say: “Well, about average for someone with your education.” Apparently I’m quite arrogant in this respect.

So am I allowed to feel different or is that just an excuse to set myself apart from the herd? Remember, feeling like you can only be understood by certain people, usually those with high status, is a narcissism trait in the DSM. I’m not sure. I want to feel okay about myself, but doesn’t that mean seeing my negative traits too? And seeing them as well as the positive ones for what they are: just traits? I guess I’ll learn this in the module.

I’m joining in with #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “val”.

Welcome to Another Day #SoCS

Welcome to another day. What day is it anyway? I have to check my iPhone to be sure. It’s Saturday, March 21, 2020. Here I almost wrote it’s March 20. Where does time go?

It’s the first week of whatever this self-isolation thing is called here in the Netherlands. It’s not a complete lockdown, but there’s not much we can do anyway. I went to the supermarket today, only realizing later on that if I’m allowed to go there and be relatively close to other customers, I should be allowed to see my husband too. Or is that flawed logic? I mean, no-one is really keeping the five feet distance that’s recommended.

I miss my husband. It dawned upon me last Thursday that if I do fall seriously ill with COVID-19, my husband won’t even be allowed to see me. I know, I’m in good immunological health, so I most likely will just get some nasty flulike symptoms, but still. It sucks not being able to be close to my husband.

Then a voice in my head said: “But you chose to leave him.” I didn’t leave him, as in divorce or abandon him. We’re still married and planning on staying so for life. But I did go into long-term care when I wasn’t literally dying living with him. I was struggling to keep up, but I did have food to eat and could, for the most part, get ahold of something when I was hungry.

I bought a bag of liquorice and ate it almost in one sitting today. Then I had a terrible stomachache. I don’t know why I decided to eat all the liquorice. I guess some part of me is feeling rather awful.

Yesterday, a little (inner child, for those not familiar with dissociative identity disorder) wrote to an E-mail list. I don’t know what she wrote and haven’t checked the responses.

Generally, we feel pretty calm, but I guess there are parts of me who are severely triggered by something about this COVID-19 crisis. Other parts are just bemused. It’s a strange world we live in indeed.

I’m linking up with #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “Welcome”.