Gratitude List (October 22, 2021) #TToT

Hi all on this mixed-bag Friday weather-wise. It’s cloudy with some rain, but the sun tries to peek through here and there too. I seem to have given up on the blogging challenges entirely, but I’m still attempting to write as often as I comfortably can. Today, I’m doing a gratitude list. I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) as usual. Here goes.

1. I am grateful my staff, the one who is on sick leave, was happy with her presents. Like I mentioned before, I gifted her a handmade soap, hand cream and bracelet. Another staff delivered it to her house as to allow me to save money on postage. The staff who is on sick leave, later texted the other staff an audio recorded message for me. It was so sweet!

2. I am grateful for my nurse practitioner and community psychiatric nurse. On Sunday, I landed in a bit of a crisis and E-mailed them, along with my assigned day activities staff and my support coordinator. My nurse practitioner responded on Monday. Though I felt like he was downplaying my crisis a little, my CPN later said that she at least felt that I was doing well because I asked for help.

3. I am grateful my GP takes me seriously. This really could’ve been a grateful for last week, but I forgot to mention it then. As regular readers of this blog might know, I’ve suffered with what doctors think is irritable bowel syndrome with constipation for years, but it’s gotten worse and somewhat different over the past nine months or so. I saw my GP about it a few weeks ago and he initially sent me home with orders for the staff to fill out a rating scale on my bowel movements. Boy, was it embarrassing having to ask the staff to look at my poop! Thankfully, it did show that I hadn’t been misguided about my symptoms. Last week, we went back with the rating scale and the doc examined me again. After discussing me with the gastroenterologist, he decided to refer me for an abdominal X-ray. It’s been scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

4. I am grateful for my husband’s ability to put things into perspective. I have been worried sick (no pun intended) about the possible outcome of said abdominal X-ray. My husband though said that, since I’ve been having symptoms for as long as he knows me, it’s not likely to be anything serious.

5. I am still grateful for topiramate. The increased dosage does seem to do something in the end. Last night, I had dreams about leaving the care facility, but they do not seem to affect me as much as they used to. I call that a win!

6. I am so grateful for one-on-one support. I cannot say this often enough. I am so very grateful my staff aren’t leaving me when I’m in crisis.

7. I am grateful the chili con carne I had for dinner yesterday was better than I expected. I hadn’t had meal delivery company chili in a while since it’s part of their fall/winter menu. However, I’d remembered it as dry rice with dry beans and a tiny bit of mince thrown in. To my surprise, they’d actually added some sauce and there was more mince in it than I expected.

8. I am grateful that the people who were installing blinds on my side of the building, are finally done doing so. Originally, only the other side of the building had blinds on the outside, but some of my fellow clients suffered badly from the sun shining through their windows during the day especially in summer. It took the company several weeks of installing the blinds and they had to be in each room to program them too. Thankfully, they programmed mine to manual, not automatic. Otherwise, if it’s sunny, the blinds will go down, then if a bit of wind blows they will go up, then down again, up again, etc. I’d rather keep them up and just draw the curtains when it’s sunny.

9. I am grateful that, when they were working on my blinds this afternoon, my one-on-one took me to the snoezelen® room at the day center. After all, the noise was quite unbearable. I loved lying on the waterbed while there was no-one in the adjacent room. So nice!

10. I am grateful I had the energy to go on the elliptical for over 30 minutes this afternoon. When I first stepped onto it, it felt as though I’d hardly manage 15 minutes, but I did pretty well.

What are you grateful for?

Gratitude List (October 16, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone. It’s becoming old, but I’m still struggling. I just dragged myself out of a crying fit that started over the wrong flavor chips (yes, seriously). Sometimes I’m a toddler like that. Writing that down made me chuckle in a self-mocking kind of way. I’m still sad though, albeit not about the chips. To cheer myself up, I’m writing a gratitude list. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. I am grateful for nice weather most of the week. We’ve had some showers, but it’s not like it’s been raining all day.

2. I am grateful for special lunches most days of the week. As regular readers will know, I don’t care for the usual slices of bread that make up a normal lunch here. On Wednesday though, my staff and I decided to make a salad. We still had some left for Thursday. Yesterday, the day activities group I would’ve been part of if I didn’t get my day activities in the home, made hamburgers and I could have some too. Yum!

3. I am grateful for even more essential oil inspiration. Of course, I already mentioned last week that I’d signed up for Lea Jacobson’s VIP club for a month. Like I said yesterday, this week, I decided to grant myself access to the essential oil safety files too. The combination of these resources has truly helped me get inspired in the aromatherapy department.

4. I am grateful I have been able to do some DIY skincare product making again. Like I mentioned yesterday, I made a hand cream. Today, I made a melt and pour soap with the same combination of essential oils.

5. I am grateful my now former behavior specialist was happy with her leave-taking gift. I gave her the butterfly soap I posted last week.

6. I am grateful the behavior specialist gave me a “gift” too. It wasn’t a physical present. Instead, she let me listen to a piece of music she’d played on the pan flute. I am not at all musically talented, so I have no way of knowing whether it was good or anything, but I liked it.

7. I am grateful my Fitbit is charging again. I’d had problems with the charger not making contact before, but on Tuesday, it wouldn’t make contact even after cleaning both the Fitbit and the charger. I got a new charger and thankfully, that solved the problem.

8. I am grateful my topiramate, the medication I take for my PTSD symptoms, got upped. I started my new dose yesterday. It’s not yet working, obviously, but I’m hopeful it will start to work soon.

9. I am grateful for time and energy to read again. I have been escaping into an inspirational memoir this afternoon.

10. I am so grateful my staff haven’t given up on me even though I’m often tempted to give up on myself lately.

What have you been grateful for lately?

DIY All-Natural Hand Cream Using Essential Oils

I finally seem to have found a bit of inspiration to create things again lately. Last Tuesday, I decided to buy the essential oil safety files at Lea Jacobson’s website. For $47 one-time, you’ll have access to the safety guidelines for over 240 essential oils and absolutes. This seemed a bit expensive to me at first, but given how hard it otherwise is to find exact topical dilution maxes etc. online, I finally gave in.

Regular readers will know that I love to make melt and pour soap and have occasionally made massage oils and body butters. I also made one hand cream. I however usually use fragrance oils, as essential oils can be more irritating to the skin and cause sun sensitivity. Now, with Lea’s safety files, I felt more confident that I’d properly dilute my essential oils. This means I could finally make an all-natural hand cream.

Ingredients


  • 50 g cocoa butter

  • 50 g coconut oil

  • 50 g sweet almond oil

  • 20 g beeswax pellets

  • Essential oils (see below on dilution)


You can use shea butter or mango butter instead of cocoa butter and any liquid carrier oil instead of sweet almond oil. If you want a vegan option, I think you can even use candellia wax instead of beeswax.

Now for the essential oils. I wanted to create a relaxing blend of essential oils. It is hard to find ready-made skincare blends online, so I used a diffuser blend and adapted it for topical use. This required me to know whether the essential oils I would be using, are skin-safe and, if so, in what dosage. For this, I used Lea’s safety files.

The blend I found online that I liked, contained lavender, clary sage and vetiver essential oil. Since I didn’t have lavender essential oil on hand anymore, I decided to use lavandin instead. I found out that, while lavandin essential oil is pretty skin-safe, lavandin absolute is not. For this reason, I made extra sure my staff checked that what I had in my box was the essential oil. It was!

The diffuser blend called for two drops of each oil. I decided to use three drops in my hand cream. This totals nine drops of essential oil, which isn’t even a 1% dilution. Usually, natural skincare makers use a 3% dilution, which would be safe with these oils. However, I felt the scent was strong enough already as it was now.

Making the Hand Cream


  1. Mix together the cocoa butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and beeswax in a microwave-safe bowl.

  2. Microwave in one-minute increments, stirring afterwards, until melted.

  3. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes before adding the essential oils. You could use a thermometer to check the temperature. I’ve heard most EOs require a temperature below 45°C. I don’t own a thermometer though, so I just wait until the mixture starts to set a little.

  4. Add in the essential oils.

  5. Stir with a whisk to make the hand cream more fluffy.

  6. Pour the mixture into a jar or pot.

  7. Let fully cool before screwing on the lid.

Since my hand cream will be a gift, I haven’t touched it myself after fully cooling. My previous attempt turned out a bit too thick for my liking, which is why I cut back on the beeswax a little this time.

I will probably be making a melt and pour soap with the same scent soon too. Then, I’ll add them both into a package I’ll send to my assigned home staff, who, as regular readers know, is on sick leave. I really hope she likes it.

PoCoLo
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Loneliness Comes From Within: Some Reflections

I am still struggling badly. I have been having flashbacks of the time when I lived on my own in 2007. When I told my husband this tonight, he asked whether any traumatic events happened there. Not really in the classic sense of the word, but I did suffer intensely. The “cage”, as I called my apartment, was a filthy, dark and gloomy place. Neither I nor anyone else had ever thought of making it into a home.

I was intensely lonely during the three months that I lived in that place. Nonetheless, people did reach out to me. I was in touch with several of my fellow students in the linguistics program at university, one of whom lived in my housing complex too.

When I mentioned this, my husband said that loneliness rarely comes from the environment. It wasn’t that no-one cared, as had been the case during most of my high school years. In fact, multiple people reached out to me, but I was closed off to contact with others. I was so convinced that I was unloveable that I didn’t attempt to form genuine bonds with people.

Sadly, it’s still mostly this way. Just a few days back, I was telling my husband that all caring staff eventually leave, referring to the idea I’ve gotten in my head that my assigned staff is not coming back. Indeed, a number of staff have left in the past or told me they had to distance themselves from me due to my behavior. However, a number have stayed too. In particular, my support coordinator from when I lived with my husband, stuck by me till the end.

Of course, staff/client relations are different from friendships. Staff might leave for reasons that have nothing to do with me. Others will come in their place, sad as it may be. Friends though will not necessarily be replaced. And that’s where it hurts more: I feel intensely incompetent at forming friendships.

I mean, though I did have contact with fellow students and people in my housing complex while living on my own, I mostly sucked up their energy. I feel intensely sad about this. I still feel like I’m not able to make friends ever at all. However, there is hope. Now that I (hopefully) am in a stable living situation, I may be able to build on some genuine friendships after all. I already consider some of my fellow clients my friends. I don’t need to rely on them for support, as I (hopefully) have my staff for that. That should be a relief.

Gratitude List (October 8, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m still struggling quite a bit, but I’m determined that, if I don’t write to the 31 prompts for the 31-day writing challenge, I’ll at least write a blog post everyday. To cheer myself up, today I’m doing a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for pizza. Yes, again. Last Sunday, like I mentioned in my #WeekendCoffeeShare post, we ordered food from the local Italian restaurant. I ordered a tuna pizza and it was delicious!

2. I am grateful for my staff. As I mentioned several times over the past week, my assigned home staff is on sick leave. Thankfully though, I still do have other staff. I struggle to trust them, but am trying.

3. I am grateful for new essential oil inspiration. Last Monday, I signed up to the Using Essential Oils Safely VIP club for one month. It’s too expensive for me to remain a member longer, but I’m learning all I can while I have the membership. I did put a few new essential oils on my wishlist to buy someday.

4. I am grateful for my bed’s adjustable headrest and legrest. That way, I am able to lie in bed much more comfortably.

5. I am grateful for quetiapine (Seroquel). This is my PRN medication. I’ve needed it quite a few times over the past week and am happy it helps at least a little.

6. I am grateful for the support from my community psychiatric nurse and nurse practitioner. I had a regular appt with my CPN on Wednesday and told her how much I was struggling. She offered to ask my nurse practitioner to call me on Thursday and I reluctantly accepted the offer. He did call and we agreed to discuss possibly upping my topiramate (Topamax), which I take for PTSD symptoms, on Monday.

7. I am grateful for my husband. He is very able to put things into perspective.

8. I am grateful for St. Nicholas candy. The holiday isn’t till December 5, but the candy has been in stores since mid-August and my staff ordered it earlier this week. (Thankfully my fellow clients don’t have the awareness of time to get confused by this, as people of higher intellectual level might.) I had a large handful (well, a small bowlful) of candies this evening.

9. I am grateful I am still able to blog everyday in spite of my distress. I am also so grateful for all the engagement on my blog, particularly on my posts about the mental hospital. Thanks a bunch everyone for your support!

Well, okay, nine things of thankful this time, but it’s alright. What are you grateful for?

Dealing with Anxious Attachment and Attachment Loss

Okay, I’m probably giving up on the 31-day writing challenge. I love the prompts, but right now, they just don’t seem to inspire me. I’m not feeling well at all right now. Haven’t for about a week or more. Like I shared in my post on Sunday, I have been feeling triggered by my staff being on sick leave. It’s not just that, of course. The change of seasons with all its triggers to my time in crisis back in 2007, doesn’t help either. The emotional flashbacks are so bad I’m considering asking my nurse practitioner to temporarily up my topiramate. For now though, I’ll write a little about attachment loss and abandonment issues.

When I was first diagnosed with complex PTSD and dissociative identity disorder in 2010, part of the consultation that led to this diagnosis involved an attachment styles questionnaire. I scored highest on the anxious/preoccupied attachment style. This means that I tend to depend heavily on others. I struggle to admit this, but it is true.

As such, I fear attachment loss or abandonment a lot. Most anxiously attached people tend to seek another relationship right away when one ends. I don’t have any exes, since my husband was also my first boyfriend, but I do notice it in other areas. For example, now that my assigned staff is on sick leave, I’ve already been thinking about who will become my assigned staff if she ends up not returning. Which, in fact, is something I cannot get out of my head for whatever reason.

Anxiously attached people also tend to cling to dysfunctional attachment figures far too long. Again, I don’t experience this in my marriage, but I did experience it in the psych hospital. I had an assigned staff who was rather adamant that I become more independent than I could be, but I accepted her as an authority for far too long. Same with my psychologist.

I, thankfully, left that place. However, I do find that something I read while researching attachment loss for this post, makes a lot of sense: the idea that leaving a relationship on paper doesn’t mean being emotionally detached from that attachment figure. Again, not my marriage, but with respect to my care situation, yes, that’s so me! I still experience vivid dreams (not necessarily nightmares!) about the psych hospital. I also still look up things about my former care agencies, thinking maybe I should go back. I still find myself being influenced by what my past care providers said about me, no matter how harmful and wrong. This may be one reason I don’t generally meet the avoidance criterion of classic PTSD, but am rather the opposite: I find myself drawn to things that trigger me. Now if only I could find a way to truly let go of the emotional baggage I’m carrying with me.

What It Was Like Being a Patient on a Psychiatric Ward #31Days2021 #Blogtober21

I’m still not too inspired to write. Today’s optional prompt for #31Days2021 is “patient”. Obviously, most people will write about “patient” as in the adjective derived from patience. I won’t. I want instead to share what it was like being a patient in a psych hospital.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I spent 9 1/2 years in a mental hospital between 2007 and 2017. I spent my first sixteen months on the locked ward. This is pretty much as I imagined it before I entered the psych system myself: floridly psychotic patients screaming and exhibiting other erratic behavior, staff running around trying to control it. Like I said yesterday, I witnessed people being secluded and being forcibly medicated several times. I was an informally admitted patient, so I couldn’t be subjected to any form of restraint. This isn’t to say it didn’t happen, as I said.

The staff/patient ratio at my ward was around 1:5 during the day. This means there’s not much time for staff to keep regular tabs on what patients are up to if they aren’t kicking up a fuss. I, in fact, at one point got told I would be put into time-out if I “needed more care than we can provide”.

After those sixteen months, I transferred to an open resocialization unit and later another open ward. The staff/patient ratio there was around 1:10, sometimes even less. As a result, patients had to help one another out sometimes.

On the locked ward, I had treatment plan reviews once every six weeks. This was because the ward was basically a crisis intervention/stabilization unit, where officially you could stay a maximum of six months. I must say there wasn’t much in the way of therapy. Of course, most patients admitted to this unit, suffered with psychotic disorders, for which the main treatment is medication. For me, it was decided I just had to figure out a place to go after pulling myself out of the worst crisis and, for this reason, I had mostly contact with the social worker.

On the resocialization unit, I did get psychotherapy. This was where I was diagnosed with (complex) PTSD and dissociative identity disorder in addition to autism. Thing is, once I moved to the other ward, these diagnoses were all removed. It was decided I was just care seeking and dependent and needed to be kicked out of the hospital.

We did have day activities most days on each psych unit. However, not all patients were able to participate. I, for one, usually was not.

In summary, my entire psychiatric hospital stay was one lengthy journey of changing diagnoses, social workers who tried to find me a place to live but had a very narrow view of what I needed, limited nursing support and hardly any day activities. I did start two of my three current daily psych meds while in the hospital. However, I must say, looking back, I hardly made any progress during those 9 1/2 years.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 3, 2021)

Hi everyone on this rainy Sunday. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare this afternoon. I may add another post for Blogtober and the 31-day writing challenge, though neither challenge requires you to follow a topic or prompts. In this sense, this post could count as my daily post for October 3. We’ll see if I can still find time to write a post on today’s optional prompt too.

As usual, I just had my afternoon coffee, but I’m pretty sure the other clients are still having theirs. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week is a bit meh. It seems it’s the beginning of fall that’s causing me to feel more depressed and less inspired than usual. I have been going for a few walks over the week, but not many due to the rain. I also hardly did anything crafty. Today, I spent a lot of the morning and early afternoon in bed.

If we were having coffee, I’d share about my care plan review last Thursday. Like I said in my previous posts, it went mostly as expected. It did create some stress in me related to the upcoming reassessment of my one-on-one care. The behavior specialist also told me at this meeting that she’s going to work at another care facility that’s part of this agency, so she will no longer be assigned to my case. It’s not yet decided who her successor will be, but that should become clear pretty soon.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, the evening after the care plan review, my assigned home support staff left her shift early due to being sick. Everyone else is telling me she just has the flu, but I somehow got it in my had that she is suffering burnout and it’s my fault for having sucked up her energy too much.

This situation led to a bit of a crisis Friday night. I left my room initially looking for the late shift, but she’d already left the building. However, my room-leaving detector didn’t alert the night staff yet, probably because it was just before 10:30PM. The people who would receive my alerts at night, are at the main institution in another village and they are then supposed to call the night shift here. In other words, there is no way I can alert the night shift here directly. I went looking for help, but the outside door of the home was already locked.

This led to a bit of a panic and I went into dissociative mode. I grabbed a chair and climbed over the half-door into the kitchen (the kitchen is locked at night to prevent me entering it and self-harming). I tried to self-harm in several ways, but thankfully didn’t really get hurt. When the night staff came to get another client to bed, she saw me and helped me to my room.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, despite all the troubles, the week will likely end on a positive note. Several of us clients have not received meal delivery service meals this entire week because we were supposed to be emptying out the freezer. This did mean I got a lot of the same meals this past week and today I said, if I got noodles again, I’d ask my one-on-one to drive me to the supermarket so I could buy a salad or something. Turned out one of the other clients whose freezer was supposed to be emptied, didn’t fancy his meal for today either, so the staff agreed to order food from the local Italian restaurant. I will be getting a tuna pizza.

How have you been?

Why I’m Content in My Current Care Facility #31Days2021 #Blogtober21

Last Thursday, like I mentioned before, I had my care plan review here at the long-term care facility. It was my first one, even though I’ve been living here for two years, because last year’s got canceled due to COVID. As we were discussing my progress over the past two years and my wishes for the future, I said that I’m about 95% sure I want to stay here. That’s huge for me, as I’ve been constantly on the lookout for another place to move to particularly over the past year.

This brings me to today’s prompt in the 31-day writing challenge: content. I at first wasn’t sure what to write about on this word. I mean, I wanted to write why I’m content living here, but somehow it felt kind of off. Then I read Lesley’s contribution to the challenge, Contentment Without Complacency, and realized that being content where you are doesn’t mean there’s no ground for improvement. So, with no further ado, I’m going to share why I’m content living in my current care facility.

First of all, I love the way my staff support me. As regular readers of this blog will know, I’ve had quite the journey through the care system. I resided in a mental hospital for 9 1/2 years, where there was constant pressure on meeting goals and getting better. Before that, I lived on my own and, before that, in a training home. As the name suggests, it was heavily focused on independence training.

For those not aware, my current care facility primarily caters to people with an intellectual disability. All other clients in my specific home have severe to profound intellectual disabilities. For this reason, my staff are used to helping them with everyday activities such as mealtimes, personal care, etc.

They are also used to clients needing staff to realize that correcting challenging behavior will not be effective. Whereas in the mental hospital, I used to be often left to my own resources if I’d done something self-destructive, now my staff provide me with affectionate care. This might be seen as reinforcing the behavior, but in my experience, quite the opposite is true.

In addition to liking my staff’s care approach, I like my fellow clients’ lack of social expectations of me. One of my fellow clients will occasionally come to my room asking me to wish him goodnight, but other than that, the clients hardly interact with me. One wish for the future that I voiced at my care plan review, is more interaction with other people, particularly those of higher intellectual level. I do have a couple of friends in other care homes that are part of the complex, whom I talk to when going to the day center or when outside. I however am grateful that I don’t live with these people 24/7.

I also like my room. Some staff call it an apartment, since I have my own bathroom and small kitchenette. I also have my own balcony. I honestly haven’t had a better room in any of my previous places in the healthcare system.

Overall, the reason I’m not 100% sure I want to stay here, doesn’t seem to have to do with my facility itself. It is rather related to my own anxieties and insecurities. Of course, things could always be better, but that doesn’t mean I’m not content exactly where I am right now.

Grateful For the Right Care

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday (#FMF) is “Care”. Most writers, I’m assuming, are writing about how God takes care of them, how they should not be distracted by the cares of this world, how important it is to care for others and other spiritual meanings of the word “care”. I do find these important too, of course, but was particularly impressed with the timing of this prompt. After all, yesterday marked my two years being in the long-term care facility.

I cannot keep from thinking that God put the people and circumstances in my life that led to me being here now. He did, as He has a plan for all of us. However, since I didn’t become a Christian till late last year, before then it was easy to consider these circumstances, these people, all working together to get me the right care, just chance.

I want to use this space to give thanks for the blessing that is my being in long-term care, with my current support team and my current care plan. I also want to give thanks to all the people God put into my life who worked and in many cases continue to work so tirelessly to keep it this way. My support coordinator and support workers from when I lived with my husband. My psychiatric nurse practitioner at the time. The Center for Consultation and Expertise coordinator and the consultant she hired to help get me the right care. My staff at my old day center. My staff, the manager and behavior specialist here at the long-term care facility. The people in authority who decided whether to grant me long-term care funding at all and eventually decided to grant me the one-on-one I get now. Last but not least, my husband, who sticks by me through it all.

Looking back at all the time I’ve been busy fighting for the care I get now, I realize some of the events are nothing short of miraculous. I am so intensely grateful for this!