Desperate Yet Determined #WotW

Hi everyone. What a week it’s been. I’ve been swinging between despair and determination, sometimes experiencing both at the same time. Let me share.

Last week, I was in a very depressive, dysregulated, suicidal state. I finally managed to tell my assigned home staff about the nature of the “monster” in me, ie. my suicidal thoughts. She decided to E-mail the current behavior specialist assigned to my care home asking her for help in finding me someone to talk to about this. I mean, I have my nurse practitioner at mental health, but I cannot seem to get it through to him how I’m truly feeling.

I also E-mailed my nurse practitioner, only to get a response saying we’ll talk about it on the 23rd. Well, that was the final straw for me and I’ve pretty much decided I’ve had it with treatment with him. I mean, I know I should have called the team, but it’s not like this is the first time he doesn’t pick up on my signals, be it in E-mails, on the phone or even face-to-face. Our talks have pretty much been meaningless forever. Honestly, the only thing he’s helped me with is getting the right medication, the topiramate, for my nightmares.

This week, I’ve been swung back and forth between the thought that truly there is no hope for me and the thought that, maybe, if I stand my ground firmly enough, I will be able to access the right help somewhere.

I’ve also been ruminating over those two years I’ve been in treatment with my current mental health team. My nurse practitioner told me a year ago that “we could search half the country for a suitable therapist but that wouldn’t make sense”, adding that we’re stuck with each other (as if it was something he hadn’t just decided on himself). Half a year earlier, he wanted to refer me to the specialist autism center, but that got shoved off the table for a reason I was never told. I have been saying for all of the two years that I’ve been in treatment with this team that there are two things I want to work on: my trauma-related symptoms and seeing if I can lower my antipsychotic. Neither has even remotely been started yet. After two years, I’m done.

I am not so naive to think my nurse practitioner is actually going to give in and actually help me find someone else this time around. I have a tiny bit of hope focused on the behavior specialist for my care home, but not much. Even so, I’m pretty sure I can get by with no help from any mental health professionals at all. It won’t be easy on me or my staff, and that’s one reason my staff might pressure me to stick with mental health. Thankfully, so far they don’t.

On the physical health front, I’ve also been swung back and forth between despair and determination. After thinking kind of wishfully that my abdominal discomfort was almost gone last week, it returned on Saturday and has been pretty bad all of this week. Nonetheless, my GP wants me to stick to my current regimen of one magnesium tablet (laxative) per day for two more weeks and have the staff call back to evaluate then. I was pretty upset yesterday when I heard this. Now I’m more resigned to the idea that there’s no hope for improvement of my symptoms.

Overall, right now, despair is taking over, but thankfully I’m not actively suicidal right now. There must be some tiny flame of determination in me somewhere.

How was your week?

Word of the Week linky

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 24, 2021)

Hi everyone. It’s really sunny out this Sunday afternoon! How about you join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare. I had quite a lot of coffee so far today, as I went out to McDonald’s (well, through the drive-through) with my husband for lunch and had coffee there. It was better than the coffee I had at Subway last week. Then when I came back to the care facility, I had a cup of coffee again. If you’d like a cup of it too, I’m pretty sure there’s still some left, as my staff said her colleague had just made a fresh pot. Let’s have a cup of coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d almost invite you to the balcony. It’s sunny, after all, but quite cold. Besides, the balcony is covered in fallen leaves. So I guess we’ll sit indoors after all.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I managed to get in 12.5K steps yesterday. That’s a huge win, as I had thought my physical condition was declining slightly. Apparently not.

I also went on the elliptical for half an hour on Friday and am planning to go onto it for another 30 minutes later this evening.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that all this is slightly comforting in light of my probable IBS symptoms and the upcoming abdominal X-ray. I mean, if it’s something very serious, I guess I’d have other symptoms, such as unexpected weight loss or declining physical fitness. Please all still pray for me that the X-rays will show something easily treatable.

If we were having coffee, I would share that my husband bought a new car. Well, he’s going to exchange it for our current Volkswagen Golf on Wednesday. It’s a Daihatsu Cuore, a very small car. His VW is still in relatively good shape, but both of us wanted a cheaper car with respect to gas usage, insurance and tax. With the deal he got, my husband says he’ll have saved enough on these to cover the cost of buying the Cuore within the year. I must say I feel a lot better about this car than I felt back when my husband bought the VW.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I woke up after a nightmare early this morning. It wasn’t yet time for my one-on-one to arrive, so the morning staff helped me put on my music pillow and settle back to bed. I thankfully slept well for about an hour and a half after that. I am really hoping this means that the topiramate is working. I mean, my nightmares aren’t your standard scary dreams and as far as I’m aware, topiramate doesn’t suppress REM sleep altogether, but it does seem to make it easier to let go of anxiety-inducing dreams.

How have you been?

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?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 17, 2021)

Hi everyone. I’m rather late joining #WeekendCoffeeShare this week and I’m afraid there’s no coffee left. You can help yourself to a soft drink or a glass of water though. I also have chips in my cupboard. After yesterday’s crying fit over there only being the wrong flavor left, I decided to buy some myself. I did ask the staff to put them into a cupboard which they only have the keys to, but I’m pretty sure they’ll love to open it for you. Let’s have a drink and a handful of chips and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee (or a soft drink and chips), I’d share that this week is still quite meh. Early in the week, I was feeling a little more optimistic at the prospect of starting my increased dosage of topiramate soon. I started it on Friday and so far, unfortunately, no change. I am grateful though for no side effects either.

Over the weekend, I’ve really been struggling. I landed in a bit of a crisis earlier this evening, but thankfully pulled myself out of it. I did E-mail my nurse practitioner and CPN at mental health to let them know I’m worried about deteriorating. My husband said I’m not, but the fact that I keep increasing my meds, tells me otherwise

If we were having coffee, I’d moan about my orthopedic footwear after all. The shoes squeak and, though I’m still not in terrible pain, I cannot walk for more than twenty minutes on them without them feeling horribly uncomfortable. Mostly my left foot, the foot on which I wear the AFO, starts to drag. I haven’t heard back from the physical therapist, but am pretty sure she’ll just say I need to push through.

If we were having coffee, I would show you all the soap I made for my assigned staff, the one who’s on sick leave. I heard last Thursday that she’ll remain off work until the middle of November or so due to among other things her needing to use up all her days off for the year or they’ll disappear.

Like I said yesterday, the soap contains vetiver, lavandin and clary sage essential oils. I decided to use a white soap base and no colorants, because I felt the scents would speak for themselves.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that my husband came by today. We drove to Subway for lunch. I dutifully wanted to get out my CoronaCheck app, but my husband told me to wait. As he expected, they didn’t ask us for it. The taco beef wrap I chose, was rather boring and I’m pretty sure the mince they put in it was vegetarian rather than beef. Oh well, now at least I know what not to choose next time.

How have you been?

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?

My Relationship With the Night

I have a really complicated relationship with the night. On the one end, I’m a true night owl and can enjoy sitting up late reading a book or browsing the Internet. Before the Internet, I used to listen to a talk show on Dutch public radio called “Night shift” on weekend nights between 2AM and 6AM. The show might’ve aired on week nights too, but I wouldn’t allow myself to stay up past 1AM then. (Yes, I wouldn’t allow myself. My parents didn’t set a bedtime for me past age ten or so.) In the show, people called in to ask for advice or opinions on sometimes rather mundane topics, such as the difference between fruit and vegetables.

One time, a woman called in to ask for opinions on her eye condition. She literally had a hole in her eye, she explained, which she could see when there was static on TV. The hole, however, also meant she was unable to see facial expressions, which limited her card-playing ability. She assumed that and wanted opinions on whether she could have gotten the hole because of fifteen years of almost daily crying. I don’t know whether she ever received a satisfactory answer, but I do know that story brought chills to my spine.

As I said, I’m a true night owl. Others might call me an insomniac. In fact, I’m pretty sure my relationship with sleep and the night was rather unhealthy for most of my life. As a young child even, I used to stay up late at night worrying about things I’d seen in the news, things I’d heard or experienced during the day, etc. My parents hardly comforted me. In fact, they pretty much left me to my own resources. That’s one reason they didn’t set a bedtime for me.

When I lived on my own in 2007, I had an even worse relationship with the night. I developed something akin to OCD that mostly showed up at night. I had to check each night whether my alarm was on, door locked, windows open, heating off, electronics unplugged and I’m pretty sure I forgot something. I’d spend hours going through my apartment checking each several dozens of times.

During the last week of my living on my own, I’d often leave my apartment in the dark to go outside and wander the streets. I still get flashbacks of this darkness now.

Once in the psych hospital, the first medication I was put on, was temazepam, a sleeping pill. That worked for all of two weeks. Then I got put on Nozinan, a strong sedative, which however kept me drowsy for most of the day too. Then followed nitrazepam and diazepam until I finally decided I’d rather have insomnia without meds than with meds.

I eventually did have to go on meds after all, but these were daily meds. I currently don’t experience severe insomnia, but I do experience disrupted, restless sleep and nightmares. I did back in 2007 too, but, though I did mention it when admitted to the hospital, it never got paid attention to. Thankfully, my latest addition to my psych med combo, topiramate, does help with this.

This post was written for today’s Tourmaline’s Halloween Challenge prompt: night.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 9, 2021)

Hi everyone on this sunny Saturday. Well, it’s not sunny anymore, as the sun has just set, but it was sunny all afternoon. Today I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare again. I’m in Lobith and I usually have tea in the evenings here, but if you’d like a cup of coffee, I’m sure my husband can make you one too.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was all quite meh. I’ve said this a couple of times already over the past week. It’s all just one endless stream of sadness, triggers and the resulting flashbacks.

I’m pretty sure I’ve decided I’m going to ask my nurse practitioner to up my topiramate on Monday. I hope this means I won’t have to wait for my next weekly med refill on Saturday to get the upped dose. Of course I know meds won’t solve everything, but I can’t think of anything else right now.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I did find some inspiration in the soaping and essential oil departments again. Yesterday, I even managed to make a simple butterfly melt and pour soap.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I also managed to get in more steps this week than last week and that’s not counting tomorrow yet. Okay, last week was quite a bad week in the walking department, but oh well, let’s be thankful for the little things.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic footwear finally returned from whoever (Shoe or AFO Guy) was working on it earlier this week. It finally seems to be okay now. Not great, but okay. I have at least been able to walk some 25 minutes on the footwear without too much pain and am pretty sure it needs getting used to as well.

If we were having coffee, I would repeat how grateful I am for all the lovely comments on my blog. Like I mentioned last week, I’m participating in #Blogtober21, though my only goal right now is to publish a blog post everyday. I’m no longer going with prompts. Today, I almost wouldn’t have written a post, as I’m with my husband in Lobith like I said and this usually means I can’t concentrate. However, I didn’t want to break my streak.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share my husband cooked me a delicious rice and meatballs meal this eveningn. Neither of us was full after it, so we ended up ordering something else afterwards. However, the meal was very tasty!

How have you been?

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?

Unsettling Dream

Last Monday, I had an appointment with my nurse practitioner. First, I said that I was doing pretty well. This is a big step for me, as I’m not normally accustomed to saying I’m well. He started talking about decreasing the frequency of our appointments and possibly even working towards ending my treatment. While I was able to say that this is far too early for me, at least talking about termination, it all still unsettled me.

I mean, I’ve had my latest med tweak only two weeks ago. Two weeks prior to that, I was in a major crisis.

Honestly, looking at it this way, it seems nuts that he even mentioned terminating. This honestly confirms my fear that if I’m doing well, it automatically means I’ll lose my help. Thankfully, I was able to keep myself from panicking and calmly told him that I’m not ready to stop my treatment now or in the foreseeable future. After all, I still want to lower my Abilify dose and that’d take a psychiatric provider to supervise too.

We eventually agreed on a re-evaluation in December or January and to keep the frequency of my appointments as it is now until then at least. My nurse practitioner already seemed to make it pretty clear he really wants to decrease our appointments by then, but oh well.

The following night, I had my first trauma-related nightmare since going on the topiramate. It wasn’t a direct reliving of a traumatic event, thank goodness. However, my dreams rarely are.

In my dream, I was standing on top of the Erasmus building of Radboud University in Nijmegen, a 20-storey building. Someone I didn’t recognize but who sounded strangely soothing was holding me in a comforting embrace. Then, she said: “Sit down please. I can’t hold you any longer.” Just as I was going to sit down, my right leg slipped and I was standing there with my right foot hanging in mid air. Then I awoke. I immediately realized the symbolism in this dream.

I had the sensibility to press the call button and the night shift came by. Thankfully, she didn’t just soothe me, but encouraged me to actually tell her my dream, which I did. She then confirmed that I’m not in Nijmegen now, but in Raalte.

Needless to say, I’m going to make sure at my next appt, my nurse practitioner understands that just because I’m doing well for a few weeks, doesn’t mean I’m ready to quit my treatment.

July 2021 Health and Wellness Update

Today, I’m not feeling too inspired to write. However, I said last month that I wanted to make health and wellness updates a monthly occurrence. Here goes.

Last month, I was worried about my kidney function. My nurse practitioner was since able to reassure me it was within the acceptable range. I since have stopped using the Water Reminder app, as it was being a bit of a nuisance having to fill out my fluid intake each time. However, I still make sure to drink plenty of water.

The fact that my kidney function is acceptable means I have been able to start the topiramate too. Thankfully, like I’ve said, I don’t experience any side effects.

I also found out last month that I don’t have a UTI. The doctor still isn’t sure what is causing my bladder pain. I for a while took the max dose of paracetamol plus naproxen twice daily. Thankfully, I have since been able to get the naproxen back to an as-needed prescription.

As of last Tuesday, my magnesium, which I’ve been taking for constipation for a few months now, has been upped. I myself thought I suffered with diarrhea, but my GP was able to see that it was a result of constipation really. I am really hoping this will work.

To be honest, with respect to lifestyle, I’m not too satisfied with how I’ve been doing over the past month. I am still struggling to make healthier breakfast and lunch choices. This week, I started having crackers for lunch, which I like far better than slices of bread. However, we didn’t have those until Wednesday and yesterday, we already had a special grill lunch.

I did make sure to eat some fruit at lunchtime each day as well as some slices of cucumber. Overall, combined with my relatively healthy choices from the meal delivery service menu, I did meet my five servings of fruit and veg each day.

I got weighed in again yesterday and, sadly, had gained 400 grams compared to last month. I am still within the acceptable to me weight range, but I do need to make sure I really watch my diet more carefully over the next month.

Exercise-wise, I’m not doing as well as I’d like to. I would really like to make it to 10K steps more regularly again. I do know the weather hasn’t been great, but I still have the elliptical and can dance in my room. I would also really like to make weight training a part of my routine again. That might take some more time though, as, well, I want so many things.

Overall, I feel okay about the things I can’t control, like the fact that my kidney function is within the acceptable range after all. However, I could really do better on things I can control, such as eating a healthier diet and exercising more.