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.

Gratitude List (July 10, 2021) #TToT

It’s been a while since I last did a gratitude post. Today I feel pretty good. Not that I need to feel good in order to do a gratitude post – I’ve written them to cheer myself up on many occasions. However, feeling good is also a good time to express gratitude. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT.

1. I am so grateful for no side effects from my topiramate. I am not yet sure whether this medication will be working, although my staff say I seem calmer than I was before. It’s only been a week though, so we’ll see. I am however so happy I at least tolerate the medication, since many people don’t.

2. I am so grateful for increased motivation and creativity. Although this has been going on for a few weeks already, I’m really hopeful it’ll not just be an episode and, if it is, will last longer than usual.

3. I am grateful for pretty good sleep particularly early in the week. During the first few days of the week, my sleep quality was truly amazing. Last night it was a lot poorer, but I’m still happy to report I don’t experience major effects today. And it may or may not be the topiramate already working, but I haven’t had nightmares at all.

4. I am grateful for a hair clip my sister gave me for my birthday. I wear it in my new profile pic and, although I still prefer my hair mostly loose with just one small clip at the front, I do like this new look.

5. I am grateful for warm and relatively rain-free days. We’ve had more rain than is usual for the summer here so far, but it’s still okay.

6. I’m grateful my mobility seems to be returning to some reasonably acceptable level. Up till a week or two ago, I could hardly walk a kilometer at a time or I’d feel my legs get tired. Now I can walk somewhat longer distances again. I managed to reach 10K steps several days this past week and almost got it on a few other days.

7. I am grateful for delicious treats for lunch several times this week. Like, today we got mini pizzas.

8. I am grateful for quick package delivery. I ordered several things online Thursday evening and yesterday and they all arrived today.

9. I am grateful I decided to finally order some relatively expensive essential oils. I ordered Roman chamomile, sandalwood and vetiver. I also ordered sweet orange, because I’d used up all of my oil already a month or so ago. I’m so excited about all the delicious essential oil blends I can now make.

10. I am so grateful my staff killed the fly that had been annoying me buzzing around my room all morning before her shift ended. I’m probably not supposed to take delight in animal death, but I’m glad to make an exception for a fly.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 9, 2021)

Hi everyone on this partly sunny and warm Friday evening. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’m afraid it isn’t time for our evening coffee for another hour yet, but I can offer you a glass of water or of course make you a Senseo coffee in my own coffee maker. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share about the topiramate. Yay, I finally started it and yay for no side effects! That being said, I’m not noticing any positive effects either as of yet and my nurse practitioner said it’ll be four to six weeks before we’ll increase my dosage. That disappointed me a bit, given that the max dosage for PTSD symptoms is six times what I take now, so it’ll take at least six months to get to that level and then if we decide this medication isn’t for me after all, six more months to get back off. Maybe I’m wrong here, since I’ve never had a medication not work on me at all before. I’ll discuss all this with my nurse practitioner when I next see him. Of course, here’s hoping the medication will start working in a few weeks.

Next, if we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve experienced an increase in motivation lately. This has been going on for a few weeks already, but I’m noticing it might stick around longer now. Usually, it only lasts for a week or so and then diminishes again.

I have not been as crafty this past week as I was last week, but still I’ve not been disappointed with my level of activity.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I talked with the care facility’s behavior specialist yesterday. We decided to let the moving care homes issue rest for a bit, but get back to it in about two months’ time. I really do hope we can work on making my life in my current care facility better, as she’s right that every place has its positive and negative sides.

If we were having coffee, I’d moan about the rapid increase in COVID cases here in the Netherlands. We’re due to get another press conference from the prime minister at 7PM. I’m not expecting any measures that will affect me directly, but still, it sucks.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been spending quite a bit of money on my hobbies lately. I ordered several new essential oils, including the Roman chamomile I mentioned on Wednesday, as well as a full liter bottle of sweet almond oil. I also ordered a kitchen scale. Not a talking one, as they’re too expensive for my liking. I’m hoping all my supplies will arrive either tomorrow or next Monday.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you I’m loving looking at sites for bath and body recipes. I already created a pink grapefruit and lemon massage oil. Since both essential oils are phototoxic, I took extra care to dilute them properly and so far, so good. I used the oil on my hands yesterday and am absolutely fine despite the sunshine now.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 2, 2021)

Hi everyone! Can you believe the first half of 2021 is over already? I certainly can’t. Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon soft drink. If you want one too, I bet there’s still some left in the fridge. I can also make you a Senseo coffee if you want it. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d talk a little about the weather. It’s okay. Most of the past week, it’s been raining, but I still got time to go outside inbetween rainfalls. It was a bit chilly for summer early in the week. Today and over the weekend, temperatures are supposed to rise to above 20°C.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that most of the pandemic restrictions were lifted last week. They however had only been lifted a few days when news got out about the delta variant of the coronavirus soon becoming dominant. Thankfully, the Netherlands has quite a high vaccination rate, so I have my hopes up we won’t enter a full lockdown come September. After all, my husband and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary on September 19 and we really want to finally be able to do something fun.

If we were having coffee, I would share that this week was a truly mixed bag mental health-wise. I did enjoy some activities, like jewelry-making. Last week was my 35th birthday and I got a bunch of supplies as a present. When being engaged in creative activities, I do genuinely feel some level of contentment, if not happiness.

However, there have also been times when I felt incredibly left out and hopeless. Like I said two weeks ago, the manager indicated that I cannot get more support than I’m getting now. Sometimes, I’m okay with this, but at other times, it really frustrates me.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ll finally start my topiramate this coming Sunday. The longer it takes, the less hopeful I am that it will actually help. We’ll see though.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, on Wednesday, some type of staff support person came to observe and help the staff with some situations with other clients and with me. She offered some ideas for easing transitions for me. When I’m doing okay or sort of okay, they help, but when I’m very distressed, they don’t. I’m still unsure as to how I can ease the many transitions I face during the day.

If we were having coffee, I’d update you all about my situation with the possible UTI I talked about two weeks ago. Well, it isn’t a UTI. What it is, no-one seems to know or care about. I was told to take naproxen and paracetamol and, when this week I reported that they helped some, was just told to continue taking them for another month. A month! I mean, seriously?! I feel quite frustrated about this.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that my sister and her family are visiting me and my husband in Lobith tomorrow. My husband gave me the choice between taking a ParaTransit taxi and him picking me up at 10AM. Since my sister won’t visit till 3PM, I decided to take the taxi. I still have my entire kilometer allowance, since I haven’t felt comfortable yet using the taxi due to COVID-19. My taxi should arrive here in Raalte by 12:30PM. It’s normally a little under a ninety-minute drive to Lobith, but the taxi service might be late and/or combine my ride with someone else’s. However, if I schedule my ride earlier, I won’t be able to have lunch. Fingers crossed the taxi won’t be late.

How have you been?

Nurse Practitioner’s Appt This Afternoon

I had a brief meeting with my nurse practitioner this afternoon. Even though it was only half an hour, we discussed a lot of things. First we made concrete plans for me to start the topiramate. Like I said before, I would need to be on the injectible birth control for two weeks before I could start it. That would be next Thursday, but I proposed I won’t start with the topiramate until the Sunday after that, July 4. That way, I won’t be just starting out when I go to Lobith on July 3. This was okay with my nurse practitioner and he’d make sure the pharmacy would get it ready on time.

Next, we discussed my bloodwork results. In the part that measures metabolic health, nothing worrisome was found. I asked about my kidney function and first my nurse practitioner said that unless your estimated GFR is below 60, it’s no reason to worry yet. Mine was 81. He checked my previous lab results. My estimated GFR was 71 in 2019 and 82 in 2020, so there’s not a clear decrease either.

He also complimented me on my cholesterol level, which was completely normal. Of course, there is only so much you can do about high cholesterol, but apparently I’m doing what I need to. It probably helps that I don’t drink and try to eat a relatively healthy diet.

Then the other page showed my blood level for my antipsychotic aripiprazole and its active metabolite. These were quite high. This means that side effects may outweigh the effectivness of the medication. While I don’t experience any major side effects, we will try to lower my aripiprazole dose in the not-too-distant future. That’s been a long-time wish for me anyway.

Then we got to discuss my crisis last week and my conversations with my husband. My husband had suggested I might have dependent personality disorder and I eventually thought he was right. Of course, in my mind, this led to all kinds of additional conclusions that my husband hadn’t mentioned, like my not having trauma-related issues and my not even being autistic and my being one giant manipulator.

My nurse practitioner said that DPD rarely if ever goes alone and that he wonders whether it even is a valid diagnosis. It is according to DSM-5, of course. He added that this is one of the most negative diagnoses to give someone. My nurse practitioner obviously didn’t mean my husband, as he didn’t really try to diagnose me at all, just wanted to give me food for thought. We will further discuss my issues with dependency in the future.

Overall, it was a good appt. As my nurse practitioner hadn’t read the E-mails we (meaning my inner people) had sent him over the weekend, we didn’t go into those specifically. Those E-mails had included a lot of self-loathing and self-doubt, including about our possible DID. I did explain about the dependency issue, like I said above. He also made sure I’m no longer in actual crisis. I confirmed this. This means I no longer need more frequent contact with the mental health team than I normally have.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 20, 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How have you been?

June 2021 Health and Wellness Update

I am feeling kind of worried about my health lately. To get myself a more realistic picture of how I’m doing, I thought I’d do a health and wellness check-in. I am hoping I can make this a monthly habit.

Firstly, the reason I am worried is one abnormal result on the annual bloodwork I had done last week. I get an annual blood test for fasting glucose, cholesterol and other indicators of metabolic syndrome. This is because I take psychiatric medications that can influence this. Last year, my mental health agency ordered it, but this year, my care facility’s physician did. This means I could see my results in the patient portal for my GP surgery that same evening.

The good news is my fasting glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides were all within the normal range. The one thing that wasn’t, is an estimate of kidney function. It should be above 90 and was 81. Because it is an estimate, one abnormal blood test doesn’t say anything. I may need to be retested in a few months.

I looked up what to do about decreased kidney function, hoping to find that if I drank plenty of water, I could get it back to normal. I’m still not sure that’s the case. I mean, I try to drink at least two liters of fluid each day, but can’t figure out whether that should be enough. Other than that, I do try to watch my salt intake more closely. That’s pretty hard, of course – harder than drinking more water.

I do worry that I might not be able to tolerate the topiramate though, because if I remember correctly, that medication is eliminated through the kidneys. I’m not sure though and will leave this to the doctors to decide.

Like I said though, all my other results were within the normal range. My fasting blood glucose was 4.3. It should be between 4 and 6 and was 4.2 the last time, but I’m not drawing conclusions about it increasing as of yet.

Today, I did send off a urine sample for checking for a UTI, because I’ve been having lower abdominal pain. It came back alright. My staff will likely call for an appointment for me to see the doctor, as the pain is still pretty intense.

As for some good news though, I stepped onto the scale this morning and am back at my average weight for the past six months or so. My weight usually goes up or down a few pounds. I’m now 72.1kg, which means 2kg to lose for a BMI under 30. I am unlikely to reach that goal, but it’s okay.

As my husband reminded me when I told him about the abnormal blood result, small steps go a long way. I am already trying to cut back on my snacking on the weekend. I also make sure to eat enough veg and fruit. I mean, the meal delivery company isn’t great on putting veg in its pasta and rice dishes, which I eat most days. However, I make sure to eat some cucumber, tomatoes or raw bell pepper with each lunch. For the upcoming month, I’ve also selected some potato dishes from the meal menu, since they usually are richer in veg.

My husband also pointed out that I get enough physical activity. I could go on the elliptical more often, but my walking is pretty good already.

I did feel a little depressed when my husband told me that it’s obvious that I’m not as healthy as the average woman in her thirties. Then again, he reminded me that I turned the tide on my weight gain in 2018 and am healthier in some ways than I was before. Besides, a century ago I wouldn’t have lived past infancy. That put things into perspective.

When I Can’t Sleep

Today, Sadje asks in her Sunday Poser what we do when we can’t go to sleep. Now I must say I only occasionally suffer with insomnia nowadays. As a child, teen and young adult, I’d suffer with it a lot more often. When in the psych hospital, I even tried a handful of different sleep medications until they all stopped working and I just accepted lack of sleep. The one sleep medication I remember that actually worked for a relatively long while if I didn’t use it more than twice a week or so, was zolpidem. I liked that one best, but I actually still have a kind of psychological longing for the floaty feeling it gave me.

Anyway, now that I only occasionally suffer with insomnia, I usually still don’t like to just lie there and do nothing. The nice, floaty feeling on zolpidem would’ve helped with that at least. Rather, I usually get up and do some reading on my phone. Of course, I know that electronics are supposed to keep you awake and this may be the case for me even without the blue light (being that I keep my screen completely black). Indeed, I don’t usually find that reading helps me fall asleep, but at least it helps me pass the time until I’m naturally tired enough to fall asleep. Or until it’s morning.

I wanted to go off on a tangent here and talk about other sleep issues too. The most annoying of these is finding myself in a half-sleeping, dreamlike state where my mind seems to want to do things but my body won’t. This experience, which some people I know have said might be sleep paralysis, is extremely frightening. It usually happens when I take a nap, which is why I avoid taking naps if I’ve had this experience recently.

Which gets me to fear of sleep due to nightmares. I experience nightmares that actually affect my daytime functioning at least a few times a week. I don’t always remember my nightmares exactly and I’m not even sure those I do remember count as nightmares, as sometimes when I’m in them they aren’t fear-inducing. They however do trigger my PTSD flashbacks, if that makes sense. They usually are very vivid. I have had this issue more since starting on my antipsychotic, but now that I think of it, it’s probably more of an anxiety or PTSD symptom. I am really hoping the topiramate, which I’ll hopefully be starting within the next week or two, will help with this.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 4, 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

How have you been?