If Social Media Dies, Make Soap

Gosh, over a week has passed and I didn’t write. It’s not because I didn’t feel inspired as much. After all, July is National Journal Writing MOnth. So are January, April and October, but I hadn’t heard about NaJoWriMo until late April. This month, I’ve had a prompt delivered to my inbox everyday, but I didn’t feel like writing. The reason is that I am in the midst of a new perseveration. Yeah, you guessed it right, I’ve jumped head first into the soap making craft. On Mama’s Losin’ It, one of the writing prompts this week asks what hobby you’d pick up if social media died tomorrow. This is what I’d do.

I have been making various different kinds of soaps. I do melt and pour soaping, so of course I didn’t technically make the soap myself, but I have tried various kinds of soap for the craft. So far, I like the cheapest kind best, but that supplier takes three to six business days to deliver and I’d run out of soap last Friday. That, plus the SLES that’s in that soap, made me decide to get all-natural soap at another store. I especially don’t like this soap’s pre-melted texture, but once melted, it’s easy to work with. The vendor warned that it may not be the best soap to work with layers with, but I made a layered soap that turned out quite good. One of the colors is supposed to be gold but it turned out yellowish white because I hadn’t shaken up the colorant enough before use. I will look into how to get it to look better.

Layered Soap

I have also tried my hand at body lotion making. The instructions I posted last week, weren’t correct. I made body lotions using a recipe I found online and almost everything went wrong that could’ve gone wrong. Like, I didn’t know that I had to heat the water phase, so I didn’t do this. This meant no or little emusification. The site I got the recipe from is also into all-natural stuff, so they probably deliberately skipped the preservative. Since I made a lotion out of mint tea, that meant it’d gone off within a day. I have decided not to spend any money on this hobby for a month, since I already spent way too much on it so far, so I cannot buy the preservative until then. No lotion making for a while then.

I do, however, greatly enjoy this craft. One of the good parts about it is, of course, sharing my work. I do this on Facebook, so if that died tomorrow, I might not enjoy it as much. Then again, if no-one used social media anymore because it died, maybe I’d connect with other soapers through other venues. Forums and E-mail lists aren’t social media, right?

Speaking of Facebook, however, I did connect with a woman who doesn’t live too far from the tiny village and who is willing to soap with me at home. She’ll first visit me next week. I don’t know whether I could make real connections with people if any online connection for social purposes died. After all, I met all my long-time acquaintances online as well as my husband.

That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy the soaping craft at all. Maybe there’d actually not be as much pressure if social media didn’t exist, because I wouldn’t know what great soaps other people make. I currently make the majority of my soaps for people I know in real life, too. They’re staff and fellow patients at my institution, so I do sometimes wonder whether I’ll still enjoy this craft when I just have my husband and our tiny circle of acquaintances. We’ll just have to see.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Currently – July 2016

I skipped the Currently linky, hosted by Anne and Jenna last month. This month, however, the words appealed to me, so I’m participating again.

Toasting

This word was what drew my attention to this moth’s post. One of the nurses was laid off in late June and she gave us patients a great toaster. The nurses already had one in the office, but we weren’t allowed to use it, because we had been bad at keeping ours clean, which had then broken down. Now, so far, we’re keeping the new toaster in good condition. I toasted a croque monsieur on it yesterday and it was delicious.

Going

For some walks. My new gravatar is a picture taken about three weeks ago when my husband and I walked along the water a few towns away from the tiny village we live in. Other than that, I’m not going anywhere much except for extending my week-ends on home leave. I am planning on starting ot stay home on Mondays by the 18th.

Smelling

Blue Soap

Vanilla, coconut and banana everywhere. These are the three fragrance oils that came with my soap making starter kit. I have truly contracted the soap making virus and have made so many soap hearts already I have almost lost count. Above is a picture of one of my best ones. People are now also asking for other scents, so I ordered three new fragrance oils that are due to arrive tomorrow: strawberry, cinnamon and violets. I also ordered a new mold.

Wearing

T-shirts that I’ve become too big for (or let’s just say that they’ve shrunk). I hate clothes shopping, so I tried to order some new T-shirts online, but the style I wanted was sold out.

Wishlisting

Way too many soap making supplies. I ordered many of the things I had on my wishlist already, but still want more. The store I ordered my starter kit at celebrates its eleventh anniversary today, so they’re offering discounts till Sunday. Of course, discounts don’t mean you won’t spend money.

I’m hoping my husband can also take me to a budget store, so I can look for storage boxes for my fragrance oils and colorants, empty lotion bottles, packaging and some other things.

Soap making aside, however, I badly want a new blender, since someone took apart my last one and neither I nor the nurses can fix it so it won’t leak.

What have you been up to lately?

Making Soap and Lotions

Yay, I’m 30! My birthday itself wasn’t too special. My husband had to work, so he came by to take me home on Monday evening. First, we stopped by the “electric kettle shop”, ie. the electronics store, to get me an electric kettle. We had one already, but you couldn’t take off the kettle so had to fill the whole thing while it’s in the power socket. I also didn’t like its size. My husband bought me a 0.8l kettle.

I loved the week-end before my birthday, however. My sister and her boyfriend came by on Saturday. They gave me a shower gel, shampoo and pure lanolin. Lanolin is used in creams and lotions as an emulsifier. They didn’t know when they bought these gifts that I plan on making my own body creams and lotions, so it was a wonderful coincidence.

Lanolin

The best gift I got for my birthday was however a gift I gave myself: a starter kit for making your own melt and pour soap. Melt and pour soap is made by cutting pure soap into small chucnks and melting them in the microwave or au bain-marie in a soap kettle or pan. I made my first soaps at day activities and we renamed one of the smaller pans the soap pan, because you’ll never get the soap taste out of it once you’ve used a pan for soaping. My art therapist, who also works at day activities but not that particular day, hoped it wasn’t the milk pan. I think it was.

Soap

Once the soap is melted, you pour it into a measuring cup and add colorant and scent. For my first soap, I used red colorant and coconut scent. You stir to make the colorant and scent blend with the soap. Then you pour the soap into a mold. I had a bit too little soap to fill the mold, so my first soap is a bit thin. I chose the heart shape to give to my husband. Now that I’ve made some other, more well-formed soaps, I’m getting queries from everyone asking me to make a soap for them. Most so far don’t want anything I haven’t tried yet, but one woman wants a pink one. That will be a challenge. I’ve already made a green one by mixing blue and yellow colorant, but am not too sure how I’ll make pink with just red, yellow and blue colorants. I don’t know what type of colorant is used in the starter kit, so I can’t buy new colorant and see whether they have a pink one yet.

I also just today bought myself some tools and materials for making lotions. You make a lotion by melting lanolin and a plant-based oil, such as sweet almond oil, making sure they’re well-blended. This is the oily component. Once it’s melted, you need to add the water component, which consists of distilled water, herbal tea or a hydrosol (floral water). You can also add aloe vera juice to the water component. You need to add the water component drop by drop while constantly stirring. Then, let the lotion cool off to at most 30 degrees Celsius before adding essetial oil or fragrance oil. My husband thougth that essential oils are skin irritants, because the packaging said so, and so you cannot add them to lotions even when diluted. I have yet to ask whether this is true in one of the safe essential oil use groups on Facebook, since I’m pretty sure that, if diluted to at max 3%, you should be safe.

A Thank You Letter to a Bus Driver

This is getting old, but I have been extremely uninspired lately. It’s like everytime I try to do blogging in Dutch again, I neglect this blog. It wasn’t even so much that I didn’t want to write, but I didn’t kow what to write about. A few days ago, however, I saw a blog post in which a person wrote a thank you letter to their genetic counselor. Other people were invited to write thank you letters to people you wouldn’t expect they’d be thankful for. This got me thinking. At first, I wanted to write a thank you letter to the psychiatrist who admitted me to hospital in 2007. While writing this letter, however, I thought of another person who was important to me that night: the bus driver who overheard me make a suicidal threat and called the police. I am writing a letter to him today.

Dear bus driver,

You may have forgotten about me. At least, I hope you have. Thhat’d mean you didn’t experience too much stress from what I did while on your bus. I haven’t forgotten about you. I don’t know your name, but I want to thank you anyway.

I was the person who threatened to kill herself while sitting on your bus on the evening of November 2, 2007. I told someone’s voicemail the details of my suicide plan. You overheard me, although a fellow passenger said you merely heard me cry. She probably just said that to quiet my mind. I heard you tell the police that you would be at the train station by 8:15 PM. By that, I judged I’d got onto the 8:01 bus at the bus stop near the training home I used to reside in. You dropped me off at the train station and the police took over and took me to the police station, where I was seen by the mental health crisis service.

I want you to know that I’m well now. I’m not fully recovered from my mental illness, but I’m a lot better than I was back then. I remembered you for years, which was causing me to find it hard to travel the bus in your city. I feared I’d run into you. Now, I know that you did your job and you did it well.

I could bore you with a long story of my mental illness and recovery, but that would probably stress you out. In case you’re wondering, however, I want you to be assured that I’m happy that I didn’t kill myself that evening. Now I know that, somewhere between the bus and where I wanted to kill myself, someone probably would’ve stepped in before I would actually be dead. However, you happened to be that person to step in. Thank you for that.

Astrid

Top Ten Plans for This Summer

It’s (almost) summertime. The weather has been quite good here lately. Particularly last week, the weather was lovely. This week, it’s getting slightly cooler and we’ve had some rain. However, the weather is still good enough to be outside in a T-shirt without a jacket. That’s one thing I love about spring and summer.

One of Mama’s Losin’ It’s prompts for this week is to share your top ten summer plans. I am really looking forward to this summer and I’d love to share my plans with you. Many are the same as last year’s, but unlike then, I did already make some of my plans happen.


  1. Go swimming. This is one of the items on last year’s bucke tlist that I couldn’t cross off then. This year, I’m participatng in a four-day swimming event this very week. I’m swimming only 100 meters each day, which is the shortest distance you could do. So far, I’ve completed two days of the event, that is really five days, already. You only need to complete four out of five days for the medal, but I plan on swimming each day.

  2. Have a barbecue. This is on last year’s list too. I didn’t think that I’d make this year’s barbecue on the institution unit, but now I think I will. It hasn’t been planned yet, but I heard the head nurse say she was going to get the DJ we have each year booked again.

  3. Sit in the garden. My home garden this time. I didn’t know last year of course that this year I’d have a real garden at home. The unit garden is also going to get remodeled soon.

  4. Eat strawberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, etc. I got raspberries from the market last week, but we don’t have them in the garden. The shrub my husband bought died before we could plant it. We do have many other berries, however. I don’t know how well they’ll do their first year, but I already ate a strawberry out of our garden last week.
  5. Go for walks. I walked form our old apartment to the institution a few times last year. This year, our walks have been in the tiny village. I hope to go to the woods sometime this summer too.

  6. Spend time with family. I’ve got to have an item on the list that I didn’t have last year. My sister and my parents are both coming over to our home next week (if my sister can get the day off) to celebrate my birthday.

  7. Eat the head nurse’s French fries and/or macaroni. There’s a nurse who lives in Turkey most of the year who comes over to work at our unit for the summers. It’s a tradition that she and the head nurse make macaroni from scratch once each year. It doesn’t sound that special, I know, but for people who normally get microwave meals everyday, it is. I’ve also heard the head nurse has plans for making us French fries on a Sunday in July. She makes fries about once a month, but usually on Saturdays, when I’m home.

  8. Wear my new dress. I already wore a skirt several times this year. I also bought two new dresses, one of which I already wore. I want to wear the other one too.

  9. Do lots of reading. This was one of the things I didn’t do enough of last year, even though I could. This year, it’s even easier, since I finally got a full Bookshare membership. I plan on reading a few books that I’ve wanted to read forever but never got down to buying as eBooks. Not that I couldn’t have bought them as eBooks, but I was planning on getting a Bookshare membership all along and so delayed getting the books. Reading books in DAISY format is still easier than reading eBooks. Of course, getting them from Bookshare, which is like a library for print disabled people, is cheaper too. I will review the books that I read here too.

  10. Write. I haven’t been blogging here as much as I’d like to this month or last month. After all, I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired. I hope to be inspired soon.


What are your plans for this summer?

Mama’s Losin’ It

A College Memory

Last week or the week before, one of the prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It was to write about a college memory. Since just yesterday I shared on my Dutch website about studying with a mental illness, I thought i’d write about it here too. It’s been 8 1/2 years since I dropped out of university, of course. For this post, I’d like to share about my first day of university.

My first day of university was September 3, 2007. I took a ParaTransit taxi to the building where I’d have my first class. As I approached what turned out to be a large lecture hall, I was immediately overwhelmed by the huge number of students. Until that day, my idea of a large group of students was my psychology class at college, where about 35 students were in the room. I had expected the same number of students in my university classes, because only about fifteen to twenty students enroll in the linguistics program each year. Turned out the class was a combined linguitics, business communications and language and cultural studies class and there were over 200 students in attendance. I had the most spectacular meltdown right there and ran off. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I think I called my home support worker, because the team manager, who also acted as my support worker, came to pick me up. She drove me to the office of the organization I received care from. This was the first time I was in such major crisis that the team manager decided to call mental health services. She later told me I was “not crazy enough” to be admitted.

I must say here that a meltdown whilst in a lecture hall is of course not in itself a reason for a mental admission. In this sense, the mental health agency was right that I was “not crazy enough”. Maybe if they’d knwon that I had meltdown after meltdown almost on a daiy basis, they could’ve offered some help. Now back in the day my only options were an admission or no help. Today, most mental health crisis services offer more varied help.

The professor for my first class – the only class I even attempted to go to that first day – was by the way one of the most supportive people in the university. He offered to have me listen to the lectures in a room attached to the lecture hall that is often used for recording lectures. I was able to attend his classes up to the moment I landed in my final psychiatric crisis in late October. His class was also the only one I took an exam for – three days before my hospitalization. This professor was the first to notice I wasn’t at university anymore and I don’t think it was solely because he was the professor for my Mondaya morning class. The director of studies E-mailed me the Monday after midterm that said professor had been missing me in his class, so had I quit my sutdies? I didn’t read this E-mail till I was home on a visit the next month.

I don’t have the greatest experiences with accommodations for me as a mentally ill, multiply-disabled student at university. I remember being told a number of times that I had a bad attitude and “we’re not a therapy center”. Though this is true, I badly did want to continue my studies for as long as I could. This one professor was, without even talking much to me, one of a few people who kept me going. He instilled a continuing interest in language composition and univesal grammar in me.

Happy List – May 30 to June 5, 2016

I’ve been feeling extremely unmotivated to blog lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, or that there aren’t enough prompts or other ideas to get me started. I just can’t get my fingers moving and actually type that post. I don’t know whether it’s for that reason or in spite of it, but I’ve wanted to restart my Dutch website, blog or both. Of course, I’m uninpsired on that side of the language fence too. Just to get myself back into the swing of things, I’ll just write a list of things I’m happy about this week.



  • I’ve been doing okay in the exercise department. The physical therapist came to my unit on Monday to do exercise with me and I worked out some with the resistance band. On Tuesday, I went to the institution gym and did well there. I’ve also been lifting weights and working out more with the resistance band in my room. Yesterday, I went on the elliptical at home.

  • On a somewhat related note, the physical therapist measured the strength in my hands, believing my left hand would be weaker. Turned out they’re both equally strong (or weak). I didn’t ask whether my strength is much worse than normal people’s. It probably is, but for now, let’s forget that and focus on the fact that my left hand isn’t weaker than the right one.


  • On Wednesday, two student nurses from the locked ward went to the market and there was still room in their car. Since one guy ended up not wanting to go and another woman had just lost her privileges, I was the only one going. We bought fruit for my unit and the locked unit and I got some fish.

  • On Friday, my husband and I went out to buy fries and snacks. Yesterday, my husband made us tortillas. Both times, the food was great.

  • Yesterday, my husband and I went clothes shopping for me. We didn’t find what we’d hoped for, but we did find some great dresses.

  • The weather is good. We were supposed t get thunderstorms all week, but in the institution town we only got one on Tuesday. My husband did get worse thuderstorms. Over the week-end, however, we had beautiful weather at home.

  • Our cat Barry celebrated his third birthday today. My in-laws came and brought an apple pie. Barry himself got some of his favorite food.


What are you happy about this week?

Dear Transition

Like I said a few weeks ago, I bought the 22-day life transitions journaling workbook. I didn’t use it consistently, so I only finished the first day’s exercise and read the one for day two. It sounded particularly hard to me, but today, I’m trying to take up the challenge. The assignment is to write a letter to the transition in your life, in my case, the move out of the institution. You should be as honest as possible and can rant all you want. Then, let the transition respond. Here goes.

Dear transition,

Screw you, why do you have to happen? Why can’t things just stay the same. I know that’s not ideal, but that’s all I’ve known for the past 8 1/2 years. This institution life feels safe. Call me dependent all you want, I don’t care. I don’t know what happens when I leave the institutio. I fear I’ll fall flat on my face and not be able to cope.

Besides, I never planned on living independently again. I never learned to cope in a less restrictive environment, because that wasn’t the goal. Even since it’s been the goal that I live with my husband for the past 1 1/2 years, I still never learned to cope. I tried an afternoon at home here and there, but I still feel utterly overwhelmed when I’m at home for longer than a few days.

I don’t know what you expect of me anyway. My husband wants me to live with him, but I don’t even know wha the expects out of me. He probably expects me to take care of some housekeeping, which I haven’t done i years. Evernything else is uncertain too. I haven’t found day activities, haven’t been accepted by the mental health agency. I know you will happen – I will move in with my husband -, but I don’t even know when. So stop bothering me.

Astrid

Dear Astrid,

You sound angry at me. I’m sorry about that, because I never meant to piss you off. I am uncertain, I know, and I know that scares you. I know your control has been taken away by the psychologist, who decided seemingly arbitrarily that this is the point at which you need to stick to your decision. Then again, she’s right. You can’t waste your life away in the institution, and i know you don’t want to either. It may feel safe now, but safety isn’t all you need. You want to develop yourself, too.

Try to be confident that your treatment team will put a safety net in place should you not be able to cope. Try also to focus on the opportunities I will award you. I know you have so many dreams that you sometimes don’t even want to write about. I know that I won’t guarantee you that you’ll be able to make your dreams come true, but sitting on your butt in the institution certainly won’t make them come true. Try to stop dreaming and fearing and start living. Good luck.

Your transition

In Ten Years’ Time

I had the “kitchen table talk” yesterday. This is the official term for the meeting with your local social consultant to determine your need for services funded through the community support act. The meeting went well, though not much is clear. I’ll be eligible for supports, but I first need to go to the mental health agency near the tiny village to discuss my treatment there. After all, if I go into day treatment or assertive community treatment, part of the services from mental health will overlap with supports I’d be eligible for through the community support act. I’ll push my psychologist to get me an appointment with mental health as soon as possible. The consultant officially has to make a decision on community supports within six to eight weeks.

This has me looking ahead to my life with my husband. I hope to move in with my husband this summer. My mother-in-law had somehow gotten the idea that I’ll be leaving the institution in August, because she asked me how I felt about discharge. I have no clue where she got the idea that I’ll be discharged this August from, but I hope she’s right. After the kitchen table talk, I am somewhat more excited about leaving the institution than I was before. It’s still scary, but it’s a little less scary at least.

I was just looking at the 30-day recovery challenge from BelieveInRecovery.com. ONe of the challenges is to describe where you hope to be in ten years. I already wrote a letter to my future self in 2014. Today, I am going to take it a little easier and just fantasize about my life in ten years’ time.

Ten years ago, I resided in an independent living training home for the disabled. I had made the decision to postpone university till 2007, but had not yet found something to study for 2006. The idea that I am autistic had not been picked up by the staff yet. I was still, in other words, “just blind”. And miserable.

Now, ten years later, I’m not as miserable but still not very happy. I hope that in ten years, I’ll be more comfortable in my own skin than I am now. I obviously hope that I’ll have lost the almost 20kg that I’m overweight.

In the past ten years, if you look at the larger scheme of things, not much has changed. My parents at one point came to talk to my doctor at the locked unit and told him that I’d gone from the rehabilitation center for the blind to the training home and from the training home into a psychiatirc hospital. They overlooked the three months that I’d lived independently, but in the larger scheme of things, how much do these matter?

I hope to change more in the ten years to come than in the past ten years. However, I’m afraid to dream big now. I mean, in an ideal world, I’d go back to school and complete a program in counseling or psychology. Not to be an employed counselor, but just for the knowledge of it. I’d be doing volunteer work helping people navigate the social services field. I’ll have written and published my autobiography. Maybe I’ll do some freelance writing – if I can manage to learn to type properly. I had at least five typeos in that sentence.

One thing that changed within the past ten years and that I hope won’t change within the next ten years, is my relationship status. Ten years ago, I was single and clueless about relationships. Now, I’m still clueless but apparently doing an okay job at loving someone. I hope to still love and be loved by my husband ten years from now.

Transitioning: The End of the Tunnel

On May 1, Mari L. McCarthy started the 22-day life transitions journaling challenge. I didn’t sign up, since I had just failed on committing to the whole health challenge in April. However, today I bought the challenge eBook – from KObo, not Mari’s own site, since it’s much cheaper on Kobo. Since I am about to start in what may be the most important transition of my life, I thought I’d try my hand at the challenge. For day one, we’re supposed to meditate on where we are right now and where we want to be headed.

I visualize the point where I’m now as being at the beginning of a tunnel. It’s not necessarily a dark tunnel, but I can’t see the end of it as I look into it. Nonetheless, i know it will end somewhere in the tiny village, in my husband’s and my home. I can only head this way, but since I can’t see what’s inside the tunnel, I cannot see what’s going to come onto my path as I head into the tunnel. I know where this will end, but I don’t know how or when. After all, no definite date has been set for my discharge from the institution. Though I will have the “kitchen table talk” with the social consultant on Monday, right now I have no idea how I will cross this tunnel and what I’ll find at the end of it.

I can however hear my husban calling me from the other end. I can hear him cheer me up that it’d be so great and utterly exciting to be together at last. I can hear my psychologist and social worker on my current end of the tunnel telling me that I wanted to go into it and come out at home. Even as I sit here, more than a year into the process of arranging for my transition out of the institution, I still am not sure that this is really what I want.

Sometimes, I idealize the end of the tunnel, what it’ll be like to be home. I see my husband lovingly embracing me. As he takes me into his arms, I know that I’m happy being with him and this was the best decision I could’ve made. I go to day activities. My psychologist already shot the snoezelen idea I came up with a few months ago, so I’ll go swimming and doing yoga and going for walks instead. I will meet some nice people at day activities or through the community. I’ll be much more independent than I am now, being able to do some cooking and cleaning on my own. I’ll eventually take up some classes again. My husband loves me when he comes home from work and we’re both happy.

At other times, such as right now, I devalue the end of the tunnel. I look at it as one dark pit in which I’ll fall. My husband and I constantly step on each other’s toes. When he’s home, I’m annoyed by him and he’s annoyed by me. When he’s at work, I’m at home alone sleeping the day away or daydreaming of harming myself. I don’t even have my blog anymore, since my husband doesn’t want me to write about my life at home and I can’t think of anything else to write about. I have nothing left except myself.

However, I will get through. I say this so that even if I don’t believe in it now, I won’t leave a bad omen by being all negative. I will make this transition and it may be hard, but it’s also good. No matter what, my husband loves me.