Monthly Archives: March 2018

#AtoZChallenge 2018 Theme Reveal, Yay!

Yay! For the fourth year in a row, I’m giving the #AtoZChallenge a try. Last year, I failed miserably and I have never been fully able to return to blogging the way I did for A to Z in 2016. In fact, April 2016 was the last month that I published more than nine posts. I am eager to change that, but I’m also quite scared. What if I fail again?

It doesn’t help that the list of participants both for the general challenge and for the theme reveal – that’d be this post! – is a rather hard to use Google spreadsheet. I hate spreadsheets and Google docs in general are quite hard to read with my rather outdated screen reader. I wish we’d still used old-fashioned InLinkz, but somehow that didn’t work for the team behind the challenge. At least, I seem to remember they abandoned it last year.

Today is the official theme reveal day. I’ve had an idea on my mind for months, and it’s totally not in line with my themes for the previous years. As a way of motivating myself to actually write without too much pressure, I wanted to do the A to Z of myself. I did an alphabet-based tag on myself shortly after the A to Z challenge in 2015 and would love to expand on the topics I mentioned then.

Later, I decided to loosen things up even more. In the eBook 397 Journal Writing Prompts & Ideas, the first 26 prompts are based onthe letters of the alphabet. For example, A is for Amazing (it asks you to write about the things or people you find amazing), B is for Beautiful and so on. Not all alphabetical prompts in this collection appeal to me, but some definitely do and some I could modify to suit me. But not all.

As such, my final decision on my theme for the #AtoZChallenge 2018 is to keep it vague. It is: A to Z of random reflections. My entries will most likely fall under the “Journaling” category on my blog. Unlike most of my posts from previous years, they will be deeply personal rather than mostly informative. It’ll be fun to find out how that appeals to my readers. I also hope that this will help me make a success out of the #AtoZChallenge this year. Wish me luck.

Update on Day Activities

I have not written a diary-style entry in a while, even though I hoped it’d help me write more often. The past few weeks have been rather eventful with things needing to be worked out for my day activities. Not that anything concrete has come out of it yet, but today, I am hopeful that something will.

In early February, we had a “big meeting” to discuss how to proceed now that my day activities hours were cut and I would maybe have to leave this day center. It was decided that we’d involve the Center for Consultation and Expertise (CCE) to help us detail my support needs. In the meantime, my home support hours were doubled as to give my support coordinator some time to help me find a new place.

My CPN took it upon herself to call the CCE. I don’t know how the conversation between her and the CCE person went, but they concluded eventually that my problem was mainly my blindness. I didn’t understand why, since I’d been almost kicked out of day activities for self-injurious behaviors and meltdowns – not your average blind person’s everyday behavior. The whole thing frustrated me to no end, as blindness agencies have consistently said that my main problem is definitely not my blindness and now the CCE was referring me back to them.

When I read my CPN’s notes on the meeting in which she told me about her conversation with the CCE, I got an idea where the misunderstanding had come from. She wrote about my anxiey regarding demands in light of my having to learn new skills. I figured she’d told the CCE person about the recommendation that I get independent living skills training, which is not the CCE’s department. They offer consultations in situations where the client falls through the cracks because of severe problem behavior, after all. Resistance to demands does not necessarily present with severe problem behavior, I suppose.

When I asked my CPN for clarification though last week, I found out that she doesn’t even believe I have severe problem behaviors. I’m not 100% sure either that my behaviors are severe enough for the CCE, but my CPN’s reasoning for dismissing my problem behaviors altogether was rather strange: I wouldn’t be able to be married if I had problem behaviors. She also mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to live independently in that case either, which I understand. Then again, with today’s budget cuts to mental health and long-term care, once living in the community, you’d need to be virtually dead to be admitted back to an institution. Maybe a virtually dead person is the kind of case the CCE usually works on too, and in all fairness, I’m not dead.

I was badly triggered by my CPN’s comments. What mostly triggered me was her saying that I had “escaped” an institution. I hadn’t. I had been kicked out.

Later last week, my support coordinator talked to my CPN about her feeling that we should at least try to get the CCE involved based on my full story. We worked on the application this afternoon, but didn’t finish it yet, as I was getting overwhelmed.

As for finding me a new place for day activities, we currently have two organizations we’re still in contact with. Both are organizations serving primarily intellectually disabled people. Neither has offered me an orientation meeting yet, but at least neither has rejected me yet. Two other organizations did reject me and several others, we are still thinking on contacting but are most likely unsuitable.

Suddenly I Am

Sometimes, I am the wise woman. Inside, I am a college sophomore, though on the outside, life has moved on. I call myself Clarissa. I can talk up a storm about psychology and psychiatry, arguing that, yes, in fact autistic people can have multiple personalities. It’s a shame people tell me they can’t just because that person’s psychiatrist has told them so. It’s nowhere in the DSM-IV or DSM-5. In fact, autistic people are quite a bit more likely to suffer from trauma-related disorders like this.

Then suddenly, I am that autistic teen. Inside, I am 19-years-old, though on the outside, life has moved on. I call myself Carol. I am not your typical intelligent Aspie. In fact, I am quite severely autistic. I use repetitive language and engage in self-stimulatory behavior all the time. I can barely function at a day activities center for people with severe intellectual disabilities, even though I’m not intellectually disabled. I’m not gifted either, no matter what some people like to believe. I’m just average intellectually, but emotionally, I’m severely impaired.

Then suddenly, I am a little girl. Inside, I’m a shy and scared five-year-old, though on the outside, life has moved on. I call myself Little. By the time I first emerged, it was thought I was the youngest alter. I am not. I can’t breathe sometimes. Sometimes, I have to color inside the lines, and I can’t, because I can’t see very well. I am very scared.

Then suddenly, I am a precocious seven-year-old. Inside, I take care of the baby self (with help from the inner mother figure), though on the outside, life has moved on. I call myself Suzanne. As much as I want to help the baby,I also want my stuffie sheep meh-beh and beh-meh.

Then suddenly, I am that mother figure. Inside, I am 28-years-old, though on the outside, even now life has moved on. I call myself Esther. I sometimes go on Mommy forums as a child advocate, even though in real life, I don’t have any children. I grievethis fact, but don’t let it show.

Then suddenly, I am a childfree woman. Inside, I am 35-years-old, t hough life hasn’t caught up with me yet. I call myself Annemiek. I like to craft and like my childfree life with just my husband and Barry, our cat.

I don’t know whether switching several times a day, like I described above, is common in people with dissociative disorders. I don’t have a diagnosis of a dissociative disorder anymore, after all. To be honest, I don’t care. I have been told, when I write on this blog about my parts, that I’m obviously a really bad case of borderline personality disorder (BPD( trying to fake having dissociative identity disorder (DID). I don’t care. This is my experience and I don’t care what label best describes it.

This is not always how switching happens either. Usually, one of the functional adult parts is out in the body or “in front” about 80% of the time, though it depends which of the functional adult parts is. I didn’t describe either of the two current main fronters in this post.

It is also possible that multiple parts are out in the body at the same time. This can lead to what psychiatrists call identity confusion and also depersonalization and derealization, where you feel as though your body, mind or the world around you is unreal. The switchig I described above is called identity alteration. Then there is amnesia, which is a hallmark syptom of DID we don’t experience that often at all (so I don’t believe we actually have DID).

With this post, I didn’t mean to give you a thorough overview of dissociation. In fact, it was what randomly popped up in my mind when reading today’s prompt on The Daily Post, which is Suddenly. Like I said, I am not claiming that my experience is representative for those with dissociative disorders. It is just a tiny part of my experience, too.

How Our Cat Barry Became Our Pet

This week on Mama’s Losin’ It, the Writer’s Workshop prompts were beautiful. One of them is to share eight things you accomplished in the last week. I may write on that one later, but today, I’m writing on another one, which is to tell the story of how our cat Barry became our pet.

My husband had always recommended that we get a cat to be my companion when I’d go live with him. In the summer of 2013, he had settled in our apartment and hoped I’d soon join him. His mother, who works for the animal shelter, at the time was raising two kiittens, who were too young to be kept at the shelter at only a few weeks old. One o them, the most hyperactive of the two, we named Henk, while the other we named Harry. My mother-in-law recommended we get Harry, the quieter – or should I say less hyperactive? – one.

We got Harry when he was three months old in August of that year. As it turned out, he was rather the slightly less troublesome one than the quieter one of the pair, as he still ran around the house all the time, threw our belongings from tables onto the floor and climbed into and onto furniture.

In the spring of 2014, my husband figureed that maybe a playmate for Harry would help him calm down. His oldest sister, who also works at the shelter, went on the lookout for another cat for us. This became Barry. Yes, we purposefully named Barry this to rhyme with Harry. In fact, my husband half-jokingly gave me the choice between naming him Barry or Heinrich, and I obviously went with Barry.

Harry and Barry didn’t get along very well from the beginning. My husband thought of rehoming Harry to his sister a few times, but often missed him when he was away at hers. So Harry and Barry both moved to our current home with my husband in December of 2015.

The next spring, Barry got a non-bacterial UTI that was most likely stress-related. At first, we thought Barry’s stress came from wanting to go outside and not being allowed to, as he’d go onto the roof and not get off again. This probably was a factor indeed. It quickly becam apparent though that Harry was the main source of stress. While Barry was still recovering from his UTI, Harry started a play-fight with him that was rather bad. This led my husband to finally decide enough was enough. Harry was rehomed to my sister-in-law. She also has two other cats, but they apparetly don’t mind hyperactive Harry and one of them in fact plays with him a lot.

I finally moved in with my husband last May. To be honest, I’m so relieved to just have Barry with us, as Harry was a lot more of a handful. When I first got my iPhone, I worried that Barry would shove it off my table, but he never did *knock on wood*. With Harry on the other hand, I had to pack away all small-enough-to-shove items of value when not using them. That would’ve been quite a stressor to me now that I live here full-time.

Barry was a rather reclusive cat when we first got him and for a long time after. Not the ideal companion for lonesome at home me. Now though, he likes to keep me company even if he still isn’t the kind of cat to like being picked up. He even likes sleeping in our bed at night.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Currently – March 2018

For the first time in many months, I’m participating in the Currently link-up hosted by Anne of In Residence and Sarah of Foxy’s Domestic Side again. This month, the prompts are planning, seeing, making, pretending and wearing. I really love these prompts, so here goes.

Planning: a siblings day with my sister. She called me on Tuesday and talked about going to a spa together someday in June when her husband is in Switzerland for work. One immediately popped up in my mind, but it’s in Nijmegen, which is a fifty-minute drive from my home. The others that are closer by only have swimwear days on Tuesdays, which would be impractical given my sister’s work schedule.

Seeing: sunshine! This morning, while in the paratransit van to day activities, I saw the sun shine beautifully through the front window. The sunny weather didn’t last long though and was replaced by clouds and eventually rain. Thankfully, my day activities staff and I were still able to go for a walk while it still wasn’t raining this morning.

Making: a pineapple banana smoothie. I found this recipe a few days ago on I think. It’s made with just banana, pineapple, pineapple juice and ice cubes. I initially planned to buy canned pinapple slices and make this smoothie independently. My husband however said he’d like to help me make it. As it turned out, when grocery shopping with my home support staff, we stumbled upon a fresh pineapple quite easily, so I took that one. I bought bananas that turned out to be still pretty green, so I won’t be making the smoothie till tomorrow.

Pretending: that I’m fine, most of the time. I’m struggling badly with feelings of hopelessness regarding the situation at day activities, but I’m trying to keep a positive outlook. This is terribly hard and often involves pretending.

Wearing: my multicolored vest. I bought it many years ago and wore it for a while, then gained so much weight that I couldn’t anymore. Since having lost 10kg in the past nine months, I’m now able to wear it comfortably again. Or somewhat comfortably, as it itches a bit. I get a lot of compliments on it and apparently it makes me look slimmer than I am.

What have you been up to lately?

Seven Things to Do More Often

Seriously, I’ve been wanting to write more often. Writing helps me, or it used to. Also, it’s not that I’m uninspired. A dozen ideas to write on float through my mind, but once I sit down to actually blog, it seems all pointless. Today I feel relatively well mood-wise, so I’m just forcing myself to write. I am choosing to write for Mama’s Losin’ It’s Writer’s Workshop on the prompt of seven things to do more often. There is also a prompt to write on seven things to do less often, but I couldn’t think of that many things to do less frequently.

1. Write. This I explained above already. Writing used to be a way of helping me process stuff and at the same time a way of distracting me from my depressive thoughts. Now already for nearly two years, I seem unable to write as often as I used to. Whether depressive symptoms are the cause or the effect, I do not know.

2. Move. Last week, I finally bought myself a Fitbit activity tracker. It’s a cool gadget, but so far, I’ve not been able to get moving nearly enough to meet the recommended targets. For example, I average about 3000 steps a day, while 10000 is recommended.

I don’t think my depressed mood is the reason I’m not moving. I just don’t think I can find the opportunity to. I mean, I shouldn’t go running up and down the stairs for fun, should I? And since I can’t leave the house without assistance, going for a walk is rather hard. The weather lately obviously hasn’t helped, as it’s freezing and feels even coldre. I hope that, once the temperature rises, I can get my support workers to take me on some walks again.

3. Meditate. I have two meditation apps on my iPhone but havent’used them in weeks. I really would like to practise mindfulness more.

4. Do sensory-friendly activities, like melting a wax melt or listening to soothing music.

5. Read. I don’t just mean books, but blogs too. I after all don’t seem to have the attention span to read a book most of the time, but I can usually read blog posts.

6. Show my love to my husband. This has been hard lately because of my depressed moods.

7. Focus on the positive. I really want to seek out emotionally positive experiences more. The above six practices will help me achieve this. If I can appreciate positive experiences for what they are, I’ll hopefully feel even better soon.

Of course, these seven things won’t magically make me feel happy, but they will help me move in that direction. Depressive symptoms and inactivity make each other worse, after all.

Mama’s Losin’ It