Category Archives: Journaling

A Place to Belong

When I saw this week’s Five-Minute Friday prompt on Saturday, I just had to participate. It is hard, because I usually take much longer to write my blog posts, so I kept delaying this post. Here is it. It’s a short one. The prompt is “Place”.

I have always longed for a place to belong. I don’t think I ever felt quite “at home” anywhere. I’m still getting used to that feeling now that I’m in fact home.

I mean, when I was first admitted to the mental hospital in 2007, I longed for a supported housing place to call my home, yet none could be found that suited me. My last psychologist at the institution said this was because I just wanted to remain institutionalized forever. There may be some truth to this, in that I fear independence and in some ways long to be taken care of.

However, another facotr is I feel out of place everywhere. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so to speak.

I am trying to make myself at home now in our house, but I’m constantly worrying that this too will not last. Like, we might be moving to our own home someday withint he foreseeable future. I always said we’d buy the home we now live in from the housing corporation and
I’d still be living here in fifty years. I guess not. This is hard. I hate change and yet, I cannot settle anywhere.

Recent Positives and Accomplishments

I’ve not been doing too well lately. Last week in fact I landed in a major mental crisis in which I did some harm to my body. I physically recovered, but it’s still hard to find the drive to really live (as opposed to just survive) again. I’ve been meaning to write before. I mean, I know I don’t update this blog nearly as often as I should, but I really didn’t intend on going nearly five weeks without a post. Today, I’m trying to write a positive post by sharing my rays of sunlight, those things and events that brought a smile to my face lately, again. I will also share some of my accomplishments.

Day Activities

A few weeks ago, I was struggling a bit at the industrial group at day activities that I’d been placed in at first. The activities were hard and boring at the same time and I was getting easily overloaded by the other participants. The staff oticed and consulted a psychologist. She came in to observe and talk to me. It was then decided that I would switch to a group where the clients do sensory activities, like going to the snoezelen (sensory) room, simple cooking or baking and taking walks. I love those activities much more. I did feel a little weird at first, because the other clients are severely disabled. However, I feel I can be much more at ease now.

Today, we baked cupcakes. I also brought my lip balm ingredients earlier this week and made my own lip balm. This is a really quick activity, so I could do this with the staff before the other clients arrived. I also have been taking more walks, which I enjoy.

My Birthday

I know, my birthday was a month ago, but I wanted to remember it anyway. I got some lovely presents, including a stuffed cat that you can heat in the microwave. It is filled with lavender, which gives off a lovely scent particularly when the cat is warm. I brought this cat to day activities a few times, where a few other clients enjoyed it. I also got wax melts, fragrance oil for in my oil diffuser and an air pad.

Finally, an iPhone

I finally bought myself an iPhone about two weeks ago. I had my husband install it last Sunday. However, since I haven’t had any formal training on it yet and I was scared of ruining the thing, I didn’t feel comfortable working it independently. Today, I tried though and was pretty successful.

Fitness and Weight Loss

Last month, I resolved to be using the elliptical trainer for 25 minutes five days a week by now. I didn’t reach that goal. I also haven’t heard from the horseback riding school yet. However, I did more than reach my weight loss goal for this month, which was to lose one kilogram. I lost almost three. My husband also says I need to be content with my exercise accomplishments, as three months ago I barely worked out at all.

A Cornish Mum

Reasons I Want to Lose Weight

I am nearly three weeks into my weight loss journey. So far, I have managed to keep off the weight I lost in my first week, but haven’t lost any more weight. Next week is my birthday, which is too special an occasion for dieting. My parents and sister will be over this coming week-end, but I don’t hope that between this and my actual birthday, that will be three days of overeatig. I’m just hoping that I won’t gain any weight.

I fully intended to stick with the journaling challenge which my post last week was inspired by regularly. I did stick with the food journal, but other things got in the way of me journaling about my journey again. The second exercise in the 28-day weight control journaling challenge by Mari L. McCarthy asks me to list every reason I can think of why I want to lose weight. McCarthy recommends going beyond the obvious reasons and digging deeper into my motivation. I have been thinking all week and it’s proving harder than I expected. Today, I will attempt to do this exercse.

Health-Related Reasons

My health is the main reason I want to lose weight. I once watched an episode of Dr. G: Medical Examiner in which Dr. G examined the bodies of people who had died of the five most common avoidable causes of death in the United States. One of the bodies was of a young woman of my height who weighed 117kg. My first thought was: “So I’m not that bad.” Then again, that woman was dead. I am alive and would like to continue living for another five or six decades. Obesity was at the time the second most common avoidable cause of death after smoking. I am pretty sure it’s surpassed smoking now.

Here are the health-related reasons for me to lose weight.


  • I have high blood pressure, whch is linked to obesity. I want to prevent this hypertension from becoming chronic.

  • I snore. This not only wakes my husband. It also causes me to wake up unrefreshed. Snoring is bidirectionally related to obesity. I don’t stop breathing (yet), but I don’t want to get this far and ideally want to stop snoring entirely.

  • I want to increase my mobility, endurance, flexibility and general fitness.

  • I don’t want to become a type 2 diabetic.

  • Coronary heart disease runs in my family on both sides. I want to lower my risk of this.

  • I have back pain semi-regularly. This is in part due to scoliosis, but I’m pretty sure those 20kg of extra weight I carry don’t help.

Mental Health

Exercise and eating a balanced diet are not just good for your physical health, but mental health as well. I experience mild to moderate depression every once in a while. Though at the time I was most miserable in my life, I was at a healthy weight, my weight of course wasn’t the reason I was miserable. Besides, even though I felt miserable at the time, I didn’t feel as inert as I often do now. This could definitely be related to those extra pounds.

Then there is my self-image. I know that my body image and self-esteem aren’t magically going to increase if I lose weight and my husband still finds me attractive. However, I do feel that increased physical fitness will increase my sense of success.

Goals

So what are my weight loss goals? My ultimate goal is to be at a healthy BMI in 2 1/2 years. As I already said, in one year, I want to have dropped my first 10kg so that I’m no longer obese.

One month from now, I want to be able to work-out on the elliptical trainer for 25 minutes a day, five days a week. I also hope that by that time, I’ve heard from the adaptive horseback riding school I signed up for last week. Lastly, I hope to have dropped one kilogram.

Inspire me. What are your reasons for staying at or getting to a healthy weight?

Post Comment Love

Finally Starting My Weight Loss Journey

On the Sunday before yesterday, I finally stepped onto the scale for the first time since leaving the institution. I had resolved for months that I’d be losing weight once home. Though I had done an okay job of not overeating, I made up for this by regular evening snacking.

I was rather scared as I went onto the scale. In the institution, I had felt nervous, but I didn’t feel like I had to compare myself to the nurses who were weighing me. My husband is at a healthy weight yet still wants to lose a little, while I am obese. I was very scared that my husband would judge me. I hoped I had lost weight, but I had not been on this particular scale in months. As it turned out, I had unfortunately gained quite a bit of weight. I was at my highest weight ever. Being shocked that I weighed nearly 80kg (176lbs), while I am only 1.53m (5ft) tall, I decided to finally lose weight. I use a journaling workbook by Mari L. McCarthy to guide me through the first month. Today’s post is an adaptation of the first jornaling exercise. It asks me to freewrite for ten minutes. I need more time to write out my thoughts on the start of my weight loss journey.

I started a food journal last Thursday. It was hard, because I really had no clue how to know whether I was consuming too many calories. Not that I meant to be too judgmental of myself. I had kept a food journal once before when I was around fourteen and all it did was depress me. Now at that time I just went on overeating like I’d done before and judged myself without actually using my findings as a starting point for change.

On Saturday, my husband showed me a site where you can see how many calories are in each product. I still don’t plan on keeping full track of my calorie intake, but it does help me become aware of which foods are healthy and which are not. For example, people believe that dried fruit is healthy, but for weight loss it definitely is not. I happened to know this one, but a few other calorie facts are surprising to me. For example, I sincierely believed gingerbread is healthy until I found out that a large slice of gingerbread contains about 150 calories. Now I know why at day activities, we can only have it once a week.

When I went onto the scale again on Saturday, I had lost 2kg. It’s probably more because I had been a bit bloated the week before, but it still gives me hope. I originally resolved to lose 10kg in a year, which would put me in the overweight rather than obese range. I hope that over the next month, I can keep these 2kg off at least and maybe even lose some more. I need to lose about a kilogram a month to reach my goal.

Besides making sure I eat less and healthier, I decided to go get my butt off the chair. On the day I started my journey, I resolved to walk for 36 minutes, which would burn the amount of calories I’d have to consume less each day to reach my goal. After 20 minutes, my right foot hurt so badly that I had to slowly walk back home. I do better on the elliptical. Last Saturday, I managed 25 minutes on it. We also went swimming a few times last week, which I love.

I really hope that this journey is going to be a mostly positive experience. There will be hard times, as I’ll no doubt be tempted to overeat again. I hope I will overcome these without giving in or giving up.

Mummy Times Two

Day Activities #WotW

Oh man, I haven’t written in nearly two weeks. This isn’t unheard of on my blog over the past year or so, but it does feel a little weird, given that I fully intended on writing more in May. I have now been home from the mental institution for two weeks and it’s going better than expected. I’m of course still having my ups and downs, but I haven’t been in a full-blown crisis yet.

As I mentioned in my last post, I started day activities May 9. It was really hard at first. Like I said, the group I’ve been placed in does simple manual labor like packaging and sorting tasks. I found this boring and difficult at the same time. Last week though, I found an activity that is useful as well as doable for me. It’s making paper props. That sounds incredibly dumb and useless, but paper props are used to store paint cans with, so that the paper will absorb the paint should a can leak. My staff said this activity drives her crazy, but it truly is a sensory friendly activity to me.

Last week, we also did some gardening. I don’t like my hands getting dirty, so I had trouble with this activity. However, while going to the garden, someone mentioned a set of swings. I at first thought the swings were only to be used by those with more severe disabilities. Then someone from my group went on them, so I asked the staff whether I could use them too. It was fun!

However, the best activity yet was snoezelen. This Wednesday, I was very irritable, the staff took me to a room. “Have you heard of the snoezelen room?” he asked. I had heard of this and had in fact asked my treatment team at the institution if I could try this at the intellectual disability unit about a year ago. They said “No.” After all, I wouldn’t be able to do this once home. Snoezelen was developed in the Netherlands and there isn’t a proper English term for it. It is a particular type of sensory play. Basically, in a snoezelen room, the service user or their staff can control the entire sensory enviornment. For example, there are lights, soothing music, soft spots to sit in, etc. I haven’t discovered all there is to this room yet. Maybe tomorrow, the staff will show me around.

on Thursday and Friday, when I became slightly irritable, the staff took me to the snoezelen room again. On Friday, the staff asked if I would like to have this in my daily schedule. I felt a little weird, as I had gotten the idea from my institution treatment team that this is only for people with severe intellectual disabilities. The staff however said that if it helps me, it’s fine.

I’m choosing “day activities” as my word for the week. Next week, we’ll unfortunately have Thursday ad Friday off, but I’m hoping to enjoy Monday through Wednesday mornings there.

The Reading Residence

Bucket List for 2017

It’s already January 9th. This means it’s a bit late for new year’s resolutions. I wrote about some dreams for the new year on my Dutch blog. The reason I called them dreams rather than resolutions is that I didn’t want to feel the pressure of having to actually keep them. I seem to like writing about my goals much more than actually pursuing them, after all. On my list of dreams was the mandatory weight loss goal that’s been sitting on my resolutions list for years. This year, I admitted that I mostly wrote it down out of a sense of obligation. I am just not that motivated for weight loss. In fact, yesterday I bought a bag of winegums and only shared them with my fellow patients because my husband threw around the risk of my developing diabetes. Now my blood sugar was in the low normal range last week when I had it measured, but still.

My most important goal, of course, is to get out of the freakn’ institution. Now my funding runs out at the end of the year anyway, so whether I’m ready or not I will be out then anyway. I can say that I’m finally feeling a bit ready though. It’s still hard, not knowing what sort of help I’ll get. Other than that I’m pretty much done with the institution, regardless of what my psychologist would like to believe.

Today, rather than repeating some general goals, I am going to write a bucket list of things I’d like to do in 2017. Here goes.

1. Learn to use an iPhone and buy one. I am waiting for the eye doctor who did my surgery in 2013 to write a referral for me to get iPhone use training at the blindness agency. Yes, it has to be an eye doctor referring you, which is stupid, since if you’re totally blind, what use is there in having an eye doc? I will either get this training at the residential home for elderly blind people in the institution town or at the blindness agency in the nearest big city, depending on whether I’m still in the institution once I can get started. Once I learn to use the iPhone, I want to buy one too. (By the way, iPhones are the most user-friendly smartphones for blind people, which is why I’d get training to use an iPhone.)

2. Learn to use Windows 10. I am pretty sure my computer isn’t going to survive 2017. This means getting a new one and that means learning to use Windows 10. Yes, I’ll still want a computer if I buy myself an iPhone, because smartphones cannot do everything PCs can and vice versa. I need to convince my new health insurance to fund a new version of JAWS, because my current one doesn’t work with Windows 10. I initially thought I’d switch to NVDA, a free screen reader, but it still has some major drawbacks.

3. Go swimming. My husband badly wants to go on vacation this year. I don’t care for vacation that much, but I’d love to swim in the sea. Alternatively, I want to finally go swimming at the pool again.

4. Choose and buy some more furniture for in my room at home. Currently, there’s just my desk and the remains of a cupboard. My husband wants me to get a bed in that room. I saw a nice bunk when we went to Ikea on Saturday, but it cost €280. I at least hope I’ll have a nicely-furnished room by the time I move out of the institution.

5. Leave the institution, for goodness’ sake. Need I explain?

What is on your 2017 bucket list?

My Achievements in 2016

The year 2016 is almost over and I feel pretty disappointed. It should’ve been the year in which I finally left the mental institution, but I didn’t. I mean, I’ve been resolving to leave the hospital every single year since 2008, but this time I thought I was so close. It’s even worse, because I get blamed for not having achieved this goal. My psychologist tells me I never want to leave and that I try every single trick to delay my discharge. This to her proves my dependent personalty disorder. Well, it wasn’t me who took four months to come up with that diagnosis. It wasn’t me who still hasn’t referred me to outpatient treatment and it wasn’t because for whatever reason I blocked this – I didn’t.

In many other ways, this year has been a disappointment. Still, I need to focus on the things that I did achieve in 2016. They may not feel important to me at this point, but that is only a matter of perspective.

1. I have not been in seclusion all year. I tend to think that, because I’m supposed to leave and there’s no seclusion outside of the institution, staff are less likely to ask me to go into seclusion. There is likely some truth to this, but I also have been acting out much less over the past year than I used to. It isn’t over yet – I broke a mug and self-injured only a few days ago. It’s better though.

2. My daily medication has been stable all year. I did finally get a prescription for a benzodiazepine to use at most twice a week as-needed. I hardly need it though.

3. I managed to binge eat less than I did last year. Though I resolved to get my BMI under 30 and this was a massive fail, my weight remained stable over the year.

4. We got an elliptical trainer at home. Though I didn’t use it as regularly as I’d have liked, I enjoyed exercsing when I did.

5. I found a craft that I enjoy. This is one of my biggest wins of 2016. Though I don’t make soap or skin care products as regularly as I intended to anymore, half a year in I still enjoy the craft. I also finally felt confident enough to make soaps and skin care products for other people. I never quite felt as self-confident about my other crafts. Recently, I experienced some setbacks, in that a few soaps I made over the past few weeks turned out worse than even my first soaps. However, I’m not about to give up (yet).

6. I didn’t give up blogging, even though I was tempted. I kept up one Dutch blog from early June until now, although December was a bad month. Consistent with more posts here, as always, my posting on there declined. I’m not about to give up eithehr blog though.

In short, my theme for 2016 has been “persevere”. I faced many setbacks and disappointments, but I didn’t give up. I hope that 2017 will be better than 2016, but if it isn’t, I hope I will keep on persevering.

You Baby Me Mummy

Classes #FridayReflections

It’s still Thursday in my part of the world, but the #FridayReflections linky has already opened. This week, one of the prompts asks us to decide which class from school or college we’d like to take again if we could.

There were many subjects in high school that I liked. I was big on politics at the time and had a particularly clueless social studies teacher. He once made three big factual mistakes in a five-minute lecture on the elections. In my memory, I corrected him. I couldn’t do that now, as I barely know who’s on the government now. So maybe I’d do social studies again, but hopefully with a more knowledgeable teacher.

I would also love to go back to English class with Mr. E, who had worked a year in the United States while an American teacher came to our school in the Netherlands. This was when I was in eighth grade and could barely understand the American teacher. I wasn’t particularly good at English in seventh and eighth grade. In ninth grade, I was angry with Mr. E for telling me he had to specially type his tests for me instead of handwriting them so I’d better study for them. You can bet that as a fifteen-year-old adolescent, I didn’t bother. From tenth grade on, I loved English though. I had become an avid Internet user over the summer break and had discovered that most valuable information I wanted to read was in English. I became quite proficient at it as I started an online diary (which later morphed into a blog) in the fall of 2002. I loved Mr. E’s stories of his time in the United States, so maybe I’d take his class again.

The first class that came to mind though when I read this prompt, was not a high school class. It was my college psychology class. The teacher was thought of as boring by most students. Because his class was at the end of the day, many students would rather catch an earlier train home than go to his class. You see, we were part-time students, taking our classes on Mondays in the afternoon and evening, and this professor’s class took place from 7:30 till 9:00 PM. Many students, including myself, also didn’t live in the college city, hence the need to take the train home.

This professor though was one rookie lefty and I seemed to be the only one who liked this. He threw Socialist Party merchandise into the auditorium in the days leading up to the 2006 parliamentary election. I was a Socialist Party member, so I didn’t sign the complaint he got for this. Not that I would have signed it had he shown a conservative affiliation either. I did sign a complaint about the first test we got in this class. I still don’t remember why I signed it, but most likely it was largely due to peer pressure. This was obviously before results were in, but I ended up scoring a B.

Looking back, I would’ve loved to attend all of his lectures rather than catching an early train. He had a great sense of humor. Just this morning, I recalled the tale he told us about getting a referral to a psychiatrist for wondering whether the fact that he acquired a spinal cord injury early in life and had to be in rehabilitation a lot changed his personality. The psychiatrist barely listened before writing him a script for an antidepressant. I remembered this tale because, after yesterday’s post, I was wondering what my motor difficulties could be diagnosed as, if anything. If I ever ask my GP to refer me for diagnosis for this, I hope I won’t run into a physiatrist or neurologist with the same attitude as this professor’s shrink.

I got an A for the second test in this class and a B for my research project. I would love to do the research project again, but would choose a different topic. I had many topics in mind that were disorders I later ended up being diagnosed with, like borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder and autsm. I finally settled on the subject of mild intellectual disability though. Maybe I’ll do a similar project one day on one of the topics I had in mind then.

Living my Imperfect Life

Still Afraid

One of Mama’s Losin’ It’s prompts for this week is to write about something you were afraid of as a child and to share whether you’re still afraid of it. Immediately, an interaction I had with my husband a few weeks ago came to mind that brought back my extreme fear of denatured alcohol.

My husband offered me a sip of vodka because I had a bad cold and he’d heard that strong drinks help with this. They don’t, but I wanted to try a sip anyway just to have an idea of its taste. Then we got talking about the time my ninth grade science teacher distilled alcohol and let us drink some. This would’ve been a totally stupid idea if he were any good at distilling, but well. I had it in mind that we had drank pure alcohol, which my husband said would’ve led to our esophaguses burning up in smoke. Turned out my teacher was really bad at distilling alcohol, because the vodka my husband gave me tasted stronger than I remembered the distilled alcohol tasting.

Then we got talking about mehtanol, a poisonous kind of alcohol, which surfaces at the first distilling round. I remember my father, who worked at my school back then, talking about how some students the year before me were either allowed to taste the first distilling round or almost did so despite not being allowed. I assume it was the latter even though memory tells me otherwise, as I’m pretty sure that teacher would’ve been fired and prosecuted for allowing students to taste something even remotely resembling methanol. My husband joked that if his teacher had allowed him to taste distilled alcohol, even if it was safe, he’d be tempted to fake methanol poisoning just to get the teacher fired.

I was by this time quite scared already. The evening of the alcohol tasting experience in ninth grade, I discovered my vision had worsened. This was due to a cataract, which is a known complication of my eye condition. However, I had the irrational thought for years that if I hadn’t tasted distilled alcohol, it wouldn’t have happened.

You see, I had and still have no clue about the signs of methanol poisoning other than blindness. Even though I ran a much higher risk of going blind from my own eye condition than from methanol poisoning, as soon as I learned about this, I was deathly afraid of methanol poisoning. Since denatured alcohol usually contains methanol, I was scared of that too. I would never touch any surface cleaned with denatured alcohol, afraid that I’d get methanol on my hands and lick it off. Worse yet, in my magical thinking, denatured alcohol could somehow replace tap water. Each time I was about to have a drink of water, I looked at the running tap water to see whether it was blue. After all, in the Netherlands, denatured alcohol is dyed blue.

I still have a pretty bad fear of denatured alcohol. For soap making, I use alcohol spray to make soap bubbles go away, but I somehow never made the connection. As soon as I did, I wanted to discard my denatured alcohol spray. After all, what if some leaked out of the bottle and somehow dripped onto my coconut oil, which I use for lip balm making? Both the spray alcohol bottle and the coconut oil can are tightly shut, but you never know.

I was also somehow scared that I’d accidentally drink denatured alcohol at home. My husband went looking for it to see whether he even had it in the house and he had. He joked that the bottle of denatured alcohol was next to the vodka, which of course made me freak out.

It’s not like I never handle any other poisonous products. I mean, soap colorants and fragrance oils are probably not the healthiest thing either. I also have a few shower products, which I use daily, which state clearly to keep them away from children. I reckon this is for good reason. However, it never crossed my mind to drink shower gel. Not that I would purposefully drink denatured alcohol, but if that can replace tap water, what substance can’t?

Mama’s Losin’ It

List of Things that Make Me Me

During the past week and a half, a lot has happened, and yet so little has. I spoke to the patient advocate regardng the recent diagnonsense. She recommended a second opinion at another hospital. For various reasons, I decided against this. My psychologist did consult a psychiatrist at the brain injury unit, who told her she was right that brain injury and autism shouldn’t really be diagnosed together, but the same goes for borderline personality disorder and brain injury. Now I’m left with a very confusing diagnosis. I think it’s going to be personality change due to a general medical condition (brain injury), but my psychologist also said something about generalized anxiety disorder and attachment disorder possibly going onto my diagnosis. And I thought I was the one who collected labels.

This is all very confusing, because I rely on concrete labels for defining myself. How coincidental that I just opened a journaling eBook to a random prompt and it told me to make a list of my uniqueness, my marvelousness, my talents. These are not psychiatric labels, because, although some people consider autism a gift, I cannot say that autism itself should be one of my talents. With no further ado, here is my great list of things that make me me.


  • I am intelligent. I have a lot of knowledge and I can articulate it well most of the time. I am good at analyzing stuff.

  • I can persever(at)e if I truly want to achieve something.

  • I am sensitive. Sometimes, this sensitivity causes me to experience overwhelm to the point where I appear uncaring, but I truly care about other people.

  • I am creative. I write, I craft, I make soap.

  • I have a pretty cynical sense of humor. I remember on my first day in the psychiatric hospital, telling jokes about how you could tell the patients and staff apart.

  • I am stubborn and I like it. My husband jokes that my parents haven’t made up their minds about anything since the 1980s. I am thankful not to be that extreme, but I can really want to be right sometimes.

  • I am a semi-successful blogger even though I haven’t been blogging as much over the past few months.

  • I am a good wife.


This list should or could probably be longer. It also didn’t really cheer me up. However, it does help me see that I’m more than my confusing set of diagnosense.