Tag Archives: Family

Play

And I didn’t continue with the #AtoZChallenge after all. Now I could write my Q post today and just have enough time to get to Z on April 30, but I have no clue what to write about that starts with Q. Besides, I’d just be too behind. I will continue with random reflections whenever I can, but I’m tiref of sticking to the alphabet. At least, the challenge so far taught me that I can, in fact, write a blog post almost everyday.

A few minutes ago, I looked at the friendly fill-in questions for this week. I’m not inclined to join in with the thing in a traditional way. However one of the prompts stuck out to me. It was: “When I was a child, I loved to play ___”. Today, I’m going to write about the joys of playing as a child (and as an adult, too).

As regular readers know, I’m autistic. However, when I was a toddler, I wasn’t the type to line up my toys. In fact, at about age three, I had three PlayMobil figures called Pekel, Foet and Laren. No, these aren’t common Dutch names. The characters would just eat, drink and go to the toilet. Nothing too interesting but nothing too stereotypical either.

I also loved to play outside. I loved the swings in particular. When we were on vacation at the campsite, I’d also climb a tree. I wasn’t as adventurous as my sister, but I nonetheless enjoyed getting outdoors.

One other memory that stands out is my learning to rollerskate at aroudn age eight. My next door neighbor, who was the same age as me, used to teach me and my sister and a bunch of other girls (and a few boys). It was fun until I realized how I, being legally blind, wasn’t able to keep up. Once I was about twelve, I eventually learned to rollerblade too. That too didn’t last long, as my vision became too poor.

My sister and I would play with dolls too. I’d often make up the stories. Like, we were going on vacation to Suriname with the dolls, because, you know, my sister’s doll was brown. Though I showed some level of imagination – more so than my neurotypical sister -, I could be quite controlling. For example, I’d get upset whenever my sister said “said the doll” after a sentence that the doll supposedly said.

I continued to play with dolls and Barbie dolls until I was around fourteen. By the time I was thirteen and about to transfer to mainstream school, I decided I really needed to stop playing. However, I didn’t know what else to do. Once my computer and eventually the Internet took my interest, I hardly ever played anymore.

As an adult, I had a time when my inner child parts were particularly active and I’d even buy Barbie dolls for them. They however usually enjoy stuffed animals. I still sleep wth a bunch of stuffies on my bed.

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 AllRecipes.com 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?

Rays of Sunlight – March 2017

The past few weeks have been rather rough. My depression and anxiety symptoms have been rather bad. Though it’s mostly related to my psychiatric re-assessment and the plan to move out of the institution by May 1, these are not situations I can change. I also find it particularly hard to change my thoughts about them. All I can do is try to focus on the little things I do enjoy. Yesterday, I discovered the Liked and Loved linky. It is a beautiful way for people to share what they’ve liked and loved in the past month. Most people post about products. I will mention some of these too, but will also share the experiences that I’ve liked and loved. I therefore title this post “Rays of sunlight”.

I Love Myself Box

I Love Myself Box

First, a product – or several. In early February, I ordered a box called the I Love Myself box at a little Dutch skincare store. It isn’t a monthly subscription box, but the surprise effect is similar. When you order it, you get a questionnaire that allows the store owner to get an idea of what products might suit you. You then get a personalized surprise box of skin care, makeup, bath and related products. My box is lovely, though I haven’t yet tried out every product. I got a lip gloss with a lovely scent, a box of tiny wax melts (oh, how I love those!), some facial care products, a hand cream and a bath bomb. I will need to bathe soon, as we don’t have a tub at home.

Pizza

My husband has been calling Saturdays “Pizzaturdays” and getting me pizza almost every week. In addition, a few weeks ago the staff at my unit got takeout pizza for those who wanted it and could afford it. There’s this pizza restaurant in the next town that I used to order a very spicey salami pizza from. The more I ate it, the more I disliked it and I couldn’t figure out why, since I thought I loved all ingredients. As it turned out though, there was anchovy on the pizza, which made it very salty. This time when the staff ordered from that restaurant, I decided to go for a regular salami pizza.

Soap Making

For the first time in a few months, I made a melt and pour soap again a few weeks ago. I based it on this recipe, though I used regular white soap base rather than honey soap base and I skipped the bee pollen. I do have honey soap base too, but the staff member I made it for wanted me to use a white soap base and I couldn’t find my goat’s milk soap base. I also mixed in some gold-colored mica, which gave the soap a creamy color. I do know hwo to make real gold-colored surfaces, but the staff didn’t want me to do this. I loved the process, though the soap didn’t turn out as great as I’d hoped. That’s why I don’t have a picture.

Learning to Use an iPhone

I finally had my first trial lesson with an iPhone three weeks ago. Blind people often need to have special instruction in using a smartphone, especially if like me they have no previous experience with it. The iPhone is more accessible than are Android phones, which is why I’m learning to use that. I managed the tapping and swiping movements surprisingly well. I will take one more trial lesson before I buy myself an iPhone and will start formal training.

An Evening at My In-Laws

Yesterday, I was home for a day. It went okay, but not great. Because my husband wasn’t sure he’d be home in time for dinner, he asked his mother if I could eat there. My mother-in-law picked me up at around 5PM and we drank some coffee and then had dinner. It was nice. My in-laws have four horses. After dinner, my mother-in-law asked me whether I wanted to pet one of the horses. She led me to a horse named Bink, who loves to be petted on the neck. I have some experience doing day activities with horses, but those were tiny ponies and this is a large horse. I was excited and a little scared at once.

Sunny Weather

The last two weeks have been great weather-wise. I have been doing lots of walking and sitting outside. Haven’t yet been in our garden at home, because yesterday I was afraid our cat would get outside and manage to get onto some roof. My husband and I did take a little tandem bike ride last week, which was fun.

What have you been enjoying lately?

A Cornish Mum

Ten Ways in Which I’m Blessed

This week was a tough one. I have been stressed almost constantly over a lot of things. For this reason, I’m extra happy to find out that Finish the Sentence Friday is about blessings this week. It’s supposed to be a joint linky with Tuesday Ten, but I can’t find the Tuesday Ten post on blessings. Maybe it’ll go live next Tuesday. However, let me write a list of ways in which I’m blessed anyway. I hope it’ll cheer me up. Here goes.


  • I have my husband. I’m so glad I met him nine years ago.

  • I have my home in the tiny village.

  • I have my family. My parents are still in good health and my grandma is still alive and relatively well for a 92-year-old too.

  • I have my cat Barry.

  • I don’t have to worry about money most of the time.

  • I am in okay physical health.

  • I have my computer, with which I can connect to the Internet and interact with mostly supportive people.

  • I can write and express myself creatively.

  • I have my faith. Even if no-one else loved me, God does.

  • I am alive. I am not always happy about this, but right now, I try to see it as a blessing.

It was a bit hard to write this list, but I’m so happy I got to do it. I hope you are blessed in many ways too.

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

Currently – May 2016

I have seen people, particularly lifestyle bloggers, post a monthly Currently post before. This is a post in which you answer some prompts about what you’re currently up to. Today, I am embarking on the journey too. There are many variations on the theme. I chose to link up with the Currently linky provided by Anne of in residence and Jenna of Gold and Bloom.

Celebrating

It’s liberation day in the Netherlands today. The celebration started after World War II ended for the Netherlands on May 5, 1945. It is also the feast of the ascension of Jesus today. Ironically, though liberation day is much more important than Jesus’ ascension to the Dutch, even to many Christians, it’s a bank holiday because of the ascension. Liberation day only is a bank holiday once every five years. Quite odd if you ask me. I say this even as a progressive Jesus follower, but I want to point out that without liberty many people would not be able to express their faiths.

Official celebrations aside, we celebrated my mother’s and sister’s birthdays last Saturday. My mother’s birthday was on April 28th. My sistehr’s is the 13th of May. Yes, it’s a Friday the 13th this year and no, that’s not a bad omen. My sister was born on Friday the 13th, in fact.

Reading

Lots of blogs. After the April A to Z Challenge is over, I’m surprisingly motivated to read a variety of blogs. I was hardly motivated to check out other participants during the challenge, but now I’m again interested in reading other blogs.

Book-wise, a few new books are coming out this month that I’d love to read. I badly want to read The Genome Generation by Steven M. Lipkin and Jon Luoma, but it isn’t even out in hardcover yet. I saw it up for pre-order months ago on Kobo, but now the idea of an eBook publication seems to have vanished. Consumed, the new book by Abbie Rushton, is out as an eBOok and I badly want to get it. However, I’m not finished reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork yet and want to read that first.

Pondering

I just discovered Philosophy Experiments, a site full of philosophical games and challenges. I am in pretty good philosophical health according to the Philosophical Health Check. It found only one tension in my beliefs. I also made it through Battleground God with just one direct hit.

Sipping

Coffee, mostly. Oh, and a yucky type of fiber that I got prescribed to help with my chronic constipation. I can’t get used to it.

Going

I went to my parents’ on Saturday, like I said. This was jsut a day trip, as my father is doing construction on the upper floor, where we usually sleep.

This month, I’m not going anywhere, except to my and my husband’s home. I’m there right now because of the bank holiday and also because I had a meeting yesterday. I met with an independent client advocate, who’s going to help me through the process of getting care funding for once I’m living with my husband.

What have you been up to lately?

Y – #AtoZChallenge on Mental Health

Welcoe to the letter Y post in the #AtoZChallenge on mental health. This was definitely the hardest letter of all. In fact, I cheated a little, because I have only one word and it’s practcally unrelated to mental health. I use it to talk about an important topic in mental health though. Here goes.

Ypsilon

Ypsilon is of course the Greek letter from which the Latin Y is derived. However, it is also the Dutch organization for family members of people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Like I said, it’s a little out of left field, but I want to use this word to discuss the importance family plays in severe mental illness and recovery from it.

A few years ago, there was some debate that revolved around the question whether organizations of families of patients should receive government funding, or whether it should only be organizations of patients themselves. Ypsilon spoke up, saying that people with severe mental illness cannot necessarily advocate for themselves. Never mind that there’s an organization for people with schizophrenia and related disorders too, called Anoiksis.

Some other organizations, like the Association of Manic-Depressives and Relatives (that’s the literal translation of the Dutch name), allow both patients and family to be active members in the organization. I don’t know how each group is represented on the board of directors. However, this organization makes it clear that patients and family should really work together towards a common goal. Note that bipolar disorder is often as severe a mental illness as schizophrenia, so Ypsilon’s argument that people with severe mental illness can’t advocate for themselves, holds no ground.

Family are, of course, important in people’s mental health recovery. However, it’s still the patients who have the first-hand experience of mental illness. As such, they should always be at the center of their recovery process. Ypsilon is an okay’ish organization in this sense, often cooperating with Anoiksis and having destigmatization as a goal. Other organizations, however, often do not value patients’ input.

Career Aspirations

I have been feeling rather uninspired in the blogging department lately. It couldb e the lingerng effects of #Write31Days, the fact that my mind is too unquiet to write, or both. It could be something else entirely. I started to write a post earlier this evening, but deleted it after I went off on a tangent. The post was on my parents’ jobs and aspirations and how my aspirations growing up were different.

My mother worked in administration at a major science institute for 35 years. She started as a data entry assistant or something in 1977 and worked herself up to project management by the time she quit her job in 2011. When she started working for this institute, she had just earned a low-level high school diploma through adult education at the age of 22. She has regretted her entire life that she never got any more education. In spite of this, she worked herself up to a well-paying position where all of her colleagues had college degrees.

My father dropped out of college sometime in the 1970s. He was a physics major for years, but never got beyond the foundation (first-year) certificate, although he did work as a student assistant for a while. After leaving the university, my father worked various jobs and then was a homemaker for years, doing all sorts of community service while caring for my sister and me. It was through a volunteer job at my high school that he found employment in 2000: he was doing computer maintenance on a voluntary basis and got more and more tasks, until he eventually said he was willing to continue his job provided he got paid. He worked as a system administrator for ten years until he too quit his job.

My parents had gone on a very different path through education and employment. My mother was hard-working, always looking to make up for her lack of formal education. My father was more laid-back. Nonetheless, when I spoke to my parents about my own education and my parents’ decisions regarding it, they assured me they had always been on the same page, expecting me to reach my full academic potential.

I never had a good understanding of my mother’s job. In 2006, when I was myself in college, we had to interview someone about their job for communication skills. I assume I did a lousy job at the interview, because I still hardly have a clue what my mother’s project management duties entailed. With regard to my father’s job, I had a greater understanding, but still I find it hard to explain what he did except for fixing my computer when it was broken.

Consequently, I never aspired to become like my parents in terms of employment. I never understood why someone wanted to work in administration and, by the time my father got his job, I had already figured out I didn’t want to work in computers either. The reason I probably never aspired to get one of my parents’ jobs, however, is probably that neither did they. I don’t think that, growing up, my mother wanted to work in administration and computers didn’t exist when my father grew up. My parents are a great example of what my high school student counselor once said: hardly anyone ultimately gets the job they envisioned for themselves at the end of high school. A possible exception are those growing up among generations and generations of doctors or lawyers, and these are not a small group among the students of my high-level high school. However, in today’s era of flexibility in employment, very few people get to become exactly what they aspired to be thirty years on.

I probably already blogged about my childhood aspirations. Like many girls, I gravitated more towards working with people than objects. This turns out to be a common distinction between girls and boys on the autism spectrum, too. While autistic girls, being autistic, do not have good people skills, they do generally have more people-focused (special) interests than do boys.

I suppressed my interest in people-focused jobs for years. This had to do with my being aware of my lack of social skills, but also with the fact that both of my parents gravitate more towards objects than people. Both have a strong dislike for people in the “helping professions”. This could’ve been parlty learned, because the “helping professionas” weren’t all that helpful when I was growing up. However, I learned in school that children develop a preference for people vs. objects early on and this is a strong determiner of later career choices. Like I said, a common misconception about autism is that autistics naturally gravitate more towards objects than people. This is not necessarily true, particularly in autistic girls. Although my parents, both with some autistic traits, fit the stereotype, I do not.

Tips for Coping with Suicidal Thoughts

Screw you, #BEDN. I screwed up the day after I planned to continue writing everyday this month. Yesterday was a bit stressful. I baked an apple pie to remember the eighth anniversary of my psychiatric institutionalization, but I also felt overwhelemd with memories from the day of my crisis. In addition, yesterday was designed to be plan your epitaph day by the inventors of weird holidays. I only found out through this week’s #TuesdayTen. I was originally planning on writing a post on tips for coping with suicidal thoughts for #TuesdayTen, but the pressure of having to think up ten coping strategies and the doubts as to whether it’d fit in, made me skip the occasion. The idea stuck around though, so I’m going to write down some coping tips today.

The first important key is realizing when depression or despair sets in before you reach rock bottom. When you are acutely suicidal, most of the tips I’ll mention below will sound completely useless. However, if you’ve realized you are depressed or otherwise severely distressed, you may be able to enlist the help of others in staying safe. Here are some tips that can help you through some suicidal ideation. When you are actively planning suicide, these tips may no longer work and you’ll need to go to the emergency room or psychiatric crisis service.

1. Enlist the support of family or friends. Like I already said, supporters, such as family may be able to help you remember why you want to live. If not, they may be able to intervene to keep you safe whilst getting a mental health professional involved. When I was in my crisis in 2007, I had no support in the city I was in at the time. That is, I had my parents, but they weren’t particularly helpful (and I honestly can’t fully blame them) at the time.

2. If you don’t have family or friends to support you, there are support sites and telephone hotlines for people in crisis around the world. While again, if you are in acute danger, you need to go to the emergency department or psychiatric crisis service, when you are still able to talk it through, do so.

3. Think of what your goals are, what you want to get or avoid with suicide. Obviously, religious beliefs about an afterlife aside, you won’t gain anything from suicide. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t seem like it. Some people believe: “At least I’ll be able to rest then.” In this sense, what you want to avoid through suicide is important too. Discuss with your family or a mental health professional how you can reach this goal while remaining alive. For example, I knew as I was talking to the crisis service psychiatrist in 2007 that I didn’t really want to die – I mean, who wants to? -, but that I couldn’t cope with my life as it was anymore.

4. Think of the people you’ll leave behind. No, I don’t mean thinking of them having to make funeral arrangements and how selfish you are for leaving your family with the financial burden. That is not going to be helpful. Just for your information, as a family member, don’t ever burden a suicidal relative with this kind of crap, no matter how confident you are that they are “just doing it for attention”. However, if you do have people you still care about when you’re in despair, thinking about them can help lift your mood. Despair is an incredibly lonely feeling, but there are people who care about you.

5. Be careful about chanigng medications or other treatments for depression while you are actively suicidal. Though electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is relatively safe for severely depressed people, antidepressants carry the risk of increasing suicidality. Always be sure to discuss suicidal ideation with your mental health professional and don’t change your medication regimen without close supervision, preferably from a psychiatrist.