Tag Archives: Family

How Far I’ve Come

Today, in a complex PTSD support group, a member shared her story of hope and healing to lift other members up. I was inspired to share mine. Not that I’m as successful as she is, but I’ve come a long way on my healing journey especially given how deeply troubled I was several years ago. Regular readers will know most of this already, but I’m still going to share where I’ve come from and how far I’ve come so far.

In 2007, I started university in Nijmegen. I didn’t really want to go to university, but I felt I had to because my parents expected me to. I felt I had to live up to their expectations or I wouldn’t be worth much and would not have anyone to support me. My parents had instilled in me that I wasn’t wired for relationships, so if they decided to abandon me, I’d have no-one left.

Two months in and I crashed. I was so dysregulated and suicidal that I had to be admitted to a mental hospital. The psychiatrist who admitted me felt I needed supported housing. We searched for this for many years, but no place wanted me.

Meanwhile, the other half and I started dating. This could’ve given me some hope that I may in fact be able to develop social and even romantic relationships and wouldn’t be dependent on my parents for the rest of my life. You see, despite the fact that my parents only ever visited the hospital to argue with my treatment team, I was still heavily emotionally dependent on them. I still felt I needed their approval to be able to have any sort of meaningful life.

That changed around late 2010 to early 2011. The other half had proposed to me in June of 2010. I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and PTSD in late 2010. Finally finding a treatment provider who believed me and realizing the other half was here to stick by me, gave me the strength to stick up for myself.

I still had many setbacks in the years that followed. I changed hospitals and my new psychologist didn’t believe I had DID/PTSD. The next psychologist even removed my autism diagnosis that I’d had for many years. She diagnosed me with dependent personality disorder, not because I was passive and compliant, but because I was too assertive, claiming care she felt I didn’t need.

In early 2017, I finally found the determination and courage to fight like a lioness for what I need. I sought an independent second opinion on my diagnosis. I started the process of finding suitable support, eventually enlisting the Center for Consultation and Expertise. I started to realize that I’m not just the crazy one in my family. In fact, even though no-one has a diagnosis other than me, I’m pretty sure my entire family has fallen a bit off their rocker. I finally realized (though I still don’t fully feel it) that the trauma I endured wasn’t my fault.

These strong parts of me are still a bit split off from the core of me, but that’s okay. Ultimately, I will hopefully learn to synthesize their qualities with the ones of the weaker or smaller ones. I don’t need to become “one”, but I hope I can someday live as the whole person, made up of all these parts, that I am.

Rays of Sunlight – June 2018

Wow, we’re almost halfway through the year! Time definitely does fly. I have a handful of new post ideas in my head, but today, it’s far too hot for a complicated post. Instead, I’m going to share my positives, or rays of sunlight, for the month of June.

1. Summer. The weather is still beautiful. I heard on the radio that we broke a record for heat the second quarter of 2018. My husband also said that the weather institute predicts a very wet summer. I’m hoping not, since for everything other than complicated blog post writing, this weather is great (although my husband thinks otherwise).

2. Going for walks. According to my Fitbit activity tracker, I reached the recommendded step goal of 10,000 daily several times this month. Of course, that isn’t nearly good enough, as it’s a recommended daily goal, but I’m still enjoying competing with myself.

3. Going to a spa with my sister. Back in February or March, my sister said she’d like to take me to some kind of spa someday in June when her husband would be on a business trip. This day came round June 18. We went to a spa called Sanadome in Nijmegen, which has a lot of scentsy baths, bubble baths and warm swimming pools. I loved it. My sister paid, as this was an early birthday gift for me. Afterwards, we went out for dinner at my favorite restaurant, which I discovered when I was hospitalized in Nijmegen back in 2008. Unfortunately, they no longer had my favorite, turkey, on the menu.

4. My birthday. Yay, I turned 32 on Wednesday! I’m still often pretty excited about my birthday and becoming a year older, even though with each year I come closer to old age. As I had already seen my sister when we went to the spa, she didn’t visit on my birthday. My parents did though. We went for a long walk (one of the days I reached 10,000 steps). After that, we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Doetinchem, a city about twenty minutes from my home.

5. BBQ’ing with my in-laws. I don’t know whether it was for my birthday (just let me think it was) or some other reason, but my mother-in-law invited us over yesterday. The previous day I’d been stuffed after the Mexican dinner, but I still enjoyed the food yesterday. Don’t ask me about my weight.

6. Kindle. Yes, I have to mention it again. In early May, I bought my first book on Kindle, which I’m slowly moving through. This month though, I rediscovered foster care and inspirational memoirs. I decided to buy one and flew through it. I’ll likely post a review in a few days.

7. Visiting potential new day activities. I will likely write a separate post on this, but let me say that I might finally have found a place that’s suitable. We’re moving slowly and I won’t make any final decisions until we’ve spoken with the Center for Consultation and Expertise consultant. That meeting has been set for July 31.

8. Depression finally lifting. I’m still not feeling overly happy, but at least I can say I’m no longer depressed. I am so glad my increased antidepressant dose hasn’t caused any side effects either.

I hope you’ve had a great June too.

A Cornish Mum

#WeekendCoffeeShare for May 26, 2018

Today, I’m linking up with Ali’s #WeekendCoffeeShare. The idea behind #WeekendCoffeeShare is to catch up on how your week has been. It’s a good way to share how you’ve been doing without having to devote a separate blog post to everything you’re up to. So sit back and grab a cup of your favorite drink (it’s rather late for coffee here).

The week started off rather relaxed with Monday being a holiday because of it being the day after Pentecost. That being said, I don’t really like days off, as I tend to sleep away the day anyway and feel bored when I’m awake. I’d have rather gone to day activities.

When I came to day activities again on Tuesday, I was a little anxious. There’s a family day at the center next week. Originally, my mother-in-law would be attending, but given the fact that I’m being kicked out of this center anyway, I feel it’d be useless. Besides, I have an appointment with my psychiatric nurse practitioner for dialectical behavior therapy that afternoon. I just told a white lie by omission and said my appointment was the reason I and my mother-in-law won’t be there.

On Wednesday, I had an okay day. My home support coordinator came by. She’d visit me on Thursday too, as my regular home support worker couldn’t come. I may get another support worker in her place, as she has a rather heavy workload. My mother-in-law also took me on some errands.

I found out on Thursday that things might not be as hopeless on the day activities front as I thought them to be. My support coordinator had contacted a day activities farm about 25km from my house. Farming isn’t my ideal sort of day activities, but I’m willing to go take a look there. The coordinator for that place had referred her to another person for placement inquiries. This placement person said they have three other day activities places in that area, all roughly 20-25km from my home. This is quite a bit farther off than the 15km to my current day activities (which is already relatively far), so transportation may be an issue. However, I’m sure my support coordinator will find a solution to this. I’ll be going to visit all four places on June 11. There is the farm, which was said to be good for those seeking experience-based activities too, so you’re not necessarily required to work hard. Then there’s an industrial place (but the placement person said not to worry about pressure), an artsy place with a shop and a day center similar to the one I attend now.

I am feeling slightly optimistic about one of these places possibly being a good fit for me. I actually am thinking of mentioning my experience with soap and skin care product making in hopes that I can get the support to pick up that hobby again, either at the artsy place or the day center.

Yesterday I went to the adaptive riding school for horseback riding. Everyone in my class was more noisy than usual and I experienced a bit of overload. Nonetheless, I enjoyed riding my current horse, Angie.

Today, my husband and I went to my in-laws to spend the afternoon and part of the evening. My in-laws have a pretty large house in the countryside. They have horses there. I helped brush one of my mother-in-law’s horses, Remco. We also ate homemade pizza. One half of each of our pizzas had a cauliflower crust. I actually liked it better than the regular crust.

What have you been up to this past week?

An Eventful Week

And again I didn’t write for an entire week. The past week was rather eventful and stressful. I have been distracting mmyself by going on Tumblr and attempting to start something up there. I’ve had one Tumblr account or another ever since 2008 but never quite understood how it works and still I really don’t. However, I’m enjoying the community of mental health users there.

The reason the week was stressful was because of a lot of emotion-evoking events. First, my grandma died Saturday night. This caused a lot of emotions in me, because my grandma was the only family member I had a good relationship with. Her funeral was yesterday and it was good to see a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins I rarely see at all. The funeral service was good. My sister spoke on behalf of the grandchildren. I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the stories she told.

Another emotional event was the orientation meeting with the coordinator from the Center for Consultation and Expertise (CCE) on my situation re day activities. In attendance were the CCE coordinator, my day activities and home support staff, my mother-in-law (who acts as my informal representative), the local authority social consultant, my psychiatric nurse practitioner and me. The coordinator does the first meeting. If she decides it’s necessary, she’ll involve one or more consultants who will help find solutions to the situation at hand.

As it turns out, my day activities staff were hardly open to any suggestions from the CCE coordinator that would allow me to stay at this center. They kept making excuses about my meltdonws (which I haven’t had in a while) causing seizures and aggressive outbursts in other clients. This never really happened. Besides, these other clients get seizures/outbursts from a lot of behavior that other fellow clients exhibit too. I myself witnessed this on Monday.

We discussed the reasons for my meltdowns. Sensory ovelroad, demands and stress often set me off. The CCE coordinator asked whether I’d ever had a sensory integration assessment. I haven’t. It was at one point suggested by another consultant but my then psychologist (the one who kicked me out of the institution last year) dismissed this. Same for the trauma therapy recommended by the CCE consultant when we had a consultation in 2010.

We also discussed my living situation. This had not been the direct reason for contacting the CCE, but now that we had them involved anyway, my home support coordinator suggested we discuss this too. It is really hard. I mean, I experience a lot of stress now that I live independently with my husband. I was open about the worsening of my depression, including suicidal thoughts. I don’t want to die though, so the CCE coordinator asked what I do want. I honestly don’t know. At one point, the CCE coordinator also asked me directly whether I’d have wanted to live independently had the psychologist not kicked me out of the institution. I said “No”. My home support coordinator talked about the possibility of me and my husband moving closer to supported housing. This may be very difficult bureaucratically, as psychiatric diagnoses (including autism) don’t qualify you for long-term care, but maybe the CCE can help us figure this out.

I have mixed feelings about the meeting. I am somewhat hopeful but also a little pessimistic. Since the day activities staff aren’t open to solutions that will allow me to stay there, we’re at the mercy of a possible other day activities center. I hope we can find one.

Friendly Fill-Ins #2

It’s been forever since I participated in the Friendly Fill-Ins hosted by 15andmeowing but today, I’m participating again. I love today’s questions. Here they are.


  1. I spend ______________ hours per day online.

  2. When I go online, I use my _________________.

  3. Mother’s Day __________________.

  4. I wish ______________________.

And here are my answers.
1. I spend around eight hours per day online, I think. Maybe even more. I spend most of my free time and some of my time at day activities online.

2. When I go online, I use my laptop usually. It’s an almost four-year-old Acer. For E-mail though, I usually use my iPhone SE, as E-mail programs tend not to work with my rather old version of my screen reader. I wish I could get a new laptop with a new version of the screen reader, but getting the screen reader covered by insurance is a bureaucratic hassle.

3. Mother’s Day… well I don’t care. I’m not a mother and my mother doesn’t do Mother’s Day (or any special occasions for that matter). As it is, my relationship is better with my mother-in-law than with my own mother. Last year for Mother’s Day, I made a small gift for my mother-in-law at day activities, but my current group doesn’t do this, presumably because the other clients don’t really understand.

4. I wish… well here I have to copy 15andmeowing’s response, since I too wish we didn’t have to say goodbye to our loved ones. My grandma, like I said on Thursday, is dying. Now that there’s no hope for her, however, I wish she is pain-free and passes peacefully.

What I’ve Been Up To Lately

I’ve been meaning to write a lot lately, but I didn’t. All that I started on were random ramblings that I didn’t finish. Today, I’m writing down these random ramblings in a kind of list, in hopes of finally finishing this post.

First, I had movement therpay on Tuesday. It was good in some ways but not good in a sense too. I dissociated a lot. Like the last time I had movement therapy, a part of me came out. This is good, in that it allowed me to express myself in a way I otherwise can’t. However, since my parts are not fully accepted by my mental health team, I’m not sure whether I’ll be taken out of movement therapy for it “not helping”.

Second, on Tuesday evening, my mother sent me and my sister a text message that she and my father were at my paternal grandma’s. She is being kept asleep for pain control and will soon die. This is terribly sad. I mean, yes, she’s 94 and in a lot of pain in addition to having long suffered significant cognitive decline. However, I cherish my grandma greatly. She was an official witness at my wedding in 2011. This was in th eearly stages of her cognitive decline, when she was still just able enough to fulfill this role. I am so glad I had her for this role, as I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my parents or sister at the time, so didn’t want to ask them.

Third, I started at yet another increased dose of citalopram last Monday. I told my psychiatrist on Friday what I’d written down here and she concluded that the medication is helping some but not enough, so she increased it to 40mg a day.

Fourth, yesterday I reached the recomended daily step goal of 10,000 steps despite the hot weather. This is only the second time since I bought my Fitbit activity tracker last February.

Fifth, I’ve been reading some good books lately. I finally finshed Angels with Dirty Faces by Casey Watson, a collection of five previously published mini eBooks. I may post a review soon. On Tuesday, I bought my first Kindle eBook. I wasn’t 100% sure whether it’d work with my screen reader, since it wasn’t mentioned explicitly that it would, but it did. It’s What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew by the Autism Women’s Network. So far, I’m really enjoying this book.

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