Tag Archives: Journal Writing

Friendly Fill-Ins #1

A few weeks ago, I discovered the Friendly Fill-Ins linky hosted by 15AndMeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. I loved the idea but wasn’t inspired to write then. Today, I rediscovered the linky and the questions were rather interesting. Therefore, I’m participating now.

1. My Chinese zodiac animal sign is Tiger. I don’t know anything about Chinese astrology, so I googled it. They are said to be independent, courageous and powerful but arrogant too. I can see how that applies to me and definitely how it used to apply to me before I was institutionalized. Tigers born in June, like me, are said to have a life that twists and turns around a lot. That’s so true for me too. They also may be ambitious but won’t achieve their goals without support and financial resources. Those born on the 27th, like me, are said to have the perfect husband (or wife).

2. My zodiac sign is Cancer. The Cancer personality also definitely applies to me. That being said, I was born prematurely and should’ve been a Libra. I don’t believe in astrology, so when I read my horoscope and Cancer doesn’t seem to fit, I look at Libra.

3. Income tax season is confusing. I hate having to file for income tax, so I usually have my husband do it for me. Once, in like 2009, I filed for income tax for three years at once, since I hadn’t done this the two previous years. I wasn’t required to, but got a lot of money back when I finally reported my income.

4. In hindsight… Well they say hindsight is 20/20 but I’m still unsure about many decisions I made in the past. Usually, I know that I made the wrong decision but don’t know what the right decision would’ve been. I try not to dwell on regrets, although this is pretty hard.

Do you relate to your astrological sign?

Agree to Disagree

Prologue: two weeks ago, it was decided that, for two weeks, I would not be allowed to attend my day activities center in the afternoons. The reason was three new clients would be joining us and that would mean there’d be less support for me – at least while they get used to the day center. This made me quite unquiet. I wrote about this for Five-Minute Friday last week too, struggling to write a long enough, contextual enough post to be search engine-friendly within five minutes. Then I saw that people did prologues and epilogues to their posts that apparently do not count towards your five minutes of wrting time. So I decided to do this too. Here is my actual piece.

Yesterday, my staff asked me if I’d been feeling calmer now that my day activities hours were cut. I didn’t respond initially. Later, I did, assuming she had said, not asked, that I was calmer now.

I told her I feel awful each afternoon. Of course, the group is quieter without me, so I could see where she’d be coming from if she wanted to keep me out of day activities longer. I didn’t assume she had my best interest in mind – or at least the manager, who decided on these matters, didn’t. I’m not intellectually disabled, so I’m not the day center’s primary target population. As such, if there’s a disruption in the group that involves me, I’m the one who is out.

Indeed, today, I was informed that my day activities hours will remain as they were for the past few weeks. It was all in my best interest, the staff tried to say. Well, agree to disagree.

Epilogue: I was quite distressed by this whole thing during the day. Then I remembered someone’s comment on my FMF post from last week, that God never closes a door without opening a window. On Thursday, I will have a meeting with my day activities and home support staff, my community psychiatric nurse and the local authority social consultant. I hope this meeting will yield some positive results.

Linking up with Five-Minute Friday again.

Surrender

Last week, it was decided that, for a while, my day actvities hours will be cut. It was also suggested that my current day activities center, which caters primarily to people with intellectual disabilities, may not be the best fit for me. I’m not intellectually disabled, after all. I’m autistic, but if you’re of at least average intelligence, somehow that doesn’t count as a developmental disability.

I had to accept this, to surrender to the decision made for me. But I decided not to give up. I am okay with this being a temporary thing, but I don’t want to be shoved around like a cart. I’m a person, after all. I know I don’t fit neatly into one dsablity label box. I am both blind and autistic and have mental health issues.

Over the past week I alternated between fight and surrender. When surrendering, I was depressed and didn’t feel like there’d ever be a place for me. I even pushed my husband away, because I wasn’t sure I could choose between him and proper care. Now I know this is a false dilemma.

When in fight mode, I felt energized. I’ve been making phone calls, thinking up next steps. I have an appointment with my community psychiatric nurse on Monday to discuss how to proceed.

It doesn’t help this wasn’t the first time I fell between the cracks care-wise, but in a way, it does. I know how to navigate the system, after all, and I know not to surrender to a poor quality of life.

I am linking up this post with Five Minute Friday. The prompt this week is “surrender”.

My Word for 2018

It’s already the second week of 2018 and I haven’t written about my goals or hopes or dreams for the year yet. Last year was a productive year, mostly because I finally moved out of the mental institution after 9 1/2 years. From there on, I’ve been attempting to move forward and live a healthier life in many different respects. Physically, I embarked on a weight loss, healthier eating and fitness journey. I was also referred to an occupational therapist for help with my mobility and fine motor impairments. For my mental health, I started dialectical behavior therapy.

I also started day activities once out of the institution. This is a huge accomplishment, as I could never handle the pressure of going to a day center for any prolonged amount of time. At first, I went to an industrial group, but I was later moved to a sensory-based group. This has been a very positive experience. I also started horseback riding in September and swimming with my husband in November. Lastly, I got an iPhone. All in all, I did a pretty godo job of ticking off the items of my 2017 bucket list.

It doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle. In 2017, I took two overdoses which required a night on the internal medicine ward. As I mentioned last Sunday, on Wednesday, I engaged in pretty bad self-injurious behavior at day activities. I’m still often very much stressed out.

On Writes Like a Girl, Nicole shared an interesting take on the cycle of life: she theorized that one year is for action and the next for maintenance. Her 2017, like mine, was totally about moving forward. She deliberately chooses 2018 to be a year for rest and calm. She will continue to move forward, but at a slower pace than she did in 2017. Same for me.

My word for 2018 is a word that fits in nicely with dialectical behavior therapy. The first skill we work on in DBT is mindfulness. Mindfulness is pretty much hyped up and I’m not too sure I fully understand it. Even so, I think it’s an important skill. Like Nicole, I need to do less and be more. My word for 2018, for this reason, is simply (or not so simply): be.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have goals for 2018. For example, I do still want to continue my healthy living and weight loss journey and set myself a new goal weight for the end of the year. However, I’m taking this slowly. After all, I’d rather lose the weight slowly and keep it off than lose it rapidly only to gain it all back.

Other than this, I don’t have any goals that require me to reach a certain end result. I mean, I’ve set myself a goal of keeping a jornal, but I’ve not set a requirement of how often or how much I need to write. I also really hope to blog more this year and I think I’m finally ready to ditch my mediocre Dutch blog and move my focus entirely back here.

What is your word for 2018?

First Week of 2018

Oh my Gosh, it’s beginning to get boring: I haven’t written on this blog in almost a month. I want so badly to write more in 2018, but instead of wrting on this blog, I’m writing brief entries in my journal on my phone. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I love my blog too.

It has been on my mind for a while to start writing in diary style on my blog. Of course, I can’t share everything I can in my private journal here, but I can share some things. I love the personal mental health bloggers who share what it’s like living with mental illness on a day-to-day basis. So for this purpose, I’ve created the “Diary” category on my blog. Feel free to skip these entries if you’re not interested in them, but if you are, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Today, I’m sharing about the first week of 2018, obviously.

The year didn’t start out that well. I was a bit overloaded and stressed out. I was perseverating on finding a good journaling app for my phone, because I badly wanted to start journaling privately again in 2018. I’ve tried a few apps on the computer and a dozen websites, but I can’t find any that work. By 12AM Monday, I said a quick “Happy new year” to my husband and sister-in-law, who was celebrating with us, only to return to my phone again. In the end, I found a great app: Dyrii. Still, judging by how easily I write this post versus my journal entries, I’m finding using Notepad on my computer is still easier than my iPhone.

I had been going to day activities as normal between Christmas and New year’s, so I only had Monday off, but it felt rather strange to return on Tuesday. I had been informed before the holidays that we’d be getting three new clients in my group at day activities in January. For those who don’t know, I go to a sensory-based group for people with severe intellectual and multiple disabilities. All clients except for me need help with their personal care. The reason this group still fits me is that I’m very easily overloaded and prefer the sensory way of learning. We currently have one group of six clients, including me, in the main room and two clients who are very easily overstimulated in the adjacent room. Come January, I and two of the other current clients would move into the adjacent room with these two clients who are already there. As it turned out, that hasn’t happened yet, because the new clients aren’t there yet.

The total group size will grow from eight to eleven. We won’t get extra staff. This was a stressor to me, as was all the talk about the one-on-one for two clients that needs to be well-arranged in order to make this work, as well as the talk about a client needing one-on-one for meals. It was suggested there’d be no more activities but just meals and personal care moments. This suggestion was made on Wednesday, when I was already pretty badly overloaded and stressed out. I tried to calm myself by thinking I could use my computer or phone if I wanted to do something but there’d be no support available. So I retreated into the adjacent room to use my phone, only to be overwhelmed by people yelling in the corridor. This sent me into full-blown meltdown. I mean, if I can’t use the adjacent room without being overwhelmd now, how will I do so once my two fellow clients join me? I know these are the quietest clients, but still.

Looking back, I am lucky that my staff didn’t see the entire event. I banged my head against a wall, which my husband later asked about whether it got me suspended from day activities. I only then realized that it could have. The only part my staff witnessed was me trying to run away and being pretty irritable. My staff took me to the snoezelen (sensory) room and I had to stay there for fifteen miutes. Then she returned and we talked stuff through.

I called my mental health team, which is a kind of team that always has a community psychiatric nurse on call during office hours, as soon as I got home. The on-call CPN advised me to always have a PRN Ativan with me. I used to always have one with me until my last overdose, when my husband took them away. I haven’t needed it since. The on-call CPN also advised me to call the out-of-hours phone number I’d been given last week whenever I need it. I had been hesitant to call them during the new year’s week-end, as I reasoned my husband was home so I should be able to work out things with him. I haven’t needed to call them since speaking to that CPN though. In fact, I’m pretty calm now. Maybe I needed to melt down in order to calm down again.

Food Plan: A Week of Healthy Eating

It’s been six months since I embarked on my weight loss and healthier living journey. It’s been going with ups and downs. I lost five kilograms in my first month of attempting to lose weight. Then, I slowly lost more then gained it back. At the end of October, I was at the same weight I’d been at in early July. IN other words, while I had maintained the loss of those first five kilograms, I hadn’t lost any more. Now over the month of November, I lost three kilograms again. I now only need to lose two kilograms to no longer be obese. This means that the goal I set last June, which was to be just plain overweight rather than obese within a year, is still within reach.

One exercise I came across when reading journaling guides for overeaters, is to imagine one day of normal eating. The idea is to imagine what it’d be like to eat normally for a day, then put that plan into actual action. The thing is, even when I was still deep in disordered eating, I usually had a few days of mostly normal eating before I’d down a whole bag of sweets and/or a bag of crisps and/or other unhealthy foods wthin half an hour. For this reason, I’m going to change the exercise a little and create a food plan for a week. Most things I have already implemented, in fact.

Breakfast

I will eat a healthy breakfast each day. This means I’ll eat lower-fat yoghurt with muesli. I used to eat crunchy muesli most days, but I changed that to regular fruit muesli about a month ago. This contains significantly less calories than crunchy muesli, but it does seem to contan somewhat more sugar. Last week, I bought muesli with nuts, which I think I’ll like better than fruit muesli anyway and which is less sugary.

Lunch

I used to eat two slices of bread with peanut butter. Last month, I decided to get sandwich spread instead, which is much lower in calories, although some people tell me it’s not necessarily healthier.

In addition to bread, I started eating a few carrots, tomatoes and cucumber slices for lunch each day. I love to snack on vegetables and particularly the carrots make me feel full too.

Dinner

My husband cooks and serves my food, so I generally trust him to make me relatively healthy meals and limit my portions. Each Friday though, he gets us fries with a snack. When I restarted my weight loss journey a month ago, I thought I’d have to let go of this, but I don’t. Weight loss doesn’t mean never eating any unhealthy food, after all. That’s why I’m pretty wary of Overeaters Anonymous’ idea of abstinence as a goal. I much prefer Eating Disorders Anonymous’ idea of balance.

Snacks

I can have fruit or rice crackers as snacks when I’m home from day activities in the afternoon. During morning coffee at day activities, I should try to turn down the gingerbread, as it’s pretty high in calories and I don’t even like it very much.

On Wednesday, we have a cooking activity at day activities. I love it and am so glad I have been able to fully participate in it, including eating, while still losing weihgt. The staff usually serve it, so they decide on portion sizes.

Every other Friday, my mother-in-law accompanies me to the pharmacy to pick up my medications. I have decided that I can still buy myself something to snack on at the grocery store that’s near the pharmacy, but it needs to be something relatively healthy. For example, the last time, I had chicken bites. Then, I ate them all in one sitting, which I’m not planing on doing tomorrow. I’m still undecided as to whether I can get myself the chicken bites again and hope I’ll restrain myself and leave some for my husband, or whether I should get something else. Here, the goals of abstinence versus balance are competing again.

Drinks

I usually have coffee, tea and water throughout the day. I can have a fizzy drink or juice every once in a while. I should aim for at least two liters of fluids each day. Not even so much for weight loss purposes, but more to prevent getting constipated.

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?

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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