So You Know (May 20, 2019)

I discovered Revenge of Eve’s So You Know (S.Y.K.) last week through another participant. However, I would’ve been terribly late to participate in that week’s installment. Today, I looked up the questions for this week and am on time to join in. The idea behind S.Y.K. is that Candice, the creator, poses a set of questions, which other bloggers get to answer. Here goes.

1. How long have you blogged? What is the anniversary?
It’s complicated. I have had a blog on WordPress ever since February 21, 2007. However, I moved my content from an online diary to WordPress then, so on that blog, it looks like I’ve had a blog ever since 2002. The blog you are reading now is ten months old, with its anniversary being July 25. However, I’ve had this subdomain ever since 2011 and had a blog on it then too.

2. What was your original purpose for beginning a blog?
My original reason for transferring from an online diary to WordPresss was to make my posts less personal and more essay-like. I would put my diary-style posts under the category of “Personal”, so that my parents and others who did not want to read my navel-gazing, could skip it. My original purpose with A Multitude of Musings was the exact opposite, to have a diary where I could be completely myself (and my alters could be themselves).

3. Did you research about blogging before establishing your own?
No. I didn’t even know that some bloggers did. I started most of the blogs I’ve had so far on a whim.

4. Has your purpose evolved or changed directions? If so, what was the determining factor for the change?
My purpose is still the same, but I am more aware of my audience. This may be a reason my alters don’t feel as comfortable sharing right now.

5. What determines your measure of success as far as blogging is concerned?
I must admit I rely a little too much on my stats to determine this. I would really love to resort back to writing just for me, as I did on the online diary site, which after all didn’t even have a commenting feature. However, now that I’ve had a blog for twelve years, I cannot even write in a private diary without having an audience in mind.

A Beautiful Memory: Clowns

It looks like, even though I’m still depressed, I’m getting a little bit of my writing mojo back. I have at least been commenting more on other people’s posts and feel like I want to write again. I was inspired to write this post by a question over at Pointless Overthinking. The question was about your most beautiful memory from last year. In 2018, my most beautiful memory was of saying goodbye at my old day activities. I already posted about that when it actually happened though. For this reason, I’m choosing another memory to share.

On November 23, 2017, my old day activities organized a “day out” for all clients. The reason it was called that was because they get money to take each client on an outing each year. This hadn’t happened in years though and, with many clients being profoundly and multiply disabled, it would’ve been hard. Instead of going out with those who could do this, the staff chose to have a “day in”. They organized for two clowns to visit the center.

I attended the group for profoundly and multiply disabled people at the time. I am not profoundly disabled, but I most enjoyed the sensory activities at that group. The clowns visited us and started interacting with the clients. None of the other clients can talk, but they thoroughly enjoyed it. So did I.

In addition to the clowns visiting, the staff had organized for a snack and fries delivery truck to come by. The clients at my group couldn’t make it clear what they wanted from the truck, so at first I too was just given a particular snack. When I discovered you were actually allowed to order your own snacks and fries, and as much as you wanted, I joined the people at the more able industrial group to fetch myself snacks. It was a ton of fun.

I was reminded of this day a few weeks ago, when a staff’s ddaughter visited us practising as a clown. She was in the process of auditioning to become a hospital clown and wanted some practice. She was really good. Unfortunately, she didn’t pass the auditions though.

A Timeline of My Mental Health

And yet again, I did not write for almost an entire week. My cold is gone, but now I’m fighting the strong pull of depression. I’m having really dark images in my mind, particularly at night. During the day, I can manage, but often feel too unmotivated and/or uninspired to write.

For this reason, I dug up one of my many collections of journaling prompts. A prompt that spoke to me is to draw a timeline of my life. I’m pretty sure I did this already, but can’t remember whether it was here or on one of my old blogs. I searched this blog for “timeline” and nothing came up, so if this is a duplicate post, I’m sorry. I think I wrote a timeline of my mental health on my previous blog in 2015 or 2016, but I’m just going to write one again.

2006: This was when I entered mental health services for the first time. I had my first appointment with a psychiatry resident on December 12. I was very nervous and could hardly speak a word.

2007: The most eventful year. First, in March, I got diagnosed with autism. I started treatment with a community psychiatric nurse. In July, I started my first psychiatric medication (other than sleeping pills for a while in 2006), an antipsychotic called Risperdal. This was a week before I moved out of independence training to go live on my own. In October, I stopped my antipsychotic again. In November, I landed in a suicidal crisis and was hospitalized.

2008: I remained on the locked acute unit for this entire year. Various follow-up placements were discussed, but none wanted me.

2009: I moved to the resocialization unit.

2010: I got diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and PTSD in addition to my autism. I started medication again. First, just Abilify (an antipsychotic), but then, Celexa (an antidepressant) was added. I also was put on the waiting list for a workhome for autistic people.

2011: The workhome didn’t work out (no pun intended). Other options were unsuitable for various reasons.

2012: I started to think that maybe I could live with my husband. This wasn’t because I really wanted it (or thought I could do it), but because every other option seemed to have been exhausted and at least my husband wasn’t going to refuse to be with me for needing too much care.

2013: I moved to the hospital closest to where my husband and I had rented an apartment. This was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in life. First, my diagnosis of DID and PTSD got changed to borderline personality disorder. This should’ve been a warning sign.

2014: I had to change psychologists. My new one said at our first appt that she didn’t believe I’m autistic.

2015: My husband moved to our cuurrent house. I tried to arrange to be transferred again, but this was refused by my social worker and psychologist. I tried to make arrangements to be placed in supported housing in my new area, but got told that the train has to move on and I had to live with my husband.

2016: My autism diagnosis got removed and replaced by dependent personality disorder, BPD traits and depression not otherwise specified. The process by which this diagnosis came to be, was the weirdest I’ve ever seen.

2017: I got kicked out of the hospital with almost no after care. In my final week, I got some day activities arranged, but that was it. Thankfully, I did get my autism diagnosis back after seeking a second opinion. My current treatment team agree with this diagnosis.

2018: I had a mental crisis at day activities and was told I had to leave that place. Thankfully, I found another place. I started dialectical behavior therapy and movement therapy, but quit again too because I couldn’t really apply what I’d learned. I finally got put on an effective dose of my antidepressant.

2019: I currently get only suppportive counseling with my nurse practitioner. I still take the high dose of both Abilify and Celexa. Would someday like to lower my Abilify dose, but that’s something for the future.

Book Review: Finding Stevie by Cathy Glass

I bought Finding Stevie, Cathy Glass’ most recently published book, already shortly after it first came out in early March. However, I had a ton of books on my reading list, so I didn’t immediately start it. Then it took me a while to finish it, because I got distracted. Last Sunday I finally finished it, but didn’t feel like writing a review yet. I was having a bad cold and didn’t feel like writing much at all. Now my cold is gone, so I can write the review.

Synopsis

Finding Stevie is a dark and poignant true story that highlights the dangers lurking online.

When Stevie’s social worker tells Cathy, an experienced foster carer, that Stevie, 14, is gender fluid she isn’t sure what that term means and looks it up.

Stevie, together with his younger brother and sister, have been brought up by their grandparents as their mother is in prison. But the grandparents can no longer cope with Stevie’s behaviour so they place him in care.

Stevie is exploring his gender identity, and like many young people he spends time online. Cathy warns him about the dangers of talking to strangers online and advises him how to stay safe. When his younger siblings tell their grandmother that they have a secret they can’t tell, Cathy is worried. However, nothing could have prepared her for the truth when Stevie finally breaks down and confesses what he’s done.

My Review

I at first had some trouble getting through the first few chapters. I was curious what Stevie’s secret might be and didn’t find out till almost midway through the book. Then, I worried until nearly the end that the book might not end on a positive note. It seemed to drag on a bit, but eventually, I couldn’t help but love this book.

As the book carried on, I grew sympathetic towards every character. For example, Fred, Stevie’s grandfather, is very blunt and doesn’t accept Stevie’s gender identity at first. He reminded me of my own father, having very strong opinions that he wouldn’t let go of despite the evidence. However, in the end it is clear that Fred too loves his grandson.

Book Details

Title: Finding Stevie: A Dark Secret. A Child in Crisis.
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 21, 2019

Sunshine Blogger Award Again

Yay, I was nominated for a blog award again. Jill from Food, Feelings, Freedom nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award. I had already been nominated for this award about eight months ago, but am so happy for another award nomination. The idea of this award is that Jill poses eleven questions, which I have to answer. Then, I get to nominate eleven more bloggers and ask them eleven questions. Here are Jill’s questions.

1. What do you do when you’re having a bad day?

It depends. When I’m having a bad day, I mostly feel like sleeping, but I try to do other things to cheer myself up too.

2. What is one thing you are most proud of?

My writing abilities.
3. Do you have any pets? Want any?

Yes, my husband and I have a cat named Barry. I’d someday love to have a dog too.
4. What are three values you consider most important?

Respect, kindness, honesty. I think I got this question sometime a few months ago too, but can’t remember where I answered it, so I cannot look up whether I said the same then.
5. What are some of your hobbies?

Writing, reading, using the Internet.
6. What is one thing you would tell your childhood self?

Follow your heart! In other words, don’t do what others expect you to do if it doesn’t align with your feelings.
7. What is your favourite quotation?

I like many quotes, both funny and inspirational. My favorite quote is by Madeleine L’Engle and is about the fact that, the richer a character, the fuller of contradiction it is.
8. Where do you see yourself (what do you hope for your future) in 5 years?
I hope I’ll be living in a supported housing placement, doing day activities I like (at my current place maybe).
9. What is your biggest fear?
I guess abandonment.
10. What aspect of your life are you currently working on? (Work? Personal? Health?)
Mental health and finding an appropriate living situation.
11. What is a risk you took that paid off?
I don’t really know right now.

I am late writing this post, as Jill nominated me last week. I am also having a nasty cold as I write this, so I’m not up for a big challenge. For this reason, I originally didn’t intend on nominating anyone specifically. I thought for a bit that I should do it anyway, as leaving the nomination open seems annoying to me. However, screw it. I’m nominating the first eleven WordPress bloggers to see this post. Here are my questions for you.

  1. What is your biggest achievement in life?
  2. If you were to choose a college major now, which would you choose?
  3. Are you more a cat person, a dog person or maybe you’re a rattlesnake person?
  4. What’s your favorite color?
  5. Have you ever been to a farm?
  6. Are you a city, small town or rural area person?
  7. What is your taste in music like?
  8. How old were you when you spoke your first word?
  9. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  10. What is your favorite mythical character?
  11. How long have you been blogging?

Mental Health Ramble

The month of May is mental health awareness month. I’m not sure how much I can contribute to it. In fact, I only found out about it today. Since I have a cold right now, I really don’t feel like writing. Or really, I do, but my brain is too foggy I can’t come up with a coherent topic to write on. So I’m just going to ramble.

Since it’s mental health awareness month, I could share my story of how I found out I’m mentally ill. Then again, I honestly don’t know. Autism, which was my first diagnosis, isn’t a mental illness. Adjustment disorder, which I got diagnosed with upon my breakdown in 2007, isn’t really either. Thank goodness, it still qualified me for care back then. Since insurance coverage of care is diagnosis-based in the Netherlands, and adjusmtnet disorder is no longer covered, I wouldn’t have been able to get care with just that diagnosis later on. In this sense, it’s good that I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and PTSD in 2010, then borderline personality disorder in 2013.

I am not even 100% sure I identify with mental illness myself. It’s really weird. If I were mentally ill, wouldn’t I need therapy? I don’t get any unless you count the meetings with my nurse practitioner every few weeks.

I don’t feel able to ask for more help on my own accord, even though I’m pretty sure I need it. I have been having a ton of weird symptoms lately and, though I’m getting by, is this really all there is to it?

I had a physical check-up at the mental health agency last February. I have a ton of issues that could be related to my mental health and/or the medication I take for it. Yes, despite the fact that I don’t even know whether I am currently diagnosed with anything other than autism, I take high doses of an antipsychotic and antidepressant. I don’t mind, but I do feel they need regular monitoring.

My psychiatrist would’ve seen me in March, at least that’s what she intended on in December. I still haven’t seen her. I do need to schedule an appt, but I’ve been taught through my years in the mental hospital that, unless you are a pain in the neck of others, there’s no need for you to see your treatment provider. I challenged this belief last year by scheduling an appot for my depression, but I”m not sure I can do it again.

#IWSG: Post-A2Z Ramblings

And yay, it’s May! It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day again. As you may have noticed, I didn’t write for the past few days. As such, I didn’t finish the A to Z Challenge. I am still thinking of doing at least the letter Z post, for which I have a cool theme.

The reason I didn’t finish A to Z is that, on Saturday, when I was supposed to do the letter X post, I was off to my parents’ all day. I didn’t get home till past 11PM and, though I had my phone with me, I didn’t really have time to write at my parents’. That’s a good thing in a way, in that I didn’t feel the need to retreat. Usually I do feel that need, as I find conversing in general and with my parents in particular challenging. Now, not so.

I had a good visit with my parents. No hard questions. We did discuss my life a bit, but mostly it was about my premature birth and what has become of my treating neonatologist. I think I mentioned in my letter Q post that I wasn’t even sure he’s still alive. Well, he is, as he’s still a member of the Dutch Pediatric Society. I assume he no longer practises as a doctor though.

Then on Sunday, I felt just too tired to write. If it had been an easier letter I’d have to write on, I might’ve found the motivation to catch up that day, still giving me two days to complete my letter Y and Z posts. Well, it didn’t happen. Then on Monday, I spent the day at day activities and then was off to my in-laws. Yesterday, I started to write a different post, but got frustrated with my Mac and iPhone again, so I didn’t write then either.

My husband encourages me to finish the challenge late, so that at least I have some sense of succeeding rather than feel I failed the challenge yet again. I understand his point of view, but I have several other posts I want to write. So, we’ll see.

Who Am I Right Now?: Exploring My Identities #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 23 in the #AtoZChallenge. I had a topic for my W post in mind for a few weeks, but then wasn’t sure whether to pick that one. I am doing so anyway. Today, I am exploring the things that make me me. My “identities” can, of course, refer to my alters too, but I covered that topic in my letter M post already. Today, I am exploring my different roles.

I am a daughter. My parents are still both alive. I was a granddaughter (and some would say I still am), though my last living grandparent died in 2018. I am a sister and an aunt-to-be, since my sister is 20 weeks pregnant.

I am a wife. I have been together with my husband nearly 11 years and married over seven. My husband is by far the most important person in my life. Through him, I am also a daughter-in-law and sister-in-law. My mother-in-law is the second most important person currently involved in my life.

I am a blogger. I’ve had one blog or another ever since 2007 and really have been an online writer since 2002. I am also an author, though I’ve had only one small piece published in an anthology. It makes me proud nonetheless.

I am an advocate. Though I don’t engage in as much activism as I used to about ten years ago, I still consider myself a disability, mental health and autistic rights advocate.

I am a believer. Though I subscribe to “something-ism”, it does help me to feel connected to a higher power.

I am mentally ill. I am autistic. I am blind. I am multiply-disabled. I am a benefits claimant. I am a service user at a day center for people with intellectual disabilities.

These last few identities may be the most defining of me when I tend to introduce myself. That’s why I listed them last here. I need to learn to focus on the others.

Voice: Expressing Myself Through This Blog #AtoZChallenge

Welcoem to the letter V post in the #AtoZChallenge. This letter was very hard. No topic came to mind spontaneously, except for “vision loss”, which I already covered in my letter B post. So I looked at a book of journaling prompts which has, among other things, a prompt for each letter of the alphabet. The prompt for V was “Voice”. The attached question was to write about something you’ve always wanted to tell someone. I am instead going to write about the way I use this blog to express myself.

When I started this blog, I intended for it to be as free and open as a public place on the Internet could be. I didn’t want to feel limited by beliefs about what should be blog-worthy. In a way, I wanted this blog to be as authentic as my first online diary was, before I knew the impact of sharing stuff online. I would, of course, take care to avoid using people’s real names – something I didn’t do back then -, but I would not keep much hidden to prevent getting criticism.

Now, nine months on, I must say I reached this goal most of the time. Of course, there are still things I don’t share on here, but those are things that shouldn’t go on the Internet at all mostly. Like, I don’t go about describing an argument I had with my husband. In this sense, it is good that my blog isn’t like my first online diary, in which I did describe every argument with my parents.

I still do care a little about the quality of my posts, but that’s not bad. I mean, maybe I wish I were as open as some of my online friends are on their blogs, sharing stuff I share in small E-mail groups on here. That probably won’t happen. My inner critic is too harsh for that, and I don’t even know whether that’s a bad thing.

Unusual Interests: Calendar Calculation and More #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 21 in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I will be writing about my unusual interests. You see, like many autistic people, I tend to have interests that are intense and unusual in focus.

As a child, I was advanced for my age in math. When I was around six, my father taught me to do square and squareroot calculations. He used a set of squares (which were really computer chips) to teach me, laying three in one row and then squaring it to nine. I loved this.

When I was eight and the kids in my class were doing multiplication tables, this would be boring to me, as I had all tables from one to twelve memorized already. To make the activity useful for me anyway, I chose to start with the table of nineteen. Don’t ask me why I skipped thirteen to eighteen, but I did.

When I was a bit older still, I taught myself to do calendar calculation. Most people not familiar with autism I encounter have never even heard of that skill, which is a common savant skill in autistics. It involves calculating on what day a certain date falls. Usually, this skill is presumed to be memory-based, but I actually knew the rules for doing it. I also learned about the change from Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1582 and took those ten days that were skipped into account when working with dates before then. I have a newspaper article from late 1999, which I still treasure, titled something like “the fight about time” in Dutch. It explained why the year 4000, unlike other centennial years divisible by 400, shouldn’t be a leap year. How fascinating!

Later, I developed other “unusual” special interests. For example, I used to draw maps when I was around ten or eleven. I always drew Italy, though I knew a lot about topography in general.

When I was in the psychiatric hospital and touring potential supported housing places, I had no idea about their location, except which trains and buses to use to get there. I wasn’t as good with topography anymore. I at one point had most bus routes in my province memorized from Wikipedia.