#IWSG: Writing in Times of Corona

Today is April 1 and aside from the start of the #AtoZChallenge, it’s also the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day. I skipped it last month, but today I want to join back in.

I did a lot of writing in the past month. What else is there to do? I mean, I could have spent my month reading, but I still usually read partly for the purpose of blogging about it. So I spent my month writing.

The world pretty much turned upside down in the month of March. Early on, I didn’t see a month full of writing on the horizon at all. Neither did I see COVID-19 coming. In the first week of March, the press at least here was still not taking COVID-19 too seriously. The first cases in the Netherlands were confirmed, but for the most part I still thought this was a far-off thing. A satirical site had a test online about when YOU would contract coronavirus. I had presumably contracted it two days before while trying to stockpile the last packages of fresh meat. I joked about it when having a meeting with my community psychiatric nurse and the facility’s behavior specialist on March 6. We even still shook hands then.

On March 16, schools and restaurants closed for three weeks. A week later, we went on “intelligent” lockdown. This means we are encouraged to stay home and gatherings are prohibited, but going outside isn’t strictly forbidden. My facility implemented a no-visitors policy on March 25.

Just yesterday, we were told that schools will remain closed until at least April 28. Restaurants are closed till June 1 I think.

So, while I’m in self-isolation, I do still try to occupy myself. It’s good that I like writing, huh? For the month of April, I have lots of things I want to write about. I’m participating in A to Z, of course, but I’ve already seen some other prompts that inspire me.

How are things in your part of the world?

ACCEPTS: Coping with Distress By Using DBT #AtoZChallenge

I haven’t decided on a theme for this year’s #AtoZChallenge, so I can basically write about whatever comes to mind. Right now, we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and we’ll most likely be by the end of April still. As such, today’s post is about self-care in times of distress.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a commonly-used approach to treating emotion regulation issues such as those found in borderline personality disorder, but its strategies can be useful for anyone having a hard time coping with crisis. DBT’s founder Marsha M. Linehan was probably fond of acronyms, as DBT has many. One such acronym, which is particularly useful for coping with difficult emotions during times of distress, is ACCEPTS. ACCEPTS stands for the following.

Activities: find a hobby or sport to do. Yes, playing video games or watching Netflix counts. For me, reading is my hobby of choice.

Contributing: do some form of volunteer work or help a friend. The book The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care by Anna Borges provides babysitting for a friend as an example. This is not likely possible in these times of lockdown, but helping out online probably also counts.

Comparison: look to a real or fictional situation that could be worse.

Emotions: try to channel the exact opposite of the emotion you’re trying to fight. For example, if you’re sad, watch funny YouTube videos. You can also train yourself to act opposite of the emotion. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to put on a smile when you’re sad, though that might help. It also means, for example, doing the opposite of your initial response to your emotion. For example, if you’re feeling like sleeping it off, try exercise.

Push away: visualize building a wall between you and the negative emotion or imagine that it is a mass you can push away.

Thoughts: do something that requires your full cognitive attention. The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care clarifies that you don’t need to do any sort of critical thinking. Borges instead provides the example of reading a book, focusing on each sentence intently. I prefer word games.

Sensation: provide yourself with a strong sensation to focus on. For example, hold some cubes of ice. I’ve seen some people even suggest smelling ammonia. That’s crazy to me (I initially thought ammonia was another acronym). Borges, however, says you can actually focus on pleasant sensations such as soft textures too. I love essential oils.

What are your favorite techniques of coping with distress?

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 31, 2020) #WDIIA

Okay, I assume Linda intended #WDIIA to be a daily feature and not only did I skip last Wednesday and Thursday, but I skipped the week-end and yesterday too. I’m still making use of the feature while it exists, as though I don’t exactly have to remind myself what day it is each day, a reminder every now and again can’t hurt.

I slept in till 9:15AM this morning. This isn’t unusual for a week-end and my staff said it was okay despite it not being a week-end. After all, day activities are still provided at the home.

I seem to have lost my exercise mojo a bit. Though I did walk three times today, I took “only” 8.5K steps and don’t feel motivated to go on the elliptical to reach the 10K mark. I haven’t been on the elliptical since Saturday. My sister did compliment me on having beat her husband on Fitbit last week though.

At least I haven’t lost my blogging mojo as of yet. Like I said yesterday, I don’t usually schedule posts in advance but I did tomorrow’s post for the #AtoZChallenge. I feel pretty motivated to write.

Someone from the adaptive tech company, or I assume their carrier service, came to collect my Braille display today. It has a few broken cells. I originally intended on waiting for it to be fixed till this COVID-19 crisis is over, but then last week the company sent out an E-mail detailing their continued service during the crisis. They don’t repair tech in the customer’s home anymore, but they still do collect and return. They also provided me with a replacement Braille display while they’re fixing mine. I doubt it can be reliably fixed though, as this was the second time some cells broke and I’ve only had it for nine months.

This evening, the prime minister held another press conference regarding the coronavirus crisis and its management. Schools are out till April 28 at least and the “intelligent” lockdown will remain in effect. This means, I assume, that the day center will remain closed until April 28 at least too. I don’t mind, as I actually rather like it this way. The staff noticed this too and they might find a way for me to retreat into my room if needed once the day center reopens.

How has your day been?

Dear Diary: 2021

A ton of ideas are floating through my mind for topics I want to write about. However, I’m tempted to just do another #WDIIA post. I also realize I signed up for the #AtoZChallenge and haven’t even started drafting my posts for it yet. Ugh, that’s me being a blogger. Instead of drafting a post in advance though, I’m participating in Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Sunday Writing Prompt for yesterday, for which the theme is Dear Diary. And no, this isn’t going to be a boring description of today. I hope it will be a diary entry I can write someday in 2021, when like I predicted last year, everything will be okay. Here goes.

Dear diary,

I just took a look at some old blog posts from last year. Today is September 30, 2021. My sister and brother-in-law have their fifth wedding anniversary today. Hubby and I just had our tenth on the 19th. It was wonderful! We celebrated by going out at my not-so-newly favorite restaurant, where both of us ordered unlimited piri-piri chicken. It was delicious! My husband had the following week off, so I decided to stay with him for the week. Since traveling still was discouraged last year, but isn’t this year, we took some time to vacation at a nice resort. I spent most of the time in the swimming pool. Boy, have I missed swimming!

I’ve also missed going out to dinner. Oh and ordering pizza. Though during most of the COVID-19 crisis, Domino’s still delivered pizzas, there was no-one to eat them with, since my husband couldn’t visit.

Oh, I’m so happy my husband didn’t leave me over that whole COVID-19 thing. I mean, it took several months before the no-visitors rule was lifted at my care facility. I was worried all of this time that hubby would want to have a real wife who could be with him. Apparently not. He wants me.

I’m so glad the worry is a lot less than it was last year. I’ve been working on my self-worth in therapy and getting EMDR for my childhood trauma. Thankfully, mental health resumed regular face-to-face sessions in June last year. By now, I feel better than I’ve ever before.

In 2019, I wrote on my blog that, by 2021, everything would be okay. I could not have predicted a pandemic making life much harder first. Thankfully, my husband and I survived and it’s made us and our relationship stronger.

Ten Things That Make Me Happy Tag

I love to write positive posts. Earlier today, carol anne of Therapy Bits tagged her readers for the “Ten Things That Make Me Happy” tag. She didn’t tag any specific people, but invited all of us to participate. I am eager to jump at the opportunity. Here are the rules:


  1. List 10 things that make you happy. (Linking to them, sharing pictures, writing poems about them, telling jokes, etc. are all encouraged but not required.)

  2. Tag 10 people who make you happy (and notify them of their tag).

Here are the ten things that make me happy.

1. My husband. Okay, I’ve said before that I shouldn’t include him as he isn’t a thing, but the tag didn’t specify things as objects. I really miss him right now that we’re in self-isolation.

2. Barry. If I’m going to include sentient beings anyway, I have to also say that my husband’s and my cat makes me happy. He is so mischievous at times! I love to hear him meow through the speaker of my phone when I call my husband.

3. My blog. I’m so happy to still be able to write on here. I also love to engage with my readers. On my old blog and for a while on here too, I didn’t use to reply to most comments. Now I feel positive about interacting with almost every single comment.

4. The Internet. Do I really need to explain? Without it, I wouldn’t have my blog. I would most likely have a journal, but that wouldn’t provide me with the connections I find online.

5. My computer and iPhone. My iPhone SE is nearly three years old and thankfully still works. I was planning on buying a new one within the next six months or so, but that depended on the release of new models. Now that the COVID-19 crisis is upon us, I assume Apple skipped this month’s educational event and hopefully they’ll still allow the SE to upgrade to iOS 14 when it comes. In any case, I’m so happy both the iPhone and my computer, that I got about nine months ago, are still working mostly as they should be.

6. Sensory activities. Like I said a few days ago, the staff created a makeshift sensory room in a currently empty bedroom now that we can’t access the sensory room at day activities. Many clients love it and so do I. I also love relaxing in my recliner with some essential oil in my oil diffuser and some relaxing music playing on Spotify.

7. Books. I love reading! I don’t do it as much as I had originally thought I would during this time of self-isolation, but I still make sure I read some almost every day. My favorite genres are memoirs and young adult fiction about real issues, but I also love to read books in many other genres at times.

8. Exercise. I love to walk, but as of late I’ve really developed a love for going on the elliptical too. When I still lived with my husband, I also went swimming and horseback riding regularly. It’s sad I cannot do those anymore now.

9. Nice, sunny weather. I’m so glad we’re headed towards spring and summer.

10. My stuffed animals. The littles just had me say that. I sleep with at least one soft toy in my arms each night. I have a few specific soft toys I love, like the bear I sleep with most nights, the large panda bear, the weighted unicorn and the microwave-safe, lavender-filled sensory kitty.

I’m not going to tag any specific bloggers either, but if you read this, do consider yourself tagged.

Friendly Fill-Ins Week #201

Today I’m bored, so I am joining in with Friendly Fill-Ins, hosted by Ellen of 15andmeowing and Lorianne of Four-Legged Furballs. Here are the questions.

1. My favorite outdoor activity is _________.
2. One positive aspect of social isolation is _________.
3. It’s fortunate that _________.
4. I have _________ memorized.

My answers are as follows.
1. My favorite outdoor activity is walking. This is a no-brainer. I love love love it and am so very happy that I can still do it.
2. One positive aspect of social isolation is the virtual connection it brings. We’re all in this together, after all.
3. It’s fortunate that I am healthy, well-fed and safe.
4. I have nothing really memorized. I used to be really good at calendar calculation, but that wasn’t memory-based in my case. I also at one point had the public transportation network in my city memorized, but that was like thirteen years ago. Too bad Raalte has practically no public transportation.

If you’d like to answer these fill-ins too, feel free to do so. I’d love to read your answers.

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 27, 2020) #WDIIA

I’m once again doing a #WDIIA post. I skipped them on Wednesday and yesterday, because I didn’t feel like writing the same old shit again and again. Today I was seriously confused about what day it is. The staff awoke me at around 8:30AM and said I had to shower. I normally shower on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays if I have no outside obligations such as visiting my husband. Obviously right now I don’t. On the other days, I do a quick wash. Now I seriously thought it was either Thursday or Saturday, but it’s Friday, yay!

I must say I awoke some 30 minutes before that from a really horrible nightmare. In the nightmare, I somehow left the facility to visit my husband and then couldn’t come back because of the lockdown. It ended with my husband being angry with me for wanting to go back to the facility at all.

The nightmare was somehwat realistic, in that indeed the new visiting rules that have been put in place for care facilities say that, if family take a client home, they cannot return to the facility until this COVID-19 lockdown thing is over. Family or others cannot visit the facility either unless in exceptional circumstances such as if a client is terminally ill. Obviously this means I won’t see my husband for another while still to come.

It’s the “working” Friday, so we did get day actiivities at home today. This meant, as it has consistently for the last while, that I did go outside twice for walks. I went for another long walk in the evening. As such, I reached 10K steps again. I looked up how I compare to my sister, since we’re Fitbit friends, and I took nearly 1.5 times her steps over the past seven days.

It’s now past 9PM. It’s the weekend now, so we had chips and soda this evening. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to have bread with a boiled egg on it for Breakfast. We get boiled eggs delivered to us by a former staff here who has her own chickens. I assumed she wouldn’t be allowed to come now that the facility is in lockdown, but maybe she puts the eggs at our doorstep and then leaves. So at least that tradition can continue for now.

How was your day?

Thankful Thursday (March 26, 2020): My Staff’s Approach to a Meltdown

Today I’m having a really hard day. I found out this morning that my husband is not allowed to visit me for the duration of the COVID-19 situation. Only in exceptional cases such as when you’re terminally ill can you have a visitor. Well, I guess I’m grateful I’m not in that situation.

During this time of day activities at the home and the chaotic situation that ensues, I’m struggling a lot with basic mistrust. As I explained to my staff, including the behavior specialist, some weeks ago, I’m finding that I experience a lot of distress due to past trauma. I’m pretty sure I suffer with significant attachment issues and am acting those out towards the staff now that I’m beginning to feel slightly safe. I mean, there’s a part of me who says that if the staff truly know me, they’ll kick me out of here or abandon me in some other way. I guess this part is giving the staff a hard time because they’ll ultimately abandon me anyway so I’d better push them away first.

As such, this afternoon, I had a major meltdown. I was watching a video on the Center for Consultation and Expertise website about a man with mild intellectual disability who had a lot of challenging behavior. The way in which I could relate to him, triggered me. I tried to tell my staff, but couldn’t and then I threw a glass to the ground.

Now here comes the reason I prefixed this post with Thankful Thursday: my staff were amazing about it!

My assigned support worker, who happened to work on my side of the home today, called another home for a staff to come over. This was a staff who had also worked in my home previously. She hugged me and took me to my room to talk while my assigned staff cleaned the mess.

This did further trigger me, but it was a good trigger. I mean, in the psychiatric hospital I would’ve been secluded or kicked off the unit and basically abandoned. I had tears of gratitude and sadness at the same time because of how lovely my staff handled this situation. My assigned staff even said maybe we should watch the video together sometime so that I could point out in which ways I relate.

Now here’s hoping my behavior won’t escalate further. After all, then I may in fact be abandoned. My inner critic still says that I’m making up all the factors behind my challenging behavior and it’s all just attention-seeking and abandonment is exactly what I deserve. Regardless, I’m so extremely grateful for my staff!

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 24, 2020) #WDIIA

Okay, so I’m back with another #WDIIA post. As I write this, it’s March 24, 2020, 8:50PM. My paternal grandmother, my last living grandparent, the one who died in 2018, would’ve turned 96 today. It’s weird that I think about that now, as I didn’t call her for her birthday for the last several years of her life. She was profoundly hearing impaired and had severe memory loss. Then again, I could’ve sent cards, but didn’t. I do miss her though. Still, I am thankful that she doesn’t have to suffer through the COVID-19 thing.

I awoke at 8:36 this morning. Had a quick wash, brushed my teeth and got dressed. Had another bowl of yoghurt with crunchy muesli for breakfast. Thank goodness they still had full-fat yoghurt. I normally have fat-free yoghurt, but the unbranded ones are so extremely watery they’re really disgusting.

I went for two walks today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Didn’t go for a walk in the evening this time, but did go on the elliptical for twenty minutes. I went on it for twenty minutes yesterday too and only burned 66 calories according to my Fitbit. Today I burned 90. That’s not very good, as a brisk walk burns off more. Still, I’m feeling my legs and back now. Besides, burning calories isn’t the only benefit of exercise. I do really hope that, when I can get weighed in again, I’ll have lost weight. I usually get weighed in at the day center once a month, but not sure that will be happening now.

The week’s groceries arrived today. Tomorrow, we’re going to make toasted ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch. I’m looking forward to that.

Not much else happened today. How has your day been?

Top Ten YA Books I Want to Read While Social Distancing

Today, I am joining in with Top Ten Tuesday. When this COVID-19 crisis first unfolded, I originally expected to read a lot during it. I love reading. Now that we’re not under complete lockdown as of yet, I love going outside even more though. I love taking long’ish walks and seeing my Fitbit activity tracker stats rise.

Still, I do read more than I used to. I’m a slow reader and don’t devote nearly as much time to reading as I’d want to. There are only 24 hours in a day, after all. Then again, this crisis is probably going to last for another while still to come and I’m expecting a complete lockdown at some point.

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a genre freebie. Young adult fiction about real-world issues is my favorite genre. For this reason, I’m listing ten YA books I’d like to read during this time of social distancing.

1. Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. I already started on this one and am loving it so far.

2. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. This title is fabulously appropriate for the time we’re living in now. Though this situation isn’t what the book is about (the author couldn’t predict it), I just have to smile to myself.

3. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. I am on the asexual spectrum myself, being demisexual, so I love it that there’s a contemporary YA novel out there about asexuality that’s also pretty popular. I’m curious to see how it unfolds.

4. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, but so far never got down to it.

5. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. This is the only non-contemporary book on this list. It is set in a dystopian near future. I found it by looking for books featuring LGBTQ+ characters on Goodreads and it fascinates me.

6. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg. Another queer-centric book, but who cares? I found this book on another Top Ten Tuesday participant’s list a few months back and it looks cool.

7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This book was first published in 1999, but the twentieth-anniversary edition came out last year. I discovered it a few months ago on Goodreads I think.

8. Risking It All by Sm Koz. This book sounds so interesting.

9. The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais. Another book that was recommended by a book blogger (sorry, I can’t remember who). I love reading books about disability and this sounds like a really cool read.

10. Throwaway Girl by Kristine Scarrow. This book has literally been on my TBR list for years. I bought it back in like 2014 or 2015, but it crashed my Adobe Digital Editions and became unuseable then. Thankfully, I can now read it in Apple Books.

Have you read any of these? I’d love to hear your opinions.