Freewrite on My Transition Into Long-Term Care

Yikes, in less then a week, I’ll be in the care facility in Raalte. It’s exciting, but of course it is also scary. I have been planning on writing more about the transition. In fact, I have Mari L. McCarthy’s 22-day transitions journaling course. I had it already before I moved in with my husband, but never quite used it then. I’m not sure I’ll use every prompt this time either. The day 1 prompt is to freewrite on your hopes and fears and such re the transition. Here goes.

I’m really excited to go into long-term care. I’ve been looking forward to it for almost a year. However, now that it comes close, I’m second guessing myself.

I mean, am I not happy with the situation as it is now? The honest answer is “No”, but does that relate to the situation or to me? As a fellow patient on the locked ward once said, you take you everywhere. As such, I need to be really clear that I’m not just depressed because I suffer with a mental illness. I need to separate what is my depression that just is from what is my unhappiness with living semi-independently.

Besides, am I truly unhappy? My husband said this time in my life was perhaps the happiest for me, judging by his observation, since he first met me in 2007. Then I must counter it’s perhaps the least unhappy time period in my life.

I really hope I’ll be able to have a happier life living in long-term care. I know I often feel very depressed when alone and that’s not a time my husband sees me. The times I have no-one to rely on, will most likely lessen a lot, but having my own room means I’ll still be able to have alone time.

I fear, however, that I’ll be understimulated in long-term care. One of the things the behavior specialist from the blindness agency wrote in her report on me from observing me at day activities, is that the activities are not challenging. I do simple puzzles, construction play and such. If that’s all I’ll be required to do at my new day activities, I’m sure I’ll get bored. Part of me says that we’ll find a way to deal with this and that I need to be content to get the care I need. Another part says that I shouldn’t stop desiring stimulating activities just because I am in long-term care.

I also fear that going into long-term care will be a slippery slope. My father’s voice is in my mind, saying I manipulate the world into giving me care. If he is right, going into long-term care will just make me lose skills, become more dependent and ultimately need a lot of one-on-one support. It may lead to backlash from the care facility, causing me to get kicked out again.

I will, of course, also be missing my husband. I can deal with it, but it’s sad. I’m scared that he’ll grow tired of visiting me every week because of the long drive (nearly 90 minutes one way). I don’t want to lose my husband. I said, when originally falling apart in 2018, that I would choose him over long-term care if I had to. I don’t really need to choose, as we’ll still be seeing each other, but what if I do? Will it be too late to choose him? I hope not.

Confessions of a New Mummy

At Every Age

There’s so much I want to write about, but I can’t get myself to sit down and actually write. Well, sitting down is not the problem, as I’m probably still a pretty sedentary person, but actually writing is.

Today, I”m joining in with Finish the Sentence Friday (#FtSF). This week, the prompt is to write about your (or your child’s or whoever’s) favorite age.

I used to think being younger was better. I don’t really know why. Maybe I was conscious at an early age of the fact that life is finite, so growing up meant getting closer to death. I also thought that growing up meant an increase in responsibility, which scared me from an early age on. After all, I knew from as young as age nine on that I was supposed to leave the house and go to university by eighteen. That’s a huge burden of awareness to carry as a child that young.

Now I think being at every age has its beauty. I do worry that I’m declining in health already, and this is where the sitting down comes in. I really need to get more active, because I know that at every age, you can do something to improve your health and wellbeing.

I also think that, at every age, you can retain or regain some level of childlike wonder. We see this in the alters, who each represent a particular stage in development. Some are grown-up for their age, like Jace, the 9-year-old who was told about going to university and leaving the house. Others are more childlike, like Milou, who is 8-years-old and very playful. We also have an adult, Marieke, who, though she’s 32, enjoys sensory learning and play.

In my fellow clients at day activities, I also see the beauty in every age. They are intellectually disabled, most with a so-called “mental age” under six. Now the concept of “mental age” is highly ableist. However, learning about normal child development can teach us some interesting things about myself and others with developmental disabilities anyway. I was intrigued to read about emotional development as it pertains to people with mild intellectual disability and as it pertains to me in some way too. The consultant psychologist assigned to my case in my care-finding process, said I function emotionally at a 16-month-old level. This explains a lot of why I act the way I do. Interestingly though, we don’t have an alter who identifies with this age.

In short, I think every age and stage in development has its beautiful sides and its ugly sides. Childhood means your parents still have a lot of control over you, but it means you have relatively few responsibilities. Adolescence and young adulthood come with increased responsibility and freedom. I don’t know yet what middle age or old age will bring, but I’m confident I’ll find the beauty in it.

Working On Us Prompt: Family Relationships and Boundaries

This week’s Working On Us prompt is about relationships and boundaries. I am going to focus in my post on my relationship with my family of origin.

As regular readers know, I don’t have the best relationship with my parents. They are very unsupportive of me regarding my mental health and disabilities in general. They, in short, believe that I refuse to accept my blindness and for that reason, choose to make up my other disabilities, including mental illness, to have an excuse to be different. They say I somehow crave attention and therefore want to manipulate everyone into providing me care.

Well, let me be very clear that I do not choose to be mentally ill or autistic. In part, my mental health issues are in fact trauma-based, having been caused by my parents’ mistreatment of me.

For this reason, I’ve had to set some boundaries with my parents. None of these I voiced towards them yet. I, for example, have them, as well as my sister, on restricted access to my Facebook, which means they don’t get to see posts I set to friends only even though we are technically Facebook friends. My sister is generally less eager to voice her opinion, but she for all I know 100% agrees with my parents. My brother-in-law isn’t really any bad, but I have him on restricted access just in case. When I created this blog, I purposefully didn’t link it to my Facebook, so that my parents and sister are less likely to find it.

Another boundary is not having told my parents or sister that I’m going into long-term care. I am going to officially disclose my going into long-term care on the afternoon or evening of the day I move to the care facility. I have already had a dozen scenarios run through my mind of how they will respond. They may already know, of course, and never have told me in order to keep the peace. They probably don’t know though. In that case, they may decide to estrange themselves from me, or they may try to talk me out of being in long-term care. They may, in the best case scenario, say it’s my choice and my life.

As far as respecting my boundaries, I’ve never set truly firm boundaries with my parents. I may have to soon, in case they want to talk me out of being in long-term care. I may even have to go no contact with them myself.

In case you are wondering who supports me, I do have my lovely husband and his parents. My husband of course will be missing me when I go into long-term care, but he 100% supports me nonetheless.

#IWSG: My Ideal Writing Space

It is the first Wednesday of September and that means it’s once again time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to come together. This past month has been pretty productive with respect to my writing. I also left my comfort zone a little, writing one poem and learning more about writing. I subscribed to a writing-related newsletter at the end of July and have been enjoying my daily dose of inspiration.

This month’s optional question is about your ideal place to write in the world. If you could choose one place in the world to write your next story, what would it be and why? As it is, I write best when in my room, at my own desk. This desk is exactly the right height. I’ve tried writing while sitting at other desks or tables, but they’re either too low or too high. I also need my own chair, which is just about right for me too.

This being said, I have had my desk in various places. I’ve had it in several of my institution rooms. I had it when living independently in 2007. Now, it is in my room in our current house.

I will be taking this desk to the care facility with me when I move. This means I’ll have to use another desk when at my husband’s and my house. I do have another desk that can be made lower or higher. Currently, it is set too low, but I will ask my husband to make it exactly as high as my other desk. That way, I’ll hopefully still be able to write when at our home.

I usually don’t write well when there’s noise around me. I can’t really even write when music is playing in the background. This makes me glad that the staff at the care facility eventually chose the room further down the hall for me.

I like to type on my external Bluetooth keyboard connected to my iPhone. It has to sit on a laptop case or it’s not in the right position in relation to my Braille display or my hands. I can type on my laptop keyboard too, but currently being used to my Bluetooth keyboard, I prefer that.

As you can see, I don’t fancy writing in some type of exotic place, but I do have a lot of requirements for writing comfortably.

It’s My Choice

Yay, I got accepted into a living facility. The one in Raalte that I visited about six weeks ago. I will hopefully move before I’d otherwise move to the house my husband and I are buying in October.

It is mostly very exciting. I love the place and am really glad that the physician, psychologist and the team all agreed that I’d be a good fit for the place.

But… There is of course a but. I haven’t told my parents yet. I told them I got long-term care funding, but told them it makes it possible for my husband and me to live together wherever we want, not being restricted by our local authority. It could do that too, but that’s not the plan. And I didn’t tell them I’m moving into a care facility.

They will hopefully say that it’s my choice. That’s the best response I can get. Not that they support me, but that it’s my choice and I’m an adult so I’m allowed to make that choice. After all, they still feel I don’t need 24-hour care. They still feel that I’m just blind and extremely intlligent and using my IQ to manipulate the world into providing me care.

Well, so what? Of course, I don’t want to be manipulating everyone into providing me care. I don’t want to be a little attention-seeker who thinks the world owes her a living. I wish I could snap out of my need for care and live a successful life by non-disabled standards.

At the same time, maybe if I didn’t care that I’d have to be sedated to the point of sleeping all day, I could do with less care than I’ll be getting in the living facility. As someone once asked, how can you literally need 24-hour care, since you’re (hopefully) sleeping during the night? This person was by no means trying to suggest that sedation could lessen my care needs, for clarity’s sake, but it could. And I’m making a choice not to sleep the day away. If you think that’s me being manipulativve, fine by me. That’s your choice.

I am writing this post for today’s Daily Addictions. The prompt is “Choice”.

#IWSG: Writing Surprises

I am once again joining in with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG). This month, I’ve done a good amount of writing, but not nearly as much as I had wanted to. I have a lot of thoughts in my mind that I would want to put into words, but somehow, I can’t manage to sit quietly for long enough to actually go about writing those posts.

Anyway, the optional question for this month is whether your writing has ever taken you by surprise. Well, yes, but not in the ways the hosts think. I mean, I have only one published piece and, though the acceptance of the piece came unexpected, I wasn’t specifically not expecting it either. I had mostly not been thinking about it.

What I want to write about is the way my every blog post or other writing takes me by surprise. I rarely plan my writing in advance. I don’t have a blog planner. Maybe I should have one, as even right now, with two weeks’ notice of the following #IWSG day today, I sit here typing up a post that I don’t really know about where it’s headed. I mean, I could write the same old crap: that I’ve been meaning to write (more) poetry and fiction. In fact, a ton of ideas have been floating around in my mind, usually at night, but inbetween day activities and other obligations, I cannot find enough quiet time, like I said.

I am not even sure what direction I want my writing to take. Like, recently I’ve developed an intense interest in reading and book-related blogging. I have been spending a lot of my limited free time with my nose stuck in a book. I know, to be a good writer, you need to read a lot. I don’t mind. I just don’t know whether this will stick.

I Was Taught to Believe…

That, if I didn’t have my parents’ support, I had no-one’s and I would never get anyone’s support. “You are socially inept,” my mother said, “and you got it from us.”

This exchange happened in late April of 2006, when I had just been kicked out of my parents’ house. Not that I still lived with them, and not that I was ever planning on doing so again, but my parents made it very clear that they would no longer support me. I don’t even mean financially, but practically and emotionally.

What had I done to deserve this? I had told them I was delaying going to university one more year. I wasn’t giving up on it. I was still going to meet their expectations of me that I become a university student, grad student, Ph.D., professor, you name it.

And then I didn’t. In the fall of 2007, while attending the university I had originally been meant to go to in 2006, I gradually fell apart and was ultimately admitted to the psychiatric hospital. Though I was discharged in 2017, I never went back to university.

Though my parents and I are still in limited contact, I know I don’t genuinely have their support. Not emotionally. I mean, I see them twice a year, talk to them on the phone about once a month and get €1000 at the end of the year to spend on new technology mostly. I don’t know whether this will remain the same when I go into long-term care (or when they find out about it). And I’m not sure whether I care. They aren’t the type to stop talking to me at funerals or the like and I don’t really need their money or birthday presents or phone chatter, though they’re nice. I won’t go no contact, but if they decide to abandon me, that’s their choice.

Because, though I was taught that without my parents, I had no-one, this isn’t true. I met my husband in the fall of 2007. You know, the fall that was supposed to be the start of my academic career and ended up being the catalyst to my getting a life of my own. My husband supported me through the psychiatric hospital years. He supports me through the years we live together. I trust that he’ll support me through the coming years when I’m in long-term care. I may be socially inept, but that doesn’t mean no-one will support me. Love me even.

This post was written for V’J.’s Weekly Challenge. V.J. challenges us to think about the untrue things we were led to believe as children or in other dysfunctional relationships.

Losing Myself and Finding Myself (Reena’s Exploration Challenge #96)

I remember when and where I lost myself. My old self, that is. It was November 2, 2007 at 8:01PM when I stepped onto the bus at Balustrade bus stop in Apeldoorn. I had decided this was it.

I phoned my old support coordinator at the training home. I’d just been told to leave the home’s premises, because according to the on duty staff, I was making them take unwarranted responsibility for me. I had come there in distress and a housemate had offered for me to spend the night with her, so that we had time to find me a new place to stay in the morning.

I wasn’t homeless. That is, I had a roof over my head. In the Netherlands, the word that translates to “homeless” also refers to people who are wasting away in their residence. And I was.

At 8:01PM November 2, I phoned my old support coordinator to tell her I was going to kill myself. I was on the bus and the bus driver and fellow passengers heard me. They called the police and, after a long wait at the police station, I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in the middle of the night.

At that point, my old self went away. I lost the self that went to college, had plans for working and lived independently.

I’m still not 100% sure who will replace her. When and where I’ll find myself. My new self, that is. I know my old self is gone. Even though I live semi-independently now, I do not have anything close to a “normal” life, whatever that may be. But that’s okay. I know I will ultimately find a new eqwuilibrium, when I’m in a living facility that suits me.

In September of 2006, I wrote a post in my online diary about the two different images I had of myself. One was “white”. This image represented a “normal” life. Living independently, going to university, finding a job, marrying, getting children and whatnot. The other image, the “black” one, represented my need for support. It wasn’t that I needed 24-hour care, but that I needed more than just the once-a-week visit from a support worker to read me my mail that’s normal for people who are just blind.

By April of 2007, I knew the “black” image was coming true, but I was seeing the colors in it. I eventually did live independently and go to college, but I would get sixteen hours of home support a week.

And then that image too died, on November 2. It was hard. I grieved. But I didn’t give up. Gradually, I started to see how colorful a life I can have if I accept care.

The care facilities I’m looking at moving into, couldn’t be closer to the “black” image of myself. They are 24-hour intensive support facilities. Yet I don’t see that life as bad. I see it was exactly as colorful and rich as, or even more so than the “normal” life I envisioned for myself.

I am joining in with Reena’s Exploration Challenge #96.

Working On Us Prompt: If Disordered Eating Isn’t About Food or Weight

Today, I am once again joining in with the Working On Us Prompt. I hope the link works, as it once again gave me an error 404 when I tried to visit it. There are really two question prompts for this week’s Working On Us. I may post a separate post about the second question. The first asks what if eating disorders aren’t about food or weight? What are they about?

As a person with disordered eating tendencies, I can totally empathize with this question. I mean, yes, I am obese, but that in itself doesn’t qualify you for help with disordered eating other than a monthly kick in the ass from a dietitian. Well, that just isn’t enough for me.

Then again, I was told by my psychiatrist that I do not have an eating disorder, because the amount of food I eat during a “binge” isn’t big enough. Well, I understand. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my relationship with food or weight.

Because that is really what disordered eating is all about: the relationship we have to food and our bodies. It isn’t about how much you eat, how much you weigh, or how often you exercise. It’s about the thoughts that go on in your mind.

For clarity’s sake: at the time that I was told I do not have an eating disorder, I was in the early stages of recovery from purging, which in itself does warrant an eating disorder not otherwise specified diagnosis. I was never fully bulimic, but I was coming close. That’s not my point though.

I struggle a lot with disordered thoughts about food and my weight. In fact, I think about food the majority of the time and those thoughts are not usually healthy.

Once, when I read a book about someone with an eating disorder, her psychiatrist suspected she was an alcoholic too. She administered a simple screening tool, which asked whether the girl had tried to cut back on alcohol, was getting annoyed or angry when people commented on her drinking, ever had alcohol first thing in the morning, and then there was another question. She answered “Yes” to three out of four questions. Well, I can answer yes to the three I remembered here when substituting alcohol with food. I occasionally overeat first thing in the morning, have very regularly and unsuccessfully tried to control my food intake, and I do get angry like all the freakin’ time when someone makes a comment about my food-related habits.

Yes, I knnow that to the outside observer, I appear like just an unmotivated, overindulgent fatass. What they don’t see are the inner battles I fight each and every day to deal with my disordered eating tendencies.

#IWSG: Writing About Myself

Yay, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to come together and share our writing journey. This past month has been better than the month of May. I wrote twice as many blog posts and have generally been feeling more motivated to write.

I still want to be more courageous and creative with my writing. I have been able to venture somewhat out of my comfort zone with a few stream of consciousness writings. I would still love to try my hand at poetry and flash fiction again, but am too insecure right now.

The optional question for this month’s #IWSG day is about incorporating aspects of yourself into your characters. Since I no longer write fiction and almost all my writings are about myself, this question may seem off.

However, when I still wrote fiction regularly, this question was very applicable. Not only did I incorporate a lot of aspects of myself into my characters, but the other way around too. Let me explain.

As regular readers of my blog might know, I have (currently undiagnosed) dissociative identity disorder (DID). This used to be known as multiple personality disorder. People with DID have at least two separate identities or personality states, each with their own unique way of perceiving and relating to the world.

DID usually first develops in early childhood as a result of prolonged trauma, but people who dissociated early on, often continue to do so during times of stress into adolescence and adulthood. For me, the time of my most serious dissociation was adolescence. This was also the time I wrote fiction the most. I incorporated a lot of aspects of myself into my characters. Often, my characters were blind or, if they weren’t, they faced some other challenge that set them apart. Most characters had difficulty making friends like myself. The main character in the story I got the farthest with, didn’t have a disability, but her mother had multiple sclerosis.

I often used writing as an escape from reality. As such, with my dissociative tendencies, some of my characters developed into alters. These are called fictives. One of them is now one of the main fronters (personalities presenting themselves to the outside world). She was in a way deliberately created. At least, the character was. I had difficulty explaining myself and my struggles to my parents and teachers, so my high school tutor allowed me to express myself through fiction. That’s how Kirsten came about. Kirsten is blind and has many of the struggles I do. Currently, we present as her when we can’t show the world that we have DID but we’re feeling very much split anyway.