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.

Welcome to Another Day #SoCS

Welcome to another day. What day is it anyway? I have to check my iPhone to be sure. It’s Saturday, March 21, 2020. Here I almost wrote it’s March 20. Where does time go?

It’s the first week of whatever this self-isolation thing is called here in the Netherlands. It’s not a complete lockdown, but there’s not much we can do anyway. I went to the supermarket today, only realizing later on that if I’m allowed to go there and be relatively close to other customers, I should be allowed to see my husband too. Or is that flawed logic? I mean, no-one is really keeping the five feet distance that’s recommended.

I miss my husband. It dawned upon me last Thursday that if I do fall seriously ill with COVID-19, my husband won’t even be allowed to see me. I know, I’m in good immunological health, so I most likely will just get some nasty flulike symptoms, but still. It sucks not being able to be close to my husband.

Then a voice in my head said: “But you chose to leave him.” I didn’t leave him, as in divorce or abandon him. We’re still married and planning on staying so for life. But I did go into long-term care when I wasn’t literally dying living with him. I was struggling to keep up, but I did have food to eat and could, for the most part, get ahold of something when I was hungry.

I bought a bag of liquorice and ate it almost in one sitting today. Then I had a terrible stomachache. I don’t know why I decided to eat all the liquorice. I guess some part of me is feeling rather awful.

Yesterday, a little (inner child, for those not familiar with dissociative identity disorder) wrote to an E-mail list. I don’t know what she wrote and haven’t checked the responses.

Generally, we feel pretty calm, but I guess there are parts of me who are severely triggered by something about this COVID-19 crisis. Other parts are just bemused. It’s a strange world we live in indeed.

I’m linking up with #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “Welcome”.

COVID-19 Worries

The coronavirus came to the Netherlands a few weeks ago. Yesterday, we had the first case in the care facility’s town. The care facility hasn’t yet been affected as far as I know, but still, I grow more scared as the days go by.

I’m not scared of falling seriously ill or dying from the virus. Though some of my fellow clients are in their sixties, we don’t have anyone in my home who is otherwise at risk of serious illness or death as far as I know. I am not really sure whether I should worry about my family in this respect. So far, the thought has only fleetingly crossed my mind.

What I do worry about though is the consequences this will have for our society at large. I worry about people stockpiling food. I know my husband got some extra stuff a few weeks ago already when he saw it coming.

I worry about another economic meltdown. My husband has a pretty secure income, having just been hired indefinitely at his job a month ago. He might be forced to take time off, leading to a significant decrease in income, but he won’t be jobless. I am not sure about my income, as I’m on benefits. I don’t know that I will be able to handle yet another round of budget cuts to health care though.

More importantly in the short term, I worry about the need to isolate if you’re infected. What if I get the virus and need to stay in my room 24/7 for two weeks, not being allowed any human contact? Some other blogger idealized this by writing they’d finally have time to read all the books and binge watch all the Netflix series they wanted. As much as I’d like to escape the day center at times and just hide out in my room, I don’t think I could make this work for two weeks straight.

I also worry about staff needing to self-isolate if they get infected. Will this mean there won’t be staff to care for us? My staff has been trying to reassure me, but the letter sent out to clients’ family yesterday, had no information about what if the virus enters the facility in it. Which seems to be more of a “when” than an “if”.

I’m linking up with today’s RagTag Daily Prompt, for which the word is “Isolate”.

Whale Sounds #SoCS

When I started day activities at the first center I went to when being kicked out of the mental hospital in 2017, I experienced snoezelen® for the first time. Snoezelen® is a type of sensory experience at day activities for people with intellectual disability. The idea is that the entire sensory environment can be tailored to suit the client’s needs. In that room, there was a waterbed. I lay on it listening to a CD called something like Whales of the Pacific. The waterbed had speakers inside of it too, so that it vibrated along with the music.

I grew to love love love that CD. When I left for another day center, I tried to get ahold of this CD but found out it was no longer available in stores. My staff at the old center tried to copy it for me, but that didn’t work. At the next center, they didn’t really have relaxing music I liked, so I usually just lay on the waterbed without listening to music. Their waterbed didn’t have speakers in it either anyway.

Now at my current day center, I have come to enjoy relaxing music again. I particularly like a CD called Songbird Symphony. It has music and bird sounds on it. I was able to find the album on Spotify too, so that I can listen to it while lying in my own bed or while relaxing in my recliner too.

As for whale sounds, I discovered an album on Spotify of whale sounds with music by a group called Robbins Island Music Group. They also release other types of relaxing and focus-oriented music, but I like the whale sounds the best.

Interestingly, I still really don’t like whale sounds without music. I love whale sounds, birdsong and the like, but there has to be a musical component to it too.

Looking back, I remember asking my psychologist at the mental hospital whether snoezelen® would be a suitable activity for me. She didn’t think it would be, as she claimed this is only suited to people with intellectual disability. Well, I love lying on the waterbed, Songbird Symphony surrounding me. I don’t care that I’m apparently too intelligent for it.

I’m joining in with #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “animal sounds”.

#FOWC: Euphoric

I haven’t felt really happy for longer than a few minutes at a time in a long while. I mean, yes, sometimes I laugh out loud and feel pretty good for a few moments. Overall though, I feel irritable.

I have never experienced an euphoric mood as far as I know. Then again, in mental health, euphoria isn’t seen as something positive. It is one of the manifestations of the (hypo)manic phase of bipolar disorder. The other, dysphoria, is not as commonly recognized as a bipolar or mood disorder phase.

I’m not bipolar. I never experienced mania or even hypomania. I do however experience dysphoric symptoms. In fact, I’m almost always irritable.

Back in the day when the DSM-5 was being drafted, the term for what is now called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, was temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria. Neither term feels right to me, as someone who may’ve been diagnosed with DMDD as a child had it existed in the mid-1990s. I feel mood dysregulation disorder with dysphoria would be a better name. I mean, yes, of course these kids are disruptive, but the focus should be on their unstable mood. DMDD is characterized by the occurrence of frequent mood outbursts combined with a generally irritable mood even when the child isn’t experiencing dysregulation.

Thankfully, irritability was added to depression’s mood criterion in DSM-5 too. Before then, it was only a criterion in children and adolescents. I, however, have always experienced dysphoric depression. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m diagnosable with persistent depressive disorder.

This is one reason I might want to experience a bit of an euphoric mood at times. Maybe I do get it, but usually it happens at an inconvenient time. I mean, I occasionally experience an extreme flow of ideas combined with an urge to act on them. Usually this happens during a night I cannot sleep though, so I cannot act out my impulses immediately. Then often the next day I’m back to my usual, irritable and slightly depressed self. Even though I know that it’s not an entirely positive thing, I wish I experienced euphoria for a longer while at times.

Weird or Creepy Interests

Today I have a lot on my mind, but not much I can put down into writing. To occupy you readers anyway, and to distract myself a bit, I’m participating in My Inner MishMash’s Question of the Day. The question is whether you have any interests most people consider weird or even creepy or gross.

Creepy or gross, no. I mean, yes, I’m interested in medicine, but not specifically in anatomy or bodily functions. I have some interest in genetic conditions, particularly rare ones, and of course I’m into psychiatry. Lately, I’ve been connecting the two and learning more about psychiatric aspects of genetic syndromes. I was fascinated when I was told one of my fellow clients has Christianson Syndrome, a form of X-linked intellectual disability that is similar in presentation to Angelman Syndrome. I at first felt weird googling the condition, but since the staff specifically told me about this client’s syndrome rather than me having overheard it, I felt okay in the end.

Weird, yes, definitely. I already commented on the original post that I’m into calendars and timekeeping. I still keep and cherish a twenty-year-old newspaper article explaining why the year 4000 shouldn’t be a leap year, among other things.

I also tend to get upset when people make calendar calculation mistakes, particularly when they do it on purpose. My husband likes to talk about 30th February, for example. As a teen, I used to calculate what day a given date fell on. I was particularly fascinated by dates before 1582, so that I could show people that I knew about the Julian/Gregorian calendar transition.

I also, when I still lived in Apeldoorn, loved riding random buses to memorize their route. Apeldoorn’s buses at least all used to go in an eight-shaped route, each time getting back to the station. That way, I’d never get lost even if I rode a bus I’d never been on before. Before I moved to Nijmegen, I had the bus schedule nearly memorized too.

Currently, I don’t have any weird or unusual interests that I’m particularly actively engaged in. However, when it comes to my “normal” interests, they do tend to be abnormally intense and detail-focused.

Do you have any weird interests?

Fidgeting

A few months ago, one of the staff at my day activities showed me a fidget spinner. I’d never seen one before, although I’d heard of it, of course. It was a little disappointing, to be honest. I mean, yes, you can fidget with it, but it doesn’t have as many features as some of the other toys at day activities. I didn’t really understand the hype.

Last week, the things my assigned staff had ordered for me to play with, came in the mail. There was a deck of cards to play games with, a set of dominoes, but also a fidget toy. This one had a lot more buttons and things.

I often love to fidget, but not necessarily with standard fidget toys. I have a set of makeup brushes at day activities that I like to stroke.

Then again, my main stim (the autistic term for fidgeting activity) is hair twirling. I remember my second autism diagnostician telling me I really needed to unlearn it, as it was a “serious social handicap”. I was at the time in my first month of my psychiatric hospitalization for suicidal ideation, so even if it were a serious social handicap, I had other things to worry about. Turns out my parents and said diagnostician are the only people truly offended by this behavior.

Speaking of which, everyone stims. I have mentioned this a few times before but I remember one day sitting in on a demonstration some social services students were giving of their work. The student pretending to be the social services person was constantly clicking his pen when talking to the client-student. I thought this was odd, but no-one else noticed.

Still, I may want to get myself a stim toy to replace the hair twirling with. I saw some on Stimtastic.com that I may love, but the shipping cost from the United States to here holds me back from ordering anything.

Linking up with today’s Daily Inkling.

Jade

We don’t have an alter named Jade. We do have one named Jane, one named Janita and one named Jace (short for Jaclyn). But we have no Jade. Then again, we love jade.

Jade is a beautiful green gemstone. At least, that’s the color we know. There are also creamy white and blue jades. We had at least one, a green jade, in our gemstone collection, I believe.

It is supposed to be a protective stone, in terms of crystal healing. I’m not sure I believe in crystal healing, but to some extent, I guess I do. Jade is supposed to promote self-sufficiency. In that sense, I guess our alter named Jane would love it as her stone.

When I look at the supposed benefits of jade, I see it also promotes balance, harmony and moderation. To me, this signifies that it could be an especially useful stone for us.

It isn’t specifically suited to our Zodiac sign. That is, it is suited to Libra, which we are supposed to be if you take our due date as our birth date. Which I have no idea whether any astrologers even do. I guess not. Our regular Zodiac sign is Cancer.

Jade is connected to the heart chakra. The heart chakra’s color is green. At least, when I did a guided color meditation using the chakras, I was told to envision the heart chakra as green. I wonder whether there’s any connection between the main colors of gemstones and what chakras they’re most related to.

Synesthetically, the word “jade” is also green. Three out of the four letters are green and the overarching color of the word is an emerald green. I truly think it’s amazing!

Linking up with #JusJoJan, for which the prompt today is “jade”. I’m not sure I’m allowed to link up, since I didn’t previously participate this year, but oh well.

What a Year! #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

What a year it’s been! It had a lot of ups and some really deep downs too. I will post a year in review sometime in the next few days, as I can’t do them in stream of consciousness form. However, today I already want to say that this year was huge. Really, I’m still struggling to grasp that my twelve-year-old wish to find a suitable care facility finally came true.

I’m not sure what else I can say about this year. I mean, the whole year has been filled with first applying for long-term care funding. Then it was denied and I had to keep quiet on my blog and social media about it, in case someone from the funding agency would find out and use my writing against me. I still wonder whether the funding people might’ve read that one blog post I wrote on June 3. It was essentially a suicide letter in disguise. I mean, yes, it was positively worded, as a letter from myself in 2021, when everything would be okay and I would be in supported housing. However, it was clear to anyone reading between the lines that I was in a very dark place. The next day, my appeal was granted and funding approved.

Then I had to wait for another two months to find out I was accepted into the place I wanted to go into. It was the second care facility we’d been checking out. The other one was closer to my old home (and is also closer to our current home), but the vacant bed had been filled up by the time my funding was approved. I had my doubts about that place already, as I heard at my day center that staffing was cut at the day center people from there went to. It would’ve been nice if I could live in that facility, at least in that it’s closer to our home, but it works out now too.

I had lost hope again by the day the care consultant for my current care facility called my support coordinator to inform her that I’d been accepted. No depressing blog posts this time though. This was August 20. On September 23, I moved in. Wow, that’s already been three months!

I feel calm now. Calmer than I’ve felt in a long time. Not just today, but in general. Of course, I still get frustrated when my computer doesn’t do what I want, when I don’t understand a social situation or when I need to clean up a mess I created and don’t know where to start. I still have very poor distress tolerance and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. I still find that everyday life takes a lot of energy. However, emotionally speaking, I feel better. I don’t experience nearly the level of irritability I used to. More importantly though, my post-traumatic symptoms seem to have lessened. Yes, I’m still dissociative, but I don’t experience nearly the amount of flashbacks I’d experienced before.

For 2020, I really hope to be able to be more alert. That probably requires me decreasing my antipsychotic dose, which is a goal I have anyway. I want to experience the full range of emotions more. After all, now that I’m not overcome with emotional flashbacks that often anymore, I want to open up my mind to what life has to offer.

I’m linking up with #SoCS.

Key #SoCS

I have a key to my room on a keychain. I would originally get a key to the particular home I live in in the care facility. I ultimately didn’t end up getting one. This may be because there’s not been a need for it. I mean, I can’t go to day activities or whatever on my own anyway.

Another reason may be the fact that I ran off several times. The unit is semi-locked, in that you need to turn a particular key to be able to open the door to go out of the house. The other clients can’t work this key, so are in a minor way prevented from leaving the home.

I, however, can work the key. I didn’t know I could until one day in late October, I was in a crisis and needed to find staff. There is no-one on my floor from 10:15PM on, but there are call buttons and listen-in systems and such for people to call the night staff, who is responsible for the entire facility. Anyway, I tried to find help that particular time.

Another time, around three weeks ago, I ran off because my flight response kicked in. I worked the key again and let myself out.

After this, it’s been discussed to remove the key from the lock, so that staff need to open the door with their own keys and I won’t be able to elope on my own. So far, that action hasn’t been taken, presumably because the measure would be just for me (since no other client can work the key anyway). They probably think I’m responsible enough (or should be) to handle this freedom. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I do also have a key to my husband’s and my house. The reason for this is more symbolic, as I never go to this house on my own. However, I like it this way.

This post is part of #SoCS, for which the prompt this week is “Key”.