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.

Share Your World (April 22, 2019)

For the first time in a long while, I’m once again participating in Share Your World. Today’s questions are very interesting.

I tried to write this post on my Mac, as I cannot copy the questions on my iPhone. I finally however decided to continue on my phone, as the WordPress editor is hard to use on the computer.

1. Was the last thing you read digital or print?
Digital. I am blind, so cannot read standard print. I rarely read Braille either, although I recently received a Braille letter.
2. Are you more an extrovert or introvert?
Introvert for sure. I definitely am not energized by a lot of interaction. I also prefer a few deep friendships to having a lot of acquaintances. That being said, online I can be more of an extravert.
3. How is your life different from what you imagined as a younger person?
Very. I am not sure there’s any resemblance, in fact. As a teen, I imagined being some type of university professor when I’d grow up. I for sure didn’t imagine doing day activities at a center for people with intellectual disabilities. I also didn’t imagine having a husband. The only thing I did imagine at the time was being a writer. I didn’t know about blogs at the time, but did know about online diaries. My online diary gradually morphed into my first blog.
4. Do you think about dying? Does death scare you?  Why or why not?

Yes, of course I think about it sometimes. I saw a man shortly before his death last January at day activities (a fellow client) and this did make me acutely aware of the finiteness of life. Death doesn’t really scare me, although sometimes it does.

Additional Gratitude Bonus Question:  Who has been the kindest to you in your life?

My husband. He loves me despite the fact that I can be quite blunt and a pain in the arse to be around.

Love: How I Met My Husband #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the #AtoZChallenge day 12. Today I am going to share a positive story, because I am going to write about love. I have known my husband, Jeroen, for 11 1/2 years and love him to pieces. I want to share how we met in today’s post.

In September of 2007, I was living on my own in Nijmegen. I struggled a lot and felt extremely lonely. I at the time frequented a message board, where I posted that I felt alone. Jeroen was on this forum too. He had been wanting to expand his social circle, so he had decided to get to know some fellow forum members better. He read my blog, which I’d kept on WordPress since early 2007. From that, he decided he wanted to meet me. He sent me a PM asking to have a coffee or tea somewhere in Nijmegen. I accepted.

At first, I was unsure whether I’d be safe. What if Jeroen wasn’t the 18-year-old guy he claimed to be? To be honest, I didn’t know much about him from the forum even though he was an active member. He offered to meet me at the forum meetup in Utrecht, but I didn’t have the spoons to travel there, so I agreed to see him at the bus stop closest to university that the bus I knew drove by.

On our first “date”, we were both stressed. I fell off a step and dropped my coffee. When we sat down on a bench, he asked what type of music I liked. I answered “world music”, as I mostly listened to Latin American music.

After our first time meeting, he PM’ d me to tell me he had mixed feelings about it. So did I. But a few weeks later, he again PM’d me to ask whether we could meet again and I invited him to my apartment. That was probably a bit weird, but I knew no other place in Nijmegen.

When we had just planned our fourth “date”, I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital. I didn’t have his phone number, nor did I have Internet access. I gave my support worker my login details for the message board and asked her to contact Jeroen.

A few weeks later, my father called asking whether he could give Jeroen my phone number. I agreed. Jeroen had found my father’s E-mail address through the whois of his website (that he doesn’t do a thing with). I”m so glad he was (and still is) such a tech savvy person and didn’t give up.

It took us six more months from that point on to agree that we would be calling our involvement a romantic relationship. I am so glad I eventually agreed to love him back, as he’d been the first to say he was in love with me. We will be celebrating our 11-year anniversary of being a couple next month. We got married on the day we knew each other exactly four years on September 19, 2011.

Kids: Being Childless Sort Of By Choice #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 11 in the #AtoZChallenge. For those who followed me on my old blog last year, I chose “children” for the letter C post then. I can’t remember what I did my K post on and am too lazy to look it up, so I’m just taking the opportunity to talk about children again. I hate the word “kids”, but oh well.

You see, I have no kids. At 32, this is a bit abnormal already and it’s becoming more so as I age. The reason I don’t have kids, is complicated. Let me explain.

As a child and teen, I always thought I’d have children as an adult. Even during the time, in my mid to late teens, when I thought I was a lesbian, I thought it would be a given that I’d have children. I didn’t imagine a man in my life, nor did I think of how else I’d conceive, but I always knew I would have kids.

This changed after my major psychiatric crisis when I was 21. For the first year or so, I was busy with merely surviving and getting to see a future for myself other than suicide. Then, my post-traumatic stress symptoms started to emerge.

When I was 27, I made the conscious choice not to try to conceive. I had in the meantime met and married my husband and he agreed. He would even support me if I’d want to get sterilized and said I would most likely have no problem geting the procedure done, given that I’m multiply-disabled. He’s likely right, even though this is extremely ableist.

I know I, personally, couldn’t care for a child. This doesn’t say anything about other people with my combination of disabilities, but it is true in my case. Having made this decision puts me somewhere on the fence between childless and childfree. I am in communities for both on Facebook and find that I’m a little out of place in both. Over the years, I’ve moved more towards the childfree side, as I am realizing I don’t experience my biological clock ticking. Rather, my wish to be a parent is more based on societal expectations. As I once said, I’d want to be a Mommy blogger. Well, I guess that’s not the right reason to try for kids.

Gratitude List (February 2, 2019) #TToT

I didn’t write much this past week. Not because I didn’t have anything to share, but because somehow the words wouldn’t make it onto the page. I had an extremely eventful week, which I will share more about later and which I already shared a bit about last Wednesday. Today, I’m going to write a gratitude list for the past week. As always, I’m linking up with #TToT.

1. My shoulder pain being almost over. Like I said two weeks ago, I suffered a small collarbone fracture. Yesterday was the last day of my strong painkillers. I had wanted to quit them earlier, but my husband said not to be too hard on myself. Today though, I only took two paracetamol and am more or less fine. Granted, I didn’t do a lot of repetitive work, so after I’ve finished this post, it’ll probably hurt more.

2. Being able to exercise again. I went on the elliptical for a total of 35 minutes yesterday. I did take breaks, but I felt my legs more than the injured arm.

3. Sensory activities. I already shared last Wednesday about the living facility I might go into that has lots of sensory supplies. Seeing this inspired me to explore the sensory equipment at day activities more. I found a large cylinder which you can roll on. I also spent time in the small (almost too small for my overweight body, but not yet) indoors cocoon swing.

4. Buying my Macbook. I haven’t unboxed it yet, but I’m glad I finally put one foot in front of the other and bought it.

5. Stuffed animals. Today, I experienced severe overload and had a meltdown while at my in-laws. My mother-in-law brought me a huge collection of Disney soft toys and other stuffed animals. I loved them.

6. Sleep. I didn’t sleep well early in the week. Thankfully, towards the end of the week, I slept better.

7. Getting some delicious treats for myself on Thursday. Some were healthy too, like blueberries. Some were not (liquorice!) but I loved them nonetheless.

8. The day activities staff treating us to some special food on Friday. She decided to spoil us, so for lunch on Friday, we had croissants and some salty crackers with cream cheese and olives. I went to the marketplace to buy them with this staff.

9. My husband. I need to be extra grateful for him because this past week has been stressful.

10. My support coordinator, whom I saw four times this week.

What have you been grateful for this past week?

Blogging

I am once again joining in with #JusJoJan. Yesterday I did write, of course, but I didn’t link up, since my post wasn’t for the prompt. Today’s prompt is to share about your blogging endeavors. Why did you start blogging? How did you come up with your theme? How has blogging affected your life? And so on.

I probably shared this on my older blogs a couple of times already, but I don’t think I jotted about my blogging on here. I was probably destined to be a blogger, as even as a young teen in the late 1990s, I longed for someone to read what I’d written. Not my parents, of course, but I was pretty open about my writing otherwise. My father at one point joked that I showed my new best friend my diary the first time she visited me. I didn’t, but I did show her some personal writings of mine. Those got her to feel pity for me. The friendship wasn’t healthy to begin with, as I was needy and clingy. The friendship ended not even half a year later. Today, I won’t go into that. It only serves to prove that I was very open in my writing from an early age on.

I got a computer with Internet access in May of 2002, when I was fifteen. Within six months of that, I’d started an online diary. The contents of that diary, unlike those of many of my later attempts at keeping a blog, are still available online. Their original location, on DiaryLand, might even still exist.

In February of 2007, I created my WordPress account and moved the contents of my diary to my first legitimate blog. This diary had over the years started to contain some more essay-like posts besides the diary-style navel-gazing. However, with DiaryLand, there was no way of organizing your posts by categories or tags. My parents criticized me for being too personal in my diary. I didn’t intend on becoming less so, but now I could put all my navel-gazing into a category called “Personal” for people to skip.

I have had three blogs (if I include this one) that were lasting. First, I had said blog moved from DiaryLand. Then I had Blogging Astrid, which I originally intended to keep alongside this blog. That didn’t work.

A Multitude of Musings, the blog you are now reading, is, in fact, a restart of another relatively long-lasting blog I wrote in 2011. I am a bit sad that I deleted its content years ago, but I can’t undo that. Still, my stats say the day I had the most views was in 2011.

Blogging has had a huge impact on my life. My husband checked out my blog – the one that had been moved from DiaryLand – before he asked to meet me in real life. This meant he already knew me pretty well before we’d first met. In this sense, my marriage makes up for the friendship I wrote about above, as my husband chooses to stick by me despite my openness. I don’t encourage him to read my blog now, but if he wants to, he can. He’s occasionally been cross with me for sharing something about him. I try only to share the positive now.

Why did you decide to start blogging? How has blogging impacted your life?

Gratitude List (December 21, 2018)

It’s Friday again, yay! Last week I skipped my gratitude list post. Not because I didn’t have much to be thankful for, but because I wanted to write some other things and was feeling sick with a cold. Today, I’m taking my chance to do the post. I have a lot to be thankful for this past week. Here goes.

1. The wonderful Christmas box I got last week. I already wrote about it last week, but I want to mention it here too. I particularly love Snowflake, the stuffed unicorn. I also loved the fleece blanket I got in my package. I sat covered in it on Saturday when my cold was at its worst.

2. My cold being almost over. I am still a little sniffy, but with how bad my cold felt last Saturday, I”m truly grateful it’s much better.

3. My staff being well again. My support coordinator was off sick for a few weeks, but late last week, she returned to work. She first visited me on Wednesday. My nurse practitioner, who was off sick even longer, returned to work this week too. I had a good appoitnment with him.

4. A Christmas meal at day activities. On Tuesday, we had a delicious lunch. It was a little chaotic, but good too.

5. Horseback riding again. It was rainy yesterday, but thankfully we could still go on an outdoors ride.

6. Eating delicious tuna macaroni with my mother-in-law. She went horseback riding with me and after that, I ate at her house. It was just the two of us, so I could decide what we had.

7. The application for long-term care being mailed. It was sent out yesterday. It was a little hard reading the application, because my staff had to fill out how impaired I am in various areas on a 0-3 rating scale. I got quite a few 3s.

8. My husband being supportive. He showed his support of me even when I disclosed some rather embarrassing aspects of the long-term care application (ie. The fact that I am quite impaired in my personal care). He knows to some extent, of course, but still it’s a little awkward to admit.

9. All the Christmas decorations at day activities and some at home too. I didn’t use to like those. In fact, the first Christmas of my psychiatric institutionalization, I even pulled them all off the wall on my ward. Now I like a little Christmassy cheer.

10. The weighted blanket a staff made for my day activities group. She gave it to us a few weeks ago and I may’ve mentiooned it before, but then I mention it one more time. I love being in the sensory room and lying under it.

11. Painkillers. I had bad shoulder pain last Tuesday and still it’s not completely gone. I also had a headache today. However, ibuprofen and paracetamol worked well respectively.

12. Christmas songs. I can’t get some out of my head, but it’s lovely. This year is the first year I can appreciate Christmas.

This list was a bit random in its order, but I can’t seem to reorder the items on my phone and am too lazy to open my computer. I hope you enjoyed reading it anyway. I looked forward to linking up with #TToT, but saw it had come to a close for 2018 last week. The linky also is no longer open, but I hope some of those who visit me from #TToT regularly, will leave me a comment anyway.

Gratitude List (November 30, 2018) #TToT

It’s Friday again! I am not a big fan of the week-end, but I like Fridays nonetheless. I don’t relly know why. Maybe it’s just that they’re blue in my mind’s eye’s synesthetic perception and blue is my favorite color. Who knows?

Friday also means it’s time to link up with #TToT again. Here are the things I’ve been thankful for this past week.

1. Tarot apps. I don’t really believe in the spiritual basis of tarot, but I wanted to learn it anyway to use as a thought-starter. I read up about it on some blogs, but didn’t know how to make it work for myself, as I, being blind, cannot use real tarot cards. After looking for a while though, I found some accessible-with-VoiceOver tarot apps. Of course, I still miss out on the visual aspects, but I can still reflect on the card meanings.

2. Gratitude journaling. Okay, yeah, I am doing this now, but I also have been doing it in an iPhone app this past week. I couldn’t manage to do it daily, but I managed two tims since installing the app on Monday. It does help me.

3. Yet another extra afternoon at day activities. This was just once though. Because my support coordinator was off sick and my support worker or mother-in-law couldn’t come either, the staff got the manager’s permission to let me stay at day activities on Wednesday afternoon. It was really nice.

4. Horseback riding with my mother-in-law. My support worker couldn’t come on Thursday to go riding with me, but my mother-in-law could. It was a lot of fun.

5. Dinner with my in-laws. Alos yesterday, I decided on a whim to go have dinner with my in-laws. I was scared my husband would be mad with me for it, but thankfully he wasn’t. We ate delicious macaroni.

6. My fabulous husband. Need I say more? I just love him.

7. Good food. My husband has been experimenting with healthier food choices. On Tuesday, he made zucchini noodles. When on Wednesday he made rutabaga (Swedish turnip) fries, I was a little suspicious. However, I liked it.

8. A lie-in on Thursday. I didn’t have anything to do except for horseback riding at 4:30, so I slept in till 11AM. I also listened to some relaxing music in bed.

9. Relaxing in the snoezelen (sensory) room. On Tuesday, I took my phone into the sensory room with me and listened to whale sounds and music while lying on the water bed. I also took time to relax in the sensory room on Wednesday morning.

10. Chatting to a former nurse. Yesterday, a former nurse from the acute psychiatric ward I spent sixteen long months on in 2007-2009, sent me a text message. It wasn’t intended for me, so I told him who I was and that he probably had texted the wrong Astrid. He started chatting to me anyway. I don’t have a lot of memories of that time, but I did remember him.

What have you been thankful for this past week?

Resisting an Impulse #Write31Days

Welcoe to day 16 in #Write31Days. Today, I picekd yet another prompt from The Self Exploation Journal, but I twisted it around. Thhe prompt was to write about the last time you did something impulsive. Instead, I am going to write about the last tire I resisted a destructive impulse

I have been struggling a lot over the past few weeks. My husband has been working extremely long horus this past week and has been very stressed about it. Thankfully, he contacted his manager on it today and will be working slightly more normal hours from tomorrow on. However, today he wasn’t home till 9:30PM.

I hadn’t slept very well last night, because my husband was stressed out yesterday and I took over his stress. In my mind, it became worse and worse, until I was imagining my husband dying in a crash with his truck today. Needless to say, I was quite tired when I got to day activities in the morning.

On top of that, one of the regular staff was off sick, so there was a substitute. Because this regular staff would remain on sick leave tomorrow, the staff worked out who to find as a sub. Wednesdays are the busiest days at day activities, so I was quite scared that one staff would need to handle the full group on her own.

By 2:30PM, I was very irritable. I didn’t understand the jokes people were cracking. I was constantly worrying too about how to make it through the evening. I got an impulse to elope. Instead, I decided to try to walk around the building on my own while the staff checked on me tha tI was headed in the right direction. I did fine.

My staff did notice that I wasn’t coping thoguh. She asked whom I could call if I wasn’t coping while home. I decided to call my mother-in-law right then and she informed me my husband had already asked that I could eat with my in-laws.

Had I actually given in to the impulse and run off, people would’ve been a lot more worried than they already were. Besides, since this was my second time going to day activities for a full day, I might have been suspended. I don’t think I’d have gotten in any physical danger had I actually run off, as the day activities place is in a very quiet neighborhood. However, I’m still glad I didn’t give in to the urge.

The Most Important People in My Life #Write31Days

Welcome to day 13 in #Write31Days. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the challenge, but I was reminded by my husband not to give up now that I have nearly two weeks’ worth of effort put into it.

Today, I’m making a list of the most important people in my life. I’ll also explain why these people are so important to me. I tend not to come across very appreciative of wht people mean to me. I mean, the people in my life right now are mostly very supportive, and yet I don’t tell them so that often.

1. My husband. Do I really need to explain? I first met him in 2007, when I was struggling to hold on living independently. He supported me throughout my 9 1/2 years in the mental hospital and through the nearly eighteen months we’ve been living together now. He also fully supports my choice of trying to get into supported housing, even if it means we can only see each other on week-ends. He’s also just the most loving person around. Hubby, I love you!

2. My in-laws. As regular readers know, I am in low contact with my own parents. For this reason, I’m all the more thankful to have my in-laws. My mother-in-law particularly helps me with important meetings and with other decisions I need to make.

3. My home support staff. I first met my support coordinator in August of last year, when I finally got approved for home support. At first, she mostly just monitored my care with my old support worker, but eventually, she had to step up more. She now sees me usually once a week. My new support worker – the old one was moved to a team in another area – sees me twice a week. They’re both very supportive and skilled and especially my support coordinator goes out of her way to help me.

4. My day activities staff. My assigned support worker is one of the nicest staff working at that group. Not that the other staff aren’t nice, but she is the one who most truly gets me. The other staff truly try too. I am so glad to be here. Now I must say my old day activities staff were nice too, but they weren’t equipped with the information to properly support me. Besides, the manager was probably more stacked against my “psychiatric” needs.

Who are the most important people in your life?