My Favorite Ways of Staying Active

Today, I am joining in with the RagTag Daily Prompt for Thursday. It is “Exercise“. I am a pretty sedentary person, but nonetheless, I love getting moving every once in a while. Here are my favorite ways of staying active both physically and mentally.

1. Walking. My absolute favorite way of physical exercise has to be walking. Due to my disabilities, I am not safe leaving the house on my own for a walk, but I do enjoy walks with my support staff or other people. As regular readers of this blog know, I go for a long walk each Monday at day activities. This week, unfortunately, it started to pour when we’d just been out of the door for five minutes, so we had to return. Both today and yesterday though, I went for an hour-long walk with my support coordinator.

2. Swimming. My second most favorite way of exercising physically has to be swimming. We do it at day activities every other Tuesday. My Fitbit activity tracker is water-proof, so it tracks my swimming activity too.

3. Going on gym equipment. I have an elliptical at home, which I really need to use more often. I manage twice a week on average, but sometimes I don’t go for over a week.

I also discussed with my support worker getting myself a gym membership. There’s a gym in the nearby city that has services for people who suffered brain injury. I’d love to go there.

4. Yoga. I used to take yoga lessons at the institution in Nijmegen many years ago, but I quit eventually. Then I tried to practise on my own. My husband eventually borrowed my yoga mat for his own exercise, then threw it out because it’d disintegrated. I just ordered myself anew one, which should arrive tomorrow. I tried to do yoga on my bed today, but that wasn’t really ideal.

5. Horseback riding. This isn’t particularly exercise-y if you ask me, since we just step around. However, it is an activity that I commit to once a week and that keeps me healthy – or so I’d like to think.

What are your favorite ways of staying healthy?

Emotional Flashbacks: I Tend to Fight

I just read up on trauma-related symptoms and was flooded with emotional flashbacks. An emotional flashback is where you are reminded of a past traumatic event but don’t remember it in visual detail. Rather, you feel the emotions associated with the event. You then respond in a usually maladaptive way that is associated with your trauma.

According to Pete Walker, there are four types of trauma responses related to emotional flashbacks: fight, flight, freeze and fawn. I have yet to read up on them all in Walker’s book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, but I think I most relate to fight, followed by freeze and fawn. Interestingly, in this book, Walker also discusses specific combinations of responses, such as the fight-fawn hybrid (I think that would be me).

I feel sad, because Walker calls the fight response, which is my most common first reaction, “narcissistic” and on his website relates it to being spoiled. I have yet to read up in his book on whether this is the only trauma that can elicit a fight response, as I was not usually spoiled. Or was I?

When discussing my upbringing with the psychologist who gave me my autism diagnosis back in 2017, after another psychologist had taken it away, I mentioned my parents not letting me develop my independence skills. That is, when I tried to develop independence skills, I was often left to my own resources and not consciously taught. Then as soon as I got frustrated (which I reckon is a natural response), my parents gave up and would do stuff for me. The psychologist called this simultaneous over- and underestimation.

I was rather frustrated with the fact that I was seen as having been underestimated, as this didn’t resonate with my feeling of chornic overwhelm. Also, it somehow feels like it’s a character flaw on my part that I got let off the hook, whereas I consider other forms of bad parenting that I endured to be my parents’ responsibility. Really though, ultimately, it’s my responsibility to heal.

Linking up with RDP #83: Remember.

Challenge: The Skill of Dialectics

“The best person you can become is yourself.” I once read this in an advert for a personality disorders treatment center. It seems so true, and yet it suggests that people with personality disorders are not being themselves. As if a personality disorder is somehow superimposed upon the otherwise healthy person. That’s probably not how it works.

I was reminded of this as I thought of my meeting with my mental health nurse today. I was very open about my thoughts regarding treatment and its effectiveness and my maybe wanting to stop it. The challenge, in this respect, is figuring out which aspects of myself I still want to improve on and which I want to accept as part of myself.

I clarified that I’m afraid treatment is always focused on making the patient more independent. That’s not a problem, but it is when practical independence comes at a cost to autonomy. I am and will always be multiply-disabled. No amount of mental health treatment will change that. My nurse agreed, but said that she doesn’t feel I’m at a point where I can accept myself and just live yet.

The biggest challenge in my life seems to be and always has been to find the right balance between apparent opposites. Between my intellectual capacity and my social-emotional disability. Between my wish for autonomy or self-determination and my need for support. Between my desire to progress and my desire to just be.

I remember several years ago checking out a dialectical behavior therapy self-help manual that started with the skill of dialectics, of finding the right balance between two opposites. This is such a cool skill. I think I’ll accept the challenge and work this skill again tonight.

I am joining RDP #63: Challenge with this post.