Gratitude List (September 7, 2019) #TToT

Hi everyone! I’ve been wanting to write a lot today, but somehow, I once again couldn’t find the words to write a proper blog post. This week was a good one in some major ways, but it was also a very stressful one. To focus my mind on the positives, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. The sensory room at day activities. I have been relaxing in it a lot lately. There’s a guy who uses it often, but he was off this past week, so I took full advantage of the available room.

2. Tranquilizers. On Tuesday, I was very irritable. I am so glad that the staff offered to give me my lorazepam and it worked.

3. Great news from the care facility, of course. I got to speak to the behavior specialist and support coordinator, which was good. It was great to hear that I will most likely be moving by September 23.

4. Hearing more about the house we’re buying. We got a go on the mortgage and are now waiting to get the keys.

5. My husband having been able to change the days he’ll be off work. He would originally have the week of September 16 off, but since I’ll be moving to Raalte on the 23rd and we’ll get the keys to our house most likely on the 25th, that wasn’t ideal. My husband will now have the week of the 23rd and the week of the 30th off.

6. Nice food. To celebbrate the great news about my moving to the care facility, my husband got us pizza and a tompouce (a Dutch pastry) on Tuesday. On Thursday, I was stressed, so I bought myself a lot of snack food. Still, I enjoyed it.

7. Horseback riding again. Yesterday marked my first riding lesson after the summer break. I rode Morritz again. I didn’t ask about Angie, the horse I previously often rode, who was injured some six months ago. As the weather was relatively good, we rode our horses outside.

8. My stuffed bear. I had a lot of nightmares and vivid dreams this past week, so I am all the more grateful for the stuffed bear my mother-in-law won for me at an animal shelter event last year. I have a ton of other soft toys, but this one is the biggest.

I am also grateful for the extra duvet my husband laid over me some nights back when he realized before me that I’d otherwise feel cold.

9. Painkillers. I’ve been having a toothache lately and had a headache yesterday. They may or may not be related. And yes, my father-in-law is a dentist, but this makes me more wary of going to the dentist (him) with this. Thankfully, paracetamol has been working.

10. My amazing fellow clients at day activities. A new girl started yesterday. She’s nice. So are the others. Most don’t understand that I’ll be moving, so I haven’t told them yet. I’ll be missing them.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Working On Us Prompt: Sleep Disorders

The past few days have been pretty busy, so even though I did want to blog, I hardly found the time. Now it’s already latish evening too.

Today I’m once again joining in with Working On Us, for which the prompt this week is sleep, insomnia and other sleep disorders.

As a child and teen, I suffered from insomnia a lot. I would often be awake for the whole night or hardly sleep at all. On week-ends, I sometimes made up for it by sleeping in, but I was definitely chronically sleep deprived. Though my parents sometimes suggested, and I don’t know whether they were joking, that I take valerian or melatonin, I wanted nothing of it. In fact, when I was going in for eye surgery at age seven or eight, I refused the tranquilizer they offered us before the operation. I also constantly fought the anesthesia.

When I was 20, I sought treatment for my insomnia for the first time. My GP prescribed temazepam, the most commonly-used sleep medication here in the Netherlands at least at the time. I was very scared when first using it, being that I’d not taken any medication in years, not even paracetamol.

I think that what lay underneath both my insomnia and my refusal to take medication for it, was an intense fear of losing control. I was, after all, pretty compulsive particularly as an older child and teen.

My sleep issues escalated in 2007, when I lived on my own in Nijmegen. Though I didn’t sleep less than I had as a younger person, I did suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation more. When I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital, the first medication I was prescribed was again temazepam. Then followed another few benzos and even levomepromazine (Nozinan), which is normally only used for palliative sedation.

I had to take “twilight anesthesia”, which means high doses of benzos, several more times prior to procedures and chose them over the pain that would otherwise ensue. However, I still had terrible fear when I “awoke”.

Other than insomnia, I’ve had an assortment of other sleep issues. My husband said at one point that I have hypersomnia, because I slept so much. This was probably down to a combination of medication, vitamin and iron deficiencies and lack of structure.

I am a sleep talker and I snore too. The snoring got slightly better as I lost weight last year. I’m not sure whether it’s worsened again since I’ve gained weight back up again. The sleep talking comes and goes with stress.

Lastly, I suffer from vivid dreams and nightmares. They’ve gotten a little better now that the long-term care situation is more or less settled, but during times of stress, I very often awaken in a state of shock because of vivid dreams. That is, I’m not 100% sure they’re REM sleep dreams or night terrors (which happen during stage 4 sleep). I’ve never had a sleep study done either.

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?

Gratitude List (October 26, 2018) #TToT

Man, I really am falling into a writing rut. I don’t even know why. I’m still not feeling too well, but I wouldn’t say I’m seriously depressed either. For a bit in early October, I did feel extremely low, bu I picked up the pieces again reasonalby soon.

Today, to get myself motivated for writing again, I’m participating once again in #TToT. It’s not a weekly gratitude list anymore and I may be sharing some things I’ve been grateful for over the past few weeks.

1. A skirt-wearing day in October! This was already a few weeks ago, but I’m still so thankful for it. About two weeks ago, the temperature rose to 26 degrees Celsius and I loved it!

Generally speaking, the weather has been extremely mild here with hardly any rain. We got some rain only over the last few days and that wasn’t a lot. Today is one of the first days it’s really rather cold.

2. Sleep. Like I said above, fall weather came late this year but it well and truly came. I am very sensitive to cold, so I’ve been complaining for a few days that it’s cold already. This means that nothng’s cozier than crawling under the covers against my husband or with my sensory cat. The sensory cat is a soft toy that can be put in the microwave and then gives off heat and a lavender scent.

3. Swimming. At day activities, we go swimming every other Tuesday. Two weeks ago, I was a bit sick, so didn’t go. This week I did though. It was lovely. My Fitbit activity tracker says I swam 1200m total, which I can’t believe but oh well.

4. A full day at day activities. Three weeks ago, I got permission to come to day activities one full day a week in addition to the three other mornings. I now go on Tuesdays for a full day and Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the morning. I am still settling in a bit but so far I love it.

5. Making smoothies. I really, really need to get into a healthier eating habit again. I haven’t been on the scale in months and I’ve probably gained lots of weight. To get myself motivated, I bought a lot of frozen fruit and a can of soy milk last Monday. Bananas were sold out, so my husband bought those on Tuesday. Yesterday, we made a banana-strawberry-soy milk smoothe and it was delicious!

6. Horseback riding again. Some of my fellow clients at day activities go horseback riding at my riding school on Friday afternoons. I go on Friday afternoons too, but usally the class after theirs. Today, one of these other clients was on vacation, so my staff offered to ask whether I could come in her place and I could. My assigned support worker from day activities walked beside my horse. It was a lot of fun!

7. My very accommodating staff. My support coordinator and home support worker are going out of their way to help me. So are my day activities staff. Particularly, they offered me to come to day activities two full days on December 27 and 28, since the other days of that week, the center is closed for Christmas. They’ll have room for me even on that Thursday, which is normally my day off. I’m so grateful for this!

8. Accessible games on the iPhone. I never took much of an interest in accessible computer games, because I believed most would be very boring. Now this week I decided to take a look at the AppleVis directory of iOS apps in the Games category. Of course, most games that are really popular with sighted people, are totally inaccessible. However, some accessible games are pretty cool after all. I so far downloaded Dice World, which is a collection of six dice games, and Alter Ego.

Alter Ego was originally created as a fully text-based game in 1986 but was adapted for use on the smartphone. It is a game in which the scenario is that you’re born and will eventually die. The life you lead in between will depend on your answers to a lot of multiple-choice questions. On my first round playing, I chose to be a very angry, rebellious baby and ended up with burns from an iron in infancy and killed by a kidnapper in childhood.

9. Twister fries! I have no idea whether twister fries exist in other parts of the world and, if so, whether they’re really called twister fries. They are my favorite type of fries, but they had apparently been taken off the menu at my local cafeteria. Last week at his once-a-week round to the cafeteria, my husband informed me that he had a nice surprise for me and it turned out they were back. I enjoyed them both last week and this week. I also love love love the African-style burger they have on the menu.

10. My mood being slightly better. Like I said, I had a really low few days earlier this month. Over the past two weeks or so, my mood seems to have been slowly but steadily improving. I cannot say I feel good, but I don’t feel that bad either.

Ways to Take Better Care of My Body #Write31Days

Welcome to day 14 in #Write31Days. Last week, I wrote a post on the topic of what my body is telling me. Today, I’m writing on a similar theme. The prompt from The Self Exploration Journal I’m using today supposes that your body is a temple. How could you better take care of it?

There are many ways in which I could take better care of my body. I’m already doing a lot better though than I used to. Like, until I was eighteen, I wouldn’t touch toothpaste and would brush my teeth with just water. Then, I went to the dentist to find out I had seven cavities. Filling them (without anesthetic) was horrible. From that point on, I started using toothpaste, buut I still had trouble sticking to a regular teeth-brushing routine. I struggled with this for many years to come and have only recently been able to consistently brush my teeth twice a day. I’m still not doing it very well, but I’m getting better.

Another way to take better care of my body is by getting off my behind. As a child, I was fairly active, but my activity level declined sharply in my teens. I got a computer, which meant hours upon hours of screen time. At this point, I’m still pretty sedentary, although I love walking. Since I cannot leave the house on my own, I need to think of ideas to fit in more activity at home. I already go on the elliptical regularly, but I’m thinking I could be dancing too.

Sleep is another aspect of body care that I’ve improved in. As a child and teen, I’d get no more than five to six hours of sleep a night. Now, I make sure that on week days, I get eight to nine hours of sleep. On week-ends, I get much more. That probably means that I’m still not fully rested from those eight to nine hours on week days, but I do’t know how to fit in even more sleep.

An aspect of body care in which I really need to pick up the pieces again, is food. I am doing better than I was when in the institution, when I’d binge on candy twice to three times a week. However, I’m still snacking a lot more than I should.

In what ways could you take better care of your body?

Weekly Gratitude List (August 24, 2018) #TToT

Wow, it’s Friday again! Time flies! This means it’s time for me to write my weekly gratitude list. Here goes.

1. The fact that I did in fact exercise everyday last week. Thhat means I broke a record! I could go this far this week again, as so far I’ve been doing some exercise-worthy moving each day of the week.

2. An even longer walk last Monday. The staff who’s gettinb back into work was at our day activities group again last Monday. This time, we walked for over an hour. I loved it.

3. Finding a cool Turkish shop in the nearby city. This city is called “the capital of Turkey” by people from the surrounding area. I went grocery shopping in the city on Monday with my support worker, because the next town’s supermarket, which is closer by my house than the city’s, had sold me rotten blackberries on Friday. The supermarket visit wasn’t too much of a success, but I hope to be able to get more delicious fruit at the Turkish shop next time.

4. A very good psychiatrist’s appointment last Tuesday. It still has me in awe, as I felt so thoroughly validated.

5. Having made delicious toast with cheese, salami, tomato and pesto at day activities on Wednesday. It was a little chaotic, but still it was a lot of fun.

6. A lie-in yesterday. My support coordinator wouldn’t be here till 3PM and I had no other obligations, so I slept in till past 11AM.

7. Being able to discuss my wishes with the day activities staff. Today, the day activities coordinator had heard about my enjoying the long walks. Because this extra staff who took me this week will eventually go back to her own group and no longer be extra, the coordinator offered to try to find me a volunteer. That’d be so cool.

We also discussed my creative endeavors. The day center have a stand at the town’s Christmas fair each year and they make crafty things for that. I got talking about all my creative endeavors, like jewelry-making and soap making. I may try to get some of these things going at day activities.

Linking up with Ten Things of Thankful again.

Weekly Gratitude List (August 10, 2018) #TToT

It’s Friday again. This week has flown by! It was really a mixed bag in terms of how I’ve felt. Here are the things I’ve been grateful for this past week.

1. Starting at new day activities. My first week definitely was a good one. I am truly loving it there.

2. The weather. It was hot on Monday and Tuesday but as of Wednesday it’s been pretty nice. Not cold but cool enough that I could finally move again and not break out in a sweat from merely existing.

3. Going on the elliptical. It was quite a challenge, since I hadn’t exercised in weeks, but it was a fun challenge. I love being able to let my thoughts go as I exercise.

4. Eating at my in-laws on Wednesday. My husband had to suddenly stay at work late, so he asked whether I could eat with his parents. They cooked endive with mashed potatoes, which is not my favorite meal to say the least, but it wasn’t too terrble either. Congrats to me for eating all that was on my plate.

5. A lie-in on Thursday. I had kept my alarm set at 6:45, but turned it off and rolled over. My support coordinator wouldn’t be here till 3PM and, though I have in the past been in bed till that late, I trusted myself to wake before then. And I did.

6. Those blueberries I mentioned yesterday. Boy, do I love them. They also doubly made up for the endive on Wednesday, as I had them for dessert then too. At home, I rarely eat dessert, but my in-laws do.

7. Making a cheesecake with my support coordinator. I didn’t share this yesterday, as I hadn’t tried it then yet, but it was delicious! My husband also really liked it.

8. Going to the marketplace. At my new day activities, the people visit the local marketplace each Friday. We all bring money, throw it together and buy some extra treat for lunchtime. Today though, I didn’t put mo money in with the others’, as I’d forgotten my lunch so wante dto buy me some more food than just a treat. The bread stand wasn’t there, but I did buy strawberries. Later, a staff went to the supermarket to buy some bread for me.

9. Journaling prompt eBooks. I bought two new ones on Wednesday. Yes, I’m probably obsessed with collecting them, given how many journaling prompt books and files and apps I have. One of the new ones I bought is the complete Lisa Shea journaling collection (eleven books for one reduced price). I had been ahing at many of the individual books, but €1,- each still means I’d spend over €10 on just some journaling prompts and some were more expensive. What then if they disappoint me? Well, the full collection was €6,45, which seemed reasonable. So far, I’m loving the books. The other was Journal Writing Prompts for Child Abuse Survivors, which cost only €0,99. I like that one too. As a side note, it’s interesting how I spend far less money on eBooks now that I use Kindle. Back when I used Kobo, I didn’t bet an eye at €5,- for a few simple journaling prompts (like one of Mari L. McCarthy’s 24-day challenge books). It’s good that I am more careful now, in that it’s technically my husband’s money I’m using (even though I pay him back straight away), as I use his credit card.

10. Lying in the cocoon swing at day activities. A cocoon swing is like a small tent that hangs off a tree and you can then lie in it and swing it. I love it. It’s truly pure relaxation!

Linking up with Ten Things of Thankful again.

Weekly Gratitude List (August 3, 2018) #TToT

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT. I loved all the positive comments on my post last week. My apologies to those I haven’t commented back on. One of the reasons is the fact that I struggle to comment on Blogspot blogs. However, I may also have been too distracted to comment. Anyway, with no further ado, here are the things I’m grateful for this week.

1. Having had a barbecue with the in-laws. That is, my mother-in-law wasn’t there, but my father-in-law and two sisters-in-law were. The food was delicious and we had a great time.

2. My having lost weight despite not following a healthy diet too strictly and not having exercised much at all. I really hope and in fact I believe I can stick to this healthy’ish lifestyle for a long while.

3. The fact that I click well with the Center for Consultation and Expertise consultant assigned to my case.

4. Good sleep in spite of the hot weather. It’s still over 30 degrees Celsius at midday. Like I said last week though, my husband got us a fan for in our bedroom. As a result, I’m sleeping pretty well.

5. Watching documentary series on Netflix. I haven’t completley figured it out, but it works okay.

6. The fact that my computer hasn’t died yet. It is over four years old and incredibly slow, has two broken keys and many programs aren’t working. I cannot get a new computer yet though. After all, for a new computer, I’d need a new version of my screen reader, which is very expensive and won’t be paid for by health insurance unless I get a prescription from a blindness agency, for which I’m on the waiting list. Thankfully, the two broken keys aren’t letters and I have gotten used to the slowness of things.

7. On a related note, the fact that I finally figured out how to subscribe to blog feeds in my favorite feed reader on this broken PC. This used to only work in Firefox, which is one of the programs no longer working with my outdated screen reader. However, I finally worked my way around this and can now subscribe in IE. This means I can finally follow new blogs I discover.

8. Having still kept up with this blog. I don’t write as much as I did last week, but at least I still manage to write at least one blog post everyday.

9. Snack veggies. My husband bought a bucket of cherry tomatoes and a bucket of snack cucumbers on Tuesday, but I forgot about them until he reminded me yesterday. Now I can enjoy snacking without guilt.

10. The hugs, cards and presents I got from the people at my now old day activities. The leave-taking was bittersweet but I truly loved how nice everyone was.

What have you been thankful for lately?