Question of the day (17th September).

What was the last time you were in a bad mood?

My answer:

I’ve had a mostly good day today, but I’m in a bad mood right now. I’m angry and disappointed, and just don’t know what to do. You know that I’m going to get a new computer soon, and some other new equipment? It’s a matter of days now, and that makes me pretty anxious. The guy who had been helping me with all that tech stuff kindly offered to set up some of the programmes I use on a daily basis before they send it out to me. So, he set up my mail on there, and Dropbox and a couple other important things. My Mum also sent him registration keys and installers to some of my speech synths that could be installed in such a way, that she bought for me ages ago and that I’m using a lot. And today, when my Mum got back with Zofijka from her tennis in the evening, she just casually mentioned: “Oh, there are some mails from that computer guy, I didn’t read it all but he couldn’t install something, those synths I guess, I’ll read them to you later”. And she just did, and the news sound very bad to me. He was able to only install three out of the 7 voices. He said the Welsh language voice is no longer accessible for some reason. It makes some sense, because the company who produced all those synthesisers, called Ivona, doesn’t exist any longer. Amazon had bought them some years ago and then destroyed them I guess. This is a big deal to me that the Welsh language voice is no longer accessible. I need that synth to help me out with my Welsh learning, and, as you can imagine, there’s no alternative with such a small language. I just freaked out. The rest of the synths seemed to have not working keys for some reason, and one of them – my most beloved and treasured Jacek – has some more sophisticated error in the installer. As I said, the company is no longer there so I can’t even get another one, unless illegally I guess, which I don’t want to do as then it’d probably have some glitches. But what will I do without Jacek? My small glimmer of hope is that Mum has multiple emails from Ivona for some reason and maybe there are the right keys/installers for the rest of the voices in some of the emails that we didn’t send him, but I don’t think that coould be the case sadly. Other than that, I’ve had just a bit of a collection of synths, because it’s something that interests me, and it’s sad that most likely some of the best ones in my collection will be gone. I can’t get over it, it’s stupid, but I really liked Jacek so much. And there was Astrid, my Swedish synth. I could get another Swedish one from another company, but why should I pay for another one, if I already have Astrid. And I do need a Swedish voice very badly. And, linguistically, she was the best from all the Swedish language synths I know. There is a shop still selling Ivona speech synths in some a little different version, but they seem to be pricier there, and I had a chance to use them for some time and for some reason their quality isn’t as good in versions from that shop, and they like to crash a lot, which is hardly acceptable for me. Or maybe I just had such a bad luck with them. In any case, I’ve already had to pay a lot for the computer, and I’m not feeling enthusiastic about re-buying 5 voices I theoretically already have. I just don’t know what to do, I don’t want to believe it’s happening. My precious, precious Jacek! 😭

How about you? πŸ™‚

Song of the day (17h September) – Lucy May Walker – “Safety Net”.

Here’s a song from a young British artist I recently discovered. Lucy May Walker is from Worcestershire, and so far I think I like her music, though I’ve only heard a few songs.

Question of the day (16th September).

What was the last book you read?

My answer:

The last that I finished? It was “Innocent”, the new book by Cathy Glass. I enjoyed it as I always do with her books but it also let me down a bit. If you are planning to read this book, I suggest you skip this paragraph, spoiler ahead.Cathy Glass is a foster carer who writes memoirs about the children she takes care of. In this particular book, she writes about two siblings – Molly and Kit – whose mother was very anxious about their health, and who both had a lot of mysterious ailments and non-accidental injuries and were visiting the hospital ultra frequently. No one knew what was up with them but there was a suspicion that they were abused and that’s why they were separated from their parents. Cathy wanted to make sure that the cause of children’s illnesses could be defined. I won’t be telling you the whole book but basically, while Cathy, and the kids’ social worker, and everyone involved were scratching their heads over what could be the issue here, I knew for sure at about the third chapter that the problem was that the mummy had Munschhausen syndrome by proxy/FDIA, and I’m not a professional. It really wasn’t hard to figure out so I wondered whether Cathy just wanted it to look like such a lengthy process so she could write a full length book or it really took them that long. Granted that I was just reading the book, not involved in the case, so perhaps how it actually looked like was different and less obvious than described in the book. It was more difficult for them because the children’s mother was giving them food to take to Cathy’s when she saw them at contact, it was already poisoned so they were often sick at Cathy’s as well. I was also surprised that even when they knew full well that the mother has FDIA, the judge decided that the children should live with their parents. As if a few weeks stay in the hospital could really fix such a serious disorder. I don’t know, maybe it can, but it felt really, really doubtful to me. I guess it’s not a rare situation when judges deciding on families make such rather questionable choices. What surprised me was that the parents of the kids – Filip and Aneta – had actually Polish names – or if not Polish then Czech, because both ANeta and Filip are Polish and Czech names. It wouldn’t be anything weird in the UK where a lot of Poles live, but it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the book that they were Polish or Czech and their kids had English names. I understand that Cathy had to change their names from what they originallly were, but still, that was interesting. Though, as a linguophile and a name nerd, I felt slightly annoyed that the narrator read Aneta’s name like Anita with an “ee” all the time, while it is ah-NE-tah in both languages, and Anita is a different name. πŸ˜€ But of course that’s just a detail.

And the last book I’ read but never finished was “Camilla” by Fanny Burney. I was excited to read it, I thought I will love it, I like this type of English classics, and I liked that it was an influence for Jane Austen, but, uh, I just couldn’t get through it. I’m not someone who is very thirsty for quick-paced action in books, it may be slow as long as it’s interesting and well written, but that book was just too much for me. I really tried to read it, I read it for a very long time, tried to get into it, but just couldn’t. It just felt overly lengthy and boring. And the consciousness that the whole book is about 1000 pages long made me feel like yawning, so I just left it. Maybe another time. I managed to like the character of Eugenia though. I wonder if I should read “Evelina” by Burney which I also thought could be interesting. Now I’m not so sure.

And I’m still reading “Forever Twelve” by Meg Kimball, which are the first four books in her “Advice Avengers” series. Meg is my fantastic blog friend who blogs at https://whenbadadvicehappens.wordpress.com (I’m sorry this link looks like this but I’m writing via email) and I was also really excited to read her series. I’m reading the third book which is called “Andi Has The Answers”, and I’m enjoying it a lot. I like how positive and unrealistic these books are, I mean, the two main characters are 12-year-old girls. I have a 12-year-old girl called Zofijka at home and the Advice Avengers and their friends differ so vastly from Zofijka and her friends whom I know. Corey and Andi are so nicely childish but at the same time, especially Corey, is very mature and wise for her age in my opinion. And the whole series just feels so nice that I’d like to jump into that world right away. πŸ˜€ In this respect, Meg’s writing reminds me of my favourite Polish writer called MaΕ‚gorzata Musierowicz, who has written a series called JeΕΌycjada, I will always regret that it’s not translated into English, it’s a big loss for non Polish speakers in my view. Ms. Musierowicz’s writing style and the setting of her books hugely differs from Meg’s, but the slightly utopian, warm atmosphere is very much the same.

Oh well, when I created this blog I told myself I won’t be doing reviews, did I just write one big review of 3 books, or doesn’t it count as a review yet? πŸ˜€ Well anyway, I’ve been making a lot of interesting literary discoveries lately so I guess that’s justified, even if it is a review of sorts. And, people, I’ve read all those books in English. It no longer feels like a deal at all for me.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Song of the day (16th September) – Fay Wildhagen – “Different”.

Hey guys! πŸ™‚

Yes, another song by Fay Wildhagen is out, yay! I’ve seen it about two weks ago on Spotify so I guess that’s when it came out. I still really like Fay Wildhagen’s music, still come back quite regularly to her last full length album “Borders”, and will be very interested in seeing her new full length album, which I’ve heard should come out next year. So, naturally, I was thrilled to see this new single. I must say though that, despite having really cool lyrics, it didn’t speak to me as much as the last album and her previous single “Inevertoldyou”. There’s less of that style that I loved so much about “Borders”. It’s less unobvious, kinda, despite being titled “Different”, it feels more normal, mainstream-y? I don’t even know how to put it. I like it, but not quite as much. But the lyrics are good.

Question of the day (15th September).

When was the last time you did something you didn’t want to do?

My answer:

As far as I remember, it was when I had to go out last week with my Mum in search for a bra that would work for me for horse riding. Oh, okay, I haven’t told you I’ve restarted my horse riding last week! It was really great, and thank God for my anti-anxiety med, I figured out that, at least until I won’t settle with it a bit, I think it will be a good idea if I’ll help myself with it, because the anxiety I feel before that can be sometimes overpowering, and really badly affect my riding, not to mention my satisfaction of it. I thought I would need to remind myself a lot of things but once I was on horseback, everything felt very natural and automatic despite I hadn’t ridden for almost a whole year. But I needed a good bra, which, because of my not very typical figure –
as I am skinny and have relatively big breasts – I didn’t have anything that would be suitable for trotting or such. On the same day I also had to finally go to the hairdresser’s. I was glad to be done with all that, but I hate clothes shopping, and I hate when people are playing around with my hair for ages, so that cost me a lot of determination and patience. And it was such a gloomy day weatherwise. But yeah, I’m glad it’s all done and I don’t have to worry about the bra thing anymore.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Song of the day (15th September) – Kaija Koo ft. Reino Nordin – “Paa Mut Cooleriin”.

Hi guys! πŸ™‚

After sharing with you one song by Maija Vilkkumaa, I wanted to discover some more Finnish music, and listened to a lot of it. As a result, I thought I’d share with you another Finnish song, by another well-known female artist in Finland called Kaija Koo. Her style is a bit similar though she’s been around in the music industry for a decade or so longer and the feel of her music has been changing a lot over the years. This song is in collaboration with a Finnish actor and musician Reino Nordin. Sadly, I couldn’t find a reliable translation for this one, and am not even 100% sure what the title means, so that’s a little bit of a disappointment, but Finnish music is great anyway!

Question of the day.

Okay, we’ve had quite a lot of more or less family focused questions. For now, let’s focus on our hair.

If you had to choose a hair colour other than your natural colour, what would it be?

My answer:

Definitely black. Dyed black hair don’t look as good as natural but oh well… Or if not raven black, then very dark brown. Otherwise, red. Yes, yes, I hate red, but as a hair colour it’s quite cool, the kind of orange red at least. In fact, I used to dye my hair all these colours, but I no longer do as it’s quite a hassle and I lack the patience for such things, plus I can’t do that independently, and with black/dark brown, it’s hard to find a dye that doesn’t have a shade of red, and then I dislike it, and it doesn’t look good on me either.

You. πŸ™‚

Celtic Woman – “Orinoco Flow”.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

Celtic Woman are one of my most favourite Irish/Celtic groups, yet I’ve only shared one song with you so far. I’ve recently seen that they released something new, including a newer version of “Orinoco Flow” that they also sang before, but I decided I like the older version more and will show it to you. It comes back from the times when they had their good old line-up, with Lisa Kelly, Meav and such, I liked them best at that time in the history of the band, though I still do like them a lot.

The song was originally song and composed by ENya and appeared on one of her earliest albums back in the eighties – “Watermark”. – If you know me and my blog at least a bit, you probably already know Enya has been one of my major music crushes over the years. Curiously however, “Orinoco Flow” is the only song of hers that I really, really don’t like, as much as I love all her other songs and compositions. It was played a lot and is still one of the most recognisable songs by Enya, I believe, and I knew it way before I started loving Enya and discovering her music. In fact, at the beginning I thought I disliked all of her music, it had to grow on me and it did very suddenly. But “Orinoco Flow”, despite my brave attempts to like it, remains the only song of Enya’s that I do not like, and almost hate. Why is that? I don’t even exactly know. πŸ˜€ Perhaps I have some bad associations with it that I don’t realise, which is very possible, in any case, for some reason it makes my sensory anxiety come up. Weird, given how relaxing Enya’s music is and how normally it’s very soothing to me. Anyway, I do like it by Celtic Woman, so maybe it depends on an arrangement or whatever. So, here it is. I hope you enjoy. πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi guys. πŸ™‚

My question for you today is:

What are your family traditions, if any?

My answer:

I don’t know if we have any very unusual traditions that would be specific for us, if so, I can’t think of them right now. We are Polish, so naturally we have a lot of typically Polish traditions, as well as Catholic so Christian traditions are also present. We are a rather traditional family but I don’t think we have many traditions just of our own. The only thing I can think of is giving a child their parent’s first name as a middle, but, first, that’s more of a regional tradition of Kashubia, and second, not everyone in my extended family follows that, so I don’t really think it counts.

Yours? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi guys. πŸ™‚

Here’s my another family related question for you. πŸ™‚

Do you have any heirlooms?

My answer:

We have a few old books, mostly religious, like prayer books or such, that once belonged to some of our relatives, as well as a cook book of my great grandma which is written in a deliciously archaic language and has not only recipes but also some interesting bits of knowledge, like how certain ingredients were used in the past or traditions related to particular dishes, a lot of kind of folklore info so definitely my thing. But other than that, we don’t really have very old heirlooms after people who are dead. We have a wooden closet made by my grandad, which my Mum wanted as a souvenir, because it’s our first house where we live away from her parents, and it’s always nice to have something to remind you of a loved one as you never know what will happen and when. He’s also made a decision a year or so ago that he wants my Mum to inherit his very imposing numismatic collection, and it’s now in our house and my Mum is expanding it very dynamically and passionately, in cooperation with him, even though she wasn’t particularly interested in collecting anything before and I guess it feels more like a tradition very worth cultivating for her than something she’s personally interested in.

How about you and your family? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Do you like to go to family reunions and gettogethers, if they’re a thing in your family?

My answer:

As I wrote in my answer to the last question, not really, as it’s very hard for me because of the anxiety and other mental health stuff, and not feeling the connection with most of my extended family. I will go to some of them mostly out of duty so that no one feels hurt and my conscience is not biting me, but if I have to be honest, no, I don’t like it, and if I can, I’ll avoid it. Smaller gatherings are a bit easier, as are those on my Mum’s family’s side as opposed to my Dad’s family with whom I feel totally like a changeling or a fifth wheel. My Mum’s family, even if they are a bit overwhelming at times, are interesting people so at least I can listen to their conversations which can often be absorbing, and they see me more for me than just my blindness, though also not fully.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Maja Francis – “The Last Days Of Dancing”.

Maja Francis is a young Swedish pop singer, and this is a song from her debut album. It’s in some way relatable to me, and I think to many people – not only at my stage of life which Maja Francis had definitely in mind when writing this song, as this is based on her own experiences, but also those who are at any point in life where things are changing in any way and they’re moving on to something different. – Because this song is about changing, or more exactly, not being ready for a change, and for the “last days of dancing” to come, despite you see people around you changing and growing and blooming. But you’re giving in to it anyway yourself as well. I like Maja Francis’ light vocals.

Question of the day (10th September).

Hi guys! πŸ™‚

Here’s another family related question I have for you.

Do you stay in touch with your extended family? If so, how?

My answer:

Not all of them, but my grandparents, most aunts and uncles and some cousins. Our family on both my parents’ sides likes to get together so we see each other at different occasions, like birthdays, name days or such. My social anxiety and other things often make it difficult for me to be around a lot of people for a long time, it’s overwhelming, and, I have to say it, it’s frequently also boring because I don’t really have the close connection between me and my close family, so there’s not much common ground between me and most of them, and sitting at the table for hours and listening to/trying to engage in conversations I don’t really feel a part of or don’t have any real interest in certainly is boring. Eating around many people makes me feel anxious too, and anxiety makes me not hungry at all so it’s stressful if you don’t want to offend someone and eat at least something. And talking to more than like 3 people at once is hard for me, let alone when there are groups of people scattered around the room and each of them talking about their own thing, so I usually feel way more alienated and lonely in such situations than I do when being on my own, and I hate hate hate feeling lonely while being around others, and usually I end up just listening to people and forcing myself to smile all the time. And that’s largely why I often avoid those family gatherings if it’s not necessary for me to be there and if I can avoid them. Also most of us live quite close to each other so we sometimes bump into each other on the street or on similar occasions.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

How big is your family, immediate and extended? Is one parent’s side of the family bigger than the other?

My answer:

I guess my family is pretty big, even my immediate family, for today’s standards. Apparently, families with just 3 children or more are officially recognised as “big” in Poland, and we have something called Big Family Card, which entitles members of big families to discounts on public transport or cultural institutions tickets and such. There is my Dad, Mum, me, my brother Olek and my sis Zofijka, and our cat Misha and dog Jocky, but they must cope somehow without Big Family Cards as they don’t travel at all so I guess that’s why they didn’t get them. As for my extended family, well my Dad has four siblings, and my Mum has three, and only one of my uncles on Dad’s side doesn’t have children, all the rest of their siblings do, so in total, on both my parents’ sides, only their siblings’ children/grandchildren, I have… let’s do some counting, it might take a while……… 23 cousins, if I’m thinking right, 27 if you count their spouses since they’re colloquially called cousins too. I think though that my Dad’s family is bigger overall, as his parents have both had many siblings, my gran had like 10 I guess. Or maybe I just have that impression that there is so many of my Dad’s relatives because I don’t know them quite as well as my Mum’s family. I lived with my Mum’s family for most of my life so naturally I’ve seen lots of her aunts and uncles and cousins and all visiting, if not us, then my grandparents, at least so that I know who’s who in theory, but if I’d meet my Dad’s cousin on the street, I don’t think I’d even recognise them, let alone know what their name is or what exactly is the familial relationship between us or what they do for living. My Dad knows all of them though and where they live and what they do, and all the complex affinities. They tend to have kinda unobvious nicknames that they go by, which adds to the confusion, I mean usually Polish nicknames from names are very obvious, but in my Dad’s extended family’s case, their real full names are often quite different from what they’re called, they have a talent for making up very harshly sounding diminutives and spoiling names that are quite pretty in their original full forms. πŸ˜€ I guess in a way this must be a Kashubian thing, as my Dad is Kashubian. Somehow though, I have an impression that while my Dad’s side is bigger, it consists largely of middle-aged to elderly people, unlike my Mum’s side where there are weddings and births happening relatively frequently all the time and there are children of all ages. But still, despite being smaller, my Mum’s family is big, quite interesting and spread all over the country, and a little bit abroad.

How about your family? πŸ™‚


Maija Vilkkumaa – “MΓ€ En Oo Sun Ainoo” (I’m Not Your Only One).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Time for something Finnish! I’ve been familiar with a lot of Finnish folk and some Finnish rock – at least the classic stuff, some metal and some modern bands like Haloo Helsinki – for quite a few years. But last year I’ve actually got a bit of a craving for Finnish music for a while and wanted to explore more of it. The problem was, it was that unfortunate time when I was without my laptop for a month so it was a little bit difficult to achieve. I managed to find an Internet radiostation though, called Radio Suomipop, where they broadcast almost only music (and ads, loads of them!) and only in Finnish, and only the most recent pop. So I could actually get quite a good glimpse of what was big in Finland at that time. The station was incredibly repetitive as is often the case with such things, but oh well, at least I had my Finnish music, I was fed up with it quite quickly, the best way to get rid of such a craving. Nevertheless, I came across some cool artists thanks to them, or – as was the case with Ms. Vilkkumaa – could hear some of the artists that I did hear about before but never felt like they were my style so hadn’t actually listened to their music at all before. I do like Maija Vilkkumaa, and some others that I thought I wouldn’t, even if I’m not in love with their music.

Maija Vilkkumaa has been well known in Finland since the late 90’s-early 2000’s, and while she can be heard frequently on Suomipop, her music is actually classified as something like poprock. The song I want to show you seems to be her newest one, unless I’ve missed something more recent, and it is this one that I heard at Radio Suomipop last autumn and was hearing approximately every 2 hours. πŸ˜€ But I haven’t listened to Radio Suomipop since then, I much prefer the luxury of choosing it myself what I want to listen to, so I’m no longer fed up with it, and I think it sounds quite nice. I am still wondering if I’m going to show you something from her older repertoire tomorrow or not, we shall see.

The good thing about Finnish language songs, at least those more popular ones, is that they usually seem to have English translation somewhere in the Internet, even if the lyrics are really bizarre, as is often the case with Finnish music and Finnish anything, they seem to like the bizarre and I like Finns for that. πŸ˜€ I wish it was like this with other “rare” languages too. I guess Finnish people also like to understand the lyrics in music more than many other nations, as in 20th century it was apparently a thing for them to create covers of English language hits in their own language, so perhaps they understand that other nations might also want to understand their lyrics. Anyway, thanks to this, I was able to find the translation of this song, so here it is:

 

What country would you be

Argentina for me

What instrument

Theremin

What song

Pistoolisankari

[(Pistol Hero) a song by a Finnish rock band called Dingo]

Which would you give up if you had to

Sex or booze

Oo oo oo but you don’t have to

You say don’t go yet, you don’t have to leave

Nothing’s waiting at home, except for mess and silence

Happy families play Afrikan tΓ€hti

[(Star Of Africa) a Finnish board game)]

Oo oo oo and there is no us

And I know I shouldn’t

I swore I wouldn’t stay

But I am the loneliest in the world

So I pour the glasses full of bubbly wooo

And it’s like a blanket on us

Yeah you always come and you always go and never stay wooo

I’m not your only one but I’m here now

I’m not your only one but I’m here

What film

Matrix

What crime

Well murder

But if you got caught and were in Texas

An electric chair it would be

Wishing for mercy but that would be in vain

Oo oo oo there is no mercy

And somewhere mothers take their children to day-care

One time I always did my best

Not now

Misguide me

And I pour the glasses full of bubbly wooo

And it’s like a blanket on us

Yeah you always come and you always go and never stay wooo

I’m not your only one but I’m here now

I’m not your only one but I’m here

And when I leave

I know that of course

You won’t be calling after me

And in the corner of the street I’m keying your car

But it doesn’t make it easier

So bye

And until the next time

And I pour the glasses full of bubbly wooo

And it’s like a blanket on us

Yeah you always come and you always go and never stay wooo

I’m not your only one but I’m here now

And I pour the glasses full of bubbly wooo

And it’s like a blanket on us

Yeah you always come and you always go and never stay wooo

I’m not your only one but I’m here now

I’m not your only one but I’m here

I’m not your only one but I’m here

Maaike Ouboter – “Wattendag” (Cotton Wool Day).

Hi people! πŸ™‚

I don’t think there’s been much music in Dutch on my blog so far, despite Dutch is one of my favourite languages that I plan on learning at some point. I guess there’s only something by the Flemish singer Hannelore Bedert and perhaps something in Dutch by Cornelis Vreeswijk. But the truth is I don’t listen to much of Dutch language music. Maybe it’s because they do so much of their music in English, I guess more even than Swedes, maybe it’s that I haven’t searched enough, or that perhaps I don’t feel it as much as I do Welsh music for example. But I like this artist. I hardly understand anything from her lyrics beyond some single words or phrases that I can figure out via either English or Swedish or my bits of German, I’m not even perfectly sure if I got the title right, but I like the way her music sounds.

 

Lykke Kristine Moen – “Fordi Eg Elsker Deg” (Because I love You).

Hi! πŸ™‚

Today I have a cover for you. A cover of “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan, only not in English but in Norwegian. Just like there are lots of versions of this song in English, there are also a fair few in Norwegian, as it seems, and I chose the one by Lykke Kristine Moen. Of course the lyrics are slightly different to fit the melody, hence the different title for example, but mostly they make the same sense as the original.

Lucy Ward – “A Stitch In Time”.

Hi guys. πŸ™‚

I have a folk song for you today, there hasn’t been a lot of folk here lately, I guess. It’s from one of my favourite English folk singers – Lucy Ward. – Apart from being a great singer, Lucy also plays several instruments, mainly guitar and concertina. She performs traditional folk songs, as well as her own material. There’s something in her voice I like. I remember not liking her very much when I first heard her years ago, but somehow her music and her voice have grown on me. She is a very expressive singer in my opinion and you can hear her passion for what she’s doing on her albums, and she generally seems a very positive person. I also like the minimalism in her music, as well as the versatility of the topics of her songs. She’s not afraid of singing about death, violence, murders or protest songs but her music can also have a humourous feel. Lucy Ward was the BBC Folk Awards winner in 2009. The song I want to show you, comes from her debut album, called “Adelphi Has To Fly”, which I think is my most favourite album by her. And this song is a perfect example of what I’ve written about her not being afraid to dig in serious topics, since this song is about a woman living with her constantly drunken husband who was abusing her physically, but you can’t say it’s a serious song at all! Quite a clever idea to deal with the alcohol problem in the family, seems like it was successful! πŸ˜€ The song is based on a true story and written by Mike Waterson sometime in the second half of the 20th century.

Working On Us – sleep disorders.

It’s week #13 of Beckie’s mental health prompts series Working On Us at

Beckie’s Mental Mess.

The topic for this week is sleep, insomnia and other sleep disorders. Here are the questions for prompt #1.

 

  1. Have you, or do you suffer from sleep disorders? – I have a lot of sleep issues, which are both related to my mental health difficulties as well as the fact that I don’t see the light so my sleep cycle is just messed up. They change with time. Just as I sleep at different times and my sleep schedule and habits change, so do my sleep related problems. Most of the time I struggle with insomnia more or less. It is my normal to lay in bed for an hour or longer before I fall asleep. Sometimes I wake super early, like 3-5 AM and after going to sleep at about midnight. Luckily it’s not as often as it used to be for me that I have, as I call them “Zombie days” – a day after a night of no sleep at all. – Sometimes my insomnia is clearly due to anxiety or stress and I just overthink everything and worry about every single thing and ruminate, it’s gotten worse recently, but sometimes it’s like my inner clock just isn’t set on sleeping whatsoever and I may even feel a bit hyperactive, playing with Misha at 2 AM and not feeling even slightly tired, and then sleep until noon or so. Then I have times when I sleep a lot, 12-13 hours and usually miss a great chunk of the day as a result. Sometimes it just comes on its own, and then I hate it, because I don’t want to sleep my life through like that, and feel lazy and lousy, plus then it’s usually not the best kind of sleep, filled with bad dreams and such. But sometimes I do that on purpose because I’m so depressed and sleep is way more interesting than the reality. I suppose I might have non 24 hour sleep-wake disorder (what a grossly long name) which is very common among the blind, but I haven’t ever heard about it being diagnosed in Poland so I guess people don’t know much, and while I know there is medication for that in other countries, I couldn’t find the evidence that it is used over here, so I don’t see the point in seeking a diagnosis. I have very vivid dreams, which can be an incredible gift and a really great thing, I love my good vivid dreams, but it can just as well be something close to a curse, because my nasty vivid dreams are super creepy, as if I had a personalised horror movie production studio in my brain, with horrors right just for me. πŸ˜€ I’ve read that there was some Danish study which revealed that apparently blind people have nightmares more often than sighted people do, which would make sense from what I’ve heard from many blind people. If you have vivid dreams things get just a bit more intense. And on top of that I am one of the lucky ones who regularly struggle with sleep paralysis. And that’s probably the biggest sleep related problem for me. There is also my silence anxiety and sounds anxiety involved, which makes sleep often difficult. I won’t get into detailed descriptions of what it is for me but, very shortly, I just don’t do complete silence, so I need to have some quiet music in the background, and Misha, and it always works, but to a very varying degree.
  2. Have you sought treatment for your sleep disorders? – I had a point in my life where I thought I was unable to take this sleep paralysis thing any longer, I was so fed up and constantly scared and I just lost my patience with it. It’s something that I’ve lived my whole life with but suddenly I had that “why me?” crisis. And then I went to the neurologist looking for some help, also because I wasn’t perfectly sure it was sleep paralysis, because some things in it are different for me than they are for most people whose stories I read. She confirmed that and gave me some tips on things that I could do myself to alleviate it, and told me that there’s no medication that would be 100% working for it, but that she could put me on some antidepressant that is said to help with that, though it’s not certain how effective it is and it’s mostly prescribed for people with narcolepsy who additionally suffer from sleep paralysis. Since it’s not clear if it actually works, I said I’d rather try dealing with it without medication first. I was also offered antidepressants by the psychiatrist who diagnosed me with dysthymia but I’m honestly pretty scared of some of the side effects like gaining weight. I’m currently underweight actually and could probably put some on just to stop my Mum’s grumbling and make buying clothes less tricky and look healthier, but I wouldn’t like that to happen because of taking medication. And so far I am managing with just anti-anxiety meds. I’ve learnt over the years some tricks to get out of sleep paralysis or to prevent it, but it doesn’t work all the time. Sooner or later it will always catch me.
  3. Have you ever had a sleep study on you, and if so, what was recommended? – No. I would kind of like have one though, and my Mum says I should, because, in her opinion, my sleep is weird and I should get it checked out if not because of any concerns, then at least out of curiosity. And yeah, it’s interesting, I am curious, though I don’t know if my sleep is objectively that much of a phenomenon, I guess not, my Mum is just very typical. I’ve never had an opportunity though, and I don’t think there is any sleep clinic in the area or anything like that, I don’t know anyone in person who’d have a sleep study done.
  4. Has your doctor prescribed medication for your sleep disorder, if so, what has worked for you? – Not directly for sleep, mostly for anxiety, but that has affected sleep too. I took Hydroxyzine for a while as a child, and then my psychiatrist put me on it again when I was 17 and got the reactive depression diagnosis and told her about the anxiety I was having. I’ve always heard good opinions about Hydroxyzine and that it works well for people, that it’s such a safe medication and all but it wasn’t so for me. It was making me extremely groggy, I would be just switched off and away from the world for hours and hours and hours, the only thing I could do on it was sleeping, and then I would wake up hungover and with a headache. Perhaps it was because I hate being groggy and foggy and not in control and thus my anxiety got worse, but in any case, I really didn’t feel like it was working for my anxiety at all. The only times when I have found Hydroxyzine very helpful, life-saving almost, have been when I felt really depressed, only feeling like sleeping, or very unstable and overwhelmed, like last year after the first of my final exams when I was super triggered I just slept the whole night and most of the day away on Hydroxyzine afterwards, worked the trigger through while sleeping and woke up (almost) a new person, (almost) ready to face another final exam. Hydroxyzine is also an antiemetic, so when my emetophobia is through the roof and for a very sound reason – like a norovirus raging in the house – it helps too. And I don’t mind sleeping norovirus invasions through at all. I still have it and can take it when I need but that’s rarely. I don’t see my psychiatrist regularly, so after some time I went to my GP with my anxiety problems and told him the whole Hydroxyzine and anxiety and messed up sleep story, and he put me on Afobam, which as I heard later from my psychiatrist is more suitable as a sleep med for those people who tend to wake up a lot rather than those who can’t fall asleep, as is more often the case with me, but it works great for me so I’m still on it. The thing is, it’s highly addictive so I am only taking it on as needed basis. That is, when my anxiety is really severe or when I want to regulate my sleep cycle at least for a while or when I just know I won’t sleep and I have to sleep. If I need it for a few days in a row I take only a half of it. That’s not a perfect solution definitely, but at least when I take it, it works. I often do feel groggy after it and sleep for a long time, but I don’t feel hungover like after the Hydroxyzine and it noticeably improves my sleep quality, I wake up refreshed and well-rested most of the time.
  5. Have you ever tried home remedies to alleviate your sleep disorders? – Loads of herbal-based supplements and some other OTC products that worked just as well as candy, melissa tea which apparently is placebo, melissa essential oil which apparently works very well but not for me, smelling lavender which probably didn’t work because my sense of smell doesn’t work too well either haha, CBD oil which I am still trying but with no great results, I guess the concentration is too low or something, I’d like to believe that it works, niacin, which I really tried supplementing and wanted to but as high doses as they say that you should take for mental health were not doable with me because those pills are really big and I have a bit of a trouble swallowing big pills, let alone five or more at a time, and even when I broke them into halves or thirds it was still tricky to swallow such amount of pills in one go, it was crazy. πŸ˜€ I was able to notice some small improvement on it but I just couldn’t continue this way, my life would evolve around swallowing niacin three times a day and dosing it the right way, and then they say for it to work you need to take other stuff too, because it changes the absorption of vitamin C, and the niacin itself is absorbed better with something else. Ugh no thanks, my life is way more interesting without all that, and what if that cocktail wouldn’t work? All my efforts would be wasted! πŸ˜€ Also, I am trying out progesterone cream which also my Mum is using, which has directly nothing to do with sleep obviously but my Mum, being a great lifestyle geek has read loads of material on how helpful progesterone supplementation can be for women and also how much of an effect hormonal imbalance can have on mental health, and my hormones aren’t balanced even just because I have hypopituitarism. My Mum says it works miracles for her, though I guess for her it’s a bit different since she’s going through menopause so that must be rather obvious. I can’t say much on that cream though because I’m only using it since July, and it needs some time to have noticeable effects. What helps me is Misha, listening to music, reading before sleep, doing some visualisation exercises, prayer, having my feet warm – they’re usually cold so I like having hotwater bottle and when it’s cold outside I won’t fall asleep without it ever πŸ˜€ – trying to implement some sleep routine, though for me that’s really really difficult and never stuck for long, I am trying though, so I hope that counts and makes it better than it would be without it. Doing something relaxing always helps, whatever I find relaxing at the time. Oh, I nearly forgot, I also had numerous trials and errors – more of the latter – with melatonin, which at first didn’t work, and then every time I got back to it I had very nasty nightmares every night I was on it. I’ve heard that could be transient, but no one told me how long that transience should last and every time it felt like a bit too long to keep trying and waiting so I don’t think I ever will again. With my sleep paralysis, good sleep hygiene and some sort of a routine/schedule helps. I can’t always have the latter, but what I’ve found helpful is not napping, though I was never an enthusiast of naps at all, they just make more chaos. No napping, and no laying in bed awake in the morning for ages, as I carelessly used to do especially at weekends. Suddenly, after a while I become surprisingly, extremely sleepy again and I don’t even notice when it sucks me in. Also, generally I know I need to avoid such things like waking up and then going back to sleep after a while, because that very often brings sleep paralysis. But I never know how long that while should be, seems like even half an hour break between one sleep and another at night is too much and is risky, so if I want to avoid sleep paralysis I should just get up and start to live. Of course, that’s not always practical, because even if I wake up at night I may still feel like I need more sleep, or will be very tired during the day if I’d just wake up and start my day in the middle of the night, so sometimes I do this, but sometimes I don’t. The neurologist told me that sleeping on your right side helps with sleep paralysis. I laughed at it internally and thought it must be some superstition, the more that I much prefer sleeping on my left side, it’s just comfier and I read about some weird study that has shown that it helps the brain to clear from all that could be potentially toxic while you sleep, and I’m all for keeping my brain healthy. But it makes some sense. Sleeping on my right side, as I’ve noticed so far, won’t prevent sleep paralysis if it’s inevitably going to happen, but it’s less intense and shorter. The worse is when you sleep on your back, and that seems to be the case for most people. I hate sleeping on my back but it used to be the position I laid in when awake most of the time so then it hit me hard, now I try to avoid it if I can.
    1. Β Β  What’s the longest amount of time you went without sleep? – Thankfully only a bit more than 2 days. The good thing about my insomnia and Zombie days that I feel really lucky about is that I don’t have it the way some people do, that I would go on for days without sleep. If I have a Zombie day, it’s awful, but at least it means that at night I will fall asleep like a baby, and, usually, sleep like a log until early morning, and my sleep cycle will reset nicely and will be really decent and in line with my time zone for a while. Unless I am trying to play a hero and by night am so exhausted that my nervous system just gets overloaded and I can’t fall asleep despite you can’t really say I’m fully awake and sane by then.