Question of the day.

Who in your opinion is the most overrated band, singer or musician?

My answer:

Most of mainstream pop that you can hear like on the radio and such is very overrated in my opinion. That doesn’t necessarily mean bad, but I just don’t really get why it’s getting as much attention as it does, and sometimes it does definitely sound genuinely bad. What I’m gonna be saying in this post probably won’t be particularly relatable to people as the singer I’ll be talking about is Polish, but if you really do want to know what I’m talking about or form your opinion you can just look her up or something I guess (just please don’t tell Sofi I wrote this ’cause she’ll kill me 😀 ).

The artist whom I really consider strangely overrated, even though I don’t consider her music bad at all, is Sanah. I guess that was the first thing that popped into my mind as an answer because Sofi really loves her, and yesterday when she was shopping she found a vinyl copy of her album and bought it and was listening to it all day (yes, we do have such an ancient thing as a gramophone 😀 ), and as we are the only people in the house all the time at the moment and so spend a lot of time with each other, I got exposed to quite a dose of her music, and also listened to it many times before with Sofi. She has her own style –
Sanah, not Sofi, I mean Sofi too but that’s another thing 😀 – and that’s what seems to draw her fans as well, and those (from what I have noticed, anyway) recruit mostly from teenage girls who fit in their age group reasonably well, like a lot of the same things that are generally liked in their social circles, care about fitting in more or less, but want to have a sort of feeling that they’re different, deeper maybe. It’s always nice to see artists who do things their own way and have something that sets them apart when most of musicians in the main-streamy world seem like one homogeneous mass where it’s really difficult to distinguish one ingredient from another if you don’t come in active contact with the thing very often. She also certainly can sing, doesn’t use loads of autotune or at least I can’t hear it. Yet, I don’t understand the hype. Not so much her popularity even, because she clearly does something for which there’s a lot of audience with a lot of need for it, but the air of “differentness” around her. Even though she does seem natural-, authentic-looking and has her own way of making music, I don’t think that alone makes her really all that very different. I mean, I know I’ve time-travelled from the middle ages so I don’t know anything, but what sort of freaked up world do we live in that a girl with little to no makeup on and no plastic surgery history is considered aw so different, even if she happens to be a singer? 😀 If she was properly different, she wouldn’t be this popular. My impression (which could well be wrong as I’m only kind of an outside observer and haven’t really spent a lot of time in-depth analysing her or anything) is that a lot of her differentness is just for the sake of being different. Her music is characteristic due to sad lyrics, and she’s very consistent with it, and sad lyrics are often automatically considered different, even though I guess they’re quite trendy now and a lot of people like them. I love sad lyrics too! But what I don’t like is when it makes a sort of shallow impression, like when we’re sad for the sake of being sad, because it’s so cool and so different and so romantic. And so infantile. Again, I could be wrong, but I don’t see anything more to her sadness, anything that would come out of it and make her music richer, therefore while her music is pleasant to listen to, as long as you don’t overdose, it doesn’t really appeal to me in any stronger sense. And so I don’t understand both music people and young people like Sofi claiming that she represents something vastly different than most of the young Polish pop scene. I’m actually kind of surprised that Sofi has been loving her so passionately because Sofi is generally a very happy, smiley girl. While I am mostly neutral about her music in general, my Mum hates it and claims she sounds like Donald Duck, 😀 and that all the other women in the modern Polish-language pop industry sound all very similar to her, as in have similar voices. I definitely don’t see the Donald Duck similarity, even though she is a fair bit nasal, but I do agree on a fair few of Polish pop girls sounding similar to her. Mum assumed that maybe they have the same producers or something, but I think maybe they’re all alter egos of one person?… 😀 Essentially though, to me, Sanah’s like a Polish equivalent of Billie Eilish, except not quite so dark and not “bad”. That comparison came to my mind yesterday as Sofi was blasting her music in the living room, and I shared it with her just as it came to my brain, expecting to be accused of heresy, excomunicated and poisoned because Sofi dislikes Billie very much, but, interestingly, she agreed. 😀

Who is overrated in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s the most difficult thing to define?

My answer:

Just very recently it struck me again how difficult a concept to define is self, and how ideas about what it is may vary depending on loads of things. Another such thing that also got me thinking a while back is consciousness. We talk so much in psychology and even in normal conversations about conscious, subconscious, unconscious, but it seems difficult to clearly define all that. Another such thing is pain, since there are multiple kinds of pains, and even within the same kind of pain everyone will experience it at least somewhat differently, and describe it differently as well, and we don’t even know how different these experiences are one from each other as there’s no objective way of experiencing or even measuring someone’s pain. There are all those adjectives to help describe it, like sharp, dull, pulsating, burning etc. etc. but I guess sometimes they may contribute to the confusion even more so, because what one person would describe as dull, another might not, even if the feeling is more or less the same. Oh, and it’s interesting with love, but not exactly because it’s hard to define in itself, but because so many languages lack words to describe all the different kinds of love you might feel. Like, I don’t get it, all Indoeuropean languages have taken so much from Greek, yet while there are multiple words for different kinds of love in the Ancient Greek language, I don’t know of any other European language that has that sort of distinction. And we were talking with my Mum a while back how it probably contributes to why so many people have trouble with this word and its understanding.

What’s such a thing that comes to your mind? 🙂

Question of the day.

What has no reason to exist in 2021 and yet it does?

My answer:

Inaccessible websites, apps, devices, places, culture, formal procedures etc… I mean, I guess some things will always be inaccessible, even just because there are many groups of people whose needs are conflicting with each other, but at this point, when we do actually talk quite a lot about accessibility and when people seem to have more awareness, and, most importantly, when technology allows to make a LOT of things accessible, I think we should be way further than we are with it. Of course since I myself am blind, I know most about what is lacking in accessibility for blind people, but, after all, accessibility is not just for the disabled, or other minorities like people who don’t speak English. Accessibility is for everyone, as having, for example, a more accessible website, also makes it (or should, ideally, make it) more usable for everyone. So I don’t really understand why it’s such a marginalised thing, especially that, in vast majority of cases, it’s very easy to implement, especially if you begin to think about it right away as you create something, be it a device, an app or a museum, as later on you may need to end up starting everything from scratch. As for accessibility online, I think people often forget about the fact that, generally, the whole western society isn’t getting younger, and even if it did and we’d have more children and youth than elderly people, the elderly would still be here regardless, plus people live longer and longer, and think of all the people who are now 40-50+, most of whom are definitely familiar with the Internet and will certainly want to continue to use it as they get older, ’cause why wouldn’t they, and perhaps even more so because it’s comfy and who sane at the age of 95, with arthritis, varicose veins in their legs and bad vision would care about and risk going all the way to the nearest grocery shop when they can order their groceries online and know how to do it efficiently. Except I’m a bit worried that if the snail-paced development of stuff won’t speed up a little, ordering online might be just as cumbersome for the future’s nonagenarians as doing it in person, because not all devices, apps, websites and services may be accessible for those with hearing loss, low vision, impaired cognition or motor skills. And, as much as for someone like me, who’s lived my whole life with a disability, it’s normal that there are things that I just can’t do or that perhaps in theory I could do somehow but they’re not accessible so I can’t anyway, for a person who loses their abilities as an older adult, I can imagine being gradually or suddenly excluded out of things like that would be hella frustrating. So it’s great that we’re talking about accessibility more than ten years ago, and people like developers are certainly doing more, and I’m sure things will keep improving, and like I said I also do realise that there may always be problems because of the conflicting needs of people, or because for some people it might be plain difficult to make something fully accessible, yet I think the progress here could be and should be faster for this day and age, and also that people should have more of an idea that accessibility is for everyone. Covid speeded some things up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them went back to “normal” as the world goes back to its normal.

What is such a thing that comes to your mind? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s 100% worse when wet?

My answer:

The first thought that popped into my mind was chips/fries. I don’t even understand how people like them with ketchup, especially if they’re softer and less crunchy to begin with. I know some people though, like Olek, who totally bathe their chips in ketchup, and that’s pretty gross imo. 😀 And he doesn’t even mind eating them cold! :O

What’s such a thing in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day.

How would you like to die? 🙂

My answer:

I’ve always thought that I’d like to die while sleeping, but also at the same time that I would know some time in advance that it’ll happen so I can prepare myself accordingly, especially spiritually. I know it happens for some people but I don’t really know how common or likely it is. In any case, I wouldn’t like to live too long, at this point I feel that even if I lived up to like 50 I’d feel dreadfully tired of living by that point. And whether I would die knowing about it in advance or not, I’d like to be prepared for it anyway, so that I could feel satisfied that I’ll be happy in my eternal life and wouldn’t regret too many things.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s your biggest fear?

My answer:

I have such an abundance of fears that it’s hard to say which one is biggest. Social anxiety’s definitely huge, but it depends on a lot of things and sometimes it’s less scary than others, or more manageable anyway, for no apparent reason. Then there’s this thing I call sensory anxiety, which I’ve generally gotten used to live with and it can also vary immensely in intensity, but it can be absolutely creepifying at times. My sensory anxiety is kind of connected with sleep paralysis, so that counts in here too. What’s particularly scary is this sleep paralysis/sensory anxiety “friend” of mine, known as “Ian” on this blog, about whom I wrote a short story on here, but I don’t tell his real name to anyone. He’s extremely scary and I always have a sick conviction at the back of my brain that he’s actually real and that some day I’ll get to experience his realness properly. As for actually recognised specific phobias, out of those that I’ve had emetophobia (fear of vomit) has always been the worst, though it’s not nearly as scary as it used to be for me in the past, most of the time anyway. Another thing that I have a fair bit of fear around is all things neurodegenerative, the possibility that I could end up having a neurodegenerative disease at some point, like Alzheimer’s (well, it doesn’t have to necessarily be a neurodegenerative disease, a TBI would be scary too but neurodegenerative diseases sound like something that’s particularly difficult to have any control over), and lose my brains as a result. My brains are like my fortress or something, so it would be a hopeless situation for me. And while usually it feels like vomit is scarier because it happens to more people and is more likely to happen, plus I’m also scared of it happening to anyone else, not just me, brain damage, of whatever nature, isn’t something that happens to everyone and it doesn’t seem like I’m at a particularly high risk in any way, as there hasn’t been anyone in my family as far as I know with this sort of thing. Yet on the other hand the brain damage stuff has way longer and nastier consequences. So I can’t say which one is scarier.

How about your fear? 🙂

Question of the day.

We really haven’t had any questions in a long time, so let’s get into it! 🙂

Whether you are single or in a relationship, why?

My answer:

I am single, and there are many reasons for that. I think mostly because I’ve just never come across anyone that I’d love and want to be with, as simple as that. 😀 I guess it’s quite weird for many people, but I’ve never been not single, have never dated, have never had sex, and have never even been in love. While that kind of reinforces my feelings of inadequacy since it seems to be vastly different for most people, I’m generally okay with that and don’t feel obliged to try to change it, any time soon, or any time at all, unless it comes naturally. Also I guess I still have quite a fair bit of time for it all happening, if it’s supposed to. My Mum considers herself asexual or something like that, she does have sex (obviously, since she has biological children), but has no physical pleasure out of it and no real need for it, we suspect that must’ve been the case with my grandma who has a giant repulsion towards anything even remotely sex-related, but of course back then no one knew about such a thing as asexuality and I suppose if anyone suggested that to her, even that would repulse her, and I guess this could be the case with me (without my grandma’s repulsion though 😀 ) the more that I was also born with some hormonal issues that often do affect such things. I’m not perfectly sure, because like I said I’ve never had sex so if I did perhaps I’d discover that that’s not the case, and then on the other hand I do consider myself a linguophile because I can get slightly turned on by a language that I love, especially right before sleep, haha, but it’s like I said only a slight thing and not extremely frequent, and generally I have an impression that for most people it takes waaaaay less to stimulate them, to the point where it actually often surprises me how little they need. That being said, of course by never having been in love I also mean romantically, yet I definitely do not think I am aromantic. Regardless of whatever might be the deal with me vs all things romantic and sexual, one thing I do know is that all that involves a lot of intimacy, and intimacy is scary as hell for me, whether it’s emotional or touchy-feely.

Another thing is that, aside from me having never found anyone I’d like to be with, I’ve never been aware of anyone who’d like to be with me. 😀 Which is fine as otherwise I guess I’d feel quite hemmed, even if he weren’t pressuring me or anything.

And then there’s also that I really don’t think I’m cut out for relationships anyway. I am very individualistic and, partly due to that, partly due to some experiences I’ve had, I still have a bit of an aversion to even mere words like together(ness) or common. I don’t like compromises, I don’t even know how to do them. If someone wants me to make a compromise with them I’ll usually either keep going my way or turn in the totally opposite direction where they want to go and go right after them. Same as I never knew and never liked to cooperate with people at school at all sorts of projects and stuff. If I knew that people at my group were either rather passive/submissive by nature or simply not good at the subject, I’d do everything for everyone as that was easier and faster than explaining and discussing everything, and I didn’t have much patience for that, plus they were happy, or if there was someone who I knew that they had it all together more than I did and had more of a personality, or a few such people, then I would barely do anything, I just don’t really know how to be in the middle with such things. 😀 Besides, like I said intimacy scares me and how usually people in relationship expect each other to be open. I know and have heard of couples where one person is pretty self-sufficient emotionally, and likes to have a bit of their own space, but the other not so much, and so this other person wants them to do everything together. It would suck if that would be the case with me and my potential husband, especially if we wouldn’t share a lot of hobbies to begin with. And I have a bad feeling, based on a lot of different little things, that if I went into it, I have all the necessary traits and more to end up with someone toxic, or maybe not properly, inherently toxic like narcissistic or something, but perhaps somehow difficult or damaged or something, which, since I have a very particular brain too, could end up making both of us intoxicate each other quite badly. I’m absolutely happy having difficult, weird, complex friends who have had a lot to deal with, but being such a person yourself and having to deal with another such person’s brain 24/7, seven days a week… I’m not this heroic. Also my last therapist, who for some reason was adamant that I need to be in a relationship (perhaps because she was psychodynamic and they’re obsessed with sexuality so she couldn’t help me if I had no sex life 😀 ) was very encouraging and told me that people “like me” usually have toxic relationships. A lot of her words and opinions couldn’t be taken seriously, but I feel she could be pretty right about that.

Then there are the little big things like that I am Christian, more exactly a (traditional) Catholic, and some stuff that is important for me is less and less important for other people, like such a trivial thing as actually marrying properly and not just going steady or however people call that in English. On the other hand, I don’t want to (and possibly cannot, due to the pituitary stuff) have kids, which on the other hand is usually what people with values similar to mine definitely do want.

Speaking of kids, I would be worried that I wouldn’t have much to offer the potential guy in question. I mean yeah, I have a lot of brains to choose from, people usually consider me interesting or fascinating or something like that, and judging from everything I seem to be considered a good listener, I am empathetic and I think I have a, weird sometimes, but still good for some, sense of humour, I seem to have the sort of shape that apparently appeals to males the most, being skinny and curvy and have reasonable looks, but generally, that’s about it. I can’t do a lot of practical things, I can’t cook, I can’t do a lot of other household stuff or can’t do it well, I don’t want to/can’t have kids, I don’t want to have sex, I can’t drive, I can’t get around outside by myself, I only have a part-time job with a minimal wage which will be over as soon as my Dad retires, I don’t do people… Yeah sure, there are interabled couples, but from what I observe, usually the disabled person is more autonomous than myself. Also when it comes to visually impaired/blind people, I’ve seen research claiming that there is a lot more couples where there is a sighted girl and a visually impaired guy than the other way around, which makes sense and is reflected among people I know. So, I just don’t see it (pun quite obviously intended). I could still be with someone blind, but I don’t want to for several reasons, plus I’ve spent ten years in a blind school where naturally a lot of people were dating at some point, and none seemed interested in me either, unless in the role of a relationship counsellor. 😀 Which is, actually, quite interesting, because a weird amount of people comes to me with their relationship woes, as if I had any idea about that. But I try to help as best I can. Maybe it’s actually exactly this that brings them to me, that I have like an outside perspective or something. Anyway, even if there was someone who would accept the downsides and want to be with me, I, knowing myself, would probably still have a problem feeling inferior in such an unbalanced relationship, unless I’d feel that there is some field(s) in which I could compensate adequately.

So, all in all, while the unquenchable Aquarius in me is definitely curious what it could be like being not single for a change, I don’t really feel like I actually do want to change it in practice.

Oh, and yet another reason! Dating sounds freakishly stressful from what I hear. I’d probably have to sleep two days in a row to recharge afterwards.

So how’s it with you, and, more importantly, why? 🙂

Today, I…

Recently, I came across this simple, mini prompt in the PaperBlanks app, and so I thought I’d share with you what I am doing, thinking, feeling etc. today.

Today I… feel really tired and sluggish. My sleep has been fairly weird lately, lately meaning a couple weeks, I think. It’s like as soon as it’s night time, my brain suddenly gets a kick of energy and I just can’t settle myself down for sleep, whatever I do. I had a proper zombie day on Friday, having not slept for the whole night, then the next night I crashed as is usually the case with me after a zombie night and so got a lot of good sleep, but my sleep system didn’t reset, for some reason, as it normally does after a zombie day. Today it was back to where it was. Well, except that I actually did feel rather tired and in need of sleep this time around, but was at the same time kind of wired or something and it just wasn’t happening. Since I had to get up at 8 AM, I’ve only got like 3 hours of sleep and my brain’s not impressed. I generally don’t like taking my anti-anxiety medication for sleep even though it does work, but if this keeps up I’ll just have to resort to it for a while, I guess. Since I guess Jack the Ripper is about to visit any time, PMS coupled with little sleep means I’m having a rather shitty day mood-wise.

Today, I am finishing a sort of prayer challenge or whatever it could be called, that I’ve set myself. I promised God and myself that I’ll be praying for three weeks in July, until this Sunday, for someone that I sort of know and am rather concerned about, even though I don’t know him very well. He seems to be dealing with a lot of yucky stuff, multiple addictions being one of those things, and many years ago I’ve decided that I am always going to pay particular attention and have special dedication in my spiritual life to those people that I know or have come in contact with, with whom it seems unlikely that anyone prays for them, or at least not consistently and seriously, despite it seems that they might need it particularly much. I’ve learnt it well in my life that God loves creating what we’d usually call coincidences, and so this time, when I got into it I learned that July is actually considered a month of prayer for people who struggle with addictions. At the same time, addiction is a sort of… hmm, hot topic in my family currently, and my Mum is also praying for someone who has this problem who is our family member, so I felt a bit stronger having company and support like that, especially that my Mum really has been my best spiritual director and always has the strange talent to say or point me towards something that is exactly what my soul seems to need at a specific time. This whole challenge thing has been rather difficult, with a lot of ups and downs, and I wasn’t even sure if I was seriously going to stick to it, I mean, I really wanted to, but some part of me didn’t think I could manage with all that praying, IFing etc. for long. I also often had thoughts that I don’t believe strongly enough in that God could actually do for me what I was asking Him for, because from a human perspective, a dramatic change for the better in this person’s life doesn’t seem very likely and is even hard to imagine. But I tried my best to believe as strongly as I could, and even though I always experience a lot of hurdles with praying, in that I find it difficult to actually concentrate on it properly, I have a feeling that, while I don’t know if I could have put more effort into it, I’ve put a lot more of it than I thought I even could. I am so hopeful for some better, fuller, more valuable life for this person, whatever God considers that to mean in practice for this guy. Pretty much exactly at the time when I took up this little challenge, I also learned about a 30 day Gospel challenge that is a thing now on Hallow (a Catholic prayer/meditation app that I sometimes use). The goal is to read 2-3 chapters of a Gospel every day, so that we’ll be finished with all four Gospels in 30 days. And while I thought it wasn’t for me at first, because I’d never be able to stick to it, and because I’ve always been somehow apprehensive of reading the Bible in English mostly because then I tend to focus on the language more, haha, eventually I figured that the timing of this is very telling, and that I probably should take this up too. I have previously read all four Gospels chapter by chapter several times, as well as the whole Bible, but I initially thought it would be challenging to stick to it every single day and finish exactly in thirty days. But so far it’s going extremely well and I’m actually very surprised! It’s day 14 and I’ve never missed a day. The linguophile in me also manages to keep reasonably quiet, and I feel like I’m more actually engaged into it than I was all those times before, when, despite being Christian, I’d always read the Bible more like I would any other great work of literature, more intellectually than anything else. It is rather difficult for me to just sit down and listen to the Gospel for 20 minutes without doing much else in the meantime, I usually do several things at once and it feels more natural, but at the same time it feels weird to be listening to the Bible while doing something else very trivial in the meantime and give God only part of my attention. So this has been an interesting time in this respect and I’d never have expected it.

Today, I am a little anxious about living practically on my own for the next two weeks. You might recall that in one of my recent posts I was saying that I’m going for a trip into the mountains with my family on Friday/Saturday. The Friday/Saturday eventually was postponed until this coming Tuesday, because my Dad’s leave was postponed until then. Then Sofi decided that she’d like to take our cousin along, as she thought she’d be rather bored otherwise. As I’ve said, I’ve been feeling a bit off recently, very crampy and with rather little energy, and am pretty sure Jack the Ripper’s coming any time, and I started to feel kind of doubtful whether going for that trip is a good idea in my current hormonal and brainstate. So, as our camper isn’t very huge, I thought that was a good enough reason not to go, ’cause our cousin could go in my place. And so that’s what going to happen. Olek is also going to stay, as he always does, since he has work and stuff to do, but he’s out most of the day, so it’ll be mostly me and Mishmish. Which is fabulous, but, like I said, I’m a bit worried. I’ve never really lived on my own for this long, and, while Olek will be here in the evenings and he’ll also bring dinners for us both, so that at least I won’t have to deal with any delivery people or anything like that every day, I’m kind of scared, like, what if something goes wrong? I don’t even know what… anything could go wrong. From Misha choking, to Olek forgetting to clean his litter box, to me letting him slip out accidentally, or having some sort of an accident and doing something to myself, like in the kitchen or whatever, as usually if I do something in the kitchen Mum supervises me more or less, to needing an “eye” to help me with something asap, to having a bad sensory anxiety flare in which case I really don’t cope well with being totally alone. My sensory anxiety has actually been pretty bad this week, and it’s the sort of thing that is extremely easy to set off or exacerbated by thinking about it, more than any other anxiety that I have, so in a way that feels kind of unavoidable, especially if we consider my shitty sleep lately. Still, an equally big part of me is really looking forward to this, and, if things go reasonably well, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for Misha and me to be pretty much only by ourselves for so long.

Today I am very glad that Misha has been with me all day so far, and not hiding under the bed or anything like that, but properly laying in his own bed, and he’s very cuddly. I hope this state of things won’t change soon and he’ll be like that once my family leaves for the trip.

What has been your day today like? 🙂

Ask me anything about blindness.

I had this fleeting but reoccurring thought for quite some time already, to make a post where I’d give people an opportunity to ask questions about all sorts of things to do with what it’s like to be blind. My Mum and some of my penfriends also strongly encouraged me to do this, but I’ve always felt like I’m not really the best person to do such a thing. I felt that if I was to answer such questions, then I would be kind of representing the whole big community of blind people, and I am not really a very typical representative of it, or at least not in all aspects, so I was afraid that it could be potentially harmful to the community at large if people were to consider my answers something of a general standard for blind people, or that in order not to be harmful, I’d have to constantly explain in which ways am I different and try to answer the questions from as broad a perspective as possible, rather than just my own, which I feared I wouldn’t always be able to do in a competent way. For example, I don’t live on my own, but there are a lot of blind people who do, and I was afraid that by hearing that I do not, people are going to assume that no blind people do and that they cannot.

But I guess that over these almost four years that I’ve had this blog, I’ve finally realised that I have no obligation to represent the blind community if I don’t feel like it, just because I am part of it. I can just represent myself as an individual. If I don’t believe that all sighted folks like K-pop just because Sofi does, why should sighted people believe that all blind people read Braille based solely on the fact that I do? I think I must have gotten the idea from school, where one of our staff told us that we need to be able to eat with knife and fork so that sighted people won’t think that all blind people are not able to eat this way. 😀

In general, I see that people tend to be either very in-your-face or very fearful of asking disabled people and their families any questions pertaining to the disability. As much as the in-your-face attitude is bad, because I don’t live to answer people’s questions and I may choose not to (not because they hurt my feelings or anything but just because I don’t have to, and even if disability isn’t a sensitive topic for me, it’s still generally quite personal), the fearful attitude, though very often coming from good intentions of not wanting to offend someone, is just as bad because the brain doesn’t like emptiness, so in place of the unanswered questions you create your own conclusions, which might be incorrect, or even quite harmful.

So that is why, in the end, I decided to do this. Perhaps you’re a regular reader and you’ve always wanted to know something but were afraid to ask or simply had no opportunity to do so. Or you’re a total newbie here and just want to know what it’s like being blind. That’s what this post is for. Ask me your questions in the comments and I’ll reply there, or if any questions will require some particularly detailed answer or I decide it could be interesting to expand on I might do a separate post on it.

As I said, I’m not going to be answering collectively as a blind people’s spokesperson or anything, but rather from my own perspective, so what you’ll be getting here is simply one Bibiel’s personal experience. Some bits of my blindness experience may be the same for the majority of blind people, others not necessarily. Still, I know a fair bit about blindness and a lot of blind or visually impaired people, so if you have a more general question I’ll also try to answer it as best I can, even if it may not always be exhaustive. As I’m blind since birth, I’m really not easily offended or hurt when it comes to blindness questions, as I have no idea what it’s like to see, haven’t lost my sight in any traumatic circumstances, and therefore I have a distance to it.

Oh, and I’m going for a summer trip on Friday/Saturday for at least a week, so if you ask me anything during that time you might need to wait some time for a reply, as I’ve no idea if I’ll be able to reply on the go and how regularly.

If we were having coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare

Wow, it feels like I really haven’t done a longer post in a long time. I mean, I published the mini series about emetophobia quite recently, but writing that took me a REALLY long time, a good few months, so that’s probably why it feels so to me, and this is also largely why I haven’t been posting anything longer lately, as I wanted to be done with those vomit posts. 😀

Anyway, I love coffee shares, so thought I’d join

#WeekendCoffeeShare

today. Thanks so much to Natalie for hosting the link-up. 🙂

There’s not a whole lot going on here at the moment, but there are still things that I feel are worth mentioning and filling y’all in on. But first off, let’s get ourselves some drinks, and maybe something more than just a drink. As you may or may not know, I used to be an avid coffee drinker but can no longer drink it quite so carelessly as it seems, however, my Mum was grocery shopping yesterday and she bought loads of iced coffee as both Sofi and me love it a lot, so I’m just having a cup of it right now and it’s delicious. Iced coffee like this one is okay with my brain though, as it’s very weak, which I’m fine with for an iced coffee, but not when it comes to regular, black coffee. Plus I’m having a low-key day and decent anxiety levels so even if it will end up screwing me up a little it wouldn’t be a big deal. So I can make you a cup of this too, if you wish. Otherwise, we have black coffee (also a Swedish whole beans coffee that is actually my Mum’s but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind coffee sharing), loads of different teas, cocoa, and I guess there’s also some orange juice left. We also happen to have loads and loads of Swedish yummilicious candy and other goodies, so there’s lots of good stuff to share. So essentially we can say we’re actually having a proper fika (that’s very basically how you call a coffee break in Sweden, that you take together with friends or colleagues, where you have something small to eat to go with it, just a way of socialising). But how come we suddenly have so much Swedish food around here? Well, come fika with me and you’ll find out. 🙂 Oh, wait, there are also muffins! These are Polish, but I’m sure they’ll work for fika perfectly, if you’d like one.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask each of you how you’ve been doing…?

If we were having coffee, I would fill you in on what’s currently going on with Misha. Misha, as many of you will know, is a very adventurous type, and despite being an exclusively in-door cat, he still has high hopes of conquering the great outdoors someday, and never misses a chance to try and make it happen. If he somehow manages to escape, he’ll then cry his poor little heart out for days or weeks to come because he wants out again. Sometimes we’ll let him out just to make him happy, because we know that this is what he loves the most, but we regret it almost as soon as we do it, because of that endless crying that we all find both excruciatingly annoying and heartbreaking. A couple weeks ago, somehow it had become more difficult than usual to keep Misha outdoors. There were several instances of him sneaking out so that no one even knew when that happened, and we seemed to have little control over it. What surprised us though was that Misha always came back without having to be made to do so, and never left our backyard, which is quite huge so definitely enough for him. That was interesting, as previously, whenever someone would take him out for a little while, it would be really difficult to get him to go back home and he’d run away and could be rather unpredictable. After each of those escapades the crying was even worse, so at some point my Mum decided that, actually, if he’s always been coming back from his adventures so far, we could take the risk and let him go wherever he wants. Misha was very happy, he sniffed the flowers, laid in the sun on the grass, and walked around like a lord examining his property, with Jocky jumping behind him like his faithful servant. As always, he got all magpies agitated and they yelled at him as loud as they could, but he didn’t even bother. That was again a surprise, because normally when we go out with him, he’s a lot more fearful and makes an impression like he’s quite overwhelmed with all the sounds and movements, whereas now he was very majestically placid. Once he even fell asleep on the grass. And then he came back, and slept through the rest of the day, probably totally exhausted with all the stimuli. When he’d wake up, he’d cry again, so we’d let him out, and the whole cycle would repeat. Only, what was quite easy to predict, each time Misha would go further and further. He would still stick to the backyard, but was becoming more and more courageous by the day, and took longer and longer every day to come back. Meanwhile, at home he would only sleep, and very soundly so. If he wasn’t asleep and wasn’t outside, he would cry, louder than before. Finally one such day Misha just spent the whole day outside, and couldn’t be seen from any window, so Mum went out to get him back. The problem was that he flat out refused to go anywhere with her and wanted to run away, but somehow she managed to catch him.

From then on, we became rather apprehensive of letting him out. As a result, we were constantly tortured by his wailing. Day and night. Sometimes the sounds he would make would be so mournful and pitiful that you could cry with him, while at other times it sounded very deliberately rude, annoyed, or plain manipulative. It never ceases to impress me how he can convey such an extremely wide range of emotions with what could seem as just one, wailing sound. My Dad started to threaten that he’s going to kill him someday, Sofi would yell at him if he came near her even if he wasn’t crying, because she was so fed up with him, Mum started to close him in the laundry room for the night, where he likes to be and where we’d hear him a bit less, and I was reluctant to have him in my room, as the only reason for which he seemed to come in here was to keep wailing. Yet we all felt very sorry for him and wanted to help him somehow. Letting him be outside just didn’t seem like the right way to help long-term, and we were short of any other ideas.

Mum and me, however, had been considering for quite a long time to take him to a cat behaviourist to talk about some of his problems, like the constant grooming. So finally it seemed like the time was more than right. Mum already went to that behaviourist with Misha and Sasha (the little kitten we had for a while with whom, or should I say due to whom, we had some problems), and he was very helpful and insightful. So I guess both of us were hoping for something similar this time around. Some insight, about what we might be doing wrong, and what we should do etc… Maybe he would help us understand this little Mish brain a little better.

Yet he didn’t offer us anyy insight. Looking at it in perspective, I don’t really know what he could say and this really doesn’t seem like the sort of thing where talking would help a lot. He simply concluded that there are two ways for Misha to live. One option is that we make a compromise and let Misha go in and out precisely as he pleases. But this isn’t really an option, even by his – the vet’s – standards, as obviously Misha is totally inexperienced when it comes to the outdoor life, while on the other hand he is used to sleeping on and in beds, or wherever he fancies, and it would be difficult and quite cruel to now tell him that he cannot do this anymore and I’m not quite sure how we’d go about making him adhere to this rule. And our house would get real filthy in no time, my pedantic Mum wouldn’t survive that. So there’s just the second option left, that is medication. So what we were ultimately offered was a supply of Prozac, which Misha was to take half a pill daily and he told us to come back in two weeks for a follow-up.

I really didn’t like the idea on so many levels but… what else can you do? As expected, Misha’s appetite worsened a lot, so I had to stock up on his favourite foods so that he’d eat anything. He also became really drowsy, which I didn’t realise was a thing with Prozac nor did the behaviourist tell us that it was possible. Like, he slept ALL the time! He’d hardly wake up to eat or pee. He was also very apathetic. In the short moments between his sleeps, I sometimes picked him up and cuddled. He doesn’t always love to be picked up, but now it was like he didn’t care either way. He didn’t object or tense up as he does when he’s not in the cuddly mood, but neither was he cuddly and affectionate, he would just lay in my arms completely still. But I thought, oh well, his body probably must just get used to it.

But things just continued like that, with no change at all. Both Mum and me tried to give him his favourite foods, both where regular meals and snacks were concerned, but a lot of food just went to waste because he’d just take a bite and would no longer be interested in it. Giving him the pills, which is never an easy thing, was becoming harder every day as he would protest against it more every day, it’s really unpleasant for everyone involved to give him any kind of medication. One day he threw it up almost straight after Mum managed to get him to swallow it. When Misha slept like that all the time, he would never slept cosily as usual, on a bed or in his own bed, or in some other comfy place. Instead he’d usually hide under a bed and clearly didn’t want anyone to see him. One of those days, when he was sleeping under Mum’s bed, she took a peek down there and found him lying there still but his eyes were actually wide open, plus his pupils were still very dilated so apparently it looked quite creepy. The next day Sofi told me the same thing, very surprised, that he’s not sleeping but simply laying like that all the time.

We didn’t go full two weeks, but as the situation wasn’t any better after over a week, I got really frustrated and decided that I don’t want a zombie here, I want my Misha back. I’d rather have him cry twice as loudly and obnoxiously than be just an empty shell of himself. I’m not sure he’s happy with this kind of existence either. Mum told me she was afraid that one day she’d just find him laying somewhere dead. So we wanted to go back to the behaviourist earlier and tell him that yeah, it solved the problem, but now we have no cat. Like, I literally haven’t seen him for a week as he was in that comatous state, even though on a few of these days he actually laid under my bed. There was also no “Hhrrru?”ing, no purrs, no nothing. But since we are now kind of afraid of testing other drugs on our Mishball, in the end Mum simply stopped giving him the Prozac and he isn’t taking anything else instead. He has almost fully recovered by now. Surprisingly, the crying’s not that bad at all either. He does cry a little bit, especially when he sees someone going out, but he also did cry a little bit during his waking minutes on the Prozac, and he’s been crying ever since he’s been with us. But it’s not the same, desperate kind of crying and he isn’t so quick to go out as he was for a couple months prior to this. We decided that we’ll only try some new medication if things go really bad again. Misha is also a little more sociable now, of course within his norm, which is so delightful. It’s really sad that there doesn’t seem to be any good way of lessening his distress.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that we’ve had quite a heatwave lately. The last two days have been a bit cooler, but I’m not expecting this to be the case for very long. It’s also very humid, especially that we live by the river, it’s like even the walls are sweating. 😀 I’m just so very grateful for finally having the AC in my room, as it makes it noticeably easier to function.

If we were having coffee, I’d finally share about where I’ve got all these Swedish sweets from. When Sofi had her birthday in May, I shared with my Swedish penfriend that I ordered a package from Scrummy for Sofi and me. Scrummy is a Polish online shop selling all sorts of sweets, snacks, drinks, instant desserts and what not from other countries, I believe mainly from Asia. And she kindly suggested that she could send us some Swedish ones to test. I had some Swedish candy in Stockholm and also in Ikea, but I still felt rather inexperienced in the matter, and I thought Sofi would be particularly happy, so I jumped at the chance and offered that we could do an exchange and we could send her some Polish sweets as well. When I later told my Mum about it, she asked if my penfriend could send her “that delicious coffee from Sweden”. She drank some whole beans coffee that she considered really great at the hotel where we stayed in Stockholm, but didn’t know the name of it, unfortunately, so I just asked my penfriend if she could find some whole beans, low acidity and high intensity coffee, because these are the sort of coffees my Mum likes. Our post office is really snail-paced with packages both from and to other countries, so it took almost a month to arrive, but we finally got it on Thursday, yay! 🙂 Since we were only talking about “testing”, rather than gluttonising hehe, we were really surprised that it was so huge, even for the two of us, so you can imagine we were really excited! 😀 I actually never got to it any licorice candy in Stockholm, and was always curious if I’d like it or not. Turns out that not really, and Sofi isn’t a fan of it either, but it was very interesting to finally try it. And my Dad, true to his alleged Nordic roots (which as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before I personally don’t really believe are truly Nordic, that’s what my cousins say though) discovered that he really does like it. I’m very curious if he’ll like the salty one as well.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee, or fika, for that matter? 🙂

 

How do I calm down my emetophobia? (part 2) Coping strategies.

See part 1 here.

This is the part 2 of my mini series about emetophobia. In this part, I want to put together some tips, tricks and ideas that work for me or that I know of for people who also struggle with this phobia. For the sake of people who have a strong fear around the associated words, unlike in the first part, I will be replacing any trigger words with only their first letters. The section dealing with exposure may be more or less triggering for some.

   Mindset

One thing, perhaps not the healthiest out there, that has helped me a lot ever since I’ve become aware of this mechanism is the understanding that, seriously, people with emetophobia are less likely, at least on average, to v* than people who don’t have this fear. Part of this may be all sorts of things we do to prevent it, and that many of us simply aren’t all that prone to it, but what I think plays a greater role is that we’re often too stressed and blocked for v* to occur. I think this is a good thing to keep in mind, and very comforting, even though there’s always some chance of it happening. On a similar note, there are people, emetophobic and not, who only v* once in their lifetime, or maybe never at all. Now, imagine you’re one of these people, that you never v*ed for your entire life since the last time you actually did, and imagine that you’re nearing the end of your life, and you’ve been given some crystal ball or a mind superpower, thanks to which you can, reflecting back on your life, see it from different angles, what would happen if you did X or didn’t do Y. And one thing you learn about your life is that, with or without all your efforts, you weren’t meant to v* anymore in your life anyway. Wouldn’t you feel pity for missing out on all the yummy foods you never ate, all the journeys you didn’t take etc. despite deep down you really wanted to, just to avoid something that would never happen regardless of your actions, and that your efforts were essentially meaningless? Of course, we know that most people do v*, so looking at things this way won’t make anyone with emetophobia stop avoiding v*, but I think it’s an interesting perspective to put it in.

   Coping with crisis

   Evaluating how you’re feeling

Something that helps me not to panic right away when something triggers my emetophobia is to focus on how exactly I am actually feeling, to determine whether what I’m feeling is truly physical, or is it just my anxiety. N* is my primary anxiety symptom so sometimes it’s difficult, but I’m getting better at it every time. Basically, when I start feeling n*, or anything else that I think could potentially lead to v* and feel distressed about it, I try to establish how bad it is. You can try asking yourself questions like the ones below and see if you can answer them at all, which I guess won’t necessarily be easy at every severity stage of emetophobia, and if you can answer them, perhaps the answers will help to reassure you. For me, that’s most often the case.

  • Are you able to function normally the way you’re feeling now, or would you rather just lay in bed?
  • How about things that you normally enjoy, are you able to do them now with the way you’re feeling or are you feeling too s*? I think it’s important to differentiate here between feeling too * and not being focused on anything else than the way you’re feeling and that it might lead to v*, which also can make it difficult to enjoy anything.
  • What exactly makes you think it may end up with v*? For me personally, n* alone, unless it’s really intense, isn’t a valid argument, because like I said I experience it a lot due to anxiety and n* itself never made me v*.
  • Totally hypothetically, would you be able to eat something, and what could it be? By being able I mean physically, not whether your emetophobic brain thinks it’s safe to do it or not, but, like, what’s your reaction when you think about food? If you had it guaranteed that, regardless how bad you’re feeling and what you’ll choose to eat, you will not v* after eating, would there be something you’d actually like to eat right now? Or does thinking about any food make you feel worse and eating is the last thing you want to do? Or maybe you’re actually hungry but your brain doesn’t want you to know? People could have n* when they’re very hungry or have low blood sugar, maybe it’s the case with you?

Distraction

Then the next key thing in my opinion is effective distraction. I know, it’s fiendishly difficult when you’re feeling anxious, so it’s good to have some sort of distraction toolbox prepared beforehand, so that you don’t have to frantically come up with ways to calm yourself down and distract while already in the grip of emetophobia. Read something interesting. Watch your favourite series. Go for a walk if you’re feeling well enough, play a game. Talk to someone, preferably not about your fears as that won’t really distract you, unless you clearly feel that that’s what you need to talk about. Personally I don’t like talking to people about my emetophobia too much at the time when it’s really bad, because it only makes me feel worse and sort of like that if it’s so bad that I need to talk about it to someone, it must be really bad. I only talk to people about it when I absolutely can’t cope. Otherwise, I think it’s a lot better to just chat about something as far from it as possible that will engage your brain or make you laugh, just shift your emotions from hyperfocusing on all things n* and v*. Listen to music. Or engage in any other activity that you find interesting, but also sufficiently emotionally involving, so that there’s no space left for the anxiety. I find that what works best for me specifically is some intellectual activity that requires focusing a lot, or sometimes listening to other people and whatever problems they might be having, unless things are too rubbish and I just can’t focus. Lite and rather passive activities like reading hardly ever work.

Breathing

That’s quite crucially important imo. I’m shitty with it, it’s really difficult, but breathing properly really makes a difference with anxiety, it’s not just a cliche. Breathing also comes in very handy when things totally spiral out of control and you’re about to v*. When you breathe deeply through your nose, chances are you can make the feeling go away. It’s also definitely a good thing to find some relaxation technique that you like and that works for you. I find mindfulness not very helpful with this specific kind of fear because, really, focusing on your sensations is the last thing you want to do when your emetophobia gets triggered. 😀 What I like a lot is some kind of imageries, visualisations, and, even more so, grounding exercises. I don’t know if grounding can work for everyone, probably part of why it works for me is because it can sometimes help me more or less with dizziness, and dizziness triggers my emetophobia. Have something, or someone, that you find comforting close to you, like your pet or your favourite fluffy blanket, or your safe person, or some object you have a strong connection to, whatever works. I like to have Misha around in such situations, listen to his breath and heartbeat, feel his fur, it’s really calming.

Exposure and trying to overcome your fear

When you have managed to get through the crisis safely and are no longer triggered, you might think about how to reduce or completely get rid of this fear. I think this is very comforting news that it so often seems to diminish over time as people age. That does seem to be the case with me, although other things have come into play. Exposure therapy can be a great thing, if you’re brave enough. I know a couple people who have managed to overcome emetophobia with great success largely thanks to it. I perfectly realise though that it sounds very scary to many people and it takes guts (hehe) to make such a decision, and many of us don’t have enough of them for that. I, for one, did not. I had some experience with it with my first therapist, who was mostly CBT but also used other modalities a lot, and she encouraged me that we could try it with one of my anxieties, not emetophobia-related). After some initial fears and hesitation and with a lot of reassurance on her part I courageously decided I’ll give it a go, as I was actually very curious what’s at the core of it and why that thing scared me as badly as it did, and still does. But unfortunately we didn’t even go through it fully because there was just one mini thing that didn’t go quite the way it was supposed to, which resulted in my fear getting worse and me not wanting to hear about exposure therapy ever again, and I still feel the same way about it.

Still, even those of us who don’t like the idea of exposure therapy can do some mini exposure by ourselves as much as it’s possible, and slowly, gradually go out of our comfort zone. Can you think of something that you CAN handle about v*? It may be still scary and/or uncomfortable, but doesn’t scare you quite as badly as other aspects of v*. For example such thing for me is the words relating to the v*. Yes, they ARE scary, they are gross, and when I’m feeling very unwell mentally they can trigger me, but usually I can handle hearing them quite well with minor or sometimes no distress at all, unlike v*ing myself or hearing someone do it or reading some graphic descriptions or eating something that is very very risky.

So, if you’re like me, you could try and expose yourself at least to these words a bit more, so that they feel even less scary. Say them out loud, think about them, or write them on a piece of paper, or read in a book, as long as they don’t appear in any graphic scene, unless you feel brave enough for this then sure, why not. I remember once reading an article somewhere about emetophobia and there was a suggestion, mostly geared at children, I think, that I really liked, about how you can try to deal with fear of the words. Take some well-known song, or even just its title, or a book title, or a film title, a nursery rhyme, a saying, whatever simple thing like that, and replace one word in it with v*, so that it’ll sound funny or weird or just silly and meaningless, or gross. Like: “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of v*”. I believe this technique is called reciprocal inhibition, where you try to replace one feeling with another. And so while it might still scare you at first, at some point humour will likely win and you’ll be less scared. Also it’s just meant to show you that these are just words and can’t harm you as such, and it’s a way of familiarising yourself with them and desensitising your brain to them. I have done things like that and, while I still consider these words grosser and more unpleasant than an average person, and still they can mess things up if I’m not feeling well, but generally they are nowhere near such a big deal as they used to be.

Or if you are scared of v*ing yourself, but less so of other people doing so, you could watch a movie where someone does it. Or if human v* is too scary, do what I did and get yourself a cat, they have such sensitive digestive systems that most of them v* very regularly and at this point I don’t find it as extremely disturbing as I did at the beginning, especially that Misha takes great care to always do it in my room and makes sure that I get my dose of exposure.

When you’re feeling relatively stable overall, you could try and eat something that you particularly liked and miss from your unsafe food items list, even just a very small amount. And then, if you feel okay afterwards, try to eat more of it. And then another product. And so on and so forth. It’s an extremely gratifying feeling whenever you manage to succeed at that and realise this product no longer needs to be considered unsafe. Especially that a lot of things that we cross out, we actually like to eat. My most recent achievement in this field is from about half a year ago when I started to eat waffles again. I don’t even remember now how they ended up on my no-no list. You could also try eating out if you struggle with this, even just a very small meal at first.

Daily life coping strategies

But exposing ourselves to things won’t always eliminate the fear entirely, therefore I feel it’s important to have your strategies as for how to deal with things on a daily basis, to make life easier and less scary.

I recently had a thought that it’s a bit of a pity that we have all those no-no foods, but not many emetophobics put quite as much thought in making something like a mental oh-yeah food list, so basically a list of things that we consider safe and like to eat. Maybe that doesn’t make sense since you usually know what you like and what you can eat pretty automatically, but I feel like it’s still good to acknowledge this somehow, because having all those unsafe foods it’s easy to subconsciously jump to the conclusion that food in general is unsafe, when I think most of us do have some food items that are safe, even if for some people they are rather few.

And speaking of safe foods, I believe it’s also a good idea to have some kind of edible things that you find to be helpful for you with things like n*, for when you actually feel bad and like you may v*, whether it’s caused by anxiety or a tummy bug or illness. My best friend in this department is ginger, I really really really love it, just plain because of its taste as well as for its antiemetic properties. I like to suck on it when I’m feeling n* or add it to my tea. Speaking of teas, I think chamomile is the most trustworthy when it comes to emetophobia, although It also has loads of other properties. Another one I drink when I’m worried I might v* is… sheesh, I don’t even know the English name for this plant! 😀 We literally call it wild rose in Polish and apparently it’s rosa canina in Latin. But chamomile is always my first choice. Peppermint is a good substitute for ginger. I know people who find sucking on ice cubes helpful. I think this idea probably comes from that it’s often recommended for people who actually DO v*, like after chemo, and ice is given to them to help with hydration, but I don’t really see how it could help with preventing potential v*. Still, since a lot of what we experience is psychosomatic, there’s nothing wrong with having your own little strategies that work even if they aren’t proven or anything, because they work for you and that’s what matters, as long as your entire quality of life isn’t dependent on it, regardless whether it’s a placebo or not. As some of you may know, I have a weird affinity with ice so I like sucking on it sometimes regardless. 😀 Eating more protein-rich meals (as opposed to more rich in carbs or fats) also may potentially help with n* or queasiness a bit.

Also, find scents that help you, if you haven’t already. Scents that help you both with n* and feeling s* as well as scents that you find generally relaxing. Can’t say much more on this as I myself can’t really feel most scents.

Have some strategy for a crisis situation like when someone in your family is s*. This will be different for everyone, what things you want to use to keep yourself healthy and how you will want to deal with the situation and make it bearable. My safe bet is apple cider vinegar, although it’s not wise to go over the top with it or use it long-term, as then it can actually make your gut worse, and different people have different opinions on its effectiveness. While it’s not a very healthy way to cope, if you really have no other way of coping at the moment and you’re very scared, there are antiemetic drugs that you can get over the counter for the time being like Hydroxyzine which is also anxiolytic. Probiotics may also be helpful, or foods/drinks that have such properties, my fav here is kefir.

And last, but not least, whether you do decide to go the exposure therapy route, I think it’s important, or at least really beneficial to have someone who understands those things. Find a talk therapist who has some experience with this, some fellow human being with this phobia, or tell your friend about it if you feel they will be able to empathise, so that you aren’t alone with this. As I said earlier, talking and analysing it all through isn’t always the best way to go, at least not for me, but there are times when you just need to put it all off your chest and in such case of course it’s important that the other person understands what you’re talking about. Having someone like this is also helpful for making progress, as they can motivate you and be there for you while you’re trying to overcome your v* fears.

That’s all I’ve come up with. Do you have any other ways in which you calm down your emetophobia? Or if you have any other kind of phobia, how do you cope with it? 🙂

How do I calm down my emetophobia? (part 1) My story.

 

If you’ve been around on my blog for some time, you know that I like being possibly engaging with my readers. Part of what that means for me personally is ensuring, as much as I can, and as much as that actually goes in line with what I want my blog to be, that people can find here what has brought them to my blog. So I like to go through the search terms that bring people to my blog, either on WordPress or on Google Console, about once a month. And lately, I’ve noticed a surprising amount of my visitors and people whom Google has displayed my blog in the results have been asking it “how to calm down emetophobia?” and similar things.

While I am emetophobic and have written a bit about this, I don’t think they were able to find the direct answer to this question, hence I thought I would write about what I do, or what helps me specifically, to deal with *my* emetophobia, and maybe that will also help some other people who are dealing with this.

This post is going to be divided into two separate parts – one talking in detail but not overly graphically about my experience with emetophobia, so that perhaps if this is something you’re struggling with you might relate to it to some extend, and for those who don’t have the condition I hope I’ll be able to show people a bit of what it’s like, at least from one person’s perspective. The other one will be all about things that have helped me, or still do, or that I know help other people effectively, in dealing with this phobia.

This first part will be a rather rambly and free-flowing post, so if you’re in a full-blown panic attack or crisis caused by emetophobia and need some concrete tips on how to deal with the thing here and now, you might want to skip this part. If you are emetophobic, I want to put a little trigger warning first, just in case, mostly for those who are in a particularly bad place with their phobia. I’ll try my best to keep this post as minimally graphic as possible, but if words relating to the topic are very highly triggering for you, please note that they will be present here. I’ll also be discussing my triggers and telling my emetophobia story overall, mentioning various specific situations from my life or contexts in which it occurred, so some things may potentially feel uncomfortable. Even if you start reading this and feel distressed or triggered at some point, of course there’s no obligation to continue. Just be gentle with yourself.

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For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, emetophobia is a specific phobia, which causes intense fear of vomiting. What I mean by intense here is, I guess no one likes to vomit or see someone vomit or have anything to do with vomiting, and I guess a lot of people may have some degree of fear around it, but the degree to which it is present in emetophobia is a lot higher and affecting, more or less strongly, the quality of life of an affected person, so that in some cases it might impact their daily life functioning. The experience of this phobia may vary a lot from person to person, and so one individual with it might be anxious about vomiting themself, whereas for another it’s about other people in their surroundings or in movies or animals etc. doing so, or it may be even more specific like only pertain to vomiting in public. For me, and most people with this disorder I’ve heard about, it’s a combination of more than one thing. The weird thing is, most people who know something about emetophobia or learn what it is, seem to assume that emetophobic people must be somehow very prone to vomiting. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite for a lot of us, including myself. From what I’ve noticed, most of us tend to have pretty resilient digestive systems to begin with, and a lot has to be going on for them to give up and make us vomit, and on top of that I’ve heard that people with emetophobia are just too blocked emotionally for vomiting to occur, which makes sense and is comforting in a way. 😀 A lot of emetophobics also have their own strategies, like a special way of breathing, which help them prevent vomiting when it’s about to happen. Yet, typically, we tend to remember when was the last time we vomitted, and the last time before that, how long ago it was and why exactly (in our opinion, at least) it happened, along with such details like what was in the news that day or what we were wearing, depending on a specific case of course, not to mention what food we ate beforehand. It’s a bit strange the way it works. I’ve also come across people thinking that emetophobics are afraid of vomiting because they’re afraid they will die while it’s happening to them. Maybe some do, I don’t know. I only know that I don’t. I mean, it would be a horrible kind of death, probably the worst I could wish for myself, but it’s not what I fear the most. Like my Mum still seems to think that I must be afraid of choking on it or something, which I have no idea where she got it from. I mean, sure, this is just another valid reason for why vomit is evil, but it’s not a primary one, not for me anyway, and I don’t think for most emetophobics either. It’s just scary because it’s vomit.

I am scared of vomiting myself, as well as of other people – both because it’s scary in itself and because they may be sick with something contagious and I might get it too, or we may have been food poisoned with the same thing. – I hate the sound of vomiting, gagging, choking etc. and the feeling I get when either I or someone else is vomiting, that everything is out of control. I hate things whose texture reminds me of vomit. I’m afraid when Misha is vomiting, even though he always does it very quietly and it’s very much unlike it sounds in people. It happens to him quite often though so over time it has become a lot less of a deal but it still is a big deal, even though it never is for him. While like I mentioned above, the possibility of vomiting in public seems to be particularly scary for many people, and I do think it is terrifying, I don’t think I’m a lot more scared of it than vomiting anywhere else, whether alone or in company. Sometimes when I have really difficult days emet-wise and am just absolutely sure that I’ll vomit I can’t decide whether it’s better to be alone when it’s happening, so that you can do it discreetly and no one sees it, or with someone around so that you are – well – not all alone with it. I can just never decide on that, either is equally horrid. Also like a lot of emetophobics, I have that weird fear even of the words relating to vomit. These days, my emetophobia is a lot better most of the time than it used to be (or else I wouldn’t be writing this post) but on my worse days, just hearing or thinking about one of these words makes me feel sick-ish. But seriously, what’s up with all languages that their words for vomit, throw up and puke are so creepy? The English vomit is by far the best, although a lot of people seem to prefer throw up. Throw up is WAY too picturesque for my liking! It’s not just all about vomit. The words for gag are scary too. When I was learning about various British dialects and accents, I remember being absolutely mortified at the fact that gaggin’ means thirsty in Mancunian. Who would even still be thirsty after talking about gagging? Also nausea, even though I don’t have a fear of nausea directly. The English word isn’t so bad, I mean it sounds awful but it’s not so triggery. The Polish word is though. My radars always go off more or less whenever I hear someone say in Polish that they’re nauseated, or their tummy is hurting, even before I know if it’s a sick kind of hurting or more a period kind of hurting or maybe something else entirely. Even the word faint in Polish is kind of scary too because for some people it seems to mean the same as nauseated.

When you have a look around emetophobic communities and stuff, people talk about v* (for vomit), n* (for nausea) or d* (for diarrhoea) and, if it helps someone, that’s okay, but I feel like for me personally, such tiptoeing only contributes to creating the tension around the topic. What I prefer to do myself, when writing in my journal or something like that, is, I use a totally different, unrelated word to replace the scary v* with, when I actually feel the need to do so. Same as with my sleep paralysis “friend” whose name I’m too scared to say or even write so I always call him “Ian”. When I write in English, this word for vomit is Moomin. And no, so far this hasn’t given me a Moomin phobia. 😀

I don’t know how this whole thing has started for me. It feels like I’ve been more or less emetophobic ever since. A theory I have though is that it could have started when I was at around preschool age. I don’t know if I was already going to nursery or not. There was some kind of ball organised for young children somewhere near where I lived, and I was supposed to go there and was really happy for it. Yes, there were such times when Bibiel was happy to go to a ball. As a little kid,I was fairly shy but mostly like “normal” shy, and a lot more outgoing, if not more extroverted, and then at some point things just magically changed. 😀 That’s what people tell me anyway. My grandma, who really liked to sew at the time, made a special Little Red Riding Hood costume for me, just for that occasion, as that was my favourite fairytale back then. However, on the day of the ball, I was feeling quite funny. I remember that I came downstairs and was about to have breakfast but just as I went into the kitchen, the floor started moving very ominously, I suddenly started feeling utterly terrified, I guess that’s literally what people call a feeling of impending doom, and then I was sick. I felt a bit better afterwards I guess and I think I didn’t want to miss out on the ball, so we did end up going there but, from what I remember, I was still feeling rather miserable and was clinging to my Dad all the time. I don’t remember that, but my Mum says that I also got sick there. Since I can’t even remember that, and generally don’t have any particular feelings around the whole event, you’d think that it would be rather insignificant, but what makes me think that it might be that incident which caused my emetophobia is that I also have an absolutely weird, inexplicable fear of all things like proms, balls, discos, dancing parties, wedding receptions etc. Yes, I’m a socially anxious introvert with AVPD who doesn’t love dancing and has some feet issues, though I don’t particularly hate dancing either as such, but there’s something a lot more to my fear of things like these than any other people gatherings and I always avoid these more desperately and can’t even explain what scares me about them so much. So maybe there’s some link here on a subconscious level or something.

Whether it was that event which started my emetophobia or not, I certainly had some emetophobic tendencies as a kid, though for the first 8 years or so of my life they were quite easily manageable for me. I only remember feeling stressed about it whenever I was seriously feeling sick or about to vomit or when someone was vomiting I would feel as if I were about to faint, but I never actually did, even though I think I wanted to ’cause then I wouldn’t have to witness it. When I was 8 things started to change and gradually I was feeling worse and worse mentally, with both depression and a lot of anxieties, including health anxiety.

At the age of 10 I had a lot of stress to deal with due to various life situations but mostly having an Achilles tendons lengthening surgery, about which I wrote on here many times before, that I found the long recovery process extremely difficult emotionally. I was normally confined to my room during my recovery period most of the time out of necessity as I couldn’t move about easily, but there was one day when I went to school – I was at the so called integration school at the time – because they were doing some kind of theatrical performance. I can’t remember whether I was playing in it too, or just watching it. Anyway, this was the only day during the whole six weeks that I went somewhere for longer and mingled with people, so my autoimmune system probably wasn’t ready for it to happen all of a sudden, and I got some respiratory infection soon after that. I had to take an antibiotic, but it definitely didn’t agree with me, as it always made me feel super sick and weak whenever I would take it, and one beautiful day… Moomin! That was on Halloween! And it is then, I think, that my emetophobia started properly.

I knew that it was probably the antibiotic, but my small Bibiel brain at the time was thinking that if it seriously was the antibiotic, it would make me vomit right away, after taking it for the first time, rather than after a couple days. So clearly it must have been the orange juice that I drank ann hour or so before the Moomins came, because it made me feel very queasy straight after I drank it. So, with all my love for the orange juice, I decided to throw it out of my life permanently. And that’s how I started building my ever-growing no-no foods (and activities) list. Actually I already had some things on it – scrambled eggs (which had made me vomit at the gym in the nursery), bigos (a Polish stew made of chopped meat and sauerkraut), liver, and blood sausage), but that was different, because I didn’t like any of these dishes to begin with, so I was actually quite happy having an excuse that they make me feel awful so I didn’t have to eat them and no one would make me. But after that Halloween, things started evolving a lot more dynamically. After the orange juice, loads of items quickly followed, so that I think theoretically everything was soon included on it, because – let’s be honest and accept the brutal truth – everything CAN make you Moomin! Practically, I did have to eat something, so I broke my own rules, even if I ate very little and only when I really had to, and then felt sick and was convinced that I’m going to Moomin, the matter was only when that was going to happen. Then I learned that you can also kinda Moomin on an empty stomach, so I did start to eat a bit more ’cause I figured that if either way is bad I may just as well eat a little bit more, but it was still just a little bit more, and my no-no list didn’t get any shorter. Back then, things were also complicated by the fact that I had more general health anxiety and a lot of other anxieties, I was just a bundle of nerves. I kept washing my hands all the time, but on the other hand had a problem cleaning my teeth because I was afraid it would make me gag, regardless whether it would make me vomit too. I still have a problem with having things in my mouth that aren’t edible. If someone was sick, no matter how I loved them, I wouldn’t go near them. Which made me feel super selfish. Medications were of course a problem too. If I ever was prescribed something at that time, I would look up side effects and see if Moomin was a possibility. If it was (which it was typically), I would be stalking my poor therapist (whom I started seeing shortly after recovering from that surgery as my Mum concluded that she doesn’t know how to help me anymore) telling her that it makes people Moomin, I’m afraid it will make me Moomin, I know it will make me Moomin, asking her what to do so I don’t Moomin, and hoping that she’ll tell me “No, of course you won’t Moomin, you will never, ever Moomin, it’s impossible!”, but even then I’d still lose my sleep over the fact that there is 0,0005% chance that I will.

I’ve also always had some issues with balance and it’s easy for me to feel dizzy, and of course dizziness was something I’d avoid as much as possible too. Same about unnecessary travelling, especially on roads I weren’t familiar with, as I had motion sickness. I still have motion sickness but I never Moomined due to it so I don’t care about it now really. Forget things like amusement parks, which I despised anyway because of the balance problem but to which I still was forced to go from time to time with schools ’cause all children like it and people like to make children happy because it feels good. Even stress itself was a trigger, and still is to an extend, because my main symptom when I’m really stressed or anxious is nausea. So it’s a bit of a vicious circle as you can imagine and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between anxiety nausea vs sickness nausea.

Soon after my 11th birthday, something weird happened to me, probably to my brain, that I started feeling really, really ill physically. Mostly, it was just very bad nausea, but I also had a coming and going sore throat and other aches and pains, was very tired, weak and lethargic, and I don’t remember what else, I guess a lot of coming and going stuff, but mostly just overwhelming nausea, so bad that I wasn’t able to get out of bed or even eat anything, let alone things like go to school. Then after a day or a few I would have a break from that, or feel at least good enough to be able to do everything as normal, whatever normal was for me back then, and then again the nausea & co. would come back, and so on and so forth. At the beginning of this mysterious illness, obviously my family couldn’t accept the state of things and that I almost wasn’t eating at all, and that wasn’t even because I was scared of Moomin but I just felt it was physically impossible. I guess my grandma was particularly worried so one day she decided to make Silesian dumplings especially for me. Silesian dumplings are one of my favourite dishes, so, I think if it would be just about my fear, I’d eat at least some anyway, but as it was, I could only take a little bite after which my nausea got a lot worse, so I felt like a proper bitch for not eating them even though she made them especially for me. But it was just physically not doable, no way. My Mum in turn kept going with me from one doctor to another, doing blood tests (which all came back normal) and what not, which I remember I found quite exhausting as I was so tired all the time I could sometimes barely sit upright. Finally I ended up dehydrated so then I was seriously freaked out about Moomin because I could remember being dehydrated once as a small child and then I moomined so I was sure that now I would too. We found a paediatrician about whom my Mum already knew that he was extremely thorough any time he examined a child. Never mind that he said that Sofi was probably going to have psychomotor delay because she still had some neurological reflex that according to the textbooks she shouldn’t have at her age, and scared my aunt in some other way about my cousin not developing quite right. Well turned out that he probably had a knack for finding rare, dramatic diagnoses for children, because when we came to him and he examined me, thoroughly as always, he decided that what I have must be LCHAD (don’t ask me what it is, some genetic illness that apparently is noticeably prevalent among Kashubians, which is where we live and my Dad is Kashubian). That got everyone properly scared, including myself. Having health anxiety, I was already wondering what I may be ill with to feel so awful, and was rather stoically thinking that I’m probably going to die, which didn’t scare me as that was a lot better than the dreaded Moomin, of course, or some illness that would involve Moomin or even a treatment which would have such a side effect. As long as it was just nausea, or even death, I thought I could deal with it. But now with this LCHAD thing, I had no clue what that was, and his explanation was rather enigmatic as well, at least to me as a child, but my Mum didn’t seem to understand a lot more than I did. For the time being, he sent me to the emergency where another doctor started laughing heartily as soon as my shocked Mum told him about my newly acquired diagnosis, said that I of course do not have LCHAD but just need a drip, and probably I was just having a tummy bug, in which case a light diet for the next few days should surely help. As I was sitting there with that drip, thinking what’s better, LCHAD or a tummy bug, a mum with a baby came into the room, the baby had a high fever and was given paracetamol, which it moomined right away.

After the drip I felt a lot better, also emotionally despite that baby incident, because I wanted to believe this drip doctor was right, and so did my Mum, so we went back home. The next day my Mum called the endocrinologist who was treating me at the time for the hypopituitarism, and told her about the LCHAD doctor, but she also reassured her that I surely can’t have it because if it went undiagnosed for so long I wouldn’t be alive anymore. My Mum was immensely relieved. The day after that I felt awful all over again, and so the cycle continued, I honestly have no idea until when. People tried to give my Mum good advice, of course, my class teacher kept calling and asking how I’m feeling, saying that, if I can’t eat, it must be something gastric so I should have a gastroscopy, my grandma was saying that it must be anaemia and I need more drips or something if I can’t eat anything, while my therapist was saying that it’s a psychological thing, which my Mum found offensive. My Mum herself tried her best to force Nutridrinks into me at least and constantly asked me how I was feeling, and if I said that I wasn’t feeling well, she would pause whatever she was doing and be like: “Hmmm…” as if she was deeply thinking about something. I grew to hate it so much when she did it with that specific intonation, it still makes me feel weird when people say “Hmm” like that, ’cause it immediately makes me feel a bit stressed. 😀

About a month after that LCHAD scare, my worst dream came true and I actually did Moomin. I don’t even know why. My best guess is it must have been somehow stressogenic. It happened exactly at 3 AM and scared the heebiejeebies out of me, of course. I felt dreadful the whole day but it didn’t happen anymore. Neither on that same day, nor the day later, nor any time in the 13 years since then, yay! I associated the incident with cocoa that I drank for supper the day before, and so cocoa was promptly added on the no-no list, and spent a loooong time there. I had become even more crazy with regards to all things food and Moomin after that. And I still kept having these coming and going times when I felt ill.

At some point things got back to normal in that I no longer felt so ill, although I had another bout of it some time in the summer of that same year which was all the worse that we were away on holidays. When I went back to the boarding school after the integration school experiment didn’t work out, I no longer had these bouts of sickness but my emetophobia was still just as bad. However, my school had a bit of a different take on eating than my Mum, who claims that there’s nothing worse than forcing a child to eat, because no child has ever died of hunger when there is free access to food. At school, we were at the very least strongly encouraged to eat all we got without fussing or anything. So I had to start eating more, as it just wouldn’t work out any other way, which then made me endlessly ruminate about Moomin. Still, I tried to eat as little as possible at the same time, and avoid the products that were especially high on my no-no list. At some point, one of the group staff came into my room when I happened to be alone in there and was like: “We need to talk… I know you have a problem… with food. Don’t you?” “Ummmm, why’d you think so?” – I asked, feeling a bit scared and a bit genuinely surprised because I was sure no one would figure that out. – “Well, I once had such a girl in my group. She would also eat very little at meals and then would sometimes eat by herself and only certain foods, I wasn’t born yesterday, I know what anorexia looks like…” Phew! I was so relieved I could have laughed. She wanted me to talk to her or something, I can’t remember, I also don’t really remember what I told her actually, I think I must have made up some story that wouldn’t make her too alarmed but that also wouldn’t deny her assumption, but somehow no one ever talked about that anorexia thing with me again and when I was telling my Mum the story years later she had no idea that anyone had such suspicions.

Over the next few years, my more general health anxiety had quietened down a lot naturally, so that the only health-related fears I would have were either emet-related, or something to do with the brain, ’cause you regular people here know I’m freaked out by even the idea of neurodegenerative diseases and other such things to this day. It has also become less irrational and easier to function with. Having to live in such a fairly structured institution like a boarding school meant that I had to adapt somehow with things like eating, and while I still had my no-no list and my fear was very strong, I somehow managed to eat almost like normal and do other things as normally as I could, even if they caused me a lot of stress. Fortunately, this way, I was also quietly forced to tick off some of the less “dangerous” things from my no-no list. Sometimes for some reason, like a tummy bug being spread around, my anxiety would get insanely high again to the point where, again, I would eat as little as possible and avoid everything I could that I thought had something to do with Moomin, and then over time managed to go back to the apparently near-normal but constantly scared lifestyle, and so on and so forth. Because my way of eating was very irregular as you can imagine, I would often feel a bit queasy after every single thing I ate, I guess kind of as if my body wasn’t used to dealing with food. I would feel very full after even a very small meal, and that would instantly make me panic that surely I’m going to be sick and that something is wrong if I can’t even eat a small meal without feeling off.

I believe that part of why things were changing, even though very slowly, for the better, was simply that I was growing older and from what I know this phobia has a tendency to get better with age.

Things got a chance to gradually improve even more when I got to leave the blind school. By that time my Mum knew a little bit more aboutmy emetophobia, even if she didn’t understand it and still doesn’t really. I think in a way just the fact that I didn’t have to hide with it so much helped me to let go of it a little bit. Since then, I still have times when the only thing I’m able to think about is vomit because someone was sick at night and I heard it because my room is next to the toilet, and I still have times when I eat very little or nothing and restrict very severely what I eat but they are less and less often, and less and less intense. I am less freaked now whenever I just happen to have nausea that is anxiety-related or just not serious, whatever was its cause, and I can differentiate better between serious and not serious nausea. I could gradually and very carefully start to eat some of my more difficult no-no foods that really scared me but at the same time I liked them, and actually enjoy their taste, and then ruminate less and less about what’s going to happen afterwards. I was able to eat out again with less difficulty. It’s still a problem for multiple reasons, not just emetophobia, and I still prefer to stick to safe meals at restaurants, but there were times when eating out was a lot more anxiety-provoking. I’ve become less sensitive to all the vomit words. Of course I still have very bad days sometimes, but things are improving. I also worked a bit on my emetophobia and my thinking processes around it with my therapist, which helped a little.

And by now, I can say that my emetophobia is a lot less severe than like five years ago. It’s still a challenge, sometimes a huge one, but it doesn’t affect my life quite as strongly. I can function with it normally most of the time. There are still foods that I have very mixed feelings about and I still freak out at the thought of eating something expired and have no way of knowing whether it’s expired, I still hate the sound of vomit and can’t stand the thought of vomiting myself or hear someone doing so or be close to them when I know they are sick. But I can sort of deal with a sick Misha in the same room as me. It will always give me a bit of a scare but not bad enough that I’d freak out completely.

Tummy bugs are the worst. They can still really freak me out. When I know that someone in my surroundings is contagiously sick and is vomiting, I still tend to regress and stop eating for the time being until things calm down or will be eating very little and only the safest things in my opinion, and wash my hands and everything around me as often as I can.

I’ve had a tummy bug several times ever since my emetophobia has properly begun, and, while it never made me vomit, the experience was absolutely horrifying each time and recovering from it emotionally always takes me ages.

While like I said before, most of the time I’m now pretty immune to the words related to this fear, I still find them extremely descriptive in a gross way, and when I’m having a worse time anxiety-wise, even not specifically in terms of emetophobia but generally am not doing well, I can still sometimes feel affected by such words.

I absolutely cannot stand hearing the sound of people vomiting in things like movies or anywhere. It still makes me freak out very much. But I’m happy to say that I hardly ever struggle with books anymore, unless they have really graphic descriptions of the thing and very frequent, and at the time I’m also not doing the best, then I may need to give up on the book or at least skip a few pages. The last book I needed to stop reading altogether because of too much vomit scenes was “Tim” by Colleen McCullough, can’t even remember how long ago. I also can’t remember much of the plot line, except that my impression was that someone – usually Tim – vomited in it every few pages and it was really exhausting. I wonder if I would have the same impression now too, or was it just something that I focused on very much then, but I don’t feel courageous enough to try.

There are still foods I’d rather not eat and some that I won’t eat at all because of the emetophobia, but most of them I don’t regret because I don’t care for them very much. I still have problems with meds like antibiotics. I have a very hard time starting on a new antibiotic that I’ve never ever tried before, and I would never ever take the one that made me vomit when my emetophobia started out. And I have no freakin’ idea what I would do if, for example, it turned out one day that I had cancer and the only treatment available is chemo or something else vomit-inducing. Dizziness is also something I struggle with a lot in regards to emetophobia, and it sucks because dizziness or some other kind of floaty feelings and the like are very much my daily reality. There’s still always a strong niggling feeling somewhere in the background of my mind whenever I feel unsteady or dizzy or floaty: “Gosh, what if I’ll Moomin?!”

Going to the dentist is a huge trigger for me ’cause I’m scared of gagging.

I used to drink some alcohol quite regularly, but I stopped because it often made me very nauseous, even small amount. I don’t smoke either, because I’ve known someone since early childhood who claims that smoking causes her to vomit, so I never even wanted to try cigs, but also for other reasons.

I really don’t like public toilets because of the amount of germs and, like… how do you know if someone hasn’t Moomined in there? Maybe the person before you had a norovirus?

Panic attacks is not the most common type of anxiety I experience – my anxiety is more of the chronic and constantly present variety rather than sudden and gripping – but when I do have a panic attack, while most people are scared they’re gonna have a heart attack or can’t breathe, I’m sure you can figure out what Bibiel is most scared of in a panic without me telling you. 😀

My relationship with food still isn’t the healthiest. I’ve only recently been forced by circumstances to look at this topic more closely and it’s not just emetophobia which is responsible for this, but this is definitely the main thing. My way of eating can still be quite dysregulated and stress definitely plays a big role in how much/little I eat. I’ve been slightly underweight or bordering on underweight for many years, and while I suppose it’s mostly a genetic and hormonal thing, I guess my erratic way of eating/not eating contributes to it too.

So, there you have it. This is my emetophobia story.

If you have emetophobia, what does it look like for you? If you don’t have it, do you have any other specific phobia(s)? What has your experience been with them.

See part 2.

Question of the day (21st June).

What is the weirdest thing you eat on its own?

My answer:

Salt. Don’t know how weird it is in general, but I don’t know people who would do that. I don’t do it as often now, but I really used to a lot when I was a kid. I could just get a salt cellar, put the salt on my hand and eat it, without anything else. Or, what I suppose is a bit more common, when I’d finish some crisps, or chips, or something else salted, I would not only lick my fingers from all the salt but also eat the salt that was left. My Mum says it’s directly linked to the fact that my blood pressure has always been low, but I dunno, I just like salt. As a kid I had a salt lamp in my room and I liked to lick it sometimes, and salt figurines/statues as well. Now I also have a salt lamp in my room but I don’t lick it. 😀 One time when my uncle was on holidays by the Dead Sea he got me a whole box of the salt crystals so I had a supply for a really long time and absolutely loved it. I was in a salt cave a couple of times, which is a fabulous experience and so very relaxing, and I had a hard time not to eat any of that salt, I probably would if not the emetophobia. 😀 Sometimes I would also eat monosodium glutamate, I don’t know what it’s popular name in English is, in Poland it’s sold as Vegeta, I absolutely love the umami taste. And me and my brother often ate dry pasta. I can eat olives on their own, which some people find weird. I do think they’re much better with something else, but I do eat them on their own sometimes anyways. I guess olives are generally not hugely popular with people so that’s why eating them on their own is even more weird for many, but for me they’re one of my most favourite healthy foods.

You? 🙂

Question of the day (20th June).

What will you always say no to?

My answer:

A lot of things, I’m sure. Some I can think of right now:

When my Mum asks me if I’m still alive (she does that a lot and I always wonder what sort of question that is so I always answer that no, I died before she was alive), scrambled eggs, going to an amusement park, cigs, sex, bananas, diving, bungee jumping, going to the tropics, teaching people’s kids English, babysitting, another feet/legs surgery.

You? 🙂

Question of the day (19th June).

What do you wish was illegal?

My answer:

Alcohol advertising. I feel like it is, or at least might be, doing a fair bit of harm. For example to addicts who are trying to quit, but seeing ads in the media or wherever else makes it more difficult. It’s also kind of normalising drinking, for lack of a better word, I’m not sure how to put it. I mean, everything’s for people, in moderate amounts and when you’re responsible etc. and no extreme is good, but I think when you see a lot of such ads, at some point you get the message that, actually, there’s nothing wrong with drinking, it’s just fun and cool, and you don’t see the other side of it. Here in Poland, the only alcohol that can be advertised is beer, and, as in the rest of the world, I suppose, it’s often advertised in connection with sports events, and football clubs are often sponsored by beer producers. So you can see footballers advertising beer or generally see beer being associated with football games, which long-term can surely influence people to believe that there’s no problem with beer being unhealthy, if even footballers drink it, even if they only advertise it. Then of course there’s the problem with minors who can see the TV ads even if there is a regulation of them not being aired before some hour (I honestly don’t know if there’s any limit in terms of time of the day for beer ads here, I’m ignorant when it comes to all things TV, all things beer and all things football). It familiarises kids with alcohol from a young age and as they are particularly impressionable I think they must quickly get the idea that alcohol is cool if they see those sort of ads a lot, they’re basically sucked down into the whole drinking culture thing before they can even make a fully conscious and willful decision and hence then a lot of people considering it very strange when someone doesn’t drink at all, for whatever reason. And, what always strikes me is, if we advertise alcohol, why won’t we also legalise cannabis where it’s not legal and advertise it on TV? Not that I’d somehow really want it to be the case, but it’s kind of illogical how even the word cannabis makes a lot of people panic, or even CBD, when alcohol has way worse side effects and long-term effects, and being high on it seems to affect people’s behaviour more negatively than weed, yet people have no problem with it and even alcoholism seems so “normal” for some.

What is such a thing for you? 🙂

Question of the day (18th June).

If animals could talk, which one would be the most annoying?

My answer:

I guess something like parrots and other animals which are talkative anyways, they’d probably have even more to say if they’d be able to talk like humans very well, but I somehow doubt they’d have a lot of interesting or original things to say. Otherwise ducks, geese and the like, all those animals who are really noisy and not particularly pleasant-sounding. Or the small dog breeds, who, again, often make a lot of noise which is often already annoying even though they don’t speak human.

I always want Misha to be able to talk, even at least for five minutes so I can ask him if he’s happy or if there’s something he really wants that is realistically doable or if there’s anything he’d like me to know, but my Mum claims he’d be super annoying if he could talk, and just as now he’s very non-vocal, if he could talk he’d probably wouldn’t shut up for a minute. I don’t really see why his personality would be supposed to change at the same time as well. Still, perhaps it would be annoying regardless how much he’d talk, because Mum also says that in her opinion he’d only talk about food and how hungry he is or that he wants out, which is more realistic than the personality change because that’s already more or less everything he talks about when he does make any sounds, and it can get old.

What do you think? 🙂

Question of the day (17th June).

What is your biggest non-academic, non work-related accomplishment?

My answer:

Well, I think that would be my language learning achievements, especially when it comes to English and Welsh, as with Swedish I had a tutor for a long time so you could say it was kinda academic, but with English and Welsh I’ve been doing it mostly by myself. I did of course have English throughout my formal education, but, as I said many times before, I don’t feel like I learned anything more than just the basics this way, and anything else I wanted to achieve, I had to take care of myself, and only reached fluency in my last years of schooling when I had plenty of time to work on my English as I first had a year of individual education and then did schoolwork part-time and mostly from home. With Welsh, even though I don’t feel fluent yet at all, it feels like even more of an accomplishment because, even though I’m not fluent, I sort of doubted I could achieve even the level I’m at now, given the limited resources and their frequently limited accessibility and/or availability where I live.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

An extremely interesting question I have for you guys today…

What’s the longest time you have gone without pooping?

My answer:

Can’t say how long exactly, I guess it could be about a week or so. Generally I don’t have a lot of poo problems in normal life circumstances, which I’m extremely grateful for ’cause only when I do sometimes I see how uncomfortable they must be for people who deal with some major issues of this nature chronically or regularly. But what definitely sets them off for me is a lot of stress and change. I mean mostly change of location for some significant amount of time, more than just a couple of hours, especially if it’s just a temporary change but involves sleeping there etc. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone with this, I guess in a way it makes sense because pooping is obviously a very private thing and it feels normal that you may not feel comfortable doing it everywhere even if it’s only on the subconscious level. My Mum is the same if not worse, but the reason why it’s worse for her is probably that she does actually have digestive issues and hates public toilets more than I do. Once I get used to that new place, I can poop normally again, but more often I just either have to help myself with something that works for constipation or wait until I can go home and then the problem solves itself. I have the same thing with social gatherings that are long and involve eating, and I guess that’s less common and definitely to do with my social anxiety. I generally am not a fan of eating out or eating with a lot of people like huge family meals, there are many reasons for that. I totally don’t get why people always need to eat during such gatherings, and if they really have to, why so much and almost all the time, and particularly as it seems when it’s mostly middle-aged people. 😀 Let’s say it’s someone’s birthday and they decided on such a stiff family party with sitting at the table, talking about nothing and LOTS of food, mostly cakes and the like. Or, more realistically, their family decided for them because they came uninvited but luckily the person in question was prepared for such a possibility. 😀 So, you’re sitting on your butt for two hours at least, continuously eating all those carbs, and, if you’re like me, feeling anxious/stressed/uncomfortable, or a bit tense at least. Perfect recipe for a shit problem. If it’s a bit more dynamic you can perhaps go out for a while or something, you can go to the loo but if you’re like me it won’t change anything ’cause it’s someone else’s loo. 😀 So this is one of many reasons why I generally eat very little in social situations, especially lengthy ones.

So yeah, I think on average the longest for me must have been around a week, when going somewhere for holidays or school trips or the like. After about a week I’m usually adjusted enough that things get better, or physiology takes the upper hand over my brain. 😀 Now I can also take the advantage of the fact that these days I always travel with my Mum and that she has been more aware of her own various digestive problems including constipation over the last couple years, which means she always takes a whole bag of things that help her when travelling or staying away from home, so we always have something helpful at hand.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s the strangest/scariest thing you’ve seen in the middle of the night?

My answer:

Not really seen it but heard it, and not just in the middle of the night but for a good few months, but it started in the middle of the night. We still lived in our previous house in the countryside where I had a room in the attic. One night in summer I woke up, I think it wasn’t that scary strange thing that woke me up initially, if I remember correctly I was feeling unwell physically or something like that. In any case, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. Suddenly I heard a weird, faint but clear noise. I still sort of remember what it sounded like but can’t even describe it in a good way, yet I remember that the first time I heard it it reminded me of something like the noise that a sheep or a goat would make, only a lot fainter and shorter and kinda raspy. There was no way there were any such animals in our area so I found this really bizarre and a little creepy because it quite clearly sounded like it came from somewhere in my room. Since it didn’t repeat for some time and I couldn’t come up with a good idea for what it could be, I decided I must have imagined it, but I couldn’t settle back to sleep. And then I heard it again. And again, after a while. And again. And a few more times. Sometimes hearing a sound to which I can’t attribute a source can really trigger my sensory anxiety, and I think it can be potentially scary for a lot of people even when they don’t have the sensory anxiety problem. In order to be able to fall back to sleep and not freak out completely I tried to think that there certainly must be some normal, prosaic reason for why I was hearing this, I just simply didn’t know what it was. I finally managed to fall asleep, but to my fear and frustration I could still hear it. I asked my Mum what could it be, perhaps there’s something in my room, but she had no idea. She came up there, but couldn’t hear anything, so she said I must’ve been imagining it at night like I thought. Only I could still hear it at regular intervals throughout the day. And the next day, and for the rest of the summer. Eventually I sort of got used to my invisible, creepy roommate, invading my little Bibiel haven, but it was really annoying, and when I was home alone, when it was really quiet or the night time, it would still creep me out, even just the idea that no one else hears it. So what does that mean? Am I going crazy? My Mum tried hearing out for it multiple times ’cause I kept complaining about it but the malicious thing never made the noise when she was in the room, or if it did, she wouldn’t hear it because we were talking or some other noises were masking it. When I mentioned it she laughed that I must be smoking something and that it’s not fair that I won’t share with the rest of the family. 😀 Dad often had a habit of taking a nap in my room, ’cause it was the quietest, which I utterly hated because he snores, as Sofi once said, like a million of dinosaurs. Still, I was hoping that one time when he comes, before he falls asleep, or after he wakes up, he’ll hear it. Thing is, my Dad falls asleep immediately, doesn’t even need five minutes.

The summer holidays had finished and the new school year had started, so I went to school and wasn’t home for the next at least two weeks. I hoped that by the time I come back, my roommate would get bored not having anyone in there to creep out and would magically disappear just as he appeared, or maybe Mum would find him. No such luck. I remember that when I came home I guess just for a weekend, I went upstairs to go to sleep, and when I was already falling asleep, I heard it again. And that was the case for the next few months, I don’t know how long. Finally, at some point Mum did hear it. She was relaxing in my room, and I was there too, and at some point we both heard it and she was all like: “Gosh, what was that?!” Then she kept looking around the room to locate the thing, which wasn’t easy, because it wasn’t very loud and only made the noise once in a while. Finally, she found it. Under a bean bag, there lay Sofi’s old toy phone, and right when she discovered it, it pleaded guilty by making that noise again. Its battery was dying, so that was why it sounded so weird. Sofi was no longer interested in it, so the phone went to trash, which I felt evil satisfaction about. 😀

And how about you? 🙂

Question of the day (15th June).

What makes you nervous no matter how many times you do it?

My answer:

There are loads of such things, but one that comes to my mind is definitely peopling in general. That is, sometimes I’m less nervous than other times, and there are times when I’m almost not anxious at all, but if we assume that the longer/more often you do something, the less nervous you become over time when doing it, here it just doesn’t apply. As for how much I’m nervous during a social interaction, I feel like a lot of the time it’s pretty random, which baffled me for a long time because I’d hear people with “normal” social anxiety always say how they’re always anxious or nervous with strangers, or in some specific kinds of situations, while for me there are times when I feel nervous talking to my own Mum, even though we generally have a very good relationship, or I can have trouble writing to someone online whom I like and know well, and there can be times when I can hold a fairly normal conversation with someone I barely know or even a total stranger, and even enjoy it, and the person mmight even end up commenting how very outgoing I am. 😀 I used to explain to them that I don’t, or even when I was a child my Mum would explain that it’s not like that, but now I no longer do as it’s not their business really, and they usually wouldn’t believe me anyway when I’d say that actually I’m normally very anxious around people and they’d say things like that everyone is a bit anxious sometimes, like my last therapist, for example, haha. The next day, my anxiety may work completely inversely, or I’ll be scared of all people equally. It used to really confuse me, well, still does in a way, but I used to think that because it’s not really like I have very clear social anxiety triggers beyond a few, I can’t have valid social anxiety and either it’s something else or I’m somehow making it up or whatever. I still haven’t fully figured out what may be the reasons behind such a weird, changing pattern, although I have some theories and think there may be multiple factors involved, but a lot has been cleared up for me when I learned that in fact I don’t have the classic social anxiety, but instead I have AVPD, in which the anxiety doesn’t have to necessarily be triggered by any specific situation, it’s just some general people phobia with some other, additional gimmicks to make things more interesting.

Another such thing for me is definitely horse riding. I haven’t done that in quite some time now, but I used to for many years, and despite that, I would always be more or less anxious beforehand, and as much as I absolutely love it, the anxiety could seriously get in the way or even spoil things completely sometimes. I’ve written here many times before how my fear started out mostly due to my balance problems and having obligatory hippotherapy at nursery, but then later on, after a few years’ break, my Mum got me back into it at our local stud where I grew to love it and also really bonded not just with my horse but also my instructor. I still experienced all the same issues that I did before, but since I learned that horse riding can be enjoyable and started doing it not just in a therapeutic but also more properly sporty way, I was able to overcome my fears enough that my love of riding and for my horse was stronger than the anxiety and most of the time I was able to motivate myself to do it, even if it took me some 15 minutes on horseback to relax and feel it properly. After those fifteen minutes I would usually start feeling way better, euphoric even. I always found it really annoying that it took me so long to get into it and that I was so shaky beforehand and for the first few minutes while riding, which also affected the way I rode since all my muscles were tense and of course my horse picked up on it too. My main horse was really phlegmatic and hardly moved by anything, which I found very reassuring, so he didn’t catch the anxiety from me like some horses do, but it was definitely an obstacle in our communication. So when I was put on the anti-anxiety medication I always took half of the pill before the riding to calm me down a bit. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I didn’t feel it at all. Then I guess at some point my brain started protesting louder and my anxiety became almost as strong as my love for riding and it was harder and harder to motivate myself to actually do it and I didn’t see much point if I was feeling horrid hours in advance. So that was one of the reasons why I stopped doing it, although I still don’t know yet if it’ll be permanently or not.

And yet another thing which very often makes me nervous is change. We all deal with changes in our lives a lot, but some of us I guess just never get used to it. Not all changes freak me out, but major or sudden ones or such that involve leaving behind something that I was emotionally connected to tend to be difficult. New things I have to get used to are also difficult, they may not always scare me but the stress related to getting used to the new thing can be rather exhausting, even if it’s sometimes exciting at the same time.

What is such a thing(s) for you? 🙂