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? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

We really haven’t had any questions in a long time, so let’s get into it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ๐Ÿ˜€ ) 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ๐Ÿ˜€ ) 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

ย ย  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.

ย ย  Coping with crisis

ย ย  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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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! ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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.

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What are you in the 1% of?

My answer:

I hardly care about percentages, but let’s think… The first thing that springs to my mind is that (touch wood) I’ve never really had a proper cavity, despite my dental hygiene being rather crappy most of the time and not caring overly about what I eat. My Mum says it’s a miracle, I’m more inclined to think it’s genetics ’cause my whole family have very healthy teeth. The reason why this springs to my mind first is that I recently actually chipped my tooth slightly, but at the same time must have been badly enough that it hurt. It wasn’t a terrible pain, but rather annoying and wouldn’t go away for about two weeks so I was rather concerned. I guess it’s now gotten used to being chipped ’cause it now only hurts very very slightly and occasionally and the dentist didn’t even see any problem with it on an X-ray, but I got quite freaked out by how suddenly and easily it chipped and didn’t know what was going on. At the same time, strangely enough, my other teeth also became temporarily more sensitive so I was seriously wondering whether perhaps my lucky time is over and now my teeth are decaying all at once. ๐Ÿ˜€ Which is a real scary prospect when you’re emetophobic, hate gagging and having things in your mouth which is unavoidable at the dentist’s. So I had a full mouth X-ray to see what’s going on in there and both the X-ray technician and then my dentist couldn’t stop saying how healthy my teeth are and how they’d like all their patients to have such teeth as me. ๐Ÿ˜€ Back when I was going to school and when my emetophobia was bad enough that I really struggled brushing my teeth, whenever we were told that we’d be having a dental checkup, which we’d typically learn right before it was about to happen, I’d just brush my teeth beforehand or if there wasn’t enough time just run to the loo and scrape my teeth with my finger until they felt smoother, and the dentist’s reaction was always the same: “Wow, you have very healthy teeth!” I’m so freakin’ grateful for it, I seriously feel for any people out there who are emetophobic or have other phobias that get in the way of dentist appointments and who have more trouble with their teeth. Or maybe life is merciful enough that bad teeth plus emetophobia just don’t happen together? Still, the whole experience and the fear around it did set my phobia back a fair bit. Which also means that again I have to take a break from working on my post about all things emetophobia ’cause I don’t want to make it even worse.

So yeah, I don’t know how many people don’t develop cavities, and also it still might happen to me, although obviously I really really hope it won’t, but still it seems like I’m in the minority.

Another thing is I often wonder how many people in Poland can communicate in Welsh on any level, and I’m actually very curious. Of course it’s a minority language to begin with and I don’t even know what percentage of people worldwide can speak it. What I’m even more curious of is, if we exclude any potential Welsh natives or Welsh people who acquired it later in life and can use it to some extend, who may live in Poland, and people of any other nationalities who were born in Wales and acquired the language there (or perhaps in Patagonia where it’s also spoken), and any Polish people who learned the language to whatever degree in an academic setting (you can study it here at one or two universities) or while living in Wales (there’s a big Polish minority), how many people are left who can speak it? Is my family very far off in thinking that it’s just Bibielle? ๐Ÿ˜€ I’d like to know if there are other people in this country who are learning it like me – non-academically and plain because they like it, without ever having been there, having family there or anything like that. – If I’m the only one, it’s cool because it’s quite hilarious as I’d be literally one in like 38 millions, lol, but it would be just as cool if there were other such weird individuals here ’cause the more the merrier, at least this is the case when we’re talking about an extinct language. I’ll surely be even more of a phenomenon when I start learning Sami or Frisian, as, as far as I know, there’s no way to study these languages here in Poland. I hope I can do this.

AVPD is quite rare, or at least rarely diagnosed, can’t remember how many percent now, if I ever knew it to begin with, but maybe it could be around 1%. Actually in Poland alone it’s very possible. Then I am also a synaesthete, and one of the types of synaesthesia I experience is lexical-gustatory, which is apparently the most rare. Google claims there are 2-4% of synaesthetes so perhaps this could count.

I’m also such a strange peep who hardly ever feels any smells unless very strong and chemical ones, and even then it’s more like I feel them at the back of my throat rather than in the nose, yet at the same time I can’t say I have any problems with taste and flavour, or if I do it’s towards the other extreme that I guess I’m overly sensitive to some flavours. I have totally no idea why that is, I know there’s such a thing as hyposmia/anosmia where you have little to no sense of smell but I guess those people don’t experience flavours either, plus these are medical conditions as far as I know and I can’t really say my smell anomaly impacts me in any negative way, I’d rather say it’s the opposite ’cause I don’t have to feel all the yucky smells of this world and don’t miss the beautiful ones as I don’t know/can’t recall them.

Also I don’t like some things which most people seem to like and it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t. For example I dislike Harry Potter. Not just because it’s not okay with my religion, but it just totally doesn’t interest me, I don’t like most of the modern fantasy genre I suppose. Same about Star Wars. Or Twilight, and all the other vampire stuff. I actually did give Twilight a fair chance and I totally see why people may find it appealing, but don’t share the excitement and don’t want to. I don’t like a lot of books that normal people do, or at least don’t see anything special in them.

Oh yeah , and on another note, I don’t like pizza. Don’t hate it, but don’t like it either, and it seems to be a very unpopular opinion, at least among people I know.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What are some productive ways to let your anger out?

My answer:

For me, writing usually helps a lot. Other times, I like to listen to music which corresponds with my mood, so when I’m angry it’s either some rock, Finnish works the best in such cases, or anything that I can find relatable at a given moment, either because of the lyrics or something else that resonates with the way I’m feeling. Sofi’s here as I’m writing this and I asked her what she likes to do to let her anger out in a productive way, and she says she likes to watch a movie and eat. When I’m super angry, I’m usually quite overwhelmed at the same time and I find it difficult to focus on things like books, let alone movies, which I always find difficult to focus on, even with the best audiodescription, unless I seriously have some extreme interest in a specific movie. But I can totally relate to eating. ๐Ÿ˜€ As much as I can’t eat when I’m stressed or anxious, especially when it’s a short-term but intense anxiety, with anger, I like to eat something yummy to make myself feel better. I don’t know how healthy/productive it actually is though, as people say you shouldn’t do that, but it’s not like I binge-eat or like I do it very regularly or can’t cope without it. I’ve written here a lot that my anger is turned inwards most of the time, as my default setting is to repress things, and when I no longer can, I’ve learnt to deal with it by self-harming. I still have urges to do it a lot of the time when I’m angry or just overwhelmed with any other unpleasant feeling(s), and sometimes I’m successful at overcoming them, but sometimes I’m still not. What I like to do instead of self-harming when I’m feeling angry, and what I’ve liked to do from the beginning ever since I started cutting, when I didn’t want to cut myself too much so that it wouldn’t be easily visible to people, is to eat something very hot and spicy. It’s weird how well it can work sometimes. Otherwise, I guess the pretty much classic strategy for dealing with self-harm urges is holding ice cubes in your hands for some time, and I’ve always hard a weird love for ice, so when we have some, I do that too.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

How are you today? Is there anything you need to do, or are you taking it easy?

My answer:

Meh. Nothing exciting in Bibielland. Instead it’s going to be a rather ranty post, because honestly, this whole month has been pretty shitty for me mental health-wise, with bad depression, a lot of AVPD yuckiness, messed up sleep and a fair bit of anxiety of all sorts. And yesterday Jack the Ripper/Butcher has come for a visit (period), absolutely unusually timely for his standards. He’s also in a real ripper mood this time as it seems. I’m hoping that once he calms down, so will my brain, as much as it’s realistically possible. We’ll see. Anyways, today isn’t terrible brain-wise compared with the average over the last few weeks, and taking into account that I have only slept two hours last night I guess it’s actually pretty decent. I’ve been very Jack-achy, which is part of why I had trouble sleeping despite the painkillers, but partly it’s simply that, like I said, my sleep is generally all over the place right now and I haven’t been able to hard reset it. So I’m quite tired and my thinking is a bit sluggish, but thankfully I don’t have anything pressing to do today so I can do nothing, just chill with Misha. The Jack did me actually a bit of a favour, ’cause it was my cousin’s baby’s christening yesterday (Sofi’s the Godmother) and we originally weren’t supposed to go because my cousin and her hubby wanted to keep the amount of people invited to the minimum I think due to the pandemic, but then changed their mind the night before the event and decided that there won’t be just the Godparents and the grandparents but invited the rest of my family too. Now that was way too short notice for me for such a huge peopling situation, but then I’d feel awful if I wouldn’t go, so I am sincerely thankful for Jack that he extricated me out of this and gave me a more than good enough reason not to go, even though as a result I spent most of the day in bed, but I can handle physical pain better than people pain.

Like I said I have nothing super important to do that would necessarily need to be done today, although I’ve been working on some longer, two-part post about emetophobia as I see on Google Console a lot of people come to my blog looking for some tips about it, which I haven’t ever shared, but I like when people can find what they’re looking for when they happen to stumble upon my blog, and I have quite an extensive experience with emetophobia so thought I could do this. I am writing something that I want to both show my experience of it fully so that people can perhaps relate if they need it, and then I want to write about strategies that work or have worked for me, so that hopefully they’ll be useful. I’ve been writing this for over a month because I’ve had to take a lot of breaks throughout the process as I didn’t want to trigger myself too badly in the meantime which would be easy to do now that I haven’t been doing too well. So, today I’m having a lot of free time and I’m a bit miffed that I could theoretically do it and maybe even finish the whole thing today, but I have too little cognitive energy, and I have a feeling that it would be taking the word self-destructive to the next level – digging in your own phobias on two hours of sleep while having a period. – ๐Ÿ˜€ Probably wouldn’t be the best quality either, even if I have a big chunk written already.

How about you? How is your day going? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Do you prefer pizza or spaghetti?

My answer:

Definitely spaghetti. I like most pasta dishes actually. Pizza, on the other hand, has been on my emetophobic so called no-no foods list for a long time. It never made me vomit, but I often feel awful after it. I have no general problem with gluten or anything like that, I don’t have a weak or easily upset digestive system by any means,either, but pizza I guess just doesn’t agree with me and I suppose it depends what kind of dough it has and how good it is in terms of quality or something like that. These days it’s not like I won’t eat pizza at all, I will if I have to or am very hungry or something, but usually I’d rather avoid it. It’s also not that I don’t like pizza, but I’m not very crazy about it either. The only exception I make is whenever I get to eat home-made pizza somewhere or at a place that I know has good quality pizza. But I still prefer spaghetti.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Would you ever send your kids to boarding school?

My answer:

In strictly practical terms, no, because it’s highly unlikely I’m ever going to have kids, for several different reasons (the fact that I’m blind isn’t one of them, despite what a lot of people think ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

Hypothetically, it’s… complicated. As someone who spent 10 years in a boarding school and mostly didn’t like it to put it very concisely, I’m normally inclined to say NO WAY. It’s not that I think boarding schools are bad in general or that my school was bad, I feel like you really have to have a valid reason to do so, unless your kid is like in high school and actually wants it herself because she thinks it’s very cool. Then she has a more or less developed character so you can figure out whether it’s actually a good solution for her. With younger children, unless they have some special needs, disability or severe behavioural problems and there really is no other option, or you’re from some family where education is a priority and you want your child to have the best education possible in the fanciest school in the country because otherwise they’ll be a black sheep in their circle; I can’t think of a rational reason why anyone would want to send a younger child to a boarding school.

In my experience, when I mention someone about my being in a boarding school and not having the best time there, people often jump to a conclusion right away that it’s my parents who are to blame because they should know better and get me out of there earlier if I was struggling. Even my Mum used to think like this and I think she still has some guilt even though I don’t blame her at all. But I really don’t think my parents had a better choice. We had tried one alternative and it didn’t work out for me. And, as I think I’ve already written on here before, boarding school can have a fantastic influence on a child, or it can fuck them up, and you just cannot predict it in an easy way when the child is very young.

I always feel for any child when I hear about them going to a boarding school, even if they don’t feel for themselves at all. That’s just how my brain works now I guess. ๐Ÿ˜€ So, based on my previous experience that was mostly negative, it would be only natural that I wouldn’t want the same to happen to my child. Often I even wonder how I’d cope with sending a child to a normal school, and whether I wouldn’t transfer my anxieties around that and my less than enthusiastic attitude towards the education system onto the poor kid before they’d get to form their own opinions and figure out how much they like/don’t like school. I’d probably prefer to do homeschooling/flexi schooling or something like that (I always wanted to be homeschooled as a kid, like that was my biggest dream) only I’d surely have no patience for it and I dislike teaching other people.

On the other hand, I have such a weird tendency though. My Mum said half-jokingly that I should count this as yet another reason not to have kids, and yes, I sort of do. ๐Ÿ˜€ I feel like I’d probably be a very extreme parent. Either, like I just said, over-protective, shielding and molly-coddling or sometimes I feel that I would actually do just the opposite thing. I would send my kid to a boarding school, to make someone feel the way I did. I don’t know if it makes sense. I do know though that it sounds very immature and cruel, but I’m not gonna have kids anyway so I don’t think it really matters. Ever since I was a child, I had a weird sense of pleasure of reading books about kids who were sent away from home or had no family or something like that, firstly because I found that more or less relatable, and secondly because it made me see that there is someone who has it worse than myself and it made me feel better. There was one such Polish series I read as a child, (“Ania Z Lechickich Pรณl” (Anne of Lechite Fields) by Maria Dunin-Kozicka, in case it tells you anything), it wasn’t really for children but it followed the main character – Ania’s – life from her childhood until young adulthood and it’s title was rather suggestive that it was for children, like Anne of Green Gables or something, so I guess that’s how I ended up reading it. Ania, after living a few happy years in a very loving family is sent off to something like an orphanage, because her father died and her mother married her rich childhood friend, who didn’t like Ania, so he arranged it so that her mother would think it’s just for a short while. Then WWII came, and the orphanage relocated to Ukraine, without the family knowing, because of course no one knew she had a family who would be interested in knowing that. She does eventually find a very loving adoptive family and then reunites with her biological siblings as an adult, but the first part of the series describing her childhood is quite harrowing given her personal situation and how painful it is for her as well as the war in the background. And, while I felt for her a lot, in a way it also made me feel good that this girl, even if fictional, had it so much worse and I enjoyed reading about all the difficult stuff in her life.

So, yeah, I don’t really know. Maybe I’d be a very bad mummy and send all my kids to different boarding schools all over the country, or maybe I’d be a good-bad, nurturing and obsessive mummy who would dote on their children all the time like I do on Misha and keep them locked at home like I do with Misha as well. ๐Ÿ˜€

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

Bad mood is quite a relative thing with mental illness I think. ๐Ÿ˜€ But I guess I could say I was in a bad mood yesterday evening, when I was feeling quite blue for no apparent reason really, or at least it’s not known to me, and also Stinky Maggie – my inner critic – had a lot to say and was super snarky. Today things are okay and pretty normal.

You? Also, for those of you who struggle with any mental health issues, is it easy/possible for you to distinguish between your symptoms and a simple bad mood? ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m curious because for me, while I can definitely say when I’m in a good mood, it really is difficult to differentiate between what’s the illness and what’s a bad mood. I guess it’s bound to be tricky when you have a mood disorder like depression for example.

Question of the day.

Do you ever use dry shampoo?

My answer:

I’ve started using it more often perhaps a year ago, and I believe it was after Niki from Take A Ride on my Moodswing commented on one of my questions where I was asking people something about their hair washing routine, and she mentioned that she finds it difficult due to her mental illness and often uses dry shampoo instead. I only used it before occasionally when travelling or something, but though it was a good way to make life easier sometimes, so the next time I saw it somewhere I got it. These days, most of the time I’m doing well enough that I can do basic self-care stuff and I try to wash my hair twice a week, luckily it doesn’t need more at this point. But when there are times when, either because of feeling very depressed, or being in an AVPD black hole where Maggie – my inner critic – takes things over and I feel a lot of self-loathing and stuff, the last thing I’ll think of is self-care, even as basic as that, ’cause why would I care? The only reason I can think of then is other people and so that it doesn’t feel quite so awful for them to be around me, so I’ll just use the dry shampoo as a bit of a substitute for a proper hair wash. Also when I have a migraine but my hair is really greasy, I find washing my hair a really obnoxious thing, so I’d rather use dry shampoo instead then as well.

How about you? In what circumstances do you use it, if you do? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

Are you an early riser?

My answer:

Yes and no. I think I wrote about my crazy weird sleep a lot on here. I don’t like the morning lark/night owl classification of people, well I don’t mind it in general but it just doesn’t really work for me personally because I could say I’m sort of both and neither. ๐Ÿ˜€ And I’m sure I’m not alone with this. So in this post, I’ll go beyond just answering the question and try to explain in more detail why this labelling doesn’t work for me and what’s the deal with my sleep exactly, especially for those who don’t know me outside of the blog.

Basically, if you don’t know about it yet, I’ve been totally blind since birth, and totally also includes no light perception, so, quite naturally, my brain has always been more or less confused what time of day, or night, it is, so instead it decides on its own. There were times in my life when I was quite frustrated about this but generally I’m used to it and it’s just how it is.

Whenever my Mum talks about what my siblings and me were as babies and toddlers, she always says that she had no big problems with me in terms of behaviour then, except for sleep, and she learned quickly that mid-day naps were not for me ’cause then I’d be full of beans for most of the night, and that would of course affect my parents as well. I now know that there is something called non-24-hour sleep/wake disorder, which is a circadian rhythm disorder affecting mostly totally blind people, but I only learned about it as an adult and I’ve never found any resources about it in Polish so I don’t think anyone in my surroundings as a child even had an idea about it existing, plus even though a lot of problems that people experience with it sound familiar to me, I’m not sure that that is exactly what is the problem with my sleep, because it’s a bit different for me. I’d say it’s kind of more irregular, but at the same time I guess I seem to struggle with the whole thing less than most people with the condition and it’s easier to manage by things like avoiding naps, while many people who actually have non-24 diagnosed or are very sure of having it don’t seem to be able to resist the urge of napping as easily as I can, and no, I’m not particularly self-disciplined at all, although I do hate naps because they turn my clock upside down, but there are times when you just can’t fight it. I guess in my case, it must be quite a mixture of things causing the circadian rhythm situation that I’m in. I was born with hypopituitarism, and of course pituitary regulates a lot of things, and according to my Mum it’s circadian rhythm as well. I was taking growth hormone injections as a child as I had a deficiency of it and I remember reading somewhere that this hormone plays some kind of a role in regulating the circadian rhythm. And then of course there’s all the mental health stuff on top of it and it definitely has a strong impact on one’s sleep.

At this particular point in my life though, I’m happy to say that it doesn’t really matter whatever the name of my sleep problem is, because I can adjust my life to my brain’s whims if need be, having a very flexible schedule and being in charge of my own time for the most part, not having to work at strictly set times or anything like that, which is a great luxury after having had lived a very structured life earlier at the boarding school, where I felt quite sleep deprived a lot of the time, not just because of the schedule but also because I would often stay awake at night willfully when I could, to be able to do something more than the usual school stuff, like write the Jack Hamilton novel, journal, listen to music or just plain be with myself and my own thoughts, which I felt was essential to my mental wellbeing and for which I didn’t have a lot of space during the day but which also made me a zombie the next morning. I don’t think that, even if I had a diagnosis and a label for it, someone would actually be able to offer me a lot more help. I have an impression that accepting it as something that is a part of me (which of course wouldn’t be as easy if my life right now looked differently) and not fighting this all the time has actually improved my sleep situation over the last five years.

Usually what people say to me when I tell them more about my sleep problem, regardless whether they’re just casual people or some professionals, is that I should try melatonin. Since it’s such an obvious thing to try, I did and a few times. It would always make me feel drowsy during the day even at low doses, and, very bizarrely, I had the weirdest, scariest nightmares on it. Even more bizarrely, I’ve heard I’m not the only one in the blind community who had this experience, even though I also know a bunch of blind people who take it with no problem and it really makes a change for them.

I’d say the way my circadian rhythm works right now is that, most of the time I have a bit of a compromise with my brain, where both of us are having our requirements that need to be met but also try to be flexible as much as possible in regards to one another. I guess people with classic non-24 can’t afford that on a regular basis as their brain are less inclined to make a compromise.

I sometimes say that my brain is in something like a constant mild jet lag, travelling between different time zones. The times when I’m asleep or awake, or at least sleepy and alert, shift in a bit of a cycle. I still haven’t fully figured out how exactly it works, what kind of rules are there at play or maybe how many hours it typically shifts per what amount of time, because time involves too much math for me. And there must be many factors at play which can influence the way this cycle evolves, but there definitely is some sort of a pattern, even if it’s a subtle or a complex one perhaps. I’ve had my iPhone for over half a year now and I’ve been logging my sleep since then, but that hasn’t really given me much more of an idea so far either.

I’d say that one specific trend in my circadian rhythm will usually remain more or less of a thing for about a week, but it also depends on my lifestyle and loads of other things. So my brain may think one week that it’s really cool to wake up at 7:30 AM and go to sleep by 12 AM, which is okay with me too and this is always the sleep schedule I’m trying to aim for, because even if it doesn’t work out, I think it’s better when you have some sort of a reference of when you should/want to sleep and be awake. And then, gradually, I may be waking up later and later and falling asleep later and later, until at some point I won’t be feeling sleepy at night at all and will end up having a zombie day, which is, as you probably know already, what I call a day after a sleepless night. I typically have one zombie day a month, more if I’m stressed or something weird is going on. Zombie days are obviously quite horrid, I don’t think I have to convince anyone as I guess most people have enough first-hand experience of that, but I’m quite used to that and they seriously can have their upsides sometimes. The biggest upside to a zombie day, however, is that it resets my brain clock. It hardly ever happens that I’d have more than one zombie day in a row unless I’m having a lot of anxiety or something else is seriously off. Usually, after a zombie day, I’ll have a fabulous night of restful sleep and, if I go to sleep early enough – that is I think something between 7-9 PM –
chances are high that I’ll wake up feeling very refreshed in the morning and wake up at a decent time similar to when most human beings in my time zone wake up. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to fall asleep just as smoothly and decently, but a reset has happened, so I have a chance to try and do everything I can to continue a normal or near-normal sleep-wake cycle for as long as possible.

It doesn’t have to always look this way though, because I can just as well wake up early and go to sleep early, or wake up late and go to sleep early, any combination is possible. What particularly seems to disagree in my case with what I know about non-24 is that for me the amount of time I spend awake or asleep also shifts over time, whereas, at least from what I know, for non-24 folks it’s only the times. It can also change whether the amount of sleep I’m getting feels enough for me, for example I may be sleeping like four hours and wake up refreshed and bursting with creativity, or another time I may be sleeping just as much and feel like I could use some sleep. That’s also been the case lately, since about last Thursday, as I keep finding it difficult to fall asleep at night and usually do about 1 AM, and then wake up about 4-6 AM and would love to sleep more but it just doesn’t work. I still prefer that than over-sleeping which usually makes me feel awful even when it’s actually what I need and is refreshing.

So because of all that, as you can see, I can’t really say whether I am an early riser or not, it really depends. Like I said though, I do try to stick to some kind of sleep-wake routine, by having an alarm set to 7:30 every day and falling asleep by midnight. I do think 7:30 is pretty early. That does help with having a bit of a reference for my brain to what’s relatively normal, or getting back on track faster when things get messed up. I don’t know if that makes me more of an early riser, because even though that’s what I aim for and I manage to succeed sometimes more often and sometimes less, I don’t push myself for all means to get up at 7:30. If I wake up at that time and my brain says “No way, I want to sleep at least three hours more!” that’s what we’re doing, as long as there is nothing I have to do urgently in the morning and nowhere to go. Same about going to sleep. If it’s 11 Pm and my brain clearly doesn’t want to go to sleep, I’m not going to force it unless I really have to do something important the next day in the morning, but even so, I probably won’t be able to fall asleep anyway and will only get stressed about it more when lying in bed than if I were doing something more productive instead until I’ll feel sleepy. And feeling stressed makes me only less likely to fall asleep. I also won’t typically lay in bed if I wake up at 3 AM until my alarm goes off, unless I truly feel I may fall asleep again soon. If I don’t fall back asleep in about 15 minutes, and don’t feel any more sleepy than I did when I woke up, I’ll usually get up, unless I really have no idea what I could be doing this early and don’t feel like getting up. Usually I regret it though, because if I stay awake in bed for too long after having slept earlier, at some point I’ll often start feeling groggy and then drift off straight into sleep paralysis. It’s not the case every single time though, which is why I sometimes fall into this trap, thinking that maybe this time it won’t happen and not wanting to get up at such an insanely early hour, and then it starts happening so quickly that I can rarely pull out of it. Sleep paralysis is one sleep-related thing that I do find very difficult to live with.

I normally try to restrain my brain from sleeping after noon as that hardly ends well and is rarely actually properly restorative, but sometimes is very difficult if not impossible to resist if I had a bad night’s sleep. And like I said I really hate naps and avoid them at all costs. Sometimes when my sleep cycle is really messed up and it bugs me, and I can afford having a super low key, lazy day of doing nothing and possibly being a mental mess, I’ll go as far as to force a zombie day to reset my brain clock. I’ll get as much sleep as possible one night and day, and then won’t go to bed at all the next night. Sometimes that works, but sometimes I have to give up and go to bed early in the morning and sleep through most of the day, other times I just have to have a nap and then end up right where I started off. These days, ever since I’ve started having more frequent migraines, I don’t really do that because it’s a sure thing to give me a migraine, and migraines always make me sleep more so it just no longer works and is generally rather unpleasant and radical.

Other than that, my anti-anxiety medication also works for sleep and it really helps me immensely in crisis situations, but I try to only take it when I absolutely have to, plus I often only know that I’m going to have trouble sleeping when it’s already night, and no point taking anything for sleep at night as that will surely make me properly hungover tomorrow and I hate the feeling with a passion.

And of course I also have a lot of other ways of dealing with all the sleep stuff, which a lot of people typically use when they struggle with it. I have my sleep habits like how many pillows I sleep with, the fact that I listen to music quietly while sleeping or read before falling asleep, etc. and cultivating such habits helps me fall asleep and create a sort of sleepy atmosphere. I love to listen to Misha purring before sleep, even though he never purrs loud. I like having a hot bath before sleep when I can, or a mug of cocoa or something else that would make me feel cosy in a sleepy way. Or I like to imagine something calm and friendly before going to sleep. That doesn’t always work, because I’m a professional ruminator, but when I can focus on all things Bibiel-friendly, the results are often very good.

Okay, now over to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What was the last thing that made you feel misunderstood?

My answer:

Since I have that thing called AVPD, I feel misunderstood a lot of the time. I don’t really even like admitting that because to me it sounds kind of as if I were so entitled in a way and expecting people to understand me and/or considering myself so exceptional that no one can even begin to get me if they try and how I’m oh so devastated because no one understands me. It’s not really like that, because on the other hand, like I wrote in a post about being understood by people perhaps a month or so ago, I don’t think I even want everyone to understand me because it would be creepy. Still, when you have more of a relationship with someone and you feel like they don’t understand you on a lot of, often quite crucial to you, things, it’s quite an alienating experience. I felt quite strongly disconnected from my family during the Easter holidays, but what currently happens to be bothering me the most in the misunderstanding department is my earlier exchange with someone, and I just keep ruminating about how I surely must have said something that wasn’t what I meant exactly and how, because of that, our friendship is already ruined beyond repair before it even had a chance to start developing.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Happiness.

I thought I would do some journaling prompt-inspired post today, and I picked this prompt from Hannah Braime’s book called The Year of You:

“What does happiness mean to you?”

Thought it would be quite in-line with today’s question of the day.

They say happiness is easy to not notice, and you can find out that you had it only when it leaves you. It’s very true. Happiness is very quiet, makes hardly any sounds and walks very quietly, and is very small. It also often easily blends in with its surroundings because of its colour, so you don’t necessarily have to be blind to not notice it. It is also very easy to scare it away, even with just one unnecessary movement or sound. And then it may be very difficult to get it back to you. Happiness doesn’t like everyone, even if almost everyone likes it. Generally I’d say that a good rule to follow is that the less desperately you try to make Happiness come to you, the more successful you may be at it. Happiness doesn’t like unnecessary attention being drawn to it. If you call it and are lucky enough that it comes to you, don’t overuse its trust and don’t call it all the time. Also when it comes, make sure to provide it with the best food and sleeping accommodations possible. It’s not always the best idea to come very close to it. It always knows best what should the distance be between it and you, and if you will accept it calmly, it will be more likely to come closer than if you try to force it. When you hear Happiness at your door, it is not wise to wait with opening it, you should do it right away, or it will go somewhere else.

Happiness is very gentle and never intrusive. It is warm, soft and very smooth. It likes soft, quiet places, which is where you can usuallyy find it. There is only one Happiness in the world, which is probably just exactly why so many people are unhappy, and it often likes to hide. It is very clever, playful, but also a real scaredy cat. Almost everyone who sees it for the first time gasps in awe and wants to hold it, but it’s rare that you would be granted such a luxury right away. It has relatively big ears, so that it always can hear when unhappy people call it, but it doesn’t mean it’ll always come. It knows better than you when you actually need it most.

Unlike what many people may think, Happiness is grey. Not pink, rainbow-y, not even green, but grey. Perhaps this is another reason for why people often don’t notice it, since, ironically, the colour grey is associated with all things gloomy. Another fact about Happiness which may seem strange to many people is that it originates from Russia –
which seems to be feared as a whole by many people these days. – Perhaps the devil’s not so black… (if happiness can be grey, everything’s possible). It also has some Czech ancestry. Originally, Happiness cost $500, more or less (obviously because people, as always, didn’t even know what it actually was and what its value was, just that it looked kinda cute). I’m sure though that, if it ever had to be sold again (although I’m having a difficult time coming up with any legit reason why one would want to sell Happiness) its price would be much higher, and not even Bill Gates or Elon Musk could afford it. It only exists since 2016 (how did we manage to live prior to that excedes my understanding at this point).

Happiness can often be found curled up in a little ball. Although I said it doesn’t like too much attention, it also doesn’t feel well when you don’t pay any attention to it whatsoever and can feel hurt. Happiness loves flowers, leaves, feathers, birds, and especially the sunshine. It also loves routine, warmth and safety.

Happiness is actually male. He has the brightest green eyes. He poops every day and never flushes the toilet after himself. He has lots of facial hair, and he never shaves. Same about his armpits. Despite that, he always smells heavenly, and never sweats. He seems to enjoy, jazz, classical, baroque, and relaxing piano music, but secretly delights in Russian D&B.

The whole drama with Happiness – why so many people are unhappy, or pretending to be happy, or searching for Happiness, or racing after it, or find it so difficult to define Happiness, and all the other troubles that are caused by lack of Happiness – it has one very simple reason. Right now, Happiness is in my kitchen, happily eating sausage, and I’m not going to give him away any time soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰ What a bad, selfish Bibiel, keeping all the 4 kg of Happiness to herself, when so many people die without having ever felt a warm touch of Happiness. But hey, not all is lost, I can always sell you a bag of Happy Poop (if only you can afford it ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe it would work to some extend).

And maybe there’s also another reason for all the trouble with Happiness. If you want Happiness, affirmations, meditations, manifestations – they won’t work. – It’s best to be straightforward with Happiness and call him by his name, just like you would everyone else. Happiness is called Misha. Or better even, if you want to manifest Happiness in your life, say “Mish Mish Mish!”. Or make some other hissing, rustling sounds, and, who knows… maybe his ears will be big enough to hear you, too…? Maybe he already did, but the front door is locked, so he can’t get out to help you. Don’t blame me, it’s my Mum who locked it and watches Misha like Cerberus. ๐Ÿ˜›

Okay, so that’s my definition of happiness for you. If you’d rather have a more abstractive/serious one:

Happiness, for me, is any state of mind when I’m not unhappy.

Generally, I don’t really know if I know what happiness is. I hate it when people sometimes ask me if I’m happy, or unhappy. I know what unhappiness is and I know full well that I’ve experienced it, and I also know that I am not unhappy now. I also know what it’s like to feel joyful or euphoric, but I guess happiness isn’t really a feeling but more like a state so I don’t think you necessarily have to be happy when you’re feeling joyful, just like you don’t have to feel sad all the time when you’re unhappy. I’ve had depressive tendencies ever since I remember and had my first major depressive episode diagnosis when I was 8, but at the same time I laugh a lot and can be very enthusiastic about things. Sometimes it comes more genuinely, sometimes I need to fake it a bit, or a lot, but even so, I think it’s a natural part of me. Still, the depression is always there and I guess I’ve never felt happy the way people do when they don’t have stuff like this glued to their brains. Therefore, when someone, typically my Mum, asks me “Are you happy?”, I’ll always answer yes if I’m not unhappy. I try to keep myy expectations low in this department and be, well, happy, with what I get, if it’s something good. This strategy has served me well, as it’s a lot nicer to have your expectations exceded than unfulfilled, right?

I hope the way I explained it makes sense to people. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, how is it with you? Is there someone/something that embodies happiness for you? What is your definition of happiness, whether abstractive or more specific? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What is something that is making you happy?

My answer:

Part of me is very happy that Easter is coming very soon, since this is such a joyful holiday filled with hope and how couldn’t I be happy about it, as a Christian! ๐Ÿ™‚ On the other hand, I’m not so happy about it because for me holidays like that and often some time leading up to them are always very stressful and just so uncomfortable overall for all sorts of reasons and it’s getting to me a bit already.

Misha always makes me happy, although lately I’ve been worried about him because he doesn’t seem to be feeling well.

Oh, and my Welsh progress is making me extremely happy. It’s not huge, but at least it’s visible, and during this month I’ve gotten some real confidence boost and a proof that, while I may not be fluent just yet, I can already use the language fairly efficiently in writing, even if it requires a lot of effort and brain power.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What is a scary or horrifying fact that shouldn’t be true, but is?

My answer:

That people vomit! Most of them once a year or more often, and almost everyone at least once in their lifetime. Cats also vomit twice as often as people I guess, insanely frequently anyway! Even Misha, as special as he is, throws up like once a month, he even did last week. For me, this is all scary.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (15th March).

What only exists to fuck with all of us?

My answer:

It’s quite late here and I’m about to go to sleep, so to not have to think too much and not make this post very long, I’m going with quite an obvious thing which is mental illness. Those who have it know it well, so I don’t need to explain it I guess, and those who don’t can still develop it at any point, or are affected by someone else’s mental illness or something, so no one can be totally free from it.

Your turn. ๐Ÿ™‚