Question of the day.

What makes you instantly lose respect for someone?

My answer:

First off, I try not to lose respect for people. I believe that this is something we all have an unconditional right to due to the fact that we’re humans. At the same time though, because we’re humans, we’re flawed, and having respect for everyone can be difficult. I may find it very hard to show respect to someone if they seem very deliberately rude and jerky and cocky, this really irks me, or if I know that they can be cruel, or do things that I consider totally morally unacceptable, or don’t seem to make a good use of their brains despite there not seeming to be any major obstacles for them to do it, or when people are simply disrespectful of me or my beliefs or opinions or values, either trying to aggressively shove theirs down my brain, I suppose in an attempt to convince me that theirs are objectively superior or something, or ridiculing my perspective based on stereotypes or some one-sided view they have. I mean, it’s obviously totally okay to try to make someone see their perspective, to discuss things, even fiercely discuss things, and I try to be flexible-minded and when I hear about something someone believes in that is new or illogical or crazy or just not right for me I try to put myself in their shoes and think of what might appeal to them in it, just out of curiosity. But when it gets aggressive, I feel like it’s no longer fair play because I try my best to be respectful, and the other side doesn’t, so it feels like the only way to go is either for me to get down to their level and kick them back, which I’m usually not the one to do and which would probably end up in a proper fight or something, and respect would be difficult not to lose in the meantime, or stop playing with them and go home play with Misha. Still, I’ll try my best to respect people regardless. I don’t think there has been anyone I’d know that I could say I have NO respect for. In any case, even when I struggle with this, it hasn’t ever happened that I’d lose respect for someone instantly. I suppose they’d have to do something really really atrocious that my brain just wouldn’t be able to cope with.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What are you thinking of right this second?

My answer:

My main thought right now appears to be that we haven’t had a question of the day in a while. I’m also stressed about lots of mundane things which I probably don’t need stressing about but it feels like if I won’t, nothing will go right. I’m also thinking about Misha who is on the wardrobe, tossing a little bit right now. And that I’m feeling quite chilly for some reason so I think I’ll have a real warm bath in a while, I haven’t had one in a long time as we only use the shower most of the time. And I’m thinking about Sofi, who has started volunteering in a local stud last weekend (not the one I’ve gone to but an adjacent one, a kind of more mainstream/normal one I’d say, where there are healthy horses, or horses of private people, and mostly able-bodied kids and Sofi says they seem quite snobbish, meanwhile where I go there’s mostly traumatised, elderly, sick horses and people with all sorts of disabilities, but mostly with things like severe cerebral palsy and while some people do things like dressage or disabled riding competitions, most just do hippotherapy alone). My instructor had also offered Sofi that she could come to her stud, but for some reason Sofi doesn’t seem to like her, I guess their personalities are too strong for each other or something, and my instructor is certainly quite eccentric. Sofi goes there on weekends and she can’t ride, at least not for now, but she takes care of the horses or helps out with other things like acquainting new kids with the place and she loves it, especially the directly horses-related part, of course. She’s there nearly all day every weekend day and so far is loving it. When she was starting this, I was thinking that it would be a shame if Sofi was in a stud and I wasn’t, so I thought that perhaps I should try coming back to horse riding and maybe my anxiety around this would be more manageable now again, it also appears that my instructor’s life is a lot less hectic at the moment. Except, a few days before Sofi was to go volunteering for the first time, I got that yucky, recurring skin infection on my calf which heals for ages and can hurt like shit when it’s in full bloom, and from my previous experiences I know that it’s not the wisest thing to ride while this is going on because riding irritates it and makes it hurt more. So no riding for me still, at least for now. Part of me is relieved that I don’t have to confront this just right now, and probably for quite some time, but another part of me is like “THIS IS FLIPPIN’ UNFAIR!!! Sofi has way more horse time than me!” So I’m processing what Sofi has told me about her day at the stud, and how they were celebrating early st. Hubert’s day (which is actually November 3 and he’s something like a patron saint of equestrians and horses). This makes me also think of all the memories of my own that I have of this day across many years during which I was riding and how cool that was. Oh yeah, and some part of my brain is registering that my leg’s hurting, though it’s just in the background, at least when I’m not walking a lot. Also in the background, I’m listening to Swedish radio and trying to figure out where the guy who’s currently speaking might be from, because he has a really weird, quite intriguing accent. πŸ˜€ Doesn’t sound like foreign, but more like something Swedish that I just don’t think I’ve heard before.

You? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Since it’s my parents’ civil wedding anniversary today, and only today they realised that it must have been a Friday 13th, my question for you is the following:

What’s the most inappropriate song to play at a wedding?

My answer:

I haven’t been to very many weddings at all, but a lot of the ones that I have been to, or that I’ve heard of, have featured a song that I think is incredibly cringeworthy to play at this very time. I don’t know if my parents had it too at their wedding, but if so, then it could seriously be seen as a double jinx. It’s a bit like a tradition to play this at weddings, as if people had no idea what it’s really about but just think it’s some rather sentimental, for many people beautiful, song about a wedding from the bride’s perspective. For the longest time I thought I was the only human being in Poland who noticed this or felt amused and/or bothered in even the slightest way by the dichotomy, and that everyone else only cares that this song is only ABOUT a wedding, and not necessarily perfect FOR a wedding, but some years ago I learned that my Mum feels this way too so perhaps there are even more of us outsiders who sometimes pay attention to lyrics. It’s really quite silly though how people can’t even understand the lyrics in their own language. πŸ˜€

The song I’m talking about is a Polish ’70s pop ballad called “WindΔ… do Nieba” (A Lift to Heaven) by 2 Plus 1.

Like I said, it’s written from the perspective of a bride who is writing her “last” love letter to a guy she’s actually in love with, on her wedding day where she’s supposed to marry another man. The guy she’s actually in love with is presumably an actor, because she says she saw him “once” “in technicolour”. She explicitly states that she doesn’t love the guy she’s about to marry, and that it’s the actor guy who plays the main role in her life, “but a girl cannot walk through the world completely alone”. And then in the chorus she describes how they’re already bringing her a wedding dress and a veil and all sorts of stuff that can give us some idea what this wedding actually looks like, and she concludes that they will carry her in a lift to heaven. I guess it’s this chorus that plays on people’s imagination and maybe it’s the only thing people pay attention to, and it makes an impression like it’s quite a grand wedding in a way I guess, so maybe that’s why people are so eager to play or perform it at weddings. Alternatively they don’t know what technicolour is so they get confused, but like I said, she says it clearly that she doesn’t love the one she’s marrying so I don’t think this knowledge is necessary, I don’t really have any idea about technicolour either other than it’s something with the cinema.

It’s quite hilarious, but also a bit jarring and grating and like I said also rather silly, and if I was superstitious I’d probably feel really concerned about couples who made a choice to have it played at their weddings. πŸ˜€ And personally I also just find this song in general rather cringey and kind of pathetic in a way.

What’s such a song in your opinion? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

If you had a choice to be immortal, would you take it? Why, or why not?

My answer:

Absolutely not! I mean, as a Christian, I do believe we are immortal anyway, in a spiritual sense, and that’s prettyy cool, but in this life, no way! Would be extremely exhausting, boring, and quite a curse. As someone who has quite a lot of passive suicidal thoughts or ideations humming in the background, which I usually ignore when I’m at my baseline mentally so it’s not a huge problem at this point but they’re still there, I’ve never been particularly attached to life. In that, most of the time I don’t hate my life or anything, I don’t actively want or do anything to die, I do have things in life that I really love, but if, say I’d become potentially deadly ill, I wouldn’t frantically fight for all means to survive, or if I learned that I’m going to die tonight, I’d be okay with it, as long as I could have at least a little while to prepare spiritually for it. Maybe I would have a bit of fear which is very natural for people when they die I guess, but so far I haven’t been afraid of death so I honestly don’t think I’d be very afraid if at all. To be honest, at this point in my life, from my current perspective, I’d be more scared of aging than death. But even if we’d invent things that could stop aging and make us immortal, that still wouldn’t do it to me. I must say I don’t understand the current trend or whatever that is, perhaps it’s not evenn current but something that’s always been a thing for humans, that a lot of us want to live LONG lives, that there’s so much talk about living a long life, here in Poland when it’s someone’s birthday people will often wish them “a hundred years”, and I’m always like wtf, how’s that supposed to be good wishes? When you say you don’t want to have a long life it’s like you’re saying a blasphemy. My grandma is like me and she always tells people not to wish her that, ’cause she already feels like her life’s been way too long, and everyone is horrified and indignant, even though she just says that normally and not in a suicidal way or anything. I can sort of understand people who say that they’d like to live a long life if they were very healthy and could be useful for their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren for many years and see things change in the world, ’cause that would be indeed very interesting to be able to have such a long perspective on all the changes in the world and its history. Like my Dad says he could happily live up to 200 years if he’d be relatively healthy. But still, even if I was healthy, I think it would be extremely tiring to live like that, with no end in sight. You see all your loved ones gradually die, one after another, the world changes like crazy so that you likely no longer feel as much a part of it because everything is so weird and different and difficult to relate, and other people have a problem relating to you as well, you wonder if you’ll ever die at all or will you keep going like that forever and in some 50 years maybe they’ll want you to be an exhibit in some museum and tell people stories from all the eras you’ve lived in. πŸ˜€ I don’t know about others but I am pretty sure I’d go hella cynical in all that time. I just totally don’t see the appeal. Especially that, after all, even living up to like 80 years old being perfectly healthy is a pretty rare occurrence, so while it can perhaps be an interesting dream to entertain, it doesn’t make sense to me that iin reality those people also do everything they can to live as long as possible. I realise it might change at some later point for me as I get older, but at thhis point, even living up to like 50 years feels like a freakishly long life. Not because I think 50 years is particularly old, but it definitely does feel long. Unfortunately for me though, my Dad’s family seems to have some pretty damn strong longevity genes, so I might have inherited them as well. The good thing is that his family also tend to stay very healthy even without some extremely healthy lifestyle, but still, the mere thought of living, and living, and living, and living makes me weary. πŸ˜€ Even when I play BitLife, which is a life simulation game, there it is really easy to make your character live quite a long life if you keep them healthy and happy and have a bit of a stroke of luck that nothing tragic happens to them and lead a low-risk life, and I once managed to make my character reach 120-something years. She was super healthy and happy and a millionaire withh a big, loving family, but living her for SOOO long was extremely boring, and seeing all her siblings, friends and then even children pass away, that was actually sad.

You? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What is one thing you’d completely rid the world of?

My answer:

There are tons of yucky things in the world, like I’ve no idea why does stuff like vomit or vomiting have to be a thing, or neurodegenerative diseases, or some absolutely freaky sounds, or small talk, or any other stuff that I find more or less scary or overwhelming. But as I thought of this question, I thought that, actually, the best thing, in my opinion, to rid the world of, would be the primary sin. As I guess that would get rid of a whole lot of other yucky stuff. And I’d be really curious what would the world and our existence and everything really look like and function more long-term. That would be quite fascinating.

What is such a thing for you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What social stigma does society need to get over?

My answer:

As someone who is disabled and mentally ill, the most instinctive answer for me is disability/mental illness stigma, but since many of my readers also have mental illnesses and/or disabilities, I figured I’d leave that in case someone would like to write about this and I’d write about something else. Recently we’ve been talking with my Mum about stigma that mothers have to face, and if I were a mother, I’d be pissed off big time about it. Even when I’m not, I find it very annoying. Being conservative, Christian, traditionalist in a lot of ways, albeit an open-minded and quirky one, and all sorts of things like that I’m not necessarily a feminist the way feminism is typically understood these days, and neither is my Mum, but I think both of us still are, just in a different way. I suppose though that in this case the more modern feminists would probably agree with me. What I’m talking about is, when a man who has children goes out for a beer with his friends, no one investigates where and with whom he left his children, no one makes a tragedy out of it that a dad went out on his own without dragging his kids along. When a woman goes out with her friends clothes shopping and happens to come across someone she knows in the meantime, she’ll very likely be questioned about where her children are, as if her sole function was being a mother. Many will even procede to make such a “cruel” mother feel guilty or something. I’m not saying that a father can replace a mother, and there are definitely things that mothers tend to do better than fathers, and that fathers tend to do better than mothers, hence I believe that it makes sense that their respective roles in the family should be different, but their responsibility for children, and the right to have other identities and not just one of a parent, is something they both should share.

Also in the family department, the childless/single people stigma bites. I know a lot of young single and/or childless people and it’s crazy how often I hear people talking to them or about them how they should start looking for someone, how it would be super cool and cute and amazing and delightful if they became a mummy or daddy, how it would be good if they found another half to make them happy, ask them if they already have someone, or when they’re gonna have kids etc. etc. etc. Probably the most of that stuff that I witness is directed at my brother, who has no plans of finding a girlfriend any time soon and thus of having children either. I’m in a similar situation, but luckily I get way less of such bullcrap because duh, I’m blind so in most people’s brains it’s probably not even possible for me to be in a relationship and have children. πŸ˜€ Even my Mum, who is a very open-minded thinker and doesn’t like going with a life scheme and all that, and always tells us that she doesn’t want us to feel pressured to do any of the normal stuff that people do, she’ll still sometimes sigh how she’d like for Olek to “settle” and “find someone”. Thankfully she always has me to remind her of her no schemes philosophy lol.

The main reason why I’m so opposed to people imposing their relationship/children views on other people is not even so much because I don’t like schemes, but more so because I think not everyone is a good fit to be a parent. It’s a great thing to have a great family if you can and if you’re a good parent, but I think it’s a really bad idea to make it seem so that it should be the majority’s vocation to have children. My Mum and me have come up with that idea many years ago that people should be tested in all sorts of ways whether they’re fit to be parents and then be allowed or not allowed to have children. Obviously in practice there would be loads of problems and controversies around it that would be super difficult to handle in real life, and especially if you look at it from our Christian perspective, but in any case, parenting is a very difficult task, probably the most difficult in the world, and few people at the age of 20 when they’re often emotionally still much like children themselves are ready to start raising children of their own and the whole social pressure is an awful idea.

What is such stigma in your opinion? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (26th September).

We haven’t had any questions of the day for quite a while, so let’s do some now. πŸ™‚

What do you think is the most annoying piece of current slang?

My answer:

I’m in no position to make any particularly meaningful statements about English slang, given that I’m not an English native, don’t live in an English-speaking country to be able to immerse myself in slang regularly and know what’s current and what’s not, and I don’t really mingle with people who would use a whole lot of slang. Despite I’m very much into language(s) and linguistics and that definitely includes slang, even in Polish I don’t mingle with people who would use loads of it and I’m sure I’m very much behind as I’m quite an alien in general. These days I mostly get an idea about current slang from Sofi and if I like something I incorporate it into my own vocabulary, but Sofi herself doesn’t use a lot of slang and often doesn’t have much of a clearer idea what things are supposed to actually mean. Besides, a lot of what I’m introduced to by her is actually English words or English calques or some other Ponglish stuff, so to me that’s not even slang but normal English words. That’s why I don’t think I can say much about the most current Polish slang either. I guess one thing that annoys me a bit is that overanglicisation of everything that I mentioned. I mean, I absolutely LOVE English language, and for some kids (like Sofi) this way is one of very few of actively learning and actually retaining any English vocabulary, and English has SO many expressions and words that Polish doesn’t have so I too very often have super strong urges to use English words even with monoglots because otherwise it feels like there’s no way I’m going to get my point across and it’s frustrating. I’m not a purist, I don’t hate loanwords when they serve a purpose, and I believe a language is supposed to evolve or otherwise it’s dead, it’s also impossible to have a language with no loanwords perhaps unless it’s a conlang or something else rather artificial like that. But what I’m not a fan of is when the entire nation who has their own language suddenly starts replacing their own, perfectly functional words with foreign words that mean exactly the same, I guess just because the English words sound more trendy or something. Say there’s the word fame, which Polish youth tends to spell fejm which makes more sense with Polish phonetics. And that doesn’t make sense to me because we have our own words which express the same thing, and I’m a bit worried that in more long-term perspective this is gonna do a fair bit of damage to our language and many other languages as obviously it’s not like this process is limited to Polish. It can be funny mixing languages like that, I also often like throwing some English or other words into a Polish utterance for fun or expressive effect or because I like their sound more or because my brain sometimes just makes me do it for some not easily explicable reasons, but when it’s something more permanent and on a more collective level and we all speak like this ALL the time, like I said, gets slightly worrying. Also sometimes I have an impression that with some words those kids don’t even exactly understand the English meanings of those words, so I wonder if it isn’t a bit like that for every kid or teenager those English words mean something a bit different. For example Sofi claims that the word cringe (or krindΕΌ, as she prefers to spell it, which spelling always makes me cringe when I see it ’cause it looks so weird lol, and she pronounces it with an ee as well of course as that’s way more natural in Polish) is not so much about something being embarrassing in a disgusting, awkward or uncomfortable way but more in a hilarious way. I think something cringey certainly can be hilarious, but in her definition it’s a primary thing. Or maybe the Polish definition of krindΕΌ just really is different than the English definition of cringe.

Another thing which I guess could be classified as slang is acronyms and more exactly what I find grating is using them profusely in spoken language. Like, why?! I understand not having enough space or time or brain capacity to write in lengthy paragraphs, but when you speak in acronyms all the time it feels like you don’t really care about your interlocutor. Even when someone does that all the time in writing, I don’t like it. Sometimes when Sofi reads to me for some reason her texting interactions with her friends, to me it could just as well be some beat box exchange or something, there’s hardly any vowels. πŸ˜€ When she overdoses on acronyms while writing with myself or talks to me in acronyms I just go all the way like: “Y dnt u wrt lk a hmn?” (Why don’t you write like a human?). With other people, especially such that I don’t know too well, if I see that they use loads of acronyms without any particular purpose that I could figure out, my brain tends to quite automatically jump to the conclusion that they either don’t really like/struggle to write or aren’t particularly smart unless I have some evidence that challenges such conclusions. Too many acronyms can sometimes really affect the aesthetic feel of a language for me, and as both a linguophile and lexical (among others) synaesthete language aesthetics are important for me.

What’s such a thing(s) that annoys you? πŸ™‚

If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare.

We haven’t had a

Weekend Coffee Share

in a while, so I thought we could have one today, ’cause I have a couple things to share with you all, and I want to hear how you’ve been doing, too. πŸ™‚ So if you feel like having a cuppa, or something yummy to eat, come along and join me, and I’ll be super happy to have you here! πŸ™‚

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee (we only have black, whole bean coffee in here right now, which I personally think is the best, but if you’d like something fancier you can bring it with yourself). I can also offer you some tea (we do have plenty of these), or cocoa, or some orange juice, or kefir if you like it or want to find out what it’s like, or plain tap water, or you can bring some other drink that you like. I don’t have much interesting stuff where food is involved, if you’re properly hungry and are a meat eater there’s a fair bit of meat left because we didn’t manage to eat everything for lunch, or I can make you a sandwich, but otherwise I suggest you bring something yourself if you’d like a snack with your coffee or something. Yeah I know, bad Bibiel, what sort of coffee share it is without providing your guests with snacks, and a proper variety of coffees. Will try to prepare myself better next time. πŸ˜€

 

So if you’re sitting comfortably and have something to munch and/or sip on, let’s get into it. πŸ™‚

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

If we were having coffee, I’d start with the mundane topic of weather and share what it’s been like here this week. Because it’s been quite warm, if not hot, for late summer, at least here. It’s a common thing that late August is all gloomy and rainy, and then the first few days of September it gets maliciously hot so that poor kids who are starting school are melting indoors and want to go out and play but can’t cus they have to do some goddam fractions or whatever else they have to do, but after these few days it usually gets a fair bit colder and stays this way. Well, not this year. This year, the first week of September was very very windy and rainy and quite chilly, whereas this week it was as high as 27 C on Tuesday. It felt a lot fresher outside though than the temps would suggest and was just nice and summery. Then yesterday we got pretty bad rain and storms, and today it’s cooler but still very sunny.

If we were having coffee, I’dfill you in on

the Sofi situation.

In the post above I wrote how Sofi is suspected by her new GP to possibly have Marfan syndrome and that she’s gonna have genetic testing in February. In the meantime, my Mum had been ruminating about it quite a lot, which is not her normal, but she’s now feeling a lot better about it as it seems. Like, whatever will be, will be. The good thing is that Sofi doesn’t have, to our knowledge, any major complications that can arise from this condition, so even if she ends up being diagnosed with it, I personally figure that we should feel lucky that despite this diagnosis, she’s been doing this well so far. Mum agrees with me, and Sofi herself doesn’t think much of it. What had been particularly bothering my Mum, and still does, to an extend, is Sofi’s height, as she’s already like 180 cm and shows no signs of wanting to stop growing any time soon. I mean, maybe she herself wants, but her hormones or whatever is in charge does not. Since the genetic testing is still to come and we still have to wait quite a while, there’s no other news strictly where it comes to Marfan’s, but, as you may remember, all the worry related to that also made my Mum worry that Sofi could have polycystic ovaries and that that may be the reason behind her still growing and still not menstruating. So she had her first gynaecologist’s appointment about a month ago or so, and, while she was extremely anxious before that, it all went well and there were no bad news, everything is perfectly fine with Sofiwhere gynaecology is concerned.

If we were having coffee, speaking of Sofi (wow, what a cool rhyme lol, and yes, in case you’re wondering, this Sofi is pronounced like coffee with an S, not like Sophie because that’s how most Polish people say Sophie), I’d also tell you that recently she got vaccinated. Not for Covid, but for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (these sound really weird in English :O ). She got the vaccine on Thursday, then started having some arm pain in the evening. The next day her arm hurt even more but she still went to school as normal, but when she came back she was feeling horrid. She had a headache, sore throat, achy muscles, couldn’t breathe normally and was very tired and weak and had a bit of a cough. She was supposed to go have her nails done after school, which she did, but as soon as she came back she just went to bed, so it all felt kind of concerning given that she’s normally very strong and healthy. But I guess that could be the exact reason why she reacted to this vaccine so fiercely. She didn’t get up for the rest of the day and by the evening she seemed like she had some fever and it got quite creepy because not only did she have muscle aches but her skin seemed extremely sensitive to touch pretty much all over her and she couldn’t even change position easily ’cause she said it hurt so badly. My Mum claims though that as long as you’re hungry while sick, things are looking good, and by late evening Sofi got a wild craving for fast food so I got her some. When I was a kid I also got wild and very specific food cravings whenever I had fever, and especially at night, so it either must be a common thing that I didn’t realise or it’s genetic for us. πŸ˜€ On Saturday things were a little bit better and Sofi really wanted to go pick mushrooms with Mum, so she did, but she was quite drained by the time she came back and spent the rest of the day in bed. So has been the case today, and she’s also got a stuffed nose. Mum doesn’t really know what to do, since these appear to be vaccine side effects so it seems counterproductive to her to give Sofi some medicines because she thinks her body needs to deal with all this on her own. If things won’t get better until tomorrow, which it doesn’t seem like they will, Mum will take her to the doctor.

If we were having coffee, I’d share with you something about which I already wrote a couple times here, but not much and only in passing. This is not like a huge news or anything breakthrough, but I think it’s worth noting in its own place. This something is that I’ve kinda sorta started learning Norwegian, I guess it was some time in July. I think I’ve written at least one coffee share since but I still had too much turmoil in my brain surrounding it so didn’t feel able to write anything constructive. Perhaps you remember that, as long as my favourite languages list is, and despite it features languages like Swedish, Faroese or Sami, Norwegian had never been on it. And I’m still not sure whether it is now. But for some reason I’ve been feeling more drawn to it lately, and also want to have a closer look at how it works, so that I have some more idea about it other than simply through my Swedish. I don’t know why I’d need it because I could already understand a fair bit of (especially written) bokmΓ₯l Norwegian (there are two written Norwegian languages – bokmΓ₯l which is like more classic and nynorsk which is more modern and rural) via Swedish, but that’s what’s happening right now. I started to realise my feelings for Norwegian were deepening in late June, around the time when we were on our camper trip in Masuria, and Sofi and me rode in the back of the camper, on the bed, where if the roads were bumpy, it made us jump up high to the ceiling, so when people ask me “why oh WHY Norwegian? Have you got a faza or did something specific happen involving this language that made you love it out of the blue?” I say perhaps because I got a brain injury from all the close encounters between my skull and the ceiling on the trip, ’cause I really have no better ideas. I mean, I could tell you now, at the point where I am currently, that I like Norwegian for its extreme diversity, like, it’s one language, but it’s two languages, and in practice, as some say, there are more dialects than people there. πŸ˜€ This definitely contributes to me liking it now. But I only got to experience this phenomenon first-hand after I got into it. And my feelings started to deepen before I decided to go with the flow and get into it and try to learn it. And it wasn’t like these feelings came and I embraced them right away, far from it. At the beginning it was freakishly intense and I didn’t know what was going on and I was really reluctant to do it, actually. I mean, I’m learning Welsh right now, it’s my first Celtic language and it’s more difficult than any language I’ve learned before, have still like a dozen or so languages that I want to learn in the future, Sofi says I should be treated for that ’cause something’s wrong with me, so I seriously can’t afford another language, someone save me or it’s gonna kill me! In the end though, I just had no willpower left to resist my brain any longer and got pulled into it properly. It felt like I had no choice but make room for Norwegian in my life.

The situation isn’t as bad as I feared, since I already know English and Swedish so there’s a whole lot of similarities between Swedish and Norwegian, they’re generally mutually intelligible, and Norwegian and English also share some common ancestry being both Germanic languages. That means it doesn’t really feel like I am learning a completely new language. More like a complicated dialect or something. It’s not like I have to learn everything in a sort of linear, structured way, starting from the very basics, because a lot of vocabulary I’m either completely familiar with or can figure out without much trouble, and a lot of grammar also already makes sense. Also, compared to Welsh, learning Norwegian is also way easier due to the wider availability of all sorts of materials. I’d long forgotten what sort of luxury it is to be able to learn a language via your mother tongue, and there are plenty of Polish immigrants in Norway, so plenty of Norwegian online courses, workbooks, whatever you want. Only problem is that a lot of the Polish material I’ve looked into isn’t of particularly good quality, like they teach a terribly unnatural accent if not plain wrong pronunciation (like you in Norwegian is du, where the u sound is pronounced like in the English word you, while I’ve found a Polish resource where they teach you that it’s pronounced with an oo sound, more like the German du. Except when you pronounce it like that in Norwegian it’s spelled do and it means the loo πŸ˜€ ) or only give you an idea about some stiff, official bokmΓ₯l which might be a thing in writing but no one speaks like that. So I still tend to stick to the English stuff for the most part, and am also able to learn Norwegian in Norwegian itself, especially from written materials. So with a bit of effort on my part, I managed to make it work so that I can squeeze in both Welsh, which is still in the centre stage, and Norwegian, which I learn usually on weekends plus a lot of exposure in the meantime. It feels kind of weird to call it learning though, because for me language-learning is when your brain lets out steam and your brain muscles get all sore and pulsating, whereas here it’s rarely this intense. It’s still enjoyable though. I still wouldn’t say that I love Norwegian as much as I do all “my” languages, but I think if it won’t disappear as randomly as it appeared I’m probably going to get there and I do like it a lot. I mean, I’ve never disliked it, but now I like it more than ever, yet still don’t love like I do Swedish, Welsh & co. Like I said, I love the whole diversity in it and I’m loving more and more how it sounds. It’s so cheerful and childish compared to Swedish, and at the same time kind of more rugged than Swedish and less fluid, to me Swedish sounds more serious and sort of posher.

I don’t even know yet what I want to achieve with this whole Norwegian “learning” and where I want to go, what for etc. but maybe things will clear up. I guess it might come in handy when I’ll start with Sami. Maybe I’ll finally pluck up the courage to read all those Norwegian books my Mum bought me, thinking they were Swedish, including a grammar book from I guess the 50’s. :DBut overall, while I usually try to aim for as much fluency and familiiarity with a language as possible, at least for now I’m taking it very easy with Norwegian and don’t have any wild ambitions or anything, we’ll just see how it develops, I’m not in charge here anyway, my brain has taken over while I was on those Masuria holidays. Who knows, perhaps it’s just a short episode and I’ll soon be over it?

Now that I’m no more reluctant and have accepted the state of things and flowing along with it, I’m thinking that perhaps there’s something like destiny or whatever involved here, because I’ve had several people in my life who have told me in one way or another that I should learn Norwegian. My Swedish teacher started learning it at some point during the years he was teaching me and could go on and on and on about it and would often try to tempt me into it too saying stuff like that, actually, Norwegian is just like a little dialect of Swedish. It made me think what Norwegians would think of someone putting things this way and I thought it sounded quite diminishing. Like, I myself am half Kashubian, and while I don’t have a strong bond with the Kashubian language (I can barely understand it when someone speaks fluently) or culture, and also am far from supporting the separatistic notion that some Kashubians have, one of the reasons being that I personally identify as Polish far more than Kashubian, nevertheless it really irks me when people call Kashubian a dialect of Polish ’cause it’s just not a dialect. One day he devoted the entire lesson to introducing all sorts of Norwegian phrases and idioms to me that he wanted me to translate to prove to me how Norwegian is very easy when you speak English and Swedish. Sure, but at that point I just didn’t feel it, and if I don’t feel a language there’s no point in trying to convince me. It’s as if you tried to make someone be friends with or date someone else just because YOU think they’d make good friends or couple, while the individuals in question feel totally indifferent about each other. Now that I’m learning both languages, I totally agree that, while Norwegian as it is now certainly is not a dialect of Swedish, in many aspects it really seems like it could be. πŸ˜€

Then there was a classmate I had at the blind school, who didn’t know about my Scandinavian interests (which I was trying to suppress at the time because I temporarily wasn’t able to learn Swedish and it was a huge source of frustration to dwell on it or expose myself to Swedish in those circumstances) and for some weird reason he told me several times how in his mind he associates me with Norway, which I found rather hilarious. He didn’t know why either. Later my paternal cousins have come up with some weird theory I’ve no clue how, that we have some Norwegian ancestry. It’s always seemed doubtful to my Dad and my gran and me too, but in the past they would often say how I should rather learn Norwegian than Swedish ’cause we allegedly have some distant family connection to Norway.

And lastly there was my late friend Jacek from Helsinki, who shortly after we first met said that, as much as he praises my learning Swedish and considers it aesthetically superior over other Scandinavian languages, he felt that perhaps Norwegian would have been a better option for me, because of all them weird dialects and because they have two languages instead of one so I’d probably have more fun. All of these people would probably be happy now that it has come true, after all, lol.

I also have THREE uncles who all work in Norway (one full-time and two get sent there from time to time for some longer-ish periods) and one has told my family that apparently he’s learned to communicate in the language decently. He never said that to me, although we have talked about Norwegian vs Swedish several times, and he never talked Norwegian in front of me, but now I have to admit I’m looking forward to some bigger family gathering where all of these uncles of mine will be present so I can break the news to them and we can find out who can snakke (speak) better than Bibiel *evil laugh*. Or maybe I’m in for a surprise and any/all of them actually snakker better than Bibiel, which would be just as cool, they’ve certainly had more exposure than me and more potential opportunities to practice with people! πŸ™‚

If we were having coffee, I’d mention that we’re having a bit of a national Catholic holiday today. This is because it’s the day of beatification of cardinal Stefan WyszyΕ„ski, the Primate of Poland. Beatification means that he is now known as blessed (which is like a step below canonisation when a person is proclaimed saint) and a primate is the archbishop of a country. Even due to his function alone, he was a very important and valued figure in the Polish Catholic church during his life and still is very much valued and respected due to his huge positive influence on the church and aspects like the so-called folk devotion to Mary, to name just one thing. Along with him, another person who was beatified was mother ElΕΌbieta RΓ³ΕΌa Czacka who was the foundress of the religious order who leads the blind school I went to, and also the foundress of the school and everything around it as well. She was blind herself ever since she was 22, I believe, and is said to be the first person in Poland who has taken the problem of education of the blind seriously. This school is relatively well-known and quite a few people who have nothing or very little to do with the blind have heard about it somewhere and back in my school days they would ask my Mum whether I go to THAT school. I am talking about this because now that she and the whole blind centre and the order she founded have been talked a lot in the media and churches in the period leading up to the beatification, I’ve got quite a few people from my family and even beyond, asking me things like whether I’m happy that she’s gonna be beatified, and I found the amount of that and this specific phrasing of the question quite interesting so I thought I’d write a little bit about that and how I feel about it. Am I happy? Yes, I’m very happy! I feel tempted to throw an “obviously” in there, but since I’ve got this question so often perhaps it’s not so obvious for some reason. But I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t be happy. We definitely can’t complain about lack of representation of disabilities among saints but the more the merrier, and also I’ve got a feeling that blindness in general has gotten a little bit of spotlight in the Catholic church due to this, because they are telling her story everywhere now and obviously it’s impossible to tell her story without talking about blindness and the blind. Also while I can think of several blind saints, most of them have lived quite a long time ago and when reading about their lives there’s not much you can learn about their experience with blindness specifically, perhaps except for my dear patron saint bl. Margaret de Citta di Castello but she has also lived quite some time ago. So I think mother ElΕΌbieta (or should I be saying Elizabeth in English now?… I never know if you should translate saints’/blesseds’ names or not, it seems so inconsistent) is going to be particularly relatable and close to the hearts of many blind people, and I think that sort of connection is important. I know many who have loved her long before she has been beatified, even if they were too young to know her or didn’t get a chance to meet her personally. I’ve heard of some blind people from that school who actually regard her as a sort of mother figure or something. And beyond that, whether it’s her or someone else, I think a beatification of someone new is generally a very happy event in itself for the Church as a community. My Mum also asked me whether I feel any sort of bond with her, which I think is a more interesting question. We’ve both had the same disability, so on this level I think there is some connection that I feel to her. Also, while personally I have very mixed feelings about both the school and my experience there, i feel grateful to her for the mere fact that she founded it, because the whole thing was extremely courageous of her, and that she devoted herself to the blind so much and on so many levels. One thing I’m extremely grateful to her for is that she adapted Braille to the Polish language. But I don’t feel much of an emotional bond with her like a lot of blind folks do. Or a very strong spiritual one. When I was at school, they’d talk a lot about her and I remember one person once suggested to me that if I struggle with homesickness and stuff like that, I could think of mother ElΕΌbieta as my second mum or a mother figure or something, that some people have this sort of bond with her. I initially really tried and really wanted to, but somehow didn’t feel it. Then not much later I got truly sick of all that talking about it being our second home and stuff like that and I internally rebelled against it all, so there was no way I could think of her as my mum. When I was older, I read her writings and letters and several biographies and a couple memoirs involving her. She was incredibly wise and virtuous and strong-willed and in many aspects very extraordinary and fascinating, and while I didn’t see that at school because I had vastly different outlook on things and vastly different things on my mind, now I do admire her deep devotion to the Cross. Yet when I read her writings she doesn’t come across as someone whom I could truly feel close to. With all her admirable traits and all the great things she did, I think we just are too different for such a close bond to be possible. Or maybe I just have a somehow skewed perception of her despite all the stuff I read about her. And the mixed feelings I have about the school surely get in the way too, even though it doesn’t have to do with her directly. Like I said, the saint I do feel more of a connection to, and who also happens to have been blind and multiply disabled is bl. Margaret of Castello.

If we were having coffee, last, but not least, I’d share about a major purchase I recently made. I got myself an iPad, YAY! Now this is really a huge thing because not long ago I thought I wouldn’t be able to be able to use a smartphone, due to the touchscreen, and now I’m getting a second Apple device. This is because, actually, recently I had been considering a possibility of transitioning to a Mac from my Windows computer. Yeah, I’ve transitioned to a new computer over a year ago, but I’m sure Sofi would be more than keen to inherit this one from me, and also some of its parametres are well above what I need. I’ve recently got to hear a lot about how it looks in practice to use a Mac with VoiceOver (the built-in screen reader) and I was like, huh, this doesn’t sound quite as difficult as I thought. It sounds way more intuitive and non-geek-friendly than Windows. And I really have grown to like the way Apple does things ever since I’ve got my iPhone, while at the same time Windows irks me in more and more ways. Yet I’ve also heard about several blind people who have tried using Mac and it didn’t really work out too well, and because it’s not like I am incredibly tech savvy or anything, it felt risky, especially that Mac OS computers are not the cheapest in the world as everyone knows. So I was playing around with that idea for a long time until I figured that perhaps a cool golden mean would be getting an iPad, because I’ve heard of some blind users who just use an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard as their primary device rather than a laptop or a computer, which they only use when something is just physically impossible to do on an iPad. Perhaps if I tried that, I would be able to say more decidedly in a couple of years how worth it and how risky for me getting a Mac is. And I guess in a year or two I’ll be able to apply for funding which you can get for an assistive device, and a computer counts as one. Since I don’t need anything more than a MacBook Air, perhaps the funding would even cover that if I’m lucky and counting right.

So in the end I got an iPad 8 and Apple says it should be here tomorrow and I’m really really curious and a little bit apprehensive. One thing I’m kind of afraid of not working out as well as I’d like is typing. I do a lot of writing, but while I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone as well as my Braille-Sense which works like a Braille Display and Bluetooth keyboard at once, I find writing on iPhone a pretty arduous experience, especially on the Braille-Sense which I prefer for longer writing because it’s easier and faster to review what I write. Except in the end it’s not because the cursor often flies around so it’s hard not to make mistakes, or in some apps it will randomly throw me out of the edit field after every few characters, or it will be very slow and freezy or otherwise buggy. Since iPad is essentially the same system, I’m not sure whether I can hope for much difference there. But it’s not like I am supposed to ditch the Windows computer and rely on the iPad for everything from tomorrow on. If, after a year or a few, I’ll come to the conclusion that I like the Apple ecosystem increasingly and the only thing that stops me from using iPad full-time is the typing, I might still get the Mac as I don’t think it has the same typing issues as iOS devices do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee? πŸ™‚

 

Question of the day (17th August).

What should every person do at least once?

My answer:

I’d say learn a language, or at least try to and experience what it feels like. I think it’s a very enriching and interesting experience and it makes me feel sad that a lot of people miss out on it entirely, without even knowing whether they’d like it or not, either because they don’t have any real motivation for it or because they think they don’t have a “talent” for it, whatever that elusive talent thing may be. Also the brain benefits long-term are a huge advantage in my opinion. Not to mention that it can open various doors for you, like to an entirely different culture and mentality, help you meet some interesting people. Most of all though, the reason why I think everyone should try it is that every language you know gives you a different perspective on things, a slightly, or perhaps sometimes not so slightly, I guess depending how different from each other your languages are, way of thinking, since language plays a huge role in how we think about or perceive different things. I’d even go as far as to say that with each language you acquire, be it in early childhood or later on, a different layer or aspect is added to your personality in a way, that is absolutely congruent with the rest of your personality and doesn’t create any conflict or anything, because your languages exist peacefully beside each other and complement each other rather than compete in your brain or exist in some separate, distinct realms, but speaking and/or thinking in more than one language simply makes you more multi-dimensional or something like that, and it lets you think more flexibly and in more ways.

Only there’s a problem, because at the same time I firmly believe that you have to actually, truly like your target language to do it and be successful at it and experience all the benefits of language-learning. If you don’t like it, there’s no point whatsoever. You’re neither going to be good at it (unless you seriously have some brain superpowers or are extremely disciplined and strong-willed) nor are you going to experience anything good from such learning. So while in theory I think we would all benefit from it, I think in practice one would first have to find a language that one finds really appealing and has some true motivation for learning it, because otherwise it just won’t work. I feel so much for all the kids who have to learn a foreign language they don’t like at school, like Sofi says she really doesn’t like English, although with her I’m not sure whether she seriously doesn’t get along with English as a language, or started to dislike it due to school and being unsuccessful at it. I – and it’s not just me –
always say that there’s no such thing as a language talent, unless you’re talking stuff like learning a native accent, but I think for most people who are accused of not having a talent or say so about themselves, the real problem is that they don’t really have much love for the language they’re learning, so it’s hardly surprising they’re not making much progress at it, or if they do, it feels painful and/or slow. Since I like learning languages people usually consider me very talented, but when I was learning German at school, which is a language I merely like and not love the way I do all “my” languages, I was very mediocre at it. Or when my Mum once had a dream to learn Italian (which, like all Romance languages, doesn’t really appeal to me very much in terms of sound and also I guess too many people like it for it to be truly loveable for me), and asked me to help her somehow, I tried to learn the basics, thinking just like my Mum that I’m apparently so good at languages so it’ll be no problem for me to learn and teach her the very basic stuff, except the grammar didn’t really make much sense to me and it all felt extremely arduous so I gave up after like two weeks. πŸ˜€ I feel for people who have to learn a language for work-related purposes but don’t have more of a relationship with it so it only feels stressful and forced and no fun at all. I guess it must be like being forced into an arranged marriage as opposed to being with someone you actually love, or making friends with someone solely because you’re colleagues and it’s useful rather than because you have anything in common and you want it. But there are so many languages in the world that I think if we all just looked around, or rather listened intently, most of us could find at least one language that we’d really fall in love with.

What’s such a thing in your opinion? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (15th August).

Do you think anything good will come from the pandemic?

My answer:

I strongly believe so, but a lot of it may be on an individual level rather than more generalised, and the good vs bad outcomes may vary a lot for different people. We can already hear people who see a lot of upsides in it regarding their personal life, or their internal life, development etc. and a lot of people who are seriously struggling with all this and barely managing to stay sane, and I think there are loads of factors involved into it, from whether someone and their family has actually had been personally affected by Covid and how severely, to how people deal with being alone, to how people’s financial situation might have changed over this period, to how their overall health is doing and whether they’re at a very high risk or perhaps have a lot of health anxiety… So whatever I’ll be saying here is definitely not meant to regard all people, just some good outcomes that either I have experienced directly, or that I frequently see happening for people around me.

I like how you can do a lot more stuff online ever since the pandemic has started. In a way I’m surprised though that it seriously needed as much as a pandemic for people to figure out that, for example, you can work online, even in a field where there’s no such tradition really, that you can do school from home (of course there are a lot of cons to it as well but I think a large portion of them is also due to how people have had to adjust to this remote learning in so much rush, without more far-sighted thinking really, at least it’s definitely the case here, and some aspects of it are slightly irrational), that you can do concerts online and lots of other things. I guess once the pandemic is truly over, whenever that may be, a lot of it will come to an end, but I hope that still there will be more things that we will be able to do online if we so choose, than it was before the pandemic. Some people do better working from home, and in larger cities it certainly must help with the traffic. My Dad, who is a tanker driver and delivers fuel across the country, has been saying that one aspect of Covid he really likes is more low-key traffic.

I think it has helped a lot of families to connect more with each other. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that they have discovered some new hobby that they like spending their time doing, that they’d never have time for discovering, let alone learning, otherwise. A lot of people around me say they have benefited from having more free time, either because they’ve got to do things they’d never had time for before, or because they could simply spend some time with themselves and tune into themselves better. Interestingly a lot of people seem to have been reading more books. Some people have learned to cope with aloneness a bit better. For example our Sofi. Being alone is still very far from her preferred state, and she’ll always much prefer when a lot is going on around her, with a lot of people, but I think it’s good when you’re able to accept and manage somehow when things aren’t like this.

It’s also cool that we now get to appreciate our own countries more when it comes to travelling and vacationing. Rather than going to some distant country, locking themselves in a hotel with tourists from your own country and sitting by the pool with a drink, people seem to explore their own countries more here in Europe.

I think for many people, due to the hardships that they have experienced during this time, the pandemic might have also contributed to increased resilience.

As for myself, I haven’t really been affected by Covid very much on a personal level. So far, I feel extremely lucky that it hasn’t affected a lot of my family members, and those who have been affected had mostly mild cases. My gran was an exception, as prior to Covid, which she got shortly before last Christmas, she also had pneumonia, and then before the pneumonia she had bronchitis, so she had already been sick for a long time before she caught Covid, and we were all prepared that, given her very recent infections and her age (she’s over 80) she would most likely die. Thanks to all the dedication of my cousin, who is a doctor, and my gran’s own fierce will to live, she made it through and is perfectly healthy now, so people say she’s indestructible. She really wasn’t sickly or anything before that bronchitis, so I guess her immune system must be very strong given her age. We also haven’t been affected financially, and, except Sofi, no one in my immediate family felt particularly deprived of human contact, probably because we’re already five people living here plus Misha & Jocky, and my Dad and Olek were still working so they got to hang out with people there. I, as you know, have been happy being able to reduce the outside peopling to almost non-existent, and I work at home regardless. Not having to deal with people as much means my social anxiety has reduced quite a noticeable bit, which is nice. And, like I already mentioned, it’s so cool having access to more things from home. For example, last year, when most of the world was in lockdown, I was able to take part in a few concerts of my favourite artists online, in which I certainly wouldn’t be able to take part otherwise, because here people don’t even know they exist so I’d have to travel to other countries, which is tricky even without Covid involved, and even if it wasn’t, being a hermit I would still definitely not be able to relish them quite as much as I could from the comfort of my lil hermitage, with Misha laying next to me, not being distracted by anything from immersing myself in music.

What good things do you see, if any? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What are you thinking about?

My answer:

Okay, so this will be a rathr rambly post, as I also want to fill you in a bit and get some stuff out.

Today in general I’ve been thinking a lot about Sofi as I’m kind of worried about her and so is Mum. You see, Sofi is very slim, and very tall, and she keeps growing, even though she’s already like 180 cm. She also has long bones, long limbs and rather weak joints and muscles. She has done several different sport disciplines, but she hasn’t developed much muscle as a result and was always super quick to get injuries and stuff from it. The last time she tried some new sport (athletics) she ended up with a really painful ankle after just a few days of training, which had to rest for two weeks. People (but especially my Mum, who, also being very tall, I think has some unfulfilled ambitions of her own regarding doing sports as a teenager) have always pushed her to do sports because she’s so tall and fit and in this day and age where kids spend ages glued to their phones it’s the best thing for a kid to do. And Sofi seemed into it herself, but since that athletics episode it looks like she’s had enough and my Mum is no longer pushing her either.

Due to all those injuries, and sometimes without any obvious injuries at all, for many years Sofi’s had all sorts of aches and pains, mostly in her knees. I think everyone here has lost track of how many times she’s had her knees checked by doctors/physios, she also had knee braces several times. But with the exception of times when she had some obvious injury that she could recall herself, everyone has been saying, that it’s just “growing pains” and/or that she needs to put on some weight. I don’t know, I way less than her and I don’t really know what it’s like having joint pain, and I’ve never had anything broken, so I’ve no idea what’s weight to do with it. She’s had several bones broken, but also had her fingers in splints or however this thing is called in English several times, and I don’t know any other person, or at least am unaware of it, who’d ever break their finger, let alone as often and as easily as Sofi. But people have always said it’s nothing abnormal because our Dad has also pretty fragile bones, he’s also similarly built, and he’s had dozens of fractures when he was younger, including once breaking his ankle simply by tripping on a doorstep. I’ve honestly always thought that her pain tolerance must be very low or something because whenever she’d play with someone more dynamically, everything would hurt her and sometimes it seemed quite out of proportion, so that sometimes my Dad made fun of her and asked her to name all the places where she’s hurting, and she’d always have a few, but then as my Mum says if nothing hurts you, you can’t be alive, right?…

Sofi has like a double room, one part of this room is just like a normal room, and then there’s a hole in the wall and you can go in there and it’s like a little cave or something, like a mini room inside of that bigger room. Sofi reallyy likes it and has always spent a lot of time there. And earlier this year she decided to move her bed in there, or rather move the bed out of her main room and put a mattress into that mini room. That mini room, however, didn’t have a window, so one had to be put in there if she was to sleep there. Sofi really liked her new, cosy bedroom and always said she likes to sleep there way more. But then summer came and then a heatwave and it turned out that the little window doesn’t really change much, and even with a fan on her bedroom was always flamin’ hot. So she slept in my room for the time being, as I have AC and blinds here that make life in heat more bearable now, but since it was so hot and clammy we definitely didn’t want to sleep together in one bed. And I certainly didn’t have the space here for Sofi’s huge matress. So she had to make herself a makeshift bed. That was a huge ceremony as she couldn’t make it soft enough while not being too hot. She woke up in the morning complaining of a very painful hip, saying that her bed was still too hard, or maybe it’s her hip that’s too hard and now got bruised. She really had a huge bruise on it and I was quite puzzled that you could get yourself something like this when sleeping on such a load of sheets and blankets, plus Misha’s lamb skin, on the floor which does have a flooring. But then we managed to discover the culprit – on the floor, under all those layers of bedding, there lay Misha’s little iron ball – like the ones in car bearings. – Sounds like Sofi’s the real life Princess on the Pea! πŸ˜€

But the next night she slept at me, she woke up with even worse hip pain, so that it hurt her even when something or someone touched it a bit more firmly. And there was no ball to blame this time round.

The bruise took long to disappear, but it finally did, yet the pain hasn’t until this day, even though it’s been a month. So a couple weeks ago Mum finally took Sofi to the doctor to refer her for an xRay or something. Sofi’s previous paediatrician has recently retired so they visited this doctor for the first time ever. And, as Mum said, that was a very good thing, because she looked at Sofi from a fresh perspective, rather than “Ah, it’s this tall girl who’s always hurting”, and in her opinion it might be something else entirely than growing or thinness that causes Sofi’s constant pain problems, along with fractures and unstoppable growth.

She apparently had a long, thorough look at Sofi and said she thinks Sofi might have something called Marfan syndrome. People with this condition are usually very tall, very thin, have looong fingers, little muscle, fragile bones, often some problems with posture, very flexible joints, are near-sighted and have various heart problems and probably a dozen other things. Everything from what I mentioned except heart problems sounds very much Sofi. And even though Sofi herself doesn’t have heart problems, my Dad has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and like I said he has the same kind of body shape. My siblings and i have all been tested whether we have cardiomyopathy too but so far no one of us does, including Sofi. However sometimes when Sofi’s tired or stressed she complains that her heart aches, and sometimes it seems like she can be in a fair bit of pain from it. I would think that’s also abnormal, because I’ve never experienced heart pain, but my Mum says it is normal that people can have heart pain when they’re stressed so we’ve no idea if Sofi’s within the norm or not.

The only other time I heard of Marfan syndrome before was shortly before I was supposed to be checked for that cardiomyopathy thing myself, I could have been 17 or thereabouts. I was about to go ride on my horse and my Mum was explaining to my instructor that I won’t be able to come next week at the same time because I’ll have the cardiologist appointment, and my instructor suddenly got all panicky: “Oh! Why?! What’s going on?! Do you have some heart condition that I don’t know about?” so of course we assured her that no and that I’m just getting tested because of Dad’s illness, and she was all relieved and said she was just worried because she had another girl she worked with who had some sight problems and was slim and “tall like you” and she had Marfan syndrome, and apparently generally horse riding is a no-no when you have this. Fyi, I’m not really tall, I’m only 168 cm and I actually have hypopituitarism which essentially means that I had to get growth hormone injections as a teenager to grow beyond 140 cm, and before I started taking it I was short and plump. My endocrinologist, who was short and plump herself, wanted me to grow more and more and more, “So that you’re tall like your Mum”, but thankfully my Mum put a stop to that before it was too late. But as I started taking it, suddenly everyone, especially at my school, was “Omg you’re so tall!!!” and neither me nor my family could understand why so it always made us laugh, because if I was tall, what sort of giant Olek must have been to them, when he’s over 1,90. πŸ˜€ I suppose it must have been people’s autosuggestion because well, my Mum is tall, my Dad is tall, everyone else from my family who had ever been to my school is tall, plus I suddenly got a lot slimmer on that hormone so I guess slim people look taller than they are. Now hardly anyone still says that to me but my riding instructor happens to be very short, so she always goes on and on and on about how she’d like to have long legs like mine for riding etc. I actually do have very long and thin fingers, long fingers can be useful, but mine aren’t quite as long as Sofi’s, and like her I am also a lot more physically similar to my Dad and his family rather than Mum’s, but thankfully I haven’t got his bones. One time when I was at school, one of the boarding school staff was mentioning something about Britney Spears to my roommates and me and how she can throw her legs behind her head. I never did it, and I’ve never been particularly sporty or anything, but I thought to myself that it can’t be that difficult, and I decided it would be a fun idea to try and find out if I can do it myself, so that was what I did right there, and she was quite amazed that I can do it and freaked out and urged me to stop, saying that I’ll stay like that forever lol, even though it wasn’t much of a problem for me to do it at all so I wondered why so much fuss. πŸ˜€ But apparently not everyone can do it, so I sometimes did it just out of the blue, in favourable circumstances, to see how people would react, especially if I wanted to avert their attention from something else. I’d put my legs behind my head and rock in this position for a while like I was deadly bored and this was as good a thing as any that I could do in such situation, and people would often start yelling “Aaah what’s she doing?!” πŸ˜€ But when I tried my little trick on Dad he wasn’t surprised at all and said he did that too when he was younger. But can no longer do it. Interestingly, neither can Sofi and she never could, even though she’s way better at all things fit than me, so she’s envious, even though she can do all the typical things that people with Marfan’s apparently should be able to do like clenching your fingers in a fist and sticking your thumb out the other side. For me and Olek only a little bit of our thumbs go out, but Sofi can stick out half of her thumb. When I was a child people would also often comment on how I do weird things with my fingers that they wouldn’t be able to do, but about which I didn’t even think. Yet like I said, I’ve never had the aches and pains, nor heart problems, and I have nothing wrong with my eyes as such, only optic nerves, so I guess I only have some similar features. That makes me wonder if Sofi also just has similar features, or is it seriously a full-blown illness, even if she’s never had a surgery or anything like that?

So, going back to that doctor, Sofi got a referral for the hip xRay, but also for genetic testing for this weird thing, which is going to take place in February so she still has ages to wait and in the meantime my Mum is getting really worked up about whether Sofi has this or not. Initially we thought it’s probably a false alarm because despite all these aches and pains, plus Sofi being a bit near-sighted, it’s not like she has a lot of health problems, she has nothing wrong with her heart. Mum read that in the past, where there weren’t so many surgeries that now help people with this condition to lead long and as healthy as possible lives, people with this syndrome would die at about age 30. Well, if we assume Sofi has it, then my Dad has it even more definitely, and he only needed one surgery which has dealt with the problem quite well, and he doesn’t have quite so many problems as it seems people with Marfan’s typically have. But then I guess it’s a spectrum and people may have more severe or milder symptoms, but it’s still the same condition. I’m just not sure what to think. I guess I could not think about it at all until we know, but my brain doesn’t like to not think, so I hardly have a real choice.

At the beginning, as much as Mum was quite depressed and anxious about the whole thing, Sofi seemed quite happy. Soon after Mum told me the news and we talked it through, Sofi came to me all happy go-lucky and said: “Bibiel, guess what? The doctor said I have morphine.” She couldn’t remember what that thing was called, but as soon as she said “morphine” she knew it wasn’t that, and she knows what morphine is, so we both were laughing like crazy. πŸ˜€ So I asked her what this morphine is all about, as I didn’t want to show that I already knew about it from Mum, I wanted to know how she understood it and how she felt about it. And she said that it’s something that makes you tall and thin and makes your joints and bones and muscles hurt like hers and makes your fingers real long (whereupon she proudly presented to me how her fingers actually meet the criteria and how it’s so cool), and sometimes it screws your heart up. So I asked her what she thinks about it and she said it’s actually quite cool, because she doesn’t have any heart problems, and she no longer wants to do sports anyway, and this will be a good way to respond to people who make stupid comments about how tall she is. “Yeah, it’s ’cause I have morphine”. πŸ˜€ And it’s a fun random fact to tell people about yourself. Sofi has fairly recently started her YouTube channel and has wanted to do a facts about me video so I could see how such a super weird fact would be valuable.

But her hip kept hurting, and when she had an xRay it didn’t reveal anything at all. The xRay lady was also apparently real nasty to her, pressing her hip really hard, I guess not intentionally, and when Sofi winced she asked: “Does it really hurt you so much?” No, for flip’s sake, why would you think so? I just like getting xRays y’know? I had one half a year ago but it’s so much fun, and I was kind of bored so Mum thought we’d go and have another one. That wasn’t what Sofi told her, of course, just my brain’s allergic reaction to bullshit.

But a few days after the xRay, Sofi’s hip has started to hurt even more, so that she even finds it difficult to fall and stay asleep, and even if she herself touches the hip lightly it hurts like crazy. Even the seatbelt hurts. So when it started to hurt more she once came to me and, with a lot more concern than before asked: “Bibiel, what do you think, do I have this morphine or not?” “How would I know such a thing?” “I know, but what’s your instinct?” I said that my instinct is (or was, at the time) that she doesn’t have it, because she’d have way more problems with her health, and so would Dad. It’s honestly a difficult thing to have any gut feelings about since I barely have a clue about things like that. Last night Sofi’s hip hurt particularly badly because she bumped it accidentally with her elbow, and she couldn’t fall asleep. And I asked her if she wasn’t prescribed any pain killers for it at all. Sofi said no, because there’s nothing on the xRay. Holy shit, what sort of logic is that? I don’t know, obviously I’m not a doctor, but if I were, my dr Bibiel logic would be, if a patient has a lot of pain and she can’t sleep, especially if she’s a kid, and I can’t figure out what’s causing the pain, and the xRay doesn’t show anything, I’d at least try to relieve the pain if I’m absolutely sure that nothing else can be done to actually deal with the cause of the pain. Besides, yes Sofi will have that genetic testing in February, but couldn’t they keep looking for a direct source of the pain regardless? I don’t know, ultrasounds, whatever is used in such cases? I shared my reflections with Mum today morning, and she’s going to get Sofi to have an ultrasound soon, but we both think that this should have come from the doctor. We don’t even know if ultrasound is indeed the next thing that Sofi should have, it was just the first thought that popped into my head so that’s the direction in which Mum’s going first.

But what worries Mum even more than Sofi’s hip pain is her growth. My Mum is very much into hormones, as she’s going through menopause herself and has been trying to figure it all out and help herself with her very obnoxious symptoms. She uses natural progesterone and estrogen creams, tries to eat healthily and uses other things that help with hormonal balance I don’t even know what they are, reads books about hormones in females and generally educates herself in this regard all the time. And, since she already has some experience with me when it comes to hormones and growth/puberty, she started wondering right after Sofi got this potential diagnosis, whether/how Marfan syndrome may affect hormones, since people with this thing are so tall. She found that, while unlike what she thought Marfan syndrome isn’t directly linked to hormones, apparently what endocrinologists do with girls with this syndrome when they keep growing and growing is they give them estrogen to trigger menstruation, and that apparently stops further growth. I didn’t even know there’s such a relationship between menstruation and growth and that as soon as the former starts the latter is over. The way I put it is probably very simplified and maybe even not entirely correct but that’s just the gist of it. Apparently girls with Marfan’s also tend to start their periods later than average, which would be true for Sofi, who is 14 now and still hasn’t got it. Since Sofi is 180 cm now, Mum, who is exactly the same height and not particularly loving it, really doesn’t want her to grow even more, because it’s so impractical, so she gave Sofi the estrogen cream and instructed her how she should use and dose it. I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing the way she does it, just based on her own research. I mean, she’s surely very knowledgeable by now, but her knowledge is mostly limited to how hormones work in middle-aged women and it would suck if she screwed up something with Sofi’s hormones really bad just because she no longer wants her to grow.

Mum’s getting really neurotic about it all, which I can’t really blame her for. And today she went to do her nails, and spilled out some of her worries at the beautician, who was oh so helpful. I mean, I’m sure she meant very well, but she only worked my Mum up even more. My Mum explained to her how she’s worried that Sofi still hasn’t gotten her period, and keeps growing, and that Mum doesn’t want her to become a giraffe, and is worried that she still isn’t menstruating for so long. And the beautician said that she also didn’t menstruate for very long, so her mum took her to the gynaecologist and it turned out she had polycystic ovaries, so she’d advise my Mum to go get Sofi checked out as well. Uhhh… Mum came home and spent an hour flicking through her books, trying to find stuff about polycystic ovaries, and since all her books concern mostly older women, it seems like a lot of what she’s read is quite depressing.

I highly doubt (for what gut feelings are worth) that Sofi has this particular thing. I don’t think I got my period earlier than Sofi. I’m probably not the best example since according to my endocrinologist it was not certain if I’d ever have it, but still, I guess 14 is too early an age to wail over lack of period. But since I usually pick up people’s moods super quick, I’m feeling worried too. So that’s why I’m thinking about it.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What do some people take WAY too seriously?

My answer:

Themselves. πŸ˜€ I think most of us are too serious about ourselves to a varying degree, because it can be really difficult to have a distance to something you can’t really distance yourself from physically, like your own self, and particularly difficult when you happen to be especially sensitive or something, but it can be immensely helpful both for you and for those you interact with. It’s a really good thing when you’re able to laugh at yourself and things you do, and even let other people do it. I say this as someone who I guess is slightly paradoxical in this regard, because on one hand I guess such distance is a very natural thing to me that I was pretty much born with, I like to have some healthy distance to almost everything because being able to look at things from some more or less distanced perspective helps me see them more broadly and see all the hilarious, ridiculous, absurd or ironic sides to it clearer, and being able to see those bits makes the situation less overwhelming. On the other hand though, I have this AVPD thing which makes distancing yourself from yourself quite difficult if not impossible. But I guess I’m not alone with this idiosyncrasy, and I don’t think it is limited to only people with AVPD either. I know a bunch of people who have a similar sort of conflict, with or without mental illness involved, and I have a little feeling that this may be a common problem for people who happen to both lavishly use humour/sarcasm as a coping skill , while at the same time being highly sensitive in general and not particularly self-assured. Just my little theory. It’s a difficult and weird combination to live with, and I’d say that sometimes it makes things even worse, but it’s interesting and quite hilarious in itself as well.

But what I also mean by that people take themselves too seriously is that I’ve been noticing more and more of an almost trend for being easily offended. It’s like some people almost enjoy holding grudges, celebrating their hurts which people caused totally unintentionally, like by saying one wrong word, and which seem totally blown out of proportion. We’re living in very strongly self-absorbed times, I think, when there’s so much emphasis on all things self-, and maybe this is what contributes to it in some way. We’re all into self-care, self-love, self-development, self-discovery, self-gratitude, self-appreciation, self-awareness… and this is great, important and necessary, don’t get me wrong! Except I see a lot of people taking it to the extreme and I think this can be quite harmful in the long run. I realise that my own perception of it might be a bit skewed perhaps, due to the aforementioned AVPD and that I tend to gravitate towards the other extreme regularly, but too much of a good thing is also a bad thing, isn’t it? It doesn’t lead anywhere constructive imo, anyway when self is the only thing you focus on. I think self-deprecation, in reasonable amounts, is just as important a skill to have as self-appreciation. What do y’all think?

And what’s such a thing in your opinion that is taken too seriously? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What should exist, but doesn’t?

My answer:

Some kind of brain cloud or something like that. I mean cloud as in a server. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has such ideas. Plus something that would make the integration between the human brain and such cloud possible, of course. I’m not sure how exactly it would work in detail as I have little idea about such things, and this is probably not realistic to be a thing ever, but I’d like such a thing from which you could transfer things like information or skills to your brain so that it could process it and incorporate as part of what it knows and can do. Think about learning languages this way. πŸ˜€ There wouldn’t be any need for schooling or anything, you just sort of download whatever sets of skills and information you need and you’re ready to go and do your job. And also maybe we could incorporate new experiences this way without actually experiencing them physically so we’d know what different experiences feel like. But also, this cloud would be able to store all things that already are in your brain, if this is doable in any way, for example to somehow keep one’s memories in such a cloud and be able to retrieve them or something, for example when your physical brain gets amnesiac, or share them with people if you want. It would all be encrypted by default, and then when you’d die, you could state it in your will who, if anyone, do you want to inherit your brain legacy and people will gain access to whatever you let them have access to, or you can choose to have everything destroyed completely right in the moment when you die, or perhaps do some other things with it, like let your online brain copy keep floating there forever and think it’s immortal. I think it would be handy having a copy of your brain, and also having a sort of database from which you could pull things into your brain, but if such a thing would be realistic at all, I realise it’ll probably be also a great marketing/political toy and thus would have a lot of downsides to it in practice.

What is such a thing in your opinion? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

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

Who is overrated in your opinion? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s the most difficult thing to define?

My answer:

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

What’s such a thing that comes to your mind? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

What is such a thing that comes to your mind? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

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

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. πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ˜€ ) 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. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ˜€ ) 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. πŸ˜€ 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? πŸ™‚

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.

Β Β  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.

Β Β  Coping with crisis

Β Β  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. πŸ˜€ 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! πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€ 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? πŸ™‚

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.

*****

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. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€

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. πŸ˜€ 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. πŸ˜€

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. πŸ˜€

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 (19th June).

What do you wish was illegal?

My answer:

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

What is such a thing for you? πŸ™‚