Question of the day.

What was the last text you sent?

My answer:

Um, lemme have a look, I don’t text people all that often. I use WhatsApp more often normally, but recently I haven’t been messaging a lot with anyone on there either… Oh my, that was ages ago! At least for some people’s standards, I believe. πŸ˜€ The last text I sent was to Sofi, on Christmas Eve. And it says: “No, it’s not meant to be I guess, anyway”. It was after the Christmas Eve supper (for those who don’t know here in Poland it’s the supper on Christmas Eve which is the central Christmas meal and the most festive one), and Sofi was watching A Christmas Carol on TV and I went up to my room. After a while I had an impression like Sofi stopped watching it and went to her room as well, so I wanted to invite her over to me to play a bit of BitLife because I was sure she must be bored. So I texted her to come but she was still watching, although indeed she was bored nevertheless so we kept texting each other back and forth as I had nothing else to do at the moment either and she said that she thinks this film is scary. I said it’s weird, because the book isn’t, so I don’t think the film should be scary either. But Sofi said the book is also scary. So that’s why I wrote that it’s not meant to be scary, or so I think. I asked her if it’s because of the ghosts but she said that just generally the feel of it is scary. While I don’t see it this way, and I didn’t watch the film version, I get her, because we both tend to perceive a lot of normal things to be weirdly creepy. Curiously, I was in the theatre as a kid about Sofi’s age on A Christmas Carol, and it did trigger my sensory anxiety, but that was more due to some stuff about the performance rather than the plotline itself being scary. And Sofi generally doesn’t have any major anxiety issues, I guess it’s something to do with some sort of over-perceptiveness if it makes any sense, I don’t know.

So how about you? Oh, and do you think A Christmas Carol is scary? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (28th December).

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever been through?

My answer:

I think the most difficult thing for me was the recovery after my Achilles tendons lengthening surgery, which I had when I was 10. Basically I spent six weeks with my entire legs in casts in order for them to heal properly, although my surgeon was a bit overzealous apparently, because from what I know now my casts were way bigger than it was necessary, which meant I could barely move my legs at all, and had to have them pretty much in the same position all that time and then later throughout physiotherapy until my muscles got used to working all over again. That was of course a fair bit of discomfort and then later also pain but that wasn’t really why I found it so difficult, rather, it was because I was totally unprepared mentally for what was going to happen to me after surgery, I had totally no idea what it was going to look like. My family weren’t really prepared either, we didn’t even have a wheelchair for me or anything like that so my Dad had to carry me to the loo when I needed it, and people had to help me out with the most basic stuff which I found incredibly humiliating. But what was challenging even more than that was the sensory deprivation. I didn’t have a computer back then nor any other devices really, and my room wasn’t adapted to my temporary condition. Sofi was very little, had about six months maybe, and my Mum was very busy with her plus with the new house my parents were building, people were going on with their lives and I was really bored most of the time. Sometimes my Mum would get me some talking books from the nearest library for the blind, which wasn’t really all that near, and I had a lot of Braille magazines for children, but they were on the shelves so someone had to give them to me. There was a limited number of them to begin with, but they also weren’t really labelled in any way in normal print, so I would often get the same magazines all over again. I also had a radio and listened to my favourite radio station at the time – Polish Radio BIS. – My class teacher visited me a couple of times to somehow help me catch up on the school work but that was only at the beginning. And other than that, I didn’t really have much to do at the time. My brain was in an awful mental state already prior to that due to a few different things, I was really anxious all the time, and that only worsened then. And because I was so sensorily and cognitively understimulated, my sensory anxiety was sky high all the time and that was simply really difficult to live with. I was also really depressed and suicidal and my sleep was all over the place, because of the lack of stimulation of any kind, anxiety and because my calves were hurting a lot for some reason after surgery, not somehow extremely bad but bad enough that it would prevent me from sleeping well. I still sometimes have that pain even these days, although it’s lesser. And of course the lack of sleep didn’t help in making me feel any better and my brain any more rational. And then physiotherapy was also quite yucky, as at the beginning it was rather painful and quite unexpectedly again. Most ironically though the surgery didn’t have any lasting effects, although because I’ve never really seen my shortened Achilles tendons as a real problem that would hinder me in any significant way in life I can’t say I care about that a lot.

What is such a thing for you? πŸ™‚

(Do) I have people I trust.

I thought I’d use some journal prompt for some longer writing today, and I found one in The Goddess Journaling Workbook by Beatrice Minerva Linden which got me thinking, so I chose it.

“I have people I trust. Who are they? If they haven’t appeared in your life yet, imagine that person from your future vividly. Imagine the feeling of talking to a true friend. Imagine what they look like, their gestures and how they look at you as you talk to them.

Rather than strictly following the prompt, my post will be more like raw (more or less) ramblings about the whole trust thing in my life, just based on this prompt.

Because I am disabled, and so can’t be as self-sufficient in all areas of life as are people who do not have the disability and difficulties that I do, and because I am not very autonomous in what I believe is neatly called independent living skills in the Anglophone disabled community, I’ve naturally had to learn to trust people in a strictly practical sense. I mean in everyday situations in which I may need another person’s assistance or help. And I have, although obviously I also do have my guard on in case I need any help from people I don’t know all that well or have some sort of doubts about, whatever their nature might be. If I didn’t take the potential risk and didn’t assume that all people are trustworthy in this sense, my day to day life would be much more difficult to manage, having only myself to rely on all of the time. Luckily for me, I’ve never had any particularly adverse experiences from taking this potential risk, largely because I try to, and have such a possibility, to rely on people I know well, like my Mum, for example.

I’d never really dwelled on this topic much, simply because there’s just no other way so I never thought there’s even much to think about, until my last therapist (for my regular readers/those who know me off blog, the one who was so obsessed with my blindness), made an interesting observation right after our first session, when she was guiding me out of the building, that I must be a very trustful person because I have to rely on others in daily life situations like that one. So that got me thinking because, aside from that practical stuff where I’m basically forced to trust people a lot of the time, I’m not really all that trustful at all. Although I didn’t tell her that, which perhaps also tells something about my degree of trust towards people whom I met for the first time a little more than an hour before. πŸ˜€

As I’ve already mentioned before, the person I definitely feel the most comfortable trusting with daily life stuff is my Mum, since we know each other very well. I also know that I can trust her with more private stuff than just guiding or describing something or other such stuff you could potentially ask a random stranger on the street for. Recent example – the MIMRAs (My Inner Mishmash Readership Awards). She had been helping me a lot with these, this year, and the year before. And I had no problem trusting her with the MIMRA cards, for which she did some initial designs so that the company who were making them would know what I wanted exactly, that she did them the way she told me she would and more or less how I explained to her I’d like them to look like. When the cards were ready, I trusted her that they look just like she said they do, and even trusted in her opinion that they are really nice and better than last year. I didn’t even think about not trusting her. I could be more wary of her intentions, get my iPhone, open one of the AI apps for the blind and see what colour it is, recognise the text on the cards with it to see whether there is really what I wanted to be written on them, but trusting her takes much less hassle, plus the app could get confused and say the wrong colours or misread something and then I’d be in a real conundrum as for who to trust. Then I even trusted her with addressing the parcels and sending them while I was writing the MIMRA post myself, without double checking if she didn’t mix the recipients up, on purpose, of course. πŸ˜€

So, yeah, with daily life stuff, I think there isn’t really any other way being disabled, so that it isn’t even a personality or character trait, but simply a coping/survival strategy you have to use.

Let’s talk now about this other type of trust. There are people in my life with whom I openly share a fair bit of personal stuff, including this blog, and really like doing so. For that reason, some people even think I’m open or outgoing or some other things like that. I like to think I have a rich and varied brain life, so even when I do not share a lot, there is still a lot I can and do share about myself and my life. πŸ˜€ Also what I share with people is always, well, usually, carefully filtered beforehand. If it’s not, it either means something unusual was going on either with my brain and state of mind, or in my life, at the time of sharing, or that I felt reasonably comfortable sharing it. Online, the third option can be that I somehow forgot to edit something out but if I’m writing something personal or deeply emotional I spend ages editing it, which minimises the chances of it happening. πŸ˜€ I still sometimes regret things I shared with people intendedly though if I come to a conclusion that I “exhibited” myself too much, especially in person. I kind of envy people who can just spontaneously pour out their brains “live” to someone but on the other hand I’d never actually want to do this I guess, there is something creepy about it. That’s probably why therapy has always been a difficult thing for me, you’re supposed to be an open book there, I just can’t do it, it creeps me out. When I was a kid, one of my weirdest fears was that I’d be sleep talking and say something that I think about or just have in my mind but would never ever want anyone to know. I didn’t have anything specific in mind that I wouldn’t want people to know, no dark secrets, just not having a filter while dreaming was a scary prospect. It still is although I’m not quite as concerned with it because as far as I know I’ve never sleep talked and I sleep on my own these days, as opposed to having roommates in boarding school and sharing one big bedroom with my family until the age of 10 when we moved. And now I dream a lot in other languages so chances are even if I sleep talked and someone heard it they wouldn’t have a clue whatever I was saying. πŸ˜€ Another handy advantage to being multilingual that I never thought of before, especially when living with monoglots. πŸ˜€

So, as you can figure out from that, there aren’t many people I could say I actually trust, and even if I do, it’s not like what some people say about their friends, that they could tell them just about anything and confide in without any worries or self-consciousness or anything.

Out of all these people, I trust my Mum the most. I know she also trusts me too, maybe even more than I do her because she shares a whole lot with me and always asks me for advice with really personal stuff. So I really value the bond we have. Since we are family we naturally have a lot of similar experiences or traits so that also makes it easier to trust her. But I never feel like I can be open with her regarding my mental health issues, and all the related stuff. Because these are not things she has any personal experience with, and she seems to find it very difficult to relate to/understand, and often reacts very emotionally to what I share with her about that, which typically doesn’t make me feel any better. She is very supportive in a practical sense, but she just simply often can’t understand what I’m dealing with. Combined with the fact that I have trouble sharing such personal stuff and even when I want to share something, it takes some effort from me, which means it might not always be the easiest to absorb for the other person or might make them feel somehow uncomfortable as well, it doesn’t make her a go-to person for me when I need some support because I’m particularly depressed or something. Such convos are tricky so we both prefer to avoid them if possible, which doesn’t mean she is in denial of my difficulties. But we can talk our faith, interests, though we have very different ones but still having deep interests overall is something that brings us closer, relationships with people and people in general, like neither of us can do with anyone else. That’s really nice. I also know I can ask her all sorts of awkward questions about life, be it its social side and how to handle a specific social situation, or to do with adulting etc. I often feel like I’m clueless about a lot of things that are obvious to people and I really value having someone who can explain it speaking my language, so to say. πŸ˜€ Only because we do share a lot, I often feel the pressure from her to share everything, especially when she realises that I don’t, and that drives me mad and has the opposite effect.

I can also be quite trustful with Sofi and like to confide a lot of low key stuff in her, and I like how it always seems to make her feel older than she is. Being a teenager, Sofi likes feeling older than she is and when someone treats her in such a way, y’know. πŸ™‚ I like talking fazas with her, for example now that I am desperately seeking for a new faza and looking for faza candidates, whenever there is a more serious one, I always let Sofi in on that and seek her opinion on the potential new faza subject, what she thinks about their music, and how they look like. The more disapproving of their music she is, the more happy I am because that means they might finally end up being good enough for my brain as a faza subject. Because Sofi’s and my tastes in music differ diametrically. I also like to know what my faza subjects look like, just for the sake of knowing, and I feel more comfortable asking Sofi who is in the age of crushes, which are a similar phenomenon to fazas in some ways, and additionally is a very visual and perceptive person, rather than bother my Mum with it. We just generally talk a lot with Sofi, mostly very casual stuff but I think we both feel quite comfortable sharing a lot of little things with each other, although with more complex things we don’t really understand each other that well as we’re very different and there’s quite a significant age difference between us. I also wouldn’t tell Sofi anything too serious as she is only a child and very sensitive, plus keeping secrets isn’t her strongest point. I can also trust her to help me with a lot of things like now with MIMRa pictures.

I also have a special sort of trust for my grandad. He has always supported me, no matter in what sort of situation. Even in situations when he doesn’t really know what it’s all about, he’ll always support me as if it was some sort of a rule he never breaks. Even when my Mum isn’t in my corner, he silently is. We don’t really talk together all that much though. We like being together in silence. When I was a kid, I always knew that he wouldn’t judge me if I cried openly in his presence or was super angry. And he always makes me feel safer. I mean physically, sensorily, I don’t know… But we no longer live close and so our relationship is more distanced now. Either way we never had as much time for just the two of us as I’d like, because I was in the boarding school a lot, he worked a lot, and there was always grandma. My grandma is a sweet, virtuous, charming and lovable person but I don’t feel quite as comfortable around her.

I also trust with some deeper things some of my online friends and am really glad I have them since I’ve started penpalling and blogging and like the connection we have. I like how I’ve found a lot of like-minded people on the internet in the recent few years, which means I can talk to them a lot of things we both like/have experienced that I can’t talk to with all the people above. I can talk about my interests or fazas with them more indepth, or the mental health stuff, or whatever else that we both get. This is so cool. Again though, I always feel the need to filter things a lot. I feel like I should mention my late friend Jacek from Helsinki in particular, with whom we had a very strong bond over our interests, which contributed to a level of closeness I don’t think I ever had with anyone else, though our relationship was nowhere near ideal as we both clashed a lot in terms of personality.

So there isn’t anyone I would be able to trust without any reservations. I don’t know if I should see this as a problem, or just as a fact, so I prefer the latter, but generally I just don’t think about it too much on a regular basis cus actually why think about it too much. I don’t lose sleep over it. Only sometimes when I really feel like I could reach out to someone but find myself unable to, even though there are a lot of potentially trustworthy people around me, then it bothers me a bit, but typically not for too long, because then in turn the idea of having such a close relationship scares me.

If it is a problem, I think it’s not because potentially trustworthy people or a potential “true friend” hasn’t appeared in my life or because I have never met anyone I could feel totally safe with and comfortable just being myself, feeling sure that they’ll accept me anyway. Or this may be a secondary problem only.

I know a lot of people who seem trustworthy, a lot of awesome, supportive and like-minded people, online in particular. So, what I think the actual problem could be, if it is a real problem, I just don’t feel safe opening up to people for real, or don’t want to overwhelm them, or maybe I somehow don’t know how to form such close relationships. Oh yeah, and what’s for sure, closeness is a nice concept but it also scares me shitless in practice. I just struggle with reaching out to people I guess, which means the real, strong trust can’t form on my end of the relationship.

But I see yet another option here. Maybe the problem is that there is a fair bit of pressure in our gregarious society to have a lot of friends, and for all of them to be true, eternal friends, with whom you can talk anything under the sun and share absolutely all ups and downs and everything in between of each other, and then maybe even a true soulmate for good measure. As I like to be different, if this is indeed the case, I am pretty happy to be the other way around and stay freely individualistic, not needing to feel obliged to share all the ins and outs of my life with another human being, or even a larger number of them. πŸ˜€

That’s why I sorta feel unable to address the other part of the prompt and (realistically) imagine such a person vividly, and especially my very trusting interaction with them.

How is it with you? Do you trust people easily? Do you have a lot of people you trust? Or do you have no one? If so, are you able to imagine someone whom you could trust and what they’d be like? Does it bother you that you have no one like this at present? And, do you have someone in your life that you trust totally, whom you can tell anything or ask for anything? Do you think it’s good/necessary/to have such a person? Or maybe you don’t like the idea for some reason and prefer to rely solely on yourself? Loooads of questions today. But I think this is a wide topic, so just tell me whatever your thoughts are about the whole thing or just the prompt. πŸ™‚

How I’ve been feeling lately.

Today, I’d like to write some a bit longer post inspired by a journaling prompt again, as I haven’t done that in a while. It probably won’t be too long or indepth, but I think it’ll be nice to do and also fill y’all in a bit on what’s going on for me. The prompt I chose to inspire myself with is from Listify by Marina Greenway and goes like this:

Β Β  Lately, I’ve been feeling… Your state of mind changes over time and through the seasons. Record how you are feeling right now. What is going through your mind? Are you responding emotionally to something that has happened earlier in the week? Are you anticipating your day in a positive or negative way? What does your general state of being feel like? Do this every so often to chronicle your journey.

I typically write in my journal and/or on here about how I’m feeling in a more prosaic form, and I don’t think doing a list will become my typical way of doing it, but I think it could be fun once in a while. So here is my list.

  • Β Β  Super anxious. I started feeling a bit anxious last Saturday (in this particular case when I say anxious I mean the sensory anxiety thing, but also generally I was super jumpy and hyper alert) and all that for no clear reason. I have some ideas now as for what could cause it, but given the intensity of the anxiety it seems very inadequate and this sensory anxiety episode has been one of the worst I’ve had in the last couple years. Last weekend and the beginning of the week was particularly awful, now I’m slowly recovering and it’s much better but still far from my baseline.
  • Β Β  Excited about MIMRAs (My Inner Mishmash Readership Award) and relieved that I’ve finally sent them out. This is a really happy and exciting process for me and I love the idea so much and that I came up with this, though all the preparations can get a bit exhausting. I am also hopeful that the winners will enjoy their MIMRAs as that’s the whole point of it. I am also happy that Sofi likes her new iPhone which she got from me earlier this week. It was meant to be a Christmas present, but since she chose the colour of it and the accessories anyway I figured I could just as well give it to her right away. Her old iPhone was in an awful state (our parents bought her a used one and it was in a pitiful condition already when she got it, but they refused to get her a new one even though the old one is now barely usable, because Mum says she doesn’t deserve it and needs to have higher grades. I don’t see it as a prize for anything, I think she should have a functioning phone to be able to do her schoolwork from home and not be lagging too far behind her peers with her knowledge and abilities regarding technology. Plus now that she has a functioning, brand new phone which will be supported for a few more years to come, unlike the old one, it should definitely serve her well at least until she’s 18, and then she can buy a new phone for herself, so no one of us will need to bother with buying her another phone any time soon. If she breaks it earlier, I emphasised it to her that it’s entirely her problem, although she does have coverage). She is really enjoying having a functional phone, and Mum now says that it was a good idea.
  • Β Β  A bit frustrated and tired. Frustrated with the fact that I’ve really been having a lot of migraines lately. Like, the last few months or so. It was the same last year about this time, autumn-winter, and then it got better, so I’m wondering if it’s some sort of a seasonal thing and if so why that is. It’s really getting in the way of things. The migraines themselves aren’t even all that painful, I’ve had worse and I know people have worse, but they’re really energy draining and make me feel kind of generally sick, so I’m effectively unable to do much of anything while having a migraine, especially that it often gets worse when I try to force myself to do something more ambitious that requires getting out of bed, and they’re more difficult to get rid of than they used to be. The combination of migraine medication and good sleep, or sometimes even just a usual NSAID if I’d take it early enough, used to be enough to get rid of the problem in one day, occasionally it would linger for some longer time but that was rare, while now the meds help rather rarely and it’s a bit like a lottery, at least I haven’t found any connections as to when and why they work or don’t work, and I need much more rest and sleep to make myself feel any better, I also don’t want to take the meds too often. I know it’s like this or even worse for many people who have migraines, but mine were generally easier to handle before so the situation is new to me and I’m feeling a bit clueless, and like I said frustrated because they often get in the way just when I want to do something productive. And as for the tired part, well I had a migraine yesterday until about noon today, and I’m still feeling a bit tired and sluggish afterwards.
  • A little stressed/worried, and a little looking forward to Christmas. Christmas is typically a stressful period for me, as it is for many of us. I don’t really know yet what it will be like for us this year, as we don’t have any specific plans, so typically I’m feeling rather apprehensive. But it’s also generally a nice occasion and I hope it’ll be at least a bit fun and not just stressful like it was last year.
  • Β Β  Desperate for a new faza. But that’s been the case for quite some time now and you probably all know about it, I don’t have anything to add to this really.

And I think that’s it. My day, apart from the migraine earlier, has been okayish, and it’s now coming to an end, so I’m not really anticipating anything today except for hoping for a decent night’s sleep. And my state of being feels a bit sluggish, a bit jumpy, but overall rather neutral at the moment.

How are you feeling? Do let me know. πŸ™‚

 

The challenging life lessons.

I don’t have anything more constructive to do for the time being, so thought I’d write another list inspired by Listify by Marina Greenway. Here goes the prompt:

Β Β  Difficult challenges that I pushed through (and what I learned). You have been through a lot. Pushed yourself, faced difficult situations, overcome challenges – all of it. List those moments and look back every now and then to acknowledge your journey and appreciate how far you’ve come.

The following list is not going to be exhaustive, we all have too many challenges to list and I’m too lazy to that, that would be endlessly pathetic and also too intimate, and I’m probably going to overshare massively anyway. I’ll write about major things. Because I’m supposed to include both the challenges/events and what I learned from them, and I want you to know the context and also just write more about it so it’s not just a dry list, it may not be your typical list with short elements. Actually, on second thoughts, I decided to make it a bit unconventional and will simply put each point under a separate heading because sometimes it may get lengthy and I don’t want to be limited to one paragraph which will be hellish to read. πŸ˜€ Now it’s actually no longer a list, but oh well. Does it matter a lot?

Also, before I begin, I feel like some minor, just-in-case trigger warnings are due. Brief mention of suicidal thoughts from the past, mention of accused suicidal thoughts (however absurd that may sound), brief mention of self-harm, in-depth discussion on false accusations of child sexual abuse, and generally challenging topics so if you feel like anything may be difficult be careful and don’t feel obliged to anything. Another disclaimer is for the length – it did turn out huge haha, and I was writing it for ages. Again, don’t feel any obligations to read everything or if you don’t think like reading a lengthy post don’t pressure yourself at all and do something more relaxing.

Β Β  I was born blind

Not like I remember any of it, haha, but blindness, even when it’s congenital thing and you can’t imagine your life any other way, is still more or less of a challenge. I don’t know if I learned anything specific from this… I mean, being blind you definitely learn things that you wouldn’t otherwise, but I never knew anything else so I can’t really compare it with anything I’d know before. Someone who lost their sight later on could have said that they have learnt to accept their blindness over the years – I was saved the problem as that has always been the only reality for me so I didn’t have to adjust to it in such a dramatic way. – It certainly was a difficult lesson for my parents though. Speaking of my parents, perhaps what I can say could be that I learned from quite an early age that I have a really loving and accepting family and not every disabled or non-disabled child is as lucky as I was.

Living 10 years in a boarding school

That was a huge challenge for me. It’s always difficult for any child to separate from their parents at the age of 5 and see them every two weeks at the very best, often much less frequently. If the environment where they live is friendly and there are other kids, as is the case with boarding schools (I want to be an optimist in this case and do hope most boarding schools are child-friendly and mine generally was, though I realise it’s not always the case), most kids grow to like it over time and bond with people there, though obviously they still miss their parents and, given the choice, would much prefer to live with them. But when they do go home, they’re often so used to being with their peers and the boarding school staff all the time that, while they’re happy to be at home, they may even miss their school and then be happy when going back there, to hang out with people they know well and have things in common with. That was not the case with me. I never fully adapted to living in such a way. Not because my school was scary or awful, though there were many things that I strongly believe shouldn’t take place. I guess I just wasn’t the type of kid to thrive in such conditions. Often when I’m close enough with someone to tell them about my experiences with this more in-depth, people will readily assume that my, or any other child’s in a similar situation, parents are to blame here. I don’t think so. There’s no way you can tell at such a young age whether this will be a good choice for your child or not. You can have a very extroverted, outgoing kid who loves spending time with their peers all the time, going to sleepovers, being in charge maybe, but stay in a boarding school and separation from family or any other subjectively negative experiences they may encounter there might make them much less self-confident and unhappy. An introverted child who hates leaving home even for family holidays and can’t find their place in a group may discover their true self in a good boarding school and make longer-lasting relationships because they can get to know their peers more deeply. And as for my personal case, my parents didn’t have another viable choice, or didn’t know about any. It had quite a destabilising effect on me that I had to change places so often. The result was that I didn’t feel at home anywhere and I didn’t have any sense of belonging. Because I hated the boarding school and didn’t want to have anything to do with it and that I felt like it smothered my sense of individuality (though I only fully realised what that feeling was exactly and the extend to which it happened after I left), I felt repulsed by what people were saying there a lot of the time that we should think of it as our second home. I didn’t understand those who actually treated it as such. I hated whenever someone would say about themselves, or moreover about me, that I “lived” there (we have two separate words in Polish for living, one for living as in being alive and another for living as in dwelling somewhere long-term, and I’m obviously talking about the latter). I wasn’t living there, I just was staying there at the time. I was scared thinking of girls in like their 20’s who were still there (most of them because of doing some higher education (most people there started proper schooling later than in mainstream school so it wasn’t that unusual for someone in their early 20’s to still be in higher education, that was actually the case with me too, only not in there) or studying at a mainstream university which was located nearby so it was easier for them to still reside in the same place that they’ve known for years and which was adapted to blind people in every possible way) or even older blind people who lived in this whole centre permanently (either because they worked somewhere there or just felt safest there and didn’t want/weren’t able for some reason to face the big wild sighted world) and I was wondering when I was little whether that was going to happen to me too, and then even later too but in a more cynical way rather than because I just didn’t know. I always waited when I’d be able to go home but I never felt truly at home either. It was like a holiday both for me and for my family, the more that often I’d come for summer holidays, or Christmas, or Easter, winter breaks or other. I loved it there but always felt more like a guest. I never was up to date with whatever was happening in our community or in the family. I felt like some very dignified stranger in some ways and didn’t like it. My relationship with my brother – which was never strong and kind of ambivalent, was particularly affected by it. I could never truly enjoy my stay at home because I was constantly thinking about how I needed to go back there soon and stressing over it. I hated being sort of on the move all the time. Yes, I did get used to living there, like you get used to living with one arm when you have it amputated at some point, but I was never comfortable with it and never fully accepted it. I did have kinda sorta friendships in there, liked many people, many people liked me, but these didn’t feel like true friendships, often felt either not really satisfying to me or sort of forced on the other end. I never had anyone there that I would miss when at home or think about what we’d be doing after the holidays/weekend/school break. I felt awfully inadequate and moreover awfully guilty for being so inadequate and not being able to feel good there. I tried to pretend and I think I was quite good at it or at least at stifling negative emotions (though sometimes in my first years of mastering this skill things would get really wild when there was no space left and it all popped out at once, until I learned that you can also implode and not just explode) but ultimately at least the staff knew that I didn’t feel good there, though it’s possible they knew it mainly from my Mum who couldn’t get over it naturally and her way of trying to get over something is talking and talking and talking and crying, they surely learned from my Mum that I was cutting myself, for example, which my Mum was supposing. During my whole long stay there, I only met one girl much younger than me who had very similar issues to me. Sometimes I thought everyone must feel exactly the same as me and they must be just acting, but why would we even be acting in front of each other so much that absolutely nothing would show. Some of the girls in my group that I was closer with knew that I didn’t feel exactly great there, but they never mentioned feeling the same. Yes, of course, everyone misses their parents, I often asked some of them about whether they do and most naturally they always did, and school work is always boring for most kids, no matter where you are, right? But no one seemed to feel the same desperate kind of thing and instead enjoyed being able to be around other people with whom they shared so much in common because of living together for so long, being blind and often some common interests. People bonded with the staff a lot, some girls sometimes jokingly called some staff members their another mum or something. Many happily went on summer camps with the group despite spending with these people all year. Or devote one holiday weekend to spend it doing some fun things with the group as well, like going for a trip or something. my parents strongly encouraged me to take part in these things as they thought that would integrate me with them more but it was always quite nightmarish for me. There was only that one primary school girl, whom I happened to get to know more closely because she was from the same region as me so we would often go home together – like I would go with her parents and she with mine so that made it more possible for us to be at home more often. – I know she was self-harming and also finding it difficult to adapt there. She’s a teenager now though and a few years ago I saw her on Twitter where she wrote a lot about her school life – still in the same school – and very positively. So I’m very happy for her that she did eventually found her place there, even though after I got out of there me and my Mum were strongly encouraging her mum to take her out as well. Only now I have even bigger problem with myself, as that just confirms my… ahem! uniqueness. πŸ˜€

What have I learnt from that? First I have to say I learned some independent living skills there. Not as many as a lot of other people there and not always as well, I think due to a whole mix of factors, but I definitely did learn things that I likely would not have learnt otherwise at all, and so for that I am grateful. As well as for learning to read, I’m so flippin happy to be able to read Braille. I know there are screen readers, audiobooks etc. and many blind people live happy lives without using Braille at all or say it’s impractical but for me, being able to read something vs hear makes a world of difference.

Not to invalidate other people’s negative or traumatic experiences, no matter how minor they may seem to me. I hate the word trigger or trauma in context of myself about which I wrote here a few times earlier, because it feels like trivialising people’s serious traumatic experiences, but at the same time, paradoxically, I’d say if I do have any actual triggers it’s when someone else invalidates someone’s negative experience in any way, for example tell them that it’s impossible for them to be traumatised by something. I only recently discovered how much it can upset me and drive me absolutely nuts, much more than when someone does that to me.

It taught me to appreciate the good things while they last. To cherish my private space and time I can spend alone. To appreciate music that I love and that I can listen to it any time as I couldn’t do that for many years of my stay there. To appreciate my family, my roots, anything or anyone that I feel a close connection to. In hintsight, it made me appreciate my individuality, quirkiness and realise that I am not, can’t be and don’t have to be like other people. It works both in a negative and positive way because while I love being different and quirky and don’t have any interest in being normal and average, at the same time I have strong feelings of inadequacy and strongly feel all the downsides of not being normal. I try to have a distance to it though. It made me understanding and more aware of the differences of other people and more interested in them and in what they’re actually feeling. Because what they’re showing or saying or doing or not doesn’t always have to mean it’s in line with what they’re feeling. Just in case you didn’t know. πŸ˜‰ Also in hintsight as well, I learned to accept my mental illnesses to which that experience had largely contributed, but I was only able to do that after I left, despite I knew deep down much earlier that things weren’t okay. It took me a long time to accept what was going on and put my finger on what it was exactly, and obviously I needed the help of other people. And oh yeah, I learned how to be a defensive pessimist, which skill serves me very well to this day, yay! But I can assure you that the learning process was quite shitty haha. I’ve learnt that different people may see one situation entirely differently. I’ve also learnt not so positive things, like have gotten quite an ingrained belief of being extremely not resilient and mentally weak, or the bottling up stuff I mentioned before.

I experienced two years in an integration school

If you don’t know what I mean by integration school, it’s like a cross between a special school and mainstream school, where disabled children learn with able-bodied children, but it’s meant to be more inclusive and generally supposed to be better prepared for the needs of disabled children or children with any special needs, like there may be teaching assistants more readily available as teaching assistants are not something you’ll encounter in every normal mainstream school in Poland (not necessarily even in an integration school either). As you can imagine from what I wrote earlier, my Mum was also quite desperate and not happy with the boarding school situation and wanted to help me. So when I was 10, when my parents left me at the boarding school at the beginning of a school year and I was doing quite visibly unwell emotionally, my Mum started to look for some alternatives and she asked in a nearby integration school kind of specialising in teaching visually impaired students or in any case most of their disabled students were visually impaired, whether they perhaps could admit me, without huge hopes as she’d already asked before. Miraculously, this time round there was a different headmistress and she agreed. When I learned about this from my Dad I was absolutely euphoric. To fully understand my euphoria, you have to realise that my idea about what an integration school is was rather peculiar. My absolute biggest, secret unrealistic dream was to be homeschooled. Or if not homeschooled, then I wanted at least to be in an integration school. Probably because most kids who left the special blind school I was in while still being in education, went to an integration school (naturally closer to home), I thought an integration school is any school that is not a boarding school, from which you go home straight away. When I was in nursery, there was one girl in my group who lived close enough to the blind school to be able to go home every day. One day as I witnessed when someone was coming for this girl, I said: “Wow, she has such an integration!” I couldn’t understand why all the teachers burst out with laughter. πŸ˜€

I don’t think I thought much about what it was going to be like, in practice, except for what I knew from Mum that the classes there were similarly small as in my school and that some kids there were blind and some were not and some were in between. And, of course, that I’d be at home every day.

The experience wasn’t bad in itself. It was just that a lot of nasty things happened in the meantime, that my brain state at the time was really awful and I was one super neurotic and constantly ruminating mess and got my first major depressive episode diagnosis around that time, as well as that I simply wasn’t a fit for that place either. My Mum says now that integration schools might be good for children who use wheelchairs or such but that they aren’t good for most if any blind children. I’m not sure I agree with that, it may not be the perfect idea but nothing is perfect and I know a bunch of blind people who thrived in integration schools or even completed their whole education until high school/college in such a way and are all for integration and it’s great. It’s just not a fit for everyone. For me, perhaps the more with the other issues that I mentioned that started surfacing big time, it was quite challenging. Practically – because I wasn’t independent enough – socially – because I couldn’t find my place in there and get along with people at all – and to a lesser extent academically. My Mum struggled with the idea that, rather than having the school books provided by the school as was the case previously, she’d have to get them printed in Braille and pay for them herself (which is not a cheap business), so I only got the most necessary books. My Mum was expected to help me with more complex/less easily adaptable school work or the things I struggled with the most, aka math, which is typical and mostly understandable practice in integration schools but my Mum wasn’t ready for it nor used to it, and hardly able to do it with baby Zofijka, the more that she isn’t particularly good at math either. I wasn’t used to needing this much help with school work either, before that I usually wanted to deal with it as fast as possible to be able to do other, more interesting things, had no time and patience for waiting for someone to come and help me, even if I sometimes needed it, so it was frustrating for us both. Eventually, after the two years, I left it. The final reason was not my not coping there though, but something more major. And, as there weren’t any more options, I went back to the boarding school for another five years.

From this experience, I learned more about the sighted people’s world. It’s a commonly mentioned disadvantage of blind schools that people in there are in their own, blind environment and, if they don’t have other, sighted friends or some other circle they would spend time with it’s easy to lose touch with what it’s like to live in the sighted world, and connect and relate to sighted people, especially with people who really spent there years and had few chances to really engage with sighted folks more. My primary source of such knowledge were books, just as books taught me about any other things that average people do, not just related to sight but socialising for example, haha, but that was an interesting early experience too.

I’ve learnt that integration school is another place where I don’t fit in, which instilled in me the conviction that there are real many places, situations and groups of people where I don’t fit in. Today I’m more okay with that than I was then. I got to learn some Swedish and generally my knowledge about a whole lot of things increased a lot.

I learned the same thing that I previously learned at the boarding school and also later on in all the other schools I went to, that the education system is evil and I still think very much the same and delight in ranting about it with whoever has similar views – which at this point is most often Sofi. – πŸ˜€ –

During my time in the integration, I had an Achilles tendons lengthening surgery, after which I was recovering in casts for 6 weeks and then getting back to life for a few months

2007 was a horrific year for me. At least it was balanced with only two but both great things – Sofi was born, and I received First Communion, although the significance of the latter didn’t fully sink in until much later even though my family was very religious. This horrific thing happened at the very start of my integration adventure – I started out in there in the middle of September and had the surgery in early October. – It was a possibility that was talked about previously a lot, I visited a few orthopaedists who all said I’d need it at some point. Finally I had even some very distant date for it in some huge faraway clinic and a hazy idea of what this surgery would entail, and just one day after coming back from that clinic, my orthopaedist said that he can fit me in for the surgery right away, here, in 5 days’ time. So obviously my parents jumped at the chance to have it dealt with and not have to think about it longer than necessary. I was quite stressed about it but I was also stressed out about a billion other things and didn’t really know what it would be like so tried to believe what everyone was saying that it would be okay, and by that possibly minimise the amount of stressful things, you can’t ruminate about everything at once. And it actually was okay. Except for that the surgery didn’t really work long-term at all, and for some reason the whole experience was really creepy for me. Again, perhaps it was just that I was generally in a rather bad emotional condition so anything would crush me. Or what I’m more inclined to think, my overall mental capabilities and the level of resilience are such that it would crush me any time. Or maybe, as my therapist later said, it was a shock for me because no one really took the time to explain to me the details of it. Maybe it were the accompanying circumstances – my Mum being chronically busy with Sofi and the building of our new house, me not having much to do and being chronically bored etc. – I only know it was super creepy and still when someone has something broken and is in a cast, and I happen to touch it, I get nausea and chills, and sometimes I still have dreams about the damn thing.

My Mum really wanted me to be admitted to the hospital for as short as possible and the doctor agreed, so I was only admitted one day before surgery and was discharged almost as soon as I woke up afterwards and they made sure everything was alright. That was scary too. Not just because I never was in an actual hospital by myself, but also one particular creepy thing comes to mind when I think about it, which may be as much important for the whole picture that it could have added significantly to my overall perception of the situation. In the hospital room with me, there was a girl my age after an awful car accident and another, much older one with something more complex. She needed a lot of assistance with everything, but one of her issues were also contracted Achilles tendons. I didn’t know what conditions she had or anything. I only knew she had some sort of a surgery a few days ago and accidentally learned about her Achilles tendons. The doctor was passing by our room while talking to someone and said: “There is a girl with contracted Achilles tendons here and we’ll be discharging her tomorrow”. This other girl thought he was talking about her and was overjoyed as she’d been in the hospital for a long time. I don’t know what sent my brain in such an irrational direction but I thought that OMG, she has the Achilles tendons too, so will that be how I’ll be after this surgery? She had to be fed and needed help with changing positions, a whole lot of other things that I’d always taken for granted.

So in the hours leading up to the surgery I was massively stressed. Finally, after I woke up from it, of course I was so foggy I could barely make sense of anything. The first thing I felt was that my legs were stuck in something, and I thought these were some sort of huge buckets, and I wondered why I can’t get out. Then my Dad said something like: “Wow, what fashionable winter boots you have! Aren’t they a bit too warm for autumn?” I laughed and then it sank in and I realised that I almost couldn’t move my legs. From what I know now, my doctor was really generous in covering me in casts, because they’re not normally quite as huge with this surgery as the ones I had. They went from slightly above my knees all the way to my feet, so that only my toes were sticking out. So essentially, I had my legs in pretty much one position all the time and couldn’t bend them even slightly. I absolutely didn’t realise that it would impact me so much. I think I wasn’t aware that it would change my life in any way beyond just the surgery itself. I often saw people – particularly my Dad – with broken limbs – which was the only comparison with that I could make – and for what I knew, he almost lived on as normal except for using crutches or having his hand in a splint/cast. He didn’t have his limb stuck in one place for weeks, didn’t need rehabilitation or anything, sometimes he’d even go to work or pick me up from school with Mum. I remember that my grandad, before I had the surgery, talked about it to me a little, and he said my legs would be in stagnation for a while. I didn’t know what stagnation was, so he explained to me that if I would spend all the time in one room, without seeing anyone, without ever going out, without being able to read anything, listen to music or radio, watch TV, talk to anyone, I would be in stagnation and that the same thing would be happening to my feet now. I thought that would be super scary if that happened to me, but didn’t really apply the allegory to my feet, or don’t think I did.

But it turned out my grandad had great intuition because, while it wasn’t as radical as what he described, my brain also went into some sort of a stagnation for all that time. As I said, my Mum was busy all the time with Sofi who was very demanding or at the building site of our new house or picking furniture for it etc. and all other people naturally also went on with their lives. I spent most of the time on my own, which I typically find absolutely fabulous, but not really when there isn’t much to do. My only regular company in those weeks was Polish Radio BIS, which I loved and listened to all the time and even called them and stuff. Sometimes Mum would get me talking books on tapes from the nearest library which had it, but I was done with them in no time as there was a limited amount of them you could borrow at once and I could listen to them all the time, while it wasn’t close enough that my Mum with her busy schedule could pop in there any time I wanted it. I had a lot of old children’s magazines in Braille, as well as a Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases which I got from a sort of organisation which printed it – I was always fascinated with words and wanted to have my own dictionary and that was the only one my Mum found out about that she could get me. – So I had that to read any time and I did, only I had a whole tall bookshelf of these children’s magazines and another one with all the volumes of the dictionary (Braille books are very clunky in case you don’t know so there are almost always multiple volumes even when it is a novel, let alone with something like a dictionary) and both of these shelves were quite a distance away from my bed. So I had to ask someone to give me something to read and as these things weren’t labelled in standard print, I’d often get the same thing to read multiple times because they’d just pick whatever was nearest randomly. A few times I attempted getting something myself, I slid off the bed and moved to the shelves on my butt so that I could get something specific from the lower shelves, but then I couldn’t make it back up on to the bed as my legs wouldn’t move almost at all and the casts were heavy enough that I couldn’t drag myself up on the arms. Eventually I managed it somehow one time I tried it and can’t remember how but that required a bit of inventiveness, haha, the more that at this time my Dad was back from work napping on my bed so I didn’t want to slog him with my leg accidentally, or with the book, lol. Sometimes Mum would bring Sofi to me and leave her with me but she was very small so that wasn’t often or for long. My class teacher visited me sometimes to help me catch up with what my class was doing, though that was rather rarely and more often when I was already out of the casts.

So I had rather little stimulation in general, not too much contact with people, and as I wasn’t very active either cognitively or physically, my circadian rhythm was crazy in that I slept very little so I often also had to figure out what to do with my stagnating brain at nights. All these things alone can contribute more or less to my sensory anxiety, and together they really made me feel like my nervous system was on fire all the time. My generalised anxiety and other mental health difficulties I was struggling with also got much worse, and I developed lots of weird specific phobias or the ones I already had to some small degree became much more of a problem, I still struggle some of these to a variable degree particularly the emetophobia but it’s much better most of the time. My thinking was generally super weird in a lot of ways, I can’t even describe it. And my imagination was extremely wild, which sometimes was very helpful, and other times very unhelpful. I didn’t have a computer yet, or any other technology really, my Mum had applied for funding for a computer and some specialised equipment for me earlier and it came right at the end of my cast stagnation, but it took a few more months until I had some training on how to use these things. I was suicidal for all sorts of reasons but also because I felt like an extreme burden for my family since they were so busy but also Mum had to help me with showering, and as we didn’t have any wheelchair for the occasion I also needed someone to transport me to the loo which sometimes was tricky when Dad wasn’t at home.

When the time came for me to have the casts taken off, and they actually got them off me, and the doctor who was on duty at the time was talking to my parents about me, I suddenly started crying and couldn’t stop. No one knew what was going on and my Dad was a bit annoyed as he didn’t understand why now that I’m no longer in the cast, I suddenly start crying. And I didn’t knew either but I was just crying and crying and crying like I was going to do this forever. Also now that I didn’t have the casts I realised that my feet were hurting a fair bit whenever I moved them. A few days after that I started rehabilitation and that was really scary too. The first few weeks it hurt like shit, probably not just or not at all as a side effect of the surgery but more because of the muscles in my whole legs not being able to move for so long. He wanted me to do a few squats during our first session already, and I was very surprised how am I going to do a squat if I’m not even able to stand up. It scared me a little but I figured he’s a physiotherapist so he knows what he’s saying, so I stood up rather confidently with his assistance and totally wasn’t ready for all the sharp pain that was coming. So I was very resistant to doing anything with him but I was also scared of the prospect of not being able to walk so I did it anyway and it felt like a torture, and any time I was waiting for him I was shaking like a leaf.

Years later, another orthopaedist said that because that Achilles surgery wasn’t effective, I should have another one called Grice-Green’s. I was still a minor then so I didn’t really have a say, but for some reason it never happened. And as long as I get to decide, it won’t. I don’t know what would have to be going on with my legs for me to have another surgery, someone would really have to give me a very good reason.

But I learned loads of things from that experience! I learned loads new, weird words and useless things. Some of these useless things interested me enough that I developed shorter- or longer-lasting interests in the very narrow fields they were connected to. πŸ˜€ I learned a lot about myself and the murky side of my brain, and got to test the limits of my imagination. I learned what it feels like to be suicidal. I’ve had depressive tendencies ever since but that was the first time I was actively suicidal. I learned lots of internal strategies to cope with boredom, though still this is one of the things I despise the most, the good thing of it is just that I’m not very easily bored at all thanks to this experience. All these things were very difficult, but also very enriching for my personality and my inner world.

My Dad was falsely accused of abusing me sexually

I still don’t know how exactly that happened. There was a school psychologist I started seeing when I got back to school after I recovered from the surgery. She was weird. Made a very strange impression on me. She had a weird way of talking, both in terms of modulation and the words she used, there was something very serious and pompous about her, and she always seemed very sad and very sad about anything you’d tell her. I’d always loved to make my therapists/psychologists laugh to lighten up the atmosphere when needed, and many of those I dealt with weren’t easy but I always succeeded and quite impressively, except for this one lady, I never heard her laughing not even a little bit. Perhaps also because, just like I said earlier, I myself was in a weird mental place at the time so not as capable of it. Sometimes when a class would behave badly she would come to the whole class and tell them how they should behave well, and one time she came to us – our class mostly consisted of boys and could be rather unruly sometimes. – The incident that she was called for included someone who had jabbed someone else with a pin. And, what stayed with me from that lesson, was how she addressed that person: “It’s not allowed to jab thy neighbour with a pin!” And no, I really don’t think she got “thy neighbour” or her general way of talking and acting directly from reading a lot of the Bible (she didn’t even say “Thou shalt not”), in fact my Mum said that to her she seemed like she had some strong preference for new age related things, which is possible, I was too young to see or not see that myself and that doesn’t matter, it was just funny and portrays her quite well.

Talking to her made me feel quite awkward as she herself would say very little and there was something very depressing about the whole experience. She asked me often about my relationships with my family and seemed to draw not the most favourable conclusions. At some point, I don’t know what led to it, but I was talking to her about how my Dad sometimes plays with me that he is a hamster and my fingers or toes are his food and bites them slightly and how I consider that funny. She didn’t seem to share my feelings about it. Either after this same appointment or the next one, she was also supposed to see my Mum to talk to her about my depression. And at the end of that appointment where she was supposed to see my Mum, she told me what she was going to tell my Mum. And among these things was one thing that made me feel sort of uneasy. She said that she’s going to tell my Mum about my Dad’s “erotic” behaviour towards me. I did very basically know what erotic was, and didn’t think it could have anything to do with my Dad and me. I suppose though I must have been thinking that she knows what she’s talking about and she wants to help me, or maybe after all I didn’t know exactly what the word erotic implied, anyway I said that okay, you can talk to my Mum about all this, and felt very happy that perhaps she’ll be able to help me somehow. Didn’t really know with what exactly, or the more how, but I definitely felt like I needed someone to help me so that was good that she wanted, right? I sat outside of her office as they were talking and I could hear that my Mum was crying and some broken sentences about something sexual, and how my Mum thinks it’s important to have physical contact with a child, especially when the child is blind and you can’t have eye contact or communicate things through body language. Mum cried afterwards too but I don’t think we talked about that much until later when my Dad learned about the accusations. It only sank in with me then, and I talked about that to Mum and told her that I didn’t say anything about such things, or nothing that I’d realise would be about it. I felt awfully guilty and sorry for Dad and couldn’t really understand the situation and how it happened. I still can’t fully. My Dad was mad and so I didn’t even talk much to him at the time but he wasn’t mad at me, only at the psychologist and the school. I apologised to him and things went back to normal.

One day during summer holidays I was at my grandma’s, when Mum came and called me to come quickly back home. When I came, there was some lawyer lady – I don’t know now what exactly her function was – who wanted to go into my room and chat with me. She asked me weird questions about my family and my Dad that seemed totally stupid to me and that I felt quite uncomfortable with – most of them weren’t even sexual I guess but just general about my home, but I can’t give you any examples. – Then she asked about me, how I was doing, if I was often sad or thought about death etc. I was all like: “Why???” I kept asking her directly why, but she wouldn’t say anything specific until finally she started asking me about some sexual things and Dad and then I had a lightbulb moment and remembered the situation with the psychologist. “Aha! Now I know why you came here!” So obviously I told her that no, my Dad is not an incestophile – well that wasn’t probably what I said but I got really quite mad – and told her a bit about my Dad and what he is and what he’s most certainly not. But then it turned out it wasn’t just that! Apparently, a girl I was closest with in the class – not really because I liked her so much but because as I joined this class she was the only other girl and was also visually impaired to a degree so she was most willing to help me get around, as she both was able to do it with the sight she had and could understand my situatioon better than the rest who were able-bodied. – I can’t say though that we got along well and I mostly hung out with her sort of out of duty and gratitude that she’s willing to help. But we didn’t have any common interests and clashed in terms of characters a lot. And I don’t know exactly what was the deal with her, were they asking her about an opinion on me, whether she saw something weird or what, anyway she apparently said to a teacher or someone else in school that I told her that I am going to hang myself! Really… If I wanted to kill myself I most definitely wouldn’t go this route. And I don’t think she’d be the first to know, haha. So I also gave the lawyer lady a piece of my mind about that (I wasn’t mad at her, obviously, but at the situation) and let her in on how I generally saw the situation between me and that girl. She seemed quite relieved and actually became more human after I told her that (I’m sorry to all the actual sexual abuse victims if it’s always the case with people who interview them that they appear so unfeeling and detached and difficult to connect to) and apologised for the fuss and made sure that I understood her motives which I did. Good thing that she actually decided to mention that to me, I’m curious how it would go otherwise.

The thing eventually ended well although I had to go to a psychological assessment or something and another psychologist was supposed to judge based on my behaviour whether my Dad was a paedophile, or maybe not.

Is there a lot to learn from such an experience? I know I learned one thing which is not really very good, or at least it’s not good that I had to learn it but the goodness or badness of the thing itself probably depends on the context, namely I learned not to trust therapists easily and be really, really, extremely careful of whatever I tell them, if it’s anything of significant importance, and make sure that they understood exactly what I wanted to say. That means therapy was generally a bumpy road for me because therapists want you to be spontaneous.

Β Β  I was treated “like a piece of furniture” by the superior of the boarding school

And bless her for that, because otherwise I might have been in there still, or gone totally bonkers if I haven’t already. πŸ˜€ The inventive “piece of furniture” analogy is my Mum’s, I just didn’t know how to put it in short. The whole thing is even more complicated than the incest drama and very specific to the environment it took place in – not in that such stories happen there frequently (I hope) but in terms of dynamics and the way it all happened – so I’ll spare you the whole picture and just say that whenn I was 17, the superior sister (this place was founded and at least partly led by nuns) decided a major change about what would be going to happenn to me, without taking anyone’s opinion on that into account. The thing was of huge significance for me, as, from what you already know, I struggled there already without major changes like that, and a lot of people actually did try to speak up on my behalf and tell her it wasn’t the best idea. But she knew what was good for me better than me, my Mum, the group staff or I suppose anyone else, despite working in there for only a year and having to do with me perhaps once or twice for longer than 5 minutes, and she was going to do that no matter what. After some time, she decided that, actually, no, she won’t. So I breathed a half-hearted sigh of relief – as there were already other major changes coming for the next school year, but at least the biggest one and such that was affecting me personally was a thing of the past. – Then in the end it turned out not to be so because sister changed her mind yet again, a day before the start of the school year, and decided that after all she does think that that change would be the best for me. My Mum, and one staff member who worked with me for many years and knew me well still tried to talk her out of it and my Mum kindly didn’t even let me know about the whole comotion, thinking that I’m probably feeling sick about school already anyway and hoping that they will be able to talk her out of it so I won’t need to know about that. Well this time she didn’t change her mind, so my Mum had to tell me about it. I honestly said I really couldn’t imagine how I was going to deal in there, entirely practically. It was also a time where I perhaps wasn’t as neurotic as I was in the integration school but felt very depressed and the thing was just totally beyond me, I didn’t know how I was supposed to cope, also with other things on top of it. Actually, as time went on, over the years rather than feeling more part of that place I felt more and more weary of all that and like I had less and less energy for coping. I had a brief period of intense escapism into all things esoteric, because I felt very lost and pretended I was an atheist or Wiccan or something, I didn’t even know what. I did lucid dreaming and out of body experiences whenever I could and used the kind of binaural sounds that can work like drugs. That all helped me going, but then I re-converted to Christianity with the guidance and help of my Mum and some other events that occurred and helped me come to this, and while that made me feel more of a purpose in my life, I wasn’t mature in my faith enough to use it like I did those other things, to help me cope in any way. Also my fazas were of some help, but generally I felt gradually more and more like I was slowly, lethargically sinking.

We talked and talked about that with Mum but nothing was coming out of it. My Dad came in to the kitchen and we filled him in and he was all indignant but didn’t see any other option than that I’ll have to carry on with that. My Mum said it’s not an option. My grandad happened to visit and we filled him in, he was raging and said it’s time for me to leave that place or else I’ll go mad and that he’d rather have me sane than academically accomplished. Which was a huge thing for such an intellectual like him to say but he always stands by me and sometimes I think that whatever I’d decide to do, even if it was a mass shooting, he’d say that I absolutely should do it if I want and that he also thinks it’s a good idea. πŸ˜€ But if you have only one person like this in your life, it’s not yet very harmful, I think it’s actually highly recommended as long as you have other, more critically thinking people around you and some reasoning skills of your own. He couldn’t do anything, but he hugged me and from his words and presence I felt the confidence that things can get better and that perhaps indeed I don’t have to, or shouldn’t even, go there.

So my Mum started looking for a different school for me which was obviously a trick, but in the end one was found, but I wrote about this fascinating situation many times before. The point is that, thanks to that sister, I got my sanity back! In a way, I’d like her to know that and sometimes I regret I didn’t send her some thank you letter or something. But I try to remember to pray for her. Another thing that we regret even more, is that we didn’t notify the headmistress about the event, about why exactly I left, so that no one else would have a similar situation, which they may be not as intolerant to as I was or not have parents who would take such strong action, but it’s still something that absolutely shouldn’t happen. Making decisions about your subjects may be a common practice in religious orders, but we were not nuns in training.

I learned from it that even the most awful, scary, enraging things can lead to the most fabulous things that you wouldn’t expect. Perhaps not always immediately, and you have to go through some things first but sometimes it really does happen. And that sometimes situations where someone wants to be malicious can grotesquely turn around.

Β Β  My friend, Jacek from Helsinki, passed away

You all regular readers know about Jacek. He was a good friend of mine that I met online shortly after leaving the school and had a lot in common with in that we both loved Cornelis Vreeswijk, learned Swedish, loved Finnish, vikings, all things Norse and had some Gothic tendencies – Gothic as in referring to the subculture, not the historical Goths. – He was actually Jacek from Poland, but a large part of the time when we knew each other he spent studying in Helsinki. He was also not the easiest person to interact with and there was a lot of clashing, he was a very strong character just as quirky as me but in his own unique way. He introduced me to so many new, fascinating things and had his own part in pulling me out of the black reactive hole I was in still at the time when I first met him. We made lots of happy, strange and funny memories together. But after a few years since our friendship started Jacek was diagnosed with a malignant bone cancer and a few months after that he progressed quite rapidly and passed away. It was a huge shock for everyone who knew him and I only recently realised that I didn’t process it fully. I was just in such deep denial of his death, it didn’t even fully register. Yes, I knew he was death but still couldn’t believe it, until earlier this year, and that was hard. He was so lively, fiery and spontaneous it felt like some physical law was broken when he died. But now it sort of makes sense that someone with such a huge personality wouldn’t live long, there can’t be too many suchh people on Earth at once, they wouldn’t fit.

His death taught me a very cliche thing that I knew but only then truly realised, because such a thing had never happened to me before – that yes, even people I am close to, they also die. – And it taught me even more about the importance of praying for the purgatory souls and how satisfying it can feel in making you feel useful for them.

I failed my maths final exam

I wrote about it quite recently so I won’t be going into much detail as you may know about it already. I was studying for it a lot, but knew from the beginning that I just may not pass it because I’ve always had huge difficulties with maths on a lot of levels. This wasn’t a big deal for me as I didn’t know what to do with my future yet anyway and I told everyone in my surroundings that I thought should know that in case I fail it, I won’t be trying to rewrite it until I clearly see the need for passing all my finals because I will want to do something that will require it and I will know what this something is. I failed indeed and quite spectacularly, which was sad but as I knew it could happen, I didn’t dwell much on it and as my score was so low, I was even more confident about doing, or not doing, what I intended. Turned out though that my family were less accepting about my decision than they seemed at first. They got over it quickly though, so that’s good, as while I was convinced I was not going to change my mind I don’t like when people feel bad because of me and it wouldn’t be fun to live in a conflict over such a thing for too long. I still haven’t passed it. Sometimes it contributes to making me feel like a failure but ultimately I try not to think to much about this.

It taught me that you doon’t always have to have a schematic life to have a good life. You don’t need a piece of paper to prove a skill you have if you can do something well. That’s something my Swedish teacher always said to me, as he knew I may not end up having a PHD. in linguistics or whatever else someone may have expected. And yeah, screw the education system. πŸ˜›

So that is, my lovely people, the conclusion of this very lengthy post! Well no, I’m just kidding a bit, I hope you don’t have a reason to agree with me and have only positive associations with your formal education. πŸ™‚

If you feel like this post needs a conclusion – which I guess I do after writing so much just about myself – let it be that it all really proves how our brains are extremely plastic – we’re learning something all the time, even from going crazy. –

And now, sleepy time for me, and in the meantime you tell me: how about your challenges, and in what ways did they improve the plasticity of your brain? How did they enrich you? I’m very curious. πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What was the first book that scared you?

My answer:

Again, can’t think about the FIRST, but the one I remember most vividly is Himmelsdalen by Marie Hermansson (the English title is apparently The Devil’s Sanctuary). It was a thriller about a guy whose identical twin brother lived in a luxury facility for psychopaths, and who got invited there for a short visit by his brother and then tricked into changing identities with him and trapped in there for an indefinite time.

In hintsight, I guess it wasn’t even the book itself that has such a power over me but I was also reading it in sort of wrong circumstances, it was recommended to me by a friend and I didn’t have much of an idea what it’s about exactly, and not the most fortunately picked it up at night when I couldn’t sleep and also happened to have a fair bit of sensory anxiety which makes me jittery and overstimulated in a general sense as well. So it did make a huge impression on me, but while it did feel very scary at times, overall I really enjoyed reading this book despite the accompanying circumstances, luckily somehow it didn’t make me feel muchh worse, and read it whole in one night, and also later I recommended it to my Mum and she read it as well. She read it in much more relaxed settings and over a much longer period of time, typically in the kitchen while having her morning coffee, but found it rather chilling in some parts as well and we talked about it a lot.

How about you? πŸ™‚

I can deal with it.

I thought that I’d write another prompt-inspired, or at least partly inspired, post today. It’ll probably be long, so get yourself something yummy to drink and a snack and brace yourself.

The prompt I chose comes from one of my two books of journaling prompts – The Goddess Journaling Workbook by Beatrice Minerva Linden, and goes as follows:

“I can deal with it. You can. (…) Think about something which overwhelms you and imagine your life when that issue is resolved.”

I thought I’d twist it a little, or maybe a lot. Instead of writing about something currently overwhelming, I am going to write about something the perspective of which was always incredibly overwhelming for me, and I never thought I could deal with it, but, as it seems, better or worse, I can.

This thing is using my iPhone. As those of you who know me well or are regular readers know, I’d been loyal to my good old Nokia with Symbian OS for over 10 years, and I don’t even mean Nokia as a brand but one particular Nokia phone that I wasn’t changing as there was just no need for it. It was my first phone that I ever got and the only one until June this year. It was possible because, while in the past, my Nokia was through all sorts of things with me and survived a lot, in the last five years I used it very little. The people I usually text or call are my family, and now that I live with them there was little need for me to text or call them, and as I hate phone calls and always have the computer or Braille-Sense with me, I was always telling people that it’s easiest and fastest to reach me via email anyway. So it had very tranquil and idyllic retirement years with very little to do. I always joked that I stick to it because of my undying love for Finland (as Nokia is from Finland). But in fact I simply felt like, since Symbian had died, I had few alternatives.

As many of you also may know, the reason why I didn’t have a smartphone unlike a lot of blind people do now was that I had rather poor experience with touch screens when playing around with phones of other people, whether Androids or iPhones, they seemed extremely abstractive to me as I have poor spatial orientation and a coompletely flat surface doesn’t help you feel more oriented, and my coordination/fine motor skills are also a challenge – it’s generally a very mild and apparently not even diagnoseable problem, yet at the same time challenging enough that it affects my functioning in some ways and is evident for those who know me closely in real life. At the same time I had a terrifying feeling, that after all, at some point my Nokia will eventually die, and I felt clueless what I’ll do then. I contemplated buying another, used Nokia online, the same model as mine, or perhaps, what I would truly hate to do, get myself one of a few smartphones that have been developed with the blind (especially older blind people in mind). Why was it such an awful thought for me? Well, because the target market of these products is pretty small, they’re very expensive compared to their actual abilities and specs. They’re Android phones and run some pretty outdated Android versions, have very few capacities so you can barely call it a smartphone really, can be very sluggish, but they do have a physical keyboard and typically come with a screenreader onboard and running from the start, as far as I know. Apart from the physical keyboard, such a thing wasn’t really what I’d need. If I have to have a smartphone, I’d rather have it actually smart rather than just pretending to be smart and cost more than an averagely smart phone. I also contemplated on and off purchasing the dreaded iPhone and just using it to an extend that it would be possible for me. Which still felt far from satisfying because I didn’t feel like I’d be able to do more with it and iPhones are not the cheapest, and I’d probably be a little frustrated having a premium phone and not really being able to use its full potential, just because there wasn’t a better alternative for me. Yes, I’d of course heard that you can use iPhone with a Bluetooth keyboard, but I’d also thought somehow that the things you can do with it this way are limited quite a lot. But at least, I figured, I could learn iPhone better than I could Android phone, as I’ve heard about a lot of blind people who were less tech savvy or perhaps had some coordination issues like me or other motor problems, and were scared of the big wild world of smartphones and it took them a lot of time to make the transition, and found it easier to find their way around iOS rather than Android as it’s more accessible and kind of friendlier for this group of people.

So I was happy while my Nokia was still alive and clinging to it for dear life and praying that it would last for as long as possible, as I couldn’t make up my mind for years and felt mortified of the after-Nokia life. Deep down I knew I should change my phone or at least attempt to change it already while Nokia was still alive so I could see if it’s actually doable for me or should I better stick to archaic Symbian phones but I couldn’t get over my anxiety and doubts and thus had no motivation.

Despite that, it wasn’t my trusty Nokia’s death which finally prompted me to make a decision, which was good as otherwise it would probably be a little traumatising. I can’t really pinpoint what exactly it was, perhaps I just matured enough and ruminated it through thoroughly enough to be ready to make the big jump, or, which I personally think is more likely, it was a combination of different things.

My Nokia was visibly (or rather audibly) doing much worse, or to be more exact it wasn’t really the Nokia itself but its charger deteriorating. Whenever I plugged it in, it constantly emitted a high-pitched, ultrasound but nevertheless audible peep, just like a lot of obsolete chargers do. It was annoying but, worse still, it wasn’t even me who was most annoyed by it, but Misha! What better motivation for me to change my phone than have Misha tell me that he doesn’t like it! πŸ˜€ Very unfortunately, the power strip with the charger was right next to my bed, and on its – the strip’s – other side was Misha’s snack bowl, so whenever he had a snack, or slept in my room (his bed is up on my bed) and I happened to have the charger plugged in, he was clearly upset or even avoided coming near, and it took some time to figure out what was the problem. Well I’m still not perfectly sure, he didn’t tell me, but he always calmed down a bit when I switched it off and after I ditched the charger the problem magically disappeared so…

All the cool kids in Sofi’s class have iPhones. Sofi doesn’t aspire to be cool, I mean she already is in a way but doesn’t meet all the requirements, the key one being that the cool kids don’t really like her and are jealous of something about her, I guess it must be her confidence and perhaps that she’s so tall and has her own fashion style, but nevertheless the appeal of iPhone was huge for her. So last school year my parents prommised her that if she’ll have a certificate with honours, they’ll buy her an iPhone. She didn’t really, because there was lockdown and she had remote schooling and she didn’t do really well with this grade-wise, but she said that she sort of did and my parents didn’t double check, and bought her an iPhone, although a used (very heavily, as it seems) one and not in the best condition (so typical of my Dad πŸ˜› ).

Sofi kindly let me play around with her phone and VoiceOver (the built-in screen-reader in most Apple products) a lot, and I asked her tons of questions while she was also figuring out how to use it so I could get a better idea what it’s like, though Sofi wasn’t really particularly knowledgeable or exhaustive at answering my questions nor was she a good teacher. The whole idea was scaring me big time but at the same time I was feeling more and more like I’d actually like to try it out for myself and have my own iPhone, at least for a while, to see how much I can get out of it, how much I could achieve.

Finally, some time later I read about the new iPhone SE and that it has a physical Home button, unlike most other newer models, and read a review of it written by a blind guy who actually has… er… apraxia? (I guess, or something similar) and so definitely has coordination and motor difficulties bigger than mine. He seemed a long-time iPhone user and really liked the new SE, and that made me think. ‘Cause if he has apraxia and can deal with it, why can’t I? I mean, yeah, it’s possible that I can’t, because even if my difficulties are milder than his we’re still different people and there may be things that I find more difficult than he does or just differently difficult, but isn’t it a huge miss not to try it if blind people with apraxia do? I would probably regret it my whole life if I didn’t, especially that for most blind smartphone users, their smartphones are more than just devices for communication and such but also help make things easier in daily life, like recognising bar codes, to give you an example off the top of my brain, or doing other things that otherwise may be only doable with some fancy specialised devices.

So, all jittery, on 12th June I went to the nearest Apple store and got an iPhone with all the necessary accessories plus a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard.

It was all very different than what I imagined it to be.

My Mum helped me set it up even though she didn’t have an iPhone in her hand for longer than a few seconds ever before, and it all went well. I remember my cousin was staying for the weekend at Sofi’s and I had a proper cheerleader team consisting of Mum, Sofi and Dominika – my cousin – supporting me morally and helping practically as I tried to familiarise myself with iPhoneland. The first few days were so hectic and all over the place and it was all so abstractive, but, and it was very much an uphill struggle all the time but at the same time a very rewarding one and I never had weird problems like you sometimes do when acquainting yourself with a new device/technology that something is not working and you have no clue why, whether it’s your ignorance or the thing itself being so buggy or glitchy. Here the only things that went wrong were only down to me not knowing something which made things less stressful and easier.

I hate any major changes and typically don’t deal well with them, and to add to it I had a fresh but really nerve-wracking experience of transitioning computers earlier this year – and that’s only a Windows 7 laptop to a Windows 10 desktop, and it was harrowing! I may be not a tech geek but I’m also not totally clueless, but found it difficult to adapt probably because the whole process was very much over-extended and there were a lot of major glitches and other stressful stuff going on with this new computer thing.

The leap from Nokia to iPhone felt much more intimidating, and the change in terms of how my whole life could change due to this felt infinitely more significant, and so I expected being just the same bundle of nerves this time, especially that the level of difficulty of this challenge was waaay higher, but perhaps because there weren’t any major problems that would be beyond my control, and I didn’t feel pressured that I needed to learn it quickly, I wasn’t a bundle of nerves. Yes, I was anxious, I couldn’t sleep, I bit my nails raw as I always do when things are a-changin’, but the dominating feeling I had was some sort of healthy excitement, rather than pure freak out mode which is typical of me with huge changes. What surely helped me was that, as I said, I didn’t feel the pressure. I told myself that there’s no rush with it and if I decide that iPhone is not for me, it’s okay, I can sell it, I can give it to Sofi, I can throw it in the loo, I don’t have to feel obliged to anything, no oone can make me like or use it other than myself. I gave myself a month for at least the initial figuring out whether it’s worth exploring further or whether I want to give up on it. Already after a week or so, even though I was still struggling a lot with learning to use it, I was sure that I was not going to sell it and that I’ll stick to it, even if my usage of it will be limited by my limitations. I quickly grew to like it, probably largely because it provided me with the possibility of finally being able to listen to my music at night on something else than my loudly humming computer and because learning new things about it was (and continues to be) quite rewarding.

My Mum helped me a lot in the first days and then later with various tests and experiments I was undertaking, as did Sofi (I really don’t think it’d go as smoothly as it did if I didn’t have Sofi nearby to consult with sometimes).

I struggled, and still do, with some gestures. Actually, to an extend, I struggle with all gestures, even basic flicking/swiping and can get lost on the screen, which can be frustrating, but not hugely because I use a physical keyboard most of the time anyway, and even if I don’t, with more basic activities it’s usually somehow manageable and I do try to use my iPhone just via the touch screen and not run for a keyboard in every single situation when I don’t have it at hand and I need to do something on my phone, or for Mummy when something is not doable from the keyboard, although it does take me significantly more time than with the keyboard, and even with the keyboard I still do things way faster on the computer so I don’t have the experience of many people that it’s more convenient and faster to do things on the phone, it’s just totally the opposite for me. Longer writing/editing is the prime example. I mean from the on-screen keyboard it’s a torture but I don’t really know why it’s such a pain in the brain for me to do it from keyboard, but it’s really a lot of hassle and a good patience training.

But I consider myself a fairly efficient iPhone user by now nevertheless, perhaps not necessarily advanced but I do know where everything is in it, how to use things properly, how it works in theory, dare I say better than some sighted users I know, what all the settings do and how to change them, how all gestures work in theory, how to do everything with VoiceOver etc. etc. Though it’s not a huge achievement in itself because, apart from learning the touchscreen for me, the system itself is very intuitive in my experience. A huge help and source of knowledge in this for me was AppleVis, which is a website with all sorts of information on accessibility of Apple products for visually impaired users.

One of the more difficult things for me at the beginning was the so called rotor in VoiceOver (this is a feature that makes it possible to change different settings of VoiceOver), and it seems like I wasn’t alone with it at all. To move between different rotor settings you have to move both your hands in a clockwise or counter-clockwise motion, people often explain it that it’s like turning a door knob. It felt very abstractive to me at first, then it made sense to my brain and imagination, but my hands responded with: “What the flip are you saying?!” I just couldn’t make it happen in the outside world for the life of me! But then I learned that you can change the gesture for rotor and that saved me. These days I can sort of make it with the original gesture but it’s too much thinking and trouble for me to put up with for such a vital thing because I do use the rotor a lot.

And I had to change a lot of other things as well to be more suitable for me because of what is not really doable for me and am so glad that these things actually are changeable.

My Mum says that she’s never seen it with me that I’d change my mind on something so radically in such a short time because from someone who thought smartphones are evil I suddenly magically changed into someone who claims that iPhones are the best and who likes Apple (even though I am not planning to equip myself with other Apple products any time soon but, as you can see from this post, you never know, right?…)

Despite I do have more or less touch screen trouble all the time, I use my iPhone extensively now, the more that I have set it up with my Braille-Sense, so these days more often than using the Logitech Bluetooth keyboard I use Braille-Sense to navigate on the screen and also to read what’s on the screen as I prefer to read things myself a lot of the time. And it’s easier to use it with the Braille-Sense as a physical keyboard. I only take the Logitech with me if I’m going out somewhere and really need keyboard because it’s very slim, dust-proof and not as valuable and flimsy as Braille-Sense.

I have got myself a great speaker and headphones just for the iPhone so that I can enjoy my music, especially overnight, even more. I have created Family Cloud for myself and Sofi, because my Mum is very wary of Sofi using the Internet and wants her to be safe and not overdose on screentime, and this is the only way which she agreed for Sofi to have any access to the Internet in her phone at all, so I monitor her screentime usage and do the bad guy job but also the good guy because otherwise she couldn’t really do much with her phone except for calling and texting.

I feel like I may need to start cutting down on my own iPhone screentime soon because I’ve become totally addicted to a game called BitLife lately (if you’ve ever played Alter Ego it’s something similar only more extensive and detailed). πŸ˜€ Just like Sofi is addicted to Brawl Stars.

So yeah, to sum up this elaborate post, my experience has shown that I can deal with it! And I feel really happy about it. I think I can even say proud and it won’t be a very big overstatement. I feel so especially because, except for the help of my Mum and Sofi’s, and referring a lot to AppleVis, I didn’t have any more external help, I mean, a lot of blind people have some training. I didn’t have that, and still, I figured it out. Perhaps if I did have someone who would come to me and show me things I could be better at it, but somehow I feel really sceptical.

Did I imagine that it could be this way if I managed to overcome the whole overwhelming touch screen hurdle? To a degree, yes. I knew that if I could make friends with iPhone it could potentially change my life in a good way and be very enriching. But I guess I didn’t imagine that it could be such a big change.

What’s something that you find very overwhelming and difficult to deal with, and how do you imagine your life if you could get rid of the problem? Or what was such a thing for you, and why/how did things change so that you now know you can deal with it? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

What is something that is makiing you feel bad?

My answer:

One thing that makes me feel perhaps not like super bad, but a little anxious and uncomfortable, is that I have a doctor appointment tomorrow to have a thyroid ultrasound done. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about having to interact with people there so while it’s not a super challenging or unusual situation that would paralyse me, I also have my Mum to help out as my spokesperson, it’s just a bit uncomfortable and it’s been in the back of my brain all the time for a while. As you may know, I’d been treated for hypothyroidism since I was a very little child, I was taking thyroid hormone and growth hormone. At some point I went off the thyroid hormone though, which most people have to take throughout their entire life, as I seemed not to have neither any specific symptoms anymore when off it, nor any special improvement in anything while taking it. Probably the only symptom of hypothyroidism I can strongly relate to these days is low mood, for which I have a separate diagnosis these days though and no doctor has ever said that I have the mood difficulties that I do because of hypothyroidism, and low energy which is a common thing in womenn on my Mum’s side of the family because of low blood pressure, and my Mum has the same thing. Anyway, recently I had some blood tests and it turned out I still do have my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels elevated, so my GP thought she’d refer me for the ultrasound, just in case there’s something else going on. I’ve never had anything particularly wrong going on on ultrasounds as far as I know, except for my thyroid being a little bit too small, but it’s always better to check it out once in a while I guess, especially that I didn’t have it in like over 5 years. So I am also a little bit stressed in case something may have changed, even though rationally I know it’s not super likely.

Also the Dad thing is still affecting me a bit.

My Mood has been very much up and down lately, but I don’t think there are any more clear, external reasons right now for the downs, or can’t think of any, so it’s probably just mostly my brain.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day. And a bit about the sensory anxiety thing.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

What was the last thing you got excited about?

My answer:

An iPhone app I discovered recently. It seems to be primarily geared at people who need noise cancelling in noisy environments, or people who just very generally need some sound background for meditation or relaxation or focus, and I played around with it mostly just out of curiosity because I’ve heard good things about it and thought, why not, I could do with a pleasant relaxation app. Only it turned out that it is possible that it could do much more for me, potentially. I’ll have to check it out in a true crisis situation but it’s promising. What I mean is that, when you purchase the app, you get access to a lot of different soundscapes or sound generators, which clearly aren’t just looped sounds, you can also calibrate the app so that it best suits your hearing range and your needs, and you can play around with these sounds and pretty much create your own mixes of friendly sounds in there.

Now if you know me you probably suspect where I’m heading with this. I gave it a long try, and was really pleasantly impressed with its capabilities and also with the pretty wide range of sounds, and I thought that, potentially, it could be a good tool in my tool box for dealing with sensory anxiety…

Okay, but most of you still don’t have a clue or almost no clue what this sensory anxiety is…

So, very spontaneously for me, I’ve just decided that I’m going to tell you a bit more in this post about sensory anxiety and how I experience it. It still most likely won’t be an exhaustive description and I am not aiming for it to be too long as its part of the question of the day post, though we’ll see, but I feel like I’m ready to try to write about it a bit more, so that you know what I’m talking about when saying sensory anxiety, and just in case someone may ever read this post who is struggling with the same thing so that they know they’re not alone. It’s just such a tough topic to describe, a totally sick thing and quite risky and emotionally weighty, but I have Misha so let’s hope I can do this). For those of you who are very new here and have never seen any of my posts where I mentioned this, very basically, sensory anxiety is how I call collectively a few different things I deal with on a regular basis, which include a fear of silence which can have a different degree depending on a situation (I do love silence but at the same time it can be awfully scary in the wrong circumstances), and anxiety and general discomfort triggered by specific sounds, groups of sounds, harmonies or even words, or sometimes specific sounds in specific situations, as well as these triggery and scary sounds then literally getting stuck in my brain after I hear them and popping up in an intrusive way. It’s like a brainworm, and I know I’m only hearing it in my brain, but I have very little control over it, and it feels very real and overwhelming.

From what I’ve observed talking to other people, also people who have perfect pitch and such and so know more about sound than I do, and analysing these things for myself over the years, there doesn’t seem to be any specific objective pattern recognisable for another person, between the things that are scary for me. But for me there are quite a few very clear ones, which are impossible to describe in words. These sounds most definitely have things in common.

When I hear such a triggering sound in my surroundings, my typical reaction is freeze. As a little kid I used to shriek, and sometimes when it feels particularly scary I feel a sort of fainting feeling and have collapsed a few times when I was hearing something scary while I was standing.

Sensory anxiety is by no means any professional term or anything, I’ve no idea if things like these have any particular professional term. πŸ˜€ It’s just how I call it so that I have a way to refer to it, in English. People have told me it’s anything from sensory deprivation, hypersensitive/immature nervous system, a form of blindism (blindisms are typically repetitive movements in children who are blind and this is their way of compensating for the lack of sight, providing themselves some additional stimulation, most commonly they are things like eye poking or rubbing, spinning around or just head spinning, rocking, hand flapping, kinda like stimming in neurodiverse people but a bit different genesis, anyway the person who told me that claims that there may be other types of things classified as blindisms, which seems to make some sense because why would it be only movement used as compensation, but I’ve never heard about that from anyone else nor found any resources about it), a kind of sensory overload like there is in autism, prodromal stage of psychosis (that was my last therapist’s theory, the one who was so crazy about my blindness, I wonder when I’ll finally go on to full-blown psychosis, I’m no psychiatrist but 23 years feels like a super lengthy time for psychosis to still be developing πŸ˜€ it’ll have to be something totally unusually monstrous once it’ll become full-blown!), some other kind of hallucinations, sensory processing disorder,, weird electrical activity in the brain triggered by auditory stimuli, just a part of generalised anxiety, to I don’t remember what else. A lot of these things make sense but I don’t have a clear answer. I have met some young blind children with similar stuff or people who had something more or less similar as little children but they’ve all grown out of it. My Mum says that maybe I still will too, and I hope so, but from what I’ve seen and heard it’s usually around early school age or even earlier when people get rid of it. It’s also possible that there are a few different things at play here rather than just one.

I’ve also met one guy (also blind) who once showed me some of his favourite music, and at some point he told me that he’s going to send me a few other tracks, and that they are going to be very “energetic”. The way he said it felt very meaningful for some reason. I didn’t say anythiing to that so he continued that by energetic he doesn’t mean dynamic, or happy, in fact a few of them are going to be the opposite, but that there are very interesting harmonies in them, and that it makes them feel very strange to him, both in a very good and in a bad way. And when he has this sort of feeling when listening to music he calls it “energetic”. And… whoa!!! the effect was spectacular for me! My brain did become so “energised” that I couldn’t sleep all night. πŸ˜€ His “energetic” music, just seems to work on me. And, weirdly, I do feel like the word energetic describes the thing in an incredibly accurate, and somehow eerie, way. This “energetic” music is only one kind of music or type of sound that my brain is allergic to, but that felt very interesting to meet someone thinking so similarly, even though he didn’t seem to react with anxiety to the “energetic” music and it seemed to be mostly a very positive thing for him. I can also agree with him that these “energetic” sounds can sometimes be very enjoyable because of how interesting they sound, but for me the line between something “energetic” being interesting and scary is very thin and it has often happened that I was quite enjoying listening to something and at some point it became too much to handle. There is some weird way in which it can attract you, though. And there have been, very few, but still, such incidents where some music I reacted very strongly and negatively to and froze immediately when hearing it, with time has grown on me and I’ve started to like it, even a whole lot. A prime example of this is the Norwegian singer Fay Wildhagen and her newest full-length album, Borders, with which I fell in love so deeply in the end that I shared almost all of the tracks from it on my blog, and I really like Fay now. But that is very rare. I didn’t even mention my sensory anxiety to that blind guy, nor even that I get the “energetic” thing, because as I said it’s a difficult topic for me, and I only knew him for a day or so.

Usually, I can become more or less desensitised to a specific sound over time, but there are sounds which have been haunting me since forever, and sometimes it happens that I become scared of something again if I’m exposed to it. For example, there’s that song by Mattofix, I’m not sure I spell the name of the band right but I don’t care, I’m not going to check it out, the song is called Big City Life. I was scared of it for weeks when it was a hit, and couldn’t recover properly because it was a hit so it was everywhere as hits tend to be. Over the months or perhaps years, I felt like it was over, but then when I heard it again much later when I was generally stressed, it all came back! The worst thing is that Olek loves this song despite it’s over 10-year-old, and I once mentioned to him that I don’t like it. That’s what I usually say to people when something triggers me, because, well, what other thing could I say? “Huh, this tune makes me feel so “energised!”? πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ But he of course thinks I only don’t like it, in a normal way, it just doesn’t appeal to me, it’s just my cup of tea, you get it. So I always dread riding anywhere with him in his car because he will ALWAYS, ALWAYS play this!

So far I haven’t been able to find a strategy that can totally eliminate it, except for some really really effective distraction but that’s rarely achievable to such a degree, and I am not expecting this app to do the trick, but there are things that can often decrease it more or less, one of them being surrounding myself with friendly and calming sounds. Typical relaxing music is something I like but something that sometimes works, and at other times does not, because it can have weird harmonies which don’t necessarily sit right with me when I’m already set off, so I go for things that are familiar usually, or that have very low risk of being potentially scary, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be objectively calm though it’s good if it is (Enya is the best!!!), but really when I’m like extremely bad anything can feel scary, packed with adrenaline, evil and aggressive, with the aggression geared directly at me, even Misha meowing. πŸ˜€ That’s really extreme though and happened only once to me – with Misha and when it’s this bad, it just has to go away on its own or only sleep helps temporarily if I can put myself to sleep. – And meds help to some degree too.

And so I thought that creating such friendly environment for myself with this app could be very helpful in such a crisis situation, assuming that I’d mix the sounds feeling relatively normal so that I wouldn’t have to do it at the moment when I need them, and so that’s what I did. It could be even more helpful in situations where I would be actually hearing something disturbing and not really able to extricate myself out of a situation, but would at the same time happen to have my phone and headphones with me. I could isolate myself pretty effectively unless the sound would be particularly loud. Sadly things rarely work like this that you always have what you need at the right moment, I rarely go out with headphones or even go around the house with them, but it’s good to have such an option, and I did have such situation last month with Sofi where she was watching some YouTube video in my room with really scary music, and I just happened to have my new headphones at hand and they worked well as they have a noise cancelling functionality in them.

I like the idea of immersing myself in a friendly sound environment like this which I can almost fully control, and cut myself off from silence/scary sounds/my brain throwing the scary sounds at me, at least to a degree.

There is only one problem and potentially could make it all a bad idea. When I experience this sensory anxiety thing I also feel very hypervigilant, and have the need to control what’s going on around me, in my immediate surroundings. When I’m struggling with this I may feel like someone is standing behind me, or maybe not even truly feel but just have a suspicion and be anxious that there might be someone standing behind me. Some of my stronger sensory anxiety triggers that have been with me throughout my life have become like almost fully personified, I think mainly because they are often featured in my sleep paralysis dreams, and while I always know full well that it’s all in my brain, no matter how I’m feeling, when I get flooded with intrusive scary sounds from the inside, or triggery sounds from the outside, aside from that weird, uncomfortable feeling and the rush of adrenaline, I feel like something scary is going to happen next, I can’t explain it, not even fully to myself, and it’s not rational at all. And then often when I feel the slightest movement around me, feel the slightest creek, or even nothing at all, I feel like someone might be there. Even if it’s an actual and well-meaning human being, it can still be scary when I don’t know full well that they are actually here. And it’s not even about someone’s presence, it’s just very general, when I’m unaware of my surroundings in such situations, it can just generally feel creepy and like I’m totally out of control and like absolutely anything can happen. It’s really difficult to describe, well, this whole thing is really difficult to describe.

Oh shit, I already feel kind of jittery just from writing about it all. Let’s bring some great music oon. And good that I have Misha here.

So, to sum this weird post up, I think I’ll just have to wait for the triggery stuff, and then I’ll try it out. I’m really excited and curious what the results will be though I’m also a bit scared that it won’t work. It does have the potential to work very well though, so let’s be hopeful!

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

What’s something you don’t worry about but really should?

My answer:

I really have no idea. I worry about pretty much anything possible, including things I shouldn’t, so if there really is something that I should worry about and don’t, it’s some huge irony. πŸ˜€ There are some things I worry about less than most people seem to, like a lot of people worry way more about where the world is going to, for example, I mean stuff like people getting depressed when watching the news, feeling concerned about the future of the whole world, and while it can be indeed very often concerning, worrying and saddening, it doesn’t seem to affect me quite as much as a lot of other people in my surroundings. I don’t think though that I should worry more about it as that won’t help anything, and it’s hard to make yourself worry on purpose, so it probably wouldn’t work out and the only thing I would achieve would be making myself feel awful and like I lack empathy because I don’t worry as much as I should.

What, if anything, is such a thing for you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (13th August).

Hi people! πŸ™‚

Do you read or watch TV before falling asleep?

My answer:

I always read before going to sleep. I also listen to the music before I fall asleep and while I’m sleeping, as that helps me with anxiety and also I just like it this way. I read on my PlexTalk, and have a sleeptimer on, so that the book doesn’t keep on going or at least not too much when I’m already asleep. And in the background I have my iPhone quietly on, just enough so that I can hear it, either playing music on Spotify or some radio. If it’s radio it’s either playing some station which plays only music, and such that I really really like, and there are only few stations whose music I’d love so unreservedly, or, more often, it’s just talk in one of my favourite languages. Sometimes I also listen to some podcasts in bed but that’s rather if I’m not planning to go to sleep just yet.

How is it with you? πŸ™‚

Some fun stuff instead of question of the day.

Hi guys! πŸ™‚

I’ve found something today that I thought I could post on here so we can have some fun. Below are sentences that we can complete. I’ll do it here in this post, and you can do it in the comments, or in your own posts (don’t forget to pingback or leave the link in the comments so I can read it). Keep them as long or as short as you only wish. For your convenience, I’ll write the unfinished sentences alone first so that you can copy paste them without having to edit them and delete what I wrote. Here goes:

I am confident about…

I am insecure about…

I need to…

I want to…

I like to…

I recently bought…

I am thinking about…

I am anticipating…

I am procrastinating…

I am watching/listening to/cooking…

Mine:

I am confident about… nearly nothing, I guess. I’ve been thinking on this for a while now and I just can’t come up with one thing I would be like absolutely and unquestionably confident about. πŸ˜€

I am insecure about… almost everything, which I guess is pretty logical from what I wrote above.

I need to… find myself another faza. It’s really getting imperative! I haven’t written much about that lately but I’m still searching intensely. My latest finding has been Jack Hughes who is cool but too normal, not versatile enough, and has a bit peculiar way of singing which would be annoying for me long-term. Why do I have to find a faza for myself in the first place, rather than it just happening without my conscious effort, like always before? My brain is getting way too lazy. And it’s a vicious circle because lack of a faza and thus beneficial stimuli in the right amount only makes it more lazy. πŸ˜€ What do you do with a lazy brain?

I want to… stop cutting myself. I did last week again, and a couple of times, so this time I only managed to go without it a month or so I believe. And on the other hand I don’t want to stop cutting. Well but what I do want is I don’t want to do it in such an impulsive way. Or at least be able to not do it for longer periods of time, like once I managed not to cut for about half a year. In case you’re wondering why I did it, I was just feeling depressed and overloaded, also had a lot of anxiety for no obvious reason, it was my friend Jacek from Helsinki’s another death anniversary on July 29, and then later in the week it was my cousin’s 18th birthday party and I reeeally couldn’t deal with the socialising and all that comes with it. Quite ironically, I have some special memories with Jacek from Helsinki and my own 18th birthday party, which didn’t help. But it’s better now.

I like to… sleep with Misha.

I recently bought… my new Bang & Olufsen headphones, yaaaaaay!!! Seriously, this was a very spontaneous purchase, totally on the spur of a moment, completely unlike me, just because it was my Mum who found these headphones online on sale and she told me about them, I only briefly looked them up online to see if it could be something for me and it seemed like it could perhaps be but might just as well not be, but it was on Zalando Lounge so they were way cheaper than they would be otherwise and I could return them if I decided they’re not for me. I really needed some good headphones for my iPhone, I also need a good speaker(s), so I figured I might just as well try these with an opportunity like this. I had to wait ages for these headphones, about a month, and also I was rather sceptical whether it could really be something for me ’cause I’m sort of picky and have some very specific requirements. But they came on Monday – just before my parents went out on their camper van trip so Mum could pick them up for me – but they had to go and Sofi wasn’t home when they were leaving so I had to set them up and pair by myself. Which was not difficult but I had no accessible manual or anything and I didn’t really know how to do it. I figured how to turn them on and turn Bluetooth on after a while but they still weren’t visible for my iPhone because it turned out I had to get an app to set them up, so I was very apprehensive and wondered how accessible it’ll be with VoiceOver – the iPhone screenreader – and moreover how usable for me as a still more or less beginning iPhone user. It would probably be badly inaccessible if not the fact that VoiceOver can now guess what different buttons in an application do from how they look if they’re not labelled properly, and as far as I remember none or very few were labelled originally in that app and VoiceOver did a very good job at the guessing game. Then I didn’t remember what exactly model I had and I had to select the one I had from the list in the app to set it up, and some only differ between each other with one number so not very Bibiel-friendly. So I ended up having to call Mum and she had to check up what my model was. Then still iPhone couldn’t connect to the headphones for ages and I was getting really frustrated, but then finally I did something random and they did connect to each other. And once I had them paired, a very Bibiel-friendly manual showed up – both with audio and text, not some weird, hardly descriptive video like a lot of tutorials are – so I could figure out hhow to actually use the headphones without anyone’s help very easily. And once I learned it it was very rewarding because I’ve already grown to like the headphones a lot. I would never buy them for their original price, I seriously don’t think the sound is worth as much, but it’s definitely good for me and good for the price I paid for them. When I read reviews people complained that the active noise cancelling feature is meh because it doesn’t work as well as in other similar headphones but for me it’s just right. They’re my first noise cancelling headphones and, I don’t know, I have a terribly, horribly, freakishly loud desktop computer and when I turn the noise cancellation on and sit at the desk I can barely hear the hum nor anything else outside. Granted, I don’t need some really extreme noise cancellation, I am obviously blind and a control freak, I want to know what’s going on around me most of the time so that I don’t need to worry that someone is lurking behind me and I have no idea because I’m listening to music. On the other hand I do like the noise cancelling for situations when I don’t need to hear the world around me so that I have a good and immersive environment for daydreaming haha, and these headphones are just right for this purpose. Even yesterday I had a situation when Sofi was in my room, watching a video on her phone, and there was some really weird music that was setting my brain off a little bit, so I just quickly put my headphones on and turned my own music on with the noise cancelling, and I could no longer hear Sofi’s evil shit. They also have transparency mode which is good sometimes for such people like me (Sofi once said that they should invent cheekphones for me because with my computer headphones often when someone was in my room or something I would have the headphones more on my cheeks than ears so that I could hear my surroundings clearly without having to constantly put on and take off the headphones, yes, cheekphones could be a cool idea for some specific situations πŸ˜€ ), and integration with Siri which is useful at times, and the earpads are really comfy, though I haven’t used them for a longer stretch of time yet. They have gesture control which seems to work very poorly, or perhaps it’s me not doing the gestures the right way exactly, but thankfully you can also control them within the app or just simply from the phone. They also have a cable so I can plug them into my PlexTalk which does not have Bluetooth which is cool because my previous PlexTalk/computer headphones are falling apart. Oh wow, what a mini review I just wrote lol.

I am thinking about… Jocky, whom Sofi has just let inside and he’s devastating the house and barking his lungs out, and about Misha, who is thankfully cosily tucked inside my wardrobe – this is his recent hideout for when he’s a bit stressed as it seems, and he certainly is stressed now because Mum is away and he’s very attached to her.

I am anticipating… huh, nothing really. Can’t think of anything I’d be anticipating at the moment.

I am procrastinating… way more than I realise on a daily basis. I’ve only recently thought more about it. I really procrastinate a whole lot and it’s usually because of anxiety as it seems. But it’s not like impairing or anything so I can’t say I care very much, just a little alarming when you suddenly realise such things.

I am watching/listening to/cooking… listening to BBC Radio Cymru at the moment.

So, who wants to play along with me? πŸ™‚

Orla Gartland – “Why Am I Like This?”

Hiya people! πŸ™‚

Do you ever ask yourself this question, “Why am I like this?” Some people dn’t, but some people do, and if you are one of the latter, this song is likely going to be very relatable for you.

I really like Orla Gartland. She’s Irish. That alone could be a good enough reason for me to like her. πŸ˜€ Even though she doesn’t do Celtic music and is quite popular. But I also like her because she’s very talented and very natural (very rare thing with “normal” artists these days), and a bit crazy, plus has a lot of distance to herself. Her lyrics are also very genuine and distanced, and I think also easily relatable for people.

This song is definitely very relatable for me. ‘Cause, being an overthinker, socially anxious and having AVPD, I quite frequently ask myself this question. Not like I expect to ever get the answer or like it matters that much, it’s just rhetorical and mostly a way to express my frustration. Now since I’ve first heard this song, whenever I wonder about “why am I like this?” the song immediately pops up in my brain. πŸ˜€ I can also very strongly relate to the broader topics of the song – overthinking one’s mistakes and anxiety in general. – The overthinking and overintrospecting bit is one of the most frustrating pieces of my AVPD. But I also believe it’s quite a universal experience that people struggle with too much introspection, self-criticism and some shyness on top of that, so I guess it could be very relatable to a lot of people. This is definitely my favourite song by Orla.

I don’t mind songs about love, I do love many of them, but since I myself have never experienced romantic love, and the vast majority of song lyrics are about this, it’s quite rare for me to find a truly relatable song, and therefore I appreciate pieces like this even more.

I couldn’t decide which version I want to share with you – the original or the fully produced – so I’m sharing both, ‘cuz why not.

 

Bloggerz.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

I feel a little crappy with energy levels today and haven’t come up with or found a question of the day for you for today, just don’t feel like it, but I decided to answer some questions of Rory’s, aka

A Guy Called Bloke,

and if you would also like to do it, either on Rory’s blog or on your own, go ahead! πŸ™‚

Here are Rory’s questions:

How spontaneous are you?
If you mean emotional spontaneity, generally not at all. It also depends on a setting, like, my surroundings and who I am with, sometimes I may be a little bit more spontaneous than not at all but that’s really rare. I am more spontaneous in writing though, sometimes much more. If you mean spontaneity as in going with the flow and not planning your life, I think I must be somewhere in the middle. I do like my routines and sticking to what I know, I hate change, but I am not the type of person to rigidly plan my whole life or even a whole day ahead, I’m too disorganised for that kind of thing and it seems boring to me.

How flirtatious would you say you are and if that is not the word you would use then try the alternatives of β€˜teasing or playful’ either way – how much are you of this?
Flirtatious – not at all. Teasing – if I know someone well enough and/or it’s some relatively mild teasing than sometimes I can be if I know that they know that I’m just teasing them or being sarcastic and don’t mean to offend them or anything. Playful – yes, I do have that very playful part of me, the inner child or however you want to call it, I call her Bibiel, aka Bibielle or Bibielka but Bibiel is what she’s used to the most, and she is very playful, humourous and childish and she especially loves playing with Zofijka.

How serious are you as a person?
Apparently lots of people think I’m serious and I guess I do make such an impression, I’m not playful and humourous with just everyone, and also my mental health/social difficulties prevent me from truly expressing myself around people in person. Plus I have some qualities that, while don’t necessarily mean the same as being serious, are often sort of associated by an average person with seriousness, like I’m very analytical and overthinking, quite naturally depressive and usually not too talkative unless I know someone very well and feel at ease with them. I can be outwardly serious or very serious when need be, but because I have Bibiel, I can be never fully serious in my mind and I have frequent situations when I can barely hold back laughter in generally inappropriate situations because some minor, funny detail caught my attention or something grotesque about the whole situation or because I just remembered something similar that I think is funny. Sometimes I myself am worried about it that I can find things to laugh about even in the most serious/sad situations that shouldn’t really be laughed at, and while I never do it openly/ fully intentionally, I often feel a bit guilty when my inner Bibiel makes fun of absolutely everything. But usually it is a very helpful trait. Has helped me to get through life on numerous occasions. Also a lot of people don’t get my sense of humour which can sometimes be very immature and childish, while other times rather sarcastic and dry and when it’s the latter people often don’t know that I’m joking or saying something ironically and their impression is that I’m being very serious.

Do you think the older we become certain emotions are easier to handle – say as an example β€˜grief?’
I think it’s hugely personal. Of course there is that developmental psychology thing and it makes a lot of sense and is kind of obvious that we go through different stages of emotional development and growth as we age, but I think emotions are a very individual, as well as fairly intangible matter, and depend on so many factors for everyone, so you really can’t generalise in this case and measure it. Perhaps for someone who is as emotionally mature as their age would indicate, it’s true, but then emotionally mature people can at the same time still be very sensitive and I believe their grief would still be rather intense then.So it probably also depends on some other individual traits like resilience or such. I don’t know.

What is the most adventurous thing you have done to date?
I’m not really overly adventurous, but one thing that comes to my mind at the moment was when we wanted to run away from home with Olek, I think I was about 11 so he would be 9 at the time. Not for any particular reason, I think we had some minor tension with Mum but mostly just for the sake of it. It didn’t work out at all, I don’t really remember how it all ended up but we didn’t go very far at all. We weren’t prepared for that, plus it would be quite difficult to achieve for me as I was only getting around with Olek as my guide so that just wouldn’t do more long-term I guess when running away in any circumstances.:D

What’s the craziest or riskiest thing you have ever done and simply got away with it or gotten caught doing it?
It would have to be when I used Doses, I think, Doses are those binaural sounds I’ve told you guys about that are meant to have a similar effect on your brain as drugs or other psychoactive substances do or evoke some other strange sensations in your mind. I had gotten caught, so there were some external consequences for me and the other kids I persuaded into it, but I believe that I got away with it in a different way, because apparently, while those things are apparently not addictive as drugs are, they can still cause brain damage, and I don’t feel it had such an effect on me because this was a relatively short period when I was doing this. Also as a Christian I believe that it could have had far worse spiritual consequences for me than it did.

What do you think the future is of dating and other β€˜other’ now that social distancing has become part of your life? Will your life β€˜up close and personal’ with people now be different?
Dating apps and websites have been already popular for quite a while, so I think this time now might be good for them and more people might start to use them. Which I think is generally good, though it does have its associated downsides and risks, but so does dating face to face. Still, I think after some time passes, and the threat of contracting COVID will lessen, there will still be people who will prefer meeting up for dates because it feels more genuine to them. For some people meeting people in person is too important to just give up on it plus some believe that it’s a much more reliable/genuine way of finding a potential partner and that you can get to know each other better over a coffee when you look each other in the eye rather than online.And as for my life, hm, I’m not sure. I’ve never been one for meeting up with people. My contacts with my immediate family with whom I live are as normal. When I go out, my Mum is my guide so we can’t keep the distance. With other relatives whom we see more or less regularly we try not to get too close, no kissing, hand shaking or such but we’ve had people in our house and such. I don’t think we’re seriously going to keep it for a very long time and only keep our relationships with people from a distance, but it also depends on how things evolve. It’s a completely new situation for all of us so it’s hard to say.

How different do you really think you are to the next person – are you prim and proper, or straight laced and serious, wild and abandoned or rebellious and controversial?
I don’t think any of these particular adjectives fit me well really, haha. I am certainly not prim and proper, although I do have a strong sense of morality or so I think and a lot of so called traditional values are important to me, I’m not straight laced and serious either. Some people do say I’m wild, but rather in the sense of a hermit who is not used to people than someone who is very adventurous, impulsive and uninhibited, I have nothing against being wild. Some of my views or opinions are controversial but I’m not the type of person who has the kind of opinions she has just to provoke controversy, and I don’t think I’m controversial at all as a whole, neither am I rebellious the way most people see rebellion, though I am very quirky. I do think I’m very different, which is both great and difficult, I love it and hate it, but if I got a chance I don’t think I would change it. I like my unusual brain and that I like things that not everyone else likes, I like that my experiences are different than many people’s.I’m just Bibiel lol.

During this time of global concern how has your thinking changed with regards the planet, conservation, climate issues …..or has it not changed one little bit?
It hasn’t really changed at all. SInce the Earth is where I currently live, I’ve always tried to live in harmony with it, that was what my family had taught me, I believe it’s our responsibility both as simply its inhabitants and as human beings. The nature has been created to serve us but that does not mean we can act disrespectfully towards it and destroy it or flood the world with our rubbish just because we feel like it, quite the opposite. We are obliged to care for the Earth and protect every single life on it as much as we can. However I am not an ecology freak nor an alarmist and I believe that moderation is key. I don’t think I believe in climate change the way most media portray it and some things that people apparently do to take action against it seem downright illogical, if not counterproductive to me, or at least pointless. Climate IS changing, but it always has been.

What β€˜topical issues’ considered β€˜taboo’ by society are you deeply passionate with and about to the point of doing something about it?
Mental health and disability. Since I myself am both disabled as well as mentally ill, I try to raise awareness of those issues by blogging about what they mean to me, in my life. There’s no taboo around these things on my blog.I also like to support other mentally ill people if and how much I can, though I’m not sure how good I’m at it actually.

What’s more important and or is there a difference between β€˜Friendship and Companionship and if so what is that difference?
I don’t know about what’s more important, I believe companionship may be more fulfilling but since I’ve never experienced it I don’t really have an idea. I think the difference is that companionship is more intimate. I’d think that it’s something between friendship and romance, and at the same time something on the next level. The people are in love with each other, could be romantic but not necessarily, spend a lot of time with each other, are used to each other’s company, know each other very well for a long time, both the good qualities and flaws of one another. The image that comes to my mind when I think of companionship is a couple who has been together for many years, they’ve already gone through the phase of friendship, romance, and now are at a stage where they have been with each other for too long and have gone through too many different situations to be madly in love, perhaps they don’t even need sex anymore, but they feel very comfortable with each other. Whereas friendship can be when two people like each other very much, have a lot in common, either in terms of interests, or life in general, or how they think or what they like, and they like to talk to each other, can count on each other and support one another. But it’s not quite as intimate as companionship and people don’t know each other quite as well.

What is your passion with regards writing genres – 1] what is your chosen genre and 2] what is the genre you might like to write about but lack confidence to start?

I mostly just do journaling type posts on my blog. Misha’s posts are also usually diary-like, though some are fiction (The Human Life of Misha Hhrrru?). I used to write a lot of short stories just for myself and enjoy it, though I hardly ever enjoyed the final effects and usually deleted them straight away, but these days I write much less fiction. I wrote a few stories in English on my blog, separate from Misha’s series, and that was fun, I’d like to do it more often but I think I lack confidence in terms of writing fiction in English and writing fiction in general, and also I don’t really have that many ideas.

 

Question of the day (31st May).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Do you like coffee? If so, black, or with cream? What kind of creamer?

My answer:

I’ve asked you coffee/drink related questions before, but since different people may see different questions, and those questions are always a bit different from each other, I thought that why not, and the question was partially inspired by my own adventure with coffee yesterday. I hadn’t had real, proper, black coffee in over half a year, and the night before the last I didn’t sleep very well due to migraine and generally “jet-lagged” brain, so I felt a little sluggish yesterday and when I saw Mum make coffee for herself I decided that, what the flip, why can everyone drink coffee but not me? I guess I can have it sometimes, right? It’s not the end of the world, especially that I wasn’t going anywhere, so even if my anxiety raised nothing overly bad would happen. So I did have my coffee and relished it thoroughly. But afterwards, it did get quite serious. I guess partially because I just didn’t drink proper, strong coffee for so long so my brain weaned off caffeine completely and was not prepared for such a dose out of the blue, but also now I suspect I really must have some sort of caffeine hypersensitivity. The strange thing is though that in my first years of drinking coffee I didn’t feel anything like that at all, or can’t recall at least, so it couldn’t have been this intense. I was actually very immune to any effects, or side effects, of coffee. I think when I started to notice that anxiety thing after drinking coffee must have been about a year ago or so, and then I also started to feel some light physical symptoms like that I would feel a bit queasy, have a slight diarrhoea or my muscles would get weak, or I’d be shaky or my sugar would go a bit low, but that wasn’t much of a problem, the high anxiety was the only reason why I stopped drinking coffee. But yesterday not only my anxiety sky-rocketed after coffee, where earlier in the morning I wasn’t almost at all anxious, but also I felt dreadful physically, it was a real nightmare of a day and I had only myself to blame for it. It’s strange though how intensely I seem to react to it. I don’t have anything like this after black tea, or even green tea, nor Pepsi or other such drinks, though energy drinks did make me a little edgy when I used to drink them but it’s not a big deal at all since I don’t like them anyway. Thankfully it’s all okay now, but hopefully now I’ll think twice before having a coffee.

Anyways, let’s get to the question. So yes, I do like coffee, I love coffee, and now I also hate coffee because it seems to hate me. I like strong black coffee, ideally with a teaspoon of sugar or honey but it’s not necessary, coffee without it is just as good. I also love iced coffee and then I like it with a bit more sugar and cream, but I don’t drink and never had drunk iced coffee often enough to be an expert in different creamer varieties and say which ones I like particularly better than others.

You? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (23rd May).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

What’s the most bored you’ve ever been?

My answer:

I am generally not someone to get easily bored. There is that sort of saying that intelligent people don’t get bored. And, while I don’t think it’s very true and exact, it does make a good point. When you can rely on your brain to provide you entertainment rather than wait for the right external circumstances, you have it much easier and more interesting. But I believe that there are such situations that you really can’t not get bored in, regardless of your IQ. The imagination and your thoughts alone can be a good way to occupy yourself, but if it’s the only thing you are left with and are unable to do much more, that may not be sufficient for a longer period of time. The situations I usually get most bored in are in big gatherings of people, that is. Usually I feel a lot of anxiety when socialising, especially in large groups of people, but sometimes it happens that the anxiety lowers a bit with time and then boredom creeps in. This often happens to me at all sorts of bigger family gatherings where I don’t feel so awfully anxious that it would be the only thing that would be constantly on my mind. It does happen to me sometimes that I feel both highly anxious and very bored at the same time and that’s a very awful combination and feels strange in the brain, like, it’s hard to deal with it when you’re both over- and understimulated in different ways, right? πŸ˜€ I tend to feel bored in such big groups of people because I usually end up being the passive observer rather than the one actually participating in what’s happening. I do love observing people very much, analysing how they behave, trying to figure out what they are thinking about or feeling etc. But if I’m supposed to be around a lot of people for some longer time, you can’t do just it all the time. As it usually happens, most of the things they talk about aren’t overly interesting to me, assuming I have any actual clue about what/whom they are talking about, and having to sit in one place for hours just taking in a lot of meaningless nonsense isn’t one of my most favourite activities. Sometimes I go into my Brainworld and daydream or something but you have to be careful with such things in case you float too far away. πŸ˜€ I like my extended family and have mostly normal or good relationships with them apart from some exceptions who won’t even admit openly that they have a problem with me but rather let me know via someone else, but I don’t feel a strong sense of belonging with them, which I think is part of why things are the way they are. I often have no idea what they are talking about, or just am not interested/knowledgeable in the topic so I have little to say usually, even without the anxiety at play.

I can also get massively bored watching movies, mostly because I can’t focus on them for some reason, even when they are with audiodescription and interesting to me, I just have a weird problem with movies. πŸ˜€

But I think the time when I was most bored ever would have to be when I was 10 and recovering from the Achilles tendon surgery. The whole thing was quite scary, not because the surgery was scary or complicated or anything but because I think I wasn’t ready for what was coming next, no one has really told me. Or otherwise I don’t know what made it so scary, anyway I responded to it very badly. As I wrote on here earlier, after the surgery I had to have casts on both legs for 6 weeks and then physical therapy, the amount of which depends on a particular case and for me it was about a month I guess. My surgeon was slightly overzealous, because apparently my casts were waaay bigger than they needed to be, I had them from my thighs all the way down to my feet so that only my toes stuck out and I was unable to bend my knees so my legs always had to be stretched out (I guess that’s why now I always sit with my knees bent or even legs curled up whenever possible πŸ˜€ ). So basically I couldn’t walk at all and that was quite a surprise, I somehow didn’t think it would be like that. It sent me into a freakout because right before my surgery, I was put in the room with a much older girl about whom I’ve also heard that she had contracted Achilles tendons in her both legs and that she was after a few surgeries already and actually could barely move or do anything on her own. I only learned much much later from my Dad that she had an accident as a very small child and the Achilles tendons were just one small issue of the multiple ones she had and her mum had told him that that time she was there also to correct her tendons. But you know how kids can think, I was pretty sure that I was going to be a similar case to her for some reason and would have to be fed and all that. At the same time, it was a hectic time for my family, because Zofijka was only a few months old, and we’ve only just mmoved houses, and the house we were living in was still not fully arranged, my Mum was running around madly getting all sorts of stuff for it and taking care of Zofijka, and helping me with showering and such. I didn’t have the Internet yet, not even a computer, and since I didn’t have any other transport mode other than someone carrying me, I spent most of the time in my room. I was bored like shit and just as my muscles were stagnating, so was my brain, and I was awfully sensory deprived or something, which sent me spiraling down into ANxietyland, and I had all sorts of weird anxieties and other intense stuff like that. But in a way the boredom was even worse than the anxiety. I could read some of the modest selection of the books or kids magazines in Braille that I owned or borrowed from the library, if someone would get me something, as my bookshelves were quite some distance from my bed, and while I could get to the lower shelves on butt, I could not climb back up on to the bed with my ultra heavy legs. πŸ˜€ So I would usually ask someone to give me something to read, but most of the books and magazines I had were not signed in normal print so no one knew what it was, so I ended up reading the same things over and over again. I was in the integration school at the time so my class teacher visited me occasionally and did some school work with me, or sometimes my grandad came when he had time, as it was back when we lived in the country with all my Mum’s family, and sometimes Mum brought Zofijka to me. What helped me the most in those difficult times was Polish Radio Bis (BIS standing for Very Different Station) which was a public radio station mostly addressed to the youth that existed back then, which played a variety of music from genres like rock, alternative, reggae, folk, hip-hop, electronic etc. generally the quirkier the better, and had some educational and cultural programmes, including some that focused on teaching languages, and I was in love with Polish Radio Bis at the time, and even in the word bis used in whatever context. Radio BIS doesn’t exist any longer, but I still miss it and can’t get over it! πŸ˜€ And I still love the word bis. There is Polish Radio Programme 4 that has a very similar formula but, meh, it’s not the same at all. There are different people, different music, different programmes, even if some of the things stayed the same, and I don’t really like them half as much as I did BIS. Anyways, during my recovery from the surgery I even called Polish Radio BIS a couple times, but wasn’t on air, I just chatted to the people in there and wanted to tell them how much I like Radio BIS (read: how obsessed I was with it, but they didn’t seem to mind my obsession and some were very amused by it).

Generally though I had nothing to do all days, and all nights, too, as my sleep cycle was, quite naturally, ALL over the place. I remember very vividly how a couple days before my surgery I talked to my grandad about it and he told me something like that my legs will need to recover and they’ll be in stagnation. I didn’t know what stagnation was, so he explained to me that if I was left alone in a room where no one would come and it would be totally silent, I wouldn’t have any books, music, radio or any other contact with the world, this would be stagnation and I would fall into it easily in such circumstances. And so it was going to be the same with my legs. And then when I was after the surgery already I was thinking that, although I wasn’t completely cut off from the world, his example was so eerily accurate, since it weren’t just my feet that were stagnating, but my brain as well. The weirdest thing about all that is that the surgery actually didn’t work out, so it was rather pointless in the end. πŸ˜€

So yeah, the time I was most bored was probably that.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

What do you have this week that you didn’t have last week?

My answer:

The most striking difference between my last week and this week is that this week i have a broken SAPI5, instead of a functioning SAPI5. Well, it has broken last Saturday so technically last week, but only at the end of it and as I said, it’s the most striking difference between what I didn’t have/had last week and what I have this week. Plus I want to fill you in on what’s been recently going on in my life and need to rant a bit.

Do you know what SAPI5 is? Probably not, and that’s too bad, unless you have Mac OS or Linux, then you’re justified. But it’s too bad if you have Windows XP or later, because most likely, regardless of whether you use it or not, you do have something called SAPI5 on your computer. But even many technicians and IT people donn’t know what SAPI5, or SAPI in general, is, and that’s part of why it’s so frustrating when it breaks. I am not an expert in that either but I’ll try to explain it to you the way I understand it. SAPI is an interface developed by Microsoft that allows most modern speech synthesisers to speak in the system and all the apps on PC that use speech synthesis. Most people have SAPI5 on their computers as far as I know because most computers have at least one voice developed by Microsoft installed by default, and some people use apps that convert text to speech so that they can read books with speech synthesis, even though they aren’t blind or anything, so I guess SAPI doesn’t even really count as assistive technology though I may be wrong. How has it broken for me?

You may know that I’ve been fighting for a while now to regain some of my speech synthesisers that I really need and that I couldn’t, for this or that reason, get working on my new computer easily. I couldn’t activate my Swedish speech synthesiser, for example, because the company that used to produce it no longer exists, and it seems like now my activation key for that voice, and most of their voices, but strangely not all of them, doesn’t work. I do need some Swedish speech synthesis really badly though, so I decided to get some Swedish voices from another company, which in a way I thought could even be better, because that company is part Swedish and they have even some voices speaking with specific dialects, which can be useful for a learner. I’ve already been using speech synthesis in some other languages produced by that company, but to be able to use their Scandinavian voices, you have to upgrade to Nordic license, which is quite expensive but I felt like that was the best option for me so I went ahead with it. Finally, I got those Swedish voices, but then had some problem activating the licence so had to ask their support people to help remotely. They fixed my licence so that it worked right, but then when I was reinstalling their app containing all their voices that I own to get the access to the Swedish ones as well, I must have made some mistake along the way or something else went wrong, I’m not sure, anyway it wouldn’t start up properly after the reinstallation. I reinstalled it yet again and this time it did start up properly but there was some other error along the way, so again the support guy fixed that for me.

I was using my Swedish synths for just about a day, and was quite happy with them and really glad that finally that one thing is dealt with for good and I don’t have to read Swedish stuff with a Polish, or even worse, an English synth anymore. Then the next day – which was last Saturday – my antivirus went paranoid and detected some malware on my computer, which I think was very likely some false alarm because I’ve noticed a pattern to its paranoid behaviour earlier and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with any real threats. Anyway, it wanted to make a full scan, so I let it do its thing. After that, my computer rebooted and my screenreader spoke to me with a completely different synth than the one I had been using. Well, that happens sometimes, so I was only slightly surprised. I wanted to change it back to the one I was using prior to the scan, but, to my now huge surprise and dread, I only got a message “Couldn’t load SAPI5 synthesiser”. All those Swedish voices, and all the other voices from that company from whom I got the Swedish voices very recently, and a few other synths that I use on a regular basis use SAPI5, so now I don’t have access to them. Now I only have a couple Polish voices that aren’t on SAPI5.

Other than that, when I tried to open the app with those Swedish voices and others from that company, it would never start up, it looked like it was constantly loading, and when I finally gave up and close it, it exploded with strange error messages.

It could be that I got something wrong with that reinstallation, but I feel like if that was the case, it would crash much earlier, not after the scan. Therefore I think it’s my antivirus that is to blame. It is apparently the only third-party antivirus these days that is (somewhat) accessible for screen-readers, so that’s why I’m using this one, but I’ve heard that actually the built-in Windows Defender is quite good these days, and apparently also accessible, so I’m seriously considering a change in that respect.

I had experienced a SAPI crash once before, many years ago, and that was absolutely dreadful!!! The technician that frequently helped me with things back then was clueless. I called him and just told him that my SAPI was broken, but he was utterly confused and like “Ummm, and what is SAPI?????”. I do know some things about assistive technology and generally about tech stuff because naturally you sort of have to know more when you’re blind if you want to survive and not be completely cut out from the world, I’d say an average blind person has to know a bit more about tech things than an average sighted person. But I’m far from being techy, and I don’t think I have to be, so if I had to explain really well what is SAPI like in theory, how it works and all, I don’t think I’d be able to do it well, all I know about it I have already told you, it’s only from a user’s perspective, and it’s entirely possible I got something wrong. Unfortunately I’ve had a couple technicians that have helped me with this or that, whom I had to educate on what is a screenreader, how does it work, what does it not do etc. etc. And it’s not like they are stupid jerks who don’t want to learn or don’t care or anything like that. They were really interested in all that and always asked me tons of questions. They just never got a chance to learn about it. I know a fair bit from user’s perspective, though not as much as a lot of people I know, and the inner workings of those things in theory aren’t something I’m particularly knowledgeable in.

In the end, with that previous SAPI failure, I had to send my computer to a company I know quite well who distribute specialised equipment for the visually impaired, the same people who helped me to choose a computer for me and then set it up, and they do similar things and they kindly fixed SAPI for me back then, but the whole thing dragged on for over half a year as far as I remember.

So this time round I was absolutely gutted when that happened and still am, and not really sure what to do, I would really not like to risk trying to fix it myself, I have no idea how to do that. Straight away after that happened, I wrote the support guy from that speech synth company from which I got the Swedish synths, that was what my Mum advised me to do, although I doubted they would be up to helping me this time since the problem didn’t have directly to do with their product, or not only with it. I thought he’d at least write that “No, sorry, we can’t help you with that”, but so far he hasn’t even written back to me. Maybe he doesn’t know what is SAPI either? πŸ™ƒ I will wait a couple more days for his response, but if he won’t get back to me, i’ll have to try our current technician who usually helps our family with tech issues and test his knowledge about SAPI, and he’ll be able to learn something new, hopefully without devastating my computer further. If that won’t work, I’ll have to ship it to that visually impaired company on the other end of the country and let’s pray that my fan won’t break yet again in the process. πŸ˜€ Or that they can do it remotely. Though if I’m honest, for some reason i have a gut feeling that it’s not a good idea to ask them to do that, despite it were them who did it the last time. Maybe it’s because of all that bad luck with my computer when they were setting it up for me. Anyway, in the end I may not have a choice. I’ve always had a more or less mild tech issues phobia, but lately those things are scaring the shit out of me and if that won’t stop, I don’t see how it could improve.

So yeah, I’ve become the owner of a broken SAPI5 this week, such a positive news of the day for my readers. πŸ˜€

How about you? Do you have some more positive news, or have you also become in possession of something you really don’t like having? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What is the most useless piece of advice anyone ever gave you?

My answer:

I probably can’t remember what was THE MOST useless one, but my Mum, who can generally be a good advisor, sometimes has given me quite crappy advice, and she seems to be especially crappy advisor when it comes to thinking. Or we just think in very different ways and are not able to imagine the way the other one does. Or my thinking is too strongly impacted by the anxiety and all that shit. Anyway, her best advice for me was: “You just have to stop thinking sometimes. Just switch your brain off for a while”. I asked her if she can seriously switch her brain off on demand, or does it happen randomly. In any case, if that happened to me, I don’t think I’d be particularly happy. My brain can be an uncooperative bitch, and obviously I hate anxiety and overthinking or when my thoughts are racing or other things that my brain is either hyperactive or not efficient enough at doing, but still, I do like my brain, I guess I have a real love-hate relationship with it, and I believe that, since I already have it, it would be a bit nonsense if I wanted to switch it off. I’d be afraid that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to switch it on again, and I don’t want to be a brainless Zombie, that’s way worse than having anxiety, even a lot of it. Yes, I know that some people who meditate can get into such a state that they practically don’t think, and some say it is relaxing and healthy for the mind and soul and all that, but I don’t like the idea at all, and some things about some of such meditative techniques don’t go in line with my beliefs. I did use to try doing some lighter meditation, as well as Christian meditation, but it was always extremely hard for me to focus on. I think I can’t say I have low attention span because I can do quite a few things at once as long as it doesn’t involve being able to coordinate your movements well, but I do have a hard time focusing on thinking about just one thing for an extended period of time, it’s boring and quite exhausting in a way. I just think about a lot of things at the same time always. Another thing my Mum used to say frequently that pissed me off incredibly was: “Don’t think about it”. Yeah, don’t think about the white bear. πŸ˜€ I think it is possible to just stop thinking about something if you try hard, but, well, at least for me, it takes a lot of effort, so usually I prefer to distract myself with something productive or do something relaxing rather than force the damn thing out of my brain for all means, doesn’t really pay off, or not for long. But I guess that works for my Mum somehow, because it seems like she frequently deals with negative things by just “erasing” them. Not if they are serious things that require some action, but, to give you an example, you may or may not remember Sasha, the other Russian blue kitty who used to live with us for some weeks. Mum decided to get him very spontaneously, without really thinking it through, what that would mean, for us and for him and for Misha, and we were all elated, everything was arranged literally at last minute, and it was quite a massively selfish act of us to do that and very much on a whim. Then it turned out there were various complications, they didn’t get along with Misha whatsoever, were both awfully stressed out and got sick from it, and Mum got quite depressed about it, I mean it seriously looked as if she was depressed, she would lie with Sasha on the sofa hardly able to do anything and was very dejected and overwhelmed by the whole situation, so very much unlike her. So we had to find a new home for Sasha, when things got really bad. We did, and he seems to have a great family, and we were happy for him that he will have a better life after all, but we were also really sad quite naturally and missed him, and a bit sorry for ourselves. The way my Mum coped with this situation was she didn’t speak about Sasha at all, and didn’t want to hear anything about him, or otherwise she snapped at people, so there was a bit of a taboo in our house for a while. It seemed like she wanted to ignore that he ever lived with us and forget about the whole thing, erase it from her brain and not think about it. And she really seems quite successful at it. I know that people often do it in an unhealthy way, that they try to stop thinking about things and make them disappear this way rather than do something about them, but, as far as I can tell, it is not unhealthy in her case. It is certainly not the way my brain works, though, so for me, that was absolutely useless advice. In the Sasha situation, neither me nor Zofijka wanted that to happen that we would forget about him completely, because despite the sadness, we were also very fond of him and we did want to talk about him and remember him so we did with each other. And while we all can still be sad when something reminds us of him, I think all of us coped and adjusted to the situation to a similar extend, despite applying different measures.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Reasons why I’m learning English.

Nearly a month after starting up this blog, I wrote a post about all the

Reasons why I’m learning Welsh

and a year ago, I wrote a similar post concerning my

Swedish.

With each of them I felt like they got quite a bit of interest, so I’m going to continue it this year as well, and write about English. Let’s see how many reasons I can come up with

1.

Isn’t it obvious? English is obligatory in schools in most countries, I guess. Or at least in all countries in Europe. So, you could say I didn’t have much choice. πŸ˜€ Before I went to school though, I was already subjected to English thanks to my Godmother, whose English was on a pretty good level for a person growing up in the 80’s (communist period – learning Russian as a second language at school) and not needing English for professional purposes. I guess it’s more common for people about her age or older to learn English now even if you don’t need it for work, but I guess back then in early 2000’s there wasn’t as much pressure yet. I believe she started learning English around college and took private lessons and while she wasn’t and is not fluent, as I said, the degree to which she knew English could feel a bit unexpected, plus she’s very communicative by nature so such people don’t need a whole lot of vocabulary to be understood. Anyways, she taught me a lot of things before I went to school, and one of them was some very basic English vocabulary and a bit of fondness for English, which probably helped me more than I normally realise to remain positive about the language itself even when I started to see that English as a school subject is MEH, and pushed me to learn it anyway. So by the time I reached school, I remember I was actually euphoric when I heard on my first actual day of school that our next lesson is going to be English. I associated it with home and with fun things and I liked it as I said, so I was super happy that I would be able to learn it at school. Sadly, I didn’t have particularly much luck with good English teachers throughout my education. I’m not saying they weren’t competent or anything like that, probably some were more, and some were less, some were very nice, some were very unpleasant, some rather bland, but the great majority of them just didn’t do anything to me more than help me prepare for the necessary tests and exams. Of course I had to learn basics at school and I did, but after that, although I was learning English throughout my whole education, I feel like school didn’t give me much in that respect and I taught myself the most. Neither did school motivate me to learn English, in fact, my first English teacher wasn’t particularly likeable person and I don’t think she cared much if we liked her subject or not. I became disillusioned quite quickly and realised that, while English may be a cool language, the subject is just deadly boring. And my view on that became even stronger when I started to seriously learn on my own and became actively interested in learning English and not just ticking off exercises in the textbook. I don’t think it is solely that I just happened to have bad teachers. I think it’s the case with most people here, and that simply the way language learning and teaching is perceived in our country and the level of English education in our schools is terrible. Basically, unless someone has some extra English classes, or wants to learn on their own or something like that, most people go out of education being barely able to communicate. And since Polish language is way more complex than English, the problem cannot be with people”s brains. People get out of schools with the mentality that they are supposed to speak perfectly, with no grammar mistakes or otherwise someone will kill them, and if they can’t do that, they won’t speak at all, even if they do have enough vocabulary to speak decently. And English lessons are not interesting, or at least they are rarely as interesting and fun as language learning could be. My Sofi writes down tons of words and rules she doesn’t understand, and when someone in her class is thinking independently enough to ask the teacher for some explanation and say that they don’t understand something, the only thing she’ll say will typically be: “*sighs theatrically* Oh my, what do you still can’t understand? It’s easy. You have to practice more at home. How many more times am I going to have to explain it?”. Well, the majority of Sofi’s class go to extracurricular English at a language school. Those who do not, have very bad grades. And I assure you that Sofi’s school is not an exception. But OMG I could rant about education system and terrible attitudes of people towards language learning for ages. πŸ˜€ Anyway, I did get the basics of English at school and I’m grateful for that, but that’s all that any school or individual teacher did for my foreign language education. There also was that teacher who was having conversations with me for a year in preparation for my final exams, and admittedly he helped me to feel a bit more confident in speaking, and most certainly contributed to the fact that I got 100% from oral English,but not much else, although I hoped he would be able to teach me some new things. He was most keen on talking about himself though. πŸ˜€

2.

Because English is everywhere. That’s why I kind of feel for English natives. On one hand it’s so cool when you can go almost anywhere in the world, read almost anything you want and not have to make the effort of translating, understanding or learning another language. But on the other hand, people miss out on so much when they don’t learn a new language, and when everyone speaks your language, what motivation can you have to do that? So it’s a bit unfair on the English-speaking folks and only for their sake I wish we had some artificial or dead language to use internationally, rather than deprive a certain group of people – a large group of people – from the benefits of learning a language and developing their brains even more. Anyways, the rest of us does have to learn English if we want to have a somewhat broader perspective on the world. Internet is huge and you can read a lot in it, do a lot with it and learn a lot, but Polish-language part of the Internet seems so mini mini compared to English. I wouldn’t be able to do so many things that I do if I didn’t speak decent English. I wouldn’t be able to restore my synths, to give you a recent example, haha. My Mum tells me that about once a week “You’re so lucky that you speak English” or “I’d like to know half of your English”, so I am constantly reminded that I should be grateful for that, and that I was given enough determination to learn it myself, and, more than determination, just plain luck, because I don’t really feel like I made some huge effort with my English, from some point on it just came to me on its own, I guess via a lot of exposure. But perhaps not everyone can be that lucky, or not everyone can make use of it or realises it. Some people like my Mum constantly complain that they can’t speak English but when you actually confront them about it “So why won’t you try to learn it?” they will have tons of arguments, including that they are too old, too stupid, too busy, too lazy, don’t have a talent (there’s no such thing as talent for learning languages unless you want to have a native accent, you just have to find the right method for yourself and that can be tricky) to name a few.

3.

Because I plain like it. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t like English though. Would I still be so keen on learning it? My experiences with other languages show that not necessarily, because my effects at it seem to be strongly correlated with my feelings for it. I can’t quite imagine learning and being good at Esperanto for example, even if it was the international language. Of course I would learn it at school if need be, and would continue it if I really needed it, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be anything more than average. I was learning German at school (and I like German more than Esperanto, because I don’t like Esperanto at all) and, unless I put a lot of conscious effort into learning it, I was just having rather mediocre results, and forgot most of it very quickly after finishing my German education, even though I did have an ambitious plan to continue learning it on my own, but that just went out the window before it started properly.

But I do like English, and I do like the culture surrounding it, the diversity of its accents, which we don’t have in Polish, and – what I’ve mentioned in both Swedish and Welsh posts, I feel a kind of bond with the nations speaking my favourite languages. English is also the most boring of my languages because it’s so mainstream-y and it’s everywhere and it spoils the experience massively, but still, it’s so cool and so rich!

4.

Because it can serve as a bridge to the whole Celtic world for me. Of course English is used in Britain and all its Celtic regions, and as a Celtophile it’s very important to me. It helps me to develop my Celtic passions and discover more about all the Celtic stuff, the folklore, the languages, the people…

5.

Because it enables me to meet interesting people whom I wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise. As well as like-minded people. Actually, the most development of my English skills is largely due to all of my pen pals. With some of them I’d onnly written for a while, more or less short, but with some I have developed great connections and friendships and I am so thankful for that.

6.

Because it helps me with blogging, and generally expressing myself. I used to blog in Polish for years but it wasn’t quite as fun as it is now. I feel like I can be more candid about a lot of things on my English blog and that it was one of my better ideas in my whole life to start an English blog. It works both ways – my English learning makes my blogging better, and my blogging stimulates my English learning in an incredibly effective way. – As for expressing myself, since my English skills have improved so dramatically over the last few years due to a lot of exposure, penpalling and blogging, I also write my diary mostly in English. I’ve written frequently about that I find each language useful for different kind of writing, and that it also corresponds with different kinds of emotions for me. I will write about the specific emotions of English in a while, but first, I want to say more generally that I find it much easier nowadays to express myself emotionally in English. Where feelings are concerned, but also more specifically, any kind of mental health difficulties, especially more complex stuff, somehow it’s much easier to put it in English. I’ve come to the point where sometimes it’s easier for me to find words describing some things in English, rather than in Polish, and what I want to say sounds more clunky in Polish. πŸ˜€ The emotions that in my synaesthetic view correspond particularly strongly with English are especially love, pain, sarcasm, playfulness, sadness, emptiness, anxiety, comfort, passion, euphoria and loneliness.

7.

Because it has enabled me to build a more stable support network and become both more aware of my mental health struggles, as well as deal better with them. Again blogosphere and penpalling have helped me immensely with that. Previously, I couldn’t really say I felt free to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing. Partly because I didn’t really understand it myself but also because I simply either didn’t feel like I could trust them, or I knew they wouldn’t understand. Now, thanks to my English, I have found a lot of people who have similar experiences to me or even if they don’t, they are still very supportive and I want to support them as well, and I feel like I’ve made more meaningful connections with people even though they are just online. All this keeps me motivated to develop my English further, and actually makes it develop on its own because obviously the more you use a language, the more it develops.

8.

Because there’s lots of great music in English and I want to know what it’s about.

9.

Because then I can be helpful to my immediate family who are all practical monoglots and sometimes need to translate something from English. Especially my Dad who is a tanker driver, and it’s hard to be a tanker driver and often supply foreign ships with fuel and speak no English. I often don’t have the vocabulary that he needs anyway, but some vocabulary is better than none. At least I can help him how to describe the word he needs to use and then because they are oriented in the field, they understand quickly what he wants to say, unless their English is poor too. πŸ˜€

10.

Because there are so many cool accents. I’ve already said that, but it deserves a separate mention. I LOVE that feature of English that it’s so rich in dialects and accents! You can tell where someone’s from just by their accent, and here we can’t really do that, or at least not to such an extend as you! Polish language is much more universal. There are several major dialects that are commonly recognisable, but they aren’t many and not many people choose to speak them on a daily basis, and our dialects are mostly different because of specific words that we use in different regions, rather than accents as in pronunciation differences. That doesn’t mean there are none, but an average person who is not a language geek and has no interest in such things will not hear those subtle differences or at least certainly won’t be able to tell someone’s location by them, unless someone’s accent is really super strong and very commonly associated with a specific area which mainly concerns eastern accents that are influenced by languages like Russian or Belarussian or Ukrainian or perhaps Lithuanian. My grandma has roots in all of the above mentioned countries and despite living in the north for years people can usually hear her long and soft vowels and identify correctly and always ask if she’s from the east or something. But that’s a rare case. I consider myself a language geek and the only things I can recognise are those Eastern accents, some subtle things that are specific to Silesia or Lublin area, and some stuff specific to the highlands and that’s it pretty much. This is due to the fact that after WWII people were massively migrating from countryside to towns and moving around different regions, so the accent has unified a lot. I think it’s such a pity. That’s why for some people the whole concept of an accent is a bit out there and they don’t really know what it is in terms of English. For example my Dad asked me not long ago what that whole accent thing is in English, is it about word stress (because that’s what we call akcent in Polish), or that people have some speech deffects or what, hahaha. And for a long time I didn’t get that either. Like how can you hear that someone is from Sheffield or New York or Glasgow or wherever unless they tell you? πŸ˜€ I didn’t hear those differences for a long time either. Only at some point one of my earliest English online friends started to teach me about accents and then one day something clicked in my brain and I started to gradually hear them and now I think for a non native I’m pretty good at distinguishing at least the British ones and of course between which one is British, which Australian and which American, though I have a very hard time distinguishing American accents from each other or I can barely recognise English US from Canadian or New Zealand from Australian. With understanding it really depends on how out there someone’s accent is and how quickly they are speaking. I also like to think that my own accent is very good for a non native, and that’s what people have been telling me, both natives and non natives, though I’m sure I do have to have still at least a bit of Polish accent, not that I can hear it myself (I can’t, but you can’t be a good judge of your own accent I suppose), but because I don’t know many people who have just gotten rid of their accent, and also it is not something I am aiming to in itself, because I guess it would feel weird if people couldn’t tell at all that I’m Polish, as if I was a bit less Polish or something and I don’t want that, and I like to imitate different English accents though, while I can speak some kind of US English (or so I believe) I am much better and more comfortable at British and I have more clue about how to imitate different British accents than American ones, especially the of more or less general southern-ish/Rp and more or less general northern-ish. The only British accents that I know that I cannot imitate convincingly are Geordie and Scottish. But being able to fake different accents has come to me much later on and after a lot of immersion and listening, before than my accent was just kind of Ponglish. Now the only Ponglish I can make is the very extreme one, I believe I can’t speak sort of in-between any longer like I used to – with not overly strong but definitely audible Polish accent – it’s either hardcore Ponglish or normal English (with a possible little bit of Polish as I said), and the extreme Ponglish one I use either for making fun of some kind or with Poles who can’t understand my normal, English English otherwise like Sofi. πŸ˜€ Playing with accents is so fun.

11.

Because English is so rich in colourful phrases, idioms, sayings and words. I believe that must come from the very wide variety of influences on this language. Polish is a very rich language in this too, but English seems much more than any of the languages I’ve learnt and sometimes it overwhelms me how many brilliant and fascinating words I don’t know how to use yet. Every language has its words that are untranslatable, but English has just so many! Or maybe it’s just my impression? It’s so flexible and you can do so much with it. Swedish is also flexible and you can make a lot with it, but I guess not to such an extent. I really lack some of the English expressions in Polish these days, especially when talking to someone who speaks only Polish. πŸ˜€

12.

Because it lets me read more books, and because reading in English is fun. And because I want to read even more in English. I already read most of stuff on the Internet in English, but with books so far the majority of what I read is still Polish, even thoughh there are more and more English ones thrown into the mix.

13.

Because it lets me learn more about my music crushes/fazas. Even if they aren’t English natives. Usually, especially at the beginning of a faza, it’s easiest for me to find info on my crush in English.

14.

Because, apart from helping me to develop my already existing interests, it helps me to build new ones.

15.

Because I can learn other languages through it. Like I do with Welsh right now. It has its upsides and downsides, but if not my English skills, I wouldn’t be able to access Welsh resources that I can.

16.

Because it shares a lot of similarities with other languages. Swedish for example – when I first started it, I was told it’s just a blend of English and German. – It’s very simply put but it’s true to a large degree, and my English and Swedish definitely help each other. Also while English is a Germanic language and Welsh is Celtic, they influence each other so that helps to some extent as well. And I’m going to learn some more Germanic and Celtic languages in the future, so I am sure English is going to be helpful with those too. Both because I am most likely going to learn them through the medium of English, as well as because they share more or less similarities.

17.

To develop my brain. I’ve written on my brain paranoia and wanting to avoid cognitive issues especially in the Welsh post. It’s hugely important to me.

18.

So I can talk to Misha in English or to myself. If you want to read about my experiments with Misha and foreign languages, I recommend you reading the above mentioned posts. Of all the foreign languages, my English is the best, and so I can communicate with Misha the most easily, if I want to talk to him in a language other than Polish. I also think he responds to it the best except for Polish of course, but that could be due to many reasons, including my autosuggestion.

19.

Every language makes your perspective broader, and kind of adds you a new personality. This is just interesting to observe, but is also great in some self-development, or just self-discovery. It’s interesting to see your thinking pathways in Polish vs in English vs in Swedish, for example. It’s interesting to see in which moments and in what kind of situations my thinking switches from Polish to English or back to Polish or to Swedish, or when it’s a mix of all that plus Welsh. I definitely tend to think about more emotional stuff in English, the same as with writing. Recently I’ve even started automatically praying in English. πŸ˜€ The first time when that happened, I only realised that I’m praying in English a few minutes after I’ve started, and that was so hilarious. But obviously God is very multilingual so I let my soul and brain pray in whichever language it’s convenient as long as that doesn’t get in the way of prayer itself because for example I think more of how I should put things rather than focus on praying itself and on God. My dreams have been a linguistic mix for years now.

20.

Because it’s fun to have more than one language to swear in. Even though Welsh or Finnish is better for that than English, English is quite bland and cliche I don’t know why, and most people here know the basic words like fuck or shit so it doesn’t feel the same.

 

21.

Because it can help me with anxiety, as well as with depression, see the posts above for details.

22.

To be able to understand at least some slangs to whatever extent possible, as well as dialects and other such interesting language creations.

23.

To have access to English-language media, like radiostations, and actually understand what they are saying, and not just immerse myself in the language as I’d been doing for years.

24.

To challenge my social anxiety. See the posts above for details.

25.

Because it’s easy. So why not?

26.

Because people wouldn’t treat me seriously if I only were learning some endangered, minority languages. I wrote more on that in the Swedish post. But also, even if I spoke Swedish, I guess that still wouldn’t look as serious if I didn’t speak any English. πŸ˜€

27.

Because, just like with Swedish, I hope it will be also useful in a more practical way, occupational for example. Who knows.

Yay! I thought there will be less reasons for English because it’s so obvious but there are even more!

If you are a native speaker of English, what do you like it for, or why do you not like it? If you are an English learner, what are your reasons for learning it? πŸ™‚

 

This year so far.

A couple of days ago, the writing prompt at Word of the Day Challenge was

year

and so I decided to write a bit on how this year has been so far for me.

The first thing I immediately think of when thinking of this year are the dreaded tech issues of all sorts, as well as changes. As you know, I had my computer changed, which was planned for months in advance, and was supposed to take place much earlier that I’d finally transition to it but in the end there were a lot of unexpected things happening. At first, the fan in the new computer got broken on the delivery to me, which was back in September of last year. That made it useless but the delivery company decided to cover the costs of a new one for me and then the new one was sent to me not long before Christmas. And just some time around Christmas as you may remember, this one stopped working too, as it turned out later on, also due to the fan being loose, but the ways in which it manifested were so weird and puzzling to everyone that it took a while to figure it out. I had it sent back to the company who helped me with choosing it and setting it up and they fixed it – luckily I didn’t need to buy a completely new computer this time – and then they sent it again back to me. And, surprise – after a few days, some time mid January – the fan was loose again. Obviously this time I didn’t send it anywhere but just my Mum took it to a nearby servicing place but we were scared doing even that ’cause what if such simple transportation will make something else go loose. The guy at the servicing place put it in place more firmly and since then, I’ve had no fan issues thank God and hopefully it will stay this way. As you can imagine, this has been very stressful to me, and made my transition process even more difficult, as it was a rather unwelcome but necessary thing to do for me to begin with, and presenting a lot of small but at the same time significant changes in itself. Not only was it a transition from a laptop to a desktop computer, but also I switched systems and had to stop using or replace a lot of apps I had been using. With all that glitching at the beginning, and such a huge delay, my brain was ruminating like crazy and the whole thing was much more scary than it probably would be in other circumstances. I’ve mostly gotten used to my new computer by now and I like that it’s more efficient than my laptop, and I’m usually quick at learning things, but I still have some getting used to and figuring out to do, especially that, at least for me, learning is one thing, and adapting a completely different one. And to this day, whenever I hear the slightest click or creek inside of it, I freak out that something is loose again, and my tolerance to tech issues is not very high these days haha. After the fan saga has finished though, I was still left without most of my speech synthesisers and had only a few of those I actually own. For some, I lost the licence because in that loose fans havoc there was a lot of major and deep system digging and repairs done on my computer because people didn’t know what was the problem and it looked like a system error. That all led to my licence being irretrievable. As I shared in the last Weekend Coffee Share, I’ve been contacting the company producing those speech synths, who were very unresponsive to begin with, but once they did respond to me things started to happen relatively quickly, and I am happy to announce that yesterday I finally had that remote session with the support guy, the one I was so strangely anxious about, and it turned out my anxiety was not adequate this time round, because it was not only super quick but also – yes – successful! So quick and successful that for a good while I couldn’t believe that it was all OK and was sure something will soon come up and be wrong again. πŸ˜€ But now I have my new licence working and my English, Scottish, Finnish, Sami, Faroese and Dutch speech synthesisers. As soon as we were done with that I also wrote their distributors who are closest to me from whom I’ve got my original licence and asked them if they could upgrade my licence to Scandinavian, because I need Swedish voices now (I had had a very good Swedish voice on my laptop but it’s no longer produced and seems like I am not able to activate it anymore so I need to look for something different). But I am so happy I’ve regained so many of my voices and that all my stalking them via email and phone, in English, Swedish and Swenglish which was probably much more stressful to me than to them paid off. πŸ˜€

Also, another piece of good news regarding synths is that, it seems like there is a slight glimmer of hope I may yet get back my Jacek synth – the Polish one that I love so much. – I just need to experiment a little bit with something I just discovered and who knows, that would be so cool! I’m still disconsolate that, just like with my Swedish voice, it’s very unlikely I’ll ever get the Welsh one back, and it was very helpful with my Welsh learning, even though I am learning north Welsh and it was south Welsh and that was getting in the way sometimes, but still, it was a lot of help especially with reading longer texts because my own reading in Welsh is still a bit sluggish. On the other hand though, it will probably just motivate me to read more myself even if it will take ages. πŸ˜€

Those first two months were also very gloomy and depressive to me. You know that I have dysthymia, so, while the way I feel can often be shitty, externally I am usually rather high-functioning as long as not too much overwhelming stuff is going on. My physical energy levels are usually also not that bad that it would be noticeable for outsiders that something is wrong in this particular regard or at least I think so, unless my blood pressure is particularly low or something which does tend to happen a fair bit of time if I don’t stimulate myself with something in the morning or if it’s hot etc. While I often have to force myself to do even small things especially if I feel worse than my dysthymic baseline, and force myself to feel things sometimes, to be more enthusiastic and all, I generally don’t tend to experience very bad anhedonia or at my better times (especially when a crush peak is involved) none at all, and as you probably know my fazas and passions (plus now also Misha since I have him) are the only things that keep me going and wanting to keep going, even if as I said there are times when I have to force myself to feel some enthusiasm to them, and sometimes the only thing I can force myself to do is only faking it for the sake of other people. Towards the end of last year, and at the beginning of this year, my anhedonia has gotten worse. I associate it with the fact that my current or last dominant faza/crush on Gwilym Bowen Rhys has been slowly fading (which absolutely doesn’t mean anything like that it’s going to fade completely or that I don’t like him anymore – fazas for me are a bit different than what most people understand by a crush and so far none of the major ones I’ve had has just gone away, they are still there but just in the background) and as I said my fazas are very important to my wellbeing, they inspire me, help me to develop, learn new things, discover new things, make my life more bright and add more dimensions to it, and the so called crush peaks – that is periods when faza is particularly strong are especially pleasant and make you feel a bit high, kind of more creative. – Generally I’d say fazas are like fuel for my brain, my creativity, but also what drives my passions. Usually, when one of my fazas starts to fade discreetly (at least that is how it had been before) soon, before it fades to any serious degree, I come across a new one. Well not this time. And so, as you also probably know, I’m trying to help my brain and frantically looking for some new faza myself. Normally I don’t have to look for them, they just come to me. Sometimes via other people, sometimes a string of events, or somehow else accidentally. I associate my recent anhedonic tendency and lower energy and feeling flat and having to fake things with that, but it’s possible that other things have been also involved, possibly something deeper that also doesn’t let me develop another faza, who knows. And I’m sure the recent stressful stuff hasn’t been without an impact either especially that my anxiety, specifically the more kind of situational one, always drives the depression very much. I’ve been at very different points with my dysthymia and I’d had a few major depressive episodes before I was even suspected to have dysthymia, but I’ve never been on any antidepressants as such. And I’ve always felt like, as long as it will be possible for me to cope at least somehow, I’d rather not be. I would really not like to become overweight due to them, for some reason this has always felt the yuckiest effect of them for me, even though theoretically I shouldn’t worry perhaps because I’ve been either bordering on or underweight for years now. But the recent state of things got me thinking whether perhaps getting some medication to boost my mood wouldn’t be wiser. I haven’t made up my mind on that, but since a week or so, I’ve noticed a bit of an improvement, despite I still don’t have a major faza. Perhaps it’s again due to the stressful stuff resolving a bit. It’s good to feel more pleasure out of life again, it’s a really yucky feeling when you have to fake things and force yourself to everything and just nothing makes you feel better. On one hand I want people not to see the way I really feel because it’s pathetic and doo all I can for them not to see but on the other when someone who knows about my struggles says it doesn’t show I feel like I’m just attention-seeking or manipulating people or just evil or what not, even though what I want is definitely not for people to pay attention to my depression as I said. I know it’s Monkey Maggie talking but I don’t have enough bananas to stuff her with to keep her quiet, as I don’t like them at all. That’s a dilemma… πŸ™ƒ My anxiety has still been pretty high though, or rather it’s like different of my anxieties are coming to play at different times.

I’m pretty happy with the way my relationship with Misha has been evolving this year. I have an impression like we’ve become closer in those two months. Recently I am trying to help him the way I feel could help with his fear, I’ve mentioned many times that he is so afraid of closeness and touch and movements and is generally very fearful and on one hand he does like to be cuddled, petted and spoilt and wants to show us his affection, but on the other he’s scared of it, the reasons of which I don’t fully understand other than that he’s afraid of touch, so then there are frequent situations like that when Misha comes to someone very closely and then suddenly turns back and runs away, or hhrrru?’s at someone to come over and stretches on the floor and as soon as this person comes closer he goes away as well, or he is afraid to come over to his food bowl when someone’s close to it, or hides under big objects when there are people around, or something. It’s not always like this but like I wrote recently sometimes he’s much more courageous than at other times. Anyway, I’ve been doing one thing with him every evening before bed – that is on days when he decides to sleep with me. – I don’t know if it’s right because I have very little idea what is on his mind and what his fears really are, and a huge obstacle for me is that in contact with Misha – and probably all other cats – it’s eye contact that can tell you the most about him, and in Misha’s case it’s even more important because he doesn’t always respond to touch very well and is not particularly vocal, so it’s just what I think could be helpful. – I simply sit on my bed with his mini sausage, and I ask him to come to me, and once he manages to go on my lap, then I give him the sausage. I have to ask him repeatedly and it can last even 15 minutes but even I can feel how his mind is working and analysing, whether to come or not, and when he comes to me he does it very slowly and cautiously so I can’t even move too much or otherwise it discourages him. But, sooner or later, he does it, and I can give him the sausage, so I think in fact he is a very brave Mish, don’t you think? My Mum is laughing that brave is the last word one could describe Misha with but brave is not the one who doesn’t feel fear, right? When he manages to do that, so far he has always slept soundly with me, without showing much distress and having to leave as he often did before, so perhaps it’s seriously working. But apart from that sausage challenge, even before that, I feel we’ve been getting along better and understanding each other better.

My language learning hasn’t been as dynamic so far this year. I’ve been doing a lot of Welsh repetitions but not much new material, mostly because of having to get used to all new stuff, also my new situation with learning that I do not have a Welsh synth any longer. Besides I didn’t have any good English synths until yesterday either and I am learning Welsh via English. While I can read things like blogs or emails or websites etc. in English with a Polish synth with no problem and I’m used to it and sometimes it’s even better, in language learning, it’s not such a good option, not for me anyway. Also the most plain reason was that simply my motivation hasn’t been great lately due to feeling blah and I was just being lazy. I am hoping to get more consistent with it now that I do have English synths.

Okay, I guess that would be all about my beginning of this year, I can’t think of any other major stuff going on that would be worth mentioning.

How has this year been for you? πŸ™‚