Question of the day.

   Today’s question of the day is courtesy of Meg

  Were you ever afraid of anything as a child that turned out to (probably) not exist? 

   My answer: 

   That’s an interesting question from my perspective, because I guess I could say yes and no. 😀 Let me find Misha before I continue though, I don’t want to get the creeps. 

   Okay, Misha’s here sleeping now. The biggest fear of my childhood, that is still very much a thing, were definitely all things that had something to do with my sensory anxiety. I feared a lot of different sounds, sequences of sounds etc. even some words or clusters of language sounds, that for one reason or another sounded kind of weird to me and didn’t agree with my brain. It could be even a very normal sound for the rest of the world, no horror soundtracks or anything like that required, but to me it would feel super scary and often in a very personally threatening, aggressive way. Like I said, it’s still a thing, although I was even more sensitive to that as a child. When I heard a sound like that, as a small child, I would often start screaming and shrieking, and sometimes would run away from it, or if it scared me totally shitless it happened to me a few times that I would just flop down on the floor right where I stood because the fear made me feel so weak and like someone turned my legs off simultaneously with that sound appearing. 😀 Later on when I started bottling up my feelings and all that I wouldn’t shriek anymore but hearing something creepy in that way typically made me freeze for a little moment, and still does, which is really annoying as you can’t remove yourself from it or anything. Then after I’d hear something like that, it would get stuck in my brain and be particularly intrusive whenever it would be silent around me or whenever I wouldn’t have much to do, like right before sleep or something like that. Simultaneously, my brain would also make up a sort of personification of that sound, like what they looked like more or less, were they a man or a woman, how scary they would be and in what way exactly etc. etc. etc. The most prominent one in my early childhood was a woman whom, for the purpose of this post, we’ll call «Victoria», who was the personification of all the radio jingles from one particular local radio station that doesn’t exist anymore but all their jingles were super scary to me and were all the worse that that  station had an interesting approach to them, playing them mid-songs and mid-everything, so they could pop up literally anytime. My Dad really liked that radio station, and although it wasn’t very easy to get hold of in our specific area, as it was geared more towards West Pomerania, my Dad put a can over the antenna in his car and this way he could receive it with only minimal disruption. I had a bit of an ambivalent relationship with that radio station, because while its jingles were super scary, as a child I was also very much into radio, which manifested itself, among other things, in that I got always super excited when I could get hold of a station that wasn’t normally or easily reachable in our area, and this was definitely the case with that one. As for «Victoria» though, she was a very tall, super strong and rather androgynous woman, who wore loads of clinking jewellery and was very brash and unpredictable and, unlike her equally prominent successor, was very intelligent and constantly found other, different ways of tormenting Bibiel. It feels like she’s always been there because I don’t remember a specific moment when she came to life or when I’d first heard that radio station, so I guess I must have been very young when my mind created her. She was super loud and aggressive. After that radio station morphed into a different one, I never heard that sound again until much later when we tried to do exposure therapy with my therapist, but she still stayed the dominant figure in the murky corner of my Brainworld for quite a while. Then when I was a pre-teen she was replaced by «Ian», which is also not his actual name but obviously I’m not gonna share that (writing this post is already making me feel way too jittery, thank God for Misha 😀 ), although she hasn’t disappeared completely to this day. And «Ian” is mostly a personification of a word, which unfortunately exists in multiple languages because it’s a short word so in each of those languages that I’m aware of it means something else entirely and it can even be a fragment of many other words. Out of all the languages that I know to some degree currently, only Swedish and Norwegian are completely free of «Ian», and English is full of him so it’s absolutely impossible to avoid him while listening to English or speaking English. I once wrote a story on here inspired by my sleep paralysis  which isn’t exactly what I experience but it’s very close and it features an «Ian» who is very much based on mine. Mine has red eyes, a bulky frame, a very deep voice and despite he’s not particularly clever, definitely not as much as Victoria, he can be even more scary and in a way I think it’s precisely because of that, ‘cause he only thinks on a very primitive level. He can be super quiet when he wants, which can be even more menacing than when he yells, and he has disgusting claws. Also I always feel that while «Victoria» was generally an unpleasant person and probably didn’t like anyone, «Ian» has some very particular kind of dislike for Bibiel, I wonder why he hates me so much more than the rest of humans. 

   And whenever I’d be alone or in a quiet space or something like that, I’d be afraid that, at some point, when I will least expect it, the sound that was only being stuck in my brain at a given point, will suddenly manifest itself in front of me in this personified form and do something real scary to me. I couldn’t say what, but I knew it would be super scary. So not only was that scary sound stuck in my brain and I was feeling scared because of that, but I also felt like things could get a lot more scary any second or minute when my fear will actually become the reality and I’ll hear this thing for real all over again and possibly other stuff will happen simultaneously, like, dunno, they’re going to kill me or something. Or I’d be scared that they’re actually already somewhere very close to me and lurking, especially «Ian», just waiting for the right moment to reveal themselves to me. 

   And, in a way, my fears were well-founded, because I got to see all them creepy peeps in my sleep paralysis dreams countless times, which feel as real as anything real. I have no problem with having regular-people nightmares, like, dunno, running away from someone «normal», falling, people dying and whatever other normal nightmares people have. I wake up from them and feel either relieved that it was just a dream, or even laugh at it because it was so vivid and creative and how come my brain creates such suspense-rich plots, even if they’re not pleasant while lasting. But when it’s sleep paralysis that features my actual creeps so realistically, I get really scared of it and it doesn’t go away as soon as I wake up. Especially that I experience a lot of false awakenings in sleep paralysis and I can think that «Phew, at least it’s over now!» And dream about how I told someone about my creepy dream and started my day as I normally would, and then realise that, oops, it’s not quite finished yet, part two is coming. So even though theoretically you always know it when you’ve woken up for good, you can’t help but feel a bit distrustful of your judgement after so many false awakenings in which you’d also thought that you’d woken up for real. So usually when I wake up it takes me a lot of time to recover both physically and mentally. Anyway, when «Victoria» was the dominant creepy character in my sleep paralysis episodes, they would usually start with me having a bath, and my Mum unceremoniously coming in and saying excitedly that I have to get out quickly because someone wants to see me. We both knew who it was, and Mum knew how much I hated «Victoria», but every time she was either oblivious to my protests, or like she felt for me but couldn’t do anything. Then my Mum disappeared and before I even got a chance to get out of the bath, everything would start to spin, with me often banging my head on the bathtub as a result, and I’d hear the dreaded jingle, and «Victoria» would storm in, and other creep peeps following and assisting her. They would put me on something that I can best describe as some sort of mini couch thing made of metal and padded with leather, and strapped me to it so that I laid on it on my back with  arms stretched out behind my head. This couch had wheels and they wheeled me super fast to wherever «Victoria’s» place and spun it a lot n the meantime and obviously in the meantime I heard a lot of creepy jingles. Once we’d get there, «Victoria» would yell into my ears super loud, tickle me under my armpits in a way that wasn’t funny at all but quite threatening, and showed me various mini dreams in which all sorts of scary things happened to my family or me or stuff like that. At some point though, I’d always be able to end the dream if I was quick enough to spot that moment, by making some sort of manoeuvre and saying some weird nonsensical word that I could never recall while awake except that it started with G, lol, all in the dream, not for real, and then everything vanished slowly. I’m not as fortunate with «Ian» though. With «Ian», aside from some details and stuff, I largely described the experience in the short story linked above, aside from stuff that is difficult to describe or that changes every time. «Ian» also visits me in sleep paralysis a lot more frequently than «Victoria» did. «Victoria» still visits me occasionally without «Ian», but when she does these days she’s a lot more malicious than she used to be before «Ian» and often even more malicious than «Ian». 

   So, yeah, I guess it’s hard to say in a way whether my childhood existed or not. You can say that they did, because obviously the sounds did exist, and my sleep paralysis experiences did exist, but their personifications and my perception of threat from the sounds were just imaginary. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What were you like as a child? 

   My answer: 

   Just to clarify for the beginning in case it could be confusing, I am going to mostly refer to my younger self as Bibiel or little Bibiel. Those who know me may know that I like to talk about myself as Bibiel or Bibielle in third person, and also use that name specifically for the more child-like/childish/quirky/creative part of me. When I was very young I didn’t use that specific word in reference to myself, and I never really think about my younger self as Bibiel because the child-like Bibiel part of my Brainworld and my younger self conjure two a bit different images, but in this post I’m going to refer to my younger self as Bibiel because: a) I like the word Bibiel, b) I guess it’s boring to constantly repeat awkward phrases like «my younger self» or «little me) and c) I went by a different legal name back then, which I don’t share on here, but Bibiel works well enough instead as it seems kind of absurd to think about my 5-or-so-year-old self as Emilia. Now for the actual answer. 

   
   Fairly different to what I’m like now, in a lot of ways. In fact, sometimes when I think back to the child version of me, the one below age 8, or when someone tells me about something from that time that had to do with little Bibiel or reminisces about how I was like then, I feel kind of flabbergasted and almost confused about how it’s even possible that I was different like that and liked so many things that I hate now, like peopling. Other people, family and others, have also told me countless times how I’ve changed since then. I mean, duh, everyone does, right? And I do think that some of those people are a little biased, like my Dad for whom the past is always better than the present, or my maternal grandparents for whom I was their first survived grandchild and they spent a lot of time with me as a little kid, doted on me and idealised me in a way, and then we parted ways a bit both emotionally and physically so they kind of know the little bibiel better than the present me, particularly my grandma, even though we see each other regularly. Of course I do recognise some of my current traits that I have in common with little Bibiel, like some of my weird ways of thinking or the funny way my Brainworld works, some of my interests or even some of my personality traits, but generally, whenever I thought about the little Bibiel more, I feel kind of perplexed, like wtf?! My Mum says I changed so much ‘cause of the boarding school, but I don’t think so. I mean yeah, sure, it must have been a strong trigger, very possibly the main one or one of the main ones, but I really highly doubt it could be the cause. I’ve always associated the whole «change» thing with my first major depressive episode, that I was diagnosed with when I was 10, but I’d been feeling depressed  ever since I was 8. It wasn’t that I was feeling some spectacular change in myself at that time or like it happened overnight as soon as I turned 8 or as soon as I started to feel depressed, but simply when I look back at my childhood that point in time seems to be more or less the dividing line between the «two Bibiels», although my Mum claims I was quite like that old Bibiel still when I was 10 and remembers me like that for the last time from my aunt’s wedding. So perhaps the new Bibiel was born after my Achilles tendons surgery or something. At around similar time when I started feeling depressed, I also started taking growth hormone and so it seems like my appearance changed more or less simultaneously as well. I was really short and quite chubby as a small kid, and then on growth hormone I suddenly went quite skinny, and while I’ve never really been tall especially compared with my immediate family members, I was growing so quickly at first that it kind of seemed like I became really tall in no time and people made lots of comments about how I suddenly changed physically so I guess it was a big deal for them lol. 

   Honestly? As much as I don’t necessarily love myself, I don’t really like that little Bibiel almost at all, so whenever and however it happened, I’m glad she’s gone. I mean, I only like her a bit because I have some sympathy for her or something and obviously in some regards understand her better than anyone else so I know that in a way she was just what her surroundings expected her to be or something like that, and we’ve been through the same things, but if she was someone external, like one of my little cousins or my sister for example, I probably wouldn’t like her at all because I wouldn’t even have that understanding to warm me up to her. That’s probably why all the therapist and coach speak about embracing your inner child irks me so much.

   When I was a teenager or so, my frozen in the past Dad really liked to watch old camera videos that Mum had recorded when Olek and me were kids, and insisted that we all do that together, or at least that whomever he was watching at a given point should be there and see themselves as well and reminisce with him about the good ole days and laugh at the same things over and over and over. There weren’t very many things that I hated about my family life more than that. I mostly hated watching these videos because, unlike for my Dad, I wasn’t really nostalgic for those times at all. Perhaps some little bits yes, but generally watching that shit always made me feel extremely blue and then I couldn’t stop ruminating. Then I had to go through that once again not long ago when Olek decided that he wanted to revive his childhood memories and got all those tapes digitalised and we had to watch ALL of them again. Thankfully, at that point it wasn’t just me who got hit with a blues afterwards, it hit my Mum as well and probably even stronger ‘cause she ended up crying and all. So from then on we decided that we’re not going to do the communal time-travelling sessions  anymore because it affects Mum in a rather destructive way. I wish I could be an easy cryer like that so perhaps it would have already been over much sooner, lol. 

   But the other reason, like I said, was that that little Bibiel was just so bloody annoying. In some ways almost like your typical annoying character from children’s books. People always liked me when I was a kid, I mean adults, kids probably didn’t care ‘cause she didn’t care about kids either and didn’t know how to interact with them. I’ve always perceived her as extremely selfish and not caring much for other people. I guess she only liked people and was nice to them when they gave her attention, otherwise acted like some sort of offended queen and could be downright rude, like I was rude to Olek nearly all the time on those tapes, even though Olek hardly got as much attention from our parents or other adults in our lives even without me trying, ‘cause Bibiel was so fucking adorable and oh so disabled. My Mum has told me that when Olek was very little, I would come over to him and whack him over the head full force with a toy or something. Later on, I was always very happy to snitch on him. Interestingly, despite Olek is no meek character, as a kid, he was always extremely tolerant of me, very protective and even if I was nasty to him or outright ignored him, he always wanted to play with me and waited patiently for whenever queen Bibielle would be in a more favourable/playful mood, which would usually kick in late in the evenings when we were already in beds. Then we’d make up all kinds of crazy games, or just keep laughing our brains off for no apparent reason, because  almost the mere fact that it’s bedtime makes everything instantly more hilarious, that’s one thing that I still do have in common with that Bibiel, I still get fits of giggles at night quite often. 😀 Or we’d play jump-bears (simply jumping on the beds, either standing up, or bouncing up and down on your bum, or on your back when in bed and yelling «Jump-bear!» Every time you jump, just ‘cause bears, and more exactly the Polish word «miś» which means bear, is super cool and you just can’t say it too many times during the day). That would naturally really annoy our parents that, instead of sleeping, we’d be double as noisy as during the day, but instead of dividing the punishment fairly or at least equally, most of the time, Dad would storm upstairs and sometimes Olek would get a spanking. Sometimes, he would tell Bibiel not to «provoke» Olek, but he never seemed to assume that Bibiel was just as active a part in those games, probably because he didn’t want to, because Bibiel is so adorable and cute, how could Bibiel ever do anything wrong like, for real? Believe it or not, but that’s what little Bibiel kind of thought herself. Bibiel knew that adult people go to confession, and I recall little Bibiel having a thought once that she will probably never have to do that, because she never seems to do anything wrong. In Bibiel’s defence, we can say that it certainly wasn’t because Bibiel was actually so self-assured. Bibiel was simply very rarely told that she did something wrong or that her behaviour wasn’t right sometimes. I don’t think Bibiel thought it in a way: «Oh yeah, I’m so amazing that I never sin and I won’t ever have to go to confession, it’s for losers», rather, I remember that thought more like feeling kind of curious, like, how come all the kids around are so badly-behaved and all the adults do bad things all the time but Bibiel is always so good? I guess that means Bibiel is somehow really special or something. 

   Once queen Bibielle’s playful mood would vane, she’d go totally quiet, and if Olek tried to initiate a conversation or something, he would usually have to call «Bibiel!» «Bibiel!» Several times, and then at some point would invariably hear a very indifferent: «I don’t want to talk to you anymore», which he always calmly respected and promptly fell asleep. 

   Aside from being sinless, Bibiel also thought she must be somehow incredibly smart, which was totally thanks to my grandad, who values brains in people more than anything else and thinks very highly of his own, so I wonder what would happen if Bibiel dared not to be smart, whether he’d still spoil her as much as he did and pay much attention to her at all. While Bibiel had no real desire to be cocky or smarter than others or anything like that, I think for a while she genuinely thought she was somehow incredibly smart for a child. The truth was simply that Bibiel absorbed information pretty quickly, and liked language, and obviously children who have a wide vocabulary seem a lot smarter, regardless of whether they actually are smarter than their peers, whatever «smarter» actually even means more broadly. Like I once heard of a condition called Williams syndrome where people have below average IQ but are really outstanding at acquiring language, and outsiders often think they’re of normal intelligence when they’re definitely not, so that’s all obviously very relative. 

   As you may be aware, Bibiel LOVED singing. At least that’s the common narrative. I’m actually really quite curious if that was truly the case, or that my family simply went along with that «Oh yeah, our Bibiel sings so well (read, not too out of key 😀 ) and we’ve heard that so many blind people are good at music, so our Bibiel must be really good too and we should promote that skill) or something along those lines except perhaps more subconsciously. Anyway, even if the latter was the case, Bibiel grew up with a conviction that she does love to sing, and wanted to be a singer when she grows up, or, as she always eloquently phrased it «do a career». And I think I’ve mentioned several times on here how there once was a movie about our blind nursery while I was there and they asked each of us what we would like to be, and 5-year-old Bibiel obviously said singer, plus in reference to every other girl saying that they want to be mummies (and one (girl) who wanted to be a daddy), Bibiel revealingly noticed that «I don’t want to have a baby ‘cause when women want to, they can have it, and when they don’t, they don’t have to». 

   There are loads of videos of Bibiel singing. I would have understood it if Bibiel was seriously some significantly talented child, but really, while Bibiel could sure sing in tune and even produce quite clear very high notes, I’ve heard a lot of children of similar age who are more remarkable in this respect. My Mum regrets it now that, when she focused so much on me, she left Olek out a bit, and that while there are so many recordings of Bibiel singing, Bibiel talking, Bibiel playing, Bibiel this, Bibiel that (why haven’t anyone recorded Bibiel pooping? 😛 ) there are comparably very few recordings of Olek. There’s only one recording where we sing together. Bibiel loved all kinds of public performances, and even if they were a bit stressful, it was pretty much only positive stress. It was our family tradition that, every year, Bibiel would take part in a song competition for disabled children that was taking place at one of our local schools. The odd thing was that the school was for intellectually disabled children, and Bibiel was the only non-intellectually disabled child there and the only one from outside that school. Bibiel would prepare her favourite song or even a few, sometimes these weren’t even whole songs but just a bit of this, a bit of that mixed up together and it was clear to everyone anyway that Bibiel will be the best, and it was always the flipping Bibiel who ended up leaving with a huge basketful of sweets. I mean, if that’s not utter Bibiel propaganda, wtf is it? 😀 One could have thought it must have been 20 years earlier and Bibiel was actually a representative of the USSR  or something like that. Poor children from that school. As if that wasn’t enough of Bibiel, later on Bibiel even made it to a radio show for children in Warsaw, and then some sort of a casting for some sort of advertisement about disabled children or whatever shit, in what is now my least favourite Polish television (not because of anything to do with the casting). My Dad apparently still regrets I didn’t win it. 

   And that singing thing is really what I remember about Bibiel most, and what others – family, strangers and everyone in between – seems to recall most strongly about Bibiel as well. 

   Knowing all that, you’d think that Bibiel must have been a very confident child. Except generally not. Bibiel did love to socialise, very much so. Any kind of gatherings, meeting new people, talking to people, it was definitely Bibiel’s element. Bibiel had a weird sort of way of becoming really clingy with stranger people. Like, a lot of people who would visit our house just a couple times or even once would very quickly and spontaneously earn the title of Auntie or Uncle. But Bibiel mostly only dealt well with one on one contact, when the other person would be wholly engrossed in listening to Bibiel’s constant chatter or at least pretended to be, and bonus points if they were good at pretending that they understood what she was on about (no one could actually understand, because basically Bibiel thought everyone was synaesthetic and fixated on sounds and thought the same way). 😀 Bibiel could also thrive in larger gatherings of humans, but only if they were made up of exclusively or mainly adults, and, again, if their attention was on Bibiel rather than constantly shifting and a bit on Bibiel and a bit off Bibiel. Kind of like our Misha is now. It is really weird to explain and I guess I don’t even get it anymore at this point but in a way, while Bibiel really enjoyed peopling, she was also really shy. She was very easily scared of people, and as much as she liked meeting new people and making friends with them, she was afraid or perhaps didn’t know how to initiate contacts with people, so the initiative always had to come out from the other side. I clearly remember that when Bibiel was in the nursery for the first few days and the children were brushing their teeth, which they started each at slightly different times depending when they finished their meals, everyone would always ask the staff person: «Can I rinse now, miss?!» Repeatedly, and she’d have to tell everyone whether they can or not. But Bibiel was too scared to ask. Or something. So while all the other children brushed and rinsed their teeth and went to beds, Bibiel was still standing by the sink, and brushing or at least pretending to brush her teeth. 😀 It’s really weird, ‘cause I guess normally «smart” people would see that everyone else’s left, so what’s the point of brushing your teeth all night? Apparently Bibiel didn’t pick that up, and like I say for several days, until she finally did. On the other hand it’s weird that the nursery people didn’t notice that though, perhaps they wanted to end their shifts quickly. 

   Bibiel was also oddly unassertive. My Dad’s family, who are generally pretty rough, unemotional people, were really touchy-feely with Bibiel, and they liked Bibiel’s singing no less than Mum’s family, even if they weren’t quite as exuberant about it. Apparently Bibiel liked visiting them, because I remember Bibiel praying every single evening that we would visit (paternal) gran tomorrow, but I also remember that, just like I usually am these days, Bibiel would also usually feel quite bored there, and kind of tense in a way. My late paternal grandpa had a real soft spot for Bibiel, and when we (that is of course Dad, Mum, Olek and Bibiel) would visit them, he would run out all smiley and call out «Our Bibiel is coming! Hello Bibiel!) as if everyone else was just a mass of air surrounding Bibiel. Bibiel liked him, but didn’t always feel comfortable around him, just like with the rest of Dad’s family. It was seriously like they thought that a blind child needs to be touched all the time to have any sort of meaningful contact with people or something. They would often suddenly scoop Bibiel up and carry her into the house, despite Mum’s faint protests that «Bibiel can walk…» or at my paternal aunt’s place my teenage cousins would always bring Bibiel to their rooms. If Bibiel sat at the table next to my parents, someone would often want her to come to them and sit on their lap, which Bibiel, despite her frequent clinginess with people, rarely felt enthused about. My uncles, trying their best to develop some sort of relationship with Bibiel, would often creep behind Bibiel and rub her cheek or ear with their finger, sometimes asking if Bibiel knows who this is. Bibiel didn’t like that either. Only Bibiel’s maternal grandad was officially allowed to play dumbly like that with Bibiel ‘cause he knew that Bibiel actually knows who it is and it was just him and Bibiel being silly. When Dad’s family did stuff like that, Bibiel would just sat stiffly there, sometimes smile and do whatever was polite and expected, other times just sitting and not doing anything, afraid to refuse the touchy-feely attention in any way or directly oppose someone. As I learned years later, my Mum hated that too, and, just like Bibiel, was also too afraid to speak up or do anything. 

   Also Bibiel was totally incompatible with other children, with only a few exceptions like Olek and a couple children from the nursery and some children older than Bibiel. This had gotten better once Bibiel went to primary, and then at some point I noticed that, at least in some respects, I much preferred talking to my peers than adults. 

   At nursery and to a lesser degree later in the beginning of primary, my Mum claims that Bibiel was also something of a school mascot. Bibiel would often represent the school at various outside song competitions, as well as sing on those organised within the school. Bibiel would bring flowers and thank all kinds of VIPs who visited our nursery/the whole blind institute thing or however I should  best call it in English, a photo of Bibiel would be featured in a magazine during then-First Lady’s visit to our school as she held and kissed Bibiel. My Dad apparently still has that pic, who cares that he wasn’t the supporter of that president? 😀 However Bibiel didn’t really notice it as much there because there were also other such kids that were sort of seen as more representative or something so it wasn’t like there was only Bibiel as it was the case at home, therefore it didn’t really bother Bibiel while it was happening. I only talked with Mum about it much later on and realised that it also had some other consequences for my stay there but that’s beyond the topic of Bibiel. From Bibiel’s representative school activity, I remember most vividly how we were often visited by people from Italian embassy or consulate, not sure exactly who they were but usually people just called them «the Italians» even though not all of them were Italians, and as far as I remember they visited us regularly throughout Bibiel’s three-year stay in the nursery. There was an Italian couple who seemed to be in charge of the whole thing, I’m not sure if they were the actual ambassadors or what, but I heard unofficially that they visited us so often and funded all sorts of things for us and stuff because they had a particular liking for one  girl in our nursery who had multiple disabilities and a difficult family situation and so they were like second/foster parents to her or something. But they also had some sort of special likings for many other children, including Bibiel. Bibiel didn’t really like them back though. SO many people and SO much noise were beyond even Bibiel’s capacity for peopling, no matter how genuinely nice they were. In fact, they were really nice to Bibiel, and two times they even organised Bibiel’s birthday in a proper style, with all them people who came giving Bibiel separate presents. Most of them knew that Bibiel doesn’t like to play the way normal kids do, like with dolls or whatever other kids play with, but instead Bibielz (still) like glass balls, as in I guess you guys call them marbles in the Anglosphere, or iron balls like you have in car bearings, or teddy bears, or glass/porcelain figurines, or any random, small objects that have a nice texture and are fun to fidget with. And most of them really cared and got Bibiel really nice things and lots of marbles and the like, except one couple who bought Bibiel a doll who was moving and singing something. Bibiel went from one thing to another with the translator lady showing her everything and the couple asked Bibiel whether Bibiel likes the doll, to which the normally so unassertive Bibiel simply answered «No». I guess Bibiel thought the translator would keep it to herself, but she didn’t, and the couple got understandably upset. They made up for it the next year, buying Bibiel a huge sack of beautiful marbles, such like Bibiel had never seen before. 

   When I returned to the blind school from being in an integration/inclusive school for two years at age 10 and 11, it quickly became very clear to everyone that that Bibiel, who was already waning before I went to the inclusive school, must have been taken by Moomins to the Moomin Valley or wherever else and is  totally gone. I was already very much set on that I won’t be singing publicly anymore or anything like that, but I didn’t even have to say that really because I wasn’t that Bibiel anymore and so no one expected it from me I guess. After that, I had quite a few interactions with different people who told me stuff like, for example: «You know, I remember how Ms. So-and-so said she wanted to have you in her class, because you sang so well and were so cute, awww what a pity that you don’t sing anymore!» That made me feel quite weird. I definitely didn’t want to come back to singing, I totally didn’t feel it, but hearing stuff like this, especially at the beginning, also made me feel like now I wasn’t really likeable at all. On the other hand, it made me feel relieved that, although this process of kind of «shedding» Bibiel was completely involuntary, I was no longer that Bibiel who got attention from everyone all the time, and in a way life became much more peaceful. 

   Aside from Bibiel’s a bit strange problems with peopling, like I’ve already mentioned, Bibiel had a very peculiar way of thinking, and thus also expressing herself. That is one area in which I kind of do regret that I’m not that Bibiel anymore, because looking back at little snippets from memories that I have, I believe little Bibiel’s brainlife was even more varied and lots more vivid than mine is currently. I don’t think I can describe that well so I won’t really try. In any case, one of Bibiel’s peculiarities was that for a long time she thought that other people also have the same synaesthesia as hers. Which, for the non-initiated folks, made understanding her a bit tricky sometimes. For example, Bibiel associated the words crocodile and dragon with two different kinds of metal trouser braces clips that she had in her play box, among other things, and whenever she saw similar brace clips anywhere she’d also call them «crocodiles» or «dragons». Don’t ask me why crocodiles and dragons, I’m curious too, I mean it’s interesting because generally synaesthetic associations like that are very random for me and crocodiles and dragons have quite a few things in common. That’s one reason why I think that my synaesthesia developed based on links between different objects/shapes/textures that Bibiel felt while at the same time hearing specific words spoken by people. Bibiel had such weird mindset that she thought that if someone’s name is associated in her mind with a specific food, they should like that food, or otherwise it’s… well, just wrong, dunno they should change their name or something. 😀 One person who was particularly tolerant of Bibiel’s synaesthetic chatter was my uncle, whose name Bibiel associated with the Chocapic cereal. And Bibiel would always go on and on and on about how «All Marcins must like Chocapic! Because Marcin tastes like Chocapic! It’s impossible that you don’t. Why don’t you like Chocapic? Did you like Chocapic as a child?» Etc. etc. etc. He must’ve thought I was high on Chocapic, but he and my aunt divorced so we haven’t seen each other in years. 

    Even before Bibiel had any idea about spelling, books and stuff like that, she had lots of favourite words, and while she liked some (like miś) for their sound, she liked most for their synaesthetic associations. When some specific word or object was on her mind, she liked to speak as much as possible using words that felt similar to the original word that she was thinking about, or that were associated with the object she was thinking about, because I can have multiple synaesthetic associations with one object. There’s still one Mother’s Day card in our house that Bibiel made  and it has wishes for Mum on it that to most people would probably sound very odd to be written by a child (well it was the nursery teacher who wrote them but the idea was entirely Bibiel’s). It goes something like: «Mummy, I wish you were very happy, very sensitive, very zealous, very benevolent to Daddy and Olek, very patient, very kind, very caring, very bright, and that you wouldn’t be deceitful, fearful, gruff, boastful and argumentative». I of course don’t remember that list of adjectives by heart and what they were exactly, but I know that Bibiel associated all of them with a particular thing – my grandma’s necklace, and they all happen to rhyme in Polish, and it’s quite a large group of adjectives really. – When my Mum saw this she just snorted, and I think Bibiel felt a bit hurt that she was so unappreciative. 😀 

   On the other hand, there were words that Bibiel feared, for all kinds of reasons. There are still such words, for that matter. But one particularly ridiculous example that I remember vividly and that was so bad that even my family remembers it to this day, is how Bibiel was scared of the word traffic. The word traffic in Polish is peculiar because the word that means also means a couple other unrelated things, for example a bath plug. Bibiel feared the word traffic so much because one radio station at the time had a horrific jingle for their traffic news that Bibiel found really scary. And so then when it turned out that bath plugs have something to do with traffic, Bibiel became panically afraid of bath plugs. Bibiel wouldn’t even touch one, which, as you can imagine, made baths a little bit complicated. As far as I remember, Bibiel seriously thought that these are the same «traffics» as the ones on the roads – lines and lines of rubbery «traffics» making the gulping water sounds, plus the jingle sound blended somewhere into that. – Bibiel was scared that if she even moves that damn bath plug, let alone plugs it out or in, that traffic jingle is going to explode over the whole bathroom and… don’t know what. Kill her or something.

   So, if Bibiel wasn’t chattering about her synaesthesia, it was the sensory anxiety, because again, she thought everyone must at least dislike the sounds that she finds scary. In a way I still find it baffling that people just usually don’t care. 

   Bibiel had a huge, metal box, in which she kept all kinds of things. Mostly marbles and iron balls, of course, but also loads of other small objects that could fit in one palm comfortably. From natural things like chestnuts or cones, to some little bits and bobs from my Dad’s garage, to the aforementioned brace clips, old-fashioned clip-on earrings, or the agate necklace of my grandma’s that Bibiel loved so much that at some point she just gave it to Bibiel because she weren’t wearing it anymore and how could she not give it to Bibiel if Bibiel so clearly wanted it? The contents of this box varied throughout the years a fair bit. What did Bibiel do with all that? Well, Bibiel sat in the living room, and fidgeted with every single object from that box – either waving it between her fingers, or tossing up and down in her palm, or whatever felt most intuitive with a specific object. – And, to an outside observer, it was just that. Some crazy Bibiel sitting on the floor and wiggling various random objects in her fingers while mumbling something to herself. Except there was more to it, because all the while playing with these objects, Bibiel was making up some sort of story, using the various toys as inspiration for fun words to include in the story. The stories could be based on anything – whether it be something that happened to Bibiel, a fairytale she recently listened to, something she heard in church, a random idea or imagining that popped into her mind, something that someone said, whatever. – Since she usually had multiple words associations with each object, there were a lot of words to be drawn from them and to be used in such stories, and to provide sometimes unpredictable plot twists. But even when Bibiel didn’t have her box with her, she could still play in some different ways in her mind. She had absolute tons of various weird mental games that were to do with language. She learned the alphabet pretty quickly, even though she had no idea how words are written or anything, and had her favourite letters as well as such that she disliked and based some of those games around that. Others were again based on synaesthesia. I remember that in particular she loved finding words new to herself that felt to touch or tasted like some particular thing. I can recall her sitting in my grandad’s car with him and trying to think of as many words as possible that would taste like any kind of ice cream, enlisting grandad’s help, because obviously she thought he knew what she was talking about. I guess in the end he was trying to think of words similar to those that she had already accumulated in her ice cream words collection and that proved to be a good strategy because I think Bibiel did learn a couple new words  that ticked the criterion after all, in particular I remember Bibiel being in awe with the very ice-creamy name Arabella that she never heard before. 

   And you know what? I still do it. Well, some of my language brain games are very different, and I don’t utilise them quite as often, and I don’t have a huge box like Bibiel did, I only have one little plastic fishy, but now the details work a bit differently. Anyway, I still fidget with this little fish in my fingers while making up stories, but I only do it when I’m alone and I’m sure that no one sees it. It’s really fun, you should try that too. They don’t even have to make much sense, although ideally they should at least seem like they do. My parents never understood what I was actually doing with that, and they don’t know that I still do. I mean, my Mum knows that I take the fish with me everywhere I go for longer than a day, but she thinks it’s just emotional, like that I just like her so much for whatever reason and can’t part with her. Well, in a way, yes, so I don’t tell her otherwise. My Dad had told me that he once asked Bibiel what she was doing while she was playing. Obviously she said «Playing». He asked how she was playing and if he could play too. Bibiel graciously allowed and he sat next to her, presumably waiting for instructions, but Bibiel already started playing again, not bothering about him. After a while, as Dad was sitting there observing her, she turned to him and, according to him, said: «You can’t play, you human you!» I have absolutely no recollection of that, but it cracked me up and since he told me that I always refer to him as «you human you» when he annoys me or something. 

   Okay, I think that’s already far more than enough about Bibiel for one day. Now I want to hear about your childhood selves. What were you like? Do you like yourself from when you were a child? Were you much different at all? 

Question of the day.

   If you were around before cell phones, what did you do while sitting on the toilet? 

   My answer: 

   Cell phones have become a part of my family’s life in about mid 2000’s I believe, that’s when my parents got themselves their first cell phones although I guess my Dad must have had some kind of work cell phone before that because I don’t recall him ever not having one. For me though, I only got my first phone in 2009, so practically I definitely was around before cell phones. What did I do on the toilet? Nothing I guess, except for the obvious stuff that you do there, which ensured that I did my business quickly without blocking the toilet for longer than necessary and getting engrossed in something interesting like my family routinely do these days. I would usually just occupy myself with my own thoughts, daydreams or some other kind of imaginings. Now that I think of it, I recall that when I was very little, I liked to imagine that I was giving birth to a baby whenever I was pooping. 😀 I often liked to compare some situations in my life or stuff that I was doing to something that I thought must be kind of similar but more interesting. So even though, unlike a lot of other girls at my nursery/preschool, I wasn’t particularly into babies, I still found giving birth more interesting and more spectacular than pooping. Other times, when my sensory anxiety got really bad, I’d just focus on trying not to get all consumed by it. A toilet is one of the places where it can be particularly problematic because it’s quiet and not particularly brain stimulating. Sometimes as a way of distracting myself I’d sing or talk to myself while on the loo, which worked barely but was always something. 

   My Mum often reads on the toilet, even now when she has a cell phone, we still have like a whole container in there that’s full of books and magazines that my family considers good toilet reads, which, unlike what you might perhaps think, isn’t always synonymous with light reads. It’s usually my Mum who reads them, though others sometimes do too, and if my Mum considers something a useful and important read for everyone, she’ll throw it in there. But personally I’ve never read a physical book on the toilet, I guess it’s less practical with Braille books. 😀 At some point, largely due to my loo fears, my Dad installed a radio in the bathroom, which would turn on and off with the light switch, and stranger people would often get scared by it when visiting us. So since then we could listen to the radio while in the toilet, or while having a bath. Later on, when my music taste has quirked and my grip on what’s trendy and popular with most people has started to loosen visibly, one of my school friends teased me that the only time I have contact with « normal » music is when I sit on the loo. FYI that’s totally not true, but oh well. 😀 

   Then when I got my first book player for the blind (a Polish one called Czytak NPN), I would sometimes take it to the toilet with me, either when I knew I’d be staying there for a longer while, or when I was particularly creepified, or just read a cool book that I didn’t want to unglue myself from. I still do the same with my PlexTalk, the book player that I use currently. 

   But honestly, even now it isn’t really some very strong habit of mine to go to the toilet with the phone. Sometimes when I’m alone at home I’ll sit on the loo with headphones on while listening to some YouTube video or podcast playing from the phone, but that’s not very often. Probably part of why I don’t do it as much as people seem to do is because for me it’s most comfortable to use my phone with an external keyboard/Braille display, and while I can do without one, it’s not quite as fun and things take me a lot longer to do, not to mention that typing on the screen is a nightmare for me and I totally don’t get how many other blind folks don’t have a problem with it, and no, Braille Screen Input (basically iPhone screen simulating a Braille keyboard) doesn’t do it for me, so if I don’t have to, I don’t do it. I am more likely to take my phone with me when having a bath, which is not too often as these days we do showers more often. Then I like to play music from it, because while we still have a radio in the bathroom, I think it’s nicer to listen to something that actually has some significance to you while having such a fun thing as a bath. Sometimes, when I’m particularly creeped out, or just want to have a really chill, long bath, I even take my Bluetooth speaker with me and hang it on the bathroom door and play the music through it as that’s obviously a lot nicer than through phone speaker, but that would be super unpractical for just going to the loo. 

   How about your toilet activities pre cell phones? 

Elin Grace – “Breathe”.

Hey people! 🙂 

   The song I have for you today is quite special, because it hasn’t been officially released yet, and I don’t think I’ve ever done that before on here that I’d share something ahead of its release. It’s also special because there’s so much for me to like about it, as it’s by a Welsh singer, all about mental health, and just sounds very good to me. 

   It comes from Elin Grace – a very interesting independent singer and songwriter – who is about to release her debut EP in two weeks’ time, and “Breathe” is the lead single from it, which will come out a week before the EP, on 16 September. 

   When I first heard it, it immediately sparked my attention, not just because Elin is Welsh, from Llandrindod Wells more exactly, and I’m sure that you all or at least the regular people on here know that I love Welsh music and try to follow what’s going on on the Welsh music scene, but also because this song struck me as very authentic and raw where the lyrics are concerned. And I really appreciate people who can make music that is genuine, that expresses their true, complex feelings or talks about difficult experiences in a candid or even raw way, because it lets me get to know them better, and I just am like this that whenever I listen to a song/album or read a book, I wonder who’s the person behind it and what they are like, so when someone is authentic like that it gives me more of a picture and lets me get to know them a little bit better. That’s also why I like to listen to music by people who write both their music and lyrics themselves, which is  the case with Elin. Besides, I’m sure it isn’t easy at all to let it all out like that and expose some very deep, vulnerable, fearful bit of oneself to the listener – so basically some totally random peep whom you don’t even know. – And for us as listeners, such songs have the potential to be highly relatable, despite paradoxically being very personal at the same time. And I have a feeling that Elin’s whole EP, not just this song, has such potential. 

   “Breathe” was written by Elin when she was eighteen, and it reflects her own struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. Mental health is a recurring topic on this EP, but tis particular song deals with it very explicitly, as we have the lyrical subject here who clearly is experiencing a panic attack, finding it difficult to breathe and trying to manage it by hiding in a chicken shed. As someone with mental illnesses and a mental health blogger, I like how Elin tackles this topic head on, describing it very vividly. While my own anxiety generally looks different from that of the lyrical subject’s, as it’s more of the lingering, always somewhere in the background variety rather than panicky and gripping you all of a sudden, the latter certainly sounds very familiar as well. 

   Musically, the inspiration was that cool keyboard riff we can hear in the second and last chorus that Elin came up with, which was the base for the whole melody. I like how, in a bit of a contrast to the angsty-themed lyrics, there is something oddly soothing and almost cosy to this song and Elin’s smooth yet strong vocals, and the song ends on a more peaceful note as well. Elin is a classically trained pianist who seems to enjoy and draw inspirations from many different genres, and  it shows in this song. 

   I am definitely looking forward to seeing Bee Without Wings come out and plan to spend some time with it once it does, so perhaps I’ll end up sharing something else from it at some point as well. It is also going to handle such topics as love, coming of age or self-esteem. 

   What I think is also worth mentioning is that Elin has previously supported another young Welsh indie folk singer – Mari Mathias – whom I also really like. She has also been compared to the great English singer Laura Marling whom I like as well, and she does indeed sound a bit similar. 

Question of the day (8th September).

   What are small problems you have daily? 

   My answer: 

   The first thing that comes to my mind is definitely peopling. I have all kinds of problems around peopling, big and small. But, to mention a small one, I always have a problem deciding if saying or doing something when interacting with someone is okay. I always overthink it massively and end up making the conclusion that either way it can potentially be seen as rude or something like that. Like today, I was thinking a lot about an interaction I’ve been having with someone, and had a bucket load of dilemmas. Should I ask them this question, or will they think it’s daft or intrusive? But if I don’t ask anything, it’ll seem like I’m generally uninterested and don’t care. How should I respond to this? Will this message even sound coherent to someone else than me? etc. etc. etc. All kinds of things. That’s why I say that online communication doesn’t always necessarily make it easier for me to talk to people. Especially if I write to someone new, I proofread a flipping three-line message ten times, and then sit in front of it for five minutes scared of sending it. Other times, I tell myself I think about it too much and no one does it and I should do whatever my gut feeling tells me, and only ruminate afterwards, and often regret something as well, because as much as I generally find my intuition to be very helpful, it isn’t necessarily so helpful when it comes to interactions with people, so if I go with my gut feeling I often end up either revealing myself more than I’d like or seeming very stiff. It’s not always what people will think of me type of dilemmas but also what’s appropriate more practically, like what people generally do in such and such situation, or finding a sort of balance when interacting with people so that you don’t do something too much or too little. So what I often do is I ask my Mum for advice and ask her all kinds of dumb questions. She isn’t always able to help, because she hasn’t always been in the same situations or because she just doesn’t get my perspective, but very often she can help at least a bit. When my  friend Jacek from Helsinki was still a part of this world and when we got a bit closer to each other, I would often also ask him, because he was an extreme extrovert and always knew what to do when peopling and was very successful at it, but at the same time he could understand my difficulties fairly well despite that, I would even ask him about in person peopling and whether something I did looked alright or not so much, or whether something wouldn’t draw too much attention etc. and he’d generally have more distance than my Mum so his input could be very valuable. I often also learn about such things from books and observing people. But while it is all helpful, I still deal with a lot of problems around peopling every single day. Many of them I’m so used to that I don’t even consciously think about them very often as problems, but I probably would if I, say, had a job that would involve me interacting with people a lot, and would require what they call soft skills these days. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   Which song sounds normal to people, but for you, for some reason, it sounds creepy? 

   My answer: 

   No, I haven’t actually thought about asking you this question myself, I just found it online and it sounded like it well could have been me asking it, because I experience that with a lot of songs, and I wonder if other people have that too and with which songs. Even if the experience itself is totally different than it is for me, because for me it’s kind of “sensory” and I don’t know many people who have a similar thing going on with creepy sounds as me. Nevertheless, regardless of the way in which someone might experience such creeps and the reasons or origins of that, I’m simply curious. 

   While there sure are such songs that I find creepy because there’s something rather objective that’s off about them that some people notice or pay attention to and others just don’t, mostly when I think of songs, or any sounds really, as “creepy” I actually mean creepy as in my so-called “sensory/silence/sound anxiety” way. This means that they’re creepy for me in a way that I often can’t even describe properly, and I usually realise that they wouldn’t be creepy for most people, or really I guess anyone else at all. It’s just that when I hear them, I get like a sudden rush of adrenaline in my brain and everything feels just off and extremely scary and I feel overwhelmed and all the creepiness of that sound or cluster of sounds or song or whatever it might be is just aimed directly at me. It often feels like it’s just seething with aggression and something evil, and outwardly it may be just a very calm-sounding thing or totally neutral and unobtrusive for other people. It’s almost like there’s some special creepy message in there just for Bibiel, and someone has actually once suggested to me that, since I get these creeps a lot with all sorts of jingles or commercials or stuff like that and get that feeling of it being directed at me and being aggressive, I could be somehow weirdly sensitive to subliminal messaging. And it in a way made sense to me but not all of the things I’m creeped out by are these kinds of sounds, if I’m particularly jittery and hyper-alert or something even people talking in a specific intonation can set me off. Or, like, a few years back, to my horror, I discovered that there’s a language that, for some reason, I find kind of scary. I just totally cannot explain it and it’s absolutely crazy, and I assure you that it’s not like I have anything against that language or people who speak it or anything, it just makes me feel really weird when I hear it. This language is guaraní. I mean, how can a language as such have subliminal messaging in it? It would have to be hidden in phonemes and that just makes no sense at all. And why would it be guaraní, out of all the freaking languages in the world? 😀 I don’t know why I have this thing going on and part of me would really like to know, but I suppose it must actually be several different factors, because the whole thing that I call sensory anxiety are actually several different things that kind of overlap and influence each other. When I hear something creepy like that, it’ll be coming back to me in a rather intrusive way, like when it’s quiet or I am not focused on anything specific, or it’ll develop a scary personification who will visit me in my next sleep paralysis episode. And when I get creeped out by one thing, it takes me from a couple days to weeks to recover and sort of desensitise from it, and if I get sleep paralysis in the meantime it obviously makes things worse so then I need more time to desensitise, and during that time I’m often more prone to being creeped out by something else because it’s a bit like everything feels creepy and my senses are on high alert as if I was expecting something really awful to happen any minute, because in a way it’s true that I sort of am. And with some sounds I just never recover and there are such that I’ve been deadly scared of ever since I was a ridiculously young child, and some I haven’t even heard in ages but still it feels like I remember them very clearly. 

   So, rather than focusing on songs that are creepy to me in a way that I guess is more objective, I thought I’d tell you about a very innocent song that once creeped me out as a kid in that more subjective way. I’ve long recovered from that since and don’t even remember exactly what that song sounded  in the version I heard, and I think I’d actually almost forgotten about it but quite recently heard someone mentioning this song and the memory of me being creeped out by it came back to me quite clearly. Which makes it the perfect topic for this post, because I’ve actually been struggling with sensory anxiety  a lot on and off for over a month now because I’ve been getting sleep paralyses all the time lately, and wouldn’t like to make it worse myself by talking about any active or recent creeps, the more that I’m actually home alone so it would be literally asking for trouble. 😀 

   This song is… a nursery rhyme! An English nursery rhyme. Ten Green Bottles, more exactly. 😀 (Wonder what subliminal messaging is in there.) I was twelve when I first heard it, and it was shortly after I’d come back to the blind school, after having left it for an inclusion school for two years. It was obviously a difficult time for me emotionally because change and because school 😀 and then as soon as I more or less dealt with the emotional stuff, I remember the sensory anxiety hit me extremely hard and quite out of the blue, it was so hard it was actually difficult to function with it because I was constantly on tenterhooks and either overstimulated with the sounds around me or even simply a lot of stuff going on, or understimulated and flooded with stimuli from the inside, and it was just super annoying because it wouldn’t go away or lessen for ages no matter what I did, and I felt like I was going totally crazy. I think it was Teacher’s Day, so 14th October here, in any case we didn’t have any real lessons and at some point we were just sitting in our classroom and talking and there was some CD playing in the background that must have gone along with some English textbook or something I suppose. I’m pretty sure the CD wasn’t even what we were using for actual English learning because if it had Ten Green Bottles on it then it was quite a fair bit below 4th grade level. 😀 Someone had probably just put it on to make an impression that we were actually learning something. And I was sitting there mostly quietly and listening to what my classmates were talking about, feeling on high alert like always then, and then at some point that song started playing. It wasn’t any spectacular, massive creepout like some I’ve experienced that would make me freeze or anything, but it immediately struck me as really odd and creepy. I only remember that it was sung by a man, and that it was its arrangement that felt creepy for some reason. And then as I kept hearing it, it kept feeling creepier and creepier and I couldn’t get my attention off it, so that even the lyrics started to seem weird to me.  I guess usually in this song the bottles are “hanging on the wall” but I’m pretty sure that in that one they were “standing”, or else I misunderstood it, because I can vividly recall thinking that that must’ve been some weird wall if something can stand on it. Back then I would only understand the English word wall as in a wall in the house, between the rooms, rather than just any brick structure, and so I could hardly imagine anything standing on a wall. And there was the sound of the bottles breaking as they kept falling down to the floor, and I thought that was kind of creepy too that they keep falling like that, “accidentally”.

   Once I get creeped out by something, it’s really easy for my brain to find other creepy things, the more that I often start overthinking on it and how come it feels so creepy. Im pretty sure that if I was in a normal brainstate and not already creeped out by everything, this song wouldn’t really make any impression at all on me, it doesn’t really have a creepy melody or harmony or anything and the fact that I don’t even remember that arrangement anymore speaks for itself pretty much, but that’s how it is once such a chain of creeps starts. 

   Now you share your creeps, if you have any. 🙂 

Question of the day.

   How are you today? 

   My answer: 

   I’m definitely better than I was, say, even on Friday, but this whole week has been a bit crappy for me, mentally at least. I’ve been having loads of sensory anxiety stuff going on lately and feeling quite emotional for some unspecified reason, or perhaps actually for lots of different reasons, depending on from which angle you look at it, with self-harm urges on top of that, and now that all these things have quietened downn a little bit, mostly I’d say I’m just kind of blah. Usually Misha helps me a lot with the sensory anxiety, but now that the prozac is flushed out of his system for good, he’s become quite wired again as is typical at this time of the year, so he doesn’t really sleep in my room all that much or spend much time with me. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   What is something that drastically improved your mental health? 

   My answer: 

   Well, I could focus on several different things, as there have been many things that I’ve found helpful for my mental health over the years, some to a significant extent. But the most important one I think, it’s not something but someone. It’s Misha. Misha has helped me so much. In a way, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to form such a very strong bond with anyone as I have with Misha. This has been a very interesting experience, and also a very healing one, to feel so very strongly about someone and at the same time not experience any sort of anxiety or insecurity around such relationship, unlike what has been the case with all kinds of my closer human relationships. Well, I am scared of Misha dying and I suppose that’s quite out of proportion, but that’s an unavoidable part and risk of all relationships really. Other than that, I feel very safe in my relationship with Misha, and I want him to feel the same. I also feel kind of less lonely with Misha. I’ve never really been one to complain about loneliness, I know how to cope with your typical loneliness and it’s not much of a problem for me. But the sort of loneliness that I experience and struggle with more strongly isn’t something that being around others can help with a lot, in fact often it feels even stronger when I’m around other people because it can sometimes be fuelled by stuff like feelings of inadequacy. It’s a strong, gnawing feeling that’s really difficult to get rid of in any way, something that comes from within rather than from being alone and feeling sad or frustrated or bored in this situation. And, well, Misha hasn’t magically freed me from this, but when I look back at the time when I didn’t have him, it’s really clear that having him has made some difference in this aspect. I find Misha’s presence especially comforting at night when I’m struggling with this. He doesn’t sleep with me every night, but he will usually come of his own accord if I really really need him. His presence is also very comforting for me in dealing with these lonely feelings when I can have him close by when there are a lot of people. Perhaps because Misha doesn’t like peopling very much either, so I know he feels similarly and this makes me feel less alone and like I have someone who gets me, and someone who is, like me, though for totally different reasons, perceived as different from the rest of the individuals socialising in a given situation, so that we are both outside. Misha is outside and different because he’s a cat, so he can’t speak human, understands things differently and all that jazz, for many people from extended family he’s even weird for a cat because he’s apparently very different from all the cats they know who purr nice and loud and aren’t scared of every slight movement or something being placed somewhere else than it usually is and come obediently when you call something like pussy or kitty kitty whereas you have to call Mish Mish for Misha because that’s what we’ve taught him, and even then he’ll come when he wants, though personally I suppose the latter is what most cats do. I am outside and different because I can’t do peopling like most people expect their fellow people to be able to do it, I am blind, which makes a huge difference for a lot of people in how they see you, plus it means I am outside of a large portion of their non-verbal communication and my perception of things is quite different, just as it is the case with Misha. I can’t always have Misha close to me while peopling, even when we’re peopling at our house, because Misha obviously doesn’t care about people’s rules and won’t necessarily want to be there with me, or if he does, it’s usually for a very short time, unless there’s yummy food and people provide him with the kind of attention that he likes. But he’ll often be close to me at the start of various family gatherings, so that I can often come into the room with Misha on my shoulder, hearing his purr. It’s funny, actually, because this is the only situation when he sits on my shoulder and many people find it impressive like my grandad thinks we must have some miraculous connection if I can go around carrying him on my shoulder like that. 😀 This way, people’s attention focuses on Misha, whereas I feel calmer having him close to me. Then after a while he’ll usually sneak out to the kitchen or go up on the radiator into his basket, and then when my brain battery is low and I go to my room, he’ll always follow me and we’ll recharge together, as he tends to find all the people noise and the unwanted kind of attention especially from children quite overwhelming and needs a lot of sleep.

   When I’m having a particularly hard time due to depression, Misha can sometimes be the only thing that will motivate me to get out of bed really. I don’t know how I did it before Misha! When I’m not overly depressed, I really enjoy waking up to Misha’s sweet “Hhrrru?” Which is how he greets people. I love talking to him first thing in the morning, giving him his food and cuddling him for a while if he’s up to it. It’s really the best start for the day you could imagine. Some people are surprised that I don’t mind and even want to sleep with him and then have to let him out of my room in the morning at such insane hours as 3 AM sometimes, hardly any later than 6 AM, my Mum says it’s like having a baby. Perhaps it is, but I really don’t mind getting up and letting him out, and unlike with a baby, I can go right back to bed if I want and sleep to my brain’s content or even longer, or I can let him out without actually waking up, just on autopilot. 

   But most of all I think Misha has helped me with anxiety. Especially the more panicky/acute types of anxiety like my typical sensory anxiety aka sound/silence anxiety. It is such a relief having Misha at home in this respect. It doesn’t solve the problem completely, though I really doubt there’s anything that can always do it with 100% effectivity but Misha helps to varying extent every single time. I think this type of anxiety that I have must work similarly to fear of the dark that many young children experience, which I base on that I believe that silence and darkness are similar phenomena in a way, and that Sofi, who still deals with fear of the dark a lot even though she’s a teenager, seems to have a lot of similar experiences around it, though that could also be of course due to that we’re sisters and experience some things similarly. Anyways, while in general I’d say Sofi’s fear is thankfully milder than mine because she only experiences it at night, not in all kinds of dark conditions, and nothing else triggers it other than darkness at night, there’s one thing in which I really feel for Sofi regarding her anxiety. Misha doesn’t help her at all. In fact sometimes he even adds to her discomfort because he can be so quiet and creep her out if he’s in her room and she can’t see him. And I think that really sucks. For me, there are times when Misha can make a world of difference and allow me to fall asleep at all or alleviate my anxiety enough that I don’t need my PRN anxiety medication. I feel a lot safer when I’m at home with Misha vs just on my own. Even when he’s not directly in the same room as myself can sometimes make a glimmer of difference, knowing that he still is somewhere in the house. Sometimes when some creepy sound or a sleep paralysis episode triggers this type of anxiety for me bad enough, I have trouble with such seemingly unrelated things like being in the bathroom, whether as in in the loo, or showering. It’s really difficult to explain the connectioon and the whole sensory anxiety thing in general, but when I’m in this particular freak out mode it’s like everything seems murkily scary to me, it’s a really weird experience to describe with lots of different dimensions to it I’d say. But in such situations, having Misha with me in the bathroom, laying on the radiator while I’m showering, can help a little, or in the latter stages of the freakout phase quite a lot. We have a radio in the bathroom but it never helps half as much as Misha does when the world goes all creepy. Speaking of sleep paralysis, Misha can help that too, though of course for that to be possible, he has to be in the room with me. He has frequently gotten me out of a beginning sleep paralysis dream in the morning by frantically crying, hhrrru?’ing and scratching the door to let him out. I always thought it’s just a coincidence that he frequently happens to do that right when I’m floating away, but then I had a nap a few times during the day with Misha in my room. I don’t like taking naps because they dysregulate myy sleep cycle even further than it normally is and because they’re more likely to start or end with sleep paralysis, so I only nap if I really have to or if it just happens involuntarily while I lay on the bed for a while with Misha and we both drift off. Well, and I have happened to drift off to sleep paralysis in the middle of the day with Misha either next to me or at my feet, and every single of those times I woke up feeling Misha tickling my foot with his paw, as he sometimes does playfully. Now I don’t know whether Misha has some extreme superpower of sensing sleep paralysis in humans which even fellow humans are typically unable to figure out and think you’re just sleeping heavily, or perhaps he simply saw me wriggling my toes, as people sometimes do in their sleep, and which I do in sleep paralysis if I am able to because I discovered that it can slow down the initial floating/drifting and alleviate this sensation which I really hate, and if I wriggle them to a specific side it lets me float in a specific direction rather than being aimlessly thrown around dreamland until I reach the one and only right destination, and sometimes even the right toe move at the right moment lets me wake up. Misha, like most cats I presume, likes things that move, and he likes to make out with people’s legs whenever he’s only allowed, which is never but he never loses hope and perhaps he just thought my toe wriggling was an invitation and the tickling was some sort of foreplay. Regardless though, I’m glad that as it seems Misha is able to wake me up from this at the right moment before everything starts for good. It’s just quite shitty that he rarely is there when this is happening. 

   How about you? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   Have you ever experienced phone anxiety? How do you deal with it? 

   My answer: 

   For me, this is definitely something that i experience regularly, pretty much with any kind of phone call I have to make or answer. I’ve heard that apparently phone anxiety is so common because people don’t see the face of the person they’re talking to, which is quite ridiculous in my case given that I am blind, and in theory I should probably be more comfortable with phone calls because I hate people assuming what I’m thinking or feeling based on what they thhink my facial expression is, but I think in my case the phone anxiety is just an extension of my usual social anxiety or something like that. Except for some reason the phone anxiety is worse, because in most instances, I’d much rather talk to someone in person than on the phone. One of few exceptions is my Godmother, interacting withh whom I find quite challenging, but on the phone it’s slightly easier to keep some sort of script, or cut the conversation short when it’s going in a direction I don’t like. Also with people I’m close to, I usually don’t mind either way, though talking on the phone with my Dad can get pretty awkward, but not in a way that would be anxiety-provoking. 

   How do I deal? Well, I avoid making phone calls as much as I can. I never answer calls from people I don’t have a clue who they are, unless I’m expecting a call from someone I don’t know. If I have a choice to do something over phone vs online or in person, most of the time I choose the latter, unless there’s some specific situation where phone indeed has some advantage over the other option, like doing something online is not very accessible or reaching someone via phone is more likely to result in something happening faster thann when reaching them via email. And of course I have my Mum who is my spokesperson, and if I absolutely have to make or answer a phone call and absolutely cannot do it, then my Mum does it for me. When I do have to make or answer a phone call, I try not to dwell too much on it in advance, but I also never do it completely spontaneously, I always have to have some kind of script planned at least vaguely, and sometimes I even write notes in advance. 

   How about you? If you have experienced it, is it something you deal with consistently, or just in specific situations, or is it something you used to deal with but no longer do? 

Y Bandana – “Byth yn Gadael y Ty” (Never Leave the House).

Hey people! 🙂

Today I have for you another dose of Welsh rock. Since one of the members of Y Bandana was Gwilym Bowen Rhys (one of my faza peeps) I’ve shared a few songs from this band before. But in case you haven’t heard about them before I’ll say that they were, similarly to Y Trŵbz whose song I shared yesterday, largely a family-based group, consisting of two brothers (Tomos and Siôn Owens) their aforementioned cousin Gwilym Bowen Rhys, and Gwilym’s school friend Robin Llwyd Jones. They started it out as teenagers and were very popular on the Welsh-language music scene especially with young people and quite characteristic for their catchy melodies and funny, often a bit cheeky lyrics. The band is however no longer a thing since a few years, as they’ve all moved on to different things that they do with their lives. While with Gwilym I’m mostly fascinated by all his folk-related activity, I also really like Y Bandana’s music as well and they’re one of the very first Welsh rock arts that I listened to and that got me deeper into this over time.

A lot of their lyrics sound interesting, but I often have a bit of trouble getting them fully, I guess because there’s a lot of such slang words and contractions and stuff that I haven’t been familiarised with yet. I still have trouble with them even though it’s been over five years if I’m counting right ever since I’ve got the faza on Gwilym. This song is one of those that I’ve been particularly interested in, because I myself am someone who believes that if you have a house, a room that you love, that you put a lot of effort into making it your own space and the way you like it, what’s the point of leaving it unless you absolutely, necessarily have to? And I was curious what’s their (I guess they wrote lyrics collaboratively) reason for not leaving the house.

So while I understand far from everything here, I’ll share with you what I do understand. I believe he (that’s how we’ll be referring to the lyrical subject for simplicity’s sake) feels a bit ambivalent about staying at home all the time, and has a fair bit of distance to it. That feels pretty clear even with all the gaps I have in understanding it. He says he has too much free time, and spends his time sitting in front of the telly, playing football (I guess, or perhaps more like playing with a football but not necessarily playing football as such, I’m not sure), staring at the screen for hours and avoiding thinking about the homework he has to do. I’m not sure if I’m right but it seems to me that he’s not necessarily happy with his monotonous and unproductive lifestyle. He says that he’s never liked going out, and clearly considers staying at home a better option because even when it’s raining outside, it’s always nice at home and you don’t have to care about weather conditions. There’s also some girl in the picture that he’s crushing on or something but it’s tricky as you can imagine. He’s trying to “follow” her, but “it’s too sudden/abrupt” for him, whatever that might mean. So the thing with the girl also makes him feel rather unhappy in his situation and he wants to be with her or something but doesn’t want to go out of his comfort zone. Moreover, I’m not really getting that sentence entirely but he’s concerned that it won’t last more than a day but I’m not sure what – his feelings to her once they start dating, her feelings to him, their relationship…? – He has a devil on his one shoulder and an angel on another and they’re telling him what to do. The devil tells him to go out and the angel tells him not to dare.

So yeah, we had some songs on my blog that I said in my opinion could be good candidates for an introverts’ anthem or something like that, and perhaps this song could make it as a relatable anthem for agoraphobics, or hikikomori people.

Question of the day (27th October).

What do you wish was easier?

My answer:

All things round peopling/socialising. I seriously don’t know how most people are so efficient at it when it’s so damn difficult.

You? 🙂

Ruelle ft. Fleurie – “Carry You”.

Hey guys! 🙂

This song is the third, and last, at least for now, from Ruelle that I’m gonna share with you. But despite I saved it as the last one to share with you, I actually like it most of these three, and this is the very first song by Ruelle that I was introduced to. I heard it for the first time when I had an extremely shitty day anxiety-wise and I found the lyrics really soothing, and the song overall is so beautiful and amazing. As it happens, if I got it correctly, this one is also part of the Shadowhunters soundtrack, just like War of Hearts I shared earlier.

Question of the day.

What’s an insignificant thing that triggers the shit out of you?

My answer:

I have a lot of anxieties and anxiety triggers that I guess most people would consider quite insignificant. I guess the most prime example though are some sounds/combinations of sounds/words that really crip me out in a sensory way. The degree to which they trigger me will depend on how I’m doing overall and the context and probably some other things, and also there are creepy sounds/words that are less scary than others, but it can feel really nasty. I guess usually people won’t be able to spot when this is going on. As a small kid I would start shrieking when something sensorily creeped me out particularly badly and a few times it made me feel freakishly weak physically and it was like one moment I’d be standing, and before I even fully realised what was going on I was sitting on the floor ’cause my legs were so wobbly haha, and I felt like I was going to faint or something. These days however, it most often just makes me freeze. Which perhaps works better in social situations as it’s more socially appropriate than screaming your lungs out and is more discreet so every random peep doesn’t need to know that “Wow, this creeps Bibiel out, good to know!” 😀 but other than that it stinks because even if I could extricate myself out of the triggery situation with no problem, I practically can’t because my brain’s stuck in a weird kind of limbo thing pretty much until the triggering stimulus goes away. And then it’s too late because my brain has already absorbed it and is going to be throwing it at me of its own accord, without the need for the external stimulus being present, until I basically either will eventually become kind of less sensitive to it or totally desensitised, or until it has something more interesting to throw at me, or unless I can manage to provide it enough distraction/other sensory stimuli that don’t creep me out. I suppose it’s a lot like hallucinations (actually when I was a kid that was what my Dad thought it was) except I know when I hear it for real and when not, but there’s still some irrational element to it. Like, I’m not just scared of the sound itself, I also have a strong feeling that something real real scary will happen while I’ll hear it, whether in the real world or in my brain. I wouldn’t be able to say what this potential scary event could be, but it could be anything, doesn’t even have to be realistically possible at all, could be a freakin’ zombie apocalypse, feels just as likely as anything in such situation. The fact that, so far, over the entire course of my life, nothing major has happened directly in connection with these stimuli, other than me being creeped out and all the fun consequences of it, doesn’t mean anything, because everything might still be to come. Sometimes these creepy sounds also automatically come with some kind of personifications associated with them, that are very basic and two-dimensional but this makes it feel even more realistic a threat. Especially if they appear in my sleep paralysis dreams, as they tend to, at least some of them.

This is also why silence is another insignificant thing that triggers the shit out of me, because it provides tons of occasions for my brain to throw its half-digested, auditory shit at me. And the sounds that can creep me out can be really, really insignificant and objectively inconspicuous, most of the time it’s hardly creepy for anyone and is totally neutral, but when I hear it, I have a very strong feeling like it’s just seething with aggression, or evil, and that it’s directed right at me. They can be words that are totally random for normal people, sequences of sounds in music, small bits of songs or entire songs, rarely single sounds and if so they would typically have to be rather elaborate or something, a lot of very specific sounds. As a kid, I would get particularly frequently scared of things like jingles, commercials etc. mostly music in them, later on also election commercials or however they’re called, I don’t even think this is the thing in all countries. It is a really weird phenomenon because there are a LOT of blind children who I know were scared of some jingle or ad at some point, each of different ones, of course, mostly around preschool age. This is freaky and I wish someone did some research on that at some point but I guess other than being very niche it would be quite difficult because it’s so specific to a person and I don’t think there are any rules or anything as to what kind of jingles have a higher likelihood of being creepy or not, I mean I could probably think of some criteria for myself, but it’s different from person to person at least from what I have noticed. However most people grow out of it at some point and to me it still happens (my Mum once said it’s because my brains are gonna be forever young hehehe) and there are still a few old jingles that are even no longer in use since like fifteen years that my brain still remembers very exactly and likes to throw at me out of the blue, and it just goes beyond my cognitive abilities to think why those people came up with such evil jingles and what they must have been thinking or what sort of people they must be to have such utterly evil ideas. It is this jingles thing that made some (sighted) folks around me think that perhaps I pick up on some subliminal stuff and that it’s this what creeps me out about them, haha and feels evil. 😀 This is all freakishly difficult to explain to people in a sensible way.

Another such thing that I can think of right now that triggers me pretty badly sometimes is when people diminish other people’s trauma and I happen to witness it or something. This is so weird because I myself have had some shitty experiences in life that I think have increased my risk for getting mental illness and eventually contributed in some smaller or bigger part to it developing, but while in my subjective experience it was really difficult, I don’t like thinking about it as traumatic, because there are SO many trauma survivors out there, and I call my experience trauma, then what should people with stuff like CPTSD call theirs? I think what has largely contributed to things having been as difficult for me as they were is lack of resilience, plus some other things thrown in the mix, not that my experiences as such were traumatic in nature. There are plenty of people who have been through similar things and are doing just fine. I suppose it’s quite difficult to figure out what is and what isn’t trauma. Yet, with that all being said, when I hear people talk about/to someone else, about how this person’s trauma isn’t valid, despite there being evidence that they have been through something that has been really stressful for them in a way that has impacted their life in a major way and despite them showing actual signs of trauma, this can really trigger me. Both in that I feel really upset or even angry about how this person is treated, and also because some of my own brain stuff gets stirred and starts boiling all over again and I don’t like how it makes me feel. I guess we could say that I find witnessing emotional invalidation in general triggering.

What are such seemingly mini triggers for you, be it for anxiety, phobias, trauma, or whatever else they might trigger? 🙂

Question of the day.

How are you feeling today?

My answer:

A bit jittery or stressed or something, and I don’t even know why. I was feeling pretty neutral in the morning, maybe slightly blah, but for the last half an hour or so I’ve been getting some increasing antsy feeling as if something bad was going to happen even though I don’t know what it could possibly be. I get such a feeling regularly so it’s most likely false alarm. I had a freakish migraine on Monday which totally put me out of action for the whole day, and I was still feeling a bit off yesterday after it (it’s weird how a day of lying in bed and mostly sleeping could wipe you out so much), but I’ve regenerated properly by now so physically I’m feeling a whole lot better.

How about you? How’s your life going today? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is something that sounds safe but actually isn’t?

My answer:

Registering somewhere online. ANYWHERE! Creating an account. Especially when they want your email! 😱 It’s like opening yourself to evil because you let all them companies and big tech people invigilate and track you and eavesdrop on you and read your most important emails (even the ones you didn’t send ’cause they were too cringey but still keep in drafts) and probably even your thoughts because they always show you the ads of things you’ve been thinking about recently! It’s not just Facebook and Google (although of course Google is the worst and responsible for all the catastrophes in the world) but everything, even small businesses which want you to log in on their website, they actually sell your data to China and God knows what else they do with it. 😀

That’s what my Dad recently shared with me. My Dad is slightly, well, perhaps more than slightly, backwards when it comes to technology, but he has no shame about it, and he doesn’t have to because he has Bibiel to deal with that when it comes to his work stuff, and other than work stuff, he only uses his computer to watch YouTube (I don’t think he realises it’s actually Google), go on Marine Traffic, which is also kind of to do with his job as he delivers fuel to ships among others, browse the Internet (using Bing), “travel” (with Google Maps, which he’s perfectly aware of, but oh well), go on OLX (which is like a Polish equivalent of eBay (logging in from Mum’s account, or rather not logging out), and sometimes watching some regional online TV and stuff like that. He also has an (Android) smartphone (from China) and to his credit he had a smartphone LOOONG before I did, but the only smart functionality of it that he uses is (paradoxically) Google Assistant, when he needs to look something up on the phone on the web, because asking Google is faster than typing. Oh and he also uses some app for translating in real time when he interacts with people at work who speak other languages, which I’m sure also uses Google Translate and Google speech recognition system, so… Somehow when it comes to the phone it doesn’t bother him so much that he uses Google as the search engine, and although I tell him that repeatedly, he still doesn’t seem to fully grasp or accept or something that his phone’s system is actually from Google.

He does NOT have an email address, well, to be exact he has several and with different providers, probably even more than I do, which either Mum or me or Sofi or Olek helped him create, but he doesn’t use any of them because (a) he doesn’t know how and doesn’t have the patience to learn, and (b) he doesn’t remember his passwords, or he doesn’t remember where he put the piece of paper where he wrote the password down. Back when he was still somewhat motivated to learn to use an email address, he’d ask me what his password was, as if I could have any idea about that, and then he’d be mad at the whole world. 😀

Anyways, quite recently he was sharing with me some of his tech woes and how he was trying to buy something online from somewhere else other than OLX, but they wouldn’t let him, because they wanted him to log in, to even see the seller’s phone number. I said that it seems pretty reasonable to me, it’s easier to shop when you create an account, and why would the seller want their phone number to be visible to all the random peeps in the world? I also began to wonder why it’s such a problem for him to register somewhere. I mean yeah, it can be a hassle, I myself don’t like registering somewhere where I don’t really feel the need to simply because it’s waste of time and sometimes you can still come across surprises like visual captchas which are very annoying and discouraging, some bigger websites can also be pretty intrusive with all their nagging, but generally I don’t see much of a problem with registrations alone. He doesn’t have an email address but Mum lets him use hers for stuff like OLX shopping so he could use it for registrations. So I asked him what his problem with registering was, was it too difficult or something, and that was when he told me all that amazing stuff about how it’s unsafe and evil. Well yeah I exaggerated it a bit for satirical purposes, but even knowing his paranoid tendencies it was a surprise for me how skewed his idea of Internet privacy is.

And don’t get me wrong here, I don’t like big tech either, I hate Facebook, wouldn’t use Google if there were better alternatives for some of their services and I value my online privacy very dearly and some people would probably also call me a freak in this regard. I totally get people’s concerns over their privacy online, but the extent to which my Dad takes it is quite hilarious, especially given that he doesn’t really understand how Internet works and really enjoys invigilating all those ships, looking up where people live etc. and it’s funny how he uses so much stuff from Google without even realising it, while at the same time hating it so much.

So that was the first answer that came to my mind when thinking of such unsafe things that sound safe. Being more serious, food is an excellent example, it can make you vomit. And can make loads of other things to you. Allergies, poison, choking, cancer, diabetes, what fun!

Also amusement parks and similar, all the rides in them. They always say they’re safe, but accidents seem to happen regularly. Oh yeah and you could also vomit from it and make your vestibular system go nuts.

Your turn. 🙂

Question of the day.

Why do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one at home?

My answer:

Well, I guess you could say I am mildly paranoid with people. Part of it is probably due to my mental health and personality in general, and part of it is blindness. When I’m home alone, or even alone in my room, and doing something that for whatever reason I wouldn’t like anyone to see me doing, I’ll still take all the meticulous precautions even if I theoretically know I’m alone, because how do I know that for 100%? Or people could come back any minute, even if it’s not very likely, because all sorts of unplanned things happen. In my previous room, which I eventually grew to love very much, I had a hard time getting used to living there, because I’d hear all sorts of sounds, especially weird noises from the radiator, and hearing all those things that I couldn’t quite pinpoint where they were coming from made me think that someone is either in my room, or directly outside the window, or by the door, so I felt like I was being invigilated or whatever. Having this sort of feeling for hours and days on end can really make you freak out. Add sensory anxiety into the mix, part of which for me is a totally irrational feeling like somebody (in this case my brain frenemy known to the outside world as “Ian”, is constantly somewhere around), and you get some pretty amazing experience. 😀

When Sofi was younger, she had a freakishly annoying and kind of creepy habit of lurking in my room and then trying to scare me, thinking that I wouldn’t know she was there. It rarely worked out, because she’s just not a good lurker, plus I’m too hypervigilant for such things to work out very easily. When I’d have the slightest suspicion of her being there, I’d just do something that would make her laugh and she wouldn’t be able to resist. But the less successful she was at it, the more determined she was, and there were a few times that she actually managed to surprise me and even scare me a fair bit. It was quite difficult to get her to stop this behaviour, and over time it really made me quite suspicious of all sorts of things.

Sometimes people don’t even deliberately want to scare me, but as a kid I had situations where my Mum would be sitting quietly in my room, waiting for me without me knowing, or my Dad sleeping in there as he liked to do, and not knowing this and realising after some time could be a bit frightening.

For most of my life, as you guys probably know, I used to live in a boarding school, so I had roommates and some people around pretty much all the time, I also didn’t have my own room in our first house for the first like 10 years of my childhood and our entire family had like one huge bedroom, so some ways of maintaining some level of privacy get naturally ingrained over time in such situation, I guess.

So yeah, I care about my privacy all the time, whether I know about people being around or not. Even if I know that there’s no one else in the house right now except Misha, I have no guarantee that they won’t come back while I’m pooping or laying in the bathtub, and it would be quite a hassle to have to close the door in the meantime before someone manages to see me or get into the bathroom. 😀 I guess even if I was 100% sure somehow that there are no people and that no people are going to come back while I’m in the bathroom, I’d still close it just automatically ’cause why not? It’s not a bad habit or anything. It just wouldn’t feel right otherwise. I guess even if I had a place of my own, I’d still stick to my habits, including closing the bathroom while I’m in, ’cause… you just never know. 😀

What’s your reason? Or maybe you actually don’t do it? 🙂

Question of the day.

What do you have too much of?

My answer:

Gosh, lots of things! Some off the top of my head: too much anxiety, not right now but in general, and too many various anxieties as well, too much depression, too much Maggie talk (Maggie’s my inner critic), too much freakiness to put it simply. Too many migraines. Too much Ruminating. Too many deja vus lately, I don’t think it’s normal, but I don’t really mind it. Too much Sleep paralysis (I mean yeah, even one episode can feel like too much but I guess I have it more regularly than most people and it seems to last longer than what I typically hear about. Cat fur in my room and on all my clothes ’cause Misha always sleeps on me or in my wardrobe haha. Sometimes downright indecently too much sleep, but I guess it gets balanced in the end because on other nights I get too little and on others yet just about enough. Too much emotional shit that I hold in, either because it smells too bad so I really don’t want people to have to deal with it or because my brain forgot how to poo before it learned properly, usually it’s a bit of both. Too much daydreaming, not that I’m not happy with it but lately I’ve started to wonder if it isn’t a little bit maladaptive after all, still I like it way too much to care even if that’s the case. Too much imagination, which can get in the way when it comes to anxiety but I’d rather have too much than too little. Too much boobs, which can also get in the way, for example with horse riding back when I did it regularly, but, unlike with imagination, I wouldn’t mind having a bit less of them. Too many moles. Too many languages to love and probably to manage to learn in a lifetime. Too much “colour”, as my Mum calls it, for some people to handle, which results in them finding me overwhelming. Too many clothes that I rarely or never wear because they’re for peopling and I do minimum peopling these days, which typically doesn’t require particularly elegant clothing. Mugs, cups and bowls in my room that I haven’t taken down to the kitchen and washed yet as they keep piling up, ’cause I have too little time for such prosaic things. Most people would probably say I have waay too many gem stones, crystals and stuff. Photos of Misha on my phone, especially considering the fact that I’m blind.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What’s your biggest fear?

My answer:

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

How about your fear? 🙂

Today, I…

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

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

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

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

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

What has been your day today like? 🙂

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

See part 1 here.

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

   Mindset

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

   Coping with crisis

   Evaluating how you’re feeling

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

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

Distraction

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

Breathing

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

Exposure and trying to overcome your fear

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

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

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

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

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

Daily life coping strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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