Ruelle ft. Fleurie – “Carry You”.

Hey guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

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 insignifficant 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!” ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

What’s your reason? Or maybe you actually don’t do it? ๐Ÿ™‚

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? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What’s your biggest fear?

My answer:

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

How about your fear? ๐Ÿ™‚

Today, I…

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

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

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

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

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

What has been your day today like? ๐Ÿ™‚

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

See part 1 here.

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

ย ย  Mindset

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

ย ย  Coping with crisis

ย ย  Evaluating how you’re feeling

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

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

Distraction

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

Breathing

That’s quite crucially important imo. I’m shitty with it, it’s really difficult, but breathing properly really makes a difference with anxiety, it’s not just a cliche. Breathing also comes in very handy when things totally spiral out of control and you’re about to v*. When you breathe deeply through your nose, chances are you can make the feeling go away. It’s also definitely a good thing to find some relaxation technique that you like and that works for you. I find mindfulness not very helpful with this specific kind of fear because, really, focusing on your sensations is the last thing you want to do when your emetophobia gets triggered. ๐Ÿ˜€ What I like a lot is some kind of imageries, visualisations, and, even more so, grounding exercises. I don’t know if grounding can work for everyone, probably part of why it works for me is because it can sometimes help me more or less with dizziness, and dizziness triggers my emetophobia. Have something, or someone, that you find comforting close to you, like your pet or your favourite fluffy blanket, or your safe person, or some object you have a strong connection to, whatever works. I like to have Misha around in such situations, listen to his breath and heartbeat, feel his fur, it’s really calming.

Exposure and trying to overcome your fear

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

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

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

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

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

Daily life coping strategies

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

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

And speaking of safe foods, I believe it’s also a good idea to have some kind of edible things that you find to be helpful for you with things like n*, for when you actually feel bad and like you may v*, whether it’s caused by anxiety or a tummy bug or illness. My best friend in this department is ginger, I really really really love it, just plain because of its taste as well as for its antiemetic properties. I like to suck on it when I’m feeling n* or add it to my tea. Speaking of teas, I think chamomile is the most trustworthy when it comes to emetophobia, although It also has loads of other properties. Another one I drink when I’m worried I might v* is… sheesh, I don’t even know the English name for this plant! ๐Ÿ˜€ We literally call it wild rose in Polish and apparently it’s rosa canina in Latin. But chamomile is always my first choice. Peppermint is a good substitute for ginger. I know people who find sucking on ice cubes helpful. I think this idea probably comes from that it’s often recommended for people who actually DO v*, like after chemo, and ice is given to them to help with hydration, but I don’t really see how it could help with preventing potential v*. Still, since a lot of what we experience is psychosomatic, there’s nothing wrong with having your own little strategies that work even if they aren’t proven or anything, because they work for you and that’s what matters, as long as your entire quality of life isn’t dependent on it, regardless whether it’s a placebo or not. As some of you may know, I have a weird affinity with ice so I like sucking on it sometimes regardless. ๐Ÿ˜€ Eating more protein-rich meals (as opposed to more rich in carbs or fats) also may potentially help with n* or queasiness a bit.

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

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

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

That’s all I’ve come up with. Do you have any other ways in which you calm down your emetophobia? Or if you have any other kind of phobia, how do you cope with it? ๐Ÿ™‚

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

 

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

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

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

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

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For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, emetophobia is a specific phobia, which causes intense fear of vomiting. What I mean by intense here is, I guess no one likes to vomit or see someone vomit or have anything to do with vomiting, and I guess a lot of people may have some degree of fear around it, but the degree to which it is present in emetophobia is a lot higher and affecting, more or less strongly, the quality of life of an affected person, so that in some cases it might impact their daily life functioning. The experience of this phobia may vary a lot from person to person, and so one individual with it might be anxious about vomiting themself, whereas for another it’s about other people in their surroundings or in movies or animals etc. doing so, or it may be even more specific like only pertain to vomiting in public. For me, and most people with this disorder I’ve heard about, it’s a combination of more than one thing. The weird thing is, most people who know something about emetophobia or learn what it is, seem to assume that emetophobic people must be somehow very prone to vomiting. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite for a lot of us, including myself. From what I’ve noticed, most of us tend to have pretty resilient digestive systems to begin with, and a lot has to be going on for them to give up and make us vomit, and on top of that I’ve heard that people with emetophobia are just too blocked emotionally for vomiting to occur, which makes sense and is comforting in a way. ๐Ÿ˜€ A lot of emetophobics also have their own strategies, like a special way of breathing, which help them prevent vomiting when it’s about to happen. Yet, typically, we tend to remember when was the last time we vomitted, and the last time before that, how long ago it was and why exactly (in our opinion, at least) it happened, along with such details like what was in the news that day or what we were wearing, depending on a specific case of course, not to mention what food we ate beforehand. It’s a bit strange the way it works. I’ve also come across people thinking that emetophobics are afraid of vomiting because they’re afraid they will die while it’s happening to them. Maybe some do, I don’t know. I only know that I don’t. I mean, it would be a horrible kind of death, probably the worst I could wish for myself, but it’s not what I fear the most. Like my Mum still seems to think that I must be afraid of choking on it or something, which I have no idea where she got it from. I mean, sure, this is just another valid reason for why vomit is evil, but it’s not a primary one, not for me anyway, and I don’t think for most emetophobics either. It’s just scary because it’s vomit.

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

When you have a look around emetophobic communities and stuff, people talk about v* (for vomit), n* (for nausea) or d* (for diarrhoea) and, if it helps someone, that’s okay, but I feel like for me personally, such tiptoeing only contributes to creating the tension around the topic. What I prefer to do myself, when writing in my journal or something like that, is, I use a totally different, unrelated word to replace the scary v* with, when I actually feel the need to do so. Same as with my sleep paralysis “friend” whose name I’m too scared to say or even write so I always call him “Ian”. When I write in English, this word for vomit is Moomin. And no, so far this hasn’t given me a Moomin phobia. ๐Ÿ˜€

I don’t know how this whole thing has started for me. It feels like I’ve been more or less emetophobic ever since. A theory I have though is that it could have started when I was at around preschool age. I don’t know if I was already going to nursery or not. There was some kind of ball organised for young children somewhere near where I lived, and I was supposed to go there and was really happy for it. Yes, there were such times when Bibiel was happy to go to a ball. As a little kid,I was fairly shy but mostly like “normal” shy, and a lot more outgoing, if not more extroverted, and then at some point things just magically changed. ๐Ÿ˜€ That’s what people tell me anyway. My grandma, who really liked to sew at the time, made a special Little Red Riding Hood costume for me, just for that occasion, as that was my favourite fairytale back then. However, on the day of the ball, I was feeling quite funny. I remember that I came downstairs and was about to have breakfast but just as I went into the kitchen, the floor started moving very ominously, I suddenly started feeling utterly terrified, I guess that’s literally what people call a feeling of impending doom, and then I was sick. I felt a bit better afterwards I guess and I think I didn’t want to miss out on the ball, so we did end up going there but, from what I remember, I was still feeling rather miserable and was clinging to my Dad all the time. I don’t remember that, but my Mum says that I also got sick there. Since I can’t even remember that, and generally don’t have any particular feelings around the whole event, you’d think that it would be rather insignificant, but what makes me think that it might be that incident which caused my emetophobia is that I also have an absolutely weird, inexplicable fear of all things like proms, balls, discos, dancing parties, wedding receptions etc. Yes, I’m a socially anxious introvert with AVPD who doesn’t love dancing and has some feet issues, though I don’t particularly hate dancing either as such, but there’s something a lot more to my fear of things like these than any other people gatherings and I always avoid these more desperately and can’t even explain what scares me about them so much. So maybe there’s some link here on a subconscious level or something.

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

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

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

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

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

After the drip I felt a lot better, also emotionally despite that baby incident, because I wanted to believe this drip doctor was right, and so did my Mum, so we went back home. The next day my Mum called the endocrinologist who was treating me at the time for the hypopituitarism, and told her about the LCHAD doctor, but she also reassured her that I surely can’t have it because if it went undiagnosed for so long I wouldn’t be alive anymore. My Mum was immensely relieved. The day after that I felt awful all over again, and so the cycle continued, I honestly have no idea until when. People tried to give my Mum good advice, of course, my class teacher kept calling and asking how I’m feeling, saying that, if I can’t eat, it must be something gastric so I should have a gastroscopy, my grandma was saying that it must be anaemia and I need more drips or something if I can’t eat anything, while my therapist was saying that it’s a psychological thing, which my Mum found offensive. My Mum herself tried her best to force Nutridrinks into me at least and constantly asked me how I was feeling, and if I said that I wasn’t feeling well, she would pause whatever she was doing and be like: “Hmmm…” as if she was deeply thinking about something. I grew to hate it so much when she did it with that specific intonation, it still makes me feel weird when people say “Hmm” like that, ’cause it immediately makes me feel a bit stressed. ๐Ÿ˜€

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panic attacks is not the most common type of anxiety I experience – my anxiety is more of the chronic and constantly present variety rather than sudden and gripping – but when I do have a panic attack, while most people are scared they’re gonna have a heart attack or can’t breathe, I’m sure you can figure out what Bibiel is most scared of in a panic without me telling you. ๐Ÿ˜€

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

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

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

See part 2.

Question of the day.

An extremely interesting question I have for you guys today…

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

My answer:

Can’t say how long exactly, I guess it could be about a week or so. Generally I don’t have a lot of poo problems in normal life circumstances, which I’m extremely grateful for ’cause only when I do sometimes I see how uncomfortable they must be for people who deal with some major issues of this nature chronically or regularly. But what definitely sets them off for me is a lot of stress and change. I mean mostly change of location for some significant amount of time, more than just a couple of hours, especially if it’s just a temporary change but involves sleeping there etc. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone with this, I guess in a way it makes sense because pooping is obviously a very private thing and it feels normal that you may not feel comfortable doing it everywhere even if it’s only on the subconscious level. My Mum is the same if not worse, but the reason why it’s worse for her is probably that she does actually have digestive issues and hates public toilets more than I do. Once I get used to that new place, I can poop normally again, but more often I just either have to help myself with something that works for constipation or wait until I can go home and then the problem solves itself. I have the same thing with social gatherings that are long and involve eating, and I guess that’s less common and definitely to do with my social anxiety. I generally am not a fan of eating out or eating with a lot of people like huge family meals, there are many reasons for that. I totally don’t get why people always need to eat during such gatherings, and if they really have to, why so much and almost all the time, and particularly as it seems when it’s mostly middle-aged people. ๐Ÿ˜€ Let’s say it’s someone’s birthday and they decided on such a stiff family party with sitting at the table, talking about nothing and LOTS of food, mostly cakes and the like. Or, more realistically, their family decided for them because they came uninvited but luckily the person in question was prepared for such a possibility. ๐Ÿ˜€ So, you’re sitting on your butt for two hours at least, continuously eating all those carbs, and, if you’re like me, feeling anxious/stressed/uncomfortable, or a bit tense at least. Perfect recipe for a shit problem. If it’s a bit more dynamic you can perhaps go out for a while or something, you can go to the loo but if you’re like me it won’t change anything ’cause it’s someone else’s loo. ๐Ÿ˜€ So this is one of many reasons why I generally eat very little in social situations, especially lengthy ones.

So yeah, I think on average the longest for me must have been around a week, when going somewhere for holidays or school trips or the like. After about a week I’m usually adjusted enough that things get better, or physiology takes the upper hand over my brain. ๐Ÿ˜€ Now I can also take the advantage of the fact that these days I always travel with my Mum and that she has been more aware of her own various digestive problems including constipation over the last couple years, which means she always takes a whole bag of things that help her when travelling or staying away from home, so we always have something helpful at hand.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

Not really seen it but heard it, and not just in the middle of the night but for a good few months, but it started in the middle of the night. We still lived in our previous house in the countryside where I had a room in the attic. One night in summer I woke up, I think it wasn’t that scary strange thing that woke me up initially, if I remember correctly I was feeling unwell physically or something like that. In any case, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. Suddenly I heard a weird, faint but clear noise. I still sort of remember what it sounded like but can’t even describe it in a good way, yet I remember that the first time I heard it it reminded me of something like the noise that a sheep or a goat would make, only a lot fainter and shorter and kinda raspy. There was no way there were any such animals in our area so I found this really bizarre and a little creepy because it quite clearly sounded like it came from somewhere in my room. Since it didn’t repeat for some time and I couldn’t come up with a good idea for what it could be, I decided I must have imagined it, but I couldn’t settle back to sleep. And then I heard it again. And again, after a while. And again. And a few more times. Sometimes hearing a sound to which I can’t attribute a source can really trigger my sensory anxiety, and I think it can be potentially scary for a lot of people even when they don’t have the sensory anxiety problem. In order to be able to fall back to sleep and not freak out completely I tried to think that there certainly must be some normal, prosaic reason for why I was hearing this, I just simply didn’t know what it was. I finally managed to fall asleep, but to my fear and frustration I could still hear it. I asked my Mum what could it be, perhaps there’s something in my room, but she had no idea. She came up there, but couldn’t hear anything, so she said I must’ve been imagining it at night like I thought. Only I could still hear it at regular intervals throughout the day. And the next day, and for the rest of the summer. Eventually I sort of got used to my invisible, creepy roommate, invading my little Bibiel haven, but it was really annoying, and when I was home alone, when it was really quiet or the night time, it would still creep me out, even just the idea that no one else hears it. So what does that mean? Am I going crazy? My Mum tried hearing out for it multiple times ’cause I kept complaining about it but the malicious thing never made the noise when she was in the room, or if it did, she wouldn’t hear it because we were talking or some other noises were masking it. When I mentioned it she laughed that I must be smoking something and that it’s not fair that I won’t share with the rest of the family. ๐Ÿ˜€ Dad often had a habit of taking a nap in my room, ’cause it was the quietest, which I utterly hated because he snores, as Sofi once said, like a million of dinosaurs. Still, I was hoping that one time when he comes, before he falls asleep, or after he wakes up, he’ll hear it. Thing is, my Dad falls asleep immediately, doesn’t even need five minutes.

The summer holidays had finished and the new school year had started, so I went to school and wasn’t home for the next at least two weeks. I hoped that by the time I come back, my roommate would get bored not having anyone in there to creep out and would magically disappear just as he appeared, or maybe Mum would find him. No such luck. I remember that when I came home I guess just for a weekend, I went upstairs to go to sleep, and when I was already falling asleep, I heard it again. And that was the case for the next few months, I don’t know how long. Finally, at some point Mum did hear it. She was relaxing in my room, and I was there too, and at some point we both heard it and she was all like: “Gosh, what was that?!” Then she kept looking around the room to locate the thing, which wasn’t easy, because it wasn’t very loud and only made the noise once in a while. Finally, she found it. Under a bean bag, there lay Sofi’s old toy phone, and right when she discovered it, it pleaded guilty by making that noise again. Its battery was dying, so that was why it sounded so weird. Sofi was no longer interested in it, so the phone went to trash, which I felt evil satisfaction about. ๐Ÿ˜€

And how about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (15th June).

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

My answer:

There are loads of such things, but one that comes to my mind is definitely peopling in general. That is, sometimes I’m less nervous than other times, and there are times when I’m almost not anxious at all, but if we assume that the longer/more often you do something, the less nervous you become over time when doing it, here it just doesn’t apply. As for how much I’m nervous during a social interaction, I feel like a lot of the time it’s pretty random, which baffled me for a long time because I’d hear people with “normal” social anxiety always say how they’re always anxious or nervous with strangers, or in some specific kinds of situations, while for me there are times when I feel nervous talking to my own Mum, even though we generally have a very good relationship, or I can have trouble writing to someone online whom I like and know well, and there can be times when I can hold a fairly normal conversation with someone I barely know or even a total stranger, and even enjoy it, and the person mmight even end up commenting how very outgoing I am. ๐Ÿ˜€ I used to explain to them that I don’t, or even when I was a child my Mum would explain that it’s not like that, but now I no longer do as it’s not their business really, and they usually wouldn’t believe me anyway when I’d say that actually I’m normally very anxious around people and they’d say things like that everyone is a bit anxious sometimes, like my last therapist, for example, haha. The next day, my anxiety may work completely inversely, or I’ll be scared of all people equally. It used to really confuse me, well, still does in a way, but I used to think that because it’s not really like I have very clear social anxiety triggers beyond a few, I can’t have valid social anxiety and either it’s something else or I’m somehow making it up or whatever. I still haven’t fully figured out what may be the reasons behind such a weird, changing pattern, although I have some theories and think there may be multiple factors involved, but a lot has been cleared up for me when I learned that in fact I don’t have the classic social anxiety, but instead I have AVPD, in which the anxiety doesn’t have to necessarily be triggered by any specific situation, it’s just some general people phobia with some other, additional gimmicks to make things more interesting.

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

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

What is such a thing(s) for you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

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

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

Question of the day.

What do you do for exercise/recreation?

My answer:

I used to do a lot of horse riding, which was my main, if not only, form of exercise for many years. I’m not really into any other sports, nor am I good at them. I started with it in primary school only in the form of hippotherapy, because that’s what is mainly done at the stud where I go to, as it mostly serves disabled people, most of them quite severely disabled with severe forms of cerebral palsy and severe things. However, my hippotherapist is also a riding instructor and at some point she suggested to me that we could do more of riding as a sport, since I don’t have a severe movement-related disability, and do just elements of hippotherapy in it, which I was very happy to do. I also participated in some local competitions for disabled youth. Now though, things with my horse riding have been suspended for a looong time and I don’t really even know when/if they’ll go back to normal, for several reasons. First there’s the pandemic now. Even if it perhaps is an option for some people to do sports while wearing a mask (I have no idea how they do it) it is definitely not an option for me, because despite I’ve been riding for years, I’m at the same time allergic to horses and while this allergy is mild enough that it can be super easily managed with anti-allergy meds before and after the ride, I still do experience some mild respiratory symptoms of it, and having to additionally wear a mask would make breathing rather tricky. Social distancing wouldn’t work either because my riding instructor assists me a lot of the time especially when we’re somewhere that I’m not familiar with or when I’m learning some new technique or something or sometimes she holds me when I do some exercises on horseback that I feel insecure about because of balance stuff.

Besides that, even before the pandemic my instructor has had a crazy life. She had a breast cancer two years ago, which thankfully is a thing of the past now, but as she says it made her change her life and realise that she wasn’t prioritising the right things before. Besides being a horse riding instructor and hippotherapist, as well as a keen equestrian herself, she is also a very busy neurologist by profession, and a mum of a primary school-aged boy on top of all that. Before the cancer, I remember her as being always super busy and in a hurry and she kept saying that she wished a day would have more hours so she could squeeze more things in it that she had to do, yet she was also always very positive and energetic and rarely seemed very tired or worn out with all the comotion going on in her life. Yet when she got the cancer and several other things started going wrong in her life at the same time, it made her realise that she really needs to prioritise her mum role over her professional life, and maybe focus some more on her own riding for pleasure, which she had very little time and opportunity to pursue because she was constantly teaching other people and she had no time for riding just for the sake of it. That meant that she decided to slow down with work a bit and also with the stud, so I was seeing her less often. Then there was also some financial trouble they were having with the stud, and then my horse – ลoล› (or Elk in English) – the one on which I rode primarily, died. All the horses at the stud where I go are older, often have some diseases and stuff or have had difficult or traumatic experiences before. ลoล› was no exception, he was in his 20’s and had several illnesses, but ultimately died of bronchitis. Because my horse riding was very irregular already then, I only learned about the fact a lot later and it was a huge shock, because we’ve known each other for like ten years and we were a really good team, even though he would often fall asleep or get lost in his daydreams while I was riding him. ๐Ÿ˜€ After that, when I did go riding, I would usually ride on another horse – Rudy (or Redhead in English) – a very cute fjord horse whom I used to ride already before whenever ลoล› had a day off or something and we knew each other well, and I really do like him very much as well, in fact, in a lot of ways, Rudy is easier to ride because he’s a lot smaller, lighter and a lot more sensorily perceptive so riding him requires a lot less strength and muscle effort, and he’s also a LOT shorter so I feel less insecure in terms of balance. But at the same time I never felt like we get along sort of emotionally as well as we always did with ลoล›, we’re on quite different wavelengths while with ลoล› we clicked instantly, so much so that even though I used to be scared of riding before, it miraculously changed the first time I rode him, or at least got alleviated enough that, despite the anxiety, I was able to fall in love with riding enough that I wanted to continue it even though I’d always be very nervous beforehand. He always was extremely sensitive to my feelings and especially when I was anxious. Often, even just his presence made me feel more at ease, perhaps because he was absolutely, unbelievably phlegmatic, like you’dthink absolutely nothing can phase him as if he was half-asleep all the time. ๐Ÿ˜€ Rudy is a lot more lively, which is super cool because you can have more fun with him and generally do more spontaneous things, but we just don’t have as much of the emotional connection and he’s quite anxious himself so my anxiety makes him more anxious and vice versa.

Then during winter before the pandemic has started, I got that weird, recurrent thing on my calf that I sometimes get during winter, apparently it’s similar to eczema but I don’t know really what it is or what’s the actual cause, anyways, it takes ages to heal and it hurts when walking and stuff or when something rubs on it which is quite hard to avoid when you’re riding and have riding boots on. So during winter I stopped riding completely. I’m always massively frustrated when that leg thing happens to me because as you can figure out I do love riding very much, but that year, my frustration was accompanied by a hint of relief that I won’t feel obliged to ride. Because the last few months of my riding, I found it more difficult than before. I wrote here many times before about my first experiences with riding in nursery and how I didn’t really like them and found horse riding super scary because of my balance problems, but how I then got into it later at our local stud because Mum read that hippotherapy would be beneficial to me. Even though I ended up loving horse riding, partly because of my very competent instructor and her being able to understand my issues around it, and partly due to ลoล› magic, I never fully got rid of the anxiety and always felt quite anxious before riding and it took me some time to relax. Some times were worse than others. And I guess after ลoล›’s death things got a bit worse generally and it became more difficult for me to feel at ease when riding, so that finally at some point it started to become more and more of a struggle for me to actually motivate myself to do it, and was no longer as much of a pleasure as it used to be.

So now, having not ridden since before the start of the pandemic, I don’t know if I’ll get back into it. I’d love to, I miss being in the saddle, I miss that feeling when I am finally able to relax my brain and my muscles while riding and I miss how freeing riding can be once you relax, I miss Rudy and I miss my instructor, with whom I really enjoy talking. But on the other hand I’m not sure, I just have super mixed feelings about it. Also I know that, while I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from horse riding, at the same time it’s very paradoxical that that’s the sport I’ve been doing, because I lack pretty much all the skills that are said to be required to be a good rider. My balance, coordination and sensory integration are all fairly rubbish, and I’m allergic to horses on top of that. Still, I’ve been told that I’m a pretty good rider despite that, given my possibilities, and I do feel I’ve achieved a lot and am quite proud of myself in this department. Being an equestrian is definitely a part of my identity since I’ve been doing it for years, and it would feel weird to decide that I’m no longer going to do it. And I don’t have as much interest in any other sport or physical activity, so I don’t know what I’d do instead. Yet at the same time I think it’s not really something for me because of my difficulties. I just don’t know.

But because I don’t do horse riding for now and I haven’t yet made up my mind on whether I will or not, I think I still need to do something so that if I decide to go back to it, I won’t realise that I’ve regressed physically. Therefore, I regularly go for walks with my Mum when we both can, often quite long ones, which I like as it can be a good way to clear your mind, although not as effective and cathartic as horse riding can be. I also do some low-key core exercises at home that my instructor recommended to me and that I also used to do in between my riding days, which I consider fairly boring as any form of workout so I’m not always as systematic with it as I should, these days, but it’s just to keep my muscles in some kind of shape.

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What was the last thing that made you feel misunderstood?

My answer:

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

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (4th April).

Hey people! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the question I meant to ask you yesterday:

Do you feel like you have a special connection with animals?

My answer:

I don’t feel this way at all, but, judging from how a lot of animals are extremely clingy with me, you could draw exactly the opposite conclusion. I do like most animals in general, I grew up in the countryside where we’d always have a dog or two in the backyard, some wild cats running around, and fishes at home, I even had a hamster for a short while as a kid, then I started horse riding, and now have Misha and Jocky, but I couldn’t describe myself as a typical animal person, who would take some great interest in animals in general, or even a particular species, or anything like that. The only animal which I truly love in a way that goes beyond just liking it because it’s cute is Misha. Since I love Misha very passionately or obsessively as some say, a lot of people automatically assume I must be some crazy cat lady in general. And I don’t usually tell them that it’s otherwise because, of course I do like cats, but it’s not like I have some special interest or extreme love for felines as a whole. I feel I also had a very strong bond with a horse I used to ride for many years, that was absolutely amazing, but he died two years ago or so. I guess the fact that I’m madly in love with one cat and used to have an extraordinary bond with one horse doesn’t really make me an animal person overall or doesn’t mean I could have a connection with all of them.

For some reason though, a lot of animals seem to like me a lot. Often when I’m just walking somewhere and a cat passes by, it will come close to me and let me stroke it. Same about people’s dogs. We even have one dog in the neighbourhood who will always get so agitated whenever she sees me and will not calm down until her mummy lets her come over to me and I stroke her. It’s hilarious, although a bit weird. ๐Ÿ˜€ In my family, when we visit someone who has a cat or a dog, the pet will often come to me first thing, even though it’s my Mum or Sofi trying to coax it with some food to come to her and I don’t do anything. It’s especially remarkable with my aunt’s dog – Daisy – who is always literally all over me whenever I visit her. And I visit this particular aunt extremely rarely. In a way, getting so much attention from animals in social situations is fun, because it often rescues me from having to be social with people, or gives me something to do on family gatherings where I’d otherwise be bored to death (I think I talked about that when sharing Leah Nobel’s song Talking To The Dog At The Party, which I think should be introverts’ anthem ๐Ÿ˜€ ). In this regard, credit goes especially to my gran’s cat, Feluล›, and one of my maternal grandparents’ backyard cats whom I called Michelle, who always keep me sane during social gatherings, as long as they are home. But on the other hand it often ends up drawing even more human attention to me and I don’t like that one bit. Also, especially with dogs, it can be quite awkward. I feel about dogs very much like I feel about children. They’re cute, but, in direct contact, I don’t really know how I should relate to them, what I’m supposed to do with them, and they can be a bit overbearing long-term. I even feel this way about our Jocky, as much as I like him at the same time. With Jocky it’s also funny because of course he’s mostly Sofi’s pet, just like Misha’s mostly mine, and Sofi and Jocky have very similar characters and love each other so much and play a lot. Still, it always bothers Sofi very much that Jocky always seems a lot more affectionate withh me than with her, even though I am not nearly as affectionate with him as Sofi is. I do play with him regularly and it’s fun, but I don’t do it not nearly as much as Sofi and don’t give him as much attention. Yet when we come back home from somewhere and he sees me and Sofi, he’ll be all over me first and only then scamper off to play with Sofi. I really feel for Sofi, I’d hate to have a similar situation with Misha where I’d love him as much as I do but he’d be more affectionate with Sofi. So while in a way I feel honoured that Jocky likes me so much, even though I don’t get it, I think for Sofi’s sake I’d rather like it more if he was more like that with her.

I guess it’s kind of similar to what my Dad experiences with children. He makes a rather rough impression and can be authoritarian and not necessarily your ideal candidate for a nanny, but, for some weird reason, he’s very popular with all toddlers with our family. They are often a bit shy around him initially when they come to us or when we come to their parents’ houses, but after some time, it’ll be my Dad on whose lap they’ll be sitting or running to him to tell him about some game they’ve been playing or give him a half-eaten lollipop or something, even though I would think my Mum is far more engaging with children than he is. Maybe it’s about his sense of humour and that, unlike my Mum, he hardly actually asks them any questions, and I suppose not all kids like being asked a lot of questions even if it’s in a very friendly way as is the case with my Mum, who is genuinely interested and doesn’t just automatically ask about how school is going.

Weird how such things work sometimes.

How is it with you? ๐Ÿ™‚

If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare

Welcome to another

#WeekendCoffeeShare! ๐Ÿ™‚

Our host is Natalie, so if you’d like to join in with your own coffee share, you can go over to her blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’ve just had our lunch, and there’s still a lot of chicken breast left, so help yourself if you fancy, or if you’d rather have a lighter snack I can give you some salted peanuts, or feel free to bring something with yourself and share with other peeps if you want. Help yourself to coffee or tea or cocoa or or my Mum’s homemade black lilac juice, or I think we’ve got some kefir as well if you’d prefer that, or perhaps water. So, if you’re all sitting comfortably and have something to drink or munch on, let’s get started.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask each of you how you’ve been doing lately…? ๐Ÿ™‚

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, actually, this week hasn’t been very eventful, so I probably won’t have all that much to share with y’all, but I just wanted to have a coffee share, even if for a brief check-in, as I guess the last one we had was over a month ago.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that we’ve been having a fair bit of spring-like weather, interspersed with really chilly, windy and often rainy days. It was even hailing quite heavily earlier this week. Today is one of those chillier days and it’s raining all the time. As you may perhaps remember, we live by the river, it flows through our backyard, so we are at quite a high flood risk. We’ve already had a few minor floodings since we moved here which were scary, and now my Dad has been really stressed out that this year it will be more hardcore with the amount of rain we’re getting and are still supposed to get.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m really pleased with my linguistic development over the last few weeks, mainly when it comes to Welsh, as currently this is the language I’m learning most actively because I’m not fluent in it yet, but also Swedish to a lesser extend, because I’ve been reading a lot in the latter. Concerning the former, I catch myself more and more often on having random bits of thoughts in Welsh, and not right after learning or when I’m sleepy or tired, which is most often when my languages mix up, but just randomly. My subjective feeling is also that my listening comprehension must have improved a bit lately. That’s all very motivating.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, despite the usual ups and downs and myy anxiety being a bit up this weekend due to having quite an interesting and lengthy sleep paralysis session on Friday, mood-wise I’m still doing really well, most of the time with my mood being around what I consider my baseline, sometimes lower but not very low or not for long and usually in clear connection to something situational. Even Maggie, aka my inner self-critic, has been strangely quiet lately, not totally quiet but noticeably less active, she mostly just wakes up when I engage more with people or especially afterwards, but if she wouldn’t do that, she wouldn’t be alive. It has been like this for over three months now and it’s quite surprising. Yes, my amazing

faza peak

is still there, which certainly contributes to it, but despite being a really long peak compared with my previous experiences, it’s not an extremely intense one at all at this point, I’ve had much more intense faza peaks before, but I’m not sure the peak is solely responsible for this, especially not for Maggie’s unusual behaviour. Whatever the cause might be though, I’m quite happy with the results, I’m just a bit worried that after being up for so long, at least for my standards, at some point I will have a spectacular slide downhill, lower than I’ve had in a long time. I guess kind of like when there’s a draught for long, then you’ll have a storm and the longer it was dry, the stronger the storm will be.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, while I do still get migraines like once or twice weekly, they have really gotten better in terms of intensity, regardless of what medicine I take, or even if I don’t take anything. They are shorter and not so incapacitating, and often will go away or lessen very significantly when I just have a nap or will totally go away after a solid night’s sleep, so it’s really not such a problem anymore. In case you don’t know, I’ve had migraines on and off for years, but for most of that time, they really weren’t very problematic, and I considered myself lucky compared with a lot of other migraine folks. Then the year before last, in November, I suddenly started getting them a lot more often, and they were a lot more painful and difficult to get rid of, and extremely easily triggered by just about any stressful situation or anything that could possibly trigger a migraine. Admittedly, I did have quite a stressful time then and my brain was going bonkers with rumination and anxiety so my main theory was that it really must be the stress doing this. Then things got better again in January, last year which coincided with my stress levels going a bit down overall, until September when, again, I started having yucky migraines. This time, I wasn’t in a lot of stress or anxiety really, just my normal anxious brain but nothing beyond that and nothing turbulent going on in my life at that specific time of the year, so I couldn’t blame the stress anymore. That lasted again until about January this year. So, considering this, I’m fairly sure there must be some seasonal pattern, like a lot of people seem to have, and for a lot of people their migraines also seem to get worse around autumn-winter. I’m very curious why. That could perhaps also be responsible for why I always had more severe migraines right at the start of a school year, which everyone was thinking must be to do with stress – which surely was also an important factor but as it seems not the only one. – Well, I used to have recurrent allergic bronchitis almost every autumn-winter season, and now that it seems to be mostly cured finally, I’ll have seasonal migraines instead. Life’s never boring. ๐Ÿ˜€

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, with the exception of sleep paralysis I had on Friday, I’ve been having absolutely hilarious dreams lately, and extremely vivid. I love having vivid dreams after which, when you wake up, you just have to laugh out loud at the absurdity of them. And I met some interesting folks in Dreamland that I wish could exist in real life.

What would you share if we were having coffee? ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Question of the day.

If you wake up at 3 AM and can’t fall back asleep, what do you do?

My answer:

As someone with quite erratic sleep-wake cycle which shifts a lot, mostly due to the fact that I have no light perception, I end up in such a situation quite often. Unlike a lot of people who struggle with sleep problems and disorders though, it’s not a huge source of frustration for me. Largely because it’s always been like this, and now I’m in a very comfortable life situation where I am in charge of my own time so everything is very flexible, I can sleep in if I need to, I can go to sleep very early if I was up all night, or I can have a more low-key day if I’m a zombie running on no sleep. Having lived in an exactly opposite way most of my life, where I did have to live a very structured life and having to fit in my constantly more or less “jet-lagged” into it, I appreciate this luxury all the more. So it’s not a big deal for me usually if I can’t sleep at 3 AM or wake up at that time.

I do lots of different things if I can’t sleep at night, I just take it as an extra amount of time that I can do something interesting with. Sometimes, when I’m in a phase when I don’t need a lot of sleep and can go on four hours or so and feel quite rested for a few days, I’m feeling quite energised at night and put my energy into something creative. Generally, regardless of my energy levels, I feel that I’m often a lot more creative and deep-thinking at night and come up with a lot of interesting ideas. ๐Ÿ˜€ So I’ll do some journaling, sometimes write a short story or try to write something more in my huge, neverending Jack Hamilton novel which I’ve been writing since like fourth grade and Jack Hamilton has been a great friend of mine and especially on sleepless nights, my Mum says that he’s like an old dog who’s barely alive but you’re too attached to him to put him down. I rarely add something more to that these days because I don’t need Jack as much as I used to as a teenager and we both have changed a lot, but I do not want to put a clear end to this whole thing, so these days if I write something more to it it’s usually just a little bit. He’s going to be celebrating his 100th birthday quite soon, I believe. Other times, I’ll just listen to some music and daydream (wait, nightdream) or go into my Brainworld, as I’ve always been an avid paracosmist (I’ve been a paracosmist my entire life and only recently learned about the existence of this word ๐Ÿ˜€ ).

If I’m less creatively inclined, I’ll just read or listen to music, often without even getting out of bed, although if I can’t fall back asleep for longer than an hour I usually get up because if I fall back asleep after such longer but still not very long time, I have almost guaranteed sleep paralysis and while people have varying attitudes towards it, for me it’s always been extremely scary because it features stuff I’m scared of in real life and sometimes one relatively short episode of sleep paralysis can affect me for a few days and make me super anxious.

Since we’ve got Misha, I’m often not the only one who isn’t asleep at 3 AM in this house. Misha’s sleep cycle is also totally different than the cycles of the peeps in here, so he’ll also often have loads of energy in the middle of the night, running wildly around the living room or playing with his glass balls. If that is the case, I’ll often bring him up to my room, as here his play won’t wake up anyone else, and we’ll play together.

Other times, I just go online and write with people or something, or play BitLife, ever since I’ve got my iPhone, because yes, I still play it quite a lot. Or just start my day properly, get dressed, eat something and do whatever I was going to do in the day anyway.

How about you? Does such a scenario often take place in your life? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

How do you like your eggs? ๐Ÿ™‚

My answer:

I like them both soft-boiled and hard-boiled. They’re not my favourite thing in the world but I do like them and have them for breakfast sometimes. I really dislike fried eggs though, and scrambled as well, plus scrambled eggs are on my emetophobic no-no food list so even if I theoretically liked them, I wouldn’t eat them anyway. I used to eat scrambled eggs years ago before they made it on to my no-no list even though I didn’t really like them, because it’s a deeply ingrained habit of my Dad’s to eat scrambled eggs every Sunday and we all used to do that, also I had them sometimes at nursery. But then I got sick from them once at nursery and since then I don’t even pretend I like them and I don’t know what you’d have to do to make me eat scrambled eggs. ๐Ÿ˜€ For some time, as a teenager, when my emetophobia was at its worst, I had a huge problem with eggs and almost anything containing eggs because of salmonella and the like, and it was one of the products with which it really took me quite some time to get back to eating them normally, and I still feel wary in places like restaurants, but what helps is that my grandparents sell eggs – they used to have hens of their own for years but now they get their eggs from somewhere – and we also buy from them, they get them from one source and neither I nor anyone else in my family ever got sick from them. Then again, I’ve never had salmonellosis or a similar thing at all, except from that one short episode with scrambled eggs which I don’t think was due to any bacteria, but that might be just because I’m emetophobic so I’m always cautious. ๐Ÿ˜€

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚