A letter to my 13-year-old self.

Today starts

10-Day Letter Writing Challenge

and, as I mentioned in the original post that I reblogged earlier today, or rather yesterday as it’s past midnight, I really liked the idea. I have never participated in those kind of challenges where you write every day for a certain amount of time, so I don’t know how it will go and I don’t promise that I will stick to it on my blog, but I do plan to write those letters for sure in my diary because I like to expand it in such ways and not just plain write about my daily life.

Here’s a letter to my 13-year-old self:

Hi Bisbis [Bisbis/Bibiel was the way I used to mostly call myself as a child and teen]

I am your future self, however strange that may sound to you. You may wonder why I am writing to you in English then, and I am sure that it will take you a looong time to figure this letter out, but this will at least improve your English skills and occupy your mind with something interesting for a while. You will need it in the future – the English, I mean. – One day, when life will get better, you will have an English blog. You have heard from people that you have a talent for languages and you sometimes wonder if it is true and what you should do about it, if anything. And you have already learnt some Swedish. I know how painful it is for you that you cannot do it anymore. Please don’t suppress this one thing at least. I think it will be of some comfort to you if I’ll tell you that you will be able to return to your Swedish in future. It will bring you a lot of pleasure and you will also learn to love many other languages, which will make your life feel more purposeful. You will have to thank one of your faza objects for that. Soon after that, you will also find the greatest love of your life (so far at least), whom you will love with all your brain and soul, who will live with you and sleep with you and who will be your best friend. No, obviously I’m not talking about any guy, I’m sure you know it! Nor about a girl, if you’re wondering, or maybe being concerned, hehe. His name will be Misha, not Jacek, and that’s all I’m gonna tell you. Believe me, seriously, the things will not always be the way they are right now, even though it really looks like they will. Change will come sooner than you think, although you will have to get through a lot before it happens, and then learn a lot of things that you might find unpleasant or uncomfortable.

I know that you wrote a letter to me as well, like Emily of the New Moon did to herself, but unfortunately I am not able to read it now and look back at all those things you wanted to know and respond to you properly because you lost it. You do have to learn to be less chaotic. But so far it hasn’t happened. πŸ˜€ And I think we agree that being chaotic is more interesting, right? I still like Emily of the New Moon a lot, although not as frenziedly as you. I can assure you that your current dream will come true and that you will change your name to Emilia legally soon after you turn 18. It was a good idea so you don’t have to worry, you were right and I thank you for that.

At this point, I live in a different house than the one that is your family home, but not far away from there, just in a town nearby. It is also big, and you will move in it about 7 years from where you are at, if I’m counting correctly. You will like it here. As we’re talking about counting, I have some bad news for you too. Well, at least for you it will probably sound bad, I feel quite neutral about it and I don’t perceive it as a tragedy or even anything near it. You will not pass your math final exam after high school. Moreover, you will decide not to rewrite it.

There was that man who told you that you won’t fix yourself by studying psychology and becoming a therapist, and you felt offended because he was assuming and implying that something was wrong with you and that you were selfish, and I think you also felt very insecure because you knew he could be on to something. I know that your intentions weren’t selfish at all, but, as you’ll see for yourself later on, he was actually right, in a lot of ways. Because, you do know deep down that it is not normal to feel the way you feel, all the time, don’t you? And you do realise that many things in your life and functioning aren’t the way they should be? Well, you will need time to come to terms with this, and one day you will understand that it is yourself who needs help, before you can give it to others. But also, this is not your fault, as you think and as everyone is making you feel or even telling you, indirectly. I do not like you much more than you like yourself, if I’m being honest with you, but I want you to know that this is not your fault and that some people, even those you seriously wouldn’t suspect to be, are way more selfish than you think, others are clueless. You are clueless too. You will learn and discover some difficult things about yourself and your life circumstances, I am still doing that and in a way it’s getting overwhelming, and so confusing, but you will learn to live and cope with those things you learn about yourself, but also making those discoveries will be helpful, as life and your whole situation will become a bit clearer for yourself and others, and it is always easier to deal with something that you know at least a bit. As I said, life will really get better. Your brain will get better. The mere relief from having to pretend that everything is OK will make a difference. You will find a lot of friends online, not the same ones as you have right now, although I know many of them are cool, and don’t let anyone tell you that online friendships are any less valuable or real or something. You will find very supportive and understanding people with whom you will often have a lot of things in common, in one way or another. I know it feels awful right now but don’t give up just yet. And, while you will still have a deep interest in psychology, maybe even deeper in some ways, I think you will grow out of that idea, and instead you will decide to focus on your languages more. Well, that’s at least what I know now, who knows how things will get in the more distant future. As for more distant future, currently I have no idea how it will go, and it feels somewhat scary even to me, but I am trying to be hopeful because otherwise I would have no right to tell you not to give up, as my life is way easier than yours.

Zofijka is almost your age now and a lot of what you thought she’d be like has come true. She is very bubbly and energetic and talks all the time, and she loves sports and One Direction and currently has become enamoured with Japanese men, and yes, she loves clothes shopping and changes her clothes all the time, but she has a very distinctive style despite being a very average girl in a lot of ways, and you’d be surprised how very mature she is deep down. I think you would like her. Though she is very different from you, and thus very different from me, and so we not always get along.

I really don’t know what else to tell you, other than that there is hope, so I will be finishing, because it’s 2 AM and I feel like I should go to sleep. Yeah, I still tend to write at nights, but now it’s my choice, and not a necessity, and I realise it’s a luxury not only for people like you who feel they lack privacy but most people actually, who aren’t able to manage their time on their own. Ah, and I can tell you that you will live in times of a pandemic, which is happening right now, I guess you’d find that interesting, for example to observe how people are behaving. I find it interesting myself, but while it’s changed our lives all around the world very much, it doesn’t feel scary for myself so far. Maybe just because it is not a norovirus pandemic, haha.

Your future Bibiel self (I no longer call myself Bibiel all the time, only sometimes, you have to adjust to the society at some point, but I still am Bibiel and am loving it no less than you do)

Reasons why I’m learning English.

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

Reasons why I’m learning Welsh

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

Swedish.

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

1.

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

2.

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

3.

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

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

4.

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

5.

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

6.

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

7.

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

8.

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

9.

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

10.

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

11.

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

12.

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

13.

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

14.

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

15.

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

16.

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

17.

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

18.

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

19.

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

20.

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

 

21.

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

22.

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

23.

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

24.

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

25.

Because it’s easy. So why not?

26.

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

27.

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

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

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

 

If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare

Hey all you lovely people!

The

Weekend Coffee Share

link-up at Eclectic Alli’s is still lasting, so I’m happy to join in this week!

Let’s have some coffee, or anything else you’d like to drink, and maybe a snack to go with it.

It’s my Mum’s birthday, as well as Olek’s, and I’d love to share some cake with you, because it was super yummy, but, sadly, just a little while ago, the rest of it that hadn’t still got eaten, died a tragical death – Mum broke the plate with it, so the remaining cake was full of small pieces of glass. I was lucky because I got to eat the last edible piece only minutes before the accident! πŸ˜€ But I have tea, orange juice, Pepsi, and there still is a cake from bakery, but, although I haven’t had it, I’m sure it isn’t as good at my Mum’s was. And of course you can bring a drink or food of your own and have it, and share with other people if you want, as always.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask all of you how you’ve been doing… πŸ™‚

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that last week was quite eventful. Last Monday my family – that is my parents and Sofi – had a car accident. That was of course very shocking for everyone. Mum picked up Zofijka from her tennis class, as well as two of her friends, and they were going to head home when Dad called Mum to pick him up from work. She was reluctant to do that because that time around he was quite far away and she didn’t feel okay driving that far with all those kids and would prefer to drop at least Sofi’s friends to their homes, but there was no time. When they were on their way back home, there was a crossing in our town that Mum is always kind of apprehensive of, and while she was driving through it, they got hit by some young guy who was driving just crazily fast. I don’t know how it exactly looked like but anyway apparently it was only some immense, miraculous luck, that neither my Dad, nor one of Sofi’s friends, didn’t get killed or badly hurt. At the time, I was in my room, downloading some books, and having a yucky headache and was planning that as soon as I get done with it I’ll go to bed. As I thought that, my phone rang and I heard sobbing Sofi, who was standing outside and wanted me to let her in, because she didn’t have the key. Obviously that alarmed me immediately because I knew Mum has left to pick her up, and I asked her if there was something wrong, and she said yes, so I went downstairs quickly to let her in, and then I couldn’t believe what she was saying for quite some time. Mum had to stay there and wait for the police, but a couple who witnessed the whole thing helped her and her friends get back home. Apparently that young boy was just 18 and only had his driver’s licence for about half a year, and was jittery and really scared when that happened, and Sofi heard him saying that he’ll kill himself. I really hope he didn’t, or won’t. Mum’s car is a total wreck and we don’t know yet if it can be fixed at all. But thankfully nothing happened to anyone, other than shock, but we all managed to pick ourselves up after that pretty quickly. The first thing that I thought of when it finally sank in for me what Sofi was saying was that Mum must be devastated. She’s seen many accidents and whenever she sees anything like that, even less serious, she always cries, so I was sure she must be in quite a state emotionally. Turns out she was really brave this time and very cool-headed and didn’t cry at all, and was very surprised at that herself.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m just going through some sort of an occupational medicine saga. I had my OM check-up two weeks ago like every 2 years, and during it, it came up that on the decision of the institution which granted me disability benefits, it’s stated that I am “completely unfit for work”. That alarmed my OM doctor who said that, although he knows that I’ve been working for 4-5 years already and am able to do it despite my disability, it needs to be clarified, because someone might have a problem with that later on, for example if I change OM doctors or something, and I may not be allowed to work. So he referred me to the Occupational Medicine Centre to clear it and asked them to interpret that particular statement. From then on, I’ve been going back and forth between my OM doctor and the OM centre and it’s getting really unpleasant. In the meantime, me and my Mum asked the institution from which I get my disability benefits, which is called Social Insurances Association or something like this in Poland, and they told us that this statement “completely unfit for work” is something that a competent OM doctor should be familiar with and not make so much fuss around it, because they always write it when someone is on social benefits because of disability, and it means that you can only work in a position that’s adjusted to your needs. Of course it’s official jargon, and this statement is weird – an average person with not much knowledge in those matters wouldn’t think that “completely unfit for work” would mean anything else than “completely unfit for work”, but since this jargon is specific for the field, and he is an OM doctor, it seems very incompetent andΒ  no professional indeed that he doesn’t know such things and takes it literally. – My OM doctor is also a dermatologist, and it seems like he doesn’t really manage juggling those two specialisations at the same time, especially that one year when I visited him, he told me that he’s “probably the best dermatologist in the county”, so I suppose he focuses so much on being such a great dermatologist that he doesn’t have enough time on being a decent OM doctor and have the minimum knowledge. I came back to him after that, explaining to him what I’ve learnt, but he still insists on interpreting it just for him by someone from the OM Centre. It seems like, because he doesn’t know the rules and procedures and the basic terms used in his field of work, he is afraid to renew his decision that I can still work, because what if someone will say that I can’t and then he’ll have to bear the consequences. Instead of researching the topic himself or asking someone more knowledgeable, he wants me to do the job for him and interpret stuff that’s obvious for anyone who has some basic idea about how benefits work here. I’ll do that because as it seems right now I don’t have a better option, but then I think I’ll say goodbye to the best dermatologist in the county and find myself some other OM doctor. Sadly, this guy’s name is Jacek. I think he could be nice as a person, even if a bit too cocky, but even when your name is Jacek, it doesn’t immediately make you great at everything as it seems. πŸ˜€ Not that I didn’t know previously that Jaceks do have their weaknesses too, like all other people.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m fighting for and stressing over some of my speech synths that I’ve lost. I don’t know if I’ve told you that or not, but in that whole wave of tech issues and computer transition I’d had, I’ve lost ALL of my licences for those voices and the accompanying app. I won’t get into the details of how it happened, but to put it shortly, you get those speech synthesisers in the app on a USB stick, and that stick comes with 3 licences that enable you to install it locally. You can have one licence on one computer and of course you can remove it from it and transfer it back on to it as you wish. Except for when you have some unpredictable system crash that requires some major repairs and digging inside of it, drive replacement, etc. Then, even if you still have the same computer, the same system and haven’t removed the licence and uninstalled the app, your licence is still there but you are unable to use it, and neither can you remove it. And because usually we are not able to predict when our computers will crash, and also because I wasn’t aware of that, I gradually lost all of my licences because of some major changes on my computers and am stuck in a dead poind with them. So I had to contact the producer, they weren’t responding for a good few weeks so finally I decided to call them, which my Mum was persuading me to do for a long time and saying that I should do that in the first place. That cost me a lot as you can imagine if you know me at least a bit, but I was just like there’s no way I’m going to lose them permanently, I have to get them to do something. So I explained in Swenglish to the girl who answered my call (I called their Swedish quarters) what happened and what I want from them, but our communication was very poor because we couldn’t hear each other very well for some reason and besides she seemed quite clueless and the only thing she could do was to collect the info on the problem for me and she said she’d pass it on to other people and when they’ll know something, they’ll call me back. No one did for over a week, so I was thinking I’ll have to start flooding them with emails, but luckily before I started out with that, I got a response to my email. I now have 3 new licences from them that I can use, but to keep things interesting, I cannot, because for some reason a licence won’t transfer on to my computer. So the guy from that company will have to do something with it remotely. That makes me quite anxious and I’m not sure why. I mean the thing has been very stressful for me since the beginning but since that has become a real possibility I’m stressing about it much more. Am I such a privacy freak, or am I anxious of what the problem might be because it looks serious and that something will go wrong and because I have little experience with getting remote assistance, or am I scared of the interacting, probably a fair bit of it, that I’ll have to do with him, or what, no idea!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, while my anxiety has been pretty high for a long time now and hasn’t come down to what I perceive my baseline level in months, and now has actually gotten higher recently because as you can see things have been chaotic, the good news is that my depressive symptoms, including anhedonia, have alleviated a bit, and I have more energy for things, yay! I still don’t have a faza which stinks like a skunk, and it’s still far from my “normal”, but it’s better, so let’s hope this will continue! It certainly makes life that bit easier, and makes you feel a bit less like you have to fake everything you’re supposed to feel all the time, or less shitty about yourself when you are not able to fake. Concerning fazas and continuing what I wrote about in

this post

, if I ever thought that Jack Vallier was going to be my next crush, now I know he definitely won’t! Sofi took him over from me! Despite she doesn’t like “guys with earrings”. πŸ˜€ Yesterday we were sitting in the kitchen – us and Mum – and she was listening to the music, and then she played one of Jack’s songs and said: “Mum, guess who it is, this guy who’s singing?”. Of course Mum didn’t know. “It’s Jack V… I don’t know, but he’s Jack, he was going to be Emi’s crush but he’s too normal for her. So I’m taking him over. He looks awful but I love his music so much”. 🀣 Then I heard her talking to Dad, asking him if it’s possible that she/we could go to London this summer, because she’s read somewhere that her crush is going to have a concert there. Of course Dad didn’t agree. I don’t mind Sofi taking Jack over because as I said I didn’t think I would be able to get a faza on someone so normal anyway, and he’s more Sofi’s style, I mean his music is, and I know that for her, crush is something different than for me and we both understand it differently. It probably won’t even last very long for her. However if I did have a faza on Jack that would be really unfortunate, because I can’t imagine sharing my faza objects with Sofi hahaha.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that me and Olek collectively bought Mum a new phone for her birthday, a Samsung Galaxy, though obviously I don’t remember which one exactly. It was Olek’s idea. I thought it was cool but also was a bit apprehensive of it, my Mum had always had LG phones and liked them, so I wasn’t sure if she’d like it. Of course she now has to get used to it, which always takes some time, but so far I guess she feels positive about it which I’m glad about.

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

 

Song of the day (16th November) – Coma – “Los Cebula I Krokodyle Łzy” (Fate Onion And Crocodile Tears).

I didn’t plan to share this song at all but I kind of had no idea for a song for this day, and I heard this one playing in the bathroom, so decided to share it because I have a bit of a personal story with her. It’s a song dedicated to people who struggle with depression but also generally just any kind of life difficulties. I heard it for the first time in the kitchen, one late Sunday evening, night actually. I went downstairs because I had self harm urges and wanted to cut or something. I came into the kitchen and took out the knife from the drawer when I heard this song playing: “Leave that damn mug alone, you’ll cut your fingers…”. πŸ˜€ I had a knife in my hand, not a mug, and intended to cut not necessarily my fingers with it, but the irony of the situation made me laugh out loud despite I was crying some five minutes earlier. πŸ˜€ I started to listen to the song and it sort of made me feel better, at least I could relate to it. I’d like to tell you that Coma prevented me from cutting that time but they didn’t, but the song helped me a little bit to make me feel less alone with my shit. And now I am going to share it with you and my translation of the lyrics as well.

Β Β  Leave that damn mug alone – you’ll cut your fingers.
Drink the milk, wash your face. I’ll come before you fall asleep.
Even though the galactic blast will destroy the civilisation
It’s not enough to burst out into tears.
For me, the day wasn’t too gracious either.
For me too, too long and bad is the winter
For me too, but you must admit, that all in all, life is wonderful
And stop wailing! Stop wailing! Stop crying!
And why do you read the comments from frustrated pipsqueaks?
Let the blockheads poison themselves with venom, save yourself the evil.
For me, the day wasn’t too gracious either.
For me too, too long and bad is the winter
For me too fate, onion and crocodile tears.
Stop wailing! Stop wailing! Stop crying!
For me, the day wasn’t too gracious either.
For me too, too long and bad is the winter
For me too fate, onion and crocodile tears.
Stop wailing! Stop wailing! Stop crying!i

Working On Us – self care.

It’s week #12 of Working On Us, a mental health prompts series hosted by Beckie of

Beckie’s Mental MessΒ 

and the topic of this week is self care. Gonna be tricky, but let’s try. I’m going to participate in prompt #1. Here goes.

 

  1. Were their signs of your self-care routine lacking before you were officially diagnosed with a mental illness/disorders? – Yes, definitely, especially that all my official mental health diagnoses are relatively recent. I think I’ve struggled with self care my entire life, and not only due to mental illnesses. For a long time I wasn’t concerned about my appearance at all, which had surely to do with my blindness. Since I didn’t look at people and care about their appearance, why the heck would they look at me and care about mine? And I just wasn’t interested in that. I am still not, and I’m still not particularly caring about my appearance, when I feel OK I just do the minimum to look OK, I never do makeup at all, I hate clothes shopping, I don’t even do this myself, my Mum likes similar things to me in terms of clothing and she knows what I like and look OK in so she is my stylist as I say. Then when things with my mental health started slipping down fast, which I can’t even tell now when exactly it started happening, my self care routine slipped down too. It’s all very complex and layered and not even fully understandable to me why I experience all the difficulties with self care that I experience. As I said in a way it’s that I don’t care, then I’ve never had healthy self-esteem so on the other hand I feel sort of like even if I did care how I look like, I don’t deserve such things as self care, my inner critic cringes even at the sound of this word. I’ve got a deeply ingrained conviction in my brain that I am very emotionally weak because of what happened to me and how I reacted to all that, and also I hate feeling vulnerable and showing my vulnerability both because it makes me feel weak and even more insecure around other people. And then there is depression, which sometimes just makes my self-esteem even worse, sometimes it gives me so many other things to care/worry about that I just don’t find the time and space for self care and it feels very unimportant, or I don’t have the energy for it. And on top of that, there is the fact that I am not very independent, I need relatively much assistance with a lot of things, well it’s hard to make comparisons especially that I hate comparisons but what I mean is that I often need at least some help with certain self care activities that a fair few blind people I know can do on their own, and there are probably other things involved too that I either can’t think of right now or don’t fully realise. So when my mental health started slipping down, I started doing things like not eating on purpose when I felt hungry, not for weight related reasons but I’d say as a way of punishing myself but also distracting from what I felt, my emetophobia which was very bad at that time played also a role in it. It wasn’t like I wouldn’t eat at all and I tried not to make it obvious but at some point one of the staff at the boarding school noticed some things and was worried I am anorectic though I wasn’t. I often deliberately didn’t do things that were bringing me pleasure when I could do them, and I started self-harming, though in fact I was doing mild self-harm a lot of the time since I can remember. Pain has often been comforting for me or at least distracting, or my inner critic whom I call Maggie in English would just punish me this way. Or I would do things like when I felt cold I deliberately didn’t put warmer clothes on either to distract from my feelings or to feel that weird and crazy satisfaction that I am doing something against myself and that I could manifest how I hated myself. A lot of those things have gotten milder now or disappeared because my life circumstances are now different and my self-awareness is a little bit better.
  2. Did you (or) do you suffer from low self-esteem? – Yes. One of the things I’ve been diagnosed with is AVPD (avoidant personality disorder) which is very tightly related to having very low self-esteem. I really don’t like to talk about my self-esteem because it makes me so much more vulnerable and it’s not fun when people know such things about you, the more that deep down I have a feeling that they already know it because it’s obvious, but also because it’s hard to talk about it honestly in an open and raw way and not sound whiney and I hate sounding whiney. I try to change it on my blog where it’s much easier, but still difficult, hence this post is a little bit tricky for me. My inner critic Maggie is very good at her role and I have that niggling, snarky feeling about myself always there in the back of my mind. I do have times when my self-esteem goes higher, sometimes for a while it goes veeery high if there is something that makes me feel really good about myself or accomplished but then it doesn’t take much to crash in a big way and I end up self-loathing. When I feel more depressed or overwhelmed with all sorts of feelings I loathe myself for days or weeks very intensely and then self care is more challenging and it’s hard not to self harm.
  3. Is there (or) have there been stages of guilt when not properly taking care of your self-care routine? – Hm, well, I deal with guilt a lot while depressed and then it doesn’t need a specific reason for me to feel guilty, but I guess I never or very rarely feel seriously guilty specifically because of lack of self care, unless I look really horrific or something happens because of it that affects other people in a bad way.
  4. (You can refrain from answering the next question if you wish to).Β  What was the longest period of time between taking a shower, and/or brushing your teeth? – I try to always shower or take a bath, I’d have to be suuuper unstable not to do it or extremely wiped out and my energy rarely goes that low solely because of mental health as I only have dysthymia and not major depression so it’s not normal for me to feel so very drained. Taking a shower actually often helps me to feel better and calmer. Sometimes when I’m really depressed/overwhelmed/self-hating I only have a very quick shower just to get it over with as quickly as possible, or in turn I can sometimes stand in the shower for ages with my brain either running a mile a minute so I’m too absorbed in my own anxious/dark thoughts to do anything else in the meantime, or frozen because of the depression, and I go out of the shower and realise that: “Aha, cool, I didn’t even wash myself. Oh well, who cares. Let’s better go off to sleep”. πŸ˜€ So, completely without showering, I remember a time when I was 15 and didn’t shower for 3 days, and that’s the only single incident with not showering for a few days because of mental health stuff that I can think of. Brushing teeth is tricky. I hated doing it as a child for a while because of the sensory feel of it, then when my emetophobia got bad when I was a teen there was a situation when I saw my Dad brushing his teeth, and he was brushing his tongue so very energetically that he gagged and I was like “Oh no, no teeth brushing for me anymore, I don’t want this to happen to me!”. And it was really tough for me to brush my teeth until my emetophobia calmed down a little bit and I was able to talk some sense into myself that people don’t normally just gag when brushing their teeth. πŸ˜€ On the other hand, because I hate having things other than food in my mouth, also because of that same fear, I am also scared of the dentist visits and such, so I try to take care of my teeth. But still, when I feel shitty, I don’t care and I don’t brush my teeth or I do it very superficially. I can’t remember for how long it was when I was so scared of brushing teeth because of that gagging thing, but I can sometimes go without brushing teeth for 3 weeks or so. Then when I don’t do it for so long, I easily plain forget to do it sometimes, as I can be very scatterbrained. I am one of those lucky folks though because I’ve never even had a single cavity or any such things.
  5. If you are supposed to be going out for whatever occasion, are you concerned with your over-all appearance?Β  (Or) Do you take care of your self-care needs before leaving the house? – It depends whether I am concerned or not and how much on how I’m feeling, if I am concerned then usually because I feel so self-conscious than because I want to look well. I do basic self care things before going out though even if I’m not concerned, just for the peace of mind, because I should. πŸ˜€
  6. What advice can you give to someone who is having difficulty with their self-care routine?Β  (Note: If someone was to ask for your advice, what would you share with them?) – Oh gosh! That if they need a good self care advice, they shouldn’t come for it to me, because I’m anything but a self care guru. πŸ˜€ No, I’m kidding of course, but it’s really hard to advise people on something you struggle with yourself, it feels hypocritical. Wait a moment, I have to think… I think what I can say is that you are certainly not alone with it, most people with mental illness struggle with self care, and it is OK to admit that you are struggling, that you don’t feel like focusing on your appearance, that you are not into it at this moment, it’s OK and it is valid, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty about it if you do, because it just happens, it’s not something you chose to happen, did you? It’s important how you look, but it’s not the most important thing in the world, not the most important thing about you either, and you don’t always have to look glamourous, especially that it is such a subjective thing, and, let’s be objective for a second, most people care and worry too much about how they look to judge everyone else’s appearance and whether it is appropriate. And that everything in life is transient, so there are big chances that you won’t always struggle with it as much as you do right now. Uhhh what a lengthy post haha!

Working On Us – music.

Hi guys! πŸ™‚

It’s week #9 of Beckie’s Working On Us prompts at

Beckie’s Mental Mess

and this week’s topic is music.

Because I already share loads of music with you as part of my song of the day series, and all of it is music I like that has some sort of a beneficial effect on me, this time I decided I’ll only participate in prompt #1.

 

  • Have you ever received music therapy as part of your treatment?Β  If so, what kind of music was introduced to you? – Maybe not exactly as part of my treatment as such, but there was music therapy at the boarding school for the blind where I was going to, and I did take part in it for some years. Back then I had already a lot of emotional/mental health issues but I only sort of knew that “something’s wrong” and nothing more specific, I didn’t want to know even in a way, and some people in my surroundings also knew about it to some extend, at least what was obvious and visible. I liked music therapy a lot. As far as I can remember, we mostly listened to classical music, some soundtracks or electronic music, but we had some other music too. What I – and all the others who participated – loved the most were relaxations. We’d listen to relaxing music and the music therapist read some guided imagery to us. You could follow it, or just let your mind wander, or not think about anything, or fall asleep, just relax. I was struggling with stuff like racing thoughts at that time and didn’t sleep much at all so that could sometimes be very very helpful. And I loved the sort of exercises when we were listening to a piece of music and had to imagine some sort of situation that it would fit to, or what it represents.
  • Do you listen to music ( if/when) you meditate?Β  If so, what kind of music do you listen to? – I don’t meditate a lot actually. We’ve recently started to do some Christian meditation – me and my Mum, usually once a month – but I’m not particularly good at meditation, I have real trouble with shutting up my mind and focusing on just one thing at a time. If we do that, we usually don’t listen to music. But, also quite recently, I’ve noticed that my generalised anxiety has worsened which makes some things more difficult for me, like settling down for sleep, I’ve been overthinking and ruminating more since a few months and I still have yet to discover what’s the exact reason if there is any. Anyways, because of that, I started doing some more visualisations and imageries, especially before sleep, as a way to relax and soothe my brain. I’ve always liked that but now as my anxiety has sort of relapsed, I think I should do it more often. And when I do it, I do listen to music. It’s usually some sort of calming, instrumental music, for relaxation and meditation, though I try to be aware of what I’m listening to as much as I can and not listen to new age-y stuff. Also gentle, calm folk is good, or electronic but not too electrified music. I love harp, especially Celtic harp and especially solo, but almost any type of harp will do to me, and I find this instrument extremely soothing. Also Enya’s music calms me a lot. Sometimes I will just listen to nature sounds or such but usually I need a bit more to create some sort of fuller relaxing image in my mind based on the music I’m listening to.
  • If you have never tried music therapy as a treatment, what types of music calm and/or mellow you? – Apart from what I’ve mentioned, it’d be all my music crushes, who always fascinate me, inspire me and are sort of like antidotes for all sorts of negative things, not always necessarily their music calms me down but always gives me positive vibes. Other music I find calming is acoustic pop, some indie, maybe chillout and such but not too jazzy, psychedelic rock/folk, lighter alternative rock…
      • Do you believe music helps everyone and there is really no use for therapy in this regard? – I do believe that music helps everyone, it can help immensely, but it doesn’t mean that music doesn’t have additional therapeutic values which can be used when they are needed, and I believe that it’s beneficial effects are even more pronounced in people with mental illness or mental health issues, even other sorts of chronic illnesses or disabilities. And music has that quality that it helps to release emotions, or express them, you don’t have to be the one who creates the music to be able to express yourself through it, I believe. I think there aren’t many other ways that would be as universally effective in this, and people with mental illness often struggle with releasing their emotions in healthy ways, and that’s why I think it’s mostly so therapeutic for us.

Working On Us.

This week, I’m again participating in Beckie’s mental health prompts series Working On Us over at

Beckie’s Mental Mess.Β 

This week’s topic is suicide, which is a very difficult and often triggering topic for so many of us, so please read this post carefully or do not read it, if you feel like it might affect you in any negative way.

I am going to participate in the prompt #1, which consists of the following questions.

  1. Have you ever experienced suicidal thoughts? – Yes. I’ve been experiencing suicidal thoughts and ideations since about the age of 9-10, which is also roughly when I was diagnosed with my first depressive episode by a psychologist. Back then, and throughout my early teenage years, my suicidal thoughts were the strongest.
  2. Have you ever attempted suicide? – No, but I was very close to attempting a few times. There were a few things that were holding me back back then. First of all, I am Christian, so I always felt like I needed to be strong for the sake of that, and that if I’d die by suicide, it wouldn’t necessarily mean things would become better for me. Another thing is that I was always scared of overdosing, which would be in practical terms the easiest way to attempt suicide. I’m scared of that because of emetophobia, I mean the consequences I’d have to face if my attempt would fail, being cleared and all that. Also I’ve heard some awful stories as a kid, of people who overdosed on meds and ended up as pretty much vegetables with very damaged brains. If I am to live in this world, I want to have my brain working at least, as it is my shield and weapon. When my suicidal ideations were particularly severe – that is when I was 10 and recovering from an Achilles tendons surgery – looking back on that time I think that if I was given a chance, I could very likely make an attempt, but I had my both legs in huuuge plasters and was very immobile and relied on others for a lot of things, so, although I had plenty of ideas, fortunately they weren’t that easy to undertake. Besides, so many people say suicide is a sign of weakness. I think you actually have to be a strong person to be determined enough to do it. I don’t consider myself particularly strong.
  3. Were you ever hospitalized for a suicidal attempt and/or ideation? – No. I rarely even talk to people in my surroundings about such things in a serious way, so back then no one actually knew I was suicidal, just that I was depressed, and now things are better in that respect so I wouldn’t need to be hospitalised at this point.
  4. When you were hospitalized, what was your experience like? – N/a.
        1. Do you ever feel suicidal ideation since your release? – As I said, I’ve never been hospitalised for being suicidal, but yes, even though I’m doing better than I did in the past, at least in terms of suicidality, I still do experience suicidal thoughts. They’re usually of a passive kind though, unlike in the past, unless I feel really depressed and overloaded, then sometimes I can still feel really bad active suicidal ideations. But it’s just a mere echo of what it was like for me when I was younger, that was hellish.