Question of the day.

Do you like to go to family reunions and gettogethers, if they’re a thing in your family?

My answer:

As I wrote in my answer to the last question, not really, as it’s very hard for me because of the anxiety and other mental health stuff, and not feeling the connection with most of my extended family. I will go to some of them mostly out of duty so that no one feels hurt and my conscience is not biting me, but if I have to be honest, no, I don’t like it, and if I can, I’ll avoid it. Smaller gatherings are a bit easier, as are those on my Mum’s family’s side as opposed to my Dad’s family with whom I feel totally like a changeling or a fifth wheel. My Mum’s family, even if they are a bit overwhelming at times, are interesting people so at least I can listen to their conversations which can often be absorbing, and they see me more for me than just my blindness, though also not fully.

How about you? πŸ™‚

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Question of the day (29th August).

Which colours make up most of your wardrobe?

My answer:

It’s mostly my Mum who gets clothes for me, or as I say, is my stylist, which is easy and comfy because we both have mostly very similar styles, and also like similar colours. It’s also convenient because sometimes when I just need one or two clothing items I don’t have to go to a shop, but when my Mum is going somewhere else she can easily choose the right things for me, it matters because I loathe clothes shopping, it’s sooo overwhelming and soooo boring. So, because of this, I don’t always remember what colour all my things are, and I probably wouldn’t remember all of them anyway, and some that I wear less often I just don’t know what colour they are. Generally though, in terms of colour, it’s very similar to how my Mum’s wardrobe looks like – you open it and see blackness! – I love black, I feel good in it, I think it fits me and I hate stupid folks who assume I’ve lost someone and daftly ask me “Did something happen in your family?”. Even if so, I’d tell you first if I’d want. So that’s the only downside of wearing black. But it’s really such a practical colour and people say I look good in it. I wear a lot of grey which I love too, especially when I stay at home, then if I can I wear as many grey things as possible so that me and Misha look very similar. Grey is just so homely and cosy. I would like to wear more white, which is also one of my favourite stuff, but it’s not practical and Mum says it doesn’t look to well on me usually as my skin is very pale, Zofijka apparently looks gorgeous in white, she’s quite a Nordic type but has a darker (and way more tanned most of the time) complexion than me. But I have lots of blues, especially the turquoise shade or similar, and I love blue too. I also have quite a few purple things, purple is okay though I’m not very crazy on it, but apparently it fits me very much. As you can see, it’s mostly cooler colours, from the warmer ones I have two fuchsia skirts and some pink-ish stuff, I hate red and I would never put it on myself (consciously, of course), apart from one T-shirt I have that is red and has “Purrr” written on it in tactile letters on some sort of a velvety material, this one I love. So, in short, that’s it.

How about your wardrobe? And which colours, in your view, fit you best? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

In childhood, did you ever have extra-curricular instruction (for sports, a musical instrument/singing, or participate in any arts and crafts classes or organisations)? This may or may not be related with school.

My answer:

While at the school for the blind, we all had a lot of extra-curricular activities which weren’t always associated with our schooling, but more with the rehabilitation thing. Like, all of us had some mobility training which we simply called “spatial orientation”, which involved learning some routes, using techniques for walking with and without white cane, but also some other life skills not necessarily always closely related to mobility. Many people, including me, had so called corrective gymnastics, I had that mostly for my shortened Achilles tendons. All of us went swimming twice a week after school. Things like that were sort of basic there. I remember I really didn’t like going to the swimming pool, it always stressed me out for some reason, so I looked for any way of skipping that, which was easy since I seemed to have some skin reaction to the chlorine and my Mum didn’t want me to absorb too much chlorine because she read somewhere that people with hypothyroidism (which I had) shouldn’t get too much of it. I really love being in the water, so it’s not that I am afraid of it or something. I love being in the sea or river, I just still have that crazy aversion to swimming pools which I don’t really understand, I would just never go to a swimming pool voluntarily, unless an open one, like Zofijka has. But I hate the in-door swimming pools.

When at the nursery, all of us had horse riding, which I wrote about earlier, that I was so scared of and then started to love to bits, haha. I also ended up getting into the music school, which was a bit accidental. As I wrote even in the last question of the day post, I did a lot of singing there, also on stage. I was taking part in some sort of contest and I had a lot of rehearsals and preparations for that. I guess, being at the age of 5 or 6, I must have been sort of confused whether it was a temporary thing or if I was to have those rehearsals regularl even after the contest, and at some point I asked one of the staff out of curiosity if I’ll be still having that. She was puzzled and said that I’d better ask our… OMG how do you call it in English…? rhythmicity teacher…? People make up really weird subjects, even for nursery children lol. Anyway, she told me to ask her, because she was working at music school, so she would know, or would get in touch with that tutor who was preparing me for that contest earlier. So I did, And the rhythmicity teacher asked me which instrument I was learning to play with that lady. I was very confused, I was just singing. But after a while, not knowing what I should say, I said piano, because she played piano, so I thought maybe that was what the teacher asked me about. And she was like: “Oh, but she doesn’t teach piano…” and she told me that she will talk to the teacher who did teach piano and get her to work with me. And, although I hadn’t ever think about learning to play piano,a week afterwards I met my teacher, who was a lovely and cheerful young woman, with whom I loved to chat with, especially about the Parpills (the creatures I made up), but the whole piano learning thing was super strenuous. I found it really difficult, technically, to repeat more complex things that she asked me or showed me to do. Then after a few years, when I was in primary, that nice teacher had to go on maternity leave and I never worked with her again, instead, I was assigned an older lady, who was very sophisticated and serious, and super calm and had the patience of a saint, which was probably life-saving for us both. Most of the girls in my group at the boarding school were in the music school and quite a few were very passionate and serious about that so I sort of felt like I should too, and once I very carelessly shared one of my dreams with my Mum. Not my real big dreams, you know, just a little, funny daydream I once had that didn’t mean anything, because I’ve had daydreams about being a hundred and one things in my life, and it doesn’t immediately mean that’s what I would seriously like to do for my whole life. Dreams are fun because you can pop in and out of them when you want. My daydream that I shared with my Mum was influenced by a book I read. For a while I wanted to be like the main character in that book – a 30-something sophisticated, elegant mummy with a big family of six children living in a mansion, who was very artistic and liked to play piano for her family’s entertainment. –
I had to hear about that little dream of mine for the next three years until I finally couldn’t take it anymore, my extended family seriously thought I could play the piano, and I felt like an imposter, and I was just frustrated with it and with myself and I quit. The more that that year I had to get my corrective gymnastics hours increased because the creepy shadow of Grice-Green’s surgery was hanging over my feet and the last thing I felt like focusing on was freaking piano. πŸ˜€ Some time afterwards I quit the singing thing for good as well, for a mixture of reasons but I guess mostly because it wasn’t my thing any longer. I only sing in the shower now or for Misha’s entertainment who seems to like it for some reason. I later tried learning guitar at home during holidays with my aunt’s acquaintance, mostly to please my Mummy but also because I had a glimmer of hope it could get better this time. Piano felt like a very sophisticated instrument, but I’d heard from lots of people that guitar is easy, and knew people without much talent for music who learned to play some tunes by heart, so I thought if it’s so easy, and since I did have an ear for music, perhaps I could master it too. It didn’t work like that. After four months I was definitely getting it at the brain level pretty well,but couldn’t repeat any of the chords completely on my own properly without at least some instructions or assistance. I wasn’t too disappointed though, just came to the conclusion that being a listener is much more fit for me than being a creator of music. If we all only made our own music, no one would listen to it, I guess. I also had other classes as part of my musical education for a while, which lasted for too short to give me very much knowledge, but I appreciate that experience because I did get some knowledge or understanding of music that I would probably never get otherwise, so while I don’t know nearly as much as someone who completed music school, I also guess I have a bit more insight than an average person would. And later on I was taking part in music therapy which was extremely helpful and relaxing for my brain which was one big nervous wreck at the time haha.

When I left that school to try the integration school out, my Mum made me a surprise organising horse riding lessons for me, which was scary like hell at first for me, but as you know I discovered very soon how much I in fact love horse riding. During my second year there, at 4th grade, I somehow ended up in a theatre club. I really don’t remember how I got in there. I guess it must have been something like that everyone had to pick an after school activity or something? And my Polish teacher was running it so I guess I got in there thanks to her. I really didn’t like it here. Neither did Olek, who also took part in it, well I suppose he must have disliked it even more, I had at least some experience with such things so could grit my teeth and get on with it, but when you’re new to it and not into it… sucks. I’ve had people telling me that I have some acting skills, which at first made me snort out with laughter, but when even my Mum said that I started to think about this more seriously. I like to play pretend with Zofijka, I am good at mimicking accents, I guess, and that’s what people say, but it’s been mostly Polish people saying that to me about English accents so they might as well have no idea, the more that Polish people usually have nasty accents in English, even if they are fluent. And I like to mimic people and how they act too. The thing is, I have to be really chilled and comfortable to do that. Every time I took part in a play on stage, I was stiff as a stick. And while I have mostly very good memory, I don’t do well with absorbing stuff like learning a poem by heart, or a word list in another language in specific order, or lines for a play. I always struggled a bit with that. I remember standing on a stage for hours after school, which always made me dizzy because it was so high and I was like “What if I fall from these stairs?!”, ravenously hungry and stressed, and I know so was Olek. We were doing a nativity play that year, and I was Mary, and hated it with my every brain cell. When we were finally performing in front of the whole school and parents and all, the power was out and mics weren’t working, and we all had to yell our lines, which I remember clearly because I had a bit of a cold that day and my throat was aching so that wasn’t fun. πŸ˜€ And I remember having high-heel shoes (did Mary seriously go all the way to Bethlehem pregnant in high-heel shoes), which was a really bad idea because I felt even more unsteady and panicky. πŸ˜€ But the whole thing seems rather hilarious to me now.

That’s also where my saga of my math compensatory classes (is that how you call it?) started.

At some point during my education at that school, my Mum found a teacher for me, via some local newspaper, with whom I had Swedish, as I always wanted. I loved that to pieces!

I had to go back to the “blind” school in the end, so all my jolly horse riding and Swedish adventures took a backseat because I wasn’t able to take part in them as often anymore, and then they finally all completely disappeared leaving me in a lot of distress (especially the fact that I couldn’t have Swedish) that I managed to sort of suppress and not think about but any time something reminded me about Swedish language I was enormously frustrated.

Instead there was some project funded by EU at our school in which I was chosen to take part and learn English via Callan method, together with some of my groupmates. I guess all of us disliked it because it was really boring, and looking at it now, I really wonder where that decision came from and why they chose Callan method, because I guess it’s the most ridiculous language learning method on the Earth. I mean, it certainly must have been of use in the circumstances in which it was created – for soldiers, to quickly learn the language, I guess soldiers do not need to be incredibly fluent, but just say what they need to say and learn as much as possible as fast as possible. – It’s basically that you memorise loads of grammar rules and learn loads of artificial sentences from the textbooks, no flexibility or anything like that. ANd I don’t think it gave me anything special, was just a waste of our time, and waste of the precious funds of the EU. We really liked to skip those classes if that was possible for any of us, but they emphasised it very much that we shouldn’t because they were paid in advance, so I guess it’s a pity they weren’t a bit more useful.

Basically as you can see we were able to have lots of extra activities there so it’s possible there was something else that I don’t remember now.

When I got out of there I could finally breathe with relief and restart my Swedish and horse riding after my depression got more manageable (the horse riding I still have even though I’m not in school anymore, though I’m having a hiatus again). I also had extra English classes at home for a while, I felt like I needed them to be as well prepared for my English finals as I could, and I happened to get a really really chatty teacher so I really got to talk a lot with him in English, which I liked and which probably helped me to get that 100% result at oral English, not even because I learned that very much from him but because I gained more confidence in that and could speak even more freely. Oh and I also had my poor math tutor, who was courageously teaching me all the stuff we had at college plus helping me immensely with exam preparations. I liked her as a person, but those lessons with her I sometimes still get in my dreams – that I am sitting there and don’t know how to resolve some ridiculously weird equation or something and we both get more and more frustrated and hours are passing and I feel like punching and throwing everything around – really stupid topic for a dream isn’t it?

So that’s it from me, phew, quite a lot, as I can now see. πŸ˜€ I really appreciate it now that I can decide on it myself what I want to invest my time in, although some of those experiences were really interesting.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (26th August).

Hey people. πŸ™‚

Here’s my another question for you:

Throughout childhood, did you seek to have a specific profession (perhaps different professions during different periods) once reaching adulthood? Did this change once you passed beyond high school?

My answer:

I had multiple ideas throughout my childhood as for what I wanted to be as an adult, but it rarely or never was very clear, like, I’m sure I want to be this, and I will do anything to make it happen. And, in fact, the older I got, the more blurred my ideas were getting, due to many factors. When I was in nursery, so in my case from the age 5, I really loved singing. I don’t know where I got that from, I certainly had some skill for it but I have an impression this could be that stereotype that, you know, blind people are always good at music, and my family picked it up and so I did too. But whatever the cause of that, I liked it at the time, and whenever someone would ask me about what I wanted to be in the future, I’d say I would like to either be a singer, or a musician, or perhaps even a dancer, and that I didn’t want to have babies, because when women want a baby, they can have it, but they don’t have to when they don’t want. πŸ˜€ Around the same time though (I have a feeling I might have written about that somewhere on my blog earlier), I got some weird dream or an imagining or whatever it was. I was lying in bed at night in the nursery and almost falling asleep, or perhaps I was already somewhere between asleep and awake, and I know that a while earlier I was thinking about how it feels like to be an adult, and that I guess I wouldn’t like to be. And then, I saw myself as an adult, in a really huge kitchen. I was about to prepare a meal I guess, and I was all surrounded with little children and toddlers clinging to me. But the most weird and vivid thing for me that I remember the best in that little scene was the sense of hopelessness and despair I felt, and that I didn’t know what to do, like at all, with myself, with those kids, with that damn meal, it was frustrating, I was lost and confused and like people are expecting something from me but I didn’t know what and how to do it. I think it had to be a really powerful image because it stayed with me for years and when I was a kid, whenever I heard the word “adult”, that was what first came to my mind, and I still have that association somewhere in my brain.

When I was older, I wanted to be a writer, which has always been quite an appealing thing to me and I’ve always loved writing, I also had a stage when I wanted to be a psychologist, I guess as in therapist, and then for quite a while I also wanted to be a sound engineer or a music producer, which eventually led me to getting a chance to try my hand at the former for a couple years in an online academic radiostation where my friend Jacek (the one from Helsinki, but back then from Poland) volunteered, even though I wasn’t a student at his uni, but he managed to get me in there. Was loads of fun, but I realised I wasn’t enough into it to do it full time. I also wanted to do something with linguistics, like be somehow involved in creating speech synthesis for example, as it’s definitely something that is hugely based on linguistics and they need people who know something about specific languages and phonetics stuff in general.

When I met my horse riding instructor, who is also a neurologist and knows a whole lot about the brain and loads of other interesting things about horses and humans, and after I spent some time with her, it slowly dawned on me that had I been sighted, I’d definitely have to be a neurosurgeon, I’ve also read some really interesting books about the brain at that time as well as about the beginnings of neurosurgery. But obviously since I’m blind that was out of question, and while it was and still is a fun dream for me, since it’s not a realistic one, I don’t think about it outside of the dream zone anymore at all.

I’ve fell in love with harp along the way and I had a really strong phase when I wanted to become a harpist, but at the same time, having tried two instruments before and not being able to learn to play any of them really well because of coordination issues and such, I was too scared to try in case I would be disappointed, because then I’d be disappointed really hard, and since it was Celtic harp I was dreaming about, there weren’t even any tutors in my area for that instrument, and it would be even more unthinkable for me to learn on my own.

Then I got a chance to finally do more with my languages and finally I’ve embraced what people have been telling me for ages, probably just because it was the only idea that popped into their mind as for what a blind person could do (apart from being a musician or a massage therapist) that I should become a translator. It wasn’t too appealing to me before, because the only idea of a translator I had in my mind was someone who follows you everywhere in a foreign country if you are a VIP and translates your every word and translates what people say to you. I never knew how they managed to do it – remember what someone is saying and translate it in their brain and then tell it the other person in the other language so quickly – and I couldn’t imagine myself doing that. –
Oral translating, especially simultaneous, is still like black magic to me, but I like the idea of doing written translations. I also discovered for good how in love I was with Celtic languages and cultures and wanted to do something with it. I didn’t really know what I could do after Celtic studies, apart from making another translation of Mabinogion or something like that, but I wanted to study Celtic studies. And I think I would probably do that, if not the fact that the two universities in Poland where they were available were very far away from me, and I completely didn’t feel like going to the other end of the country again, not even for the Celtic studies, and didn’t feel it would be realistic for me to live there independently. There were Celtic studies at University of Wales Trinity St. David that I really really really wanted to apply for, because they sounded like just for me, but after some investigation their e-learning environment turned out not to be very accessible, and later on I realised that they were MA studies so I couldn’t do them straight away after finals. And then I didn’t have to worry about my Celtic studies anymore because, quite as I supposed it could be, I didn’t pass the math final exam, and failed in a big way at it. I decided that at least for now I am not going to rewrite it, as you may already know. But still I think it’s not unrealistic for me to become a translator or something like this. I might rewrite that exam at some point, or even if not, I still know a couple languages, and as my Swedish teacher had always told me, knowing about all my other issues, no one would need a piece of paper to confirm that, and no one can tell me I can’t speak a language if they see I do. I am also slowly working on my translations of the poems of Cornelis Vreeswijk’s, I’m never happy with them and my feelings about whether I should ever show them to the wider audience or not are ever fluctuating, so we’ll see. I am, as you also probably know, also working as a secretary/office worker in my Dad’s company, which I feel very lucky about, and which I don’t think my childhood self would ever guess to happen. πŸ˜€

How was it with you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (25th August).

Hi guys. πŸ™‚

I was feeling shitty all day yesterday so didn’t even write anything, so here’s the overdue question for you, another childhood related one.

Did you like school? Are there reasons that you liked/disliked it?

My answer:

Who likes school? Not me anyway. Okay, at the beginning of my education I liked school somewhat, just except having to stay at the boarding school and except all the stressful stuff. It was stressful and challenging but I guess I liked learning. But it didn’t last long. Things were becoming more and more stressful, and I realised that, at least most of the time, creativity isn’t very well seen, and that most of the time it’s just either boring or freakishly abstractive for my brain, and that it was becoming more and more rare that what I learned at school would be either interesting or significantly beneficial/useful to me and bring something new into my life. I much preferred to learn things myself, things that I found interesting, although that wasn’t always possible, or not to a big degree. I didn’t do socialising literally at all at the beginning, then with years I learned to engage with people a bit more but it was very superficial. At the beginning of primary I remember I loved learning Polish and especially English, with English I stopped loving it as a subject very quickly because we happened to have a teacher that no one of us really liked who wasn’t too approachable or likeable, and then for the next year or two we had in turn a very meek teacher who was a lovely person but couldn’t even have much control over the class, and wasn’t demanding at all so things were either boring or chaotic on her lessons. And most of the time I didn’t have luck with English teachers, no matter in which school I was, I had only a few pretty good ones, and I’ve had fair few of them haha. Polish I loved for longer, as long as I was allowed to write elaborate stuff on topics I liked or that I felt comfortable with and could read at least mostly what I liked or stuff that we were reading for school was interesting. I think I started to get seriously disheartened by Polish in 4th grade but still was fairly good at it, and still there were things I liked about it. But, as you hopefully know, at least if you’ve been here for a while, neither English or Polish as a subject has ever discouraged me from liking those languages as such, although it was very close to it with English at some point and I had to rediscover it for myself a bit and, in a way, relearn it in my own way. I never cared much for grades, neither good nor bad, and I was not a perfectionist at school matters whatsoever, though the bigger tests usually really scared me and with time I did started to feel slightly inferior because of my math dilemmas, but only a bit. I hated that they wanted me to be good at everything (thankfully my Mum didn’t and was pissed off with that approach when she found out there is such so I didn’t want to be good at everything either). I guess I must have some sort of ability to learn things reasonably quickly, which was a bit weird but which really saved me at school, because I didn’t like studying hard, I mean repeating what we had at school and just spending more time than necessary with school stuff, I only did homework and repeated things very superficially before tests if I felt like I could fail spectacularly or if I needed to do reasonably good. I just never like to spend too much time doing boring things that I don’t have much interest in. I had to change that approach when preparing to my finals and spend horrendous amounts of time preparing to my math exam, but, as it seems, even studying really hard can’t always save you. πŸ˜€ So, especially as time went by, there were less and less things I liked at school. I was constantly stressed and depressed, having trouble engaging with people and doing a lot of daily prosaic stuff because of various things that I was struggling with, I was awfully neurotic and just hated school with a passion. Somehow I guess though that most of the time I at least managed to keep the impression that I’m doing well, unless someone was a bit more perceptive but I didn’t want people to see, or see as little as possible. I’ve also always been scared of changes, and at school you get a whole lot of them sometimes.

When I was 17, I got out of the school for the blind permanently and for a year that I had left until starting college, or however else you’d call it in your country, I was having individual education at my local school, where my brother was going to. My dream was always to be homeschooled, but I knew that was hardly possible, so I was happy that the psychiatrist who saw me at the time agreed with my Mum and therapist and the headmaster of that school who felt I could benefit from doing that year in individual education. And my poor teachers would benefit too, they weren’t really prepared for me appearing suddenly and I know most of them were deadly scared of the prospect of teaching a blind student. So I think it was easier for them doing it just with me than in the class, if it felt so challenging for them. And that year was the best year at school for me. I am sure that had I been at that school all the time it wouldn’t be a good decision, but I sort of regretted I didn’t come there earlier. I discovered that – while I was reasonably good at most subjects before – I was doing much better when learning one to one, and also I liked that I could really get to know my teachers well and they could get to know me well. I had exams at the end of that year, before going to college, but I don’t remember being very stressed about them. I was, a bit, for sure, but not quite as much as I was before previous or later major exams. I only remember finishing the syllabus for most of the subjects ridiculously quickly and reading my Vreeswijk’s poems translations or my short stories to my Polish teacher during our lessons and such. They really liked me there and I liked them. Sometimes I came to Olek’s classroom and had had lessons with the class (we were in the same class even though he’s two years younger than me because I had two years delay) and I kinda got along with a few girls in there even though they didn’t even know where people speak Finnish but oh well, never mind. I had a whole big classroom just to myself where I had all the lessons, and I remember passionately reading “Outsider” by Colin Wilson during most breaks while listening to music on the headphones so, if you know me, you’d figure out I was pretty chilled there, as for my standards. πŸ˜€ So yeah, that school I did like.

Then I went to that weekend school for adults, which was just boring. I also found it hard to socialise with people, especially with most of the teachers, those who seemed to be plain scared of me or something like that. I was really struggling with math stuff, and the rest was usually quite boring. I had one good friend who was helping me with things like getting around which made it all much easier for me, and I had some other fun people in the class too though a lot of people were dropping out or coming as they pleased since it was a college for adults so no one could pressure them to do anything really, and many folks got some benefits at work or something like this when they were learning at the same time so they enrolled often just for the sake of it. It all felt a bit artificial for me but then school is generally one big faking in so many ways for me so I was just trying to get through that period as best I could. At some point my Mum got tired of driving me back and forth and I was tired of sitting in the class while they were looking at slideshows or doing something from a textbook that I didn’t have and we collaboratively decided to ask my teachers if I could do the learning at home and just come in for exams and such. They all agreed with great relief, and promised profusely to send me what they are doing in class and the topics of the assignments and dates of the exams, but then I had to send them countless emails asking for that and that was rather yucky and resulted in a couple situations where I knew just last minute that I had an exam coming up or wrote an assignment a day before the due date. I hated that and it annoyed me like shit but overall when I stopped having to go to school every weekend life became a bit easier practically, and even more so for my Mum.

So that’s it, my experience with school, quite eventful, but mostly miserable, and made me feel really spiteful towards the whole education system, so that if someone wants to rant about it, I am always open and happy to chime in, just for the sake of it. Though Mum claims I am intoxicating Zofijka with my spite when doing it with her. I’m not sure I even care, is that awful of me? Zofijka mostly thinks what I do anyway, and comes with her school troubles to me a lot of the time, and I have to get my shit out somewhere finally too.

How much did you hate school? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Hi lovely people! πŸ™‚

I have another question for you about you and your siblings today. πŸ™‚

If you have more than one sibling, are you closer to one sibling than another/others?

My answer:

Definitely! As weird as that may be, I am much closer to Zofijka than Olek, despite she is much younger than me than Olek is. I was never very close to Olek. As a small child, I didn’t even like him, I feel, though it’s hard for me to say whether it was a sort of dislike like you usually have between siblings because of the rivalry and such, especially if there is not a big age difference between you and your siblings and you’re of opposite genders, or was it something bigger. I’ve written on here a few times that my very first memory is that of Olek being born and I didn’t like it at all, and that I was very nasty to him later on when we were both very small, like apparently I could come over to him and suddenly start to punch him with something very energetically for no apparent reason, or I was telling him when he can talk to me and when he can’t, like we would have a conversation and then I’d get annoyed with something or bored or whatever and was like “I don’t wanna talk to you anymore”. πŸ˜€ We played sometimes and had fun but as far as I can remember there wasn’t much of my initiative in it. I went to the boarding school when I was 5 so then I had much less contact with him, especially that in the first years of my stay there, if my parents wanted to see me in between school breaks and holidays they’d rather go to me than take me home, and then Olek stayed with grandparents for that time, usually. So we didn’t really get a possibility to strengthen our bond somehow. And we kept going further and further from each other with our lives, it was awkward for us to talk to each other a bit because we didn’t even know such things about each other like most siblings do, like what each other likes in greater detail or thinks about certain things, for example. When I ultimately came home after leaving that school at 17, in a way I felt weird because until then, I was moving between those two places and not really feeling like I belonged to any of them, and now as I was home for good I started to really feel like a stranger in the family in that I didn’t know about a lot of things, my family, other than my parents and Sofi, didn’t even know much about me other than the dry and mostly obvious facts, and it was all just a bit odd. Since then, five years have passed and I’ve caught up on most of those things, at least to some degree, because some things you can’t undo, I still struggle with the sense of belonging a lot, though not as much as I used to, but I feel much closer with my immediate family and have strengthened relationships with some of my extended family like my grandparents. My relationship with Olek is one of those things that haven’t changed much at all. We talk a little bit about casual things when we see each other throughout the day, sometimes will exchange some sarcastic comments on something or talk about what we’ve been doing during the day but that’s pretty much it. It’s very hard for me to initiate conversations with people around whom I feel awkward, and, while Olek doesn’t have social anxiety or anything like that, it must be tricky for him too. We live in one house, but our lives are very different and not very connected, and other people see the distance between us very clearly from what I can notice. I like him, we are kind for each other as fellow human beings should, but I sort of don’t feel the same intensity of feelings to him as I do to the rest of my immediate family. And I feel quite yucky because of it because it feels so callous not to have any deeper feelings for your brother just because.

With Sofi, it is an entirely different matter! We are both very very different from each other, so there’s plenty of conflicts, misunderstandings, calling each other names (more or less humourously), irritating each other etc. especially that Zofijka is rather impulsive so it’s easy to argue with her or make her angry or she goes moody and doesn’t talk to you for an hour or snaps out for no reason and then 5 minutes after that all is OK again. We play a lot, we spend lots of time together. We laugh at similar things, at least when it comes to situational humour, or some objectively childish/immature stuff that other people just don’t get, because they are either too serious (most adult people we both know) or too stupid (most kids and teens we both know) for that and they just scratch their heads in confusion when we suddenly both start choking with homeric laughter. We talk a lot about lots of things, make up silly games (like that Misha can talk via the connection between his brain and the brain of one of us, or creating the most ridiculous sentence, but such that will still make sense, in which all the words start with the same letter, or Zombie invasions, or make our own mock versions of stupid popular TV shows, or just coming up with the worst tortures for each other). Sometimes I help Sofi with her school work, though my patience is very limited in this field so it rarely ends up well, it drives me crazy when she doesn’t even try to think on her own or makes stupid mistakes so I don’t meedle in her school work unless she asks me too because I don’t want to discourage her or make her think she isn’t good at school work just because I get pissed off with lack of thinking in people. πŸ˜€ There are things that Zofijka seems to prefer to talk to me about or ask me about rather than Mum, because she feels embarrassed with Mum for some reason, she tends to ask me loads of tricky questions about stiff like sex, divorce or suicide, to give you a few most recent examples. She still wants me to tell her bed time stories and lay in bed with her, before she falls asleep, like seriously, she’s addicted! That often annoys me but we often have lots of interesting night talks because of this. The stories Zofijka likes most are about a creature called Jim, who is 3000 years old, but looks like a 12-year-old boy, he is a Jimosaurus, lives in a forest in Australia, and is the king of all the animals in it. He has a hut deep inside the forest, and, while he can eat normal, human food and likes it, it’s not nutritional to him, he lives on helping others. So when he feels hungry, he jumps on the roof of his hut with his special binoculars and looks around the world if someone/something needs his help. If so, which is of course always the case, he puts on his leather wings and flies there, with his friend Zofijka the Bee, just in case, because she is an excellent healer and nurse and can care for humans and animals and plants. And his monarchal duties are taken up by his friend bear, who is always sleepy and always clumsy and doesn’t have the best memory, so a lot of unpredictable things happen in the forest during his reigns because he doesn’t have any control or authority. Sofi loves Jim since she was 5 and still dreams that one day he’ll come to her and make her knees better so she can rollerskate, or help her with any other dilemma she may have at a given moment. She also likes stories about Misha, and what his life would be like if he was a human. Zofijka helps me too, sometimes she surprises me with her matter-of-fact, dry attitude to some things and in some cases it makes her a good advisor. I was once mentioning her a tricky situation I was having with a friend, and Sofi ruthlessly concluded it: “Tell her, if she has a problem, then she has a problem. It’s not your problem”. Which, in this particular case, was a healthy way of seeing it. Zofijka is also good with clothes and hairstyles and all so she often helps me with that too. Sometimes if I desperately want to watch a film because of something in it, or get a new music crush and want to know how they look like, I’ll rather ask Zofijka than anyone else to describe that person or thing to me. Zofijka is also a reasonably good cook for a 12-year-old, but she always threatens me that she’s poisoned my food. πŸ˜€ She can be really scary sometimes.

How is it with you and your siblings? πŸ™‚ If you have only one sibling, are you close with him/her?

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!