Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

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

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

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

Question of the day.

What’s your biggest fear?

My answer:

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

How about your fear? πŸ™‚

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

See part 1 here.

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

Β Β  Mindset

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

Β Β  Coping with crisis

Β Β  Evaluating how you’re feeling

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

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

Distraction

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

Breathing

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

Exposure and trying to overcome your fear

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

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

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

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

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

Daily life coping strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See part 2.

Question of the day.

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

My answer:

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

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

And how about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

What was the first book that scared you?

My answer:

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

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

How about you? πŸ™‚

“Help!” – my short story.

Hi guys. πŸ™‚

I wanted to publish this story already a couple days ago, but I lost what I’ve written so had to rewrite almost everything. Interesting how when I write something, and then read it after a few days, I usually think it’s shitty and delete it immediately, but this time, I think that that first version I wrote was much better and vivid than this one. πŸ˜€ This one doesn’t feel quite as natural to me. I couldn’t rewrite it exactly the same way though because I didn’t have any plan or anything, the idea was very spontaneous and only based on the writing prompt from The Haunted Wordsmith.

This is the story about sleep paralysis. Mostly about the way I feel it, although the heroine is not me, I imagine her being quite different from me, and not all her experiences in relation to sleep paralysis are exactly the same. Most of them are though, or at least are based on mine, some things I made up because I thought they were very likely to happen in a sleep paralysis episode. My “Ian” is very similar to hers, although it’s not his name. Melanie’s dreams, hallucinations and thought processes are more logical and understandable and relatable for an outsider than mine are in sleep paralysis.

Also, while I have a lot of the same experiences with other people who have sleep paralysis, not all of them are the same – well, I guess that’s the thing with all conditions that everyone experiences them differently (is sleep paralysis a condition actually?), but some of the differences I experience seem to be a rare thing as I’ve never heard about anyone else having them, also I believe some other things I deal with, including, as I call it, my “sensory” anxiety (I don’t have a better name for it) seem to complicate my sleep paralysis. Many people who have sleep paralysis say they have a full consciousness during it and are often aware of their surroundings, their mind is fully awake, only their body is asleep and they have hallucinations. For me it’s usually different, I either have partial consciousness, or I’m only aware that I’m dreaming, or I’m conscious of what’s going on around only at some moments and not the other, or I have a wild mix of reality and dream which I am not able to distinguish, with dozens of false awakenings usually, which can be very very creepy and realistic as in Melanie’s. It’s not always that intense as melanie’s, sometimes I am able to wriggle out of there by accident, use my consciousness and evoke a more positive dream at least for a while, you know as in lucid dreaming but it doesn’t work long term and it’s still all pretty murky and creepy and I have to be in control of the dream all the time which is not always possible, or I can move my toe or something and then it’s over. But it’s very often very intense and I’m not quite as resilient as Melanie to get over it within a few hours if it is intense, the anxiety usually lingers for days for me and can be very bad at times.

My sleep paralysis is always very difficult to describe for me, first because it just feels so evasive and like it’s hard to find words that would make it comprehensive, but also because if I’m to talk about mine in details it can feel quite upsetting, for different reasons, so I’ve never really talked with anyone much about it other than that I have it or just had it or that it’s scary. So I thought writing that story would be an interesting way to share some of my experiences, and maybe spread some awareness, although I have no idea if it would be relatable for other people who have it. I am aware that it might feel a bit boring and repetitive at times, but sleep paralysis is no fun and you get sick of it even before it really starts, and there’s a lot of repetitiveness in it, so that’s how I feel it should be. When I was a child for a long time my sleep paralysis dreams would actually look exactly identical for years. I’m sorry for any potential linguistic shortcomings as I’m not an English native so they might happen.

If you are an easily upset and very sensitive person, or have sleep paralysis that causes you a lot of distress and you think reading about in detail could unsettle you, please be cautious or stop reading here. Hope it gives you some idea of what it’s like.

Help!

“Help!”

– Melanie shouted, begging her lungs to cooperate. But she could only hear it in her mind. Nothing came out. “Help!!! Help!!! Heeeeeeeelp!!! Help… me…!!!”. She shouted so much, that she didn’t know anymore, was it her real voice, or was it all just in her imagination? But she kept holding on to the hope that, finally, someone will hear her, they surely will, this time it will be different, someone will save her. Chris will see something is wrong, he will save her, maybe he’s right there, sleeping beside her, she just needs to wake him up, scream loud enough. Did she just hear him snoring? Or maybe it’s morning already? God, please, let it be morning, let me wake up. Lily will wake up soon, she has to go to school. “I need to wake up, I have to!” But nothing happened, except she fell deeper, and deeper, and deeper down, no matter what she did, down into the abyss of her mind, which she knew so well, but which always held so many new surprises for her. She was falling faster and faster with every second, unable to control her body, unable to stop or slow it down. Yet at the same time it felt as if she was falling like that for centuries, and was still to do that for many centuries to come. What if I never wake up? But she didn’t have any strength left, or so it felt, to shout more, or to try and go out of where she was. Besides, deep down she knew it all too well that no matter what she does, she won’t be able to stop it, if her brain decided to keep her trapped. Suddenly, the pace of her fall increased much more, and shortly after she reached her destination, falling hard at the bottom of the abyss with a spectacular thud. The fear gripped her throat even more tightly, and the grip tightened even more when she heard the familiar, heavy steps.

– “Aaah, so you’re already here! That’s fantastic… We haven’t seen each other in ages, right? You can’t ignore me like that.”. Before she would even manage to say anything, he fell on her heavily, pressing her to the ground. That was how it usually started. Ian wasn’t a very clever man, but he was certainly a master of suspense. Ian loved routine, but his passion was also to surprise her with something new every time, and everything she had to endure was planned to the smallest detail.

Melanie knew him since she was a very little child, but never told anyone about his existence, and the overwhelming influence he had on her and her life. He would visit her in dreams, scare her to death, leaving repugnant signs of his presence scattered all over her brain. Then he would sometimes leave her alone for weeks, months, sometimes even years. ANd just when she thought she’s cleared up her mind of him, and that she’s free from him, or that she has found a strategy to deal with him and avoid him, he would come back. And with time, she has just gotten used to it, even though the fear never disappeared.

One day when she was a young girl, one of her teachers said something that stayed with her: “We are most scared of what we don’t have a name for. Once we name it, we feel more familiar with it, it feels known, and we aren’t so frightened anymore”. And so, Melanie decided to name him Ian. But it didn’t change anything. The fear was the same.

And now she laid there, with him on top of her, strangling her with one paw and fingering, or rather “clawing” her skin with the other, breathing loudly and yelling insults in her face, threatening her in all the ways he could come up with. His “crew” surrounded them, making eerie, wailing sounds. Someone tied Melanie’s hands and legs so that she was unable to move at all, unable to fight or escape. She felt as if the walls were closing down on her, about to fall down right on her, and the atmosphere of this place was seething with fear, hatred and everything was covered in sinister, impermeable darkness. Ian’s “crew” presented her with all sorts of scary visions, sounds and sensations. In a blink of an eye she saw her father being killed with premeditation, and shouting for help, she knew he could see her, but she wasn’t able to help him out, she was grounded. She saw her house being bombarded in a spectacular way, and then her daughter, Lily, standing beside her mother’s bed and crying over her dead body. She wanted to tell her she’s not dead, she wanted to scream, to console the poor child, but she couldn’t. She could no longer recognise whether it was truth, “just” a dream, or maybe something yet different. All that, and countless other things, she saw as in a flashlight, yet each of those visions looked like in slow motion at the same time. she could hear the strangest and most scary sounds echoing in the abyss, sounding distant yet piercing her ears at the same time. Those were Ian’s “crew”. They imitated voices of people from her life, said scary and cruel things to her in situations that felt as realistic as it was only possible, so she didn’t know anymore what’s real and what’s not. They played with her memories, reviving them, editing them so that they looked sinister. Once in a while, a loud, crazy laughter echoed in the distance. Scary shadows creeped around the ceiling, was it the ceiling of her room, or of her mind’s abyss, she didn’t know. They danced before her eyes, whispering, singing and making unnatural, unhuman noises. Everything was spinning, her body felt numb and floaty, her limbs jerking, her mind foggy. Her mind was all covered in a black, smooth veil, that didn’t let her feel anything other than fear. Her rational mind was switched off and locked away, where she couldn’t reach it. Fear was the only emotion she was allowed and able to feel. And it consumed her whole, not knowing any boundaries. She had no control over it.

Despite being grounded, and unable to move, Melanie tried to fight desperately, to push Ian off herself. Deep down she knew it was a waste of time, because the more she fought, the deeper they both fell down, and the more she was sucked in the dream, but it was an instinct that was stronger than her, and driven by fear. Ian loved when she did it. “Fight as much as you want” – he said one time, with his unnerving grin – “I’ll always win anyway.”.

Somehow, despite being barely able to breathe, move or do anything, she managed to push Ian off herself. As soon as that happened, the ties on her limbs fell down and she got up immediately. Now they started real fighting. With Ian, trying to knock her off again, and herself, trying to run away, or at least keep herself up, to hurt him if possible. The ground beneath her feet felt unsteady, and she felt Ian’s breath on her back all the time. Everything was against her. She was exhausted, and knew she couldn’t keep like that anymore, her body was giving up, soon she’ll be on the ground again. Ian’s “crew” stood around, looking at the battlefield with their soulless, transfixed eyes, yelling “Ian! Ian! Ian!” on top of their voices, as if supporting him. As they fought, the ground under their feet started to transform into sticky mud, that was growing deeper and deeper. Wading through it, Melanie was barely able to move her legs. Finally… it had to happen. Ian knocked her off. She fell down, head into the mud, and as soon as that happened, the mud changed into a stormy sea. The waves crashed erratically, roaring deafeningly and throwing her around like a ball. She could hear Ian’s voice far away, his sinister laughter, silent, but carrying through the water. She fought against the waves with all her might, all the strength she still had. She swam, not knowing where, just to e far away from Ian, and not to sink. Yet it was increasingly difficult. The fear gripped her tighter and tighter, pulling her in the water. “I want an end to this. When will I wake up? Chris! Chris, please help me!”. She screamed and screamed, didn’t even know what, just screamed, in hopes someone from the outside world will finally hear her voice. “Lily! Lily! Come here! Someone help me!!!”. but soon her body succumbed into the water.

She lied there for a long time, her body covered by the water and washed over by the waves, that have calmed down a little. That was better than having to fight all the time. She wouldn’t even mind dying there, or so she felt, but somehow, despite she sank, it didn’t happen. After a while of lying there, she noticed that the water was flowing away, faster and faster. Not much long after, she realised that she’s now on a shallow, her hands touching the sand. From the overwhelmingly big, scary sea, or perhaps even an ocean, this strange body of water suddenly changed into something smaller than a lake. She stood up, and came out to the land, disoriented and weak…

“Mummy! Mummy! Did you call me? What happened?” – suddenly, she saw Lily standing by her bed, worried.

“Oh, nothing, sweetie. I just couldn’t wake up. – she said, laughing nervously, hystericaly, as she thought, at the ridiculousness of her own words.

“Don’t be silly mummy. You wouldn’t call me if you were asleep.” – Lily grinned. Melanie hugged her, breathing in her smell and feeling thankful for the dream to be over. But why did she still feel so floaty and foggy, and so fearful?

“I just had a very long dream.” – she said.

“Oh, Lucky you! I love long, long dreams! It’s so nice to dream and dream and dream, and dream, and dream, and dream… and dream… and dream… and dream… and… dream… dream… dream… dream… dream… dream… dream… dream… dream… dream… dream… dream… …” – Lily’s voice suddenly multiplied, echoing around the room, and sounded very unnatural. But where was Lily, actually? One moment she saw her daughter right beside her, and the next there was no sign of her at all. Or maybe it was Melanie who disappeared? It felt much more likely, as she found herself feeling floaty again. Drifting through something as soft as cotton wool. It would feel as a gentle fly, if not the fact that she could feel falling lower and lower, and she knew she would inevitably fall to the ground. With every “dream” her body lowered and fell deeper, and deeper, and deeper down, her mind fell deeper into some strange kind of trance, every single “dream” sucking her into one more eternity of sleep. Her body felt like a ton of bricks, and as if it was weightless at the same time…

Thud! “Yes, you bloody bitch. Now you’ll really have a very long dream. You like to dream, and dream, and dream, don’t you?” – Ian asked her, in his slow, deep, unnaturally calm voice. “He’s not right. It’s just a dream, I wil wake up. I will. I will. I just need to try hard enough”.

The story repeated again, with some additional surprises to the mix, just as Ian liked it. Tons of horrific visions, sounds and sensations that she no longer new to which world they belong – were they the reality, or “just” a dream – raced through her mind.

“Enough of it!” – she cried in her thoughts. “I have to wake up!”. “I need to! I don’t even know what time it is. Someone help me out of here.” In the midst of all the havoc she was going through, the ground started spinning even more under her, so did the ceiling. A big, dark hole opened a milimetre beside her arm, and started to suck her in. The crazy floating started all over again. Melanie yelled for helpfor all she was worth, yet again, no sounds came out of her mouth. She screamed, and screamed and screamed, and again, finally reached the ground, which felt like her own bed. Melanie looked around in disbelief. Was she finally awake? It did look like her own room. She tried making a sound, move her body, and succeeded. Or did she? She knew all too well that what feels true, doesn’t always have to be. It could be as well that her imagination was playing tricks on her. She still felt dizzy from the dream, and completely horrified and disoriented. “Chris?” – her hand searched for the pillow next to hers in the darkness of the bedroom. But Chris wasn’t there. There was only darkness around, but that Chris wasn’t there meant that it’s probably early enough to get up. “Lily?” – she called out, and immediately heard the sound of her daughter’s feet patting on the stairs.

“At last! You woke up, mummy. I’m already late for school. I was wondering why you’re sleeping so long.”

“Oh, really? Is it so late?”

“I guess very late. The sun is up.” – Lily didn’t know how to tell the time yet, and this was the only way she could do it. Melanie reached for her phone, to see what exactly the time was.Β  Although the relief has been rushing through her body, she still felt very strong consequences of her dream, her body still felt numb, her mind foggy, and the world was spinning. She was more tired than when she went to bed, and didn’t like the perspective of getting up and out of the house. And the fear was still crippling, she needed time to pick herself up. But she must have been felt even worse than she thought, because suddenly she realised she can’t unlock her phone. Well, she was sure that unless something happened to her brain, her password had to be correct, she was using the same gesture for ages, so maybe the phone was broken…? Phew, finally, the phone started to cooperate. Her wallpaper was changed, and some of the settings appeared to be different than how she usually had everything set up, but oh well, the phone was old, and yeah, Lily was playing games on it yesterday so maybe she did something to it accidentally. When she looked at the clock though, she was even more amazed and concerned about her sanity. The hour was changing! All the time. When she looked at it once, it would show 5 PM (way too late to go to school, let alone wake up), then 2 AM, then 6:30 AM, etc. etc. sometimes the hours were really out there, like 111:35, and weird things would appear on the screen next to them. Melanie panicked slightly – she knew all too well from her dreams that the numbers Ian seemed to always like were 111 and 35, they were symbolic for him in her dreams. “Really, Mel, pick yourself together!” – she thought. – “You have a nightmare and you go crazy. Something’s wrong with the phone, that’s all.”

“OK, darling, let’s have a quick breakfast then.” – she said, slowly getting up and battling the fog. Whatever the hour was, something to eat would be a good idea.

She got dressed, wondering when she’ll start to feel normal and more energised. She still felt like one leg in Dreamland. And the fear, the fear was still there. No smaller than at the beginning. She made breakfast for them both, which tasted like soap, still feeling unsafe and wishing that Chris hadn’t gone to work yet. She did a quick make-up, made sure Lily had everything she needed in her schoolbag, and they both went out. Melanie was a fit and healthy woman, an avid swimmer,and tried her best to live healthily. Therefore Lily’s school, being only 5 minutes away from their house, was never a problem for her to get to. Many parents having a similar distance would take their offspring to school every day by car, and were astonished seeing Melanie and Lily walking all the way even in the rain if there was a more comfortable alternative and taking less time and effort. But today, this short walk felt like an eternity to her. The ground under her feet was spinning, and felt as it was about to crack and consume her, she felt unsteady, barely able to catch her breath, fear rushing through her veins. Somehow she finally reached the school though, left Lily in the class, and slowly went back home. The way home was even more difficult, without a little, warm hand squeezing her hand. As she approached her house, she shakingly took out the key, warily opened the door, and not even thinking much about it, peeped in the house before coming in, as she supposed someone would be there. She couldn’t see anyone or anything, so came in, and through the dimly lit hall, not really knowing where she was going or where she should go. Her feet carried her upstairs to her room. She opened the door, and again, peeped in cautiously before coming in. She closed the door behind herself, and only then she saw…

There he was… Sprawled on her bed, with his legs stretched out, he laid on her bed, grinning appalingly at her. “God, I’m still dreaming! Or is he real”. The floor under her feet, feeling more and more unsteady, finally didn’t manage the pressure of her feet. She fell. ONce again. “God, can you help me? Will this ever stop? And if it will, how will I know it’s real? How can I know that when I don’t know when I’m awake, and when I’m dreaming? I already am not sure. Maybe it’s just a fucking psychosis.” – she thought in panic. Melanie was by no means a religious person. She didn’t have anything against any religion, and did believe that there is some God, although she never thought much about him, other than optimistically hoping he’s good, and doing all that He can to care for the world, and has a good plan to come out even from the worst things that happen to people, and that one day after she dies, maybe she’ll see Him, and be happy in some celestial, glossy new world with her family, and this enigmatic God being something like a good grandpa figure for her. She didn’t have a habit of praying though, and didn’t really feel it. And now, as she was trying to pray, so desperately, she couldn’t. She couldn’t find any words, neither of the prayers she learnt from her grandmother as a child, nor could she pray with her own words. Her mind was blank.

Let’s spare you the details of yet another episode of the neverending series of Melanie’s encounters with Ian. It’ll be enough to say that during that short time, she endured dying in a plane crash (by falling out of its window all the way through to the ground without a parachute), her legs being cut off by her own mother, who threatened to kill her if she’ll ever tell anyone who did it to her (no, Melanie’s real mother wasn’t a sociopath, just a tiny, cuddly, elegant lady, full of smiles and gracefulness, which made the execution the more spooky, to Ian’s pleasure), and seeing deformed corpses wandering around her kitchen and eating random stuff right out of her fridge. Melanie wasn’t a squeamish or oversensitive person. She was a very down-to-earth lady, working as a sales assistant, and, in normal circumstances, was always calm, collected and level-headed. In normal circumstances, she’d probably laugh it off, but with that black veil covering her mind, the atmosphere of the abyss of her mind, and Ian’s presence, which always freaked her out just by itself, the fear was unbearable.

“Mel! Mel! Wake up sleepy head, I’ve made pancakes for you!” – Chris called out cheerfully, standing in their bedroom door. “Have some good piece of news for you.”

Melanie felt a bit surprised. She couldn’t complain about Chris. He was always very caring and loving for her, but making pancakes for her, that wasn’t very like him. Suddenly, not thinking much about what she was doing, Melanie sprang out of bed, and ran right into Chris’s arms, who was now looking very astonished and worried, as she was sobbing and shaking uncontrollably.

“Oh dear, what’s happened?” – he brought her back on the bed, sat her on his knees and hugged her, running his fingers through her hair. Melanie desperately wanted to get rid of the fog sticking to her brain. SHe felt sluggish and weak, but wanted to share with Chris her dark secret. She never did before. “You know… I have those bad dreams…” – she said hesitantly. – “Yeah? And you had one now?”. – – “Yes. It was so… so creepy.”.

A weird thing then happened. Melanie felt as if at this moment, Chris could see what it was like for her. Look into her brain. See all the horrors she’s been through as clearly as if he experienced them himself, with the exact intensity. And she knew he understood. After a long while, he just said: “Now I see. I just wish you told me earlier. We will do something about it, together we’ll do that I promise.”. It sounded so reassuring. So doable. That she started sobbing all over again. “But I have a good news for you. A little surprise. I want to invite you to a ball today. My company is organising it and we can come with our family members. You remember? We were there last year too, weren’t we?” –

“Oh, really! Today? This is a surprise indeed!” – said Melanie, happy that something will distract her from what happened at night, and that her relationship with Chris suddenly looks so much better than ever, so much more harmonious. She was just a bit worried about her condition. She felt weak, wiped out and really not the best. Oh well, it will wear off until the evening, won’t it?

It didn’t, but as they were entering the exquisite hall, that was changed into the colourful and elegant ballroom for the night, Melanie tried her best to distract from the inner feeling of insecurity and fear lurking in every corner of her brain. She had Chris. There were loads of people. Many were their friends. SHe’ll have fun. It’ll be OK.

She danced with Chris, his one colleague, then another, then his boss, feeling more and more dizzy with each dance. The bright lights and loud music were really unsettling for her. THey felt really aggressive. “I guess I’m getting older.” – she said to Chris with a giggle, telling him that she doesn’tΒ  feel well. “You just have to relax. You’re too stressed out by your work. I told you many times you’re going to suffer from it.” – “Maybe you’re right”. – she sighed, unconvinced. And just as she did it, she felt her heart sinking. She automatically looked in the direction of the entrance. She could barely contain her fear. “How can a real person look like that… I must be going crazy.”. She came closer to Chris, who was now chatting to one of his colleagues. “Chris?!” – she said, and he must have heard the urgency and panic in her voice as he apologised to the colleague and took her aside. “What’s the matter?”

“Did you see that man, the one who just came in?”

“Which one?” – Chris appeared slightly confused. “The one in red. He’s all in red.” – she uttered feeling a lump in her throat. How come everyone didn’t notice him? He looked so overwhelming, so different, his eyes so evil, how could people not see it? And why was he here? Melanie desperately wanted to believe it’s just someone looking very similar. “Ah, yeah, I see.” – Chris said after a moment. “What’s the problem with him?” “What’s the problem?!” – Melanie thought in panic. “He… he looks like… him… you know… like… like him” “What him?” – asked Chris, a slight hint of impatience in his voice. “Him!” – Melanie felt tears filling her eyes. The connection that was between them not long ago has gone now. “The… the guy from my dream? Do you know him?” “No, Mel, I’m afraid I can’t read in your dreams, I don’t know who you’re talking about.” “I’m asking if you know this man!” – she said, exasperated. “Hmmm… guess not, can’t remember him, and he’s quite characteristic, but it’s possible I’ve seen him somewhere, there are so many people milling around here every day. Maybe you know him too, and that’s why he looks so familiar to you.” “Maybe. I don’t want to talk to him anyway. i don’t want to talk to anyone. Can we go now? I feel completely shattered” “Don’t be silly, honey, we’ve been here only for two hours, we can’t go out just yet. Maybe go out and get some fresh air in. I’ll be with you in a moment, I need to the loo”. Melanie thought it was actually a good idea. She’ll go out and won’t have to look at that man, whoever he was. She can always call a taxi and go home on her own if she feels really scared. But first of all, what’s the reason to be so scared? Just because he looks like Ian? It wasn’t like her, she tried to rationalise, but her mind wouldn’t listen. The fear rose with every second.

She gasped for air when she came out on the balcony. For some reason, she felt constantly out of breath since she woke up. Just like she did in her nightmares. She gratefully appreciated the cold, brisk wind blowing in her face. There were a couple other people on the balcony, whom she didn’t know, mostly smoking their cigarettes, and one woman whispered nervously to someone on the phone. As she stood there, looking at the sky, she suddenly heard the door opening and someone else came out on the balcony. She turned around, expecting that it was Chris who came out of the loo, but it was one of his colleagues’ wife – Ellen. – Both her and her husband were occasional guests at their house, so Melanie knew her a bit and although never particularly liked, always admired her for her style and wit.

“Oh, hello, Melanie.” – she said, smiling politely only with her mouth. “We were looking for you and I thought you may be here.” Only when Ellen said “we” did Melanie noticed that there was a man accompanying her, whom she just glanced at and thought it was Ellen’s husband. She wondered what they might want from her. The only contact they had with her so far was through Chris, with Jim being his colleague and friend, and there really wasn’t much apart from their social connections that Melanie and Ellen had in common. “Turns out we have the same friend, Ian told me he knows you.” Hearing the name “Ian” Melanie jumped up as if someone pricked her with a pin. “You know Ian?” – she asked, feeling all the blood going down to her feet

“Oh of course I do! He’s my long time friend! But I’d better go, Jim doesn’t like me to disappear at parties for too long” – she giggled, and went back to the hall with the click-clack of her stilettoes. Ian heavily placed his hand, or paw, or however he prefers to call his extremities only he knows, covered in a velvet, red glove on Melanie’s shoulder, which she felt like a flame burning through her skin.

“Do you understand it now?” – he asked, slowly, calmly, quietly, scarily, in his deep, low voice. “Do you understand that I’m with you all the time?”

“No you’re not! You’re just a dream!!!”

“I know Ellen. She’s not a dream. And I will gladly get to know everyone that will give me the access to you anytime I want. Now will you go back with me where you should be now, or do I have to convince you?”

“I won’t do anything you want from me!”

“We’ll see.” – he just said, and laughed cynically. “We’ll ask Chris if he needs you, and if he doesn’t I’ll take you with me. I don’t want him to be jealous” – he laughed again, it was a dry, unpleasant sound. He dragged her into the hall, and found Chris, who was just happily chatting away with Ellen. If Melanie’s ability to feel anything else than fear wasn’t muffled at the time, she’d probably kill Ellen with anger and frustration, not caring for the consequences. Not only had she now her dream enemy – Ian – but also Ellen, who was real, who was happy to leave her with this monster and then spend the time happily with her husband, who was unaware of anything.

“Nice to meet you, Chris.” – Ian said, trying his best to smile. “Would you have something against me taking your wife for a short walk outside? We are old friends and I’m so happy to see her here again, so many years have passed…”

“Of course you can if you want” – Chris said happily. Chris. The one who was always so jealous about her even simply hanging out with other men. Now, when she needed him, he was happy to leave her with Ian, and would rather spend time with Ellen. “Chris! Please, don’t let him!” – she said. But there was no Chris, no ELlen, no ballroom, only darkness and fear. And herself falling down… and deeper down… There was even no Ian.

She was falling like that for a good while, and then fell down with a thud again, but falling on to something smooth, and not as violently as usual, her limbs jerking at the same time.

She slowly opened her eyes. The morning sun was cheerfully peeking through the window, but to her it felt unbearably bright. She felt as if she had a hangover. The room felt hot, her whole body sticky with sweat all over her skin, yet shaking and feeling chilly at the same time. Her head was throbbing, her ears ringing, heart racing, lungs gasping for breath, she felt dizzy, foggy and floaty… a very familiar feeling. Now she knew. She had sleep paralysis again. She felt so exhausted, that she would most happily close her eyes and fall asleep again. But she couldn’t. He would wait right there to get her in his claws again. But was she truly awake? Wasn’t it another false awakening? How can she know that? Melanie looked around paranoid as if she expected someone to be lurking in the corner of the room or behind the courtain, holding her breath. She couldn’t see anyone. battling the feeling of drowsiness, she sat up in bed. And she sat there, staring in the ceiling and not knowing for how long, the scenes of her dream replaying in her mind. When she finally felt strong enough to get up, she looked at the clock. It was only 7:30 AM. THe hour wasn’t changing, so she could hope she was indeed in the real world right now. Deep down she knew it, but she needed time to believe in it and feel sure. She found a small piece of paper on her bedside cabinet. “I took Lily to school. I was awake and you seemed to sleep so heavily and blissfully I didn’t want to wake you up. Chris x”. Melanie flinched. How was it possible someone could think she slept heavily and blissfully? Once more she realised there was no one who could help her out of those dreams other than herself. And how long could that dream last? Maybe 30 minutes, not much more. And she had experienced so much in this short time. It felt creepy.She had experiences from her past sleep paralysis episodes where she could see Chris getting up, or going into the room, and she would yell for help, but he wouldn’t hear her.

She went to the bathroom right away, and had a very cold shower, to get rid of the sweat, the headache and the fog around her brain. Only then she was able to really believe that the dream was over, and she was safe now. She wanted to believe it, despite the dream felt so bloody real.

She went back to her room to get dressed and make the bed, then to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea and something to eat, then back to the bathroom to brush her teeth and hair, etc… And everywhere she went, she turned the lights on, so that soon the whole house was lit up. She felt like a child, scared of monsters lurking in the darkness under the bed. She constantly looked around as if she supposed someone was observing her. This too needed time to pass. Despite that sometimes she felt that if she was going to have such dreams often enough, at some point she will truly believe they are real.

Thankfully, it was Wednesday, meaning that she wouldn’t have to go to work until the afternoon. She knew that until then, she’ll recover, she will have to. She can’t go around looking like a frightened hare at work. She has gotten used to her sleep paralysis dreams, this one was just long and particularly difficult, but she will get over it.

And – of course – she did. Melanie’s clients and colleagues would never believe that only last night she spent ages fighting her worst enemy, and never knew when she will see him again. Therefore, she was trying to make the most of all the time she had in between. And not to believe all the bullshit he was telling and showing her. because as long as she didn’t believe it, he couldn’t win.

 

My inner phobias…

When I started this blog over a year ago, and wondered what it should be like, also what I should be like in relation to my readers, one of the things I thought should be particularly important to me was responsiveness. And it still is very important to me. I appreciate it a lot in others too and I think it’s an important part of communication, and also if you want to have a natural-looking blog that will appeal to people, I think it’s good to be in touch with them. Take an interest in them, who they are, what they are like, what is interesting to them, etc. and be possibly approachable. One of the purposes of my blogging is that I want to express myself – I have a diary for this, because I feel I can express myself so much better in writing than speaking, and I can be far more open in my diary, but I felt the need to connect with people as well. – So another big reason for my blogging was to find some people that I could relate to, or who could relate to me, with whom we’d think similarly or like similar things, just be like-minded in any way. So I thought that although my blog would be primarily for me, my readers’ opinions and suggestions should also be important to me. And I stick to it, or think so anyway. I try to engage with people and also help when and if I can in any way.

Last month I was going through my stats, including the often very quirky phrases that people search for and come across my blog as a result. While as most of you probably know most of those search terms are unknown, sometimes you can make interesting conclusions out of them and see what people are looking for on your blog, and some time ago I’ve got an idea that to be more accomodating for my visitors, I can look at those things they look for, and if I think they weren’t able to find the answer on my blog, but I could help with it, I could write a post about it, so that in case they search for it again and stumble upon my blog, they can find something relevant. So far I haven’t checked that very regularly , but from what I’ve seen so far I think in most cases people could find on my blog what they were looking for. Last month though, one of the searches that led someone to my blog was “my inner phobia”. Very interesting, don’t you think?

At first it got me rather amused and thinking what other kind of phobia you can have, other than inner. Are there any outer/external phobias? ANd if so, what could be the difference between them? Or is an inner phobia something you simply don’t share with others, don’t expres verbally? Or something that doesn’t manifest outside of a person’s brain and no one can see it? Well I guess my Mum must be right that I philosophise too much. πŸ˜€

I don’t know what that person meant, other than that probably they’ve been struggling with some kind of a phobia themselves, but it inspired me to write a post about my (inner or not) phobias. Don’t know what kind of help it can be to anyone but maybe at least you can realise that you’re not alone if you’re going through something similar. And I’ve been thinking about it earlier too, to write the list of all my anxieties, fears and phobias, or anything that triggers anxiety of any kind for me. Anxiety of different kinds has been a very present part of my life as long as I can remember, and has many forms, as you’ll be able to see. This post was quite challenging for me to write, because I had to open up if I wanted you to understand it a bit, I wanted to be honest but also not too negative and overwhelming, as much as you can be not negative talking about anxiety. πŸ˜€ and hopefully it might be of some help for someone, or you can just see how freaky I am. πŸ˜€

The list is extensive, but written spontaneously, mostly in no specific order, so probably not fully complete. It’s not just a plain list but I want to also clarify it somehow for you what it’s like for me so you can have an idea. I included both the more general and specific ones, more and less intense, some are very bothering, some just more like quirks or something.

  • Β Β  People. By fear of people I mean mostly social anxiety. Socialising, small talking, all the social dynamics, crowds, interacting with a large group of people, initiating contacts with people, strangers. My social anxiety is very weird and sometimes it can even show up when I’m with people I know well, while on other times I may not be too anxious with a person I barely know. It’s usually humming somewhere in the background whenever I’m interacting with anyone though, just with very variable intensity.
  • Vomit. Anything to do with vomiting. Emetophobia is my most crippling specific phobia even though I’ve made huge progress with it over the last couple of years. I remember always being very sensitive and fearful about that but it got particularly bad very suddenly some 8-9 years ago, where just eating anything was dreadful and scary for me, or seeing people eating. I was quite good at hiding it but one of the staff at the boarding school was actually very suspicious that I had an eating disorder like anorexia or something, though I’ve never had problems of that nature with food, it just probably looked very much like that. Now food is not so much of a problem for me anymore, but is still to some degree, and there are things that i won’t ever eat, even if I like them in theory, because something bad happened either to me or someone in my surroundings after eating it. I am afraid of vomiting, feeling like it, other people doing it or feeling like it, people being sick, doesn’t matter contagiously or not, poisonous/expired food, graphic descriptions of people throwing up, the sounds, even similar sounds like choking, substances that are of a similar consistence, travelling, medicines, alcohol, migraines (even though it has NEVER happened to me that I’d vomit during a migraine), other conditions that might involve vomiting, even having things other than food in my mouth, like when I was going to the orthodontist on a regular basis as a kid it used to be very triggering, and I can’t stand even the simple medical throat examination with a spatula, I have to have it without it, otherwise it’s no go. It was even hard for me as a kid with brushing my teeth and while now it’s not as dreadful I still really dislike it. It’s not really because I am afraid that I can vomit while I have something in my mouth, or that it happens to me so easily, but it just makes me feel sick and anxious and I hate the sensation of having something in my mouth. Hell! even the words describing vomit sound scary! English vomit is probably the lightest, I don’t know why they have to sound so graphic or is it just me perceiving them this way. I particularly hate Swedish krΓ€kas, so disgusting. Lots of things can trigger it. It really depends on how I am feeling overall I guess what and when will trigger this fear for me, sometimes it can be just a brief not graphic mention of it and sometimes I can cope with it much better and even read a book with someone vomiting in it if it’s not too detailed. As I mentioned in some of my previous posts, whether it is because of my extreme cautiousness, sheer luck or that my anxiety is so extreme, it actually happens to me extremely rarely that I vomit.
  • Feeling dizzy. A closely related one, it’s a sort of fear that makes a vicious cycle for me. I have balance issues so it happens to me that I’m dizzy probably more often than to an average person, usually have low blood pressure and other such, and I believe in some circumstances blindness can also make you feel dizzy more easily than when you can see. It always makes me feel very insecure and out of control because my spatial orientation gets even worse than normally which makes me feel disoriented, as dizziness always does, also I’m afraid of falling or something dangerous happening as a result of my dizziness. Then also dizziness brings a risk of vomiting too. And the vicious circle is that dizziness is actually one of my physical symptom of anxiety, like when it gets very intense I’m usually feeling dizzy. And the more dizzy I am, the more anxious I am, and vice versa, which makes me freak out. Also heights and very big, open spaces make me feel dizzy so I’m afraid of them. I can be very anxious of travelling because of that, especially if the roads are bumpy or someone is driving very fast, amusement parks and such make me freak out, even seeing people swinging, on carousels, even just sliding, or rather hearing them doing it, especially if they’re talking at the same time so I know that their location is changing all the time, it also makes me dizzy.
  • Future. A less tangible thing. I’m anxious and worried about my own future, as well as more generally, just what will happen to the world, particular people… It’s not something that I think about like all the time but I have times when I really can’t stop overthinking on it and it’s crazy. I guess I take it after my grandma. πŸ˜€
  • Old age. I’m simply anxious about becoming old and what it will be like, I think it must be scary. Ideally I wouldn’t like to live longer than 45-50 years. Usually people freak out when they hear me say this and suppose that I am suicidal and going to kill myself by then, no, I’m not, and I doubt I will, that’s just how I feel, I simply don’t share the enthusiasm/desperation for longevity that is so common now. Maybe my way of seeing this will change with time though, who knows.
  • My brain not functioning properly. That’s a bit of my obsession. I’ve heard even from my last therapist that my intellect is my strongest weapon and defensivee mechanism which I use to protect myself and my vulnerability. And yes I think it’s very true. My intelligence is one of few good things that I don’t doubt I have and that I usually do like about myself somewhat, I guess I might be a little bit vain about it sometimes despite that overall my self-esteem is low. And my intelligence has helped me to cope with lots of different things and survive different circumstances, well it’s always more useful to be intelligent than not to be right? Also most of my passions are of more or less intellectual nature and often require at least some learning, so I really really want my brain to be as fit as possible. And I can do a lot to ensure that will never change. I think I can say I have a sort of phobia for all those neurodegenerative diseases, they scare the shit out of me, even though rationally I don’t think I need to worry a lot about that, if not because of my languages and all the food that is good for the brain that I eat then because there haven’t been anyone in my family that we’d know of so far struggling with stuff like that. I tend to be very scatterbrained in some circumstances though, and my memory seems to work a bit differently from most people I know because I tend to remember things they usually don’t or easily forget things that they do remember, sometimes such that are actually quite important, which sometimes make me seriously wonder what’s wrong with my brain, though I suppose I just have to have different ways of doing things, apparently I have some minor difficulties with some of the executive functions or so said some of the people more or less knowledgeable in psychology/educationΒ  that I’ve met. And there are also my almost non existent math skills hahaha, though I don’t really care about those now as I don’t have to care.
  • Being vulnerable and showing it to others, talking about feelings. Sooo awkward.
  • Being a burden for others. There is one side of me that is very dependent on other people, mainly because I have to and need to because of my disability and various other difficulties however they should be called, which simply make me need a lot of help or at least support from other people with a lot of things. THe other side of me though is very individualistic and doesn’t like to ask people for help or needing it, and generally needing anything from others and making them focused on myself. That can cause quite a lot of chaos, for me, but also in a way to my family too.
  • Anything that reminds me of the time when I was recovering from my Achilles tendons surgery as a kid. It was a very sudden and unexpected experience for me, despite I knew it would happen, but when it did I wasn’t at all prepared to what it would be like, and it was generally incredibly hard for me and I still haven’t fully recovered from how scary that experience was for me, or processed it well. My legs were all in plasters for six weeks then and I was bed-bound and mostly alone, and then had to learn to walk all over again and such, which together with other circumstances was rather devastating on my mental wellbeing. Our Zofijka has very fragile bones and she had broken a few of them, and that was always very unsettling for me, I couldn’t even touch her plaster without feeling dread.
  • Institutions like schools or hospitals and such, that are aimed to help people and often do, but can make things worse for people as well. Can’t say that I have a full blown phobia around that, but I’ve been through a fair bit with different institutions, not always good things, and it has surely impacted my brain and the way I look at them, so I avoid them now if only I can.
  • Authoritarian, overly self-assured, egocentrical, obstinate and meddlesome kind of people who know best what’s best for everyone and always tell them what they should do, and have an aggressive way of being, sometimes unintentionally I guess. Well I doubt anyone could like such individuals, but I know a couple of such people and they are all terrifying!
  • Clinginess. I mean, I hate it when people cling to me like want constant attention, constantly being with them, helping them or doing something for them, invading my privacy, you know, I don’t know how to deal with it and feel disoriented, and because of this, I avoid being clingy myself and I often feel like I am in some way that might be annoying for someone. So I’d rather prefer to seem detached or uninterested than clingy, as it’s one of the traits in people that I dislike the most. I can’t judge it objectively if I am clingy or not, but I know that sometimes I can strongly attach to people, like them a lot, think about them a lot, want to be a lot with them, and if that happens, to me with someone, it can be a dilemma.
  • Rejection. Well I have the diagnosis of AVPD so that would be easy to deduce. I think my fear of being clingy is related to it. It’s not like I really desperately want everyone to accept me like for all means, like that I would be afraid to for example say my opinion on something in fear that someone might think differently and thus they will dislike me, or I don’t go frantically in search for people who will like me and then do everything to keep them, and I think I can hide well my AVPD issues in everyday life, to some extent of course. It’s more like that I often don’t let myself to be close enough to them so that they can’t reject me, or I don’t let them close enough to me even though I would like to, but am too scared. When I am close with someone, friends or something, and they are important to me, I tend to test people subtly, so that they wouldn’t be aware of it, or so I hope, well OK even I wasn’t fully aware of it before I started to explore that whole AVPD thing and the way my close relationships look like, I must say I feel very weird with this since I know it, testing people sounds scary, doesn’t it? πŸ˜€ I guess sometimes I do it almost involuntarily, though I don’t know if it justifies me. I just feel I have to do it though, to find out if they are able to accept me, what’s their opinion about me and relation to me really like, even if it means that I’ll make them reject me sooner because of that than if it happened later on, as it makes me feel more in control of things. Otherwise I’m afraid that they will reject me suddenly before I either manage to escape or make them do it myself. Ugh it’s hard to describe and sounds freaky, I don’t really know how to talk about it.
  • Criticism. I think I generally have distance to myself, often use autoirony and self-deprecating humour. I can take constructive criticism now, or so I think, I often een ask people for it to see some things from someone else’s point of view, especially if something is important to me, and I value honest opinions, and I at least try to appreciate it, but even constructive criticism can be very very hard for me to deal with. I actually hate to admit it.
  • Losing Misha or anything bad happening to Misha. Sometimes even small things can set me off, like when he gets badly stuck somewhere or closed somewhere for hours. I guess sometimes I care about it more than he does hahaha. And about losing Misha, well I guess I don’t have to say more.
  • Losing my Mum. My Mum is a very important person to me emotionally, but also helps me a lot with lots of things which otherwise would be impossible/very difficult for me to do.
  • Tech issues. My devices help me with things that other people can do without technology, everyday stuff like reading, shopping, learning etc. They also help me with communication with other people and expressing myself, and being less dependent on other people. It usually upsets me then to some extent when something’s not working as it should. Although I have an impression that those things started to worry me much more since last year when I had that long monthly hiatus from blogging in September, when my computer crashed so badly. I’d suppose it would make me deal better with it, but guess it worked the opposite way.
  • Change. Usually negative of course, but even positive but major changes can set me off for a while.
  • Silence, and speciffic sounds, or as I call it collectively my “sensory anxiety”. I don’t really know how to explain this, because it’s very complicated and hard to describe. I’m also not sure I want and should, I haven’t talked to anyone about this in detail and usually people just can’t get it, I don’t either. But basically, just about the silence and the sounds, it’s that when I’m in silence, on my own, it doesn’t even always have to be complete silence, my brain feels sort of understimulated or so I explain it to myself, since hearing is the sense that provides me the most information, so it would be probably some form of sensory deprivation, and when there are not many auditory stimuli, my brainΒ  tries to fill it in with something, and that’s when weird things can start. That’s how I’ve been told it apparently might work, though I don’t know anyone else with this type of thing other than a few blind people who had something slightly similar as little children and then grew out of it. Why it has to cause me so much anxiety, I don’t know. Maybe my brain is an adrenaline junkie. Well I am certainly not.I guess it could be compared a bit to how sighted people are afraid of darkness, and imagination starts working at night especially for kids. With sounds, it’s that some sounds, harmonies, just auditory stuff is scary for me. Not only the things most people would find scary, so loud noises or other intrusive, objectively aggressive sounds that we associate with something bad, not necessarily them, just things that I subjectively find frightening to some degree. Some could be just slightly disturbing, some very unsettling and feel like they’re seething with aggression towards me.
  • Sleep paralysis. Especially my sleep paralysis “friends”. I mean those people or creatures or whatever they are that regularly appear in my dreams. Therefore I’m generally anxious about sleep a lot of the time because I never know when it will happen for sure, and I have no way of freeing myself from them.
  • Releasing strong feelings, especially around other people, especially anger, or not being in control of my feelings.
  • Horse riding. yes, you read it right! I’m afraid of horse riding. I guess I’ve shared my story with horse riding somewhere on my blog before, and that there was a time in my life when I was deadly scared of it. Now I’m not deadly scared of it and I don’t hate it, quite the opposite, I love horse riding, as my loyal readers know. But at the same time I still do have some anxiety around it. I’m always anxious and tense before horse riding and it takes me a while to relax. I know it’s going to be great in the end, yet I can’t shake off the anxiety. Sometimes it’s stronger than normal and I once had a bad panic attack when riding. I hate it because it makes horse riding so much harder for me. I don’t even know what’s the source of it, I guess it could be my balance problems in part, sometimes I feel dizzy and out of control while riding, but I guess that’s just a part of it. My previous horse, Czardasz a.k.a. ŁoΕ›, was very good at detecting my anxiety, he was generally good at adjusting to the way the rider was feeling at any moment apparently, and I always felt like we had almost telepathic relationship haha. He was also so calm and phlegmatic and always making me feel safe that it helped me a lot with the anxiety to just be around him and feel him. But unfortunately ŁoΕ› died last year, so I no longer have him. I now ride another horse, when I have chance, whose name is Tarzan, aka. Rudy, and I love him to pieces as well, but we don’t have the connection like that, actually I feel that when I’m anxious, he becomes too, so it’s not helping.
  • That when people say something to me, they actually make allusions and mean something different, or when they say good things to me I’m afraid they say it ironically or sarcastically. Paranoid I know. πŸ˜€ Happens to me very regularly, but I try not to let it affect my relationships with people as much as I can, and pretend that I ignore it, until I’m alone and can think through their motives and my brain explodes with thousands of “what if’s”.
  • Eating around other people. First because of emetophobia, that someone or me might feel suddenly sick, but I managed to deal quite well with this now as my emetophobia is milder and I know it’s unlikely for people to get sick suddenly like that, Second social anxiety and that when I’m anxious I don’t feel like eating, while I feel that I should, when there is for example a family gathering it looks weird that I’m not eating, so I try to eat but it can be a nightmare when I’m really stressed. And third is that I am so self-conscious and just afraid I’ll do something wrong or inappropriate, for example because I can’t see what others are doing. Or that I might do something accidentally like knock over or spill something, not a frequent occurence, as even though I’m rather clumsy I try to be careful in such circumstances, but you never know. As a little kid I once had a situation at my gran’s that I was eating something that was hard to eat for me and I ended up being a bit messy, not very badly but my Dad saw it, and was very concerned and sort of told me off rather loudly, so that had to turn all the others’ attention. Now I don’t even remember the episode very clearly and I don’t think it was that important, but my Mum says I took it very badly at that time and as ifΒ  he offended me in front of others. So I guess that might be why I’m so self-conscious with eating.
  • People staring at me. Yes if someone is staring at me long and persistently enough I can feel it. I hate it. I guess I more hate it than am anxious of it, but am anxious too. I also really dislike the consciousness of a lot of people looking at me at once. I am afraid of people looking me in the eyes and seeing something I don’t want them to see (though rationally it’s highly unlikely), so when I don’t feel confident I like to use that luxury that I can keep my eyes closed whenever I want. πŸ˜€ I am a characteristic person overall, don’t like to turn to much attention to myself but on the other hand I like being different, I also wouldn’t have much choice even if I wouldn’t like it because I am disabled and it’s usually visible in this or that way, so it happens that people are staring at me when I’m out somewhere and if there is some bigger distance between them and me I can’t always feel it. But I have Zofijka on whom I can rely with this as she often informs me that someone is staring at me. And, quite to the contrast with my social anxiety and all, sometimes I like to let them know that I see them – stick my tongue at them, show them my middle finger or wave at them, depending on the severity of their stare, my mood and additional circumstances.
  • Singing. I used to love singing as a little child, or maybe I just believed I did, don’t know really, but I guess I was quite a good singer, some people were moved, said I sing very well and liked it. When I was in the nursery and early school years I was singing publicly on different occasions. But something just changed with time. One thing was that I started to see, or maybe it was just my perception, that people only see me through my singing, some people were very kind to me and showing me lots of their attention but as it seemed only because they liked my singing. I didn’t want to be perceived like that. At the same time my anxiety which was always a part of my life started going higher, things in my life were changing making it gradually worse and finally I realised I hated singing for other people and making music. i then had two years break while being in the integration school, from where I had to go back to the boarding school, but never came back to singing. I’ve heard lots of people complaining about that and asking me why I don’t sing anymore, what a pity and such, one teacher even said that she wanted to be my class teacher because she loved my singing. Maybe I was hypersensitive but I felt relief that she wasn’t, if she liked my singing more than me. And I still feel this way. Maybe I was hypersensitive because when people made comments about that and what a pity it was I felt like if they can’t get over it so much they probably didn’t like anything else about me or didn’t think that I can do anything else well. I was forcing myself to stay in the music school for a couple years and play piano, and sang together with others in a sort of church choir, I also once sang solo which was incredibly difficult for me, and in the meantime I tried a bit guitar at home, but finally I realised creating music probably just isn’t for me, even if I have a talent. I was relieved to free myself of it all finally, and concentrate on listening to music more. I am terribly blocked from singing in front of other people, after I stopped doing it at school and left the school, I did it only once, singing with my friend Jacek from Helsinki, who loved music and always wanted to hear me singing, and, well, he could persuade the moon to shine in the middle of the day if he wanted, I suppose. πŸ˜€ Other than that, I never sing in front of others, unless fooling around or something, although I do like to sing when I’m on my own or for Misha to sleep hahaha or in the shower. I’ve heard it from someone that it’s very bad, a sin, to neglect a talent that you’ve been given and that you know of. But honestly I don’t care. And I suppose in a way I use it with my languages, as languages are also a form of music. A bit surprisingly, I could deal reasonably well when I had to read something publicly, or even say if I knew exactly what, or act in a play though I was horribly stiff with the last. No I didn’t like it and it was challenging, but manageable if necessary and I think still would be if I had to speak in public, although I’m happy that I hadn’t have to be on the stage for years now and have no desire for it anymore.
  • Travelling, getting out of the house. In a way I like it, in a way I hate it. I hate travelling because it correlates with my other anxieties a lot, and getting out of the house because it often involves being around people and sometimes just feels unsafe. But on the other hand I do like travelling, and appreciate it very much that sometimes going out of the house and being out in nature, or even with other human beings, can actually alleviate your anxiety. Just depends I guess.
  • Being touched. Sometimes it can be comforting and I actually want it, but at the same time it’s scary. Same as any other kind of closeness.
  • Wasps. I had three bad encounters with them and I hate them. I’m not so scared of bees though, i’ve never had to do with them personally, maybe that’s why. And they are useful hahahaha maybe that makes a difference.
  • Some tastes. It’s not that I just dislike them but they are somewhat disturbing for me. can’t say I’m anxious because of them, but just very uneasy. Guess it’s more of a sensory sensitivity stuff than anxiety though in fact.
  • That people will use things I say against me. Just have happened to me quite a few times in my life in important situations.
  • Public transport. It’s simply scary and overwhelming. How can you not see it? Well OK trains are bearable, but the rest is real scary.
  • Parties, especially proms, balls, discos, dancings. No, I’m not really scared of dancing. I dislike it and don’t feel it like some people do that it’s so cool and fun, but am not afraid of it. I don’t know why I hate dancing parties so much and dread them so much. It was always the case. Apparently when I was a little girl my parents took me for a ball organised for children and I felt sick and threw up there but I don’t even remember it. Maybe it was that. I just know that whenever there was some disco or prom or ball at school when I was a child I would do everything to avoid going there. i feel very lost at such places. Crowds and loud music are overwhelming, and so is socialising, but it’s something else that must be so dreadful for me. I do a bit better at such parties and can even have some fun if I am with someone safe to whom I can stick to and always know where they are and have them close to me, so maybe it’s just disorienting.
  • Flying on the plane or travelling on the sea. That’s ridiculous in a way because I’ve never been on a plane. But considering all my travelling issues, it must be scary, and I always dread it. Travelling on the sea is very challenging for my balance though I haven’t had much to do with it either, only to and from Sweden.
  • Splinters. Seeing someone removing it, having it removed, having it removed myself. I’m normally not very afraid of pain but for some reason it’s different here and it really scares me.
  • Children, other than Zofijka. Not always am I afraid of children, though I usually don’t know how to get on with them, which often results in feeling anxious if I have to or feel I should.

OK, that’s enough hahaha. All that I can think of at the moment. Do you struggle with anything similar? What are your “inner phobias”? πŸ˜€

Question of the day.

When was the last time you did something you were afraid to do?

My answer:

Hm, I’m afraid of quite a few things, and also such things that are quite common to do so you sometimes just have to do them and it’s hard to avoid doing them. Don’t remember when exactly was the last such situation but what first came to my mind when I think about it happened about a week or so ago. As you may recall, despite all my desperate trials of avoiding it earlier this season, I finally got struck with a stomach flu, out of the blue. Now if you don’t know it yet, I’m emetophobic (fear of vomiting and pretty much everything to do with vomit), so it’s a drama in itself, even though the chance of me vomiting was rationally probably really slim considering how extremely rarely it happens to me, these days. I’ve once read an article on a website about emetophobia and I’m not perfectly sure if I understood it right, but the way I understood it, it said that many people with emetophobia are actually so anxious of vomiting that they are sort of blocked and often just can’t do it. If so then it’s possible I’m one of such individuals, though as you may imagine when emetophobia really strikes me, it’s only a little help to know it. So usually if despite all my efforts I do get some tummy bug or anything like that, it seems to be milder for me, like less violent, with no throwing up, but often lingers for a bit longer than for normal people. ANyway, the first day I got that flippin bug, was of course the scariest for me and I felt completely out of control and just overwhelmed by anxiety as much as I rarely am these days, I almost couldn’t think properly, and add all the physical symptoms to it like nausea and fatigue and stomach cramps, it was a nightmare I tell you. And finally Mum told me that whatever is the case of my sickness, I should drink apple cider vinegar – she believes it’s an almost perfect cure for almost all kinds of gastric problems. – And yes practically I do agree with her, apple cider vinegar is my good friend and helped me through many threatening situations where I had to be around sick people or feeling like I might be sick. But this time it was a bit different. A week before I got sick, my brother came home one evening and it turned out he ate something that was poisonous. He also drank apple cider vinegar and straight after that, he threw up. Never mind that it of course helped him to speedily get better, what’s important for me is that he threw up. I’d rather feel sick for days than throw up once. So I was sitting for what felt like eternity with that glass of apple cider vinegar, with my rational mind and anxiety having an incredibly dynamic battle while my brain felt like it’s going to go crazy any minute of all that. Finally, my logical mind won, because I was feeling really bad and because it had Mum on its side , so I drank it but man was it scary. I didn’t throw up, I didn’t feel much better either, until much later the next day after drinking a few more glasses of apple cider vinegar, but hey I do now, and I didn’t throw up yaaaay! That’s what counts. πŸ˜€ Some people are adrenalin junkies and overcome their fears of bungee jumping or skydiving, while I get over a stomach bug and feel like a superhero. πŸ™ƒ

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

When were you last greatly relieved at being able to excuse yourself from something you were dreading?

My answer:

Well, for me avoidance is one of the main strategies to deal with life, I guess I wouldn’t be diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder if it wouldn’t be so πŸ˜€ ALthough in avoidant personality disorder avoidance seems to refer only or mostly to social situations, while for me it can be also in some other sorts of anxiety provoking situations too as I don’t have only social anxiety. and finding excuses for things I feel anxious about, or feel uncomfortable with generally, is always a very tempting thing to do, and one I do, or at least think about doing, very often. It’s also usually very relieving when I can excuse myself from something I’m very anxious about or don’t feel like doing for any reason, unless it’s something real important that I excuse myself of doing and then my conscience bites me. πŸ˜€ But, the last thing I was able to avoid…? God I guess there are so many of them I just don’t know when was the last time, sometimes I just don’t realise that the thing I’m doing at a certain moment is avoidance. It’s just so weird. Mmm… Ah, I don’t know if it was the last thing but it was pretty recent!

Last week on Friday Zofijka’s classmate came over to us for lunch, and then to play with her. We were home alone, I mean our parents were away. THis girl is new, she lives here since a couple months, and that was the first time I met her. I liked her, and I knew from Zofijka she likes her too and sort of admires her, because she’s lived in the US for a couple years and her English is very good. Zofijka doesn’t have very high aspirations as for her ENglish but it seemed to impress her. ANd she wanted us to talk in English to each other and she wanted to listen. So, although we were both rather confused as for what we can talk about, we did, and the discussion became pretty dynamic and funny, especially that Zofijka could understand hardly anything and we were telling her we’re talking about her which was driving her crazy.

At the weekend, her parents wanted to come to us – we wanted to give them our rabbit cage, as we didn’t have rabbits anymore while they did and didn’t have a proper cage – and because both my parents and hers have been quite interested in each other because of similar views and stuff they just wanted to meet. I didn’t particularly care about their visit. When they came, I was in my room, doing some Welsh, I knew they didn’t expect me to join them or anything. After some time though Zofijka knocked on my door and said that her friend told them about me, and about our English conversation, and that they’d like to meet me. For some reason that made me feel rather jittery, I do like to show off my language skills but I definitely don’t like people to make too much fuss about them and I felt like they definitely might, and I just had a very anxious day which I guess contributed to my maybe slightly inadequate reaction. I just told Zofijka I am doing my Welsh and I’ll come to them when I finish. ANd I was very glad I had that excuse. After they left and when we watched a film later on with Mum she told me they were so looking forward to meet me because of course Zofijka told Mum that I can’t come because I am doing Welsh and they heard it and they were like WHAT? Welsh?! And that they were still very interested in meeting me. It’s not like I don’t want to meet them or something, I think they are pretty nice people from what I know, but it just makes me feel soooo weird when people make so much fuss and overexcite about my languages, it’s embarrassing, annoying and scary.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Again, I got inspired by BTN message board and decided to have a little series of questions regarding various people we may have known. If you’ve ever known someone who’s ever done the thing I ask about, but don’t feel comfortable revealing much info, just reveal as much as you feel is appropriate. You can also write about yourself, if you can relate to the question. The question for today is:
Have you ever known anyone who has an irrational fear of something unexpected, like an object or a sound? My answer:
Yeah, I myself am such kind of person, I have tons of irrational fears, I’ve overcome many of them, partly or completely, but I still have a lot. I won’t go into details about each of them for various reasons, but I’ll tell you I do have a fear of certain sounds since early childhood, it’s I guess one of the weirdest kinds of anxiety I have because it’s just so not typical, and so very weird. I also may have fears regarding certain objects.
Another such person is my Mum, who is afraid of spiders, but also of anything similar to spiders, so lots of other interesting creatures, some toys, I dunno, whatever can be similar, she also once told me she feels somewhat distressed even if she sees a spider on a picture, however it got better recently so I think it’s not as severe now.
Other than that I know quite a few people afraid of lots of really weird stuff, including bright orange objects, crying babies, escalators/elevators, public toilets, cats, mice, etc. Also when I was going to the school for the blind there were a lot of children anywhere on the autism spectrum, – there is some sort of link or higher risk or something between congenital blindness and autism spectrum disorder – and many of them had fears that were pretty out there.
How about you? πŸ™‚


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Hidden Citizens – Somebody’s Watching Me.

Hi. πŸ™‚

I thought I’d share another really cool cover with you, though in a COMPLETELY different style than the last one.

Do you ever feel like somebody’s watching you?

I do, very often. Not always, luckily, but very, very often. It has to do with my “silence anxiety”, as I call it, which means that, among other things, when I am alone and there is complete silence around me, I have often this horrifying impression just as if somebody was watching me. Also I am obsessed about my privacy i some cases, even if I’m not doing anything that very private, and I also think I might be somewhat “traumatised” by Zofijka, who loves to make me surprises like that I come into my room, do things and after 15 minutes I realise she’s hiding under the curtain or something. πŸ˜€ Can be funny, but also often pissing off and unsettling, however despite me telling her how it’s often annoying and just not OK if she does it, I guess she doesn’t fully get it. Also I guess I’m just similar to my Dad who is kinda paranoid. So yeah, I do often feel this way.

If you do too, I think you’re gonna like this song.

It is a cover of that famous 80’s hit by Rockwell, made by Hidden Citizens. As much as the original version doesn’t have the climate at all, the Hidden Citizens version is really powerful and graphic. You can really feel what’s it about, in opposite to the original in my opinion. I really could use the Hidden Citizens version as a sort of soundtrack to some parts of my life. πŸ˜€ It’s impressive!