Being Bilingual

What is it really like to be bilingual?

Something that has always annoyed me is when people ask me, “What language do you think in.” because, to be honest, I never really think about it as thinking in a language. When I hear Polish, speak Polish or read a Polish sign, I automatically read it as Polish. But when I hear English or read English I would translate it in my head to Polish. But when I speak it and someone answers me in English, I hear that as English in my head. It sounds ridiculous, but it is only when I am conversing or writing in English, when I don’t think in Polish. You would think, after the number of years I have spent in Britain, I would speak it as at ease as I would Polish. But I always revert back to my mother tongue.

I have often been told that when I am angry, sad or frustrated, My Polish accent comes out very thickly and I occasionally drop a Polish word as a way of expressing that emotion as I find that British doesn’t have such expressive words. I also, always, curse in Polish when I hurt myself.

However my boyfriend used to comment that when I talk in my sleep, which was something I used to do until I was put on strong medication for my BPD, which knocks me out for the night, I would shout in English. However he said what I would shout is nonsense as though that was what I originally thought was the correct word for something else.

My boyfriend also just now, commented on the fact that I choose to eat Polish foods as my main meals, I usually would stick with pastry’s, doughy foods over fish and chips. Something else he has noticed is when I read out loud the label on jars of food etc. I read them in English but with a Polish accent, which I personally have never noticed.

People comments are one of the things that you never think about unless you are bilingual or of a different ethnicity from the rest of the people in your country. I spoke to  lady in my office and although we are both Polish, we where speaking English as we both feel more comfortable at work, if we speak English. Although she was raised in Britain and has a strong British accent, where as I, although I have a British accent, still struggle with word that have V and W and mispronounce a few words on occasion. As we where speaking a fellow worker came over and said “Why don’t you just speak Polish if that is where you both are from?” It wasn’t so much her words that offended us but more the way she said it, as though we had no right to speak English.

Another example was when I was helping tourists with directions, they where Polish and couldn’t understand English, I had heard them talking earlier and had asked if I could give them help, while I was given instructions for their journey, I heard a little boy ask his mum “Is those people one of the ones who came over in the boats?” and his mum, thinking I couldn’t understand English said “No, they probably came through on the Lorries.”

It’s moments like these where you wish you weren’t bilingual so you don’t have to hear the comments about my people and land.]

I am proud to be Polish but I am also proud to be counted as a British Citizen. I am not just my race, but I am also the people who have fought to get somewhere safe.

My boyfriend just said this proverb is accurate, I hope you agree.

“Jak cię widzą, tak cię piszą.”


Tosia Altman





Things People Don’t Tell You: Taking Medication.

Things People Don’t tell you about: Taking medication.

This is going to be not general specification of medication, I take numerous medication for numerous reasons and don’t particularly feel like specifically going into my mental illness meds or IBS meds.

  1. If you work and take the same medication at the same time, many females and males will think you are on the Pill, (if you are female.)
  2. You often can’t drink alcohol with your medication, not just because of the fact that there is a chance you will get drunk quicker, but also if it is, say, paracetamal, this creates a toxin in your body which can cause severe damage to your liver as it is not a natural medicine.
  3. Tablets can be a nightmare to swallow, especially if you have a cold.
  4. There won’t always be a noticeable difference, especially if it is a build up drug. Often you will have to take your meds for at lease 2 weeks to a month to really begin to see a difference.
  5. It can be very annoying or troublesome to take them exactly at the usual time if you are on holiday. When I am working I take them throughout my day at the exact same time, however when you lose that structure you may find you will have to wait a while before you can take them as there may be no water.
  6. They can leave an after taste. When I take Lithium for my BPD, I always got a horrendous after taste that I have just had to learn to ignore, the only way I can get it away is if I gargle with Listerine.
  7. There can occasionally be side affects. Often you may find that you gain weight or become bloated, thirsty and or need to pee all the time. However that might fade with time as your body gets more accustomed with the medication.
  8. Airports can be a nightmare. Depending on the type and dosage of meds you take, you may find that your bag will be searched more often than not, even if your illness is known. I often have been asked about my anti-depressants as they are very strong and I now just carry a signed doctors note, to show as evidence.


  1. They can change your life for the better. Before I took medication I was really trying to go down the natural route for things like IBS, PMS Pain, BPD and anxiety. Although I am now on 15 pills a day, I feel so much better and my moods, stomach and illnesses have all stabilised.



Tosia Altman



My Dad Triggers My Panic Attacks

This is something I have recently had to come to terms with. My father is not abusive, nor violent but he is mentally abusive which is even worse for someone who is a) Bipolar and 2) Has a severe anxiety and panic disorder.

A Prime example of how this can affect me is set out in a number of real stories that happened to cause me to downfall.

  1. Today, a lovely day outside and I was out in the sun, I had been really anxious all day, due to one of my colleagues really triggering my anxiety and I just was really tired due to the 15 hour day of work yesterday due to train issues. It was dinner time and we where doing it the way we do in my family where we put the main dish in the middle of the table and we help ourselves, I took the portion I wanted and my father was not satisfied with it. He was telling me that I was being ridiculous and  fussy and began to shout/ order me to eat more, I told him I was fine with the amount I had and he began getting crosser as obviously it wasn’t up to his standards. I got really anxious after that and he went to cross his legs and accidentally touched me and due to the random fear I get, I winced. I was then explaining my work situation and he got angry further with me for not being able to speak to my boss and how I overreact as everyone has stress in the workplace but most people are just able to deal with it but I have to be “overdramatic and childish about it”, which is due to my anxiety, this caused me to begin to cry which got him shouting at me that I am weak and a child, this did not help the situation because at this point I was beginning to have a panic attack and was struggling to breathe, and the more he shouted at me the harder I cried causing him to get angrier and angrier with me to a point where he was standing up and shouting at me, my mother, the peace maker, told me to finish my dinner and leave the room, seeing my state, I was unable to eat at all, and as I ran up the stairs, due to the fact I was about to have a panic attack and if my father could hear me he would shout at me, half way up the second flight, I made a series of gasping noise as I tried to breathe, he heard it and came storming out the kitchen, telling me to stop being so over dramatic.
  2. To explain why he ha the effect, I will go back to the time I had my first ever panic attack.

I was 13 years old and for whatever reason, I remember trying to explain to him, why I wasn’t comfortable playing the flute in front of people, he then became angry due to my disobedience as my anxiety wouldn’t allow it. He then started shouting at me due to the fact that he paid good money for the lessons and I still wouldn’t play it in front of people so what was the point in getting lessons, anxiety everyone gets, it’s not an illness and you should just be able to get over it, anxiety and panic is apparently all a state of mind that can just change. He began shouting at me angrily and at one point I was leaning so far back as he was shouting right into my face, I became scared that he was about to hit me and tried to stay calm. He finally stopped and left the room and I felt an oden tightening in my chest, to make sure he couldn’t hear, I stuffed a pillow in my mouth and tried to breathe. I initially thought it was an asthma attack, as it is a very similar sensation and I have severe asthma. The scary thing is, this was more than a few years ago and yet I can still see and feel how I felt, I can still feel that tightening off my chest and the thought that kept rushing through my mind which was “I’m gong to die, I’m going to die, I can’t breath, oh God, what if I faint, why can’t I breathe???” I remember finally reaching the apex of the attack and feeling like I was in space with no mask. It was as though all I was getting was nothingness into my lungs. But then it stopped and I got the aftermath, the shuddering breaths, with the occasional short gasp. I remember thinking “I’m fie, it’s okay, I’m going to be okay. I am a survivor, you can make it. You did it, Tosia, you survived.”

I have been having a panic attack at least one a fortnight since that day. It was as though someone had finally pulled the trigger and I was the bullet being made to find a target. I can’t explain the sensation and no matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to get easier, nor does it become normal or makes me feel like I can make it. It’s still suffocating and the little voice in my head still says “You’re dying, you’re suffocating, why can’t I breathe.”

But you live with what you are, and I know what I am. I am a survivor and a fighter and so I write a blog. So people can know that they are not alone. I am here. I survived and you will survive this too. Because you are strong enough. You are enough for me. You are perfect with all you imperfections. You make me happy. Someone who was very close to me told me, ” Your heart breaks to the light can shine through. I hope that’s true, because I can see the light shining from all of your hearts.


Tosia Altman




Manchester Prayers

I’m sorry, I couldn’t face updating yesterday. I don’t even have words, I didn’t grow up in Britain until I was relatively old for a child to go straight into a English School and despite the fact I couldn’t speak a word of English and there was no one Polish at the school, they welcomed me and made me feel like I had a bezpieczne schronienie. I’m not sure what that is in English but to me it was a very different atmosphere from the one in Poland. When I left, our economy was struggling and my mother was not making enough złotys for us to be able to make a living, I thought that seeing the amount of Homelessness and alcoholism in Poland was one of the worst things that could happen.

How wrong I was. Poland has had wars, but never has it had such a tragedy as what is happening in my bezpieczne schronienie. It’s not longer my home but a war ridden country, targeted by invisible killers. But I pray them, because truly only the sickest of people could take children’s lives and I also pray for the Muslim people who are wrongly and unjustly being blamed for some fanatics and I pray for their religion, because for as long as I am able to practise mine without being prosecuted, so should everyone else.

I also pray for those who have lost loved ones, relations, friends or just acquaintance. Grief is hard, reach to the people you love and let them know you love them. Make sure you are never alone, do not block people out, they are all in this hell together. I pray for my friends, especially you, Kate, that no harm comes to you in Manchester.

Be safe all, you are not alone and if anyone feels wants to talk, feel free to message etc.

So much love in this time.

Faith, Peace, Love and Hope is all we can have.


Tosia Altman


The Truth About Blogging

Why can blogging be so difficult?

If you aren’t aware, this blog is not my first. I know! Shocker! In fact, it’s not even my second, this is my third blog.

This reason why blogging is so hard is mainly down to three factors.

  1. Perseverance
  2. Creativity
  3. Mood.

Persevering with a blog is hard. I promised to blog three times a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday but yesterday I forgot or didn’t have my laptop on. See, to really dedicate yourself to updating and giving good content you have to keep a good structure and if you are busy, lazy or just lack will power, you can often lose that structure. This also means you can lose readers.

AN example of this was with my previous blog. I was jobless, and so to create an income, I made my blog: Something New, Something Different and it garnered a lot of attention. However when I went into full time employment I realised I was too busy to be able to do my blog and shut it down.

However ways to counteract this is by updating less but having better contact. Blog every fortnight or once a week, but do it on the day where you are less tired or on the weekend.  Purposely schedule it, so that you will take your time out to do it.


Having fresh content each week is also very difficult. In fact it’s the hardest thing in a blog. Something that can be really annoying is if you have spent a long time on an idea and no body really views it etc. but then when you post a stupid three second read post and it get’s all the views. People are fickle and it’s often a struggle to get something that is entertaining as well as interesting.

Hint: Keep a journal of ideas through the week, and build upon concepts. Don’t get stuck in one thing, continue to broaden your horizons.


Your mood can define how your blog comes across and how positive people feel after reading it. I am bipolar and often my mood will be either very down or on the opposite of the spectrum, very positive.

Hack: Make sure you are in the right head space before writing your blog. Words can hurt and negativity is very dangerous. Associate your blog with something positive, do yoga or de-stress colouring books to relax you. Talk about your passions instead of the negativity’s in life.


I hope this has helped, sorry about the late update. Have a nice weekend! Pokój!




Am I Becoming My Parents?

“I’m not getting old.”, I think to myself as I dig through my office drawers for something that isn’t my collection of Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s carriers, in case, I think to myself I ever need to use them.

“I’m not getting old”. I think as I make myself a cup of tea exactly at 11 o’clock in the morning and 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

“I’m not getting old.” as I sigh over 5 year olds getting mobile phones and I remise about my Nokia brick I had when I was 13.

“I’m not getting old”. I think as I buy oranges, as there is a bug going around office and I need them to build up my immune system.

I’m not getting old as I crotchet, sew and embroider at 10 o’clock on Friday and Saturday night.

Sudoku’s on trains don’t mean I’m getting old, it just came free with the Daily Mail that day.

Oh God, I’m turning into my parents.

When did this happen. What are normal people my age doing right now.

Let’s see. Partying, drinking wine, how classy. Oh partying again, On a WEDNESDAY! Oh seeing friends.

What am I doing? Writing another blog.

After I closed Something New- Something Different, I thought to myself, “No more blogs, do what people your age are doing, go socialise….”

It never happened. But that’s fine. Do what you enjoy, even if it’s strange or whacky or completely normal. DO it because you enjoy it, not because you are trying to fit in.

Yes maybe I am becoming my parents, or even grandparents, but I’m still enjoying life.


Tosia Altman

For old fans, update times are how they used to be; 3 times a week.



Coming Home

I have finally found myself again. Winter has seemed to off dragged on and I struggled to be able to make it through this year without giving up. The days and nights where dark, I would leave in the morning for work and it would be just darkness and when I would come home the street lights would be the only light. The clouds hid the stars and moon and I felt utterly lonely in the wide expanse of a busy town.


But then finally the sun has come out. It’s not so dark anymore and I am not so lonely anymore. I can watch the sunrise and set in the day and feel, finally that there is a structure back. It’s odd, to have your spirits lifted just by an over night weather change. Automatically, the sunny weather brings back good memories off sitting in Warsaw old town and eating a Pączki straight from a vendor on the street.

Home: Resting Place. It’s a safe haven. I like Britain, I do and I owe this country more than any words can express, but it’s not my home. We, as in, my people, try to create a memory of our real home, by opening up shops that sell the typical foods that are in polish shops and restaurants but it’s not the same. We can’t replicate the feeling off our true home. Yes, it can rain, more often that not, and yes we are horrible on the roads and seem to always be arguing or bartering, but it’s still home.


Home. Make your home in your heart, not in a land. Take portions of different lands and make that your home.

To give an old proverb:  Z mim sie zadajesz, takim sie stajesz


Tosia Altman