Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/faq/most-char.html
I think this is a very good point...
Sat Aug 12 07:38:38 2000
...and something I hesitate to bring up in public for fear of offending people, but...
I get so many e-mail's, and see so many people in the forums, latching onto common experiences and biological variations and imbuing them with this huge significance. "I have longer canines than anyone I know, does this mean I'm a vampire?" "I feel this urge to bite my partner when we're having sex, does that mean I'm a vampire?" "I'm fascinated with weird stuff, that seems really abnormal. Am I a vampire?" There's a staggering lack of knowledge about the median bell curve of human variation, far more about the range of anomalies and aberrations that occur in Nature.
When you try to explain to people that what they're describing is perfectly ordinary and well within the median range of human experience, they often become furious with you for "making them sound stupid." This is especially true for adolescents describing very common feelings and experiences of their age and developmental group (for ex. 16 year old boy, "I've gotten a lot stronger in the last couple of years"--well, *DUH*! Can you spell, "testosterone"?), and people describing dreams. It seems that no one knows how to interpret their own dreams, and if you give it a crack, you're excoriated for "telling them they're just making it all up." Well, sorry, folks, I'm not going to tell you that your recurring dreams about being chased or bitten by a mythological creature you're obsessively interested in means that you're "special" and "chosen" and you're going to be made one of them--'cause I try hard not to lie to my correspondents. Even the rude ones.
I better stop before I start raving outright.
Needless to say, You're definitely not alone in asking whether you're a vampire. :) However, there's no easy way to tell. How do you get rid of those nagging doubts? You can't. At least, not easily. You must be happy with yourself, whatever you are, and must learn to accept yourself as you are, vampire or not, before you can shake loose any nagging doubts about your 'inner nature'. Always check out the mundane reasons for your "symptoms" first before jumping to the conclusion that you're a vampire. Chances are there's a reasonable explanation, and there's always a possibility that you could be suffering from a serious medical disorder in need of treatment.
Vampires are not immune to illness. It is possible to be a Vampire and have AIDS, cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia, a cold, the flu or any other disease or illness. Not only that, but many of the symptoms of vampirism are also symptoms of other known, treatable illnesses.
It is VERY important that you see your doctor when anything that concerns you is happening with your body or mind.
However, you don't have to mention "the V-Word", just give your doctor a list of symptoms and ask if he can run tests (A CBC - complete blood count - Chem20/"complete metabolic" and Thyroid tests are frequently recommended to start with) to see if there's a legitimate medical cause. Get a copy of your labwork, and research what the results might mean at LabTestsOnline. (LTO contains generic information about various medical tests, not your specific medical information.)
The other issue at hand is that not all real vampires will have the same characteristics - everyone is affected by their genetics, environment, stress and pressure from parents, friends and family, personal inhibitions and "taboos", as well as personal likes and dislikes.
Never underestimate the power of physical change in adolescent development. Everyone goes through unbelievable radical changes that last well into the college/university years (Early 20's, generally speaking) and possibly beyond. Additionally, allergies commonly do not show up until this time as well. Know that changes - even seemingly drastic ones - are normal for a teenager, including a shift in wake/sleep patterns and changes in strength.
I cannot tell you over the Internet whether you are a vampire or not, no matter how many details you give. There are too many variables in your environment, medications you may or may not be taking - prescription or otherwise, genetics and health that you may not be aware of that could impact what you're experiencing.
If you are looking to meet someone in person, you will want to look over the social predator traits and make sure you don't get conned, swindled, or end up as a crime statistic in the process. Don't be gullible, always be skeptical of a person's claims of extraordinary abilities such as shapechanging or extremely long lifespan. Have extensive conversations (months or longer) with them before actually meeting them in person - predators want easy prey, not prey that's hard to get. Read the safety file for hints and tips.
Here is a list of some characteristics people commonly mention, and my thoughts about each of them. What my comments are for is to remind you that there ARE other reasons besides vampirism for many characteristics that people mention, and if you have a valid medical condition that needs treatment, it's easier to catch it early than to wait until it's too late.
Above average intelligence - No
Anyone - not just vampires - especially with an analytical mind (such as people in the computer field or medical professionals) or people who read a lot of material with advanced or technical vocabulary will seem like they have a higher level of intelligence - if for no other reason than the acquisition of a lot of knowledge and expanded vocabulary. People with analytical minds are able to connect pieces of information faster than those with non-analytical minds. It doesn't mean vampirism, it just means they're faster on the uptake. :)
Anxiety / Depression - No
Either can have a variety of causes, from something lacking in your body chemistry to simply having a string of bad luck. ("My teacher hates me, my classmates hate me, my wife left me, my dog died" etc. etc.) I am a vampire, but *I* don't suffer from anxiety or depression as a result of being a vampire. I get work stress, family stress, pay-the-bills stress. You know, crap that usually happens to regular folks too. :)
Some people can have clinical depression or clinical anxiety, meaning merely that they may need some sort of medication to balance things as a result of a biochemical imbalance somewhere in the body and/or brain. Another cause can be brain tumors or growths - as they grow, they put pressure on certain areas of the brain, which results in mood changes or attitude changes that get worse as time goes on, possibly leading to death, unless the growth is removed. Yet another cause is endocrine imbalances, such as hypothyroid. With conventional medicine's focus on "The T4 rules all" for diagnostics, quite often a secondary form of hypothyroidism (NOT caused soley by malfunctioning thyroid) goes undiagnosed for as long as twenty years, while the patient gradually acquires a laundry list of medications for anxiety, pain, cholesterol, etc.
See my Thyroid 101 article for more details on thyroid issues.
Better immune system / Accelerated healing rate - No
Not necessarily a mark of vampirism - how good is your diet? :) If you're getting a good amount of vitamins, Vitamin C in particular, there's a logical reason right there. If people in your family rarely get sick, chances are you probably have pretty hardy genes that give you a better-than-average immune system. Remember the RDA for vitamin C is only 60-75mg - that's merely the minimum required to avoid things like scurvy in someone under IDEAL situations, certainly not when exposed to toxins like car exhaust, second-hand cigarettes, etc. - if you're getting more than that on a regular basis, chances are your immune system is better able to handle various illnesses you come across.
The immune system is powered by proteins, among other things. See my article on protein deficiency for more details.
Biting / Growling during sex - No
More common than you might think, it's part of everyone's primal urges. :) Again, not a sign of vampirism. Judging by the rather large number of pr0n stories I turned up in a Google search with that theme, I'd wager it's a fairly common fantasy too. More information can probably be turned up in bondage or fetish scene resources.
Dreaming about vampires - No
Just because you dream about vampires, does not mean you are a vampire, nor does it mean you're being contacted in your dreams by a vampire. Dreams are your brain's way of working through events of the day, plus any additional things that are on your mind (job stress, family stress, etc. etc.) and your dreams are not necessarily literal - in fact, dreams are NORMALLY symbolic, with symbology appropriate to the dreamer. (Thus, the best person to interpret your dreams? Is yourself.)
Keep a journal of your dreams and keep track of the events in your life, because the symbology - what happens in your dreams - is really only applicable to you. For example, a dream could be about things in the bedroom or wanting to sleep - person "A" might have a bed that's badly in need of replacement, person "B" could simply be working too much overtime and be unable to get enough sleep. What would that mean to you? I don't know - your dreams are based on YOUR experiences and how YOUR mind works, therefore you are the best person to interpret your dreams. Keeping both dream and waking diaries enables you to pair up your symbology with what happens.
Feelings of isolation / psyche issues - No
Everyone can feel different or alienated or "not like everyone else" at some point - it's especially common among teenagers and college/university students, but adults are not immune to this problem. For example, I can get that "not like everyone else" feeling just by walking a room of business people in suits, so that's really not a good indicator by itself. :) It's all a matter of where your "comfort zones" are.
Heightened senses - No
Stop and consider what the normal ranges are, and if you're really serious about this, have yourself tested to see where you fall in the "average" range. You might find that what seems "above normal" may actually BE in the normal range, especially for hearing (since a lot of people seem to be aiming for premature deafness these days with their music cranked up to maximum volume...)
A couple medical conditions that can cause heightened senses are autism and denervation supersensitivity. Drugs such as ecstasy and marijuana are also said to cause heightened senses.
Some people - not limited to vampires - just get that "special" genetic combination that gives them, for example, a sense of taste that makes them more sensitive to bitter compounds in foods and other ingestible things. Lima beans, brussels sprouts and coffee are among the things often avoided by supertasters. This often comes with a superior sense of smell, and may also make them more sensitive to additional things besides bitter compounds, depending on their sensitivity.
I know real vampires that couldn't smell rotten fish if you waved it in front of them, and others that can smell that it's in the early process of spoiling without even opening the package. If it turns out you have heightened senses, enjoy them while they last.
See this article on supertasters for more information.
Interest in vampires since a young age - No
It is natural for people to be interested in anything that fascinates them. It doesn't have to be a fascination with vampires, it could be a passion for music, science fiction, science, bats or other nocturnal animals, or even just digging under the ground to see what strange and disgusting crawly things you can find. (Hey, I've done that...) Just because you've had an interest in vampires for "a very long time" doesn't necessarily mean you are one. It just means the subject is of high interest to you for one reason or another.
Also keep in mind, "a long time" will be a different span of time to someone who's over 40 than a person who's, say, 15...
Insomnia / Changes in sleeping habits - No
The Encarta Encyclopedia has a good summation: "Sleepiness caused by insomnia reduces concentration and slows reaction time during waking hours, leading to reduced productivity and accidents. One in three adults experiences some degree of insomnia at one time or another, especially during periods of stress. Longer-lasting cases of insomnia, called chronic insomnia, are less common and may be caused by a number of factors in addition to stress, including imbalances in body chemistry or other medical conditions."
Work third shift? Work a rotating shift? Work irregular hours? Are you in your teens? Sleeping in a noisy neighborhood? Are there a lot of emergency vehicles, trains and/or planes that go by in hearing range? If you're taking medications, have you recently switched? Have you been taking over-the-counter decongestants that do NOT have antihistamines in them? Stress at work? Stress at home? People being a pain in your ass? Someone close to you recently diagnosed with a major illness or recently died? Are you a "Caffeine Achiever"? Do you take afternoon naps? Are you in severe and/or chronic pain? Do you have thyroid issues and take your thyroid meds in the morning?
All of these - plus likely a bunch of others I haven't listed here - are factors notorious for causing sleep issues. See my Insomnia Overview article for more details and tips on how to deal with it. You can also see my page on Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome for understanding why people "Just Aren't Morning People" - it's not limited to just vampires.
If you are having trouble sleeping, here's one tip, picked up from Vyrdolak:
If your legs, and particularly your feet, are cold (especially if you have poor circulation or you've been prone to getting frostbite in the winter), you will have a MUCH harder time getting to sleep than when they're warm. In the winter you may need to wear thick socks to bed, pile on the blankets or get a sleeping bag. I can vouch for the effectiveness of this tip personally. :) If you get cold feet/legs, there's certainly no harm in trying this tip, and a lot of sleep to be gained if that's actually the problem.
Irritability / Mood swings / Excecessive rage - No
Many many many causes, most of which I won't document here - however, they include caffeine withdrawal, not enough sleep, being bugged repeatedly by annoying people (Anyone with kids can relate to things like "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"), anxiety and a good deal of other addictive substances (cigarettes for instance) have irritability just one of the symptom of withdrawal. (There's a reason most people tend to give smokers who are trying to quit a wide berth...)
There could be many dietary triggers - Aspartame (the stuff in Equal/Nutrasweet) can give people mood swings. The same with Sucralose/Splenda (among many MANY other health problems.) Caffeine withdrawal can make people cranky, as well as give you some of the worst headaches. Side effects of medications or drugs - Prednisone, for example, is WELL known for making patients very cranky.. Chemical imbalances in a person's body chemistry. Stress can wear a person's patience razor thin (The old joke-on-a-button: "I have one nerve left AND YOU'RE GETTING ON IT!" comes to mind...)
For the ladies, PMS/menopause - as well as any medications that impact the balance of female hormones (such as birth control) - can make you bitchy, depressed or any other unusual mood depending on your hormonal imbalance that month. And, you ladies may not even be AWARE that it's going on until someone actually says something, because you may not be aware it's happening.
Mental conditions such as bipolar and schizophrenia can also result in unsociable tendencies. Bipolar's mood swings can certainly make a sufferer very hard to live with unless it's treated!
These are just some examples. See my personal issues page for links to support information and checklists along this line.
Light / Sun sensitivity - No
See my article on causes of photosensitivity for more details. Also see my article on how to deal with it. It IS commonly mentioned among vampires, but not all people who are photosensitive are vampires, and not all vampires have photosensitivity (either as a direct result of vampirism or anything else.) Photosensitivity can happen for many reasons such as medication side effects, genetic ancestry, migraines, etc.
Migraine headaches - No
First of all, be sure that what you're experiencing is in fact a migraine. It isn't just a 'really bad' headache. Sufferers will usually (but not always) experience visual disturbances such as auras or blind spots followed by an intense pain on one side of the head, usually behind the eye. Sufferers tend to become sensitive to light, sound and feel nauseated while the migraine is happening. (If numbness is suddenly experienced with it, then you should be checked out to make sure you don't also have a stroke going on too.)
While it is common for real vampires to have Really Bad Headaches from being sensitive to sunlight and other bright lights, migraines in particular can have a variety of causes - chocolate can set them off, strong smells, maybe even not getting enough sleep, or a bad sleeping position (and resultant muscle tension), for example. It all depends on the person, but each individual's triggers tend to remain the same for most of their life.
If you wear strong prescription lenses, having enough scratches on one or both of the lenses (or even a prescription that's just a little "off", or glasses that don't sit properly after being broken, etc.) can give you headaches even if you aren't aware that the scratches are there (or that the prescription isn't quite right). You may need to clean your glasses with liquid soap, then rotate them at many angles under bright light to tell if you have the scratches I'm referring to. A "lens pencil" may make them more bearable, but if you have too many scratches or eyes that are too sensitive to the problem, the only solution is to get new/replacement lenses.
Pale skin - No
No, this is not a symptom, sign or cause. :P Skin can become more pale by avoiding sunlight, the same reason many people's tans fade in the winter. Skin can be naturally pale if you are born that way, such as if you have ancestry from regions of the world that are closer to the poles, and stay pale if you don't make any effort to get a tan, or your body doesn't have "the tanning gene". In other words, while vampires MAY tend to be pale, it doesn't mean ALL vampires are pale, and it doesn't mean all persons who are pale are vampires. Personally, I consider pale skin a good thing because it means less sun-induced visual aging later on in life. That hole in the ozone layer isn't going away anytime soon...
Psychic "symptoms" - No
You do not have to be vampiric to have psychic abilities - many people with psychic abilities are not vampires at all, never have been, and never will be. Someone with the empathic projection ability can calm people down, make them upset, or just give people headaches if they're uncontrolled. Any psychic can sense energy, either they're born with the knack for it, or they learned it either on their own or from someone else teaching them. It is possible even to learn how to "drain energy", something usually considered a psivamp trait. The key difference here is a psivamp needs the energy, and it will also happen by instinct - they're not just draining it as a conscious choice.
Another thing to consider: A good student of body language will seem to "read" people, but this won't necessarily even be psychic. Body language is a completely mundane thing - this is just a skill, the same as riding a bicycle is a skill. You can be self-taught or you can learn it through more formal methods. Having empathy AND knowing how to read body language becomes a potent combination in any situation.
Sensitivity to certain metals / jewelry - No
Some people have metal allergies, in which their skin reacts to certain type(s) of metals. Sometimes coating the item with clear nail polish will help, but sometimes it won't if the person is sensitive enough, or if the nail polish gets worn off. This usually makes it's appearance when a person is wearing a piece of jewelry with the offending metal(s) in it. Also, while it's not common, I have run across one or two people who can't wear ANY metals next to their skin at all - even gold, which is generally considered non-reactive - either due to allergy, or a reaction between their sweat and the metal.
Usually, gold or some other non-reactive metal is the best solution, but be aware the quality of the "pure gold" will vary - it may be a pure gold coating on a nickel-metallic base, which means once the gold coating gets worn off, you're back to getting a rash again.
Sharp / Pointy teeth - Nope
Just because you have sharp/pointy teeth - or fangs - does NOT mean you're a vampire. It just means you got the lucky end of the gene pool and are already set for Halloween. Just put this in the category of "mild medical abnormalities". Sure, it may be cool to have pointy teeth, but I've seen a lot of people with pointy teeth who are most definitely NOT vampires.
Also, some people get prosthetic fangs which may or may not be permanent. Whether they admit they're prosthetics is entirely up to them....
Stomach troubles / Food allergies - No
Did you know protein deficiency can also cause stomach issues? See my article on protein deficiency for more information.
Thirst, excessive, unusual - No
Get yourself checked out for things like diabetes. Being "always thirsty" is one of the symptoms of diabetes, and may be a symptom of a variety of other diseases and any major disease is no laughing matter.
Unidentifiable / Blood cravings - No
This can happen to anyone, real vampire or not - some medical disorders can give an apparent blood craving (Pica or certain types of anemia, for instance), and nutritional deficiencies can also cause specific cravings as the body attempts to right the imbalance - but it doesn't always have to be a craving for blood specifically. Pica is a result of vitamin deficiency, the affected person will try to eat many things that they wouldn't normally eat, including lead paint, in a vain effort to try to get more of the nutrients they're lacking. Again, if this is severely out of the norm for you, then have your doctor run some tests to see if there's anything medically trackable.
If you've made it to here, congratulations on having the patience to finish the article! :)
So what are the shared characteristics?
Other than the need to feed, characteristics - and coping ability - will vary from person to person. As a result it's VERY hard to come up with a definitive list that applies to everyone. The line between determining whether it is an addiction or fetish, or whether it's a genuine need is often blurred when you're trying to determine it for yourself - this takes careful self examination to be absolutely certain.
Please note that I am not saying anyone with any these characteristics cannot be a vampire, or is always a vampire.
Only that there are other reasons besides vampirism for a person experiencing a particular symptom or set of symptoms.
Do get yourself checked out to make sure you are otherwise healthy. The 'symptoms' of each person's vampirism will vary from individual to individual, and the degree to which a person is affected by a particular characteristic or symptom is based on their genetics, immune system and mental outlook on life.
You must be happy with yourself, no matter what you decide. Vampirism will not improve your life, win friends and make you successful. No battle was ever run by continually running away from it. You must be happy with yourself, whatever you are, and must learn to accept yourself as you are, vampire or not.