Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Being A Sexy Black Woman with #Epilepsy

Hey guys!

Quick post.

I’ve been working on my body this year, no just losing weight but also my self-perception. So far over the last couple of months I have lost weight. #PROUD

This began towards the end of 2017 with healthy eating and looking at my portion sizes, and light exercises I could do at home. Then when I felt that my body was ready physically, I began to exercise outside.

Running is still extremely difficult. Sadly I don’t think I’ll ever get back to my old level of fitness due to muscle weakness from the seizures 😔

I did throw myself in at the deep-end in January and signed up to a local kickboxing class for beginners, however my seizures have left me so unfit that I just couldn’t keep up, even with the other beginners, which is a shame because when I wasn’t recovering from seizures I definitely noticed the difference in my upper body even after a month, and upper body strength is where I am severely lacking. I have absolutely no fat on my legs, but I find that the muscles in those bounce back quicker after a seizure 😔

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll remember that I used to cycle as well as run when I was working full-time, before I became unwell. I recently had to sell my old bike because it was too hard-core for me, however I’ve traded it in for a brand new delightful Dutch bicycle which is much more easier for my sore muscles to handle:

Saying goodbye to my old bike was another wakeup call and a reminder that my body has changed so significantly.

However, thanks to embracing my identity as a Black woman, I’ve now learnt to love my body for what it is.

As Black women growing up, we had very few role models to look up to, so imagine at the age of 31 me finding The Slumflower finally telling me it’s ok to be who I’ve always wanted to be and to embrace my body for how it is and to not give a fuck what anybody else thinks. Because I love it and that’s all that matters 👊🏾

For example, I’ve always hated bras. Most women do – in fact, as soon as we walk through the door we take the damn things off. When you have big boobs like me it’s even worse! They can cause severe psychological distress and when people around you constantly tell you that you’re wearing the wrong sizes, when you know that you you’re wearing the right sizes, it’s just having to wear a bra that’s the issue and if you could only not have to wear one then you wouldn’t be so distressed, then you wouldn’t feel so self-conscious.

So when The Slumflower began the #SaggyBoobsMatter movement on Twitter, I burned my bras and haven’t looked back since.

What has this got to do with Epilepsy I hear you ask?

Well as a Black woman, everything. It causes me less stress, it boosts my self-esteem. It’s bad enough that I’m still suffering from the impact of racial traumas; ANYTHING that can contribute to my positive mental health and well-being, has everything to do with my Epilepsy.

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Oh Mother, Where For Art Thou?

So I had a quick catch up with my mum last week afternoon and caught her up on my failed teacher training due to racial microaggressions, the bullies using my epilepsy as a scapegoat, and my subsequent suicide attempt. Fairly light afternoon mother-daughter chat. When she asked the reasons they had used to sabotage my reputation at work, I replied “well at first it started off as them accusing me of being late for work, then they started to say that I was aggressive towards members of staff. Have you ever known me to be late for work mum?” Without a moment’s pause, she replied no. However, when I asked her if she’d ever known me be aggressive, she paused, before replying:

“well maybe not aggressive but angry”.

We’ve fallen out over this before. She’s always perceived me to be an angry girl, however she’s never paused to think about the reasons behind it. I didn’t want to fight about it, so I just said to her “at work mum. I know how to present myself at work.” Her response was then:

“well I’m not there with you, so I can’t say, but I’m sure you are.”

How come you can say with conviction that I’m a punctual person when I’m not in your presence, but you cannot say that I know how to be a professional Black woman?

That’s what I wanted you to say mum.

It dawned on me that yet again, our parents are a generation that have been insidiously conditioned by white supremacists to think in certain ways about our Black actions.

Just because I may behave in a certain way in your home, does not automatically mean that I am the same person outside. Furthermore, you brought me up woman! You brought me up to have manners, to be polite, to act “white”around white people so as not to draw attention to myself, therefore that’s how I used to act outside (in the workplace).

At home, I was your angry daughter because I had issues with you, therefore if a group of white people in the workplace are then ganging up on your daughter and stereotyping her as an aggressive Black woman, alarm bells should be ringing in your mind mother.

And this is where I am yet again reminded that my own mother doesn’t know me.

My mother doesn’t even know that my favourite animal are owls.

Everybody who knows me knows this about me.

She banned me from having anything owl related in her house, because she thought that they were demon-related – especially so when Harry Potter came out.

Hedwig

So, after crying myself into a nap, I realised that things needed to change.

I messaged her, reminding her that the things that I was angry about, were reasonable things to be angry about, and I did not appreciate being labelled as angry for that.

This was confirmed when I went to see my Tarot Counsellor on later on in the week, Thursday. I’ve recently gotten into Tarot and astrology, because I follow my heart and not only do the cards give surprising readings; they sometimes confirm my gut instincts. For example, I had no idea that I would be speaking to my mother again – the cards read this, which was a surprise for me and after two years I thought that I was ready to move on, but it turned out that it was time for me to return on my terms. The cards also read some incredible insight into the broken relationship between my sister and I. You might be reading this and thinking this is all bollocks, but I’m not easily swayed either. I just follow my gut.

My Tarot Counsellor advised me that it was time to stand up for myself, because I already knew that the relationship between my mother and I was an unhealthy one, bourne down through generations of trauma. My mother was also a shadow who casts darkness over my light – in fact, nobody on earth makes me feel shitter than my mother and sister; nobody on earth makes me feel more like an outsider than my mother and my sister. My mother consistently acts like the child in our relationship, knowing that it puts significant strain upon me – both physically as well as mentally. She claims to care about my health, but it dawned upon me that we’ve been talking for two or three weeks, yet she hasn’t apologised for the fact that we haven’t spoken to each other in over two years, nor has she apologised for the vile things that she said to me. Whereas, I apologised during our first conversation.

So, I messaged her.

I wasn’t rude. I reminded her that I was her child and that if this relationship was to move forward, she needed to embrace her role as a mother. She should also get to know me, because she never had and she still did not. Those are my terms.

I haven’t heard from her since.

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It is what it is.

This time however, the door is still open on my side, instead of slammed shut like before, which is much beneficial to my mental health, as well as my physical.

And I’ve been busy making my family around me who know me and love me. I don’t need blood when I’m a Priestess and I’ve got options and acceptance.

XOXO

 

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Are Mental health, epilepsy and race intersectional?

I guess some of you of might be wondering why I’ve chosen to take the direction of race of my blog, as well as epilepsy and mental health.

It’s because for me, as a woman of colour, I’ve learnt that it’s all intersectional.

I’ll give you an example: as you know I’m currently studying online. We have a WhatsApp group social group; We don’t always get along, however when we do it’s pretty fantastic. I’m not the only Black woman on the course, however I do seem to be the only vocal one. That could be because of the explicit racism I’ve experienced which has made me so, plus the fact that I’m the youngest on the course and we’re paying a hell of a lot for this course. Therefore, when people aren’t happy with the course, I’m always the “Katniss Everdeen” of the group, forcing everybody to fight for what we’re paying for. Sometimes I do take breaks for mental health reasons. Sometimes, I also like to just observe the group, and there is one white woman, originally from UK, now living in China, who has a superiority complex, talks down to a lot of the women especially, some just ignore her completely, some run to her in worship even though she is passive aggressively rude and rarely goes out of her way to help, unlike the rest of us in the group!

Over the weekend, she then tried to make me look like the “angry black woman stereotype” when she quite rudely told everybody to stop moaning, get over themselves and get on with it. We’re all frustrated with the disorganisation of the University, so the WhatsApp group is also where we come to vent and encourage. I never take kindly to people telling me what to do, especially when it’s some prissy white woman I don’t even like, let alone know. Clearly the message was rude, yet nobody else in the group said anything, so I stepped up. As the “angry black woman“.

Only after I sent my message, did somebody else message after, but it was very clear that they had waited.

The prissy white woman tried to retract by saying that she hadn’t meant to offend, however she failed to apologise – which I pointed out – therefore, failing to step off of her high horse. I reminded her that although this was a group for sharing information about the course, this was also a social group for venting and referring to it as “moaning” is demeaning and we will not be dictated to. She then only directly apologised to the other person – another white woman – and not to me; my only response was: “sorry you feel that way” as if my feelings were unwarranted, and I was being unreasonable, as”angry black woman“.

Later on, others felt like they couldn’t talk openly about their disappointment about their bad grades, as that would be “moaning” and I began to cry to my partner, as this was beginning to affect my mental health.

Then at 4.30am this morning, prissy white woman sends a message to let us all know that she is leaving the group. She did apologise for offending us, however it was nowhere near a sincere apology. She then left. The message woke me up and I haven’t slept since.

Lack of sleep of a trigger of seizures, as is stress.

And when my partner left for work this morning, the first thing I did was get out of bed to clean obsessively (I also have OCD).

And this is why, mental health, epilepsy and race are intersectional.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Heroes (Mental Health)

Tonight I want to talk about role models.

 

With the “collapse of Hollywood” amongst the sex scandals, it’s occurred to me that I’ve placed a HUGE amount of heroism and idolism into mere humans, who I once used to see as so much more than humans: Alfred Hitchcock was the reason I decided to study film, and why I place so much value in it as an artform, even to this day. Orson Welles, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola….

 

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to take notice of women in Hollywood, and I suppose this was because previously, I had been looking for a father-figure – somebody to look up to.

 

My sister and I found that in the actor Tom Hanks. Even in his younger roles like Big and Bachelor Party, we still saw the “dad” we needed in him, and the older he got, the more drawn we were to him. It never seemed to occur to us that we were drawn to his characters and not him as a person. However, the way he handled the difficult situation with his son Colin only fuelled the fantasy, and again it never occurred to me that this might have all been a PR spin in order to protect his reputation.

 

So imagine my heartbreak when I saw Tom Hanks’ name trending on Twitter alongside Matt Damon’s earlier a couple of weeks ago. We all know how Matt Damon feels about sexual harassment, so when I saw that name trending, my heart immediately sank because I knew that it couldn’t be good news… and it wasn’t.

 

I found a link of Tom Hanks being interviewed on CNN (which appears to have been removed now), “mansplaining” assault, and claiming to not have known anything about Weinstein’s alleged behaviour, however the way in which he places emphasises on the word “alleged” is incredibly shady. In another interview for the Metro newspaper, he then criticises Netflix’s decision to drop Kevin Spacey and claims that the company will go bust if they continue to act upon accusations.

 

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=newssearch&cd=11&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjXm9CO9JbYAhUoI8AKHTcCDJc4ChCpAggmKAAwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmetro.co.uk%2F2017%2F12%2F13%2Ftom-hanks-calls-patience-judging-alleged-hollywood-abusers-7155153%2F&usg=AOvVaw3078wNtH8Xb2UE8fmt1a4K

 

My partner and I have spoken about the fact that I place too high expectations upon people, that I expect people to be perfect, which is why I’m always let down. But I constantly dispute this.

I just expect people to have fucking morals, and to treat people the way that they would expect to be treated.

 

And I also place my trust in the wrong people…. Parents…. Siblings….. Male celebrities…..Maybe just the human race in general….

-what-meme-41709

 

However, if you place your trust in the right people, you can then trust yourself and your own judgement. This is partly what your formation years are for, and how you then become a “mentally stable adult” who perhaps doesn’t place their trust in arsehole rapist sexual predator men, but in themselves.

Now if you look at my Twitter account, it’s full of Females, not only because I’m gay, but also because when you support the right people, you get “fed the right food”…

 

Ava DuVernay – Black, female director and activist who is incredibly artistic and has the biggest heart for Black females. I look up to her like the big sister I never had.  

Kelechi Okafor –  Black, female actress and founder of her own Fitness Studio, who daily inspires me with her activism. I actually discovered her when I was first suspended and would just spend my days stalking her on Twitter (LOL). I eventually got to meet her at the end of the summer, to tell her what a profound effect she’d had on mental health. She also taught me to speak up for myself; after spending nine months in an institution, surrounded by white people where I was forced to keep silent, I’d lost my voice and Kelechi’s tweets taught me how to speak again.

Tobi Oredein – Black, female journalist, who created Black Ballad as a platform for talented Black journalists to be published and be paid for it. I’d never seen this before I encountered Tobi on social media. And to know Tobi, is to understand her passion for Black, talented people and their struggle in the creative world, because it’s a fucking struggle to be heard. Black Ballad is so beautiful and full of such inspiration.

Izin Akhabau – Black, female journalist and was the youngest ever reporter for BBC News. Izin has been by my side virtually all summer. At first, we became connected because she wanted me to write a piece for her, however we became close during my mental breakdown and she came through for me BIG TIME. She’s also writes for Black Ballad and is starting her own online platform, so keep your eyes peeled.

Terry Crews – actor and recent activist for sexual harassment in Hollywood. I’m so glad I no longer know him from just being this dude from the “White Chicks” movie (which is awful by the way, don’t even get me started), to being the Big Black Man who started a wave in Hollywood. LEGEND. 
All of these people in their own ways, have taught me to be myself.

Self Care

I made a decision that I was going to subscribe to a magazine, and after “shopping around” for a few months, I made the decision to go with Pride and I’m so happy I did: their features on hair, music (I have a new separate playlist just from new acts I’ve discovered from Pride Magazine alone!), current Black culture etc is so fulfilling.

It’s great to just read in the bath when I need a break from social media, Netflix or studying.

It’s funny, I was talking to my best friend about the “Tom Hanks situation” and it seems I’m not the only person within the Black community to be disappointed in him and it’s because we gave him a seat at the table, as an honorary black man, which is so true. My sister and I definitely used to see him as black dad. But in retrospect, how could we all have been so foolish? He could never empathise with us as a “dad” if he’s not the same skin colour – it’s sad but it’s true.

When I messaged Tobi an appreciation message before the end of the year, in her reply she explained that Black Ballad had come from a time of brokenness for her, where she herself had lost dreams and friends, and this came from a place where she could empathise with my struggle because as a young Black female, she knows what it’s like to be hurt over and over again, not only by the people you look up to, but also by the people you trust.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Music As A Medicine

I haven’t had a chance to write about The Drums gig I went to in November, which was actually quite monumental for me, and unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from that night, because my phone from then has deceased 😦 

I actually almost didn’t go, because I found out that one of the members had left and also I wasn’t feeling well in myself mentally.

But music is always my go-to mentally; even when I can’t face the rest of the world, I can face my favourite band.

This year in particular, music has had a profound effect upon my mental health. I  would use it to get myself out of bed as an alarm for my teacher training mornings and wherever I go, I always listen to music.

As a child, I couldn’t sleep in silence, I found it deafening and needed music to sleep to. Personalised playlists helped my on my runs and my highs and lows of life has a soundtrack to it.

I don’t just feel a connection to music spiritually, I also feel it psychologically. At times, it’s not even the words that speak to me: I go to gigs and realise that I’ve been listening to a song on repeat for ten years and don’t even know most of the lyrics, because I’ve been listening to the bass or something. Since disconnecting with God, I’ve found a church in music. There’s no greater feeling than standing amongst a group of people who are all on at least some same wavelength as you, just riding a beat – what goes on outside doesn’t need to matter for those couple of hours. Sharing communion.

However, this year within the chaos of my mental health deterioration, I have taken stock of who I am listening to and what they have gone through in their own personal lives so that I am not selfishly consuming. This is why I still love The Drums regardless of being one man down, because I know that Johnny Pierce has also used his music to help him through his depression and having grown up in a strict Christian family, which also had an effect upon his mental health, the stars aligned the night of that gig in Hammersmith, when Johnny decided that he had to speak. He spoke openly about mental health, and about not letting anybody tell you who you ought to be.

“Too high functioning”

I’ve been looking into the use of music to treat clinical depression, more so since I was rejected from the Community Mental Health services for being to “high-functioning” because of the fact that I go to gigs, yet my mental health state has never been worse.

Last year I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and after seeing a Personality therapist at the Community Mental Health services, it was decided that instead I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. These diagnoses are useless to me.

I’ve been taking antidepressants intermittently since my late teens and consistently for three years, and each dose increase has had no effect on my mood like music does.  There is methodology in science to suggest a causal correlation between mood and control, which I have personally seen within myself and for days following a gig.

Science of course perceives music as more of an experimental therapy, however research is ongoing, particularly in the field of neuroscience.

In terms of healing, music-making can engage a patient holistically: it engages the patient’s perceptual, mental and responsive motor-functional capacities, while the act of listening to music creates an ambient and sheltered environment, which also promotes healing for the mind, body and soul.  Some people find it in gospel music and blame it on the holy spirit.

“Part of the design”

Lately I’ve taken to listening to classical music to create an ambient atmosphere in my bedroom, as it also helps a little bit with my mental health too.

Therefore, the music is only a part of the design: you also need the extras in order to create the atmosphere, which is how “Musical Psychopharmacology” is created. For example, at a gig, you would have lights, a crowd, sounds effects, acoustics, encores. You can actually pay to go to place to create this all for you too!

But now imagine how therapeutic gigs are, and then tell me that a) they’re a waste of money, and b) they make mental health sufferers who are also regular gig-goers, “too-high functioning”.

XOXO

 

References

Rudinow, J. (2014). Soul music : tracking the spiritual roots of pop from plato to motown. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Friendship – Check Please

I want to talk about friendship and when you allow the boundaries to be overstepped, in the sake of friendship, how many times, before it all becomes too far?

I’m a good friend, I build people up, I see their insecurities and I use that to encourage them. I guess lately because of my state of Mental Health I’ve expected the same back from my friends, however the reason why my circle of friends has diminished is because I haven’t gotten this back.

One of my best friends came over to my place last weekend, it was the first time we’d seen each other in about a year but we speak on the phone almost every weekend. I was extremely excited, I cleaned the flat and I cooked. When she came, my partner and I showed her around as it was the first time she’d seen the flat.

She spent a lot of time on her phone, but I also still had to finish up dinner…

She didn’t show as much enthusiasm for my Wall of Black Magic (my pride and joy), as I thought she would. But then, you can’t expect everybody to share your passions…

Wall of Black Magic

She made inferences about my not being “woke” enough and she’s always done this, because I’ve always had interracial relationships, however now it was really starting to touch a nerve, because of everything I’m doing on social media to raise awareness for Black Mental Health.

There were also inferences like, because I don’t wrap my hair at night, while watching “Girls’ Trip”, I’m therefore not properly Black. Perhaps it was a joke, but because of everything else that had happened, I didn’t find it funny, because taking 14 pills a day leaves me too exhausted to know my own name, let alone remember to wrap my fucking hair every night.

Which brings me to the real dagger of the event: we were discussing my plans for once I finish my MSc in two or three years time. Currently, my partner and I are discussing the option of my working part-time as a therapist with ethnic minorities, while also pursuing the option of working in Cultural Psychological Research part-time, perhaps a part-time PhD.

My friend felt that because of my health issues, I shouldn’t have contact with people and that perhaps, advocacy would be the best option for now. Not two or three years from now. Now.

I challenged her about this, by saying that we don’t have enough people of colour in therapy, plus we’re not talking about now, but two or three years time, however she still disagreed. I also challenged her by saying that research is incredibly stressful, especially for people with mental health issues – my other friend is doing a PhD and her supervisor is unforgiving, plus just look at the challenges I’m facing with research at MSc level.

But then I’m crazy, what do I know? And too disabled.

I messaged her about it the next day and she backtracked, saying that she claimed that she thought we were talking about my plans for now.

But you asked the question: what are my plans for after?

She still stood by her opinion however, and although I don’t have to take her opinion (which I told her that I won’t), she only wants the best for me.

My theory is that she also wants to be a therapist, sometime in the future, therefore why not have people like me do all of the hard work in the field of research so that she doesn’t have to.

So it was a disappointing day, even little things: to not have seen a friend in a year and not compliment them on their appearance? And I know that I have to check myself here, because I waste way too much mental energy on shit like this, analysing the absence of compliments, ESPECIALLY when I have a partner who tells me how fucking hot I am every day!

And I don’t build my friends up to get something in return… I’m not building savings accounts to dip into whenever I need them 🤔 but the lack of validation from childhood still runs deep and my close friends know this. And with the absence of therapy/ access to therapy, Women of Colour need their friends to build them up.

For example, my weave is just one of the things that makes me feel more Black, so a compliment from my closest Black friend about my hair would’ve validated my Blackness.

Or at least given me some confidence, which I really need right now, which embarrasses me to admit…

Instead, although she ate the chicken I cooked for her, she picked at my rice and peas and made constant inferences on my “woke-ness”.

Now I just feel deflated.

There is a proverb about friendship:

“One finger cannot hold up a thing”

which illustrates the need for others in our lives. Relationships can be communal or exchange; communal relationships benefit the well-being of the people within the relationship, like a community; exchange relationships are where people give benefits with the benefit that they will receive comparable benefits in return.

While writing this post, I also spoke to another friend who said that sometimes you just have to shut the door and keep the world on the outside of that door, with you and your partner alone on the inside. Close friendships are great, but there’s nothing like a great partnership and it’s you two against the rest of the world.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

When Racial Microaggressions Become Aggressive Racism

White people are funny.


One minute you’re having a conversation, which without your consent then becomes a debate. 

But that’s ok, because you can hold your own. But then there’s more of them than there are of you, so what do you do?



Well, you still hold your own because this is a debate, except they gang up against you, because you’re more intelligent than them and suddenly this is an argument and now they’re overstepping the mark.

Now you decide to respectfully leave.

Some are blocking your exits; some chase you down alleyways; some follow you down the staircase.


But this isn’t real life. This is social media.  


I took myself out of a situation on Facebook and now I’m being stalked on Twitter, and there’s nothing that Twitter can do because they’re not saying anything nasty to me. They just weren’t friends with me on Facebook, and I fell out with a mutual friend of ours, who didn’t like the way things ended, plus they also happen to be the bullies I mentioned, who were part of the “debate” and have somehow tracked me down on Twitter to ask me “what my problem is?” with unbelievably poor spelling, punctuation and grammar 🤪


These women were implicitly and aggressively racist.

They were aggressive in their methods, yet did not realise that they were being racist and this is the problem with white people today in Britain. They allowed their insecurities about themselves to get the better of them, which controlled their emotions and turned them into bullies; perhaps my friend has always been racist or perhaps she lost herself in this moment amongst her schema (social environment)… who knows? 


As for her mother… well… we all know what Freud says about mothers, so there isn’t much left to say is there really?! The fact that she would have to fabricate stories, on behalf of her daughter about my disability to try and alienate my Twitter followers says it all really doesn’t it?

These are the sort of women who will say:

But her nephew is mixed raced, how is she racist?

I have five Black friends, how am I a racist?

Mate, my partner is white, and most of my friends used to be too, however l have no problem in declaring my issues with White people, because of their problems with me.


I’ve experienced ontological insecurity before: always in breakdowns of relationships with white women, and therefore, I know the warning signals. Another reason why these women came to find me on Twitter was clearly to gaslight me, which just proves really that they really are racists. So if that’s the kind of person my friend was, based on her behaviour, plus her mother’s and friend’s too, then I’ve had a fucking lucky escape. 

You have a right to protect your mental health 💜