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This year, will be my third Christmas now without my mum and my sister and do you know what’s weird?
It’s getting easier.
This has been an awful year, and I’ve had to face it without them.
And when I find myself in dark places, I’m no longer looking for them to come and find me; when I’m locked in dark spaces, I’m no longer looking for them to come and unlock the door and embrace me.
This week, I’ve been sharing a lot of stories about my family with my partner. I always used to try to make Christmas so special, because it really wasn’t. When my father was around, it was just angry and when he wasn’t, my mum and sister were grumpy, while I battled to make it anything but.
On the other hand, there was also the year I took charge of cooking Christmas dinner, bought a turkey from Asda, but then they left all the insides in a bag and no matter how much a cleaned and seasoned the damned thing, I couldn’t get the stink of rotten meat out of the thing and it put us off turkey for life, bonding us a little bit.
We also used to have fart offs after eating too much stuffing…
Regardless of how much I tried, Christmas was always their least favourite time of the year, which was emotionally and physically exhausting for me (remember I wasn’t allowed to go to the doctors about my undiagnosed seizures during this time because of my mum).
And which is why this year, I’m just happy to be with people who love me, who don’t see me as “possessed”
(this is what helps break the mother-daughter bond situation).
This year, my partner and I will be spending it with one of my Uncles, his partner (my aunt), and their two sons (my cousins) – one of whom I’ve only met once, because my mum stopped my sister and I from seeing her family for over a decade.
I”ll try not to eat too much stuffing… LOL.
P.S. Do you guys have any untraditional favourite Christmas songs? So mine is “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay. It’s so depressing LOL but it gets me!
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”.
Rudinow, J. (2014). Soul music : tracking the spiritual roots of pop from plato to motown. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Last weekend I came out to my family – my uncles – with my partner by my side.
My sexuality is something that I’ve been struggling with since a very young age (possibly around the age of ten years old), and something I didn’t want to admit to myself or to anybody outside of myself, especially growing up within a Black Caribbean Christian home. My mother and I had often had heated conversations about homosexuals (not me), which had often left me in tears while she aggressively quoted scripture at me. I knew what was right and I definitely knew how she felt.
I remember in my second year of University, one of my best friends and also my housemate gave me a ride home during one holiday, and my mother clocked him and decided that she “didn’t like him because he looked gay” and she didn’t want him back around her house again.
He wasn’t gay. My mother was just a religious, homophobic bitch.
Having attended a Catholic school, my friends were all religiously straight, including my best friend of sixteen years. We’d also spoken about homosexuality; I’d mentioned my celebrity girl crushes, however I always did so in jest… Rihanna, Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, Helena Bonham Carter,.. and my friend would call me a massive lesbo. I would also secretly check out girls. The guys I fancied in real life were quite androgynous looking and very unobtainable – there would always be a reason why I couldn’t have them, and I think I secretly wanted that.
However, when I met my current partner, a transgender girl, I could no longer deny my sexuality. In her I met my best friend and the most beautiful girl in the world. When we first met, I didn’t know that she was trans, but when I found out, the first person I wanted to tell was my oldest friend, who I naively hoped would be able to see beyond her religious upbringing and understand that up until now, my happiness had been compromised, because I was finally starting to accept my sexuality.
But she couldn’t accept it. I’m not sure if she was more freaked out about my coming out, or my dating a transgender woman, but my oldest friend couldn’t deal with it. We last spoke in June, which is when I told her and we haven’t spoken since. This broke my heart.
I also told another close friend – the one who I invited round for dinner and although she seemed to react supportively to this news, she was suddenly opinionated about my future career plans in a negative way, then blamed me for not receiving her opinions. And we haven’t spoken since. However, it was such a bizarre scenario that I think it was a reaction to my coming out.
Friends seem to treat it as a personal affront when you come out, especially when you’ve had previous relationships with the opposite sex. I felt like both friends were accusing me of lying because I’d had relationships with guys, and for also having not been completely upfront about my feelings. But when you’re struggling with your sexuality, the only person you really trust is yourself. Plus these were my most religious friends – I was hardly going to run to them with my struggles!
I have been frightened to tell anybody close to me since – most importantly my uncles and cousins. Friends you can replace, however family has come to mean everything to me again, especially after being so let down before by other family members.
What if they were repulsed?
What if they didn’t understand?
What if they didn’t want to understand?
What if after all of these years, I lost them again?
I told my cousins separately first, who were so warm and receiving. However, they are younger than me, and therefore a hell of a lot younger than their dads!
One scenario on constant replay in my mind, was the one uncle whose house I was going to for Christmas would be so disgusted that he would retract his invitation (well actually I invited myself) and I’d have nowhere to go for Christmas Day!
Last Sunday was the day… I was so stressed that I could barely eat breakfast. The Jubilee Line from Finchley Road to Stratford was as packed as a Black Friday trolley and I nearly threw up. I had the stupid idea to ask them all to guess what the announcement might be, to break the tension that only I seemed to be feeling LOL, which actually just built up the moment even more for me. But I did it and I also told them about my partner.
They were all so embracing, it was unreal.
I had a seizure during the meal and spilt tea all over myself. But I came out!
Homosexuality within Black culture is definitely a conversation that is transforming, especially amongst the older generation and that’s thanks to the younger generation bringing it up with their parents and getting them to talk about it. Two of my uncles who had had conversations with their daughters (my awesome cousins), both said that the conversations have stayed with them and that it had really opened up their minds to some new ideas. These two uncles in particular are older than the third and were teenagers in the 60s, which was a completely different world, where you couldn’t speak about things like this.
When my partner – who is German – was relaying her experiences with transphobia back home and how homosexuality is still regarded by some as a Mental Health condition, my uncles could understand this, because in the 60s, 70s and for some of the 80s, this was the mindset towards homosexuality in UK too, until the explosion of pop culture, with the New Romantics, and pop figures like Boy George and George Michael helped to break the stigma.
We also talked about the stigmatism of homosexuality back home in the Caribbean – particularly Jamaica, where according to my Uncles the times are changing; it’s the people who have to change with the times, which is usually the case with prejudice and discrimination.
I feel for the men and women back home, I really do. I wonder if the prejudice against homosexuality is more to do with power, (because antagonists like to hold authority over their prey) than it is to do with thoughts and feelings on what anybody is actually doing with their bodies.
My mother never gave a damn about what people did with their bodies anyway. She seemed to thrive on the power of religion and judgement.
Anyway, all I’ve ever wanted is to be loved unconditionally, and last weekend I realised that I’ve always had it and I always will. I loved it when my partner said to me that in my uncles I now also have three dads.
It’s an incredible feeling.
And I have come out to a couple of other friends who have been incredibly supportive of both me and and my partner.
It’s great to finally be me.
I’ve had an extremely exhausting week emotionally, as well as mentally and apart from working on a project for uni I’ve completely shut myself off from the rest of the world.
My partner and I almost broke up this week because it’s been a struggle.
I’m currently watching the TV series “Lore” on Amazon Prime and I’m on the second episode about lobotomies. I’m so mortified, I had to take a break to come and to the toilet and be sick halfway through. An ice pick in the eyes??? Why do movies and old skool cartoons pretend that it’s some kind of brain swap, or brain on the shelf thing, when it was actually even worse than that?
And why is mental health still something that is so misunderstood even now? The narrator was exclusively talking about the brain, when mental health is about the mind too. It’s like a battle of the two. Sometimes that’s the problem.
And with the way the system works now, dishing out anti-depressants is almost like being lobotomised in a way…
My main issues this week are to do with being so poorly let down and I’m beginning to want to live an apathetic life, which is in contrast to my personality, but I’m exhausted. I’m a minority in every single sense with nobody standing up for me.
I try to be grateful for what I have, but let’s be real:
I started off the year with a career, money, independence, friends, prospects, goals..
Now, I may have goals, but I don’t have anything else, apart from love.
My friends all got tired and deserted me because depression is boring (including the ones from a recent post. These recent weeks have been a burden to them).
And the rest you already know about.
Anyway, I’m going to go back and watch “Lore”.
Perhaps an old skool cartoon lobotomy would be a good idea, to feel apathetic and not feel guilty about it either…🤔
Since I became “woke”, I try not to use the term to describe myself, but here goes…
Since I became woke, I have been doing anything I can to emancipate my people.
Even before, I could never abide injustice, could never stand by and watch somebody be bullied; I’ve put livelihoods and my life on the line for people I love and care for, even if it means that they get the justice that they deserve while I suffer. I’m suffering for it now – I’m a shell of the person that I used to be, just for opening my mouth to speak up against racism and discrimination, not only for myself, but for others too.
But this suffering doesn’t deter me; I have my down days, but being more woke has made me more determined to fight for Black rights: dignity, equal opportunities in employment, disability rights, women’s rights, rights to mental health. The latter especially – oh my god – needs to be taken seriously, this country (U.K.) does not take on board the mental and physical impacts of racism. I’m still having nightmares about the racially stimulated psychological torture I went through during my Teacher Training year; I still also struggle with suicide ideation because of these experiences, yet last week after an assessment, I was rejected from Community Mental Health for although being severely mentally unstable, I was simultaneously too high functioning, and therefore unsuitable for their services.
Thankfully, as a Black community we’re finally beginning to talk about Black Mental Health, however this is after years of struggle. Some of us grew up with parents who struggled daily with undiagnosed psychiatric conditions, who were either too afraid to ask for help, for fear that their child(ren) would be taken away from them by the state, or like my mother, just prayed and left it to God instead. Which brings be to my next point.
We, as a community are infamous for covering up abuse; we “leave it to God”, when what we’re really saying is that we do not value our women and children. I read countless headlines about Black celebrities who are going to “pray for R Kelly”. Why? Why aren’t you going to publicly boycott his music and support his victims instead? Radio stations continue to play a known sex offender’s music and venues are continuing to stage his concerts. It’s disgusting. It makes me sick. This predator is making millions and his fans are also showing no signs to disappearing.
What you are really saying is that you value rapists over our women.
Turning your back on a Black man who is a rapist or abuser or predator, is not saying that you have chosen to side with the White man (enemy).
What you are doing, is showing solidarity to a victim who needs it, while the abuser is finally getting the justice they deserve. Open your fucking eyes.
Terry Crews (Image source)
Terry Crews receives hate from his own kin. Now Terry Crews is a legend:
While an NFL Player, he also spoke out about the mistreatment players by some of the doctors and received an incredible backlash because just like Colin Kaepernick, many people in the Black community felt that Crews should kept his mouth shut, taken his cheque and played the game. Now Crews is suffering the same backlash again: Some Black people say that he should’ve kept his mouth closed about his assault. Why? Why are White people allowed to speak up and get so much support from their own, yet we throw our own under the bus? Some Black men are calling him a faggot for allowing the attack to even happen, while some Black women are telling him to keep quiet. Thankfully, there are some kin, like me, who see sense! Who see a man speaking up because he suffered an injustice, but unfortunately even as a man, his voice is incredibly small, very much like Lupita Nyong’o, who was assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, but not only was her story vehemently denied, it was also ignored… and I don’t need to spell out why.
And it is not only celebrities that this is happening to; this happened to me and it’s happening to normal Black men and women every single day.
And I’ve had friends say to me, “well why didn’t you keep quiet?” instead of “don’t worry, I’ve got your back”, or even better: “let me take that baton from you” or EVEN BETTER: “where that bitch at? Ima smash her/him up for you.”.
As Black people, we’re always looking around for somebody to save us, but I’m not entirely sure who you’re looking for, because as much as I love being an advocate, I’m pretty tired of fucking saving other people’s arses.
I’m tired and I have my own arse to save.
This is a fight that requires EVERYBODY in the Black community.
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…
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.