Posted in Blog

“It’s Because of Their Mental Health Issues” – Labelling and Stigma

This might be a controversial post for some, however it’s a question I often ask myself when I look at the people around me, observing their behaviour and the way they interact with the world around them.

So the question is:

How far can somebody go with using their mental health issues as an excuse for being abusive towards others?

In other words, can you excuse somebody hurting you because they have mental health issues?

The reason I ask is because although I know and through volunteering have met some amazing people with various mental health illnesses and disorders (in fact, these are people who I have come to highly respect), on the other hand I’ve also met and witnessed people who treat others appallingly: Making racist remarks, being homophobic, being verbally abusive, physically assaulting people, committing sexual assault and even murder, and society tends to excuse the behaviour as mental instability.

Last month I was physically assaulted and it was racially motivated. The perpetrator is mentally ill and many people were divided because of that, some excusing the behaviour because of his mental health issues, while others felt that although he suffers from a mental illness there is no excuse for racism. My trauma was also minimised by some because as the perpetrator has schizophrenia he was seen by them as the victim.

What do you think?

Where I volunteer, there’s a member of our team who can be extremely abrupt and rude, even to the service users. At first, especially because I’m protective of the people we look after, my first reaction was to think of him as a dick, however I then wondered if he was perhaps on the spectrum: Because he struggles with communication and becomes very unsettled when there are interruptions to the daily schedule perhaps causing him difficulty in expressing his emotions. However, considering that the people we work with are vulnerable too, does that excuse his rude behaviour towards them?

I come to recognise (through the thankful help of therapy) that I tend to get ahead of myself in making assumptions about a person’s behaviour when actually I have not right to.

This can also be applied to us as a society.

We often excuse criminal behaviour for mental instability. Very often if a white man commits mass murder, society is very quick to label him and assume that he is mentally unstable and in need of help rather than judgement. However, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, many young black men who have suffered horrendous trauma might commit acts of violence, yet society very rarely shows any understanding or sympathy towards them.

Those of us in the UK remember the incident earlier this year, where a white man verbally abused a black woman whose seat had been allocated next to his and because he didn’t want her to sit next to him, he shouted offensive racially abusive things to her (including calling her a “monkey” and referring to her as “that“), just because he didn’t want a black woman sitting next to him. Many white people who read the story excused the man’s behaviour because he was old and “probably had mental health issues”, but clearly the guy was a dick with no respect for women as well as being obviously racist.

I personally feel that there is a thin line between mental illness and hurting people. I’m not perfect and although my mental illnesses may not as severe as the people I come across while volunteering, I have definitely had moments of spontaneous emotion where I’m not thinking clearly about my actions and hurt people in the process. My personality issues make me extremely impulsive where I act before I’ve even had time to process the thoughts behind it. However, I am extremely remorseful afterwards, sometimes immediately, sometimes a little bit later on, sometimes longer. But I do show remorse which is very much genuine and very much off my own back.

This is important to note.

Last week while volunteering I had a conversation with one of the service users, who while in a fit of rage made some homophobic comments. He had been accused of hitting someone and in the process of saying he wouldn’t hurt anyone, he then said “it’s not like I’m going around beating up f****s“. I told him he couldn’t say what he was saying because it was offensive. He walked away but then a few minutes later came back with his head hung low and apologised; he explained that he was upset and struggling to express his feelings and sometimes when that happens he says things he doesn’t mean, however he had not meant to say what he had and was deeply ashamed. He also has schizophrenia and can struggle to sort through his own thoughts and beliefs. Being a queer woman, I had every right to be upset with him but to me, that was a blip for him; in my opinion he showed genuine remorse and he’s proven himself to be a kind soul. That conversation was actually our first real encounter and it could’ve had a negative impact on how I saw him, but he very quickly proved himself to be a kind-hearted and genuine person.

Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

I think we really have to be mindful of how we’re using the term mental ill-health, because excusing bad behaviour as a symptom of mental illness only intensifies the stigma surrounding it, penalising the many people who are struggling to be seen as real people as opposed to monsters.

And these are my final thoughts for 2018! I’m going on the short mini-break to Vienna and I’ll be back on 2nd January, so when I’m back I’ll post about my trip as well as my highlights for 2018. Happy New Year to all of my readers and subscribers 💋 your support has been a lifeline for me! See you in 2019!

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

What Do I Want, Like, Really REALLY Want?

Even though my sister and I haven’t spoken for just over four years, not a day goes by where I don’t think about her; sometimes it’s a song or film that reminds me of her and all of the memories connected to that come flooding back, overwhelming me with grief. For example, over the weekend I was making my girlfriend watch the “Twilight” film: for her it was the first time; for me it was the God knows what-teenth time. The Twilight saga literally took over me and my sister’s lives! We were both obsessed with Edward Cullen, while my best friend at the time was infatuated with Jacob Black, so my sister and I would cackle at how anybody could choose a smelly werewolf over an oppressively loving vampire (of course I realise now that Edward’s behaviour was borderline sociopathic, and he and Bella deffo had an unhealthy relationship…) and we would obsessively watch the films over and over again. There’s a particular song at the end of Twilight by Iron & Wine which my sister absolutely loved and hearing it on Saturday absolutely broke me.

 

Probably also because I’m forever reminded of her in my dreams, which could be why hearing this song affected me so. Sometimes I dream that I’m apologising to my sister for abandoning her; my mother in these dreams is crazy to the point of feral, while my sister is so stressed she’s become severely underweight. In most of my dreams I’m chasing her for her forgiveness while she ignores me, until recently actually: last week I dreamt that she wanted to come to my birthday party (my birthday was recently) and I told her no, because I only wanted true family there (my friends). This was the first time I’d shown any authority towards her subconsciously, which is symbolic because showing authority and standing up for myself against her in reality was one of the reasons why she stopped talking to me.

 

Considering I’m a Psychology student, I should probably through some Freudian theory into this: most psychologists believe that dreams are just random brain activity while sleeping, but Freud’s psychoanalysis on dreams argues that our dreams are symbolic of hidden impulses we desire to enact and while asleep, thoughts from the id (subconscious) slip into our ego (consciousness).

 

Growing up, my sister and I were extremely close however, we did fight a lot, mostly over banal things such as each other’s toys, but also because of jealousy – I saw my sister as my father’s fave and she saw me as my mother’s fave – while being played off against one another by our parents. But I always promised myself that we would never end up like our mother and her sister (our aunt) – who no longer speak to each other and haven’t for years – so even when I knew my sister was in the wrong, the majority of the time I would be the one to make up with her, desperate to keep our relationship in tact.

 

As close as we were and as hard as the separation is for me, (according to my mother – when we were speaking – my sister was also struggling with our separation, but where I’ve made many attempts to reach out to her, she has slammed the door in my face and hasn’t made any attempts to reach out to me either) I need to come to grips with the fact that we may never speak again. On the other hand, it has only been four years which in the grand scheme of life is not really that long, so there is still time to reconcile.

 

But do I really want to?

 

On Saturday as I was crying to my girlfriend and sobbing that I couldn’t take not speaking to her any longer, my girlfriend thinking that it was coming from a good place advised me to try one more time to reach out to her. So I did plan to give it one more go on Sunday (yesterday) by calling the house to speak to her while my mother would be out of the house at church, but then on Sunday morning I had two seizures and couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day and forgot about our plan until later on in the evening. The strange thing was, I didn’t seem to distraught about having forgotten about it.

 

I also religiously listen to Kelechi Okafor’s podcast called “Say Your Mind” and this week, during her tarot reading section, she talked about self-worth and knowing who should and shouldn’t be “on the [life] journey with you”. She advised that sometimes people leave your life for a reason and if they cannot see your self worth, then they shouldn’t be on this journey with you and this led me to reconsider my actions regarding my sister.

 

My sister doesn’t see my self-worth; she doesn’t consider my feelings; she only loves me when I’m being a “yes man” – remember she made the decision to stop talking to me after I moved out of the family home and growing tired of her shit and lies I finally stood up to her.

He was a good man

This is also the same sister who even though grew up in the same household of tyranny with my father, claims to not believe that I was sexually abused by this man because according to her warped memories, “he was a good man”. Her memories are extremely selective though, because she does appear to remember him beating us and shouting, yet I guess because he bought us nice things (while getting us into debt) he was a great father.

 

This post has been extremely cathartic for me actually, because now that it’s all written down, I can see our relationship for how fucked up it really was and I do deserve better. I was saying to my girlfriend today that I would never chase an ex, so why am I chasing after my sister? I have too much dignity and self-worth for that.

 

So bringing this back to Freud (I’m not even a Freudian by the way, however I do find his theory on dreams quite interesting) what could my dreams mean?

  1. Do they mean that I do desperately want to reconcile with my sister?
  2. Do I just want to speak to her so that I can tell that I deserve to be treated with respect, how she’s rejected me is below par and that I deserve more?
  3. Or is it just a whole load of random thoughts?

 

I’ll probably still grieve, because it’s a massive loss regardless of how fucked up the relationship was, and as much as I wish the whole science from the film: “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind” existed, it doesn’t. Therefore things are going to trigger memories, which I have to accept and learn to cope with.

 

As for my dreams, I am seriously considering hypnotism to get this bitch out of my subconscious, because it’s driving me INSANE!

 

On a serious note, as of tomorrow, I’ll be seeing my old therapist again. My lovely girlfriend has agreed to help me out with the fees and I’m putting my pride aside to put my mental health first. So this will definitely be something to focus on. Clearly there’s something deeper psychologically to this which needs to be worked on.

Perhaps I need to realise that me living my best live and focusing on that instead of being able to say this to my sister’s face is actually the best therapeutic fuck you. My therapist is amazing at what she does, so I’m positive that I’ll be able to move on from this loss, both consciously as well as unconsciously.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Eugenics

The US created Feeblemindedness – a medical diagnosis that meant mentally deficient, stupid or foolish (Laureate, 2016).

I’m going to say something extremely controversial here: but as much as I love my mother, I find her to be weak and incredibly feebleminded.

She’s not weak because she was in an abusive relationship, (big-up Kelis for saying this recently. I should’ve known Nas was a prick).

Giphy

Thanks to therapy, I also no longer think that my mother is weak for having not protected me as a child.

What I do see in her, is a lack of ability to think for herself. She’s incredibly naive and stupid, very easily misled too – particularly by Religion. If I think morbidly about it, had my parents had met during the 1920s in the US, or had we been governed by a totalitarian regime, my sister and I might never have been born, because both of my parents may have been deemed unfit to breed (my father was poorly educated also), and so would’ve been sterilised.

I’ve spoken before about how my mother’s opinions are often misinformed due to Religion – particularly when it comes to science and medicine. But now it gets worse: a couple of weeks ago I found out that she’s a Trump supporter, because her church are teaching that Trump has been sent from God to free Israel and restore it to its pride of place, fulfilling the prophecies of the book of Revelation. Thus as a leader appointed by God, Trump should be supported and tolerated.

Giphy

Thankfully, eugenics is illegal because clearly I prove that feeblemindedness isn’t a genetic trait, however I was shocked to hear that the person who created me could really be so stupid. In case you don’t know, Trump is also best pals with the Israeli Prime Minister, whose government ordered for Jewish Ethiopian immigrant women to be sterilised against their will (and consent). Trump is also a fascist, misogynistic prick who believes that white Americans are the ultimate superior race, and whose policies dehumanise every person of colour in his country.

I initially thought that I had misheard her when she said she liked Donald Trump and his “cheeky face” (yes she did say that about the President of the United States). Initially we had been bitching about Theresa May and discussing the latest on the Windrush scandal, when my mum said:

“and she’s supposed to be a Christian, shame on her”,

to which I snorted and replied: “well, so is Trump”. However, she very quickly defended him and wouldn’t hear a bad word said against him.

It was incredibly unsettling.

It’s still not sitting right in my stomach – in fact, I feel sick just thinking about the conversation again. And even though we’ve spoken about it since, she still won’t back down from the teachings from her Church, regardless of Trump’s actions as a Leader of “the Free World”.

I want to know what my sister thinks about this, because surely she cannot be as stupid?

My girlfriend said to me that I cannot judge my mother and cut ties with her, just because we have opposing political views, however this is way more than that.

So much more.

She also proves to be feebleminded when it comes to parenting. She’s never been capable of raising me, lacks initiative and drive, perceives having “stuck around for my sister and I while my dad was the one who abandoned us” as a fucking obligation as opposed to her job as a mother, and seeks constant approval (like a child) for having done such a poor job of raising me in particular, when I as the child (regardless of what age I am) am desperately seeking love and approval from a mother who is incapable to giving that – especially to me.
What irks me the most about this, is it’s the older generation (that includes you, Kanye – 300 years of slavery was a choice? Screw you) fucking up yet again, leaving us (the educated, younger generation) to clean up the fucking mess. Thankfully feeblemindedness isn’t genetic, and thus also thankfully eugenics is illegal, otherwise the race would’ve been euthanised and we wouldn’t have the fabulous, Black intelligent people of my generation and the next, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not mentally affected by the sins of our parents. 

 

References

University of Liverpool, Laureate Online Education. (2016). “Week 5: Abilities: Theories, Structure and Measurement of Intelligence” Lecture Notes, Personality, Individual Differences and Intelligence Module.

Retrieved from: https://elearning.uol.ohecampus.com/bbcswebdav/institution/UKL1/201840MAR/MS_LPSY/LPSY_316/readings/UKL1_LPSY_316_Week05_LectureNotes.pdf

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Getting Myself Into Twitter Trouble (again!)

So I got myself into a feud on Twitter earlier today, because I was defending a thread about abuse in Black households and the majority hated the tweeter and the thread because not only did they perceive it to be anti-Black; they didn’t believe that there are Black abusive households because they never experienced it.

To say such a thing is so stupid, that I likened it to white people saying that racism doesn’t exist because they don’t experience it. I fight with white people online every day, I don’t expect to be fighting with brothers and sisters too. But when it comes to speaking openly about childhood abuse (sexual, physical and psychological), I will fight to the death because of the impacts this has upon mental health.

Domestic abuse and sexual abuse happens in all homes, regardless of colour, but the issue with Black families is that we refuse to let victims/ survivers speak about it. Black women in DV relationships are called anti-Black and seen as betraying the culture if they go to the “White police” to report crimes against their partners; Black girls are also very often sexualised from very young ages and victim-blamed when they are abused. Many adult women – including myself – are forced to continue to suffer sexual abuse in silence, which has detrimental impacts upon our mental health and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.

So when I see Black people denying my experiences, just because they (a) never experienced it themselves and (b) call people like me anti-Black for openly talking about my abusive childhood, it pisses me off.

So some people were not only trolling the girl who created the thread, they were also gloating about their unblemished childhoods to compare to ours in order to prove that our experiences never happened. Now I’m all for celebrating good parenting, especially within our community, however there is a time and a place for this… and this fucking wasn’t it. Plus the fact that she also made clear that this wasn’t relevant to all Black households, was completely ignored because apparently she added that part a day later. But so what? Any intelligent person reading the thread knew that it was implied.

There were a few supporters, however I confronted one person I follow, because she came across particularly as antagonist and antipathetic.

She then not only refused to see the issue from my perspective, she also tried to antagonise me, before eventually blocking me when she realised that I wasn’t going to rise to the bait.

As I said, instead of engaging in conversation, she tried to antagonise me. This woman is Mikki Kendall and I once followed her because she claims to be a Black feminist. But denying Black women the right to speak openly about the abuse they have suffered is anti-feminist as well as anti-Black. It is not anti-Black to say that our community is flawed, particularly when survivors like me are actually actively working to change those flaws by sharing our experiences and changing mindsets. And to block me just for disagreeing with your point of view is childish and ignorant:

I would imagine these are the same women who tell R Kelly’s victims to keep their mouths shut, because speaking badly about Black men in open spaces is anti-Black which is absolute bollocks.

Telling victims to shut up is also provoking further trauma to victims, which makes you just as bad as the perpetrators.

I can’t find the original thread now – unfortunately I forgot to retweet it while I was too busy defending the creator of the thread against the trolls, but to the girl who spoke up, WELL DONE, you’re a fucking legend and I stand by you 🖤 I hope you find healing as you continue on your journey and keep speaking up baby girl!

To the haters, keep your ignorant mouths shut until you educate yourself.

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

My Mother & I (Parentification)

My mind is spinning, and I’ve tried to do some mindfulness; I’ve tried listening to music. I cannot even contemplate reading. I have so many questions that my inner- child needs answering; that only my mother can answer, so I’m waiting for her to call (I’ve sent her a message, I’m not just idly sitting by the phone).

Black women are forced into adulthood so rapidly, that we leave childhood behind without a chance to say goodbye. It’s all the more brutal when there is abusive involved. We are forced into an adult role before our time, while still within our childhood years, in order to help out a parent. Psychology calls this “Parentification”. Therefore, although I’ve now had many years to find an adult identity, my inner-child is still screaming for answers:

Why did my parents have me? Neither of them were psychologically capable of parenthood; So why?

 

Why didn’t my mother deal with her trauma, in order to allow us to then deal with mine together? 

 

Why does my mother deny my abuse? My pain? She confirms my anger, yet constantly denies my own trauma. 

 

My mother has never shown me any gratitude for being the adult she needed. Her response has always been:

“Well I never asked you to”. 

She’s never shown me any appreciation for my sacrifices. When I use the word “appreciation“, I do not mean being thankful or regarding me as her saviour; I mean showing a true understanding of the situation we were in: that I was a child who was being abused by her father, yet I heard my mother being abused simultaneously, therefore, I would sit up each night listening to make sure my mother was still alive. Then when my father walked out, I was forced to step up and never got to have a life of my own. I never got to deal with my own trauma, or my own struggles either (don’t forget that I was living in a religious home at the time, privately struggling with my feelings of queerness).

Speaking to a close mutual friend a couple of days ago, it’s pretty clear that my mother may not only ever accept the parentification I was subjected to, she may also ever appreciate the sacrifices of my inner-child. During our last conversation, she blamed previous generations for mistakes made and the impact this has had upon us on a family, because there is clearly a pattern of the same mistakes of abuse, being made over-and-over-and-over again, to which I replied:

“well then you lot shouldn’t have had children”.

7jjOb

She couldn’t argue with me then.

One final point I need to make: this close mutual friend mentioned that my mother rarely speaks about my father, or the abuse she suffered from him. This is one of my mother’s best friends. I call this woman Aunty – in fact, she’s like a mother to me. I go to her for guidance and advice as well as laughter and appraisal. She also constantly tells me off for swearing on social media!

My mother has known this lady for almost two decades.

My mother has been using it as an abusive weapon against me that I do no talk to her, when all this time hasn’t even been talking to her best friend. I knew that she did not talk to me (she became more restrained as I grew older), however I thought that it was for a number of reasons (e.g.manipulation), however I am surprised.

Yesterday, I went to an event on Self-Care for Black Women – which I will do a separate post on – and as Black women, we do carry a lot of pain because we don’t want to allow ourselves to feel it. Pain is so normal for us, we’ve actually forgotten to recognise its symptoms. We also do not talk to our own peers enough. My mother was subjected to abuse by her family as well as her husband, but she was coming to me for a listening-ear instead of people her own age.

blackpain_woman470x270

Image source

Do not stop talking Black women, as long as you are talking to the right people. 

XOXO

 

 

 

Posted in Blog

Black People, Who Are You Saving?

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.

 

Abuse.

 

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:

1200px-Terry_Crews_by_Gage_Skidmore_5

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.

Lupita_Nyong'o_May_2017

Lupita Nyong’o (Image source)

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.

XOXO