Posted in Blog, Short Stories

The Label [Flash Fiction]

She turned the label over in her hands; the white background illuminated the handwritten dark font printed on its face. It had been attached to her bag, perhaps as she was walking through the dense corridors of school. Focussed on getting from one classroom to another with as much speed as her legs could carry her five-foot four-inch body, she guessed she hadn’t noticed anybody pinning the label onto her backpack.

She turned it back over as tears began to run down her cherub cheeks, then into her lap. As she was hiding in the haven of the girls’ toilets, nobody could hear her crying out in pain; the knife of humiliation stabbed her in the chest as her heart broke for the girl she would never be. She would never be like the other girls: slim with long legs and pert bums perfect for their skinny jeans; small, delicate chests, perfectly made for their boyfriend’s t-shirts. As she sobbed even harder, the stale smell of the school toilet became drowned out by the grief of a first romance she had not been privy to. Her heavy chest heaved over her round stomach; as she hugged her chest closer to her, she imagined herself in the arms of another she had not yet had; bitter tears kissed her virgin lips.

She turned the label back around, to read the cruel words one final time: “lard arse”. As she meditated on those words, her devastation transformed into anger; her thoughts of helplessness became foundations for a plan of action.

A plan for revenge.

 

© Cece Alex Noel, 2018

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 💜

Posted in Blog

When Will It End?

Sometimes, I don’t know who I am anymore.

Some days I wake up, work on MSc, do some blogging, etc etc. Yes, I’ve got it together!

T1bfikb

But then, some nights, my anxiety is through the roof and I cannot shut my brain off, while some days it’s completely silently dead and I cannot move, so I stay in bed all day – on days like today, where I slept my life away.

I’ve gained weight because I’m no longer as active as I used to be, and I’m not vocal about it bothering me, but it does bother me, especially when I used to be bulimic. I fantasise about making myself sick, but I can’t because I have to cling to to those stupid pills that stop the seizures. So I just watch the weight gain every morning in the mirror instead.

I’ve spent an entire week arguing with my employer, trying to arrange an afternoon to collect my belongings from my old desk. I have nothing that belongs to them, because when they escorted me from the premises like a criminal for standing up to racism and disability discrimination, I was instructed not to take anything with me, so they have everything of mine and I have nothing of their’s. With the dire state in which the education system is in, I had to buy my students stationery to use in my lessons, so I spent a fortune on supplies which I had to leave, and which have been sitting at my old desk since May. My employer have spent a week at first trying to convince me that I had already collected the supplies (I haven’t), and then refusing to set a date. This was supposed to be the job of my Union Representative, who was far too lazy to do his job. At four in the morning on Wednesday, I finally emailed him and told him to do his job, and now I’ll be going in on Monday to collect my things.

These people are sick. 

Oh, and my Union Representative also sent me a copy of the Settlement Agreement I was forced to sign, (legally binding me to keep schtum about the name of my employer, as well as stopping me from suing their asses) with a coffee stain on it. When I pointed this out to him, he apologised, claiming that he hadn’t noticed before he posted it to me.

The coffee stain to me, was a visual gesture of what these people think of me, of how poorly they value me as a person.

Which is fine, because I feel exactly the same.

However, I still have to live with the damage. I’ve now moved to an area in London where my two nearest tube stations have no step free access, so if I have to travel during my postictal state (post-seizure), I’m screwed. Last week, I went to The Pink Floyd Exhibition at The V&A Museum, (aaaaamazballs by the way. I cried at it’s celestial-ness!), however I had to change at Green Park station. For anybody who lives in London, and has regularly done the interchange at that station, or even encountered it a few times, you’ll know it’s a lengthy process. Even at my fittest, I’d avoid it just to save time! Last week it killed me. I had to do this journey postictal (the tickets were pre-booked and non-refundable) and I’m currently at my unfittest. It was worth it for the exhibition, however I massively paid for it, both mentally and physically for days afterwards.

I’m trying to get over the mental damage, however knowing that there may have been a different outcome if I had been white, is a bigger pill to swallow than any of my anti-depressants or AEDS.

Self-care is so important. Yesterday, while lying in bed and feeling rubbish about doing so instead of research for my latest assignment, I stumbled upon thread about self-care on Twitter. Such simple steps: 

  • Getting out of bed (always a good start!) 
  • Drinking water – it is so important to keep hydrated, not just when you have epilepsy and you’re on AEDs, but also when your mood is low
  • Doing something other than what you HAVE you do – so we’ve just moved, and I’ve been putting off unpacking for ages, because of my MSc. Yesterday I decided to just put some music on and unpack. A flat full of boxes is so unhealthy for your mental health anyway. It’s like living out of a suitcase but worse! 
  • Take a shower. So after all of that unpacking, I was pretty sweaty anyway. Again, I put some music on really loud, had the bathroom door open as I was home alone and took the longest shower I’d EVER taken. It was glorious! Back in the day, before I was ever in a relationship, I would go days in bed, without showering, never changing my underwear, festering in my darkest thoughts. Not good. If you’re too weak to stand, treat yourself to a bath – you fucking deserve it you beautiful biatch ❤️
  • Read a good book. The best thing about not being an English teacher anymore, is that I get to read whatever I want, because I’m no longer constrained to the curriculum! Glorious! At the moment I’m reading Assata Shakur’s autobiography “Assata: An Autobiography” which I highly recommend. One thing I’m also trying to do, is getting into a routine of reading in bed, in order to calm my brain down. 

Anyway, these are just my suggestions, mixed with some I’ve come across. Life is tough, but we can’t give up right? 

XOXO

Posted in Poetry

Dream Killer

INTRO: This is a poem I wrote a couple of months ago, so it’s been on paper for a while. I just haven’t felt ready to share it. I’m less angrier now than I was then, so I’m definitely in a slightly better place mentally, BUT although I have new dreams, like I said before my soul will always remember. I hope you enjoy it and please do share your thoughts. 

 

I arrived at the gates
With my ebony tan,
Ready to become the tawny owl
I had always dreamt of becoming.
My excitement puzzled you;
My endless excitement,
My enthusiasm,
My dedication.
“Why are you always smiling?”
You are asked. “Why not?” was my reply.
Every rung on my career ladder had led me to this
castle – you only have to look,
Look at my credentials!
By half term my owlets thrived,
My solar energy transposed to them,
For the subject I had always loved.  
Then
The rumours began…
Mahogany was out of place.
By winter, my skin had become burnt sepia,
As the venom continued to trickle
Through the ice.
It soon became clear that this castle
Was also your desert,
Where you gradually stole my warmth,
Layer, after layer, after layer.
I stood on trial,
against an invisible jury.
And time, after time, after time,
You told this owl to change her identity.
I was the embarrassment
With my attitude, my clothes, my hair.
In your lair, you unleashed
Your venom,
And drained the life from my very dreams.
What do you see?
When you look in the mirror?
I’m sure you see the pure, Christian angel.
Or do you see the sheer, spiteful fiend?
That I perceive.
The dream killer
Who destroyed my vision,
Destroyed my future.
The dream killer,
Legless,
Heartless,
Thoughtless.
Who turned this young,
Tawny owl,
To old, hard,
Mahogany wood.

Demon at the Gates

Posted in Blog

Label #3: Racist

“I’m a realist, I’m a romantic, I’m an indecisive piece of….” – I’m a Realist (The Cribs)

 

“She looked out into the quiet, sunny streets, and for the first time in her life, she hated it all – the white city, the white world. She could not, that day, think of one decent white person in the whole world” (p.201)

Go Tell It On The Mountain – James Baldwin

 

When I was suspended, I began to hate all white people.

 

My partner is white, I have white friends, so I’m not a racist.

 

That’s what all racist people say, right? We all know one person of the opposite colour to us, so that makes us safe. Not racist, right?

Hmmm

 

But see, I’d grown up around white folk, and ingratiated myself into white society, to the point where I actually identified myself more as a white person, than a person of colour. Every school we’d attended as kids, my sister and I had been the only kids of colour.

 

We didn’t know how to be black.

 

When we moved to London when I was ten years old, and again when I was in my late twenties, black people could see how much I stood out, like a cut open coconut in a crowd of a closed bunch.  

 

I don’t even talk like a black person; so many people have told me that I sound “white” on the phone. I remember the first time I heard myself actually: when I returned home from my travels in South East Asia and Australia; my mum had kept all of my insanely long diary-entry style answer phone messages, which I listened to. Listening to those messages, it didn’t sound like I was listening to Posh Spice.

Posh Spice

 

Most of the people I idolised growing up were white: Ian Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Harry, Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood, Phil Collins, Kurt Cobain…

 

I was only attracted to white boys as an adolescent, even when I was faced with rejection. I’d just move onto the next one. It never dawned on me that their rejection could be because of the colour of my skin, or that a boy welcoming me into his bed was down to racial fetish only, and not because he actually fancied me.

 

At the school, during my teacher training, I think I was so shocked at the racism, because I really thought that I was one of them, regardless of the microaggressions. At every microaggression, I was in denial; I was so desperate to become a teacher I chose to ignore every single one anyway, until it was too late. And then in the dark haze of my depression, it became so arduous to separate the good from the evil – so I made it simple: black became good and white evil.

 

Black was good, because of my friends, my extended family and “Black Twitter”, which became my safe haven, as well as my source of black education as I became woke.

 

White was bad, because of the school, and the university. And the world.

 

What did this mean for my relationship?

 

… Confusion… Heartache. 

 

… I also have white people in my extended family – I’ve known them for my entire life….

 

… I have white friends who have stood by me, stuck out their necks for me…

 

… Come on ,Cece…

 

…They’re not all evil…

 

… You know this…

 

… Not all whites are white supremacists Cece….

 

See, this may all sound crazy to you. But ALL OF THIS WAS GOING ON IN MY HEAD. 

 

Why shouldn’t this be easy for me? You might be thinking?

But not only was I heartbroken, my soul was destroyed, my dreams were crushed; my mental state was obliterated.

I’ve recently finished reading James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain, and he describes poignantly, how in heartbreak,  even after the heart has healed a soul can be left behind:

“Men spoke of how the heart broke up, but none spoke of how the soul hung speechless in the pause, the void, the terror between the living and the dead;… the soul remembered, the heart sometimes forgot… Only the soul, obsessed with the journey it had made, and had still to make, pursued it’s mysterious and dreadful end; and carried, heavy with weeping and bitterness, the heart along. (p.203)”

 

This book was published in 1953, and I’d never had anybody describe my current condition so perfectly.

 

I was confused about my sudden aversion to white people, yet simultaneously it felt like I was thinking clearly for the first time in my life, because for years I’d been on the wrong side. I started listening exclusively to everything I could get my hands on, by Kendrick Lamar and channeling my anger through HIM, because that was the only way I could understand it. I was cry and shout in the shower to his lyrics. 

I started exclusively reading black literature, not only to understand my culture, but to also attempt to understand why white people hated me so much. Maya Angelou and James Baldwin became my surrogate grandparents.

 

I argue with white people on social media (I jest to my partner that it’s now my new full-time job), it seems now on a daily basis, who lack simple empathy, sympathy. I went to the same schools as these people, therefore I’m now beginning to deduce that racism is an upbringing issue. I would be friends with kids who were “safe” in school, but at home around their families or “other” friends, it was a completely different story. Anything goes. And now that we have social media, it’s a million times worse.

 

I’m now in a healthier state of mind, where I love and trust everybody in my life, regardless of the colour of their skin, because this learning process has truly has been a screening process of sorts.

After what I’ve been through, I’m now always going to be suspicious of every new white person I meet, and that makes me racist to you.

I don’t apologise for that.

There is no human race; we are not one human race. People who say that they do no see colour are liars/ in denial and need to wake up. We are divided and were born that way, I’ve seen that now. Up until these past few months, I really believed that my  affluent upbringing and accent, my education, my British passport and my love of indie music bought my a ticket into “white culture”. I was wrong. It means nothing to you. 

And that’s okay, because I’ve found a new dream so my heart will mend, but my soul will forever be bruised and battered by the whips and lashes and beatings it has taken – and will continue to take in this country because of the colour of my skin.

But I’m not going anywhere.

And again I won’t apologise.

I’m proud of my past, my present and now my future.

If being proud of me makes me racist, then hear me again: I won’t apologise. 

JB Black and Proud

Posted in Blog

My Survival

The key to my survival – Part One: my partner. 

For the first time in a while, I’m smiling, I’m dancing, I’m cooking (I love cooking), I’m reading, I’m listening to music and singing.

My partner’s been so patient with me, particularly while I’ve changed my mind AGAIN about my living arrangements. I’ve been so candid here on my blog, so I want to be more explicit on what happened during my psychotic episode which led me to want to live away from my partner.

I no longer felt safe around anybody, but particularly around the person I loved most in the world. I constantly felt paranoid and unsafe – everything he said triggered some kind of fear which now in the light of reason and medication, I can find no reason for.

All of this was because I was bullied in my job and when I eventually tried to stand up for myself, I was suspended. I had put EVERYTHING into this job and prioritised teaching over everything, including my health at times. When I was suspended, I felt like I had been left with nothing, because I knew I was going to lose my job and because of this, I tried to kill myself.  I put ALL of my value and self-worth in a vocation – a vocation I had grown up wanting to do and was more than qualified to do regardless of my colour, or where I grew up, even if I did have epilepsy.

They don’t work anyway right?

After my suicide attempt, the psychiatrist instructed me to stop taking the antidepressants I had overdosed on, because in his words: “They don’t work anyway right?” and in the midst of my brain fog, I agreed.

My GP thinks that the psychosis could’ve been caused by this; my epilepsy team think that the psychosis could’ve been caused by the postictal state from the grand mal seizure I had a week after my suicide attempt.

Whichever the medical cause, I will always know the people who caused this.

I wanted to die

On that night I took those pills, in that moment, I did really want to die and I really saw no other way out.

On that night, I’d also had an argument with my partner – in the weeks before we’d found the perfect home together, but with my career and now my relationship in the organ grinder, I felt that I had nothing left to live for. In my depressed state, I guess I overreacted about the argument, however this was a BIG argument.

I didn’t say much, in fact I think I’d already taken the pills when my partner came into the bedroom to get a quilt to sleep on the sofa. But then as I felt myself drifting off, I sent him a message, telling him what I’d done and he saved me.

And we’ve been through every step of hell together.

We even broke up more than once and then finally for good, which lasted an entire day. However, thankfully, as I’ll go on to mention in part two of this post, I had some friends to counsel me in my darkest time when I found it difficult to make sense of what was going on in my own head, because even when I have wanted to die, simultaneously I’ve never had somebody by my side cheerleading for me to live so loudly.

Genie Cheerleader.gif

Which is why I’ve decided that the home we found together, is where we are going to live together.

Things were never easy for me
Peace of mind was hard to find
And I needed a place where I could hide
Somewhere I could call mine

Genesis – No Son of Mine

And I think I’ve finally done it…

The key to my survival – Part Two: I mustn’t forget my friends. 

The friends who have stood by me in my sickness and my madness, who haven’t even batted an eyelid that I’ve changed my mind about my partner so many times – during my bad times, I must’ve told them some crazy things about him, only to find out a week later that it was all down to psychosis and they didn’t even mind, because they loved him so much and were just ecstatic that we were back together! Furthermore, the security of knowing that they know me well enough, to know when I’m not myself and when I am, brings me so much peace.

The love has been unreal!

I’ve also made some incredible new friends via social media, who again have been with me every step of the way. My job was making me feel intensely lonely – a loneliness I hadn’t felt since my teens and I did some reaching out, while some even did some to me which saved me. I’m still finding it an unrelenting feat to trust people, so the fact that these people have broken past my barriers speaks volumes.

Hugs

I’ll be forever thankful xoxo

The key to my survival – Part Three: My Amazing Three Uncles. 

I rarely see them. My mum completely cut off all communication with them when we were younger and to this day, I still don’t fully understand the reasons why because when we were younger, my uncles were the fathers my sister and I never had. When I moved to London and just before I stopped talking to my mum and sister, I reached out to my oldest Uncle and since then, even though I rarely see them (especially since I started Teacher Training), I talk to my three uncles via Whatsapp or on Facebook. My youngest uncle in particular surprised me because after my suicide attempt, concerned about my cryptic Facebook updates, he phoned me and has been a shoulder to cry on since. I’m a hard nut to crack and I really didn’t realise how much so until this whole experience, but he REALLY cracked me. I loved him so much more for that.

I’m not fully recovered yet – I’m not sure how long it will take, or if I’ll ever get there. All of these components: love, friendship, mentoring, support have all been empowering towards the healing of my mental health.

I know that I’m never going to be the same person that I was a year ago… I’m forever changed and that girl is forever gone. It’s sad because I never got a chance to say goodbye to her. However I’m looking forward to this new journey: moving into my new home, seeing where this new unplanned future takes me and learning to live every day as it comes.

Posted in Blog

I Wish I Was Fitter Happier: The Bullies Have Won

Today I found out that I possibly have a blood clot in my left leg.

Ever since my grand mal seizure, I’ve been having multiple complex partial seizures as you know, which have left me absolutely exhausted and going from constantly on the go as a Trainee Teacher to suddenly bedridden has been a shock to the system. However I’ve also been suffering from extreme pain in my limbs, particularly my left leg.


I did mention in an earlier post that I had been suspended from my job. This has taken an immense toll upon my body through the following:


  • A suicide attempt
  • A grand mal seizure (on a scale of which I haven’t had since I was diagnosed with epilepsy three years ago) which included me biting my tongue and left my muscles so fucked I’ve been weak for weeks
  • Vaginal thrush (on a scale of which I haven’t had since I was a teenager)
  • Extreme eczema
  • Recurrent auras and complex seizures
  • A psychotic episode
  • A blood clot in my leg

I know that I can’t go back to teaching, which means that my career has been ruined.


I have been left more disabled than I started off as too.

I have to nap during the day and I can’t walk long distances anymore or stand for long periods of time.


When I found out about the blood clot, I couldn’t believe it. I knew that it was down to inactivity, but what am I supposed to do?


I burst into tears on the ward and then again out on the street outside of the hospital. 


I’m thirty fucking years old and my body is literally falling apart in my hands. 

On that ward I was the youngest person there yet I fit right in with the anticoagulant medication they gave me, as well as my now weekly list of ailments. Just the other day, I was saying to a friend that I was looking at my diary and was shocked to see that my life is now filled with hospital and GP appointments.

They called me through to CDU, but made me wait over 40 minutes for the results and while the doctor was telling me that he was concerned about levels and clots going to my lungs, all I could think was:

I always knew I was going to die young. 


I barely heard a word after that. 


I can’t work. 

This means that I will have to claim benefits. 

Everywhere I go, I drag my body around like a dead carcass.


Signing up to be a teacher was the BIGGEST mistake of my life.