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

Charlottesville: White Christian Ignorance

Quick rant.

I just stumbled upon a blog post by a person who used the analogy of their eating disorder to compare the compelling evil of Satan to the evil we witnessed in Charlottesville over the weekend. According to the blogger, the power of Satan is compelling people to lie and commit acts of evil. The blogger used the example of their eating disorder as an example.

To say that I am speechless is an understatement.

The person who wrote this, follows my blog and is therefore going to see this for which I am not going to apologise. (Before I proceed however, I’ve had a severe eating disorder myself and I’m not denying its evil hold, so I can empathise with the struggle.)

My mother used to always say that we give the devil too much credit, and for once I am going to agree with her. What we witnessed over the weekend was terrorism:

the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

So this is how the events on Saturday unfolded…

According to an article in the Guardian, Virginia has one of the most relaxed sets of laws in the US. Alt Right groups came from different states, having chosen their territory, like a sniper marks its target. These terrorists came with guns, pepper spray, eggs, clubs, vehicles.

They came to kill. 

Speakers, such as the white nationalist Richard Spencer, had planned to address the Unite the Right crowds descending on a public park to defend a statue honoring the Confederate general Robert Lee, which is set to be removed by the Charlottesville authorities. It was the largest event in recent times organized by emboldened far-right racist extremists.

But the police had to cancel the event, due to the tension between the two opposing sides, which then erupted into violence, when the alt-right attacked the other side with a vehicle and then with the rest of their weapons.

That’s not satanic possession. That’s terrorism.

People on social media are saying that Antifa and BALM (Black Lives Matter) were just as much to blame for the violence. Firstly: 

Secondly, if I came at you with a club or a knife, what the fuck would you do? Would you just stand there? The left were protesting against the celebration of monuments of slavery, to which the right responded with violent opposition. This was war. The violence came from the alt-right. 

Furthermore, to dismiss these acts as “signs of the end times” (which is also what the blogger referred to the attacks as), is a dismissal of hundreds of years of black suffering, and therefore displaying hundreds of years of white ignorance, which is why this was allowed to happen. White supremacists want to bring America back to a time before colour touched your soils, however America is built upon racism – the blood, sweat and tears of people of colour. Your rivers run with the outpouring of that suffering.

When are you white people going to get it?

Does blaming demons for you past console your white guilt?

Medieval Supremacy

If you would like to read more on the history of White Supremacy in Charlottesville, then I highly recommend this article: Racism, Medievalism, and the White Supremacists of Charlottesville,  (2017) by Josephine Livingstone.

XOXO

Posted in Blog

Labels #2: Atheist

I saw the face of God, he showed me how to live, I threw it back at him

– Face of God, The Drums

 

I am now an atheist.

 

I think I “decided” while I was working as a trainee teacher in a Catholic school, that I could try to be agnostic, because I couldn’t quite give up on God. However, it was eventually white people who took my faith away from me, which is ironic because it was supposedly white people who gave us their Christian God in the first place when they enslaved us.

I’ve started to remember some memories from my childhood, which I’ve begun to talk through with my partner and I’ve been coming to terms with the notion, that I may have been groomed by my father’s father. This is something that I knew for a fact my mother knew, because she would explain to me the lengths she would go to, in order to keep me away from him, yet when I came to talk to her about what happened to me, she didn’t believe me?

Does that make sense to you?

Ice Cube WTF

No me neither.

Which was also another nail in the coffin for my faith.

Coffin Angel
I used to feel so guilty for feeling this way about God, until I realised: why should I? If he does exist, HE DID THIS TO ME, HE LET THIS HAPPEN TO ME. And then I was caught up in this endless loop of wanting to let go, but in order to do that, I had to forgive myself for feeling like this, but I’m the child, I’m the victim in all this. So therefore, there is no God.

 

As a child, my mother would also reprimand me for sitting with my legs open, around men, which I would do absentmindedly as a tomboy. She wasn’t the only woman in my family to do this. She was however, the only one to say that not only was it unladylike, but also that I was tempting my father.

Oprah Puzzled

With sex, it was bad enough that it was dirty for me because of what had happened to me, but Christianity also seemed to soil it all the more.

Plus I only knew sex in terms of abuse from the environment I’d grown up in, and that was it.

Nobody taught me about love.

Nobody taught me that sex could be loving, consenting even!
And with my career, those people also used religion to make me feel inferior, just like my mother did. It didn’t need to be words, I just naively thought that as a disabled person, struggling with my faith anyway, I would be safe with Christians.

But now that I reflect, I do recall my Head of Department saying this to me when I joined the team. So there you go. I expected love, and got hate. When I do the sums in my head, even out in the world, the majority of the people who claim to love the hardest, have the darkest of hearts and also claim to be disciples of Christ.

When I was first put on suspension, The Keepers (2017) came up on my things to watch on Netflix. It’s a shocking story. I’ve had my issues with the Catholic church long before I could form opinions, but this is really something else.

These men abused their authority, in the name of religion to abuse these girls. The crimes they committed were so HORRIFIC the girls were forced to repress the memories of the abuse.

Justice has never been served.

 

Now I want to talk about abuse and race.

 

Let’s return to what my mother said about tempting my father….

 

R Kelly has not so recently been in the media for holding young, black women in a cult and abusing them, and the comments from people of colour – in particular, have been SHOCKING. Some have responded that it was their (victims) time because they’d hit puberty early, that they therefore tempted him and he had no choice in his actions. We as people of colour all know, that this is not the first time – he has a problem, but we make up excuses for him.

My mother reprimanding me on my body language, was this what she was implying?

I recently read an article Oprah shared on Twitter, and MANY women of colour, including people I know, have the same opinion that within our culture, we are very compliant when it comes to child abuse. The article went for the angle of victim blaming, which I agree with, but on the other hand I have to bring religion into it, because instead of doing something about it, we stand back and say “well let God deal with him” which is exactly what my mother did.

I ended up getting into a dispute with a white girl on a thread on Twitter about this article; she felt it was #rude to make this about colour.

I felt it was #rude to not make this about colour. Why do white people have to make everything about them? She called Oprah out on sharing the article in the first place, because white women follow her and therefore it wasn’t appropriate!!!!!!!!!!!!  This girl even had the audacity to say that white women should be able to date black men and not have to know about their culture, which really pissed me off, because she was pretty much telling much telling me that she should be able to fuck black men and deal with their culture. This comment was part of her “apology”, after I had shared part of my story of the blame culture in black culture specifically, which is what the article was directing its argument at. You can read it here.  

Anyway, I’m shaking that girl out, like the kinks in my weave.

Shake My Weave

 

Back to my abuse; In the end, both of my father’s parents died of cancer, and my mother honestly believed those deaths to be God’s justice for what they had done to us. And for what they did to me, her child. Instead of going to the police, she blamed me and “waited for God’s justice”.

 

And where is my father now, while we wait for that justice?

While I struggle with my mental health, and my mother has now lost her child?

Hmmm

 

And that is why I am an atheist. Because a little girl who deserved justice, had it stolen away from her by the people who should’ve been protecting her, using the name of a God that doesn’t exist.

 

And which is why I am now using my experiences, and also studying and MSc in Mental Health and Psychology, because in some way or another, I am going to help children who were once like me who needed the help and justice that I didn’t get. We don’t need any more fucked adults in this world do we?  

Posted in Blog

Deconstructing My Faith

Many people over the last few months have asked why I no longer attend church.
As much as it is to do with my health, it is now also a conscious decision I have made to stop going.

Over the last year or so I’ve been working on a deconstruction of my faith. Much like this guy actually http://faithandfaders.com/

Pentecostal church was far more interactive for teens and pre-teens

I grew up in a Christian home. When my dad left, my mum ran straight into the arms of the Catholic Church. We would pray the rosary every night before bed, for fear that we would die in our sleep if we didn’t. Then when I was 14 years old, we were invited to a Nigerian Pentecostal church and dazzled by the bright lights and lively music, we settled into our new home. My sister and I in particular were glad for the change – Pentecostal church was far more interactive for teens and pre-teens.
As non- Nigerians, our lighter Afro-Caribbean skin meant that we would never be “black enough”, however it was all the church we knew at the time that wasn’t part of Catholicism and so we stuck with it.

There were cliques

That was until an evangelical church opened up in London; my sister and I had grown up clutching the CDs to our hearts and dreaming that one day they would open up a campus in the UK; we sang their songs as part of our worship in church. It was a dream come true.
And it was the Church I returned to when I’d dealt with my adolescent issues and opened my heart to God.

My mother had always tried to teach us to separate the church from God; we as people are imperfect, we are sinners, we are fickle – we can love each other today and wake up tomorrow with sudden malice within our hearts and eyes. Therefore, when I returned to Church, I worked hard to keep my eyes above at all times. I quickly joined team and became a youth leader and gave everything I had (my time, my life) to nurturing the young body of Christ. There were cliques, as there always are when you deal with people. However, my team as well as my connect group quickly became my family.
I also joined a connect group – a small home group in order to build strong connections with church family as well as the word of God.

One of the members of connect group offered me a job in her school. And suddenly things started to fall apart.
She treated me so awfully that the complex partial seizures that I’d been having became secondary generalised seizures and I was soon diagnosed with epilepsy. Even though she came to see me in hospital while awaiting tests and diagnosis, she insisted that I was faking my condition and terrorised me until I was forced to give up my job.

Do I blame her for the detrimental effects her actions had on my health?
Yes.
Was I angry at her personally?
I was heartbroken.
Does it make it worse that she was a Christian?
Yes because she was one of many Christians who hid behind the word of God to defend her actions. The deterioration in my health was due to my lack of belief in God, not because of her wrongdoings.

Clearly I had done something wrong and God was punishing me

When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, it was too solid a pill to swallow. And clearly it was difficult for the people around me; most of us had grown up Christians and had been taught that all things were possible; that God hears our cries; that we belong to His kingdom and as His children we will never be sick; the Holy Spirit was sent to give us the power to cast out demons just like the disciples.
And yet I have an incurable condition and one that nobody understands either.
Clearly I had done something wrong and God was punishing me.
My Christian friends soon became bored of my texts saying that I was too tired to come to church (when I was told that lack of sleep, caffeine and tiredness were all triggers, I realised that I could no longer run on 2 hours sleep and a Starbucks tall Americano like I used to). Therefore while they carried on living their lives and moving on, I stayed in this groundhog purgatory: seizure recover repeat seizure recover repeat. My texts were read but not replied to and my phone calls went unanswered. Suddenly I was no longer part of a body.
Before being diagnosed, I would run on empty for the Church. But now that I am on copious amounts of medication, like wringing a dry rag, I just don’t have anything left in me to give anymore.

And then there is my family: my mother a devout Christian broke my heart in the cruelest way, and I’ve lost my sister.

Of course we are only human: we make mistakes, we are sinners and therefore not perfect. However, this is no excuse for breaking people and especially no excuse for breaking their hearts.

Reader, you may think while reading this that I am angry. It’s taken me awhile to get to the place that I am in, and that place is no longer anger.
I’ve been accused in the recent past of being anti-church since moving to London – by people who I worked closely with in church. I’ve been accused by fellow Christians of being a sinner because I have relationships with a non-Christians.
I’ve been told that I should not be taking medication, that I should focus my faith upon God instead of drugs (like I’m some druggie who depends upon drugs) and yet I cannot imagine any of these people saying these things to a cancer patient or somebody in a wheelchair. I read posts everyday from the people I used to go to church with wishing luck to people on their way to Chemotherapy appointments. My anti-convulsants medication is just as much a necessity as chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer patients, and wheelchairs are for those who cannot walk.

You wouldn’t tell them that they are possessed by demons either.

The majority of people who have stayed consistent within my life have been outside of the body of Christ. They are the people who have chosen to ask me about my condition as opposed to giving me ignorant opinions.

Prayers are more powerful than advice.

My relationship with Christ is a constant anchor within my life and that will never change. The Bible says that

“Greater love have no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for His friends” (John 15:13)

and that’s the kind of love I’m hooking myself up to right now.

I will continue to mourn for the body of Christ.
However, at this point in my life, it’s just not where I need to be.