Posted in Blog

“Bad Nerves”

I’ve been talking A LOT about my mother during my last couple of therapy sessions. It’s not something that I enjoy doing – I’m trying to move on and stop thinking about her – but the only way to move on is to address the many issues we had and how these affected my childhood as well as me as a person now. 

My therapist is extremely good at encouraging me to address the issues my mother clearly had over the years, one of them being anxiety. My mother lived in a constant state of anxiety and fear,  and truly believed that if she only prayed harder, her anxiety would decrease… or even disappear; she would mentally punish herself for not praying enough or not saying the right prayers that would get rid of her constant state of fear. The Bible says that the only thing you should fear is God, so if she feared any other thing then she wasn’t being a “proper Christian”… in her eyes. 

I came across this earlier this week on Twitter: 

Firstly, this year as I’ve been learning more and more about my culture, it’s been liberating to realise that there are people like me who witnessed the unique things that I did as a child, for instance parents struggling with anxiety while refusing to seek medical help or correlating help with shame, and families becoming fragmented caused by generations of trauma never addressed. 

My mother would put her “bad nerves” down to having not slept properly, the causation of which could be for a number of unrelatable reasons: drinking coffee (which she very rarely drank), eating too late (which she rarely ever did), not having enough pillows on her bed causing her to be too uncomfortable to sleep, wearing too many layers in bed causing her to be too hot to sleep… I could go on. 

She also refused to take medication as she “didn’t believe” in it. In her eyes, no doctor was bigger than God. 

I also believe that she was too afraid to sleep because of the nightmares that would afflict her. She would have the most frightening nightmares, triggered by her PTSD, but she would refuse to seek help. My sister and I would beg her to reconsider her stance, but she refused, believing that one day God would finally release her from her prison of anxiety. 

As of yet, that day hasn’t come. 

In my culture, my generation and those after me have taken action to tackle our mental health issues, breaking what we call the “generational curse” handed to us by our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and so on, however what of our older generations? Who should the burden fall to, for encouraging healthier mental health well-being? Many of them continue to stubbornly suffer in blind faith. I used to live in endless guilt, beating myself up for leaving my mother when I eventually moved out of the family home at the age of 28, but I had to for my own mental health… plus it was long overdue! Other than moving out for university, I’d waited to quite an old age to finally move out and as much as I hate comparing myself to peers, I was the last one out of my friendship circles to move out. 

I did also hope that moving out would mend my familial relationships and encourage my mother to follow in my footsteps in seeking therapeutic help instead of having me constantly on at her face-to-face, but unfortunately it completely destroyed our relationship, because my mother was still unwilling to admit that she needed medical help, perhaps even psychiatric. 

There are places for black women to go to, however they are few and far between. For instance, there was a a tweet recently advertising a black women’s support group at The Maya Centre, which apparently is the only psychotherapy support group for black women is the country. The only place where black women can go to talk about trauma as a black woman, is in London. Funding authorities do not believe that these services are needed either, which is also part of the problem: black women do not believe that they are deserving or entitled to these services and authorities do not believe that they are needed or necessary. 

It’s a catch-22. 

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Focus

It’s been a minute since I’ve been able to update you! As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I was intending for this to be my first post since my hiatus, but of course shit happened which I had to talk about! Anyhoo, many apologies for my lack of writing! I’ve been caught up with assignments and trying to get healthy around that.

So where do I start??

I’ve had a hair cut!

New Profile Pic 2

And I fuckin’ LOVE IT! I’ve wanted to do it for years, but I’ve always been too scared. This is when I realised that I attached waaaay too much of my beauty and confidence to my hair, so I finally decided to have it cut before my birthday in July.

 

My yoga classes took a break over summer, so in the interim I’ve been going to the gym; I’ve found a great one local to me, part of the Energie Fitness chain. Membership is really cheap and you’re not bound to a contract either so you can cancel any time. I’ve always been a little bit petrified of gyms; full of super fit people, I often felt like as soon as I walked in, people would be staring in shock at how unfit I am (not caring that I haven’t always been like this), especially when I get on the crosstrainer LOL. But of course it’s not like that; everybody’’s in the zone, doing their own thaaang and I’ve actually become quite addicted to it! It’s not only great for physiology, it’s also great for mental well-being. Plus it gets me out of the house so I’m winning on all fronts.

 

My body is also getting to used to my new AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs), Lacosamide. So I’m only on 100mg twice a day at the moment, finally off Keppra (wooooooo). But, when I first started on Lacosaminde, I developed a strange side-effect of urinary incontinence. Imagine my horror at the age of 32, suddenly leaking and having to purchase incontinence pads! I’m not ashamed to admit that I did cry a little and the only advice my Epilepsy Nurse could give was go to the internet, while my GP advised me to go to the toilet more. The latter only helped with the fact that as well as leaking, I was always bursting to go. It didn’t help with the leaking in between go’s. However, it seems to have finally settled down… until my next dose increase I guess….

Other than that, my epilepsy seems to be responding to the medication. I’ve had four seizures in almost two months which is INCREDIBLE!

 

Don’t get stressed

Another piece of advice my GP gave me was “to not get stressed” in order to reduce the seizures; people do not seem to realise who fucking annoying it is to hear that, as if we look for stress. For fuck sake.

 

However the GP did give me some good advice in terms of what I focus my energy on. At first what she actually said was that I didn’t have a focus and when I challenged her on that considering it was only the first time we’d ever met, she then rephrased: be careful what you focus your energy on. With this in mind, on Tuesday I saw my therapist and she said something very similar. She noticed that I tend to focus a lot of my energy on what other people are thinking about me and what they’re doing, very futile things. Instead of doing this, what I should be doing is focusing on myself: my journey of self-discovery, and what I’m doing now, in the present (Gestalt therapy is great for this, focusing on the present, being in the present).

Guilt and shame

I also don’t give myself enough credit for what I’m doing or who I’ve become: I’m a highly intelligent and incredibly creative woman. When I put my mind to something, I do whatever it takes to get there and I think that sometimes I give the people around me more credit for that than myself. My therapist told me that she’s observed that I carry a lot of guilt and shame, which is why I don’t like admitting the positive things that I’ve accomplished. And I think she’s bang in with that observation considering the psychological abuse I was subjected to all of my life. As a child and adolescent, although I was ambitious I was also very submissive and scared to rock the boat because I would be second-guessed and put down, so I would bend and sway to the music of others. A lot of this was also in seeking approval and validation from the people around me, whether they be on social media or real life, be they white, black and my family in particular.

 

Furthermore, guilt and shame is generational: many Black women before me have been prohibited from speaking out, speaking up and drawing attention to themselves, for fear of being shamed or bringing shame to the people around them. They’ve been forced to retreat into themselves which is a behaviour they’ve passed onto us, their daughters and granddaughters.

 

Now I’m going out on my own, drawing a lot of attention to myself and although at times I’m soaring high, I also doubt myself and look down at the ground beneath me, looking for reassurance but also scaring myself shitless. When what I should be doing is focusing on what I am doing, not what is happening around me.

 

I felt like I needed to share this epiphany with you all, because I’ve been trialling this new mindset since my therapy session and although at times it’s incredibly difficult, it is also incredibly liberating. In a way, I had already started the process when I stopped making YouTube videos a few months ago; I was responding to every single negative comment especially and with all the negative I get on Twitter sometimes, I was really taking the opinions to heart, allowing them to beat myself up. When I first decided to stop, it was to protect my mental health, but now I realise it’s about me focusing on what’s important: me and what I’m doing. My videos were not only a critique on the institution and society; they were a celebration of the person that I’ve finally learnt to embrace. I’ve also learnt not to respond to everything on Twitter, because it’s not only taking the focus away from what I do on social media, it’s also taking my focus away from myself.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Oh Mother, Where For Art Thou?

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

“well maybe not aggressive but angry”.

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

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

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

That’s what I wanted you to say mum.

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

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

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

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

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

Everybody who knows me knows this about me.

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

Hedwig

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

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

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

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

So, I messaged her.

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

I haven’t heard from her since.

aa0d15d5ebb3ffd727c34836b0ab3c15ea29376d6cf01011958702e509e6aadc.jpg

It is what it is.

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

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

XOXO