Posted in Blog, Mental Health

David Lammy’s Article, Gangs, & A Scathing Review of My Childhood…

Reading David Lammy’s article in the Guardian today really hit home, not only drawing attention to how politically and culturally isolated Black youths are today because of our Government’s continued cognitive dissonance, but it also reminded me that this has been going on for years and years and years and no Government has every improved the situation for young people.

This excerpt especially resonated with me:

The first thing Lammy wants us to understand is the blameless ease with which a child who goes home to an empty council estate flat because his mum can’t afford childcare while she’s at work, can become a gang member. All it takes is a gift of new trainers, he says, for which in return the child is soon asked to carry a little package round the corner, and before long, the 12-year-old is earning more in one week than his parents make in a year.

I didn’t grow up on a council estate, however I did grow up in a single parent family and was responsible for looking after my sister while my mum had to work in full-time employment. Luckily for my mum I was a geek, but unfortunately my sister got mixed up with some bad people and did some bad things and I had to save her. We used to call them “pikeys” in my days. When she told me that she had a boyfriend, my antenna went up, but when her friends told me that he was in a gang of white pikeys, I went round to his house and told him to stay the fuck away from my sister. For some reason he listened. People just did in those days. I don’t think my sister has every appreciated the fact that she could’ve been dead if it wasn’t for me. And she soon admitted to me that he didn’t treat her well either. My mum still knows nothing of this… until now.

Parentification is an unfortunate generation cycle in Black culture, and I’ve spoken about this before on my blog which you can read here. Children are forced into adult roles within their families, mostly because one parent has walked out, forcing the older child to take on that parental role. This has a detrimental effect upon mental health, during adolescence and especially in adulthood. The worse thing is, as Black people we are never offered therapy (I will provide you with examples below). Usually the child is at shown some gratitude in older years from their parent or siblings, however I’ve never been shown any. I didn’t rebel until I was 17 – I snuck out a couple of times with some friends while my mum worked the night shift – my sister would have friends round so she wasn’t home alone, but other than that, I made sure I looked after my sister. I did most of the chores at home, because my mum made me, which I had to balance with homework, unlike my sister who wasn’t doing any chores or any homework because she wasn’t interested in pursuing further education like me and therefore didn’t see the point in home studying. I also had to balance this with Church, which we went to at least three times a week. All while hiding my father’s abuse. As a teenager, I had a lot on my plate.

Everybody on the outside of our family saw us as this tight, united trio of a mother and two daughters, but we were far from it. I had nobody to talk to and felt extremely isolated. It only got worse when I went to University.

At 24 when I went travelling and came to the Australia part of my trip, I suffered from aggressive, verbal racism from the locals. They would say stuff to my face and then laugh, as if I was supposed to be in on the joke. The next leg of my trip I planned to be New Zealand, but I just couldn’t face it, but I couldn’t afford to come home early. My only option was to call home and ask my mum for a loan to change my ticket so that I could come home early. I cried down the phone, begging for the loan, but I didn’t tell her about the racism, because I couldn’t. When I got home, she would retell the story about the phone call and laugh about how I cried, which I found an incredibly insensitive thing to do.

I sunk into a deep depression, fell in love with a drummer who used me for sex, became further depressed and so went to see the GP, who instead of referring me for counselling “told me to get over it” and then prescribed me anti-depressants. By now, I was drinking heavily so I just carried on to the point to excess, which the GP knew.

I got a job at a GP surgery, where at the Christmas party, the Practice Manager tried to sexually assault me, because I was off my face on drugs and alcohol and could take advantage and I had to call my sister and her boyfriend to come and pick me up. I think this is finally when the GP referred me for counselling. However, my sister was angry at me. She knew that I had been battling with the GP to receive proper help about my mental health, but not once had she offered to come and visit the GP with me, she just blamed me instead.

And the lack of care from the GP, this is because I’m Black. If I’d been a white girl with Blonde hair, screaming in agony, you bet your arse I would’ve been referred to see a Therapist at my very first GP appointment.

This happens to thousands of young Black girls and women today.

In my late twenties, I was finally diagnosed with Unstable Emotional Personality Disorder (formerly known as Borderline Personality Disorder) and the psychologist explained that all of the impulsive behaviour I had displayed in early twenties – the high and the low moods, the excessive drinking, the impulsive spending, the impulsive sex – was all because of this disorder. And now that I’m studying an MSc in Mental Health and Psychology, I’m finally able to research more about this condition because even though I’ve been diagnosed, I’m still not being treated. The NHS are still failing me as a Black woman today; I was recently rejected from the Personality Assessment Services for being too high-functioning, even though I struggle every day and I’m having to medicate myself.

And as for my family: after I was diagnosed with Epilepsy in 2014, my sister rejected me for being too much of a burden and still refuses to speak to me now. My cousin Dee recently said to me that she wishes that she’d had me as an older sister growing up and those words meant the world to me, and I do see her as a younger sister, even though we’ve only recently gotten back in touch. No request is too much.

My mother, who I recently got back in touch with, I’m not quite sure knows how to be a mother. She’s shown me no gratitude for the years of love I’ve shown. On Mother’s Day this year, she was supposed to call me and didn’t and offered no explanation for this. Her excuses for her constant failings are that nobody showed her how to be a mother, yet you’re doing a great job to your other daughter, just consistently failing me, so there must be a reason why?

She still hasn’t called and it’s because she expects me to be the parent, when I’m the child. And this is why I’m so thankful for the other adults in my life at the moment who allow me to be the child I finally deserve to be, because my childhood was stolen from me. My family are the dark clouds over my sunshine, they don’t build build me up like others around me do, they knock me down and it took me years of searching to realise that.

Furthermore, nobody showed me how to be a daughter, yet I’m doing it. My door is always open for my mum, when she decides that she wants to be one.

XOXO

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Posted in Blog

A Week in Wonderland

It’s been an energetic week!

Since I’ve been taking control of my mental health and Epilepsy, I’m beginning to feel more like me again, which I never believed would happen in a million years. I have more energy, which is astounding, because having spent a year planning my time around low energy levels, to suddenly being able to do more than one thing in a day, is just… unreal.

Did I tell you all that I’ve changed antidepressants? I demanded it. The old ones were killing me and nobody was helping me, so I contacted my GP after doing some research and asked to be put on Fluoxetine and I’ve been self-medicating (slowly increasing the dose myself).

I’ve also been reducing my Zonisamide and I’m currently still taking 750mg of Levitracetam, which the Epilepsy team want to take me off of, however I’ve been thinking A LOT about this and as they stop my tonic clonic seizures completely, plus my energy levels are currently great on this dose, I’m going to stay on this. My consultant is the type of guy who wants “a one drug for all seizures” type of fix, but I’m not a guinea pig – I’m happy to try a low dose of another drug and see what that does for my focal onset seizures, but I’m starting to realise now that low doses are the way forward. I remember a few years ago, when I was on double the dose of Keppra, and it turned me into a psycho and I almost lost my job. But when I cut the dose in half and was taking Oxcarbazepine, my mental health improved as did my energy levels (this is when I was running three times a week and cycling to and from work). Anyway, I have an appointment coming up. Again, I’ll be in control!

So anyhoooooooo, the weekend was Easter Bank Holiday, therefore I wanted to party. I found a Lesbian bar in Soho called “She Bar” – this was a my first time at a Lesbian bar… and I LOVED IT!!! My outfit was a little over the top – my girlfriend described it as a wedding dress:

 

LOL!

Perhaps I see it as a metaphor for moving into a new period of my life, a healthier, happier, energetic period. It was also freeing to be around other women like me, with no idiot men in the way trying it on and just having a little boogie.

On Wednesday, I went to my first meet up with the Lesbians of Colour Book Club. LOVED IT! I’ve always felt more of an affinity with older women: they don’t take bullshit and I don’t like to deal with bullshit, therefore my lasting friendships have always been with older women (my surrogate mum, my mentor from The Open Uni). So when I saw that the majority of the women in attendance were older women, my heart soared. The book of conversation was Sweetheart Sputnik by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Awful book. A typical male author writing about women and their lesbian relationship:

Epic fail. However, the conversation as we savagely ripped it to shreds was intellectually stimulating and chucklesome. Afterwards, we went out for dinner and made plans to meet up next week for a social get-together, which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve also been listening to the Mostly Lit podcast, to gather some inspiration for books to recommend for reading, as everything I’m reading at the moment is pretty heavy (Black British History, Civil Rights, Mental Health, or Medical Apartheid… yep, pretty heavy!)

Then yesterday, I went to my first Yoga class in about two or three years. The school is called Mindful Movements and they’re based in the Islington Arts Factory. Yesterday evening was a dynamic candle light drop-in session, which I found through the “Meet Up” app (also how I found out about the Book Club actually); it was the candle light aspect that enticed me, regardless of the warning that although beginners were welcome, the session was pretty dynamic. And intense it was! Like I said, this was my first class in two or three years; I’ve just reclaimed my energy; Don’t forget that last year I was bedridden! However, I made it through the session and I am incredibly proud of myself. It was breathtakingly spiritual, which is one side of Yoga I always used to find uncomfortable, however as I engage more and more with spirituality, Buddhism and meditation (I’m actually going to my second meditation class next weekend, also found through the Meet Up app), it’s definitely something I’m embracing as part of an exercise regime. The featured image for this blog piece is a photo of myself and the session instructor Hana Saotome, who was so welcoming and encouraging! And I didn’t even get an uber home!

Other than that, I’ve been working on my MSc, arguing in the discussion forum. For some reason in this class, I seem to be the only person who believes that Freud is not only racist but sexist. In my last class, all of the women hated him, however in this class the women seem to think the sun shines out of his bum bum, even though he clearly hated women. One of the women in the Book Club asked me:

“Don’t you want to just do what you need to do, agree with everything the Professor says, get the grades and get out of there?”

I told her no way. I can’t do that. I’ve never been that kind of person, and I’m not about to change now. She admired me for that.

XOXO

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

What’s With Lore???

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…🤔

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

A New Found Confidence

I’m currently working on a Research Project on invisible disabilities, particularly discrimination and disability hierarchy theory (which off the top of my head I can’t remember who came up with, but the research behind the theory proves that society shows more empathy towards visible disabilities). 

I had a seizure on Sunday afternoon and therefore spent the rest of the day in bed recovering. It’s now 5.17am on Monday morning and instead of sleeping, I’m wide awake because I spent the day sleeping off the post-seizure migraine.

A LOT has happened this weekend – too much for me to get into right now – to trigger that seizure, because of society’s ignorance, causing me to feel like I’m not wanted. So when I saw this quote, I just had to share:

Quite frankly, I do not give a damn what you think, or whether or not you believe I’m sick because “I don’t look it”. 

It’s not my job to fix your stupidity. 

But one day, you will need me to complete your picture. 

Posted in Blog

Parental Rejection

http://www.spring.org.uk/2016/10/rejection-parent-personality.php

I came across this article tonight after reading on Twitter that a friend of mine had finally been rejected by her father. I say finally, because it’s been a slow, drawn out process. The rest of her family have turned their backs on her following her transition (she’s transgender) and at first, her father was the bridge of support, claimed to attempt to support, to reach out to the other party, etc., etc. But then she had fears that he was pulling away – we didn’t want to believe it, especially me, having experienced it myself, but he was acting super sketchy and no longer being as supportive as he once was. 

Then tonight, he was no longer taking her calls. He’d cut her off. 

HIS OWN DAUGHTER. 

What kind of parents have children, only to reject them? Let’s forget that we’re adults, we’re still your children. Professor Ronald, co-author of the study in the article, says that it doesn’t matter what culture, race or class you come from (surprisingly, considering we’re talking about Psychology here!) rejection from a parental figure has a significant effect upon the development of your personality. Rejected children tend to be more anxious and insecure; it also makes us aggressive and angry – who do we trust? And why should we trust people? What if you let us down? 

Rohner then goes on to say:

“Unlike physical pain, however, people can psychologically re-live the emotional pain of rejection over and over for years.”

According to the article, empirical research claims that the same parts of the brain activated for physical pain, are also activated for emotional pain. 

There are still days when I can’t breathe because the pain of separation is unbearable. 

I’m also finally coming to terms with being an orphan, because I never thought of my father rejecting me before. I’ve never had to deal with him walking out because I’ve always been so consumed with my mother’s failings, which the article discusses. 

Why do people even bother to have children? 

I’m sorry that this isn’t an uplifting post; I just can’t even…

I spent three days in bed with a post-stictal migraine, feeling like I’d had a stroke and not knowing what was going on, not knowing who I am, barely able to speak and the only thing I was sure of was that my parents didn’t love me. Because I get to relive that over and over again, especially when I’m too sick to escape my insecurities.