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

Sisters

When things began to fall apart in my career and my personal relationships, I decided that I wanted to seek out new friendships but I was mindful about what type of person I was looking for.

As a disabled person of colour, I’m a double negative minority and the people I was surrounding myself with were not getting that, which was why we were falling out.


I needed sisters of colour around me.


There were actually some sisters that I already knew and I just drew closer to them. They saw me hurting and didn’t even wait for me to come, they just reached out and rang; For example one of them, I hadn’t even seen or spoken to in seven years, reached out on social media after seeing everything I’d been through. When we finally spoke on the phone the other day it was like we’d been talking every day! We’re making plans to meet up soon and we’ve been keeping in touch on WhatsApp.

One sister, I call my little sister. She has been with me through thick and thin. We’ve known each other for years; she was there through the heartache with my family. We started Teacher Training together and we were supposed to make it to the finish line together. She stood by me while my childhood best friend disappeared and I continued to cheer her on regardless of my own situation. Now she’s an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) and we talk on the phone for hours about my woke-ness (she prayed for it!) most weekends and I listen to her tales of teaching teenagers (which I surprisingly don’t miss! LOL). She bought her first car this weekend and I am SO PROUD of her. I can’t drive, you’d think I’d be jel right? Heck no! She saved up for the car, bought it herself ❤️


And then there’s my Bumble Bestie; I just cannot believe I met a sister through a frickin’ app! And one I have so much in common with! Music, art, film, fashion, politics. We’re both in interracial relationships, therefore we both understand the struggles of becoming woke after falling in love and therefore the emotional battle of being constant educators; We both also had very similar traumatic childhoods, almost parallel. I do not think I could longer go a day without talking to her.


I’ve realised that in life, you really do need friends that you can connect with and relate to. It means so much for your self-concept. Before, I was so lonely that I would surround myself with anybody and I would call these people my best friends but they didn’t know me. They didn’t know when I was really happy, sad or really suffering.


Now I have friends I can go to when I’m feeling suicidal because I’ve had multiple focal onset seizures all afternoon and can’t get out of bed.

Or when my partner has accidentally said dumb shit about structural racism and thinks I’m overreacting to his comments.

Or when I’ve been able to go for a jog for the first time in a year.

All of my sisters are with me for all of my seasons. 


Posted in Blog

The Social and Cultural Construction of Psychology: The Cultural Definition of Normality

 

Some specific aspects of politics and economy play an important role in the shaping of psychology – as in any other aspect of our life – and sometimes pose ethical challenges for practitioners. That is the case of the so-called managed care, of growing importance in the last decades in countries like the United States. The name refers to a set of techniques intended to reduce the cost and improve the quality of health benefits – which in practice promotes short, routinised and cheap mental health treatments. Treatment goals are often limited to superficial improvements, and drugs are used as a quick solution instead of in-depth longer-term therapy.

Managed care sometimes brings ethical dilemmas to psychologists participating in the system, such as breaches of confidentiality or ‘gag’ rules that limit what therapists are permitted to say to their clients about treatment options.

Pills

This issue is not too different from the growing intrusion of drug companies in the field of mental health. Expensive effort to market their products lead people to hold falsely optimistic expectations, encouraging them to take medication for minor difficulties, promoting the idea that most psychological problems are caused by brain or bodily malfunctions, and fostering a medicalised view of mental health that may discourage people from investing effort and time in psychotherapy.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the object of a strong controversy in this regard. The DSM is the most commonly used compendium of diagnostic categories for mental problems. By categorising and naming psychological difficulties, the DSM has considerable benefits for clinical practice and research: it permits the accumulation and synthesis of knowledge and experience, and provides professionals with a common language. As Mary Wylie indicated in 1995, the DSM is the official lingua franca of the mental health establishment. It not only influences diagnostic and treatment decisions, but it has also important legal, educational, institutional and monetary implications.

But many argue that the DSM not only reflects the social prejudices of the predominantly White, male, etc., persons responsible for its writing and update, but also strong economic pressures – mostly from the pharmaceutic industry. Its critics argue that this is evident in the manual’s growing emphasis on possible biological and heritable aspects, in the fact that psychiatric conditions are defined by a list of symptoms that mimic the style of biomedical diagnostic categories, and even in the terms utilised (disease, symptom, patient, syndrome, relapse). With huge fortunes at the stake, some wonder whether this is not part of a movement to definitely medicalise mental health.

It is obvious that psychologists’ ideas of normality of abnormality – as reflected in the DSM and other diagnostic criteria – do influence their diagnosis, the goals that they set for their clients and the options of treatment. But there are enormous social, cultural and historical variations in what is considered as normal or abnormal. Cultural differences can easily mislead interpretations of behaviour, resulting in over- or under– diagnosis.

If you tell your practitioner that you hear a recently dead relative speaking to you, and that you also speak to that person, you are a serious candidate to be diagnosed with some mental illness. Unless, of course, you belong to one of the several cultures where deceased members of the family are expected to communicate with their living relatives shortly after they pass away – as a sort of late goodbye in their departure from this world. Hearing dead people speaking is no cause of alarm for them.

Does it mean that the Western concept of normality does not apply to other cultures? You should be able to answer this question by now.

The growing number of diagnostic categories in the successive editions of the DSM also reflects a worrisome reality – that more and more behaviours formerly regarded as eccentricities, sins, crimes or ordinary life worries are being regarded as diseases or ‘conditions’. Restless children like Elvis Presley, John Lennon or John Fitzgerald Kennedy would today be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – just to mention an example.

Crying Patient

The proliferation of diagnoses also contributes to what has been called ‘the diffusion of deficit’, or tendency to label everyday obstacles, shortcomings and disappointments as pathological – and diminishes our control on our own personal life, putting it under increasing scrutiny and regulation by socially sanctioned experts.

In some instances, the new diagnostic categories may be more related to social issues than to actual mental disorders. In 1993, Leslie Camhi published an interesting article where she argued that the diagnosis of kleptomania originated in parallel with the invention of large department stores. Shoppers of all social class stole – particularly women – but the authorities tended to consider lower- class women who stole as thieves, whereas upper-class women’s theft was rather explained as a mental illness – thus preserving their moral superiority.

Perhaps even more revealing is the proposal in 1851 by the American physician Samuel Cartwright, of the diagnostic category of drapetomania.

He argued that this was a mental illness in Black slaves that provoked an irresistible urge to run away from captivity. The treatment of slaves as equals by their masters was presented as the cause of this presumed illness, which could be cured with ‘proper medical advice’ and removing both big toes to make physical running impossible. But of course, drapetomania could be prevented if, following Dr. Cartwright’s advice, the devil was whipped out of the slave at the first sign of dissatisfaction.

Another well-known instance of socially tinted diagnosis proved that Sigmund Freud’s ideas were also the product of his era and social context. Dora was a teenager from Vienna who presented persistent cough and frequent headaches, and who complained of the sexual advances that a respectable adult friend of his father, Herr K., made on her. Analysing the case from his patriarchal perspective, Freud assumed that any girl would appreciate the attentions of a man in the position of Herr K. and concluded that Dora’s cough and headaches were hysterical symptoms of her disguised sexual desires for him. Dora then decided to quit therapy, which drove Freud to enrich his diagnosis with the additional labels of disagreeable, untruthful and vengeful. But shocking as the case is, we must not be surprised that mental health conceptions reflect not just the knowledge, but also the values of each era. As Jeanne Marecek and Rachel Hare-Mustin highlight, at the end of the 19th century many women were considered as afflicted by a mental disorder then called neurasthenia, a condition that combined aspects of what today might be labelled chronic fatigue syndrome, premenstrual syndrome and depression. One acclaimed treatment involved compulsory bed rest, the forced deprivation of mental stimulation, isolation from adult company and constant heavy feeding, leading to weight gains of 25 kilograms or more.

References

Camhi, L. (1993). Stealing Femininity: Department Store Kleptomania as Sexual Disorder. Differences 5(1), 26-50.
Cartwright, S. A. (1851). Report on the Diseases and Physical Peculiarities of the Negro Race. The New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, May, 691-715. Retrieved from Google Books: https://books.qooqle.co.uk/books?id=ofMcAAAAIAAJ&redir esc=v
Marecek, J., & Hare-Mustin, R. T. (2009). Clinical psychology: The politics of madness. In D. Fox, I. Prilleltensky, & S. Austin (Eds.), Critical psychology: An introduction (2nd ed., pp. 75-92). London: Sage.
Wylie, M. S. (1995). The power of DSM-IV: Diagnosing for dollars. Family Therapy Networker, 19(3), 22-32.

 

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Posted in Blog

Label #4: Mental

I was going to vlog yesterday, but then I watched Sinead O’Connor’s desperate video and became far too emotional.

 

And then I had a couple of seizures.

 

Sinead’s video resonated with me for two reasons:

  1. because you rarely hear celebrities speak so publicly about their pain, IN THE HOUR OF THEIR PAIN.    
  2. because her story is so aligned with mine. Both of us have been abandoned by our families, due to our health issues. My Epilepsy diagnosis, for my family was the last straw, because for years they had dealt ((or rather, avoided dealing) with my undiagnosed mental health issues.

I was diagnosed with depression in University, however it was clear that I was unhinged way before that.

For obvious reasons.      

But I had nobody to turn to.  

Nobody to talk to.

As soon as I was eighteen, I fell into the arms of the first guy who paid me attention, and my life became a tragedy of secrecy, sex, drugs, alcohol, depression, suicide ideation and attempts, and undiagnosed seizures.

While I was away at University, it was easy to keep my problems in a box away from my family, however after graduation, a Film and Literature degree with no work experience and therefore jobless, I was forced to move back home. I would secretly drink in my room, while sobbing, not understanding what was wrong with me – both physically or mentally.

No GP would listen to me.

I couldn’t talk to my family, so this was when I started to roam the internet, to sneak out and meet guys for rendevous’. Or on nights out with friends from University, I’d hook up with random guys and go back to theirs. For meaningless sex.

At some point the GP finally prescribed me anti depressants, but I still wasn’t talking to anybody.  I wasn’t offered the option by the GP, or my family. My mother had no idea, because of her religious stance – I couldn’t speak to her. My sister just expected me to stop. If I loved her enough I would stop. Because it was that simple. She didn’t want to talk about it.

Then each time I tried to talk to my mother, she would refer me to God, who would respond to my needs.  

 

Sinead is now alone. For being mentally ill.

I was once alone too.

Yes we are a burden, but we are sick; Sinead said this in her video and I’ve said this previously myself: you wouldn’t abandon us if we had cancer. My sister wouldn’t have told me that she didn’t want to “deal with me anymore” if I’d had cancer. My mother wouldn’t have told me that it was my “fault” that I’m sick, if I had cancer.

 

Sinead wouldn’t have been alone in a motel room, crying out for help to the world, instead of surrounded by her family, if she had cancer.

 

When are we going to get real about mental health?  

 

Why do people have to die, for us to talk about it? When Chester Bennington from Linkin Park died, we promised to change our ways, but now I’m ashamed to write that when Sinead’s video went out, people were mocking her.

 

Mocking her.

 

What the FUCK is wrong with you people?

 

Again I ask, if it was somebody sick from chemo, would you mock her? Or would you commend her on her bravery instead? Because I think that she’s fucking brave. There were days after my suicide attempt, when I wanted to do it again, when I didn’t want to live, when the seizures were crippling and the black dog was seductively calling me to the grave.   

 

I’m still on a waiting list to see a personality specialist.

I’ve been waiting over six months now.

 

Thankfully I finally have a healthy family that I have carefully selected myself. They keep me going in the interim.
I hope that Sinead’s family come to value her for the diamond that she is.    

Posted in Blog

You Left Me High and Dry

When you become sick, your sickness becomes your lover, your best friend, your brother, sister – your life.

It has to.

I have to get to know my epilepsy in order to learn to live with it, I’ve realised that now, so when I became sick my priorities had to change and there are people who will stick by you in that, and others who won’t be able to.

For some insane reason, even only knowing me for ten months (TODAY IS ACTUALLY OUR TEN MONTH ANNIVERSARY BABY!!!)

Anniversary GIF.gif

– at my worst for the majority of our relationship, my partner has chosen to stick by me. There are friends who have drawn closer to me, to hold me up as if they know I’m about to fall before I even know it… amazing!

And then there are the ones on the other hand, who just don’t get it.

When my oldest friend found out that I had epilepsy, I think she was so shocked because we didn’t know. We’d grown up together and yet we hadn’t known. And then she didn’t know what to say. It was made even more difficult with her living in a different country when I was diagnosed. We went from talking everyday to sporadically and my updates would just be… well depressing, while her’s would be vague.

I remember when she got annoyed at me once while I was still living at my mum’s and I moaned about another friend leaving me to go travelling (I’d already been – I just couldn’t afford to do it again) and she snapped back:

“Not everything is about you, you’re always complaining. Just do something about it.”

I couldn’t: I was sick, but hadn’t been diagnosed yet and most of my money was going to my mum.

But since then, I’d been trying to make an conscious effort to ask her about her life, so I would get annoyed at her for being vague!

I also recall when I needed relationship advice while with my ex: I didn’t know what to do, she was happy to talk it out for hours and by the end of the conversation I’d decided that I was going to end things. However, then I spoke to him we decided to work things out and when I told my friend, she became annoyed that we’d wasted all of that time talking for nothing.

Yet I’d spent years of my time talking it out with her about her relationship and never once thrown it in her face. Until now I guess.

 

Things have been tough this year, and she hasn’t stepped up to the plate. I’ve found her flippant to my agitations – particularly when I opened up to her about work.

After opening up to her about my suicide attempt and the reasons behind it, she sent me a peculiarly flippant text afterwards, which I found upsetting and she didn’t respond.

 

That was about three weeks ago now.

 

Then last weekend I really thought that things had ended for good with my partner and I – a million things were going through my mind: I have to look for a new place because I cannot stay here, I’ve got nowhere to go, I’ve got no job (I’ll explain this fully in a later post), no money. I was beginning to feel incredibly suicidal again. At that moment I sought help from the Crisis Team who managed to talk me down from the “ledge”, however the following day I sent her and another close friend a text to let them know about me and my partner and having to find a new place urgently.

 

She never replied. She still hasn’t.

 

Perhaps she never will.

 

Thankfully I have the people around that respond, who don’t think that I’m too much of a burden to bear.

 

I’m so sick and tired to saying sorry for being sick and tired.

 

I went to see my GP yesterday and it was revealed to me that I had a psychotic episode, triggered by the abrupt withdrawal of antidepressants after my suicide attempt. For some context, I started taking these antidepressants because of my job and at the time of my suicide attempt was on the highest dose; I stopped taking them after my overdose and then after my grand mal seizure, the Psychiatrist came to visit me at home and said to me:

 

“well if you don’t think they’re working, just stop taking them”.

 

The antidepressants I was taking were extremely strong, he knew this, and as a medical professional he would’ve known what would’ve happened when I abruptly stopped taking them, which is what did happen – I became a horrible, psychotic monster. I had no idea how to differentiate between reality and fiction, my home had become my prison, every single sound was amplified to maximum. I’ve never experienced anything like it and I was so thankful that I wrote down my experiences on a piece of paper to take to my GP.

 

In the midst of this, my friend hasn’t been there.

 

Who do I blame for this one? Epilepsy, or mental health?… Or teacher training?!

Another On Bites The Dust.gif