Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Heroes (Mental Health)

Tonight I want to talk about role models.

 

With the “collapse of Hollywood” amongst the sex scandals, it’s occurred to me that I’ve placed a HUGE amount of heroism and idolism into mere humans, who I once used to see as so much more than humans: Alfred Hitchcock was the reason I decided to study film, and why I place so much value in it as an artform, even to this day. Orson Welles, David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola….

 

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to take notice of women in Hollywood, and I suppose this was because previously, I had been looking for a father-figure – somebody to look up to.

 

My sister and I found that in the actor Tom Hanks. Even in his younger roles like Big and Bachelor Party, we still saw the “dad” we needed in him, and the older he got, the more drawn we were to him. It never seemed to occur to us that we were drawn to his characters and not him as a person. However, the way he handled the difficult situation with his son Colin only fuelled the fantasy, and again it never occurred to me that this might have all been a PR spin in order to protect his reputation.

 

So imagine my heartbreak when I saw Tom Hanks’ name trending on Twitter alongside Matt Damon’s earlier a couple of weeks ago. We all know how Matt Damon feels about sexual harassment, so when I saw that name trending, my heart immediately sank because I knew that it couldn’t be good news… and it wasn’t.

 

I found a link of Tom Hanks being interviewed on CNN (which appears to have been removed now), “mansplaining” assault, and claiming to not have known anything about Weinstein’s alleged behaviour, however the way in which he places emphasises on the word “alleged” is incredibly shady. In another interview for the Metro newspaper, he then criticises Netflix’s decision to drop Kevin Spacey and claims that the company will go bust if they continue to act upon accusations.

 

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=newssearch&cd=11&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjXm9CO9JbYAhUoI8AKHTcCDJc4ChCpAggmKAAwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmetro.co.uk%2F2017%2F12%2F13%2Ftom-hanks-calls-patience-judging-alleged-hollywood-abusers-7155153%2F&usg=AOvVaw3078wNtH8Xb2UE8fmt1a4K

 

My partner and I have spoken about the fact that I place too high expectations upon people, that I expect people to be perfect, which is why I’m always let down. But I constantly dispute this.

I just expect people to have fucking morals, and to treat people the way that they would expect to be treated.

 

And I also place my trust in the wrong people…. Parents…. Siblings….. Male celebrities…..Maybe just the human race in general….

-what-meme-41709

 

However, if you place your trust in the right people, you can then trust yourself and your own judgement. This is partly what your formation years are for, and how you then become a “mentally stable adult” who perhaps doesn’t place their trust in arsehole rapist sexual predator men, but in themselves.

Now if you look at my Twitter account, it’s full of Females, not only because I’m gay, but also because when you support the right people, you get “fed the right food”…

 

Ava DuVernay – Black, female director and activist who is incredibly artistic and has the biggest heart for Black females. I look up to her like the big sister I never had.  

Kelechi Okafor –  Black, female actress and founder of her own Fitness Studio, who daily inspires me with her activism. I actually discovered her when I was first suspended and would just spend my days stalking her on Twitter (LOL). I eventually got to meet her at the end of the summer, to tell her what a profound effect she’d had on mental health. She also taught me to speak up for myself; after spending nine months in an institution, surrounded by white people where I was forced to keep silent, I’d lost my voice and Kelechi’s tweets taught me how to speak again.

Tobi Oredein – Black, female journalist, who created Black Ballad as a platform for talented Black journalists to be published and be paid for it. I’d never seen this before I encountered Tobi on social media. And to know Tobi, is to understand her passion for Black, talented people and their struggle in the creative world, because it’s a fucking struggle to be heard. Black Ballad is so beautiful and full of such inspiration.

Izin Akhabau – Black, female journalist and was the youngest ever reporter for BBC News. Izin has been by my side virtually all summer. At first, we became connected because she wanted me to write a piece for her, however we became close during my mental breakdown and she came through for me BIG TIME. She’s also writes for Black Ballad and is starting her own online platform, so keep your eyes peeled.

Terry Crews – actor and recent activist for sexual harassment in Hollywood. I’m so glad I no longer know him from just being this dude from the “White Chicks” movie (which is awful by the way, don’t even get me started), to being the Big Black Man who started a wave in Hollywood. LEGEND. 
All of these people in their own ways, have taught me to be myself.

Self Care

I made a decision that I was going to subscribe to a magazine, and after “shopping around” for a few months, I made the decision to go with Pride and I’m so happy I did: their features on hair, music (I have a new separate playlist just from new acts I’ve discovered from Pride Magazine alone!), current Black culture etc is so fulfilling.

It’s great to just read in the bath when I need a break from social media, Netflix or studying.

It’s funny, I was talking to my best friend about the “Tom Hanks situation” and it seems I’m not the only person within the Black community to be disappointed in him and it’s because we gave him a seat at the table, as an honorary black man, which is so true. My sister and I definitely used to see him as black dad. But in retrospect, how could we all have been so foolish? He could never empathise with us as a “dad” if he’s not the same skin colour – it’s sad but it’s true.

When I messaged Tobi an appreciation message before the end of the year, in her reply she explained that Black Ballad had come from a time of brokenness for her, where she herself had lost dreams and friends, and this came from a place where she could empathise with my struggle because as a young Black female, she knows what it’s like to be hurt over and over again, not only by the people you look up to, but also by the people you trust.

XOXO

Posted in Blog

Bitch, I Ain’t Fat!

If you remember on Thursday, the reason why I decided to treat myself to some new make up was because I had such an awful day. It began with the trolls on Twitter, followed by a New Patient Healthcheck with the Practice Nurse at my new GP Surgery.

I hate these appointments; I hate throwing shade at Practice Nurses because I’ve worked at GP Surgeries and I’ve worked, with some highly qualified and educated Nurses. However, the ones who work in the surgeries I’m always registered, at always seem to be dumb and prejudiced towards Epilepsy and people of colour.

My appointment was at 11am – I stupidly rolled out of bed and straight into the Surgery, without having anything to eat even though the week before, my partner had told me that he had had to wait over half an hour for his own appointment because the same nurse was running late. I ended up waiting over half an hour. The receptionist apologetically informed me that the nurse had struggled with some baby immunisations earlier in the morning.

The nurse finally called me almost forty minutes after my appointment time, offering no apology for running late. Then she saw a patient she knew and left me in her room to take this other patient to another room. I could hear them chatting, she was offering him a newspaper to make him more comfortable while he waited. I even heard her offering to make him a cup of tea! All while I was standing in her doorway, waiting for her. By this point I was furious and close to passing out.

The Nurse finally returned, still didn’t apologise but came in and sat straight down. I informed her that I she was running late, she had offered no apology, that I had Epilepsy, had not eaten and was extremely upset. Instead of apologising, she replied: “oh were you told to fast? You didn’t need to”. I then informed her that my medication makes it did difficult to wake in the mornings and that it also makes me sick, however that doesn’t excuse her lateness. She then told me that I could cancel (!) At this point, I’m ready to smack her, just apologise! And get on with the appointment. I had to explain to her that this was my second attempt to see her, as the last time I booked an appointment, I had a seizure and was rudely told by the receptionist that if I miss another New Patient Healthcheck I won’t be registered with the Surgery.

She then apologised.

Now, the reason why I keep making a big deal about her failure to apologise straightaway, is because when I told my partner (who is white, and so is the Nurse) what happened , he told me that the Nurse apologised straightaway and couldn’t apologise enough.

Yet I had to beg for mine. Because I’m Black, right?

She then took my height, weight and blood pressure.

She didn’t say anything about my weight, but I knew a lecture was coming…..

She told me that my blood pressure was high – no shit. We’ve just been arguing! However, she tried to convince me that I had high blood pressure because “people like you do”. And there we go, health professionals making assumptions. Instead of taking into account the fact that she had kept me waiting for over 30 minutes for an appointment, without any food and then provoked me into an argument, she instead diagnosed me as having a high blood pressure problem. She ordered me to come back and see her in two weeks time. I immediately refused and ordered her to read through my medical file, to which she will find that I have never had a high blood pressure issue.

Lion

(Image source)

Which of course was confirmed in my records.

As for my Epilepsy, she told me that she has a patient who also has Epilepsy and can talk themselves out of their seizures. I told her that was a lie, and I am under the care of a great team. She disregarded that, and recommended that I try Tai Chi for my seizures, “just like her patient who can talk herself out of her seizures”. 

As people of colour, we need to educate ourselves. This same dumb woman who is telling me this shit about my epilepsy, was also trying to diagnose me with a blood pressure condition I know for a fact that I don’t have and also told me that I have a weight problem.

I’m not skinny, but I’m not fucking obese either. Since I had to stop working and my seizures became worse, I’m not as active as I was and I’ve noticed a little weight gain around my middle, however I’m nowhere near as heavy as I was 2 years ago.

Last year I went to see a Psychiatrist, and when I told him I was a UK size 12-14, he looked at my like I was lying, and in the clinical letter, he actually wrote that I was “clearly lying.” This was actually one of the reasons why he also believed that I was lying about having Epilepsy and therefore diagnosed me as having Borderline Personality Disorder.

Anyway, the point I’m making is  *breath* as women of colour, especially in the U.K. we need to challenge Primary Care clinicians more, because they have no idea what the fuck they are talking about, especially when it comes to our health. The BMI calculator in particularly, was not created for us! I’ve weighed my boobs and each one weighs 1.5kg! Our body fat is distributed differently in comparison to White women, which the BMI calculator doesn’t take into account. We have booty and also a higher bone density: physiologically we are completely different to the White European “ideals” that the BMI calculator was created from. When you go on the NHS Choice website to check your BMI, all you see are White women telling you how to be like them. Eurocentric standards healthcare are one of the reasons why so many women of colour have eating disorders. It was one of the reasons why I spent most of adolescent years with an undiagnosed eating disorder.

I found this great article by Linda Lowen about Black BMI, which is a great starting point. I’m definitely going to stay healthy, but I’m also going to be doing my own research.

XOXO

 

Posted in Blog

Inspirational U – Natural Care: Hair, Mind and Body

Hey! 

My second beauty blog post of the week! Well, it’s also a natural health post too.

Yesterday I went to a Natural Hair Talk, run by Inspirational U:

The panel was made of all beautiful black ladies (and one man) with natural hair, including the Editor from Natural Hair Weekly

I was so inspired (haha see what I did there) that I went out and bought some stuff online straight away. The main message was what you put into your hair should be as natural and healthy as what you put into your body. 

I’ve been really bad at looking after myself lately, but particularly with looking after my hair. I once was into healthy eating and healthy living, but only because I thought that it would help my seizures and when it didn’t I just gave up. It never occurred to me that 

(a) healthy eating can do wonders for my hair! And 

(b) I am more than my Epilepsy. Why does everything have to be about Epilepsy? Why can’t I just eat healthily because I enjoy it? 

I used to drink tonnes of water, so much so that I would dry up like a raisin if I didn’t get any and one of the women on the panel actually said that yesterday and I thought, why don’t I do that anymore? I just couldn’t be bothered to look after myself. It just became a chore.

I did used to straighten my hair obsessively when I was younger. As Black women we are told that have to look a certain way to conform, otherwise we won’t get a man, get a job. This is especially so when you grow up around white people. White boys didn’t like me with plaits, so I had to straighten my hair every day. Then at the beginning of the year I started going to the hair salon to have Keratin treatment which has done wonders to my hair’s health, however I very rarely use products in my hair. 

Another message I took away from yesterday’s talk was what you put in your hair affects your mind. What chemicals are we putting in our hair? 

Most of the products with the most harmful chemicals are directed towards the black community.

 The ladies on the panel advised us to buy things for our hair that we would either eat or use on our skin. Therefore, I bought avocado butter, castor oil and a blend of plant oils (almond, argan, macadamia, sesame, lavender, rose and ylang-ylang). All of these products I bought on Amazon 🤘🏾 

I applied the avocado butter immediately to my hair and my hands! 

My hair and hands feel lush already! (I have eczema so anything natural that I can apply to my skin too is a bonus.)

As for my body and mind, I’ll be hydrating myself too. I’m not shallow, but my looks are important to me, therefore keeping healthy and losing weight is important. Not being able to be as active as I used to be, is having an extremely negative impact upon my mental health, which is why things like looking after my hair, mind and body in little ways that I can are empowering. 

Posted in Blog

Fenty

I don’t usually do beauty posts however yesterday, I had such an awful day mentally, that I decided to finally treat myself to Rihanna’s Fenty make up range.

At £25 for foundation that actually matches your complexion, that’s not asking for much!

Fenty.jpg

I did queue outside Harvey Nicol’s in Knightsbridge for almost 2 hours in the rain though….. but do you know what? It was totes worth it.

I was telling my partner about buying make up as a teenager from Afro-Caribbean hairshops in Peckham, South-East London and how you dare not touch your face because that stuff would transfer onto your hands and then onto your exercise book. Plus my complexion is an in-betweeny colour – I’m neither light-light-skinned, nor dark-skinned, therefore I could never get the right shade to match my skin. And forget about buying anything in Superdrug or Boots, because the high street only sell make up for Lady Casper and her friends.

So I’d never had the whole make up experience before either, until yesterday.

The girl sat me on the stool and tried three different shades and the third one was the hit, and it was like rubbing chocolate onto my skin…. beautiful.

They didn’t have the shade in stock for the Pro Filt’r soft matte Foundation, so I just took down the shade number and bought it online when I got home. But before I left, my eye caught the Match Stix Matte Skinstick concealer. So, I’ve never tried concealer either, because again, I’ve never found concealer in a shade darker than a milky bar LOL. Until yesterday. The girl took this stick, rubbed it under my eye and it was like magic. As you can see from the picture below, the coverage is immaculate:

IMG_20170921_205714

So I bought that and some Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer. And when I got home, I also bought some Killawatte Freestyle highlighter (blusher).

Over the last year I’ve barely worn make up and I know some girls of colour who like me, have just kind of given up on make up. However, when we knew Fenty was coming out we just had to get behind it because this is the first time anybody has done anything for us. There was a girl in the queue in front of me who said to me: “it’s weird how she’s done so many shades right?” My reply: “that’s because it’s needed!” Desperately needed! The girl was white Columbian so she didn’t get it. In the queue with us were so many young girls! I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be valued like that in your teens. I cannot tell you how shitty it felt to have to make up your own colour of foundation for so many years, because there just wasn’t any thing on the market for you. Boots No7 came close – that’s the last foundation I bought 2 years ago, however even that was too dark for my complexion.

Yesterday was glorious, to look in the mirror, and finally see my melanin face made up how it should be.

Rihanna has created a brand for us and shown us that we are valued and appreciated, because black is fucking beautiful baby. Finally.

Thank you.

XOXO

Posted in Blog

A Time To Be Alive… Making It to Interpol

On Friday evening I went to see Interpol at Alexandra Palace. 

Apart from the fact that I could barely lift my arms, (I’m still suffering from muscle weakness in my upper body), you couldn’t tell that months ago I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed. 

Interpol are one of my favourite bands of all time and back in June/ July, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be alive to see them. I’d bought the tickets to see them last year you see, before any of my major health issues had begun.

Yet on Friday, I danced like I didn’t have a care in the world 💜

Posted in Blog

Social Media: Let’s Get Personal

This is going to be a VERY angry post. After my last post on mental health, I had some negative feedback on my personal Facebook page from somebody I know. We came to blows and after her comments, I had to block her.

 

People were comfortable when I was only sharing posts of me smiling, because that’s what social media’s about right?

 

Putting on a show for one another’s amusement.

 

We tell each other what we had for breakfast; we post pictures of our cute little dogs; we check in on our trips to Ikea (I actually did that yesterday haha), and the sad posts are okay as long as they’re temporary. People don’t care about our pain if it doesn’t have a sell-by-date, and I’m sorry but that’s the truth.

 

Since I’ve become sick, lost my job and become more outspoken about race, more and more people on my personal Facebook page have criticised me for “moaning” on their newsfeeds. This is regardless of balance too – I’ve shared the positive and the negative. 

 

How dare you tell me what to share about my life?

How dare you tell me what to post on my own Facebook page?

I have to scroll past your trash whenever I log onto Facebook, while I’m lying in bed crippled after a seizure or depression. Or both.

And by the way, thanks for fucking asking if I’m okay.

If you don’t like what I’m saying, scroll the fuck on bitch.

Eye Roll

Talking to a close friend about this, and taking her advice, I had to come to the decision that I’ll no longer to posting my blog to my personal Facebook page. And that’s tragic, because it appears that I’m now writing to the world and not my home. However, it protects my mental health, and it reduces stress, which will hopefully reduce seizures (by the way, my Zonisamide has been increased, I’m not fucking happy. 500mg, on top of the Keppra, AND anti-depressants???? For fuck’s sake. But of course, people on Facebook are sooooooooooooooooooooooo tired of hearing me moan about my fucking epilepsy because it hasn’t gone away yet).

Every day shows me who my enemies are; I already know who cares, I need to focus on that.

Furthermore, haters is a sure sign of success – I’m pretty sure that somebody somewhere successful said that.

You Got It Dude

Thanks for reading guys, and I also want to take this time to thank you for your support.

XOXO

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.