Posted in Blog

Epilepsy & Periods

I have a gynaecology appointment tomorrow and it’s suddenly dawned on me, I could find out I might have another condition.

I’ve suffered from seriously painful periods for years, but I’ve always just dealt with them. Within the Black community, as women we always do; many of us have severe heavy periods, that come with paralysing back pain and cramps, and because generations of women before us suffered we suffer too. Furthermore, as teenagers, visits to GPs are not even rewarded with a prescription for anything stronger than paracetamol. One of my best friends waited until her twenties to go and see a GP about her heavy periods and just suffered in silence through her teens.

As soon as I turned 18, I went on the contraceptive pill – not only because I had become sexually active, but also to help battle my period demon. And it worked – the combined pill made my periods lighter, however it made my depression worse. Thankfully, I was switched over to Cerazette, a progestogen-only pill, but this took years of negotiation with my GP, while simultaneous back-and-forthing regarding my depression and undiagnosed Epilepsy. Finally not having a period was a weight off my shoulders and when I went travelling, I changed over to an implant to ensure that I could continue to stay period free while on my travels.

The problem with Epilepsy is AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) is that some of them conflict with contraceptives which contain hormones. Unfortunately, Keppra conflicted with my implant and I had to have it removed. I now have an IUD (non-hormone) coil, which means that I have horribly painful periods again – including sleepless nights. This provoked me to go back to the GP and demand a referral to gynaecology, because I could no longer live in agony. It took a lot of persuasion, but eventually I got a referral, however can you imagine a GP questioning a thirty year old (at the time I was still thirty) woman about her own body? And I don’t mean questioning in the sense of a tick box of symptoms, but gaslighting, to deter us from having to make these costly referrals.

There was an article in Black Ballad over the summer, however I can no longer find it regarding Black women and periods. We are made to suffer, because we’re perceived by white clinicians as strong and robust, therefore when we come into their rooms with our ailments, they don’t believe us, which has detrimental impacts upon our bodies as well as our mental health.

As somebody with Epilepsy, I shouldn’t have been gaslighted.

As somebody with Epilepsy, I shouldn’t have had to wait since FEBRUARY to have my gynaecological issues sorted out, when they have an impact on my seizures.

I could have another condition.

As a young Black woman, I shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed to ask for help to manage them.

XOXO

 

P.S. I actually thought this was really funny considering how much I hate periods:

Life on Your Period(Image source)

XOXO

Posted in Poetry

Our Love is Wrong

My pride is strong, 

But not as strong as these chains

From my past that bind me,

Which is why I feel wrong,



Wrong for you because

Your past is pure like spring.

There are not storms for you,

Which is why we must pause



Our love. My pride is strong,

But my will is weak. When I see you,

I can't imagine loving another.

Even though for you, I'm wrong.
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

Label #3: Racist

“I’m a realist, I’m a romantic, I’m an indecisive piece of….” – I’m a Realist (The Cribs)

 

“She looked out into the quiet, sunny streets, and for the first time in her life, she hated it all – the white city, the white world. She could not, that day, think of one decent white person in the whole world” (p.201)

Go Tell It On The Mountain – James Baldwin

 

When I was suspended, I began to hate all white people.

 

My partner is white, I have white friends, so I’m not a racist.

 

That’s what all racist people say, right? We all know one person of the opposite colour to us, so that makes us safe. Not racist, right?

Hmmm

 

But see, I’d grown up around white folk, and ingratiated myself into white society, to the point where I actually identified myself more as a white person, than a person of colour. Every school we’d attended as kids, my sister and I had been the only kids of colour.

 

We didn’t know how to be black.

 

When we moved to London when I was ten years old, and again when I was in my late twenties, black people could see how much I stood out, like a cut open coconut in a crowd of a closed bunch.  

 

I don’t even talk like a black person; so many people have told me that I sound “white” on the phone. I remember the first time I heard myself actually: when I returned home from my travels in South East Asia and Australia; my mum had kept all of my insanely long diary-entry style answer phone messages, which I listened to. Listening to those messages, it didn’t sound like I was listening to Posh Spice.

Posh Spice

 

Most of the people I idolised growing up were white: Ian Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Harry, Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood, Phil Collins, Kurt Cobain…

 

I was only attracted to white boys as an adolescent, even when I was faced with rejection. I’d just move onto the next one. It never dawned on me that their rejection could be because of the colour of my skin, or that a boy welcoming me into his bed was down to racial fetish only, and not because he actually fancied me.

 

At the school, during my teacher training, I think I was so shocked at the racism, because I really thought that I was one of them, regardless of the microaggressions. At every microaggression, I was in denial; I was so desperate to become a teacher I chose to ignore every single one anyway, until it was too late. And then in the dark haze of my depression, it became so arduous to separate the good from the evil – so I made it simple: black became good and white evil.

 

Black was good, because of my friends, my extended family and “Black Twitter”, which became my safe haven, as well as my source of black education as I became woke.

 

White was bad, because of the school, and the university. And the world.

 

What did this mean for my relationship?

 

… Confusion… Heartache. 

 

… I also have white people in my extended family – I’ve known them for my entire life….

 

… I have white friends who have stood by me, stuck out their necks for me…

 

… Come on ,Cece…

 

…They’re not all evil…

 

… You know this…

 

… Not all whites are white supremacists Cece….

 

See, this may all sound crazy to you. But ALL OF THIS WAS GOING ON IN MY HEAD. 

 

Why shouldn’t this be easy for me? You might be thinking?

But not only was I heartbroken, my soul was destroyed, my dreams were crushed; my mental state was obliterated.

I’ve recently finished reading James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain, and he describes poignantly, how in heartbreak,  even after the heart has healed a soul can be left behind:

“Men spoke of how the heart broke up, but none spoke of how the soul hung speechless in the pause, the void, the terror between the living and the dead;… the soul remembered, the heart sometimes forgot… Only the soul, obsessed with the journey it had made, and had still to make, pursued it’s mysterious and dreadful end; and carried, heavy with weeping and bitterness, the heart along. (p.203)”

 

This book was published in 1953, and I’d never had anybody describe my current condition so perfectly.

 

I was confused about my sudden aversion to white people, yet simultaneously it felt like I was thinking clearly for the first time in my life, because for years I’d been on the wrong side. I started listening exclusively to everything I could get my hands on, by Kendrick Lamar and channeling my anger through HIM, because that was the only way I could understand it. I was cry and shout in the shower to his lyrics. 

I started exclusively reading black literature, not only to understand my culture, but to also attempt to understand why white people hated me so much. Maya Angelou and James Baldwin became my surrogate grandparents.

 

I argue with white people on social media (I jest to my partner that it’s now my new full-time job), it seems now on a daily basis, who lack simple empathy, sympathy. I went to the same schools as these people, therefore I’m now beginning to deduce that racism is an upbringing issue. I would be friends with kids who were “safe” in school, but at home around their families or “other” friends, it was a completely different story. Anything goes. And now that we have social media, it’s a million times worse.

 

I’m now in a healthier state of mind, where I love and trust everybody in my life, regardless of the colour of their skin, because this learning process has truly has been a screening process of sorts.

After what I’ve been through, I’m now always going to be suspicious of every new white person I meet, and that makes me racist to you.

I don’t apologise for that.

There is no human race; we are not one human race. People who say that they do no see colour are liars/ in denial and need to wake up. We are divided and were born that way, I’ve seen that now. Up until these past few months, I really believed that my  affluent upbringing and accent, my education, my British passport and my love of indie music bought my a ticket into “white culture”. I was wrong. It means nothing to you. 

And that’s okay, because I’ve found a new dream so my heart will mend, but my soul will forever be bruised and battered by the whips and lashes and beatings it has taken – and will continue to take in this country because of the colour of my skin.

But I’m not going anywhere.

And again I won’t apologise.

I’m proud of my past, my present and now my future.

If being proud of me makes me racist, then hear me again: I won’t apologise. 

JB Black and Proud

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?