Photograph: ‘Dark Days’ by Becki Burrows
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Victor E Frankl
Words cannot express the sadness I feel for those people affected by the bombing in Manchester this week. Losing your child must be one of the most horrendous things to experience in life. And to those brave children/teenagers caught up in the horrific catastrophe I am very sorry you have experienced this. My heart goes out to those directly affected. Standing together strong, proud of you Mancunians up there.
I haven’t written a blog in a long while due to health issues. But I’m feeling this is the time to get on with it again.
Last week – the drama #ThreeGirls was aired on BBC One. I had read Girl A and had spoken to the ghost writer on the phone several years ago, so was aware of the situation in Rochdale. There seems to be, currently an underlying revolution in the country in terms of survivors of sexual abuse and assault coming out with their story – whether that is in the football world or in Rochdale, I am grateful for the strength of those people (male and female) who are coming forward, breaking their silence and therefore hopefully resulting in #nostigma and #noshame for those who have suffered such trauma.
I posted a blog on my facebook the other week – with concerns to something I had written about Ian Watkins – a singer of a rock band, several years ago. I found it on an old computer that I had. I read it and thought, wow. Did I really write that? So I posted it online.
Initially I felt empowered. But several hours later, some horrible feelings started to arise. Fear of judgement. Shame and all those horrible, shitty feelings that personally I hate to feel. And I wanted to pull the post. (However, I needn’t have worried too much! Hardly anyone bloody read it! Ha!).
On the other hand, however, I know how condemning silence can be. How shaming it is. And who it really serves. When one has had to be silent for most of one’s childhood and consistently conscious of others feelings instead of one’s own, then I guess speaking out, for me – and distancing the experience from one’s self (and I can only talk for myself) – well, that has been pretty important. For me. Because if it wasn’t my fault then it really shouldn’t matter that I write about it (and it wasn’t I was a kid). And it is as one indie musician told me once – ‘today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper’ and as it sinks into the background on my timeline on Facebook it is just that. (I have posted in on my blog as an example: here it is if you should wish to read it: http://www.ohdearyme.com/2017/05/blog-threegirls-csa-survivor/ )
The terrorist act in Manchester exemplifies how one fucked up individual can destroy and take away and affect so many people’s lives. Forever. Regardless of how one might heal from this. It will always be there. I have, personally, had a pretty hard time navigating through the mental health services in this country. (I’m certainly not comparing what I’ve been through to the horror of the bombing – I’m simply writing from my own experience).
Having been diagnosed with Complex PTSD, OCD and anxiety – I’m only just understanding the trauma, how it affects/has affected me. Personally I feel that there is not much help for PTSD for abuse survivors in the UK, and I have no idea what is out there for those who have suffered a bombing attack. Or how prepared we are, as a community or a country to deal with such after effects of such horrific trauma. I can only say I really hope that instant access to help and therapy is available to those who need it. We all react differently to situations – and that has to be understood. As Marina and The Diamonds sings ‘ I am not a robot’.
We only have today, none of us know what might happen tomorrow. And we all have our own problems. However complex or uncomplex (is that a word? Not sure it is) they might be. Community and being held by the community I feel from personal experience is imperative. We have such a (stupid/annoying) class divide in the UK which, after a stint of living in South Korea, is ever more clear to me (it is far more equal there – ask a child to draw a picture of their apartment block and they all draw the same picture – regardless of how much money their parents have, and I never saw a homeless person there, homelessness might exist however, and I’m not hinting at brushing it under the carpet).
It is as the taxi driver the other day said to me when.. (in the words of Lily Allen) ‘I was struggling with bags from Tescos’ – ‘it’s easy to be cynical based on a few people of a certain class’. But, I feel it’s about time that we all start to rise above all that bullshit – and start to work together just that little bit more (very impressed with the Royals: Prince Harry and William and their talks on mentalhealth – love them!).
I have a lot more to say about about these topics. Notably about after effects of sexual abuse and the stuff no one tells you. But that is for another time.
This week – I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. In my legs. I’m only 36. I was training for a half marathon last year – and one day just couldn’t run anymore. After an MRI and lots of blood tests etc it looks like running and hiking is out. For how long I don’t know. Some days I struggle to walk long distances, so am looking at scooters to skate along on. Thank god they’re kinda in fashion! Not that, that matters.. ahem, it’s just I’d feel like a bit of a wally sticking out like a sore thumb on one of those. Zooming along. On my own.
I have however, lost more weight by following a strictish healthier diet and swimming, than I did by running etc and now find myself at a size 10 (I was a size 18/20 in my earlier youth – so this is a pretty big deal for me – my ‘biological father was very abusive with food – insert expletive).
The main thing I’ve noticed, living in London, is that because I am youngish, when I’m struggling on the tube etc no one ever offers a seat. I have thought occassionally about stuffing a cushion up my t-shirt so someone might offer. Ha. But it’s just terribly embarrassing to have to ask. I’d rather just stand there in pain. So English no?…
TO SUM UP: What I’m trying to get at.. is..we move pretty fast in this capital city of ours – pushing, whacking, and sliding past each other. Sometimes in life. Just got to take five. I have come to realise, after having experienced the darkness – of isolation, loneliness and all that horrible stuff, when I was struggling, really quite badly with Post Traumatic Stress etc; how important it is to have a community and how connection is one of the most important things in life that we will ever experience (in my personal opinion of course).
One of my favourite thought provoking books – is ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’. In fact I bought everyone a copy for Xmas – but gawd knows if they read it. It helped me when I felt like I was sinking, in my darkest times:
Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.
All the best, and to all those suffering or struggling right now. You’re in my thoughts and in my prayers. #prayformanchester #standtogether
And for all those people who lost their lives. Forever in our hearts.