I was perusing the #timetotalk hashtag on twitter this morning. Reading about other peoples experiences with depression – and I started to feel slightly better. When you start to understand depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain – and that actually you are indeed human. Personally I feel that helps. That one is not alone despite ones surroundings.
*Looks around – nope am definitely alone right now*. Cue Tiffany ‘I think we’re alone now…’
The problem with feelings in my opinion – is that I can tell myself how I am going to feel… but that actually never relays up. “I’m going to write this and I’m not going to feel ashamed or embarrassed about it” I whisper to myself.
Half an hour later I’m in a corner in a shame spiral.. (chk out Brene Browns ‘The Power of Vulnerability’)
2018 for me was a pretty crappy year. I was training for a half marathon a few years back. One day – I started limping. And that was that! Wear and tear of the joints took it’s toll and I couldn’t walk properly anymore.
“There’s nothing wrong with you!” my GP initially pushed. “It’s all in your head” another friend urged. Fuck you. My mind silently replied as my body screamed otherwise. Don’t listen to them..keep pushing..
And it got worse. And it got worse. And then. Out of the blue. My friend got diagnosed with stage four cancer of the oesophagus. At just 34.
“I kept going to the doctor over and over and they just kept giving me Rennie..” he told me. “I said to the nurse I don’t understand why they didn’t pick it up. She said it’s cos of my age. They don’t expect it at my age”. He passed away Sept 2018. RIP Michael.
And that was all I needed to start to freak out. I made a 20 minute at the doctors. “You can only bring one thing!” the GP always states. But what if they’re all related my mind argued back. So in my next appointment I talked really really fast determined to fit in all my issues and concerns without her cutting me off short.
No one warns you about life in your thirties. I have friends that love it. But in my opinion it kinda sucks. All your friends start dropping like fly’s – as they become impregnated. Fun friend holidays are cancelled. And in my case every guy you date assumes you want their baby… like seriously get over yourself.
“Hmmm shall we use two condoms just in case?” you smile at each other. “Let’s up it – why not make it three…of the extra strong ones”. Actually forget it might as well just use the vibrator.*Takes out the 10 incher.. *Bend over then..
The problem with social media and mental health issues in my opinion is the pressure to make out that life is perfect and that everything is going swimmingly. *Compare and watch your mind go straight to despair.*
For instance one of my best friends of over 20 years. Well in my opinion. Had the perfect life according to his social media posts. No one sees each other as often as one gets older. Life gets in the way as people are mating and procreating. So sometimes one relies on seeing peoples social media posts.
Ryan: Married check! Lovely huge house in the country – check! Job? Check! Ok he hates his job. From what I can see. But then a lot of people do. Right?
Then – last summer – one day I received a card in the post from him and his partner. A really nice card urging me to keep being open and to keep talking about life issues. Out of the blue.
And two days later. He took himself to the summer house in his backyard. Put a towel over his head. And hung himself.
And then he was gone. Just like that.
It was around this time I decided to admit myself to rehab. My walking was getting worse and I was becoming more and more isolated. “Patience!” ordered by the doctor wasn’t working that well for me. I was feeling isolated. Bored. Frustrated.
I wasn’t getting much help from the mental health services (or family for that matter but that’s a given) and felt I needed some support.
Of course I didn’t want to go. A ‘proper’ rehab is hard. Plus you have to share a room. And the fear of who you’re going to be sharing with can be very off putting. Thankfully I was bloody lucky on that front. But many weren’t. Take one of the hardest ex gang members who’s icy cold stare would simply make you sweat as you end up becoming her subservient servant out of fear. And you have her standing over your bed in the middle of the night. You look up.. “Erm so…how many people did you say you stabbed?”. “Stop snoring!” she spits. Showering you in her saliva.
“I will not get close to anyone” I had told myself. From experience it’s not the *best* place to be making reliable healthy friendships.
But of course life has other plans.
And when you’re in a huge house with 20 or so others for two months without a TV/mobile phone/computer and anything that links you to reality. Well. Things don’t always turn out how you plan.
Despite the drama and confrontations I also met some great people. And also fell in love a little bit. With the wrong person.
“Oh look a silver fox has arrived!” my friend and roomie exclaimed one day. I uninterestedly glanced over at the new guy as he walked past. “Hmmm yeah” I replied returning back to my book.
And then I don’t know how it happened. But the days accumulated and we started to get closer. And ended up talking a lot. But he was married. And he also had a history of taking viagra behind his wives back and swiping on tinder. And when someone shows you who they are believe them the first time – as Maya Angelou says..
Cringing I confided my lustful feelings to my designated male therapist. “You’re using on your feelings!” he exclaimed as I sunk lower into my chair. “It’s just reproduction in it’s rawest form!!!!” he pushed. He was pretty brutal sometimes.“Do we have to talk about this??” I replied wanting to disappear, staring at the clock ticking slowly behind him. It always ticks slow when you want it to move fast.
DEAR FEELINGS: please fuck off. You’re making my life harder right now. This is NOT in the plan..
And then one night as I sat with the silver fox in the now empty living room. We looked at each other. And. And well if I hadn’t have been in a rehab and if he wasn’t married this would have been one of the most romantic experiences. As he moved slowly in. In to me kiss me. My heart missed a beat. And a butterfly fluttered in the pit of my stomach.
And my moral conscience pulled me swiftly back. Forget what you feel – remember what you deserve.. forget what you feel.. remember what you deserve. And I got up and walked away.
And I thanked myself for that when I returned to my home alone. I thanked myself for not being that girl. And in all honesty I could of really done without meeting him. And on his leaving day he approached me and cradled my face in his hands. And looked into my eyes. And smiled. For that would be the last time we would see each other. For the best.
And that’s life. Out of the blue. Life can change just like that. Like a whirlwind. But you must always come back to yourself.
And no job is worth losing your life over. And no person who has hurt you is worth self destructing over. Stick up for your own health. And you’re own heart. No matter how hard life gets.
Because life can change just like that.
And sometimes for the better. Out of the blue.
I am now on crutches but I am trying to remain positive whilst awaiting a hip replacement. Is the end of my troubles in sight??? Keep on keeping on. Cue. EYE OF THE TIGER…
“We must unanimously agree that denial of such an insidious and child shattering problem is a monumental societal illness.” https://www.psychologytoday.
“It’s hard enough to be ourselves without being used
So yo take it from me
Don’t be a victim of society
You can’t put yourself in a position to be neglected
You have to do what’s not expected
Or all be in his story
His story over mine
His story will be his story” TLC ‘His Story’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Oh the world of Television.. I watched the documentary on R Kelly on the IPlayer the other night. Then.. Stacey Dooley’s documentary on peadophilia and ‘Young Sex for Sale’ in Japan.. came on the TV. I then proceeded to watch the Ted Bundy tapes on Netflix a few days later (it was on the homepage.. what was I to do?)… then as I flicked through on the IPlayer I saw a documentary ‘Peodophile Hunters: The Rise of the Vigilantes…’
Next up I ended up reading about the new Michael Jackson documentary coming out that’s won some awards. I couldn’t sleep and ended up absorbed in reading the many facebook comments in support of MJ. Many of those comments opposed the ‘victims’ that have come out in recent times to talk about the alleged offences.
There ‘appeared’ to be more support for ‘RIP Michael’ than any for the people that feature in the documentary.
Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention the short film about the extremely sad James Bulger murder titled ‘Detainment‘ that has recently been featured in the press. To add to that Thompson and Venables were given new identities in 2001 and released from prison. In 2018 Venables was imprisoned again after pleading guilty for child pornography offences.Tina Malone a star from the TV show ‘Shameless’ has just been called to the High Court for retweeting a pic of Jon Venables – a pretty interesting case. And I feel for Tina.. fame is not her friend right now.. (the pic was retweeted by many other people and I suspect due to her ‘high’ profile she may be being made an example of!?).
And as I sat perusing the many channels we are ‘blessed’ with – it started to dawn on me – what have I been filling my head with these past few days.. ?
I was questioning.. is this just perverse sensationalism that is on demand in the zeitgeist. And maybe more importantly does this abundance of content that has suddenly appeared on these dark topics change anything? The documentary ‘Peodophile Hunters: The Rise of the Vigilantes’ highlighted the abhorrent fact that there has actually been a ‘700% increase in online abuse’ in recent times. And I ponder.. how much effect the #metoo movement has really had.
I suppose a predator is going to do what a predator is going to do. Because I guess – in their mind their own needs are far more important than anybody else’s.
Perhaps what I found most shocking and ugly was the similarity in each of the documentaries of how many people admittedly looked away whilst these crimes were and are still happening (chk the R Kelly doc for instance).
R KELLY – BUMP N GRIND
“My mind’s tellin’ me no, but my body, my body’s tellin’ me yes
Baby, I don’t wanna hurt nobody
But there is something that I must confess (to you)I don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump and grind (with a little bump and grind)”
As if they are not culpable. And that in my opinion must be one of the most heartbreaking situations to be in. Where people know what is happening to you but look away. With a ‘it’s nothing to do with me’ attitude. I have to wonder. Where the morals and values of people are. Where is the community? And are we a society that sticks together anymore?
“Our society is struggling to protect children, older people and disabled people. This is not just a crisis of care. This is a crisis of of human values”https://www.
Some of the content matter in these documentaries was so dark I’m probably never going to be able to erase it from my mind. And I question is it too much? Or is it simply not enough!?
I got into an interesting conversation about narcissism with a good friend who has also experienced CSA. How it can be very difficult to understand these types of people. And as these documentaries are displaying – hard to catch or spot. And child sex offenders display narcissism in its most destructive form. Are these documentaries simply displaying the need as a society to understand and catch a predator for who or what he is?
We live in a society that seems to appear to despise peadophiles. But on the other hand also victim blames.. and it seems to be apparent that it is a complex topic to cover.
But the topic of shame should be addressed and hopefully the more these issues are talked about the more people – victims/survivors – may come out to talk about their experiences. (To the right people it seems). The secrets that they are bullied to keep. Not for anyone else but for their own healing. For the shame and guilt that is smothered on to a child whilst they are being abused is the killer of all emotions.
And how do we hand those back to the perpetrator? For the less peadophiles can hide – the better.
But are these documentaries highlighting how as a society we are more interested in the pyschology of the perpetrator than the healing of their victims?
I read a good quote that someone tweeted the other day and it said ‘That’s why it’s called the CRIMINAL justice system.” And I just thought. Oh yeah..
And I leave you with the lyrics of Angel Haze.. which says it all really.
When I was ten, shit, I believed I could fly
I would just flap my fucking arms and try to meet with the sky
And in my mind I’d envision that I was speaking with god
And then I’d chop his fucking fist off and beat him with mine
But this is just a fucking portion of the war with my mind
So I’mma take you fuckers back and through the vortex of time
When I was seven envision me at the bottom of stairs
And I solemnly swear that this is the truth, no fallacy here
See I was young, man, I was just a toddler, a kid
And he wasn’t the first to successfully try but he did
He took me to the basement and after the lights had been cut
He whipped it out and sodomized and forced his cock through my gut
See it was weird because I felt like I was losing my mind
And then it happened like it happened millions of times
And I would swear that I would tell but they would think that I was lyin’
And now the power that he held was like a beacon of mine
So now I got used to it, I put up with the shit
And now my hate was so volcanically eruptive and shit
But this is nothing cause I guess he told his friend what he do
And they ate it up, shit I was like a buffet for two
And then it happened in a home where every fucking one knew
And they ain’t do shit but fucking blame it on youth
I’m sorry mom but I really used to blame it on you, but even you, by then wouldn’t know what to do
And now it happened so often that he was getting particular
And I’m more scared every time — my speed and ventricular
One night he came home and I was asleep in my bed
He climbed on top of me and forced himself between my legs
He told me: “Hey –, I see you like them popsicle sticks so put your mouth on my deck and fucking swallow the spit”
And I was confused but I was scared so I did what he said
I had no the effect it would have on my head
My heart was pumping it was thumping with like tons of my fear
Imagine being seven and seeing cum in your underwear
I know it’s nasty but sometimes I’d even bleed from my butt
Disgusting right? Now let that feeling ring through your guts
I thought of offing myself, I thought of killing these niggas
Wanted to take a fucking brick and push they teeth through they liver
Wanted to smash the fucking world and burn its leftover parts
Wanted to rip it out and just fucking step on my heart
Then I grew up and I wasn’t within the reach of these men
But that didn’t keep me out the motherfucking reach of my sin
And psychologically I was just as fucked as they come
I was confused, I had to prove I wasn’t fucked from the jump
I was afraid of myself, I had no love for myself
I tried to kill, I tried to hide, I tried to run from myself
There was a point in my life where I didn’t like who I was
So I’d create the other people I would try to become
Sexuality came into play and with as scared as I was
I was extremely scared of men so I started liking girls
I started starving myself, fucked up my bodily health
I didn’t wanna be attracted to nobody else
I didn’t want the appeal, wanted to stunt my own growth
But there’s a fucking reason behind every scar that I show
I never got to be a kid so that’s as far as I grow
My mental state is out of date, and that’s as far as I know
My biggest problem was fear, and what being fearful could do
It made me run, it made me hide it made me scared of the truth
I’m not deranged anymore, I’m not the same anymore
I mean I’m sane but I’m insane but not the same as before
I had to deal with my shit, I had to look at my truth
To understand that to grow you’ve got to look at your root
I had to cut off the dead, I had to make myself proud
And now I’m just standing living breathing proof look at me now
I made it through everything, I made you look like a clown
I’m fucking great can’t fucking hate you nigga look at me now
Now I’m just saying this to tell you there’s a way from the ground
Just be strong and just move on and just accept what I can
Because it makes your story better when you read at the end
[Outro] Yeah, there’s a story behind every single scar that I show
I made it out, this a me nobody’s gotten before
I had to open my wounds, I had to bleed til I stopped it
Thanks for joining me here as I cleaned out my closet
I said I opened my wounds, I had to bleed til I stopped it
Thanks for joining me here as I cleaned out my closet
“Ok people. We are going to try something a little DIFFERENT TODAY… WE are going to write an essay.. of no less than a 1000 words describing to me who you think you are.. and when I say essay I mean essay. I do NOT mean a single word repeated a 1000 times… is that clear!? Maybe you’ll learn a little something about yourself…” BREAKFAST CLUB, 1985
Creativity takes Courage’ Henri Matisse
‘Get creative Becki!…” my friend texts. “Just BE creative!”. “Do something creative..”.
‘You’re a creative person.. go write!’ a friend from a previous writing class slights.
A bit of direction here would be nice. I think. To myself.
I sit down. With my laptop. And stare at the screen in front of me. Amazing.. just amazing what that Steve Jobs achieved.. I let my mind wander.
Whoever said I’m creative. I sigh. So much pressure. I pull up word and type a few words..
The coffee barista is giggling in the distance with her colleague and I feel a stab of envy.
I think of an idea to write about and write a page and a half of drivel. And delete. I look back at the barista. Who is now being chatted up by two builders it seems. I wish it was the bald builders I smile to myself. Funny guys. I look back at the now blank screen before me.
Envy has no place in this passing moment of time. I tell myself.
Pressure. The word pops around my head like the cork of a champagne bottle bouncing around aggressively. Triggered by some outside source, that of which has crept in to my psyche subconsciously.
GOTTA BE MORE GOTTA DO MORE! Dead Poets Society…
I decide to put Queen’s ‘Pressure’ on my Spotify. It seems fitting for this moment.
Thinking about pressure – *the more I think the less I do* I decide to procrastinate for a little while longer.
So I flick up my facebook page. A few baby pics. I’d hate to upset the parents here but generally baby pics do all look pretty much the same. Sorry… all cute though. A few people shaking their *virtual* fists trying to save the world. Good on you! I whisper silently to the screen.
I *scroll down*.. Some engagement photos. Some wedding photos. Someone’s holiday pics. Fuck.
EVERYONE’s life is so much better than mine!!! The thought dashes in before I can stop it.
They are even in a snazzier coffee shop, that serves unlimited fucking tea. Tsk.
I spend another ten minutes beating myself up whilst perusing others posts. Then decide to search for the realists…. “I’m going bald and I’ve just been dumped!!!” a friend has posted. I giggle to myself sadistically.
Phew. I can always rely on *Dave to keep it real. Who was that guy I dated a few years back… I ponder. I wonder what he’s up to..
I receive a text. ‘How’s ‘being creative’ going?!’ it queries. They are trying to be helpful I remind myself.
‘I’m in the coffee shop now. With my laptop’. I reply.. steering my way around the question. ‘Great!’ they reply. I’m amused by their reply. I pull up my ex.
OMG. He’s married! When did that happen! WTF. He said he wouldn’t touch any of his colleagues..?! *A pilot and she a flight attendant…Well. Good for them. Thank god I don’t have any feelings for him anymore. She could have the decency to be ugly though.
And here it is. The grand late 30’s. Where time has flashed before my eyes faster than well. Pretty bloody fast. Where one takes pelvic floor tightening a bit more seriously. *Just in case*.. because 40 is closer than 30. I wipe a tear away at that reality. 30’s are also the new 20’s I tell myself.
“You know.. Rebecca you could have a baby now you now…”. my mothers words to me last time we spoke. To which I tortly replied ‘Oh REALLY can I!?!?! Thank you for the permission’.
Teenage years you’re pressurised to NOT get pregnant for fear of bringing shame and sluttiness upon the family. And then the late 30’s the pressure to start popping a few out.
I deactivate social media to save myself from the mind control, time stealing and comparing – and look back at my screen.
“Good artists copy, the geniuses steal” ~ Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).
I slam the laptop shut.
One of the young lads is cleaning cutlery next to me. He has a grumpy scowl. I titter to myself in amusement. *Ive done all the ‘cleaning’ jobs in my youth so I feel I’m allowed some allowance*
‘Wax on. Wax off’. I say to him. He furrows his brow. And I don’t think he understands what I mean. “Wax on wax off?” his colleague smirks…
Wax on. Wax off. And don’t forget to breathe. Very important.
Very fashionable mindfulness is these days. You’ve been doing it all your life and you’ve probably just forgotten it. You don’t need to pay £50. Just wax on. Wax ..off..
I walk home. And pull out some old photos.. That capture some of my younger experiences. That I never thought that would be *so far my best experiences.. I think about the Labyrinth and how she defeats the Goblin King and I reflect on all the layers that film has. I think about all the friends I haven’t seen for a long time. And those that I haven’t told them that I miss them. Or how I feel.
I think about one of my best friends who committed suicide just three months ago. Someone whose life seemed perfect. On facebook anyway. And I think about pressure. And how it doesn’t need to be this way..
And should you need me… I’m always here. And I’m sorry for not saying that I need you too.
Dedicated to Ryan Hall. Rest in peace and get to heaven safely. Still devastated. I’m sorry you didn’t feel you could talk to me. Becki Xx
I am an STD, hidden beneath
Lurking in the unseen,
Shamed for being me
A virus permeating. If you catch me..
You’ll be dirty too, so stay away.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
About my negativity.
But it wasn’t my fault.
It was passed on to me.
I thought it was love.
Well that’s what he told me.
Sharing is caring.
That’s what he’d said to me.
Don’t you.. look at me with your judgmental eyes.
You see… you don’t see.
You don’t really see me.
You just see what you want to see.
Look deep, look down.
Oh yep! There’s the frown.
You look disappointed…
Don’t worry. You can’t be as disappointed as me.
The echo’s get louder.
‘You don’t love yourself’ says he.
‘That’s not true…’ says me.
You took what you wanted.
You rolled the die.
You left me here.
Did you think I’d cry?’
He laughs. That laugh. Infectiously.
But this time.
It’s not too late.
‘Catch’ he throws…
‘No thanks’ I reply..
I walk away.
‘How ridiculous’.. I think.
Just then. I thought that STD was me.
Written by Becki Burrows
©Copyright owned Rebecca Burrows 2007
It’s been a very difficult week for a lot of people living in West London. A lot of people have lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower tragedy. And then there are the friends and family that have been directly affected in what has been a very tragic and upsetting event.
As a resident of the Kensington and Chelsea borough – and as a part time volunteer at Citizens Advice – I found myself – in some unexpected situations I could not have predicted.
This included interviewing (very briefly) Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, meeting an amazing filmmaker called Janey Ayoade who was helping a strong activist called Neville by filming his story. Briefly meeting Peaky Saku and his friends working as best they could/can to help. Experiencing Mustafa Almansur attempting to collate and lead a committee (due to the Council not being seen anywhere at this point), and hearing the name Ishmahil Blahgrove spoken everywhere I went (I haven’t met him)… but I think he is a brilliant speaker rising up against the mainstream media.
And then there’s the famous face of Lily Allen. Who I met briefly, obviously deeply upset and passionate about helping and using the voice she has to vocalise what she saw. Maybe (and I can only really speculate) aware of her status and not wanting to make the situation about her. The ‘dancing on the fine line of trying to help and intentions being misconstrued’ and taking a lot of flack from the media – one has to be a very strong character to take that on board.
And then let us not forget the children affected. Ryan Faraji and Tina Faraji aged 6 and 8. Ryan who lost his best friend Yacob. A voice of perspective for his generation. Too young to understand how powerful his message is to the rest of us.
There is a lot to write about this event. But I will not write it all now. I felt as an independent blogger/filmmaker that it was important to capture what was happening, on the ground. Firstly, because I didn’t feel that the media were reporting it authentically. And secondly, because when these families and residents look back on this. They may want to see and reflect on what went on. One day.
I have noted a few names up there. People trying to help. Let it be noted. There are a lot of people not mentioned here trying as best they can, with whatever they can to help as much as they can. This does not take away from the fact that this event – has affected so many people and has been an extremely tragic and heart wrenching situation. And it will always be about those people affected.
Whether I have done the right or wrong thing with capturing these moments. Well. That is arguable and I questioned that myself. And to be honest I don’t know the answer to that. But I did it with the best intention. An attempt to create a ripple effect in the right direction. I felt it was the right thing to do – whilst the media are putting out heavily edited footage.
The trauma that residents are going through is and will be huge. An Iranian woman that survived passed out during an interview with the BBC whilst describing the event to a reporter (which Kimia Zabihyan who was translating at the time claims was never broadcast). Kimia related that the woman wanted her story to be told. Why? Because it was so shockingly traumatic – almost in an unbelievable way (as in – is this really happening in Great Britain today?) that she felt it was important to tell her story.
But for now – above is a ten minute unedited clip and pictures I took, through my eyes.
Unedited – so that. Well you can make your own mind up.
To all those who have lost their lives. Rest in peace. My thoughts are with those directly affected. I’m sorry that this happened to you.