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…
“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
“Everyone’s got their chains to break
Were you born to resist or be abused? Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?” Foo Fighters
So – I wasn’t going to comment on this campaign but.. I couldn’t help but reflect on the discourse going on before me. Many strangers and friends have been posting the #metoo hashtag on twitter and Facebook. Male friends stating their shock and support at the amount of people coming forward. And getting ‘likes’ in double numbers.
The ‘Me too’ hashtag isn’t just about creepy dudes in bathrobes, you know.” (The Independent)
Don’t get me wrong – it’s great that this is coming to the forefront and being discussed. However. I started to reflect a bit deeper on the movement last night. Why is it that men or women posting in support are suddenly being congratulated on supporting the sexual assault campaign? Shouldn’t that support be standard anyway.
The #metoo campaign has evolved after concerns to Harvey Weinstein – a ‘once’ powerful Hollywood producer, who now faces allegations of sexual assault/harrassment. This allegedly also includes two of rape.
Some of these allegations – made by some of the most powerful female celebrities/icons/models on our screens today lead back to more than two decades ago.
So I came to thinking. Of the Jimmy Saville scandal – and of the widespread public disgust that arose from that.
When asked why nobody did anything, Mr Lemmon said: “I suppose because it was Jimmy.” (Telegraph)
And I ask myself the question – WHAT HAS TAKEN SO LONG????!!!? For the world to listen? If even the most powerful women in our society have fought so long to be heard.. (over two decades) what does this say for the rest of the population who have suffered such trauma (male and female).
The #metoo hashtag was actually created by 44-year-old activist Tarana Burke ten years ago. She founded the campaign as a grass-roots movement to reach sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities. As a way to connect with #survivors with #survivors. (Ebony Mag)
I look to the Hollywood actors and actresses speaking out and starting a much needed conversation as well as many other celebrities that have made their stories of sexual violence known by using the “me too” hashtag, starting a much needed domino effect. And I commend them. And you!
Because it’s an uncomfortable topic. That is ignored all (most/a lot) of the time.
I recently read the recent post on The Independent which offers an interesting alternative perspective on the matter talks about “being shunned as a whistleblower”.
It seems very easy to write disgust at assault on Facebook and get a few hundred likes but. What will actually change?
Whilst Facebook is a powerful tool – and writing in solidarity is great and that the ‘me too’ hashtag is a good start, I worry that it could dangerously minimalize the importance of the topic if not careful.
And I mean, by forgetting those that suffer in silence. Those whose first validation of exposure – at rape or sexual assault – who might write a ‘#metoo’ post.. that it might be ignored. Or passed by. And those that are perhaps even too ashamed to write the first letter ‘M’ on their social media site.
“According to a study by the NSPCC on young people (aged between 13–18), a third of girls and 16 percent of boys have experienced sexual violence and that as many as 250,000 teenage girls are suffering from abuse at any one time. 12 percent of boys and 3 percent of girls reported committing sexual violence against their partners.” (Wonderslist)
And those that have had to face their perpertrators in court. That are too afraid to speak out. That don’t get their voices heard due to not being passed through the CPS system. Those shunned. Those so overwhelmed with shame to say anything. Anything at all. Despite knowing verbally that it wasn’t/isn’t their fault. And those – too young to even know the words that fit the description of what is happening to them.
“we love celebrities because they are an integral part of culture. They have made it in the worldview we are so entrenched in. By worshipping them (to an extent), we feel as if we are participating in this hugely important cause/belief system. And that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy, and like our life matters” (Pyschology today)
And I question – as this mirrors the whirlwind of the Jimmy Saville scandal once again – why has it taken a case like Harvey Weinstein’s to get something like this moving? Does it feel more close to home the further away it is? What about the girl or boy next door. Or indeed in other countries.. where women can be sent to prison for being raped.
“With an estimated of 500,000 rape cases every year, the country has one of the highest rate of Rape Crimes in the world. It is estimated that more than 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime.”
And I find myself pondering – perhaps – it is those that are famous and on our TV screens – that can actually really change things. And I accept that, that is the way society is built. And I commend the bravery coming from those places. For whilst, these men and women might be ‘famous’ I’m sure the evidence that appears; of the length of time that even the most powerful amongst us struggle to be heard – well. That is very telling. And aren’t we all simply humans?
And so as someone said to me once “you have shamed shame”. And to you I urge… Keep it up. For the path to victory, is rarely linear, let’s hope the Weinstein case will be a change in history for millions of women and men around the world.
And as a friend posted on Facebook after disclosing ‘not that it will actually change anything’. I feel her anger and I too, can quite often retreat into a state of despair. But like he say’s in #shawshankredemption
“Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” #ohDearyme
Peace and love.
I follow other #survivors on Twitter campaigning endlessly for better rights for #survivors – including Ian McFadyen , Sammy Woodhouse , David Lean who tirelessly campaign for the rights of #survivors and I commend their work.
It is not aimed to offend – just a blog about the general confusion that quite often appears in my head.
“He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more; He who loses faith, loses all” Eleanor Roosevelt
Lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about business models. I have to admit.. I’m not the best with money. And maths was never my favourite subject. But, in dire times – if I have no money I have learnt how to survive. And if I have a bit – like any girl – my list of ‘need’ grows longer than a neverending till receipt.
As an only girl growing up with three brothers (Daniel, Nick and Luke) I learnt to survive. From an early age ‘that’s not fair!’ became part of my vocabulary. It wasn’t really explained to me why my big brother had two sausages on his plate and I had one. Of course I knew I was a girl – and that they were boys… but my brothers sly grins as my Mum would stockpile their plates told me that they were definitely getting a better deal than me.
When my big brother Daniel landed himself a paper round delivering the Observer at £5 a week this would be mine and my siblings first lesson in business. As second oldest and being a girl I was not yet allowed to roam the village streets. And so my brother Nick – who was two years younger than I was signed up to help (cue the ‘It’s not fair!’).
And so….for a Mars Bar a week Nick was happy to do the whole paper round whilst my big brother Daniel sat playing on his Commodore 64. I would sit quietly reading my book What Katy Did like a good girl should….observing from a distance when my little brothers eager face poked round the front door after a gruelling paper round shift to receive his payment of a Mars Bar. My older brothers sly smile as he handed over the 25p chocolate dream to an eager to please wage slave. Making a nice profit of £4.75 a week for sitting on his arse and dictating my big brother was on his way to getting a pair of swanky new Nike trainers. My little brother seemingly none the wiser.
It wasn’t until a couple of months in…that my big brothers dream business model began to show cracks. My younger brother, not so thick after all – Nick – had started to suss out what was happening. A clever yet equally sly young boy that he was – my older brother had no idea. So when Daniel received a phonecall from the Observer saying that they’d found the weekly papers dumped in a bin down the road and that nobody in the village had received a paper in weeks there was only one word being bellowed through the house that eerily cold Friday morning and it was my younger siblings name… ‘NIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCCKKK’..….
Shockingly my big brother managed to hold on to his job as Paperboy. And guess what – I was finally entrusted to take on the wonderful role of Papergirl. I learnt very quickly that the reality was not as fun as playing the actual game (Paperboy) and that what I thought I had wanted all along wasn’t actually that great. And that really I hadn’t been missing out on anything at all. A lesson that I am consistently reminded of in many aspects of my life.
One Xmas (my Mum will be so embarrassed if she reads this and in fact so am I) my brother Nick showed me a sly sales trick. Knocking on the doors of every house we delivered to smiling graciously we would hand over the weekly paper and and wish our customers a ‘Very Happy Xmas’. Seeing our honest and very cold faces their response would almost always be ‘ooh happy xmas thank you ooh wait there a minute’. Then out would come their £5 notes. Of course both Nick and I by now already on a measly 10 percent share each of the paper round business for our 100 percent effort had by now – already learnt that informing my big brother would mean at least a 75 percent cut. Each.
However, when I was younger there was usually one thing that always happened. My older brother…bored with coding on the Commodore and isolated by his own greed and thirst for power would usually get jealous of my brother Nick playing with me in my A La Carte Kitchen. Both of us by now fed up of his selfish cheating ways (I mean who wants to play Monopoly if you’re never going to win?). He would always come retreating back to the sibling fold usually with a hands up ‘ok soorrrry sorry have another Mars Bar’.
The most disappointing aspect to growing up is finding out that not much changes up here in the wilderness of being a grown up. But of course there is a flaw adapting what I learnt as a child into my knowledge as a young aspiring business woman (who would surely get turned away from a bank if I tried to use this as a pitch for borrowing money). It’s the disappointment of finding out that the care you receive in the fold of sibling rivalry does not actually compare in that of the real world. And that the people you might look up to or look to for inspiration are not always as they seem. We are all capable of greed, selfishness and many more negative traits. But what gives me hope is that the human race is also capable of so many positive traits too. All it takes is looking in the right place. You might just find it’s staring you in the face.
‘I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy’ Dalai Lama
Those of you who read this blog regularly might know that I was.. WAS writing a letter a week to David Cameron. I got to writing about nine letters all in all. Campaigning for the rights of abuse survivors. I experienced many feelings on this (difficult) road to justice. Anger, leading to confusion… to disappointment. I did receive a few responses from Downing St. The letters generally said that my concerns had been forwarded to the Health Minister and that Mr Cameron did not have time to meet with me. Oh. Ok then. I suppose my main battle has been with being heard. Or feeling not heard. Then feeling exposed.. then just feeling quite simply disappointed. Changing things whether it is a system or yourself is pretty darn tough and takes a lot of perseverance. And it is also very important that one keeps a check on oneself. Where to draw inspiration from?
Recently I got a book from the library on the influential psychologists Jung’s life. He makes a point about the midlife crisis:
“Jung describes the enchanting case of a very pious man he knew who was a churchwarden. He gradually grew more and more fanatical and intolerant about religious and moral matters until by the time he was 40 he had become ‘a darkly lowering pillar of the church’. Then one night, when he was 55, he suddenly sat up in bed and announced to his wife that he had just realized he was actually ‘a plain rascal’. Apparently then he spent his declining years in a feast of riotous living, wasting most of his accumulated fortune. Jung remarks that he was obviously a likeable person, capable of both extremes’. p77, Jung, Teach Yourself Psychology.
In life we go through many different changes in our psyche. What Jung teaches is that it’s important to always move forward with the flow of life. To not get stuck in previous stages of development. A directed life being more healthier and fruitful than an aimless one.
Every human connection we make- I believe is for a reason. Lately I have had a few repeated lessons fed to me. Sometimes when history repeats itself I believe perhaps it’s because I did not pay enough attention to learning that lesson the first time. Today I spent the day with an 82 year old political refugee. He has in his lifetime experienced a lot of loss and pain. But when we talked about how he is feeling.. he told me ‘I am happy!’. He gets up.. everyday at 6am and goes for a jog! And is generally pretty happy. For the past three years he has been learning english. Not out of desire but out of situation. He has taught me that none of us are ever too old – we never stop learning.. and it is never too late. Don’t let societal pressure make you believe you are past it. Whatever age you are.
If the body is content, we virtually ignore it. The mind, however, registers every event, no matter how small. Hence we should devote our most serious efforts to bringing about mental peace. Dalai Lama
And so I stopped writing to David Cameron. Because I didn’t believe anymore. In my idea? Or that they would listen and take note? Actually you can stand up and voice an opinion – and it doesn’t matter how much passion is behind it, it doesn’t mean people will listen or indeed care. But that is just another life lesson. And it doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try. It simply means that from time to time – we will all find ourselves dealing with disappointment. It’s always good to create a different strategy.
Have a good week..