Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Sweet Home Alabama

Unless you have miraculously avoided the internet over the past 7 days, which I'd say is pretty impossible, you will know that last Tuesday lawmakers in Alabama voted to introduce the strictest abortion laws in America. The devastating decision means that all women would be forced to carry a pregnancy to term regardless of age, incest or rape, once the fetus surpassed 6 weeks old.

The Heartbeat Bill, as it is often known, does nothing to support the women of Alabama, placing the focus on the heap of cells that she is carrying rather than her own safety. It's a massive punch in the cunt for women and healthcare professionals across the state, who could be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison if they are found to have performed the procedure.

Interestingly, there will be no repercussions for men who choose to leave their partners as a result of unwanted pregnancy, but that's for another day.

Obviously, I'm pro-choice and have about as much respect for anti-abortionists as I do anti-vaxxers. You're a twat, to put it likely, and anyone's mother who bore a child that grew to be as ignorantly repulsive as you should really have swallowed. You're an oxygen thief but, sadly, the lives of the stupid are seen as being equally valuable as a lump of cells and we're not allowed to get rid of them.

As a result of the ban, many people are using #YouKnowMe to tell their stories about having had abortions themselves, including Busy Philips (who I love) and Jameela Jamil (who I am fast starting to hate almost as much as I hate Cat Dealey).

I myself, have never had an abortion, but I did have a miscarriage when I was 19. Having not known I was pregnant, it really wasn't much of an issue as regardless of whether or not I had done so I would have had an abortion. At the time I was self-harming, drinking, had an eating disorder and was indulging in all manner of self-destructive behaviours that would not only have lead to the child suffering were I to carry it to term, but also to it to experience health implications as a result of my actions during pregnancy. This is on top of the fact that I was incredibly mentally ill, unmedicated and a flat broke student with no desire to reproduce at all during my lifetime. Would I have wanted to carry the pregnancy to term? No. Would I have been forced to under the new Alabama laws? Yes.

My problem with the new laws in Alabama is that not only does it discount the life of the woman, but also the actual life of the child. Why would you force a child to be born with severe health issues, or to be born directly into foster care in what is already an overstretched system? If you actively have the choice to prevent an unwanted child from being born, I have no understanding of why anyone would want to prevent you from doing so.

Were I, through horrible accident, to fall pregnant again, there is no doubt that I would have an abortion. Not only because I have no desire to reproduce but also, despite what the world may think, I'm not a completely selfish bitch and therefore see no value in bringing a child into the world that is quite simply, not wanted.

But then that's just me.


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Fakery, Fuckery and Jeremy Kyle

As any self-respecting British person will have become aware of over the past two days, the iconic Jeremy Kyle show has been taken off the air after over a decade. A cornerstone of anyone's daytime TV schedule, the show has been cancelled after the death of a guest that failed a lie detector test.

So far there has been little to no reports on how he died but, as far as I can see, only one UK platform has suggested that the person in question took his own life.

The publication I refer to is the Metro, so don't get too excited.

Discussing the incident with a friend last night, what I didn't realise was that prior to appearing on television programmes such as Jeremy Kyle, guests are often given psychiatric evaluations, in an attempt to ensure their health will not be affected by appearing on the show. Ignoring how I feel about free and informed medical care being given to people whose main concern in life is proving to their ex that they didn't shag their sister, it's important to realise how easy it is to manipulate the results of these tests.

Whilst some people will always believe that people experiencing mental health issues are "faking" and that their problems don't really exist, I can vouch first hand for how easy it is to convince people, even medical professionals, that your health is improving. It's also important to remember that money is, and will always be, a contributing factor towards people's behaviour, and when a large sum of money comes your way, it can be difficult to resist.

What is often glossed over in discussions about mental health problems, is how boring they can be. Yes I know I need to rest and that certain things aren't within my capacity at the moment, but that doesn't mean I don't wish I was able to go out and live a "normal" life. When we're in a desperate situation and want to hold on to normality as much as we can, it's easy to pretend that we're doing okay. I don't mean this in a "Dave hasn't been to the pub this week give him a visit" kind of lie, I mean the kind of lie that allows us to progress through life in ways that we wish we could.

The issue with programmes such as The Jeremy Kyle Show and Love Island, which was suggested to contribute towards the suicide of contestants Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon, is that if you want something badly enough, be it fame, money or success, it's very easy to act as if nothing's wrong. It may be difficult for doctors and psychologists to pick up on cues that might tell them this, particularly due to limited time and resources, but people need to be aware that it happens. 

We're humans, if it's one thing we do better than the rest of the food chain, it's lie. 


Friday, 26 April 2019

New's Flash, I'm Not Going To Hurt You

I may want to, but I promise I won't. 

I've just had someone, let's call him Andy, tell me my BPD made him feel uncomfortable and that he essentially couldn't "deal" with it and it hurts like hell. I cried a lot (specifically on the shoulder of the lovely woman at O'Grady's bar who I will take flowers to at some point) I was angry and, in all honesty, would have done anything to change his mind. But you know, you can't change people. 

BPD makes you angry, really REALLY angry, and having someone tell you that essentially they can't deal with something you have no control over is painful. As well as being told I make people feel uncomfortable I have, on more than one occasion, had people tell me they're scared of me. These words hurt, it's one thing experiencing the different components of BPD, but being told someone is scared of you or that you make them uncomfortable can be soul destroying. But trust me, TRUST ME, I'm really not going to hurt you. 

Sitting in bed thinking about it today, it's occurring to me that, as with so many things, the words scared or uncomfortable are really synonyms for ignorance or a lack of understanding. BPD is a serious but relatively unknown condition, and even I can't blame people for being apprehensive about something they don't know anything about, especially when you see my gnarly ass scars. One ex of mine, who I affectionately refer to as the weasel due to the many times I allowed him to weasel his way back into my life, referred to my self harming as "teenage emo shit" instead of the only way I could find to deal with how I was feeling. 

How I let that one go on for as long as I did I'll never know. 

Normally in these situations, people would be encouraged to educate themselves about what they don't understand, but with BPD it's different. A lot of the research and content online doesn't paint people who live with BPD in a positive light. When I first started researching my condition, the majority of the content I found was about "recovering" from being in a relationship with someone who has BPD. If you feel such articles are for you, then have at it, but they're not going to help anyone with BPD in the long run. 

Not only is the information kind of vague, but there also isn't a great deal of it, relatively speaking. To compare Google search for other mental health conditions, depression brings up 796 million search results, anxiety 367 million and eating disorders 217 million. BPD only brings up 56 million. Still a lot, but nowhere near enough. 

What it all boils down to is this; if you don't know, ask. There is no cure for what I have, only treatment, and the only way people are going to stop feeling scared or uncomfortable around someone with BPD is if they learn.  

This is my reality and I live with it every single day. 


Wednesday, 10 April 2019

What to do when you can't do anything

As someone who's mental state is about as stable as a 3-legged Ikea chair, I'm well experienced in not feeling able to do anything. To being stuck, unable to move, in bed for days on end being periodically visited by family members to check that I'm still, in fact, breathing. On these days the world is dark and painful, and it's nothing short of an understatement to say that living moment to moment is the only way of making it through.

When I feel like this which, thankfully, I haven't felt in a while, there are very few things that I feel able to do. Through my experience, however, I've put together a list of actions that I'd recommend you try. If you don't manage them, who cares, this is just what I've put together. Take care of you, and do whatever it is you feel able to.

Open the window

When in the midst of a BPD attack the last thing I want is sunlight. Remember that scene in Sex in the City where Carrie walks straight into the Mexican resort, lies down on the bed and instructs her friends to close the shutters? That's me. I become sensitive to light and the darkness is both comforting and easy to handle.

What's not comforting, however, is the headache that I get when stuck in a stuffy room for too long. When I've had attacks in the past I've, luckily, been at my mum's, where I was relegated to the box room after leaving for university when my brother took over my room.

The size of the room meant that it got very stuffy very quickly, and so opening a window, even if only for half an hour, was incredibly beneficial in clearing the air and preventing me from getting a headache. When you're feeling mental pain, the last thing you want is added physical pain as well. If you can't manage it yourself, as a friend or family member to do it for you. It's a simple action, but one that can really freshen your room.

Drink a glass of water

This is another one geared towards avoiding headaches, although keeping hydrated never hurt anyone.

When feeling low, different people have different attitudes towards food. Some people find themselves able to eat, some people find themselves overeating and some people find themselves unable to eat at all. However your body and stomach are feeling, trying to get at least one glass of water into your system is a bonus. Not only will it help ease any stuffy-headedness, but it'll also help you stay hydrated while your brain and body take the rest it wants to take. Can't manage a whole glass? Sip as much as you can throughout the day or place a cup of ice chips in a cup next to your bed to place in your mouth when you feel able to, anything to get some fluids into your body.

Get out of bed, straighten your bed, get back in your bed

When we spend days on end under the covers, things can get a little messy. Crumbs, tissues, stray hairs, our beds can start to feel a little uncomfortable, but changing your bed sheets can often feel like too much of a challenge. If this is the case, but you still want to feel more comfortable, simply get out of bed, wipe the crumbs from your sheet and straighten your pillow, and get back in again. It may seem small, but even the accomplishment of managing something so easy can make the world of difference.

Rinse with mouthwash

This is a personal one for me, but the thought of not brushing my teeth can leave me feeling on edge. My mum is a dental hygienist, and I will forever be scarred by the image of a puss-engorged gum she showed me when I was eight. My teeth don't always take front row in my priorities when I'm feeling low, but it's important to me to do my best.

Sometimes, however, brushing your teeth can just feel too much. When you're only making it out of bed to use the bathroom, standing for two minutes plus to keep your teeth clean can seem like the least appealing thing in the world. If this is the case, and you want to add some minty freshness to your day, try simply rinsing with mouth wash. Or, if that feels too daunting, try flossing from your bed. It's important to take baby steps and do only what you feel you can manage, without pushing yourself before you feel ready.

Change your pyjamas

In the same category as straightening out your bed, it's easy to feel a tad icky when you've been in the same pyjamas for days on end. If you don't feel up to showering and freshening up entirely, there are few things as comforting as a fresh set of pjs, or even a clean T-shirt if that's all you feel up to. When you're feeling on the edge of a black hole, it's not so much about what you feel able to do, it's about what you can manage without pushing yourself too far.


Thursday, 4 April 2019

Minimalism, Pt 1.

One of the things I've discovered since I started travelling is that I don't like "stuff". I can't stand clutter and I'm finding a lot of comfort at the moment through knowing that I want everything that I have.

This isn't anything to do with the KonMari method, although I have read her book and attempted and failed to watch her Netflix show, it's more a case of feeling weighed down by the negative connotations associated with having my life filled with things that don't benefit me. Clothes I don't wear, half used bottles of shampoo, earrings to which I've lost the matching pair and will never wear again. It becomes very stressful at times and I needed to find a way of streamlining what I had in order to feel relaxed, and so I've decided to put together a little series of posts on how I'm reintroducing minimalism into my life.

I first discovered minimalism through Conor McMillen and Brittany Taylor. Inspired by their oh-so-covetable life of living a nomadic lifestyle, I realised that I needed to feel more free in order to feel content, which was the exact opposite of what was happening when I looked at my possessions.

That isn't to say I'm particularly good at de-cluttering. My husband always says that my major clear-outs often lead to me chucking things I need and then replacing them days later. In the heat of the moment I become ruthless, but still have a hard time letting go of things that I really don't use or need.

My shoes, you will never get me out of my shoes.

Attempting to find a balance between the two is difficult, and has become more and more apparent since I've settled down in Toronto. I know that I want to reach a middle ground with finding what I need and what I want, but it's going to be a slightly longer process than I hoped.

That's why I'm revisiting my minimalist journey. Lately I've found myself buying things I don't need or use and so I need to address not only what I'm buying, but why I'm buying it. I've also been procrastinating a lot lately, and I'm hoping that finding clarity with the things and thoughts that are clogging my head will help me push through what's stopping me from sitting down and writing and allow me to find relaxation in putting fingers to keyboard again.

Here's hoping.


Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Excuses excuses

I've been making a lot of excuses not to write lately. I could bore you with them, I'm even making them in my head now, but they all boil down to a recently discovered terrible problem with procrastinating and a feeling that in order to actually be a writer again, I need to be employed as a writer.

It would seem that the logic of actually writing something was lost on me.

This morning I'm lying in bed, having recently moved from the strange chair/table hybrid I've been using as a desk where I was opening tab after tab after tab of job applications that I have no desire to apply for. I even wrote myself a list of why I struggle yesterday, with the main points being my lazy ass is fed up of sending out job applications. Job hunting and dating are feeling very similar at the moment, completely pointless.

A lot of my problem at the moment is that I'm scared. What if I never get the have the career I crave so badly? All, and I mean all, I want to do is write. Once I start and really get into it it's like my fingers no longer need me, and they simply tap away producing all the words, phrases and sentences that need to be said. I'd like to think that I don't need the validation of employment to be proud of what I do, but right now I'm really not so sure.

Another issue I have with job searching is that doing what you love in a capacity that you don't like quite as much, be it in a new format, for a different platform or working the dreaded 9-5 that I'm sorry I've tried and I find soul destroying, is that it has the tendency to replace your enjoyment with feelings of obligation. When you've spent all day doing what you love for someone else, doing it for yourself becomes difficult.

As always, what I need to do is stop thinking. To let the words just come and not pressure myself into applying for things that fill me with nerves and nausea. I'm going to New York next week, fingers crossed getting out the city will help.


Thursday, 28 March 2019

Debunking Resum-iths

As both a writer and a Millenial, you'd be correct in assuming that I've sent out my fair share of job applications in my time. From my very first waitressing job at 16, to which I showed up on my first day hanging out of my eyeballs with the goal of providing a bride with the dinner service she'd dreamed of since she was a little girl, to the video I once made in an attempt to enhance the application I'd sent just so I could have a vague shred of styling assistant experience on my CV. If it sounds like it sits just on the believable side of bullshit, then I've probably done it.

Today, however, I am going to revisit those past applications. Delve through my employment history if you will, and see if I can work out where the truth really lies. 

Statement number 1: I work well in a team 

This is one you have to say you're good at, otherwise, you sound like either a total bitch or someone totally void of all understanding of social queues. Whilst it has graced the pages of many an application penned by my fine hands, what it should really say is "Works well in a team providing people do things to my standards". I don't give a shit if we have different opinions, voice them, fight with me, it's what I want. Just don't sit around half-assed doing something because you assume someone else will pick up the slack for you, or I will fantasise about castrating you with my craft scissors. 

Statement number 2: Handles stressful situations well

I came to realise that I was done lying about this one last night when I finally accepted that yes, I'm fucking highly strung, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I may be dramatic and become tense easily, but that's only because I care and want to do my best no matter what the situation. Whether I'm making coffee or writing copy, I always need to put 100% in in order to feel happy with my performance, it's just who I am.

What is not helpful in these situations, however, is telling me I get stressed. No shit Sherlock, I'd kind of already noticed. All you're doing by telling me this is making me paranoid which is just going to make me more uncomfortable. Take a step back and let me get on with things and we'll all be right as rain.

Statement 3: Responds well to authority

Of all the problems I have within working environments, this one is the most deeply ingrained and, so it would appear, the hardest for me to work on. When I was a kid, I was shouted at a lot. Repeatedly told that I was a bad person, that I was rude, mean and hurtful and all in all feeling like I was wrong. As a result of this I always, always, feel like I'm going to be told off, like a child. You know in Pretty Woman when Vivian says that if people put you down enough you start to believe them? This is me.  Since then everything has changed and I have an amazing relationship with my mum and her boyfriend, but the feeling like I'm going to be told off is still there.

Seriously, when I first met my previous landlady, who I LOVE, I was convinced she was going to tell me I'd done something wrong, despite the fact that we had only just met.

Now I 100% know that this is something I need to work on, no one else is going to get me through this. But when I'm having a panic attack because I've made a mistake at work and feel like I'm going to be fired or shouted at, it really gets me down. It's not so much that I have a problem with authority, it's that I'm fucking petrified of it.

Statement 4: Self-starter

This one is actually true, but not in the way I think it means. When I say that I'm a self-starter, I mean that I just like to get on with things. If I'm working and something needs to be done, it'll be added to my list and I'll do it. I have no time for waiting around just because it might not 100% be within my job description, if I can do it and it needs to be done, I'll just get on with it. This one goes hand in hand with the whole "works well independently" thing. I do work well by myself, but mostly because I like to be left the fuck alone.

Statement 5: Tenacious

Fun fact, throughout all the time I've spent completing job applications over the past 4 months, I've spent a considerable amount of time googling synonyms for the word stubborn. Tenacious, determined, strong-willed, every bs term I could possibly find that boils down to one thing, I'm stubborn. I'm really stubborn, but unfortunately, in some situations, this just isn't considered to be a good thing. However, as I realise how much time, energy and stress I've put into finding employment over the past x or so years, I can now see that my stubbornness is really quite a good thing. Would I have been able to put the man who raped me in prison were I not stubborn as an ox? No. Would I have completed my degree while simultaneously putting said man in prison, self-harming harming, learning to live with an incurable mental illness and dealing with the death of a good friend? Also no. So fuck it, I'm stubborn and you know what? I'm happy this way.