Mental Health

A positive mental health story

When we talk about mental health it’s always about the suffering that goes with it and the judgments other people make about the mentally unwell. We very rarely talk about recovery and the magic that sometimes happens when you achieve the unexpected, without even trying it would seem. I might be underestimating the work that I’ve done or perhaps I’m not sure what exactly triggered it but I’m going to share a couple of things that have happened to me recently that can only be linked to a traumatic event that I’ve somehow neutralised.

For over 30 years I could not eat strawberries. I’d manage a strawberry yoghurt, enjoy a strawberry milkshake but the actual fruit, bleurgh, it made me feel nauseous. I thought they were too tart and when overripe smelt a little bit like death. The pockmarked flesh can’t have helped, I do have moderate trypophobia. It was strange because my twin sister adored them and would eat them by the punnet load. I wasn’t always like this, as a small child we often went on family trips to local farms where we’d pick fruit and veg and spent an entire day rolling down hills in the sunshine (these being some of my fondest memories) sneakily eating strawberries along the way as we overfilled our baskets but I also recall the sick bag that inevitably featured when we’d overdone it, in the car on the way home. It was usual to go off a food if I’d suffered as a result of consuming it but it never lasted very long so I didn’t think this explained why I hated strawberries so much. That is, until I suddenly found them palatable again and examined what had changed.

I’d hit a stage in my recovery where I was actively healing the wounds that had left me so isolated and started naming the cover ups that had ensured my descent into mental instability. You lie about who you are long enough, you either buy into it or you suffer a breakdown, the latter being my destiny. Naming my own faults and vowing to rid myself of false virtues I’d picked up like fleas and having the opportunity to reconnect and share and lean on others, I felt safe enough to delve into memories that were too painful to bear, up until now, because I was remembering who I was before the labels slapped on me damaged my sense of self. I know in my heart that my dislike of strawberries came from an event that was cruel and played on my bonds with my loved ones. I know that as a small child it probably felt like dying and I made this association with the nearest thing to hand. All organic things smell a little bit rotten when they’re at the riper end of their shelf life, mangoes for example, but I can’t get enough of them because I’ve only ever had good connections, like my mum lovingly handfeeding them to us with the sun beating down outside, refuelling her brood with good energy. Food is very much connected to our interpersonal bridge with our parents and early hardwiring can affect us for the rest of our lives unless we work intensely to strip it back and start again.

My dad dying a few years ago coupled with the opening of sealed doors in my mind changed something in my perception of strawberries. They’re really actually rather good. I don’t need to know exactly what it was that created this barrier in my baby brain but I’m choked that I can do something about it if I stick with it long enough. Our dad favoured my twin and strawberries were her thing I guess? Perhaps with his passing I can have them too? He snatched food out of my hands on a number of occasions, laughed at my distress. I can’t help feeling this is connected.

The other tiny miracle that just kinda randomly occurred to me, I can suddenly do percentages in my head without panicking at my complete inability to do anything with numbers, save basic arithmetic. Aged 10 I was coached for the 11+ and the times table was drummed into our heads by our father who resorted to violence if we stuttered. I was actually in the top set of maths all the way through high school until aged 15 I ran away from home. When I returned after a few months, because the school in London was so awful, my previously motivated and interesting maths teacher had had a complete personality change and was suddenly a bit of a dick. He’d been off sick with shingles in my absence and came back completely disinterested in his students. It must have really knocked my confidence because I became convinced I was bad with numbers and didn’t care because I was obviously more creative anyway.

I think I’ve proved to myself since my breakdown that I am capable, and remembering the past, how I was brimming with self esteem aged 12, which was the last time I remember feeling sure of anything, has reminded me who I am at my core: someone who stands up in the face of injustice to my own detriment because the alternative is unacceptable. I feel personally responsible for the world we find ourselves in, for all the years I toed the line and enabled coercive power, all in the hopes for a seat at the table. Coming to terms with a world that doesn’t reward talent or integrity and actively sets out to destroy it, that has been healing I guess? Resolving the past and coming to terms with my elders exactly as they are not as I would have them, has unlocked parts of my personality I’d long buried, to appease the green eyed patriarchy and minimise myself so I was never a threat to anyone which ultimately bit me in the butt when I was that much easier to victimise.

Learning that it is possible to change instilled behaviours, all it takes is a couple of weeks to lay down new pathways, making the past the road less well travelled every time you do things in your new way, has been liberating. Others might still judge me for the person I was aged 25 but that’s because they’re incapable of changing themselves. They judge others as they would judge their selves.

I’m excited to see what other things become available to me on my recovery journey.

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Joshua Moon and Kiwi Farms implicated in promotion of NZ terrorist

Kiwi Farms have been linked to the New Zealand mosque terrorist; both Brenton Tarrant and Josh Moon frequented 8chan before Moon was essentially pushed out for having extreme views and interests even the other nazis couldn’t stomach, like paedophilia. In light of this information New Zealand and Australian authorities had requested Tarrant’s data from Kiwi Farms host Moon, who decided he would still broadcast the footage of the massacre despite it carrying a lengthy prison sentence in most countries. Even facebook, that great enabler of white supremacist fake news took down the 1.5 million copies made by users in the first 24 hours but Josh has other ideas.

Such is the entitlement and narcissism of Joshua Conner Moon, this was the reply he sent to New Zealand Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael.

narcjosh

Imagine making yourself an enemy of an entire country. This is the real face of Joshua Moon, an incel who has been hounding people on the internet for more than 5 years, who’s somehow evaded justice even though he is implicated in at least 2 mass shootings (not including NZ) and four suicides (of vulnerable people targeted for their protected characteristics). I have personally been on the receiving end of this harassment and bullying since 2013, when these freaks were still claiming to be protecting video games from girls and despite my protests that I couldn’t give a stuff about gaming, the abuse was relentless. It has left me housebound and afraid, as if my existing mental and physical disabilities weren’t difficult enough. I almost gave up a few times but I wouldn’t let them have that satisfaction.

I pleaded with journalists and politicians alike and was largely dismissed and silenced because acknowledging white supremacy would have legitimised my activism. Now we have multiple mass shootings and a crisis that could have so easily have been avoided had the mainstream media and the right-wing government heard our pleas instead of punishing us. They said we were entitled attention seekers but we suffered the most. At times it has felt like they’re working together, and I’m still not convinced that they’re not. Lives have been lost and many more ruined, their victims are countless.

For those of us who were able to reach out and connect, to do something, anything, to make these monsters accountable, we smoked them out where we could and identified them (work that should have been done by authorities) and doxxed them the way we had been doxxed. There were pleas from the usual liberals to consider our actions and how two wrongs don’t make a right but when it comes down to it, no one did a single useful thing to help us. Without the power to do anything else, we did what we could to claw back some control over our own lives. For example, in the UK we have the joint enterprise law that could see British users of Kiwi Farms charged with being complicit in a crime even if they did not personally commit it, but if they could have prevented it or indeed if they encouraged it, they can be handed a sentence equivalent to that of actually doing the crime. These ideas have been floating around for a while now but progress has been slow. We can only discuss it, the authorities have the power to act.

I thought to myself, something really deeply horrendously wrong has to happen for this to get the attention it deserves, to take Kiwi Farms and associated forums like Baphomet, Encyclopaedia Dramatica, lolcow etc etc off the internet using guidelines from the UN guide on prevention of genocide, if local laws fall short. There was the shooting in New Mexico but nothing happened even though two victims lost their lives. The attempted mass shooting in Canada didn’t get the attention it deserved either. The self-immolation of Chloe Sagal who felt she had no other choice but to kill herself in protest. The other suicides we know about and the ones we don’t. Now New Zealand has the world’s spotlight on it, Australia too, for birthing the terrorist who took 50 lives, some of them children. There are Kiwi Farm members in New Zealand. In Australia, Canada, the US, UK and across Europe. One report suggests the UK has 5 of the top 10 white supremacist extremist sites based here.

There weren’t too many of them back in 2013, that was the impression I got but platforms like facebook and twitter let them connect. We were suspended and banned for fighting back but they’re still on there. Tech giants have a lot to answer for.

Please do something before they do it again.

_______________________________________

This is the latest dossier on Joshua Conner Moon and Kiwi Farms cyberbullies:

https://pastebin.com/w2XmXVyk

https://archive.fo/N2rvu

https://www.pastefs.com/pid/102480

https://archive.fo/QRHtd

https://paste2.org/nb4E5teP

https://archive.fo/msgSn

https://slexy.org/view/s20gtJof2H

https://archive.fo/Bmf6r

https://paste.ubuntu.com/p/RgSX589Xfh/

https://archive.fo/OURfs

https://paste.sh/XS5HgMDe#BGUnefq2MAE2QQmfaPzzuJo5

https://archive.fo/q37M8

DWP death squad strikes again

As you may already know, I won a PIP tribunal on the 22nd February, more than a year after my payments were stopped. They reduced the rates I was entitled to and although I feel this is incorrect I won’t challenge it because I want as little to do with the authorities as possible. Prior to this win I was in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance at the reduced rate of £245 per fortnight, because disability premiums were removed along with personal independence payments. My rent alone was £550 a month never mind bills and other expenses.

With PIP renewed I was due a backdate of various premiums. PIP is a passported benefit meaning it enhances any other benefits you might be claiming and unlocks others. Imagine my surprise then (not) when I received a letter from ESA a fortnight after the tribunal informing me I was no longer entitled to it because I failed to attend a work capability assessment on the 21st February. That was the day before the pip tribunal.

esa

Never mind that I had already spoken to someone at the benefits centre informing them I could not attend two assessments in as many days because I struggle to ready myself for these interactions at the best of times. Never mind that they had insisted I attend an assessment a few weeks prior to this and my non attendance was met with a visit from an official who reported back to them that even a home visit was a distressing event, as he personally witnessed. Never mind that my representative had supplied all the paperwork that was made available to the pip tribunal on two separate occasions to two different departments concerned with ESA, who kept insisting communication was slow but now that they had everything, it wouldn’t be a problem.

They still cut me off.

This is a deliberate move to destabilise me. They did it last time I applied for pip, in 2013, told me I was coming in for a pip assessment, used that to deny me ESA (they tell you to relax in pip assessments as they are not assessing your capability to work). Now that I am in receipt of pip, I’m down £245 a fortnight. I’m actually worse off because pip only amounts to approx £300 a month.

I’ve faxed all the paperwork over to my rep along with my statement of entitlement from the pip tribunal. No doubt it will take some weeks to clarify, as it always does.

120,000 dead from this government’s inhumane policies and I could be one of them, were it not for the exceptional support I get.

 

 

 

Knife Crime is a Symptom of the Hostile Environment™

The rise in knife crime across the UK is baffling only to those who never consider the impact of their actions on others. Perhaps those who find it incomprehensible are lying, they know exactly why, they just don’t care. The government has promoted an hostile environment, it is of their creation, the current crisis.

Our young people are growing up in a society that has actively encouraged division and sowed discord where they could have fostered tolerance and understanding quite easily. I know, because that was my childhood in the 90s, a multicultural melting pot where brown and black people were rooted in British culture and Britain absorbed the best of ours too. It was some kind of rose tinted utopia pre 9/11, when laws protected us and racists were afraid. There was a clear sense of right and wrong. No blurred lines on racial slurs and racist propaganda. It’s not that racism didn’t exist (which it always will) just that measures against hate were enforced by the system somewhat. Slurs were asterisked in print for example. ‘Accidental’ racists were shunned not excused. The BBC exposed the institutionally racist police force, ffs.

The Bobo doll experiments in the 1960s demonstrated that children learn by observing adult behaviour. 60 years of knowledge we have so far failed to implement in the running of our societies. Kids today are witnessing hatred and bigotry on mainstream news channels from mainstream politicians. They’re being told their differences make them a target. Safe spaces are denigrated, we’re special snowflakes for insisting on them and toxic patriarchy is all about ‘real men’ who don’t carry babies in papooses. There is no end to the constant violence and posturing, grown adults are upping the ante everywhere, no compromise, no resolution, just a burgeoning threat that is overwhelming our children’s senses, affecting their ability to cope, leading to poor impulse control, because they’re frightened and have not yet learnt to channel that appropriately. Grown adults in the government are actively targeting children in their policies; so many plunged into poverty this past decade, so many denied an opportunity to learn, their days passing by in a blur of boredom and fear. Is it any wonder they’re dying?

Sajid Javid said we should treat knife crime like a disease when it is just a symptom of another kind of affliction, that is, social cleansing implemented by his government. It can be treated. Their hostile environment has seeped through to the children who will suffer most as a result of Tory policies, long after the monsters are gone. As a child born under Thatcher I know only too well. That brief period in the 90s when we had positive black and brown role models on TV on all of the terrestrial channels, when shows like Goodness Gracious Me clapped back at the white population and it was received in good humour, when we actually believed that hard work and motivation was all you needed to succeed, we felt we had a place in this world and only time would reveal our fortunes. Children these days have no hope, that’s the message they’re bombarded with, that the planet is dying but experts are no good. They’re going to school to learn but they’re being told learning is worthless. There’s no guarantee of a job, or a life. They matter to no one. They’re injured by these feelings and they react.

This tyrannical government must be removed from power and held to account for the many thousands of British citizens who’ve died under this administration, by any means necessary. Fuck calling the army in, oust the unelected tyrant and choose community. End austerity and replenish local services. Bring back the education maintenance allowance and cut extortionate uni fees. Invest in our young people, they are tasked with rescuing the planet and what remains of our humanity. One day they’ll have to look after us.

I Won

CN for suicide, self harm, mental health

13 months after my personal independence payments were cut, I won my 2nd tribunal. 13 months of crowdfunding my rent. 13 months of reducing my food intake, buying the cheaper brand, going without, and feeling humiliated but on Friday, a panel ruled in my favour. There was no objection from the DWP representative who, I could have sworn, was even crying at one point. I felt bad for scowling at her after that!

I self harmed 4 times during that period, when I absolutely could not comply with the measures I’ve worked at to protect myself. I dissociated more frequently. I got as far as buying the instruments I would need to end it. Drew up a plan. Resisted writing the suicide note because that would make it final, and only because the people around me pulled through when I shared my invasive thoughts (a thing I was only able to do because I’d been taught, by my first therapist). They reminded me I’d managed to survive this long because people wanted to help me. They made me think about the people who look to me for strength and how my demise would impact on them. I didn’t really care in that split second but when the feverish urges passed I felt a bit sheepish I’ll admit. People do take strength from my courage.

When the DWP cut me off and sent me their decision, they said they were not disputing the fact that I had these disabilities just whether or not I qualified for personal independence payments. 13 months on and I’ve just been told I do. So was it really necessary to put me through this? What is its purpose otherwise? Survival of the fittest? It’s not strictly true anymore though is it? I’m nowhere near the fittest but I have recourse; to advocates, to friends who work in the public sector and health professionals who actually listen. Perhaps this mum didn’t?

Even with all the support I have, I came the closest I ever have to ending it. I didn’t enjoy asking for help, again and again, I was isolated and lonely as a result. I might be an anarcho-communist but I still have the hardwiring of a society that celebrates charity as a virtue but not if you’re on the receiving end. The shame still lingers. I didn’t want to die, I felt I had no other choice.

Recently I read about a young woman called Holly Cowlam who took her own life when she was diagnosed with depression. Holly had been studying psychology and so had some understanding of mental health. I get the sense, because she knew her chances in life would be greatly affected, as they are in a society that demonises mental health, she felt she had no other option. I know what that’s like; the shame and hopelessness. I refused to acknowledge my own mental health for 20 years, telling myself I was stronger than those others who had succumbed. In the end, you can’t really prevent it. I am the sum total of all the violence and treachery inflicted on me but with the right support, and freedom, and protection, I know I can get better.

holly cowlam

What I do not need, and could have really done without, was being treated like I’m making it up. As a repeat victim of sexual and domestic violence, gaslighting is a straight up trigger for my PTSD. Being treated like I am insignificant and somehow asking for more than what is my right, having paid into a system for many years and on an emergency tax code more often than not (I did a lot of temp work because I was sick even then only I wouldn’t admit it) eventually wore me down in a way my mental and physical conditions do not, because I believe I can overcome them (to an extent). I needed time and space to heal not to be hindered by a cruel and abusive process.

Advocates for humanity must ramp up the pressure on this government and demand justice for all those who’ve needlessly died in our country. The architects of social cleansing must be tried for their crimes against our humanity.

You can judge a country by the way it treats its animals/poor/prisoners/women/disabled folk.

Rainy Fascist Sexist Island and Child Protection

So that’s that then, Britain can and will make teenagers stateless. Correction: it will make non white British citizens stateless, because this was never our home. That’s the message I received when news of Shamima Begum’s citizenship being revoked flashed across my phone screen. It confirmed what I already knew, that rainy fascist island doesn’t care about victims of grooming, unless that is, it can use the victims to promote a racist agenda, and Britain can and will expel us, by mob rule it would seem.

To add insult to injury, our knuckle-headed home secretary has added that Ms Begum’s child may be allowed to reside in the UK. This isn’t because he’s all heart, this is a tactic used by the cruel and inhumane authorities in response to pleas for child protection, thinking of the newly born baby who, through no fault of his own, is being punished for the actions of another minor (his mother was 15 years old when she was groomed). This is not new, as an advocate supporting victims of domestic abuse I had many clients who were threatened with the same action. It is a despicable assault inflicted on vulnerable mothers who come to us with many issues only to be told their situation could get much worse. Have you ever seen a mother separated from her baby? What kind of sadistic entity saw fit to pass this kind of ruling? “I know how we’ll cut our numbers down on national assistance, create a loophole in child protection, relinquish any rights towards mothers, if they care so much about the well-being of their kids, they’ll leave them in care and fuck off” (this is how I imagine it went down, expletives an’ all). As advocates for women and children this is when we would use the human rights act to remind the ghouls what being human is all about. The right to family life for instance, the belief that family is better together whatever their circumstances, than apart. This is precisely why the Tories wanted shot of it. Humanity is the answer to everything which is why they constantly seek to dehumanise us.

Knowing what we now know about the child protection system, the sex abusers amongst the establishment using care homes and the like as a sort of home order catalogue, I’m not happy entrusting any child to the state. I would even suggest Shamima’s baby is better off in a refugee camp than it is is Britain’s care homes, and if she can try and find haven elsewhere, then she should do that.

Her comments on hearing the news come across as naive and so very childlike, I have no doubts this young woman has been failed. I hope sincerely she has people working in her best interests and not just using her as a vehicle for something else.

For the rest of us commonwealth folk (who’ve never seen a penny funnily enough) we need to fight the state before it makes the rest of us stateless on a whim. Shamima might seem like a lost cause to y’all, as if you could never be in the same position because you are a law abiding citizen but the state doesn’t make that distinction, it only cares that you are not white. It’s not about to exile the ‘natives’. This law wasn’t created to boot white people off rainy fascist island, it is just one more dirty cannon in white supremacist Theresa May’s hostile environment. A gun for funny tinges.

Sexism in Healthcare

In my mid 20s I was diagnosed with a 17cm cyst on my left ovary. Prior to this my ex partner would gaslight me, saying I had given myself these symptoms of bloatedness, pain and nausea, because “the brain is a powerful thing”. The diagnosis came after months of to-ing and fro-ing with my GP, then Brixton based, who dismissed my concerns instead choosing to respond with wildly inappropriate remarks like “women don’t drink enough water, you’ve probably given yourself a UTI” and “stop eating your Bangladeshi partner’s cooking then” when I insisted he refer me for further testing. He didn’t and I had to seek alternative treatment, taking myself out of work for a couple of hours without telling anyone (I was a temp on a short-term contract and didn’t get paid for hours I took off) and visited the local sexual health clinic. I asked for a female doctor, because I felt she would take the matter more seriously. I hadn’t always thought of gender as having such a pronounced effect on the sort of service I would receive but here I was.

It didn’t take very long for this doctor to ascertain that something was indeed wrong. Following an internal exam where she pressed down on my stomach simultaneously, she announced there was a mass and it wasn’t small. She wrote a note to my GP insisting he refer me for an ultrasound. He wasn’t too pleased when I turned up with it and grumbled “I’m only the doctor, what do I know?” Not a fat lot of good, as it turned out.

6 weeks later, I had a scan at King’s College hospital where I watched as the sonographer’s face flitted from one part of the screen to another and she rolled the probe further and further up my abdomen. “You have a cyst, a larger one on your left ovary, and I’m just checking to see whether it’s affecting your kidney function”. This was all rather alarming, to say the least. She said she would be recommending an elective surgery to have it removed and they would need to test the mass for malignancy. After my surgery they told me they had drained 1.2 litres of fluid off the cyst but had managed to get it all and it was benign. I was perplexed then, when barely 6 months later, it had grown back to 14cm. Following this surgery I was left with very little functioning ovarian tissue but my doctors said my other ovary would compensate leaving me with about 80% function overall. I read a study that said people who’ve had more than 2 large ovarian cysts have an increase likelihood of premature menopause, which was just the shite icing on the shite covered cake.

A decade on and I am settled back in Birmingham. It’s not been more than a few weeks since I changed my GP (for the umpteenth time). I had an exceptional experience with them when I first fell ill with mental health in 2010. My female GP was a rock, she made all the right referrals and got me started on therapies and medication, honestly without her support I dread to think what could have happened. She left the practice a short while later and I was seen by 3 male doctors, whichever one was on duty. I felt as though I was a nuisance and they were just patching me up instead of looking at the causes of my symptoms. It all came to a head when one of their new partners, whom I’d never seen before, withheld my pain meds just before a weekend and only relented when all hell broke loose (me blubbering on the phone and my aunt actually marching on reception, plus the local pharmacist having a word). He said I was due a review for these meds they’d never put on repeat prescriptions because I was ‘a suicide risk’ and candidate for cardiac arrest. When I attended the surgery on the Monday following the weekend, he shouted at me, and threatened me and my aunt with police action, prompting me to run out of the surgery.

I registered with a new GP who did a review of my pain meds and decided to keep me on them because I ‘wasn’t abusing them’ and the risks of taking me off one drug and putting me on a new one outweighed the potential fallout from codeine. No surprise this was a female GP. She even put it on my repeat prescriptions so I wouldn’t need to speak to a GP to have it prescribed. When I mentioned the palmar erythema and tingling on my top lip and how I’d read that these symptoms are caused by elevated oestrogen levels and how I’d suffered with ovarian cysts when I was younger, she booked me in for a blood test to check my hormone levels. She was surprised this hadn’t been done before but I wasn’t. She said I’d need to be tested on my period, so they can gauge what is and isn’t normal. That must have been what done it for the male GPs, all that icky period talk, who can be bothered with that eh? What is most unsettling is that the symptoms all point to a bunch of scary conditions that can be life threatening, things like lupus or ovarian cancer, other auto immune diseases, cirrhosis of the liver.. things you don’t take chances with and yet.

Doctors are putting women at risk of premature death because sexism. All that power goes to their heads and they cannot conceive of a scenario in which a patient knows their own body better than they do. Yes, I use Dr Google, with the caveat that I am not a trained medical professional and am only seeking clues as to what could be wrong. I can understand medical jargon and make reasonable assessments that I would then like a doctor to follow-up on. I think this pisses them off because being a doctor is such hard work that mere plebs shouldn’t even attempt to understand. Perhaps it diminishes their self-worth, to be shown up like the sexist job’s worths they are.

I am proof that those of us on multiple axes of oppression will fall through the net, again and again. We’re easy to write off and brush under the carpet. I say this as someone who will scream injustice even when I’m on the floor and giving up, but most people aren’t like me. Most people do curl up and die, without a whimper.