Mental Health

BBC: A Predispostion for Propaganda?

I didn’t watch Panorama last night. I didn’t feel like I needed to see where it was going, I had my suspicions the BBC were rooting for something to make a focus of our outrage, a scapegoat. We’re not short of real life monsters threatening our way of life, many of them even had jobs at the BBC but it felt like the scene was being set for a ‘debate’, a distraction from the constant slew of actual things that have been proven harmful, like racism and historic child sex abuse cover ups for example.

I have been on SSRIs for 7 years. I started off on Citalopram and for a very brief time I felt as if I finally had the space to breathe and not feel like I was crawling out of my skin. As the meds settled in my system I became aware of the dulling effect it was having on my reality, something that no doubt worked brilliantly at crisis point but as my mental health improved I felt like it was holding me back, I wasn’t feeling as extremely as I did but I also wasn’t able to laugh as hard as I’d like or think too deeply about anything. I tried to come off them at first but was soon reminded of the reasons I became medicated when the symptoms returned; I was shocked by how intensely bad I felt and unable to function so I saw the GP about an alternative. He referred me to a psychiatrist and after a couple of visits we figured the best thing to do was switch to Sertraline, a drug that many users responded to after Citalopram. It’s hit and miss, prescribing mental health meds. Part of the process to healing is trial and error, you have to try things before you know how you’ll respond.

I was pleased with the change in my mood only a few weeks after I started taking Sertraline. I didn’t feel as foggy or tired and I was less fixated, a benefit of this particular drug which is often prescribed for people with obsessive disorders. It worked for me, I was struck by the fact I could pun again, something in my brain had changed. I spoke to others who weren’t so fortunate with Sertraline and went on to try other drugs but our brain chemistries aren’t one size fits all, we still don’t know enough about mental health to make this an exact science.

Before I became medicated I can’t say I was in favour of antidepressants especially SSRIs. I was even an audience member on a BBC talk show about antidepressants hosted by, I think, Nick Ross and said stuff I’m sure I’d cringe at now if I could remember, it was so long ago. I remember there was a big fuss about Seroxat a while back too, it was linked with increased risk of suicide among teenagers. I really did not want to be the sort of person who took antidepressants, someone who gave in (as people were all too keen to point out to me when I first started taking them), who’d failed or any number of negative variations on this, like I’d let people down or myself or whoever. Sadly, I did not get much of a choice on the matter if I had any hope for survival.

I took the drugs despite all my misgivings and prejudices, I really didn’t want to feel or exist in the way I had for so long, and I was scared I would die if I did. I had been seeing a therapist, sometimes multiple times a week but it just wasn’t enough, I felt I would kill myself probably. I never thought about killing anyone else, I couldn’t bear to be near anyone or more to the point, outside my bedroom even, that I kept locked most of the time. I took the drugs because my nephew was on his way into the world and I felt I owed him a cool aunt. I took the drugs because I’d hit rock bottom but inside me something chose to live. I felt almost embarrassed when I disclosed to the therapist I had started them already. She wasn’t the biggest fan herself and I felt like I was letting her down, like saying your therapy isn’t all that but she immediately said “GOOD” and leant forward to touch my knee. She said she’d never advocate for meds and wouldn’t have suggested I take them but was glad I had come to this decision myself because I really could do with them, these drugs exist because people in my situation need them.

I do not regret for one minute making that decision. I never thought I’d be on them so long, and I never believed they’d do me much good but it’s been 7 years and I am so pleased with myself and how far I have gotten. I recently cut my SSRIs by a third. If there is one thing I can say for certain and you must be aware of this before you go in, withdrawal is a bitch and you must do it slowly. I am aware that I could suddenly feel like I made a rash judgement but for now I’m enjoying being a 3rd less medicated and wondering what it will be like when I reduce them again.

The BBC makes a tenuous link between the many millions of users who safely take SSRIs so they can function in this society and the tiny minority who kill but this can be said of so many things it makes you wonder why they have singled out people who take drugs for their poor mental health. Most people who take recreational drugs for example, do not pose a risk to others but some might react violently. We could say the same about men, right? Most of them tend to adhere to some semblance of law, at least on the surface but a minority kill women and children. Should we point the finger at beards?

Once again, the BBC reminds us how little we should care about it, yet they insist we pay for this propaganda too.

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White feminists, when will you condemn the white men attacking woc in the streets for their clothing and colour of skin?

aniso attack

I only ask because I can just imagine the furore if white women were being stripped, spat on and physically assaulted for not adhering to the rules as dictated by, say, extremist Muslim men. As it is, savage white males with delusions of supremacy rooted in toxic masculinity see nothing wrong with assaulting us, even though they routinely come out against Asian grooming gangs (to the exclusion of all white child rapists, of which there are significantly/disproportionately more).

I’m under no illusions that feminism works for me and women like me. I wasn’t dressed like a Muslim but I was still called a Paki bitch whilst travelling through London in the early hours of the morning. Feminism didn’t rush to salve my wounds with the sisterhood, but anarchists did with their innate sense of right and wrong. I still feel happy to identify as an anarchist but I’m hesitant to align myself with the likes of Guardian and New Statesmen ‘feminists’ who seem to have hijacked it from the rest of us. Why aren’t prominent feminists like Caroline Criado Perez, with the nouse and gall to get balls rolling, publicly denouncing the violence being levelled at women of colour and those who ‘look Muslim’? We are women first, are we not? I don’t mean the odd tweet, I mean an awareness campaign on par with the banknotes façade. They dominated front pages, and talking points with their heartfelt pleas to the bank of England. What is preventing women like CCP, Helen Lewis, Suzanne Moore, Grace Dent, Sarah Ditum, heck even Hadley Freeman and the like, from addressing this pertinent issue in their magazines and papers? They were all too quick to condemn women who did not get behind unelected Theresa May as antifeminist, her womanhood qualifying her for sisterly support, even though she frequently allows the murder and torture of women institutionalised at Yarlswood.

Why wasn’t white feminism shook to the core over the murder of Nahid Almanea, stabbed for wearing a hijab? Or the forced termination of SamSam Haji-Ali’s twin pregnancy when she was repeatedly kicked in the stomach by a ‘shabby racist’ who was later convicted of racially aggravated assault and sentenced to a paltry three years? More recently Resham Khan and her cousin were set upon by thuggish John Tomlin in an acid attack whilst they sat in traffic at a red light, she had to raise awareness of the attack herself through social media whilst recovering in hospital. If Resham had been white, the local news agencies would have picked it up the same day and there’d be a nationwide man hunt. The perpetrator would have been taken down and executed, as is the norm for white victims of oppressive forces, their attackers do not live to see another day, never mind sit trial for their crimes.

White women don’t care about woc targeted by white men because we are also frequently targeted by them.

wasi attack

This woman spat on a friend of mine in London recently, right in her face and muttered something like “people like you”. It’s not just disgusting, it is common assault. The audacity of this – older – woman to behave in such a confrontational violent manner towards a virtual stranger is not as rare as it might seem to most people. White women are presented in a light where they are vulnerable and overall, just mean well, as this excerpt from male white supremacists over at Spiked Online suggests.

spikedshite

They need protecting and whilst white feminists like Caitlin Moran think of themselves as ladettes and better than any man, they still need white knights to come to their rescue against women who are not white, like that time Glinner ignored all the racism being hurled around in favour of Moran’s right to literally not give a shit about black women.

White feminists literally do not give a shit about woc and this is why I no longer give any fucks for objectives as set out by white feminists. You can fuck your language policing, ya pearl clutching twats. No, I really do not give a flying fuck for your feeble opinion on women who vote Corbyn instead of May, not least because it is utter garbage. White feminism doesn’t strive for equality but the right to behave like white men. That is not what I thought I was getting into when I chose feminism.

If white feminists cannot condemn white male violence against woc then it is time we started the discussion/debate on the inherent violence of racist sexist white supremacy. The violence of white men and women, and how they’ve turned it on its head to present themselves as the ultimate victims. The perverse attitudes they have towards foreign bodies they want displayed for all to see (frolicking bodies in the sun, decaying bodies in the war on terror) and if you object to this way of being, the forfeiture of inalienable human rights.

Interview on the Headscarf ‘Ban’

We need to talk about the commentariat

I write this not for the Brexit ate my braahn baby crowd but for those of us who are willing to admit harsh truths in order to effect change. To know what it is we must do for the future we learn about the past and study trends so we can be better prepared for what’s coming. You don’t need an academic record in order to observe how the world is affected by narratives however, especially if you are burdened by unspoken rules placing you at various intersections of oppression, you experience them through social inequality. Speaking for myself I have been a keen observer of all things social and have been since I studied sociology at high school. It informs my interactions with the world. I never anticipated the backlash though, I had expected some resistance but not on the scale I received and not from the people I thought I could trust, the Guardian types keen on saving us all from ourselves.

When you learned about the Holocaust did you stop to wonder as I did, how so many were organised and in such a short period of time, carted off to their deaths without so much as a whimper from their white German neighbours? Did you marvel at the breathtaking ignorance of the allies who were allegedly unaware of the camps until it was almost over anyway? Perhaps now you know, given the ways in which truths are erased in our supposedly post truth world, and how narratives are framed, by those who claim to know better, those publications considered ‘leftie’ or socialist in some respects are squarely to blame, along with the perhaps deliberately embellished version of war we were taught on the national curriculum where Britain saved the world, and the Jews.

It could be true that some of us have a monumental chip on our shoulder, that we make excuses for our inadequacies or we might just be telling the truth. Recently the Guardian featured a story regarding the inhumane treatment a Dutch woman had received following Brexit when she applied for a British passport and was subsequently turned down because she had failed to include her original passport because *reasons*. There was outrage on social media not least because this mother of two was going to be ejected from the country minus her children, who did have British citizenship. How cruel the system was under Brexit, how devastatingly inhumane. Except this is the system and has been for as long as I can remember through my work with women who have no recourse to public funds. You won’t hear about them even if people like me blog about it. Where’s your outrage for women like Meena* and her toddler? She came over on a spousal visa from Pakistan and only just fell short of the then 2 year rule which stipulated residency in the country for at least two years under the supervision of a sponsor, in this case her husband, before she could make an application for indefinite leave to remain giving her full access to British benefits. He was violent. One day she made the decision to leave, because it was no longer safe enough, the violence was escalating and she feared for their lives. She’d endured his violent episodes but there was a limit. I’m only explaining this because she knew she had nowhere to go and so had suffered many months of abuse before she made the final break, potentially being faced with homelessness but that threshold had been crossed. Homelessness was preferable to certain death. Think about the hell she endured all on her own, without a clue. In fact she was one of the lucky ones and had a kind and thoughtful doctor, one who’d spotted the signs and knew of a culturally sensitive refuge that had a single room set aside for women with no recourse.

Subsidies for these women who, almost every time, fall through the net and get disappeared by the state or their abusive partners are practically non existent. There has never been adequate representation or provision for these women. When Meena traveled the two hours to the home office every time they said ‘jump’, baby in tow, she came back a sad shadow of her usual chatty self. I saw the state chip away at this personality, this woman who had every right to exist free from harm and to be supported in her darkest moments but instead she was yanked around like cattle to the slaughter. I can’t forget the way she cried as she prepared for the final hearing and was advised by her solicitor to bring all her valuables with her, if the home office denied her extenuating circumstances (despite the reams of evidence) she would be remanded immediately and sent to a detention centre. When we pleaded for the baby’s sake the home office, along with social services and even our own legal advisors said the state was obliged to provide for the little one and take her into care but Meena would still have to go. I was a temp and I left before her case was closed but I think about her even now and where she might be. When I read about privileged white women bemoaning airport queues, I think about Meena, and all the others the Guardian overlooked through indifference and probably racism, until Brexit provided the sacrificial king upon which to pin all of our woes.

Even more recently the Guardian published a lament from one Lindy West who left Twitter because it serves best the trolls, bots and dictators. I hear she wrote about the Nazism that Twitter is now famous for and also about all the ways she personally was sick of it and to be fair, this wasn’t regular trolling but a sustained campaign of abuse, harassment and stalking. I feel for her, absolutely, but I’m also a little pissed off. Anyone who knows what I and many other woc have been forced to endure the past few years will tell you the gigantic role journalists had in directing that abuse, harassment and stalking our way. When we protested the Guardian and New Statesmen ghouls for their hot takes on our lives they said we were bullying them and they as white middle class people with all the top jobs were being oppressed by us. What effect do you think that had on wider society? At a time when the far right mobilised in the wake of the killing of Lee Rigby these allegedly leftie papers were saying women of colour, queer people, trans people were bullying them and making false allegations of racism that were just unacceptable, oh, and intersectionality was just an elitist buzzword whilst poc had sinister undertones. You want to talk fake news?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

jonathon-haynes-race-card

This guy is an editor for the Guardian. When we called out the racism his girlfriend, who works for the New Statesman, was subjecting various people to, in her actions if not so much her words, this is how he responded.

His girlfriend later went on to ask:

farage-of-the-left

It is the middle class liberals and lefties citing Brexit as the root of all evil who have enabled the rise of fascism. Virtually every last one of them is white, plus a few tokens on hand to massage their egos. They did know, we tried to tell them a million times. They didn’t just do as they were told, they were the ones doing the telling. These are the facts we must remember.

It doesn’t matter what we think, as grandchildren of immigrants, and legitimate citizens of rainy fascist island, where our lives are scrutinised and twisted beyond our recognition. We are not permitted to defend ourselves or to react from a place of fear and vulnerability. When we react to these privileged white people’s assessments of our lives they double down instead of listening to us because they cannot believe we would have the audacity to talk back. We are bizarrely hostile, not understandably so. We should ask nicely, with our heads bowed and exult upon our colonial masters how special and superior they are, if we are to be given a voice, otherwise we simply do not exist.

 

READ NEXT: Part Two – Comments on the Commentariat

We are, none of us, beyond hope

crazy

I didn’t read the xojane article doing the rounds, I found myself reeling from the headline as I tried to process what the author, Amanda Lauren, was saying. “My former friend’s death was a blessing – some people are so sick, they are beyond help”.

It kind of speaks for itself, the author believes there are people who are a lost cause and they should die because it will make it easier for everyone else. She feels justified in saying this, reassured enough to publish her thoughts on a global platform. I am perturbed by people who make these controversial statements, unconcerned by how they might be perceived, either possessing the hide of a rhinoceros or else feel that public opinion will sway their way (another painful reminder of the growing inhumanity we’ve normalised against anyone considered ‘other’).

I have CPTSD, a condition I am stuck with for the rest of my life because it is as the name suggests, complex. I didn’t ask to be repeatedly put in harm’s way, with no chance of escape, it’s just the life I was born into. I have explored in great detail the reasons I broke down, so that I can understand it was not my fault (when you’re mental you’re convinced you deserve it) and so that I could hope for a better future, one where I can have a fulfilling life, where I won’t be immediately at risk of a violent death.

My efforts to at least appear normal for the sake of ordinary people exhaust me, as anyone who suffers from a condition which impacts on their day to day dealings will tell you; how to not only stay alive, but to live well, to be fun and interesting and relevant. There can be no stone left unturned, no door chained and bolted in the recesses of my fragile mind, triggers must be neutralised as they arise. I frequently say things that make other people uncomfortable. I don’t do it intentionally, it’s just my experience of the world is so far removed from the norm, I come across somewhat intense and affected. When people try to cover things up, or downplay the truth, I consider that to be gaslighting because it messes with my sense of reality. When I told the truth as a child I was disbelieved and punished.

My childhood was violent, my teens isolated, my 20s split entirely from reality. Amanda Lauren would probably say my life wasn’t worth living. I believed that too, until just a year or two ago, when I suddenly remembered who I was before I became unhinged, a state I found myself in through no fault of my own. I remembered the things I was good at, the hopes I had as a pre teen, for university and beyond. This brought with it confidence and self esteem, qualities I’d mislaid following my failings as an adult in a cishet white supremacist patriarchy. When I think back to the lowest period of my life, the monotony of anhedonia and how utterly convinced I was that my time on this earth was rapidly coming to an end it frightens me to think people like Amanda believe in the legitimacy of their own bigotry.

I never thought I’d have the confidence to write my own blog, or weather a twitter storm. I didn’t dare dream of friends and lovers who hear me, even when there are no words. Even when I was a bordering on psychotic, withdrawing from SSRIs, they kept me supplied with valium and kitten pics. That’s what friends do, Amanda, they love you despite your flaws. They understand there is nothing inherently wrong with you, that you’re a product of an unjust society and that to feel depressed or disconnected from the world is a sign you’re actually (most likely) a decent sort. I don’t reject the mental ones, I welcome them with open arms, as they have me. I want to offer Amanda’s ex friend my condolences and wish for her to rest in peace. I am sorry you were stuck with people who didn’t deserve you.

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.” Be wary of those who pretend they haven’t a care in the world, more so the ones who genuinely don’t.

An Open Letter: To the racist next door (well, upstairs)

We haven’t met yet, I tend to avoid the stairwells at home time, in fact most of the time because I rarely go out but I frequently hear you come home after a relatively short day at work. The landlord says you’re a teacher and this was meant to prove your suitability for the flat above me, the walls are thin and I knew the last couple far too intimately, although I hadn’t met them either. Whilst it’s true there haven’t yet been any all night raves as yet, I am getting used to the drone of your very boring self important expressions. I don’t think this is your natural speaking voice but an affectation of what a teacher should sound like. You sound very male and very entitled even when I can’t make out the words, you frequently talk over your guests. When you’re not enunciating for the whole street you’re belting out Lloyd Webber classics for Britain First’s Got No Talent so it’s fair to say you like all the attention being you gets.

It is with this growing irritation that I peeked out of the peep hole when I heard your voice bellow loudly as you trudged up the stairs this afternoon. I caught the back of your head, looks like you don’t have any hair, and you seemed as tall as the door to the next floor. A shorter man with brown skin followed behind. He didn’t pique my interest as much as the words you were saying to him though. You said “whilst women in India are oppressed at least they get an education. In Pakistan they don’t even have that.”

Oh really? I’m even more pumped to meet you now, can’t wait to look at all your photos of Pakistan and hear about your best and worst adventures. Of course as an educator of future generations I assume you must have the information to make a statement so matter of factly, so I’m going to believe you when you say anything, otherwise why would you? Unless say, you were just repeating a thing you’d always heard and just assumed to be true because you’re a thickheaded arrogant racist (cos white supremacy runs deep even with the ones who don’t appear outwardly fascistic) and why should you care about whether things are factual or not, it’s not like due process is a thing poc even understand in their own corrupt countries so why would they expect it here, or something?

In my large family most of the graduates are women. My grandparents had a focus on educating the girls because they wanted us to be independent and not reliant on a husband who could do with us as he pleased. They saw education as freedom from patriarchy, which certainly confused me growing up being as my family weren’t lacking on the patriarch front. I think it was a latent desire to keep “our women” free from the clutches of western patriarchy, to increase our value as women in the western world where we are seen as servile and disposable. This attitude was prevalent in the community I come from. These were the poorest of Pakistanis and many married their girls off young but the suitors were always turned away at the door for us and my aunts. “They’re too busy with their studies” was the blanket response my gran had for anyone suggesting we were ripe. This remained the case forever, at least with regards to myself. I’m still unmarried, in my 30s, and still learning, at my own pace.

This isn’t the first time a person in a position of power has espoused dangerously problematic opinions with regards to the natives of my fledgling motherland. Another teacher, older than the racist upstairs and also a devout Christian asked me once whether it was true there was a whole village of imbeciles somewhere in Pakistan, where the IQ was nominally the lowest in the whole world. I didn’t even know what to say to that.

This kind of jarring ignorance has become commonplace in the wasteland of post recession Tory Britain, it’s breathtaking because it was not the norm for me, at least not growing up in my multicultural town with my multicultural friends and teachers. It was perhaps always there but cleverly disguised because at one time people believed in power of laws which forbid racism, I know I did. The various authorities inadequate response to racism has allowed for that attitude to seep into wider society because the racists know the cops are on their side. Whiteness trumps justice. In fact racism is condoned by the people occupying seats of power at the very top, for example when they call Cobra to deal with an unprecedented death of a white soldier on British soil even though that sentence is untrue in its entirety.

I have come to conclude there is no right or wrong in society only power and control, that is to say I believe there is a moral compass and most certainly a version of life exists for some where doing the right thing is the noblest and happiest way to live but for the majority of people it really is about what you can get away with in any given situation. These opinions white people have, where they deny the humanity of others and speak of them as aliens without any direct experience of the people in question is a narrative that is centuries old. Racism is most prevalent in the UK in the areas where there are actually no people of colour, so when you’re trying to reason with a fascist that they are wrong about all Muslims, you may as well be speaking to a shit brick wall. There is no reasoning with those who are devoid of reason, education, experience yet exist in a suit of white skin that elevates them to a state of enlightenment where they can make damaging untruthful statements about other humans without batting an eyelid or challenge.

They’re teachers and I left school at 16 so they’re right and I’m wrong, or at least that’s the version some of you allow yourselves to believe.

Why the truth matters to me

truth

Growing up a stranger in the place of your birth is disorientating. Asides from the challenges one might encounter when starting at a new school, like making friends, children with foreign parents have to overcome additional obstacles in order to fit in. They must learn another language sometimes, as I did, but language is one of those things small children master within a surprisingly short period of time. Other barriers to assimilation are not so easy to tackle and there are so many, it’s no surprise people from ethnic minorities suffer disproportionately with poor mental health.

When you are told you are, but also feel, a member of the underclass, you either buy into the narrative – especially when you’ve not been taught to think critically – or you seek to distance yourself from the perceptions others have of your people. You buy into their hate or your own, in a bid to survive, but to survive well. Self-love just isn’t an option. I was conscious of the lies I needed to tell if I had any hope of accessing the world I wanted to belong to as early as age 6 when I decided I wanted to be called Sam. Even for one so young and innocent I had an inkling Sam was a name they just couldn’t mess with. It was English for a start. I didn’t have to spell it out every time, or have people poke fun at it, whether my peers or teachers (who should have known better). Even at this age I knew I had to change who I was if I was to have a fighting chance in life.

Racism wasn’t the only thing that informed the shaping of an identity that sat at odds with who I was inside. In fact as time went on, it became less of a conscious thing and something I normalised, and believed everyone did. Of course I now know this isn’t true, that many people are born into their identities and have the freedom to express them without the judgmental white gaze waiting for them to slip up.  Or the limitations of a violent home, living your days in fear of attack, never knowing where the next hit was coming from, desperately trying to cover up the evil truth from outsiders, in case they confirmed you did actually deserve the abuse you endured.

I was bubbly and outgoing, smart and organised, my mouth permanently fixed in a smile. I was part of the school council, a class monitor, a straight A student, a member of the quiz team and captain for rounders, netball and cricket. We were the champions of it all. None of the teachers would have guessed the situation at home was escalating, that we were living in fear and self-harming. My personality was split early on, through necessity; I had to be two different people in order to survive. Entering the big wide world as a teen on the run, I had to invent another persona to fit in with all these interesting new London types from all over Europe and beyond. When I left school, I left my world, my friends, my life behind. I had to learn how to speak in a way that didn’t set southerners off in a fit of giggles at my dulcet Brummie drawl. I had to be flexible if I was going to make it, whatever it would take. I lapped up my token status as the one who wasn’t like all the others, as though this was a reflection of my amazingness and not a divisive and racist microagression used by white people to remind you of your place (not so worthy but not so bad either, a reminder to keep doing what it is you’re doing for cookies), and keep you from questioning their problematic views.

Of course I didn’t know then that I didn’t have to be so amenable. I was on the run from a culture I had rejected because of the ways in which it made me a target and was desperate to adopt new ways to help me blend in. I became so many different things to so many people; I forgot who I was and what I wanted. I lived a life where I was manipulated by people who identified this willingness to please and then exploited it. I was used and abused, scapegoated. I was called a liar for keeping secrets I was too afraid to share. A gestalt therapist I accessed through my work noted that I smiled when I spoke of negative things and asked me to consider the incongruence between my words and my body language. I had become so jumbled up in my thoughts I began to dissociate whenever I was afraid. There was drug abuse, promiscuity, domestic abuse in my intimate relationships whilst I struggled to hold down a job as an advocate fighting for victims of domestic abuse. I was my own best example of bad practice though it did have the bonus of making me non-judgmental, however hopeless a situation might have seemed, I believed it was essential they had access to the same support. Cops for eg are less likely to want to help repeat victims, especially those who may have been warned off from being a witness previously (cos it’s all about them and paperwork, not an infectious social disease).

I couldn’t find my way out of my living hell. I couldn’t access the support to do so because then people would know my secret; that I was ugly and horrible, and undeserving of love and respect. That I should die. My adult relationships confirmed the self-hatred I had as a small child; nothing I did would ever change the fundamental flaw from within, my low social standing as the daughter of immigrants who never did escape the ghetto or the colonial mind-set (despite the straight As) and respect for hierarchy (within patriarchy). I was a slag before I had even kissed a boy, they must have known what I would grow into I reasoned.

A tragic incident in my personal life provided the catalyst for PTSD. All the feelings I’d ever suppressed bubbled to the surface and consumed me. I existed, and that’s all I can say for my consciousness over the period of a year except that I never want to go back there. With the right support, I was able to identify the pathways responsible for the ‘random’ panic attacks. I sorted the snapshots in my mind onto the correct collages and vowed to trace them back to the first triggers so that I could beat them. In order to do this, I have to be 100% honest with myself and everyone else or the carefully constructed administration of my mental health will fold in on itself.

A huge part of my recovery is about owning my genuine mistakes and experiencing them in a way that doesn’t cripple me with anxiety (the white commentariat can go to hell for the ways in which they hindered my progress, not forgetting the PoC who’ve perpetuated the lies about me).

Don’t lie to (or about) me; I will come at you with the rage of a woman who knows she is being gaslighted, because it triggers a collage of all the people who’ve knowingly put me in harm’s way, by minimising, denying and erasing my experience of things. I always feel a little crazy following a spat with people who lie because it hits me hard in a way you cannot appreciate. Sunny Hundal occupies the same brain space as the mosque teacher who molested me and continued to enjoy the kudos of being a holy man. Helen Lewis triggers the same feelings as the guy who molested me at 15 then said he’d heard I was a slag so thought he’d try his luck. That dude denies to this day that he ever put a finger on me.

If I say something and it seems dishonest to you, run your concerns by me, to my knowledge I am always telling the truth. I do however appreciate the arbitrary nature of most things so if you know better, do tell. I won’t lie and say it doesn’t help if you’re already a friend, coming at me with criticisms, however well intentioned, won’t end well if we’ve barely exchanged a RT, or even the bare minimum of support considering the shitehole the internet can be (and has been towards me).