Keep your rosaries off our ovaries…

Today I joined the counter demo against catholic anti abortion group 40 days of life. Regular readers may remember that I also attended this protest last year & I am incredibly frustrated to have had to return today.

40 days of life are an international group who use their faith as an excuse to harass vulnerable people outside hospitals. They have taken American style anti abortion protests global. It both saddens & enrages me to see them operating in my city. During lent the group protest outside the maternity buildings of various Glasgow hospitals. Their claims of wanting to help people planning abortions are belied by their actions. I have seen this group standing outside my local hospital & they are helping no one. Their chosen location is outside the maternity building, but also at the main entrance to the hospital, providing maximum opportunity for intimidation. Regardless of the situation no one is happy to discover an unwanted pregnancy. To seek to cause distress to people in an already difficult situation is cruel. To add to the burdens of persons who may be traumatised or desperate is sickening. Their talk of kindness & love are incongruous with their actions. As is the fact that their hospital vigils cause unneeded stress & upset to expectant mothers, women who have miscarried, women with seriously ill & premature babies. All of whom use the building they protest outside. Their signs & prayers can be seen & heard from various wards in the building. Their presence causes untold harm.

Photo Credit : Elaine Graham

I was truly sickened today as I listened to their lies, inaccuracies & smug self congratulation. I could barely believe my ears as I heard Robert Colquhoun (40 days of life, international director) praise the group for their work. He talked of how happy he was at protests in Argentina & how he hoped they might prevent a proposed change in abortions laws. For the record Argentina currently only permits legal abortion in cases of risk to mother’s life or rape. In practise even in those cases abortion is by no means guaranteed. The influence of Catholic Church is a major factor in current abortions laws in the country. The result of which laws is huge numbers of illegal abortions. Many people die as a result of unsafe illegal abortions. Many suffering treatable complications also die because there are legal penalties for those caught undergoing ‘back street’ procedures, thus many are afraid to seek medical help. As always those living in poverty are hardest hit. The poorer the person the less likely they are to be able afford decent care, making them more likely to experience serious complications, death or be plunged further into poverty by the responsibilities of additional children. This is a situation that Coluqhoun & his cohorts are actively trying to maintain. To call such an organisation pro life is laughable.

Colquhoun went on to identify a clinic in England that performed the majority of late term abortions in England. He talked of wanting to protest that clinic in an attempt to stop those procedures. Let me remind you that late term abortions (after 24 weeks) are performed in the UK only in extreme circumstances. Namely that the physical or mental health of the mother is at extreme risk, that continuing with pregnancy would pose a threat to their life or that the fetus is found not to be viable or to have a condition or disability that would severely impair their chances of any quality of life. In plain speaking those who have late term abortions are about as vulnerable a group as it is possible to find. We are talking about abused children, raped & tortured adults, people who want to continue with their pregnany, but face death if they do so & those whose unborn child will be still born or so severely ill they are likely to live only short lives filled with pain. Is there anyone amongst that group who you would wish to see harassed? To have possibly one of the most painful periods of their life debated in public? These are the very people that 40 days of life today cheered the notion of obstructing. That they would pin point a clinic performing such essential procedures is evil. All their talk of God’s love & the sanctity of life amounts to deliberately tormenting & shaming people who have already suffered more than anyone should ever have to bear.

These are just two of the selfish speaking points. There were many more disgusting acts celebrated. Many lies told. It is crucial that we do not let this go unopposed. These American tactics are new to UK & we must not let them take hold. Religious extremists (for that is what they are) must not be allowed free reign to abuse people undergoing lawful medical treatment. We have to stand up & protect the right to choose. Access to safe abortion saves lives. Beyond that every child should be born to parents who both want to & are able to properly care & provide.

I passionately believe that everyone has a right to quality sex education, access to contraception and complete bodily autonomy. I am absolutely prepared to fight for those rights. I hope that you are too.

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Like the moon needs poetry…

I didn’t have time to mark World Poetry Day through the week, but it would make me sad to ignore it all together. I’ve been smitten with the art form for as long as I can remember. It has basically provided me with a literary landscape to wander around with my feelings. Thus, I must pay homage to some poetic masters & share a few lines of my own.

What better place to start than with Plath. I suspect Sylvia Plath is probably a favourite of every girl who’s had a brush with crazy. I actually read her prose before her poetry, but obviously fell hard immediately upon discovering her poetic genius. This is one of my favourites because it mixes prime fucked up Sylvia with some classic romantic imagery.

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is new discovery, but I can’t get enough of her. Her work covers feminism & race & more. She gets right to the nitty gritty of the female of colour experience with both clarity & humour. I love the structure of her poems & the words she chooses to place her emphasis on.

If I Got Paid For All My Emotional Labour.

Maya Angelou is another writer whose poetry came second to me. I read her autobiographies first & once I had begun reading her words I never wanted to stop. Every single line she ever put to paper is so utterly & completely Maya. A women who knows who she is & embodies herself in everything she does is the ultimate inspiration. Her poetry gives me life, which I believe is exactly what she intended it do.

Which just leaves me. I wrote a lot more poetry in my darker days. It seems my mind reaches peak poetic prowess when in despair. So, this one’s an oldie.

Rhapsody in blue…

Another Friday, another cosmetics quickie. I’ve been really struggling with sleep this week and my tired face needed serious help. All hail, Nyx, to the rescue.

It’s amazing what a pop of bright colour can do to a weary visage. I went for blues to compliment my eyes & me likey the results. I already have a few of the other vivid brights liquid eyeliners, so I knew how good they are. The sapphire doesn’t disappoint. Mixing with the black liquid liner & white pencil on my lower lid really worked. As a less then expert eyeliner applicator I’m definitely in favour of the fine tip on this one.

I did a little bit of experimenting with this gorgeous icy blue mascara. My lashes are too blonde to use it on its own, but it works well on my lower lashes. Plus I added a wee flick the the ends of my outer lashes on top of my regular black. I kinda like the effect.

The star of the show is absolutely the lippie. Liquid matte in this amazing purple tone will definitely get you noticed. I never used to bother with lipstick, but am now a total convert. The more dodgy I feel, the bolder my lips gets; I find a really vibrant lip is a wonderful distraction.

I finished off my cruelty free face with my usual Barry M strobe stick, body shop tea tree primer & Laura Mercier foundation. I have to admit to being pretty chuffed with the end look. Especially considering the sleep deprived canvas I had to work on.

Anyway, I took my pretty painted face (& the rest of me) off for a date night with the Toyboy. We had yummy Mexican & an obligatory margarita; no Mexican meal is complete with tequila. We then hit the cinema to watch Red Sparrow in the comfort of reclining chairs.

I had mixed feelings about the movie. I wouldn’t advice it for anyone who is sensitive to sexual violence. It’s a tad heavy on the ‘America is morally superior’ front, but otherwise quite an enjoyable spy thriller. The reckoning chairs are an unambiguous hit. I only ever want to watch films tilted from the repose of a luxurious angle.

Project Post it & this week’s diy manicure also came along for the ride. Well, a girl has to maintain her personal brand 😉

Don’t tell me what to do…

In this world of self care & mindfulness it seems like everyone thinks they’re a therapist. Don’t get me wrong, sharing what works for you & talking about our mental health is great. It’s just that, to put it bluntly, some people talk crap. Others just regurgitate tired old advice that ain’t helping anyone. Man alive, I’m sick of it.

I want to talk specifically about the useless chatter surrounding self harm. I’ve been hearing & seeing the same patronising advice for YEARS. The most frustrating part is it often comes from people who really should know better. So, allow me to take you through why so much of the standard advice is just plain bad.

1/ Draw on your skin instead of cutting/burning etc.

This one usually takes two forms. The first opines that whatever relief/release a person may find in hurting themselves they can also attain by simply drawing on their skin. Now, let me ask you this, if drawing lines on yourself would make you feel better would you be causing physical trauma in the first place? The answer is of course, no. The components of self harm that serve a purpose vary, it may be pain, blood, disfiguring the skin or even a need to punish oneself. None of which needs are met by drawing.

The second part of the draw on your skin nonsense is the idea that you draw something pretty (often a butterfly) where you would normally self harm. The desire to preserve the ‘body art’ is then supposed to dissuade a person from ‘spoiling’ their skin. The stupidity of this idea is obvious. If actually scarring oneself will not prevent a person from harming themselves it seems very unlikely that spoiling a temporary drawing will. Even if by some miracle a biro butterfly were enough to assuage overwhelming distress, the body has a lot of flesh. Are people to cover every inch of themselves in rainbows & roses?

Butterfly drawn on skin

2/ Have a hot bath, cup of tea, blah, blah, blah…

Imagine the kind of agony you would have to be in to take a scalpel to yourself & cut for hours. Do you think a nice bath would magic that away? The answer is no. A bath helps you feel better at the end of tiring day. It does not release you from excruciating emotional pain.

3/ Distract yourself.

The need to self harm is powerful & persistent. For some reason lots of people (both professional & laymen) believe the urge is fleeting. I often see those struggling told to distract themselves until the urge passes. This advice betrays an ignorance regarding the workings of self harm. The need to hurt oneself does not easily wane. In fact, the longer a person self harms the stronger the compulsion becomes. Often it is impossible to focus on anything else. No sleeping or eating or thinking until the hunger to hurt is sated. It isn’t possible to distract oneself from that level of intrusion. When you cannot function on the most basic of levels watching a film or phoning friend are not options.

4/ Throw away your self harm tools.

The rationale here being that if one does not have the apparatus used to self harm, then self harm is impossible. WRONG.

As already discussed the compulsion to injure oneself is incredibly strong. Desperate people become ingenious. Trust me, when you really need to, you can hurt yourself with anything. Believe me again when I say those fraught & frenzied moments are when people make mistakes. As incomprehensible as it sounds self harm can be the very thing keeping someone alive. Asking or obligating an ill person to give up their lifeline is dangerous. It is also cruel.

5/ Ping your wrist with an elastic band/hols an ice cube in your hand etc.

My objections to this one are again two fold. To begin with it’s just ineffective. Self harm is both a habit firming & escalating problem. A person almost always experiences a need to increase the severity of their injurious behaviour. This takes us right back to the start. If the nip of an elastic band were sufficient, no one would be putting themselves in hospital via self harm.

A more serious objection, though, is the message this sends. Telling a vulnerable person that hurting themselves is ok, is a head fuck of massive proportions. Self harm is never the real problem, it is a symptom. In order to tackle self harm one must deal with the underlying issues. That is hard work, time consuming work. It’s much easier just to counsel harm minimisation. In doing so, you validate a sick person’s maladaptive thought process. That mental health professionals routinely tell patients that hurting themselves is ok is a disgrace. The basic premise of the hold an ice cube/ping an elastic band technique is that hurting yourself is a reasonable response to emotional turmoil. Just don’t do it badly enough to bother other people. By suggesting someone harm themselves in a small way you have shifted the conversation from, ‘let’s help you not hurt yourself’ to ‘hurt yourself in ways that do not draw attention to the act’. It is ignoring the root of the problem & allowing a person to believe that they are deserving of pain. It’s lazy, it counter productive & it is bullshit.

Hand holding ice

If you are struggling with self harm or you know someone who is, don’t feel helpless. When you are searching for help & find only these sort of suggestions it can feel like there are no answers. Whilst there are no quick fixes, there is hope.

See your Gp. If they don’t listen or offer help, see another Gp. I know this is exhausting at a time when you can least afford a fight, but please, don’t give up. If you have a friend or family member who can be your advocate, take them with you. You deserve treatment. You deserve care.

If you have badly injured yourself please seek medical advice. Again, if you have a friend or family member who can support you, take them along. If you do not & are worried about how you will be treated taking a copy of NHS NICE GUIDELINES can be helpful. You are entitled to be treated with the same compassion & respect as any other patient. Most emergency personnel will do this, but a few may need reminding of their duty. Being able to quote these guidelines helps in such situations. As scary as this may sound, do not put yourself at risk by avoiding treatment. You are worthy of diligent medical care.

If you are not yet ready or able to see a Dr, you can contact The Samaritans 24/7.

Call – 116 123 (uk)

Email – jo@samaritans.org

More cruelty free quickies…

Last week I was lucky to be gifted some products that turned out to be total problem solvers for me. Of course both are cruelty free & also fairly affordable, so I thought I’d tip you all off.

First up, is this incredible moisturising body mist from Yardley . This isn’t a brand that is usually on my radar. For some reason I thought they did proper old fashioned style products (think heavy talc). I saw an advert whilst looking for gift ideas & was pleasantly surprised to discover what they actually offer. Anyway, this freesia scented body mist is really lovely. I’m totally a floral girl when it comes to scents & anything moisturising is a yes from me at the moment. I’ve been using this on my legs especially after shaving. It’s so easy to spray on & it feels great. In fact, I like the smell so much that I have also been giving my bed sheets a wee spray before I iron them. Voila, a beautifully fresh bed and super soft legs.

Keeping with the soft skin theme is this Mediterranean sea salt scrub. I have lots of scar tissue which tends to get really dry. My scars are often ‘drive me crazy’ itchy too. I try a tonne of exfoliating products to help with this. So, far I’m finding this scrub is helping with both issues. The course salt is a great exfoliater, it leaves my skin soft & even seems to help it absorb moisturising products. It has really improved the dry texture of my scar tissue & definitely reduced the itching. I will absolutely be purchasing this when my sample jar runs out.

*Products were gifted, but opinions are genuine.

Cold water surrounds me now…

I’m having one of those days when my emotions feel like they might sink me. It’s like all the feelings I usually keep in check have escaped & flooded the room. It’s hard to breathe or concentrate on anything other than keeping my head above water.

Luckily, I’m a strong swimmer. I know the worst thing one can do when in rough waters is panic. I need to take deep breaths whenever possible & focus on getting to dry land. All of which means sunday hit me a little harder than I expected. Mother’s Day always gives me pause, but this time last year I was pregnant. Now, here I am, still childless. Still trying not to lose hope. It does feel hopeless at times. When all the hurt & negativity bubbles up it is hard to see a point. What am I doing? Where is life taking me?

That is when I have to reach for reason. I must force myself to get sickeningly, happy clappy. In short, I count blessings. There are many & if it doesn’t make you cringe too much, I’m going to share a few.

Love. I have love in my life.

I have many beautiful little people.

Potatoes. Boiled, roasted, chipped, baked, in scones! A world with potatoes can not be all bad.

I have a very big & very comfortable bed.

And someone I like rolling around in it with.

I’m smart. I’m funny. I’m pretty fucking tough.

I was lucky enough to be born in a place that offers me safety.

I adopted the very best puss cat.

I have access to quality healthcare.

I got to be young in the 90’s.

I’ve seen the sunset on a beach in Corfu, cuddled a koala in Brisbane, watched fireworks from castle ramparts in St Malo, walked in The Beatles footsteps in Hamburg, ice skated in a snowing Central Park, got so wasted I lost one shoe in Amsterdam & so much more.

I have sung beloved babies to sleep.

Watched them take first steps & their personalities unfold.

I have a roof over my head.

Food in my belly.

Some really cool shoes.

And plenty to look forward to.

I don’t have everything, but what I do have adds up to enough. Life goes on. Life is good.

Spinning around in the air…

It has been a right old slog this week. I was certainly happy to make to Friday. What better way to celebrate it finally being the weekend than having a drink & dance? Well, I was only watching the dancing part, but it was still fun.

An old friend of the Toyboy’s is going abroad with her husband for work & they decided to a hit a ceilidh in one of Glasgow’s oldest pubs for their leaving do. I used to love a ceilidh, but alas, my knee stops me galloping about these days. Still, watching people really throw themselves into the moves is amusing. Even more so when it all goes horribly wrong. Ceilidh’s can very quickly descend into upbeat chaos. It doesn’t hurt that Sloan’s is a really cool venue. With an historic feature staircase, grand ballroom & some very Glasgow centric murals.

Since I wasn’t dancing I thought I better look extra good. I definitely didn’t want to be mistaken for a wall flower. So, I thought this metallic number would do the trick, especially when paired with my equally shiny brogues. I haven’t worn wrap dresses in a while, but after the success of the my Xmas day dress, I’ve fallen for the style again.

Dress – Pink Clove

Brogues -Primark

I’m not loving this one as much as my velvet beauty. It cuts across the bust in that awkward way that some wrap dresses do. Meaning one boob is always on the verge of escaping. I’m not a fan of having to adjust myself all night. It also crinkles up in a slightly strange manner, which I think makes me look like my body is rumpled & stomach is angular. Not the look I was aiming for! Anyway, I do love the cut of the skirt & the shiny, shiny fabric. I think I will wash it & give it another go. Sometimes clothes just sit nicer after they’ve been laundered. Fingers crossed.

I was chuffed with my icy blue eye make up & my high voltage nails were spot on. My silver brogues were also killing it, so it definitely wasn’t an outfit fail just room for improvement.

Watch out for a hopefully more successful restyle on this dress.