The future’s bright, the future’s orange…

The sun is not messing around. This past couple of weeks we have had all the sun all the time. So much so that I’ve basically had to start buying beach wear. I’m not complaining, (well not much, I am too hot & fainty) it is nice to feel sun on my peely wally skin. It won’t tan, but my freckles will go mental.

On Friday I took a wee drive to Balloch National Park with my Sister, Dad & baby nephew. It was proper hot (26 degrees, in Scotland this is a heat wave), so I opted for my super summer dress. It’s light & bright and I love it. I picked it up on a whim whilst buying broccoli & cat food in tesco. I also ended up buying 3 nail polishes & flamingo pen, which is exactly why I need to do my food shopping online.

Anyway, we had a lovely walk & lunch by Loch Lomond. My dress kept me fresh & funky throughout. I think my yellow kick is over because lately everything that catches my eye is orange. I’m juicy, so it suits me.

ly h Kerr

Dress – Florence & Fred (Tesco)

Kimono – Asos Curve

Sandals – Hotter

Unfortunately I didn’t realise you could see my black knickers until I looked at these pictures. Hey ho, I’ll wear orange pants next time.

Loch Lomond, Balloch

Oh & yes that is a Pro Choice badge. On Friday Ireland voted to repeal the 8th & I could not be happier. Another stride for women’s (& everyone with a uterus) rights facilitated by courageous women who would not give up.

Pro Choice badge

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Wake me up inside…

Today I saw another one of those social media that purports to offer alternatives to self harm. This time the post also claimed that sharing this information would save lives.

I’m just going to be completely honest, this bull isn’t saving any lives. These are not credible alternatives to self harm. They will not stop an ill person from hurting themselves. They don’t solve the problem of why a person might feel the need to hurt themselves; they don’t even address it. In fact, in some cases they reaffirm the idea that hurting yourself is a good coping mechanism (just so long as you do it in a socially acceptable manner).

I’ve talked & written about why these suggestions are insulting until i’m blue in the face. I see others giving excellent arguments against such advice & yet this sort of thing is still the only information disseminated in the mainstream. So, I thought I’d try to talk about what actually can help one refrain from hurting oneself.

My suggestions are more complicated & time consuming & bloody hard. They don’t lend themselves to becoming a jaunty list to share in Twitter. The grim reality is that self harm is a grind and so is quitting.

Blood stained foot

For me the first step in getting anywhere close to stopping was understanding why I started in the first place. I truly believe understanding why a person self harms is crucial to recovery. Self harm isn’t the illness, it’s a symptom of it. From the outside identifying what is distressing you might seem simple, but trust me, it isn’t. There can be layers of trauma & hurt. A person may have a lifetime of issues woven into a complex fabric of pathologies. Picking that apart is intensely painful. Having pulled on that dangerous thread, you’re going to have to find ways address those underlying problems. They don’t simply disappear under a bright light. It takes time, professional guidance & huge bravery.

And that’s just the beginning. Next you have discern what you get from self harm; how is it helping you cope. What function is inflicting pain serving. Again, this is no simple puzzle to solve. My self harm had many roles. I was punishing myself, I hated the body that had failed me, I was avoiding emotions I couldn’t cope with, the blood was cathartic, I became addicted & a multitude of other reasons. Predictably totting up all the pay offs doesn’t negate them. There is more work to be done. One must weigh how healthy each function is and decide if it enhances ones life. For instance, probably not a great idea to be continually forcing myself to do penance, however it is a good idea to not be completely overwhelmed by sadness. You must find away to live without the unhealthy whilst also establishing new mechanisms to maintain essential uses. Of course all the time you are working away at your inner self you are dealing with addiction. Self harm is habit forming. So, your journey of self discovery/healing/madness has a background of overwhelming urges & powerful compulsions. To begin with you have to fight the full force of addiction every single moment of every single day. Plus, of course, everyone has their own additional problems to throw into the mix. Maybe you have co morbidities or financial problems or a family you’re trying not mess up with your illness. Life doesn’t stop when crazy calls.

None of this easy. It does not and cannot happen over night. It involves breaking down long held beliefs & opening yourself up to being scared and vulnerable. This post is just a simplified version of a process that takes years. It involves psychiatric professionals, medical intervention, medication, therapy, a support network, a&e visits & most of all trying to be honest. I understand why it’s easier to pretend you can draw on your skin or scream at a wall until you’re better. It is terrifying to a/ begin trying access the kind of intensive help needed & b/ expose yourself to pain you’ve been desperately trying to suppress. Believe me, selling yourself & others a lie is not the answer.

The truth is there are no tips & tricks for beating self harm. There is no magic fix or complete cure. I look at it like any other addiction. I will probably always want to cut, I have to do whatever I can not to. No amount of extremely cold water will ever change that harsh fact. When it comes right down to it, for me, the driving force in abstaining is knowing that I want other things more than I want to pick up that scalpel. Oh & sheer will power. I couldn’t have come to that realisation without more than a decade of therapy. I absolutely could never have exercised this level of control over the voice in my own head without putting in all that work.

I’m not going to say everyone’s story is the same as mine. I can’t guarantee that you can ever get completely better. I’m not. I can only offer you the hard truth of my experience & my certainty that there aren’t any shortcuts. Don’t share false hope. Let’s be honest with people who really need it. Trying to quit self harm is a nightmare, but there is hope that you’ll wake up.

This week I have been mostly…

Rediscovering old tunes. It started with Hall & Oates; my sister mentioned she had recently realised how good they were, so I had another listen. She was correct & it spiralled from there. I have since found myself in voyage of musical rediscovery & I am loving it.

Since they kicked off this forgotten tune trip, Hall & Oates are the perfect place to start. My mum used to play them in the car all the time when I was a kid. I didn’t dislike the songs then, but I think they just kind of washed over me. I was busy thinking about important 13 year old things & fighting with my siblings. Who has time to pay attention to some old dudes their mum likes? Turns out mum’s old dudes were pretty cool. In particular Rich Girl & Maneater have made my frequently played list. I love that they sound simultaneously upbeat & chilled out. I’ve known plenty of rich kids who could ‘rely on the old man’s money’ & I can totally relate to the song’s portrayal of that type. However, I think what I like best is that I can close my eyes & be transported to another time. I can picture mum’s big hair & remember how safe it felt to drive around with the music up loud.

Mum & girls in beach

Next up was a song I heard a snippet of on a tv show & immediately needed back in my life. Novocaine for the soul by The Eels is another little time machine. It takes me back to the end of high school & navigating my first forays into adulthood. It is a turn it up loud & dance away your problems kind of song. It has to be said that my problems back then were laughably light; I definitely didn’t need any novocaine. The whole Beautiful Freak album has worn well. My problems may have gotten heavier, but blasting The Eels can still help lighten the load.

The wonder of shuffle dug up the gem that is 212. Azealia Banks has since revealed herself as problematic af, but I can’t stop loving this song. This is so not my usual kind of jam, but I can still remember the first time I heard this song. It blew me away. I love everything about it; strong sassy women taking no shit, killer beat & that feel good factor. For some reason this will always be a sunny day song for me. It’s perfect crank it up & get ready to go out music. So glad to have this foul mouthed banger back in my life.

Azealia Banks, 212 video

I first remember hearing Bright Eyes First Day of my Life around the time my Godson was born. The lyrics really hit me because when I looked at this tiny new person I felt like I was getting a fresh start too. I wasn’t in a great place back then & that precious new baby to focus on was a real life line. I’ve thought about this song again when special little people have entered my life & the words still hold true. When I hold a new baby who is dear to me I feel flooded with love & renewed. The arrival of my tiniest nephew brought this one back to me & I’ve been playing it a lot lately. Life is so much richer when you have little ones to cherish.

Meeting muffin for the first time

I’m gonna rule out friction…

Against all the odds it appears that summer has actually arrived in Scotland. Chances are it won’t hang around long, so I’m making the most of it while it lasts. It is basically my perfect weather; bright & sunny, but not too hot. So, the Toyboy & I have nipped away to the sea for the weekend.

We’re staying right on the water. The view is stunning & the secluded beaches are perfect for leisurely strolls. With floaty dresses & jelly sandals donned there is only one problem; the dreaded chub rub. Lucky for me I have found the ultimate anti chafing product. It’s cruelty free, 100% plant derived & it works! Skindura Secret Shield is amazing.

I tested it out before this trip on outings to the park & beach. It held up great. No chafing, no sticking & no sweaty thighs either. It is the holy grail for fat chicks. I’ve been carrying this wee stick around just in case, so far I haven’t needed to reapply once. Secret Shield gets a 10/10.

Happy Thighs!

Talk is cheap…

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which is, in theory, a good thing. Since all it seems to involve is people on social media saying ‘talk about it’ it is not actually all that helpful.

We absolutely should talk about mental illness more. We should educate our kids about symptoms & how normal it is to experience them. We should put better training in place for teachers, emergency services & NHS staff. We should all try harder not to judge or shirk away from people who are struggling. Employers should be flexible with staff dealing with mental illness. There should be more information, more understanding, more honesty. Yes, we should talk about it. Asking for help it definitely a good idea. All of these things are important & valid, but there’s still something missing from the conversation.

What happens when you do speak openly & no one listens (or seems to care). Can we talk about all the people who gathered all their courage &!swallowed their pride to ask for help and didn’t get any? Can we address the fact that as hard as is it to say ‘I’m not ok’, it’s a million times harder to hear ‘tough luck’ in response.

We do need to talk about mental illness, but we also need to listen and act. Funding is of course part of the problem. The NHS is chronically underfunded & mental health is the poor cousin. For all the political talk of parity between physical & mental illness, there has been little change to waiting times or scarcity of vital mental health services. Very often waiting to even be assessed by a mental health team is a long process. In my area the wait for psychologist input is 4months (that’s relatively short), in practise you’ll be waiting longer because you will first have to be referred & assessed before anyone even adds you to that list. During all this waiting time people can have no professional support.

Then there are the multitude who are deemed ‘not sick enough’. To be fair this has always been an issue due to stigma & ignorance. Lack of funding exacerbates the problem. When services are so stretched, access to those resources become limited. Lots of people who seek help for mental health problems are basically told to manage it themselves. Get some exercise, reduce your stress, get out more. When you summon your strength to talk about things that frighten you and are told it’s no big deal, it’s hard not to feel even more pathetic. It is difficult not to feel shutdown. Repeat that scenario more than once & people give up. Likewise for those who are informed that they’re not quite ill enough to warrant intervention. All that talk of early warning signs & speaking up doesn’t translate into much action. Having a professional ask you to wait & see if your health declines before they will help you is a kick in the gut. When you know that getting worse means your entire life falling apart, it’s not unreasonable to prefer to be proactive. When you don’t know what’s happening to you all, it is terrifying. So, yes, we do need to talk about it. I will always encourage people to ask for help. I will always strive to remove the shame of admitting you need assistance. I’ll also continue to demand that we talk about what happens after you take that step. We cannot ignore the fact that asking for help does not guarantee receiving it. We must acknowledge all the people for whom no treatment has been forthcoming & stop pretending that the problem isn’t much, much bigger.

People die because they did talk about it & nothing changed. Can we start talking about that?

I feel pretty…

On Friday night I met the Toyboy for a super quick dinner & a terrible movie. I say dinner, I only ended up with sweet potato fries. Plus the film starred Amy Schumer. If I’m honest, it was a poor attempt at Friday nighting. I did manage to get some outfit photos, so all was was not not lost.

It does have to be said, it was good outfit & we did rectify things by watching a bloody good film (anon) when we got home. I picked this retro beauty up on Thursday & could not wait get it on my body. I love that it had a 50’s feel, is my favourite colour & has rare, but beloved pockets. Really big ones, too!

ly h Kerr

Dress – Primark

Cardi – Monsoon

Harness Bra – Pour Moi

I think the harness bra sexes it up just enough for a night time excursion. I also went big on accessories, overall, I felt banging.

Cinema selfie

The film we saw was of course, I Feel Pretty. It is awful as the reviews claimed. Its feminism & body positivity are flawed in all the ways you’ve been reading about. It is also just a bad film. So stupid in places that I actually felt insulted. It is filled with nonsense, dated sexist tropes & a terrible imagining of what could have been (in other hands) an interesting concept. Also, Amy Schumer is trash. Give it a miss.

Ticket stub, nail art, red dress

My week in pictures…

I had a few rough weeks, but I’m slowly getting back into the whole life thing. I have done some pretty cool things & knocked out some damn fine outfits this past week. Unfortunately I’ve entirely failed to get any photos worthy of an actual outfit post, so I’m giving you a mish mash medley of my doings.

Last weekend was a bank holiday & the sun decided to show up. Of course the entire of population of Glasgow rushed outside to soak up the vitamin d & shed their clothes. I happily joined them. On Sunday the Toyboy & I headed west to check out another Overheard in the Westend. Before enjoying the spoken word & music in the cavernous Inn Deep we had a drink by the river. All in all a perfect holiday Sunday in the sun.

ly h Kerr

Pinafore & Kimono – Asos Curve

West End, Glasgow

On Tuesday we ventured out to see my all time favourite comedian Luisa Omielan. Her feminist, body positive routines are both inspiring & hilarious. Her latest show Politics for Bitches (for BBC3) goes even further. She’s taking comedy to new places by talking about our political landscape, the inequalities that created it & what we can do to grab back some power. The show in classic Luisa style is empowering, but with poignant moments as she shares her experiences of her mother’s brutal cancer journey & tragic death. She is filming in various locations, check her out if she hits your city.

ly h Kerr

Dress – Forever 21

Luisa Omielan, politics for bitches in Glasgow

I had to squeeze in a little medical treatment this week too, which left me tired & my body very tender. The rain arrived along with my fatigue meaning it was time for a cinema day. So, I ditched my underwire, slipped into a soft dress & met my fav Mummy & son pair at Cineworld. We saw The Guersney Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The film was good; made me blub a little, but ultimately a happy ending. However, the best moment was definitely my nephew loudly filling his nappy during the big romantic scene. I love that boy. The film is worth a watch if you like a bit of period romance with stunning scenery & excellent retro fashions.

ly h Kerr

Dress – Primark

Cineworld, silverburn

Now for the random likely section. I did a little thrifting this. Also a wee bit of bargain shopping. My bigger nephew turned 2, but is on holiday, so I prepped for his return. I obviously painted my nails, made some faces with my niece & clicked pics of generally pleasing things. I hope you likey too.

Project post it, Glasgow Nail Art by ly h Kerr

Ring – Glad Rags

Bronan Kerr