S.O.S

For August my charity of the month donation was a no brainer. Priti Patel’s deranged plans to criminalise asylum seekers entering the UK by crossing the channel has highlighted the amazing work done by the RNLI.

If you aren’t aware of their work. Lifeboats provide a 24hr rescue service for ANYONE who gets in trouble at sea. They also provide lots of excellent sea safety education, flood rescue & international work with people most as risk of drowning. They are voluntary charity organisation who risk their own safety to save others.

Lifeboat at sea with information about priti patels planned legislation

The Tories quest to criminalise rescuing asylum seekers at sea is abhorrent. It also has significant implications for RNLI volunteers who’s policy is to rescue any person in trouble without judgement. The organisations has received harassment from right wing anti immigrant groups. The idea that we should ask questions before saving someone from drowning is repugnant. Lifeboat stations need our support now more than ever. If you can please make a donation here.

If you would like to make a donation & stand a chance of winning a unique piece of art l have a tip for you. The lovely & talented roseylivesonaboat is running a raffle in aid of RNLI. You can win lifeboat themed needle point art. Full detail are in her latest post.

Lifeboat themed mini needle point art
RNLI ‘Tiny Bullshit’ by roseylivesonaboat

Be running up that hill…

Chronic illness is great at kicking you when you’re down. Lamentably, it also likes to give you a dunt when you’re flying too. It would be taxing to say which is worst, but falling from a height certainly hurts.

That was me last week. I was on a lovely break in the cutest cottage by sea. Soaking up the calming sea side views and thoroughly enjoying time with my nephew. The sun was out, we headed to an incredibly beautiful beach. I watched the boy run around having the time of his life. I paddled in the refreshingly cold sea. Took deep breaths, listened to the lapping waves & felt happy.

Tide coming in on st Cyrus beach

As it edged towards late afternoon people started to leave. I began to worry about the hill I’d have to climb to leave the beach. As we packed up I saw people stroll up. I knew it was going to be a problem.

And I was correct. That little sand dune fucked me up. I started trying to ascend it alone, but quickly realised that wasn’t going to happen. It’s hard to get your footing on slopping sand. Even harder to get purchase in moving ground with a walking stick. With every step the sand slid down the hill pushing me back. It was all working against me.

Foot with black painted tie nails on the sand with wave approaching

My sister saved the day. She let me lean on her, literally & half dragged me up that hill. Every step was excruciating. My knees felt like the where going to explode. My back, wrists, elbows & shoulders were all screaming. I couldn’t catch a breath, my lungs felt as though they were filling with the sand I was slipping on.

That little sand dune appeared to go on forever. The bench at top a promised land I’d never reach. Listen, the pain was bad, it wasn’t the culprit of tears at the summit. As my sister helped me struggle I saw my 3yr old nephew gamble up the slope. An old couple comfortably passed us. A nice man with a very concerned look stopped to ask if he could help. I focused on breathing whilst my little sister pepped talked me up that hill. I repeated ‘you’re nearly there’ in my head and tried my upmost to hold back the tears.

When I finally had my bum on that bench my nephew ran to give me a cuddle. The tears started streaming. I looked at the beautiful view as I silently cried. I didn’t want to make eye contact with my loved ones. I didn’t want my little rascal to see me in this state. I recognised the concern in my sister’s voice & the love in the silent shoulder my Mum offered to hold me upright. As much as I loved them for it, I hated that I have to be this way.

View from hill over a beach.grass & wildflowers with sand past leading down to the blue sea

It was another one of those ‘how did I get here’ moments that chronic illness brings. I never imagined it’d take a support team to get me up a hill at 40 years old. I’m not a person who likes to be publicly vulnerable, yet here I am. Regularly fragile & exposed as I try to scratch out something close to a normal life. I felt guilty and embarrassed and pathetic and grateful and burdensome and scared and loved. All crashing over me with more force than the waves below could ever muster.

I concentrated on the nature around me as fought to compose myself. I attempted to ignore the curious looks from strangers & the pain coursing through my body. I listened to the the waves and birds. I let the blue horizon pull me through all the heavy implications placed on the people I love. I dried my eyes. I got back on my feet.

The day continued. Me, making my way slowly behind the others. Stopping to rest. Taking pain relief. Zoning out when we got back in the car. It was all so much bigger than that stupid hill. I was hoping I hadn’t distressed the others. Dreading the pain that I knew was still to come. Feeling sad at the thought that I probably wouldn’t ever return to that blissful beach.

It is painful to accept one’s limitations. I find it incredibly hard to let more & more go. I hate that I’m always the one who has a problem with the plans. I despise that my difficulties are so visible. Gasping for air at checkouts that take a fraction too long. Sitting on floors when there’s no seats available. Calling in advance to check if my malfunctioning body can be accommodated. I don’t like being on display, don’t want to answer questions about my stick, shake off the exasperated sighs or smile at pitying strangers. No matter how kindly meant, I’d rather be suffering in private. I’m exhausted by the knowledge that I’ll pay for every slice of fun. Even more so by the battle with myself to keep reaching for those good times anyway. Most of all I’ll forever regret how much this impacts all the wonderful people in my life. I wish I could stop being a hindrance. I never want them to have to worry. I appreciate every tiny thing they do for me, but I still wish they didn’t have to.

This is chronic life. It’s not just the pain & illness. It is all encompassing. Lots of the time the only way to deal with that is to push it to the very back of your mind. These moments of brutal clarity never stop taking me by surprise.

Go fund them…

For June’s charity donation I decided to give directly to people requiring support. These are some requests that came up in my social media time lines that tugged at my heart strings. There are too many people struggling to access too many essentials, so I know you are also see hundreds of deserving causes regularly. Please help if you can.

Joliff Top Surgery Fund Excellent artist seeking help to access to too surgery.

Kat Alonzo Service Dog & Medical Fund Kat is a queer and disabled person who requires help to und her service dog & medical fees.

Food and essentials for Ex Foster Kids Children who age out the foster system often have very little or no support. You can donate to help provide essentials.

How about no?

Every now & again I realise that I kind of hate all the latest ‘must haves’. Summer 21 is definitely one of those moments. Thus, I invite you to join me as I trash all the things I really don’t want.

Big Collars

Everywhere I look folk are adding massive collars to everything they own. I can’t stand it. It’s twee in the worst possible way. They’re the ugly offspring of 80’s maternity & flower girl fashion. I feel especially nauseous when I see someone sporting a large doily style collar on a pastel knit. It has to stop. Please.

Pale blue cardigan with white lace colour
Nope

Pampas Grass

Is that even the correct name? It’s that awful fluffy stuff that keeps turning up in floral arrangements. Usually accompanied by weird dusky pink dried flowers. It’s another 80’s revival that we should have left to rot. The fluff gets everywhere, they always flop & there’s that urban legend about swinging. I’ll stick to fresh blooms, thanks.

pampas  grass & dried flower arrangement
Nope

Hankie Tops

I’m usually all for a 90’s throwback. It was a bloody good decade with some excellent fashion. Hankie tops, however, were awful then & even worse now. I still have nightmares about the lemon yellow gingham hankie top I struggled to keep my boobs in on a second date in 1998. I can’t forgive the pitiable piece of fabric masquerading as a garment.

Candlelit Concert

In theory, I actually love this idea. The first candlelit concert I saw advertised was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in a beautiful theatre. I could see the appeal. It must have been a success because now there is a candle lit EVERYTHING. Abba, Disney, Daft Punk, ballet (is that safe?), songs of Barry Manilo! I’m out.

Bare Midriff Belt

I couldn’t tolerate Carrie Bradshaw belting her belly button. So, I’m definitely not going to find it charming this time around. Can’t we ever learn from our mistakes?

Carrie Bradshaw wearing Gucci belt on bare midriff . ASOS model wearing jeans & belt in bare midriff
Nope & Nope

Oxygen for India…

Covid 19 has been hell. We’ve made sacrifices. We got ill, lost people, missed people, missed life. We have suffered, but we have almost made it through. Even in our worst times we have privilege. So much privilege.

Throughout this nightmare we have had access to excellent medical care & now vaccines. Many of us have had safe houses to lockdown in. Food, clean water, the ability to stay in touch with our loved ones. It doesn’t negate the bad, but it does make us incredibly lucky.

Now that we are close to escaping this pandemic we cannot abandon those still being ravaged. We have to help. India is in dire straits. We, in the west are good at taking what we want from other cultures without asking & without giving anything in return. It is past time for us all to do what we can to fight Covid in India. Please give whatever you can.

Oxfam India Covid Appeal

British Red Cross

Action Aid

Oxygen for India

Kicking out the Kardashians…

I’m calling it. It is time to be done with the Kardashians. I’ve never liked them, but come on, they must be at peak toxicity now. It’s time to deflate that bubble.

Everytime one of their clan is thrust into my sphere they have done something gross. Asking fans to donate to a medical gofund me they could cover for less than they spend on a handbag. Private island birthday parties during a pandemic. Having a month long pity party because folk saw your actual body AND trying to pretend your woe was about female empowerment. It’s all sickening. According to Kim & co we eat too much, our waists are too big, our skin is too flawed, our stomachs too wobbly & our hair too fine. Don’t worry though, they have products to sell you that will fix the lot. The only thing greater than their wealth is their boak level.

Various adverts for weight loss products featuring Kardashians

Khloe’s latest has of course pushed all my buttons, but first, let’s talk about the Kardashian record. They have wielded their power almost exclusively to feed their own consumption. Despite having more money than anyone could ever need the continue to sink low for the dollar. Wether it’s selling dodgy diet shakes and waist trainers to impressionable fans. Stealing designs from all & sundry (including independent black owned businesses), trashing women they feel threatened by or the constant cultural appropriation, they collectively refuse to take responsibility for harm caused. Anything goes for these sisters as long as the price is right.

Which brings me back to Khloe’s latest tantrum. Don’t get me wrong, the crap she gets from the media about her appearance is horrendous. It’s hard to feel overly sorry for her when she has devoted so much time to upholding the insane beauty standards she’s crying about. Khloe has form. She fronted an entire tv show devoted to body shaming. Convincing people who have been bullied and dumped to shrink their bodies is not empowerment. Neither is insisting your body is the product of diet & exercise when it is completely unattainable without surgical intervention. Strangely enough painting yourself as a martyr because people saw your actual body is also not lifting anyone up. Following those hysterics with highly edited images you claim are untouched is straight up gaslighting.

They’re a group of women with a global platform; they could boosted amazing things. Instead they’ve chosen bolster the patriarchy & line their pockets. They’re billionaires making money promoting disordered eating to teenagers. That’s repugnant. Trotting out some vaguely feminist language every time your own monster bites is not solidarity.

Except when they have something to sell you.

The show was always shit. The opinions vapid. No one needs another example of clawing greed. We know better. We deserve better. Let’s chuck the whole gaggle in the bin.

Go on & fool me…

In lieu of excellent fashion content (currently live in jammies) I thought I’d give you a wee injection of nail art joy. I’m hoping I may find the motivation to wear something awesome soon. Please stick with me!

My lovely mother has a habit of buying presents, forgetting about them & stumbling upon them after intended event. Thus I received a big bag of extra Xmas presents last week. Included was some excellent holographic polish from M&S. Cruelty free & hard wearing. I recommend. I’m loving this broken mirror look.

Silver nails with black shattered glass effect

I layered the Barry M Hi Vis blue to create this cute night & day manicure. The Hi Vis range is so good for creating your own shades. They look amazing on their own and make totally new shades if applied on top of another colour.

Blue manicure with clouds &  sun on one hand moon &  stars on other

Finally a wee homage to my youth with these 90’s Romeo & Juliet inspired nails. I went on a kind of mass date (with half my year group) to see the Baz Luhrmann R&J and adored the aesthetic. I also played the soundtrack non stop for about 2yrs. Needless to say, I was a fan.

90’s Romeo & Juliet style manicure with flaming hearts, gold barbed wire & tattoo style roses

Watching the wheels go round & round…

I’m almost a year into lockdown. There were a few fun outings last year, but for the most part I’ve been home. Man alive, I’m fed up! I’ve reached the take comfort wherever you find it stage. Turns out that’s some random locations.

Old crime shows. Not flashy American ones. They’re too full of hero talk & ridiculously good looking people. They offer no comfort. What I like is late 90’s gritty UK stuff. Proper dark crimes with complicated twisted characters and very few happy endings. It probably speaks to my craziness that these are the tales I seek solace in, but hey ho.

Posters for waking the dead, wire in the blood and cracker

Tic Tacs. I’ve no idea why. A pack of cherry cola ones came free with something I ordered and now I am hooked. I’m not usually big sweetie eater, but sucking on these seems to really help my concentration. Is this some kind of regression to infantile soothing? Who knows. They’re damn tasty, so I’ll carry on.

Candles with fresh outdoorsy scents. Perhaps because I never go anywhere & I miss the world. Probably also because my cat won’t stop farting. Either way I’m obsessed with anything with a whiff of the sea or a refreshing mountain breeze.

White roses in a vase, candles, photo frames on decorative table

Lists. If it isn’t on my to do list I will definitely forget all about it. Lockdown has made this habit rather more frenzied. Every minute activity must be noted & crossed off. I think it might be a reaction to living such a restricted life. I suspect breathing will be included very soon.

Fleecy bed sheets. I’m obsessed. Bought one set on a whim and now want nothing else on my bed. They’re so unbelievably soft and warm. I’ve purchased another complete set and loads of fitted sheets. This way I can have some fleecy goodness with ever duvet set. It’s the closet thing I can get to a snuggle mid pandemic.

Grey fleecy bedsheets

John Oliver. The man is a marvel; smart, funny & genuinely decent. I’ve been rewatching old episodes of Last Week Tonight and finding interviews on YouTube. It boosts my sense of well being to know good people exist in the world. If they can make me laugh out loud all the better.

John Oliver laughing

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down…

Are you losing the plot yet? I fear I’m getting there. Lockdown is getting harder. If like me you already have less than perfect mental health, you may be closer to the edge than most.

I’m with you. I’m finding all this time alone is churning up lots of issues I would prefer remain undisturbed. The isolation is leaving far too much room for pondering big issues. Existential questions that I couldn’t answer before the world went mad & are even more confounding now. I swing between Groundhog Day dread and being on jangly high alert. Trying to break the monotony of another day home alone by sorting your underwear drawer is a tiny bit depressing. My already racing heart attempting to burst right out my chest every time my noisy neighbours thump really isn’t fun either.

Am I doing anything that matters? Am I running out of time & is this pandemic melting huge chunks of what is left? Can I continue to makes ends meet? Am I doing enough for those who can’t? Can I get a Tesco delivery slot or my prescription? Will I ever get rid of long covid? Will all my loved ones get through this unscathed and will we ever be permitted to be in the same room again? This shit is only the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface are all the intrusive thoughts and fears of catastrophe.

Image of iceberg above & below waterline. The sea is vivid blue.

I say this with the knowledge that I am in a privileged position. I have security & a support system that many do not. Too many people are living in situations that are perilous in every possible way. Accessing even the most basic of assistance is getting harder. Half a carrot, a handful of tuna & frubes will not feed hungry children (if you don’t understand this ref, read this & try to control your rage). When you can’t rely on the system to ensure kids don’t starve you can bet that mental health services are in distress. A fact that has been keeping me awake at night as I worry about my own mental wellbeing.

With that in mind I wanted to share some resources. If you don’t feel you can wait to reach the top of an nhs waiting list one of these may be helpful.

Theses organisations offer reduced cost therapy.

Arbours Association

Frontline Therapist

Problem Shared

The Guild of Psychotherapists

Dedicated to Change Project

The Spark

Sandyford Glasgow

Most universities & colleges offer counselling services. If you are student it’s worth checking out what help your institution can give. Many also offer low cost therapy with students training in psychology disciplines.

You can find online support here:

Samaritans

Mind

Calm

Age UK

Women’s Aid

Beat

The Mix

Childline

There are also local services across the UK, a bit of google research may lead you to affordable (or free) help in your area. I know that none of these options are perfect, I wish I had the answer. In the absence of a complete solution I hope these options might be helpful.

As always when discussing mental health it is important to state that I am not a professional. Please seek advice from your GP in the first instance and contact emergency services if required.