Something to talk about…

A couple of weeks ago I got in a taxi (not an unusual occurrence) & engaged in the usual polite conversation with the driver. The weather, had I had a nice day & so on. Then he went quiet for a minute & said ‘can I ask your advice on something?’

This is the kind of question that usually rings alarms bells, but for some reason I decided to give this guy a chance. He had talked about his children in our short conversation & came across as a decent person. I’m glad I trusted my gut. He wanted advice on how to help his son, who had been self harming.

The taxi driver never alluded to my scars, but I presume that’s why he thought I might have advice to offer. He explained a bit about his son. How he had changed schools after a move, found it hard to make new friends, become more insular. Then how his wife had discovered their son had been injuring himself & how they were both lost. They’re son didn’t want to speak to anyone about it, they didn’t know if they should force the issue. He was increasingly unhappy, so far their attempts to help had been unsuccessful. It broke my heart. This man clearly loved his child. It was just as clear that he was utterly out of his depth.

So, I told him I had experience with self harm. Explained that it could serve a few functions. That is was habit forming & yes, it was a sign that his son was really struggling. I stressed that I wasn’t a professional mental health worker & that everyone was different, but in my experience it was best to get help as soon as possible. It was also important not to make his son feel forced into anything. Research some options & present them to his son, try to let him make choices. I suggested he make it clear that he & his wife were always available to talk about anything & offered some organisations he could contact for more advice. That was about as much as I felt able to say to a stranger during a taxi ride. I didn’t know any details of what was going on for his son, so I didn’t know what would be best for him. It felt insufficient, but when we arrived at my destination he refused to take payment. He said my words had lifted a load because now he felt like there was help for his son & he had an idea of how to find it. I got emotional, wished him the very best & thanked him for my free lift home. We parted & are unlikely to meet again.

So, why am I telling you this? I’m sharing because the more I think about it the surer I am that this kind of thing should happen more often. I think the reason it doesn’t is stigma. That taxi driver took a chance; he shared sensitive information & asked me to do the same. He dared to break a taboo & admit that he needed help. The result, hopefully is that his family will find that help. How many people struggle with mental health problems and never find the courage to ask for help? How many people just never know who they can turn to?

I’d love to live in a world where it didn’t even take courage to tell someone you’re hurting. It shouldn’t be so hard or so hidden.

If you are experiencing mental health difficulties it is imperative that you seek help right away. Mental Illness almost always get worse & harder to treat when left to fester. There is no shame in not being ok. You deserve any & all hell to feel as good as you can.

Your GP is always a good first step. Take someone you trust to advocate for you if you can.

MIND offer a variety of local services. You can find the in your area here.

SANE offer specialised mental health support. You can contact them on 0300 304 7000.

You can also call The Samaritans 24/7, 365 days a year on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

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Friday quickie…

It’s been a tricky week mostly taken up with hospital adventures. Thus most of my plans were scuppered. In amongst all my stomach misery a gem arrived; my new specs!

I ordered them a few weeks ago & had honestly forgotten just how fabulous they were. I stuck with my favourite cat eye shape, but amped up the embellishments. Man alive, do I love them.

These beauties are from where.light. They have an incredible range of styles at very reasonable prices. Delivery takes a few weeks, but they are really worth the wait. I haven’t found anything of a similar quality & WOW factor in this price range. I’m already trying to work out which frames to order next.

Yellow days…

As I got older I shifted my cosmetic buying habits from ‘drug store’ to designer. I felt as my skin aged I needed to spend more to get the same effects. The recent boom in dupes & high quality high st brands have almost completely reversed those spending habits. Increasingly I am finding that things I pick up for pennies are just as good if not better than those luxury brands. Which brings me to one of my current make up favs, Primark.

If you had told me 18mths ago that I’d be raving about Primark beauty products, I’d have screamed bullshit. Yet, here I am. Every time I go into any Primark I leave with a bunch of beauty products. As I’ve said before, their products are 100% cruelty free & the price point is impossible to argue with. Last week I picked up their Radiant Primer & I was not disappointed. The primer feels great, gives a lovely glow & really extended the life of my foundation.

Primark radiant primer

Radiant Primer – £3

I also popped some eye products in my basket. I loved the idea of Glitter Tips for my lashes, but once I got it home I realised it worked for so much more than that. It has a lip gloss style applicator, so can add a wee bit of shimmer to eyelids, lips & even cheekbones. It’s a multi functional gem. I haven’t actually tried it on my lashes yet, but I definitely will next time I do a more shimmery eye. My final beauty purchase was a super sweet yellow eyeliner from the Eye Candy range. I wanted something to go with my Nyx liquid eyeliner & it works perfectly. I covered my whole lid & lower line with this softer yellow. It really made the brighter Nyx liner pop. I think it’ll also look fantastic with a softer, pastel eye too. All round thumbs up for all three products.

Primark eye candy eyeliner

Primark lash glitter tips

K- Pop Eye Candy Liner – £1

Lash Glitter Tips – £2

I used the primer on top of my Body Shop tea tree pore minimiser & under Laura Mercier cream foundation. I was pleased with the dewy results. This isn’t my most beautiful face ever, as I have been feeling pretty terrible. Believe me, though, it’s a startling improvement on how I looked au natural.

ly h KerrBlue eyes with yellow make up

Next on my list is of things to try is the Blur Primer. I haven’t been able to find it yet, so if you know of any Glasgow adjacent Primark who stock it, give me a shout.

Time to say goodbye…

This week I said goodbye to my Uncle Gerry. He died before his time, but faced death with courage & humour. He lived his life with warmth & generosity; never forgetting a birthday & always offering whatever he could of himself to his loved ones & community. The packed chapel at his funeral reflected how much he was appreciated.

In his honour I wanted to pause to share the beauty I am still lucky enough experience. So often I (we) get bogged down by the stresses & strains of daily life that I forget how lovely the world can be. Sometimes it takes a loss to remind us what we still have.

Fireworks, swans, GlasgowSunset paws

Blue sky, Glasgow, lilies

In the spirit of his giving nature I also wanted to share some organisations doing incredible work. I hope you will support them if you can.

Crookston Community Group aims to develop a sense of community whilst helping those in need. The fund a number of services ranging from a food bank to children’s activities and community cohesion workshops.

Street League works with unemployed youth using sport as means to provide training & gain skills needed to find employment. They have fabulous success rates in getting young people into work. They focus on areas of high youth unemployment.

Peek want to increase the opportunities for children to reach their potential. They offer free play and creative learning services that allow children to thrive. They remove barriers by offering support & education for both parents & children.

Chin Chin, Uncle Gerry. You will be greatly missed.

Things I can’t believe I have to say again… Part 2

I’m not sure if everyone got the same extensive instruction on manners, but my parents, grandparents etc were very clear that being polite was important. School further instilled in me the concept that there are things that are rude to comment or enquire upon. I feel like even if no one took the time to teach you social etiquette (for want of a better phrase) as a child, there are more than enough opportunities to pick up the basics as you go through life. It seems as though this is in fact an incorrect assumption on my part because tonnes of folk still have zero clue about what is appropriate.

So, let’s try & clear up another area of life on which you really should not broach. Babies. Specifically, when, if, how someone may have them. Unless someone opens this conversation with you, zip it. Wether or not someone wants to procreate is a private matter. When they might do so is none of your business. Why they haven’t already done so is not a topic that’s up for public consumption. Seriously, don’t ask.

Mainly don’t ask because that is private information & prying into other people’s lives is rude. I’ll say that one more time for anyone in doubt,

IT IS RUDE TO ASK ANYONE INTRUSIVE QUESTIONS.

Further to that don’t ask because this a sensitive subject. Regardless of a person’s circumstances there isn’t really a way to reply that isn’t awkward. People (especially women) who do not want children are sick of being judged & interrogated on that decision. If people do want children & don’t have them, there’s a reason. Trust me, they don’t want to discuss whatever that reason is with a random person. For someone people the topic of having children is so emotionally charged that talking about it can be distressing. It’s not ok to hijack a person’s privacy.

I want to have children. I love little ones, but I don’t want to explain that I’ve had multiple miscarriages. Thus far haven’t been able to get pregnant & stay that way. Hence, I don’t feel able to simply say yes I plan to have kids. Part of me dreads occasions centred around children because as much as I love celebrating little people & the wonderful people who made them, I know someone will ask that question. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way. No matter how inconspicuously I shrug off the question, inside, I want to cry. Do you hear that? Your nosey questions are spoiling otherwise joyous occasions for people. I (we) don’t want your pity, we want you to exercise good manners.

Next time you consider asking someone if they’re broody or winking and saying you’re next.

STOP

No one likes that rude bitch who makes things awkward. Please try not be that person.

Trigger bang bang…

Anyone who spends any time on social media will have become familiar with the term triggered. Over the last few years it has entered the public lexicon. Unfortunately, it’s meaning has been incorrectly implanted in the public consciousness.

Triggered is actually a psychological term usually related to PTSD. A trigger is an external stimuli that produces a very uncomfortable emotional response; most often panic attacks or flashbacks. However, varied symptoms can result from the triggering of a traumatic memory. It absolutely does not mean offended or hurt. I’m sure most people will have come across the correct explanation of the term. I have certainly witnessed many try to explain why using the term as an insult or a vehicle for mockery is not ok. Yet, the misuse continues. It occurred to me that perhaps what is needed is an accurate representation of what happens when a person with PTSD is triggered. Maybe if people understood the reality they wouldn’t throw the word around so carelessly. So, I thought I would share what triggered means to me.

Whenever I have been pregnant I have been unable to wear my regular perfume. I wear the same scent everyday in life, but some weird olfactory sensitivity means during pregnancy it makes me nauseous. Thus, I change it & the scent I wore I during my first pregnancy is a major trigger for me. Triggers can be anything & no one has any control over what might become one. I experienced a million sights, sounds & sensations during that time, most of them hold little power over me. That scent, though, is potent.

Snow patrol, blue sky

Formidable enough to render me a sobbing wreck. Being taken off guard by that scent whilst shopping forced me to run shaking from a book shop to vomit in the street. All the while struggling to breath & bring myself to the present. A nurse who had too liberally applied the fragrance sent me shuddering back 15 years. Leaving me so panicked I crawled behind a chair & hid. I stayed crouched on the floor desperately trying to claw my way out of the worst day of my life. Completely trapped in my own personal horror film until some kind soul got me some diazepam & did me the kindness of handing it over without questions. That heady aroma has caused nightmares so vivid that I’ve woken myself with my own screams. Dreams so painfully real that I’ve had to keep myself awake for days. Sitting in the company of someone wearing that perfume once contaminated me. On returning home I could not rid myself of the smell. Real or imaginary it lingered until I smashed my hand with a marble pestle. So tortured was I by the memories the scent brought to life that I ploughed that pestle into my hand until I broke two fingers. The cracking of bones a welcome jolt back to the here now.

Diazepam 10mg

Triggers are uncontrollable. It is not within the power of a traumatised person to select what reactivates their trauma. Nor can they choose not respond. Our minds shelter dark territories & they’re all one way roads. Once you’ve slipped in, you have to press on through. Being triggered isn’t a foolish over reaction. Nor is it the hurt feelings of the overly sensitive. It is the raw & brutal reality of those who have dealt with the unimaginable. It’s a battle scar on the brain.

I can’t stop anyone from misappropriating a word. Ignorance abounds. The only tool I have to fight with is honesty. The truth is that trivialising a serious symptom of illness hurts. It stifles the conversation & prevents people seeking help. It makes vulnerable people feel weak & ashamed & stupid.

So, no, I’m not triggered by your cheap dig. I’m just tired of the stigma. Very, very tired.

Things I can’t believe I have to say again… Part 1

It may be a little over optimistic to say that summer is in the way, but I think I can at least say that winter is over. Whilst I can’t wait to enjoy more lazy days in the sun, hot days always give me a moments pause.

The reason for my second guessing is our old friend shame. As much as strive I to love my body there are still so many people who’d rather I didn’t. My body does not fit societal standards of beauty. Scrap that, I don’t even fit societal standards of normal. The fact that I refuse to hide my fat, scarred flesh rocks the normality boat even more vigorously.

It has taken me years to be able to celebrate my form. My ability to wear whatever I please & shed layers in the heat is a hard win victory. I won’t lie I often still have to steel myself to step outside in a vest. Not because I feel ashamed of my a scars or my past or flab or peely wally complexion, but because there are tonnes of folk who really, really want me to.

Staring is a given. Staring combined with nudging a mate & directing them to also have a gawk is also fairly frequent. Less common, but still occuring more than you would think is the person who thinks they should actually comment on my body. Oh & I give them so much to work with. Strangers just love to get angry, sad, concerned and curious about my body. Sometimes I can just shrug that off. Often I will snark back & think these strangers pathetic. However, there are times when for whatever reason, I’m just not up for the judgement of unknown members of the general public. Their stares, nudges & comments ruin my day. I do momentarily feel ashamed and scared and like I should never leave the house again. And, my friends, is not ok.

So, here’s a little advice.

OTHER PEOPLE’S BODIES ARE NOT YOUR BUSINESS.

Your thoughts on other people’s appearance are not important. Strangers do not want to hear them. Your moral judgements are your problem, don’t make them anyone else’s. Likewise your hang ups.

STARING IS RUDE.

Always. There are no excuses. If you find yourself accidentally staring, stop. If you see someone you think looks weird, bad, crazy just remember plenty of people find your visuals unappetising too. Oh & don’t oggle them.

In short, don’t be that person. Don’t be the one who spoils someone’s lovely summer day. You do you & let the rest of world do them.