When will they stop…

I used a hand sanitiser in a train station the other day. It was one of those super strong types that you find in hospitals. As soon as it hit my skin I was whisked back in time. For a second or two I was somewhere else. Somewhere I didn’t want to be.

The cold sensation drifted through my body. A zoetrope of mixed up images spun in my head. Blurry flashes conjured by the clinical scent. I felt dizzy. I sat down, took some deep breaths. It passed. I was grateful.

Blurry spinning image of trees & sky

It wasn’t entirely gone. That night the whirl of disjointed scenes dipped in & out of my dreams. Random words have jarred memories. My mind has wandered mid thought or conversation. I have felt the panic rising. Spells of forcing my head to connect with my physical reality have emerged. Struggling to focus on what I can actually see, hear, smell in this moment. Ignoring the feelings climbing my throat.

Tonight in the shower I couldn’t shake the feeling that the hot water streaming down my legs was blood. I couldn’t wipe the hospital aroma from my nostrils. Nor soothe the ache that spread from my back to my thighs. The hand sanitiser has triggered a reaction. My body is recalling the trauma stored deep within. It’s a phenomenon associated with PTSD known as body memories.

I haven’t experienced this symptom in quite some time. It lies dormant; rising unpredictably. Sometimes reacting to obvious & painful stimuli. Or, like this week, triggered by a tiny insignificant detail. My olfactory senses seem particularly attuned to old wounds.

New born baby feet with words birth trauma Association

This time it’s the initial loss. I feel my body failing. I know it isn’t happening. I have learned how to pull myself back to the here & now. Still, those moments when I’m dragged to the past feel completely real. I am not just thinking about unpleasant events. I am feeling them. My flesh & nerves & senses are reacting to something that happened 20 years ago.

Body memories are excruciating. It becomes a battle between what you know & what you feel. Fighting strong emotions is a challenge. When you add physical sensations grounding yourself is an onerous task. I have experienced these episodes replicating the sensations I felt during miscarriages & pregnancy. At times these physical memories are accompanied by flashbacks & other PTSD symptoms. Other times they occur in isolation. They mirror my actual experience so completely that I’ve found myself taking multiple pregnancy tests when I knew it was almost impossible for me to have conceived.

Sands logo

It’s another aspect of PTSD that I rarely see discussed in the mainstream. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not only (or even mainly) associated with combat trauma. Yet, it’s the link most people draw. The violent outbursts in media portrayals of the illness are not accurate. New studies are highlighting how prevalent PTSD is in women who have experienced baby loss & birth trauma. For most of us, managing PTSD is an internal process. Distress may leak out, but the grind is with yourself. Accessing the right help, surviving that help (trauma therapy can be brutal), learning to manage symptoms, accepting the parts you can never fix & the impact they will have on your life.

It’s painful & exhausting & many of us never completely recover. To stand any chance of healing specialised therapy is essential. There are so many barriers to reaching that help. It can take years to obtain any psychological intervention without the resources to pay privately. Even longer to receive the specialised therapy that can actually help. So many people can’t afford to wait.

This month I’m supporting The Birth Trauma Association and Sands. Both organisations support families who have experienced trauma surrounding baby loss & birth. Please join me if you can.

We need to talk about Yemen.

I’ve been trying & failing to find the words to explain what’s happening in Yemen & why we all need to donate. The scale of the crisis is beyond my powers of description.

Unicef reports that 80% of the population (including 12 million children) are in need of humanitarian relief. Food, clean water, sanitation & health facilities are all in short supply. The spread of covid 19 has made an already untenable situation worse. Yemen’s plight has all been ignored by the world.

Child victim of crisis on Yemen

You can help by donating here:

And take action here:

I need a little space…

If this crisis has taught me anything it’s how grateful I am to have a safe & comfortable home to quarantine in. Not everyone is so fortunate. That’s why this month I have chosen to support Refuge.

I’m sure you will have read about the increase in domestic violence incidents since lockdown began. This quarantine is far more than an inconvenience for people living with an abusive partner or parent. The choice of being locked up with someone who harms you or leaving with nothing during a global pandemic is a horrible dilemma. That’s why organisations like Refuge are even more vital at the moment.

Sun shining beneath  dark clouds

Refuge provides a range of services for men, women & children. They offer safe houses, advocacy culturally specific help & a 24hr hotline. These services save lives. I urge to support them if you can.

You can make a one off or monthly donation of your chosen amount. Or you can opt to buy a Refuge Parcel. These fund specific items like hygiene packs, child support, emergency parcel and so on. I opted for a children’s parcel containing items to help a little one settle into a new life. I think it’s a wonderful idea. It makes me feel really happy that I can help make a child’s world a little better.

Refuge logo and helpline

Every month, that’s what the theory is…

I know things are tight in the money department at the moment. Earnings are uncertain for lots of us, but if you possibly can, these charities could really do with your help.

The wonderful women behind All Killa No Filla are killing it during this crisis. They’re not only creating hilarious content, but continue to support worthwhile causes. Kiri & Rachel entertained us with bonus & live from lockdown episodes of their epic podcast. In return for the merriment they asked that fans donate to Every Month Manchester. They’re a group tackling period poverty and have been struggling during the corona pandemic. If you can manage, even the price of a box of tampons would be a big help.

Red blood drop with words every month

This month I also made a small contribution to Pink Lip Day for SMA. This is Kelly Fletcher’s annual fundraiser in memory of her beautiful little girl. Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK support those impacted by the condition and fund research. It can be a devastating diagnosis, please help if you can.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot in grey on pink flower backdrop

Maybe I’m amazed…

International Women’s Day is coming right up and that feels like a great excuse to celebrate women helping women. My March charities of the month are two awesome organisations doing amazing work for women in Glasgow.

SAY focus on providing semi supported accommodation for young survivors of sexual abuse who have no safe place to live. They also have a resource centre to provide practical & mental health support. Plus provide training for other orgs working with women who have experience sexual abuse and/or domestic violence. This is vital work. Escaping sexual abuse leads to homelessness for too many young women. Having a soft place to land can save and change lives. I am in awe of the work SAY is undertaking.

Glasgow Women’s library logo

I am equally impressed with the amazing Glasgow Women’s Library. This inspiring institution is the only accredited museum in the uk that is entirely dedicated to the lives of women. They maintain a wonderful lending library that is open to all. Whilst also running an exceptional education programme. Many of their courses and events are open to all. They also provide opportunities more tailored to specific groups. I can not shout loud enough about this inclusive, safe space. So often the achievements of women are ignored, it is refreshing to discover a place solely dedicated to recording our history.

SAY glasgow logo

These are two of many organisations working hard to support and uplift women. Women fighting to make the lives of our sisters better is a truly beautiful thing. Please give generously if you can.

Oh Christmas tree…

We’ve hit December and it’s officially Christmas season. It is time to get festive. Most of us are lucky enough to have people to share food & love & gifts with. It’s incumbent upon us to think of those less fortunate whilst we enjoy our jollies.

With that in mind I’m going to suggest more than one charity this month. Pick your favourite, donate to all or just do whatever you can. First up, Giving Tree. It’s organised by Kids Out, a charity who aim to give disadvantaged children (many in refuge to escape domestic violence) positive experiences. At Xmas they do giving tree to give children who may not otherwise receive presents a gift that they would like. I saw this one at Braehead in Glasgow, but there are tonnes of similar schemes all over. You take a tag from the tree & buy the requested present.

Christmas tree with gift tags

Instructions for giving tree

I absolutely love this idea, but reading the tags broke my heart. All of the requests are so modest. I couldn’t help but think of how often I buy my little ones treats for no reason special reason at all. Every child child should be showered with love & blanketed in safety. Beyond that they shouldn’t ever have to wake up to disappoint on Christmas morning. Nor should any parent have to face the task of explaining why Santa isn’t coming.

Gift tags with present requests

I couldn’t resist picking up two tags. The thought of this baby still waiting for their first book was too sad. There are still lots of gift tags awaiting a kind soul. It’s so easy to make life a little brighter for these wee ones. Please help Santa reach them if you can.

Giving tree gift tag

Make a smile for me…

This month I was inspired (influenced?) to support a charity by one of my fav instagram accounts. I saw a post about Smile & felt compelled to make a donation. Which goes to show that social media isn’t all bad.

Smile Train fund drs, clinics etc to perform cleft palate repairs on kids who would otherwise not have access to the procedure. It’s a fairly routine op in more privileged parts of the world, but one that is outwith the means of many. Failure to correct a cleft palate can have far reaching implications. From an inability to feed properly and resultant dangers to exclusion from society. The facial difference can cause children to be shunned be communities. Leaving them unable to access education, build relationships and leading to permanent isolation.

This is a problem that can be fixed and you can help. You can give a child a smile & a chance a better life. Please donate if you can.

But when I hear of how the forests have died…

We all know we’ve fucked the planet. Hopefully most of us are trying to do what we can to heal our home. The kids did is proud with the climate change strike this week and we need to pull our weight too.

I know huge corporation and government level change is what really needs to happen, but in the meantime; every little helps. This month I have combined treating my nephews with giving the amazing a tiny wee helping hand. You can sponsor an animal from of your choice from WWF for just £3 a month. I opted for an orangutan & gorilla. The former because the baba loves watching a programme about orangutan rescues plus the Amazon connection. The latter because my bigger boy is fond of the majestic creatures.

In exchange for your monthly donation you will receive a cuddle toy of your chosen species, adoption certificate and face book. It’s actually a really nice gift for a little one. Fun, educational and teaches them about giving.

We need to keep fighting for large scale structural change. Whilst we battle supporting orgs that keep animals & their habitats alive is a good back up. Plus you can make someone in your life smile with a wee cuddly.