I was lost…

It’s 2.35am. I’ve been alerted via social media posts that it’s World Mental Health Day. I feel bound to write something on the topic. However, I’m a little stuck on exactly what that should be.

We’re probably all feeling stuck in one way or another. Nearly 2 years into a pandemic that has changed everything and nothing at the same time. It is surreal to learn that global crisis is status quo for the capitalist monster. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise, but somehow I thought perhaps we might find a way to rise. We haven’t. The incredibly rich continue to suck the (literal) life out of almost everyone else. Those already in the worst positions suffer the most. The rest of us get sick, grieve, sacrifice, struggle and still find ways to pay the rent. It’s A LOT. Even folk with the most robust mental health have floundered. Anyone who was shaky pre Covid probably found the rigours of a plague made them increasingly sinkable.

I’ve found myself in and out of a strange no man’s land. Not ok, but entirely unable to properly articulate the details of that not okness. I’m generally a bit lost. I feel like the world is crumbling around me. We’re witnessing tragedy after tragedy. Death & destruction abound. Our leaders seemingly with no more clue than the rest of us. Politicians still scrambling for money & power as the bodies pile up. Your boss still wants their 35hrs, tabloids still print trash & people are still sleeping on the streets. None of it makes sense.

We’ve already started packaging the accumulated trauma of Covid as ‘burn out’. People write peppy pieces on how to beat burnout with an aim of getting everyone back to bloody work. Back to the commute & the offices even though people are still dying every day. Why? Because despite working from home actually proving to be more productive the higher ups want you back where they can see you. No comfort for the workers. The Tory government continues to grind their boots on our necks too. Cut universal credit amongst Covid & Brexit insanity. Carry on fucking the NHS and refugees and hungry children. Then they film the PM doing puns of their ridiculous slogan and pretend that’s a solution. I’m surprised anyone is still sane.

It’s not over. No definite end in sight. Always another calamity over the next hill & zero provision for help. No extra money for mental health services. Accessing even the most basic support is more difficult than ever. All the people who were already living on a knife edge haven’t gone anywhere. The problem has just multiplied.

*

So, this year I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying forever. Awareness is great, but to treat mental illness we need money and a different ideology. I can’t see any change in NHS mental health funding or direction until there is a huge change in Downing St. Not merely a change of party, but a shift in the will of power. My heart sinks when I think about how long that could take.

* Buy here.

If you enjoy my writing you can support me on Ko-Fi

On the inside…

Dear Son,

It’s been another insane blur of year. The pandemic has given me lots of time & motivation to do big picture thinking. There’s been so much talk of the impact on parents & kids. The decisions to be made about keeping children safe, healthy & happy get trickier in times like this. You’re not here. Neither are your siblings. Being forced to stay home alone for extended periods really rams that fact home. I still think about what I would do. How I would make sure my children would be ok. I don’t think that will ever stop. I’ve thought through how I’d handle every stage of your lives; agonised over choices that are entirely theoretical. I can’t help it. I’m always going to be your Mum on the inside.

This year I will be spending your day doing something joyful. It came about purely by chance. Pandemic rescheduling dropped an activity unexpectedly. It feels strange. It’s not a thing I would have planned, but I think it is good. I’m trying to see it as a celebration of you. Of the tiny amount of time we had & all the wonderful that could have been. I know you would have given me so much to rejoice in.

Love Always,

Mum

Xxx

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

Charity of the month…

It’s been another weird lockdown month & i’m only just catching up with myself. I’m getting round to my charity of the month at the last minute (again).

For March I have chosen to support the PDSA. As animal lover I’ve always thought the PDSA do excellent work, but recent months have shown me just how essential they can be. Bronan, my cat, was diagnosed with Diabetes about 8wks ago & man alive are those vet bills adding up.

PDSA in green & pink letters. Help a vet help a pet in green letters

I’m lucky to have pet insurance, even with what I thought was a comprehensive policy, there is so much that isn’t covered. It’s really highlighted just how much an ill pet can cost. With insulin, needles, sharps disposal, regular blood tests & examinations I can easily see how it could quickly become unaffordable. I am so glad the PDSA are able to step in for those in financial need. I can’t imagine being forced to make treatment decisions for a much loved pet based purely on finances. Given covid & all its implications so many more people are likely to be in this position. Hence, the PDSA are feeling the strain. Please give whatever you can spare.

Black & white cat sleeping on purple sofa

Since we’re talking about my beautiful boy I’m want to share the symptoms that first raised the alarm. The problems he had were fairly minor & I would never in a million years of thought they indicated such a serious issue. The first thing I noticed was him limping on his back right leg. Next he began to go outside much less & was just not quite himself. My first though was that he had injured himself. When he didn’t improve after a couple of days I thought perhaps it was wear & tear on his joints. I consulted my vet mainly thinking he needed some pain relief. I am so glad I acted quickly. The longer it takes to diagnose diabetes the more damage can be done. So, here are some signs to look out for.

Limping, unsteadiness particularly in hind legs.

Increased appetite & thirst.

Issues passes urine/ unusual toilet behaviours.

Sleeping more often than usual.

Confusion.

Take care of your four legged friends & if you can make a donation to help the PDSA look after lots more.

Black and white cat with his paw holding women’s arm

Not to blame…

As this pandemic continues to wreak havoc there is an increasing need for a scapegoat. Predictably, fat people have become a convenient target. Navigating this strange new world is hard enough without all the finger pointing.

Magnified image of covid virus

If you’re feeling hounded, I get it. I’m fiercely fat positive & always prepared to fly the body liberation flag. Even I am finding the constant barrage of fat phobia exhausting. With our feckless PM giving credence to a BMI/Covid link and the tabloids eating it up it is understandable that we feel attacked. When the government makes weight stigma policy it absolutely feeds the trolls.

For the record, losing 5lbs will not make you less likely to contract covid nor will it effect the severity of the virus if you do. Like much of the Tories covid 19 response it is not rooted in science. In fact, it is too early for any studies to provide reliable data on the impact of covid on fat bodies. Especially when the intersections with poverty, disability, poor medical care etc are often not factored into research.

Fat phobic newspaper headlines

You are not irresponsible for living in a fat body. You are not a burden on the NHS. You are deserving of the same care & respect as anyone else. If you need help reinforcing these facts or dealing with others who refuse to accept them I highly recommend checking out the resources below. I have linked to their Instagram accounts from which you can find all their links/books.

Jess Campbell (haes_studentdoctor) is as her insta implies a student doctor with a Health at Every Size approach. She shares excellent information in a really straightforward manner.

Dr Natasha Larmie (fatdruk) is a GP in the UK who campaigns to end medical weight stigma. She shares her own experience along with insightful analysis. Definitely a must follow.

If you aren’t already aware of Dr Joshua Wolrich where have you been? He is an NHS surgical doctor who promotes HAES, debunks junk weight loss science & has a much anticipated book due very soon.

Lindo Bacon is a body liberation author, speaker & researcher. Their first book, Health at Every Size completely changed my understanding of how my body works & the effect of dieting. I cannot recommend their work enough.

Image of book,  health at every size lindo bacon

I only recently discovered HPWAS (Health Professionals Against Weight Stigma) and I am so glad. As a fat person it can be difficult to deal with the medical community. It is therefore very reassuring to know there are professionals trying to change things from within. They are currently collecting lived experiences of medical fat phobia. Please do consider sharing if you feel able.

Big fat love to everyone struggling.

If you enjoy my writing you can support me on Ko-Fi

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

If you enjoy my content you can support me on Ko-Fi

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.

You wear it well…

We have a new strain and new lockdown. Infection rates are rising. As are long covid cases. I can attest that the long term symptoms are a struggle. Now is not the time to get lax. Please stay home as much as you can. Wash those hands every opportunity you get and wear a damn mask.

With a mask you can show that you care about the welfare of others and make a statement. Facemasks don’t have be boring, go for it!

I have a Sara Conde and I love it. Handmade, three layer with a nose wire. It’s super comfy & she has the cutest prints. Who wouldn’t want all these beautiful boobs on their face?

I’m a loud & proud feminist, so this amazing design from KultKutie Handmade rings my bell. If you want to support the sisterhood & public health, this is the way to go.

The advent of masks has scuppered our lipstick game. If you’re missing a big bold lip, KhaatiMeethiLondon has got you.

Fuck the Tories can do no wrong in my eyes. This lyrical beauty gets your point across with a little humour. Three layer with a filter. You’ll feel safe & sassy.

If like me you are prone to losing things DearSoho have the cutest fix. Chains that will up your cool factor and ensure your face mask is always at hand.

If you enjoy my content you can support me on Ko-Fi

We’re on each other’s teams…

On Thursday my Dr confirmed that she believes I have ‘Long Covid’. It’s been two & a half months since I tested positive and symptoms persist. It’s likely they will continue you to do so for some time.

My Gp took bloods and checked my vitals. My oxygen levels are a little low, but not worryingly so. My heart rate in the other hand is way too fast. We’ll need to keep an eye on that. The Dr is trying to get me referred to a covid rehab clinic, but in the meantime, there’s very little that can be done. At all stages of this illness drs have stressed that there is still so much that no one knows. New complications are cropping up all the time. The more complicated your medical history, the more complicated covid can be. For me it’s constant breathlessness and fatigue. All my usual chronic symptoms are heightened. My pain levels are through the roof, my appetite is decimated and when I do eat my digestive tract objects.

Ly is Weston big glasses and a feminist af face mask

Long term effects of the Covid 19 are far reaching. Everything from strokes to kidney failure has been reported. This virus is dangerous. Please take it seriously. I know the safety measures we have to take are hard. I hate spending so much time at home on my own. The emotional & financial toll has been huge for many, but we can’t afford to be reckless.

If you can, stay home. Wear a mask, wash your hands and observe social distancing rules. Everyone wants to be seeing loved ones & spreading merriment at this time of year, but it just isn’t safe. It will take time to get the vaccine out. Covid doesn’t care about Xmas. There will be more opportunities to celebrate. It won’t kill us to scale back festivities. It could kill people you love not to.

A mask in blue background with  text ‘wear a mask’

If you enjoy my content you can support me on Ko-Fi