Give the day a chance to start…

It’s been a fairly standard day. I got some writing finished, sorted a little admin & did a food shop. No exciting hijinks. Nothing horrible either. Why then do I find myself feeling so overwhelmingly sad?

An hour ago I was just getting on with the daily grind. I wasn’t jumping for joy, but I was fine. From one moment to the next my equilibrium vanished. For no discernible reason I am flooded with melancholy. It is one of most baffling aspects of my mental illness. It extends beyond feeling miserable. My inability to comprehend what is happening leaves me powerless to combat it.

Control is a big thing for me. I think, because there have been major parts of my like that I have lacked significant sway. That leaves me very uncomfortable with the uncertain components of my mental health. It is very frightening to know that my mood may descend at any moment. It’s even more alarming when I don’t know why. I can’t tackle a problem when I cannot identify the cause.

Moon in cloudy sky

That leaves me just trying to ride out the low. With no clue as how long the trip may last, it is hard not to lose hope. It’s hard to compute how much of a hold these periods take on me. This isn’t deepest, darkest despair. It’s what I think of as everyday depression. More grey than black. A persistent ache rather than unbearable pain. Yet its unpredictability looms large.

So, how do I combat the urge to believe there isn’t any point fighting a battle when I know I’ll lose the war? This is good a starting point. I write about my crazy head in an effort to exert dominion over it. I try to talk about it or at least just label it out loud. Not having to pretend that everything is a ok can help. I remind myself that I can and have exited these dips. There is colour in my life waiting to reappear. Of course I take my meds and then I just hold tight.

Long term mental illness is a slog. It leaves you no option other than to dig in & get dirty. My heart goes out to anyone else who is stuck in the trenches.

Autumn leaves in street lamp

I can feel something inside me say… see this show

Last night I shed my jammies & dragged my sister out on a school night. We headed west to catch Kiri Pritchard McLean at The Stand.

Sisters

I’m a big fan of Kiri’s (Rachel Fairburn’s) podcast, All Killa No Filla. I’ve also seen her in various tv shows, plus bits & pieces at the Fringe. I knew she was funny & cool, but I had never seen her perform her own show. I’m so bloody glad I bagged tickets for Victim, Complex because it’s incredible. Stand up shows that make you cry are kind of my thing and Kiri may be my new queen.

The stand, woodlands rd

Everything about Victim, Complex is perfect. Kiri’s bright yellow, sequinned adorned person dominates the stage. She welcomes the audience into dark experiences with much hilarity and stunning vulnerability. It is powerful to watch someone take control of their painful truth.

Gaslighting & mental illness probably don’t seem like natural stand up material, but it works. It’s definitely an emotional hour. The laugh out loud moments far number the tears. It’s an uproariously relatable show; packed with filth, a plot twist & the wisdom of that drunk girl we’ve all met in a club toilet. It’s all underlined by an important & empowering message.

Victim, Complex flyer

My body is properly punishing me for daring to leave the house, but it was absolutely worth it. That’s pretty much the best review a show can get. If Pritchard McLean is playing anywhere near you, buy a ticket.

And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, there’s a free badge!

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You can’t touch this…

It’s a rainy bank holiday Monday & I’ve decided to have a lazy day. I’m just casually scrolling through Facebook when a post gets my attention. I’m not surprised by the post, it’s nothing new. Nonetheless it makes me feel a tad ragey. 

  
   
My first thoughts run to the sheer entitlement of this man. He wants to do something & no one else’s feelings on the matter count. These thoughts are swiftly followed by exhaustion at constantly having to explain why this is not ok. His dismissal of rape culture as something made up by ‘angry women’ & his total refusal to accept women’s safety concerns are appalling. The problem of course, is that these attitudes are pervasive. Men routinely behave this way. 

  
I am aware that I am not the first woman to raise these issues, but I really think it’s important that we share our experiences. 1 in 5 women in uk have been sexually assualted at some point in their life. To be honest I’m surprised this figure isn’t much higher. Women and girls are harassed daily. It’s infuriating, frightening, humiliating, stressful & so much more. Still girls are told by teachers that ‘boys will boys’ and schools put the onus on what girls wear rather on male behaviour. We are told cat calling is a compliment and police down play our reports of sexual assualt. 

Men, it seems have no concept of the female experience. They will never understand the extent of the harassment we endure unless we speak out. Basically, we need to ram it down their throats. 

With that in mind I want to share some of the stand out moments of sexual intimidation that I have experienced. 

1/ I was approximately 10yrs old & wearing my favourite outfit. It was one of those heat sensitive t shirts that change colour & a velvet skirt. The t shirt reads hotspot, I thought this was the coolest thing ever. At a family gathering an adult, male family friend slaps my bum & says ‘that’s your hotspot’. I was 10yrs old. The incident confused & frightened me so much that I didn’t tell a soul it had happened. 

2/ I’m 11 or twelve and have just started secondary school. The boys in my class routinely try to undo girl’s bras through their blouses. I don’t wear a bra yet & so am mercilessly mocked. 

3/ That same year myself & a friend are followed off a bus & right to her house by a complete stranger. He’s a middle aged man & we are terrified.

4/ On my way home from school one day a man approaches me & warns me that there is another man playing with himself ahead. A week or so later the same man does the same thing. On speaking to the police it turns out there have been dozens of complaints. 

5/ By 15 my flat as a pancake figure has ceased to be. My breast growth has gone into over drive & my boobs are large. My life long battle begins. Boys at school grab me and make crude comments. Adult bus drivers make disgusting comments despite my wearing a school uniform. For the first time I hear the male theory that big breasts mean I am slut.

6/ At some point in my mid teens I go on holiday with a friend’s family. Throughout the holiday my friend’s mother alludes to the size of my breasts & my refusal to hide them under tent like apparel, means that I am not a nice girl. 

7/ When I begin clubbing at around 16, I am confronted with the fact that my body is not my own. Men in clubs consider the female form to be fair game. I am groped, slapped, pinched, rubbed against over & over. When I complain I am verbally abused & told I shouldn’t be wearing revealing clothes if I don’t want this. I’m a bitch, slut, frigid, a tease. 

8/ I’m 19 and my way to meet a friend for drinks. As I walk down a busy street a group of young teenage boys surround me, shout about my breasts, one boy thrusts his hand into my dress & violently grabs my nipple. None of the passers by make any attempt to help me. When I report this incident to the police, the first question I am asked is what was I wearing. No action is ever taken. I am left feeling dirty & angry. 

9/ In my mid twenties I faint at street market. When I come round a man is taking a picture of my cleavage. 

10/  I try internet dating & am bombarded with sexual comments. If I ignore these comments I get abusive messages telling me I am rude & stuck up. If I say no thanks, I receive messages telling me what an ugly, fat bitch I am & how dare I reject this prize of a man. Several times I block men only to have them create new accounts so they can continue to abuse me. 

11/ At an early post graduation job I must wear a blue shirt provided by my employer. I request the largest size, but it still gapes at the bust. I am summoned to HR to talk about how I am dressed inappropriately.

12/ I am leading a sexual health workshop with teenagers. Their teacher requests my card & then adds ‘you look like you could improve my sexual health’.

13/ By my early 30’s I am thoroughly disgusted with all this abuse. I am collecting my prescription from the chemist when an old man looks me up & down, shouts ‘nice’ & proceeds to squeeze both breasts. I automatically harshly push the man away from me. Later when reporting this to the police I am questioned about how I pushed him, how much force I used & why I hit the man. Again, no action is ever taken. 

14/ A man I dated briefly over ten years ago periodically sent pictures of his penis despite me telling him not to. When I blocked him from one way of contacting he found me somewhere else & continued. 

These are only a tiny taste of the aggravation I have endured. My experience is by no means unique. So, next time you want to complain about women being on the defensive or not appreciating your advances have a think about why she is reacting that way. Before you laugh at a friend’s unsolicitated comments to a female stranger, consider how much of these ‘compliments’ she must deal with.  Ask the women in your life about their exposure to molestation (verbal or physical). Hopefully a glimpse of the reality of the female experience will alter you view point. 

My funny valentine…

Forever a romantic, I am a valentine’s fan. As much as I love the mushy stuff the chances of my soppy side being indulged are slim. Nevertheless I have come up with a lovey dovey wish list just in case a certain someone is paying attention.

I’m more into quirky, thoughtful gifts than grand gestures or your standard valentine’s day fair. With that in mind I picked out a handful of items I’d love to receive & a spattering of things I’d choose to give.

Putting a twist on the traditional are these his & hers floral offerings. White flowers are guaranteed to have me swooning, so white roses seem appropriate. Orchids strike me as both sexy & romantic. This black variety hits a chord with me.

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If like me you’re looking for something a little different, but still sweet. These picks might float your boat.

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Matchstick Biscuits – Eat My Cake London £10
Message Beanstalk Seeds – BEEcycle ltd £3

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Personalised Soundwave Voice Art – Frenzy House on Etsy £19.

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Love Letters of Great Men & Women by Ursula Doyle – Waterstones £7.19
Tom Ford – House of Frasers £92
Raspberry Pi 2 – The Pi Hut £32
Irregular Choice – Schuh £80

What good would Feb 14th be if we didn’t get a bit dirty? Beautiful lingerie never fails to get me in the mood.

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Stockings – M&S £8
Lace Shelf Baby Doll & Thong – Oh La La Cherie (Curves)

I’ve already picked up my valentine’s card. It may give you a clue as to what keeps me smiling.

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Scribbler £2.65

Whatever your status & however you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day.