I’m not sorry…

I believe the ‘May you live in interesting times’ debate is well and truly settled. These times are no blessing. Life has become that dog in the burning house meme. We’re all expected to carry on, but hey, I don’t think any of us are fine.

Dog in a burning room with a speech bubble saying this is fine

In recent years we’ve had the rise of the right. Politicians who have zero interest in the common good, civic responsibility or even telling the fucking truth. Police are still murdering POC without consequence, whilst they simultaneously neglect to intervene when a maniac massacres small children. The poor get poorer, the rich get richer. Footballers have to intervene to feed hungry children because our leaders have absolutely no interest in people who aren’t just like them. A global pandemic is killing millions and spawned a new kind of selfish. The same people who won’t wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect other will happily force a ten year old child to give birth to a rapist’s child. A new, extra virulent type of anti vaxxer has infected our society. Marginalised groups are more at threat than ever; hate crimes soar. The American right to a gun cannot be challenged, but abortion, gay marriage, trans rights, basic medical care and voting rights are always on the table. The tories lie, cheat and steal right under our noses. They rape and harass to no one’s surprise and the party doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed. Parliamentary goal posts are moved at will, Mp’s get a raise and workers whose wages don’t even keep up with inflation are shamed for striking. Covid, corruption, inequality and of course inflation rage. The PM has gold wallpaper and blow jobs in Westminster. The rest of us dread the electric bill and can’t afford butter. While he’s paying his various flings with public money disabled people can’t even co habit without losing meagre government assistance. The earth we stand on is crumbling beneath our feet and I haven’t even scratched the surface. There’s a whole world of cruelty out there, it never ends.

Did you think that paragraph never end? Where you begging for full stop followed by nothing? Join the club. This isn’t burnout. I don’t need a bit self care and neither do you. We need a revolution. Watching the scummiest humans on the planet make everything worse day after day, year after will destroy any decent person.

If you feel like you’re losing it, I think that’s perfectly reasonable. If you’re angry and sad and feel utterly helpless, I’m right there with you. I am sorry that you’re expected to carry on regardless. I’m sorry that you must live in these intolerable times without any grace. I don’t know what will make any of this any easier, but if you do, please give that to yourself. Don’t apologise for what you need or your reaction to our atrocious world. Nothing is ok, we don’t have to waste energy pretending it is.

* Obviously let’s all organise, protest, donate, vote and support each other as much as we are able. Change won’t happen if we don’t force it, but please also take care of yourself.

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Trans rights are human rights…

This month’s Charity of the Month is the wonderful Scottish Trans Alliance . If you’re not mad about the current discourse surrounding trans rights then this probably isn’t the blog for you.

Scottish Trans Alliance logo

The mainstream media in the UK is nothing short of vile to and about trans people and the government (uk) refuses to protect them. The political climate is repulsive. It feels very much like we are reliving the late 80’s persecution of gay people. Obviously both groups have been discriminated against outwith these periods, but there is a mirroring that I find particularly disturbing. We’ve been here before; we know those views are wrong and disgusting. Yet, here we are. Demonising, endangering and excluding people who have already had to fight too hard just to exist.

The Scottish Trans Alliance do incredible work in trying to ensure we live in the world in which a person’s gender identity, expression and history do not lead to discrimination. They participate in campaigning, legislation consultation, fund research and hold conferences/other forums to connect and support trans people in Scotland.

For the record, you are not a feminist if you do not support trans rights. Equally you are not fighting for diversity or equality if you want to remove letters from LBGTQ+. If like me, you know that trans rights are human rights please donate to Scottish Trans.

A protest with placards saying Trans Rights Now

Charity of the month…

Christmas is around the corner & along with all the big Xmas ads come the Sally Army appeals. They portray a kindly organisation providing aid for poor suffering souls. I understand why well meaning folks send money their way at Christmas. However, there is darkness behind that brass band. Thus, I want to urge to support less judgmental groups.

The Salvation Army are the quintessential ‘sing for your supper’ charity. Their help does not come without strings. There have been many reported cases of discrimination against LGBTQ+ & addict users of Sally Army services. The church is anti LBGTQ+, anti choice, anti harm reduction drug policies et al. You can find more information here & here. Of course you are free to give donate your money anywhere you please, but if this doesn’t align with your beliefs there are many excellent alternatives.

Social Bite are a incredible organisation who provide hot meals, employment & social housing for homeless people. You can donate in a variety of ways including pay it forward meals in their restaurants.

Social bite in green circular background with bite taken out of it

Birth,Baby & Beyond provide essentials for new parents & families. With the recent £20 cut in Universal Credit combined with rising prices of almost everything struggling families are facing extreme crisis. B,B&B accept donations of baby equipment, clothes, toys & food. They currently have an emergency pack appeal that requires support. Please donate if you can.

Group of new born baby essentials and birth, baby & beyond  van

Kid’s Out allow you donate a Xmas present to children who many not otherwise receive one. Many of the children they live with are in refuge escaping domestic violence. The simple requests are heartbreaking, these kids really deserve to have gifts under their tree. You can now pick a toy & buy it on their website, so it could not be easier.

I will be sharing more charities making a difference at Xmas over the coming weeks. If you are in a position to do so, I hope you will lend your support.

You can’t change the way she feels, but you could put your arms around her…

I dreamt about an old friend last night. A friend who is no longer living. It was a lovely dream that I was sad to wake from. As I tried to commit the dream to memory I realised that whilst I thought of her often, I hadn’t spoken out loud about my dear friend in a long time. Too long a time, which is something I need to rectify. I need to talk about her. Tell her story. Share how she changed me. And that is exactly what I am going to do.

Let’s start by saying I met J because we were both ill. I was in my early twenties & struggling to deal with undiagnosed PTSD. I was trying to hold together a life that was increasingly unsatisfying with a self harm habit that was spiralling out control. J was dealing with similarly unhappy circumstances and a self harm problem that becoming, frankly terrifying. We both found some comfort in a community of sick people who didn’t know where else to turn. We were people who couldn’t ask for help or had asked without receiving the sort of assistance the we needed. No one talked about self harm then. Except maybe in the odd film where it was usually portrayed as something a trouble teen might do or a suicide attempt. Even the mental health professionals treated us like shit (sadly, some still so). If our attempts to hide the problem had failed, our families & friends were frightened ( & in some cases cruel). We were dealing with real problems; rape, abusive relationships, miscarriage, escaping from cults, drug dealing parents & a multitude of other big, scary problems. We were of course also living with mental illness. Some of us had a laundry list of labels and others had not a single clue what the fuck was wrong. But there was absolutely something going very wrong for all of us. This is where I met J. Amongst this this group of desperate people I also found a salvation of sorts. These broken people offered each other a kind of support that we couldn’t find anywhere else. We dragged each other through the kind of darkness that most will never understand. And J was kind of our leader.
J was living with pain beyond what would be considered durable. Her mental anguish was compounded by the physical horror she was compelled to inflict upon herself. J was not ok. Every solitary moment of life was a battle hard fought. And, yet, she always had time for us. She had love and support and encouragement for her damaged flock. J lived in a different time zone, but she still called day & night to remind me to keep breathing. She wrote letters and sent care parcels. She compiled lists of all the things that just might offer one us a couple minutes respite from our own fucked up heads. She replied to every ‘ I can’t do this anymore’ with such kind & convincing entreaties to keep trying, that we did. Her words worked because we knew, that she knew. We were all able to help each other because we shared a world that most people didn’t know existed. For me, j was the ultimate inspiration. If she could do this with such grace, I owed it to her and all the others who loved me to at least not give up.

Kelvingrove park

It’s such a cliché, but this goodness expanded beyond our group. She was studying to be a nurse because she wanted to help people. Everyone in her life adored her. J was that person who offered succour, but she wasn’t a martyr or a goody goody. She was fun. Her sense of humour could be wicked. Most of all she was strong. J fought to live. She engaged with mental health services that let her down over and over and over. She was still working and studying at the peak of her illness. She endured the brutality of her self harm and the callousness of those supposed to treat them. She did it all with dignity. Life beat J black and blue. This world committed an almost constant vicious assault on her. She fought back hard. She battled with and blood and heart and care and tears and wonder. She did not win.
J succeeded in taking her own life in a sad and awful way that left no doubt that she meant it. I wish with everything in my being that I could have changed how her story ended. Both the circumstances & the prematurity of her passing, but I don’t blame her. I understand that life was no longer a viable prospect for J. I hate that, but I do not begrudge her some peace. I am still angry at the professionals who failed her and the people who’s actions caused her so much pain. I will never be angry at J. She gave life her very best shot. Her suicide was neither selfish nor weak. It was just the only option she had left. It kills me that someone so beautiful was left with a choice so ugly. I understand it, though. Whilst I know it may be an unpopular opinion I can accept it. I can respect that it was her decision to make.


So, why I am writing this? What am I left with? Actually what remains is so much more positive than I could have ever imagined. Losing J was soul destroying, but life does go on. I go on and so do those other sad people that she cared for. I don’t want to disrespect those wonderful people by not acknowledging that they too saved me. We all helped save each other. In hundreds of big and small ways. After J’s death we continued to care for each other. We laughed and cried and screamed and swore together. We stayed up nights and called ambulances. We sent Xmas cards and made hospital visits.
From that group I maintain friendships with some incredible people. Some of us are entirely recovered, some still walk the tight rope; we are all still alive. We have partners, careers, babies, hobbies & passions. We all do our bit for mental health awareness. Whether that’s through writing, organising, working in the field, donating to MH charities or just supporting loved ones with their difficulties. I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to prevent others falling through the cracks. I will fight for everyone to have more choices than J. I know I am not alone. That is her legacy. She lives on through the people she touched. We endured. We succeeded. We survived.
WE LIVE

1 in 4 adult in UK will experience mental illness at some point in their lives. It is incredibly likely that you or someone you love will have to fight this battle. You can help improve the lives of suffering in a number of ways. Please do what you can to make sure more people survive.

Add mental health education to the national curriculum

Donate to Samaritans

Donate to SAMH

You an also make a massive difference by writing to your elected representatives an telling them mental health is major issue for you. Let them know that how they vote on mental health related issues matters to you. You can find your representatives here.
Find my MP
Find my MSP

 

Woman of the Week…

I couldn’t march on Saturday because my stupid body is stupid. I am gutted to have missed such a massive assembly of strong women. 



I was especially delighted to see so much intersectional feminism on display along with a big turnout of kids & young adults. It heartens me to think that right here in my city the next generation is woke. I am proud that so many parents everywhere are raising their kids right. Which brings me to one of my favourite videos from the March on Washington.




By now I am sure you have all seen Ashley Judd’s recitation of Nasty Woman. It was a memorable performance of a powerful piece & credit to Judd for bringing to the attention of so many. For me what makes it even more inspiring is that it is the work of Nina Mariah Donovan; it is she who is my woman of the week. The 19 year old from Tennessee wrote the poem last year in response to Trump’s growing campaign infractions. Judd attending the event at which Nina originally performed the poem. The writer’s own delivery of the piece is every bit as commanding as her famous fan. 

Ashley Judd of course sought & received permission to use the work & Nina expected some backlash. Ridiculously Trump supporters are disgusted with Donovans’s description of Ivanka as her father’s favourite sex symbol, whilst having no issue with Trump’s own incestous comments. 

Nina Mariah can be found on YouTube, where she posts videos of her incredible performances. She writes on feminism, social justice, her Puerto Rican heritage & pop culture. I’m blown away with the intensity of her words. Her stage presence & mastery of language are stunning. Do yourself a favour & start following her now. I dearly hope this young woman’s  redoubtable talent is about go BIG.