When the bee stings…

It’s been a dick of a week. Debilitating fatigue followed by intolerable pain & some vomming to top it off added up to a big NO. However, antibiotics, oramorph & a good night’s sleep have made a big dent in my misery. So, excuse me if I get a wee bit Julie Andrews on you, but I wanted to talk about the random things that get me through. 

Whiskers on kittens…

So, starting by just lifting straight out of the song. The whiskers & everything else in one specific feline are definitely one of my favourite things. Some folk think I’m daft, but Bronan really does take care of me when I’m struggling. He’ll stay snuggled up beside me for days. He will wait for me to wake on my own rather giving me his usual breakfast call at 6am. He sits on my feet whilst I’m throwing up in the toilet & gently paws my face when I cry.  He’s a darling. Call me crazy cat lady if you like; I believe my cat has my back. 



Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings…

We don’t get a lot of wild geese around my way, but the moon can lift my spirits. Be it a dazzling full moon, spooky cloud shrouded moon or rare coloured one; I love the moon. It can be so striking & yet peaceful. Don’t get me wrong, the moon isn’t curing anything. It’s just nice to have something beautiful to gaze on whilst I feel like shit. 


Sunsets fall into a similar spot. A sky alive with colour can be momentarily distracting. Pink skys are always my favourite as they remind me of my muffin. When in Australia I spent most evenings on the deck with my niece watching the sun go down. Every night we frolicked whilst pink hues faded into darkness. It was magical.


Bright copper kettles..
.

Alas I don’t own a shiny copper kettle, but I do love a steaming cup of tea. Mint tea is my drink. It’s a great digestion aid & can help settle reflux. It’s basically an extra med in delicious form. Besides that nothing beats the comforting warmth of sipping a big mug of tea. 

From here I drift away from the sound of music & onto a few more fav things that don’t have Sister Maria’s seal of approval. 

A good book…

I’m a reader. A good book relaxes, distracts, thrills, comforts & engages me. Curling up in my big comfy bed with some quality literature is one of best things in the world. 



A bath that goes with a bang…

Of course I am referring to bath bombs. Sylvia Plath said 

‘there must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know any of them’

Whilst both she & I know that’s not true, a hot bath can be a wonderful thing. Add a bright fizzy bath bomb & you can’t lose. Baths serve so many purposes for me. Hot water eases muscles pain, they relax me, help clear my head & leave me feeling fresh & clean. If you can do all that plus be left with sparkly skin, why wouldn’t you??

Nail (works of) Art…

I don’t know why, but I feel better when my nails are on fire. Maybe it’s because my mum always had glamorous nails. Or maybe it’s because it makes my stubby fingers look more elegant. Regardless, I find it easier to face the world when my nails are a work of art. 


Flower power…

I love to buy myself flowers. I love the scent & how pretty the make any room. Most of all I love the feeling of treating myself. It’s great to know I don’t have to wait for someone else to buy me flowers. Giving yourself something beautiful just because is an excellent feeling. Try it. 

Mental Health Platitude Week…

It’s National Mental Health Awareness Week again. Regular readers will probably have spotted how I feel about this sham, but for the avoidance of doubt I’m going to go at it once more. I ask you to forgive my lack of finesse. I’m riddled with infections, haven’t slept & more than a little frustrated with the subject matter.

Some of you may be thinking, wait, raising awareness about mental health is great. You are of course correct, but this week (& most mainstream MH campaigns) is just lip service. At best it’s platitudes & at worst it’s dangerous. If you check the hashtag on social media you’re going to see a lot of posts extolling the virtue of talking about your troubles. Talk will apparently cure all that ailes you. Ask for help & you shall receive. Pro Tip, It won’t & you won’t. 

On the help front you’ll be up against the limitations of the NHS. Cuts to mental health services have been particularly brutal. Even if you have the good luck to access a Gp who takes you seriously & correctly refers you in a prompt manner, your wait will be long. What’s worse is that the correct help is unlikely to be at the end of your wait. A shocking lack in resources of every kind results in most people being offered short courses of cheap therapies like CBT. It will come as no surprise that with mental illness one size does not fit all.

 Even in acute circumstances there are no psychiatric beds available. Many people have to travel long distances to access inpatient psychiatric care. Meaning they are far from family, friends & comforts in their darkest moments. If you’re a child or adolescent those resources only get scarcer. So, that’s frightened children waiting in misery to access services that may be of no use to them anyway. All of which is a far cry from just talk & salvation awaits. 

As depressing as all that is I haven’t even broached the fact some people never get as far as a waiting list. For many there is no sympathetic ear. Their gigantic leap of faith is met with ignorance. Employers do still discriminate against the disabled. There are still Dr’s who will tell a person to pull themselves together. The worst stigma I ever faced was from medical professionals. All of which means awareness is great, but money is better. Proper funding is the answer to our mental health crisis & it is that is what we should be talking about. 


The money problem doesn’t end with NHS funding. Our government is trying to eradicate disability benefits for mental illness entirely. The process of applying for PIP or ESA is exhaustive. The categories for qualifying are constantly shrinking. Our benefits system currently subjects vulnerable & very sick individuals to the most humiliating process in order to survive. That mental illnesses are purposely targeted for exclusion is government sanctioned stigma. Ah, I hear you cry, we do need awareness.  Well here’s the thing, we don’t need the bullshit being touted by the mainstream orgs. All those articles about exercise & healthy eating & a hot baths & nice cups of tea are just shoring up that stigma. The idea that mental illness can be cured by any of those things minimises it’s very nature. It encourages the notion that people with long term mental health problems just aren’t trying hard enough. That in turn legitimises the governments disgusting witch hunt. 

And we’re right back to my original point. Awareness is fine, but real change is the key. If you truly want to make a difference you need to tell your elected representatives that mental illness is a key issue for you. Sign petitions, attend marches, get informed. Read the difficult articles. By all means challenge stigma when it crosses your path & listen to anyone who chooses you as a confident. Do all of those of things, but I want to be clear, there is one crucial thing that will hand more impact than anything else, DO NOT VOTE TORY. 

On the plus side…

Fatigue is getting the best of me this week. I am out of spoons, but I don’t want to be out of words on this blog. Hence, I wil be sharing some short pieces I have written for other publications. I hope you find them as absorbing as my usual content.
First up a piece on how body shaming & fat stigma makes plus size infertility an even bigger challenge.
Infertility is  heart breaking affair for anyone who wants to have a child. With the NHS now reporting that 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving, infertility is more common that we realise. Thankfully most people in UK will be able to access fertility treatment via the NHS. However, some people are not deemed suitable for treatment. One of the groups who may be denied access are those categorised as clinically obese.
Women with a BMI over 30 are routinely refused fertility treatment. Drs advise them lose weight before they can be referred to a specialist. There are a number of issues with this policy and some  are tied in with the way society as a whole views fat people. Let’s begin with index used to measure if a person is obese. Body Mass Index (BMI) has been widely discredited. The index has a number of problems including the fact that BMI does not differentiate between muscle & fat. Hence, people who are fit & have healthy body fat can be classified as obese. Another issue is that BMI does not recognise difference in body shape. It is well established that those who carry their weight around the middle (sometimes known as apple shaped) are at much higher risk of health complications than those who carry excess fat around their hips (pear shaped) [1].Thus women with very different shapes & risk factors can be labelled with the same BMI. Perhaps the biggest failing is that BMI  does not always change with lifestyle alterations. A person may make significant changes to their health without necessarily losing large amounts of weight. Partaking in regular exercise and switching to a healthy (but not calorie focused) diet will have a huge impact of a person’s wellbeing. Sadly, BMI would not recognise these positive changes unless there is also weight loss. This can put women in the position of focusing on how much they weigh rather than how healthy their lifestyle is.
Of course, there are also questions to be asked outside the clinical failings of BMI. It is important to note that there is no official policy on women who are under weight. Despite the fact that being too thin can have a bigger impact on a woman’s fertility than being too big. The medical community appear to jump to the conclusion that fat is always bad. A notion that is reflected in society & that causes plus sized women to face wide spread discrimination. It is estimated that half of pregnancies in the UK have obese mothers. Yet studies show that only 5% of admissions to neonatal units and 4% of preterm births could be avoided if all pregnant women had a ‘normal’ BMI at the start of pregnancy [2].The implications is clear, overweight woman are regularly having healthy pregnancies & deliveries. Still the overwhelming message from the medical community is that obese women automatically have  high risk pregnancies.
The most worrying part of this protocol is that women are often not even referred to a fertility specialist until the capitulate on the weight loss issue. This means that women who have specific medical problems interfering with conception are forced to delay interventions that could solve their problems. The bottom line is that women who are classified as obese get a raw deal. Underlying prejudices seem to be making an already distressing issue much harder of plus size women. Infertility can make women feel powerless and incompetent. When you are fat, those feelings are increased by the prevailing impression that your weight is to blame.
1 Mayo Clinic
2 Public Health England, Maternity obesity and pregnancy outcomes.

Woe is me…

I had to go into hospital on Monday. I’m home now, but still feeling rubbish.  Unfortunately this means I have nothing pretty or interesting to blog about. I shall hopefully rectify that this weekend. In the mean time if you can’t live without me, I have a few pieces on The Swag Guide. There are also lots of other wonderful writers, so please do check it out.

  

Gown – Nhs