A mothers mind. 

I started to write this piece a few weeks ago, in part as a response to some of the feedback regarding my post “the box I ticked” Having got through the first couple of paragraphs I stopped, put it on the back burner and then deleted. For one, I didn’t want people to feel that the content of my blog was just going to revolve around my first successful (in terms of views) post. I also didn’t want to open wounds that maybe I did not feel  ready to share or in fact ready to face myself. 

Today is World Mental Health Day. Today it feels right to do this. 

My last blog post received an (unexpected) overwhelming amount attention. More than I could ever imagine. I think at last count it’s 6 and half thousand views in just over a month. It featured within Britains most popular politics blog and was named checked by several political commenters. This means of course in the social media age, that the wider you reach, the more you open yourself to criticism. That’s to be expected of course and yes I will admit: I am not the worlds greatest writer, I’m not the most knowledgeable in the subjects I discuss & yes I am probably  “so much of a twee snowflake people could mistake my work Satire” ~ annomous commenter from Reddit. 

What really struck me, was an almost running theme that kept popping up in the comments regarding the post. This was across all social media sites that ‘The Box I ticked’ appeared on and people openly discussed amongst them selves, sometimes at great length. That subject was my state of mind. 

It’s extremely difficult to read complete strangers discussing the state of your mental health. Some of it was in a concerned tone, some was quite scathing of my motivates and some comments diagnosed me (incorrectly) as that could be the only answer as to why I no longer wanted to vote for Jeremy bloody Corbyn. The comments hit me right in a part that I wanted to keep well locked up inside of me. They made me feel that this baggage I still bear scars from was going to impact my dream goal of one day standing as an MP. I felt angry at myself and even angrier at my flaws. You don’t want to be difined by mental illness. Often you feel it’s a sign of weakness. When I think of some of my past decisions I feel ashamed and embarrassed. Every little thing got raked back up again. Till you reach a moment of clarity. If you can get through all these past episodes, if you can really sink to the lowest depths of despair, if you still have bad days and you still feel the aniexty but you achieve everything in spite of this…Then aren’t you an example of how you can positively define yourself as a sufferer of mental illness? My journey changed me. It changed me for the absolutely better and I can’t say for certain I would be the individual I am today if it wasn’t for what I had been through. So why wouldn’t I share it? 

I don’t want to go into incredible detail, mainly out of respect to my fiancé the incredible father to my beautiful daughter, who I attribute a huge part of making my world the better place it finally is and more importantly me the person I am today. Many years ago I suffered the break down of a relationship. I’m not going to say this caused my mental health issues as it’s clear I’ve had some underlying issues throughout my life and I’m notably an extremely emotional person but as a result I suffered a complete break down. I didn’t work, I hardly ate, I refused to leave the house, I counted down the hours till I could take the sleeping pills that enabled me to sleep. I didn’t live I just existed. I became a shell of my formal self in both personality and appearance. I cried till I had no tears left and I made completely irrational decisions including two attempts to take my life. My mind simply wasn’t emotionally capable of dealing with the situation. Old complexs retuned, I obsessed over my weight, my looks and my complete and utter inability to deal with the thought of people laughing at me just amplified all of the above. When the support of my absolutely incredible family and my one of a kind best friend pulled me from rock bottom it was still apparent that I wasn’t ‘cured’ I would feel euphoric highs then gut wrenching lows, I struggled to keep hold of my temper at work, I actually became quite a horrible person. I ruined a very close friendship and I lost sight of who I was. When enough is enough you have to face facts. You’re the problem and you’re the answer to fixing it. It’s meet with my doctor. I accepted my diagnosis of bi polar disorder and I took the medication perscribed. For some this meets it’s purpose and you’re functioning again. For me it kept me ticking over. It didn’t do much to remove the shield I had built around me or the; for want of a better word ‘alter ego’ I had created to hide behind. People that know of me will see a confident, self aware individual, they probably think I’m a bit vain too or court attention. I wouldn’t blame them for that it’s what I want them to think. For I am not that person. The real me is extremely sensitive, I absolutely hate the thought of people not liking me, I obess over it. I constantly worry of what people’s opinions are of me. So having something to hide behind suited me perfectly. False happiness can only sooth you for so long though and the only person you’re really kidding is yourself. Thank god I had reached that point where I was quite simply tired of the charade. It’s hard working pretending to be something you’re not and I just had enough. I’m not a great believer in fate but I am under no illusion that it was no coincidence that the time I started be myself again is the time that Chris entered my life. I could bore you for hours with stories about him but he loves me for the person I am despite every single flaw I think have. You become a good person with great people by your side. It’s at this point I feel it’s important to highlight how pinnacle a good support network is when it comes to mental illness. For every lucky person like myself with my fantastic family and friends, there are thousands who have no one. Mental health is more than just a health care issue, it’s a social issue, it’s a community issue, it’s a welfare issue. The current structure in place no where near reflects this and we need to fight to make sure it does.

My daughter being born was the the incredible moment at which I could see how far I’d come. Saturday 6th February 2016 couldn’t of been further from my lowest ebb. Arabella is my greatest achievement. So the niggling old anxieties that started to play up made me disappointed in myself. The fear of judgment returned, I was worried I wouldn’t be seen as a good enough mum. I lived in absolute fear of making a mistake that could harm my daughter and I was frightened that voicing my concerns would make people question my ability to mother. Whilst midwives and health visitors do a great job in looking out for signs and discussing Post natal depression, I feel more needs to be done regarding support for new mothers with a history of mental illness and awareness of the other types of post natal mental health issues. I didn’t feel detached from my daughter at all I had an incredible bond. When the HV asked the set questions regarding PND I didn’t fit the bill but I was starting to suffer with serious anxiety which strangely focused around my own health. I became convinced something was wrong with me, every little symptom I had I googled. I would lay awake at night feeling physically sick because I was that convinced I had an illness that would stop me watching my daughter grow up. I laughed about it with friends “oh yeah I have this weird obsession that I’m going to die, ha ha” but it wasn’t funnny and it was consuming me so much it was starting to take the enjoyment out of motherhood. This meant I stayed clear of mum groups, I found excuses not to leave the house, I was even too frightened to drive my car. The obsession would also fixate into fear of something happening to Arabella. I would invision an accident, an illness, a mistake that conjured up terrible images of what could happen to her. One minute I would be changing her nappy the next I would be uncontrollably in tears thinking of what could happen to her. 

Now I’m sorry if people think I’m going on too much with this piece but the above is important as I thought it was only me and that it was a ridiculous side effect of my past mental health issues. It is not and I’m hopeful some new mums might read this and feel reassured and relieved. Post natal ANIEXTY is a lesser known condition but it effects up to 10% on new mums. The fact that you don’t feel stereotypically depressed, combined with fear that new mums have about admitting they are not feeling quite right can result in so many mums suffering alone. People discussing my mental health as a new mum has made me want speak out to ensure other mums can don’t feel the same. I’ve seeked help and the treatment has seen me vastly improve. Bursting into floods in tears with my GP and have him reassure me that what I was feeling wasn’t unusual felt like the weight on my shoulders lifted. I still have quite a bit of health anxiety regarding myself but I’m in a completely different place with Arabella. I drive for miles with her in the car, we go shopping together, I socialise with other mums and I enjoy every second. I want this story to hopefully reach out to some one who can achieve the same.

So to wrap this up. My journey has shaped the person I am today and I’m proud of it. No I am not defined but I am moulded as a result of mental illness and do you know what? I am okay with that. It makes me feel much more compassion, I think twice now before I judge, I try to see the good in all and I try to remember everybody has their own demons. The steps to my recovery led to me finally joining the Labour Party,  getting back on course to my long forgotten goal. Despite these obsticles I stood on a platform and spoke publicly to hundreds of people at an Owen Smith event. Regardless of my aniexty regarding my looks and fear of other people’s views I stood and offered my self to criticism, I received some awful abuse and I had some real set backs. Yet I’m still here. I’m still going and I’m not done yet. 

No I’m not ‘fixed’ but I was not ever really broken, sufferers of mental health problems don’t just stop being human. So If you’re questioning my mental wellbeing then my answer to you would be that it makes me the person I am today and finally I couldn’t be prouder.

Thanks for reading. 

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The box I ticked.

I have to come out and say something. I don’t think I have ever really felt such anxiety writing anything before and I am a self proclaimed worry wart.

Yesterday I cast my vote for the Labour leadership election and the box I put my X in…was for a Mr Owen Smith. There. I have said it.

I have to be honest. I have been building up the courage to write this all day. I genuinely feel frightened. However I don’t want this to be jumped upon as an argument of all “Corbyn” supporters, they are a baying mob that I am afraid of. Of course I have no doubt that I am in for some abuse, it is unfortunately to be expected in this day and age. At the same time it is worth noting that I have made some fantastic allies on Twitter through my original support of Corbyn. These people are kind, passionate & have made me feel welcome. Not only that but I have actual REAL LIFE FRIENDS (remember those people that you actually have human contact with!) who are strong supporters of Jeremy. Maybe its partly the reason I am writing this piece. I feel I owe them some kind of explanation for my U-Turn. I hope that gives a small insight into the type of person that I am. I don’t like the idea of ‘letting people down’ my decision was not one made easily, quickly or without serious thought. That is what makes it so important.

For those who don’t know me.  I was just two days ago called out as a “Corbyn infiltrator” by the wonderful (!) Daily Express, following my appearance on The Victoria Derbyshire Leadership hustings. so it is safe to say this isn’t some propaganda thought up by the ‘evil powers powers that be’ I was a Corbyn supporter. I was inspired to join the party in part, because I was engaged by the buzz around him. I read The Canary (who actually motivated me to write this blog so fair play), I retweeted the stories of the ‘bias MSM’, I felt hurt by the ‘cult comments’, I was in awe of the numbers at the rallies, I felt outrage at the new member cut off and legal case, I was upset at MPs who appeared to call out the leader rather than the Tories, I felt that I was being forced to forgo my own passions for the sake of others and then…I voted for Owen.

So why?

I have always prided myself on having an open mind. I understand everyone’s right to an opinion. I take people on real individual value. As long as you are not hateful or have a bigoted mind I can accept a differing view. So when people started to approach me as to why I would not vote for Smith I listened. Now that’s a big point in its self. These people didn’t goad me, didn’t force their opinions or tell me I was wrong. They listened to me! The took on board all my feelings, my hurt, my treatment, my individual views on what issues are important for me and they gave some answers. They gave facts, they showed their sources, they understood me and above all they respected the fact that at that moment in time I wanted to vote for Jeremy.

At this point I need to start talking about the people who impacted on my decision making. The biggest one of these is my wonderful fiancé the Father of our perfect little girl. He is stereotypical of the kind of voter we need to win over. He lives in a city that is a real Tory strong hold, a spearhead of the ‘Leave’ campaign, has distrust over labour due to the economy and has no real affinity to any political party. Now he is my biggest sounding board and has to deal with my ranting, raving and tears over all this. So trust me if any one was going to be influenced to Corbyn it would be him. Yet he told me in no uncertain times that he would NOT vote for Labour if Jeremy Corbyn is leader. It turned my head 360. Because it finally made me realise a point, its all fair and well having all these labour members, the Corbyn supporters, the rallies, for these people will ultimately VOTE LABOUR. What are we doing for the ones that won’t?

Now as I said my other half lives with me, so he hears more than just the occasional ‘MSM’ sound bite. Yet he still has 100% no faith in Jeremy. So you can talk MSM plots all you want the sad reality is that this is where the voter we need lies, and if we keep dismissing it we are pushing it away.

Now ‘Tory lites’ and so on. Lets move on to that. Because I guess a few out there will now use that term for me. Well here is the thing. I am retail worker on maternity leave who if I am honest struggles to make ends meet each month. I come from a Northern Irish family who left the troubles behind in the hope we could have a better life. I have worked in retail all my life. I went to a generic secondary school. I failed my law degree at an average university. The Tory cuts have hit my family hard. As lower end earners but WORKERS we are entitled to nothing. We privately rent, we can’t afford to buy. If this makes me a Tory then I think the goal posts must of moved for the right wing.

I have looked very closely at Owen Smith’s voting record and I can’t find a single thing wrong. Trident is a tough one for me but it’s a really sad reflection of the world we live in at the minute. I had the same feeling as every one else that Owen was just a ‘Tory lite’, but this opinion came from nothing other than other peoples Twitter opinions. Then I was told to watch this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMGc-msUOIM&SNS=em

I was blown away by it.  It takes the Tories to task and lets be honest I enjoy nothing more then seeing Stephen Crabb’s smirk wiped off his face, If people are calling this guy out as a Tory then I wonder if this ‘Tory’ insult being banded about has lost its meaning.

Every day I would look at Twitter and I would see less policies more propaganda. Less about potential voters, more about Current members. Now again don’t get me wrong I stood up on national TV as a voice for new members and I support that but do I think this should take focus over potential voters? Sorry I do not.

I hear the word democracy a lot. It seems to be at the very heart of the Corbyn campaign, he is the ELECTED Leader, we ELECTED him. Yet in the same breath it will then move on to the de selection of labour MPs who the local electorate ELECTED. Are we saying the Labour members democracy is worth more than the Labour voter? Are we saying we will win over Labour voters by deselecting the labour MP they voted for in the first place? Is this stupidity on my part?

Kinder politics. We all Know a thing or too about that. I think sadly it states volumes of the current state of this party when at the hustings I attended we spent so much time discussing the conduct and treatment of each other within the Labour party, that we actually ran out of time to have frank discussions on policy. How is this still going on? How is this toxic atmosphere still felt? I cant help to look at our current leader for this. How can I trust him to improve it, if elected, if the issue is so potent whilst he is the leader? Before I get the ‘well the abuse is both sides, Jeremy gets a lot of abuse response’. Let me remind you once again who I am and my background of an open Corbyn supporter who stood up on television. I have had more than my fair share of extreme abuse, bringing my 6 month old daughter in to and pushing me to tears and wondering if I should just quit it all. Do you know what doesn’t dry those tears…people telling me it’s not just me receiving it. You know what doesn’t stop the abuse? Using the fact that it’s so common as an excuse.

You can have a differing point of view but when you start mocking people who genuinely have a fear for their safety I start to wonder what I belong to.

I thought we weren’t the nasty ones. I thought we didn’t turn nasty at people for their views. Well you can’t call for peoples heads because they disagree with you, whilst pro claiming anger that people are calling you out for being different to them.

Khan, Jess Phillips, Thangham Debbonaire. I don’t want to be involved in that level of abuse, nor do I think we should see any of them as fair game.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I stood up for new members but I have listened to old ones. I am seeing why they feel so passionate. Imaging spending your years giving all you free time knocking doors for the party you love, then the next minute you are being called a ‘Blairaite’ traitor who should ‘f**k off’ to the Tory party. Is that really what we think of people who just feel they want a different leader? They feel let down after the blood sweat & tears they have poured in.

I may have felt that at one point. These people were traitors but then you have to think that’s 172 MPs. One hundred and seventy two. You only have to spend time looking at their voting records to be sure they are not all closet Tories.

What I really feel like yelling at the minute when asked what side I am on is LABOUR!Only these past few weeks I feel it has become more about one man than one whole party. We are more than just that surely? A lot of these high profile pro JC accounts at the minute didn’t even support Jeremy the first time. Take a look into their history and they abused and smeared him. I feel this isn’t about the party any more and that is not what I joined for. I am big enough to admit that whilst I respect and admire Jeremy this is so much more than him. Yet every day it is all I hear, no policies, no talk of the party. Just us and them. Are we not all on the same team really? Do we not have more in common?

When I was so vividly upset about not feeling welcome in the party. Do you know which ‘camp’ got in touch with me? Asked me how I was. Discussed me at their meeting? It was Owen Smith’s. To me, a person crying out to be accepted, it meant the world. Today for the first time in weeks I have had a smile on my face. I am involved, I have people who encourage me to be an active member and welcome me to play what I hope will be a huge part in the future. It is all I ever wanted.

We are sadly living in a more right wing than ever country.  It breaks my heart. I don’t want to push people further that way. All I can see is that we will.

I worry this is a fad. That it is a trend to some people (not all please don’t think that) but when it is all said and done and the hard graft comes in these people won’t be there knocking on the doors to get the voters and it will all be in vain.

You can’t just sit back and wait for the change to happen. People are more aware than ever, you have to bring it to them, you have to get involved and make that change. You need a plan. I have not seen any plans. Just the same old theories. We won’t win any one over with that.

I have seen worse division within the same party then I did through any of the EU debate. How can we pull together a country when we are not being lead to pull together a party? People who were friends for years now don’t talk, people who support the exact same causes abuse one and other. How is this setting any kind of standard of a party for all?

The big problem in the referendum was people rested on their laurels. They assumed votes were safe and they didn’t take the real fight to the voters that mattered. It should of been a sure fire slam dunk vote. Only when the questions were asked, only one side took the stance to bring the facts to me.

I don’t want to lose people over this. I won’t judge or think different because of where your heart lies.  We are all Labour aren’t we? Lets focus on that. For me the only way I can focus on the party is to go with Smith.

Be kind and thanks for reading.

 

 

6 years. Still relevant. 

Having been inspired to set up my own blog I remembered I had written a few posts before. I managed to look up the old blog. One of the posts really called out to me as it conveys the same message that I stand by today . The writing isn’t the best so please forgive me but what struck me is 6 years later this post is just as relevant. Why is that as life progresses and things move on people’s view points stay firmly the same? This post deserved a spot on here because it truly is the point I found my voice. 

Here’s the post:


It’s the 11th of November today. Remembrance Day. The clock struck 11am and the nation paused to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day. When peace returned to Europe at the end of the First World War.
Sadly a group of insensitive individuals decided to break this silence. These individuals were the members of a group called Muslims Against Crusades and broke the silence with chants of ”British soldiers burn in hell” and the burning of poppy’s.

This is truly a disgusting act and those involved should be ashamed of themselves. However I kind of feel there is another group of people who should also hang their head in shame with their own disrespectful actions on this day of remembrance….

My Facebook newsfeed has been flooded with Status updates telling “ALL Muslims to FUCK off” “Muslims should fuck off out of England” 
Now maybe if some people took the time to actually read full news reports rather than the attention seeking headlines or the hearsay of others. They would have a clearer understanding. As far as I am aware there were no reports of EVERY Muslim in Britain burning Poppy’s at 11am today. In fact there were no reports of HALF the population of Muslims or even a quarter. It was in fact a group of less than an hundred. So are we now meant to think that a group of less than a hundred people can be the gage of the views of a whole religion? I should also highlight that fact too, that it is a religion not a race or country. To the majority of Muslim people in Britain this is their  country. They are proud and respectful to the origins behind Remembrance Day. 

Having looked into this subject and done a little bit of research online I discovered the following: In World War II the Indian army provided 2.5 million men. Over 24,000 were killed and 65,000 injured. There is a World War monument in Tower Hill for men within the Merchant Navy who lost their lives fighting in the two world wars. On this tower you will see the names of Muslims: Miah, Latif, Ali, Uddin.

The real point I am trying to get across is this should not be a case of “us and them.” I am sure some of the reactions made today are exactly what these “extremists” are after! Further distrust, breakdown of communities, acts of revenge. Making it all the more easier for them to recruit in their fight against the west.
Perhaps the reason I feel so strongly about this is my own back ground. My family are from Northern Ireland and I am very proud of roots. I have been told, seen and read how it feels to have a small group’s actions blamed on you. My mum worked in a local pub in England when I was younger. The day after a soldier was shot by a member of the IRA, a customer in the pub refused to be served by my mum because she was Irish. Did my mum agree with the shooting? No, she was as sickened as the rest of the country. The funny thing is my mum is from the other side of religious fence so the IRA would of just of happily shot her. This guy did not care, she was Irish and therefore she was just as bad.
I am sure most people can agree that selective racism is out there . Often using the lines “I am not a racist but…”  I think it is more important that we look at people’s actions on an individual basis rather than actions representative of a whole race/religion/set of beliefs. It makes me giggle that a certain someone I noticed had listed his political view of being a supporter of the BNP, yet had a status pledging his support to David Haye in his upcoming fight. Oxymoron or just UTTER Moron to say the least.
Can we not just remember the true meaning behind the 11th of November? To remember those who fought so bravely in our name. Fighting in many wars including World War II a war in which we fought against a man who felt that there should be one superior race (!) Today should be a day for peace and respect so let’s leave the hatred to small, pathetic minority and not lower ourselves to their narrow minded levels.
In Flanders’ Fields 

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky 

The larks, still bravely singing, fly 

Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders’ fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high,

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 

In Flanders’ Fields. 

John McCrae, 1915.

Voices.

In this day and age your voice can been shared around the world, on different platforms and via an array of social media sites.

No longer can voices be manipulated by others, the media, the ‘powers that be’ in order to reflect what people want or need you to think.

Now more than ever people know a lot more about their friends views, thoughts, actions than ever before. Even stranger you know a lot more about the views, thoughts and actions of people you have not and will never meet.

I have a lot to say. Things mean a lot to me. I probably irritate a lot of people by my constant sharing of my views via social media but it has given me life. A focus and a passion about issue that, yes I always had thoughts on but no, I didn’t think I was in a position of importance to share them.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or how you think. All voices count. It’s just about brave enough to get them heard.