Friday, 21 February 2014

On compulsion

There is a huge amount of misunderstanding surrounding many parts of mental illness. One in particular that's been standing out to me recently is compulsion. I mean the word is pretty self explanatory but I'll give you a dictionary explanation "An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation".

What many people are not aware of is that it is often an oppressive thought, one which forces itself into your head without asking permission first. It is not rational and pointing this out is never helpful. But please also do not make us feel ashamed for some of the things we feel we MUST do. Try to listen & understand us, don't make us feel worse for things that already do not make us feel good about ourselves. 

Here are some things that have helped me through in the past. I am by no means a trained mental health professional these are just personal things I have figured out. These have helped me through not only compulsion but also low cycles.

For anyone who is near me at the time, please ask permission before you physically attempt to comfort me.

Have a bath with something in it that smells nice. Bubbles are great too. Pampering yourself in any way you tend to enjoy can help too. If you are with someone you feel safe with ask them if they will give you a foot rub or a massage. 

Attempt to distract yourself. Try to do something easy that you enjoy. Play a video game, read a book, watch a TV show you love, cook yourself something nice & simple (if you can). Tidy your room and do a clear out (again only if you can). Listen to music & pretend you're the one on the stage screaming your heart out. Screaming into a pillow can also be helpful.

Take a walk. This I find better if someone is with me as being outside can sometimes be a bit too much.

Don't do too much, cancel plans you can't manage. People will understand, if they don't well then they're the shitty ones, not you. (This one is much harder to do as inevitable practising what you preach can be very difficult)

Alternatively see people you know you feel safe with. Ask if they can come to your house & bring with them something they know you love (a film, food stuff, nice drink etc.). Or go to a place you're 100% sure you will feel safe. Of course public transport can be too difficult so keep that in mind if you are low on spoons. 

Call a friend you feel safe with or text if speaking to someone is too much.

Most importantly however, it's ok to fail. I inevitably feel full of shame and angry at myself for not being able to do what I want to do or giving into compulsions. Of course I'm saying this as someone who's never been able to accomplish not beating myself up about it. However I at least want you all to know that I am someone who will never judge you. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

On a wishlist regarding men's behaviour. (TW harrassment/assault)

Don't ask me out on platforms to designed for this
Don't grab my ass on the train
At the bar
In the toilet queue
On the dance floor
In the street
In the shop
At work
Don't pull me into the toilets
Don't run your hands through my hair
Don't grab my arm
Don't pull me onto your lap
In fact just don't fucking touch me
Don't tell me you just want to talk to me
Don't lick your lips at me
Don't get off the night bus with me
Don't walk me home
Don't bang on my door when I've slammed it in your face
Don't dance with me unless I consent
Don't shout that I have nice tits, arse, legs. etc.
Don't tell me I look like fun, adventurous, quirky, freaky, downright dirty
Don't call me darling
Post mistress
Good girl
Little girl  
Don't tell me "daddy likes a tattoo"
Don't talk to me while I'm trying to get a drink. I'm not at the bar to chat to anyone but the bar staff.
Don't tell me I'm not like other girls. 
Don't tell me I'm like a dude. 
Don't tell me I'm prettier without make up I'll just wear more.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

On a very loud and tiring brain

My head is very loud, most of the time. It's very rarely quiet in there. I have found that mental illness rarely comes as a single entity but rather as a package deal. Joking aside (although joking about it does help me a lot actually) you never get to deal with just one thing at once. It's a tangled web up there.

I feel like writing about my anxiety though more specifically. Partly because it's been worse recently and I thought this might help me and others but also because well, I just feel like it.

Recently it's been particularly loud up in my brain. I struggle to get to sleep and when I do I nearly always wake up at 5am. This means I am constantly tired, this in turn makes my pendulum of mood swings swing harder and faster perpetuating a rather dangerous cycle. I often wake up with stomach aches and feel sick. I tend to get these feelings off and on during the day. I also have a near constant headache, shoulders & back also ache tremendously.

One of the worst parts of my anxiety is social anxiety. This is in part perpetuated by the street harassment I get pretty much daily as it makes me not want to leave my house. I have a near constant voice in my head telling me that everyone hates me even though of course I know this isn't true. I know this isn't true because I have wonderful friends who I see regularly. I have a lovely boyfriend who does thoroughly enjoy spending time with me. I also have a mother who is very supportive and we are in contact every day. See they don't hate me. So why do I keep telling myself that everyone does?

This voice does however tend to make me quite an intense person to be around. I am often on edge. I am so worried about saying weird things that well I end up saying weird things. I make odd jokes that aren't funny at all. I can also be very shy and difficult to talk to because I'm not always 100% sure how to do human interaction. This means sometimes people think I hate them. Actually a lot of people seem to think that at first which obviously makes me feel terrible. People reading this, I don't hate you!!!

I'm not so great at being touched (for many reasons we shan't delve into) which means I occasionally flinch when people touch me. I can hazard a guess that it's something that's quite confusing for many. Honestly speaking I switch fast between loving being touched by people to in the next moment absolutely hating it.

There are certain places I can't go because it makes it a lot worse. If somewhere is incredibly busy and I'm already on edge I will struggle. Certain kinds of places makes me very uncomfortable. You'd probably guess which ones, the Tiger Tiger's of this world. The kind of places frequented by bankers etc. I don't feel safe in places like that so my anxiety levels shoot up.

Unfortunately my anxiety doesn't really make any sense so I can't always know when and how it's going to hit. Such is life in this package deal of mine.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

On misdirected anger

There are going to be a lot of angry people today, tomorrow and Friday morning. There will be a repeat of this next week. Why? Because tube workers are striking.

Now the anger you are feeling is good. Hold on to that. But please make sure you direct it at the right people. Do not be angry at the people who work on our magnificent London Underground. They are striking because of 500 jobs being cut, much longer working hours and closure of ticket offices. They are striking for very important reasons. Because everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity at work. Everyone deserves to be paid properly for the hard work they do. Everyone deserves reasonable working hours. And all of us deserve ticket offices. There are a lot of lies about stations having more staff when the ticket offices close. They will not. I travel on routes daily already without ticket offices and there is hardly ever any station staff around to help.

Show them solidarity because over these days you will see how vital our tube is. Be angry, but be angry at the right people. Be angry at Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the bosses who refuse to listen to their workers.