Monday, 18 September 2017

To be treated like human beings.

"Teach them, too, to question the ideas of ...a special species... They don't need to be championed and revered; they just need to be treated as equal human beings." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie




So much of what I write revolves around what's going on with me. What I'm feeling, what I want, what I've done. I'd like to think that I'm not a hugely self centred person but I do have my moments. Often because of my anxiety or whatever else, I end up being the centre of my own little world and, sometimes, I need to be in order to cope. However I've been feeling fairly contented recently, thus the return to blogging, and I have been trying to think far more outwardly. I've been thinking about others and how they are doing and what is effecting them, and how I can help. Which leads me to my next train of thought (trust me, this blog may seem like random thoughts thrown together but it does tie together in the end, just hang tight.)


The thing that I have seen most prominently in the news, and on my social feed, which has deeply saddened me, has been the reaction, or lack of in some cases, to the expressions of hate and intolerance that have been displayed in the USA mainly, but I know exist and persist for so many others world wide. I am lucky to have many friends who come from different backgrounds and cultures, and I am thankful that each one of you opens my eyes to see the world differently and more clearly in one way or another. I know that my friends and I felt strongly about what happened in Charlottesville, and the aftermath including but not limited to the lynching of a young bi-racial boy in New Hampshire and several more hate fuelled protests and movements. As well as the language used around it, and so much that came before. I know that Charlottesville isn't the only horrific thing to happen to people of colour at the hands of white extremists, and it certainly isn't the first time that white extremists have been given far more leeway than they deserved. However, for some these attacks will have been a shocking example of outright racism and perhaps a wake up call to quite a few. There are lots of things I would like to say about it all, but I will start with this. To those who have been affected by racism and oppression in any form...

I'm so sorry.

I'm so sorry that people who think and behave like this still exist.
I am sorry that you still don't feel safe or welcome.
I'm sorry that by not speaking out, so many show cowardice and even complicity.
I'm sorry if you have been made to feel unwelcome or unsafe in any way.
I'm sorry if I have ever made you feel this way.
I'm sorry that I frequently forget my own privilege and that it takes such extreme action from horrible people to make me remember how privileged I am.
I'm sorry that I don't use my privilege to help as often as I should.
And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write about this.



I have been contemplating writing on this topic for a while. Mainly because I feel I should talk about important topic like race and politics as well as the random life updates I sometimes give you, but also because there needs to be more said about it. It's taken a while because a) its a sensitive topic and b) I wanted to make sure that I was clear. But recently I realised that I have to write about this and I should just go ahead and do it because this isn't about me. I don't feel threatened because my skin is another colour. I don't see or hear of people like me being attacked and beaten and killed simply for existing. And if I did, never on this scale and never with this much free reign. And again, I know I've already said it but it isn't enough, I'm sorry. I also don't have to deal with seemingly 'little' forms of prejudice - e.g. 'you're pretty for a black woman...' (yes this is an example from a friend of mine). Now one may think that this is a compliment. I'm calling her pretty what's wrong with that? What is actually being said is that, like in the quote above, she is a 'special species' of attractive black woman. The assumption being made here that black women aren't typically pretty. Which in my not so humble opinion is bull-crap. And these little prejudices can take many forms, so please do keep an eye out for them both in your own actions and the actions of others.



What I want to say is that I will fix it all and that I have now been inspired to go out and change the world. In a small way I guess that it is what I have been inspired to do. But I know I am just one person. I can't change the whole world alone. I wish I could, but I cant. I'm also not some sort of 'woke' white super woman who is here to help out cause there isn't anyone else capable. This isn't the case, there are already so many people working to change the world and I will include links at the bottom of this post to help support just some of these people but do feel free to find others and support them in a way they need. And while your at it look up how many awesome things have been invented, improved, inspired by and perfected by those who are culturally considered minorities.

However, the least I can do is change the small parts of the world that I am in. Little changes, that ultimately can end up making a huge difference. Call people out on their actions and words. Hold myself and others accountable. Learn not to deny or ignore my privilege but use it. Ask how I can help. What do you need? What can I do to help you? What can I do better? There are so many people who are already actively doing so much. Many people have literally given their lives in order to help. I actively want to say that I in no way think that what I'm saying is revolutionary or brand new. To be honest this is probably the bare minimum, its just trying to be a decent person. But I always will be happy to try to do more in any capacity.

I
 love writing. And I love my friends, and I try to love everyone I can (however difficult that may be sometimes).I'd love to be a better ally to those who want that. I'm sorry if this post comes out a little jumbled and please do let me know how I can change it for the better the next time I write about something like this. I have been badgering many of my friends to ensure that this post comes across the way I intend it to (thanks guys), and that I don't patronise or disrespect anyone's own journey, experience or fight. The quote at the beginning was sent to me by one such friend who said she felt it was relevant to the message she felt I wanted to convey, so included it. Although originally written to  emphasise the importance of feminism it too fits in well. Everyone deserves to be treated with equal respect, decency and autonomy. So I do hope it come across that I am trying to understand the perspective and the unrelenting strength of those who have been, and still are, oppressed and that through this post I am showing my intentions to help by working alongside those same people to fulfil their potential by helping them remove the obstacles in their way.


I'd like to encourage others to do the same. At least once everyday try to do something that is entirely not for you, but for someone else. Everyone is different in their own way, and will respond differently to opposition. The simplest way to help, is to ask. And to all my friends of colour, my Jewish friends, my LGBTQ+ friends or whoever else is reading this, if you have felt attacked, afraid, threatened or trapped because of who you are, because of cruel and unkind, selfish, bitter people, I'm sorry and let me know what I can do for you. This world is for everyone. And we all deserve to be treated like human beings.

http://blacklivesmatter.com/getinvolved/
http://www.albemarle-cvillenaacp.org/
http://cvillepride.org/sponsor/support/
https://www.justice4all.org/






To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new as often as I can.




Thanks, see you soon

X






Wednesday, 3 May 2017

HIYYAAAAAAA, I'm Back Baby!


Hey guys,


So I've been AWOL recently. My bad. I've had a big ol' change of circumstance and environment which meant I have moved back home to Manchester and am now living with my parents and am looking for work. Again. 
But I'm back, and after a break in Turkey, I'm just taking a step back to sort out my priorities and what I need to do next, I'm back! And believe you me, I have so many thoughts that I cannot wait to get down onto paper or up onto the web. 


It took a while for me to see it as such, but coming back home and changing jobs was actually probably the best thing for me. Hindsight is such a valuable thing, because now, looking back, I can see that I should have done something about not being happy sooner. My environment meant I often felt anxious, which was stressful enough, but throw depression into the mix and friends... you have yourself a  problem. Because I was feeling tired, I was isolating myself and just getting myself through the day meant that I didn't have the energy, and stopped finding the time, to do any of the other things I wanted to do because I enjoyed them. 


I stopped writing, I didn't take enough care of myself and I got unhelpfully inside my own head. I felt like a failure, even when I was working my hardest. At the worst points, I'd sit at my desk and stare at my screen trying to stop the panic attack I could feel rising in my chest, like a living embodiment of the 'internally screaming' meme. I was desperate to not show anything through my expression because I knew that if anyone asked me "are you alright?" it would become clear that I wasn't. And even worse, I felt that if I admitted that, it meant I was being ungrateful. I had been given a fantastic opportunity, with a great team and with a great organisation and I didn't fit the role as I thought I would. I didn't want to say anything because not only did I not want to seem selfish to my friends who were still looking for work or who were also struggling, but I also didn't want to seem weak.


Honestly, I can be the most stubborn human in the world and I will want to stick something out because I want to prove a point or prove someone wrong. My anxiety makes me feel like people think I'm stupid, or that I'm wrong, or unimpressive and that 'they all hate me'. I've done so many things simply to prove that I could, or because I felt I needed to prove myself. Every one of those decisions was a bad idea. Not because what I was doing was bad necessarily, but because I was doing it for the wrong reason. The other side of my anxiety means that I don't want to let people down or leave a job unfinished or done badly. If I do something, I place 100% of my effort into it. Some call that high functioning anxiety, I call it bloody annoying. Yes, it means I give a lot, but if for some reason something doesn't feel right, or if my depression gets in the way, I can get stuck. I simultaneously want to do everything, and want to do it so perfectly that no-one could possibly be cross at me, and feel too useless to do anything right at all. It's exhausting. 



For example, I was cooking risotto for my family last week, and I knocked over a jug of stock which in turn knocked over a glass of wine, both of which were part of the recipe, and the liquid just went everywhere! All over me, all over the counter, all over the chopping board and the veggies I had prepped and I was so cross at myself, and embarrassed, that I burst into tears and cried for a solid few minutes before I even attempted a clear up. I hadn't had a bad day; I'd had plenty of sleep, no-one else was in the kitchen so no-one had seen me knock over the jug (and people only realised that I'd made a mess after I told them). I cried because I felt like an incompetent idiot in that moment, and like I was pathetic and clumsy and me spilling this stock suddenly became a metaphor for every stupid thing I'd ever done in my life ever and I hated it and I hated me aaannd ... I think you get my drift. My mental health just ran away with it, for no reason and completely out of the blue. It's stuff like that that's so hard to explain to someone who doesn't understand mental health problems first hand. To many people that response seems completely unnecessary and over dramatic. But to me, I was actually being relatively reigned in. 


I can't control how my mental health effects me as much as I want to. When I was at my worst, I tried to find control in so many areas. I took up habits that were ultimately bad for me, and developed behaviours that I hoped would make me feel in control of something, because there was so much I couldn't control. And it led to me hurting myself. I will always be affected by that time and even now, after I have given up so many of those habits and behaviours, I have developed others which indicate my desire for control manifesting itself in other ways (my GP recently diagnosed me with mild Trichotillomainia).  

Have you seen the Netflix show Riverdale? 
There's a character called Betty who tries too hard to remain under control, she clenches her hands into fists so tightly that her nails dig into her hands and cut her palms. I really relate to that. I used to do something similar. It's like you are so full of some horrible emotion - or lack of emotion - but you can't convey the depth and strength of what you are feeling to anyone so they can't help you. Because you can't express yourself verbally it comes out physically - but you don't want to look stupid by making a scene so you do something self destructive. I get it. I don't do it now though, at least not consciously. And you shouldn't either. Trust me. *

*if you find yourself wanting to do something like this, or similarly
 self destructive please, talk to someone, find help or look up information on why you feel the need to do so and how to take to next step to recovery. 

I cried in the kitchen because I lost control of the vegetable stock and couldn't control the mess it made or predict where it would go, and I didn't know how to communicate that to someone in a way that made sense and couldn't ask for help without feeling pathetic. Part of what I didn't enjoy in my old job was being unable control or predict the moods of those around me. I didn't know how to express my anxiety and unhappiness in a way that wouldn't make me feel stupid or pathetic, so I felt like I couldn't ask for help. 

In no way am I saying it was the fault of anyone I was with. Just like how I wouldn't blame the jug of stock for being in the way of my elbow. I moved my elbow, it knocked the jug, it spilled. That's what happened. That is why it happened. Not because I'm stupid, or pathetic or whatever other horrible name that my mind calls me. So at work, I did my best, I found that it wasn't the right role for me, and when the time came I chose to leave. That is what happened. Of course there are other factors that might have contributed, but there's no sense or place for me to say that it was someone else's fault or a failing on my part. Because not to blow my own trumpet too much, but I'm actually quite smart, and I'm braver than I believe and I work hard. There were parts of that role that I really enjoyed and that I was really good at, but I still need to work on communicating how I am doing and where I am struggling. I need to be braver, and find the right way to be braver with my honesty and say when and how I need help. 

So that's what happened guys, at a point where it became appropriate, I made the decision not to extend my contract and come home. Stepping away from the situation reminded me that a step forward is still a step forward, even if its in another direction, I wasn't as stuck as I thought I was. Staying where I was would have been like deciding to sort out my risotto disaster by scooping up the spilt liquid with my hands and trying to get it back into the jug. No, what I needed to do was clean up, make sure who ever came after me could start efficiently and without difficulty and make plans about what to do next.



Now that I'm home I'm applying for other jobs, I'm making other plans; I'm applying for courses and I'm looking after myself a whole lot better. Of course I miss my friends and I miss Hull, and it was tough to make the choice to come home but I'm here now. It's not the end of the book, it's just the next chapter. I'm working on getting therapy to help me, but for now I'm happy to control mainly what happens in the kitchen and de-clutter my life. Obviously I need to find work, and I'm doing what I can in that respect, but I'm not obsessing about what I could have done differently. There's no point crying over spilled vegetable stock.
To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
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Thanks, see you soon

X

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Beastly thoughts...

So I've been absolutely shattered these last few days and when I've collapsed through the door, crawled upstairs and peeled of my coat and shoes, I then fall onto my bed and watch the crappiest and simultaneously brilliant TV series or movie I can find because it requires me to do absolutely nothing. And after a thoroughly exhausting and long work day, that's what I needed. I needed to just do nothing.

The other thing that for some reason has been playing heavy on my mind has been my future. As I've been lying in bed desperately trying to get to sleep I've found myself imagining, planning, and then eventually panicking about where I'm going to live, whether I will have enough money, whether I will see my friends, my family, whether I will be happy...

The movie I decided to watch most recently was Beastly. I'm sure you know the movie; a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a school in New York where being beautiful seems to get you ahead. As the movie progresses the now 'ugly' Alex Pettyfer is told by his tutor that "its not about how others see you, but how you see yourself."

Now I am all about thinking about the inside rather than the out and that kindness, goodness and justice should be sought wherever one can, especially over thinks like power, beauty and wealth. But something about that summary seemed too simple. It seemed to imply that the thoughts of others didn't matter and that you should be the centre of your own universe. Of course it is important to look after yourself, and yes I'm all for not giving a single damn about what someone thinks of me but only in certain situations.

I used to be far too concerned with pleasing other people and being worried about what they thought of me, When I was little I lied to try and make my bullies like me because I thought it would make me more impressive. When I was in high school I did things that I wasn't entirely comfortable or ready to do because I thought it would make me look cooler. As a young adult I starved myself and make myself ill because I thought if I looked thinner people might like me more. It got to the point where I gave so much that there was very little of me left to give in order to please or appeal to someone else.

My dad has always said I put other peoples needs and wants above my own, and I used to do this to such an extent that it damaged me. I could have turned completely the other way and made it all about me, like I have seen COUNTLESS people do which in someways I think is even more toxic. Deciding that you want to only do things that feel good for you right now is naive and selfish. Sorry to be blunt,but it's true, But instead I taught myself that its about judging the needs within that situation. So if I m tired, but someone needs my help or my time I have to decide am I the one in greater need or is this other person. It isn't always about me, but it isn't always about someone else either. I am not the centre of my universe, of course I am important, but what pushes me is not what I think of myself, or what others think of me. It isn't even what I think of other people. What motivates and pushes me is the relationships I have with people and how I think about them, myself and others on a wider scale.


Sometimes we all need to step back and look at things from a bigger perspective. And rather than looking what I need to do, or what someone else wants me to do, look at what I might do and how that effects both those around me and myself and address that need. Look to your future need, rather than the immediate. This last week I needed to rest and recuperate so that I could perform my best at work and still have enough energy to care for my friends and myself if needed. It isn't about how others see you, but how I treat myself and those around me. Ultimately, the way I fall asleep at night isn't because I know I will 'make it' or be rich or successful, but I fall asleep and dream safe in the knowledge that no matter what happens there are people who will care for me and who I can also care for and if all else fails I know my relationships are solid. That's where I find comfort, and I find those thoughts truly and wholly beautiful. 


To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
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Thanks, see you soon

X