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The Streets that lead me (A Play – first Draft)

It is 3.40 PM, Noreen a 12 year old girl is sat on a large rock outside her school, there is noise and commotion of children trying to get on the 3 buses lined up in front of her. A back drop of green hills and semi detached homes catches her eyes. She is waiting and watching the world.

Asef: Where is he?

Noreen: I have been waiting since 3.15.

Asef sits beside her. Throws his bag down.

Asef: OK, When these 2 go and its the last bus we will que up and..if he’s still not here..

Noreen: I don’t have a pass

Asef: Are you serious… it don’t matter, we’ll sneak on

Noreen: NO, NO, Miss is there look, ohh.. now what..

Asef: We just get on..what’s wrong with you.. have you got money?

Noreen: Er no..why would I have any money, why is Dad not here? He’s such a…

Asef: Shut up,

Noreen: I am scared..she’s not going to let us on..I forgot to fill the form in..for the pass..should have done it after last time..but I thought he only forgot that once he’s picked us up since.. but I bet he’s forgotten about us again.

Asef: Its the last bus.. now! come on.

Reluctantly Noreen follows Asef’s lead and queues up to get on the bus.

Friend: Asef.. you getting on bus today yh?

Asef: Yh me and my sister, are dad’s not here.

Friend: Safe.. sit at the top yh..we all go upstairs.

Asef: Yh safe.

Noreen: Look..Asef..look they told David he can’t get on, he doesn’t have a bus pass

Friend: Just sneak..

Asef: You serious.. shit.. No its alright we’re going to have to walk it now

Noreen: I told you she is tight, its just a stupid piece of paper

Asef: Lets wait for Dad a little longer

They walk away from the queue and take their seats on the Rock again

Noreen: David is walking home, he lives near us..she is proper tight she is.. That Miss.. shall we go into reception and call home

Asef: Er yh lets call home to the land-line that has been cut of because your dad didn’t pay the bill yh

Noreen: It’s not my fault is it, he has just forgotten about us, I

Asef: Again..

Noreen: I am telling you he has just forgotten about us and he is your step-dad, still a dad so shut up!

Asef: Its 3.50 now, he’s not coming, we’ll have to walk

Noreen: How

Asef: With you’re legs dumbo, lets catch up to David, he’s from Fagley yh

Noreen: Yh, he is new in my class, and funny.. He only started a couple weeks ago, he gets the City circle in the morning sometimes, haven’t you seen him before? Do you think we can get home for 5, because Mor always worries when we are just a little bit late? Do you know which way to go home? What about the main road there is no where for us to walk, and..

Asef: Yh, Yh we will use the bus route, chill man it will be about an hour, I bet you a tenner

Noreen: Where you going to get that from then.. dad?

Asef and Noreen run down the hill

Noreen: David, David

David turns around

David: Reeeenyyy

Noreen: Hi..

Asef: We are walking too, to Fagley

David: The bitch wouldn’t let me on the bus, have you got some cash for a taxi or the City Circle

Asef: No, my dad normally comes for us and last time..

David: Just got to walk quick, will be getting dark soon, you fast yh, what about you Reeny?

Noreen: I can walk fast, will it really be getting dark soon?

David: Are you scared of the dark

Noreen: no..Asef..my bags heavy..

Asef: Just come on quick.. we using bus route yh?

David: Only one I know, hate coming all the way here to this stupid school, so far away, my mum cant even drive and she’s skint.

Asef: We got the bus last time, its seventy five pence with a school pass..don’t have any money on us this time.. anyway that bus takes an hour, then you got to change at town or walk home from there.

David: Oh shit look at that..the bus ha we caught up, look at them slow as a snail.

Children call out of the bus and throw rubbish out at David

Asef: What you doing!

Asef puts his middle finger up to the bus

Noreen: Seriously so embarrassing, they know now we are walking home..Asef..look are they looking at me? Is my face red? I think you lot are walking to fast. Can we sit down when we get passed this dumb bus?

Asef: they were looking at your 90’s bag, what you got in their bricks…

Noreen: Mor got me it OK!

Asef: I got fifty pence on me, do you want a drink?

David: What about me?

Asef: sorry mate, that’s all I got..

David: Only joking..

Past the bus and the traffic, the three of them sit on a bench outside a line of high rise flats, watching the traffic and birds sitting on the grass in front of them and the road.

David: Right I have had my rest..

Noreen: Asef..what do you think has happened? What if something’s happened..

Asef: Just chill..

Noreen: I don’t trust dad, seriously what’s wrong with him..

Asef: Lets get home quick its starting to get dark..

Noreen: OK, look at David, he’s fast, eh what’s he doing sitting on the floor

Asef and Noreen run

Asef: What are you doing.. get up

David: Look..my shoes got a hole in.. I have holy shoes ha

Noreen laughs

David: Guys I can sit here and beg, I am not walking any more, we done what forty minutes now..if only the weather was good..

Asef: Yh you carry on, we are walking on..

Noreen: Cant leave him here..

Asef: Seriously! He’ll catch up..keep walking.. Do you want to get home or what?

Noreen: Now you’re being tight, he actually looks like a beggar look at his shoes.. and his coat is dirty too.. Ohhh look at that man there.. He might attack him..

Asef: Come on, its not safe here..need to get out from under this bridge, he knows the route..

Noreen: OK, just slow down, I can’t go up another hill, my feet are hurting..the rain..

Asef: Do you want that tenner?

Noreen: And where are you getting it from!

Asef: Kaka Ji will give me it, I am helping him out this weekend on some cars

Noreen: Not fair..I want some money too

Asef: Get a job then,

Noreen: Do you think when I grow up, mum will let me? Actually they don’t care what I do, if they cared they would have picked us up from school and dropped us off. Looked after us.. How many Asian kids do you see getting the bus outside Fagley at 6.50 AM.

Asef: We’re not special..

Noreen: Them Asian aunties stare at us, they talk about Mor.

Asef: She has lost the plot..like when she looses the plot when she has to give us bus fare..why send us to school and so flippin far away if you can’t afford it..

Noreen: She doesn’t because of dad

David jumps on Asef from behind

Asef: What the.. What you doing man, shit me up

Noreen: Oh my god I thought you was that that man

David: It was a Junkie..the guy had cash..and he asked me for more! Look what I got, some old man threw me a quid, yesss going to get some munchies from the corner shop.

Asef: Can’t you get a bus with that

David: Rather get some food

They run to a corner shop

Noreen: You guys, wait!

David and Asef sit on a bench under a bus stop, its raining and dark now. Noreen is walking towards them. Noreen talks to her self.

Noreen: Cant believe I am walking home, no one cares about us

Noreen stops, and puts her hand on her chest, takes a deep breath and sees a man approach Asef and David, Noreen stops, heart beats

David: What!

Man: Do you want some weed?

Davis: Is it free?

Man: You little shit

Asef: Get lost..

Man: If.. If..yous you..you weren’t kids I would l.l..lamp you, you likle shits

Noreen: who was that

Asef: Don’t know, come on, guess what time it is..five

Noreen: Yes I got money coming in! Make sure Kaka Ji gives you that tenner…Its five O Clock! Mor is going to be mad.. the bus is normally home by now

David: Who is Mor?

Asef and Noreen in sync: Our mum

Noreen: She is not well, and she is paranoid and she is going to be really really upset.. Oh no what about Omar, do you think he is home from school?

Asef: yh yh they would have took him home.. the teachers

Noreen: she is going to be mad, why has no one come looking for us, we are on the main roads..

Asef: Its dark and I don’t know what’s happened, we should have called Kaka ji from the reception

Noreen: Do you have his number, what about Dajee, is his number on the list for emergencies?

Asef: I don’t know, no point now, keep walking and don’t get behind us again

Noreen: I am scared what’s happened to Dad?

Asef: Chill..

Noreen: I feel like something bad has happened…

Featured

Overcoming PTSD

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Walking on a spring evening in Golden Acre Park – Leeds

I have to do this. Releasing my thoughts onto the world like an eagle spreading its wings above a small stone, but at this moment in time my story has a beginning and no end. I am still in the process of understanding my story, my past and present. It haunts me day after day like a crazy killer on the loose repeatedly stabbing me in the back, in the chest, in my head and in my eyes.

I get up and get on. However for the past 2 years it has eaten me up and there is nothing left in me, I feel empty and numb, sometimes I like it numb, I can numb certain people out of my life, I am a pro at this. You see me and I give you the illusion of ‘I’m listening’.

Just as I gather myself it chases after me again. The killer is let loose.

Just imagine that for a second.

Now imagine this, I am ready to release this image, this symbol of pain and it’s acquaintances – they are;

Low self esteem

Low confidence

Extreme fear

Immense feelings of betrayal

Lifelong loneliness

and tears that never dry.

The stress is real and I am living it, the circumstances which made me a strong independent women are now breaking me, pounding in my face as a reminder of the bad experiences, what I have achieved despite the difficulties is not enough to erase those memories.

So I ask myself why now? Why now?

At least it’s now and not later, maybe?

Releasing all of this in writing is painful yet it is needed for me to overcome and understand my life and what it has made me.

Overcoming PTSD started at the age of 27, I said to a crowded room that I am a carer, economically and socially underprivileged and abused by those I cared for, experienced homelessness and witnessed terrifying violence and people in my life leaving the world too soon.

It has taken me 17 years to say this aloud, to accept and acknowledge this is what I am, I know this sounds insignificantly small to some people but it meant that I no longer pretended to be someone else. Of course I was encouraged to speak out by a supportive group of people around me at the time, fallen in to a group so supportive by chance and destiny, I felt their openness about their own struggles pushed me to do the same.

That small act of acknowledging the fact that I am a carer, that this is what I have done for the majority of my life unleashed the power within me, the power which enabled me to overcome. I then started to talk about all the other things that made me.

Still the trauma attempts to attach it self to me sometimes, in different ways and places and sometimes in peoples faces and actions. Maybe these snippets of trauma are there to show me that I am not superhuman and yes we have complex minds which our very beings will never understand.

Life’s complex situations and experiences has taught me that your past will catch up with you. I would now give advice to my younger self, I would say to my self – take your time, relax, play and be silly, do not carry the burden of the world on your shoulders if you don’t want too and most importantly you don’t have to.

I just wish someone was there to tell me this, but nobody really did. I imagined they were and comforted myself in the ‘adult’s’ presence. I know now as an adult that I would not do what they did.

So now as I sit as a 28 year old thinking, why did they not help me? I realised the comfort I found as a child was imaginary and I no longer have a child’s imagination, therefore I am struggling to comfort myself. The counsellor said imagine your younger self hugging you. This helped me, but strangely I turned on my younger self and questioned her. Maybe this was the snippet of trauma seeping in again – low self esteem or confidence, or the inability to love my self.

I have always used faith and religiosity to attempt healing but this is not enough now. I have used strangers, friends and cliché techniques such as self care tasks to help my self. I have run that hot bath and I have watched that famous soap opera, eaten so much chocolate its made me sick and used nearly every new face mask on the scene.

What has really helped is a connection with people, relating to those who have suffered and overcome, having a listening ear, a sympathetic face and a hug. A walk with no anxieties about getting home on time and daily, weekly or even monthly tasks that push me ever so slightly into changing. I don’t need people to tell me what to do, I need people to hold my hand and tell me I am true, I am right and I will be better someday.

9th January 2017.

As the saying goes every little helps..

Amidst a universal pandemic I have found it incredibly hard to help. I have put away the NHS letter asking me I have 90 days to update my training. I am struggling to email or contact them. I am only a bank worker but I have this sense of duty, like I must help out. The fact is I am also working from home full time.

I have tried to support vulnerable people in the community by signing up to delivering parcels to people stuck at home who are shielding or have no access to food without fighting the ques and spending lots of money just to get to the supermarket to find there is nothing left for them all whilst leaning on their zimmer frame.

I did one delivery, it absolutely exhausted me.

I was added to a Facebook page where people can help each other or post information, I added a friend who had been looking for hand sanitiser that she normally uses for her disabled child who uses aids and equipment to eat – these regularly need cleaning. As people became selfish there was non left for her any where and some idiots on the internet decided to sell these at extortionate prices.

Hers was the first post, and she got an instant reply from someone who makes them and could do this for her! I felt super good. I decided that from now on my role will be to be helpful in the little ways like this.

But I could not resist. I can imagine if this was a physical war, I am one to sacrifice my self.

I ended up signing up to a charity that was one of the first to get up and running food parcels for the vulnerable. I agreed to be on the rota on Friday afternoons. So it came to Friday afternoon and NHS COVID Response flashed on my phone. Dubious I still answered the phone, the lady said I have to shield as I am EXTREMELY VULNERABLE.

My reply was, ‘I am not’.

She said ‘did your Consultant Rheumatologist send you a letter about shielding?’

‘yes, but I read it carefully and if I did not take the steroids or other medication listed I was OK’

‘no, you still need to shield because I may need that medication anytime’.

Now at this point, yes my knees have been killing me, my ankles are killing me, in fact my legs are just a pain. How did she know. She did not know that I was never to take medication for these, since the Ibroprofen Retard messed my liver up last year. My consultant said I can call him for the medication whenever I needed them, to be honest I have been trying to loose weight to help my self, with no luck may I add.

Anyway, I said OK to get her off the phone, and thanked her for calling of course. I was worried and panicked nonetheless. I messaged the group chat about shielding and that I cannot do the planned deliveries. I got no reply or support. A friend on the group later messaged me to ask how I was. I noticed others offered to do the deliveries instead of me, I felt shit.

A few days later I asked my Dr about shielding, she confirmed I did not have to. However I decided I wont do any deliveries. I am struggling with demands of my mental and physical health, I have had flashbacks and disassociating behaviours.  My caring duties at home as well as working from home has not been helpful.

It is hard for me to say no and not find things to do. I have realised in the midst of this pandemic that I want to do more and more than I physically and mentally can to avert anxiety and low mood. However it back fires and I crash. This is also the case in my day to day life without a pandemic. It is hard to give this up so I am using this time to practise being kind to myself and rest. I spoke to Anaesthetics Dr on Friday 1st May, he confirmed I had no Sleep Apnea, however my sleeping and breathing patterns could be better.

So I have brought many plants and funky items for my home and garden from businesses that are struggling and this makes me feel like I am helping in some little way. I also still volunteer for an arts festival (virtually), I created a survey a couple of days ago to go out to artists and members. Basically I have been cupid for the arts world, connecting two organisations, that is a recovery college and a theatre company. They have both been instrumental in motivating me, and allowing me to immerse my self into the arts world and into my art again.

So I picked up and delivered some art packs to the tutor for my friends at the college who are more vulnerable than me, these were made by the theatre company. Now the two companies may work together around the shared interest of supporting people who have mental ill health and are isolated.

I have reminded my self that every little helps, I don’t have to go all out before I hurt myself.

Below are a some pictures of my purchases that made me happy and that supported local businesses, also the art packs, there was more on the front seat!

Stay safe everyone!

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A quirky bird feeder from The Kindred bizarre https://www.facebook.com/The-Kindred-Bizzare-279244796358886/
Art packs from Blooming Buds Theatre Company for the Recovery College.

Plants from Plant One On Me Cafe. They can be found her https://www.plantoneonmeyorkshire.com/  and here https://www.instagram.com/plantoneonmeyorkshire/

Just a thought.

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A visual representation of what my thoughts look like to me. Picture taken in Moray Firth, Scotland 

07.10.16

I thought a strange thought – when you marry and have children, have a home and have your own freedom, what happens when the home becomes a house and the people become just people, almost strangers.

Can you dream more or do the dreams end? 

I mean the dreams you have in broad daylight, wide eyed, with no interruptions. You know that day dream, the pure joy and indulgence that you feel satisfying your desires by just dreaming. Sometimes I wonder what my mother dreams now she has adults in the home and no children.

Can you go back?

I mean is there room to move forward? Are the dreams restricted to a change of scenery, a new dress or a change of wallpaper? I’m just thinking a thought…. what is the worth of becoming a mother. Maybe I’m thinking too much. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched that movie last night. 

29.08.19 

I should have made a note of what movie I was watching to prompt such thought. My thoughts on motherhood continue.

 

May Day

selective focus photography of left hand on top of right hand on white pants
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

She was a quiet lady, but enjoyed the war songs and the tea and cake. She was of course well known, possibly not for her personality or character but her name. 

Sammy came upstairs to the office for some coloured paper, and said May Day is here. I looked at her a little confused and she said oh it’s our service user. Another colleague said why would you call your daughter May Day, I said it was a nice name actually but it conjure up other things in my mind.

She was not fully sure why she was called May Day, Day being her last name, and I don’t think she was married. She was born just as the war started, surely her parents must not have named her after a war time distress call. I thought to myself at least she was not May Day all the time, just May. She must have been bullied at school I told Sammy, what do you think I asked, she didn’t think much of it and went back to the day centre.

I knew another May and maybe that was why I like it so much, me and my siblings and the whole family in fact, children and adults called our grandmother May, lovingly, she liked it but we are not fully sure who came up with this nickname. 

When I would meet my cousins once in a blue moon and whom are scattered across the country, we would talk about May. They always ask me why we called her May and not nana. They just called her grandma. I thought that was boring, common and definitely not as sweet as May but they saw her a lot less than I did, so they would have a standard name for her I guess.

Growing up May Day was just another day off, playing on the streets. May always gave us 20p to buy ice cream from Mr Frosties Ice cream Van. Sometimes as everyone was off work we would go out on a day trip and our uncle would spend a pound on one ice cream, we thought the ice cream must have been extra special because it costs more. He spent a lot of money on 6 children and 5 adults.

Over the years the novelty has worn out, buying an ice cream for a ridiculous amount does not feel worth it, especially when certain family members are causing a scene shouting “it’s too expensive, we can buy a tub from morrisons”. 

I do always wonder what the weather will be like on May Day, whether it’s worth a trip to Blackpool or Scarborough. Sometimes I’ve worked on this day, or just slept in. 

Working is a little more fun when I went to the care home, it always reminds me of May, the warm homely feeling. The quiet afternoon with an old cowboy movie and sometimes the celebrations of spring are the focus on May Day. I have seen Morris dancers entertain residents, picnics in the care homes small garden and sometimes we even took people to the pub.

I found elderly people are no longer worried about the social and economic status of the world and what May Day may represent for some people nowadays.

They are worried about getting out of the arm chair and not falling flat on their face. They are content at times that they don’t have to worry about the fees for the care home and shopping for bread and milk. 

But some elderly men in the care home would tell me stories of horrible working conditions, how they have struggled and how things are so much better. This matches my Mays stories and my grandfathers, whom we call Dajee. 

May and Dajee had to work when they moved here  May worked in a sewing factory and I can’t remember what my grandfather did, but he always had dirty oily hands possibly from working with machinery in a factory. It felt to me that May was more hard working, she was well known for her sewing skills and used to make all sorts, wedding dresses, jeans, bags, curtains the lot, she even bought a ridiculously heavy factory sewing machine and it lived in the family home up until recently. 

My father, his brothers and sisters grew up quick enough to let them rest before they turned 60. In the end it feels we are all destined to work and work until its the next person’s duty to take the burden, for some it comes earlier than expected, for some it never ends, for some they never taste the sweetness of a hard day’s work.  

I like to celebrate May Day as a day of welcoming the changes to the season, although it feels the weather changes everyday. I also like to think of all the hard working people like my May and sometimes I wish I asked May Day a bit more about the origins of her name.

May Day 2019

Sadness

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Photo by Aa Dil on Pexels.com

He stands, feet solid, a man, a boy, boisterous and what seems arrogant, disrespectful. Shouting and causing a scene is so easy when you are boy, if only they saw and knew, felt pain and felt sad.

I realised when I met him, not through the scars or the obvious self-inflicted abuse but through the intricate figurines on the mantelpiece, a man and women hold hands, a child at their feet looking up, fine colours and smiles painted to evoke memories and belonging. I wondered who gifted this to him. A few cards were decorating his windowsill, Christmas and birthday cards, one with yellowed edges, creased and folded was wedged between two Christmas cards.   

I picked this up to straighten it and find it a place of its own, it had a lovely picture on the front of a vase with flowers sitting on a windowsill of a cottage in a far away place, I read the inside of the card, it said,

“To mum, you are always in my thoughts, I miss you very much and love you dearly. Happy birthday. Love you always and forever”

I wondered why it was in his room, did he forget to send it, was it something he salvaged from his mother’s home, long gone.

Then I turn and find a photograph in a shiny silver frame, its old, I picked up the picture and studied the boy, he is young, with dark hair that has been permed at the top, brown flared trousers and a mustard shirt with a red stripe running through the middle and across the sleeves. The boy has one arm around a women, older, dark hair also in a perm, she is laughing at the camera, one arm on her hip and the other holding the boy close to her. 

He looked happy, I concluded the women was his mother. I wondered what the occasion was, the picture did not give me any signs as they were both stood on grass, no trees, no other person, or buildings, just the blue sky, just them two – happy.

I wipe a tear as I put the picture down on the bedside table, he looked so happy and fine, just smiling a smile a son smiles when his mum is near. I thought to myself, warm and cosy never lasts and a picture hides a thousand pasts. 

His mother had a thousand dreams for her son, I knew before I entered his room that he was no use. Thrown out by society, no family, no friends, just drug dealers keeping him up in the night and care workers filled his hours with questions of the night before in the day.

I finished cleaning his room, it was immaculate anyway, he found me in his room, unplugging the hoover, he asked me to leave it and that he does not like people touching his stuff. I leave and a staff member tells me that he is back early today – its 7.30 AM, he is high on god knows what. 

We hear a bang and he shouts, screams and throws items around his room. We check on him and he is lying on his bed, we crouch and touch him, gently, ask him if he is OK. All the residents here can come and go as they please, he is the youngest at 55, he is dressed in track suit and cap, he looks 25. The drugs have not harmed his skin yet, that may come later. He talks like a 25-year-old, and says “i’ll be right, ta loves, can I have a bacon sandwich please”. We left him to his self, he smashes something else behind us but we know he is OK.

I realised when I met him, you are just a boy who never grew or expressed himself. The drugs help I guess. At the end of the day you are just a body being cared for, I couldn’t tell if the drugs were working at this stage in his life but he no longer beats women up. His mother does not visit anymore, I felt a sadness for him. 

Those with hardened hearts will say, what was the point of acting hard and causing a scene, we are not scared of you screaming now that you are not the hard man, just a body being cared for.

I felt sadness.

He cannot stand solid on his feet no more, he feels pain and numbs it with whatever he can find on the streets, disrespecting himself. Causing damage to your self I thought is so easy, if only others saw and knew, felt pain and felt sad, maybe they could help you.

24th September 2016

Break me

Don’t smile at the stranger.

Don’t look at the women crossing the road, stepping towards us, we might know her. Don’t help them, don’t help her, don’t look, don’t be kind.

What have they done for you?

What has the care you have given, given back to you, a few pounds to spend but a few hours from your life taken away, you’ll never get them back. 

Make something of your life. What have you achieved in all these years.

What is the point. 

What is THE point. 

WHAT’S THE POINT. 

I don’t know, I’ve forgotten who I am, what I was, or was I EVEN ever A someone.

They said, 

Why is she always smiling like it’s her wedding, it’s annoying.

You have a beautiful smile, I want your teeth, just smile, you look good in a smile, pretty face.

Cant you stop talking. You’re mouth is a pair of scissors, going, going, going, on and on and on, JUST SHUT UP.

She’s a quiet girl, get’s on with it, very independent, she’s a little shy, I’ve moved her to another table. I think it’s helping, she’s coming out of her shell. 

Oh now you’re coming out of your shell.

No I prefer her back in her shell please, thank you.

I didn’t mean that, I was being sarcastic, I’ll just mind my own from now. 

I love you, you float in and out, do your job and go home, no hassle, no moans.

Thank you, you are a star, people like you go places you know, they love you. 

She said,

Why did you help her, what did I tell you.

Nobody listens to me. 

Idiot. 

Donkey. 

You fool.

I told you nobody listens to me, everyone’s done what you should have, look at you, it’s your fault.

ALL YOUR FAULT. 

Everything that is. 

You just carrying on getting old. Don’t make decisions for your self. 

What has the world done for you? 

Why are you so kind?

What has the care you give the work you do mean to you? 

I don’t know, I’ve forgotten who I am, what I was, or was I EVEN ever A someone. 

Orchids & Butterflies @teaatmine 

16 December 2015 22:45

Just another one seeking peace.

I was not ready two years ago. I realise now. Yet I have so much more to find, so they all say.

How many times have you heard this?

Where do I start…I created this blog and made 2 posts, forgot about it and now I am back. I realise it was something I tried to do to help me understand my life. However I was not ready. I am still only half way there. Every day can become a struggle (you have definitely heard this one before). It is true, we are all searching for the same thing. Just a little peace.

I am at times overwhelmed by the amount of support in the world from people going though issues in life. Just think about it, and the amount of people who appreciate, learn, find some contentment in the words of others is overwhelming.

When I reach out for some reassurance, I feel like the whole world is in a constant state of healing, and searching for some peace. This world is so difficult and I have never uttered these words to myself as much as I have this past year. Maybe peace is reserved for some in another world?

The search for peace offers one explanation for those wanting to end their lives. Peace from all the worries of this life. Yet that is not what they want. It is to end the pain and worries of this world, not their lives.

I have always written my thoughts down – at times when I really needed to make sense of what is going on in my head and around me. Writing is one tool, art, travelling, just being around those you love, or away from them are other tools in the search for peace.

One thing I have understood for sure is that peace in your heart and mind takes time. I understand time is precious, however this idea can force us to impose a super fast action plan upon ourselves. I have learnt that taking your time, exploring different therapies and who you are over time is much more beneficial. If one therapy does not work, then try another, focus on the changes and particularly the small changes, and the very fact that you recognise and are acting upon making a change, however long it may take.

Take solace in all those who are also seeking peace in their hearts and minds, seek solace with your soul for it is trying.

What is a man?

In the United Kingdom women have gained rights and freedoms miles different to the social status of 1901. However the cry for help, the emotion the fear and the braveness to help themselves using logic feels the same. How easy was it for you to see the doctor after that episode of darkness or during it. How easy was it for you to hug your child and tell them you love them more than anything in the world, you will protect them and help them. This seems a little easier for a women to do, am I right? Maybe I am wrong?

My own personal biases and life experience makes it hard to understand how a man can do the above. I have seen it portrayed in that movie and that advert in the newspaper, maybe in work I have caught a glimpse between father and daughter, another man opening up to me about his emotions.

That is why I ask my self what is a man? I know what a women is and I see it everyday, we bare our emotions for the public to like and criticise, we joke about our femininity and menstrual cycle, but a man, how does he truly feel. I feel for the man. Out of love.

Men are ridiculed for sharing their emotions among their fellow men. Are laughed at by their community if they cry and worse are seen as weak if they ask for help. I am scared that mental illness among men and more particularly young men is not given its due attention. I have found a website that shocked me with its statistics, that 4 in 5 suicides are by men, that is 78% and for men under 35 suicide is the biggest cause of death. You can find more statistics here:
http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/menstats.html

The strong stereotypical roles that women were defined by have reversed, how long before it does for men. It is a fearful thought. Especially if you take into account the differing ethnic and racial chunks in our society. If men have to learn to ask for help and get help from society as a women did and is doing then all men need to participate not just a small section of society. Only then will it create a change.

On a organisational level just like the domestic abuse adverts for women, translated into all types of cultures and languages. The same needs to happen for men.

Things seem to be changing slowly. It is refreshing to see a high profile celebrity such as professor green talk and promote mental illness amongst his followers and mainstream media. He has used platforms such as bbc3 and The Guardian to raise awareness around mental health and men, this is the link to the article:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/20/men-suffer-depression-anxiety

In the article Professor green talks about how he didn’t know and still doesn’t know what was going through his dads head when he committed suicide. Is this because men’s feelings and societal encouragement to be open is dismissed? Or just not encouraged?

There are organisations for example in Bradford West Yorkshire that are tirelessly supporting men and helping to make a difference:

  • Bradford Reducing Anger and Violent Emotions (BRAVE)
  • MIND in Bradford
  • Bradford Cyrenians working with men who suffer from domestic abuse

So what is a man? A human being, who needs due acknowledgement and support as a women would do.

In today’s multifaceted world we are all just humans. A man, a women, a man a women, you can go on all day, all your life but it will not make a difference. Everything a man can do a women can do better and vice versa. Largely defined roles or labels by which you would identify a man or a women have deteriorated. Thank fully!

We have to start somewhere and treat a man as a human with feelings and emotions which may be different in different circumstances but not a physically, socially or culturally defined man, just a human being who wants and needs help. Lastly I want to imagine a man to be emotional and full of empathy, I want my stereotypical ideas about a man changed, I want to see it portrayed in real life, so come on men start expressing and seeking change!

Bye for now…