Mental Health

The below by me appeared before but for some reason I had taken it down. Anyway, I’m putting it back up in case you find it useful.

“I realise that I haven’t posted here in a long time. Some of the reasons for that are about to become apparent – the rest of it doesn’t matter.

I wanted to write something about mental health and about getting help if your mental health is suffering.

Usually this sort of thing will start with appeals to look after your mental health and to seek help with it if you are suffering, and that is all solid and very sound advice. But there is a thing that often doesn’t make the final edit of this sort of thing – a person can be suffering and refusing help, not because they don’t want it, but because they haven’t the wherewithal right now or they aren’t ready. For a host of reasons, a person can just keep on keeping on not because they are stoic or trying to be unyielding, but because they literally cannot deal with the thing that is bothering them.

In some cases, the thing that is bothering a person might be so well buried that even they aren’t aware exactly what it is; they just live with it ticking away in the back garden; a hillock in the lawn that they avoid for reasons they can’t quite define.

For me, I ran from the thing that was bothering me. I was like a little steam ship trying to outrun the kraken that was chasing it. The bow waves from the beast and its tentacles roughed the sea and the little ship violently bobbed and yawed and pitched in the water and the people aboard were thrown about and badly injured. The captain called for full ahead and the engineers stoked the boilers up to full capacity and for a while they put distance between the ship and the monster. They even went faster as they burned all the fuel. Then they began to slow down, so they burned the furniture, the wall hangings, the curtains, the booze, the money in the pockets of all the passengers – anything to keep the little steam ship ahead of oblivion.

But no little ship can run forever.

I didn’t even know what was bothering me, simply that it was, that it always had and, presumably, always would. Until one day it dawned on me. There it was. That was it.

And sighting the kraken again at last, the captain and the engineer and all the passengers knew that they had burned through everything and that they could run no further. They had had a good run, they agreed. They would have toasted the moment but the alcohol had fed the furnace long ago. They hugged and shook hands and watched the beast in the water come for them as the captain turned the little ship to face it.

The little ship was doomed.

On the horizon there came another ship. The wireless operator aboard the little ship had finally done what everybody had tacitly agreed ought not be done – asked for help. Rescue was on the way. The people aboard the little ship just had to hold on.

If you are suffering, please ask for help when you are ready to face it. Help will find it harder to catch up to you if you’re still running; you have to be ready to turn to face it. The kraken is monstrous and cannot be survived alone. Get help.”

Black Lives Matter

I wrote this a few days ago but did not post it until today because I am a white, self-published author with 236 followers on Twitter: I did not wish to be thought of as somebody trying to gain from the discussions around racism and; I did not think that any of my 236 Twitter followers were waiting to read what yours truly thought about the matter. Please see the final paragraph of this post for more on that.

I am posting it now because even if nobody ever reads this and even if there are some who think poorly of me for saying it, I am going to say it: Black Lives Matter, we need to end racism now.

The confusion that white people show towards the Black Lives Matter message at once astonishes and horrifies me. I have written elsewhere about other matters that do have a bearing on this subject but I want to keep this post focused just on Black Lives Matter.

I once went to a talk about Pride in Canada. The speaker of the talk detailed how Black Lives Matter disrupted the 2016 Toronto Pride and framed the entire event in terms of “well of course Black Lives Matter but there’s a time and a place” – (I do not wish to put words into the speaker’s mouth so please understand that this is simply how I took the intent of their words as a member of the audience).

That moment gave me the clearest microcosmic picture of how even well-meaning white people engage with the injustices that people of colour face every day – of course it matters but we were talking about this other thing just now. What could be more urgent than finally putting an end to racism and the inexcusable evil that is perpetrated in that ideology’s name? People are living shortened lives filled with oppressions from the casual to the official and some of them are being killed on purpose to serve an idea.

I am a white trans woman in Britain – I am not the person who should speak about this. White people need instead to listen to people of colour and white people need to believe people of colour when they tell their experiences. Only then will white people see that actual, practical steps must be taken to end racism – not something must be done, not thoughts and prayers, not hand-wringing or blog posting or anything else that’s performative.

A thought about intelligence

I think that it is a common experience for people when they encounter one another (and then continue to know one another) to assess their own intelligence relative to the person that they are encountering. People will tend to feel either more or less intelligent than the person that they are measuring themselves against, though there must be occasions where a person measures themselves against another person and considers that they are equals in the intelligence stakes.

My thought about intelligence is though that what we perceive as intelligence is really just shorthand for a nebulous arrangement of ever-shifting factors; a person’s confidence (in all of the ways that can manifest, adjusted by experience, support network and means), a person’s education (access to training that worked for them), a person’s past traumas or lack of them, a person’s current stress level, a person’s ability to recall interesting or pertinent facts, a person’s preoccupation (or lack thereof) and so forth. All these things will impact people’s perceived levels of intelligence relative to another. We are often too hard on ourselves or another person when we measure them and consider one of us more intelligent.

The thought then is that intelligence is often down to patterns of luck and nothing intrinsic in the person being assessed.

The art of drawing

For any of you who’ve read my self-illustrated books on the Kindle, (Wife Maintenance Quarterly, Wife Maintenance Quarterly II and Sergeant Cuddlington and the War at Sea), you’ll know that my ability to draw is, erm, well, I don’t have one to speak of. I’ve seen cave paintings that put my pictorial art to shame.

With that in mind, and with my inability to draw being one of the things that has bothered me for many, many years now, I am going to teach myself how to draw. Well, I’ve got some how to draw books coming at me in the post, but you get the point. It’s time that I stopped being frustrated at not being able to do something, and actually tried to get on with learning how to do it! Having the disability that I do (brain damage) taught me that there are things that I can’t do because they’re hard, and they require me to put lots of work into, and there are things that I can’t do because the brain damage owns that territory, and I need to stay out of it. Quitting on something because it’s hard isn’t an option I allow myself to take now that there’s so much that I can’t do.

But that’s enough grimly inspirational stuff. I *think* that the drawing thing falls into the “it’s hard” category of activities and that, once I get into it with the books, I’ll be able to learn this stuff (at long last!).

I will post my efforts as they progress. You can look at my current level of workmanship in my books (you can see some of the drawings in the free “Look Inside” samples) to see where I’m up to with it without having tried to properly learn any technique.