I’m not that kind of girl!

Alright, I’ll admit it, I’m female! There that shocked you didn’t it? No? Well according to so many stereotypes I’m not… I can remember the time I did a test that told me in the results that I have a man’s brain. They didn’t tell me his name, so I couldn’t give it back.

I didn’t believe them anyway because I don’t believe that only men can reason logically (plus I’ve met a lot of men who don’t even have a nodding acquaintance with logic). I don’t believe that only women can be caring either. Some women are wonderfully warm and supportive, an awful lot aren’t. Some men are just the best at taking care of others, it doesn’t mean they’re not men.

It frustrates me that these stereotypes are still kicking around, the pressure that is put on children to conform is phenomenal, when you add in gender expectations it becomes ridiculous. So, girls and boys… I hate pink. I virtually never wear it, I own very few things that are that colour. I’m not really a pastel person. I don’t wear make up, I can’t be wasting my time faffing around with it. I’m not a sucker for babies, I’m sure they’re very nice, but I’d rather have a puppy.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Well, the thing is, I can knit and crochet and sew. I can also do DIY, fix broken toys, wire a house for electricity. I get interested in things, and then I like to find out how to do them. I like to read books too.

So my advice is: ignore other people’s expectations, find out about the things that interest you, go fishing, or ballroom dancing if you want to, and don’t worry about gender stereotypes. If someone has a go at you, realise that they are almost certainly more worried about what they think they should be doing, than you are about what you should be doing. They are threatened by you, and scared of you, that’s why they’re attacking you.

I know it isn’t always easy, but you have a responsibility to yourself, plus all the generations growing up in the future. Be who you are.

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Not everything is about money

I’ve just seen an article about a local council overspending on agency workers for it’s children’s services by £865,000. Schools, the NHS, all sorts of businesses are dependent on agency workers. No one seems to see them as obviously the most expensive option. Why are they obviously the most expensive option? Well, not only are you paying the worker, but you are also paying a fee or percentage to the agency as well.

I appreciate that it is getting harder and harder to find staff that are willing to work under current conditions, but I can assure you that is only nominally to do with wage rates. It is predominantly to do with unrealistic expectations that employers have of the time and energy that their workforce are supposed to give to their work. Hours are too long, paperwork is too extensive, the scope and detail that are expected are completely unrealistic, out of hours work is excessive, too much time is tied up in meetings that serve no useful purpose, holidays are too short… I could go on.

But the biggest issue of all is that workers are not respected by their employers, neither are they trusted. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be safeguards to help encourage professionalism, I’m saying that when you have good staff you should respect and trust them. And if you really want to save money, you need to make sure that you employ enough people to do the job and cover maternity leave, annual leave, emergencies… even if it looks wasteful on paper, I can guarantee that in terms of mental health (employers and staff) and work place atmosphere, it will pay dividends.

Not everything is about money, even when people say it is.

Be strong

There are many people who are being abused on a daily basis who don’t even realise it. When other people mention abuse, these people imagine the horrors of sexual and other physical forms of abuse, but it’s most pernicious form is psychological abuse. A large number of the people being psychologically abused think that either it is normal, or it is their fault, or they deserve it.

It is not normal for the people close to you to put you down, to undermine you, to attack you verbally or in any other way. It should not be normal for people in your wider circle to do so either. If they do this it is NOT because of you, it IS because of them. They have a problem, rather than dealing with that problem they are going to punish you.

Additionally, anyone who seeks to isolate and/or control you is abusing you. People who love you will support you and encourage you to live your own life as far as their self-confidence allows them to.

No one deserves to be undermined or abused in any way. But we all have to take responsibility for our own problems and actions, we need to be brave enough to reach out to other people when we need help. It is a very strong thing to do, to reach out and ask when you realise that you can’t solve your problems alone.

I wish you all that strength in those moments of self doubt, we are social animals, we are stronger together when we support each other. Jealousy and fear are what make us weak.

Not “government”, representation.

This “British” society is not good for anyone. It is not working to anyone’s benefit. The majority (only just) party is working to disassemble the safety net that is the welfare state. They are taking away the means of survival for the most disadvantaged, they are reducing the possibilities for the merely poor, they are making life a misery for those in work, they are reinforcing the mentally (and physically) destructive behaviours that make them think they have a right to destroy other people’s lives.

We need to stop calling them “the government”. They have no right to make decisions that go against their constituent’s interests. They are our representatives. They are supposed to represent us, not work to destroy us. They are not given their positions through god’s will, they are voted for by the electorate. Sometimes the electorate is both misinformed and misguided, we need a more honest and reliable media, one that prides itself on it’s integrity, one that sets itself against abuse in all it’s forms, one that sees titillation for what it is (playing to the lowest common denominator), one that respects it’s readership/viewers. And we need a government that embraces these values too.

We need to work towards a healthy and kind society, one that we can be proud to be part of. We also need a way of triggering a general election when it is obvious that the current majority party is not representing the majority of the population.

Don’t put the clocks forward (or back) for me

Please, please, please, can we stop changing the clocks. I always have about two months of totally disrupted sleep after the clocks are changed. The dog can’t understand why her meals times have changed. And more than that I pity anyone with a large number of animals to care for, trying to equalise everything.

I can accept that for some business, possibly for some people the changing of the clocks makes sense, but for the rest of us it’s at best an inconvenience, at worst hell. Why do we all have to conform to this?

I read an article last time the clocks were changed that stated that changing the clocks effectively gives the whole country jet lag. Apparently there is always a spike in accidents of all types just after the clocks are changed… in either direction.

Please, please, please can we stop doing this unhealthy and dangerous thing twice a year. Please!

No Easy Answers…

It would be nice to believe in easy answers, but I don’t think there are any. The imposition of capitalism on nearly the whole world is at the root of our problems. The idea that money is what the world revolves around is central to how most people live to ay. We have lost sight of so much that is central to making us feel worthwhile, making us feel good about ourselves.

If we were to remove the current government from office, what would they be replaced with? We have seen the disasters that have followed revolutions in the past. And always in violent confrontations the most violent wins out. This is not what we need.

If we were to disband the IMF (oh please, I wish we could) how long would it be before the governments that it has infected with it’s capitalist corporatism realise that it has sent them down the wrong road?

What we need to do is not be violent, nor be passive and accepting, but to educate… to work to get people from as many walks of life as possible to see that there is nothing more valuable than a human life (or any other animal); that we need to value each other for who we are; that economics is just a way of trying to understand the movement of money, not a value system to run the world.

Empathy, kindness, compassion, love and understanding are what we need. The ability to see that people make bad choices, not because they are bad people (most of the time), but because they don’t understand what is happening for others, or why other people are important. They lack the emotional maturity to understand that other people are both real and important, not just tools to be used and the discarded.

We don’t need money to have a good life, an abundant life, full of love and laughter, we need people for that!

The Days When Everything Is Too Much

I would like to explain how I experience depression, it’s important to recognise that not everyone experiences it the same way. My experience of depression starts with a gradual disconnection from some of my feelings, the good times just don’t feel so good, the things I’m sad about don’t plunge me quite so far. To the outside I seem quite normal, apart from sometimes I don’t engage properly when in conversation, I don’t seem to have heard everything that was said, I’m distant and vague.

Gradually this all gets worse until I feel like I’m living in a very foggy day, everything is deadened, everything is damped right down, and I have retreated to a tiny corner of my mind where hope is hard to find.

Any attempt to engage with the outside world, however, is terrifying. It makes me physically sick, I get panicked, I can’t breathe, I sweat and shake. I can overcome it, but it takes all my will power, and because of the level of difficulty I can seem quite angry to anyone I interact with.

I feel like everything is too difficult, I feel completely overwhelmed, I feel like I have been buried alive. I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m trying to reach out to those of you who do understand, so that you know you are not alone.

I’m also trying to reach out to those of you who don’t understand, to help you see that depression is not the blues, not a bad day, but a life threatening illness. You can’t just switch it off, most of the time you don’t even realise that you’re ill. You can’t just “pull yourself together”, it’s not that simple. Talking to someone is really helpful, but not if they are going to judge you in any way.

It’s an illness, and you can recover from it. I’ve gotten over it before, and I will do again. But, not everyone does. Not everyone is strong enough to hold on until their own mind starts to see a way out, starts to see that there is hope, starts to blow the fog away and feel things fully again.

This information is here so that it is easier to empathise with people who are depressed, so that you understand you cannot make that person better, you can be there for them, you can listen to them repeat themselves for the 200th time and not judge them for the fact that they are stuck. But neither you, or they, can force a change, it has to happen when their subconscious mind (back brain) is ready.

And there will be days when they seem fine, and then suddenly they are back at the beginning again. And there will be days when they are angry at everything. It’s not your fault, it’s not theirs either. And there will be days when they don’t want to engage with anything.

Just remember, both the good times and the bad times pass, change is the one constant in our lives. And it’s good to embrace that change, and work your way forward to a better place. It’s where I’m aiming at. See you there.