Today I need to do something which I find challenging and that I feel anxious about. Somebody has behaved in a way towards me that I feel frustrated about, and even a bit hurt by.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a big thing to others, perhaps it would. It is big enough for me to need to say something, and so the friendship can survive.
I need to tell them how I feel when they behave in such a manner to me, and I need to keep the focus on how I feel, rather than blame them for their behaviour. Over the years I’ve learned that people have the right to behave however they choose, and that I have the right to tell them how I feel when their actions affect me.
In principle that’s easy enough. But I struggle with it. Although my self-esteem is most definitely improving, but it’s not so good that I feel at ease with expressing myself when it comes to conflict. In my mind I talk through why I shouldn’t say anything, I empathise with the other person, I feel for them, and I think I don’t have the right. After all I’ve made mistakes in my life, meaning that I therefore don’t have the right to say anything to others.
On top of that I get anxiety come up quite strongly. I’m afraid of how the other person will react or if they will reject me, it’s easier to put them first so that I don’t get rejected. Fear of rejection is a big thing for me, it’s also destructive. I’ve stayed in damaging relationships before, rather than allowing myself to feel rejected.
I know what I want to say. I’ve got that clear in my mind. I think it’s best to leave them a WhatsApp speech note, rather than talk to them over the telephone. They don’t live in the UK so I can’t tell talk with them face to face. A speech note feels like a bit of a cop out, but most of our friendship has been conducted in this way, and if we speak on the phone they won’t hear me because they talk too much to listen. It still feels like a cop out, but it’s the way I am choosing to do it.
I’m not sure how it will go. I don’t know if they will accept what I have to say, or whether they will become cross with me. I just don’t know, and that’s difficult, not knowing, it could go either way.
The thing is that I need to say something for my own sake. If I don’t say anything then I will become resentful of them, which will only make the situation worse. So I have to bite the bullet and be authentic. Living an authentic life is important to me now.
One thing that I’ve already mentioned before is writing Sophie Lives. Not that I expect to write the whole book, but I can write more of it. There’s lots of writing that I can do, I intend to keep up with my freewriting on a daily basis, whether that’s on here or in my notepad.
Meditation has been a part of my life for many years, although I have let that slip recently, and I we would like to take that up again, whether I do breath awareness or use the Insight Timer app. I like to put wax earplugs in, shut out the background noise and just focus on my breath, so I set the intent of meditating today.
My photography portfolio hasn’t been added to for s while. I think it would be beneficial if I went through all of my photos and created a folder for all of the best ones. It’s nice to know that I have taken a few good photos over the past few years and I need to make the most of these. If I have them all in one place then I can get back onto curator space and submit some of them to exhibitions and competitions.
My eating disorder recovery has involved attending online 12 step meetings, and I have a weekly routine of attending three. As well as keeping up with those, now might be a good time to log into some others, which would increase my social contact.
Of course I should continue reading as well. Currently I’m reading Palestinian Walks: Notes On A Vanashing Landscape by Raja Shahadeh. It’s a fantastic piece of non-fiction about the life of a Palestinian from the West Bank (Occupied Territories) and his walks through the landscape. It’s beautifully written, and naturally it touches upon the political landscape of living under Israeli occupation and how the illegal settlements have interfered with the physical environment. I have an interest in the political environment between Israel and Palestine, the conflict has been going on longer than my lifetime, it would be nice if this conflict would end at some point before I die. I hold out no hope for this, but I guess people didn’t believe the conflicts between Republicans and Unionists in Norther Ireland would ever end either.
During the 12 week period of social isolation I am aloud out for short walks and to the shops as well, which is something I will most definitely do.
There are more things that I can do, and this piece of writing has helped me to solidify my ideas from my previous post. I wish all of you safety, peace and love and pray that you all get through these challenging times safely and that you remain in good health.
The UK government are beginning to put in place emergencgy measures to protect the population from covid 19.
They have asked that, from this weekend, people over 70, pregnant women and those with serious underlying health conditions to stay at home for 12 weeks. The exceptions are to buy food and go to the pharmacy (if you don’t have anyone to do it for you), as wee as to get some exercise.
I am vulnerable because I have underlying health problems l. I have heart valve disease, have had part of a lung removed, and also because I have diabetes.
They are taking these measure because those who have serious health conditions are more likely to have serious complications if they catch coronavirus, and would probably end up in intensive care. So, from this weekend I will be self isolating.
I have experienced some anxiety about this as my mental health suffers if I stay in for a couple of days, let alone for 12 weeks. I’ve talked this through with a few people now and I’m slowly feeling more relaxed about the situation.
I’m going to order food online for delivery to my home, and I’m going to ask the pharmacy to deliver my medication. These measures remove my need to go outside for these reason. However, I am going to get outside every two or three days for a walk.
When I walk I will need to follow government guidelines on social distancing, which means staying more than two meters away from people. This is easily manageable with two routes I can follow where there is less footfall and away from busy streets.
Something else has given me more peace about spending a lot of time at home. I can write more of Sophie Lives and do more research into domestic violence and people’s recovery from it. I also have reading and my coursework, as well as freewriting. My kitchen and bathroom floors need a good clean as well.
I feel more settled about self isolating now. I’ll miss my cousins birthday, but we can celebrate it when we are able to meet up again. We were going to go to Minsmere for a day out birdwatching.
We are all in this together, and I need to to take the responsibility of doing my part.
Spring is most definitely in the air despite the periods of relentless rain. Crocus and daffodils are pushing their necks out of the ground, and they are adding glorious pockets of colour to my days. Such joy. My mood is improving slowly but surely, I’m isolating less, and I’m having more clarity of thought. Gratitude is what I’m feeling as I write this short piece of freewriting (I adore freewriting, it’s shown me that I do have lots to write).
But winter is a bastard, an effing c of a nightmare that I often struggle to get through!
This year my mood dropped at the end of December, and my thoughts darkened. I began to obsess about suicide, and I researched methods on the Internet, and purchased some pills which I believed would end my life.
Motivation and pleasure from activities deserted me and I felt hopeless. Situations which involved close contact with others was a struggle and I avoided people. Ultimately I was overwhelmed and tried yet again to take my life. Disappointed that I didn’t succeed, but the disappointment that I tried to end my life pushed me into accepting help. I’m now attending a therapeutic day unit. It’s a short term program for a few weeks, enough to get me through until I am able to keep myself occupied and productive.
My energy always improves in the spring. If only I could hold back the self destruction long enough to get me through to the lighter, brighter and warmer days.
My thoughts are much clearer now, and I am enjoying my studies. I had my coursework for over a month before I could even open the folder. Eventually I realised I had to just begin the first exercise, I couldn’t wait until my motivation returned, I had to simply take action without expectation. I’m so grateful that I did because I find it has brought joy and satisfaction into my daily life.
I’m looking out for signs of spring now. I’m not waiting for motivation I’m acting as if I’m motivated, and I’m finding signs of spring right now. Recovery is action. Hope is important but I can’t hope my way into feeling better, I have to put the effort into hunting for joy and gratitude.
If I Didn’t have paranoia… I would aim to live in the female role again, and would save up for laser hair removal on my face. I find it interesting that I hate my legs when in the male role, but in female clothing and tights I find I have lovely legs that are slender and feminine, although my belly is still fat. I’d like to live in the female role, but I’m scared that I would be attacked. It wS hard to revert back to living in the male role, but I’ve become used to it now. I’ve learned to consider myself as being gender fluid, although deep down I consider myself as a trans woman. It would be nice to be Helen again.
If I didn’t have paranoia I would feel safe and secure, not have images of me and my home being attacked and feel safe in my home. I would like to be able to live freely and not live in fear for my life. I’d like to recover from ptsd, but I don’t know how to do so. Life would be more fun, and I wouldn’t have all my little measures to feel in control. Currently I feel the need to avoid the number 6. I have to have my TV volume set on 17 or 22, I finish the day by having either 4 or 8 puffs on my e cig and I have to get my clothes ready for the next day in the evening. I also feel the need to continously pray throughout the day and have my medication boxes with all of the labels facing the same way. It’s ocd, but my ocd doesn’t come out in hand Wasing and tidying and cleaning kind of way. If I don’t do these things then I get anxious and scared that me and my home will be attacked. It’s exhausting and frightening to live like this.
If I didn’t have paranoia I wouldn’t become anxious when I hear the sounds of my neighbours talking, and I wouldn’t thin that they are talking about me. I wouldn’t need to either turn up the TV or wear ear plugs so that I can’t hear them; and I wouldn’t think that when they talk they are talking about me.
My paranoia is self centred and self obsession, but I can’t help it at the moment. Maybe one day I will feel safe and secure but I don’t hold out much hope. My paranoia, when it becomes severe, leads to suicidal ideation , and I make attempts to end my life. I get so scared that I am going to be harmed. I get a strong fear of pain, and I would like to die peacefully. That’s why I overdose rather than jump off a building or poison myself or jump in front of a train.
My thinking around eating has been disturbed this week. I have experienced an intense desire to stop eating and to lose weight. Partly this has been triggered by a drop in my mood and energy, but my weight gain hasn’t helped either.
I’m on an anti-psychotic because I experience severe paranoia, and this medication affects my metabolism. Consequently I have put on an amount of weight that isn’t usual in anorexia recovery, and is affecting my self esteem. I don’t want to keep putting on weight, and I dare not come off of the medication. I took myself off of it over the summer and the paranoia, anxiety and suicidal ideation were unbearable. I can’t exercise because of my heart condition, and I must eat the quantities of food as agreed with my nutritionist so that I maintain good health. I feel a bit trapped to be honest.
My mood has also dropped, which I believe is common for many of us during the winter months. My thinking has been quite dark, with an increase in rumination and suicidal ideation. But I can cope with this as long as I stay meaningfully occupied. Although this hasn’t been easy to do over the past week, I have fumbled my way through.
Life is complicated. I have a few quite serious health conditions, which affect my physical and mental wellbeing. But hey, that’s life. Each of us on the planet has our own set of complications that we need to face on a daily basis, and we all have ups and downs with these.
What do I need to do in order to cope with mine? Firstly, the above attitude is the right one for me to adopt. My difficulties are no more or less unusual than anyone else’s. I can’t afford to think that I’m worse off than others as that kind of thinking is the start of a slippery slope that’s dangerous for my mental health. Secondly, I need to keep eating the same amount of food, and to see eating as being the same as taking medication for my mental health. Thirdly, I need to stay meaningfully occupied. Fourthly, I need to make sure I also have adequate rest. My heart condition is now causing fatigue and I’m needing to rest for longer periods during the day.
Life is a balancing act, but there are definitely things that I can do to stop myself from slipping off of the tightrope.
If you have an eating disorder – recovery is possible, speak to a family member, someone you trust, a doctor, or search google for an eating disorder service in your country.
A recent health event has meant I’ve had to reconsider the direction of my life on all fronts.
I have a heart condition, which has suddenly deteriorated, and I’ve made the decision not to have surgery. It was diagnosed several years ago, and I have known that I would need to make a decision regarding surgery for a long time. Generally the condition gets worse gradually, and mine was following the usual path until last month. After a routine scan I was held back and the registrar asked to speak to me. I wasn’t expecting the news at this stage, so it has been a shock. Creating the space to speak with my nearest and dearest has been my priority.
My spiritual beliefs have been the bedrock of my decision to allow my life to follow its natural course. I feel a deep sense of peace with my decision.
What I want right now is to have the best possible quality of life for as long as possible. When I consider my future a few things are important to me. My friends and family, photography and study. I had planned to move on to studying for a degree in photography, but I no longer think that this is appropriate for my health and wellbeing, so I have decided to alter my direction.
Naturally I will still make photography and continue with personal projects, but I’ve decided to study for an Open Foundation in Creative Writing with the Open College of the Arts. I like to write, and I combine photography with my writing, especially when producing photo-essays. Converting to creative writing will minimise the stress, and it also means that during those times when I’m less able to be physically active, I will still be able to be meaningfully occupied.
Quality of life is the most important thing whilst I allow the cycle of life to play out. Daily I ask myself “What can I do today that will bring meaning to my life, and give me the opportunity to create value and culture?”
The world-wide Autumn Uprising protests by Extinction Rebellion began on October the 7th. Extinction Rebellion state “We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.” (1)
This essay will explore some of the scientific evidence, state the three demands of Extinction Rebellion and express some of the reasons that members of the public have decided to protest in London with Extinction Rebellion.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) back up what Extinction Rebellion state. Joyce Msuya, the Acting Executive Director, UN Environment, writes “In this drive towards a green economy, greater sustainability and the hope that we can thrive rather than survive, there has never been a more critical moment than now. The science and the data are crystal clear on the multitude of challenges that we face, but also the small window of opportunity we have to turn things around.” (2) The report goes on to say “The warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as evidenced by observations of increases in global temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and increased environmental degradation.” (3)
Scientists, world leaders, the media and the public have known about global warming and climate change for many years, but over the past six to twelve months the terminology has changed. Instead of hearing about global warming and climate change, the message has altered to climate emergency and global heating.
Anon (photo above) says “I remember in the 1970’s, when I was a teenager, hearing somebody on some talk show, speak about global warming, and I remember as a kid thinking ‘what is this all about’, and here we are almost 40 years later, and now it’s a reality.”
In 1992 the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote” The Worlds Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (written by Henry Kendal and signed by over 1,700 scientists). It highlighted and warned about the irreversible damage that human beings are causing the natural world. The report states “Our massive tampering with the world’s interdependent web of life—coupled with the environmental damage inflicted by deforestation, species loss, and climate change—could trigger widespread adverse effects, including unpredictable collapses of critical biological systems whose interactions and dynamics we only imperfectly understand. Uncertainty over the extent of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing the threats.” (4)
Almost every day the media has a new report based upon a recently released piece of scientific research, often declaring that the state of the ecology is more precarious than previous models had shown. A recent study by Eric Rignot found that “Antarctica now sends six times more ice plunging into the sea each year than it did in 1979.” (5)
The rate of climate change has even evoked fears within the scientific community. Professor Sir David King stated as much to the BBC recently and his fears were supported by other climate scientists. (6)
Marlowe Hood wrote an article which was titled “Earth warming more quickly than thought, new climate models show.” Hood explains how continued burning of fossil fuels are warming the environment at an alarming rate, and that global heating will happen at a higher rate than expected, and to reach the Paris Agreement global warming cap of less than 2 degrees Celsius is increasingly unlikely, and unless urgent action is taken to reduce carbon emissions, then global warming could reach 7 degrees higher than pre-industrial levels by 2100. Hood notes that “With only one degree Celsius of warming so far, the world is coping with increasingly deadly heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones made more destructive by rising seas.” (7)
Mike, who had travelled from Cornwall to be with Extinction Rebellion for one week said “The rate of change is rapidly accelerating, crisis is closer than most would realise.”
Evidence of the climate emergency are seen in global temperature rises, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreats, decreasing snow cover, sea level rise, declining artic sea ice, extreme events (wildfires, tornados, rainfall, heatwaves, blizzards, ice storms, dust storms, droughts (8)) and ocean acidification (9)
The evidence is becoming clearer each day. It would be unfair to say that governments are not acting, but it also shows that the action taken is minimal, and not in line with what is required to limit global CO2 emissions quickly enough to prevent a planetary catastrophe. These actions have also only decreased the United Kingdom’s CO2 consumption by 10% (CO2 emissions have reportedly been cut by 42%. CO2 emissions are the amount of CO2 by national industrial activity and consumer usage, whereas CO2 consumption includes the CO2 produced elsewhere for goods and utilities that are imported). (10)
It is the lack of credible action by the UK Government, along with the failure of the Government and the media, which have fuelled Extinction Rebellion’s Protests around the world, and in London in April and October 2019. The failure to take appropriate action is why Extinction Rebellion feel that civil disobedience is the only course which could push the Government into adopting suitable climate policies.
Willy, an environmental scientist with Extinction Rebellion believes the Government is fully aware of the action they need to take, but are only paying lip service too. He says “There is a disconnect from what we know and how we act, civil disobedience seems to be the only way we can deal with the urgent crisis.”
Extinction Rebellion declare “We believe the government has failed to understand the severity of this crisis. We believe that we must now take radical action to reduce the very worst effects of climate breakdown and, in doing so, reform and extend our broken democracy. We therefore have three key demands: 1/ the government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change. 2/ the government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2025. 3/ the government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.” (11)
The protests in London have been mass, non-violent civil disobedience and have had a diverse following. Protestors have included scientists, ecologists, MP’s, the medical profession, and people from all generations, races and socio-economic backgrounds. Doctors for Extinction Rebellion marched from Lambeth to Trafalgar Square on Saturday. Jo from Doctors for Extinction Rebellion explained that their March was in relation to air pollution in the UK. She stated that “Over 40,000 people per year, in the UK, die as a result of the air pollution which is way beyond legal levels.”
David Boyd, the UN’s special representative on human rights and the environment “criticised the UK government for ‘failing its citizens by producing air quality plans so weak that they breached its legal duty’.” (12)
It is of note that respected medical professionals who have flourishing careers are willing to be arrested because of their concern about the lack of urgent action by the government. This highlights the seriousness of the climate emergency, and demonstrates that the crisis is not in some distant future. People around the world, and in the UK are dying now.
The civil disobedience by the protesters in London has seen people block major roads around London including Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Millbank and outside of The Bank of England.
Marjorie expressed her views on civil disobedience, stating “We’ve been writing letters, talking to our MP’s for decades, nothing has changed. We’ve got to do something to make them act.” Marjorie’s views are precisely the reason Extinction Rebellion has chosen the civil disobedience method. This is a technique inspired by the action and writing of Henry David Thoreau, and most was most notably evidenced by Martin Luther King, and Gandhi. (13)
Extinction Rebellion state “We have to be clear. Conventional campaigning does not work. Sending emails, giving money to NGO’s, going on A-to-B marches. Many wonderful people have dedicated years of their lives to all this, but it’s time to be honest. Conventional campaigning has failed to bring about the necessary change. Emissions have increased by 60 per cent since 1990 and they are still going up, increasing by 2.7 per cent in 2018. Looking at that thirty years of appalling failure, the reason is clear. The rich and powerful are making too much money from our present suicidal course. You cannot overcome such entrenched power by persuasion and information. You can only do it by disruption.” (14)
Non-violent civil disobedience does interrupt the normal ebb and flow of life in a city. It has an impact upon people’s livelihoods, businesses and has an impact upon the economy. It is believed that this kind of action will make life so uncomfortable for the government that they will be forced into taking substantive action on the climate emergency.
Dave, a member of the public and not linked to Extinction Rebellion, and who wasn’t protesting had a positive view of the protests. He said “It’s a good way to promote change. Change doesn’t necessarily happen without some kind of moving force. It’s got to be done I think. The fact that people are willing to be arrested shows that serious change is needed, if it means that much to people.”
The level of policing is another interesting facet of this March. If we cast our minds back to the Poll Tax riots in 1990, we note that despite the protests being violent there were only around 400 arrests. This was despite the police noting that around 3,000 of the 200,000 protesters had committed acts of violence. (15) Extinction Rebellions Autumn Uprising has seen over 1,750 arrests. It’s hard to get one’s head around why a non-violent and peaceful protest has led to this disproportionate level of arrests. Anon, quoted earlier in this essay, went on to say “it’s a good sign actually, for these kind of movements, when that starts to happen, it sucks but it’s a good sign. It means it’s starting to ruffle the right kind of feathers.”
Despite the argument that it is too expensive to immediately take action to achieve the Paris Agreement figure of 2 degrees C, the reality is that, worldwide, there would be a saving of around double what was spent. Climate change is expensive in terms of human suffering, sickness and death, these have major impacts upon the economy, as do intervening in and clearing up after wildfires, droughts and other climate disasters, not to mention the civil collapse, civil war, displacement, supporting refugees and managing immigration. The Co-Chairs message in GEO 6 states that “The health benefits from reduced air pollution of achieving the 2 degrees Celsius target could be 1.4 – 2.5 times the cost of mitigation, the higher figure involving benefits of $US 54.1 trillion for a global expenditure of $US 22.1 trillion. (16)
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney expressed similar concerns this week during an interview with the Guardian, saying that “Companies and industries that are not moving towards zero-carbon emissions will be punished by investors and go bankrupt, the governor of the Bank of England has warned.” The same article went onto state “The Bank of England has said up to $20tn (£16tn) of assets could be wiped out if the climate emergency is not addressed effectively.” (17)
The scientific eveidence is clear. We must sieze this small window of opportunity to take the drastic action required. If we do not, then we are walking face first into an irriversible ecological catastraphe, which will make it impossible for humans to survive on this planet.
It is clear that we are now in the middle of a climate emergency. People and animals are dying, ice sheets are melting and fires are burning. We are walking towards mass extinction and causing irreversible harm to our only home planet. If we do not act now then it will be too late.
Face-to-face support for those who no longer feel life is worth living
The Listening Place is a London based charity who provide face to face support for those who feel life is no longer worth living. I do not believe that I would be alive if it hadn’t been for the support of The Listening Place.
My initial contact was a self referral over the telephone, followed by a face to face assessment at Meade Mews. It felt more like an informal chat about my current difficulties.
The next step was recieving a phone call to confirm that I was being offered support, and a date for the first session. Sessions are once a fortnight, same day, same time and with the same volunteer. After six sessions there is a review to see whether support is still required.
It’s OK to arrive early and sit in the small but beautiful gardens, and I’ve needed time after a session to sit in the peace and collect my thoughts before getting on with the rest of the day.
My mental health has taken a nose dive recently. I’m coming out of it now, but it’s been unbearable. If it wasn’t for the support of The Listening Place then I would have ended my life, I had plans to.
This relapse has built up slowly over a few months, and it began with an increase in anxiety and paranoid thinking. Whenever I heard sounds or talking from nearby buildings I believed that the people in those homes were talking about me, and planning to kill me.
It’s been so intense that I have been too afraid to stay in my home during the day, and I would go to bed and wake up full of anxiety. When I wasn’t experiencing paranoid thoughts I was thinking of how I could kill myself.
I’ve been so exhausted by the anxiety, paranoia and suicidal thoughts, and this rose to a crescendo at the beggining of last week. I’m grateful that my friends, The Listening Place and the mental health crisis team have been there to support me.
One of the most positive aspects is that I have been able to nurture myself. Not perhaps in the traditional sense, but it’s worked. I accepted that I could not stay in during the day, so I took myself out. I’ve been to so many places, Wood Green, Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Tottenham Hale, Walthamstow Wetlands, Stave Hill Eco Park, London Wetlands, Clapham, Hammersmith, Trafalgar Square. I also visited my cousin, and I’m going to stay with a friend shortly. My favourite trip was to Heathrow Airport. There’s an area of grassland near the south runway which is used by many to watch the aircraft come and go. I feel guilty for liking aircraft when I know how much damage they do to the environment, but I do like them, and the day relaxed me. I’ve also been meeting my daily calorific need and I’ve cut out caffeine.
It hasn’t been easy to motivate myself, to be honest about how much I was struggling, and to seek support, but I’ve done it. I’ve also found that if I feel unsafe at home then I put wax earplugs in. They block the surrounding noise and that helps a lot. I’ve felt such an urgent need to leave home that I’ve barely done any washing, and no housework at all.
But things are easing now. I’m still experiencing some paranoia, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, but the intensity has lessened. Life has been so painful, but I’ve created peace and calmness by going out to these places. Photography has been my bearer of peace. Thank goddess that it provides me with such an escape. I’m feeling very grateful, and you know what – I’m proud of how much effort I have put in to survive.
The Listening Place is a London based charity which provides face to face support for people who feel that life is no longer worth living.