Literature and Mental Health

 

Right. So. Here I am. (And falling back into the blogging habit of using unnecessarily short sentences).

I am not a regular blogger.  I don’t have a massive following.  But this is the best place to share my thoughts.  So recently I have been struggling with one of the worst grey spots in my adult life.  I’m not kidding when I say I hadn’t felt that bad in nearly a decade, and anyone who knew back then knows I was not easy to be around sometimes.

However I’m lucky (I guess) in that my depressive episodes have never become a permanent part of life.  Now I’m climbing back out of this latest cave and starting to engage with the world again.  I’ve finally reached out for help dealing with it.

In the meantime I found a free online course titled Literature and Mental Health (this is in no way a plug just my reflections of the course).  Now I’ve always considered myself an avid reader and I was interested in seeing how other people have used literature in dealing with mental health struggles.

I found the course easy to sign on to, and while there are plenty of discussions, I can interact at my own level of comfort which usually involves writing a comment reflecting on a topic, and then moving onto the next.

I am finishing off Week 1 and here are my thoughts about the course so far:

  • I really like the variety of people involved.  It’s not just the lecturers involved, there are guest spots from teachers, poets, even Stephen Fry (who I love deeply).
  • This first week is talking about stress.  They give a good variety of modern and more classical poetry for us to read through.  More importantly there are videos of poets and other people reading the poem.  I think that poetry is woefully taught in schools (see my previous blog post here ) and not all of us automatically know how to read a poem, where to put the pauses and the stresses (and isn’t it a nice rounding of the circle that stress means something from both a mental health perspective and a poetic one? Well I think so).
  • By listening to poetry the key thing I take away is the effect it has on our mind.  We slow down, focus, and the rest of the world falls away.  You can bring nature with you wherever you go.  I find that my breathing slows automatically to fit the pace of the poems discussed, which is key to controlling some physical effects of stress and anxiety.
  • I love the introduction to poets I haven’t heard of before.  Ben Okri reads some of his poems and I highly recommend his work.  There is a discussion of Carol Ann Duffy’s “Prayer” which I struggled with.  But it led me onto the beautiful spoken word poem “Heart Cry” by Samuel Cole which is referenced on Mind’s website.

There are occasions when the teachers assume a higher level of basic poetry knowledge, but all the material is there ready for you to reflect on.  And the other learners are very supportive.

Good poetry for me is like good music.  It articulates the emotions I don’t know how to describe myself.  It creates a situation where I can feel.  And it helps me choose what I want to feel which is incredibly important when trapped in a negative thought cycle.

I’ve been recording little scribbles here and there.  I think trying to practice some of the different structures of poems is a nice little personal challenge for me to deal with.  When I am at my lowest, I feel like I don’t add any value to anything at all because my creative endeavours aren’t successful.  I always struggle with that feeling, but coming back to a more even playing field (for now) I can challenge my thinking there and remember that it doesn’t need to be successful.  I don’t need have thousands of people read my scribbles.  I’m doing it to express myself.  Maybe getting it in writing is all I need to do.

I’m really looking forward continuing this course and seeing where it goes.  Let’s find out.

 

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#HappyBirthday #Hashtags

hashtags

Toady is the 10th birthday of hashtags on Twitter.  I know, 10 years! However did we keep track of trends before then?  What did we use the # key for?

Me personally I love a good hashtag.  Besides the mega-loz in winding my husband up by using them in actual spoken conversation, they are super useful! My personal favourite is using them to run twitter chats.  Twitter chats can take a bit of getting used to at first and can feel like this….

Cat keyboard.gif

But once I got into the swing of them then it’s a great way to talk to other people about a certain topic.   I don’t know of any bisexual or queer regular chats that go on (hit me up if you have one!) but here are my top 4 chats :

#PJchat (Mondays 9pm GMT)

#RoundReads (Selected Wednesdays)

#TalkMH (Thursdays 8.30pm GMT) (Selected Wednesdays)

#PosiMH (Sundays 8pm GMT)

What are your favourite hashtags??

Bisexual backchannel … sharing the message

Hello.

So many moons ago I decided to have a personal blog. There was a few sporadic posts but it never amounted to anything. I feel this was for two reasons:

  1. I am RIDICULOUSLY bad at maintaining anything for more than about 3 months at a time. Seriously, I aced a Tough Mudder half earlier this year with my twice a week gym habit……however I now have a full one in 4 weeks and I haven’t been to the gym since I got back from honeymoon. This is disappointingly standard.
  2. I didn’t really have a focus.

Now I’m hoping that by resolving problem number 2, I develop a better habit which in turn resolves problem number 1. So what is my focus?!

My personal twitter is very focused on the bisexual* community, with a sideline in mental health. Now for both of these there are some great Tweeps that I recommend as follows:

Bisexual Community:

@BiPrideUK
@MarcusTeaches
@lavenderlifeco
@Bifuriosa
@LarkerAnthology
@Andrematronic
@biscuitmag
@ArnallDominic

Mental Health:

@GeekMagnifique
@LuluDigitale
@NekoBear
@TheWeInMe
@nospaceformilk

Queer Mental Health:

@SupportULGBT
@MindCharity
@switchboardLGBT

But I saw a tweet the other day about a bisexual culture panel happening in Glasgow. When I enquired about how to follow this event online, there was some enthusiasm but no way of me following the event.

Then I booked a ticket onto Stand By Me – an event by Mind launching their bisexuality & mental health resource (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stand-bi-me-launch-of-minds-bisexuality-mental-health-resource-tickets-36658622928).

And then I had a thought…

Lightbulb

I’ve attended a few HR/L&D events where the backchannel on twitter and social media has been incredibly active. Through good use of hashtags and apps likes Periscope or Storify, it allows people not attending the event to follow along and share the message and highlights with a much larger audience. Maybe there is some room to do this with events on bisexuality?

I’m not sure whether this will work….but it’s going to be really interesting to give it a go.

Watch this space!

Review: Stonewall Bi Role Model Programme

Really good summary of great event by Stonewall for bisexual people, giving us a space to shout (or whisper) in.

Hannah Bee's Bisexual Blog

Post 1: Practical things, how the day went, an overview of content.

At first I felt really apprehensive about attending the Stonewall Bi Role Model Day. We had been emailed over some booklets in advance to get us thinking about role models beforehand. Whilst they served this purpose well they also triggered a lot of negative feelings for me and I grew weary of what Stonewall were planning to do. This was down to the fact that the booklets only seemed to contain one token bi story each. (Several people featured didn’t label their sexuality.) So it left me wondering why they couldn’t have made any bi specific resources to send us? I was afraid that the day would involve non bi staff telling us how to be role models without listening to our experiences or addressing issues which are specific to our non-monosexual lives.

Thankfully I needn’t have worried. After…

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Still a man’s world…..

I have had these same thoughts and fears…a brilliant post on the issues women face.

inkylady79's Blog

Yesterday we went and paid for a gender scan on my ever growing belly to check what flavour we were having.  Lovely boyfriend and I are very happy that our family will be completed with a baby girl.  I am looking forward to legitimately dressing a small person in hello kitty prints without the frown of disapproval that came when I gave my infant son hello kitty related things.

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Just because it has been this way for centuries…

So true….and needs to be said again and again and again until it sinks in!

Midsummer 365 Projects

doesn’t mean it has to carry on this way!

scurve

In the Victorian era, the ideal body shape for women was so impossible that corsets were worn that some times broke ribs and always squeezed so tightly that women’s internal organs were displaced.

1920

In the 1920s the ideal body type for women was so “boy-like” that they bound their breasts and wore ling line girdles to disguise their hips.

neck rings

In some parts of burma (and many other places around the world at times) beauty was considered to involve a long neck such that brass rings are worn around the neck which gradually deform the clavicle and compress the ribs to give the illusion of a longer neck.

FootBindingRxSchema2

In ancient china (right up until 1911) small feet were so desirable in women that their feet were bound to prevent them growing large. Such a process was intensely painful as id didn’t stop the feet…

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Cakes and Weddings

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So I haven’t been up to a lot this week.  Mainly I’m re-watching Buffy.  Yes I am a big fan.  No there is no thing as too much Buffy.  Sssh.  But that probably is a topic for discussion elsewhere.  As well as that I have been getting a few photo projects going.  My friend in Basingstoke has started up her own cake stall.  Only small at first but she asked if I would take some nice photos for the facebook page.  Some very yummy ones on offer if you are in the area! (https://www.facebook.com/lizzyscakesandbakes)

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Now this was something slightly different for me.  Normally I just take my camera with me and see what I can find when I go out.  I haven’t really done a lot in the way of small, indoors photos.  This was a good opportunity for me to practice setting up a shot exactly how I wanted.  It’s cool being able to put the light exactly where I want it.  So after a fair amount of re-shuffling of her kitchen, I got down to business.  I personally wanted to make them slightly more interesting than the standard instagram snap of a cake.  Mainly this involved playing around with depth of field.  Pretty basic stuff I know but it’s amazing how much difference it makes to the overall look of the photo.  I also used a white board to reflect the natural light from the window in some of them, though again it is pretty well accepted that natural light is a lot better to use than indoor light bulbs.  Not a huge volume of photos but I am pretty happy with what I came out with 🙂

While I mentioned that photography is a passion of mine (as far as someone as lazy as me can have passions), you may gather that I am no professional.  However one of my friends obviously liked my style enough to ask me to do the photography for her wedding this summer.  First thoughts were something along the lines of “Eeek!”.  After confirming with her that she knew I wasn’t a professional, I was reliably told (in writing!) that the only thing she really wanted was the formal group shots.  But if I was going to do that, then by Jove I would do the whole thing properly.  We did some engagement shots just before Christmas which went really well and gave me a chance to practice my director skills.  My friend Sam has been doing photography for far longer than me (in fact it was modelling for an idea of hers that got me started on the whole thing!) and offered her help.  So there are two of us.  What I spent a fair chunk of time over the last week was putting together a shot list for the day.  I think between us we have got it covered right from the getting ready shots, up until the first dance.  It’s a big thing to be working on but I am really looking forward to it and having the opportunity to try.  For all I know I might want to do more weddings afterwards! So shot lists, and a lot of Pinterest until August.  It will be really good to get a chance to put the things I know into practice.

It’s all about opportunities in this blog post.  We have a photo club at work.  There aren’t very many of us, but a couple of people in the group have been doing it for longer than I’ve been around and it is awesome to have that sort of resource to pull on.  It also stops me getting stuck in one particular style.  So we will have to see how that progresses….

Point of the blog: GO PHOTOGRAPHY!

Link to last week: Still looking at new poems.  This is a new favourite of mine 🙂