Just TIE me up in love

Recently there have been figures being banded about on the wait times for CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services). I don’t have the answers but I do have a thought. My daughter Charlie was self harming, slashing her arms till they looked like they had been clawed at by a wild animal and contemplating taking her own life. It took love, support and many weeks at Camhs before we got to the root of the problem…. She was trans.

Camhs were an exceptional tool and I know the Scottish government are committed to reducing wait times, however like every other illness, I think we should be looking at prevention where possible. A cure is good but prevention is always better, and nine times out of ten more cost effective. That’s where TIE (time for inclusive education) comes in. Many of the young LGBTI young people I’ve met during Charlie’s journey were in the same boat, the  story is so often repetitive. Fear of being who they are, fear of being bullied, fear of telling parents. Hatred of themselves, hatred of who they are, hatred of their own flesh. Then comes a Camhs referral, an opening up and finally acceptance…. not always but most of the time.

TIE aims for a better understanding of LGBTI issues, a reduction of bullying and a removal of stigma. If you think “hey I’m gay/trans/lesbian but that’s ok it’s as normal as being left handed;” then wouldn’t you be less likely to hate yourself? I think so! It’s about seeking to engage everyone from the straight community, the LGBTI community and the educational departments to ensure young people don’t resort to horrific acts of violence on their own precious skin.

This won’t just change the lives of young people but it will create generations of more tolerant adults. Workplace bullying, especially for trans women in very male dominated environments, is a huge issue. This results in many adults seeking the same support as our young people, but many often think they should be stronger, the shame overcomes them and they decide the only way out, is the unthinkable.

I’m not saying for a minute that this will resolve every issue faced in the treatment of young people and their battles with mental health, however I believe it would be a start. I speak out all the time on trans issues because I face it along side Charlie every day. This week my mum (gran sheena) realised she is wearing a  jacket in summer because she is ashamed of her own wee shape and my 70 year old mum has been researching special bras! Awesome right? But what if your family isn’t like that? What if charlie spent the whole summer roasting because of shame? That would damage her mental health beyond words. So we have to do more and in my heart I believe the schools are where we can achieve this.

I spoke at the SNP conference earlier this year where the members supported the TIE pledge (I will link the speech below). However words are not enough, if you want to reduce wait times, encourage children and most importantly save lives, then we must act. This is not a liberal versus conservative argument; or indeed church versus state; no – this is LIFE or DEATH. I urge everyone, especially the straight community who might think this will never effect you, to keep acting! The only way we can change the world is to get up and do it. Not just for wait lists, or Charlie; but for every young person in our country! Love wins. 

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Please Sir I’m Hungry….

Unison has confirmed on their Facebook page that NLC are planning to abolish the breakfast clubs in North Lanarkshire. Less than a few days after their deal with the Tories their right wing identity seems to be showing in Labour policies.

When I’m at the Scottish Parliament I hear Kezia Dugdale lament over and over about her party tackling poverty and the “failing” Educational system in Scotland. It’s incomprehensible to think a child can learn if they are hungry, to go to school with a sparse breakfast, or worse none at all, will mean children in poverty suffer immeasurably. They will be unable to concentrate, they will be tired, behaviour will suffer and heir ability to learn will be slashed. 

On the NLC website it still has the benefits of a breakfast club and I quote “help children to be alert… able to learn…improve attendance and performance”. This is only part of the breakfast club positivity shared. So this begs the question does the Labour administration and NLC no longer believe this? Or do they want to save money at the cost of our smallest constituents.

Breakfast clubs don’t just help support Children in poverty, it is a safe and supportive environment for working parents to leave children while the make the commute to work. Many parents have to be at work at nine, these people are raising a family, contributing to or economy and in most areas trying to stay afloat. Do you have kids who you drop off before work? Where will they go? What will you do? CHALLENGE THIS

If this vital service to the future generations of North Lanarkshire is indeed abolished, I urge everyone to write, email and call their Labour Party representatives and demand that it’s restored. If it’s lost I will be demanding an explanation form every Labour Councillor, list MSP and their leadership. Don’t bang on to me about Corbyns “socialist manifesto” when you are considering grabbing the food from the mouths of babes. Don’t just say you’re a lefty, let’s see some decenancy from the Labour Party, or is that too much to ask! You would think we are living in Dickensian times where our beautiful children have to beg…… not on my watch…. not in my name. 

Growing Up Trans and Without Practiceย 

For most young women some of our best memories are sitting watching our mothers and sisters making them selves glam. I loved stealing my sisters lippy and using the lovely neon eyeshadows of my mothers 80s collection. Makeup and beauty doesn’t define a woman but as a glam lover, I understand the confidence that comes with a freshly painted face or nice new blow dry. 

When Charlie came out she stared to wear makeup and wasn’t quite as adept as my younger daughter Skye. That’s when it hit me, Skye’s had her whole life free to copy me and to experiment. While wee charlie had only ever been able to sit and wish from sidelines. Thankfully she is only 14 so we have plenty of time to get her glowing like Elizabeth Arden herself; but what about the ladies who only come out later in life?

It got me to thinking. No one teaches them how to blow-dry, use GHDs or do a winged liner. It would be quite difficult to go into a shop during the early stages of transition and ask for this kind of help. Trans women face many outer beauty problems, thinner hair, facial hair, different skin types; but all of this could be tackled with a little help from a glam squad. 

There is a fabulous hairdresser in Motherwell who had invented a technique to help thicken thin hair. I’ve had a lil chat with her and we are keen to have a trans night of Glam! A safe space to see hair, makeup and skin care techniques. Trans women from all over Scotland will be welcome and it will be a completely welcoming envrionment for every woman of EVERY age.

Like I say, outer beauty doesn’t define us but I think all women deserve support and encouragement. So if you would like to come to this event or know someone who would please let me know. Please share this amongst any LGBTI groups and beyond….

Beauty is only skin deep but a little rouge never hurt anyone ๐Ÿ˜˜

Why is my mummy sad?

In a week where the spotlight shines on mental health, I wanted to share the story of my beautiful and brave mammy Sheena. My mum is a fierce, proud and an incredibly smart woman. She has fought poverty, social stigmas and cancer in her life time. She raised two girls and took on her nephew as her own. Ever selfless. Ever loving. Ever fighting. 

My mum would tell me to this day that there is no battle fiercer than that of depression. After her mother died a few years before I was born, my mum started to struggle with perpetual sadness. After my birth, she got worse and was prescribed an array of drugs designed to numb the pain. Tamazepam, lorazepam and anything else which would shut out the darkness. Sadly, these drugs also shut out the light. She was a great wee mammy and I was loved deeply, but the outside world was a hard place for her. She would feed the birds outside the glass doors of our home and I would watch them, it was all she could do to make me smile when she was in her darkest hours. To this day, seeing a robin is one of my faveourite things. She wasn’t able to go to some parents nights or school sports days, she was ill. Unwell. Poorly. She was a wonderful mother.

Then came along a CPN called Veronica, ever so patiently she helped my mum ween off the crippling drugs. My poor wee mum would cry and scream with the withdrawals and I would wonder “why is my mummy sad?” You see, children of depressed people are often the forgotten carers. Yes their mummy can wash herself and make dinner, but these kids often spend hours reassuring and loving someone who often cannot even register their own self worth. I remember my mum cared for her friend who had cancer ever so diligently and a relative asked her “why are you depressed? You have it all. Nice house. Nice life.” She was ill.  Give yourself a shake, we heard this all the time. Us kids would think but our mammy isn’t well; Would we ask someone who has a broken leg to run? I think not.

Through her whole life my mum has been open about her mental health. When she had cancer she noted all the flowers and cards that surrounded her; a few years later during her period of electro convulsive therapy, a very different story. Yet my wee mum would tell you that there is no fight worse than that of mental illness. And fight she does.

She has tried everything, therapy, counselling, medicine, shocking her body to oblivion. She fights every day to face a world which is extraordinarily bleak in her eyes but she continues to try anything to help a little sunshine penetrate her dark walls. She is heroic. 

I’ve had depression so I now know what it was like. I know why my mummy cried. I know why the battle is hard and I know I could be more understanding. I often wonder how many people around me have been touched by this evil illness but are too afraid to ask for help incase they are told to give themselves a shake. I love my mum and I love my girls, I love that in my family if you struggle someone will catch you. Someone will drag you to a doctor. However, not every family is like mine but there will always be someone who can help you. Sadly the stigma is huge but don’t be afraid. If the mammy Sheena can fight then so can you. 

I lost one of my most beautiful friends in he world to suicide and I will learn from him and from my mammy. You can too. My mum has always got time for others and she never ever ever ever gives up. Find time and don’t forget the little children who ask why is my mummy sad. 

Www.seemescotland.org

For the Mamasย 

This was written by my sister who works in the third sector…. she was born to be a mama! 

For many years I’ve been involved in running groups for mums and babies . I started when my own little ones were tiny and here I am today , definitely not young and my little ones now have 4 legs and wagging tails . Still I find myself surrounded by mums and babies , frankly it’s more wonderful than ive words to describe . At times it’s been a battle . Always , ALWAYS, my mums come first . Why ? Because happy mums , loved mums , cared for mums can more readily do the same for their little ones . Babies and toddlers will play happily with their own feet. They pay no heed to the fancy organic nature of their environment or the like . They just want to be surrounded by love and happiness . So many new mums are consumed by the pressures of life and motherhood that this aura of love and happiness seems like a impossible , unreachable dream . I don’t believe in ” waiting lists” , I cannot buy into structured, time pressured sessions . I don’t care if you eat half the cake table! If your toddler is a terrible two then I believe you need sympathy, support and a good sense of humour . Judgement has no place whatsoever . If they’re dressed to the nines or come in looking like a typhoon has brought them

 to me .. so what ? They’re there that’s all that matters . Relationships suffer when babies are born why should mums hide it, why not share and feel not only a burden lighter but a lot less alone. Life can be brutal regardless of where a person’s house is , what car they drive or how beautiful their baby is .. grief , loss , financial strains , health problems tend to be completely without prejudice or bias . All of this AND a tiny vulnerable human depending on them for love , nourishment , sustainment and attachments that will influence their whole lives . No pressure eh ? There’s many things that I love about my precious wee Nurture Group. The adorable tiny people , the lovely mums ..but mostly what I love is the absolute and unrelenting solidarity that exists between every person at nurture . I have NEVER heard anyone once be cruel , gossip or judge another. I’m serious not once . They constantly love and support each other, they sacrifice for each other and they care in ways that continue to astound me . It’s never just a Wednesday it’s much much much more than that . So to all my mums past present and those still to come , you have enriched my life in ways I cannot describe . I have been allowed to love and care for so many people over the years but on reality all of you have given me so much more than I can ever describe . In a world where women and girls are so often portrayed as a cruel , selfish , decisive and self seeking you girls are shining lights of love and joy . It matters not what you have financially , if your children become even a little of who I’ve seen you all to be then they will have wealth that money and ambition cannot ever attain . Our little Nurture Group is a family . It is everything this world endlessly seeks and often fails to be . It’s love , it is belonging .. it is home . Girls tonight I’m reflecting over a few little events that have reminded me just how amazing you all are and just how proud I am to be your mamma caZza xx

Dear Katie

Dear Katie,

I’m writing to ask you to stop. Just stop. Your beating down of women and using their looks to demean them may get you attention (such as this letter) but what it also does, is unravel years of hard work done by women who realised the only way for us girls to succeed in a mans world is to build each other up.

I’m a different type of feminist, you probably don’t care, but in some ways I’m like you. I say what I think and I have opinions BUT I realise that sometimes you’ve got to wrap it. Today I saw you criticise my First Minister, now firstly you slagged her ginger hair which is inaccurate as she’s kind of a dirty blonde. A nice ashy colour. Her spikes at conference were amazing. Then you tweeted that Mhairi Black should maybe learn to use shampoo. She does use shampoo. Although I think when she or Nicola are speaking out for the abused, the impoverished and the vulnerable; I don’t really think they give a fu*k about the condition of their hair. You see they might have a different opinion from you but they never ever do anything unless they are sure it will go a mile to build others up. Mhairi Black may be young but she has radically changed the face of politics for young people across the country, and I don’t care if she achieved it wearing a Patrick Thistle top. I care that she tried. Not only that she is succeeding. 

Now Katie, you’ve been in the papers for more than your vocal opinions. Your sexual exploits, your weight etc and I thought “you go girl”. If you like a hedge then go get em. Cause that’s what feminism is. It’s saying to others “do what you want because that’s what makes your world turn”. You say jobs should be given on merit, that’s true but equality isn’t pie. It doesn’t run out. There is enough room for everyone. It doesn’t matter if they like ginger hair, shampoo or canoodling in hedges.

Mental health. You’ve had a lot to say about that today. I can tell you this, I would never wish it on anyone and I hope you feel the way you do because you never have to see it break people the way I have.

While you may set feminism back a hundred years, you also hurt people. I believe you have been hurt too. You must have been. So why do you never stop for one second to think, actually that’s rubbish from me… In Scotland we’d say this “gie it a by hen and don’t talk shite”. (You may have seen this demonstrated by Mhairi herself)

So I’m asking from one lippy blond to another, please just leave it alone. You’re harming women, feminism and most of all you’re slagging my pals. Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black are forces of nature and forces for good. Right now I’d like to know what do you want to be a force for? Because it seems the only force you care about is the British main stream media, and let me tell you that’s the one force which is like the dark side. It’s on its road oot! 

Regards

Rosa 

Pencils for Progress

Today on my Facebook memories the passage bellow came up. It was a year ago and yet we did it. We gave every single kid in ward 20 primary schools the tools to learn. So proud….

April 20th 2016

This is long put please read and share. Today I was at the SNP manifesto launch and Nicola Sturgeon made a comment that’s really stuck with me all day. She said a B for some high school kids is kind of like an A for others. For example some kids in Wishaw live in over crowded houses with no quiet study place, they have jobs to support low income parents, some can’t afford equipment and many families can’t afford tutors. I was really keen to hear that universities will have to look at this and take it into account. See the thing is every child is unique, special and completely different. For example verbally my own daughter is insanely smart but we just found out she has severe brain damage which limits her ability to get it down on to paper. So Wee Skye will benefit from this. Then there was talk about the baby box. Every single baby in Scotland will get a box filled with essentials. Every single one. There are also financial changes too but the baby box is a symbol of the value that each baby holds.

Every child in my ward is more than just a number or a pupil in a school. Every child is potential. A potential teacher. A potential doctor who could save your life. A potential first minister. A potential scientist who will cure cancer.

So I’ve thought about it and what can I do for our young people? Labour administration seem to be blocking my uniform bank but I’m going to fight it, but in the mean time I want to start collecting a pencil cases filled with pencils, rubbers and rulers. There are thousands of kids in ward 20 but let’s do this. A Wee token of our support for their learning. That’s one less burden for parents and one Wee pat on the back for our kids, especially those who turn up without any tools to learn. So who can help? Who’s in?? ๐Ÿ’›๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฆ„