Thoughts: Is equality really possible?

Protester holding up a cardboard sign which says Are we really still FIGHTING for this Shit? Unbelievable

TW – suicide and sexual harassment

It’s Women’s history month and on Monday it was International Women’s Day. However, IWD didn’t make me feel empowered. The day felt empty, it felt like all talk and no action. Then with the narrative that was playing out in the news, it was a stark reminder that equality is still very much a pipe dream.

Disregarding Mental Illness

In 2011 I tried to take my own life. Shortly after, I saw a mental health specialist who told me that I hadn’t tried very hard so obviously didn’t really want to do it. This professional then went on to detail exactly what I should have done in order for my attempt to be successful. It makes me angry now, thinking about how incredibly f****d up that is. I was given no further support.

Had I been given professional support straight away, I doubt that the ensuing years of self destructive behaviour would have been quite as bad. Instead I was shamed – not for the first time and it wouldn’t be the last – into believing that my mental illness wasn’t real and I was attention seeking.

Ten years later and mental illness is taken more seriously than ever, awareness and professional support has improved. But waiting lists to receive support are at least 6 months’ long and the media still encourages stigmatisation. This week, Meghan Markle and Jameela Jamil have both been called liars and attention seekers for feeling suicidal. Notably they are both women of colour which does make me question, had they been white, would they have been so heavily shamed?

It scares me that people will see the treatment of celebrities and feel too ashamed to seek help. Anyone with suicidal thoughts or actions should be taken seriously, treated with the upmost care and respect. I am so happy that I am still here today. And this is why I openly share my experience, because life is tough, but it is also really worth living.

Women don’t walk alone at night

In the UK we are supposed to have freedom, but for women we are trained to live in fear. It’s been hard not to think about the tragedy of Sarah Everard walking home alone at night. She did everything right and even if she hadn’t done everything from the invisible rule book that all women use to make sure they are safe, it still wouldn’t have been her fault. I feel full of rage that as a woman I have been conditioned to fear men, to always be hyper aware and stay in survival mode when in public spaces, knowing fully well that this isn’t enough to protect me.

I was reminded of a few years ago when Ryan suggested that I could always go for a run at night, which led to a conversation as to why I would never feel safe enough to do that. It is a privilege afforded to men to be able to walk and run alone after dark. I have walked alone, at the dead of night, sometimes with reckless abode, only to be filled with stupidity and relief when I made it home safely. Whilst living in Manchester, there were only two occasions where I left a night club (both times from a club that was 5 minutes from where I lived) without friends and ran as fast as I could to get home. There were so many horror stories of women, alone at night, being attacked by men but there were no measures to protect women and stop the attacks. Our only protection was being told not to go out alone after dark.

It’s not just at night. I’ve also experienced sexual harassment in broad daylight, on busy streets, on more than one occasion. None of my experiences are new or shocking. For women it is all horribly normal. We all brush it off as nothing.

When #notallmen started trending and the victim blaming began again, women across the UK collectively decided enough is enough. This has shown the positives of social media, with women refusing to be shamed into silence and sharing their stories, the narrative has started changing and now men are talking about what they can do to make women safer. On Monday, the house of lords will debate making misogyny a hate crime; this shouldn’t even be a debate, women’s safety should be a priority. Let’s hope that it is more action and less talk.

If, like me, you have been triggered by the news this week, please talk to someone and get support from a professional. Remember that it is also totally OK to disengage from the news and social media.

Mind

Women’s Aid

11 Comments

  1. Hun, I’m so sorry that you had to go through all that – through the pain that made you want to end it all and through what ensued after. I wish you had found kinder people to help you through it all.
    It is so common in India for people to shut down mental health talks by either claiming it isn’t real or by asking if you’re mentally ill. It has taken A LONG time to get my parents to understand my anxiety issues too. They don’t get it but they don’t deny it either. It sucks that people need that need help aren’t able to because other’s don’t support them.
    Being women of colour with an opinion is considered a threat and that is a real shame. Did you hear about how Amanda Gorman was followed home by a white guard who didn’t believe that she lived there? A woman who was a part of the swearing in ceremony of the POTUS!
    And I so get you about the safety aspect. I’ve made myself as independent as possible and yet when it comes to going anywhere in the night alone – it is just scary. 😦
    Can there be equality? Honestly, I don’t see it happening. There are too many issue areas and not too much effort being made.
    Oops – long comment.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Moksha and thank you for sharing your experience. I am very fortunate to have parents who have always been understanding and supportive of my mental illness , so can’t begin to imagine how isolating that feels. It’s good that they now no longer deny it. I am aware that it is a lot worse in other countries than the UK, like Singapore, Japan and, as you say, India.
      No I hadn’t heard about Amanda, that’s so awful. Also shows the huge issue of women of colour’s stories not getting the same attention as white women, and often being treated far worse. It’s all just a huge mess!
      Yeah, there’s only so far we can go to get independence as a woman! I can’t see equality happening in our lifetime either, it just feels like a lovely daydream. Xx

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I was shocked to learn about Amanda Gorman —one day you are claimed an icon and next day a suspect.

      Immi, I am so sorry you had to go through that phase in your life. While reading this —something similar happened to in 2018 when I went to therapy —the guy again explained to me how there are many ways to overdose. The system is SO broken. The Government should invest more money into mental health sector, more resources because with every day passing the problem will get worse.

      The Sarah Everard story really hit home for me. I couldn’t believe what I read on newspaper and to see her wearing all the bright clothes, calling her boyfriend and walking in the main road —still she was kidnapped and killed. Like so many women that are killed by men. To a point I have this inherited fear of walking in the night or crossing the road even in broad daylight when I see a group of guys by the side walk. It’s pathetic but it’s true. The fear is real. And it is justified.

      A great write up👏🏾🌼

      Like

      1. I’m so sorry you had a similar experience in 2018 😥 I also had another experience around that time where I felt like I was bring interrogated on my past by a counsellor, it was really distressing but I had the courage to ask for a different counsellor and they were great. It is a lot to do with the strain that is put on mental health services and the Government does need to invest more. It’s such a mess!
        It’s not pathetic, its what’s been ingrained into us by society. We know that it’s not all men and the issue is that we don’t know who it could be or when/what could happen to us and that’s why we are always on guard. It’s so sad that she did everything to protect herself and the worst happened. Its shown that more needs to be done to hold men accountable and prevent male violence against women.
        Xxx

        Like

  2. Well, that was just a plain insensitive comment on your mental health by that professional!!!! 😡😡😡
    They never know how much daily we deal which leads us to this devastating level!!! I hope you are doing well!!💟💟💟
    And nowhere in the world women can be safe from these predators!!!
    Going out at night is a total nightmare for me, I try my best to avoid this situation!!! Which is plain sad state

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In the UK mental health support and awareness has improved so much since that moment and I am hopeful that if I was in that situation again it would be dealt with more integrity and care.
      That’s the saddest part, I can’t think of anywhere in the world where women are protected and Men are educated to know how to help in violent situations and avoid it happening 😥

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Gosh Imi 🥺 it’s insane to think that so called doctor actually has a license. They clearly have no soul or are very messed up themselves! I’m glad you’re here today to tell the story and help others who may be going through this. I was infuriated by the royal interview… that’s all I’ll say. 😪

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Shelly. Sadly it’s the media still being so detrimental to people’s wellbeing and mental health. The reaction to the royal interview has been mostly disgusting from media 😥

      Liked by 1 person

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