World Mental Health Day 2020

World Mental Health Day.

Every day is mental health day, man.

Thinking back, I was an absolute write-off last year. Honestly. Couldn’t perceive the idea of getting through a day, nevermind looking beyond that. I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember and experiences with depression for most of my life. You would think that this would make it easier to cope with a “low spell” but actually, when you’re there, it’s still debilitating and as scary as if you’re facing it afresh.

I talk about mental health super candidly ALL the time. I even brought it up within 5 mins of a job interview last year! Every day is a fight for me and I know it is for so many others, so I take solace in sharing and being open because I’ve seen firsthand the effects of NOT talking. I used to be that proud person who couldn’t say no, or say I wasn’t okay. Fuck that macho bullshit.

Mental health is normal. Stress is normal. Anxiety is normal. Not being okay is normal. Asking for help is normal. Needing help is normal.

Starting and sustaining these conversations is the difference between life and death, in some cases. I’m here and willing to talk, but more importantly, I’m here to listen💜

This year’s pandemic and all the limitations it has enforced have only emphasised how important mental health is. I’ve said this countless times but mental health doesn’t discriminate: EVERYBODY is susceptible to stress and ill health, so it’s about time society implemented changes to acknowledge this and support those most vulnerable, those who rely on invaluable services just to function in a basic capacity.

Resources are stretched and they need funding! Stigmatisations prevail and they need abolishing! Carers and professionals need respite and the recognition they deserve!

I can only hope that when COVID-19 is eventually eliminated as a threat, we take some valuable lessons from this period of time and move forward as a more compassionate collective.

Peace and love. I wouldn’t be here without all the peace and love my family and friends have given me. We’re doing this life thing together so peace and love to whoever is reading this💜✌🏽🙏🏾

Churchill is not my hero (part 2)

I’m Bangladeshi and I didn’t even know Bangladesh had two major famines until literally 2 years ago, and that was because I accidentally found a video of Shashi Tharoor talking about the issue. I’m a self-professed simpleton. I barely know anything apart from the regurgitated and filtered curriculum taught at school. I barely know anything about my native culture. It’s embarrassing.

I did this to myself, by rejecting my brownness as a kid so that I’d fit in. Obviously you can’t take your skin off, but you can reject your identity for sure. I refused to speak Bangla, hated dressing in saris and avoided any cultural/religious events like COVID-19. My childhood was basically Anita & Me, with me being the brown kid who just wants to be her best mate, the white girl from a completely different walk of life.

I’m a different person now. I’ve taken an active interest in my roots and asked questions, which has led to me hearing stories of civil unrest, family members seeing strangers shot before their eyes, whole villages uprooting and fleeing to India, as well as accounts of adapting to British life, following immigration in the years after.

It’s astounding.

Did you know that my grandad was a qualified teacher, and a pretty damned good one, in Bangladesh? Because I didn’t know exactly how esteemed he was in this role or how much of an impact he had on his many students, until his funeral. My grandad, as far as I’d known as a kid, was a labourer in a carpet factory in Bradford. He had a beautiful brain on his shoulders but that didn’t matter because his qualification counted for nothing in Britain. So he worked in an environment that probably involved few brain cells, and worked his ass off to give his children a great life in a country that, up until the fifties, didn’t even allow brown people to own their own properties.

You conform to fit in and you’re embraced more if you’ve got a “whiter” personality. I’ve been called either “paki” by dimwits or a “coconut” my whole fucking life, always being a classic Asian from afar and an exceptional token for racists who say I don’t “count” as one of the stereotypical Asians they have a problem with. What the fuck does that even mean? I’m stumped, man. I really am.

I don’t hate anybody. I just want more awareness of HISTORICAL FACT and more consideration of VALID HUMAN EXPERIENCES/FEELINGS. “Historical amnesia” is 100% a thing and I really believe that if people looked at the past with less tunnel vision and embraced the “other” with less fear/hostility, the world would be so much nicer.

As a young kid, as far as I was aware, Britain had practically reformed the rest of the world and turned helpless brutes into the pillars of civilised organisations. As an adult, I’m learning that brutality is on my doorstep and rich cultural civilisations were destroyed by colonialism. Lives were undervalued then, just as they are now. So let’s just wake up, smell the coffee and change shit for reals so that this same conversation doesn’t need to be had in another 100 years’ time.

My future dogs and children will not be growing up to think cultural erasure, racism or just being an asshole in general is acceptable🐶👶🏽🤷🏾‍♀️

EDIT: Actually, there were still issues with “coloured people” buying houses in 1968. Nikesh Shukla, a wicked writer you should read, said in his interview with The Independent that, “My uncle Mahesh is a source of strength for me: in 1968 he tried to buy a house in Huddersfield but they had a policy not to sell to “coloured people”. He’s the first person to have brought a case of racial discrimination under the Race Relations Act.”.