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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Fish Finger Brigade 

I write this at the risk of being seen as a Katie Hopkins of the blogging community.
*Shrugs*
It's not like I'm Miss Popular anyway. My 'stats' aren't brilliant, I don't run (or join many) linkys, and I don't do 'giveaways' or reviews. I'm a very small fish in a very large pond. As are many others. 
But I don't blog for other bloggers. I blog for the people who read what I have to say. Other parents who can relate. And again, like many others, that's the reason I started blogging. To reach out. To let others know they weren't alone.
I guess I fall in to the 'Slummy Mummy' category. Apparently if you're honest about your feelings in regards to parenting that's the title you are granted these days. And yes, I was a bit pissed off when I read the Daily Mail article that asks Why Are So Many Women Boasting They're Slummy Mummies? The article after all was mainly slamming female bloggers for representing this type of Mum.
Now, on any other day I probably would have joined the Fish Finger Brigade of bloggers who posted selfies with numerous frozen products, showing #solidaritea for some of the writers that were mentioned in the article.
But not yesterday.
Because something else had also happened that morning that needed discussing. Something that probably affected the parents we as bloggers try and reach out to, more than an article slamming The Unmumsy Mum.
Because live on 'This Morning' Gino D'Acampo made a statement that there is no such thing as fussy eaters in children. Just stupid parents. He went on to say parents weren't firm enough with their children, and advocated sending them to bed with no dinner if they didn't like what they were served.
And not one single fucking word was said about it.
Well, it probably was, but my newsfeed was swamped with fish finger selfies so I probably missed it.
I totally get the whole "sticking it to the man" thing. I stick it to him on a regular basis. But right now there are hundreds of parents out there who watched This Morning and are now asking themselves if they're stupid. Are they letting their kids down? Are they failing?
I dare you to ask Mothers who aren't in the blogging community if they even saw the Daily Mail article yesterday.
 I asked them. And they were completely unaware. The ones I spoke to DID see This Morning however.
Let's be frank. The Article was shitty. But it was mainly shitty for bloggers. And let's face it, we're big girls and we're used to this. When you write things for the whole internet to see, you're going to get crap. It's standard.
The Unmumsy Mum wrote an amazing response and basically said everything that needed saying. She said it for all of us. And she said it with class. When I starting seeing the Selfies flooding in supporting the 'Slummy Mummy' genre of bloggers I thought it was great! I love a good old selfie that supports my fellow women!
But as they continued, something just didn't sit right with me. Each selfie was staged differently, with passionate words of support and #solidaritea.
But then I saw comments of how one blogger had copied another persons selfie. And I began to think "what the actual fuck?"
Was this a message of support or a blogging competition? Were these bloggers just proving Anna May Mangan right when she said the 'slummy mummy' movement was a battle amongst bloggers rather than an attempt to depict any reality within the underlying message.
For the majority of you I know that's nonsense. I know you blog in the way you do because you want to let other parents know they are not alone, and it's ok to be a bit shit. But whilst defending your blogs you failed to defend the very people who you write your blogs for!
Collectively we kind of failed the hundreds of mothers who had no clue about this article, yet did sit watching 'This Morning' where they were told they were 'stupid.'
The Mothers of children with Avoidant/Restrictive food intake disorder, Mothers of children on the Autistic Spectrum, Mothers of children with a Sensory Processing Disorder, and Mothers with children who are just fucking fussy and we respect their right to be so!
So I'm with you standing in #solidaritea against Anna May Mangan, but we also need to stand against the hurtful and dangerous words uttered by Gino Decampo.
Because fuck him.
So my selfie of support does not include fish fingers (that my child does in fact eat, whilst I do In fact slug on a glass of wine), but includes an array of beige foods which at one point was the only colour food my child would even entertain eating.
Because THAT is reality too!
And it's ok!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Mental Illness is SO Not Quirky 


I  wonder how many people reading this are thinking "Anxiety Disorders?" I'm totally aware!
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? I know exactly what that entails!
I wonder how many of you have labelled yourselves or others as OCD because they like to clean or are very organised.
*insert eye roll*
I wonder how many have taken one of the 'Fun' quizzes available on social media that asks 'How OCD are you?' And shared it as though it were on par with a quiz that asks 'How well do you know musicals?'
If you've done this then you are really NOT aware. Yes, you know what the illness is. What the letters stand for. But your idea of the condition is that it's something quirky.
Tell me, would you take a quiz and share it on Facebook if it was entitled 'How Cerebral Palsy Are You?'
Of course you wouldn't! Because not only would it be ridiculous, it would also be highly offensive!
So why is it acceptable to do this in regards to mental illness?
On mental health awareness week I want to tell you that anxiety disorders are not positive, quirky or fun, and they're certainly not diagnosable through Facebook. They're debilitating.
I don't feel very positive when my mind bombards me with horrific scenarios that dance around in my head and won't give me any peace.
I don't find myself very quirky when my hands are cracked and bleeding because I've washed them that much. Not because I like to be clean but just simply because my mind tells me I have to, or there will be consequences.
I don't think the father of my children finds me very fun when I'm snappy and irrational and need constant reassurance from him that nothing bad is going to happen.
And my condition wasn't diagnosed through a 2 minute quiz. It was years of darkness, tears, embarrassment, pain, counselling, antidepressants and beta blockers before I knew 'How OCD I was.'
I'm embarrassed when I have to walk back to my house a number of times before I can leave my street, because my mind is telling me I've forgotten to check things that could cause harm.
Im exhausted when I constantly have a knot in my gut, as though something terrible is about to happen and I have no control. I'm even more exhausted when I have to explain my actions to people because they view me as being "silly" or "overdramatic."
I'm ashamed when I hear people make reference to a condition as though it were just some sort of personality trait.
If I can achieve anything throughout mental health awareness week, I hope I can help to open people's eyes, hold people's tongues and widen people's understanding.
Don't be ignorant with your basic knowledge of pop psychology. Don't throw my condition around lightheartedly in conversation.
Don't underestimate just how challenging, inconsistent and incomprehensible this illness can be.
Instead, understand that we are constantly fighting a battle with ourselves. On the outside we are parents, colleagues, cousins, friends. We may be chatty, funny, friendly, silly. We may not. Some of us wear disguises. Some of us don't. We are unable.
But before you take that quiz. Before you throw out a casual statement, remember we are people fighting real battles. And we need a few more people on our side.