Tuesday, 25 November 2008

[TMI] Depression

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago (on the 14th) and then never did anything with it. I probably thought noone wanted to hear what I had to say so I just saved it and ignored it. But I've decided to publish it anyway. If you're not interested you can just not read it.

I'm just thinking out loud here because I feel the need to communicate and I'm not fond of communicating with people in my own life. How depressing is that? This isn't a Serious Blog Post (tm) but a Me and My Messed Up Head Post.

Sometimes I wonder if I am depressed. I get paranoid that, all those years ago when I had The Year That Wasn't (when I slept all days most days, didn't go out very often and only then to 4 places that I had deemed safe and only by routes that I had deemed ok, didn't really want to see anyone, etc) and my GP offered me anti-depressants that I should have said yes. But I said no. Because I thought that they just masked symptoms and because the few friends I had who had been on them spent large portions of their time talking about how they really wanted back on them, and that sounded unhealthy to me. Also, I was an idiot back then. I'm trying to not be an idiot so much nowadays.

I've been researching for a new thing I wanted to do both for this blog and also because I just plain wanna know. I wanna know what services are available for people/women in Scotland to help them when they are in crappy situations and want out of them. I intend on making list posts here so that I always have the information at hand and also because I have in the past been in a situation where I or a friend could have used help and I want to know what to do in that situation should it happen again. Look at me, conscientious community member.

During my wanderings round charities and help-sites I found the Depression Alliance which, so the website tells me, is "the leading UK charity for people with depression". Being me and me being a person who constantly does all those stupid online tests about depression and neurosis and so forth I couldn't help but click and have a look. There's a section on "What is Depression" and in it comes this:

Here is a list of the most common symptoms of depression. As a general rule, if you have experienced four or more of these symptoms, for most of the day nearly every day, for over two weeks, then you should seek help.

* Tiredness and loss of energy
* Persistent sadness
* Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
* Difficulty concentrating
* Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting
* Undue feelings of guilt or worthlessness
* Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
* Sleeping problems - difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual
* Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends
* Finding it hard to function at work/college/school
* Loss of appetite
* Loss of sex drive and/ or sexual problems
* Physical aches and pains
* Thinking about suicide and death
* Self-harm

I have had all of those symptoms. I have had all but the last two for the last few weeks acutely. I'm getting no work done, when I try I feel overwhelmed and hopeless even though I know intellectually I can do it, I just don't quite feel up to the task. Sleep is a source of endless misery for me and for the last few weeks I've been sleeping as much because I didn't want to see anyone as because I was just tired. I always ache, sometimes more than others, I've this persistent headache at the moment that just doesn't want to go away, but I always put that down to just being fat. The third one "Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem" seems inaccurate because I don't remember ever having either.

Actually the self esteem thing has been coming up alot of late. I was at a training session yesterday about presentation skills and part of my feedback indicated that I needed to stop being so self-deprecating and uncertain- even if I'm just pretending.

This is where the entry ended. Clearly I must have wandered away. I remember writing the entry and I was feeling particularly crappy that day (BTW, I have to say I think the Depression Alliance Scotland's Look Ok... Feel Crap? campaign has an awesome title). I was crying at nothing and I wanted to go to bed but didn't see the point since I wouldn't sleep anyway and... it was bad so I'm not surprised that the entry wasn't finished or posted. I'm actually quite surprised how well it reads.

Anyway, to finish the post:

My supervisor has banned me from being self deprecating (she's already banned the phrase "if that makes sense"). My ex-support worker (the provision ended) suggested self-esteem and confidence building courses. Even my mother gets annoyed at me for the constant put downs (of myself).

Which is really beside the point, the point being that I wonder if I am depressed. I wonder if I should be medicated, even though my track record with remembering to take my meds is irritatingly low and my trust of meds is lower still. I am starting CBT next week, and when I told the woman I was cynical about the whole thing she asked if that was me or if that was the trauma talking- the trauma being Asshole- and we realised, or I realised, that I really have no memory of who I was or how I was or of there being a pre-Asshole time. Asshole occurred too early in my development and I don't know if there is anything about me that isn't tainted by him, including whether or not I am depressed because, truth be told, I've been having episodes like this month (I've largely not gone out, not interacted with anyone, not done anything this month- I'm starting to get out of it this week but I'm still a bit... prone to feeling like crying over nothing) for as long as I can remember. So perhaps, if these episodes are evidence of depression, or are depression, I've actually been depressed for as long as I can remember too.

Lots of perhaps and maybes and I don't knows in there. I'm going to try this CBT stuff and if it works great, and if it doesn't then we'll try something else. I'm sick of feeling this crap allmost of the time.
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Friday, 14 November 2008

UK gender pay gap widens

From The Guardian

The pay gap between men and women has widened over the past year to stand at 17.1%, official figures out today showed.

The Office for National Statistics said that the difference in earnings of women and men in full-time employment rose by 0.1% over the year. For part-timers, the gap increased to more than 36%.

I'd like to say I'm surprised but I'm not. I'm more surprised about the fact that this article was buried right at the bottom of the UK page and the stressing, within the article, that it would be bad for men now that men were being laid off by the financial crisis. No "it's bad because it's unfair to penalise a whole group of people for just being biologically different" but rather "it's bad because it might cause problems for the menfolk and we all know they're the important ones here." FTBS

In related news:

The UK has fallen lower down the world league table on gender equality for the third year running, and is now ranked 13th out of 130 countries in terms of women's pay and work opportunities, political power, health and education.

Last year Britain came 11th in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index, while in 2006 it held 9th place.

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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Things That Piss Me Off, Part The Third.

False Advertising

It's a new season. I like to look at clothes and pretty pretty underwear. Because I like wearing things that are pretty. So I go to Evans Online, Evans being about the only store I can walk into and everything in it I can wear (whether or not I would wear it is a whole other ballgame)... or at least it used to be that everything in it I could wear because, apparently, they've decided they're not stocking pretty bras in my size anymore.

But it's worse than that because of how they advertise their bras on their website:

I've marked on the picture what my problem is. In the top right hand corner of the picture that leads you into the different sections of bras it says "Bras available in sizes 38-50, cups B-H" which fills you (or at least me) with happiness because at least two of the bras they've chosen to showcase here I kinda like. But, here's the thing, none of those bras there actually go up to the 50H size. The multiway goes up to a 46E, the babydoll 46F (the matching bra in the range also only goes up to this size), the basque is either a 42G or a 48E in sizes, while the plain old boring white one goes up to a 40F. These sizes are based on what their own website says they go up to. And not one of them would fit me.

Going into the matching set section because, and I repeat, I like pretty things and I especially like pretty things that have matching other pretty things, there are nine bras with matching knickers and one bra (the one I've mentioned already) that has a matching babydoll, knickers and suspender belt. I really like that last set, but, as I said, can't have. Of these ten sets there are two that I can have there is the Black bra with gorgeous silver floral embroidery. and Beautiful black co-ord bra with teal embroidered detail. The teal one's alright I guess but it's not the black one with sparkly bits or the pink sparkly one or the other black sparkly one. (I know that's not all of them but I don't like the other ones.)

The thing that really gets me, however, is that a couple of months ago I could buy any of the bras on Evans website- not the basques or the babydolls or the corsets but the bras I could have- but now, a couple of months later, they've decided that I'm not to be catered for. I have bought matching sets from them before. I have bought matching sets with suspender belts before. I've tried on a multiway bra that actually fit but now I need to loose 2 inches off my back and go down 2 cup sizes to be able to even try on the multiway bra... and that's not even taking into account that I had to go up one backsize and a cupsize to get the old multiway to fit. But now, apparently, I'm not allowed the option to buy one.

Evans has been, for me, the only place I could get clothes that weren't hideous either in style of price. It has been the only place I could get underwear and sleep wear that wasn't boring and unattractive. I felt betrayed when they started stocking smaller sizes but I let it go because they still stocked clothes in my size. I felt annoyed when the clothes became less well made, when manufacturing flaws became the norm and when the clothes started falling apart quicker because they have been fine with exchanges up to this point. But now they're taking away products that before I was allowed, and that just makes me furious.

But, you know what, I have to keep shopping there. Because there's nowhere else.
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Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Scottish Government wants women to use more Long Term Contraceptives.

Women using contraception will be asked to try alternatives to the pill under plans to cut the number of unwanted pregnancies in Scotland.

The government will run a campaign next spring to highlight longer-lasting and more reliable forms of contraception.

Under the strategy, women are to be offered coils, implants and injections. BBC News: 10/11/09

The Scottish government announced yesterday that they will be running a campaign to persuade more women to use longer lasting forms of contraception in order to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies- or, more importantly it seems, given its repeated highlighting in the various news items, abortions of which there were 13,000 in 2007. And the ages of the women with the highest rate of abortion? 16-19. It will be suggested to women between 18 and 40 who are already on the Pill. Does anyone else see a problem with trying to reduce abortions by not targeting the women most likely to be having abortions? And that doesn't help at all with the 300+ girls below the age of 16 having abortions. I hope (I'd like to say assume but I'm not that optimistic) that along side this initiative there will be another targeting younger people (note the people here- it takes two to fertilize an ovum).

The options that will be suggested:

Long-term contraceptives which could be encouraged include Depo Provera, a hormone injection which lasts for three months, and Implanon, a small rod inserted under the skin in the arm which releases a hormone over three years.

Another option which can last for up to five years is Mirena, a small T-shaped implant which is inserted into the womb and releases a hormone.The Daily Record: 10/11/09

Interestingly only The Herald seems to mention that there have been critics of the scheme, although only in regards to suggesting older women should go on it because of the extended reduced fertility that these options have for women even after they stop having the injections/being implanted/having strange objects lodged inside them. Confusingly, the Herald's article also states that "This latest bid to improve sexual health will focus on improving safe sex, particularly among gay and bisexual men, and the first stage of the campaign next spring will tackle the taboo that still surrounds discussions about sexual health and habits." which makes very little sense since nowhere else in either this article or the other newspapers are social groups other than women of childbearing age even mentioned. Is this rolling out of contraceptive advice just part of a wider scheme? I tried to find something on the Scottish Government's website but my searches produced nothing.

What struck me about this scheme regarding contraception is how biased it is towards women being the sole person responsible for contraception. There's no mention of educating men to wear condoms so as to not accidentally knock up the woman they're sleeping with. No! Because, as we are all fully aware, men don't need to take responsibility for what happens to their sperm- sperm? what's that got to do with pregnancy- it's just the stupid, forgetful, possibly slutty, women who are the only ones that should be thinking about these things. FTBS.

Also, looking up the options being suggested (on Wikipedia, I know, really should find better research sources) reveals problems all of their very own.

Depo Provera can reduce fertility for up to 18 months after the last injection was given. The longer you are on Depo-Provera the more likely you are to suffer from bone density loss which can lead to osteoporosis. It is unknown whether this loss is irreversible. In the states the FDA recommends that women should not be on Depo-Provera for more than two years. Which is a lot of good for women who go on it at the age of 18. Furthermore, based on what I have heard from family members, Doctors do not always seem to be aware of this side effect leading to women who are at risk from loss of bone density- in this case due to an intolerance for dairy- to have been onDepo-Provera for over five years, only becoming aware of the bone density problem when researching for themselves. Are the government going to ensure that the doctors prescribing this medication are aware of the side effects and take it into account?

Implanon has, as a problem, the fact that, if implanted by an inexperienced clinician, nerve damage can occur and also, if misplaced, it doesn't work. If it breaks it can be hard to remove and scar tissue forming around it can also cause problems. Although, other than that, there doesn't seem to be any major problems (besides the normal types of side effects: fucked up periods, migranes, increased anxiety etc). Fertility returns quickly after it has been removed and it can be removed at any time. However, the Wiki page seems quite slight and the information leaflet provided has lots of "It is not known" which indicates that more research may still be needed. The leaflet also mentions that it can cause cysts on the ovaries that may require surgery. Fun.

Mirena "can only be fitted by a qualified medical practitioner" as it is going into the womb and we don't want any yucky bacteria or accidents when playing in there. The cervix needs to be dilated in order to have the IntraUterine System installed... installed sounds like an unfortunate word choice but can't think of the correct one... which in itself is often painful for women. Whether you get a local anesthetic or even just a couple of pain pills is, from the sounds of things, pot luck. It is also possible that this method does not actually prevent conception but rather prevents the fertilised egg from implanting so, if you beleive life begins at conception O_o then this may not be for you either. According to Wiki however noone knows how this bloody contraption works, just that it does. As for fertility, it can be left in for five years and after one year 80% of women are fertile again. It doesn't say what happens to the other 20%. There is also a rare but "potentially" dangerous risk of perforation of the uterine wall and damage to the other internal organs. Oh, and it's not a hundred percent, and if you get pregnant while it is still in there it can cause you to have a miscarriage.

Of course none of these methods (nor the Pill) prevents STDs (or STIs as they appear to be calling them these days). The fact that 300+ under 16s managed to have abortions in 2007 indicates that under 16 are having unprotected sex. Same with all the other age groups. So, surely, promoting condom use would be more useful than having women inject, implant or undergo minor surgery at the risk of their long term health?

And, you know what, with men being the group with the highest incidents of STDs/STIs, promoting condoms and MUTUAL responsibility for contraception might actually do the menfolks some good too.
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Monday, 10 November 2008

OK. I have to ask...

...how come every fat person that has 'magically' become thin and who is reported about in the news always had a terrible diet before they decided to 'grow up' and eat healthily and go to the gym?

In The Scotsman today there is an article about a woman who went from a size 26 (UK dress size) to a size 8 in three years. What gets me is she apparently started at a size smaller than I am now and at the time she her diet included "snacking on countless biscuits and eating two desserts a night" and she "found it hard to walk short distances and was embarrassed to travel on public transport." In order to lose weight she just (just!?) changed her diet and hired a personal trainer. Oh! to be able to afford a personal trainer. If I could just do that all would be alright with my world.

Fuck off.

The point of this is not to slag off a woman who has done an incredibly hard thing, and capitulated to society's requirement for women to be a size 8 and I wish her the best in keeping it off and with being happy, but instead to ask... how come every fat person in the media has to have a bad diet? How come every fat person in the media has to have had no exercise and to have been unable to walk? How come every fat person who the media talk about has to have been miserable? I am a fat person. I eat plenty of fruit and veg. I rarely eat dessert (mainly because I don't care to have them all the time and when I'm out I can feel the disapproval... depending on who I'm with). I do eat biscuits, but not countless ones. Sometimes, instead of biscuits, I eat dried fruit sticks- healthy and delicious. I go to and participate in dance classes on a regular basis. I am a quite snazzy dancer. I walk everywhere (although I do use public transport if I'm going somewhere in a rush). And, yes, I am frequently miserable but that is less to do with my weight and more to do with my family, my lack of money, my confusion over my life path, my self-doubt and low self esteem, and my isolation at working from home.

So how come the media and the press insist that it is just being fat that makes people (women... how often do you hear about some brave and marvellous man who lost half his body weight in three years?) miserable?

Wait! I know the answer to this! It's because we deserve to be miserable for daring to not be conventionally attractive be female be fat. Because fat is bad. And fat people= bad/lazy/stupid people. I declare this Bull Shit and I repeat: Fuck off!

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Sunday, 9 November 2008

This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me.

Rape Crisis Scotland are running a campaign called This In Not An Invitation To Rape Me (click for the link). It's a poster campaign with four different strands: Dress, Intimacy, Drinking and Relationships. In their own words

"This campaign is targeted specifically at public attitudes to rape which blame women for rape, and is focused on four main myths: a woman raped while wearing revealing clothing is to blame for leading someone on; a woman raped after consuming alcohol is to blame for not considering her own security; a woman raped after consenting to any level of sexual activity is to blame for ‘giving mixed signals’; and finally that women can’t be raped by their husbands or partners." From the Factsheet

It is backed up by a website packed with the myths, the facts, the impact, as well as images, a quiz and details regarding the law- and details regarding where you can get help should you have experienced sexual violence. The 'fun' (and by fun I mean infuriating) facts that are highlighted on the website include:

1. "A survey of 986 Scots carried out by TNS System Three in February 2008 for the Scottish Government found that 27% thought that a woman bore some responsibility if she wore revealing clothing." Dress

2. "Almost a quarter (23%) of the broad cross-section of the Scottish population (700 interviewees) who took part in research carried out by Progressive on behalf of Rape Crisis Scotland in August 2007 believed that women contribute to rape if they have engaged in some form of sexual activity." Intimacy

3. "In 2002 the UK Home Office published the findings of a British Crime Survey to which 6,944 women had responded. Nearly half (45%) of rapes reported to the survey were committed by perpetrators who were victims’ partners at the time of the attack. Strangers were responsible for only 8% of rapes reported to the survey" Relationships

4. "Research conducted by Amnesty International in 2005 found that 28% of people believe that a woman is totally or partially responsible if she is drunk" Drinking

The billboard that I have personally seen has the wedding picture that I have put into this entry. I think the inclusion of marital/partner rape is a really powerful one because I feel that it is the one that is forgotten about most easily. Hell, it only became illegal in this country in 1989 (according to Wikipedia marital rape became illegal (hell, recognised as possible) in England and Wales in 1991). Another 'fun' fact I found out on the campaign website.

In Scotland the rape conviction rate is only 2.9% (with, according to The Scotsman, "huge regional variations in the proportion of cases that end up in court, from 19 per cent in Dumfries and Galloway to 1.7 per cent in Tayside."). To my mind that means that 97.1% of women who report rape to the police are legally found to be lying, just plain wrong, responsible for what happened to them or that their claims are unprovable. Now I'm not saying that every woman who goes to the police is telling the truth (although, given what I know about the way women who claim to have been raped are treated by the police, the courts, the press and the rest of the fracking world I would be very surprised if the number of false claimants wasn't very, very, very, exceedingly small- reporting rape is traumatic in and of itself) but I do think that a 97.1% conviction rate is terrible and that, with the conviction rate in England being around 6% we are seriously letting ourselves down as a country (what, should I not play on old Scotland v England prejudices?) not to mention as a society of supposed human beings.

This campaign is a result of this information regarding the conviction rate coming to light back in August of this year. More importantly, the Scotsman reported in that original article that

"The Crown Office has carried out a detailed review into rape prosecution, while the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland undertook its own investigation.

Both produced a list of recommendations which are being implemented. For example, about 500 prosecutors and fiscal-service staff are undertaking specialist training to boost the chances of rapes being successfully prosecuted." Source

Retraining sounds like a good thing for all involved. Undoing the social conditioning that insists that men can't help themselves, women lie and women should do more to protect them (i.e. that sometimes she asks for it) I think would be more useful. And that's where this campaign comes in.
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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Things That Piss Me Off, Part The Second

The Pictures That Are Used To Illustrate Obesity News Stories.

We've all seen them, the unflattering pictures of fat people with their heads chopped off and that end mid thigh. If heads are visible the person is invariably miserable, or eating, or both.

[Image is of fat woman sitting down with no head and no legs below the knee. I assume they are pictured sitting down in order to remind people how lazy fat people are.]

I typed "obesity" and "uk" into Google new search and saved the pictures of people that came up (I didn't save the ones that were of boxes of pills). The majority of these pictures relate to the anti-obesity drug that was pulled by the EMEA last week after it was linked to a number of suicides and to depression. I'm sure, from the pictures being used to illustrate this story, the chemical effect of the drug wasn't the only thing helping to make these fat people depressed- the way they (or obese people in general) are shown in the media really doesn't help.

Below the cut is the rest of the pictures that I pulled from the net and links to where I got them from.

The BBC in particular seem determined to remind us that we should be monitoring ourselves, but that we're greedy (and not worth faces apparently, backs of heads only!)

And talking of self monitoring:

(Is it just me that wants to caption that first picture: "Measuring: You're Doing It Wrong!"?)

There are just two more images that I pulled from the search. The first is actually of a face that doesn't look particularly happy or unhappy to me but who I have no idea who it is of. The fact that it has a face on it makes me think it can't be just a random person:

While the second is a cartoon of a fat man dropping a pill into his mouth which looks like it is going to go into the mouth of the smaller, thinner man inside him. Because, as we all know, inside every fat person is a thin person dying to get out, or, alternatively, that a fat person isn't actually a person, the fat is, what, a mask? That a fat person can't be considered an actual person until they are no longer fat? FTBS.

And the links:[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]
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