The challenges and urgency of articulating depression, by @AliyaMughal1

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 08.08.44How do you characterise something that since the dawn of mankind has proved excruciatingly difficult to grasp and define, by the people who simultaneously know it best and yet are also rendered incapable of understanding it?


The full article is available here.

Aliya MughalI’m a dedicated follower of wordsmithery and wisdom in its many guises. Reader, writer, storyteller – if there’s a thread to follow and people involved, I’m interested. I’ve built my life around words, digging out the stories that matter and need to be told – about science, feminism, art, philosophy, covering everything from human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, to famine and the aid game in Rwanda, to how the intersection of art and science has the power to connect the disparate forces of humanity with the nanoscopic forces of our sacred Earth. Find me @AliyaMughal1

The Production of Monsters, at The Not Me

Cross-posted from: The Not Me
Originally published: 04.09.14

In 1977, my grandparents took me and my sisters to the top of the Empire State Building. I can remember being annoyed by all the waiting in line just to ride the elevator to the observation floor. We probably spent more time waiting to board that elevator than we spent viewing the view. Still, when our turn came around and after the elevator finally reached the 102nd floor, I burst out of the doors to see what all the fuss was about. Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 08.41.13

At first, I was too distracted with taking in the view to notice that my grandpa was not with me. When I turned back to search for him, I saw that he had parked himself close to the elevators away from the windows and the view. I called to him, “Grandpa, you gotta come see this.” “No thanks,” he replied “I’m good here.” “Pretty please,” I pleaded. This time he just smiled at me as he shook his head, still refusing to budge.  ….

The full text of The Production of Monsters is available here. 

The Not MeIn school, my art work was about the construction of gender, conflicting female identities, fairy tales, and cognitive dissonance (images at


Creativity as therapy, by @rae_ritchie_

Cross-posted from: Rae Ritchie
Originally published: 04.04.18
Creativity_Primary.jpegThe BBC’s Get Creative festival is a welcome attempt to encourage participation in pastimes that are proven to support wellbeing, as mental health practitioners have long recognised.

With its gentle piano music and lingering shots of hands working pins and needles, MAKE! Craft Britain could only be a BBC Four documentary.

MAKE! Craft Britain was a three part series featuring craft novices trying activities such as rug-making, letter-pressing, silver jewellery making and cross stitch (all three episodes are available in the UK on the BBC I-Player).

Few other television channels would risk such long scenes without any narration or dialogue for fear that the audience would drift away.  ….


The full text of this article is available here. 


Rae Ritchie:  I blog mainly about history and women’s magazines, with more creeping in on contemporary magazines than I’d expected, and most definitely consider myself (and my writing) to be a feminist.

The Killing STATE of #Tory Britain, by @JayneLinney

Cross-posted from: Jayne Linney
Originally published: 23.02.18

More than 100 women in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre have gone on hunger strike over “inhumane” conditions at the facility.” This is a situation beyond despair, the last time I could find multiple women forced into going on hunger strike was in Northern Ireland in 1980/81 with three Irish women starving themselves to death. Before then we have to return to a Century ago; what have the three times in common – Tory Governments.

I’m making no judgement as to why these women were incarcerated, although Asylum seekers and other migrants are imprisoned without committing crime; nor am I suggesting all of the women are innocent. But I am committed to the idea people do NOT enter the ‘Justice system’ to DIE. 
Read more The Killing STATE of #Tory Britain, by @JayneLinney

Emily’s inquest ends: time for change, by @newsaboutwomen

Cross-posted from: Women's Views on the News
Originally published: 06.03.18

WIP2020 Campaign, INQUEST, Corston Review, change, women in prison“Nothing has changed … everyone promises, it’s delivering that counts.”

On 1 February 2018 the inquest into the self-inflicted death of 21 year-old Emily Hartley at HMP New Hall in 2016 concluded.

She was the youngest of 22 women to die in a women’s prison that year; 2016 saw the highest annual number of deaths on record.

And the evidence at the inquest raised serious issues about the decision to place Emily in prison.

Read more Emily’s inquest ends: time for change, by @newsaboutwomen

How reading helps me to self soothe, by @rae_ritchie_

Cross-posted from: Rae Ritchie
Originally published: 05.02.18

Rae Ritchie explores the power of reading and how it can help us to manage our emotions … 

By this point in the calendar, most of us have given up on any resolutions that we were attempting, especially if it’s one of the perennial statements such as ‘Get fit’ or ‘Lose weight’.

I’m not an advocate of New Year resolutions, but in 2017, I decided I wanted to read more.  In particular, I wanted to read more books (like most people, I already spend more than enough time reading my phone!).

A passion for reading

For once, I was successful.  Over the twelve months, I read forty-four books, each recorded on a dedicated Pinterest board.

A dormant passion for the written word, long quashed by a misplaced belief that reading for work purposes somehow sufficed, was reignited.  …


This article was first published by Mental Health Today. You can find the full article here.



Rae RitchieI blog mainly about history and women’s magazines, with more creeping in on contemporary magazines than I’d expected, and most definitely consider myself (and my writing) to be a feminist. @rae_ritchie_



Cross-posted from: Feimineach
Originally published: 28.12.17

Imagine for a moment that the only option you have to escape daily violence is life on the streets.

That’s the reality millions of women across America face every day. In fact, 50% of all homeless women report that their homelessness stemmed from acts of domestic violence so severe their only options were to stay and die or leave and face homelessness.

Homelessness stemming from domestic violence is not discussed as frequently as it should be, but it’s one of the most pressing women’s issues of our time, as resources for fleeing women are scarce and access to medical care and food are constantly dwindling.

On being one of the #hiddenhalf at We Mixed Our Drinks

Cross-posted from: We Mixed Our Drinks
Originally published: 17.07.17


“Some professionals just ask are you coping, are you OK? And think that is all they need to ask but this is a very closed question and too easy for a woman just to say yes when she could be crying out for someone to notice her or help her.” 
New research from the NCT has found that around half of new mothers’ mental health issues don’t get picked up by a healthcare professional. Consequently, the organisation has launched a new campaign – Hidden Half – to raise awareness and push for better postnatal care that will identify and treat more cases of postnatal depression (PND) and associated conditions. A key focus of the campaign is making sure the existing checkup that takes place six weeks after giving birth looks at the mental health of mothers – something that doesn’t always currently happen.
I want to talk about my own experiences in the wider context of postnatal mental health issues developing later on, after those first few weeks following the birth. I want to do this because I know from personal experience that it’s easy to dismiss symptoms when they’re not what you think PND looks like, when you’re busy and when very few people take the time to ask. I’ve never written about this in detail before, but having done a lot of processing of my experiences over the past few years having come to the point of understanding much more about how to practice good self-care, I’m hoping it will be useful, in some way, to at least someone.

Read more On being one of the #hiddenhalf at We Mixed Our Drinks

I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THERAPY. by @thewritinghalf

Cross-posted from: The Writing Half
Originally published: 13.12.16

Your teeth hurt badly, you go to the dentist. Your back’s killing you, maybe the osteopath or perhaps the chiropractor. Some other physical pain: probably the GP. And when your mind is troubling you?


carrie-in-therapyNo matter that the Sex and the City girls – and everyone else in Manhattan – were going to therapy way back in 1999, it’s still not a likeable answer for many of us in 2016.


Carrie and her friends, just like me, are in the social bracket that generally have a more positive attitude to getting professional help when our minds get ill: caucasian, female, 20s-30s, culturally assimilated, educated.

Just like Carrie and her friends, I’ve done the therapy thing. Four rounds of it to date, in fact. 
Read more I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THERAPY. by @thewritinghalf

9 Signs you may be living with childhood trauma – and what you can do about it via @WomanAsSubject

Cross-posted from: Woman as Subject
Originally published: 04.09.16

After I left home at 18, it took me a while to figure out that I was damaged. I had assumed my upbringing was normal and had no idea that I had spent years being traumatised by the violence and abuse I suffered at the hands of my father (which you can read more about here). I first discovered the concept of therapy at University when a friend recommended I went along. Talking about your problems was not something that working class people did and I don’t think I had any idea what counselling was. 20 years later, and I’m a qualified counsellor and have been working with trauma for many years. In the process I’ve learnt much about both the immediate and long term effects of childhood trauma and have unwittingly discovered a lot about myself.

Experiencing a single traumatic event such as an accident or the death of a parent may lead to the development of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which you can read more about here, but this article is more concerned with what happens when you are repeatedly exposed to traumatic events as a result of living in a violent or abusive home. This can cause you to live with the effects of complex developmental trauma which may become so embedded that you consider them a part of your personality. You may be experiencing the effects of complex trauma without realising. You may even have been told that you have a personality disorder (borderline or schizoid) which might add to the feeling that there is something wrong with you. 
Read more 9 Signs you may be living with childhood trauma – and what you can do about it via @WomanAsSubject

When Friends Forget You’re Still Alive- the life of a sick person

Cross-posted from: bottom face
Originally published: 04.07.16

Every day I lie in bed. The TV chatters in the background telling stories I do not even listen to. The curtains swell like the sails of a yacht and the noises of the outside world drift in in a jazz breeze. Car doors slam, children holler and laugh, a mum scolds her child, a lawn mower hums in the distance. The noises of lives lived, so unlike my own it’s almost absurd that they should be so near. And I lie and I half listen, and I drift in and out of sleep.

I barely see friends anymore. Too many invites unaccepted, so the invitations stopped. Too many stairs, and hills and bumpy pathways on the journeys once-upon-a –time-friends take. Mostly I’m alone. Yesterday I spoke to a friend I haven’t seen lately. She told me a dozen stories about people she’s spent time with whilst she was too busy to spend time with me. “We’re going camping this weekend. It was just going to be me and John, but then I invited Tracey, and then Gemma, and Sarah, and now it’s just grown into an event.”  I wonder whether it ever occurred to her to invite me. She keeps the tent that I own at her house as she has more room than we do. The deal being that she can use the tent whenever she needs to.

Read more When Friends Forget You’re Still Alive- the life of a sick person

Waves of Darkness at The Not Me

Cross-posted from: The Not Me
Originally published: 25.05.15

A wave of depression drenched me and left me to melt. Not quickly or entirely like the Wicked Witch of the West. I envy her. With her 30-second transformation, she gave everyone happy relief and permanent freedom.

I can’t tell if I’m melting really slowly, or if I will continue shrinking indefinitely, never quite reaching zero, like Zeno’s paradox. I want to believe the people who say things like “It’s only temporary,” or “Surely, it can’t last,” but I’ve been holding on for years now. When my clothes begin pooling around my teeny, tiny feet, will people still tell me to wait patiently?

I don’t feel soaked through every minute of every day. Sometimes, when I walk along the path near my house, I can feel the sun warming my cheeks, and I can see the light shining on the new growth of spring green fields. But when I try to grab hold of the brightness, to carry it with me beyond that moment, it almost always vanishes. Within seconds of looking at that fluorescent glow of spring, I begin to think of the pasty green face of that wicked witch and of all the similarities between us. I don’t believe I am malicious like she was, but I do feel like an obvious outsider coated in abnormal, sallow skin, unable to blend in and function the way good people can. With my cold heart, I too am unsatisfied with the powers that I possess, unable to truly appreciate any of the wonders over or under the rainbow, and, worst of all, always bringing others down. 
Read more Waves of Darkness at The Not Me

The Voice in My Head at The Not Me

Cross-posted from: The Not Me
Originally published: 15.10.15

I would wake up thinking: I shouldn’t be here. Warning alarms in my body and criticizing refrains in my head returned every day to remind me that I didn’t belong and I never would. I tried to shut off the alarms, to refute the refrains, but nothing that came to mind held meaning for me anymore.

Part of me could still imagine that the messages in my head might be wrong, but that thought did not stop the feelings. It didn’t even deter them. No matter what I told myself, regardless of all the medications I tried and despite decades of psychotherapy, the suicidal thoughts kept coming.

I had done all the things that a dutiful patient should. Somehow, though, I was still losing control over my life. As drug after drug failed, the only solace I had was the assumption that if things became truly unbearable, I could find an emergency exit. I reassured myself that suicide was always a possibility —a last resort —so I could feel a little less trapped.
Read more The Voice in My Head at The Not Me

Mental health and male privilege by @MurderOfGoths

Cross-posted from: Murder of Goths
Originally published: 16.06.15

This tweet popped up on my timeline, I was busy at the time, so I didn’t see the context or know about any twitter storm.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 23.36.52

It irritated me though, and I expected better from this particular person. So I responded and thought no more about it.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 23.37.29

I was a little surprised when I started to see tweets from Matt Haig pop up on my timeline complaining about being silenced and abused, and a lot of RTs (by him) of people calling out the feminists who’d responded negatively to him of being “not real feminists” or “looking for a fight” or, my personal favourite in this context, “crazy”.
Read more Mental health and male privilege by @MurderOfGoths

World Mental Health Day by Agoraphobic Feminist

(Cross-posted from Agoraphobic Feminist)

Originally posted October 2013

Since today is World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write something, since it’s been ages since I’ve actually blogged!

Also, on this day in 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst formed the Women’s Social and Political Union to fight for women’s rights in Britain – so today is doubly important!

I’m probably preaching to the converted here, considering someone who doesn’t relate to feminism/doesn’t have any interest in understanding mental health issues probably won’t be reading this blog, but I felt I had to write SOMETHING, at least.

I want to raise awareness of the crippling illnesses of depression, anxiety and agoraphobia.

Some may argue that as these illnesses aren’t ‘physical’, they aren’t debilitating – I argue that although these illnesses originate in the brain, and in the case of depression are mood disorders – they definitely DO have physical side-effects.

My agoraphobia prevents me from going outside, so I don’t get the benefits of exercise or the Vit D from sunlight that I badly need. This, coupled with the lack of motivation due to depression means that I’m also overweight because the majority of the time I can’t motivate myself to cook a healthy meal.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Being overweight adds to my depression because I look at myself in the mirror and consider myself too ugly to be seen in society.

Being overweight also makes me worry constantly about the pressures I’m putting my body under. Every minor symptom (e.g. palpitations, leg pain, headache) will be blown out of all proportion by my anxiety. I’ve had countless scans, tests etc. to check there’s nothing physically wrong with me. The doctors say I’m perfectly healthy. I don’t believe them.

Being unable to go out means that I can’t work unless it’s from home. This severely limits what I can do, and it contributes to my depression as there are so many things I NEED and WANT to do.

The majority of the time I get my family, my boyfriend, or my friends to do favours for me, with strains my relationships with people.

Recently my anxiety has decided to make me worry about the medication I’m taking, so I stopped taking it. I’m supposed to be taking 40mg fluoxetine and 20mg mirtazapine, with 5mg of diazepam when I need it.

I’m well-versed in the side-effects of fluoxetine, as I’ve been taking them on-and-off for years. The mirtazapine is another matter, though. I’m not even going to Google it, as I know I’ll end up reading the side-effects, or some anecdote from someone they didn’t work for, and be even less inclined to trust them.

I will be starting the medication again soon, as my family have said that I’m better off with it than without it. We’ll see.

Another thing I wanted to mention is the fact that there are no set targets for mental health treatment within the NHS, which is something that’s always confused me but I’ve never thought to bring up until I saw it mentioned on the news a couple of days ago.

The story was about a young woman with bulimia and anorexia who had been made to wait 18 months for treatment. Instead of waiting, she has taken her care into her own hands, which I completely admire, but it definitely shouldn’t be this way.

If you’re diagnosed with anything physical – from a broken ankle, to epilepsy, to cancer – you’re put on a set pathway that dictates what treatment you need, and there are set timeframes for when you need that treatment.

With mental health issues, this is, unfortunately, not the case most of the time.

Now, I understand that mental health issues vary greatly from person to person, but in my opinion it seems like a lot of healthcare professionals take a shot in the dark when it comes to diagnosing and treating mental health patients.

I’m still researching this, so I honestly don’t have all my facts yet. In my experience, though, every healthcare professional will bring their own opinions to the table when they decide how they want to treat you, which is very, very wrong as it has confused me and made me less inclined to trust healthcare professionals.

The item I saw on the news did state that there will be better guidelines come 2015 – but I worry about the people who will suffer badly between now and then, and those who have already suffered.

It’s not only the patients who will benefit from better guidelines, but healthcare professionals too, as they will be less inclined to include their own opinions, morals or beliefs when it comes to diagnosing and treating someone.

My intention is to join (or set up) some sort of pressure group, the main aim of which will be to see guidelines put in place a lot sooner than 2015, and to change the way things work right now.

Some may call me naïve, and I myself know I’m not the most educated person on the subject, but when I see people suffering, all I want to do is help.

If anyone has any ideas or opinions for me, please comment below or message me. I’d be really grateful.

Spread the word – it’s so important to keep the conversation about mental health going!

AF x

Agoraphobic Feminist: I’m a versatile freelance writer that suffers from depression and panic disorder with agoraphobia. My writing covers a wide range of issues including feminism, equality, social issues and mental health.” If possible, I would also like to include the following links: (@AtHomeActivist)

Feminism, Mental Health and Inclusion by @LUBottom

This post was written for A Room of our Own: A Feminist/ Womanist Network by @LUBottom.


I took part in a discussion with a few Twitter users (including @Roomofourown) the other day in which we spoke about the appropriation of the term “depressing” in a webchat about the effects of fourth wave feminism. This conversation took many meandering paths and we were pretty unanimous in our opprobrium of medicalised terms to discuss everyday experiences. We spoke, at length, about the myriad ways in which we, as women with disabilities, are erased from the discourse of mainstream feminism. On the one hand my instinct is to ignore the word “depressing” as something which has become deeply assimilated into our everyday conversations, but on the other I am aware of the hypocrisy of ignoring such terms whilst feeling offend by the use of other medical terms such as “schizophrenic” or “retarded” as adjectives for negative terminology.

My life has been full of a variety of tragic strands which, if sewn together, would make a large shroud. I have written about them on several occasions: my experiences as a person with disabilities, my fight against anorexia, my life as a survivor of rape, my battle against post-natal depression & my general feeling of being ostracised by the world, either because of my disability. Those who read my blog will be familiar with my life. But what I wanted to write about is my particular experience with depression and why I take issue with it being co-opted as a term to describe non-medical annoyance or frustration and why non-disabled feminists need to make more careful choices regarding the words they use.

I entered psychiatric inpatient care on a Sunday, much like any other, in July. There was nothing particularly special about that weekend, neither for the rest of the world nor for myself. It was by random chance that I had decided that that weekend would be my last. On the Friday I took a large dose of Valium, nothing happened, other than a long sleep and lost memories, and so on Sunday I decided I would give it a harder push and took an overdose of Baclofen, my muscle relaxant. I didn’t even get very far into this second overdose, due to the restrictions on my liberty (due to being a wheelchair user largely confined to bed), before the ambulance and police were called and so, before I could cause myself significant harm I was carted off to hospital. I don’t remember much of what happened next. But somewhere along the lines my indignation about my right to die led to me receiving a ticket to a psychiatric hospital.

When you first arrive for check in one of the first things they do is give you a physical medical, it was at that moment that a hidden truth was discovered: I hadn’t eaten in quite some time. I had fallen from a size 16 to a size 6 and the jutting ribs and sagging skin made alarm bells ring in the on call doctor’s head. It was from that moment on that the ins and outs of my body became public property. Scale reading after painful scale reading was meticulously recorded by the medical staff and weekly review meetings centred on whether they had convinced me to eat yet.

Every day a menu card was brought to me in my room and every day I would have to explain to another member of my medical team that “I don’t eat”. There is a painting by Max Ernst called Europe After the Rain, in it sits dozens of references to eyeballs watching the painter, signifying the paranoia during WWII. This painting perfectly exemplified the sensation of being watched which I experienced. In reality, my medical team were solely invested in keeping me alive but in the mind set I inhabited for that time they were the enemy who sought my destruction. All food was poison to me, a rotten carcass with detrivores spilling out of its remains.

Nurses, doctors were only seen on a weekly basis, tried to talk me out of my depression and desire to end my life. I was presented with classes in clay making, presented with dogs to pat, given sedating medications on my request, and een sent on long-spiralling guilt trips about my responsibilities to my children. Alas nothing would shift my desire to end my life. I was placed upon a course of drugs which I flouted by refusing some medications and, at other times, sneaking large amounts of laxative into my bedroom. My thirst for self-extinction was unquenchable.

I had no desire to do anything, and death occupied most of my thoughts. Indeed, the feeling of disconnection caused by starvation gave me cause for hope. No one could connect with me, because I inhabited a different plane: they were in the land of the living whilst I was somewhere nearer to death. Eventually the only thing which, ironically, sent me from my self-destructive course was the death of one of the most important people of my life. Though her death didn’t make me eat, it did stop me from being in a place of continual overdose. A desire to protect those I loved somehow caused a paradigm shift that I doubt I will ever truly understand.

When I think back to this time and compare it with my feelings about feminism the latter seems entirely ridiculous. How can something so desperate and soul destroying be used as a synonym for what equates to upsetting? That said, feminism does, quite literally depress me, specifically because of the way in which it makes women with mental illness and disabilities feel alienated and erased. The repeated instances of feminists using lazy and bungled ableist language need to end. Having a disability is already isolating, and presents women with more complex oppressions, feminists need to make a conscious effort to be more aware of these issues and seek to support their sisters. Perhaps the question of whether feminism is depressing wasn’t so silly after all.


bottomfacedotcom: proud owner of lady parts: Writes, makes vulvas, swears. Past caring. Home ed. Parent of child w/ ASD ADHD. Has ME & FMS. Lucy tweets at @LUBBottom. She also has an etsy page: Little Shop of Vulvas

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Hiding under the bed is not the answer