Thursday, 18 May 2017

Seeing Grey Again

I sometimes find myself thinking that I was not made for this world. I had a good run after my last bout of depression. With help via CBT, I climbed higher than I thought possible. I worked hard and graduated from my undergraduate degree with a respectable final mark, applied and got accepted for a Masters degree in the top 12th university in the UK. I climbed the ladder in a local political party and stood as a candidate in the local elections last year coming 2nd. Became very comfortable speaking and listening to strangers. Made new friends, took down some defences. I even gave speeches publically. But of course it didn’t last... I think I did pretty well.

What I feel right now is as though I am once more on a dinghy somewhere in the middle of an ocean, surrounding me is not salty water but heavy, sticky oil, and it has managed to cover almost everything around me and it will get to me, no matter how hard I try to avoid it. The inevitability of it all is starting to make me feel hopeless. I know that rather than avoiding it, it is a waiting game.

Through this dark time, what I have managed to accomplish is get help- within a week of self-referring, I have managed to get an initial appointment with a therapist to go through what’s happening and the best way to help me. It doesn’t really matter about who or how I got here, the best thing I did was get away from the catalyst or the root of my anguish, and I recognised that I was going off the deep end.

It isn’t easy to accept that you’re mental health has deteriorated once again, especially if you have had help in the past. It really doesn’t matter what other people think, because we will never truly know what they think. This idea of bringing shame and feeling shame should not be connected to our mental well-being- something we have little control over, especially when put in pressurised and stressful situations. Learn to recognise when the black dog starts to show, ask for help, don’t ignore it for too long. And definitely don’t medicate on alcohol- it makes things worse (been there, done that). If you feel too scared or embarrassed to go alone, get someone to go with you. I self-referred myself online on Sunday afternoon, I got a call today to have an initial appointment on Monday. It’s that easy.

Sen x

Get in touch with me:
You can find me on:
Twitter: @senlanoire

Saturday, 21 January 2017

A Speech that Never was

So I got asked to give a speech at the Cambridge Stand Up To Racism event which was earlier today called Celebration of Diverse Cambridge. Unfortunately, due to feeling unwell, and my throat hurting, I realised after practicing out aloud, that I would not be able to give the speech. I went anyway and still marched alongside the people who were there, though feeling flushes of hot and cold and faint.

I feel so down for not having made the speech, and curse the cold for making me unwell to do so. But I still want to share the words that had I been well, would have said them with gusto and all the power I could muster. Having shared it on my own personal fb account, I think it only right to share it in this space that I have always tried to be honest in.


"Last year it was my first time standing as a candidate in the Cambridge City Council elections. It didn’t take long before a public figure said that I was there just to get minorities votes... as if I was some kind of a ploy… or that because of my heritage, only one section of society would vote for me. In that moment I felt so boxed in…. Not once had I thought that I was in anyway just representing one group of people… because not once in my time living in Cambridge had I been made to feel different.

When I spoke to people from different ethnic backgrounds, they said to me they didn’t always vote because they didn’t feel their councillors cared about them, they didn’t feel represented by them and they didn’t feel that they could relate with them…. And yet I was the one who would only get the minorities vote because of the colour of my skin and my heritage.

During my campaign, I also spoke to people who were hell-bent on convincing me that immigrants were the reason that everything was going wrong. When I would ask why… most of the time they would tell me that they read that in a newspaper or that they just knew…. They blamed immigrants for the long waiting lists at hospitals, and the NHS for falling apart. Of course, as per usual when I told them ….that my parents were immigrants- they would say- “O, but we don’t mean you”.

Thinking about last year… and all the things that have happened, I have come to realise that it would be easy to blame people or groups for their actions. But the real enemy in this situation is the establishment that has created policies that work against certain groups of people… the establishment that lets the media get away with hateful and discriminatory reporting… and the establishment that has created an education system that lies about the real history of the British Empire.

It’s the government that has created an education system that teaches children about World War 1 and 2 but not about the sacrifices of Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Gurkhas, the Polish and the many more. It is the government that has created a criminal justice system that is unfair towards Black and minority ethnics. It is the government that lets the media get away with their horrendous reporting of certain groups of people, blaming them for a whole hoard of things that our own government is too ashamed to admit is due to their own wrong doing.

When somebody says that someone like me can only represent one group of people, they are creating a division, making them all the more real. But if councillors are largely ignoring certain groups of people, they are responsible for the divisions they have already been created.

Now is not the time to shirk from uncomfortable subjects. We need to face them head on. We need to challenge concepts like, what does a typical Brit even look like? Rather than just blaming racists as if it’s just down to people and groups, we need to challenge the establishment and their irresponsible policies.

No one should be made to feel like they don’t belong here. For every racist attack… we need to ensure our status quo of living in harmony stays intact. I’m proud to live here and call Cambridge my home. We need to ensure everyone has this positive experience, no matter what their mother tongue is, what their struggles are- we have one common identity- to feel proud of living with each other.

Thank you."

Even though I could not give this speech, I am thankful to Cambridge Stand to Racism for giving me this great opportunity. They helped to explore this issue further and though I don't go very deep into any of the topics in the manuscript, I researched and explored them thoroughly to come to these conclusions.In many ways, I feel like though I will continue to explore my identity, I have found some answers to some of my questions.

Until next time,
Sen x

Get in touch with me:
You can find me on:
Twitter: @senlanoire

Monday, 9 January 2017

Thinking Out Loud: Identity

Recently I have been thinking about my identity, and where I stand in the grand scheme of things. I am not the first person to explore this and I won't be the last. It is especially an issue for people who are 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc generation children of immigrants. On the one hand, we have our identity at home that is very much based on our ethnicity while on the other hand, outside of the home and away from our family we have another. Normally, people can juggle both and while some may have qualms about the interchanging identities, mine is a little bit different to that.

I fully understand that 'I can be whoever I want to be'. I have been wrestling with this for a while but feel things have changed recently. In some ways I feel that the day I ran away from home (fortress) was also the day I lost my identity as a Punjabi. I mourned for it for a very long time. It was a few years back that instead of letting it slip away, I realised that despite what I may think of myself and humiliate myself by calling myself a 'coconut', others would always see that just because of my skin colour I am always going to be different. I also realised that my family did not have the keys to my identity, that I did. Throughout this time I struggled to find my place, and in some ways, thanks to my mother, I became the hermit within my relatives, who though I hardly ever saw, still asked after me. This in a way created a space for me in that universe. This also meant that I could be a Punjabi again, and I was able to decide what that meant for me. I was so lost for such a long time, surrounded by people who did not know who I was that even I forgot who I was. It was the most bland point in my life.

Now I look at my identity and think that to some extent, the foundations are already laid- my skin colour already gives me some sense of identity, though I don't carry a mirror around to see or notice that I am different to other people. But I can't help but think that some people have it easier that others- in regards to identity- than others. What is a typical British person? And what is a typical Indian person? What do they look like?

For years I thought that I had to assimilate myself into the British culture (whatever that is), that for other people if I pretended to be British, they will be at ease, but then I realised that I am also Punjabi and by trying to put others at ease, they have not bothered to learn about the beautiful culture I come from. When I was in Punjab over a year ago, though my punjabi was very well received and I was complimented for it, my outlook and perception of the world were accused of being too British. Some of those close to me haven't bothered to learn a single thing about my Punjabi culture. They may be doing this because they don't want to come across politically incorrect but by ignoring someone's identity is a huge problem too. The other day I was told that if I am British then I have to respect the Queen! I think that's when I decided to break away from the charade once again.

I am meant to be giving a speech on Celebrating Diversity in Cambridge on 21st January and realised that I really need to figure out quite a lot of stuff before I can do that.

So hopefully this can mean that I can now work out other things and before I know it- I can be that little bit more wise and clear on the message I need to give come the day I stand in front of people. I hope to give a message of hope and something constructive. Let's hope I do that!

Until next time,
Sen x 

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