Growth – Art and Short Story – By Charlotte Farhan

Growth By Charlotte Farhan

Growth By Charlotte Farhan

 

Growth – A short story by Charlotte Farhan

 

Hope was a young woman who carried around sadness, as if it were a suitcase of old belongings she had lost the key for a long time ago. Hope wanted to be free of this baggage that weighed her down each day; wishing she could take flight as if she were a bird heading for warmer weather.

One day Hope felt a pressure in her head as if something was trying to escape, it pushed at her temples and made her ears pop. The feeling was excruciating and left hope feeling overwhelmed and scared. Suddenly something was in her mouth, it had made its way up her throat and was now sitting on her tongue as if it were a pill waiting to be swallowed. Instead she went to the mirror apprehensively and opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue, to her disbelief a perfectly intact leaf sat there, she reached into her mouth and carefully took the leaf out to examine. It was an ordinary leaf, from a tree or plant and it was a glorious green. Hope was very much perturbed by this turn of events, feeling very tired suddenly and still suffering from an intense headache, the only thing left to do was go to bed.

Upon waking the next morning after what felt like a years worth of sleep, Hope opened her eyes and could only see green; she wiped them and blinked repetitively, hoping it was just a dream. As the green came into focus she realised that she was surrounded by branches and on those branches grew leaves like the one she had found in mouth the night before. Hope was unable to move as she was in so much disbelief regarding these events before her. In an attempt to move her head in order to sit up, she felt trapped; her head was heavy and felt as if it was tied to her bead posts. Hope reached into her bedside cabinet and blindly hunted for a small hand mirror she knew was there, finally she found it and opened it up to see what was holding her down. When hope looked at her reflection she did not trust what she could see; it was surreal. Hope had somehow – overnight, grown branches out of her head, there was no blood or pain and the tree looked the healthiest she had ever seen a tree to be.

Hope was able to free herself from her bed and navigate her way to her bathroom, she washed her face and brushed her teeth, rustling around as the leaves touched. It was a struggle to get dressed as her head weight pulled her down – if she was not careful, but eventually she was ready to go outside. Hope lived in the middle of nowhere and had acres of land beyond her garden. This was a relief to Hope as the idea of seeing anyone right now filled her with dread as she didn’t know how she would explain her appearance. The aim she had in mind was to go to the woods and see if she could find a matching tree and maybe this would bring about some sort of explanation.

Hope ducked under her door frame and stepped outside into her garden, she looked around and the world seemed the same, nothing obvious had changed so she proceeded down her path to her gate. As Hope closed her gate and looked back at her little home she felt a sense of loss but couldn’t put her finger on why she felt this way. With no further thought she walked toward the woods and was determined to find answers.

The trees looked dense and there was a darkness – that you would think would fill you with fear, however it was inviting. As Hope approached the edge of the trees, she stopped and heard a noise and felt something moving about “up there” on her head, in her branches. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out the hand mirror she retrieved earlier and took a look to see what was going on. It was a beautiful bird, sat there looking at her; before she could think of what to do the bird started to sing. The most beautiful of melodies came out of this delightful creature, she felt calmer and prepared to carry on. Thinking to herself:

I shall name the bird Journey.

Hope and Journey entered the woods and manoeuvred their way through the trees, trying not to get her branches tangled with the foliage. Inspecting each tree she passed, looking at each leaf desperately trying to find answers to her predicament. All the while listening to Journey sooth her with song. Suddenly she heard a new tune and it was complementing Journey’s. Once again Hope got her hand mirror out and glanced to see what was happening. Another beautiful bird was sat up there harmonising with Journey. Now hope thought it only fair to name this bird too:

I shall name this bird Duality.

Hope, Journey and Duality continued on their path searching and singing together in perfect harmony. Suddenly a clearing appeared, it was a circular clearing with one lonely tree in the middle, it was huge and looked to be well over a hundred years old. It was so big you could build a small home in its trunk. Hope continued towards it and could see something glistening in the sunshine, it was hanging from the tree. As she approached it another beautiful bird flew down from the other tree and it too had something dangling from its mouth, it was a key. Both items were keys and before she could process what was happening the bird dropped the key into her hands and took a perch in her branches. Hope compared the two keys and they were the same except for their colour – one being blue and the other pink.

what could this mean?

Hope thought to herself.

The third bird joined in with the singing and looked at home with Journey and Duality. Hope put both keys in her pocket with her mirror and started to inspect the tree before her, the leaves were the same as hers, the branches were identical and the aroma was a perfect match. But how and why had this tree which naturally grew from the ground, also grown from Hope’s head and what were the keys purpose. This thought was so tiring and complex to understand, as nothing seemed real or based on the natural order of things, so Hope surmised that if and when she needed to know these things, they would unveil themselves to her in good time.

The third bird seemed to complete the harmony so exceptionally, the sound was enchanting, it made Hope feel less weighed down by her past and her sadness, it elevated her to a place which felt unlike any other, it was as if she had found her home. Not the kind of home she had left behind earlier, it was not that of bricks and mortar it was the sense that home existed inside her – meaning that she was always home and this feeling made Hope feel whole.

 Hope suddenly had a thought and said:

I shall call this third bird Transcendence.

This name felt fitting as this is what she felt upon meeting this bird and hearing the symphony this trio had created made her feel that she had gone beyond ordinary limitations. Hope sat beneath the tree and lay against it, with her branches touching the other tree’s, weaving herself into a comfortable position. Journey, Duality and Transcendence began to sing a slower melody, lulling Hope with a lullaby, soon she was asleep and the sun set. As Hope slept her branches curved around her creating a blanket of leaves and all three birds nuzzled into Hope and one another.

When Hope woke up the next morning she was alone and she felt different, she raised her hands to her head and all she felt was her hair and beneath it her head, simple skin and bone. It was a relief that she had returned to her normal state, however she was sad to loose her friends, Journey, Duality and Transcendence. When she stood up and turned to the tree she had laid under all night, she was shocked to find a door. In front of the door were three little parcels made out of leaves, one was filled with nuts and berries, the second was a cup shape with water and the third was a little growing bud, ready to be planted. Hope ate the berries and nuts, drank the water and carefully put the bud in her pocket, which is when she remembered she had two keys, she pulled them out and went to the door – but neither worked which perplexed Hope very much indeed. Then she had an overwhelming feeling that this door was not for her and she felt strongly that the blue key was the correct key, so she hung it on the door knob and decided to return home.

On Hope’s journey back she started to ponder what this all meant, knowing that her life had been filled with pain from her past she wondered if this was a wake up call from some kind of higher power – such as the force which aligns us and keeps the earth spinning, the sun rising and setting and the tides drawing in and out. Was it a window into the in between, with the duality of body and mind had she found the centre, the answer to – what are mental states and what are physical states? Had she experienced a mental state which took her to another world where trees growing out of heads, bird friends, keys, magical trees and little doors were the norm. Or were these things physically there, tangible and part of the order we know to exist, just undiscovered? Or possibly she had transcended, moving beyond physical needs and realities.

Before she knew it, Hope was at her gate and could see her little home which when she left yesterday she had felt such loss, today she felt excited to return home and be amongst the things she knew to be real. Once Hope had opened the gate and walked up the path she was met by a small trinket box with three beautiful feathers beautifully attached to it, as if they were a gift tag, she knew these patterns they were from her friends; Journey, Duality and Transcendence, this made Hope smile and she knelt down to open the box, inside was a tiny note which read:

Plant the bud, watch it grow – in dirt and darkness, watch it burst through to reach the light, tend to it, water it and even when nothing moves know that growth happens from within and one day you will have a tree which will nourish you with fruit and bring you shade when weary. This growth is part of you physically and mentally, it is your journey and being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge you have transcended from your past and hold the key to your future.

Hope felt a tear fall from her eye and she felt such relief, she reached into her pocket and got the pink key and placed it around her neck as a reminder of her lesson, she then hurried indoors to fetch her gardening tools so she could plant the bud. When she returned outside her three friends were all splashing away in the bird bath, chirping with delight. Hope knew this was the beginning of a new adventure and that there was no turning back.


If you enjoyed this story and like the artwork please leave a comment or question in the contact form provided:


 

Impairment of Autonomy – Art and Poetry By Charlotte Farhan

Impairment of Autonomy - by Charlotte Farhan

Impairment of Autonomy – by Charlotte Farhan


Impairment of Autonomy – by Charlotte Farhan

 

Is my mind my own

is it attached or detached

or am I simply a drone,

a body mismatched,

it feels like thought control,

a disturbance in beliefs,

torturous to my soul,

this pondering brings no relief.

Is my autonomy met with rationality,

does the honey bee blame the seasons,

does rain have any morality,

is it our brain which insists on reason,

are these rules totalitarian,

or am free to have objections,

this could be sectarian,

I am left with so many questions.

Feeling a pull within,

a whisper from nowhere,

a foreign body built in,

keeping me unaware,

is independence possible,

or is my autonomy impaired,

the shredding of self is unstoppable,

obeying the demands declared.


If you would like to leave any feedback or have any questions, please fill in this form:


Where are my human rights? Mental illness in the NHS

Over 3 weeks ago I wrote an open letter to the NHS and the Adult Mental Health Services:  https://charlottefarhanartactivism.com/2016/09/06/open-letter-to-the-mental-health-services-england-nhs/ Charlotte Farhan - Open letter to NHS

Since this letter things started to look up, after tweeting my desperation and crisis live to the world and my followers, the NHS services in my area contacted me and so did the patient liaison services at my GP surgery.

However it has now become clear that my plea for help and my right to basic medical care was in fact interpreted as an invitation for further discrimination and stigmatisation from NHS staff, leaving me defeated, suicidal and so very ill. Ableism reared its ugly head, as did the neurotypical privilege of the service providers. Surprisingly after all I have been through – I was shocked, naive some may say, but when you are desperate – hope is all you have. My hope is almost non existent now.

The main issue seems to be a complete lack of understanding for complex mental illness and disabilities as well as a lack of empathy. I understand that these bureaucrats are not medical professionals, however if they do not have the knowledge – they can get it, and if they are un-empathetic – should they be put in these roles?

Another problematic situation was the abrupt stopping of access to my medication which happened which left me without medication for several months and no doctor at my practice seemed concerned that this had happened due to me not being able to attend a review which they set for my medication, so due to my lack of ability to attend (which they were well aware of) they just stopped it. Now there are not many meds I can take for my mental illnesses, anti-psychotics make me zombie like, mood stabilisers seem to make me physically sick, most anti-depressants do not work for me, however Citalopram is a drug which minimises my anxiety disorders (C-PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, OCD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Agoraphobia) I take the 40g dose which is the highest (when not in hospital) – it takes the intense feelings away, the feelings which cause me to be in constant fight or flight – a hyper vigilant mind, which feels like your entire body is trying to kill you and save you from imagined danger all at once. Even though it is not a miracle cure and does not make me more able, it allows me to exist in a calmer mind set, which is a life line when dealing with complex illnesses.

As you may be aware it is dangerous to stop medication abruptly as it can cause side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Personally my withdrawal was hell and life threatening, some are lucky enough to not even experience any issues, however there is no way of knowing.

The danger I was put in by the doctors stopping my medication access abruptly led to: suicidal thoughts and plans, anxiety, panic attacks, brain fog, concentration problems, insomnia, migraines, confusion, depression, dizziness, nausea, mood swings, fatigue and irritability. 

This then had a knock on effect to my other illnesses, being under so much stress led to my diabetes and PCOS symptoms to become worse, my borderline personality disorder became more intense and more dangerous for me, intensifying my suicidal desires and my inability to regulate emotions. Also I experienced psychosis – with delusions and hallucinations due to my psychotic depression.

The ridiculousness of this is once I started to complain on social media, the doctors were made to give me an emergency prescription of 30 days, but with no accommodations being made for me to access my GP and as this is not on a repeat prescription in exactly 15 days time I shall be in the same predicament and have to go through this ordeal again, which I fear I will not survive.

In my correspondence with the NHS several things were said to me which constitute as discrimination, ableism and some were just unhelpful in a stressful situation.

Some of the most frustrating things said to me:

“it is a shame your husband can not attend evening appointments”.

Well as far as I am aware just from all the people I know in this country, none of them can access evening appointments due to normal working hours, with only one evening being made open for late appointments, this is ridiculous and very unhelpful to me a disabled person – house bound, with only my husband as my access to the world outside.

“you say you are out of medication”

This may be semantics, however saying “you say” indicates a lack of belief, what would be wrong in saying, “you have no medication, we can help with this”, this was very triggering for me and my conditions as it made me feel unheard and disbelieved.

“There are other surgeries which may offer what you need”

This made me feel so angry and discriminated against. As no real effort has been made here for my disabilities. A ramp is put in place for wheelchair users, WHERE IS MY RAMP! If they are suggesting that some one like me is so difficult and must be put through the added stress of finding another GP surgery just because a GP can not message me via email or text when they are on their way to my house, so that I can answer the door to them, well this is disgusting! This is what we are talking about… Nothing more!

“This appointment could have been had by another patient needing a home visit”

Now this is called victim blaming as well as ableism. I made it very clear that my disabilities mean my communication skills are impaired so I can not answer the phone or make phone calls, I also stated that due to my disabilities I can not go outside alone, sometimes not at all, that a handful of people are safe enough for me to go outside with (all of whom work during surgery hours), and that I can not answer the front door if I have no idea who it is (giving me a time or texting when outside is how I can open the door). Saying that another patient could have had the appointment I so desperately need is so discriminatory against my mental illnesses and has put unnecessary stress onto me when already so unwell.

This is why it has taken me 3 weeks to write another article, as I feel defeated. My only motivation is that by fighting for myself I can fight for others, as so many people have messaged me in the last 3 weeks telling me how they are in similar situations, so holding on by a thread my mission is to create change. However when the next wave of withdrawal happens whether this fight is sustained is anyone’s guess. As there are times when I am not in control of myself. For now my fight is waning but still intact.

Here are my email correspondence with the NHS (this is done for full transparency):

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence


NHS Correspondence


NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence


 

NHS Correspondence


NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence


NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence

NHS Correspondence


For more information on Citalaopram please follow these links:

Mind: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/antidepressants-a-z/citalopram/

Head Meds: http://www.headmeds.org.uk/medications/10-citalopram/use_and_action

Mental Health Daily: http://mentalhealthdaily.com/2014/05/21/celexa-citalopram-withdrawal-symptoms-how-long-will-they-last/

Withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Brain zaps: Most SSRIs can lead to a person experiencing “brain zaps” or electrical shock sensations upon withdrawal.
  • Concentration problems: a person may feel mentally slow and/or foggy when they stop the medication – this is likely due to changes in levels of neurotransmitters.
  • Confusion: Your cognitive functioning can become impaired to the point of experiencing general confusion. This confusion may be a result of memory retrieval problems, but could also just be confused thinking.
  • Crying spells: Some people report increased depression to the point of crying spells. Low serotonin can cause people to cry excessively.
  • Depression: This is a result of their brain no longer inhibiting the re-uptake of serotonin to the degree that occurred on the medication.
  • Dizziness: Feeling dizzy is one of the most common symptoms to experience during SSRI withdrawal.
  • Fatigue: It may be difficult to get out of bed in the morning or even make it through a work day. The tiredness and lethargy may be pretty severe.
  • Headaches: This is another classic symptom of SSRI withdrawal.
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability: This is because the brain no longer is receiving the calming effect of the drug and it can be difficult to regulate emotions.
  • Memory problems: It is common to experience memory problems to the point that you think you have lost your memory.
  • Mood swings:  They may persist for a long time, but will eventually subside.
  • Nausea: You may feel nauseated all day and in some cases, want to vomit.
  • Sleep changes: It is very likely that your sleep cycle will be affected when you withdraw from this drug.
  • Suicidal thoughts: It is very common to experience suicidal thoughts when discontinuing an antidepressant. Any SSRI that is withdrawn from is likely to lead a person to feeling suicidal.

If you have experienced anything similar with the NHS or you wish to help me and want to know how? Please fill in this form:


If you have an emergency due to your mental illness please be safe and contact Sane: http://www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/support/

mental-illness-meme by charlotte farhan

Between States – Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

Safe Place - By Charlotte Farhan

Safe Place – By Charlotte Farhan

Between States

Closing my eyes,
seeing emptiness, however endless,
hearing sounds of days already had,
voices of lonely goodbyes.

In cornfields we escaped,
laying in beautiful memories beneath future possibilities,
Time is only relevant to my existence,
numbers, hands, faces – clocks stop.

Pendulous over my metaphorical cliff.
Blue surrounds me,
mist kisses me as tears precipitates,
waves crashing below.

Dreaming takes forever,
passing hours – drifting.
Life tries to wake me with flickers of light,
clasping tightly at the reigns of this delusion.

The breeze carries a scent with it,
brushing my hair against my face,
familiarity sinks into the pit of my stomach,
I know this place.
This residence has no name,
no directions given, or maps written.
Stepping through a cerebral maze,
with the house getting further away.

This world between states,
of mind and power.
My consciousness hesitates,
not wanting to let me go.

 


 

Between States - By Charlotte Farhan

Between States – By Charlotte Farhan

Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask by filling in this form:

Neuro-divergent me – A Poem by Charlotte Farhan

Neuro-divergent me

 

There are parts of my brain,

people call sick,

inside things can’t configure – to the accepted standard.

There were times when fitting me into a box,

was a main concern.

Or blame – who’s left her out too long

too often, too little.

How about inside,

thoughts, dreams, the others in here?

Feelings which overwhelm,

sensory information begins to concentrate,

like compressed gas in a cylinder.

Pain is all that can be felt,

physical surges through my spinal cord,

to my brain – the host.

Being born with this disposition,

having an environment devastated.

Parents – the same chemistry

Clueless in their own damnation

However happily participating

in their haphazard irony.

Not typical, not normal,

they said and continue to claim.

“she’s weird, she doesn’t look me in the eye”

they whisper whilst backing away.

Thought of as rude, too direct,

judgements made habitually,

privileges left unchecked.

My cognition brought into question,

By those who never had to confabulate.

The world is not odd to me,

as it is all I can see,

you need to cure me.

Not trusting my words and memories,

abusing me,

leaving me.


when I close my eyes - by Charlotte Farhan

When I close my eyes – by Charlotte Farhan

 

Art and poetry by Charlotte Farhan.

If you would like to know more or have any questions please fill in this form:

Ableism: when educating people on their own struggles is harmful

Ableism
This is not my usual post and contemplated not writing this at all, however the urge kept coming back and the reason for this was simple, I had been silenced and needed to be heard. Before I begin this is in no way a post to shame anyone, it is to highlight an issue which many do not take seriously as they are privileged in not experiencing the persecutions and discrimination that people such as myself have to endure most days.
There is this woman, called Laura who has a popular blog called Skinny And Single and she often writes day to day stuff. Her tag line is already problematic as it states:
 “Single and Over 40 and Not Suicidal About It”
Recently when reading her posts, which has been over the last few month I noticed her use of certain language, which was stigmatising towards mentally ill people and people with disabilities – as well as finding her writing exceptionally privileged, with little care for who she judges, belittles or creates further stigma for. Under the disguise of humour, with the attitude of “well it’s all OK if I didn’t really mean it” kind-a-thing. With a get out clause which seems to be a very “in” thing to do at the moment, which is to state, “I am just being honest or real” as if this were a license to cause harm wherever one wishes.
ableist bingo
After her most recent post “Seven People That Need Punched In The Crotch ” I decided to un-follow her blog and social media sites as I just didn’t like her style, judgement and writing, having tried to see the funny side but failing as her use of what she calls “satire” is not my understanding of it. Being French/British – in both my countries we relish in satirical humour which is a great way to poke fun at current affairs, it is by definition:
The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporarypolitics and other topicalissues.
In England and France we use this humour to expose and ridicule the elites, those in power and the upper classes, and now celebrities; it is rarely used against people from minority groups. This is why when I saw her blog posts in our online community of #LinkYourLife I gave them a read before coming to these conclusions. This is what led me to contact her with my feedback as a mentally ill person, in a calm way – to maybe highlight something which she may not have realised was even in her writing.
I tweeted her and told her in a playful way:
“I am glad I am in the UK so you can’t punch me in the crotch”
thinking this would be a nice way to address the issue, trying to be humorous was my attempt at connecting on a level (especially on twitter with so few characters). The tweet didn’t really get me anywhere so thought to myself:
“just be direct Charlotte”
tweeting her again and telling her that she had used stigmatising language and I referenced her latest blog post and the last sentence; which needed addressing, where she stated:
“I am not a crack pot either. I am a regular woman,”
which was in reference to not being a feminist.
You can disagree with feminism all you wish, but the use of the word crackpot just left me feeling stigmatised, for I have been referred to as crackpot, and have been pushed down by so many with these kinds of words – ringing in my ears.
Ableism
In response to this she became very defensive and told me outright that this was not the case, she even had a friend join in who writes a blog on her issues with bipolar disorder, (someone who I thought would at least let me speak), but they both decided to educate me on how this language was not stigmatisation and that in fact, Laura does a lot to help people with mental illness.
Not me – but others.
This was very silencing for me – an actual mentally ill person, who has sever mental illness and has had this since being a child, I know first hand what discrimination against the mentally ill can feel like, having to fight for almost every right I have, and still my civil rights are very limited, with no earning privileges or work opportunities, no medical health care due to austerity in the UK and there not being the services, having to fight my way through education to get the same chance as other students, and these are just a few examples.
Laura, decided to bombard me with questions and was pressuring me to tell her exactly what it was she was doing wrong, the tweets felt like someone knocking loudly on my skull, I couldn’t think and twitter wanted me to write it to her in so few characters, the pressure mounted so high that I experienced sensory overload and had to lay down, before leaving my laptop, I tweeted her to say this had happened and that I would do my best to reply to her as quickly as possible.
Feeling so defeated by this I left it for a week before trying to respond to Laura with my rebuttal to her questions and stance. The following Friday the same post of hers came up in my news feed and reminded me that I had not replied to her and needed to. I tweeted her and explained my position.
She tweeted back:
“I don’t care and I feel sorry for you”
Wow! This hurt so much, I could feel the tears rising in my eyes and my throat got tight, my thoughts started racing and the anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks. Laura then decided to tell me that I did not know what ableism was?
She even sent me a handy Wikipedia link, this was devastating, again it was like she was reaching inside my throat and ripping out my vocal cords as she took my disabilities and used them to prop herself up and exert her privilege over me even more.
This woman does not know me, or what I suffer from, which are both physical and mental disabilities, as I have mobility issues as well as my mental health and neurological issues. This may have been an attempt to make me look stupid, as she had clearly just googled “ableism” and thought in this quick search that she knew all there was to know about the community of people including myself – fighting everyday to have our rights taken seriously and for the abusive language which has kept us as an under class in society for hundreds of years – to stop, making us untrustworthy, unemployable and so many more things which of course are not true and just discrimination.
including-kids-and-teens-with-mental-illness-in-the-church-and-community-7-638
Ableism was first a movement for people who were discriminated against by able-people, this was just a “physical” thing at first, however as the community grew and became more aware of the discrimination people with mental illness and neurological conditions faced, the movement merged with what was known as sanism, so that there was no difference made between physical and mental as we try and educate people that mental/neurological, is also physical as it causes so many physical problems for its sufferers. With more and more research being done within these fields, we now know that physical differences can be seen in peoples brains who have mental illness as well as certain conditions such as PTSD (which I have) can cause physical pain, and is considered neurological damage.
This is why when she tried to educate me on my own discrimination it felt so isolating and cruel. There is no hate for Laura and her blog, all I wish she could have done is taken a moment to listen to me, understand where I was coming from and possibly check her own privilege over the matter.
Never would I tell someone to not post something, but rather to think before posting, and if you don’t care about upsetting the cause then own this too. Don’t pretend to be a champion for us when you stigmatise us with your own language.
All I had to do was un-follow and move on, however before moving on, my voice had to be heard and my cause had to be fought.
The last comments before she blocked me were that she felt sorry for me. Another terrible thing to say to someone with disabilities, in no way do I need anyone to feel sorry for me, especially when it is said with disdain.
All I and others want in our community is less discrimination, stigma, marginalisation and the chance to be the voice of our own lives.

As an example let us dissect what “crackpot” actually means and how it has been used against the mentally ill and those with neurological damage and injury.

‘crackpot’ is a shortened form of ‘cracked-pot’, which splits into its constituent parts, cracked and pot.

Cracked:

Cracked is itself a shortening of ‘brain-cracked’ (or cracked-brained’). ‘Cracked’ simply meant ‘impaired’; ‘faulty’. Both of these terms were current in the 17th century. For instance:

In John Canne’s A Necessity of Separation from the Church of England, 1634, we find:

If Mr. Bradshaw had found such a reason in Mr, Johnson’s writing, he would surely have called idle head, cracked-brained, fool etc.

Pot:

In the Middle Ages, ‘pot’ was used to mean ‘skull’ or ‘head’; for example, this piece from Guy de Chauliac’s translation of Grande Chirurgie, circa 1425:

Ye pot of ye heued

So, a ‘cracked pot’ was a ‘faulty head’ and crackpot is synonymous with our more recent terms ‘numbskull’, ‘blockhead’, ‘brain-dead’ etc.


Further Reading:

Here is some further information on the continued discrimination of the mentally ill depicted and perpetuated trough media:

 These key facts and statistics about mental health problems can help to challenge the myths that can contribute to the stigma that many people still face.

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-statistics-facts

And here is a great list of things which need to change and I suggest anyone who is unfamiliar with this movement and issue read this too:

https://mic.com/articles/121653/6-forms-of-ableism-we-need-to-retire-immediately#.LB7ZlAV1C

Upworthy-MEME

The right to vote is great; but how about the ability? Neurodiversity

Have you ever thought of the fact that the voting system is a neuro-typical system which alienates many different people with varying abilities.

I just want you to think about this….

If you don’t have to think of how you will be ABLE to vote, then this means you are privileged.

 

a8aef209003ebf94a823e49f2258d17f

 

 

Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are to be recognised and respected as any other human variation. These differences can include those labelled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Personality Disorders, Bipolar, Psychotic depression and others…

As you may already be aware if you follow my blog that I have several illnesses, disabilities and learning difficulties. As a child my neurology was always in question, with early indications of being on the spectrum as well as being a massive contradiction with a high functioning intelligence but also several learning difficulties such as not being able to read at the appropriate level for my age, having Dyscalculia and experiencing sensory overloads. My interpersonal skills were weak as eye contact was not a strong point and I did not understand boundaries like other children. When you are seen as high functioning people do not understand your difficulties as they judge and label you; lazy, disobedient, delinquent and a trouble maker.

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Read more about this HERE

Now lets get back to the topic at hand – voting.

Voting is a right which is great, many have fought to get this right from the white privileged male and won. However this does not mean that this RIGHT is made easy for everyone to obtain. My point is – many of us can’t even if we wanted to due to being neuro-divergent, disabled and ill; my issues impact all my voting options.

Lets me give you 3 examples on why it is impossible for me to vote in this neuro-typical system in the UK:

Voting in person: This is a NO for me due to my agoraphobia, C-PTSD, Psychotic depression, ADHD and OCD – the fear of people, open spaces, small spaces, germs etc… As well as experiencing extreme anxiety attacks and becoming detached and unable to hear and process information due to derealization and depersonalization Makes this scenario impossible for me to do.

Voting by proxy: This is impacted by my psychotic depression and Borderline Personality Disorder as my psychosis and delusional thinking, tells me this would be taken and used against me or that this is mind control. My mind become split and then I am trapped in a black and white world of confusion.

Voting by mail /online registration: When I am faced with forms I get something which is called sensory overload and sometimes it is so bad I pass out from it, plus I loose time regularly and get distracted on a loop for days sometimes due to ADHD. When I was able to have a social worker this would have been taken care of by them assisting me. However this service is not available to me anymore due to the area I live in.

If you would like to know more… follow this link HERE

“There is, however, an answer to this crisis.  The concept of neurodiversity provides a paradigm shift in how we think about mental functioning.  Instead of regarding large portions of the American public as suffering from deficit, disease, or dysfunction in their mental processing, neurodiversity suggests that we instead speak about differences in cognitive functioning.  Just as we talk about differences in bio-diversity and cultural diversity, we need to start using the same kind of thinking in talking about brain differences.”

(Source: http://www.institute4learning.com/neurodiversity.php)

 

Then there is the issue of voting in a system which denies your rights and leaves you to die as there is no help available, as I slip through the cracks with others; one wonders if these are cracks or specially designed filters.

Having been politically minded and active since a young age due to my French heritage and privileged education as a child and then going on to do politics, international relations and political philosophy at degree level, my awareness for the “political systems” has been of a high standard. Engaging with others to vote, political protesting, writing to MP’s and campaigning for civil rights was just the beginning in my 20’s, however as my situation grew more bleak and my interests in alternative politics and activism grew I decided after a long process to disengage with the “neuro-typical politics game” as well as the rigid patriarchal paradigm of “the ideal political structure”. Instead I concentrated on non-profit work, anarchism as a political philosophy and fighting each day to better the lives of people who are marginalised and stigmatised. This was my way of taking back the control which had been taken from me as a human being.

All I ask is that you think of this before you next judge the “non voter”, do not say things like “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about anything after the fact” as this is a further way to silence the unheard, the people like me cast aside through no fault of our own, for things beyond our control. Try and remember that ticking a box does not give you the right to judge others, especially if this is all you are doing to create change, think of the varied ways that a citizen of this planet could help, or make a difference.

Also shaming people for not voting is ignorant, you know nothing of another persons life and why they may feel disenfranchised or due to socio-economic /class structures has been shown their voice means nothing or does not believe in the powers that be.

How about before you write your next FB status which tells people who do not vote they are stupid, or you tell those who have decided to not vote (which is their right) to keep quiet over other issues; why not take a moment – hold back and think…

Is this really the best use of my time?

Do I know everyone’s life and experiences and what has led them to this decision which is theirs to take?

And could I be a better ally to those who have no voice?

 

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I ask you to remember this when you next use a label associated with mental illness

As an activist and campaigner I fight everyday to end stigma against the mentally ill and do this as a person who has been stigmatised since being a child – for my disability due to neurological damage from trauma and my genetic neurodiversity.
When there are mass shootings, murders and acts of terrorism the common labels are thrown about. Now I can not stop people from using words which stigmatise the mentally ill in everyday life, as this would be impossible, the words which come out are often misguided or just common place. However this does not mean they do not have an affect on me, and our community.  In challenging these reactions and the usual rhetoric we must first admit that there is an issue, that words are not just words – they have impact and consequences. We must look at labelling, stereotyping, cognitive separating, emotional reactions, status loss, and discrimination. As we must do with all the diversity in the world.
As someone who is married to a Muslim, my husband and I often sit there and see which one of us will get the blame when a news report states a mass murder or a shooting/stabbing/beheading, more often than not, both of us do. A mentally ill, Islamic terrorist is normally the go to. However if the individual is white – then no religion or political persuasion is highlighted, but mental illness as a label and cause remains. None of these factors are relevant in the end, as the criminal was a murderer – a killer of humanity at its essence. Hate has no religion, disability, sexuality, gender, race – hate is hate.
However I am speaking as a mentally ill person so this is my voice and focus.

Here are some facts on Violence & mental health (from Time To Change)

Over a third of the public think people with a mental health problem are likely to be violent – in fact people with severe mental illnesses are more likely to be victims, rather than perpetrators, of violent crime

The Facts

  • The majority of violent crimes and homicides are committed by people who do not have mental health problems.
  • People with mental health problems are more dangerous to themselves than they are to others: 90 per cent of people who die through suicide in the UK are experiencing mental distress.
  • In 2009, the total population in England and Wales was just over 43 million. It is estimated that about one in six of the adult population will have a significant mental health problem at any one time (more than 7 million people). Given this number and the 50–70 cases of homicide a year involving people known to have a mental health problem at the time of the murder, clearly the statistics data do not support the sensationalised media coverage about the danger that people with mental health problems present to the community.
  • According to the British Crime Survey, almost half (47 per cent) of the victims of violent crimes believed that their offender was under the influence of alcohol and about 17 per cent believed that the offender was under the influence of drugs. Another survey suggested that about 30 per cent of victims believed that the offender attacked them because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In contrast, only 1 per centof victims believed that the violent incident happened because the offender had a mental illness.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the incidence of homicide committed by people diagnosed with mental health problems has stayed at a fairly constant level since the 1990s
  • Substance abuse appears to play a role: The prevalence of violence is higher among people who have symptoms of substance abuse (including discharged psychiatric patients and non-patients).

Reporting stories featuring violence and mental health problems

  • stick to the facts – don’t speculate about someone’s mental health being a factor unless the facts are clear
  • consider including contextualising facts about how very few people with mental health problems are violent
  • seek comment from a mental health charity such as Mind or Rethink Mental Illness
  • speak to the perpetrator’s family – often they are victims too with compelling stories to tell

So I ask you to remember this when you next go to use a label associated with mental illness / disability / neurodiversity:
When YOU use the words: nut-job, psycho, maniac, crazy, insane, psychopath, nutter… to describe criminals and their actions YOU put us back in the dark ages.
When YOU associate mass murder with mental illness you demonise us.
You put me and others in danger.
You isolate the already isolated.
You cause further illness to us.
You criminalise us, which we have been fighting to end since the asylums closed.
You excuse hate and name it “mental illness”.
You echo the rhetoric of the far right, the fascists, the eugenicists, the people who have robbed us of our humanity and freedom, the people who want us destroyed.
You take away our civil rights.
You hand us the knife, the noose, the pill bottle.
You are part of the problem and YOU need to STOP!
Also:
Could non disabled / neuro-divergent / mentally ill people
STOP speaking for us!
Stop pushing us down with your privilege!
Stop telling people how “we” feel.
Be our allies – support us, just DON’T speak for us.

neurodiversity
Charlotte Farhan Quote

Mental Health Awareness Month: Donate to get an original piece of art by Charlotte Farhan

As you may already be aware a close friend of mine Lisa Reeve, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for me to get a psychiatric assistance dog as I have not been able to leave the house on my own for over 9 years now due to sever mental illness and neurological damage from trauma.

To find out more please click HERE 

To help raise money for this I have decided to sell some of my paintings from my old collections for a limited time only at MEGA low prices, so that people can donate and receive an original piece of my art in exchange.

 

I can only offer FREE POSTAGE & PACKAGING to those of you who live in the UK / Europe.

However if you are from other countries you can still donate and get a piece of art, but I can NOT offer FREE postage and packing and will have to charge you for this.

To take part you need to fill out this form below with your details, tell me which one of the paintings you are interested in. I shall then allocate the painting to you and confirm this, then you follow the GoFundMe link, donate the correct amount for the painting to the campaign, once I get the confirmation of your donation I shall ask you for your address and send you your painting.

This is a Firstcome, firstserved deal.

Here are the prices:

Small paintings are £10.00 each:

  • She is the Sky,
  • Cat Among the Flowers,
  • Isabella,
  • She is a Warrior,
  • True Colours,
  • L’été À Ma Fenêtre,
  • With Flowers in her Hair,
  • Autumn Flowers,
  • Omar,
  • Feeling Love, 
  • Sitting Pretty

Medium Paintings are £20.00;

  • Escapism,
  • Body Positive,
  • Amman (Rainbow Street),
  • Autumn Tree,
  • Just to Make Your Smile,
  • Summer is Coming,
  • Amman at Dusk

Large Paintings are £25.00 each:

  • Dans les rues de Grasse,
  • Laying in Flowers,
  • Earth

X-Large and Framed is £50.00:

  • Maison des ville, Grasse, France

Here is the form:

 

Escapism - By Charlotte Farhan

Escapism – By Charlotte Farhan

She is the Sky - By Charlotte Farhan

She is the Sky – By Charlotte Farhan

Cat Among the Flowers - By Charlotte Farhan

Cat Among the Flowers – By Charlotte Farhan

Dans les rues de Grasse - By Charlotte Farhan

Dans les rues de Grasse – By Charlotte Farhan

Isabella - By Charlotte Farhan

Isabella – By Charlotte Farhan

Body Positive - By Charlotte Farhan

Body Positive – By Charlotte Farhan

True Colours - By Charlotte Farhan

True Colours – By Charlotte Farhan

L'été À Ma Fenêtre - By Charlotte Farhan

L’été À Ma Fenêtre – By Charlotte Farhan

Autumn Tree - By Charlotte Farhan

Autumn Tree – By Charlotte Farhan

Amman, Rainbow Street - By Charlotte Farhan

Amman, Rainbow Street – By Charlotte Farhan

Maison des ville, Grasse, France - By Charlotte Farhan

Maison des ville, Grasse, France – By Charlotte Farhan

She is a Warrior - By Charlotte Farhan

She is a Warrior – By Charlotte Farhan

With Flowers in her Hair - By Charlotte Farhan

With Flowers in her Hair – By Charlotte Farhan

Amman at Dusk - By Charlotte Farhan

Amman at Dusk – By Charlotte Farhan

Autumn Flowers - By Charlotte Farhan

Autumn Flowers – By Charlotte Farhan

Summer is Coming - By Charlotte Farhan

Summer is Coming – By Charlotte Farhan

Just to Make Your Smile - By Charlotte Farhan

Just to Make Your Smile – By Charlotte Farhan

Feeling Love - By Charlotte Farhan

Feeling Love – By Charlotte Farhan

Earth - By Charlotte Farhan

Earth – By Charlotte Farhan

Laying in Flowers - By Charlotte Farhan

Laying in Flowers – By Charlotte Farhan

Omar - By Charlotte Farhan

Omar – By Charlotte Farhan

Sitting Pretty - By Charlotte Far

Sitting Pretty – By Charlotte Farhan

 

We have already raised £750 of our £2000 target and I am so grateful for all the love and support offered.

To read about why this is so important to me and for my health please read my article on this:

Charlotte Needs an Assistance Dog – Please help me have a better, more independent life.


Charlotte Needs an Assistance Dog


Thank you for your support xxx

GO FUND ME - Charlotte Farhan

 

Charlotte Needs an Assistance Dog – Please help me have a better, more independent life.

Charlotte Needs an Assistance Dog

 

My friend, surrogate sister and colleague Lisa Reeve has very kindly started a fundraiser for me to get the assistance psychiatric dog which I desperately need so that I can live a more independent life and access more help for my sever and complex mental illnesses.

Lisa Reeve and Charlotte Farhan

Lisa Reeve and Charlotte Farhan

 

Here is what Lisa had to say:

Help us raise money for Charlotte Farhan to get a psychiatric assistance dog so that she can lead a more independent life as a sufferer of C-PTSD.

 

 

Hi I’m Lisa I am writing this having battled a long term mental health condition since childhood. I am passionate about recovery and believe in helping others and the cause.

My best friend Charlotte not only has been my rock, she has been my life line through some terrible years in which I am starting to see the light again. Unfortunately for Charlotte she suffers from C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) from sexual abuse in childhood and sexual violence and assault as a teenager, due to this Charlotte has not been able to live a “normal” life and has progressively got worse, which has led to several mental illnesses such as psychotic depression, borderline personality disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and OCD. This has meant Charlotte has no independence and has not been outside alone for over 9 years, as well as not being able to leave the house at all at times even with a carer.

I feel it is now time I give back to her some of the hope she held for me. Since being told the NHS can’t do anything more for Charlotte she has grown more isolated.

I really want to help her out of this and this is why I want to ask the world to help raise money for Charlotte to get a psychiatric service dog. Charlotte responds very positively to animals and with a dog she could in time, adapt the skills to be independent and manage her symptoms with a more fulfilled life.

As we know service dogs help people both mentally and psychically and help reduce unwanted symptoms that have a disabling impact on one’s life. Unfortunately this service is not given to people like Charlotte here in the UK, even though many places round the world do, in the UK service dogs are only given to those with psychical disabilities, children with autism and war veterans with PTSD.

We plan to take direct action with the donations raised. A puppy has already been chosen for Charlotte, a little male poodle puppy called Amadeus who is only 3 weeks old but will be ready for his forever home with Charlotte at the end of May 2016. Charlotte has a team of friends who are helping her with this as well as her husband. We have a dog behavioural trainer who is offering her time and skills, called Rebecca Smith, I shall be on hand as well as Charlotte’s other friends: Lesley and Anna, we will be helping Charlotte with exposure work and getting her used to being outside with the dog. Money raised helps towards costs for: the purchase of the puppy, veterinary care, vaccinations, a dog passport, insurance, food, leads, a dog crate, car modifications for the dog, training etc.….

Research in pet therapies reveal that a service dog can help manage symptoms by helping you feel less stressed and alone. As Charlotte spends her days working non-profit as the MD of Art Saves Lives International from home, a visual artist, the editor of ASLI Magazine, a feature writer for OTV Magazine, and she is also about to enetr her last year of her degree in Philosophy, Psychology and Creative Writing with the Open University. She is alone at home with no human contact or ability to go outside, she often feels abandoned and scared, reinforced by the fact that she cannot go outside by herself at all. She would love to be able to do what ‘ mentally able’ individuals can do and carry out simple tasks such as crossing the road and walking to the corner shop to buy milk, as well as exercising more (which will help Charlotte as a diabetic), meeting people for her charity work and as Charlotte is an artist she dreams of painting outside in the summer.

A suitable dog would be a dependable companion, helping aid her confidence and give her more freedom. Dogs are great lovers of affection and their unconditional love can help overcome self-loathing problems and inward negative thoughts.

An assistance dog would help Charlotte feel more comfortable with the idea of being able to stand closer to strangers and have more contact with others. This is a fear of Charlotte’s, brought on by her trauma, she feels unsafe and in danger around others causing extreme anxiety and emotional regulation problems. This would also positively encourage her in new situations without scanning for danger. As we know dogs are particularly vigilant and are able to assess whether this danger is real or fantasy, something Charlotte is unable to do, offering a form of logical determination and protection. The dog will also help with grounding exercises in situations that are overwhelming due to too much sensory information which will stop Charlotte from detaching as much and having debilitating anxiety attacks.

If you would like to make a donation, please follow the link HERE

GO FUND ME - Charlotte Farhan

As well as Lisa’s support, my Friend and other surrogate sister Bex Smith is a behaviourist for animals and will be doing the specific dog training needed.

Bex Smith and Charlotte Farhan

Bex Smith and Charlotte Farhan

Here is Bex’s New website: CLICK HERE

Sign up to her blog as we will be documenting the training and the story of how this will help me.

Also my amazing friend Lesley who I have been best friends with since I was 11 years old, who is like family to me, is going to be helping me with exposure work and supporting me.

Lesley Hallett and Charlotte Farhan

Lesley Hallett and Charlotte Farhan

And not forgetting the lovely Anna (we call each other brain twins) who has said she will help taking me to locations for long dog walks.

Anna Bispham and Charlotte Farhan

Anna Bispham and Charlotte Farhan

Being able to be independent is something I dream of daily. I know my neurological damage from severe trauma will mean I shall be different and neuro-diverse forever, but I also know that just because we live in a Neurotypical world that I do not have to accept this fate. I want to be as functional as possible, I am a victim who survived which is why I know I can do this.

I feel uncomfortable asking for help and am so grateful for Lisa doing this fundraiser for me, for Bex who is giving over her time to train our puppy and help me be independent, for Lesley and Anna who have agreed to help me with my exposure work, and for my husband who helps me every day in so many ways.

Together I know we can do this, I can see me and our new member of the family, Amadeus – I can see us waking side by side into our future.

Mohammed Farhan and Charlotte Farhan

Mohammed Farhan and Charlotte Farhan

We have already raised £410 out of our £2000 goal. (29/04/2016)

All the donations have been from my amazing family in Jordan and the Isle of Man, my supporters and followers from around the world and dear friends as well as some anonymous lovelies.

Thank you for your support.


Facts on Psychiatric Service Dogs

Medical Alert

Just as a dog can be trained to alert to seizures and other medical conditions, a dog can also be trained to sense the changes in a person’s body when they are beginning to have a panic attack, flash back, anxiety attack, or other psychiatric condition. The dog is able to paw at the leg of their disabled recipient and interrupt what would otherwise be a debilitating and destructive behaviour for the individual. This helps the handler to refocus on their dog and work through the problem.

Deep Pressure Therapy

Just as medical wraps are used to alleviate anxiety in persons with psychiatric conditions, dogs can be trained to put the pressure of their body weight on their handler’s lap and abdomen to physically, and then mentally relieve anxiety and induce a sense of calm.

Boundary Control

When the individual suffers from anxiety due to the close proximity of others, or due to claustrophobia in a crowded room, the dog can be trained to stand in between their handler and others to gain more personal space. The dog is not being protective, but is simply following a simple cue from their handler to move their body into the space surrounding their handler.

Corners

A frequent problem for those suffering from PTSD is to negotiate corners without the fear of what is waiting on the other side. Our dogs can be trained to go around corners in front of their handler and then alert their handler if there is someone waiting on the other side. Over time this form of therapy can assist the disabled recipient when becoming more comfortable with going into public.

Signal Alert

There are many situations when a recipient will need to excuse themselves from a classroom or meeting due to personal psychiatric concerns. With a discrete signal to the dog the handler can command his dog to paw at the leg, making it look like the dog is seeking attention. The handler is then able to comfortably leave the situation with the excuse that his dog needs to relieve itself.

Companionship

It goes without saying that any service dog’s greatest assistance is the emotional support they can offer their handler. Most disabilities present trials than can be relieved on a mental level simply by the dog’s presence. A well behaved dog can help to lower blood pressure and give a sense of ease to anyone who is near.

For further information:

C-PSTD – what is it?  http://outofthefog.website/toolbox-1/2015/11/17/complex-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-c-ptsd

Agoraphobia – what is it? https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help-now/anxiety-information/anxiety-disorders/agoraphobia/

Borderline Personality Disorder – what is it?http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/#.Vxd50TArLIU

Psychotic Depression – What is it?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychotic_depression

OCD – What is it? http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/#.Vxd6UzArLIU


 

neurodiversity