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Saturday Rant

News and media in Ireland

I tend to avoid newspapers and news programmes because I find so many of them don’t actually cover very much news. Most of what I see about what’s happening in the world starts with Twitter. Then I’ll head for news websites and read more. The last couple of weeks have been interesting to say the least.

Ireland’s been having a bit of a media storm lately about a few things – the Olympic ticket scandal for one, which I haven’t paid much attention to and two things I have taken notice of – Two women Travel and the Rose of Tralee festival.

Two Women Travel was a Twitter account of the journey to England for an abortion. Most of their Tweets were directed to the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and much was made of the fact that he didn’t even tweet good luck to the Mayo team taking part in the All-Ireland semi-final because he was too worried about all the other tweets he’d received. The story was picked up by news agencies all over the world, except here in Ireland, where it was mainly ignored by RTE et al. And of course the Pro-lifers were horrified by the whole thing.

Last weekend we had the Rose of Tralee Festival, which is something of an Irish institution. Girls of Irish descent and girls living in Ireland compete to be crowned the Rose (you can Google it if you’re interested). It was held over several days and during the finals the Sydney rose, Brianna Parkins, who is an Australian journalist, spoke about several women’s issues and also about Ireland holding a referendum on the eighth amendment. There was huge support on Twitter but some people weren’t so impressed, mainly the pro-life brigade. She also wrote a not very nice article about the whole experience. The majority of people in Ireland have fallen in love with her. And this was after the stage was invaded by a Fathers For Justice campaigner, strangely dressed as a priest. I still don’t understand what the idea behind that was. Ireland has a huge problem with how the church has treated women and children in the past. And let’s not forget the Father Ted take on the Rose festival – ‘The Lovely Girls contest’ which is how the Rose of Tralee is often referred to.

Today there was more drama on Twitter about someone calling themselves a sex researcher and educator – The lovely Cheryl over at Horny Geek Girl wrote a post about it, so I won’t go into it here, except to say that I’m horrified by the rubbish this woman is spreading.

As I write this there is another trending hashtag, How we Do Things In Ireland which has been highlighting all sorts of subjects – abortion, homeless children, political cronyism, the banking crisis – the list goes on and it’s not pretty. It seems that the Twitter users of Ireland really have had enough.

One of the most frustrating things for a lot of people has been the lack of coverage about most of this by the national broadcaster, RTE, who are more and more being accused of only covering news stories acceptable to the government. And there is huge anger about the massive salaries presenters are receiving.

The interesting thing will be to see how the government reacts to any of this when the Dail resumes after the summer break. If past experience is anything to go by they’ll probably try to ignore it.

A Rant For Saturday

I haven’t done this for a while. Today’s post contains references to sexual assault.

I don’t really know what the subject of today’s rant is. I just need to vent.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about unsolicited dick pics, male privilege, and the poor treatment of women in general. There were a couple of pro-choice rallies in Ireland today as our beloved Taoiseach still seems to think there’s no call for abolishing the Eighth amendment and basically the women of Ireland are a bit fed up with him and his cronies. I have to say I’m totally fed up with the whole boiling of them, but that’s not really what I wanted to say.

I understand people who are fed up, disgusted etc. with the way they’re treated by men sometimes, with the aforementioned dick pics, wolf-whistles, cat-calling etc but the one thing I’d like to say for me personally is that I’ve never, ever, not even once been the target of any of it, not an unsolicited picture, not one cat-call, not one whistle, not one instance of being sexually harassed. Nothing. And while there may be those of you out there thinking how lucky I am, and maybe I should consider myself lucky, but the thing is, I don’t. What this tells me is that I’m not even visible enough, I never have been visible enough to be thought worth the effort of any of it. It makes me feel like shit, totally unattractive and worthless. And all the nice comments and compliments here don’t really make a dent in how much I feel this (I really do appreciate them though)

I don’t want to upset those who have been through it, or worse. I was in an abusive relationship for over twenty years, I survived, I got out, and I refuse to let what he did to me ruin the rest of my life.

I would say that 95% of the people I know are in some sort of relationship. Me? I have never been able to sustain one (I don’t count the twenty+ years I wasted), whether it’s my fault or the other person’s. I’ve never been the one the boys wanted to date, most of the time they’d barely look at me, never mind talk to me, and it’s not gotten much better as I’ve gotten older. This has only reinforced the idea that I’m unattractive and worthless. Is it really any wonder I dislike myself so much?

I envy those who can have successful relationships. I hope you realise just how fucking lucky you are.

I don’t sound off like this often, these are things I would usually keep to myself but I really needed to say it.

I’m going to crawl back into my corner now.

mug

Depression Lies

Word For Wednesday #28

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Today’s word is ANGRY! – feeling or showing strong annoyance, displeasure, or hostility; full of anger.

It was going to be depression but writing this has changed my mind. And as it’s a bit long and ranty I’m going to count this as another Saturday Rant too.

Depression: An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and that affects the way a person eats, sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things. Depression is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be wished away. People with depression cannot merely ‘pull themselves together’ and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people with depression. The signs and symptoms of depression include loss of interest in activities that were once interesting or enjoyable, including sex; loss of appetite, with weight loss, or overeating, with weight gain; loss of emotional expression (flat affect); a persistently sad, anxious, or empty mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; social withdrawal; unusual fatigue, low energy level, a feeling of being slowed down; sleep disturbance and insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping; trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; unusual restlessness or irritability; persistent physical problems such as headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain that do not respond to treatment, and thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts. The principal types of depression are called major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (manic-depressive disease).

I’ve been a bit up and down lately, similar to before starting the medication. I went to see my GP today and we talked about it and decided to try a different medication rather than upping the dose on the current one. He doesn’t think this one is right as it was only evening out the moods and not doing much else. So, we try again.

I know it’s become common for people to call depression the big black dog, but I don’t find this an accurate description. I wanted to try and explain what depression is like for me.

The Darkness rises and falls,

like the tides,

deeper and deeper.

Pulling me in, like a lover.

Closing over me,

feeding me lies,

slowly destroying me.

Depression lies,

whispering softly,

can’t you hear it?

Then I’ll show you.

Mirror

This is what I see right now.

I know none of this is true, but it still doesn’t stop that damn voice. The last few days have been OK, I’ve been feeling a bit better about some things but I’ve also had a few shit days too. Today I wasn’t too bad but now again I feel crap. But this time I’m not so much depressed as angry, I’m angry that this stupid, damn illness has this power over me. I’m angry that there are a lot of other people out there who feel like me, I’m angry that there isn’t a simple solution and I’m really angry at those who still can’t understand that we don’t choose this, that we can’t just pull ourselves together. Some days it’s as much as I can do to get out of bed. I’m so pissed off with feeling like this. I went shopping yesterday and actually spent money on me, not the kids. Since yesterday evening I’ve had the bastard voice in my head going on about how I shouldn’t have bought things. I took some photos and they’re horrible, all I can see is some stupid, old, ugly, fat woman, trying to be something she’s not.

And before you start commenting on this I know these things aren’t true.

I’m not stupid.

I’m not old, 48 is not old.

Ugly, well, I don’t like looking at my face so we’ll leave that one.

Fat? I’d say cuddly, something to hold onto.

But it doesn’t change how I feel, or what I see right now. And what makes times like this even harder is seeing all the photographs of skinny, perfect, airbrushed, young women.

Kat’s Word for Wednesday today talked about the difference between knowing the solution is simple and yet it not being easy to do what’s needed. My simple solution? Stay off Twitter, stop taking photos when I feel like this, but you know what? That isn’t easy. To be honest, and this is something I’ve said before, this blog, the photos, my readers, people on Twitter, all of it, it’s where I’m happiest, it’s where people understand me, it’s where I can talk about stupid shit like this and know others understand. And I know sometimes she feels that we think she’s going on about it, but I think if we don’t talk and write about it then that only adds to our feelings of isolation, it compounds the stigma surrounding mental health. We are all entitled to feel how we feel, even if we can’t explain why, and not talking about it is worse. At least us bloggers have a platform, they are our blogs to discuss what we want to discuss. And sometimes we need to speak up for those who can’t.

Another thing that’s pissing me off is that I’m finding it really hard to comment on other people’s blogs at the moment too. I still go and read posts, look at photos etc. but there are some things right now I find hurt too much. And I hate it, so many people leave me lovely comments and whereas normally I like to reply properly I can’t. I like talking to my readers and other bloggers so I apologise for being so quiet in certain areas lately. Here’s hoping things get back to normal very soon.

I’m also thinking maybe I should stay angry, at least it’s a feeling of some sort?

Saturday Rants

Today sees the start  of my series of rants. I’ve been reading a lot over the  last few weeks about things that piss me off and I’ve decided to write about them. To do my bit to raise awareness. If you don’t want to read that’s fine 😀 And I apologise for all the links, I just think it’s easier, this post is already long enough without my trying to explain all the legalities and ins and outs of everything. (A lot of them are Wiki, but they pull all the news stories together).

Warning – This weeks post discusses abortion.

Ireland had a general election on 26th of February, five weeks on and we still don’t have a government. Because there was no overall majority the last lot are caretaking until they can decide between themselves who is actually going to be in charge. A typically Irish situation. There was an initial vote to see if the Taoiseach (prime minister) was going to carry on, he lost but is staying until they vote in a new one sometime after their Easter hols.

I had planned to talk about feminism for my first post but there has been a lot of talk in the last few days about abortion reform. Amnesty International Ireland are currently holding a two week protest to make sure abortion reform isn’t ignored while the parties fight it out. Every day 12 people, who represent the number of women and girls known to travel outside of Ireland for abortion services, will stand outside the Dail (parliament) buildings. And every day another 12 will join them.

Ireland has an appalling record when it comes to the treatment of women and children, from the Magdalene laundries to the mother and baby homes, from forced adoptions and testing of vaccines on children in these homes to the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy (more details here ) There still isn’t a statutory right to records for those who were adopted. I’m not going to spend ages on these topics in this post but I’ll probably have another rant about it soon.

I also remembered this whilst I was writing, Ireland is not the worst

In Northern Ireland there is a life sentence for the woman, her doctor and the midwife. Although I did read an article yesterday which shows a softening of attitude.

Abortion is a very touchy subject in Ireland even to the extent that when I went back into full time education it was one of the subjects we were discouraged from talking about. And I’d like to say just to be clear that I haven’t had an abortion. I was offered one when I was pregnant with my daughter because of antibiotics I took for a kidney infection before I knew I was pregnant, they had been known to cause deformities in lab animals, but there had never been a case in humans. This was in the UK, it wouldn’t have even been mentioned here. She’s now a happy and healthy 27. But I fully support the right of any woman to make her own choices.

During the election campaign not one candidate came to my door, I had a couple of canvassers and plenty of leaflets but that was it. And when all the parties are offering almost exactly the same things how can I ask about the things that are important to me? The main one I wanted to ask about was the eighth amendment. And not one leaflet mentioned it. For those of you who don’t know anything about Ireland and abortion the eighth amendment, which was introduced in 1983, states – ‘The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’ A new law was passed in 2013 allowing abortion in very limited circumstances – when the woman’s life is at risk or she is suicidal. Details of the whole ridiculous mess can be found here

Fatal foetal abnormalities, rape or incest are not grounds for abortion. An unlawful abortion carries a jail sentence of fourteen years, for the woman and the doctor. Every year approximately 5,000 women travel, mostly to Britain, to access abortion services. It is now allowable to seek help and advice although some advice clinics are there solely to prevent the woman travelling by intimidating her. The UN and Amnesty have both called Ireland out over its stance on abortion and there are increasing calls for a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment. A couple of cases have really brought things to a head in the last few years:

October 2012 -Savita Halappanavar, 30 years old died from complications of a septic miscarriage at 17 weeks, cause of death, septicaemia and organ failure, whether she would have survived if the foetus had been removed earlier is a matter of dispute. More details here

March 2014 – Miss Y, an asylum seeker, raped in her home country, arrived in Ireland and found out she was pregnant. She claimed to be suicidal, but because of the usual breakdown in the system she had to continue the pregnancy until her baby was delivered by caesarean at 25 weeks. More details here

9 December – A woman who was 17 weeks pregnant was declared brain dead. She was kept on life support while her family had to fight through the courts for her to be allowed to die. At one point the solicitor for the baby said she had no right to dignity as she was brain dead. More details here

A new piece of legislation that was passed after this case was The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 which includes a section on Advanced Healthcare Directives – which means you can decide how you want to be treated if you lose the ability to make decisions e.g. A do not resuscitate. All well and good, unless you’re a pregnant woman. Even if you decide on being allowed to die, being brain dead or for whatever reason, if you’re pregnant, the doctors must ignore your wishes. You can read more here 

The whole situation makes me so angry as some of you may have noticed on Twitter. But I’m not going to apologise for trying to do my bit to change the barbaric treatment of pregnant women in this country. The government needs to man up, as it were, stop pussy-footing around the issue because they’re scared of losing votes and allow women to decide what to do with their own bodies.