Sisters under the skin…

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It may of course be my age and stage in life, but frankly I don’t care for the Kardashians, the TOWIE babes or any other half-witted, self-promoting bimbos. I may have boobs, but I do have brains, and no – my face isn’t at chest level nor is it surgically enhanced!

It seems to me that these days, superficial is super-cool, plastic (as in surgery and friend-fakery) is fantastic.  If you don’t have 40.5m followers on Twitter, you aren’t working hard enough. If you can’t influence on Facebook you are simply not worth friending.  Not writing your own cook-bake-make blog …while hand-knitting nappies for your test-tube triplets?  Shame on you, woman!  Worst of all, social media has given ordinary women such an inferiority complex, we have actually begun to buy the crap promulgated by popular culture. We actually think it’s ok to be a size zero, or to deprive ourselves of coffee, sex or ice-cream…all in pursuit of some photo-edited ideal that simply isn’t reality.

Instead of supporting each other, I see countless examples of women being disparaging about other women.  And no, the Kardashians are media freaks and do not count – they are only nice to themselves and Kanye!  Eating disorders are at an all time high. It’s estimated that 10% of young women will suffer this.  And the phenomena of on-line bullying is a worrying trend. Not content to bash you in the playground, girl-on-girl violence has evolved to the digital age. We’ll get you in cyberspace…For goodness sake, our’s is the era that has spawned the term ‘frenemy’…as in, people you loathe but are friends with? I rest my case!

As a grown up (sometimes) I’ve experienced first-hand how mean, petty and bitchy women can be. At one time, I used to be the only single woman at the dinner table…or not. Sometimes I was not invited, because being single clearly I must be on the hunt for a husband/promotion/shoes and therefore a huge threat.  Really? Shoes and promotion, I earned and paid for myself several times over.  Husband?  Well…I wouldn’t want to steal your bald, fat wallet! 

However, I’ve also seen how wonderful, supportive and giving women can be. Instead of competition, collaboration. Instead of combat, caring.  Women friends who hear your sobs and will be your solace, women friends who will cheer your success with champagne, women friends who leave money behind or buy you dinner, so you don’t need to worry about spending, women friends who will send you postcards so you don’t feel alone. Perhaps it’s a female destiny to love too much, feel too much or give too much…but it’s done gladly.

So here is a shout out to the women of my generation -my friends and my family. Let’s support each other. Let’s be present enough in each other’s lives to share the good moments, and the bad. Let’s be pleased for each other’s bravery, success or happiness – not envious. Let’s share the love, and magnify the support. Because…whether or not we are related… we are all sisters under the skin.

 

G is for…Gratitude

This blog has been a long time in the making. 5 and a bit years to to be exact.  I’ve often wondered whether I should write about this experience, but I have a number of friends who are going through the same thing, so it’s about time this particular confession saw the light.

July 7th, 2005. Exactly a year after I’d moved into the house from hell. A sunny day.  It was also the day I had a panic attack and couldn’t get on the train to work. If you know me, you know this is not my normal mode of being. Fearless – Yes. Frightened – Often, but I hide it well. Cowed – Never, especially not in 6 inch heels and a suit! But if you had seen me sitting on the station bench that day, hyper-ventilating, shaking and trying not to cry or step in front of the train (crying and spoiling my make-up would be worse, you understand), anyone would be forgiven for thinking I’d finally given in.

July 7th, 2005.  Exactly two years since someone I loved, left. A sunny day. The day of the London bombings.  When I finally made it into the City and into a walk-in clinic, I sat waiting for a doctor and watched the carnage unfold on the flat-screen in the waiting room. All I could think about…while the helicopters circled Cannon Street and the discordant siren call of police cars and ambulances pierced the usual hum of a big city, was that my problems were minor compared to those people who lost loved ones or now bear permanent scars from the random acts of deranged fundamentalists.
 
My doctor diagnosed depression and prescribed medication.  I diagnosed an immense gratitude for the fact that I was still alive. A feeling that grew as I walked through the silent streets in the evening aftermath of the day’s events.  And my prescription – which I still follow today, even though the pills got flushed down the loo after 6 months – was to find three things to be grateful for at the beginning and end of each day.  Instead of lying in bed wondering if I actually wanted to carry on, I’d be glad about the birdsong, the way the sunlight twinkled on my wall, and the fact that my cat loved me more than anyone else in the world – despite my flaws as a human.  Nothing stays the same, even bad things… I’m really lucky and I have so much to be grateful about…I live by the coast, have a brand new nephew, and people who I love deeply.  Life is short.  Embrace the good things.

Depression affects 1 in 10 people, and one in 50 people will suffer severe depression. It affects not only those with depression, but also their families and friends. Help is available here:  http://www.samaritans.org/