The Brummie Black Bridget Bradshaw…

Just call me BBB! Black, Busty and Bootylicious or Black, BROKEN and Bruised, your call!? Ultimately, I believe myself to be the 2017 combination of Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, thirty two years old, single, a hopeless romantic and looking for love! I am black with Caribbean heritage! Born and bred in Birmingham, England, I am therefor also a proud, “Brummie” and so for this piece of writing, I shall use the alias, “BBBB”!

I grew up watching the likes of, “Sex And The City” and “Bridget Jones”. These women who struggled with fashion, romance, friendships and occupation whilst living in big cities as single and strong independent women, the protagonists of two very well received, critically acclaimed prime time Television and Film were hits worldwide. They influenced my impression of life, success and romance. Helen Fielding the author of first the Bridget Jones column in the Independent and upon success a trilogy of books and movies and Candace Bushnell the author of first column writing for The New York Observer and then two fictional books that inspired both the long run HBO Television series and two movies thus far, both powerhouse women that had the balls to write about the world from the view point of single and independent women, but just like Disney lied to me as a child, these authors and fictional characters have been lying to me since the 90’s! I was inspired by sugar coated lies, fantasy sells because it gives us all false hope, no one wants to read the depressing truth, which is why most of you will stop reading at this point, but please know that it is not my intension to burst bubbles and “Debbie Downer” everything, I just speak the truth. I moved to London at eighteen years of age to go to drama school, live a full and exciting life, dreaming of becoming an actor, making life long friends, working hard, playing harder and dating, dating, dating but neither Bridget or Carrie did I end up being, I have no character to refer or relate to, because no one writes movie’s about people like me.

Bridget Jones as she comes across in the first novel and film, Bridget Jones Diary, Bridget complains of all the things that most of us women suffer and go through, weight insecurities, being single and feeling like the only woman on the shelf, hardship finding work or the right job, bad habits such as overindulging, in her case food, alcohol and cigarette’s, parents or peer pressure to do better, a longing for love and romance. As a woman I certainly relate but when I read the book again and re-watch the first film, you start to notice the details in the story.
Bridget Jones is from a middle classed family, financially able to rent a descent size flat in a descent location in London independently, with job, in between or without. Bridget has some rather solid and dependable friends, a social life, relatively good health, besides her over indulgence on comfort food, wine and fags, but what exactly is her reason for feeling the need to be comforted? She is unlucky in love, #single! Do me a favour! The lady has two handsome, financially comfortable, independent, popular men fighting over her. Spanks or no spanks, this chick should stop complaining. O.k. one turns out to be not so perfect and the other a little awkward, but pretty much perfect with just a touch of baggage and a stiffness to his character but come on, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy!? BITCH – GOT – LUCKY! She gets to have intercourse with both, have fun with both and basically pick. She also shifts the weight, gets the job, continues to have the friends, her status never changes and she keeps the flat. Don’t get me wrong, I have read all three books, watched all three movies and imagine that there may be a fourth as the third movie seems to sit between book two and three, but now I am older, the substance of the story and the characters almost offend me, we all love a happy ending but Bridget isn’t supposed to be sleeping beauty or snow white, she is supposed to be the woman that you sit next to on the bus, your best friend, even you or me but real life rarely has the feel good finale. I am thirty-two and still waiting for mine!

Focussing on Carrie from sex and the city, she also has her own flat in a highly sort after location, a wardrobe bigger then my whole families put together, many men knocking on her door, many hook ups and flings, a self inflicted tug of war between Mr Right and Mr Wrong, or Mr Big and Aidan Shaw, a solid group of friends, conquers many occupational hurdles and finally achieves the dream, dream man, dream job, everything comes on top in the end.

Now I may not have reached my end, but if you want to know about a thirty something lady facing the hardships of life and looking for Mr Right? Read my story… It may not be a feel good story but is definitely true and probably a story that many women can relate to, in one way or another.

So out loud, people always say that an unplanned baby is a blessing and gift from God, but when you’re a knocked up teenager, I assume what people really want to say is, shit, bollocks, you fucked up, no protection, major infection, I hope it was good because you will now have to endure a lifetime of rejection, a curse, and immediate exclusion from a social life. The curse was not bestowed upon my mum, she is fine and dandy, the curse was on me, the snotty nose baby, because I have basically never found a man to love me, searched, long, hard and far but still single past thirty.

My first kick in the teeth (apart from being the teenage, dirt-bag baby) from God/Science/Nature/The Universe… whatever, was when I was ten years old. I developed a dermatological illness over night, Alopecia, so many syllables for such a grim word. Hair, the symbol of strength and beauty, it can define your heritage, gender, style and personality, mine was stripped, completely gone by twenty-one, and the most sick part is, not everywhere, only where it counts… yes, on my head and face! I have to shave my legs and private area, over and over, it keeps coming back but not on my head for over ten years now. I have unwanted hair on my fingers but no bloody eyebrows, someone is really having a laugh! I am also loosing my eyelashes, my once beautiful and captivating eyelashes! You couldn’t make this up, well you could, but I wouldn’t, it really is quite mean!
Unless it is your thing, women with symmetrical faces suit short hair, some men prefer short hair on a woman but if it were my choice, it wouldn’t be for me. Also, there is a big difference between short hair and a head as smooth as a baby’s bum. Most people associate this look on both men and women as cancerous, no one wants cancer and I can’t imagine such a look would ever be rated as sexy! No disrespect to any one who has traumatically lost their hair to cancer or alopecia. I think if someone loves you romantically before the trauma of loosing your hair (potentially forever) hopefully they love you enough to continue loving you whatever, continue to find you attractive because they love you for who you are, what’s inside, not just your looks. I see young chicks on YouTube trying to reassure people like me that having alopecia does not banish you from the opportunity to be loved and/or found attractive, some of the women even feel comfortable enough to go head commando around their loved ones, not me, my hair is my hair and I rarely take it off! No wig, no hat, no disguise and these girls are still getting, “Boom-Boom!” Well lucky them, most of them live in America, maybe I should move out there, because from my experience, guys are way less cool with it over here in England. If a man happens to be reading this, feeling outraged at what I have just said, shaking their head in disbelief at how wrong I am, my telephone number is 071984123166678999, come convince me otherwise baby!? Bring it on and prove me wrong!
At least six out of the ten men that I have dated and told or who have found out about my dermatological condition, have run away before I even had the chance to explain! When men literally run away from you because they cannot handle the idea of a woman that they are dating, having no hair or false hair, it truly leaves you in despair, because you feel like a deceitful liar, a cheat in some ways, ugly and monstrous, helpless because you cannot control the medical condition that you have, that you never wanted, never asked for but simply have to endure because there is often no cure. I have tried every type of cure, but they have unfortunately not worked for me. I am insecure because I have a secret medical condition and I am insecure because many men have ditched/dumped me for the same medical condition, in the past. One minute my lover is looking lovingly into my eyes and the next he jets off like Usain Bolt and is nowhere to be seen!
Every time I meet a new man that I fancy, as well as the usual worries like, wardrobe panic, do’s and don’ts, food hang up’s, alcohol tolerance, touch or no touch, kiss or no kiss, I always have the dilemma of disclosure or non disclosure. I am not talking about kinky, “Fifty Shades Of Grey” dominant or submissive contracts, I wish I was! I am talking about one of the last things that I want to expose, the last thing that I want to talk about ever, let alone on a first date, my alopecia. I want someone to get to know more about me before they judge me but is it deceitful not to mention it? What if they kiss me, try to put their hands through my hair, I pull back and freak out, do I let them think that I am frigid, lie about having a phobia of people touching my hair or head or tell them as opportunity has called? This has actually happened a few times, I went with frigid. It is one thing telling someone that you date or want to date but just a random snog!? I think I am allowed to have that, drama free! So a few men have stayed, most men have run, it is a huge problem for me and not one I can easily overcome. A few of my girlfriend’s have tried to console me by saying, “Hey, at least you are black, most black chicks wear wigs and weaves!” They mean well but come on, how is that any consolation!? Choosing for fashion or depending on a necessity, they are two very different categories and I find it offensive to compare. I find it insensitive when girls and women complain about, “Bad Hair Day’s” because they may have a wondering curl or stray bit of hair. I am fucking bald and every hair advert on TV, when the girls look awesome with their new product and attract all of the men, getting everyone’s attention, pains me inside. In our western society, hair extensions are in, a lot of celebrities wear really beautiful and convincing wigs out of choice, women from all over the world, but they get to choose and I don’t.

Now a problem that Bridget had, and I share with, but most definitely not Carrie Bradshaw, is weight. I have always been curvaceous but never considered myself to be fat, but it seems that I also inherited the fat gene off some distant relative presumably on my biological father’s side, because my mum’s side, the only side that I have contact with, they are all muscular and thin, relatively tall too! I have always been short but out of nowhere, I also became a little (a lot) stumpy as well. I hate full body pictures which makes internet dating a little difficult! Bridget Jones wasn’t even that big, she just looked big because the actress that played her is naturally very petite. Bridget looked well hot in her playboy bunny suit. There is even the comic fumbling scene with Hugh Grant, who refers to Bridget’s big pants. “These are absolutely enormous pants, there is nothing to be embarrassed by, I am wearing something quite similar myself!” Cringe! Those pants were nothing, you want to see my hold in’s! Or perhaps you don’t, that’s my point. I have some pants that resemble the size of my Grandmother’s bloomers, they are indeed completely unattractive and something to truly be both mortified and embarrassed by, but extremely comfortable! I also may as well be wearing a chastity belt as my flower may have well been trodden on and stomped back into the ground, leaving a sandy, dry desert with an unbelievably strong spiders web blocking all sunlight, moisture and penetration, it has been out of action that long. Four years to be precise! The only action it gets is to release urine, rinsing in the shower or soaking in the bath. Both Carrie and Bridget at least get to exercise their woman hood, insecurities and flaws or not. I can’t even get a date. I have forgotten about the pleasures that us women can discover and explore between our legs. I will probably scream if I see a penis again and may very well be the first woman on this planet that has officially regrown her hymen non surgically! Seriously, close your legs for four years and it grows back, a much cheaper way of reclaiming your virginity!

So now I have established two physical flaws, which doesn’t give me great odd’s if we are measuring physical attraction. I work out and have a good diet but with age comes gravity and expansion! My weight is also greatly related to my third skeleton.

Do you remember the opening scene of Bridget Jones Diary? Bridget sits alone in her flat, drinking red wine, listening to her favourite sad song (All By Myself) on repeat, acting it out, pyjama’s on, smoking away. I think most single women have been there! I must confess that the set up of this scene basically resembles my life. I am constantly alone and at home, self reflecting, feeling sorry for myself and lack of love life, vaping away and feeling sad, screeching along with Spotify and howling at the moon, looking at the everyone I know, all loved up with couple selfies and notifications about wedding’s, babies, winning the lottery and I reach for my tissues, but have to re-use old ones because I have no money and haven’t left the house in weeks. O.K. I am exaggerating but my point is, everyone else is fucking fantastic and I am shit, not once In a blue moon like bloody Bridget Jones! All the sodding time!
Do you remember the opening scene of the very first, Sex And The City television show? Miranda’s thirty something birthday, four best female, single friends talk about owning sex. “You have two choices, bang your head against the wall and try and find a relationship or you can say screw it and just go out and have sex like a man”, Samantha Jones. “Men in this city fail on both counts, they don’t want to be in a relationship with you, but as soon as you just want sex, they don’t like it, all of a sudden they can’t perform the way that they used to”, Miranda Hobbes. “What are you saying? Are you saying that you are just going to give up on love? Like that is sick!”, Charlotte York. “Did all men secretly want their women promiscuous and unattached? And if I was really having sex like a man, why didn’t I feel more in control?”, Carrie Bradshaw.
Well I was having similar conversations in my twenties but now in my thirties, I don’t actually have an awful lot of female friends that are still single and childless, I am one of the very last ones on the shelf and it really sucks. It is always nice to have a wing man. Any man!? Most men my age are married or divorced or have children and my options of meeting a man who is genuinely available and without baggage, seem slim to none. That’s before the role reversal when I have to share mine! I alone have enough for two and so who knows how heavy a load a couple can carry before being trodden into the ground from the weight of the baggage!? I am not even picky at this point, I’ll take the widowed, ex convict, with triplets that are my age, at least we can go shopping together. Just kidding!
Both Bridget and Carrie found their men both right and wrong from going out and living, be it work or social gathering’s. Today’s dating world heavily relies on perfect selfies and a talent at having elegant yet seductive way’s of describing ones self and conversing with a little extra something that separates you from the rest. Bridget wrote her diary, Carrie was a professional writer, I put myself somewhere in-between when it comes to poetry and blogging but I don’t seem to have the certain, “Je ne sais quoi” with online dating.
My last partner failed to tell me that he was adverse to sexual intercourse, his reasoning being that he didn’t enjoy sex, but I believe the real reason was to constantly have the upper hand in power, I gave him everything, yet he just kept pulling those reigns. Complaining about all that I did and who I was, grooming me by micro managing my routine, personality and to some degree, my finances. When we broke up, I vowed never to use the internet dating site where we found each other, ever again. I moved onto another once ready to get back out there. Thus far, in 2017, I have been stood up four times and the guy that I finally went on a first date with, was already in a relationship and against monogamy! I am now contemplating paying for a dating site, the free ones seem to be tailored towards hook ups or full of Catfish who aren’t interested in the meeting part, just the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months of chatting. I want to meet people, test the water’s, vibe off sparks and chemistry. I have tried speed dating twice, eighteen dates in two hours was fun but how can you connect in 4.5 minutes? I phoned a dating agency after watching, “Celebs go dating” because the set up looks quite appealing to me, meet and greets, dating, double dating, one to one feedback, the time and effort put into compatibility by the office. I appreciate that if done correctly, that kind of service would require a fee, but unfortunately I don’t have a spare £800 plus to invest in anything, let alone just a chance of meeting Mr Right.

My third skeleton or baggage, whatever you want to call it, is of cause my mental health. There is still so much stigma and misunderstanding in even the most western of cultures, when it comes to understanding the vast and diverse spectrum of what it actually means to be diagnosed as mentally ill. Once again, it is a subject that requires an opportunity to explain before people run away. My anxiety restricts how many places and times that I can actually go out and socialise because I often literally have panic attacks if not comfortable and relaxed. I cannot travel here, there and everywhere independently. My depression often has me in such dark places, that it takes me out of myself, leaving only a shell. My BPD means that my mood is quite rapidly interchangeable, for this reason I pretty much work on a day to day basis and try not to commit to plans to far ahead. Despite all of this, I still have a lot of love in my heart, I want to love someone and have it reciprocated but whether it be on paper or a conversation quite early on when dating somebody, I am scared that they will run away before I even get the chance to show that I am more then the girl with alopecia, the chubby girl, the crazy girl, I am loyal, considerate, passionate, fun, loving and so much more then my physical and mental ailments. I just never seem to get the opportunity to convey how great that I can be. My weight is actually a lot to do with my medication, not from over indulging on food. I could be so much thinner but if I don’t take my medication, I’ll be a goner. Priorities!

Bridget gets Mr Darcy, Carrie gets Mr Big, but in the real world, some people just never find their Mr Right and even if they do, their love may not last forever, but at least they get to give it a good go! I want to get married and I want to have children but time is not on my side! I think that my baggage is so specific and in this shallow and materialistic world, it has and does seem to hinder my ability to find someone that can see beyond my medical ailments. The dating game seems so much harder for me, all things considered. This is the real screenplay, I would suggest bringing some tissue’s because thus far, I don’t see it being a happy ending! Single forever, cobwebs and all!

This blog was actually supposed to be funny, I wanted to take the mickey out of myself whilst comparing myself to two fabulous, female, fictional icons. It is perhaps funny in parts, but actually left me feeling quite sad! I began writing this poker faced and have ended with a little tear. I hope to one day look back at this, having accomplished my simple desire to love and be loved in return.

CRISIS

Today’s blog is about what to do when you are in crisis.
Firstly, how do you even know if you or someone you know is even in crisis? A good question but a hard one to answer as one man’s crisis could be another man’s euphoria compared to what they suffer from. Everyone is different and mental health is so vast, I believe that it would be impossible to give a, “one answer suits all”, and so I will write from my mental health state point of view, someone with anxiety, depression and bpd, because this is what I know!
So let me firstly remind you that I have suffered from depression from a very young age, the first signs of this is when I developed alopecia at the age of ten. I believe that whether you understand your problems or not, you cannot deny them and they will become active in one way or another. Being unaware, clueless and therefore not acknowledging or receiving help, your body will still find a way to release, to try and rid of what is wrong with you, like bodies do. Your body will show that something is wrong, for example psoriasis, eczema, acne, weight gain or decrease etc. When I was ten years old,I developed alopecia areata. I was not even aware that I felt down, but looking back now, I realise that I had serious dual parent envy. Something, well actually someone was missing. My life was lacking the presence of my biological father and knowing that he was alive and well, able to father his other children yet having no time, love, respect, consideration or feelings for me, made me feel unaccepted, different, unloved, unworthy and incomplete. Something was definitely missing from my life and all of that pain and strife that I could not handle, control nor understand as a child, found away out of my body.Overtime the situation worsened. I had a step father for nine years but he left without even a goodbye! That added salt to the wound, especially as by then I was much older. I was a teenager with all the regular teenage angst and hormonal nightmares but on top of that, I had been rejected and abandoned by the two fathers that I had in this world. The alopecia continued and worsened. The treatment was horrific, bullet shot injections straight into my head which would result in bee sting like tender bumps. My alopecia never ceased, it worsened to the point of me becoming basically bald. It had transformed from alopecia areata to alopecia totalise (from spots and patches to whole areas of the head, if not its entirety) even my eyebrows went and I nearly lost my luscious lashes but fortunately they stayed. Once we are on the topic, there is one more type of alopecia, it is called alopecia universalis, that means that all your body hair goes. I always say that God or the universe, whoever is in charge is having a laugh at my expense! I still have to shave other unwanted hairs on my body, the places where I want hair just don’t abide. By the age of twenty, I had to have the last bits of my hair shaved off. Afro hair is hard to manage and only having a quarter of a head of hair was far more trouble then it was worth. It was twelve years ago now but I still remember crying as my best friend shaved it all off and I sat on my bedroom floor. It never grew back. Also eventually both eyebrows also fell out and now I have to get them make-up tattooed.The whole alopecia thing has made dating particularly difficult, perhaps 7 out of a potential 10 boyfriends in my life have done a runner upon discovery and now I have being overweight and my mental health issues to also disclose and give men fuel to run off, but that is another story!
My point is that sometimes we don’t realise when we are unwell and/or in crisis. If we don’t know, if we can’t recognise and then fight the warning signs or symptoms, our body and/or minds will act on them anyway.
The best thing to do is make notes on what has happened before you fell ill as soon as you have enough clarity to do so. Keep a diary, overtime you may discover common triggers. Triggers don’t have to be big drama’s like deaths, arguments, fights, fall outs, break ups and confrontation. Triggers can be as small as smells, tastes, words, audio or visual. It’s the little triggers that we could all do with recognising, they could link to bigger episodes that we have forgotten.
I used to live in London, mostly in Hackney. At one point I would commute from Leytonstone to Hackney Central quite often. One day, a normal day on a normal journey, I blurted out, “I hate Hackney Wick” to my boyfriend at the time, as the train passed through. He asked why and for a second or so I questioned myself, and then went on to disclose that about seven years prior, I had been sexually assaulted by a female work colleague at a house party in Hackney Wick. She got me on my own, pinned me down, pulled at my clothes to expose my breasts, whilst forcing me into a position that I could not free myself from. She rubbed and grinded on top of me, forcing me to spread my legs and be still, repeating, “Come on, it’s ok”. She manipulated my body for her sexual pleasure until she satisfied herself. The next morning, we caught trains home from opposite platforms at Hackney Wick train station and I never saw her again. She never came back to work! I supressed that memory for seven years, never spoke of it, I had forgotten about it, buried it so deep and therefor I did not deal with processing the trauma. It was Hackney Wick itself that sparked the memory. That is one of the first times that I ever experienced a panic attack, it was mild but happened none the less. Now I am aware that, that place, conversations about abuse, explicit lesbian sex, butch black women, thoughts and memories of the episode, can trigger panic, anxiety and deep depression in me. It has been a long process but patience, analysis and diary logging have been worth it. The more triggers that you are aware of, the less alarming it all becomes.
I have two states of mind. I suspect that most people do. I can think clearly and rationally but engage in bad habits or think unclearly, loose control of thoughts all together and engage in self destructive tendencies. Despite the catalyst of the situation, the outcome is almost always the same, self harming and over dosing. I made up the useful term, “PRC”, myself. “Problem”. “Reaction”. “Consequence”.Ideally, “I” for, “Intervention”, should come before, “Reaction” and “Consequence”. In order for this to happen, you need to realise and understand that you are in fact, in crisis.
A) The clearer, more self aware elements to my mind, is far less out of control then, B) when I am in disassociation mode, the other more dark and irrational frame of mind.
A) If there is a problem and I am aware, which is 25% of the time, I will call the home treatment team, but I have found that it is usually a callback system and that is if they answer at all! You can call the likes of, “The Samaritans” but I prefer not to have to go back to the beginning of my mental health history every time I have to have a conversation.Each to their own though. There are also of cause 111 or 999. If rational and in control, tell someone, anyone, before you loose it.
Admittedly the other 25% of the time, feeling anxious about disclosing the problem, being unable to pin point the problem and feeling unworthy of any attention, like a nuisance for bothering people, it is quicker to self harm rather then it is to pick up the phone. It gives me instant release and I feel much calmer, way quicker then going through the rigmarole of dialling, waiting, chasing and speaking.
B)when psychosis kicks in and takes over, unfortunately I feel that I have no option but to obey their orders. They are impossible to ignore. I often don’t realise what I am doing until my self-destruction is over with, but when I come round, I do always either tell someone or ask for help.
It is always hard to identify, acknowledge and accept when you are in the midst of crisis. If you are fortunate enough to have loved ones, they should also look out for triggers and/or signs mid crisis. If not, keep communicating and the professionals should be aware, maybe even realise the level of crisis that you are in before you do.
I personally have a very poetic and creative brain. I may not say, “I want to commit suicide”, out loud and outright but if you really listen to me, you can often hear that I am trying to communicate that something just isn’t right. Drawing from the past, I may use phrases like, “The storm is coming”, or, “I keep glitching”. Whether I understand the context of what I am saying, whether I am aware of what I really mean at the time or not, those types of confessions should not be listened to lightly and be interpreted as me needing and asking for help.
I hate confrontation, I live quite an isolated life. I have a small voice, a lack of resilience and barely any confidence. I expect my nearest and dearest to know that I am a, “suffer in silence”, kind of person. I need reminding that I am safe to be honest, that I am loved and deserved of being so. I expect people to recognise changes in me, to visit and contact me, not just when I am noticeably ill, when things are dramatic but all of the time. My personal illness goes above and beyond crisis, I struggle everyday, battling both audio and physical hallucinations that go on and on about how unloved I am, how unlinked I am, how replaceable I am, how annoying I am, how much hard work I am and such negative things take their toll after so long. I don’t like to be a nuisance. I don’t like to have to ask, yet I really do need more consistent support all round really, professionals and loved ones, but from friends and family would help heal the fragmented pieces of my broken heart, mind, body and soul, and give me ammunition to fight and continue.
To summarise, mental health should be observed and treated indefinitely. Over time, patterns will emerge and we must take note of them. Things like therapy, communication, medication should help to avoid crisis. Deter you away from what you know can trigger an episode. If you can identify that you are in crisis or just feel different or unwell, always make at least someone who cares for you (medically/ professionally/personally) know. If you find yourself in danger, try to contact help. If you have already been self-destructive, still tell someone, to avoid further damage. You are important and deserve to be helped sincerely, without question or judgement.
It is neither weak or attention seeking to admit the truth and ask for help. Except when you are offered health, even though you may think it unnecessary. Ultimately, being unwell or in crisis is all relative, mental health has a deep and complex spectrum but fighting it alone, may well be impossible in my opinion. The road to to recovery will certainly be slower. Crisis is awful and terrifying but help can bring a little light. Light your own candle. Let the help shine a torch and keep both going. Then you may live to see another day and find the sunshine may banish the demons away.