Islam and Honour Abuse

Over the last year, I’m delighted to have made some great strides mental health-wise in continuing to heal from some pretty painful life experiences. I’ve become stronger in my purpose of helping others who might need support in identifying, escaping and recovering from honour abuse, and I’m glad that people finally appear to be paying attention to the issues involved, although there is much work yet to do. There’s little doubt, however, that a great deal of this interest from many quarters stems from the fact that I am quite willing at times to link Islam to my story as a cause or reason for the abuse.

I was interviewed recently by a PhD student in criminal justice from the US, whose research on institutional responses to honour abuse will be used to inform policy there. I definitely do not include this lovely woman as being one of those parties who is only interested in hearing what I have to say for its reinforcement of prejudiced thinking. But she did ask as part of her pre-prepared questions (as it was absolutely right of her to do given the current political climate) if I thought honour abuse had anything to do with religion. It was, of course, a loaded question. Continue reading

Mental Illness: Nature or Nurture?

In my last post, I was writing while in the midst of a highly dangerous BPD trigger episode that took me fearfully close to attempting suicide again. Before I go any further, I should make it clear that I am no expert in mental illness except when it comes to describing my own experience of it. There may be times when I use terminology that feels absolutely right in doing so, but which those who are experts may well apply more knowledgably. I’m glad to say that I’m feeling a lot better since then, although I’m still angry that I didn’t get the care I needed, and indeed am still not getting. I did, however, manage to get one session in with my psychotherapist, and as predicted she helped me to identify the trigger for this severe episode.

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The Anxiety of Happiness

Today I’m remembering a therapy session I had with *Maria a few years back. I hadn’t been diagnosed with BPD or bipolar disorder at the time, although that’s not really what’s important here. I’m just remembering the strangest dilemma I had, and it’s one echoed by several people close to me who, through circumstance or self-development, have made real progress in enhancing their emotional well-being, but were finding that instead of feeling content and happy, their levels of anxiety and even panic were becoming more pronounced the better they got! Talk about a ‘can’t bloody win’ situation! But nonetheless, the feeling of overwhelm, dread and mistrust that came with feelings of increased contentment and happiness were very real.

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Eid Mubarak

So it’s Eid today. For years before now, it’s been a day of heartbreak for me. It used to be the one time in the year when everyone in the family was together; so many siblings and nieces and nephews running around; so much excitement and banter and happy noise. We would think for weeks beforehand about what we were going to wear. I used to always love choosing the brightest, most intense colours and matching them up with bangles and earrings and embroidered shoes.

Shaheen shalwaar kameez Continue reading

Life After Honour Abuse

Some months ago, I wrote this post sharing the fact that I have experienced honour abuse. I was told in no uncertain terms by relatives that legal action would be taken if I continued talking about this on a public platform. I have encountered a range of reactions from others, from messages of support and encouragement to questions about why I would choose to sacrifice my relationships with those who are supposed to be dearest to me. I’d like to answer that question today.

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Bipolar Depression: My Recurring Nightmare

NB: I wrote this post a few weeks back (it’s now almost July), and am happy to say I am feeling much better than I did here! That’s not to say I’ll never be there again, but right now I’m grateful to be on the up 🙂

Yep. I’m here again. I shouldn’t be surprised to find that I have entered yet another phase of depression considering I have bipolar disorder, and type II at that, but let me tell you – my heart falls through the fucking floor each and every time it becomes so debilitating that I can’t function properly, like it is now. Continue reading

Exercise and Mental Illness

Having recently moved house, I found myself stupidly broke after paying higher rent plus deposit, so I had to cut costs wherever I could. That meant suspending my membership at Premier MMA, the gym where I train in KTX kickboxing and jiu jitsu (these guys are incredible by the way – check them out if you’re local). I’ve always known it does me good on so many levels to have regular (even daily) exercise, especially in helping to manage my symptoms of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. But I thought to myself, ‘What harm can a month off do?’ and besides I didn’t really have another choice unless I got into (more) debt.

At the end of that time, I can say without doubt that a month makes all the difference. The consequences of not getting regular exercise have reminded me that the slippery slope to ill mental health is never far away. Continue reading

It’s Not My Shame

Whew, so here we go:

I am a survivor of honour abuse.

Only those who have been through it can understand what it’s taken me to write that sentence in public. I’ve been gathering the courage to speak out about my experiences for some time now; a couple of years in fact, and it feels as though everything I’ve done in the last decade has led up to this moment. Continue reading