Why we need to have a conversation about sexual pleasure and consent

Back in 2013 I was interviewed by Brook at a conference at UCL about the importance of talking about sexual pleasure as part of Relationships and Sex Education.

It seems like we need to have this conversation again in light of the #metoo movement and Everyone’s Invited, both highlighting the wallpaper of sexual violence that (not only) young people face.

The full video is above.

New Training Courses

I am pleased to announced I am now an accredited trainer through Nuco Training UK, and able to deliver the following courses both in person and online.

First Aid for Mental Health

  • FAA Level 1 Award in Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health
  • Award in Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health at SCQF Level 4
  • FAA Level 2 Award in First Aid for Youth Mental Health
  • Award in First Aid for Youth Mental Health at SCQF Level 5
  • FAA Level 2 Award in First Aid for Mental Health
  • Award in First Aid for Mental Health at SCQF Level 5
  • FAA Level 3 Award in Supervising First Aid for Mental Health
  • Award in Leading First Aid for Mental Health at SCQF Level 6

Safeguarding Children & Vulnerable Adults

  • Level 3 Award in Principles of Safeguarding and Protecting Children, Young People or Vulnerable Adults (RQF)
  • Level 1 Award in Awareness of Safeguarding (RQF)

Please get in touch if you would like to arrange a training course for your staff.

The Things I Would Tell You

If you asked I would tell you 1 in 3 of us have been subjected to sexual violence.

I would tell you it doesn’t have to define you.
I would tell you, it wasn’t your fault.
Don’t protest, it was definitely not your fault.

I’d tell you that blaming yourself absolves the perpetrator of responsibility,
I’d tell you it was their decision not yours.

I’d tell you that things can and often do get better.

I’d tell you 40 is better than 20.
Although you bones hurt more.

I’d tell you holding onto shame will eat you alive.
I’d tell you that anger can be positive.
I’d tell you, you don’t have to be nice to people who abuse you.

I’d tell you, you have way more power than think you do.

I’d tell you to stop concentrating on your flaws and see your beauty.

I’d tell you comparison is the thief of joy,
I’d tell you instagram quotes make me roll my eyes

I’d tell you that sometimes I struggle to get out of bed,
I’d tell you this is normal.
I’d tell you no-one can be happy, or motivated or “on it” 100% of the time.

I’d tell you that everyone, ever-y one,¬†thinks it’s only them who struggles.

I’d tell you that work is not everything although you need to pay the bills.

I’d tell you that your teenage children, despite moaning and grumbling, wish you’d talk to them more but your phone gets in the way.

I’d tell you to warn them that jealousy is not romantic,
I’d tell you to warn them the way someone feels does not justify their behaviour,
I’d tell you to warn them that “trust issues” is code for domestic abuse.

I’d tell you that abuse thrives in secrecy.

I’d tell you we shouldn’t carry the shame for the actions of others.

I would tell you am the 1 in 3.

But you didn’t ask.

How much is too much stress?

While a little bit of stress may be good for us to get working well, too much and we’re tipping into anxiety, panic then burnout. Too much stress and we lose motivation, it’s more difficult to concentrate and to remember things.
Sometimes when we’re stressedout we keep jabbing at the thing we’re trying to do. We get frustrated and angry, and we can’t get anything done properly.

At this point you need to

STOP.

Breathe.

Go do something else for a time. Then come back to it. If it’s your life overall that is stressful, try to find some time in your day where you can do something mindful or fun. This helps reduce your stress levels, and allow your brain to start processing properly. When I tell students this they sometimes say

“I don’t have time!!!”

But you do. Because by taking time out here and there and giving your brain some recovery time. You’ll actually be able to think more clearly, work will become easier and you’ll increase your memory and concentration.

For example, did you know that just 1 hour of gardening each week has been shown to reduce anxiety? Just this small amount of time each week can have amazing benefits.

What mindful activities do you do to relieve stress?

Third Culture Kids

A Third Culture Kid or TCK for short is a young person who has lived for a significant amount of time outside of their parents home country. Sometimes called Transnational Kids or Cross Cultural Kids, their personal identity will be different from both that of their parents and the cultures in which they live. They become a hybrid of the two; hence the term “third culture”.

There are approximately 600 million people worldwide who live outside of their birth country for various reasons; some families only live in countries for a set period of time (e.g. diplomatic staff, military families, those who work for some international corporations), others move out of necessity (displacement due to war etc) and others permanently migrate to another country.

The diagram above can help people understand how they are different and similar to both their parents and the wider culture. They can use the structure to figure out what aspects of their identity come from where, and what they also find difficult. For example some young people lose the ability to speak their parents home language so can find it difficult to converse with grandparents.

How about you? Are you a TCK? What have you found to be the difficulties and the strengths you’ve gained from living away from your parents passport country?

Please stop telling me to “Stay Safe”

2 months into Covid19 and I’m finally hitting a wall. A wall that most people I think have already ran into by now. I am so over every conversation, every news piece, every way this has seeped into our psyches. My brain is finally fuzzy with an overload of cortisol and I feel like I’m wading through toffee to do the simplest of tasks. This is a normal physiological reaction to an overload of stress. I am grumpy and I am stressed. It’ll pass and I’ll pop out the other side, I’m sure, but in the meantime here’s some things that would really help me:

1. STOP telling me to “stay safe”

Safety is the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It is fundamental to our wellbeing. On a logical level I don’t feel unsafe right now. I’m doing the things that are asked of me and I’m generally healthy. But everytime someone tells me to “Stay safe” they are reminding me that I am unsafe – that I should be on the lookout for danger and that spikes my anxiety levels. And an overload of anxiety = not being able to think properly.

2. Please STOP telling me to [insert unsolicited safety advice in here]...

I’m not meaning Ministry of Health or WHO here. I’m talking about that bloke you know who is always reminding you to bleach your doorstep, that it’s all a global conspiracy or don’t buy stuff from China (which makes no sense and is tinged with more than a splattering of racism). Again I am doing all the stuff the MoH is asking of me. I am not putting myself in harms way as much as humanly possible given the threat is INVISIBLE! I don’t need reminding every five minutes that I should be feeling unsafe right now.

3. Please STOP adding my work email to your companies mass mailouts.

If I didn’t have contact with you before all this started what makes you think I care about how your company is dealing with Covid19? I don’t. And I don’t need you spamming me about a pandemic every couple of days.

I recognise the irony of writing a post asking people to stop talking to me about Covid19 and safety. And I also recognise that people need to talk about it to process what is happening. So take care of yourselves out there. Remember feeling like you’re wading through toffee is the new normal so take steps yourself to reduce those stress chemicals. This is what I need – what do you?

 

Self Care Planning

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The idea that we need to care for ourselves is not new but many of us still neglect it. Why? I think it’s because when times are good, like our physical health, we don’t take much notice of our mental and emotional health. We just potter on.

On the flipside some of us roll our eyes at the idea of self care while actually practising it. Self Care doesn’t have to mean sitting meditating every day, for example it doesn’t do it for me, but exercise where I can immersed in the moment does. For some spiritual self care will be about prayer, for others walking in the woods with their dogs will rejuvenate their spirit.

It also depends on how you are doing overall. If your emotional weather is generally sunny at the moment, self care is putting routines in place that can help you when your storms come. If you’re in the midst of a mental health crisis your self care routine may be as simple as focusing on ensuring you have eaten & had a shower. Something which isn’t as simple as it sounds when you are not doing okay.

Your support system is also really important to acknowledge – who can you turn to if the going gets tough, or to have fun with this week? Your support system doesn’t have to be IRL it could be friends online, helpline numbers or support services. There is always support out there, no matter how alone you feel.

So choose to take some small steps today to invest in your emotional wellbeing – it would be great to hear how you look after yourself in the comments!