What’s The Tea?

Back in January this year I co-founded the snazzily and imaginatively titled “Brunei Non Fiction Book Club with Nisa, who I knew only from #Bookstagram. We hadn’t met in person so I remember sitting in the cafe by myself that first meet up wondering if anyone would actually show up!

The idea was simple – read what you want and come tell us about it. We’ve discussed books with subjects as far ranging as environmental issues, trauma, politics, self help, memoirs and even (my personal favourite) graphic non-fiction. And anyone can join – just bring at least one non-fiction book to talk about!

Next month I will be speaking at this event talking about how people can join our book club, why non-fiction is great and what we’ve been reading. The event is free but you do need to sign up. So if you are interested in what we and other Brunei book clubs have been reading this year check it out. Sign up link here

Healthy & Unhealthy Relationships: Respect Me Workshop

Today I led a workshop for Respect Me on Healthy & Unhealthy Relationships. Below are some resources I talked about:

How Healthy is My Relationship Assessment:

Living Through Crazy Love: Leslie Morgan Steiner Ted Talk

Further Reading and Resources:

Jess Hill (2020) ‘See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control & Domestic Abuse’

The Duluth Model: https://www.theduluthmodel.org/wheels/

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.

When someone has crossed a line

If you feel uncomfortable, upset or angry when someone does something, chances are your boundaries – the actions you will tolerate towards yourself – have been violated. Some of us don’t want to challenge that person because we hate conflict. Some of us think that if we show them we are unhappy they will understand and not do it again. It doesn’t work. You need to be explicit and here is how:

For example:

I felt uncomfortable when you criticised me in front of my friends.

I would like you to talk to me in private if you need to tell me something.

If you continue to criticise me in public I will no longer be friends with you.

OR if you no longer want to be friends: to protect myself I will no longer ask you to come out with me.

A little bit deaf

About a month ago I was diagnosed with mild to moderate SNHL which means, in a nutshell, I am a little bit deaf. In both ears.

It is something which normally happens as we get older, it’s just mine was accelerated a bit. Cos clearly at 39 I’m still young! Well according to the Audiologist – who I clearly liked!

But what is, is. It’s not like I didn’t know it, not really. I’ve known I find it difficult to hear people speak when I don’t wear my glasses for years. Like it must be at least 15 years ago I first noticed it. My contact lenses had fallen out at work and I had to get within a metre of young people to understand what they were saying. (FYI that’s a lip reading thing NOT a woah the vibrations through my glasses help me hear kinda witchcraft).

So anyway after Jason telling me I was deaf for years, the hearing test finally confirmed it. Bilateral SNHL.

Basically I can’t hear you if you whisper. And sometimes if there’s too much background noise. I also can’t hear you if you cover your mouth then you speak. Also, apparently I have problems with the letters S and F and th sound meaning I may mishear you and make stuff up in my head. So sorry about that, please bare with me.

Today I’m trialling a hearing aid. I’m hearing sounds that I only just realise now that I haven’t heard for years. The opening of a cigarette packet, the whirling of overhead fans, the mutterings of Jason…

Only around 1 in 6 people who need one will get a hearing aid. I get it, glasses are acceptable; hearing aids aren’t. Many people do not want the world to know that they are disabled. Or old. Theres stigma. There’s not wanting to be treated differently. Or its vanity. Whatever.

Since telling my friends I’m a bit deaf, three people I know have told me their story. We are all around 40. We all have hearing loss akin to people at least 20 years older. So theres more of you. I know there is. We were born around the time the Walkman was invented. We laughed in the face of the warnings that told us to turn down our music. We danced by the bass speakers in drum n bass clubs. We never thought we’d get “old”.

There are so many people hiding their hearing loss so please, you people with perfect hearing… if you are given the option… ALWAYS use the mic.

Grief & Living Away

Grief is a funny old beast, usually reserved for loved ones who die, but can also sneak up on you for people who have left, for an incarnation of who you once were, or for a place or time when things were good; different. Living away from home can sometimes seem to be a never ending cycle of grief, renewal, loss & hope.

In many ways we are really privileged. There are reasons many of us came to where we are – usually the employment opportunities and pay is better than in our home countries, for one or both of us. Our Instagram feeds are filled with photographs of far off destinations that we are blessed to be able to travel to because of proximity, low cost and said better pay. Even when we’re not on holiday, we often live in countries where the sun always shines, looking like we’re having a fabulous time. According to our Instagram feeds. And it feels somewhat spoilt to talk about the other side of living away. Because living away is a choice that we make. We are not fleeing war or persecution. We’re looking for jobs, opportunities, adventures… no one forced us here. Even those of us whose employers told them they had to move had the choice to look for alternative employment. Granted the alternative could be unemployment in our home countries, but it’s still a choice and one that lots of people left behind may also make if afforded the opportunities we had.

But yet still. Despite how shiny our lives look there is an undercurrent. An undercurrent of not quite fitting in. Of finding people we connect with, who we love, who become family, who move on. People who inevitably leave. It’s like falling in love then losing that person year after year. When you stay in your home country, your family & your friends (for the most part) remain the same. Abroad we try desperately to make a connection to then find it’s ripped away. We find someone we want to hang out with, then discover they are leaving 6 months from now.

Some of us grieve for who we once were. We might have been someone in a previous life. We may have had a career, aspirations, achievements that other people knew us for. People knew our story. Yet when we move we are a story that hasn’t been read yet. A book maybe people aren’t too interested in. A book that has been placed on a shelf way at the back, that perhaps can’t be bothered anymore to try and be read.

With every move there are gains. And with every move there are losses. Unresolved grief can strangle us into depression and unsurprisingly many people who have moved multiple times can find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly mentally unwell. On top of this can come guilt for being ungrateful for the life you have. How can I be unhappy when I have all this? Why am I constantly angry even though I have all this? Which can send you spiralling further…

It’s okay to grieve and not feel okay. Talk it out with someone if you can. Find a therapist who understands transition and unresolved grief. Make a list of everything and everyone you’ve lost along the way – acknowledge what they meant to you & say your goodbyes again. Give yourself time to heal.