Just Because You Can’t See My Illness Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Real



Danielle talks about mental health, how it is a hidden illness and how her friend Siobhan coped with being diagnosed with a Borderline Personality Disorder.

Young people now feel they have to be accepted more than ever. We are always looking for ways in which society will accept us. However imagine feeling like you’re never going to be accepted. Not because of stereotypical things such as the colour of the skin or the size of your body. Simply because of your illness.  Not just any illness such as your typical throat infection, that means you can’t be kissed for a few days. Just visualise an illness that you are constantly battling minute after minute, day after day, month after month and no one can see it.

According to the organisation ‘Time To Change’, one in ten young people will suffer from a mental health problem. When it comes to mental health, it is not something we typically associate with young people. What problems must twe have at such a young age to have a mental illness? Mental health is not something that has a maximum or minimum; children as young as five can be diagnosed with a problem. Mental health just does not seem to be acknowledged as much as a physical illness because it is something you can’t see.

Picture yourself dealing day in, day out, with a personality you have no control over. It controls your way of thinking and feeling, causing you act impulsively to situations it is hard for others to understand. Psychologists who are trained to offer diagnosis can sometimes struggle to see a problem; sometimes it could them years to even get it right. Often the stereotype is that people think you are an attention-seeker, playing on the ‘illness’. No one understands what you’re actually going through, we call it a phase.

‘People say get over it, you’re only depressed, but if that person was to have two broken legs would you ask them to get over it and walk?’ Siobhan tells me. At the age of 24 Siobhan was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). A mother of one, she tells me how being diagnosed with a mental illness was the last thing she thought she would ever have. ‘I’ve always been that “don’t care about anything” person,’ she says. ‘So now to care about anything and everything is still something ­­I’m adjusting too.’

One point nine percent of 16-24 year olds in 2011 were diagnosed with a personality disorder. BDP is a mental health condition which causes individuals to have strong emotions that they find hard to deal with. Most of their feelings can be angry and upset which can be harmful to themselves and others.

Siobhan began to see changes in herself in 2012 when she was away from home studying her nursing degree. She says, ‘Looking back it probably started during my university experience. I couldn’t go to work, or get out bed to go to lectures; I just felt lonely’. Shortly after this Siobhan made the decision to leave university and return home, where she quickly became pregnant.

‘It was just like I couldn’t escape loneliness. I left university because I just became so lonely, and then back home I lost a lot of people who I thought were my close friends simply because I was going to become a mother,’ she adds. ‘I just felt lost and abandoned.’ Feeling of abandonment is something that people with BPD, fear the most. They become very attached to certain individuals and will do anything to keep them around. On the birth of her daughter, Siobhan indirectly realised she had someone, who she knew she could prevent from abandoning her. Like any mother her daughter was the apple of her eye; however she began to realise how unhealthy her attachment was to her daughter.

‘Realising that my thought process was changing and it was affecting my ability to leave my daughter with others due to my anxiety,’ she tells me. ‘I knew I had to seek help. Not only for myself but for her.’

With many mental health illnesses such as BPD there is not a direct treatment or cure for it.  The organisation, Rethink, state that ‘the most common way of helping people diagnosed with BPD is through therapy sessions’. The NHS offer a variety of therapy treatments, that deal with different stages of BPD. ‘Therapy has helped a lot,’ Siobhan says. ‘Receiving cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) over a numerous of sessions with a psychologist gave me ways to gain control of my emotions.’ Through therapy sessions such as these, phycologist work to help patients regain independence and control.

Finally, being diagnosed has given Siobhan a peace of mind and a weight lifted of her shoulders. ‘My psychologist has encouraged me to ride the wave, and to simply embrace the emotions I am feeling whilst using the techniques I have been taught,’ says Siobhan. Sh has learnt to control her emotions through mediation and keeping journals. ‘I just have to learn to not let everything bother me to the point that it stresses me out and ruins my day or week.’

Going back to college to focus on her nursing again, she is able to set her mind on positivity and not let her illness stop her from fulfilling her dreams of being a midwife. She says, ‘before I was ill I wanted to become a midwife, so why should I give up because of one small set back’.

With her pink laptop on her lap and pile of chemistry books to one side, Siobhan happily shows she is more than capable to become the woman she believes she can and will be. She says, finally, ‘it took a while to accept my illness, although it is part of me it does not determine who I am, nor who I want to be in this lifetime. I have a lot to live for; not only for my daughter but myself.’


On Trend

For part of my third year television module, I worked alongside four other females to create a pilot for a potential television show called on ‘On Trend’ The aim of our television show, was to showcase affordable dupes of clothing and accessories to females aged 18-25. We wanted to showcase especially to student that you can still keep up with the latest fashions on a budget.


Thursday’s Top Picks.

For my second year television module, with my group I helped producer a magazine chat show. We decided to create a show full of a range of things. Thought the show you will see, funny videos, advice and games. For the creation of the show I carried out research for what would be on the show and was an actual presenter within the show.


More awareness for hate crime against people with disabilities

A media publisher for Disability Rights UK feels that not enough hasn’t been done properly to help people with disabilities who are affected by hate crimes.
Many people are not aware of what a hate crime against people will disabilities is, or that people with disabilities are affected by hate crimes.

The Report It organisation define hate crime against disabled people as “Any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability or perceived disability.”
Philp Connolly, who has been working for Disability Rights UK, which has been running for the past two years said “Not all hate crimes against people with disabilities are taken seriously.”
According to the English and Wales hate crime data, hate crime against disabled people has rose by 8% from the last statics of 2011/2012, however the data is not clear enough to show if there has been a rise in hate crime or police identification has improved in the offence.

Mr Connolly suggests that there could be several ways of helping the issue
“We could stop segmenting people with disabilities.”
He suggests that this is the result of the government introducing welfare reforms that are toxic for people with disabilities.
“Society sometimes look at people with disabilities, who claim benefits to be scroungers or fraudsters.”
To help improve hate crime amongst people with disabilities Stephen Brookes an ambassador at Disability Rights UK has set up hate crime networks with the police and tries to set up third party reporting centres.
With only 4% of 44,480 hate crimes reported being hate crimes toward people with disabilities support networks like this could help bring justice for more victims.
“People with special needs especially those who can’t defend themselves are targeted the most. Some people have even been forced to suicide.” said Connolly.
“More cases need to be reported for the matter to be taken seriously.”

Does black popular music hold onto racial stereotypes towards black women?

A lecturer from Birmingham City University held a presentation on racial stereotypes inflicted on young black British women.

Last year in the UK over thirty thousand hate crimes regarding race where reported by the police. With this event young black women had the opportunity to speak on what it is like to be a black woman in society, and how race and sexual stereotypes affect them.

Dionne Taylor felt from her studies, that ‘black popular music’, contributed to racial stereotypes that can both be seen in the media and society.

“There is an overwhelming negative representation of black women in the Hip-Hop and Dancehall musical genre” said Dionne.

Hip-Hop and Dancehall music was created in black communities, so with artist using explicit and sometimes disrespectable language in their music it creates a picture of what a “typical” black female represents.

For the first part of the presentation Dionne discussed how Hip-Hop music and rappers can put women in a bad light. She played several videos from artists such as Akon and Nicki Minaj and addressed with the audience how they felt these videos portrayed black women.

When watching the Nicki Minaj video ‘Only’, many females in the audience felt like she was representing everything people associate black women with. They felt it just made bad conations such as ‘Bad B**tch,’ linger around, because we seem to like being represented in that way.

One female in the audience said “When Chris Brown sings the chorus it is as if he is talking about everything she is. The video is like as if the male artist in the video are desiring her.”

When Dionne moved on to Dancehall music, the audience felt even more degraded by the music. Before being sentenced to life in prison Vybz Kartel was one of main artists known over the world, for explicit lyrics in his music. In this generation this music more comes under the category Bashment.

During her talk on Dancehall music Dionne played one of Kartel’s most famous explicit songs, ‘Virginity’.  The lyric version was played so members could analyse and understand exactly what he was saying. Many members in the presentation who were new to this type of music, were shocked about how blunt and rude his lyrics were.

Toyah although coming from a Caribbean background, felt like the lyrics over stepped the mark.

“It is disrespectful, unlike Hip-Hop, Bashment artist are more upfront about sex and more embrace in their songs and don’t care how good or bad it may look. He is making a sensitive subject sound vile.”

Not every member agreed with this however. Although we may be the same race, we come from different cultures and surroundings.

Angela Jones said “The lyrics may shock some but its culture. His talking about sexual activity, but it expressed in a different way than Hip-Hop, because the culture is different. Bashment is all about promoting sexual activity. It may not be in a way we would but it is the norm to them.”

Hip-Hop and Dancehall is a movement that has been around for many years and embraced by many races, however from this presentation many females feel that it degrades black women and hinders them from being seen in a positive light in the media.

Aston Debates: NHS vs Immigration  

aston debate

On Wednesday 25th March 2015, debates surrounding the elections were held at Birmingham University.

Radio Presenter Charmaine Burton held the debate at the Aston University campus, where four candidates voiced their opinions and facts regarding either immigration or health care.

The Senior Regional Officer, for the Royal College of Nursing kick started the debate, with whether we could still afford the NHS or not.

With many parties addressing that they would invest more in the NHS if elected, David Kirwan felt like it was one of the biggest concerns by voters. According to the NHS Confederation, the expenditure set for 2014/2015, is £113.035 billion.

“The cost of the NHS, will be on people’s minds running up to the election.” Said Kirwan.

When introduced Roger McKenzie the assistant General Secretary at UNISON, he blended the impact of immigration and healthcare. To start of his speech he incorporated both themes. He spoke on his mother who was an immigrant and was assaulted whilst pregnant with him because of her race. He however lightening up story by praising the wonderful care she received in the hospital.

Throughout his short talk, McKenzie addressed he strong views on how immigrants are treated in the British workforce.

“Frankly there are too many people in this country who are experiencing too much harassment and exploitation from their employers.” said McKenzie.

He expressed links between immigration and health care. McKenzie felt like health care was one of the main sectors were immigrants were exploited the most.

“Immigrants lose their rights as a worker, as they are employed on these self-employed schemes.” McKenzie said.

For example bank jobs in the hospital, nurses have the opportunity of booking in when they want to work however Kirwan said, “Bank nurses won’t see the same benefits as a permanent employed nurse.”

Ending the speech the only lady at the front, gave her to support to how immigrants should be welcomed with open arms.

Dr Katherine Tonkiss, a lecturer for Sociology at Aston University, spoke on the views on how people should be free to come in to another country without having hatred towards them.

“Borders are not real.” Said Dr Tonkiss. She goes into depth about opening borders and the importance of it. She expressed how she felt that the government were spending money are things that we cannot control.

Dr Tonkiss ended her speech with,

“We are focusing on the wrong issues.”

The Aston Debate 2015 #brumvote

19:27- In the NHS zero hour contracts are considered as bank. This is when nurses will call up or be called up and schedule in when they can work. They are not always guaranteed many hours as they only habe to work one shift a month to be kept on. “Bank nurses won’t see the same benefits as a permanent employed nurse” David Kirwan.

The Aston Debate 2015 #brumvote

A young woman in the audience addressed she doesn’t understand why the government allow people to be employed on zero hour countries. She speaks on how her friends get phone calls hours before work to see if they can work. Roger McKenzie says it simply down to “Profit.” Applying workers on these types of contracts gives the company a higher income. “It’s an absolute scandal!” Mckenzie points out.