Enemies Foreign and Domestic: On Being A Therapist with Mental Illness

Thinking Allowed

CN: discussion of depression, anxiety, mental illness; mention of self-harm, suicide

This seems like a good place to start my blog in earnest.

A few months ago, I submitted an abstract for a conference paper to the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT), with that title. Their upcoming conference is on the theme of ‘Diversity and Wholeness’, and while I applaud their efforts – their brief mentioned racial and gender diversity, which needs to be noted in the arts therapies as it does everywhere – they mentioned nothing in this blurb about mental health or neurodiversity. In a conference about diversity and wholeness, I reckoned that was a glaring error, so I sent off my abstract, which is below:

“How do we react when a health professional receives a mental illness diagnosis? How do we deal with our internal struggles as therapists? And are we really so very different from…

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5 Totally Normal Questions Transgender People May Be Afraid to Ask, Answered

Let's Queer Things Up!

One of my favorite concepts that I’ve encountered as an activist is the idea of “holding space.”

To break it down further, “holding space” is about making room for certain experiences, feelings, or perspectives to be acknowledged and affirmed that may otherwise be pushed aside or invalidated.

Holding space can be powerful. I’m a big believer in giving people the space to open up – and in doing so, building greater understandings of where someone is coming from. A little affirmation can go a long way in making someone feel whole.

And one thing that I’ve noticed as a transgender person is that people hold very little space for us.

Society at large has avery particular idea of what the trans experience is – and it doesn’t give us room to have honest, real conversations about what we’re going through, especially when it contradicts this narrative.

This leads us…

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Where are the Princesses?

Thoughts of a Brown, Feminist, Goldsmith

Two years ago we received a light smattering of media coverage about the plight of 4 Saudi Princesses (Jawaher,  Sahar, Hala and Maha) kept under house arrest in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It is important to note that these Princesses are daughters of the Late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and had been under house arrest for 13 years already before the media picked up on their plight.


Ominously, all media coverage of their situation dried up and they were not mentioned again in mainstream media. Also worryingly, what paltry contact they had with the outside world, namely, twitter accounts, suddenly went silent and were deleted. We don’t know who deleted these accounts and why, but we do know these 4 sisters were never released from their prison.

At this point in time it seems we don’t even know if they are alive. My fear is that following the late King’s death they…

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On Football, Feminism, and Not Giving a Fuck

A post about taking up a challenging activity, braving the not-being-good part, and really enjoying it. Hells, yes.

LaDIYfest Sheffield

This is a guest post from Geo July, who is a LaDIYfest organiser.

This post was originally written in summer 2014, but I got self-conscious (cos patriarchy innit) and didn’t publish it. Also, the whole Ched Evans shitstorm hadn’t reached Peak Silage at that point, and when it did I was a bit reluctant to write about football – even to think about it, frankly. There’s a lot more I could say here: about football operating as a self-enclosed masculine fantasy, about watching football with a man who has obvious disabilities, about the form of comradeliness you find playing team sports, about the notion of being ‘sportsmanlike’ – but they’ll have to wait for another time. 

I started playing football recently. With some friends, mainly boys, some girls, in a local park. This post is about doing that; about inhabiting what is undoubtedly, even in the world that I move…

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If I don’t write it down,
I won’t get to keep any of it.
Someday, you will ask me
“Do you remember that time when…?”.
And I will say “No, you must be
Thinking of someone else.”

But if I write it down,
I’ll miss bits,
Or get it wrong,
Or get it right for this moment
But not for how it felt at the time
Or should feel.

I’ll mangle the memory,
Like trapping a spider’s leg
Between postcard and glass
When I’m trying to save it.

My Ukulele Plays Itself

So I find myself once again on stage,
Apologising for the far-too-many wrong notes
And misfingered chords
And strings tuned too high or low
And for the damaged ears and minds of every sorry member of the audience.

But although I’m gracious enough to apologise
You must understand
That it is really not my fault –
My ukulele plays itself.

I’ve tried to tame it,
But it’s having none of it.
I could tune it ten, twenty, uncountable times
During a set,
And it would always fall back
Into the same bad habits.

I’ll have you know
That my fingers are always exactly where I intend them to be.
(Trust me, I know how to use my fingers.)
It’s the frets on the ukulele
That are in the wrong places.

But I find myself wondering
Who am I to tell it to change its ways?
It doesn’t ask me to change mine.
It never complains when my voice slips out of tune.

(It wails loudly when I drop it,
But it always quietens down again.)

It has never once attempted to run off with another artist,
Although it’s spent some wistful minutes
In the hands of people with more experience and talent,
And who treat it far better than I do.

But I think that we’re meant for each other,
My mischievous ukulele and I.
I chose it from the millions of ukuleles in the world,
And as it has not yet run away to join the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain,
I’m certain that it has chosen me.

We’re both a bit scuffed,
A bit rough around the edges,
Neither of us is destined for the Albert Hall.
But when we busk in grizzly Northern towns,
Or tread the boards of the local pubs,
We listen admiringly to the real musicians and their well-tuned companions,
We make a few friends,
We have a good laugh,
And we don’t really need anything more than that.

And I’m always glad to have been standing there
Looking silly
While my ukulele played itself.