The ramblings of a 20-something disabled, queer, feminist, Irish kitty

This is another recipe that I have modified and adapted. The original recipe was for ‘bangers and mash’, which I found on the NHS Change 4 Life website, which stubbornly refuses to let me link to it! That recipe called only for the veg and potatoes, but this does not produce a particularly nice consistency, so I have added the Lactofree milk (cow’s milk with the lactose removed), and Pure sunflower oil spread (this is the only butter substitute that I have found that is both lactose and soya free, and therefore low FODMAP). I usually use butternut squash for this recipe, as it is often all that is available in store.
Again, this meal will count for 2 of your ‘Five a Day’, as well as a full serving of carbohydrates, so all you need to add is some kind of meat or meat substitute to make it an officially ‘balanced’ meal (it is NHS approved after all). This means that it can be a great way of getting vegetables into people who don’t like them, especially if you serve with gravy.

I have included instructions for the ‘low spoon’** method of cooking squash and other equally tough vegetables. For many spoonies who tire easily, have weak wrists, etc. it can be difficult to chop veg, and ones like squash are particularly resistant. Using the microwave instead softens the veg before chopping. You can choose to microwave it until it is completely cooked, or only do it part-way until it is soft enough to work with, and then you can throw it into the boiling water with the rest of the vegetables.

Serves: 3 to 4

300g or 4 medium carrots
700g potatoes
300g swede, turnip, or butternut squash
1 knob Pure sunflower oil spread
A dash of Lactofree semi-skimmed milk

Cooking Time: 25 minutes approximately

Calories: 330 approximately

1. Peel the potatoes and carrots, and then chop into thin slices, or dice, and put in a large saucepan.
2. Cover in boiling water and boil for approximately 20 minutes, until soft.
3. If you are using butternut squash, chop it approximately in half, and weigh, to ensure you have cut off the correct quantity. As swedes and turnips are smaller, you will hopefully not have to cut them at all.
4. Pierce the skin of the squash* and microwave on full for approximately 15 minutes (if your microwave has preset functions you can enter the weight and use a vegetable setting).
5. Once the squash is cooked, remove from the microwave to cool.
6. Once cool enough, you can peel the squash using a sharp knife, stabilising it with a fork. (At this point it will still be too hot to handle).
7. Dice the squash and put into a large mixing bowl.
8. Drain the potatoes and carrots and put into the same bowl.
9. Put a knob of Pure spread, and a dash of milk into the bowl, and mash until you achieve the desired consistency.
10. Serve with gluten-free sausages, or as an accompaniment to any other high protein item (meat or meat-substitute).

*or swede or similar (I will henceforth be using ‘squash’ as a catch-all term for ease

**see The Spoon Theory if you don’t know what a spoonie is

This is a recipe that I have modified and added to over the years, and now adapted to use only low FODMAP ingredients. If you are not following a low FODMAP or similar diet, then you can use regular pasta and any type of bell pepper. The original recipe also included spring onions, which I have removed as they are a high FODMAP food.
I usually make this meal for 2, but it scales up and down very well, so I have listed the amounts for 1. Multiply as needed.
This isn’t the healthiest meal in my arsenal, but so long as you choose the least fatty bacon you can, and opt for light mayo, it’s really not too bad, and with all that veg should count for at least two of your ‘five a day’.

Serves 1

75g or 2 to 2.5 handfuls of gluten free pasta
1 medium egg
2 strips of back bacon
1/2 bell pepper (any colour except green)
3 to 4 radishes
45g mixed salad leaves
1 dessert spoon light mayonnaise

Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes

Calories: 240 calories (approx)

1. Put 1 medium egg in a small saucepan and boil for 15 minutes.
2. Once the egg has started to boil, put the pasta into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
3. As soon as the pasta has been turned on, start grilling 2 rashers of bacon, turning once. Make sure that they do not end up too crispy, as they will not mix well with the rest of the salad if they are. These should take approximately the same length of time as the pasta.
4. In the meantime, dice the bell pepper and radishes, and tear or chop the salad leaves. (Personally I use a mixed bag of baby spinach, baby red chard, and wild rocket)
5. Once cooked, peel and chop the egg, and chop the bacon.
6. Mix everything in a large bowl with approximately 1 level dessert spoon of light mayonnaise.
7. Serve and season to taste (I find it’s best with some black pepper)

Armpits 4 August

This year I am taking part in Armpits 4 August.

Armpits 4 August banner

Armpits 4 August is like a feminist answer to Movember. The idea is that anyone who self-identifies as a woman (whether cis or trans) can take part by growing their armpit hair for the month of August. As with Movember, the goal is to raise money for charity, and raise awareness of an illness that is rarely talked about. Armpits 4 August’s chosen charity is Verity, who are the UK charity for people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

I first heard about Armpits 4 August a few months ago, via social media. As a relatively newly-found feminist, I was intrigued, and decided to read more. I had never even heard of PCOS before, and I think that that alone is enough reason to take part. According to their website, approximately 10% of women suffer from PCOS, and yet I didn’t even know it existed!

A big part of events like Armpits 4 August are not only raising money, but also raising awareness. There’s lots of helpful information about PCOS on the Armpits 4 August website here.

But Armpits 4 August is an important event, not just for people with PCOS, but for everyone. The amount of misogyny levelled at women (or those perceived as such) on a daily basis is simply staggering, as shown by the Everyday Sexism project.

A fairly major part of this sexism revolves around societal standards of ‘beauty’. From a startlingly young age, girls are taught that they will start to grow more body hair around the age of 12, or whenever puberty decides to strike, but that this is disgusting and they should shave it off as soon as it begins to grow! Combined with fat-shaming, and all the other body-shaming tactics that the media and society churn out, women are constantly bombarded with images and ideas of how they ‘should’ look. This unrelenting pressure to look and act a certain way, this idea that a woman’s body is not even her own, is damaging beyond belief.

Well, I’ve got news for you. It’s MY body. There is nothing disgusting or shameful about having body hair, or spots, or blemishes, or not wearing makeup, or not having perfectly coiffed hair, or not wearing high heels. If I want to shave, or wear makeup, or do any of those things, then I will, but it is my choice, not anyone else’s.

A collage subvertisment that reads 'Imagine never having to shave again! It's easy Just Smash The Patriarchy'

Imagine never having to shave again…

So, this year, I am taking a stand, and taking part. I have been growing my body hair for a few months now, partly in preparation for Armpits 4 August. I have decided to keep my existing pit hair, instead of shaving it off and starting over, as I intend to try dying it, and wanted to make sure the hair would be long enough!

I will be documenting my progress over the coming month on my Tumblr account – Angry Activist Artist  as well as my Twitter account @MyWrath

If you would like to sponsor me, you can do so here. Anything you can give would be very much appreciated.

Alternatively you can visit the main Armpits 4 August justgiving page.

If you would like to find out more about the charity Verity itself, please check out their website.

When people look at me they see a healthy, young, 20-something woman. They see someone in the prime of their life. They see someone who should be fit and full of energy. They see someone who should be able to run up a flight of stairs, or queue with everyone else.

You know what? I’d love to be able to run up that flight of stairs. I’d love to be able to walk around an entire museum without falling over. I’d love to be able to stand in a queue for an hour. But I can’t. Maybe, on a good day, if there was a fire I could run up that flight of stairs. On a bad day, I could drag myself up it as fast as my body would allow. But I have a finite amount of energy, and doing so would use up my entire allowance for that day.

I do believe that the disablism I suffer is worsened by my age. I have had middle-aged people demand to know why I am using the lift, when I look fit as a fiddle and should be able to run rings around them. I have had shop assistants laugh at me as I try to use the crappy lift in their store. I have had doctors reaching retirement tell me I am too young to be on as many medications as I am. Medications that other doctors have prescribed! I have had old ladies stare at me as I take out my walking stick. I have had people stare as I sit down in one of the disabled seats on the bus. I have had people scowl as I have taken out my radar key to use the accessible toilet because the queue to the ladies is too long.
The problem is that all of those people cannot see the constant pain in my joints and muscles. They cannot see the raging infections. They cannot see the fatigue. They cannot see that if I were to queue for more than a couple of minutes unsupported my legs would simply buckle under me. And they cannot see the guilt, the anxiety, the depression, the paranoia that rages inside my mind. Every time I use an accessible facility I feel guilty. I worry about using a service that someone else might need more. Of course, if someone in more need than me came along I would give up my seat on the bus. I am not the monster that strangers seem to think I am.

People look at me and they see someone who should be in work. I dread going back and having to field a million questions as to why I could not work for months. People look at me and they do not see the crippling depression. They do not see the terror that befalls me at the prospect of making a phone call. They do not see the frightened girl who is scared of strangers. They do not see someone who needs assistance to fill out a simple form. They do not see the mind that is plagued with flashbacks.

People look at me and they cannot understand why I cannot be impulsive. One of the things that I hate most about my illness is having to ration my energy. I have a finite amount of spoons, less than your average non-disabled person. To make matters worse, the amount of spoons I have can vary wildly from day to day. So when I want to do something fun, whether it’s go to the zoo or museum, or go to a weekend long convention, or even go to the pub for an hour, I have to stop and consider how many spoons I have available. My partner and I have adapted to this by being as organised as possible, and planning our days as best we can. Where possible, we try to have contingency plans in place as well. This may sound dull. This may make people think I am boring. But it is actually to ensure that I get as much enjoyment out of my day as possible. By finding out in advance how accessible a venue is, by planning in advance an alternate activity should the first plan turn out to be too strenuous, we ensure that no matter how I am feeling that day we try to make the most of it. People judge me for not being impulsive, for not liking surprises, for getting annoyed when people change our plans at the last minute. But it is because they have no idea what it is like to have to ration one’s spoons. They do not understand the worry that comes from having to gauge whether doing this activity will use up all my spoons for the next 2 days and prevent me from going to work the next day. People may think I am a spoilsport, but this is me trying to have fun.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that people with visible illnesses have it easy, or do not experience disablism. I am simply trying to describe the special brand of prejudice that is levelled at someone like me, someone who is a young adult with invisible illnesses and disabilities.

Trigger Warning: Self harm

Today, 1st March, is Self Injury/Harm Awareness Day. This is a particularly important day for me, and one that I feel does not get enough attention. Self harm is still a taboo topic, which people shy away from talking about all too often. Even I avoid talking about it most of the time, as I know that doing so upsets the people around me. I even find myself hiding the artwork that I do instead of self harming, because seeing such dark paintings would also upset people! But you know what? Not talking about it only makes it worse.

And so it pleases me greatly that there are charities and initiatives devoted to this topic, and who use today to raise awareness of self harm and how prevalent and damaging it is. When researching the topic, I found 2 particularly informative charity websites.
The first, contains some important information, and disturbing statistics. The only problem is that it seems to focus entirely on teenagers and young people, as though once you hit the age of 25 all your problems magically disappear and you no longer feel the urge to self harm.
The second site,, while being a bit of an eyesore in it’s design, at least acknowledges that people of *any* age can be affected by self harm.
Sadly both sites perpetuate the gender binary, declaring that self harm is not just a ‘girl thing’ and boys do it too, completely dismissing anyone who does not identify as either of these. But I guess Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I hope these sites do more good than harm even if they are not perfect.

But I digress. I wanted to give a personal account of my own experience of self harm.
I have been self harming for as long as I can remember, certainly before the age of 9 (when I was first treated for depression). I have been told by professionals that I learnt to do this as a coping mechanism because I did not learn any of the ‘normal’ methods of expressing emotion, especially anger. My anger was stifled, it was an emotion I was simply not allowed to feel, never mind express. So I bottled it up and took it out on myself physically, regardless of who or what I was actually angry at.

To this day I am still not sure what a ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ way to express anger is. I try to use other methods such as writing, painting, or, on rare occasions, actually talking to the person who has angered me and discussing the situation like a healthy grown up. These alternative methods are always a struggle though, and my first gut reaction is always to hurt myself in some way, or to lash out violently. This second part is the scariest. Sometimes I self harm because what I *want* to do is express myself violently outwards, at others, where others can see it. Thankfully since I went on medication a few years ago this side of myself has been easier to control, but it is still there, and it still terrifies me. One of my biggest fears in life is that someday I will lash out violently and I will lose the people closest to me as a result. And so I turn the anger inwards. It always seems better to hurt myself than others.

I had an extremely frustrating assessment with a psychiatrist a couple of days ago. She admitted to me that she intends to write a letter to my GP saying that she is discharging me despite knowing that I will continue to self harm until I undergo intensive therapy. The anger I felt in that meeting was overwhelming. This doctor in essence admitted that even though they are aware that I will continue to injure myself on a regular basis, I must wait several more months to begin therapy and they will not take any more drastic measures because they do not think I am a danger to others.
And whatever organisations like might have you believe, even this doctor is not delusional enough to think that I will magically stop self harming in 35 days when I turn 25 and am no longer to be deemed a ‘young person’.

As I mentioned before, until now I have been too frightened to share the artwork that I make instead of self harming. But as it is Self Injury Awareness Day, I think I shall finally bring some of these pieces out into the light. They may be dark and distressing and all sorts of other negative things to other people, but to me they are a positive thing. They are what I create when I have just enough self control to paint instead of hurt myself, when I can take scissors to paper instead of skin. They may be an ugly outpouring of feelings that people do not want to see, but at least they are *out* instead of stuck inside me. Surely this is a good thing?

Red snowflakes and black text that reads UNWANTED, Drops of Blood in the Snow, drop by drop, it all comes pouring out

Drops of blood – My only painting specifically *about* the urge to self harm


black on red oil pastel piece

Pure rage – Quick pieces like might not look pretty but are particularly good for getting the anger out in a hurry.

black lines on bright pink paper, and text that reads 'pain' over and over

Pain – It makes no sense to me at all, but sometimes when I’m in physical pain it makes me want to self harm

Paper and bubble wrap collage including key words re mental illness - psycho, depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc

Psycho – This time I took scissors to paper instead of my skin.



There’s a lot more art where this came from, and maybe soon I’ll find the courage to post it all on my Tumblr. I honestly don’t know, are these disturbing? Can you look at these and feel my pain and anger? I know they’re not pretty, but they’re healthier than scars, right?

I feel like I’ve been too critical of the charities mentioned above. I genuinely feel that the work they do is very important. In fact, charities are one of the only things keeping me alive right now. During my current breakdown the NHS has failed me over and over again, but I have turned to charities, namely OSARCC, Mind and Samaritans and they have given me the help and support that the doctors have refused me. Someday when I am better and hopefully earning more again, I will give back to these 3 charities in particular, for without them I might not even still be here. I urge anyone who can to support any and all mental health charities. Whether you offer them your time or your money or whatever else you might have, these services are vital and horrendously underfunded.

And it all comes back to the fact that mental illness and self harm are still taboo topics in our society. Not enough people talk about them are far too many people feel that they have to suffer in silence. So even if it is just for one day, please help us smash this ridiculous and outdated stigma. Talk about it. Write about it. Tweet about it. Paint about it. Think about it. Please.


Trigger Warning for mention of abuse (no details given)

I am currently halfway through a 12 week long women’s support group. It has taken a long time, but I am finally in a place that is safe and secure enough that I can try and process some of the abuse I suffered in the past, both physical and emotional.

This week, the facilitator of the group spoke a little bit about hope, hope for the future, hope for recovery. She explained how pretty much all abuse victims have this little (or not so little) part of them that is stuck at the age at which the abuse took place, whether that was during childhood or later on. And how, invariably, thinking about your abuser will send you back to that place, when you were younger and more vulnerable. But one of the most important steps of recovery is to nurture a sense of hope, to keep telling that scared little kid inside of you that there is still hope, and that things will get better.

I liked this idea of nurturing a seed of hope within myself. So I took it, and made it my own. I decided, right there in the meeting, that I would get a bear and call her Hope. Not just any bear, but a Build-a-Bear, so that I could pick out a nice, cheerful, hopeful design, and put a little heart inside it full of hope for the future. She even comes with a birth certificate with her name on it, just in case I ever need the extra reminder.

So, today, the ever-supportive Alex took me to Build-a-Bear in Oxford, and bought me a beautiful little bear, and I named her Hope.


She will be the symbol of my recovery. Next time I’m lying awake at 3am, unable to sleep, with thoughts of dark things from my past swirling around in my head, I will reach for Hope, and she will remind me that things will get better. Because things have to get better. And when the time comes when I am finally ready to speak out and stand up to my abusers, I will look at Hope, and I will be reminded of how far I have come, and how strong I really am, even if I still feel like a frightened child.


Hey, you know who denies rape culture? RAPISTS!
You know who thinks a picture of some creepy guy watching vulnerable women sleep, or someone’s husband coming up behind them with chloroform is funny? RAPISTS!
You know who really doesn’t find this kind of thing funny? At least 1 in 4 women, who have been raped.
I’m sorry that you are so far up your own ass that you cannot see how never having woken up with some guy on top of you, with their cock inside you, raping you is FUCKING PRIVILEGE. But to a lot of women, in EVERY country these kind of experiences ARE a reality.
I’m sorry that I don’t live in Somalia and no one has ever mutilated my genitals. But that doesn’t mean I’ve never been raped. Just because I’m white and was raised middle class doesn’t mean no one’s ever taken advantage of me. I know I have some privilege, and I have never in my life tried to deny that. But I’m not so fucking privilieged that I can look at an ad that normalises rape and stalking and domestic violence and think that it’s just ‘silliness’ and nothing to get upset about.