What can you learn from a drag queen?

I’ve recently discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix and I am hooked! The programme is a take on America’s Top Model but the Queens make their own outfits which are phenomenal especially when teamed up with the sometimes outrageous wigs and disgustingly high heels that make me want to scrunch my toes from imagining the pain.

These ladies have skill, imagination and big personalities to match. It is fascinating to watch seeing how these men turn themselves into women from their makeup to their figures, everything gets all tucked away, a bit of padding here and there, use of chest plates and voila! In some cases you can’t even tell they work born male, the transformation is that good.

The Queens who starred on the show were over the top dramatic they would refer to themselves and call each other ‘bitch’ but it wasn’t necessarily to be unkindest ‘bitch’ can also be an acronym for babe in total control of herself. The tones used were playful and teasing but secretly they all wanted their competition to crash and burn in the challenges and on the runway so they could win.

Behind the layers of foundation and reams of tape used there is a serious undertone. The show always ends with the line ‘ If you can’t love yourself then how the hell are you going to love anyone else? ‘ which I think is a very important message. Many of the contestants have gone through emotional ups and downs, personal tragedy and experiences. Being unhappy and disliking yourself can have a negative effect on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing, some of the contestants touched upon the topic of suicide. There is a lot we can learn from these Queens and apply some of their attitude to everyday life.

Be yourself

untitledHow many of us have tried to change ourselves just to please others or to ‘fit in’ an environment that wasn’t really suited to us to begin with, it was just something we thought we had to do?

Many of the contestants have gone through difficult, painful experiences.

  • Some either no longer speaking with their families who don’t approve, don’t understand their lifestyle choices or the fear of being disowned once their family find out the truth about them.
  • They have suffered physical and emotional abuse from family members and random people.
  • Eating disorders
  • Joining gangs
  • Hating themselves by being an angry gay, one constant on the show said he was an angry gay, just angry for being the way he was and he looked fantastic as a woman; Carmen Carrera

Yet despite all of this they have learned to accept and corny as it sounds love themselves. Eventually you will find the slot you fit into and if you don’t then you create one where others will see you shine.

Inspire yourself and others

Our life experiences, the good and the bad help shape the person we become. We all fall down but there is strength in how you get back up to be happy, content and be where you want to be in life.unleash inner dag

For some of contestants this show was a platform to tell their story, to inspire others to take risks and be themselves. It’s ok to be scared, not everyone will always agree with the choices you to make as long as you are confident in those decisions.

Looking at these Queens, their diva attitude and fighting spirits you can’t but feel inspired to channel your own inner drag queen to be the best that you can be.

Be supportive

We all have our strengths and weaknesses and need a bit of help to pick ourselves up when we fall down. Behind all the sniping there is a team spirit, in group challenges contestants helping each other with their makeup, helping to put a dress together as not all the Queens were a great with a sewing needle and thread, many opting to use a hot glue gun.

Helping each other and being supportive is how we also we learn new things and see things from a different perspective. I would rather help someone feel confident about themselves rather than try to break them.

It’s one thing to get ahead, but get there on your own merits and hard work, not by stepping on other people. Remember the people you upset on your way up that ladder could be the same people you see on your way down.

How my views on #mentalhealth changed.

Not having suffered from a mental illness I can’t fully understand what someone who battles with such an illnesses goes through on a daily basis and the range of emotions they feel. However since working for a health trust provides both community and mental health services I have been fortunate enough to have met a range of people who live with their illnesses and have won the small battles to be able to live a normal life. I developed a better understanding of what mental health is, it isn’t just about the illnesses that you hear about on the television like schizophrenia, bi polar, depression etc it covers so much more; anxiety, postnatal depression can affect both parents not just the mum, eating disorders, autism also comes under mental health. We need to move away from defining people by their illness, not every person with the same illness will behave the same way. They are people with feeling and emotions first, their illness is secondary.

I have written about mental health from an employment point of view in the past since then mobile phones have evolved to mini personal computers, social media has expanded to the point that the people behind the social sites need to consider how to safe guard their users against bullying trolls, and gradually so have attitudes towards mental health.

I not saying that the entire world is now more open minded and educated but charities such as Time to Change, Mind and Heads Together that have been working endlessly to educate and encourage society to change the way it thinks and behaves towards those with a mental health illness.

Cultural boundaries

In my opinion mental health still has yet to cross over cultural boundaries with some cultures still not understanding or even accepting that mental health illness is real instead believing it can be treated by becoming more religious or is a form of possession. Thinking a person cannot ever lead a normal life but with the right treatment it can be possible. I’m not discounting that religion in some cases has helped bring calmness but it’s not to be used as a way to guilt trip the sufferer into thinking they are being punished by god.

A lot of work is still to be done the Asian community in the UK as it’s about breaking down age old barriers and changing the way older generations in particular think. Saying this credit has to be given as cracks are slowly starting to appear in those barriers, communities are learning and understanding that sometimes things in our heads get a bit jumbled up and that we need a bit of help to make things a bit less blurred.

Treatment

When I mentioned treatment your mind may have automatically gone straight to medication but this isn’t always the case. Treatment could be a series of counselling sessions in a group or one to one bases in the way of Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Exercise not only to helps to improve both mental and physical health but encourage socialisation. Fitness in Mind in Brentwood run an series of inclusive exercise classes ‘…designed to promote, encourage and provide physical activity as an aid to mental wellbeing.’ The Mind website has a list of alternative options if counselling or exercise doesn’t interest you.

Despite all these efforts it is still difficult for many people to share the demons they are battling with others for fear of being labelled by their illness. Time to Change recently led the campaign #inyourcorner this campaign focused on being there for your friend when they need you the most and also touching on men’s mental health encouraging to let go of the idea that sharing with you have a mental illness is not a sign of weakness.

Mental health awareness week

Mental health awareness week is 8-14 May #MHAW17, there will be events taking place across the country to get people talking and breaking down those walls. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn more about mental health and how you could support someone whilst they go through a dark patch and to share your own experiences.

Whatever you think mental health illness is may not be true. Don’t be fooled into thinking it couldn’t happen to you, mental health illnesses can affect any one of us at any time. You don’t have to understand mental health sometimes all you need to do is listen, keep an open mind and be supportive because one day it could be you that needs the same in return.

Linked articles

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Mental Health and Employment

 

 

Gym bunny?

bunny-eating-carrot-mdDue to circumstances and changes in my life, towards the end of last year I wasn’t looking after myself very well. I hadn’t exercised properly for the last 6 months and if you have been reading my blog for a while you will know even if I did nothing else I would still try and attend a kickboxing class. My diet eventually consisted of takeaway food or whatever I could grab on the go, mix in copious amount of tea with 2 teaspoons of sugar at a time it’s a wonder I haven’t put on an excessive amount of weight. Saying that my weight hasn’t increased to the point where I am at risk of obesity but to a level I am not used to. Hence the small steps I have started taking to try and improve my emotional and physical wellbeing.
Not only did my weight, energy level suffers but so did my immune system. Usually I can fight off a cold but over the Christmas and New Year period I was pretty much bed ridden and comatose due to germs and antibiotics.

As a child I had a very small appetite, I didn’t put on weight easily. Strange how a bit of weight gain and mum remembers things, hence this conversation with my mum;

Mum; Well Fozia, who would have thought you would put on weight from hiding your roti (chapatti) when you were younger (so it looked like I had eaten it all)

Me; Do I look fat?

Mum; No, you look healthier

If anyone one would have told me I was on the verge of becoming a chunky monkey it would my mum.

20140129_103646MugOfTea[1]Nevertheless, I am still embarking on a somewhat healthier lifestyle. I haven’t cut out certain types of food like crisps, white bread etc just reduced the intake of them. I am drinking more water, and although I do have to keep going to the toilet I do also feel less sluggish and feel like I have more energy. Haven’t noticed too much in the way how my hair and skin looks but then I have only been at it for about a week. I’ve reduced my tea intake or the caffeinated version anyway. I do like my tea, I do like herbal teas as well but you can’t beat a nice cup of normal, caffeine induced tea.

I’d like to be able to tell that with this renewed desire to be healthier I am eating the recommended 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables a day but I would only be lying. I’m managing two maybe three pieces on a good day. Changes take time.

Gym bunny

gym-bunnyThe gym is back in play, I have noticed that I can’t run on the treadmill as much as I used to but am steadily building my stamina up. I also remembered why I strongly disliked going to the gym during January and some of February, it’s always filled with people who have made New Year’s resolutions to get fit and go to the gym. Until slowly that large pizza for one creeps back in and those people peter off by mid to late February. You may think me harsh, but I don’t think I am. How would you feel not being able to use the machines you want because someone thinks spending an hour on one machine at a time is going to magically disintegrate the fat to reveal the tight abs that were lurking beneath all along? No people, that is not how it works.

Exercise classes

My sister and I have been trying to go to an exercise class but something always jinx’s our attempts.
Tried to go to a Body Balance class last week, turned up at the time is used to run to find out the start times had changed, starting 30 minutes earlier. Nevermind, went to the gym instead.
Friday, thought we’d try a yoga class, then the blizzard hit Essex and there was no way I was going to drive when visibility was that poor.
Monday this week, we did make it to a Zumba class only for it to be cancelled because there weren’t enough people! Who knows if and when we’ll make it to an exercise class.
I haven’t gone back to kickboxing yet, the timing of the classes I used to go to don’t fit in with my schedule these days which is a shame but life sometimes has a habit of getting the way. I have a kickboxing exercise video that I do now and then but it’s not the same feeling that you get from a class and hitting pads.

Results

I haven’t been on this healthy trip for long so haven’t noticed any huge physical changes as yet. I think the weighing scales are evil, they just don’t like me and the feeling is mutual.  I’m not looking to lose much weight as I don’t think I look too bad as I am. It’s more about being at point of feeling better within myself which is half the battle.