Sunday, 26 June 2016

Causes of Migraine headaches – No one size fits all

As June is migraine awareness month, I thought to do my final bit this month on some of the common triggers. Some times when one person knows a migraine sufferer, they think all migraine headaches are the same. On the contrary we all have different triggers and also what works for one person doesn’t always work for the rest of migraneurs. So please don’t generalise.

Triggers vary by person, but knowing which ones affect you can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks and improve quality of life.

9 common triggers

·         Changes in temperature, humidity or barometric pressure can bring a migraine.

·         Hormonal fluctuations due to menstruation, pregnancy and menopause can trigger migraines.

·         Diet- everyone is different but some foods and beverages can trigger migraines

·         Eating habits- skipping meals, not eating on a regular schedule can bring on a migraine.

·         Scents- perfumes, cleaning products and other odours can trigger migraines if encountered in an enclosed space

·         Lighting- Bright or flickering lights such as fluorescent light or computer monitor can trigger a migraine.

·         Sleep- too much sleep, too little sleep, poor sleep, irregular sleep pattern can trigger a migraine

·         Physical activity- exercise, sports, and other activities can be triggers

·         Heat-hot rooms, hot weather and overheating can lead to migraines

Here is one migraine suffers sums it up,

I am either

-          In pain

-          Medicated

-          Recovering

-In fear

Of the next attack

And I am trying to appear normal

What’s your excuse?

Monday, 13 June 2016

Female Genital Mutilation and that time of year Again - Summer

EVERY year around July and August, thousands of girls disappear from homes and schools for extended holidays never to return the same again. We should all be vigilant and it’s every man and woman’s responsibility to ensure our future generation’s safety from this barbaric practice. It was established a long time ago that this practice had no value in girls and women’s life and rather does damage to the both body and psyche.

Summer generally is what is called ‘the cutting season’ by FGM practicing communities which also means that people have often taken girls abroad in the summer holidays to have this done. Let’s remember school holidays are a part of the annual “cutting season” where girls younger than 15 are sent to visit relatives only to have their genitalia mutilated using knives, scissors or pieces of glass and sometimes sewn up using thorns.

To make it worse due to the awareness that has been taking place now, people now use all sorts of channels to take girls to Africa to be cut. People are now doing all sorts, some even inviting parents and grandparents from FGM practising communities to visit the UK to do the cutting, so family members –let’s remember what is wrong is wrong and FGM is a crime against women.

If you notice any changes in your neighbour, friends and relatives kids please contact the officials. This is a barbaric practice and no one should be going through this in the 21st Century.  It has been proved beyond doubt how dangerous this is to girls and women. Aiding and abetting is a crime too. Let’s all stand together against FGM.

 Let’s show female genital mutilation the red card this summer!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Things only other migraineurs understand

When you say you have a headache most people come to the conclusion that you take some painkillers and you are done. Believe me, migraine headaches are the sort of headaches you wish would kill you. I had my latest attack yesterday at work.  Most migraine sufferers find themselves having to explain the differences between a headache and a migraine to those around them. I have been a migraine sufferer since I was a child and I know how frustrating it is to be doubted be it at school, university, work and even by friends if you tell them you can’t go out for a meal because of a migraine. Sounds familiar? Although people would say drink more water and please stop getting stressed- migraines are not that simple. Research suggests they are a genetic condition. It changes the chemicals and blood vessels in the brain.

Here is what’s happening when you have a migraine:

Brain: During a migraine, neurotransmitters get released to the small blood vessels and membranes covering the brain, causing inflammation. In up to 2/3 of migraines, the pain is felt on one side of the head, but can also extend to the jaw and neck.
Eyes: With a migraine often comes sensitivity to light.

Head: About half of migraine sufferers experience vertigo or dizziness.

Vision: Up to 30% of people who get migraine also experience aura, a phenomenon that includes odd visual symptoms like seeing flashing lights or temporary blind spots.

Ears: About ¾ of people with migraines experience to sound during an attack.

Nose: In up to 50% of migraine sufferers, the pain activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes a runny nose and watery or red eyes.

Stomach: Nausea and vomiting are too frequent companions of migraine headaches.

Migraine sufferers’ feelings-
It feels like your head is being split in half with an axe, like you are going blind, like any smell, noise, light will push you over the edge. You don’t know whether to seek heat, cold touch from others, or whether you can manage to keep medication down, and you can’t cry because it makes the pain worse you want to vomit. At the back of your mind you worry that this time it might not be a migraine, but something that’s actually going to kill you.’ To make it worse after the main attack, the brain tries to return back to ‘normal’ which may take days!

‘The only time taking a hammer to your skull seems like an appropriate solution’

 ‘Surviving the day with a migraine is actually a serious accomplishment’

‘I carry more guilt than you can possibly imagine about how my migraines affect you’

 ‘Sometimes death seems better than the migraine’

‘You say sorry more times than almost anyone you know, for something that is not your fault’

 ‘I always feel somebody is judging me when I say I have a migraine’

Unfair isn’t it?

Things that people have said to me while having a migraine:

…….but you don’t look sick

…….you are just stressed

…….you just not drinking water

…….it must be nice not having to go to work

…… can’t be that bad

…….there are people worse off than you

…….you will just have to tough it out

…….this too shall pass

…….migraine sufferers I know don’t feel like you do, how is that?

…….I wish I had time to leave work early

Believe you me with my migraine I have visual disturbances, difficulty communicating (more irritation and anger for having let family/friends down again) and motor weaknesses among other symptoms.

Here are some ways of helping yourself with Migraine headaches-.

Avoid alcohol that can cause migraine headaches: It is always good to avoid alcohol or smoking for keeping a good general health. However if you are very much in to alcoholic intake; then make sure you are avoiding the alcohol which gets you a hangover in just one drink, which may be a migraine attack; and also avoid the alcohol that gets you a headache within 8 hours of the consumption.

Avoid skipping of meals as that can trigger migraine headaches: It must be noted that fasting actually increases the chances of getting migraine headaches. So, make sure you are eating in every 3-4 hours so as to keep away from empty stomach.

Avoid foods that trigger migraine: There may be some foods like chocolates, aged cheese etc which can trigger migraine in some people. If you experience the same, eliminate these foods which can trigger migraine attacks.

Avoid Sleeping Forcibly to Prevent Migraine: "Sleep is good for health; but not a forced sleep!" If you are not getting sleep do not try to sleep forcefully which cannot bring you sleep and keep you more awake and cause more of headache. Try to do some quiet and light activities like, read or be calm and lie down until you feel drowsy.

Avoid Distractions That Can Cause Migraine Headaches: There may be more of migraine headaches with distractions like loud noise, television etc. Keep away from such distraction in order to have some relief from the attack.

Avoid Direct Sunlight to Prevent Migraine Headaches: Direct sunlight exposure can also trigger migraine attacks. Make sure you avoid more of exposure to the direct sunlight

June is Migraine awareness month, help make migraines visible.

To Migraine suffers - Let Go Of the Guilt, there are things you can not just do with a Migraine!


Sources – Migraine Action

Friday, 8 April 2016

Hate Crime against Women

If you are a woman in 2016, sexual violence (and the threat thereof) will be a big factor in how you live your life. It affects where you go, what time you go, who you go with, what you drink, where you stay, who you sleep with. The list is endless. Some call it life, but seriously, it’s glorified imprisonment.

Rapes happen every day. But I have noticed that for rapes to matter, for rapes to even count, that it would have to be, first and foremost, gruesome. Add murder to it, people care a little more. Add mutilation – now it’s horrifying. And it is horrifying in the worst way possible. Do we really have to wait for women to be murdered or brutally attacked before we feel it’s worthy to acknowledge sexual violence?

It is as though the world expects young women to be raped. You’re nubile, you own a vagina, and men will be men, right ladies? Sure, let’s normalise rape against women, let’s understand it as nothing more than heterosexual sex. Men have urges. It’s nature.

A lion gets killed and it’s so harrowing that the whole world is in uproar. A young woman was held down while a man shoved his penis in her against her will – it happens.

Helen Moffat writes about this kind of overarching attitude as an ingrained hatred against women. And that is exactly what it is.

In fact, the number of women who are murdered every year should, realistically, have set off a worldwide political alarm. Every year, about 66 000 women are killed globally in violent acts of femicide. Compare this with acts of terrorism (according to the Institute of Economics and Peace in 2014) which killed 32,658 people in 2014. Femicide totals over DOUBLE the number of ‘terrorist attacks’.

To rape or kill a woman because she broke up with you, because she cheated on you, because she went for a jog in the forest, because she was drunk, because she was alone, because she left work late, because she’s lesbian, because she slept with other people, because she slept with you, because she didn’t sleep with you – that is a hate crime. To attack a woman because she is a woman is a hate crime.
The rapes and murders of young women need to be taken seriously, because sexual violence is not about heteronormative sex drives, and it is not caused by the depravity of a small group of men. It’s the direct consequence of masculinity. It is romanticising female non-consent; it is silencing women who are outspoken, shaming female sexual autonomy, regulating women’s behaviour.

It is acting as though rapists are not your brothers, sons, fathers and a friend to distance them from you; and it is convincing people that women are ‘sisters and daughters and mothers’ to justify their existence.

And women whose names I will never hear and whose faces I will never see.
How many more until a country can act as though women’s lives have value? How many more until it matters?

 Violence against women is a hate crime.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Welcome to the world of Women abuse -'18 Again' - Feel like a virgin’

When a friend told me about this cream I thought she was kidding.

Feel like a virgin- this is what India’s vaginal tightening cream ‘18 Again’ promises women. Is this not another way of exploiting and abusing women?

Shit’s getting weirder and weirder. And hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
First it was the Hollywood - the anal bleaching. Then the pink button, general vaginaplasty,before fine-tuning it to labiaplasty and now India’s 18 Again.

It’s like society is hell-bent to shave, sterilise and destroy women. Women are being turned into Barbie dolls. “But wait,” you say. “Barbie doesn’t have genitalia.”


This product promises a sexual experience that "feels like the very first time." Well I don’t know about you, but my very first time was bloody sore and not really something I’d like to relive. And what difference does it make and is supposed to enjoy this ‘first time experience?’

Do not be fooled, abuse comes in all forms and shapes!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

FGM Zero tolerance Day - back to basics

The history of FGM is not well known, but the practice dated back at least 2000 years. It is known when or where the tradition of FGM originated from. Some believe it was practised in ancient Egypt as a sign of distinction amongst the aristocracy. Some believe it started during the slave trade when black women entered ancient Arab societies. Some believe the practice developed independently among ethnic groups in Sub Saharan Africa as part of entry into womanhood.

The Romans performed a technique involving slipping of rings through the labia majora of female slaves to prevent them from becoming pregnant.  The Scoptsi sect in Russia performed FGM to ensure virginity. Historically FGM was practised by UK and US gynaecologist to cure women of so called ‘female weaknesses’.

In some parts of Africa it is valued as a rite of passage to womanhood (Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Ghana and some parts of Nigeria).

Other countries see this practice as a means of preserving a girl’s virginity (Sudan, Egypt, Somalia and Ethiopia).  In Sierra Leone and Senegal for example, female genital mutilation provides a social status and therefore a critical component of female identity.

Alternatives to FGM

How then can the above be done without cutting?

  • In the Gambia (Tolston – Wolof meaning breakthrough) involves an 18 months community education programme that addresses hygiene, women health, human rights and problem solving. Once again this involves whole communities.
  • It is important to tailor interventions very specifically to the communities in which FGM is practised. Because it is an ancient and valued custom, practices are often very specific to communities or ethnic groups.
  • Older women should always be included in discussing alternative rites of passage to womanhood as they uphold old customs.
  • Cutting girls is illegal in most African countries but this practice still takes place in the 21st Century. Any significant change to attitudes works well if developed in partnership with the members of FGM practising communities and not be perceived as a threat to a people’s culture.
Find out what works well with specific communities rather than give orders

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

One Woman, all Women?

For many women, problems of nationality, class and race are inextricably linked to their specific oppression as women. In many instances gender equality must be accompanied by changes in other fronts.

Since the issue of 'women' became important to the global political and social agenda in the 1960's, the question of whether we can legitimately speak about women as a group has been an important one. Within one country, the differences between individual women are determined by their social background,class, education, ethnicity and age. The experiences of a black single mother living in an inner city area may have little in common with those of the wife of a wealthy white suburban banker.
How can the term 'sisters' or gender equality  be used with anything other than irony in the face of the hierarchical structure that exist between different women?

Women are oppressed not only by their gender but by their caste and colour etc, sharing these oppressions with men from similar social groups. But if poor men are doubly oppressed by their colour and class, poor women experience a 'triple yoke of oppression'.

In order to understand gender in the struggles against other forms of oppression in developing world, we have to understand more about the legacy of hierarchy and inequality left by colonisation and some of the post colonial institutions including gender relations.

Food for thought!