The Reality Of Freezing Your Eggs

As Posted On Simply Oloni

Recently tech companies Facebook and Apple added egg freezing to the list of health benefits available to their employees and with TV shows like New Girl and Being Mary Jane also bringing it to our attention, an increasing number of women are signing up blindly. It’s 2015, what woman doesn’t want a shot at ‘having it all’?

The problem with this superwoman ideal is that it’s unrealistic. US Glamour writer Debora Spar spoke about how the principles of feminism have been interpreted into a “route to personal perfection” and how this attitude has led to the harsh judgement of others and ourselves when things don’t go as planned.

Women have always been expected to bear children, but this pressure to provide biological babies is exposing women to health risks, whilst drastically reducing their bank balance. Not to mention the psychological trauma that occurs in the cases where treatment is ineffective. Since egg freezing was licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ten years ago, 6,500 eggs have been stored in Britain and only 12 babies have been born, so the chances of disappointment are high.

So first of all let’s break down the procedure and the risks involved. After your initial consultation, you will experience a series of blood tests to test your fertility. Once approved, you will have to inject yourself with a potent dose of hormones twice a day for several weeks. Two weeks before the egg retrieval stage, you will be given medicine, regular ultrasound scans and blood tests to monitor the growth of your eggs.

Stage two occurs during your normal period of ovulation, which involves a 15-20min operation. During the procedure you will be put to sleep and the doctor will use fine needles to inject your ovaries and extract 10-15 eggs, which can cause cramping and bloating. In some cases a laparoscopy will be performed, where a small incision is made just below your navel to suction the eggs.

Two cycles of the first two stages are recommended for the best chances of conception, priced at £5,000 per cycle. Only cancer patients have the option of it being covered by the NHS. Stage three involves the process of ‘flash freezing’, legally your frozen eggs can be stored for up to ten years costing £200 a year. When you decide to go ahead with IVF to conceive a baby, the earlier ordeal of testing and self-administered hormone injections will resume to prepare your body for a baby.

The final stage occurs once your uterus has responded well to the hormones. Your eggs are then carefully thawed and injected with sperm through a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), which is usually around £2,000. Multiple rounds of IVF treatment are sometimes necessary to produce a healthy embryo before it is inserted into your womb for your pregnancy to continue as normal.

As with any medical procedure, there are possible complications. The biggest risk is Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which can cause a number of unpleasant side effects and in severe cases, death. 1 in 3 women will develop OHSS during the process of hormone injections, but a new British technique known as ‘Agonist Triggering’ lessens the risk. Doctors recommend freezing your eggs as early as possible for better results, as the chances of conception drop to 10% by the age of 40.

On the brighter side, freezing your eggs can feel empowering and take the edge off motherhood, as it buys you more time to get your life together. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, research shows that planned pregnancies normally make for an easier transition into parenthood. Despite perhaps outdated notions that the traditional nuclear family is best, single mothers can offer less conflict caused by incompatible two-parent households. Not all solo parents are a result of poor lifestyle choices.

But ladies if you are going to go the independent mother route; please don’t resort to stealing your man’s sperm or skipping contraception without him knowing, it never ends well. Sperm thief Liz Jones told the Daily Mail – “I thought it was my right, given that he was living with me and I had bought him many, many M&S ready meals” – but admitted that she was not thinking about his “reasonable desire to be allowed to grow up himself first.” Forcing fatherhood will not make him love you back; and it’s unfair to take advantage of the fact that the law requires him to then pay child support. He has a right to a future too.

Motherhood is a beautiful experience, whether you become a mum naturally, through IVF or adoption. Women CAN have it all, but the definition of what ‘all’ means depends on your expectations. Life is a marathon not a race, so don’t put yourself at risk caving from the pressure. Live life at your own pace and if you decide that freezing your eggs is the best option for you, then I wish you all the luck in the world.

If you do find yourself pregnant, here are some of the delightful experiences you may go through.


What Your Musical Taste Says About You

They say that in life you should make a point of finding your ‘tribe,’ people who share your values and interests that you can be yourself with, in order to grow into the person you were meant to be. I am a firm believer in the saying that ‘everything happens for a reason’, so I do not believe that your tribe materializes by coincidence. Some cross your path to help you in your career, some teach you tough lessons; some offer a shoulder to lean on and some serve as a happy distraction.

Music, for me, can occasionally be as magical a force as love; so it is no surprise that a passion for music is high on my list of attractive attributes when meeting new people.  How indicative is a person’s musical taste of their character and compatibility with you? How can music help to guide you as an adolescent into the informed, opinionated adult you are today? Can your choice of playlist indicate mental issues that you didn’t realise were a problem? Stay tuned.

Researchers North and Hargreaves found that musical taste functions as a ‘badge’ people use to judge others and express their individuality simultaneously. Although your musical palette offers similarities to your peers’, people make a point of finding artists and tracks that are more niche in order to claim ownership and a deeper knowledge of the genre than their friends. This separate musical identity is something that comes with maturity, in stark contrast to the need children have to fit in.

Pop music for some is a sign of conformity to the mainstream and, in some cases, an indication of someone who is not comfortable thinking for themselves. Despite the effort modern pop music has made to broach controversial topics and speak out on the big issues, if you follow the crowd you lose street cred in the eyes of academics, rebellious teens and inquisitive 20 somethings alike. The messages are deemed over-simplified and ‘cheesy’, therefore it is a genre that many people associate with childhood and grow out of.

As a child, pop music is an integral part of your socialisation at school. You feel like you are part of something when you collect all the merchandise, memorise the lyrics and experience the concerts. In the 1990’s, when I was growing up, pop music was generally PG rated in terms of lyrical content. The hooks expressed ‘girl power’ and messages about love and friendship. These days everything might as well be X-rated, even the Disney Channel stars are half naked and behaving in questionable ways. Therefore most of the new generation is alienated from the experience of live music, as they can no longer relate to it, and this to me is so very tragic.

Content regulation before the watershed seems to be a thing of the past on the radio, internet and TV. Unfortunately, whether musicians like it or not they are role models to the new generation and their words can encourage premature sexualisation and even drug abuse in some cases. Although, on the flip side, lyrics can also help a confused adolescent find their way in the world and give them a sense of solidarity in their time of need. For instance, I remember listening to pop rock and identifying with that feeling of being an outcast, which they spoke about so frequently and it made me feel more positive about my own situation. Hip hop songs also gave me that escape from the interests of my parents and teachers, allowing me to explore topics usually kept hidden from me.

Scholars Rentfrow and Gosling carried out studies to analyse the effect music has on compatibility and found that blues, jazz, classical and folk music lovers were more liberal and open-minded. The Daily Mail went a step further and claimed that heavy metal fans were found to be more rebellious with a strong sense of social awareness. So people with similar beliefs tend to gravitate towards fans of these genres.

Musical therapist, Jennifer Buchanan, observed that people who tend to listen to music from a particular time in their lives seem to have unresolved issues related to their past that they need to address in order to move on and grow. Having negative association with certain songs that remind you of troubled times is unhealthy for your mental state and the tracks need to be avoided until the issue is dealt with, as they may cause you to stay trapped in that emotion. She advises substituting them with ‘happy playlists’ that remind you of better experiences.

As I have mentioned previously, music is a powerful stimulant for memories and for this reason Jennifer has found that her dying patients find solace in their ‘musical journey’. The songs that trigger happy memories and conjure up images of you at different stages in your life can help patients find the inner peace they are waiting for before death and give the world something to remember them by. At the end of the day, no one wants to be forgotten and your musical taste is part of your identity and mark on the world. Embrace your taste and the people that reflect it and enjoy your little slice of magic.

Did you enjoy this piece? Read more about the impact music can have on your health here.

Musical compatibility may be an important attribute for your romantic relationships, but take a look at some of the other ways music has helped us in our love lives here.

Throwback Interview: Veronika Vesper


As Posted on

Meet Veronika Vesper, Giving A Darker Edge To Cyber-Pop

Her debut single ‘Suffocate’ is out now

Hailing from the former Czechoslovakia, Veronika Vesper came from a classical background before evolving into the alternative punk image you see today. Her story was not always pretty, as she suffered from serious kidney issues and battled with addiction during her adolescence.

Determined to turn her negatives into positives, Veronika strives to inspire her fans by exposing not only her tough, edgy side, but also her softer vulnerability in her music. She believes that it is paramount to embrace who you are and not to let your experiences deter you from following your dreams.

Music served as a therapeutic outlet for Veronika, resulting in the dark subject areas, otherworldly electronic tones, pop melodies and drum and bass influences. Fashion was also another way she expressed her creativity growing up, drawing costume designs as a child.

Neon Nettle sat down with Veronika Vesper to better understand the inspiration behind her songs, how it felt growing up in such a musical household and the lessons she learned from overcoming her personal demons.

NN: How would you describe your sound and image for those new to your music? What genre would you classify yourself as?

VV: Electronic epic space-pop with rave elements and symphonic overtones. Genre is electronic alternative pop. My image is futuristic alternative punk with hints of fetish references.

NN: What inspires you about cyberspace and that otherworldly sound?

VV: It’s full of infinite possibilities and I feel a strong connection to it. [In] regards [to] sound I like to transport the listeners to a different world, surround them with all the sounds, which create a platform for them to take off wherever they please.  

NN: Your debut single, ‘Suffocate’, carries powerful messages of courage and determination to break free from whatever constricts you. After overcoming so many personal struggles, what do you feel still holds you back now?

VV: I’d love to say nothing, but I still have some insecurities and fears. And sometimes [my] physical body gets in the way, for example when you want to teleport yourself 😉

NN: Coming from a family of classical musicians, did you feel a lot of pressure to be musically inclined and interested in that genre of music growing up? 

VV: When I was a kid, I didn’t have any other music genres around me apart from jazz and swing so that was easy. I was actually really into it. Later on came grunge, punk and metal and [in my] early teenage years I was blasting out hardcore techno in my parents’ house and that didn’t go down very well.

NN: Being classically trained and used to performing and playing instruments by the age of six, did you ever feel as though you were robbed of a carefree childhood?

VV: Not really, I always liked performing. And I was a very carefree child in general; nothing really bothered me or stressed me. Practicing was a bit annoying sometimes, obviously my parents had to push me into that a bit.

NN: You also enjoyed horse riding as a child and considered yourself a horse whisperer. Do you still feel that connection with animals now?

VV: I wouldn’t say I considered myself a horse whisperer, but I was working with horses that way using the methods of Monty Roberts and Pat Parelli. Yes, I love horses and miss them very much.

NN: ‘Suffocate’ was remixed by Tom Kills and Hectic, in the future who would your dream collaboration be with and why?

VV: I’d love to hear some remixes from Gemini because I love his work and think he’s got great musical abilities, as well as an electronic music producer. In terms of producers, I’d love to work with Markus Dravs, because he’s incredibly amazing and versatile.

NN: What advice would you give to adolescents struggling with their self-worth and considering using drugs and alcohol as an escape?

VV: These substances are not an escape and will make the situation even worse. Mainly because all chemical drugs mess up your natural ability to produce serotonin, which is the so-called “happy hormone”. What drugs do is basically take your happiness “stash” for a week and condense it into a few hours or a day, depending on what are you taking. Then you have to pay the price later with depression. The more often you take it the worse it gets and also can lead to heavy paranoia. Also, it’s obviously not great for your health and it can permanently damage your brain and ability to focus; or trigger a psychosis, even though you were completely fine before.

All insecurities come from our mind and our beliefs about ourselves and the world; so it’s better to look them in the eye and see where they come from, wish those who [have] passed that concept onto us loads of happiness and realise that we don’t need them (the limiting beliefs). We are all beautiful beings with unlimited potential and our mind is the most powerful tool for happiness (lasting and more powerful then [the feeling] caused by drugs). We just have to recognise it.

NN: With such a tumultuous start in life, what with your near death experience and struggles with addiction; what motivated you to get through it and stay focused on achieving your dreams?

VV: Knowing where I don’t want to be and wanting to escape. Another [motivation] is that I want to be beneficial to people and enrich and help this earth as much as possible during my lifetime.

NN: With such a striking image, it’s no surprise that you’ve dabbled in modelling and fashion. What can we expect from your space-themed clothing line?

VV: Neoprene jet packs, special gravity-plus platforms and teleportable haute couture with a built-in Jedi navigation system. I’m not planning to launch one just yet.

NN: What inspires you about David Bowie and Bjork’s sense of style and their combination of music and fashion over the years?

VV: Both of them breaking concepts and limits of what is perceived as fashion and the way it compliments their music.

NN: How important is individuality?

VV: To me that’s everything and nothing.

NN: What can we expect from your upcoming debut album?

VV: A journey from dark to light, my story loosely portrayed; epic cinematic production, with a few surprises on the way. An experience.

Like this interview? Check out my interview with fellow rebel Jimi Raine here.

Struggling with a loved one’s addiction? Here’s some advice and helpful information.

Ten Ways Music Can Boost Your Overall Health

They say that music is food for the soul and one of the most versatile healers there is on this planet. So I have compiled a list of the top ten ways music can help you feel better and happier in your everyday life, because everyone needs a little pick-me-up every now and then…


Soothes you to sleep, helping with insomnia

It all starts with a lullaby in your former years and now music has had a calming effect ever since. Music can cause your hormones to release a chemical known as serotonin, which can help you sleep better, according to music therapist Jennifer Buchanan. Studies have also shown that soft music with slower rhythms can reduce the stress and anxiety that interfere with your sleep and promote lowered heart and respiratory rates that ease insomnia. Other research claims that not only does music help you to fall asleep but it also lulls you into a deeper, longer, less interrupted slumber, which enhances how you function during the daytime. Classical music is seen as particularly effective.


Outlet for your emotions and a source of support when you can identify with lyrics

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) uses music to aid communicative issues, to increase patient motivation and as an outlet for emotional support and expression of feelings. Recently Cambridge University neuroscientists Dr. Becky Inkster and Dr. Akeem Sule pitched the idea of a ‘Hip Hop Psych’ class to help mental illness patients find hope in their relation to the life experiences of rappers and use the medium to vent through their own issues.


Triggers memories, building a stronger sense of self

John Kubie from Brain Facts claims that there is a well-established connection between place and memory, as music can evoke place memories and vice versa, location is usually a vivid part of that recollection. Nostalgia creates a sense of identity and therefore a stronger self-awareness, which leads to more personal growth. When you understand where you have come from and who you are, your self-worth and esteem tends to be higher and you are generally happier. It’s like a domino effect.


Motivates you to exercise, reducing obesity

It’s crazy how much certain songs can push you to go harder when you’re working out. Whether that is down to enjoyment of the song or simply the pace of the track, it makes a difference. The latest report by the National Obesity Awareness Week organisation states that 1 in 4 adults in the UK is obese and obesity levels could reach 50% of the population by 2050. If that is not motivation enough to plug your earphones in and up the cardio, I don’t know what is.


Produces endorphins to make you happier

ABC7 news anchor, Dr Peter Crookes, believes that music “causes the release of endorphins” and that “anything that will open the patient’s mind to other dimensions of life helps them to cope with it.” Actively listening to a song, taking in the instrumental and the lyrics, can “channel the brain and train certain actions” beneficial to your general wellbeing. Active listening also causes your hormones to release dopamine, which is known as the ‘feel good hormone’, according to music therapist Jennifer Buchanan. Music is therefore a kind of food for the soul, if you will.

An old couple relaxing on the beach

Method of relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety

Tuning out the world to your favourite songs is a great stress reliever and reduces anxiety; these effects can be escalated if you combine it with other relaxation techniques like yoga and hypnosis. Music therapist Jennifer Buchanan advises counting out the beat in a song to achieve calm and focus your mind on the track alone, similar to meditation.


Educational lyricism can increase your awareness of social issues

Hip-hop, in particular, has always been used as a vehicle to vent the frustrations of the community and the injustices in society; which makes it universally relatable. Following the unlawful police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, rappers J. Cole, The Game and T.I., to name a few, spoke out on the issue of racial profiling and spit some informative wisdom in their bars.


Escapism quality helps to distract from physical pain

This calming element of music can also bring you escapism, when you truly get lost in it. If you learn how to channel that calming energy and focus on it and that alone, it can serve as a powerful distraction from physical pain and fear. Medical experts usually suggest closing your eyes and listening to music when you’re about to undergo an operation, injection or even when you’re getting tatted.


Can help autism sufferers with developing their speech

Music therapists tend to get autistic patients to channel their experiences into poems and song lyrics and then to recite them and practice them in order to improve their communication skills. Buchanan comments: “music quickly taps into the reward centres in our brain,” which motivates patients to stay focused on getting better.


Dancing can open you up to more social situations and improve how you interact with other people

It doesn’t take an expert to know that music can easily get people dancing and having fun; whether that’s in front of your bedroom mirror or in a social situation, it’s pretty much a given. Dancing is a powerful way of bringing people together and can also be a way of embracing your culture and spreading your traditions with outsiders. The endorphins released from exercising will also motivate you to continue for longer. When you’re having fun and staying in shape at the same time, it’s got to be a win win situation regardless.

Struggling with depression? Get clued up on the best options available for your individual situation here.

Meditation is another great way to unwind and de-stress when life gets too much. Check out the M&M beginner’s guide to meditation here.

Throwback Interview: Johnny Dean (Menswe@r)


As Posted on

Neon Nettle Chats To Lead Singer Johnny Dean Of Menswe@r

Autism, reforming the group and EDM collaborations

After a fifteen-year hiatus, Britpop band Menswe@r reformed in April last year with new members and their much loved original sound. Lead singer and creator Johnny Dean was diagnosed with autism aged 38 in 2008 and ever since has made it his mission to raise awareness and help other adult sufferers get the help they need.

Neon Nettle caught up with founding member Johnny Dean to talk about his diagnosis, the future for the band and their new music.

NN: When did you decide to reform Menswe@r & why?

JD: It was kind of a whim, totally unplanned. I hadn’t been on stage for a long time and never really expected to ever get back on one. Someone contacted me asking if I’d do a show for charity, the National Autistic Society. He’s a big Menswe@r fan and ran a Britpop themed night in North London called Nuisance. I have a form of autism, so I said yes. His idea was to play Menswe@r stuff, but I didn’t want to do that. It was 2013, the year of the recent Bowie comeback, so I suggested we cover him because he has been a huge influence on me. So we did a massive set with some Menswe@r stuff at the end. It was somewhat ramshackle, but went down really well and raised lots of cash. The thing I didn’t expect to happen was that I really enjoyed it.

Then another opportunity presented itself to do another gig for a mental health charity. The group I have, a lot of them were Menswe@r fans, so this time we did Menswe@r material. At the Bowie gig we played as “Johnny Dean & the Nuisance Band”, but for this show, I thought we might as well do it as Menswe@r. I pretty much put the original band line up together, gave it its identity, fronted it; so I figured if it’s me singing Menswe@r songs, then it’s Menswe@r. It was really a whim. I thought it would be nice to do it and have some fun. The first time round, it wasn’t such a great experience for me, something I’m not sure the original line up fully appreciated. So it felt right to take it by the rough of the neck and just do it for the sheer hell of it. With people who, as fans, would get a real kick out of it. There really were no other reasons…

NN: You enjoyed great success in the past, what was the highlight for you with the original line up?

JD: Yeah, it’s weird that, the success thing because there’s been a LOT of rewriting of the past recently. The whole Twenty Years of Britpop thing? But y’know, I was there, experienced it, so it doesn’t really matter to me what people write about it now. So many people have varying views on the whole thing. I’m not sure if it was an actual thing to be honest. I know what I think; I can’t speak for anyone else. I have many, many memories and mine might not fit with someone else’s, but there’s two sides to every coin.

I met some cool people and I met some terrible villains, they all know who they are deep down, I’m sure. I kind of started to distance myself from the original guys not that long after we signed a record deal. I guess it all overwhelmed me and I wasn’t comfortable with a lot of the decisions that were being made. I wasn’t happy with some of the behavior; I felt marginalised very quickly. So I started doing stuff I shouldn’t have, a bit too much and spiralled. There were some good bits. I think playing live were the bits I liked best; that’s when I felt comfortable. That’s why I wanted to do it in the first place.

NN: What led to the original split and prevented you using the old line-up?

JD: We were a band that got together very quickly out of necessity. The core was there, a couple of songs, but we had a gig coming up and needed personnel. Journalists had already been writing about us. Menswe@r was a buzzword with A&R men. We had a few weeks to get a full band together, get a manager and write more material. It was a case of ringing this guy and getting that guy. Random. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t give you time to get to know each other. You just strap in and hope for the best. It was doomed. It was always going to fall apart and it began to do that before we even put pen to paper on a contract. I guess in that sense it was exciting, but stressful too. Personality clashes, misplaced trust, drugs, paranoia, machinations, the whole deal. If someone had died we would have got the full house.

A reunited original line up? Well, a few years ago we did all meet up with that in mind, but it came to nothing. I still had trust issues with some of them and my gut was screaming “No!” Events since that meeting have proven me right, but good luck to them all. I hope they live long, happy, stress free and productive lives. Sincerely.

NN: Was it complicated gathering a band around again?

JD: No. I basically gave Steve Horry, who presently plays guitar, the instructions to find me a group of people who weren’t cunts. And it’s not yet clear to me whether it’s a permanent line up or concern. I like fluidity; I want to try things out. I’m not necessarily going to conform to the traditions of what makes a band. It’s about the tunes. I just want to write songs with people, I like it. I like to coax people into doing something that will make me sit up and get creative. I find it exciting.

NN: What influenced your decision to make your comeback single ‘Crash ‘14’?

JD: Crash was first demoed in early ’96, but we didn’t release it as a properly recorded track. The demo was put out as an extra track on one of the CD releases of ‘We Love You’. I thought it was the best thing we’d done. It was going in the right direction I felt; harder, interesting. All the right references. So with this new Menswe@r I thought it would be nice to revisit it and do it some justice and I think we did. I’m very proud of it. I don’t see it as a comeback. This whole thing, it’s not a comeback at all. It feels more like unfinished business.

NN: How do you feel the music industry has changed since the 90s, when you first started the band?

JD: There is a lot less money being thrown about for sure. Ha! It’s not my thing really. I’m just concerned with melody, sound, rhythm, communicating through art. That can of worms is none of my business. I have opinions on it all, but none really worth sharing.

NN: How different has the response to Menswe@r been this time around?

JD: It couldn’t be more different. Less pressure this time; that is for certain. But in some respects, still the same old bullshit; that’s how it is though.

NN: You recently spoke out about being diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome as an adult, first of all, which term do you feel most comfortable using Aspergers or Autism and why?

JD: Both. They’re one and the same. I’d hate to think that anyone would feel more comfortable using one rather than the other. You should be able to say either or both and feel proud about it, which I do.

NN: What prompted you to get a diagnosis in 2008?

JD: Because nearly forty years of struggling every day started to take its toll, enough was enough. I needed to do something or clock off. Those were my options and I decided to fight.

NN: Were you surprised by the diagnosis? How did you feel at the time?

JD: No. I’d been fairly convinced I was autistic since I first heard about Asperger’s Syndrome in the early noughties. I just felt silly about it, which was stupid of me. Getting diagnosed was the best thing I’ve done in my life. The relief was immense.

NN: Did you always suspect your diagnosis and why?

JD: Yes I did because I had always been at odds with the world. None of it made the slightest sense to me. My entire life, up until diagnosis, was like trying to ram a square peg into a round hole. The slightest thing could send me into a spiral of madness or catatonia; everything was a huge effort. Like HUGE. Monolithic. Sometimes I can still slip, there’s nothing I can do about that, it happens. But I have better coping skills now, through therapy.

NN: What do you feel have been the main changes in your life since your diagnosis?

JD: Knowing who I am. That is a gift most people will never receive.

NN: How do you think having Asperger’s has affected you as a youth and adult over the years? 

JD: It’s hard for me to say. It’s something that can affect those around you nearly as much. That’s something people don’t often address. It’s an adventure at times that’s for sure. It can get a bit fresh, a bit bumpy. The worst thing for me was the depression that was symptomatic of being undiagnosed and it’s something I still have to keep an eye on. Often neurological “disorders” come with other surprises and I have had my share. I’m fairly sure I also have dyspraxia, which is, quite literally, a pain at times. I’m also diagnosed as having OCD and suffer from social phobia. The latter I’m getting better at dealing with. It’s certainly challenging.

NN: How do you feel your condition has benefited your career?

JD: It hasn’t. It didn’t. I don’t think it has. I see things differently I guess, translate things differently, see the world from a different perspective. I’m not sure if it’s an advantage.

NN: Do you think music helped you?

JD: Yes and not just music, just creating. I’m a very creative person and if that part of me is repressed I become extremely depressed. I need that outlet. It’s a wonderful way for someone like me to express myself without having to use traditional forms of communication; like talking, which is actually challenging for me.

NN: Did you always keep going with your music during those tough times?

JD: I didn’t, I gave up music for fifteen years. I stopped being creative. I repressed it all because I was scared of what happened the first time around. I tried to do a 9 to 5, temping, anything that wasn’t artistic. I became more miserable. I became tired. I wanted to die. I wanted everything to stop. I ended up in hospital on a psychiatric ward. I made a choice right then based solely on the fact that I wanted to get out and see my cat. I told a doctor about my suspicions of having autism; I began to recover. I had to fight a little, but it was worth it.

NN: Do you have any of the special interests that are typical for some people with Aspergers Syndrome?

JD: Kind of yeah; much more as a kid. I’m a bastard for collecting stuff.

NN: You became involved in the Push For Action campaign and your petition to the government – can you explain to readers what that’s about and how you think autism should be dealt with?

JD: Push For Action was about getting much needed support in communities for adults with autistic conditions. There’s quite a lot of support for children, but for adults it’s not so good. Which is a problem because autistic children will one day be autistic adults. Autism doesn’t go away. The Autism Bill passed in 2009 was meant to ensure this happened, adult support, but it didn’t really do what it was meant to. So the National Autistic Society launched the Push campaign to let parliament know the bill was failing and it needed revising.

I was happy to support the campaign, as someone who has experienced the rigmarole of adult diagnosis. The petition was handed in to number 10 by myself and other campaigners and the bill has been revised. I’m happy to support anything the National Autistic Society does because they are awesome.

I could write paragraphs about how autism should be dealt with, but it all comes down to a couple of essentials. People with autism deserve every chance to have a full and productive life and are entitled to all the support their local services should be providing to ensure this happens. Anything else is unacceptable. Also, tolerance and respect, it’s not much to ask for.

NN: What else do you feel could be done for kids and adults when they are diagnosed?

JD: There’s so much, so much. But right now, it’s a learning process. The important thing, I feel, is to listen to those who have autistic conditions and to stick to the facts about what we know for certain about autism. There’s so much misinformation out there. Everyone thinks they’re an expert and right now, not even the experts are experts. I’ve met a lot of pricks who’ve tried to tell me about autism and don’t know the first thing, it’s insulting. LISTEN. FIND OUT. BE A BIT MORE SENSITIVE.

NN: How does it feel to have all to be back on stage at festivals and performances lined up over the summer?

JD: Excellent. Like I’ve already said, it’s where I feel comfortable. Whether it’s playing to a couple of drunk blokes or a sold out crowd. Obviously the latter is best, but sometimes it’s beneficial to have to dig deep and find the energy.

NN: What can we expect from a Menswe@r live show?

JD: People should come to one and find out.

NN: In the past, you’ve spoken about being a fan of electronic music, any plans to collaborate with any EDM artists? Or make dance music?

JD: I want to make all kinds of music. Why restrict yourself? It’s all good. Whatever you want to do, do it, whenever you want. That’s what loving music is really about, otherwise it becomes a rule making process… this is good, this is not and that can fuck off. That’s for boorish dullards; that isn’t loving music. That’s being a dick.

NN: Finally, who do you reckon will take home the World Cup this year?

JD: Well, I think it’s already been decided by FIFA that Brazil should win it…

For more information on depression check out my throwback feature below:

An unexpected diagnosis can be a very traumatic experience that may result in you being very angry and frustrated with life, for advice on how to keep your temper in check read below:

Shannon Munford’s Tips On How To Control Your Anger In A Healthy Way


Excerpt Published In Vibe Magazine

Wish you could press rewind when your anger gets the better of you? Anger management expert Shannon Munford explains how to prevent that inner hulk getting out when you find yourself in a tricky situation.

Every couple has heated arguments, what is the best way to keep your cool when you feel like your emotions and anger are escalating out of control?

Shannon: The first thing that we do when we’re advising couples to avoid arguments is actually to have a plan of disengaging. When you’re in the midst of an argument it’s hard to think and hard to pull away; so we advise couples to sit down when things are good to talk about what you’re going to do if you’re in the argument. So for instance, if we get into an argument and things get out of hand, I may just go for a drive. I’m not going to go to my ex girlfriend’s house, I’m not going to go drinking, I’ll probably just go to the park or something like that. When you’re in the midst of an argument, sometimes they don’t want to release you because they may be fearful of where you’re going to go or what you want to do while you’re in the argument.

The other thing that we advise couples to do is to stay on target. So if you’re discussing an issue don’t talk about what happened ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. Stay on target, talk about that one issue. If you can’t seem to stay on target, set a date where you can come back to the issue and say hey lets talk about this tomorrow, the next day. Let’s sleep on it then we may have a better a train of thought and we can talk about it in a way that we’re not going to hurt each other.

Is it better to use a lot of ‘I’ statements and explain how you feel personally rather than ‘you’ statements, which may seem like an attack?

Yeah, we never want to accuse one another because when I am talking about what you’re doing you go on the defensive, so all your shields go up and actually you’re not hearing anything I say. So when I talk about how I am feeling, the other person who is listening can listen without feeling that they’re being attacked. So you do want to use ‘I’ statements, you want to talk about your feelings and how it affects you. When we’re talking about feelings, we’re not only talking about anger, we’re talking about the feelings underneath the anger. Those feelings that are hard to express; the pain, disappointment, the fact that you feel vulnerable or lonely and sometimes those are feelings that are hard to express, but we need to talk about those feelings instead.

Back in 2009 when there was the domestic abuse incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna, he described blacking out and not realizing what he was doing. Are there signs that it’s getting to that point?  

When I think about Chris Brown and Rihanna and him describing that he blacked out; I’m thinking he probably got to the point where the anger had built to a point where he was out of control. There were most likely signs way before that that he was losing control and at that point he should have taken a time out.

One of the things that we talk about in anger management is self-assessment. Even before the incident, they were on their way to the Grammy’s, there’s a lot of stress involved, a lot of pressure. They probably were at a point where the circumstances outside their argument were so intense that that led to  how bad it got. We really want to be able to assess ourselves and think well how am I feeling right now? What’s going on around me? Even days and weeks before an event. Now that’s not an excuse for what he did, but you can kind of see the train coming.

Why do you think cyber bullying is becoming such a huge problem for the new generation?

One of the things about social media is you’re able to say things that you wouldn’t say in person. It’s almost as if there’s an invisible barrier there. So people are taking risks and saying things that they wouldn’t say when another individual is standing right in front of them. First off because you feel that person can’t reach out and you don’t feel threatened. Secondly, you’re unable to see what your words are doing to the other person because you can’t see them face-to-face, you don’t see their expression. You don’t see how your words are really affecting them.

Also, do you think it’s a performance thing because they know other people can see it and so they put on a persona?

Well, yeah and that’s what they were bred to do. They were bred to be actors, Shia LaBeouf, all the way from his Disney roles. They were bred to put on an alternate personality, so sometimes they can go into their alter ego and present themselves in a way that they wouldn’t normally present themselves in front of family and friends and when they’re alone.

What rules would you say there should be for when you’re planning on having twitter beef or posting offensive statuses?

The first rule that I would say is have someone proof read what you’re posting, these stars get paid a lot of money. They have publicists, they have lots of people around them, [but] this is not just for celebrities. Always bounce your thoughts, opinions and what you’re going to post with someone else first.

For people that aren’t celebrities, obviously it’s not realistic that they would have someone else proof read their tweets, what would your advice be for them? When you’re feeling that strongly about something you won’t always be that rational.

Exactly, its almost posting while drunk, so you’re posting while angered. You want to be able to take some space and walk away from the situation. Discuss it with somebody else in real time, real life before you’re going to comment online because that lasts forever.

What would you say are the main reasons behind people not being able to articulate themselves verbally and so choose to vent that anger physically?

I think a lot of times people just aren’t aware of what they’re really feeling. So it’s hard to express to somebody else what you feel, when you’re not aware of what you’re feeling. One of the things that we always advise people to do is take time to get to know yourself. A journal is a great way to put your feelings down and find out how do you really feel about a subject matter. When people are expressing themselves in a physical nature it’s because they don’t have the words to say how they’re really feeling.

Is insecurity a big part of it?

Yeah definitely, when you’re insecure you go into defensive mode and you’re trying to defend yourself in a way that’s not necessary. If you’re secure in yourself it doesn’t matter what other people say.

What are your thoughts on Kanye West and all of his rants and run-ins with the paparazzi?

Artists in general, including Kanye, are very sensitive people. So they wear their heart on their sleeve, they’re very passionate about what they do. So I’m not surprised that when he’s accused or when he’s criticized or when his bubble is pierced that he acts out in anger. But one of the things that I said before, you have to have a buffer around you, people who can protect you from yourself. So I think that is one of the things that we see in artists because of what they do, they react in a way that is very emotional and it tends to get violent at times.

When does it cross the line from having reasonable anger to having a problem where people should seek help from anger management facilities?

It crosses the line when your anger affects other people physically, when you start to hurt people emotionally. When it starts to lead into altercations with the police, jail time, arrests and really when it starts to affect your pocketbook. Kanye West, at a period of time his actual sales went down, the same with Chris Brown because of their anger. We can kind of see that trend with Justin Bieber also. So when it starts to affect your work, it’s a problem.

Do you believe that frustration is a healthy part of growing up and that most people have a stage in their lives where they act out to get it out of their system?

I think we all get frustrated and it is a healthy part of our life, but those of us who are mature and actually have good role models and guides learn to navigate that. So we learn to deal with our frustration in a way that is not going to affect us. Often times these individuals, they don’t have anybody telling them the right thing to do, they have people pleasers around them so they really don’t have any guidance and someone who’s strong enough to stand up and say if you don’t change, you’re going to wreck your life.

So a good support system is vital?


For more tips on how to handle conflicts within your relationships take a look at this throwback article:

Regular meditation could also prove useful for gaining control over your emotion, here’s a simple guide for beginners:

Throwback Interview: Melanie Fiona


As Posted On

In light of Melanie Fiona’s new video for ‘Cold Piece’ premiering today on Pepsi, VIBE sat down with the talented starlet to talk about the inspiration behind the new single, how she hooked up with Pepsi and what her plans are for a new album.

VIBE: Was “Cold Piece” inspired by a real-life cold-hearted fella?

Melanie: Well absolutely! Everything is inspired by cold-hearted guys! This particular song, it’s not really an official single, it’s just a song I did with the producer Alan English from the UK. We just caught a vibe and I had some things I needed to say. I definitely was reflecting on past relationships and what it was that I really wanted to say and get off my chest. I feel like ‘Cold Piece’ is the representation of loving and learning and being like “ok I get it, I can understand what happened and I can look back on it and I’m fine.” I loved it and really believed that people would love it. So I put it for free on my Soundcloud and on my website and people were loving it and that’s when I met with Pepsi and Complex. They were just like ‘yo we love the song, we love your vibe right now, what you’re doing, let’s do something cool’. That’s how the video came about, we didn’t even intend on doing a music video, but through brainstorming and loving the song that’s how it happened.

From the behind-the-scenes clip for the video, you take a more light-hearted approach with you and your friends hanging on the block and dishing out desserts. Where did the concept come from?

The concept came from my life really, just where I’m at. I reside over here right now in Brooklyn, I love New York, I love summer and I love that record. I wanted to do something that was fun. I think that people have seen videos of me where they’ve been very dramatic and emotional but also very real. That’s what I wanted, for people to still get the real me. It’s not this different version of Melanie Fiona; it’s just the 2013 version. It’s true to who I am, it’s true to what I’m living and listening to and loving and what my life looks like. Minus the ice cream truck, I don’t really own an ice cream truck, although I wish I did. It’s about having a good time with people and vibing and the music brings people together. They are my real friends in the video. Artists like Mateo and Ro James and Luke James. These are my people that I called on and I was like ‘hey can you come through’ and I wanted it to be authentic and to be real. That’s exactly what you see and I think that’s what people can feel. It was so much fun; it wasn’t like shooting a music video at all.

How did you partner with Pepsi?

Honestly it was at a party! I’ve done things with Pepsi prior; I did the Billboard Michael Jackson Tribute at Gotham Hall here in New York. As well just through different networks of relationships I have known a couple of people from Pepsi. Then of course Complex, doing interviews they were familiar with me. I was at a day party that was going on, I think Heineken was doing it. All the reps were there and we all saw each other again and they were like ‘we love what you’re doing’ and ‘let’s get on a call and have a meeting and talk about what we can do together.’ I think the beautiful thing about this song and this record is there’s no pressure. Everything happened so organically that that’s just what I want people to feel from it. I want people to just be like ‘what a cool thing to do’ and it’s not ‘oh my god it’s her big single and it’s her comeback!’ Let’s just make some cool art and collaborating with Pepsi and Complex is some of the coolest stuff you can do.

You worked with Drake. What are your thoughts on “Nothing Was The Same”?

I’m a bad Canadian I haven’t listened to it yet, but I did download it. I have to ease my way into new music because I get so engulfed in certain projects and I can’t move off of them. When everybody was on the Magna Carter, I was still on the J Cole and when everyone was on the J Cole, I was still on the Kendrick Lamar. I’m still behind a cycle. The only thing I love to listen to everyday is the Justin Timberlake 20/20 Experience Volume 1.

Is a new album in the works? What can we expect and when?

Absolutely, I’m definitely working on album number three and it’s a blast to be able to do it. I’m going to definitely release that next year. I’m just getting myself together, this year I’ve just taken to be creative and to experiment and travel and be inspired. I feel like you need inspiration when you’re working on a new project. I’ve been doing placements and writing with other people. Solange and I did a song on her project ‘Lovers In The Parking Lot’. It’s fun to be able to be creative right now and prepare what I want to do for the next project. In the meantime ‘Cold Piece’ is out and I’m going to be putting out some more music for the fans in between. Then the album next year and I feel like it’s going to most definitely be my best work yet because I feel like I’m my best self now.

On your Instagram there are loads of pictures of you getting ready to work out. What is your work-out schedule like? Do you enjoy working out?

I do like being active, I’m not going to say that I’m a gym rat. I don’t live in the gym; I love to eat way too much to do all of that. I do believe in being fit and I do believe in being healthy. Most recently I’ve had a lot of stuff when it comes to fitness because I’m training for the Nike Women’s Marathon this Sunday. So I’m doing a half marathon in San Francisco and that’s another collaboration I did, with Nike, and they supported me and encouraged me to just run. I’m excited because it’s supportive of Cancer Research and women’s sports. I love it, generally I try to get weights in, I jump rope, I like to box. But most recently I’ve been running; that’s actually been the focus of my work-outs. The other day I ran eleven miles and it’s such an accomplishment for me because I never thought I could run eleven miles. I post it because I want people to see progress in myself and then obviously in themselves and encourage them that with time you can progress to get to your goals. I just like being active, riding my bike a lot, I love riding my bike. I’m scared and I’m looking forward to the marathon. I feel like once I get there the natural athlete in me, I used to play sports, I think she’ll just wake up and be like ‘ok there’s a race today let’s go’. It’s also the biggest physical stress I’ve ever put on my body. So I just hope that my body stays strong and I feel rested and good. But I feel like the energy of 30,000 women running for this amazing cause is just going to be enough to carry me through, there’s something really powerful about that. I’m really looking forward to it actually.

VIBE has an upcoming Race issue coming up. What was the first time you were aware of what racism was?

It’s hard to tell because when you’re a kid, kids tease each other when it comes to certain things and you don’t really know if that’s racism or racism in development. I think it’s something that we’ve always known is around you. You hear about it and you learn about it. I grew up in a really multicultural city in Toronto, that’s where I’m from. I never grew up with a mentality that I was different from anyone else. I’m just being honest. I didn’t grow up feeling like I had less of an advantage because of the color of my skin or more of an advantage. My parents come from the islands and they never brought that on me. My first instance of racism, I was in high school. I moved from the city into the suburbs starting high school. One of the girls that I had befriended when I first moved up into the suburbs, I thought she was cool, we were friends and she was white. When we got to high school she really flipped and she became someone else. She got in trouble for a lot of racial slurs and she called me names and this was somebody that I was friends with once upon a time. That’s when I really realised that there are people out there that really thrive on this being their identity. It’s a sad thing but I don’t give it any power, and I won’t tolerate it, I won’t tolerate it anywhere I am. So if I see it, if I hear it I pretty much try to be a voice like ‘hey that’s not ok’. I just hope we’re working towards a world that’s not that anymore, that everyone is just like one love. Bob Marley guys, let’s make it happen.

Being of mixed heritage, you are Guyanese and mixed with African, Indian and Portuguese. What are the weirdest misconceptions you’ve heard about your ethnicity?

My favorite is when I say I’m from Guyana and people think I’m saying Ghana and I’m like no not Ghana, Guyana, there is a country called Guyana I’m not making it up. That’s always really funny. It’s hard for people to grasp me being so mixed, especially here in America. I find that that’s something I’ve encountered where you come here and you fill out an application and you have to check a box of what you fit in. I never check one box; I check every box and the other box just to piss people off because I feel like it’s ridiculous when you have to start putting people in boxes based off their race. Misconceptions for me, I’ve got the ‘oh so you’re black with nice hair’ and I’m like ‘I don’t even know what that means and I don’t know if I should feel offended by this’. I just am what I am. When I try to explain to people my mom is this and my dad is this, Guyana is a multicultural land so I have different backgrounds, sometimes people don’t understand. So they think that I’m Spanish because I’m from South America or they just want me to be one thing, they don’t want me to be all the things that I actually am. That’s tough sometimes but you can’t blame people for their ignorance.

If, like Melanie, you are working towards a healthier lifestyle a balanced diet is the best place to start, for some tips on how to integrate clean eating into your busy schedule read below:

Here’s some of my thoughts on racism in the media: