Monday, 31 December 2018

2018; the highs, the lows and everything in between

I can't get my head around the fact that the New Year is only one day away and I also can't believe that I have found the time to write another blog post. 2018 is almost over, and it has been a year that deserves to be spoken about so here we go.. the good, the bad and the future.

2018 may have destroyed me at times, but it strengthened me at others. For me, 2018 was the year of letting go; letting go of my illness, letting go of toxic people, letting go of self destruction and all in all, letting go of things that aren't good for me.

January seems like a distant memory and it was all a bit of a blur to be honest, everyone was talking about and attempting to follow their New Years Resolutions but I knew too well that things don't change overnight and that in order for New Years Resolutions to improve your life and happiness, you've got to start with a healthy head, which I didn't have. January was also when my brother decided to suddenly move out at 16 years old which broke my heart completely but I am thankful for the even better relationship we have now. Saying that, January did have its good times; I had my two year anniversary with my boyfriend and I went to visit Elle who lives miles away. It was in January that I also booked my first tattoo and that I found out that one of my other friends was expecting a baby.

February was equally a blur, I was just plodding on and I remember that throughout this month in particular, I was getting myself really down over my scars, torturing myself with the fact that they may fade, but they'll always be visible. I had a lot of time to think throughout the first few months of 2018, I wasn't in education but I was only working Part-Time and I think that I fell into a bit of a hole of self pity which when I got out of, gave me the motivation to change things. It was also around this time that I applied to College which was such a big deal to me as I hadn't been able to cope with education since the first few years of being ill but for the first time in my life, I had a clear vision of what I want to do with my life and I wasn't willing to continue waiting until I was 'better' because what if better never comes? Overall, February was full of self care and distraction, there was a lot of painting nails, sewing, face masks and bath bombs involved.

March was the month where I got my first tattoo with Elle and it was so good to see her again. March was also full of adventures and outings with another friend which was so much fun and something completely different to what we'd usually do. However, March was quite a down month and I was still pretty stuck in a hole, and I just felt very stuck in general and March was actually the last time I saw anybody from Mental Health Services.

April started with me cutting twenty inches of my hair off and donating it to The Little Princess Trust, it was such a huge change and I really didn't like not having my long locks to hide behind anymore but I soon adjusted and it was all for such a great cause. I also saw both of my closest friends and we went on a little outing to the farm which was lovely. It was in April that I went into public wearing a short sleeve top and got referred to as an effing bar code, which was a bit of a push back with accepting my scars but the only thing I could do in that situation was to move forward.

May was a bittersweet month, it was a journey to say the least. It was in May that I was officially discharged from Mental Health Services after an argument with my worker which absolutely destroyed me; I felt so hopeless as my only support system had suddenly been ripped away from me and it was also in this month that I started to reduce one of the medications I am on. However, in May I went to visit Elle again and she had a party for her 21st Birthday, which was such a good night. Me and Elle also spent a weekend in Manchester in May where we went to an Ed Sheeran concert and went shopping. It felt like such a needed break. Finally, the end of May was the last time that I relapsed with self-harm and was the only incident of the year.

June was a real game changer, I was so completely and utterly done with Mental Illness and everything that comes with it, I didn't want it anymore, I didn't want to deal with my own head on my own or at all, I felt completely done and I was just about ready to quit but I couldn't let everyone around me down so instead, I just carried on and realised that I didn't want self-harm or suicide attempts in my life any longer, I wanted to be free from illness which I knew wasn't possible but it was time to try harder than I have ever tried before because although I may never be fully recovered, I wanted to be living and not just surviving. I also went to a family party in June which despite being hard, it was so nice to see my extended family.

July was another blur of a month, I can't remember anything that was particularly bad happening but on the other hand, I do remember going out for Breakfast on my Mum's birthday which was nice.

August felt like it went on forever, I got my nails done twice, I enrolled onto my college course, my brother turned 17, my friend turned 20 and another friend had her baby. Although I had a wobble at enrollment, I knew that it was the beginning of a new chapter and I was ready to give myself one last chance at getting an education. I bought new stationary and decided that I wasn't going to be the girl at college with the illness, I wasn't going to disclose it or get support, I was just going to do as a normal, healthy student.

September meant the beginning of college and I can't even describe how nervous I was, I didn't know anybody doing the course, let alone anybody who would be in my class and my class was infact full of brand new faces. Thankfully, I made a friend pretty quickly which made the process so much easier. I continued to go to college day in, day out and nobody suspected a thing and I was so pleased that for the first time in six years, I was classed as normal and I wasn't being judged on my illness. College completely exhausted me but I felt like I was actually doing something with myself which meant that I had a lot less time to think about everything that gets me down. I also attended my first ever blog award event in September and my mum and I spent the weekend in London, we went to a couple of museums and had a really lovely time overall.

October meant exams and I wasn't quite prepared for how fast paced an Access Course really is, I had my mock exams in Biology and Chemistry and got a Distinction in both when I was only hoping for Merits as they are what I need to get into University. I was so happy with Distinctions but the reality was that they were only mock exams and now I had added pressure of meeting this grades in my real exams. I sat my exams and submitted my coursework but I didn't feel like the exams went as well as the mocks or the coursework as well as it could have been. I unfortunately had a funeral to attend in October which was so sad. However, I did get my second tattoo in October and I also finished my first half term with 96% attendance.

November started with a holiday to Disneyland Paris which I went on with my boyfriend and it was so lovely as neither of us had been there before and we did have a lovely weekend and spent far too much money. Disney Illuminations are something else and I would love to be back, but it was so needed and so well deserved (if I do say so myself). In November I also received my exam and coursework results back and I got Distinctions in all three, meaning that I have 9 Credits at a distinction out of 9 which I am completely over the moon about. I met Olly Murs for the third time and November was my boyfriends 21st Birthday which was good but I did also get ill and had a bit of a blip with attending college. I was so disappointed with myself as I had been doing so much better than I had expected but I knew that usually when I have a blip, I can't get back into routine so I did doubt that college was even for me. However, I pulled myself back up and attended as much as I could, I was late a few times but I had to try and pull myself through it, I just felt like I had lost the motivation for college.

December is always such a busy month for me but I managed to meet my deadline at college which I wasn't sure if I could and I even applied to University and managed to get one Interview scheduled for January before I broke up for Christmas. I broke up from college with an attendance of 87% for the half term which isn't great, but could have been much worse. I had a party for my 21st Birthday and although I got extremely drunk, I had such a good night. I also went to the Hippodrome Circus which was incredible and I would definitely go back. Then came my 21st Birthday where I had quite a lazy day as I didn't want my birthday to be completely overwhelming but my boyfriend took me out for dinner which was nice and we had a good time. Christmas came around extremely quickly and although it was a bit odd as my mum was working in the morning, I did have a nice day spent with my family. However, I was extremely tired and a bit overwhelmed from being out of the house all day and having pressure to be happy all day. I was thoroughly spoilt and I really did have a lovely Christmas overall. I gave myself a bit of a break from college work until after Christmas is over so over the next week, I am planning on starting revision for my next exams.

That brings me to the present day, I am still here, I am now a year older, I have grown up a lot as a person and I have really tried my hardest to move away from my illness and despite still having many bad days, I am the best I've ever been, I am a work in process and that is OK for now. Hopefully next year when I write up this post, I will be at University but only time will tell and I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Friday, 30 November 2018

Wishlist 2018

Hello, so today I have my 2018 wish list as both my 21st Birthday and Christmas are quickly approaching and so many people are asking me what i'd like, but I don't really know what I want myself however, I have managed to think of a few things that I'd like to receive but as always, I am just going to point out that I don't expect to receive everything on this list, it is just a way to give my relatives some ideas of what sorts of things i'd like and it also means that whatever I do receive, will still be a surprise. I also thought that this would be good for other people to have a look at and get inspiration from.

The thing that I mostly want for my Birthday and Christmas this year is money towards a MacBook Air but I am aware that not everybody likes giving out money, especially for Christmas so I have also created a list of presents that I would appreciate receiving.

Firstly, I would really like the Disney Mickey's Memories December Limited Edition Plush. This releases on December 10th on Shop Disney UK or in the Disney Store and is around £25.

Secondly, I would really appreciate two more pillow cases to match my duvet cover after I got drunk a while ago and you can all guess what happened to the pillowcases that I had. They are from Dunelm and are the Bethany Duck-Egg Oxford Pillowcases which are £6 each.

Moving on, I have been eyeing up the Pandora Disney Mickey Silhouette Ring since it got released and after not finding a ring that I loved in Disneyland, I feel like this would be the perfect gift. It is £40 and I annoyingly don't know which size I am, but I will find out over the next few days and update this post.

Another thing that I would like, is a few new large plastic under bed storage boxes as some of mine have broken however, I wouldn't even know where to start when looking for them and I am aware that this is quite a 'boring' present idea.

Next, I would love to receive a couple of fragrances from LUSH which are Limited Edition and can be found on their UK website. The first being Lord Of Misrule Perfume which is available from December 1st and is £29, I would also love Butterball Perfume which is again available from December 1st and is £19. I am not sure if these two perfumes are available in store or just online. Finally from LUSH, I would love their Snow Fairy Body Spray which is £20.

Other Perfumes ideas that I have are Roberto Cavalli original, Alien Perfume Refill Bottle or Miss Dior. I would also like a new handbag for everyday use but I have no preferences on colours, styles or patterns.

The only Make-Up Item on my list this year is the Benefit Brow Contour Pro, which is £28.50 and can be found at a whole range of Make-Up stores and websites including Benefit UK, Boots and Debenhams. I would need this product in shade 01/Blonde.

That is all from me today, I hope you enjoyed and I'd love to hear what ideas you've given to your family for Christmas or your birthday if it's coming up.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

7 Week College Update | Access to Higher Education

You may or may not be aware that I actually went back to college at the beginning of September to study an Access to Higher Education Course in Science for Health Practitioners. Education has been quite a tough aspect of life for me since about Year 8 and it has been something that I have struggled to attend, keep up with and stay motivated to do my work. I went into this course extremely anxious but I also knew that it was really my last shot at getting my education after dropping out of Sixth Form nearly two years ago.

Two years ago, I was writing my Personal Statement for a Fashion degree, Textiles has been something that I have adored since I first started it in Year 7 and I absolutely loved it at GCSE, I was so positive that I was going to go into fashion and be successful within it because I loved it so much but I always felt that something was missing and that I had more potential and that I needed to do more with my life and give something back after all of the help from the NHS that I have received over the years.

I found out about Access courses last year when a work friend started one and looked into it straight away, I was so thrilled to see that there was a course suitable for individuals who want to go into nursing but I was a bit annoyed with how little course options there were, as there is only one college in my area that offers Access courses, and there are only five course options. Before finding this course, I really wanted to study Media Make-Up but I am too old to do the course near me and I thought that if I get my degree over and done with, I could possibly do a make-up course later on, when I am earning more money and can afford to do so.

It is now half term for me, which I am so pleased about as this last week has been tough, I go to college on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and have fifteen hours worth of lesson time per week, which I am expected to match at home. I went into Access knowing that it was going to be tough and a crazy work load, but I feel like it has been easier than Sixth Form just because I am now confident in what I want to study at University. Saying that, I have mentioned this before but the course is completely Science based and Science was one of the subjects that I hated the most at school. I have found the Science quite challenging at times, but now that I have settled into college, I feel a lot more confident than I did before and I actually love Chemistry. However, Biology is what I need more than anything to become a nurse and Biology is what I will be constantly studying through the year and I do find is ridiculously difficult as there are so many key terms that we have to memories.

Another positive thing is that I finally understand the structure of my course in regards to Credits and how things are marked. Most of my course will be exams but there are some written assignments too, which is much more up my street. I have had my mocks; I had Chemistry last week which I surprisingly got a Distinction in which I was obviously over the moon about and then I had a Biology exam this week which I stressed and stressed over but also ended up with a Distinction which I couldn't quite believe as I thought I'd be lucky to get a Merit. I just need to make sure that I revise over the next two weeks to ensure that I get good grades in my real exams at the end of the month. I also have my first assignment due in in a couple of weeks, which I am a little nervous for, as I don't really know what things I am meant to write and include but I am sure I will get there.

My attendance for the first half term is somehow 96% which is a miracle and shock to everyone around me considering how low my attendance was whilst at Sixth Form and my only absence was because I unfortunately had to attend a funeral, which can't be helped. I have gotten through seven weeks without any professional support, within college or outside of college for my Mental Health and I can't quite believe it, I feel like a 'normal' student for the first time since I was in Year 8 and it is absolutely mad to know that I have managed to do so well.

One thing that I am struggling well is splitting my time effectively as I go to college Monday to Wednesday and then work Thursday to Sunday and a lot of the free time I do have is spent seeing my family and friends. I think that I currently have five pieces of marked work that I am currently working on, two of which are exams, plus my Personal Statement which I am still working on my first draft. I'm not going to deny that it is a lot of work because it really is, and it is tough but it is so achievable and I am so proud of how I am doing so far. By the beginning of November, I will have three units completed and twelve out of sixty credits done and I can't believe how quick it is going as well as how quick paced the learning is, it feels like it is all so crammed in and I often find that I have to look things up once I am home, but hopefully, it'll all be worth it in the end. 

I think that I have covered everything for the first half term, other than the fact that if you are going to do an access course then just be aware, that you're going to need a hell of a lot of paper, I have already gone through around 300 pages but that is all for now.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Friday, 28 September 2018

U P D A T E | September 2018

It actually pains me to say that it has been six entire weeks since I last posted on my blog.. where has that time gone? I thought that today I would do a little bit of a life update as quite a few things have changed.

Firstly, I have officially completed my first four weeks at college and somehow, my attendance is 100% which is something that I haven't maintained since I was 15. I would be lying if I said that it hasn't been a massive challenge but I am so determined because I feel that this is my final chance of getting an education. However, saying that, I am aware that there are a few different upcoming dates where I won't be able to attend college such as when I go to Disneyland and because I have a tattoo next week, both of which were booked before I knew my timetable but I am just hoping that I will be able to keep my attendance above 90% as this would be a massive achievement for me. The course itself is hard, its stressful and the workload is crazy. I was told in my Interview that the course is essentially three A-Levels in 9 months but I still wasn't really prepared for how much work there is. I am studying the Science for Health Practitioners course which means that it is mostly Science based and mostly at AS Level, I have never really been a fan of Science and I do find that I have to spend a lot of time doing research to make sure I understand everything but to my own surprise, I am actually enjoying it. I have my first set of exams at the end of October, so I am sure that by the time they come around, I won't be enjoying it as much.

Leading on from college, I am about to start my UCAS application and personal statement which I am dreading because my course is stressful enough as it is. I can't believe that after years of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life and flipping between different career paths that fingers crossed, this time next year I will be a Mental Health Nurse Student. I have decided that if I do manage to get in, then I will definitely be staying at home and studying locally; going away to University was something that hasn't really ever appealed to me and did even put me off going to University for a while as I just didn't think I would get into my local University. I am definitely a homely person and I know that I am going to be having to save as many pennies as I can. I am also not really a drinker, so if I was to go away, I could see myself being the only person staying in my flat whilst everyone else is out at freshers. 

I also attended the Health Bloggers Community Awards in London a couple of weeks ago which was such a good evening. I didn't win the award for my category and it went to the well deserved Sarah from The Growing Butterfly. I am still thrilled to even be shortlisted for my first ever blog award and I spent the following day being a typical tourist in London, visiting museums and dragging my mum on multiple tubes.

I am not sure about how many of you are aware that I joined a gym a few months ago which was going really well until I got busy and often don't have much free time, but I really need to find the motivation to get back in the gym for a few different reasons.. firstly, the weight gain is definitely real, I have been gaining weight since I quit smoking in November last year, but recently it has started getting worse and none of my clothes fit as well as the fact that I feel big in most of my clothes that do fit, which is frustrating, and secondly, because I know that deep down going to the gym and working out does make me feel better about myself, and improves my mindset. Hopefully now that I have written it on here, for everyone to see, I will actually get my arse in gear and do it.

Another exciting thing that hasn't quite happened yet but is happening next week, is the fact that I am getting a new tattoo. It has been booked for a few months now and it is by Poppy Small Hands which I am so excited about as I have spent years looking at her work, especially her scar cover ups and I just can't wait to have a new piece. Like my previous tattoo, this one is actually on what I call my 'nice piece of arm' where I don't have scars but hopefully soon I will be able to start on some scar cover ups.

Talking about scars, I have spent the majority of this year despising my scars and for the first time, I genuinely believe that I am over Self Harm. I regret self harming more than anything because my arms are so disgusting and I always feel far too self concious to leave the house in short sleeves. However, I have been using the My Trusty Sunflower Face & Body Oil which I got off Amazon for under £10 and has been created by the NHS. Let me just tell you, it has done absolute wonders for my scars, it has faded almost all of them, including the ones that hadn't faded in a couple of years. I am so pleased with the results so far and I am going to be doing a review, I just want to keep using it for a few more months. All in all, I would highly recommend if you're struggling with scars or wanting to fade them.

Medication is another thing that has been really up and down. I have been trying to come off one of my medications; Sertraline for six months yet and I just cannot get off of it. I was advised to reduce it by 50mg every one to two weeks but instead, am having to cut it down by 25mg around every four to six weeks which is so frustrating. I was really surprised that I am finding this medication so difficult to come off as it is so widely used and I hadn't really heard of anyone talk about the withdrawal symptoms. However, after six months of headaches, sickness and feeling like I have both the flu and a really bad hangover, I am just about down to 50mg which means that I am making progress, even if it is taking a little while longer than expected.

Another thing that has been a bit up and down is the fact that I was discharged from Mental Health Services a few months ago. I have been so worried about getting re-referred but I haven't had any incidences and therefore haven't had to see any health professionals which I am really pleased about. I feel that although I was so hopeless when I first was discharged, it isn't much different because I rarely had appointments anyway. One of the only downsides, is that because I don't have any professionals to talk to, I do sometimes keep quiet because I don't really want to burden everyone else who may be struggling themselves which I know is really unhealthy. However, I also haven't had to ask for support at College and have only had a couple of wobbles which I feel is such a huge milestone for me. I think that if I do end up needing support, I will be able to access it but at the moment, I am just trying to settle in, find the right balance between work and college and hand in all of my work on time.

Lastly, the other thing that I wanted to talk about was the fact that Disneyland is slowly approaching and there is now only 35 days away! I am so excited and I think it'll be such a needed break from college. I have also never been to Disneyland Paris so I am excited to spend a few magical days in the parks and all of the Christmas decorations and merchandise will be about.

I could honestly go on all day about all of the things that have happened recently, but I will leave it there and I should hopefully be back to uploading a bit more regularly.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Should people with Mental Health Conditions be entitled to a Blue Parking Badge?

A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that from next year, people with hidden disabilities such as Autism and Mental Health Conditions would have a better chance of receiving a Blue Badge, to make going out easier and allowing them to park in disabled parking. Usually, when a new opportunity arises for individuals who suffer from Mental Illness, I am all for it but this particular topic, I just can't quite get my head around and I really disagree with it, I agree that some individuals who have Mental Health conditions should be entitled to a Blue Badge but surely there has to be strict conditions and guidelines in order for it to work which i'm not sure there will be.

"The Blue Badge scheme already means those with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances." I think that the Blue Badge scheme was such a good and inspiring scheme to benefit those who aren't as mobile as other individuals and to ensure that they can still go out and do everyday tasks, improving their quality of life. I also am very aware that there are almost always limited disable spaces that fill up very quickly, especially in supermarkets. It also is important to note, that disables spaces often have more space around the car, ensuring that those who require wheelchairs have plenty of space to move about comfortably. 

On the 29th July, Transport Minister, Jesse Normal said how "the changes we have announced today will ensure that this scheme is extended equally to people with hidden disabilities so that they can enjoy the freedom that many of us take for granted" and don't get me wrong, I am all for equality, especially when it comes to Mental Health but this seems like it is taking it a bit far when these people with Mental Health Conditions may be perfectly mobile and as someone who suffers from Mental Health Issues, I would feel incredibly guilty taking up a space that somebody who uses a wheelchair may need.

According to the Gov UK website, the new criteria will extend eligibility to those who; cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism), who cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress and those who have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking). I completely understand some of these points, but I feel that there are going to be tonnes of people who take advantage of this new criteria when they don't really need it. I also understand the first point especially however, in most parking areas there is a Parent & Child parking section extremely close to the disabled spaces which also has lots of space. I also think that in order for this to work, there has to be more allocated disabled spaces available and maybe even colour coded depending on needs and safety of the individual. It has also been stated on this website, that it isn't actually impossible for individuals with mental health conditions to get a Blue Badge so surely the families that have autistic children who may be a danger to themselves or others would be able to successfully receive a Blue Badge as it is.

I also do understand that this may be a step forward for those who can't be as independent as they'd like to be due to anxiety when travelling or about travelling but I am not sure that parking a bit closer to a store or building will be that beneficial and I feel that it is just going to make it more difficult to those who already have a Blue Badge as there will be a much higher demand for the disabled spaces, especially considering that there are 600,000 autistic people living in England, plus the 1 in 4 individuals who suffer from a Mental Health Condition each year. One last thing that I do fear, is that this is just adding to the stigma surrounding Autism and Mental Health Conditions because there are going to be people who don't agree with individuals parking in disabled spaces and may even question individuals on why they are using a space, which will only add to their anxiety.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x


Friday, 10 August 2018

Tangled Before Ever After | Film Review

It is no secret that Tangled is one of my all time favourite Disney films, with Rapunzel being my favourite Princess and Pascal being my favourite sidekick. I am not sure what took me so long to get round to watching this film but I loved every second of it and I couldn't recommend it enough.

I am sure that we can all remember the short, seven minute film, Tangled Ever After being released in 2012 where we were able to watch Rapunzel and Flynn Rider's (also known as Eugene) wedding (as well as everything that went wrong) and laughed over the mischief that Pascal and Maximus got up to in regards to the wedding rings but what a lot of people aren't aware of is that in 2017, prior to the release of Tangled: The Series, Disney Channel released an hour long exclusive film called Tangled Before Ever After which enables us to learn about everything that happened after Rapunzel was rescued and reunited with her parents. 

I quickly learnt that this film was completely different to Tangled and one of the key things that changed was that in this film, Disney had taken the animations back to their original style which takes a while to adjust to, but I love just as much. There were a lot of new character within this film including Cassandra who is both a friend to Rapunzel as well as her handmaiden.

The plot of this film was so different to what we saw in the original and at the beginning of the film, Rapunzel had her short, brown hair before sneaking out of the castle with Cassandra, against her fathers rules and coming across some black rocks which made her 70 feet of hair, magically grow back but even stronger than before. This film focuses on Rapunzel trying to fit into her new life in the kingdom of Corona as a Princess but of course, she has a different idea of what sort of Princess she wants to be as an oppose to her parents and everyone around her. One thing that hasn't changed is the comedy within this film, I lost count of the amount of times I burst out laughing and Pascal, really begins to come out of his shell.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Disney film without new songs and this film features both Life After Happily Every After and Wind in My Hair and I love them both so much, especially Wind in My Hair as it is so fitting to Rapunzel and her personality. Even if you don't watch the film, give the songs a listen because they are honestly incredible.

I honestly couldn't recommend watching this film enough, especially if you're wanting to watch Tangled: The Series as it fills in the missing time between Tangled and Tangled: The Series. I am so excited to start the series although, I am not sure how it is going to top both Tangled and Tangled Before Ever After.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Rupi Kaur: Milk and Honey | Book Review

Despite finding a slight love for Poetry throughout my English A Level, I never thought that I would be the person to not only purchase a poetry book but to complete the book, and come out the other side in floods of tears. This book talks heavily about abuse, so please read both the book and this review with caution.

This book is split into four different sections; the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing and I can't remember which point brought tears to my eyes but I am almost certain that it was in the first section, the hurting. It has been a very long time since I actually sobbed to a book but this one got me right in the feels, it is so raw, so honest, so emotive and just so sad, I cried reading this book so I couldn't even imagine how many times Kaur must have shed a tear or even a sobbed throughout the production of writing this book. One thing that I do know, is that it takes courage, strength and so much bravery to write so openly and this book is so powerful, it is wonderful but please, get the tissues ready.

Before I get into the sections of this book, I wanted to quickly address how much I love how Kaur has included illustrations alongside her words, I sometimes feel that drawings can be just as meaningful as words and it has definitely shown throughout this novel, they may be simple illustrations, but when put beside these words, the whole perspective changes.

The Hurting

This section was powerful and I don't think that my brain was quite ready for it, I don't think it could have ever been prepared enough to read the words that came on the following pages, the reality of some individuals who are living with constant memories of abuse and how it felt to be abused, how much it changed everything and how it can quickly become normality. I absolute adore how in this section completely, the pages were pretty bare, with minimal words and tiny sentences but that didn't take the importance away, I think it may have even increased it, I was so overwhelmed by how incredibly talented Kaur is, it takes time and a lot of hard word to be able to express such an eye opening story using so little words, but she pulled it off perfectly, which could be the very reason that I adore this book so much. A different aspect of this book, that I particularly like about this section is that nothing is toned down, which has it pros and cons and perhaps even means that it isn't suitable for readers who have suffered abuse themselves, she doesn't sugarcoat anything, she tells the story as it is, and not how people expect to hear it.

"you have sadness
living in places
sadness shouldn't live"

The Loving

It is within this section of the novel that I really began to understand how trapped it can feel to be stuck in the cycle of abuse, especially when you love the person abusing you and you put everything you have into loving them and pleasing them. This section is quite bittersweet as we are all aware that he is no good for her, but we can't just scream at her, telling her that she needs to leave as he is no good for her because she loves him and sometimes, the good outweigh the bad, no matter how bad it may be. This part of the book definitely had a lot more words and even more description, it was full of the highs and the lows and how naive you can become when you fall head over heels in love, for the wrong person and for the wrong reasons. It put a lump in my throat, knowing that this girl couldn't see her own worth and experienced all of this trauma.

"you may not have been my first love
but you were the love that made
all the other loves

The Breaking

This was the part that really broke my heart, we learn about her mothers option as well as her own but how can you really understand any of it, if you've never been there yourself? It really shows how in denial she was about the entire situation which is completely understandable yet sad at the same time however, it is in the section that she really begins to know her worth, "don't mistake salt for sugar, if he wants to be with you, he will, it's that simple." Having said that, of course that doesn't make it any easier, her heart is breaking all over again and she is questioning whether she wants to continue living this way or if she'd rather walk away, neither path is easy and both are going to break her. It is in this section where we learn how she has been both the abused and the abuser, but that doesn't stop her emotions feeling intense. Towards the end of this chapter, the sentences got longer, which only made my sobs worse, but it was so cleverly and beautifully written, that I couldn't even be mad.

"you were so distant
i forgot you were there at all"

The Healing

Thankfully, this book did have a more positive ending in comparison to the previous chapters, and is full of wise words of advice and inspiration to everyone who may be in, or have experienced an abusive relationship and I was so thankful that the novel ended this way because despite the beginning being rather negative and dwelling, the ending is so positive and leaves readers full of hope, instead of dwelling on the negative parts that maybe they could relate to and it just goes to show that although it may feel like the end of the world; it isn't and as soon as you find the courage to leave, better days are only around the corner.

"do not look for healing
at the feet of those
who broke you"

Overall, I really hope that I did this book justice but at the end of the day, you can hear an entire tonne of reviews from people around you, but you won't get the full effect unless you read it yourself so unless you are in a negative place yourself, please give this book a read, it'll change your perspective on so many things and might even change your life. It is hands down one of the best pieces of writing that I have ever read and I am sure that I will read it time and time again. Finally, I love the fact that Kaur incorporated poetry with art as I think it gives a really lovely personal touch.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Monday, 30 July 2018

Stereotyping Self Harm

On Saturday night, I popped into Tesco on my way home from work to pick up some flowers as it was my mum's birthday the following day. Despite it being much cooler than the week prior, it was still warm and I had just finished my shift at work and therefore I was wearing short sleeves.. not that I should have to justify myself. Usually when I wear short sleeves out in public, I switch off from other people, I avoid looking at people because if I can't see them looking at my scars then I can't be upset, I did exactly this, until I got to the till aisle and started packing my bag when I noticed the employee staring at my scars whilst scanning my shopping, I looked at her to see if she'd stop if she knew that I had realised but she continued, staring at me so I looked away and continued packing my shopping as fast as I could as I was already feeling extremely self conscious. When all of my items had been scanned, I did not expect for this employee, who is at work to right out ask me "have you been bullied?" with nothing more than a shocked and curious look on her face, I quickly stated "no" because I haven't been bullied, paid for my shopping and left. I was angry, I was so incredibly angry, what gives her the right to ask such a sensitive question when she doesn't even know me? What gives her the right to presume that because I have obvious self harm scars that I was bullied? The thing that made it even more infuriating is that she clearly knew that my scars were from self harm because if not, she wouldn't have even asked if I had been bullied. Another thing that annoyed me, was that this was one of the few times that I had been to a till by myself, no other customers or employee's were around and it felt like she took advantage of this and therefore thought it was OK to ask me such a damn right rude question. I can guarantee that this wouldn't have happened if I was with somebody else and how uneducated and obnoxious can somebody be, to presume that if you have self harm scars, then you've been bullied.

Nothing bugs me more than people creating and promoting stereotypes surrounding Mental Health Issues and Self Harm, absolutely nothing. We are in 2018 and people are still stuck in the ways of stereotypes despite all of the awareness, research and news that is thrown into the world in order to try and change peoples perceptions on Mental Health. Just because you have self harm scars, does not mean that you have necessarily been bullied, I understand that there are people who self harm as a result of bullying however, less than half of the people that I have met, who have experienced self harm were bullied. How about, instead of judging people, being nosy and making individuals feel self conscious, you actually educate yourself because then maybe, you will come to the realisation that Mental Illness is a very real thing and that self harm can be a side effect and coping mechanism for dealing with emotional distress and even many other things. If you don't know the person, let alone their story, you have absolutely no right to ask them questions about their scars because they're not going to waste their time telling you and you've already proven that you're judging them.

I know that there will be people out there saying how I am over reacting which I may be, but these things need to be spoken about because if not, the stigma and stereotypes are only going to remain in place and continue to upset people. Self Harm is not always due to being bullied, Self Harm is not always due to abuse, Self Harm is not always due to distress so don't you dare have the nerve to ask such a ridiculous and offensive question, especially when you're at work and are meant to be giving good customer service. Thank-you for the lady who decided to query me on my scars for inspiring me to write this post but I am afraid that you will not stop me from going out in short sleeves, I think you may have even encouraged me to do so more.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Zoe Sugg: Girl Online | Book Review

Girl Online was never a novel that I intended on reading, I didn't like the cover of the novel; I liked the idea of fairly lights but I feel that the photos attached to the fairy lights made it look far too busy, considering that they are real photographs and I didn't really feel like the novel was my cup of tea. I did however, like how it appeared to be heavily based on Anxiety, which is something that Zoella has struggled with throughout her life. I will just add in here, that this review may contain spoilers.

I actually came across this novel in Audio book format which is something that hadn't really appealed to me before and I hadn't tried, I found the full audio book on YouTube (shh, we can't always follow the rules) and thought that if I could listen to it for free then I may as well. The audio book was over nine hours long which really puts into perspective how much time we all can spend reading a book and although I am not sure who read out the book, they had a very calming voice which I think is essential when finding an audio book for you because if you don't like the voice, then it'll probably ruin the book for you.

Upon starting this novel, it became very apparent for me that this book was targeted for much younger readers, it seemed that it should have been written for around the twelve/thirteen year old mark and it gave me some serious Angus Thongs & Full-Frontal Snogging vibes, which I am pretty sure that I read when I was in year seven. This novel was full to the brim of words that make me cringe, I lost count of the amount of times that I heard the words epic and cool and everything just seemed a little bit over exaggerated. There was also a couple of parts really early on that made me wonder if I am actually going to be able to get through this novel such as a part where Penny; the main character uses the phrase BFIS which means Best Friend in School and another part where Penny is talking about a teacher and says "that's another cringe factor about him, that he calls us by our nicknames". It all just seems a little childish yet on the other hand, there were references that are a bit more up to date where Penny refers to Bridget Jones, Jeremy Kyle and even Snoop Dog. I could honestly go on for hours about all of the comments that made me cringe, but I will leave you will this one before I move on; "his grin is puppy dog cute".

One thing that really got me and I couldn't avoid talking about was when Penny used the phrases "must think I'm crazy" and "looking at me like I'm demented" because these words have been used in a negative way and can really offend some readers, you would also think that Sugg would know better considering that not only her novel is based on Anxiety, but she had experienced Anxiety herself and she is a fully grown adult. It wouldn't even have been bad if it was a case of making a negative statement and then challenging it, but it was just thrown out as if it was nothing.

Having said that, I did like that Zoe's life had been shaped into Penny who is in year eleven at school and experiencing all of the high school drama. Penny experiences Anxiety and Panic Attacks throughout the novel and lives in Brighton, she even starts her own anonymous blog talking about her experiences where she signs off as Girl Online, Going Offline. At the end of some chapters, she would add in her blog post which made the novel slightly more unique and interesting.

The story line of this novel was completely unrealistic but I can't deny that it was quite sweet. Penny's mum has a wedding dress shop and gets asked to organise a Downton Abbey themed wedding in New York City just before Christmas. This news comes to Penny just after an awful day at School where she tripped on stage and showed her underwear off to the entire audience (are you getting Angus Thongs vibes yet?) and a video of her doing so had just gone viral on Social Media, she was also at a time where her Panic Attacks weren't manageable and her parents had no idea what was going on, the only person she had told was her next door neighbor and best friend Elliot and the readers of her blog. When she gets the news that they had all been invited to spend a few days in NYC, Penny, her older brother and Elliot were all rather disappointing; Elliot was worried about what he'd do with time away from Penny, Penny couldn't even think about getting on a plane without worrying and her brother was looking forward to seeing his girlfriend. The truth comes out and everyone is so supportive of Penny and a few days later, they all, minus her brother heads off to NYC. 

Penny has never had any luck with boys, she always manages to make a fool out of herself in some way or another, whether it be by falling over or saying the wrong thing, such as telling somebody that she has fleas. However, she unexpectedly stumbles across a guy whilst in New York that doesn't judge her, doesn't laugh at her and that she feels incredibly confident and calm around; she meets Noah who she refers to on her blog as Brooklyn Boy. Noah is a charming teenager who is a few years older than her and the two of them spend a day together, despite only just meeting. They bond instantly and even talk about their deepest secrets such as Penny's panic attacks and Noah loosing both of his parents. Penny feels like she knows everything about Noah, until she arrives back home in England where she discovers that Noah actually has more secrets that Penny is completely oblivious of and the truth all comes out within the end, it always does right? But not without even more drama floating around the internet about Penny and her secret identity behind her blog is revealed.

One thing that did surprise me, was that this novel had a relatively good ending and I actually enjoyed the ending, to the point that I feel that I need to read the next novel within this sequel because I need to know what happened. I also read some reviews and the next novel is apparently, slightly more mature and the story line flows a little better. Overall, I gave this novel a 2 out of 5 because I'm not sure if I would have gotten through it without having somebody read it to me, I must admit though, I did like being able to listen to it whilst getting on with other tasks but I wouldn't say that this novel alone is really worth reading, unless you are into unrealistic, teenage relationships and dramas.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Monday, 16 July 2018

I have been SHORTLISTED for an AWARD?! | I need your help..

It has taken me an entire 14 days to write this post, firstly because I am completely baffled by the entire concept and secondly because I have been so busy. Where do I even begin? I have somehow managed to be shortlisted for the Best Illness Recovery Blog Award which was created by the Health Blogger Community and That Protein as part of their annual Health blog awards. 

When I started this blog, adamant that I was going to speak out about Mental Health Difficulties in order to break the stigma, I never imagined that two years later, I would not only be nominated for an award, but shortlisted; I have made it into the top three for my category and that blows my mind. I am so thankful for each and every one of you, who always clicks onto my blog to read my latest posts or who have messaged me to say how beneficial or inspiring my posts have been. I cannot explain how much the messages, comments and conversations surrounding my blog means to me, I am quite honestly, just a girl who is fed up of the world shitting on not only myself, but so many people and although I can't cure other peoples illnesses, I can try my hardest to give advice and I can speak out, in the hope that it breaks some of the stigma, even if it only changes one persons mindset surrounding Mental Illness.

However, in order to get a shot at winning, I need your votes. You can vote more than once and I will give you the complete rundown on how to vote..

  1. 1. Click this link to the Awards Event website, it may take a few seconds to load which is normal. You will be directed to what looks like a website full of photos but this is the right page.
  2. 2. Scroll down, if you're using a mobile then it may take a little longer to scroll down but you basically need to keep scrolling (past my face) until you get to the bottom of the shortlisted bloggers where you will find a section titled 'Vote for your favourite Bloggers' which has a big green button underneath that says start.
  3. 3. Follow the instructions, you will be asked for your first name and email address, you will also get the option to opt in for receiving an electronic newsletter.
  4. 4. You need to chose my category within the list which is 'Chronic Illness & Illness Recovery'.
  5. 5. Click on my face with my name and blog name underneath.
  6. 6. Press Register.

And that is it. As I mentioned before, you can vote multiple times and every single vote counts, I would appreciate every single vote and let me know if you have voted for me, as I would love to be able to say thank-you to you personally and thank-you to everyone who has already voted!

Voting is open until the first week in August, so there isn't much time! The event is taking place on the 15th September in London and tickets are on sale right now for £21.79, which can be found here if you are interested in attending.

Thank-you for reading & thank-you all so much for giving me this opportunity, Tay x

Sunday, 8 July 2018

25 Things Nobody tells you about taking Psychiatric Medication

For this weeks Mental Health Monday, I thought that I would do something a little difference which is what nobody tells you about taking Psychiatric Medication, Anti Depressants and Sleeping Medication in particular. I have asked a few friends about what they wish they were told before starting medication and have created a list of a few things to keep in mind when starting medication.

  1. The constant fatigue - I cannot explain to you how tired and exhausted I can get over doing the simplest of tasks, I can go for a ten minute walk and feel like I need a rest but this is definitely a common side effect of many medications used for mental health which can be quite frustrating, especially if you have a lot to do.
  2. Missing out on things because you have to take your medication on time - The amount of times that I have had to turn things down, or make pit stops at home to pick up my pills is ridiculous. Medication should be taken on time every day, and I have had to turn down nights out, last minute staying at somebody's house and even going out late at night because I need to take my medication.
  3. The hot sweats - Hot sweats are just as grim as they sound and are particularly common with sleeping tablets. I have had countless times where I have woken up, soaked in my own sweat because my medication didn't let me wake up and notice that I was too hot. I find that also, you can often wake up freezing cold but sweating and it really is disgusting but it is the reality.
  4. The lack of appetite yet sudden weight gain - Most medications have side effects of either weight gain or weight loss; some even both, but I also find that quite often, my medication causes me to lose my appetite yet I still manage to gain weight.
  5. The almost non existent sex drive - This point came up so many times when talking to others about side effects of medication and it really is true, before medication, you feel so bad that you have no sex drive but with medication, you have almost no sex drive so its a bit of a no win situation and can really put a strain on some relationships.
  6. The unknown - I always think to myself, how would I be without my medication? Would my head be different? Would I actually feel worse? Would I be somebody else? Would I have a completely different personality?
  7. Acne - Spots and blemishes are common for everyone, but usually it is only occasionally that a spot would pop up but with medication, you may as well still be a fourteen year old with the amount of spots that pop up, at the most inconvenient of times.
  8. Feeling numb - Most people say that feeling really down is the worst feeling but I have to disagree, feeling numb, to me personally, is the worst feeling because you don't feel anything, you're desensitised to everything and everything is blank. Something terrible could happen and you'd shrug it off, but something amazing could also happen and you'd shrug it off, it can even come across as having no care for anything, or being grumpy.
  9. How difficult it can be to come off of them - Everyone is different and therefore, everyone's bodies react differently to coming off of medications. Withdrawal symptoms are horrific, for me Sertraline is almost impossible to come off and I am still trying to reduce it, but the headaches, the nausea and the random aches and pains are horrific, and do not benefit your mindset. I have a friend who struggled to come off Venlafaxine, another Quetiapine and another Escitalopram yet had no problems coming off of medications that caused other people withdrawal symptoms. Nobody knows how your body will react to coming off of a medication so it is quite difficult to tell before even starting it, how easily you will be able to come off it.
  10. How much courage it takes to start them - Many people really struggle to find the courage to start taking medication, they worry about what others may think, the side effects and even if it'll make them feel worse. Nobody tells you that you will have to think carefully about taking medication and doing your research into if they're beneficial.
  11. The headaches and other random aches and pains - I always get random headaches and random shooting pains over my body which I never got before starting medication, they're very random and quite short but they can be so inconvenient, painful and annoying.
  12. The after taste - Some medications, especially sleeping tablets can leave a horrible after taste that I can usually taste up to 24 hours after taking the medication. I find that I often get a horrible, stale, metallic taste that lingers in my mouth and makes water taste vile, which isn't ideal for somebody who drinks a lot of water. It can put you off eating and drinking and is really not pleasant.
  13. The price of prescriptions - My friend mentioned this point to me and despite the fact that I know people are going to have lots to say, it is still a point that nobody tells you about. I completely understand that prescriptions have to be paid for, considering that we are lucky enough to have the NHS but prescriptions can be expensive, especially when on multiple different ones. Luckily, the NHS have a prescription scheme service where you only pay a set amount each month and covers all of your prescriptions but before finding out about this, I was having to pay around £40 a month for medication that I wasn't even sure if worked.
  14. Having either two or ten hours sleep - This is such a valid point and I have been so guilty of this, some nights, despite the medication I just can't sleep, and other nights I don't seem to be able to wake up, there is no middle. Some medications can even make you sleep more of make you struggle to sleep.
  15. Not knowing how long you'll be on your medication for - When I first got put on one particular medication, I presumed that it would be for about a year at the most, I never thought that more than four years down the line, I would still be on that same medication and I honestly have no idea how much longer I will be on this medication, it makes me somewhat stable and therefore I don't think that I am going to be rushed off of it anytime soon.
  16. You should not drink alcohol - This stands for almost all medications, alcohol is a no go because it can react with your medication, make your medication not work and can even harm your liver. Even when you are going out, you have to make the decision of if you're going to have just one drink and still take your medication or if you're going to drink a lot so you can't take your medication, which can make you feel worse the next day as not only would you have a hangover, but you will have missed a dose of your medication. I am probably the worst person for this because I seem to take my medication no matter how much I have had to drink which often leaves me with three day hangovers, which I don't recommend and isn't fun.
  17. You rely on them just as much as you would a person - I am guilty of often relying on medication, if I am having a bad day and want to sleep, I will take my medication early and rely on it to help me sleep, same with PRN (medication that is taken as needed), you can just take one to calm you down and make you feel better.
  18. You become afraid to come off them - I know I have already spoken about worries about starting medication, but coming off of them is another big worry because you know how you were and felt before you started medication and its a risk to go back to that, you also worry that it'll send you backwards or even that you will feel the same and you've wasted years and lots of money on medication that hasn't worked.
  19. Having the shakes constantly - If you know me, you'd know how much of a shaky person I am, I can't help it but it is something that happens as a result of my medication. This is a particularly common side effect in SSRI's and SNRI's (types of antidepressants) and some people get it worse than others, but it can be very frustrating, especially if you're trying to do something such as sew or draw.
  20. Feeling sick a lot of the time - I am always complaining about how I feel sick and I do tend to feel sick a lot of the time but often, without being sick, this is again due to my medication which can be frustrating because I have often cancelled plans because I don't feel well.
  21. In most cases, you'll have to come off of your medication if you fall pregnant - This can be very stressful if you've just found out you're pregnant, you're already not in a great mindset, your hormones are everywhere and you are having to stop your medication. It can be worrying for many women as they worry that they'll deteriorate whilst pregnant which can ultimately affect their baby. However, if they continued with their medication, it could also harm the baby. 
  22. There is always trial and error - I think one of the biggest misconceptions about mental health medication is that you get put on a medication and you start to feel better. This is so far from the reality, usually you have to trial a number of different medications before finding one that is right and beneficial to you, this can take months and even years and unfortunately some medications, can cause people to feel worse instead of better.
  23. There are certain foods that need to be avoided with specific medication - This is because they can react with the medication and cause the individual to become ill.
  24. Medication does not work on its own - This is such a big one, people commonly think that medication is the answer but it really isn't. Alongside medication, therapy and self care is so essential in order to help someone to feel better.
  25. What works for somebody else, may not work for you - I have slightly touched on this topic earlier on, but just because somebody finds a certain medication really beneficial, does not mean that it'd work for you, everyone's bodies and brains are different so it is important to find what works for you.
Overall, if you're considering starting medication, do not let this post put you off, it is just the reality of living whilst on medication and secondly, do you research, when starting my medication, there wasn't much time for me to research into it but I would highly recommend doing so, so that you can have more of an option and say in what sort of thing you think could work.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x
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