Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Lynn Weingarten: Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls | Book Review

June and Delia were once the closest of friends, they would choose each other over anything else and did everything together. They had tonnes of secrets that tied them together "like thin silk cords" but it only took one night for everything to change, they went from best friends to strangers overnight but now, only one year later, Delia is dead and June feels like she owes it to Delia to uncover the truth, they say it was suicide, but June is convinced it was murder however, little did she know that the truth would be far more complex than she had imagined. 

Upon first picking up this novel, it seemed like a thrilling mystery that I would adore, and up until about half way through the novel, I did adore it. You learn all about the inseparable friendship that June and Delia once had and we experience the raw pain that June is experiencing whilst grieving for her best friend. June feels like she failed Delia, she wishes more than anything that she could mend their relationship but how can you mend a relationship with someone who is dead? June blames herself, she feels a whole range of emotions and she believes that she could have talked Delia out of taking her own life. It isn't until June speaks to Delia's boyfriend, that her suspicions begin that Delia could have been murdered.

The first half of this book had a rather stable story-line, it was interesting and there were so many unanswered questions, we felt June's pain with her, we learn more about Delia, who she was, how she died and what could have caused her to end her life. Despite this, from about the midway point, this novel gets messy, it turns into what feels like a rush to include all of the information, it becomes unrealistic and it just doesn't work. I found this book very frustrating because it could have worked if more time, effort and work went into making the story-line flow better. Instead, we had a whole mixture of serious topics portrayed very badly, which could actually be considered offensive to some.

Within this novel, June and Delia's boyfriend take it upon themselves to create their own murder investigation without informing the police, they take some very dangerous decisions in order to try and understand what happened to Delia including, breaking into Delia's family home and visiting a dangerous drug dealer. There was one point within the novel where going to the police was considered, but it was quickly removed from the options after Delia's boyfriend states that he has already been to the police and that they are certain it was suicide. Firstly, the police would definitely investigate into other possibilities and would take potentially key information like this very seriously and Secondly, June could have got herself in a lot of trouble for some of the things she got up to, due to being convinced that Delia was murdered. 

Once the death has changed from a Suicide to a Murder, the plot turns very erratic and touches on a whole range of serious topics, very badly, from cheating to pregnancy, abortion, rape, alcohol, drugs and murder. June explains often throughout the novel that she is terrified, but doesn't decide to do anything about it, she just continues to dig into information that she doesn't want to learn about. Every time she uncovers a truth about what Delia did in her life, an example being drugs, June would act so shocked and in disbelief but then would be fine to take things even further, so realistically, her character is very over-dramatic, just like the novel as a whole.

The ending did take me by surprise, but I did see some of it coming. However, it feels like at this specific point, the novel should end because a whole different story is created, and a very unrealistic one at that. Despite still being terrified and worried, June holds her character together very well which just weakens the story because nobody would be able to hold themselves together in the situation that she has fallen into. Delia's complex character and unique personality quickly dissolves into a typical cliche.

Overall, from beginning to end, June is caught in the trap of Delia manipulating her. I finished this book within a day, just because I struggled to keep up with the story and needed to get it over and done with. I finished this book, feeling confused, angry, scared and just baffled. It was emotive, I'd give it that much but it isn't a good read at all, there are so many flaws in the story-line, characters and the novel as a whole. I rated this novel two stars on goodreads because although it was a tragic read, it was emotive and it did start with potential before ending in disappointment.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Reading Next: Holly Bourne: What's A Girl Gotta Do?
Reviewing Next: Lara Williamson: A Boy Named Hope

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Monday, 26 February 2018

BBC 2 Girls On The Edge Documentary | Review

BBC 2 aired 'Girls On The Edge' on the 22nd February 2018 which is an hour long documentary based on the lives of three mentally ill teenagers, living their lives inside a secure Inpatient Unit under Section of the Mental Health Act. 

"One in ten teenagers have a mental health problem. According to the NHS, there has been a 68% rise in hospital admissions relating to self-harm among young teenage girls in the past decade. This hour-long observational documentary follows three families whose daughters have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act to protect them from harming themselves. The teenagers are all being treated at Fitzroy House. Their detainment is indefinite and the film explores the impact on them, their parents and siblings who don't know when they will be allowed home.

All have had different journeys into Fitzroy House. Jade, 17, has been sectioned for 18 months and is hoping to be discharged from hospital before her 18th birthday. Her twin sister Megan struggles with Jade's illness and finds it difficult to visit her. Jess, 17, was first sectioned when she was 13 and has been to nine different hospitals around the country. She is one of a growing number of children sent away from her area for treatment and her parents Vikki and John currently make a 300-mile round trip to visit her every weekend. Erin, 16, is nearly ready to be discharged from Fitzroy House. Her mum Emma is desperate to have her home but the responsibility of keeping her safe terrifies her.

Told in their own words with directness and raw honesty, the film aims to remove shame and stigma surrounding mental illness as well as explore some of the pressures on young people growing up."*

Whenever new documentaries are published regarding Mental Illness, I find that they can be very hit or miss and there can be a huge risk whilst watching them, they could be triggering to some and could possibly be harmful to your own well-being and recovery therefore, viewer discretion needs to be considered. 

I think that this documentary is a really good one; it really does give a good and accurate view of what it is like to be in an adolescent mental health unit, you hear the opinions of the young people themselves as well as their families who are trying to live their lives with their daughters being miles away in hospital. It really did open my eyes to how my mum may have felt when I was in hospital and how hard it really would have been on her and my brother.

I feel that this documentary is key in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and psychiatric hospitals; they aren't like the asylums were, the service users aren't punished for being unwell and it is used as a last resort, if it is felt that the service user can't be kept safe at home. When watching this documentary, you are able to clearly see that these girls are just normal people who are poorly, they aren't crazy, they are just average girls who are struggling with their illness and there is no shame in that. I would love to force every single person who 'doesn't believe' in mental illness to watch this documentary, because I can guarantee that if they actually open their eyes, their views will change.

Throughout this documentary, we experience the highs and lows of inpatient life, the fun times and the darker times when the ward is unsettled, the girls describe the unit so accurately and I can honestly say that it is portrayed almost exactly how a unit is, with the searches, incidents, medication routines, meal times and review meetings, it doesn't really seem much like a hospital at all. I think many people will get the impression that hospitals don't seem as bad as they thought they would be but a lot happens behind closed doors, and this documentary only gives a small insight into what really goes on, they're not glamorous, but it's not fair to compare them to prison, despite them sometimes feeling like that.

Despite this, I do feel like this documentary could be quite misleading. All three girls were on Section of the Mental Health Act meaning that they are detained against their will. I feel like this could somewhat be worrying to people who are ill as they could be worried to receive the treatment they need out of fear of being sectioned. It is important to realise that being sectioned is again, a last resort and usually, an informal admission would be trialed first. 

Overall, I did find this documentary both honest and beneficial regarding the stigma surrounding mental illness. I could empathise with the frustrations of the girls when discussing how much of a long process recovery is. I think it's really brave to go on camera, talking about not only your mental health but whilst at your worst. I liked how at the end of the documentary, we were informed on the girls progress. It is definitely worth a watch and is probably one of the best Mental Health documentaries I have come across.

* Girls On The Edge Documentary - available for one month after being aired.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Holly Bourne: How Hard Can Love Be? (The Spinster Club 2) | Book Review

When I stumbled across this novel in the library I was absolutely thrilled considering it is the second sequel within the Spinster Club series. I really wasn't sure what to expect next and I wasn't sure what was going to happen within Evie's life next however, upon reading the blurb I realised that this is no longer Evie's story, it is in fact Amber's; her close friend that we briefly heard about in the first novel, Am I Normal Yet?. Bourne has quite quickly turned into one of my favourite YA Authors and whenever I pick up one of her novels, it is almost guaranteed that I am going to enjoy it. 

Firstly, I absolutely love the idea of using a sequel to learn about other characters briefly met in the previous novels and I was extremely excited to learn all about Amber, who she is, what she stands for and what has happened within her life. Despite this, this novel isn't set in the same time as the first so whilst going through Amber's journey with her, we still hear about when Evie had her relapse (which we experienced in the first novel) and we are able to get a brief idea of how she is getting on with her recovery. I must admit, this novel took me an entire month to get through due to being busy but I am so pleased that I managed to find the time to get back into it. Like the first in the sequel, this book touches quite heavily on feminism but also carries a great deal of humor. Amber is going to visit her Mother over the summer in America, and is looking forward to spending time with her even if it means also having to help run a summer camp that her Mum and dare I say, step-dad, Kevin runs.

Alongside Feminism, this novel also explores Alcoholism and Abandonment as well as falling head over heals for a boy, a situation that is destined to fail. I love how within Holly Bourne's novels, her characters are never perfect and are just realistic, everyday people who have their flaws. Amber is seventeen years old and has had quite a hard upbringing, from her mum being an alcoholic, her dad leaving her mum for a new family and her mum then abandoning Amber to live in a different country, meaning that Amber has no choice but to live with her dad's perfect new family. We learn a lot about Amber fairly quickly; she is a huge Harry Potter fan, she loves Art, she is tall with red hair and boys are never interested in her.

You can't help but empathise with Amber throughout this novel, she is at the age where she is experimenting with Alcohol and she is often found very drunk with the other staff members at the summer camp however, we all know that Amber needs to be careful due to her mum still being a recovering alcoholic and it isn't until somebody points out that she could end up like her mum, that she realised that binge drinking to avoid emotional pain, is not the right answer. Amber also wants nothing more than to mend her broken relationship with her mum, it had been two years since they last saw each other and Amber had so much that she wanted to say, do and feel but is anything ever that simple? Amber feels like she has been abandoned by her own mother, so she constantly have the internal struggle of being unsure of what to say or do, without her mum reacting badly. 

As soon as Amber meets the other Staff members she will be working with throughout the summer, one person sticks out in particular; Kyle. However, everyone fancies Kyle, he is a typical, perfect American boy who even won Prom King. Kyle and Amber get on really well from the beginning, he looks after her almost every single time she drinks too much and he actually listens to her problems. However, Amber's mum really dislikes Kyle, nobody knows her reasons but she warns Amber not to fall for Kyle as she has already seen too many heartbreaks over him the prior year. Kyle is an absolute gentleman and is very aware that he the definition of a cliche but Kyle has issues of his own, he does only what is expected of him and not what he truly wants because he doesn't know who he really is. Amber is very wary about getting close to Kyle but their relationship is so honest and real, they talk about everything and anything and Bourne has really used their deep and meaningful conversations to teach and inspire readers.

It wouldn't be a Spinster Club Novel without Spinster Club meetings which have been happening over video chats and Amber makes sure to fill her two best friends; Evie and Lottie in on everything that has been happening whilst she has been away. 

This book is around 470 pages long and there were parts that I lost interest in and that just got tedious but I powered through and I am so pleased that I did because it takes almost the entire novel and an entire summer for Amber to get the answers from her mum of the hidden questions she had. You can sense her relief when she finally unravels the truth and the seriousness of her mums illness. I love how each chapter starts with an example of 'Situations that are Destined to Fail' that actually relates to a project she is working on in Art class. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I can't wait to read Lottie's story. I rated this book four stars out of five because I did enjoy it, it was informative and fun but I did prefer Am I Normal Yet? I also enjoyed hearing things from a different perspective, such as feminism, boys and everyday issues. I hope to be back soon with a review of the third novel within this sequel. I think that everybody needs to read these books at least once.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Monday, 12 February 2018

Living with Scars & Stigma

Disclaimer - This post heavily talks about Self-Harm, Scars and the Stigma surrounding Mental Illness and can be triggering, please don't read if you're feeling vulnerable as the last thing I want is to have a negative effect on your well-being.

When we were young, we were told to love ourselves and to accept our imperfections as they are what makes us unique. When we got ill, we were told to learn to live with our illnesses without being defined by them. When we got older, we grew up accepting tattoos as they can make us unique and they are a piece of art. It takes time to change stigma and it takes time to change people's viewpoints and we have to remember that not everybody grew up in a world where tattoo's were accepted and talking about mental health was inspirational and courageous. But in today's society, people of all generations are getting tattoo's and have learnt to live with the idea that everybody has their own interests, hobbies and personalities. We have all grown to admire the idea of individuality so why are all of these things so easily accepted, forgiven and forgotten yet mental health is still a very taboo subject. Thankfully, the stigma around Mental Illness is getting better, day by day and year by year but there is still one big aspect that hasn't quite been addressed and accepted yet, which is Scars; not just scars because single scars can be seen as a sign of bravery and being fearless, they may tell a story of a time where that person had an accident, an operation, or even brought a new life into the world. Despite all this, I can't get my head around the common thought process that Scars that were formed from Self Harm are often seen as not pleasant, attention seeking and a sign of weakness. What baffles me even more, is how quite a large amount of people in today's society feels that due to the fact that there are numerous scars, they have the right to comment on them and ask questions about them even though they are most likely very aware of what caused them.

I am sick of people trying to be sympathetic when in reality they can come across as patronising, I am fed up of people asking me pointless questions and making statements like "didn't that hurt?" - Yes it did, that was sort of the point, "they're quite bad" - Yes I am also aware of that, and no I wasn't thinking rationally when I did it so I didn't think about the consequences, "are you still crazy?" - I wasn't crazy in the first place, just poorly so I don't think i'll be answering that question, "do you still do it?" - you're a stranger so what do you expect me to say? "But you're a pretty girl" - I have heard this time and time before, just because you feel that someone is attractive, doesn't mean that they avoid all bad things within the world and thank-you for making me feel even more insecure, "will they go?" - No, they wont so it would be good if I could stop getting questioned by multiple people every time I wear short sleeves.

I find it so odd because at home and around my close family, short sleeves is all I wear, I am still me, I am still a human being and I am still a part of their family. My family are so used to my scarred body that they don't even notice anymore, they just have accepted me for who I am, what I went through and supported me through my illness, despite it breaking their hearts. On the other hand, when I go out in public, it is a rare occasion that I will wear just short sleeves, it's not something that I am comfortable and confident in doing, especially around people I don't know. At work, despite all of the staff being aware, I will only wear long sleeves because I am so self-conscious of my scars, I don't want questions from customers and I am worried that people will complain that it is disgusting and putting them off their food because we live in such a divided community when it comes to Self Harm. Even the people who don't say a word, but proceed to stare, thinking that I haven't noticed, I am very aware of you staring at my scars, it is making me self conscious and it is bothering me about what you might be thinking.

Don't get me wrong, I can completely understand people not wanting to see Self Harm wounds as they can be disturbing, triggering and not pleasant. But when it comes to having fully healed scars that I have to live with for the rest of my life, scars that might fade a bit more but wont ever disappear, scars that leave permanent dents and bumps in my skin and scars that will only not be noticeable if I have tattoo cover-ups or operations, I have a right to wear short sleeves on warm, sunny days without feeling self-conscious of people staring and without worrying that someone will say something and make me doubt myself. It would be nice if people would try to be a bit more sensitive and understanding of the topic. Some stranger belittling me into feeling that showing my scars is wrong cannot change the fact that I have scars, they cannot magically make them disappear.

I have seen the fear in an older lady's face after seeing my scars, she might have been wondering if I was going to hurt her, considering that I am clearly capable of hurting myself, she could have been thinking how if I was around when she was a little girl, I would have been thrown into an asylum where I would rot away into nothing. I have experienced so many young children being genuinely intrigued about my scars, how they got there and what happened and I have had to hope that they will firstly, not end up in a position where they are self-harming and secondly, prepare for that one day where they find out about self-harm and it will click in their brains that they've seen it before but didn't know what it was, I dread the future conversations between myself and younger relatives when they know all about my scars and are sad to find out what really caused them but I can only have faith that maybe their generation will grow up without the stigma, more understanding and are able to help people who carry scars, feel confident within their own skin and to not be ashamed. I have witnessed doctors becoming queasy when fixing my wounds, I have seen nurses become squeamish over the sight of a wound that I did to my own body, I have been refused numbing anesthetic because I did this to myself, so why would a bit more pain make any difference? There is such a misunderstanding surrounding self harm and scars, they are seen as bad when at the end of the day, when we're recovered, we'll look down to our scars and they'll remind us that we are brave, we are strong and we deserve to wear our scars with pride instead of with guilt, shame and negativity.

I think one of the scariest things within today's society, alongside the stigma is the confusion and worry on some people's faces when they see my scars, I have been asked how I ended up with scars so big and so wide, how I managed to do it and that they didn't think that it could be a possibility to willingly slice down to fat, muscle and veins. I actually have a phobia of blood and veins, but whenever I tell someone close to me this, they laugh which is understandable. I am always asked how and why my self harm got so severe, so quickly when in reality, everyone saw my self harm as severe when my wounds were classed as superficial. It took under a year for my self harm to be classed as scratches, that I could easily blame on the cat or a fall to cause it to a drastic change of wide, exposing wounds that required immediate medical attention. Self Harm can escalate extremely quickly, I was oblivious to how severe it could actually become until it happened to me. I was naive and I wish more than anything, that I had someone to educate me on how serious it could become, on how even if I didn't want to believe it, I will be someone who spends a lot of their time in the A&E waiting room, waiting for my wounds to be put back together. If only I had known how quickly this coping mechanism would spiral out of control, I could have prevented it from getting worse and saved my skin a lot of damage.

One day we wont be surrounded by stigma and shame, but we have to do it together. When you feel confident in wearing short sleeves, then go for it because the more of us who come out of hiding, the more people will understand and hopefully it'll eventually disappear and we wont be made to feel like we're doing something wrong.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Saturday, 10 February 2018

January Favourites 2018

I am aware that this post is slightly late up, but despite January feeling never ending, February is going by at an extremely fast rate, already. I have decided that favourites posts aren't made enough on my blog so this year, I am going to aim to talk through all of the things I have been loving, every single month.

Throughout January, I found that the majority of things I have loved are in fact beauty products but there are a couple of non-related beauty products that I have also found a love for and I will therefore start with those.

If you know me personally, you will know that I am trying to quit smoking which was a habit I picked up three years ago. I haven't smoked a cigarette in a few months and I am using an e-cig (electronic cigarette) to help me. I am now down to 3MG nicotine percentage after starting at 16MG. Recently I switched my e-cig to the Aspire Pockex which I am loving, I really finds that it has reduced my urges and cravings for a cigarette incredibly. It also comes in a whole variety of different colours, I really had my eye on the Rose Gold version but it wasn't in stock when I got mine so I went for Matte Black. Depending on where you purchase this e-cig, it costs anything from £23.99-£30 but it is still much cheaper than cigarettes and I actually find that I have no trouble with this e-cig at all compared to the previous ones I had. 

Feather & Down Sweet Dreams Pillow Spray is a fairy new product to me but I absolutely love it already. It is a Lavender scented Pillow Spray that aims to relax you and help you to sleep. I originally wanted to pick up the This Works Pillow Spray but I spotted this one in Boots for only £7 and thought that it was worth giving a go considering that I struggle to sleep. Obviously, if you're not a fan of Lavender then this is not the product for you. I am not entirely sure if this product actually helps me to sleep or not but it certainly helps me to relax easier. It is a very soothing scent and I am getting on really well with it so far.

Moving on, another product that I have been using every single day throughout the past month is the No7 Illuminated Make Up Mirror. I had this product on my wishlist for two consecutive years as I was getting fed up of not having a free standing mirror. I actually got this product for Christmas but it retails for £34.99 (it is currently on offer at Boots for £20) and it comes in either silver or rose gold. I wasn't sure if I would like this mirror when first using it because it shows every single flaw, smudge and blemish but I now struggle to do my make up without the light as it makes such a difference.

A product that I have tried multiple times in the past but never stuck to is the Soap & Glory Righteous Butter which is a Body Butter in their traditional fruity yet floral scent. This product contains Shea Butter and Aloe Vera, leaving your skin super silky and soft. I find that this product isn't sticky like some moisturisers can be and even after applying a large amount, it soaks in to your skin quickly. I would recommend this product if you're looking for an affordable, everyday moisturiser.

I was fortunate enough to have received a few different perfumes throughout my Birthday and Christmas but one that has stuck by my side and turned into a new holy grail is the Mugler Alien Perfume which in all honesty, was a Christmas present to my mum but it has somehow landed on my dressing table. This fragrance has a very strong and powering scent, it is definitely a distinctive scent and is very noticeable, even with the smallest amount. It is described as both a floral and woody scent, containing Jasmine Sambac, Cashmeran Wood and White Amber. The bottle is stunning and full of purple and gold which is actually refillable too. This product is around £54 for 30ml but there is almost always an offer on at at least one perfume retailer.

The Soap & Glory Face Soap & Clarity Face Wash is next on my favourites. I received a mini of this product in a gift set and have been using it non-stop since, I have already purchased a full size version. This product is a 3-in-1 V Daily Vitamin C face wash which cleans and purifies skin, removes make up and exfoliates. I find this product so easy to use and it is a really quick process. I have heard a whole bunch of people stating that they wont use this product due to it containing micro-beads, which are really bad for the environment but according to Soap & Glory, they have switched over to environmentally friendly ingredients. The full size of this product is £8, I have noticed that this product has helped to clear up my skin and has left it feeling much more smoother, rather than constantly being dry and oily. 

Moving on to make up products, a new and higher end product that seems to be turning into a holy grail product is the Too Faced Hangover Primer which retails at £27, so definitely on the pricier side however, it creates the perfect base for your foundation. This product is infused with coconut water and carries quite a light, coconut scent. It is a creamy consistency, but can be slightly tacky, allowing your foundation to set better. I find that with many primers, applying foundation can often remove the primer and leave your make up patchy but that isn't the case at all with this product. It is very lightweight and hydrating, it smooths your skin and a little goes a long way, I really couldn't recommend this product enough.

The Kat Von D Translucent Loose Powder has been a product that I have been looking out for for a very long time but it is always out of stock on the Debenhams website.. has it been discontinued? I managed to finally get my hands on this product from Depop and I love it. I  had used it prior to purchasing time and time before due to my friend owning it. It doesn't feel chalky, it doesn't leave marks on your concealer and it smells like cake mixture.. I am not joking. This product usually retails at £22, but is in such a generous sized pot and would last a long time and is the perfect product for baking. 

Last but not least, the final product that I have been adoring is the Soph X Make Up Revolution Highlighting Palette. When applying the shades within this palette, you wouldn't think that it is a drugstore palette or even, only £8. Within this palette, you get eight generous sized highlighting shades which focuses on the pinks, purples and golds. The shades start lighter on the left and get darker to the right meaning that there is bound to be a shade for everyone. There was a discussion that the four left shades looked very similar to the Sleek Solstice Palette but they all reflect differently. You can use the shades within this palette individually or on top of each other and you'll get an incredible glow. The pigmentation is insanely good and the products are very shimmery.

That is all for today, I am trying to keep my favourites posts short and sweet because we all know that I have a tendency to ramble. If you'd like to see reviews of any of the products mentioned then please let me know. 

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Monday, 5 February 2018

Dialectal Behavior Therapy | What is it?

Hello and welcome back to my blog. I keep finding myself getting quite stuck on what to post for my Mental Health Monday posts as I am not sure if you prefer more informative posts and advice, or posts where I just chat about my opinions on topics.. please let me know as I really can't tell but for now, I am doing a bit of both. Due to the fact that I did a small amount of Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT), I thought that I would try and explain each of the skills to the best of my ability as I am aware that DBT isn't available to everyone. I am just going to say.. I am not qualified in DBT, I am just trying to share the skills in order to help others.

What Is DBT?

DBT is a talking therapy which is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), but has been adapted to help people who experience emotions very intensely. Like CBT, DBT aims to help you change unhelpful behaviours but by additionally also focusing on accepting who you are. Within DBT, the relationship between you and your therapist is very important and once trust is built, is used to prompt and motivate you to want to change. According to MIND, "the goal of DBT is to help you learn to manage your difficult emotions by letting yourself experience, recognise and accept them. Then as you learn to accept and regulate your emotions, you also become more able to change your harmful behaviour. To help you achieve this, DBT therapists use a balance of acceptance and change techniques."

Within DBT, Diary cards are used to help track your emotions, destructive behaviours, urges, medications and which skills you have been using. They have to be filled out every day and completely honestly. Usually, you would meet with your therapist once per week. Diary cards will also contain sections for homework that your therapist would have set you for the upcoming week. I will say now, DBT is difficult, it can be very draining and is a lot of hard work but it can be beneficial for many people in the long run but if you want it to work, you have to be willing to change your behaviours. Upon starting DBT, I found it difficult to remember to fill in my Diary cards, meaning that I had to fill them in all at once, so they weren't always accurate. Despite not being in DBT, I still use the Diary cards as I find them helpful to track how things are going. For every service, the Diary cards will look quite different, but I will attach one that I found online here, that you can print off and give a go.

Another part of DBT is the chain analysis which are essentially a step to step document of an incident that had happened right from the morning before it happened to the night after. Chain analysis will commonly be used if you have self harmed, attempted suicide, drank alcohol, not eaten or done drugs depending on what behaviours you are struggling with. They are very difficult and intense and you have to talk through absolutely everything that happened before, after and during the incident. I honestly can't even count the amount of times that a chain analysis has left me in tears but again, they're beneficial and they make you not want to have to fill them in again. An example of what to include in a chain analysis can be found here but if you want me to, then I can do a whole blog post on them.


Within DBT, there are a whole range of skills that can be split into four different categories. Some skills may be explained slightly differently across different services but they all mean the same thing. During DBT, these skills will mostly be taught within a group setting that occurs once a week. I found the groups the most difficult as I cannot stand being sat in a room full of people I don't know, but they are very informative and quite helpful to some. Within the group, you'll be given homework alongside your individual homework from your therapist, that usually relates to the skills learnt. The DBT Skill modules are categories into;

  • Mindfulness Skills
  • Emotion Regulation Skills
  • Interpersonal Effective Skills
  • Distress Tolerance Skills
Mindfulness Skills are a range of skills that can be used to help focus your attention to the present time instead of being distracted by worries about the past or future. Mindfulness is a type of meditation and can come in all different types as it is all about observing and concentrating. Some mindfulness skills work for some, but not others which is completely normal. There are many different apps that can be used for listening and sound mindfulness tasks but you can also eat mindfully, hold something mindfully or even colour mindfully. Depending on the service, the skills can vary but the staple skills within this module include:
  • Wise Mind
  • Observe
  • Describe
  • Participate
  • Nonjudgmental Stance
  • One-Mindfully
Emotion Regulation Skills are a set of skills that can be used to recognise, understand, explain, be more aware and have more control over your emotions. I found these skills in particular helpful when describing how I am feeling. The skills in this category are:
  • Identifying & Labeling Emotions
  • Reducing Emotional Vulnerability
  • Increasing Positive Experiences
  • Opposite Action
  • Coping Self-Statements
  • Identifying Unhelpful Thinking
  • Problem-Solving
  • Sleep Hygiene
Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills are all about teaching you how to both ask for things and to say no to things or other people in a calm manor, whilst also maintaining your self-respect and important relationships, without making situations worse. The skills inside this module are:
  • Clarifying Goals
  • Objective Effectiveness (Dear Man)
  • Relationship Effectiveness (Give)
  • Self-Respect Effectiveness (Fast)
  • Seeing another perspective (Think)
The last set of skills are Distress Tolerance Skills which are probably the ones that I found easiest to learn. These are a set of skills that can be used to teach you how to cope and deal with a crisis in a more effective way, without having to resort to using destructive or harmful behaviours. The skills within this module includes:
  • Distract
  • Self-Soothe
  • Improve The Moment
  • Pros and Cons
  • Radical Acceptance
  • TIPP Skills
I will be doing blog-posts on each different skill and I will leave a page at the top of my blog where each skill will be linked. I will do them in any order, but if there are any that you'd prefer to see sooner then please do let me know.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Sources & Links: 
Mind DBT 
Diary Card Example
What to include in a DBT Chain Anaysis

Friday, 2 February 2018

Benefit Gimme Brow Product Recall, Being Discontinued & Review

Back in what I believe was mid-2016, Benefit Cosmetics launched a huge range of 13 different beauty products, every single one being Brow products in different formulas, styles, applicators and shades.. there was bound to be something for everyone. This launch included not only brow filling products, but brow setting gel, a brow highlighting pencil and brow primer. The majority of the brow filling products are available in six different shades ranging from light to dark, meaning that you're able to find a product that suits your skin tone and hair shade the best.

Benefit Gimme Brow is a volumising eyebrow fibre gel that aims to make your brows look naturally fuller and thicker. It comes in a sleek silver packaging and its full size product is in 3g. I decided to opt for trying this product due to it still leaving your brows looking natural due to the fact that bolder, filled brows just don't work on me. This product is available in three different shades; 01 (light), 03 (medium) and 05 (deep). I was slightly hesitant to purchase this product as I believed that the best shade for me from their brow line was shade 02 which isn't available in the Gimme Brow. However, I went for shade 01 and was pleasantly surprised with the shade of this product, I find that it is buildable, you can use it straight onto your natural eyebrows or onto already filled in brows and it gives much different effects, making it versatile to how thick you may want your brows to look. Prior to trying this product eighteen months ago, I really struggled to find a reasonably priced brow product that doesn't leave my brows looking too dark, I really felt like the market was missing good quality brow products aimed for lighter tones and whenever I found a product that I had heard good reviews of, I couldn't find a shade light enough.

Having said all of this, it is a rather well-know fact that back in October 2017, more than a year after the product was placed on the market, the Benefit Gimme Brow was actually given a voluntary product recall from Benefit UK where it was explained that "out of an abundance of caution, we are initiating a voluntary recall of our Gimme Brow product after discovering that recent batches of the product did not meet our stringent quality standards. If applied in its normal usage on the brows, the Gimme Brow product doesn’t involve any risk. However, if it comes into contact with the eyes, it could lead to eye irritation." Benefit recommends that everyone who uses the Gimme Brow stops using the product and to return it to its original place of purchase for a full refund. 

Since this recall, the product has been taken off the market and now appears to be Out Of Stock on all of the websites that sell this product, suggesting that it has been discontinued which we aren't sure if it is temporary or long term. Due to the fact that I have personally had no issues with this product and I can't remember where I purchased from, let alone have the receipt, I have been using this product despite being advised not to. However, just a disclaimer, I don't recommend doing this as it could lead to eye irritation and it most likely means that the product could include a dangerous ingredient.

Overall, I really do hope that Benefit manages to resolve the issue soon and bring a much safer version of the product back onto the market. The product is long lasting and so easy to apply with its small brush applicator, it really does make your brows appear thicker and more fuller. The only downsize is that I find the product does dry up extremely quickly which is a shame as the more it dries out, the harder it is to apply. This product did cost £20 from the Benefit UK website.

Have you tried any of the other Benefit Brow products? Benefit have actually added a new feature to their website where you can not only find out which product would be best for you, but you can actually add a photo and see how the product would look on you.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x
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