Sunday, 21 December 2014

Coping with The Festive Season with depression

 
I recently posted some tips for managing the festive season with a chronic illness, focusing more on physical illness. However as I am a big advocate for supporting mental health issues and making sure it's talked about I wanted to offer some advice for anyone who is suffering with their mental health. Because it really is a time that people can feel an increase in their symptoms.
 
All you see and hear is 'tis the season to be jolly' when you feel far from it. And unfortunately no matter how many times some people will tell you, you cannot just snap out of it.
 
Feeling depressed or anxious but not been formally diagnosed- you've finished work for Christmas and it's been stressful trying to get all your deadlines met on time as well as organizing everything that comes along with Christmas and all of a sudden it all catches up with you. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and stretched out can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety. Listen to what your body is telling you and your head. Will these feelings pass? Have you actually been masking feelings of sadness for a long time? Or do you feel totally overwhelmed and want to cry all day long? Take a step back evaluate and if you feel you need to, make that decision to get help. That step is the first and most important one.
 
Know where to get help- if you are all ready recieving care or counselling etc then Christmas can mean a break in the continuity of progress. Ask your gp or counsellor what is available if you need that extra support during out of hours times. Just having that information as a back up can be reassuring. They will be able to advise you of any local services or helplines available to you. Or you should be able to pick up a leaflet at your doctors surgery. MIND have a infoline 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 or email info@mind.org.uk. And there is the Samaritans too, contact them on 08457 90 90 90 or email jo@samaritans.org
I have also left links at the end of this post to websites where you can get more information if you think you may be suffering from depression. You can find lots of advice and support on there.
 
Untangle your thoughts- if you are struggling to find a reason as to why you feel so down or even if you have a clear idea why, all these thoughts can become tangled and overwhelming. Leaving you feeling numb. I find a good way to unlock some of the issues that are troubling me is to write down whatever is going through my head at that time. It doesn't have to be ordered or linear. But writing can allow your thoughts to become clearer. Outpouring all your thoughts and feelings onto paper so that they become something you can physically see. It can often feel like a big release too.
 
 
Talk- It's really hard to want to talk when you feel so bad. Or even just finding the words to describe all that's going on in your head. But find someone you trust and love to talk to. Someone who will just LISTEN even if what you're saying doesn't make sense.
 
Do not belittle those feelings or thoughts- you may feel like what you are feeling is not worthy or you don't feel you have the right to feel sad. But depression is not necessarily logical in that way. A story that always resonates with me is that of Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pemberton and how she self harmed after winning her gold medal. So even people at their peak can be in a whole world of pain inside their heads.
 
Try not to beat yourself up- okay this is particularly hard when you feel so awful but putting extra pressure on yourself is only going to cause more anxiety. Accept that you will do what you can and go at your own pace. Chances are you are the one putting the most pressure on yourself.
 
Cry- it's okay not to be okay. Cry when you need to. It's the best release. And again DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER IT!
 
Know you're not alone- Although you feel totally alone and in a world of your own. One in four people suffer with their mental health. And that is people of all ages. But just know that regardless of your situation, even if you are a social butterfly you can feel lonely. It's not about being alone it's that feeling of emptyness. I know that doesn't help much but knowing that there is a reason behind what you're feeling and it's not just you. Physically be in the company of people you know as much as you feel you can. People that will understand. The more you can be in some company the easier it will get.
 
Get help where possible- cooking, shopping etc. The more you can share the load the less pressure is on your shoulders.
 
Shop online- Christmas means busy shops. If you are struggling with social anxiety shopping can be particularly difficult. I remember how hard it was to set foot in supermarkets as I used to feel so trapped. So take away those stresses with internet shopping. You're in an environment where you feel safe and because you're not thinking as much about what your head is saying you have more concentration.
 
Keep your plans simple- feeling stressed and as though you need to be everywhere and everything all at once, will only overwhelm you even more. Keep your plans simple and manageable. You need to be a little selfish and prioritize your own needs and give yourself time to heel. Just because your condition is not visible does not mean it's any less real. If you don't feel up to cooking a complete Christmas dinner nor can you handle being around extended family, consider going out for your Christmas dinner. Treat yourself as well as getting rid of some of the pressure. Evaluate what Christmas means to you and identify simple ways to achieve this. If you are seeing a counsellor or your doctor talk through ways to cut out stressful situations surrounding Christmas.
 
Stay away from social media- seeing what everyone else is up to (bragging about) while you feel so bad will only make you feel worse. So edit how much you go onto social media. If you want to talk to friends/ family do so via phone/text.
 
Write lists- when your mind is all jumbled and yet you still have so much to organize write it all down. Also ticking it off as you do them will also make you feel like you have achieved something.

If at anytime you feel overwhelmed or things get too stressful, whether that be anxiety or others having a Christmas squabble, take yourself off somewhere quiet and regain your composure. Do some breathing excercises. Listen to guided meditation or soothing music. Or put in your headphones and switch off the world for a little while; until you feel okay enough to rejoin. 
 
Watch comedies/ lighthearted programmes- and avoid the sop if you are feeling broken hearted- avoid soaps and the news with their tear jerker headlines. These things can also be hard to follow if your head is feeling over the place. Put on your favourite comedian or funny film and even if you can't laugh just know that you have made a good effort to make yourself feel better.
 
Craft/ Make handmade gifts- Or decorations. Doing craft activities in general can be a good distraction technique and focuses your thoughts rather than have then wander and run amock. For people you want to thank for helping you to cope a handmade gift can mean a lot to both of you. One, because you have made something unique and personal to that personal and two because it will make you feel as though you have done something worthwhile. Sometimes spreading a bit of happiness will bring you some happiness too.
 
Get yourself a gift- go on! You really do deserve it!
 
Pamper yourself- Sometimes just making an effort with our appearance can have a positive effect on our emotions. And again it's about making an effort. So run yourself a bath. Put on a face mask. Experiment with some make up.
 
Wear a nice outfif- for the same reason as above.
 
For everything you do achieve give yourself a pat on the back- don't focus on what you haven't done but what you have.
 
 

To friends and family

 
 
Patience is a virtue- they are not going to snap themselves out of it and at times they may snap or get angry. All you can do is be there. I know it will be frustrating. At any stage they will need you but they will only come to you or say they need your help in their own time.
 
Know that it's not personal
 
Just be there- you will feel at a loss for what to do or what to say but the best thing you can do is be there when they need you. LISTEN. Don't judge or dismiss their feelings. Know that it will have taken a lot for them to open up.
 
Do some research- If you think (or know) that a friend or family member is struggling and you want to help them there is plenty of information available online. I have included some links at the end of this post. Or again you should be able to pick up information from your doctors surgery.
Throughout January I am going to be posting about mental health issues regularly. If there is any issues or areas of mental health you would like to see a post about then please leave a comment.
 
Please visit the following links for additional information and help.
 
 
infoline 0300 123 3393

or text 86463

For their Christmas opening times visit www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/
 

contact them on 08457 90 90 90
 
 
Sian x

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Christmas and New Years for a spoonie

 
Christmas and New Years can be difficult times for spoonies. The whole holiday is packed full of messages to have fun and celebrate. To enjoy and be happy. And it's not that we are not happy. I've even said many a time that I'm wierdly the happiest I might have ever been. It's more that the increase in activity that will inevitabley happen around these times brings with it a whole heap of moments where you're reminded of the things you can't do or have difficulty doing. All in the space of a short time. And being constantly reminded like that can feel like we're being taunted.
 
Lying in bed because you're too ill to be downstairs and hearing everyone else as they eat Christmas dinner is strange and can make you feel left out and lonely. Or even if you cannot sit around the table as you need to have your legs up, is isolating. Not being able to open your presents by yourself or hand presents out, cut up your dinner or pull a cracker reminds you how weak you are. So you get the hint. Lots of little things all at once that can add up to a bigger overall feeling of well pantsness.
 
Then there's New Years where it's kind of expected you go out and party, make new years resolutions and hear all about how rubbish peoples years have been and how 'next year is going to my year.'
So how can you help yourself during these times? To keep your head above water and not feel utterly miserable.
 
Evaluate- Think what Christmas means to you. The nice things that is. What is it you want Christmas to be? Does it have to be a big dinner with all the trimmings? Do you need to leave the house? Do you need to play hostess?
 
Prioritize- All of us have to prioritize or 'juggle' over Christmas. You try and please everyone but don't want to show favouritism. But what's important is once you have evaluated what Christmas means to you that you make choices made on that decision. That may mean only spending a short time with family or only being able to go to one celebration/ dinner/ gathering/ do/ knees up. If you answered that Christmas for you is all about seeing your child(ren) excited on Christmas morning, then make that your priority. Sure you may need to negotiate in some areas but when you do bear this next pointer in mind.
 
Be realistic- know what you can manage. If you can't cook a full on Christmas dinner but aren't going elsewhere then ask yourself 'does it really matter?' If you have spent your spoons getting up to watch your kids open their presents who says you can't have a picnic in bed with them come dinner time. And be realistic with your family so that they know how much you can honestly handle. Your friends Christmas Eve, your family Christmas day, his family boxing day, just isn't going to work. Especially if you have New Years plans too.
 
Pace- I'm sure I don't need to explain this one. How many times do we hear it?Little by little. A bit at a time. Don't spend all your spoons in one go (unless you want to.)
Share your plans- tell people what you think you'll be able to manage. That way they can help you to achieve that. And they also know that you achieved what you set out to achieve and don't feel too bad for you.
 
Don't be down on yourself- like I said the increase in activity over Christmas and New Years can really mean being reminded more often of things we can't do or are missing out on. But remember THAT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You will achieve what you achieve on those days. To others it might sound very little but do not judge yourself by others standards. And what you do achieve will mean more. Again remember your evaluations.
 
Ask for help- If you need help you can only ask. Family to help take you shopping. Going elsewhere for dinner. 
 
 
If you can, and want to dress up or put on make up- if you have enough energy to spare then looking good on the outside can help you feel better emotionally. Plus, we don't really get many ocassions to wear our best clothes  or just clothes that are not pyjamas. So if you have the spoons go for it. If not then save those spoons for festive cheer  and sod it if that means wearing pj's it means wearing pj's.
 
Check in with your spoonie friends- chances are you won't be the only one stuck in bed. And whereas most of your healthy friends will not be on their phones much your spoonie pals just might be. So wish them a Merry Christmas and have a little chat. It's a definite way of not feeling so lonely if you're feeling like you're missing out.
 
Random Acts of Kindness/ Give to charity- At this time of year when it's easy to get carried away in the commercialism of Christmas it's good to remember that Christmas is a time for giving. Sadly there are many people that are worse off than us. So if you can think what you can give to someone. It might be a donation to charity in the form of a donation or a gift. Or buying an extra advent calendar and some extra food to give to a food bank. Helping out where you can at community Christmas dinner schemes set up so people don't have to spend Christmas alone. Donating any unwanted clothes, toiletries or toys to a homeless shelter. Going to have a cup of tea and a chat with someone in your community you know is struggling. Or it could be as simple as sending a letter to someone. Spread some cheer.
 
Enjoy it- whatever you end up doing over the holidays enjoy it. Yes that might be hard if you're really bad. But when you can join in relish it. When you give out your gifts take time to look at their reaction. Enjoy tucking into some yummy food. Laugh. Love. Eat. 
 
Make resolutions you can keep- most resolutions are cursed from the get go because they simply aren't realistic. "This year is going to be my year," is always one that makes me cringe. And we can have all the will in the world but we can't always have total control over our lives. Otherwise I'd be healthy and lying next to Pasha Kovalev right now. All we can do is try and I think trying is a good resolution in itself. To adopt an I know I can't control everything but I can control my reactions and try to be happier/ more appreciative/ more body confident (insert your aim here). Having a chronic illness I know that some things are beyond my control. And I can't tell myself "next year will be better" but I can say I'm going to do my best and will take things as they come. That I will try to be happy despite the illness, because that I can have some control over. (Please note for anyone with depression/ anxiety that I know happiness isn't as simple as making a choice. That it can actually be hard work. Really hard work. And time.) 
 
Memories jar- one way of trying to be happier overall and one that has really worked for me this year is to make a memories jar. You can read my post on it here and I will soon have a review post up. Ah that sounds scary! Seriously where has this year gone? Basically the memories jar is a jar that you put notes in and on the notes you write down anything good that happened or something funny somebody says etc. Big or small. Then at the end of the year you can open up the jar and read all the lovely things that happened throughout the year. I think it's particularly good if you don't have any plans for New Year. I don't know about anyone else but I always feel a bit funny on New Years, like you need to be making a big deal that it's the end of the year and the start of a new one. So I think this is a good and positive way to reflect and look forward to more happiness in the year to come.
 
I hope these tips help you through the festive period and that you are able to have some joyful times. Do take a look at last years post with more tips too What are your plans? Do you have any more tips for coping over the holidays? 

Sian x

Monday, 15 December 2014

M.E's Top Model

Copyright: Hayley Eszti Szucs

Remember not long ago I wrote a post about disability in fashion and another about the work I was doing with Models of Diversity to get disability represented on the highstreet and catwalk? If not, please do go take a read of them here and here. You might even remember I featured the above image of my friend Hayley, another M.E sufferer, blogger, pressure group member and as of last week headline maker. 

Last week she was featured in 4 national news papers, The Mirror, The Daily MailThe ExpressThe Daily Star and disability magazine Able 2 UK to share her story of how she became ill and diagnosed with severe M.E (myalgic encephalomylitis) that has left her disabled and needing to use a wheelchair ocassionally.

The onset of Hayley's illness was sudden and shocking. Going from a healthy and fit young woman teaching children in Spain, to not being able to move or talk. She describes it as feeling locked inside herself, an experience that many severe M.E sufferers experience during a sudden onset of the illness or during a crash. Please refer to the articles for more information on how this feels or read one of my recent posts which describes an M.E crash, here

And yet at the time doctors had no idea what was wrong with her. All the tests came back inconclusive. Luckily she regained her speech and some movement but was left with pain, exhaustion, cognitive difficulties and seizures. Needing to lie in a darkened room and rely on others for basic care. Which meant moving back home to live with her parents in the UK. 


Copyright Hayley Eszti Szucs
M.E is an illness that has peaks and troughs so whilst Hayley was no longer needing to be hospitalised her condition still left her unable to lead a normal life, or the life that she had planned. As mentioned she now uses a wheelchair when leaving the house, but she needs someone to help push her as she does not have the strength to do so herself and this would leave to post exertion malaise. Luckily she can now mostly manage to do basic things for herself, such as feed herself and wash her hair. However she still has times where the symptoms worsen. Where she needs to lie in the dark or is unable to lift herself up in bed. And will suffer from post exertion malaise after doing something, which varies in severity and length of time, depending on what she is recovering from.
In 2012 she started writing her blog to document her story. In her first ever post she wrote.
 
"I want to share how I deal with trying to be 'normal' and young and continue to do what defined me as a person before I was faced with obstacles.I want to try and incorporate fashion, style and creativity within my blog too"
 
It has since grown into a space where Hayley can advocate for M.E awareness and for disability in general. Challenging people's perceptions of what disability means and how disabled people are represented in society.
 
For M.E awareness day (May 12th) 2014 Hayley published a blog post called the visual campaign, which you can read here. A series of photographs showing her both in her chair and out of it, aimed at highlighting the often invisible side to disability. When she is in her chair, she can be instantly identified as disabled but if she  isn't then society might never guess something was wrong. Despite her still being chronically ill and at the mercy of her symptoms in both situations. 
Over the course of her illness she has realised just how invisible disability is in many influential areas of society. That there are millions of people in the world with a disability of some kind but they are very rarely presented in the media. Or if they are it is separate from main stream marketing. Take for example the Paralympics. The games were meant to leave a legacy of encouragement and inclusion for disabled people but these games were still held separately and nor did they get equal media coverage.
 
It would seem that according to marketing and advertising disabled people have no interest in what they are trying to sell. And Hayley, like many other young women had found that although disability had meant her life was dramatically different that her intetests remained the same and yet people tend to struggle with the fact that disabled people can be interested in fashion and beauty. Like she said in her first blog post she just wanted to be normal.
 
Copyright: Hayley Eszti Szucs
Determined to tackle this attitude and continue the work of her blog Hayley joined the pressure group ran through Models of Diversity, keen to make a difference to the highstreet and the brands she bought from. As her blog has grown in popularity she has grabbed the attention of several stylists and brands who want to style and photograph her. Which altogether has lead to her decision to start modelling and be featured in the national press. In a recent blog post about her experience of being in the press Hayley clarified why she had made the decision to start modelling, saying:

"There was a comment on the Daily Mail article which said models are not important, which I couldn't disagree more with, ESPECIALLY disabled models. We need people to look up to, people we can relate to, and since I've needed a wheelchair and mobility aids myself, I have noticed how under represented we are in the media and in society. I'm doing this to help raise awareness and to show that we are not invisible."
 
The response to the articles has been immense. Especially from people with a chronic illness or disability and in particular those with M.E. We are used to seeing lots of negative press about the illness with incorrect information. Cosequently M.E sufferers get a bad reputation because of it. However since Hayley's story has been published she says:
 
 "The amount of people who have come forward since the articles were published and said how glad they are to see M.E in the press is ridiculous, there were literally hundreds and hundreds. We need to know that people are doing things to help combat the ignorance or misunderstanding of the illness. The illness can strike anyone, at any time just like it did me. I think it gives people hope that we are being seen and being heard and having M.E featured in several national newspapers is a damn good place to start with that!"
 
As you can imagine I am incredibley proud of what Hayley is doing and wish her every success. She has a few shoots and appearances lined up, so I'm wishing her plenty of health and wellness for them. I can't wait to see how this progresses. It would be fantastic to see brands using more disabled people in their advertising campaigns. And not because they feel they need to be politically correct or as a one off 'oh look how brave and inspirational they are' but because they recognise disabled people as valued customers.
 
Please do take a read of the articles and Hayley's blog too. 
 
What do you think? Does the media need to place disability in more influential areas? I know the world needs more Hayleys and I hope you'll all join me in wishing her every success.
 
Sian x
 
All photos in this post belong to Hayley Eszti Szucs and have been used with her permission.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A/W 2014 Lookbook

 

For today's post I thought I'd share a few of my go to outfits for this Autumn/ Winter season. As a full time poorly person I am most often in my pyjamas but when I do get to put on 'actual' clothes there are a few things I need to think about. 

1. Comfort, comfort, comfort- being in pain most of the time means that you need to be as comfortable as possible. I've had to throw away lots of boots and shoes that were tight around ankles or knees because the fibromyalgia monster does not like things against my joints.

2. Layers- My temperature control fluctuates so I need to be able to have options with my clothes

3. No jeans! As someone that used to live in jeans this is weird but as I'm sat down a lot or out in my wheelchair you don't want anything that will dig into your belly. Again it's about comfort.

4. Clothing that's easy to put on and take off. I usually need assistance in getting dressed but either way the easier things are the better. If you've ever got stuck in a dress or top and been stuck with your arms in the air wriggling about you'll understand.

You'll also see from this post that I love a bargain. So moving on to outfits. Firstly let me explain, that some items on this post are new and others are a few years old, so may not be still available. I have provided links where possible.

Dress: Induldge
Tights: New Look
Cardigan:Ebay

Outfit one: I love wearing dresses and actually enjoy wearing them in these colder months but with tights and boots and a big chunky cardigan. It's both comfy and cute. I love that these boots have a faux fur lining to keep my feet and legs extra cosy. Can you believe they were only £5?

Jumper: Primark
Jeggings: Asda

For a super easy, not much effort required outfit, that is perfect for someone like me, I like to pull on a comfy jumper and a pair of jeggings or leggings. I find jeggings much easier to manage than jeans (like I said above) and the elasticated waist means I'm not cut off at the stomach. This jumper is really warm and comfy (how many times can I say comfy?) I'm liking the trend of pastels for the Autumn/ Winter. I think it lifts your mood by injecting some pretty colour to an outfit. I also have this jumper in mint and cream. Yes I'm one of those if I like it I will buy several colours people.

Cardigan: Forever 21
Top: Induldge
Jeggings: Primark
Hat: H&M

This next look is much more of a bolder look for me. Yet it still ticks the boxes of being comfortable. I actually sent this cardigan back as I wasn't too sure about it but I am still on the look out for something similar but a bit more flattering. I like that this top has a necklace attached a 2 in 1 for effort. I love this hat, I purchased it a few years back. My only annoyance is now that I'm in a wheelchair to get out and about my shoulders tend to push the hat up so it looks a bit crazy. Also these boots are proving to be comfy. I got these as the over the knee style means they are not digging into the back of my knee and aggravating my fibro pain. Again can you believe they were only £5?!

Dress: Induldge
Cardigan: Asda
Boots: New Look

I call this my Rock and Rose look. I like combining a floral print with an edgier look; complete with a pair of biker boots. I keep going to say Rock boots as they just make me think of the Pink song 'So What?' I do love a floral print dress and teaming them up with tights, boots and a chunky knit cardigan makes a great combo for the colder months.

Dress: Induldge
Cardigan: Ebay

Another quick go to outfit for Autumn/ winter is a fine knit/ fleece dress. Honestly they are so warm it's fantastic. Like a thermal vest. So this can be a great option for if I want to look a bit smarter but warm and toasty at the same time. I usually team them with tights or leggings and boots and a cardigan. Below are a couple of other designs I have. 

 

If I'm going to be outside then of course all these outfits get teamed with a coat. And if it's extra cold then I like to wear a snood. 

What are your go to outfits for Autumn/ Winter? And which of these outfits did you like?

Sian x

* Induldge, is  a brand that can be found at Dorothy Perkins and ocassionally on Everything pounds. Everything 5 pounds is a website that buys excess stock and is therefore able to sell it so cheap. When purchasing from there it does not state on the website what brand it is from. Also because of the low pricing many items are only on there for a short period of time, so some of the items in this post will no longer be available.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Winter Pyjama Picks


In the Summer I did a post on my favourite pyjama picks, which you can read here. So I thought that given that pyjamas are the perfect Autumn/ Winter night (or day) outfit to snuggle up in I would do a post on my favourite picks of this season. Complete with links to where you can purchase each item, should you be inspired to do so. Apologies if some of the links don't work, some are set to the mobile version of the website. 

H&M


1. Ballerina slipper style socks are a great solution for keeping your feet warm  but also making you feel you have nothing on your feet. Plus you can wear them in bed. I wish they had these in baby pink. Get them here.

2. I love a traditional pair of button down pyjamas. These checked ones just look so festive and perfect for Christmas morning attire. They make me think of Home Alone 2 where all the presents get delivered to the Plaza hotel on Christmas morning. Get them here.

3. I'm a fan of big chunky slipper boots. Especially as someone that gets very cold feet. The fair isle pattern on these again make me think of Christmas. Get them here.

4. Ever get annoyed that your pyjama bottoms ride up? Leaving your lower legs freezing. Well the solution lies in cuffed hems. I know I do. This pair not only have cuffed hems but also come in a festive pattern. Ticking all the right boxes for me. Get them here.

New Look


New Look have some great choices this season. Starting with some traditional button down sets, to fair isle and floral patterned snuggliness.

1. Another Christmas morning but more cutsie pair are these penguin print ones. I also love the vibrant blue colour of these. Get them here.

2. This floral pair combine my favourite style with my favourite print. My Summer wardrobe was full of floral prints and I predict my winter wardrobe will be too. Get them here.

3. I know a few of my friends are big on pugs and they seem to be a popular print right now, so I included this pair especially for you Pug lovers. Get them here.

4. Again another fab pair of boot style slippers. But I like that these ones are a little different in that they are pastel, which is a trend I am enjoying this season. These are actually on my Christmas list. Get them here.

5. Slipper boots, floral print, buttons. What more can I say? Love them. Get them here.

6. Yet more snowflake loveliness and cuffed hems. A fab combo. Get them here.

Tesco


1. If you want to snuggle up but want to forego the classic dressing gown. Or looking for something warm that you could wear comfortably wear in bed. Then a soft fleece oversized top might be your best option. The funnel neck style adds extra cosiness as you can bury your face in it and will help protect your throat from any colds that are doing the rounds. Get it here. 

2. I'm not usually one for an animal themed slipper. Unless they're crocodiles. But this pair are just so cute. Get them here.

3. As someone who spends most their time in bed I found this pair quite funny. Although the '5 more minutes' phrase probably applies to quite a few people on these cold dark winter mornings. I would prefer them if they had long sleeves though. Get them here.

4. For a more elegant look this satin floral pair shout sophistication. I often joke with my friends that satin pyjamas would help us to slide out of bed. Get them here.

5. Another festive pair. This time with the cutest gingerbread man print. Get them here.

Asda



1. Another snuggly hoody to get lost in. Makes me wish that I could wear one but it would just be a painful faff for me. Get it here. 

2. More snuggly slipper boots that aren't too festive that you could wear them in May. Black and white polka dots are such a classic look. Get them here. 

3. They're navy, they're floral and they have cuffed hems. Perfect. Get me to Asda. Get them here.

4. And while I'm there let me also get these sequinned slippers. Who says sparkle and sequins is for leaving the house? Embrace it at all times and brighten up those dark nights. Get them here

5. For any sleeping beauty fans or sleeping beauty's themselves. Not exactly a winter pick though. Get it here.

6. Asda have really got the cuffed hem message. Combined with a pastel fair isle pattern they're cosy and on trend. Get them here.

7. Yet more pastel cuffed hem prettyness. Get them here.

8. This pastel pink heart print set are traditional yet super cute. Plus the pockets are useful for when you need to stow your phone to use both hands to get downstairs. Get them here.

Spoonie Collection



This next set is for my chronically ill friends. Some apt yet funny choices that sum up our lives pretty well.

1. "Ok I'm tired now" night shirt apt for all times of the day ;-). I like that this also has long sleaves. From Forever 21 

2. #sleepallday nightie perfect for the sleepier ones amongst us. Probably more for a warmer night or if you tend to get hot during the night. From H&M

3. This top makes me want waffles. To be fair I'd probably still be in bed after devouring them though. From New Look

4. " just woke up like this". Perfect for whether you're looking shocking or stunning. And a good message to your postman if you have to open the door looking far from glamorous. From New Look

5. "I'd rather be in bed". Okay most of the time I'd like to be out of bed and have the energy to do things but there are certainly times when all you need is your bed. From New Look

And although I don't have any photos I can't talk about pyjamas without mentioning Primark. The Mecca of all things nightwear. They have something for everyone. From you disney lovers, onesie addicts to a flannel set and cosy dressing grown.

Where is your go to place for buying pyjamas?

Sian x

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hope

 
As myself and quite a few of my friends are having a rougher time than usual I thought it would be a good time to hit publish on this post. I hope it brings them a little comfort. Having a chronic illness you very often feel hope-less. As in despairing that life has dealt you a rough deal and that you are constantly at the mercy of your symptoms. You may at times also feel hopeless, in a 'why can't I do that?' kind of way. Especially with simple tasks. All I want is to be able to dress myself etc. With constant symptoms come constant reminders of the things that you can't do. You may spend more time on social media and see others statuses and photos of what they are up to and think to yourself I should be doing that. That's the life I should be leading. And a lot of time lying in solitude and quiet will give you time to ruminate over these things. Those shoulds. And it's those 'shoulds' that will bring us down. Like the quote below implies.
 
 
How do we know if life would be all candy canes and lollipops if we never got sick? Did we always think that the lives we led before were perfect? Or never moan? Of course we did. Only now we sadly have more to moan about. But I don't want to focus on that too much in this post.
When it comes to having hope as a chronically ill person the lines can often get blurred. You get into the habit of knowing that if you plan to do something you will have post exertion malaise, or payback as it is often referred to. And that becomes a part of your planning. For example I'm going to go to the shop today and then for the next few days I will be mostly glued to my bed. So we plan to keep those days as quiet as possible. Get extra help if we need to. That in itself portrays a hope-less existence. It's not I'm going to go to the shop and hopefully won't feel too bad afterwards. In some cases it is best to imagine the worst. And it's not hard to do if you just think of the payback you had after the last time you went to the shop. Then you know what you're more than likely in for. On the other hand however you could then be pleasantly surprised when you're not as bad as you thought you might be. 
 
 
Then on the other hand if there is something that we want to do, again for example going to the shop. We will keep the days before quiet in the hope that we will have enough energy to be able to go. That way we give ourselves a better chance.
 
On a day to day basis you go into survival mode almost. A kind of "I'm used to this, this is my new normal." Just focusing on getting through each day or each moment as best we can. I often catch myself thinking if I should be doing more. Not activity wise. But reading more books about my illness, researching more therapies, making changes to my diet. A what can I do to help make myself better? Taking charge. It's rare I even go to the doctors anymore. Because I know there's not much more they can do. There is still so little information about this illness that there is no conclusive treatment. Nevermind a cause or cure. And I know that is all a part of acceptance but sometimes you just want better. And yes that is hope-less but the fact that we can  still keep finding those good moments and pull ourselves through is a promise of hope that despite it all there is still good in the world.
 
 
I think hope is inherant in all of us. I especially think that the people I know that fight chronic illness on a daily basis are some of the most hopeful people I know. That might sound strange. But it's what gets us through each day. Even if we're not conscious of it. Hope is our protection of sorts. A barriar from despair stopping us from becoming deeply depressed about our situation. Because becoming that level of depressed is terrifying. 
 
There are times when I catch myself going to text people to arrange something and then have to stop myself when I'm reminded of the inpracticalities. For example, taking my twin baby niece and nephew swimming with their Mum. I get carried away in how cute it would be and how the water would be good for me too. Then I think hang on, firstly, how would I get there? I can't drive. I can't even push my own wheelchair and often need assistance dressing. So I think that rules that out. I don't think she'd manage with twins and a grown up baby in a chair. But the fact that my brain will let me think like that, if only for a second shows hope.
 
When thinking to the future I am often caught by suprise by how naturally I think of myself as being healthy then. Of having the energy and health to be living a full life. Or life to the full. A life that may differ from what it was before becoming ill, when I thought I was living life to the fullest. A life where I will savour the smaller moments more because I know their true worth from this experience. 
 
To my poorly friends, keep fighting in your own way. Take each day as it comes. And keep hoping, you wonderful, wonderful people.
 
Sian xx


Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Autumn Tag


My lovely friend Meg from Meg Says tagged me in her The Autumn Tag post and so I thought I would share my 2p's worth as something a little different.

Favourite Starbucks drink?
The nearest Starbucks to me is about a 25 minute drive away (I know! Where the heck do I live?) and I'm not allowed to drive at the moment. So my experiences of Starbucks has mostly been to use the loo whilst out and about in New York. However I did go about a month back and I had a chai latte, oh my days how I now wish Starbucks was closer. Costa on the other hand is much more local and I love a gingerbread hot chocolate (unlike Starbucks they do gingerbread syrup all year round). Their Christmas menu looks delicious too, last year I had a black forest hot chocolate and it was like having my cake and eating it too. Their spiced apple sounds delicious too. Ooo get me to Costa now (or Starbucks!) And if you're in there get yourself a salted caramel yule log. Oh my days, gooey centred goodness.

Favourite music to listen to?
Sadly music is lacking from my life at the moment as I can get really bad noise sensitivity that makes me more unwell. So mostly it's just meditation music. But some of my favourite bands and artists are The Who, Fleetwood Mac, Florence and the Machine, Beyonce and even some 80s/90s rock like Whitesnake and Thunder. I've always loved Motown and Soul music. And you gotta love a musical, defying gravity anyone. Eclectic me.


that famous black forest hot chocolate

Autumn scent
I am so rubbish at remembering to wear perfume but I do like Armani Diamonds and Armani Code. My latest dry shampoo, Colab, is acting as a good perfume too, although the Rio scent is probably more Summery. Scents I associate with winter though has to be the smell of a warm cosy coffee shop with all those lovely Christmas menu drinks. And the smell of the slow cooker, bubbling away for a soup or stew.

Favourite Autumn lip product
For those winter chapped/ cracked lips I swear by Blistex Relief Cream. And I love a bold lip. My fave colours at the moment are Barry M Gelly Hi Shine in 2 and Make up Revolution Pashion. I have my eye on some Kiko and Milani shades too. How gorgeous is this one, Uptown Mauve, but then I also like flirty fuschia, help me decide.

What do you love about Autumn?
I love the cosy nights, snuggled up with a plate of stew and dumplings, then a hot drink, my heat pad and a bit of Strictly or Downton. Or a good book. Wuthering Heights or Daphne Du Maurier's novels are great for a cold Autumn night. I love Autumn fashion and seeing all the cosy winter knitwear and sparkly dresses and shoes. I love it when the weather is clear and all the beautiful colours and majestic sunsets. Also having my birthday in November that makes Autumn special.

Go to Autumn accessories
A pair of boots that don't trigger fibro pain. Tights if I'm wearing a dress. I recently got some 200 denier ones with an inbuilt sock, oh yeah! I love a cloche hat. I find scarves can be a bit too bulky or long and make your rack look even bigger but I bought a snood last year and they are fab, cosy and less of a faff. Plus you can put them around your head to protect your ears. And some winter sparkle in the form of statement necklaces and earrings.

As for Spoonie (a term for a chronically ill person) accessories. Well again it's got to be my dreamland heat pad, (read my blog about it here), fluffy socks for my perpetually cold feet. And of course my chariot (aka wheelchair) that helps me get out and about on good days.


Favourite Halloween film
I'm not a fan of horror films. Ever since watching The Exorcist at a sleepover where the girls Mum had told her Uncle to come knock on the conservatory and mess with the handles. I can't even watch Hocus Pocus that scares me. Do you ever see pictures without people in them that look as though they should be and get a bit freaked. Was that Hocus Pocus? This Halloween I did rewatch Caspar though. I'd forgotten what a great story it was.

Favourite Autumn Nail Polish
I'm really liking navy nails at the moment. I love navy anyhow. I have the Make up Revolution one in the shade Tonight. Autumn/ Winter is also about glittery nails. For my birthday I wore the shade Majesty by Barry M, which is a gold glitter.

What are you most looking forward to this Autumn?
Well it has already been Halloween where I went to visit my friend Ali and it's also been my birthday which were the two main things I was looking forward to this Autumn. But I am looking forward to preparing for Christmas. I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy as I plan what I want to get or make for family and friends. And every Saturday I look forward to Strictly. 

I'm going to tag Lauren's Looks,  Poppy Field, and Faye from Freckles and All.

Hope you've enjoyed reading this post and that you have a cosy Autumn. What are your favourite things about Autumn?

Sian x

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Get ready with me: Birthday edition


I really enjoyed putting together my last get ready with me post and have been wanting to do more ever since. However as a lot of you know I don't often get to leave the house but who says you have to leave the house to get glammed up? Especially when it's your birthday. My birthday plans were pretty low key, but high key for me. I asked if we could have a family get together at ours and I ended up having the best birthday I have had in years. Plus the fact that I got to make myself look pretty was a bonus. So here goes a step by step guide on how a chronically ill person can make themselves look a bit more presentable on their big day.

 
Just as I adviced in my first post do as much preperation as you can the day(s) before. Paint your nails (I used Barry M Majesty, a gold glitter colour) get your outfit ready and your make up planned. Here is the make up I decided to use and got ready the night before. I like to put all the products I'm going to use onto a tray as you will see below. As you will see in the photo below I also plaited my hair the night before, to give my hair some natural waves. I find this such a great and low energy way to get pretty hair. 
 
Max Factor Face Finity Foundation
Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer
Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer
Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder
Sleek Face Form in light
Makeup Revolution Iconic 3 Eyeshadow Pallette
Maybelline The Falsies Mascara in black
Barry M Blink waterproof precision eyeliner
Makeup Revolution Lipstick in Dazzle
Also pictured: Benefit porefessional primer but I completely forgot to use it.
 
 
Of course when it's your birthday starting your day opening presents needs to be factored in. But remember to  pace yourself. Two presents and I needed a rest, to save my energy for the rest of the day. A side note for my spoonie friends make sure you have scissors handy to help you open your presents, they come in handy when you don't have much strength.
 
 
After a rest it's time to start getting ready. First off clean your face and then moisturize. If I'm wearing more make up I like to use Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing lotion. I also used the simple eye roller ball which is great for helping your eyes feel less puffy. This time around I put my outfit on first. You will see what I wore at the end of this post but as it's your birthday what better time to dress up. Who cares if you're not leaving the house. Dress up and make yourself feel special. What I would say is if you do get dressed first then put on something to cover yourself up so you don't spill anything onto your party frock.
 
Start with your base. For extra coverage use a brush to apply your foundation with a brush. Then cover any red areas or blemishes with concealer (Collection lasting perfection.) 
 
 
Moving on to a bit of contouring with a little help from Vivianna's makeup YouTube channel. Thank you thank you Anna. Very well timed contouring 101video. In which she suggests contouring with a more tawny shade rather than the standard bronzey shades. Following her advice I first used some Rimmel Stay Matte powder where I would apply the contour and then using an angled fluffy brush I used the highlighter shade from my Sleek pallette to contour my cheek bones. 
 
 
Using my iconic 3 pallette I created a bronzey eye by first using the 2nd shade, which is like a shimmery light rose colour. I put this all over my lid. Then I used the 5th shade along, a darker rose colour and used this on the outer third of my eye and in the crease. Blending it all together with a fluffy brush. On my brow bone and inner corners I used the 1st shade to highlight and make my eyes appear brighter. I then had a moment of madness where I thought if I shut both eye lids I'd be able to see if the eye shadow matched. Such a classic brain fog moment. Oh why can't I see?! After chuckling to myself I lined my upper lashes with a felt tip style liner. I did try winging it out but as I have eye bags it just all bunched up and looked like a big blob. Then to finish off my eyes I used a couple of coats of Maybelline The Falsies Mascara, which I think I might have inspired a few of my family to try after all their compliments.
 
I've recently discovered it's best to do your undereye concealer and powder after doing your eye make up so that if you get any spillage you're not then taking your concealer off and can cover up any marks. So after doing my eyes I used the Rimmel wake me up concealer under my eyes blending it in with a concealer brush and setting it with the stay matte powder. I also applied the powder over my t zone.
 
 
Then give your plaits and roots a spray with some dry shampoo. I was going to use Herbal Essences but the top is stuckso I used Co Lab in the scent Rio. These are both great dry shampoos. And there is no white resindue which is just fabulous. Rub it into your roots and let your plaits out, massaging the dry shampoo into the waves. Try not to brush your hair too much but just give it a bit of a tidy.
Then put on your lippy, blotting it with tissue to give it more staying power and then add an extra layer. 
 
Lastly put on your jewellery. This necklace was a gift. Put on your crown (if you have one) which was also a gift, I have some pretty awesome friends. And put on your shoes.
 
 
Next pose for full length photos. This is a very important step. Not just for blogging purposes but to look back on and think "oo didn't I look nice." Note I only wore those heels for posing. My legs were shaking so much as I no longer have the muscle tone for them, so they are wheelchair only shoes. The shoes were customised by Glam it up Laurna. I changed into a pair of black flats with a bow and gold studs. My dress is from Forever 21.
 
Then go enjoy your day. I had such a lovely day spent with family, and lots of cuddles with my 3 week old twin niece and nephew. And was totally overwhelmed by all the cards and gifts my spoonie friends had sent. As well as enjoying yummy food and yummier cake. 
 
 
And this was me by the end of the day. Tired but very happy.
Hope you've enjoyed this post. I'm really enjoying writing these kind of posts so hopefully I will document some more in the future. 
 
Sian x