DM To Collab…..

Ok so here’s the thing. You’ve recently started growing your social media following and brands are approaching you with exclusive discounts. You think wow someone wants to work with me and bite their hand off for a freebie. Maybe it’s an umbrella from Amazon that someone is asking you to write a review for. Maybe they want to send you an exclusive discount code for recruiting brand ambassadors, or maybe they’re trying to sell you weight loss products because youd be perfect to represent their brand.

You don’t consider your self an influencer so you feel like you’re lucky to have any kind of opportunity for a freebie and you snap each one up eagerly. Next thing you know you have to write a caption bigging up an umbrella in the middle of a heatwave or promote weight loss shakes that taste like sick and give you a headache for a week.

The moral to this story is – Don’t fake it. If you don’t believe in something don’t try and sell it for a freebie. Because in doing so, you’re committing to work for free for a product you don’t even believe in yourself. The reason I’m writing about this now is because I was that girl who tried and failed to promote an umbrella. I hate umbrellas, they’re awkward, they get in the way and almost always break upon second use. Instead of saying that though, I tried to write a catchy caption about why this plain and badly made umbrella was the highlight of my week. I had a better experience when I stole one from the brolly bin on exiting a Cardiff restaurant during an April downpour.

Also noteworthy, if someone is commenting on your picture dm us to collab I can 99% guarantee that they are doing the exact same on another 1000 posts each week. Maybe even several times a week, thus meaning their collab offer is likely to be no more than an invite to apply. Or maybe it’s a discount code and an expectation on you to produce content for them, for FREE.

After learning the hard way that most people’s ideas of collaborations are in fact expectations, I now strictly only work with brands that work for me! Meaning I only promote products I am interested in, or that represent what I’m about. For example I recently collaborated with Royce Lingerie to promote their blossom bra, a non wired bra available in my mega size of a H cup.

Likewise I’ve promoted menstrual cups and self care products that promote wellbeing for women’s health. Being a chronic illness and mental health blogger as well as a mum means there are not always opportunities in abundance for product reviews or PR posts.

However, even if there were, I will never promote products that make false promises such as shakes that claim to contain all the nutrients you’ll ever need to sustain a healthy lifestyle, or pills and supplements that claim to fix health problems.

Be a grey goose in a pond full of swans

Suffering from chronic illness makes you a less than desirable candidate for some brands, as do my personal and often very sweary captions. I recently got offered a collaboration with a well know sanitary production company. I sent them all my insights and they asked me to be part of their latest campaign. I agreed, but upon them viewing my grid I was not deemed appropriate because of some of the language I use. Eg – I say Fuck, a lot! But that’s fine, because I don’t work for these brands. I created a blog as an outlet and a space to share my experiences, if I get offered payment or freebies of products that I’m interested in, I consider it a bonus. I’m not prepared sacrifice my integrity for a tub of Slimfast or some free tampons. If your purpose in life is to be an influencer then this blog might go against the grain. You may be thinking any work is work and that’s absolutely your choice. I don’t look down on people who have #Ads all over their grids, it’s just not for me. I don’t DM to collaborate with brands because I believe if they really wanted to work with me they would in fact be reaching out to me to offer me a collaboration opportunity.

I’m not suggesting you never do the reaching, I think it’s great to network and let people know you’re interested in their products but what I am saying is these secondary accounts commenting on your photos are not likely to make you the next big thing. And remember huns, that being famous on Instagram is the equivalent to being rich in monopoly….. #justsaying

Example caption from one of my recent grid posts

Stockpiling Covid-19 and my unpopular opinion.

I’ve been in bed for a week. With plenty of books and avoiding tele and scrolling as much as possible. I’ve still been on social media but I’ve ignored a lot of the Covid-19 stuff to prevent anxiety that I cannot control, whether warranted or not.
I, like many others, probably most of you, suffer from anxiety, so put a public health crisis in my post code and I will panic.
I’ve seen the jokes about the panic buyers and the outrage at how selfish these people are, I have zero doubt that some of them are just that. Selfish.
But there will be some people who HAVE to stockpile because their mental illness won’t allow them to do anything else.
People with GAD and OCD along with other panic and compulsive disorders.
Not everything is done with a complete disregard for others. Some of this stockpiling and panic is compulsive, not premeditated.
I haven’t stockpiled, mainly because I haven’t left the house and online shops have fuck all in either and also because my panic isn’t borne out of not having any toilet roll. It’s out of fear for the elderly, the young, the immunosuppressed, its fear for the economy, our jobs, our NHS. That’s not to say I won’t feel differently at some point and start thinking about shit differently (literally) I might well do.
The point of this post wasn’t to defend stockpilers, it was just to say, we don’t always know why people do what they do, and it may have absolutely nothing to do with selfishness and more to do with mental health. The message is the same to those that are selfish and to those that presume people are being selfish – just be kind. ❤️☮️🦠 and WASH YOUR HANDS 👏🏽 🚿

Anxiety Behind The Screen!

My experience with anxiety is, or at least has, been a parody of Prozac Nation. Have you ever watched it? It’s a film with Christina Ricci, I recommend it to anyone who feels like they’re going insane. I’ve learned over the years to control it better. I function these days for the most part, and it’s rarely all consuming as it was during my first panic attack.

I remember that day like it was yesterday, I was 14 years old, and maybe unsurprisingly, it came on after I’d been hacking a bong full of hash. But it wasn’t the stoned feeling that was scaring me and making me panic. It was every wrong thing I’d ever done in my life come back to haunt me in those moments. It was all the things that I couldn’t undo, couldn’t unsay. Teenagers do a lot of questionable things during adolescence and I was no exception. Those things now enveloped me and choked me as though I was dying. I was so swamped by thoughts of my failings I couldn’t breathe. I was physically trembling and my heart was beating so fast it’s a wonder it didn’t pop out of my chest.

For about two years following that first panic attack I was quite severely mentally ill. I had nightmares, I had obtrusive thoughts and my poor mum couldn’t leave the house without me phoning her every twenty minutes. Every time she did go out, I had convinced myself she was going to die and the fear of that was beyond what my young mind was able to rationalise. I was out of my depth, popping antidepressants like sweets and using everything in my power to numb the constant noise inside my head. I often wondered then if I was some kind of monster. If I had a kink in my armour that made me mental. If I deserved to feel so helpless and desperate every moment I was awake. I lost friends, my relationships with my family suffered and I feared everything.

Now I’m in my thirties plodding along with a bit more self control and the strength to be open (at least on paper) about how I’m feeling. That doesn’t mean I feel any less though. For example I have a hormone imbalance and when I’m feeling a dip, like now, I get a bit introvert. I actively avoid people and places. I don’t have any patience for small talk and I get irritated easily. Sounds like a bit of PMT eh? But it’s not just a bit of PMT it’s my life. The school run for instance is a nightmare for me this week. I’m really struggling with it. I don’t have a good network of school mum friends as yet and I feel like I have to keep part of myself, this part, hidden. For fear of judgement. So I avoid talking to people. I know you may think that’s silly but whether you believe it or not, there is still a stigma around mental health, especially mum’s with mental health problems. I’m trying hard not to take medication at the moment for other reasons, but yesterday morning, given my hormonally anxious state, I took a Valium to enable me to get through a meeting. I was sat in Pret A Manger drinking decaf coffee with sweaty palms and a knee twitch that I couldn’t stop. It worked (The Valium) and I did some self care by way of talking myself round. I don’t sit there chanting to myself or anything, I just try and focus on something else and remind myself there’s no reason to panic.

Some days it isn’t as easy as that to shake off those feelings of impending doom, even with the aid of a tranquilliser. The mind is a scary place, followed by you’re body’s reactive physical symptoms, you really do feel like you’re dying sometimes. I’ve had days where I’ve felt so out of control I’ve wanted to run away. Before I became a mum it was easier to hide. We all know the mental health service is practically non existent, extremely under funded and under resourced. You only have to try and get an appointment with a counsellor to realise how unlikely it is you’ll ever receive said appointment. All the more reason for us to be more mindful of each other, to look after ourselves. To learn new techniques to manage our symptoms. Of course intervention will in some cases, always be necessary, but there’s a lot we can do to help each other and ourselves too.

    Listen – Ask someone how they are and actually listen to the answer. Check in with your friend who’s gone a bit introvert. He/she might not reply straight away but they’ll know you care, and in times of anxiety that can be a real comfort.
    Practise Self Care – It sounds so cheesy doesn’t it? Self care! Breathing exercises and all that bollocks, but for some people these are a ritual that does the job and kicks a panic attack where it hurts before it’s taken hold. Cut yourself some slack too, rest when you’re stressed and do some feel good things, even when you don’t feel like doing them!
    Ask for help – I know I’ve given the psych services a bit of a bashing, but you don’t necessarily need a qualified professional to help you through a period of high anxiety. You might just need a friend. Tell someone. I am guilty of not doing this because it’s something I feel stupid for feeling, so although I’m able to write about it now, actually talking aloud is still a struggle.
    Don’t play it down– In doing so you’re lying to yourself too. You deserve to feel safe and if you don’t it’s ok to say you don’t.
    Think rationally– I know you must be reading this last one thinking, if it was that fucking easy I wouldn’t be panicking. But I don’t mean during an attack (well, then too if you can) but I mean the rest of the time. Tell yourself over and over again when you’re not in the midst of an attack why you don’t need to worry and why you’re not going to have another one. Psychosomatic!

I’m not an expert and everyone’s symptoms of anxiety will be different. I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying it, mental health doesn’t discriminate. There are hundred of different types of mental illness but they will all meet over lapping symptoms. We are each at risk of having some period of depression or high anxiety during our time on this earth, so we need to work together to educate people and ourselves. We need to mean it when we go around saying it’s ok to not be ok.

When you see this pic of me, perfect make up, fresh hair….. What do you see?

Do you see a happy girl?

A girl with her shit together?

Confidence?

If you answered yes to any of the above you’d be wrong. I got up this morning and it took me an age to feel like I looked ‘ok’ I’m not feeling my best at the moment.

I have no job so deffo don’t fall into the ‘shit together’ category, and my confidence is under par. My anxiety is bad, I’ve had about 4 hours of broken sleep and I’m tired. So fucking tired.

Moral of this post: Don’t assume. All is never as it seems. Looks are deceptive. You never really know what’s going on behind the screens.

Recommended reads #2

My last recommended reads proved popular and useful to some of you, so I thought, hey, I’ll do that again.

Goodreads says I’m on book 15 of my 50 books this year challenge, but that’s an out and out lie. I just haven’t added them all, think I’m definitely closer to 30. After all, I’ve just finished my second CL Taylor book this week and am about to start my third! She is KILLING IT!

If you haven’t checked her out yet you absolutely need to immediately! I read The Fear last week and loved it. The strong stand against paedophelia and the ever present link between predators and their victims was really brought to life in this book. Definitely not a light ’round the pool’ read, but then I am a thriller lover. Main character Lou is both unhinged and likeable, making it easy to follow and equally captivating.

I’ve since just finished The Missing, much like my own WIP manuscript, this book is set in my (now) home city of Bristol and that only makes it all the more relatable. A tale of a mother’s anguish as her son is missing and their family secrets are revealed. South Bristol vibes throughout, the leading protagonist could easily be your best friend, auntie, mum or neighbour. Honest and gritty, this again, not for you if you don’t like graphic realism. However if you’re a thriller fan and love the psychological pull of drama, get involved. You won’t regret it.

Prior to starting on my CL Taylor binge, and after patiently awaiting its arrival; I read Victoria Selman’s second novel Ziba Mackenzie Book Two: Nothing to Lose. I have to regretfully say it didn’t blow my mind like the first book. As often with sequels characters become predictable and I personally found Ziba particularly annoying in this book. She’s known for her quirkiness and love of abbreviations, but when she abbreviated ‘my house gets cold often’ to MHGCO I almost stopped reading. She also repeats her favourites often like BFO A.k.a Blind fucking obvious. Just a little irritating if I’m giving it an honest critique.

Whilst the storyline still has a perfect thriller ideal, it kind of gets a bit jumbled towards the end, with two huge dramas weakly intertwining. Leaving you, or in my case me (the reader) feeling a bit anti climaxed and frustrated. I think I could be at fault here as a reader too, as I just get irritated by over the top personalities (irony isn’t lost on me) but maybe when book three comes out I’ll give Ziba a final chance. Third time lucky and all that!

Whilst I’m binging books till my literary heart is content, I’ve been neglecting my own work and writer’s block is a concrete embedded chicane in my peripheral vision at the moment. I need to get back in the zone, even the blogs are some how land sliding away from the top of my to do list. So if you’re reading this, please…. send motivation.

A big thanks to one of my besties, sending me a boost this morning and a much needed kick up the ass to carry on. I now have a self imposed January 2020 deadline for finishing Book1. Watch this space.

My huge boob struggle – it’s no joke!

I know you read that heading and thought ‘STFU Steph, stop moaning about your ample bosom’ But you my friend, aren’t carrying them around 24/7! I’m only 5 feet tall.

Some days, when my fibromyalgia is flaring, or my period is due, I have to physically hoist one arm under each tit and carry them because it hurts to wear a bra.

I suffer from a secondary condition called allodynia which basically means your skin hurts at the slightest touch. This can occur anytime but more so during a flare up, clothes irritate me and it’s been known to leave me in tears when having to put on a bra.

I weighed the ‘girls’ last year, kneeled on the floor and hoisted them up on to the coffee table, then onto kitchen scales. They weighed over 3kg each (almost 6lbs each) my best friend’s twin babies only weighed 10lb between them, born.

I know some people would kill to have boobs and I empathise, but 32HH is way beyond a couple of coconuts. These are more like watermelons filled with sand!

I wish there was a thing where someone who wanted a boob job could have a share of someone’s who wanted a boob reduction. Sharing is caring, after all!

I’ve listed a few of the ‘cons’ of having huge boobs, because the world and it’s wife seems to think they’re a necessity to prove your femininity. They really aren’t! For me they are nothing but a pain in the back!!

1. Bras are ridiculously expensive and only come in shit colours. Sometimes I can’t find my size at all unless it’s in nude and has a fuck off separater in the middle. Cleavage? Not a chance.

2. They weigh a shit ton! Mentioned it already but the struggle is real.

3. They sag. Yep, they might look all plump and perky with a decent T-shirt bra but wait until that fucker comes off.

4. Tops have to be bought 3 sizes bigger than your actual size.

5. They make you look bigger than you actually are. Especially if you’re short like me, you just tend to look round.

6. Pregnancy makes them even bigger, and the pain!! O.M.F.G!!

7. I found it really hard to carry Ciara when she was small, especially in a sling, as they can’t snuggle into your chest very well. The suffocation risk is real.

8. I can’t sleep on my back or front.

9. Even with an amazing sports bra, exercise is really uncomfortable. The weight alone makes movement hard.

10. If you wear the slightest V-neck you get accused of having your tits out.

11. You literally NEVER eat a meal without getting some stray gravy down them, or lose a grain of rice or 6 to your cleavage.

12. Sometimes men don’t look at your face when they’re talking to you.

13. Lumps and malignancy can be harder to spot as big boobs tend to be ‘lumpy’ by default.

Below are some of the questions I get asked often. Why don’t you….

1. Lose weight? A: My boobs have never, in the history of any diet I’ve ever been on, shrunk in size. But yes, I could make more effort to lose a few lbs.

2. Wear a sports bra all the time? A: Well the allodynia wouldn’t cope well for starters, but also have you seen how ugly those things are? I’m already resulting to nude or black bras given that it costs over £50 for one bra, give me a break.

3. Get a boob job? A: I can’t afford one. My doctor isn’t that understanding of the big boob thing being an actual problem (even though I’m only 5ft tall and completely out of proportion) probs because she has small tits. Basically, I’d have to go in there every week for a year to be considered for NHS work. Also it’s a really invasive op and given that I have a disease that affects my body’s ability to recover, I could become really poorly. That being said, if someone offered to pay for it or I won the lottery I’d have it in a heart beat.

4. Just embrace them. A: been doing that for years and the older I get, the heavier they get. I’m tired of embracing, I want to be free.

5. Cover them up!! A: Ok Sue, why don’t you try covering your head? One of my tits is bigger than your noggin so it’s no easy feat.

I try really hard to be ‘body positive’ but there’s so much I wish I could change, not everything, but boobs would definitely be the first. I preferred them when I was younger and pre parenthood, because at least then they were perky and gravity hadn’t defied me.

Shaun (my fiancé) isn’t even a boob man, I won’t tell you what his preference is, nor does he dislike boobs, but he says he’d love me with or without them (I didn’t have a gun to his head either.)

Imagine the pleasure in not having to wear a bra, or at least being able to take a trip to La Senza for some ditsy two piece, instead of a matron contraption from a plus size store. Did you know most shops only stock large cup sizes with large backs? Being that I’m only a 32 back can make it an impossible haul, there’s no joy in underwear shopping her! Ann Summers don’t even stock my size!! Lingerie shopping for me is the equivalent of food shopping on a diet. Soul destroying and bland.

I wish to every god everywhere there was a boob bank, but sadly we don’t have the option to swap like football cards. Maybe one day in the far away future, but for now, looks like ‘putting up’ in the literal sense, is what I’ll continue.

31, frown lines and saggy Bristols.

Thirty one. 31. Thirty-one.

Thirty-fucking-one.

That’s how old I am now. I didn’t expect to get to this ripe old age and be unemployed, overweight and cleaning up toddler piss on the reg, but there was also a time, during the dark days, I wasn’t even sure I’d make it to thirty one at all.

On my twenty first birthday I was in Portugal smoking 30 fags a day, arguing with an ex boyfriend about my top being too low cut. I was a size 8 (yes really) with FF boobs. Mate, I couldn’t wear anything that didn’t look low cut.

Now I’m a HH boob and a ‘too big for the tape measure’ waist’ so when I wear low cut tops now I just look fat and slutty, instead of the sexy and slutty I once was. Oh well. Those size 8 days never did gain me the kind of attention I needed.

Back then, I didn’t have to worry about gunts and cellulite, just depression and anxiety, along with a side of one too many hangovers, to ramp it up a bit. The last 10 years have been rough on my body, I’ve developed an illness, I’ve carried a child that damn nearly killed me, and I’ve been reliant on medication that makes you fat. So here I am, overweight, gunts galore, frown lines for dayssss and a tits that hit my belly button without a bra.

Whilst I’m here complaining about the inevitable ageing process I’ve missed out all the other bits that have led me to being here today, writing this here blog.

A relationship breakdown, another one we don’t mention because it was so royally fucked up and soul destroying that even to this day it angers me to be reminded of it, a couple of arrests, a suicide attempt, a few jobs, a fluctuating number on the scales…. and then came the turning point that was meeting my Shaun. (Queue corny insert) When I met Shaun I’d kind of sorted myself out, but only because rock bottom was higher than where I’d been. There was still an anger inside me though, it’s always been there, bubbling away, ready to turn into molten lava the minute someone barges me in the post office queue. If we’re being totally honest, it’s still there, but don’t worry, I’ve learned (most of the time) to keep it under wraps.

Shaun took me on a journey I hadn’t been on before, one that was kind, without the need for ferocious insecurities and full blown barneys down the local on a Friday night. I was feeling positive and ready to be better.

My step on the career ladder was under footing and life was good.

Then came Ciara, and for a while the insecurities were back with a vengeance! So forceful were they, I didn’t know how to control them, so I went into counselling, I took anti depressants and papered over the cracks, because as mum’s that’s what we do right?

It was only last year when nearly losing my own mum, life taught me lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn. One of them that really sticks in my mind is ‘life’s too short‘ cliché huh? That’s as maybe but to me it’s never been clearer. I needed to get happy and feel it! I mean really feel it!

So that’s what I did! Sure not everything was a choice, some of the decisions I’ve made in the last 6 months have been forced upon me, but how I react to those unwanted scenarios has changed. I’m finding the best bits and holding onto them. I’ve relieved myself of toxicity and I’m surrounding myself with genuine people, I’m doing things I enjoy, like writing more and learning new things, I’m parenting better and I’m genuinely happier than I’ve been in years. So whilst I’m a bit on the chubby side, the frown lines are legion, Bristol’s are sagging, I’m making small steps to a better life and instead of just sitting back and wishing, I’m trying hard to put all these feelings I’m full up with, to positive use. Yes I’m still a bit psycho, especially this week as I’m hormonal and pretty sure fibro is rearing its ugliness, but most of the time I’m levelled up. I’m almost medication free, I’m actively looking for work that fits around us as a family regardless of salary, and I’m trying to find ways everyday to be better. I can lose the weight (I hope) but I can’t lose sight of what’s important and that’s every single day, each morning I wake up to a beautiful (if a little moody sometimes) Ciara, and a lukewarm cuppa from Shaun.

I know it’s corny as, but I feel so lucky. Thirty one maybe my age, but I feel like my life’s only just getting started.

Hangovers and trolls

Picture this – It’s Sunday and I’ve been up since 8.30am, my mouth feels like a sandy flip flop that’s been loosely encasing a sweaty foot. Downstairs there’s empty bottles of spirits, cans of Diet Coke and a dog that doesn’t belong to me taking up residence on the sofa.

Don’t worry I’m not an alcoholic dog thief (Allegedly)

No, we just had friends stay over and one of them owns a beautiful big bulldog named Boris, who walked a turd in from the garden and pawed it all over my leggings.

The night before when indulging in drinking golf and chugging on a Charcoal Mellowed Jack Daniels and coke, I didn’t anticipate waking up feeling like worlds worst mother, do you know why I feel like that? Because of course any mum who gets drunk with her friends whilst her daughter is at her nan’s is of course bad mum material, according to the trolls we’re up against on Instagram anyway.

Or is it only mum’s like me who get drunk in their kitchen that are the really terrible ones?

I do feel like death is knocking at my door today, and anxiety has it’s talons around my neck, but not because I’m a terrible mum, just because I drank a lot, and alcohol is a depressant.

I also have a sore throat from the choking I did whilst laughing too hard and my stomach feels like I’ve done 100 sit ups.

I’ve decided in light of that feel good feeling, I’m going to give myself a break. Because we live in a world where we’re all too judgemental about what other people do, and the last thing that’s needed to add to the hate filled shit plastered all over the internet is to start judging ourselves moreover.

Most decent human beings give themselves a hard enough time without trolls sliding into their DM’s to tell them they’re bad people. They usually aren’t. They just, like me, made the most of their night off. And even if they are what one person considers ‘bad people’ who’s place is it to judge them?

My night off last night consisted of booze, but it’s not always my go to, to get drunk when I have a babysitter. Sometimes I eat nice food or catch up on sleep. Sometimes I just watch a bit of Netflix, and chill. That’s ok too. Do we judge those people or just the ones that like to splurge on homemade cocktails.

I have a challenging relationship with social media, I’ve mentioned in previous blogs how I love and hate it in equal measures and that’s still true. I chose an open Instagram page to raise awareness of causes that matter to me whilst sharing snippets (and that’s all it is) of our family life.

Unfortunately there will always be someone out there just waiting to make you feel shit about yourself whether it’s gossiping behind your back or sliding into your inbox. Social media as much as it’s a platform for us to vent it’s also a platform for bigoted people to share their online opinions and that sadly, just is. It was only a week or so ago I dedicated a post to ‘Mum Guilt’ and all its shame fuelling feelings. I think realistically all we can do to prevent online hate is to refuse to be affected by it. I try not to respond to these imbeciles unless it makes room for a funny joke. I was reading Constance Hall’s post the weekend about her giving her son a cool bath to reduce fever. There’s tons of advice suggesting this isn’t the way to reduce a fever and can actually be harmful, but bearing in mind she’s a mum of five I think she’s probably got previous form for fever reduction. However the response to her post was so drenched in hate filled commentary about how she should know better, for God’s sake guys, the bath could of been 2 degrees cooler for all we know and probably wasn’t full of ice! I commented in response to one of the trolls stating this and then I deleted it because I realised in that split second that my opinion was just that, an opinion and all it was doing is fuelling the fire for online abuse. We all bang on about supporting each other but still have strong views around what is right. Just a heads up, unless a child is being abused or neglected, it’s probably not your business or your problem. She was in the bath cuddling her baby, not drowning him and feeding him soap. Ciara had pizza and screen time to aid my recovery today, and guess what! She loved every second of it.

Living my best life with fibromyalgia.

Cough, I know you’re thinking Jesus, Steph has finally decided to get out of her funk and help herself.

Not really, I don’t know, maybe I’ve just been lucky. Since I left my job my health has improved tenfold. I believe this to be because I have more time to rest when I need to, but it could be due to a lot of factors, or it could just be good old coincidence.

Mentally, I am stronger than I have been for some time. I’m off of antidepressants for the first time in years, and I’m not feeling constant impending doom. This is a really big deal for me, and I’m feeling positive about the next chapter.

But it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows (yes that was a Trolls quote) Pain has got a lot to do with mood, low mood can exacerbate pain. Especially when suffering with a condition that effects your central nervous system, as that’s when it’s on high alert. Psychological pain can bring on physiological symptoms. I’m not a doctor, but I have spent a lot of time researching my condition. I’m not going to sit here and spout that positivity cures illnesses as that’s untrue and offensive, but when you feel happy it makes pain more manageable. That much I do know.

Today I woke up earlier than usual due to Ciara’s new found love for 6am. I felt terrible, my body was heavy and I can feel pain deep inside each joint. This is not imaginary, this is real pain, and I’ve had to take some heavy duty painkillers to combat it today. Despite being in very real pain today, I feel good. Good, because I’ve had a decent run of late, without this kind of debilitating pain. I’ve had pain, but the kind of pain I’m in today, is what reminds me I have a disability. In short, it sucks.

However moving on to the positive bits again. I’ve been doing little things that make me feel better. Small things like, having a tidy living space, getting enough sleep (when I can and Shaun’s snoring allows) but generally doing things that make me feel good. Avoiding toxic people, not analysing every little thing, not comparing myself to everyone, and trying to accept my pain without beating myself up. All these little things help. They aren’t a cure but they do make a difference. I went through such a battle with myself to accept this illness without it breaking me. To allow myself time since my formal diagnosis to grieve for the old me. I’ve spent two years grieving, and I still suffer! I won’t play it down, but I’m in a place now where I can accept it without it breaking me. I can move forward and still live a good life. I can have bad days but they aren’t all bad. Some of them are fucking brilliant!! You too can have good days again. It’s not going to be easy, but even without an illness or disability life isn’t easy.

But I have all my faith in you. You can do this, you can live your best life too. 💕

Recommended reads

So I started a book read challenge this year. It’s to read 50 books during 2019. Considering I’m already on book 10 and it’s only February, I think I’ll be fine. I know what you’re thinking, she has too much time on her hands, right? Well some would argue yes, but I am trying to write my own novel so it’s important I read a lot for ‘research’ I also suffer terrible insomnia so most of my reading is done in the deep dark of the night when I’ve given up on tossing and turning.

Since I announced I’d started my own novel a lot of people message me about books. I’ve even got chatting to established authors and have been given some great advice and book recommendations. I’m going to list my favourites books that I’ve read this year so far and why I love them. My favourite genre is psychological thriller, but that’s not all serial killers and detectives as people very often think. It’s whatever keeps you guessing, on edge, turning pages right to the end. You know that phrase ‘couldn’t put it down’ that’s what I get from thrillers. That need to keep reading even when your eyes are struggling to stay open. The below list is not in order, it would be too difficult for me to decide on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so I’m just going to list them in no particular order.

  • Little White Lies by Lucy Dawson – This was the first of Lucy’s books I had read and I’d come across great reviews. The reviewers weren’t lying. It was gripping. From start to finish I was constantly questioning the characters and their motives. You read this from a first person protagonist only to then start reading from a different perspective. It’s extremely well written and the storyline is believable and in parts, quite chilling. I would highly recommend!
  • The Daughter by Lucy Dawson – Again this is another great and gripping book by Lucy, written in the first person. The story begins with a mother losing her child and the events that follow are scary and also emotionally traumatic, being a mum myself I could really empathise with the main character. Another 5* ending too and one I didn’t see coming.
  • Bad Blood by Victoria Selman – This is Victoria’s first novel and introduces the larger than life character that is Ziba McKenzie, a detective profiler. Victoria has clearly done her research as throughout the book Ziba’s character was relatable and interesting, again mostly written in first person you really got to know her character right from the first page. It’s the right amount of chilling and graphic. It did keep me up a few night’s and some weird dreams followed. I have recently learned that Victoria is due to release book two in March with Ziba as the protagonist again, I’ve already got it on pre order.
  • You let me in by Lucy Clarke – I am a huge fan of Lucy and have read all of her books to date but this was definitely up there with the favourites. She manages to combine normalcy with spine chilling and this book is no exception. Any Claire McIntosh fans out there definitely need to get behind Lucy Clarke. Picture English seaside meets Bates Motel, quite brilliant in it’s own right.

Well I hope that’s enough for you to be going on with. I am currently reading ‘Behind Closed Doors‘ by Kathryn Croft. I was up until 2am desperate for just one more chapter so I hope for a hell raising conclusion. It’s my first Kathryn Croft book, but if the ending is anything like the beginning it definitely wont be my last.

Snoring is ruining my life

It’s 2am and the drilling has started. You wake with a start and want to wake your fiancé up to tell him he’s going to have to go next door and talk to them about the noise! And that’s when you realise, it’s not the neighbours drilling again at all, it’s coming from him, he’s snoring.

So you punch him in the shoulder, probably harder than intended but you know, snoring! He then wakes with a start of his own, moans and rolls over. For all of 30 seconds it’s quiet again. 30 seconds isn’t very long. Repeat above steps until you can cope no more, so you go downstairs and join the cat on the sofa instead.

What am I complaining about? For the love of God woman, everyone snores sometimes! Yes, that’s true, but this isn’t sometimes, darling, this is Every. Single. Night!

For us, snoring has come close a number of times, to destroying our relationship. I have a chronic illness and sleep is crucial for my body to repair nightly and reduce symptoms. I cant function on less than 8 hours. Minimum. Gone are the days I can stay out until 4am and get up at 9. No, I NEED sleep. I have a child, I can’t afford to be faced with the daily fatigue that follows around Fibromyalgia sufferers after a sleepless night.

So what can I do about it you ask? Well, I do a lot of punching, and a lot of sofa sleeping. We don’t have the luxury of a third bedroom in our house, so fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have the option not to share a room. I know, that sounds an extremity, but I know a lot of couples that have their own bedrooms based on the fact that one of them incessantly snores. In my Fiancé’s defence, he’s been to see his GP about our little but loud problem. More than once, and do you know their advice? To go on a website and read the tips. Like we haven’t read every fucking tip there is to read about snoring, online already!! Sure, thanks Doc, why didn’t I think of that? He’s already tried, nasal strips, throat spray, throat foam, even a fucking chin strap to keep his mouth closed, didn’t work. The only thing that sometimes allows me sleep is if I go to bed an hour before him and get to sleep before him, so that when he starts, I’m already asleep. Sometimes it works and sometimes he STILL wakes me up. Not to mention the fact going to bed an hour before him makes our sex life impractical and irregular, but also you lose a closeness between you. You lose the cuddle that comes before you roll over to sleep. You lose the leg over that cocoons you during the night, and although annoying makes you feel safe.

It sounds like a real first world problem, and is I guess, but it’s one that really does test our relationship. I wake up some days so resentful that his snoring has kept me from the sleep my body so desperately demands that I don’t want to talk to him. Other days he wakes up resentful that I’ve banished him to the sofa for something that’s not his fault. Out of his control. To be honest I can still hear him from the sofa, but it’s a welcome dulled down version when he’s not sharing a bed with me. I don’t know what the answer is, maybe surgery? But sleep therapy isn’t well funded by the nhs and it’s another expense we can’t afford to invest in at the moment. What’s the cost to our relationship if we don’t though? I know it’s not his fault but it makes no odds to the despair I feel nightly. Buy a bigger house? Wear ear plugs? (Tried them, can’t hear toddler in the night then though) put a pillow over his face? Maybe! The irony is apparently that I also snore pretty loudly, but I don’t keep him awake so if we’re competing then he’s still in the lead for the loudest and most annoying!

It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live with, but I also don’t think I’ll ever be able to live without him. So here I am preparing for another shit nights sleep, and getting the pre bedtime cuddle in, just in case I have to abort the master bedroom before sleep hits, again!