My Attempt to Escape Reality: The Big Move Down Under

I made many attempts to escape reality, but this was a particularly bad one.

Leaving home felt so difficult. I love to travel and have travelled lots, so this unsettling feeling and fear of travelling was rather unusual to me. But I ignored it all and pushed through; I decided that I was going to move to Australia one way or another.


WHY DID I GO?

I still don't understand how I found the courage and stupidity to fly away from everyone that cared about me, during such a hard time. I had recently had a mental breakdown, and was only starting to recover from said mental breakdown (I’ve hit rock bottom many times – you can read all about it HERE).

But moving to Australia felt like an escape; I felt like I could run and hide from my mental illness. It turns out that no, one cannot do this!


LIFE DOWN UNDER

A few days into my life changing adventure and I woke up with the right side of my face paralysed; half of my face was completely frozen and numb. Even my eye had to be taped shut, as I couldn’t move it without physical aid.



At first I thought "it's a stroke", but after a visit to the emergency department, I was told "it's actually Bell's Palsy".

I ended up needing a lot more professional help though, and in the end it became clear that nobody knew what was wrong with me, or how to deal with it. And not knowing the health system in Oz or anyone that could help me with it, I hit rock bottom fast.

Within a few days of the facial palsy, I also developed this unbearable pain on my face, down my throat & neck. All this was on the right side only. My left side must have been thanking it's guardian angel!

Still, the pain was extreme, and it was always there. Suicide often crossed my mind; I just needed to stop the pain somehow, ya see.

I used to describe it as if someone was pulling a rope out of my face, through my throat & neck. It was horrific. Everything hurt me, even sunlight and the wind on my face would leave me in agony, I was THAT sensitive.


THE SEIZURE(S)

Yes, there were seizures. One morning, I woke up to find my tongue was cut and there was blood in my mouth. I'd had a small seizure. I was also twitching all the time, we're talking really sharp muscle spasms that stopped me from speaking. Two days later, I experienced a major seizure. 

The bigger one ended with me in hospital; I woke up in a hospital bed with no recollection of how I got there.

Turns out, I had a tonic-clonic seizure (a type of generalized seizure that affects the entire brain) and an ambulance was called out for me. I had been unconscious for hours. Apparently, I was shaking violently (think The Exorcist) and eventually I just stopped moving and stared into space (again, The Exorcist), and repeat.

In the ambulance they sedated me (I was told) and in hospital various test were carried out, including a Lumbar Puncture or Spinal Tap (it’s called that because they tap your spine to get liquid from your brain so find out what the fuck is happening up there). But I had hardly any recollection of any of it. 


WRONG DIAGNOSIS 

After a few days in hospital, it was explained to me that I had Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and not Bell’s-fucking-Palsy. I use the word “fucking” because I did my own research (Doctor Google) and I did tell many doctors that it didn’t feel like Bell’s Palsy as Bell’s Palsy is pain free and I was definitely pain full!

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is basically Shingles which affects facial nerves. This results in paralysis and extreme pain to the surrounding area (it was bliss(!)). The pain actually has a special name too, it's called Post-herpetic neuralgia.  I'm so fancy.

I was also told that my seizure was a result of the crazy cocktail of medications that I was given. I was literally taking drugs every hour of every day; I was on pregabalin, oxycontin, amitryptiline, codeine, tramadol, and then some. I was seeing little green men and singing Tiny Dancer (by Elton John) most nights.

If I wasn't so in need of those drugs, I could have made a lot of money selling that shit. I later found out that these drugs were good stuff! Did you know Pregabalin and Oxycontin are two of the most wanted pharmaceutical drugs out there?! I’m talking Black Market, of course. Serious dollars.
Anywhoozle, it was too many drugs; I basically overdosed on legal drugs. I was rock 'n' roll and didn't know it!


MORE COMPLICATIONS 

When I was discharged, the hospital was kind enough to provide me with speech therapy.

My case was so rare that I ended up having two speech therapists come over to my house every day for over two months. They treated me as their little project; I was their guinea pig which worked out well because they gave me 150%. Once my treatment with them was complete, they even used my case in training material for future reference.

I made great recovery, and luckily, I now have full movement of my face again. Huzzah!
The paralysis lasted approximately six months. Long enough, I hear you.

Unfortunately, during these six months, I also had complications due to the Lumbar Puncture they had to carry out in hospital.

When I fucking fuck shit up, I fuck shit up! Go big or go home, AMIRITE?!

Following my Lumbar Puncture, I was left with Cerebrospinal Fluid leak. This basically means that a hole is left where the needle was injected for the Lumbar Puncture, and fluid from your brain keeps leaking through this tiny hole in your spine until it is closed somehow.

Symptoms include:
  • Severe spinal headaches (which are more severe in the upright position and are alleviated by lying down with the head lower than the chest)
  • Nausea
  • Tinnitus
  • Horizontal diplopia (double vision)
  • Change in hearing
  • Blurring of vision
  • Facial numbness
  • Tingling of the arms
I was so unwell, again, that I ended back in hospital. It was so bad; any movement left me in tears from the severe headaches and the nausea.

A week later I was taken into theatre for a special procedure called Epidural Blood Patch. This is a surgical procedure that inserts your own blood into the area with the leak, in order to close the hole in the dura mater of the spinal cord.

This left me so extremely stiff (on top of the original Ramsay Hunt Syndrome pain) that I needed help with any minor movement, including sitting on my high toilet seat frame. Needless to say, I loved my time in Australia (Not).

I don't think I've ever felt so lonely in my life.

My mum eventually decided to fly out to Oz to help me. I felt awful that she had to pay for a ticket and travel all that way because of me, but I couldn't travel and couldn’t have been happier to see her.
During all this physical illness, my mental illness was also trying to kill me. I will never forget the pain and despair, and how small, low and worthless I felt during those months.




COMING HOME 

Once I left the hospital for good, a pain specialist asked me "why are you still here? You're not well and your mental health is deteriorating. You need a lot of support, or you won't get better. So, why are you here?"

Those words sent me packing. After four months, I decided to give up on this "adventure", and within days, I was on my way back home.

It hit me that I was only still living this hell in Australia because I thought this was the way to escape my mind.


"Wherever you go, there you are"

Basically, I couldn’t escape my mind; I can’t escape my mind. It’s just not a thing I can do.
I needed to go home and face what my mind was trying to force me to see & feel; which was to STOP and FOCUS on myself, on my health, on my life. Things needed to change and running away wasn’t the answer.

Australia is one of the worst times of my life, and this is going to sound crazy, but I am grateful for that experience now.



That experience taught me a lot; I aged ten years thanks to it, but it forced me to stop. My body mentally and physically stopped working, this gave me no choice but to stop everything, and begin again. So, I let myself be sick; I didn’t give up but I gave in and let myself hit rock bottom, instead of fighting it. For me, it was the only way to start healing.

Analysing my life and my choices was no longer an option, but a necessity.

I'm more aware now, and so much wiser. Don't get me wrong, I'm not wise...just wiser than before. And I'm still on pause mode, trying to recover from this plus many other times that I didn’t take care of myself. But I'm finally okay with that; I’m still alive, I now have awareness, and I’m coming home to myself.

Thanks for beating me up, beautiful Land of Oz, I needed it.

And this, my friends, is how I started to learn that self-care is a priority!



PS: It must be said that I do not, in any way, blame Australia for what happened to me.

There's Bad Change, but There's Good Change too

I'm someone who is petrified of sudden change.

When warned, in advance and depending on the change, then maybe I can cope, manage and deal with it.

However, I am also someone who needs change...often. I know; it's a mind fuck. But I need to change my hair, my nails, how I look, often; I'm in a lifelong identity crisis.

This past week though, it wasn't my appearance that I've felt the need to change. I've been feeling restless and struggling to stay in my room. A room which I loved very much. I was so restless and it was all affecting me so much that I booked a last minute therapy session to talk about it.

When there's need for change, there's something within me that needs changing...when external is affected, it is always something within that is in turmoil.  I can't say this is the rule for everyone, although I THINK it is, but this is spot on for me. If I'm acting weird, then there's something weird going inside my head. Always.

This time was no different.

Whenever I finish a therapy session like this week's one, I feel like "IT WAS SO OBVIOUS!" and I used to beat myself up for needing help to unravel these things, today I congratulate myself for knowing when to ask for help and for not suppressing my emotions, but rather going: "Something is wrong; I need help and I accept it". That shit is hard to admit in the society we live in. But the society we live in is fucked, nobody can make it out here alone; my advice - ask for help and accept it.

Anywhoozle...

Here's what I found out about the restlessness I've been feeling lately....IT WAS ALL TO DO WITH MY LAST RELATIONSHIP (Or RelationSHIT as I call it in my head). And also the Harvey Weinstein news. Learning about what an abusive prick Harvey Weinstein is has triggered me, in a huge way; it's brought flashbacks of times when I was sexually abused and emotionally abused, which links to my ex who I was with for over a decade.

I've been feeling this general restlessness, frustration and need to change my bed and all the things in my bedroom. And I couldn't understand it. I thought I was being dramatic and  having a whole new batch of good 'ol BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) impulse. However, after a much needed therapy session, turns out that Harvey Weinstein triggering my past abuse, links to the ex (obvs!) who spent a lot of time in my bedroom, staining everything with his presence. This links to a lot I'd like to change in my bedroom because it reminds of the ex, who behaved like Harvey Weinstein!

Yes, I needed my therapist to help me get there, and * I repeat * I'm so damn proud of myself for asking for help...and then accepting it.

Moral of the story: My restlessness and frustration, which was on the verge of leading me to self-harm, was there for a reason; it was bringing my attention to something that I was uncomfortable feeling but needed to feel.

There is a reason you're feeling what you're feeling. My advice? GET A (good) THERAPIST.

I've now changed my bedroom completely, it's changed this much:

BEFORE


AFTER!


I am no longer feeling frustrated and restless; I'm a lot calmer and so comfortable.

I had to make these changes. My past got the better of me, but not for long, because I asked for and accepted help. Everything that was negatively affecting me from my past relationship is now gone. This room is all me, and I even got my small writing space back (Which means the world to me).

Let go of shit that no longer serves you, especially when it no longer serves you in a healthy way.

It's okay to feel.
It's okay to let go.
It's okay to move on.
It's okay to feel emotional about it.

It's okay, you know? It's okay to be you. It's okay to just not be okay. It's okay to not be okay" (Kristen Stewart)

This is Me // My Mania


I WANT TO DO ALL THE THINGS!

I much prefer my Mania to my Depression, I genuinely feel high. I  want to run and dance outside naked, especially if it's raining. I want to dance for days straight, I want to dress up in funky things, even if I'm at home doing nothing. I want to clean everything, and just do ALL the work.

Sleep becomes a thing of the past and it feels like I will be awake forever - eyes WIDE open! I don't care much for food or staying hydrated. I lose all control of my spending. I become super sensitive and bright lights hurt my eyes; everything tastes like ash, and sounds become extremely louder.

I feel like I can fly. Oh the restlessness.

In short, moderation disappears from my world, and I  want to do all the things!


By Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half 

Even though, personally, it feels high and not shit like my depression, Mania is still dangerous, extremely exhausting and difficult to manage. When it leaves, it leaves me breathless (in a bad way) and so tired that I lose control of my body and collapse in bed praying for better days. My surroundings become so surreal; is THIS real? My bones are shaking.

I've heard it being said that Mania is great and a break from mental illness. Personally, this definitely doesn't apply to me. Yes, it's less painful than depressive episodes, but it's no break. It's just as serious as Depression, as with Mania I can actually try to fly out of my window.

I...
I...
I...
I am so fucking high.

The Book that Contributed to me Talking Sex

‘Becoming’ by Laura Jane Williams entered my world at the perfect time; when I needed it most. I found Becoming; a memoir about “sex, second chances and figuring out who the hell I am”, just after having a mental breakdown and walking away from an abusive relationship. I felt done; done with being fucked over, and the author’s story was similar to mine but a few years ahead, so I obviously wanted to read this story and see how it ended.

The book helped me feel stronger and it made me feel like I needed to spend some time with myself; mind, body and soul. This included not sharing my body with anybody, so I went on an abstinence adventure and decided to search within myself (I know, what a cliché).

The author says that “None of us is fucking up like we think we are” and with ‘Becoming’ she really made me believe this. I also love that the book doesn’t end with a fairy-tale “Happily Ever After” type ending; where she goes off with her prince. The ending to ‘Becoming’ is REAL (SPOILER ALERT!) – the book ends with the author continuing her journey of self-discovery by herself, and that strongly contributed to my decision to be with myself and myself only for as long as I need.


Genuinely Me 

Being with myself kick-started my journey of self-healing; I discovered that I was very dishonest – not in a mean way, but more a “I hate myself and I’m too scared of others getting to know this horrible woman” kinda way. After spending some time with myself (thanks to my amazing therapist and this incredibly honest book) I felt empowered, and I am now slowly realising that I’m kind of a badass; I’m alright and if others don’t like me as I am, then they shouldn’t be in my life.

As a result, I started to talk and open-up and share honestly; I embraced my story; my truth, and claimed everything that ever happened to me. I also was suddenly extremely honest about my mental health; my emotions, my feelings, my opinions, my thoughts, my experiences.

Learning about me, inevitably, resulted in me acknowledging that I’ve been through a lot of abuse. And this is where I began to process all the abuse and traumatic experiences. I soon realised that it was impossible for me to continue healing if I didn’t explore, open-up and talk about sex.

My honesty also helped me understand that I needed time to heal; I couldn’t lie to myself anymore; I couldn’t say “I’m fine” and smile anymore. It hit me that I needed to allow myself to be sick and hit rock bottom to begin healing. Which sounds morbid, but my god it’s been liberating; it’s been really hard, but it has changed my life for the better and that makes it worthwhile and in my opinion; just bloody wonderful.

As part of my healing journey, I’ve not only resulted to embracing my truth and speaking honestly about me and my life, but I have also decided to sign up and go to lots of different events. One of these special events was an evening listening to Laura Jane Williams read from her book ‘Becoming’.


The Scarlet Ladies 

It all started with an Instagram post by the author; Laura Jane Williams. "Event Alert!" it said, followed by her telling us that she was going to be doing an event with the 'Scarlet Ladies Talk', which would involve readings from her memoir; Becoming, as well as open discussions on "love, sex, when the two collide and what happens when they don't..."

She had me at "I'll be doing readings from BECOMING" as it's one of my favourite books. The love + sex discussion part was just a huge BONUS!

The evening turned into a special, intimate gathering of inspiring, open and empowering women. Picture this: Approximately fifteen badass women, sat around in this gorgeous little room, having deep conversations and openly sharing their stories, in a safe and judgement-free environment.

My Buddha, we talked bad shags, communicating our wants and needs in the bedroom, orgasms (obvs!), masturbation (also, obvs!), acting like a porn star to please partners, relationships, pressures of marriage & children, and so, SO much more! You get the gist though -  it was hours of deep conversations, and it was one of the most liberating experiences I have had to date.

I left this event on a high, and needing MORE; something had shifted within me, and I couldn't go back to the person I was a few hours before that event. I needed to explore my sexuality more, and talk about my sexual experiences like I had never done before.


Now #ITalkSex too 

Forward to a few months after this talk, and thanks to that experience, I am now a full-on member of the Scarlet Ladies, and part of their #ITalkSex campaign (Yeah Baby!) And I’ve got to say, it's been life changing, bloody wonderful and I couldn't be more excited for this new adventure.

All in all, it’s like the author of ‘Becoming’ gave me permission to go after the things I want in life; it felt like a dear friend had told me that “it’s ok to feel things and want things and heal in your own time; it’s ok to live your life for you.” One of my favourite quotes is actually by this beautiful author and it sums this up perfectly, she says:


"You're the Heroine of your own life, Act like it!"
(Laura Jane Williams)

This is Me // Question: "What Do You Do?" Answer: "I'm Being"


* Trigger Warning: This post talks about suicide attempt and self-harm and also contains photos of self-harm scars, which could be a trigger to some. If you choose to keep reading, please tread carefully *



If I had continued to push on rather than completely stop and take care of myself, I wouldn't be here today. I was going to die. 

I broke down in 2004.
And then again in 2010 and 2011, and 2012, then again in 2013 and in 2014 and again in 2015. I also had other minor breakdowns in-between. I've spent a lot of my life breaking down, and I didn't actually know it until my 2015 and 2016 breakdowns.

My 2015 breakdown literally paralysed my face and left me in agony...


And my 2016 breakdown was the one that came closest to killing me. It might sound morbid and drastic, but I needed that breakdown. Without it, I'd still be shut off from my reality, and maybe I wouldn't be alive now. That bad boy woke me up to what I was feeling and going trough; after that one, I couldn't try to live in denial anymore. To me this proves that ignorance is not always bliss!

It took me a while to become aware of what was happening. I always thought "I'm a strong, independent woman. I'm fine, just being dramatic, is all. But I'm fine". Awareness is tricky - when you do have it, it is like a whole new world has opened up to you but it is also one of the hardest things to have. Awareness is like someone has literally opened your mind and let all this new information in. It's hard because you know and are aware of this new world, however many around you may not have that awareness, and that makes it ever so tricky to live with.

After I became aware that I was having mental breakdowns, I realised that if I didn't change myself and my life drastically, then I would end up with a lovely funeral. I was well on my way to succeeding with my suicide attempts. And my self-harm episodes were only getting worse and worse; I was now cutting through muscle and getting closer and closer to my veins, where everything could end. Which is what I wanted at the time, to be honest. Now I realise that I'm too badass to die that young (Is that big headed? Ah well, I don't care)


It took my mum dragging me to the GP with cuts and blood all over my arms. Then, after the NHS failed to provide me with the right treatment, it took my mum begging and pleading with me to see a private psychotherapist. By this point, I had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. So, I was dealing with a serious mental illness, without the appropriate help, and it wasn't going well.

I eventually did give in and agreed to see a private psychotherapist. And now I think of the day she agreed to take me on as a client, as the day that she began to save my life.


After over a year of therapy, something has finally shifted within me. I'm now working on my rising; I'm coming home to myself. And it's likely I'm gonna survive this illness.

I quit my events career back in 2014, and have since been relying on savings, financial help and my family for financial and general help. There was a point where I couldn't get up; I couldn't move to brush my teeth or get out of bed before 6pm. Some days I was too tired and in too much mental & physical pain to even cut myself - and I was addicted to cutting myself so this really says a lot.

I still get days where I'm suicidal and I feel the need to self-harm, but I manage to keep myself safe now. I really got this. And this wouldn't be my reality if my family, my therapist, and my best friends weren't there for me. My support network has helped so much, and that's another thing that's key; ask for help and accept it. I know that's hard, trust me; I tried to keep going alone for many years, but it doesn't work. Asking for and accepting help can change your life for the better. Take a leap of faith. Please.

Thanks to therapy and the right medication, I am in a completely different place. I'm getting out of bed for starters! I'm blogging, I'm making jewellery that I love and selling it here, I'm working on becoming a Death Doula and a writer (just signed up to a writing workshop and gots my eye on an MA in Creative Writing, uh huh), I want to train as a Burlesque Dancer and a Yoga Teacher. Now I realise that there's so much I want to do. My life is so different. In the words of C.S Lewis:

"You are never too old to set another goal 
or to dream another dream"

I finally have moments of inner peace, I know how to manage my illness and how to take care of myself. I'm having to re-build my life from scratch, but it's wonderful to be able to do and to be the things I actually want, rather than follow the rat race, ignoring my illness and working in corporate events I hate for the rest of what would've been a short life.

I'm taking my time, but I'll get there. So when you ask me what I do, I'd like to tell you that it's not very much in terms of paid work, but it's a lot in terms of working my life out and living it. Don't judge me or others in similar circumstances - or judge me, I don't care anymore - as you have no idea what we have been through and how much we fight to simply survive each day.

I have fought so hard to be the woman I am today. I'm proud of myself , where I'm going and how I'm getting there, and if you don't get that, well, that's none of my business.









Faby & Carlo


First of all, let me introduce you to Faby & Carlo: these gems are a husband and wife photography team, based in London. They specialise in photographing women, boudoir style, and let me be the one to tell you that they are simply wonderful. And I truly hope to one day be photographed by this power duo again.

That's right, I was lucky enough to be photographed by them. It was all part of the #ITalkSex campaign which the Scarlet Ladies launched in August this year. I talk in detail about the #ITalkSex campaign here and here - but in short, it's a campaign which aims to normalise the talk around female sexuality. Because, simply and beautifully put, "Female sexuality is not a dirty secret. It’s a part of who we are".


Photographs by the fabulous Faby & Carlo 

During the photo shoot, Faby & Carlo went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and calm. I had no idea what to expect, as I'd not done a photo shoot like this before. Needless to say, I was quite nervous; excited but also nervous as fuck. And it's truly daunting how much having cameras pointed at you can make you feel self-conscious.

However, that eventually changed during the photo shoot, as Faby & Carlo were so patient and welcoming, that soon all that insecurity just drifted away. Before the actual photo taking began, the duo first talked to me, to put me at ease - how nice is that?! I was not expecting for the photographers to be so understanding and kind, these two really set the bar high. I thought I'd be expected to feel great from the get-go and possibly even rushed, but this was far from my reality with Faby & Carlo.

They started off by talking to me about the things I enjoy.

"What's your favourite thing?" Faby asked
"Deep conversations" I replied. 

And so they talked to me about life, growing up, sex (obvs!), where I'm from, where they're from (they're from Italy, by the way, sexy much?!) It all turned out to be these wonderful moments of having deep conversations whilst they photographed me. It worked wonders, as at times I genuinely forgot that I was being photographed and the results are fucking marvellous; I look natural, happy and I'm owning my body. Most importantly, I look like me, and I'm forever grateful for that. As it turns out, the real me is a beautiful woman, you guys. You be the judge...











You've gotta agree with me that the photography skills here are on point - AMIRITE?! They also encouraged me and smiled at me as if to say "Yeah lady, you got this!" Which really got me thinking "Yeahhhh, I'm a natural model! I got this!"

I feel like they really made an effort to get to know me and make me feel at ease and special. With make up and hair done, and a gorgeous dress which was really ME me - which by the way, Faby picked out as she thought it was the most ME dress available! I just felt so glamorous and sexy and beautiful.







I was blown away by the whole experience, and since doing this shoot I've felt comfortable enough to do others - to me that says a lot about how beautiful and confident Faby & Carlo made me feel during my first experience like this. This experience also shifted something within me; I used to dislike being photographed and I hated photos of myself, now I'm all for it - now, the more photos of me, the merrier! And I genuinely believe that this has to do with the judgement free, comfortable and safe space that Faby & Carlo create, but also the photos were absolutely stunning and they've helped me see myself in a different way; I look good, I look damn fine and I'm going to embrace this woman. 

I highly recommend doing a boudoir style photo shoot with Faby & Carlo, if you can. I see myself in a whole new positive badass light now, and these gems have definitely contributed to that feeling. 


Thanks for the magical experience, Faby & Carlo. You rock.






NOTE: All photographs are by Faby & Carlo 





















MONTHLY REFLECTIONS: Goodbye September, Hello October!


It's been another wonderful month, although there's been a lot of physical pain and exhaustion this past few weeks, I have managed to cope and actually thrive! 

So, looking back over September, and forwards to October:

I AM PROUD OF

I can't believe I am saying this, but I am proud of quite a few things this month. The mean voice in my head always puts me down and wins, but I'm kicking its' ass recently; I'm challenging that fucker head on, and it's paying off.

When that mean voice starts going, I've found it helpful to challenge it by saying:

"Yes I hear you, but this is an old thought pattern which didn't help me or let me grow. Also, what you're saying is not justifiable. So, I disagree with you and I'm going to pursue anyway"

It's helped me feel proud of so many things I've done for myself this month (WHO DIS?!) Like the following:


My Etsy Shop 


I'm proud of how well I'm managing my Etsy Shop; it's slow and I'm not going as fast as I'd usually go with a thing. BUT! I am in recovery and slow is necessary right now. Treading carefully and going slow has helped me manage to be productive in many aspects of my life, like my Beija Flor Jewellery shop, my ability to manage my self-care routine and healing progress. If you want to check my out my shop, just click here.


My Blog



I'm extremely proud for keeping up with my blog; I've managed to keep posting regularly and increased my blog traffic; I'm now getting approximately 3x more traffic than a couple of months ago - so YAY!

I'm also getting a lot more engagement with my readers; mainly over on Instagram, but I'm loving talking to the gems that read my words and want to talk about how they relate! It's a special kind of beautiful when people feel inspired by your work.


My Writing




 I'm proud of myself for managing to write every day. Be it a blog post, journalling and/or   general "getting my thoughts on   paper" type writing. I'm just doing it and I'm extremely proud of that, especially as I was struggling to write anything a couple of months ago.







Signing up to Laura Jane Williams' Writing Workshop


I signed up to Laura Jane Williams' "Don't Be a Writer, Be a Storyteller" online course and I cannot wait! I've always enjoyed writing and my dream is to one day be a published writer. So, this is me working towards that dream, and I'm damn proud of myself for taking this step. If this is something you're interested in, then click here to learn more. And above is her brilliant online course Trailer.


Contacting Open University regarding doing a Post Graduate

That's right, I'm thinking of doing a Post Graduate degree. Well, not just thinking anymore; I have decided I am going to do one. If I meet the entry requirements and they LET ME IN, then I will be studying for an MA in Creative Writing starting in October 2018. Eek!


I AM LETTING GO OF

Hatred for my body. Guilt. Perfectionism.

Simple as that.

No, of course it's not simple. But I'm working on it.

Hatred for my body, guilt, and perfectionism are things that have caused me a lot of harm and held me back over the years. And I feel like I've reached a point where I'm really done with feeling those things, especially for unjustified reasons. With this in mind, I've decided to sign up to all sorts of Self Love challenges and personal development events, with the aim of helping myself love me as I am.

As a result, I just completed Mel Wells #SelfLoveWeek challenge and it's been so eye & mind opening, and truly helpful when thinking of how I treat my body and why I need to love it truly, madly, deeply. Day 4's challenge "I Love My Body Because..." had me feeling quite emotional and rit also had me doing some serious self-discovery. I ended up posting this photo on instagram; it was the result of the emotions & discovery that came to me:

* M Y • B O D Y * #SelfLoveWeek with @iammelwells // Day 4 challenge: "I Love My Body Because..." Fuck me, I've got so many reasons to love this body! It's survived so much, it's unbelievable. I'm in awe of its' power. It's survived surgeries, seizures, self-harm, starvation, binge eating, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, suicide attempts; physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and mental abuse. And it's still going! • After everything it has been through, and is still going through, this body is still going strong, and I fucking love it for standing for and by me through thick & thin. • This body also moves in beautiful & fun ways; I'm a dancer at heart and this baby allows me to express myself through dance, and I'm forever grateful for that. • I've punished it so much and told it it's ugly and full of marks & scars & cellulite & stretch marks & it's too thin or too fat! I've shouted at it going: "I JUST WANT YOU TO LOOK LIKE THAT BEAUTIFUL NORMAL WOMAN?!" (What the fuck even is "normal"?!) • And for all the abuse, I am truly sorry, baby. You're enough and I'm proud of you. I Love You Because you've been there with me through every-fucking-thing and you're still going with me; I was against you for a long time but you never let me down! I'm sorry and thank you; from now on I'm with you all the way 💪🙏❤️ 🖤 #mybody #body #truth #me #selfie #selfiewanker #ownit #slay #beautiful #beauty #photooftheday #picoftheday #self #selfcare #love #live #life #healing #selflove #bpd #recovery #proud #grateful #natural #thisisme #bodypositive #bodypositivity #awareness #adventure
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Guilt
I feel guilt for...everything! And mostly it is unjustified guilt; guilt that doesn't belong to me or it's something that there's no need to feel guilty for. For example, if someone steps on my shoes, I feel guilty that I was in their way, and I end up apologising. I imagine many people can relate to this too!

But, I'm making it a priority to let go of that guilt, I've been working on this for a while in reality, but this week I'm kicking my focus up another notch!

Guilt is a healthy reaction when it is felt as a result to justifiable guilt, like say, if I cheated on a partner. But this is not usually my problem, my problem is usually as mentioned above and also things like "Ah man, I feel really shit! I'm gonna have to cancel on my dinner with that friend because I don't feel well. I feel so guilty!" - this is unjustified guilt, as usually when this happens, I do it to take care of myself. One of the main things I've ever learned is that there is selfish and self-care, and your self-care always takes priority.


Perfection
Ah fucking perfectionism! "ARGH" - AMIRITE?! Perfectionism has held me back most of my life. I always think "can't do that, cause it won't be perfect, so fuck it". But that changes now; from now on I am officially fully embracing imperfection. Actually, I am going to deliberately be "off key" and imperfect sometimes, to honestly & genuinely express my emotions. What matters is how I feel and how I fit into my moment and experience. And same goes for all of us. 

In the words of Sia:

"...And I don't care if I sing off key
I found myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I shout it out like a bird set free
No I don't care if I sing off key
I found myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I'll shout it out like a bird set free..."


Something that's been key to my progress in the above areas is AFFIRMATIONS. I recently attended a FIERCE talk at the Scarlet Ladies HQ; where Rachael Welford talked about loving herself and her body and how she got to where she is now. It was so fucking INSPIRING and it's really helped me change a few things about how I see myself.

I've noticed that I've made progress already (the talk was only two weeks ago); I'm feeling more confident in my body, it's like suddenly I understand that I'm so much more than how I look. I'm also being kinder to myself, and I'm opening myself up to good things coming my way - I'm doing these with affirmations - and as always with therapy too - which is something I learned from Rachael during this beautiful and honest talk.

I highly recommend checking out her website, she gets up to some amazing work and has some awesome events coming up - click here to find out more. 



WHAT AND/OR WHO HAS INSPIRED ME


This month my biggest inspirations have come from Rachael Welford (mentioned above) and Laura Jane Williams from Superlatively Rude.

Laura Jane Williams is the author, and general badass woman, who wrote a memoir called 'Becoming' about "sex, second chances and figuring out who the hell I am". I read 'Becoming' in June of last year (2016) and oh my Buddha, it was so life changing; Laura made me believe that I am the heroine of my life and that I should go for it! That feeling has stayed with me.

This month though, whilst writing a piece about what book contributed to me talking about sex for the #ITalkSex campaign (I wrote about the campaign here -"#ITalkSex Because...") I ended up re-reading parts of 'Becoming', and I feel inspired all over again. It's like an inspiration refresher, and it's bloody wonderful! It's got me fighting harder for the good things I want in life; it's got me fighting harder for me. Thanking you always & forever Laura.

Now for the lovely Rachael Welford. I don't know where to begin, as I'm still processing just how inspiring and wonderful Rachael was, is! Ok, so as I mentioned above, I went to one of Rachael's talks - here is a little about the event.

This was a couple of weeks ago and after hearing her story I thought "this woman is me five years from now!" Imagine being able to talk to future you and get tips! Hah! Rachael is also super lovely, so meeting her and chatting with her for hours was truly a treat!

We mainly spoke about affirmations and healing and our experiences and energies. And I agreed with every bloody thing she said. Her recommendations regarding affirmations and doing them daily, has been one of the best practices for me. I posted about it on Instagram - because of course I would; I'm an Instagram whore, s'what I do innit.

*A F F I R M A T I O N S * I learned some more about affirmations yesterday and the 4 P's; that, ideally, affirmations should be: 1) Personal 2) Present tense 3) Positive 4) Powerful And! That I should be Persistent (another 'P'); and keep reminding myself and practising my affirmations. • So, as it's early days, I've decided to focus on and practise only one of my affirmations today (I'll keep adding more and more one day at a time), and I thought I'd share it as it's a big one, and I have a feeling others might relate. • Here it goes: "I choose to love myself as I am; body, mind and soul, in any weight, age or hairstyle!" • Have you lovely lot got any affirmations? 🖤 #affirmations #wellness #wellbeing #love #practice #life #live #health #work #selfcare #selflove #words #advice #onestepatatime #bpd #bipolar #healing #recovery #me #selfie #ootd #fashion #look #hair #swag #like #girl #woman #spiritual #hippie
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Also, seeing someone who has similar mental health issues to me doing so well, has really inspired me to keep going and helped me feel more hopeful about the future. Just because I have a mental illness, it doesn't mean that I can't have everything I want; "it is ok for me to have everything I want" - that's one of my favourite affirmations (I'll note all of my affirmation in the last section of this post - 'Important Messages + Reminders').


WHAT I FOUND DIFFICULT+WHAT HELPED ME


Difficult:
  • Managing my manic moods
  • Accepting my weight
  • Managing my Jewellery shop
  • Kick starting my emotion diary, which is part of my therapy progress
  • Managing my period pains, which is most likely Endometreosis, but I am waiting for a Laparacospy to be sure. 

Helped me: 

  • Scarlet Ladies talks have helped me a lot; in terms of feeling confident and finding my voice!
  • Prioritising self-care has also been a biggie - whenever I stop to think "what are my values and am I doing the self-care thing right now", I then check in with myself and identity what I need to do or  put in place for me. The affirmations in the last section of this post 'Important Messages + Reminders' have been key to this. Also, I have a list of values which I identified with the help of my therapist early on in my in therapy - I'm currently working on a post about that so watch this space!
  • The only thing that helped me with my torturous period pains this month was rest; not much movement at all, and a Castor Oil treatment that my therapist passed on to me, and I simply must share with anyone who struggles with Endometreosis. 

Here it is:
Castor Oil Transdermal Packs
At the beginning of the menstrual cycle, when the first symptoms of cramping become noticeable, a castor oil transdermal pack can dramatically reduce the severity of symptoms throughout the cycle. This is the basic procedure:
  • A wash cloth should be soaked in pure, cold-pressed castor oil that is obtained from a health food store
  • The wash cloth should be placed on bare skin on the lower stomach
  • Put a piece of plastic on top of the cloth, such as a plastic grocery bag or cling film
  • Place a hot water bottle on top of that. The water should be made as hot as possible, so long as you can tolerate it
  • Leave this in place for at least 30 minutes.
The above procedure can also be done repeatedly during the cycle to provide relief. However, one treatment is usually enough to provide massive relief. Women should use only dioxin-free, unchlorinated feminine products, especially tampons. Consuming Brazil nuts is ideal too, because they contain folate, selenium, and magnesium, which have all been shown to reduce menstrual cramps.

It worked for me, and if you decide to try it, I hope you have a similar result. 


WHAT MADE ME SMILE


  • All the times I spent in 23 Paul Street with the Scarlet Ladies 
  • Talking about the future with my mum, and my brother, and my best friends
  • Seeing my brother happy with his new job
  • My mum getting her first job as a social carer, since graduating from the Open University
  • Going to Temple of Seitan with my person (my person is my best friend Janine, just FYI)
  • Talking about doing a Post Graduate degree with the Open Uni
  • The Satifyer Pro Range of sex toys - I wrote about them here

BOOKS, MOVIES, POSTS, PODCASTS, MUSIC, PLACES I'VE ENJOYED 


BOOK(S)

Becoming
'Becoming' by Laura Jane Williams - mentioned above and this post says it all really!

Finished reading this beautiful, inspiring, honest book. First of all I'm excited because I'm finally able to read again (crippling depression can fuck that up sometimes). • Secondly, @superlativelylj has changed my life in a way. I got this book at a really difficult time and it's like it was a message; Laura showed me that I'm enough and I can have a hell of a life if I focus on me, myself & I. Not in a narcissistic way but a self-care way. Thank you so much for sharing Laura, I can't imagine how hard it must've been to write this memoir. This book will have an impact on a gazillion others! (In a positive way!) • Lastly, Electric Coffee has the best coffee in London! #Fact #thisismybecoming #growth #life #selfacceptance #selfcare #selfdiscovery #time #mentalhealth #relationships #bpd #wellness #wellbeing #bekind #recovery #onedayatatime #reading #books #change #inspiration #inspiração #honest #belong #love #health #overcome #toughcookie #depression #anxiety #selfbelief
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MOVIE(S)

Marie Antoinette
It's not only a good entertaining movie and an astounding true story, but it also shows how women have always need unfairly treated and been blamed for every bloody thing. Yes, Marie Antoinette was privileged in many ways and no angel, but she also had so much pressure put on her to fix the Kingdom - simply because she was a woman who, apparently, needed to get pregnant. My eyes just rolled so hard!

When the kingdom fell apart, mainly thanks to her husband (King of France) financially supporting America's war, and thus breaking the people of France - it was Marie Antoinette that got the blame and was eventually hanged for it. I'm sure you know the story, so I don't think I'm spoiling anything. I hope. Gulp!

Also, Kirsten Dunst's performance as Marie Antoinette is just A+++!




POST(S)
A Tumblr post: 



That is all. 

PODCAST(S)

Proud to be Kinky Podcast 
I've recently began learning about Kink life and as a newbie, this podcast has been awesome to listen to, and I recommend it to anyone! In this particular podcast, the presenters discuss the internal conflicts that some of our kinks might cause us to have. To listen, read and learn more, click here.

For newbies like myself, Kink means:

"Sexual practices that go outside of the "norm"; Kink is considered to be unconventional sexual practices. I am still learning about this, but I have noticed that there is definitely a gray area - the definition of kink varies widely to include sexual acts ranging from BDSM to fetish to just doing things that are outside of "normal" sexual boundaries"

That's my definition based on all my research and conversations about Kink. I have been told that FetLife community and Proud to be Kinky podcast are great ways to learn and get into the Kink scene.


MUSIC

Sia

'This is Acting' and '1000 Forms of Fear' have been life saving and life changing for me, no exaggeration. Some of my favourite songs from these albums talk about strength and getting through hard times and actually becoming "Unstoppable" and "The Greatest". Can you see why I love Sia and have her songs on repeat?!

Some of my favourite songs, and ones I recommend you listen to are:

Bird Set Free
Alive
Unstoppable 
Reaper
House on Fire
Chandelier 
The Greatest
Free The Animal
Big Girls Cry
Elastic Heart
Move Your Body


Beyonce

I was never a huge fan of Beyonce, but her Lemonade album hit me in the feels. Mainly because, Bey - I've been there, done that. Beyonce's Lemonade album reminds me of my last relationship, A LOT. But the way in which she has written about her experiences, has really given me strength to go "Sorry, I'm not sorry" for talking openly and honestly about what I went through with you.

In the words of Bey:
"Where do you go when you go quiet?
You're like my father, a magician. Able to exist in two places at once
In the tradition of men in my bloody, you come home at 3AM and lie to me"

These words gave me actual TINGLES, because to me it describes part of my ex so well, and also my own father. These words give me life. Hence why Lemonade has made this list. If you're interested in learning more about the meaning behind the lyrics, click here.


PLACE(S)

A vegan chicken shop. Yep, you heard that right. A chicken shop that is vegan, and thus ahmazing! Delish food, I highly recommend. For more info, click here
Address: 10 Morning Lane, London, E9 6NA
(Nearest station is Hackney Central overground station or Bethnal Green underground station and then get the bus from there 106 or 254 towards Hackney Town Hall from there)

Angel is one of my favourite areas in London. I hope to live here one day. It's got everything; restaurants, cafes, theatres, shops, bars, clubs, supermarkets, cinemas, card shops, flowers...everything! Just go to Angel station (it's on the Northern line) turn right and check that side out, then go back to the station and turn left cause there is something all over Angel. Just go. Seriously.
For more info, click here.
Address: Angel tube station, Northern Line

The best coffee in London.
For more info, click here. 
'Nuff said.
Address: 40 Haven Green, London, W5 2NX

A beautiful independent cage & restaurant, also in Hackney. This cafe is one of the most Instagramable places I've ever been to. For more info, click here. 
Address: 411 Mare St, London, E8 1HY
(Nearest station is Hackney Central overground station or Bethnal Green underground station and then get the bus from there 106 or 254 towards Hackney Town Hall from there)


Here are some photos to prove just how pretty it is:













A few months ago, I joined the Scarlet Ladies at 23 Paul Street, to celebrate their/our new home. From now on, all Scarlet Ladies events will be held at this stunning, luxurious venue, rather than at different venues around London.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but this venue left me in awe!

23 Paul Street is a space like no other. This is a beautiful boutique house of striptease, with a twist. It is London's most ethical place of its kind; with a focus on female sexual empowerment and providing a safe space for women, where good manners and mutual respect are priority.



The house is split into four floors or 'Quarters', and the second floor is where the Scarlet Ladies home-from-home is based, every Tuesday evening from 5pm. If what you've read in this post interests you, then I recommend you go ahead and check the Scarlet Ladies website for upcoming events. You won't regret it!




23 Paul StreetThe Vault (Basement): Where it all begins 



23 Paul StreetMr Stendhals, on the first floor: Provides a more private striptease experience



Welcome to The Reserve (Second floor): This secret bookcase entrance just adds to the magic of the Scarlet Ladies. It leads to a laid back suite of rooms that, every Tuesday, is exclusively ours

The wonderful ladies who work at 23 Paul Street are fabulous and always manage to make me feel so at home; and I never thought I could feel so comfortable in a house of striptease! Every time I walk out of  its' doors, I feel a sense of...abandoning my place of comfort. Thanks to severe anxiety, I usually struggle everywhere I go, but 23 Paul Street has been amazing at making this beautiful house feel like my home. And I'm so grateful.


23 Paul Street also host a 'Ladies Only' night called 'Mint Tease'; it's a tease party for just us ladies! Eeek! To find out more about this wonderful event, click HERE.


IMPORTANT MESSAGES+REMINDERS


Thank you to Rachael Welford at Welford Wellbeing and to my therapist for helping me with the below affirmations and reminders:

  • Always stick to and live by my Values & Boundaries!
  • Fuck what others think of me
  • Well-behaved women seldom make history
And here is my book of affirmations:




Hope it's all been useful!

Have a beautiful October, lovely.

xoxo


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