Feeling Alone

It’s hard to admit this but sometimes I feel like a Billy no mates. I have a handful of close friends who I love but I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like due to where we both live and family or work commitments. I’m currently planning drinks for my birthday and some of my friends are making an effort to come which I really appreciate but I’m worried that something will happen to stop them from coming nearer the time and without that group I only have one other friend who has confirmed that she’s definitely coming. I’ve always had different groups of friends rather than just being part of a particular group so I’ve never really had that sense of belonging and since I’ve been ill I’ve felt that sense of isolation more than ever. I just don’t feel like I truly fit in anywhere. It doesn’t help that I’m feeling down, mostly due to my grandad being terminally ill which has left me feeling lost. Nothing can comfort me and I’m no longer the fun person to be around that I once was.

I just hope that most of my friends can make it to celebrate my birthday with me and temporarily take my mind off what has been one of the worst years of my life. I can still occasionally let my hair down and have a good time so I want to be that person again before that side of me becomes completely buried. Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

Coping with invisible illness in your 20’s

Good days and bad days are such a cliche but this is how life is when you are living with an invisible illness. Thankfully, the blood clots on the brain that I was diagnosed with last December shouldn’t be permanent and I should hopefully make a full recovery but being so unwell, even for a short time has made me really empathetic towards those who live with illness long term.

For the past two years my general health and wellbeing hasn’t been quite right. In early Autumn 2013, after months of feeling constantly tired and gaining a significant amount of weight quite suddenly I went for tests which showed my thyroid gland as verging on under active. To regulate my hormone levels my GP prescribed medication but after a month of taking it I started suffering from incredibly painful headaches which often caused nausea and sometimes lasted days which left me incapable of getting on with life so I had to stop taking the medication. After a few weeks the headaches and sickness stopped and a blood test showed that my hormone levels had returned to normal.

For a few months I felt quite normal until around Spring 2014 when I started to feel run down and low in energy. I also had regular headaches but managed them with over the counter medication. 2014 was a busy year and I was worried that my thyroid was on the blink again and that the doctors would prescribe me the medication that made me so ill before so I just tried my best to get on with things and gained energy by eating healthily, exercising and cutting down on alcohol which no longer agreed with me. In 2014 I lost a significant amount of weight, dropping from over 9 1/2 stone down to 8st. My exercise and healthy eating seemed to kick start it but even when I calmed down with the gym routine and started eating more junk food the weight continued to fall off. It was the first time I had ever had abs and although I lost all my womanly curves, being so slim became addictive so alarm bells didn’t go off for me at the time. I was just happy that I could finally wear crop tops and body con! In autumn last year I was at my slimmest and suffering from headaches so often that I had to have pain relief tablets in my bag at all times. Life and work was manic and pretty stressful but I was still managing to hit the gym at least once a week and go out for cocktails most weekends.

On November 30th 2014 I was rudely awoken at 6am by a sharp, stabbing pain in my head behind one eye. It was relentless and seemed to spread to other parts of my head over the next couple of days until my head was pounding. No medication provided any relief so the next day after calling in sick at work, I booked an emergency appointment at the doctors who gave me migraine medication. It didn’t work and the only tablets that provided some temporary relief were ones we had at home that contained codeine. I only took one dose as my headache came back with a vengeance after a few hours so the next day, which was 3rd December I went back to my GP. As I looked so unwell my boyfriend came into the surgery with me during my appointment which turned out to be one of the best decisions we could of made as whilst the doctor examined me I had a seizure, passed out and stopped breathing for a few seconds. Before that I’d never had a seizure but I can’t remember most of it, apart from trying to move my hands at the start of the episode and my body just freezing. I remember looking at my hands thinking ‘why won’t they move?’ but after that I don’t remember anything until the paramedics pricked my finger in the ambulance. Apparently when I came around I didn’t recognise my boyfriend or know where I was and was trying to force my way out of the room! I have no idea where I thought I was going.

To cut a long story short, I spent two nights in hospital and was diagnosed with blood clots in the exit of my brain and bleeding on other areas of the brain as a result of the blood having nowhere to go as the exit was blocked by the clots. I had another seizure in A&E but once I was put on medication the seizures where I convulsed and passed out stopped but i had a few partial ones for the next month. These are quite scary as you’re very aware of what’s going on and I’d get a pins and needles feeling which started in my wrist and travelled up my arm to one side of my face. They only lasted around 20 minutes but the first two were scary. After increasing my medication dosage these abated and the only physical side effects I was left with were headaches, (but thankfully much less painful than before) tiredness, some memory loss and a reduced ability to concentrate. Almost 10 months on I feel nearly back to normal but I still get tired easily along with occasional headaches and head pains. Some days I struggle to get out of bed and can be really grumpy all day. Today is a good day but yesterday morning was a grumpy one!

It was really hard at first not being able to go out over Christmas and enjoy the festivities and then missing friends’ birthday celebrations as they were in lively bars and I was scared that the lights would cause me to have a seizure. I gradually started going out again in late Spring, although I still tend to avoid overly busy bars and clubs and don’t go out every weekend anymore. Until I saw a neurologist in July I didn’t know if I was allowed to drink so I was teetotal for 7 months until I found out that I was allowed to have a couple of drinks but not get drunk. My first Pimms tasted so good!

I’m currently out of work but would like to start some part time or temping work soon. I used to work in Insurance and the company I worked for were very understanding and accommodating when I was ill but the stress and pressured nature made my headaches and tiredness worse so I left in July. I would like to do something that’s either more laid back like general office administration or something more creative like working on a magazine. It’s always been a dream to have a career in publishing or journalism but if that doesn’t happen I always have my blogs.

Why I love Autumn

Most people are happiest during the summer but apart from the rain, I actually prefer Autumn. Once we start heading towards mid September when the leaves turn brown and start falling from the trees, the air gets cooler and the nights draw in my favourite time of year begins. I’m a real winter baby and love cosy nights in, snuggled up with a book or watching reality TV whilst burning a seasonal scented candle. Once the X Factor starts it signals the beginning of the build up to my favourite season.

I also prefer Autumn fashion to any other season because warm, loose clothes disguise the flab as a result of the extra calories from the stodgy food and hot drinks that I start to crave come September! I love coats and boots and can be partial to a bit of layering, especially involving roll necks. Autumnal colours such as burgundy, camel, teal and khaki tend to bring out my hazel eyes and are a good antidote to the summer brights worn in the months prior. Autumn or Fall marks the start of your build up to Halloween, my birthday on Bonfire Night and then Christmas which I always get ridiculously excited about.

Of course, there are some downsides to the end of summer such as the dark morning and evenings, feeling too cold at times and the depressing abyss between Christmas and Spring but being able to sleep better, fresher air and being cosy makes up for it. As does the excitement of Halloween and the magic of Christmas. I’ve already started Pinterest boards for those two holidays aswell as one for Autumn/Winter fashion. Does anyone else love Autumn?

Five reasons why I’m no longer a fan of London bars or clubs

I’ve had some good nights out in my time but I’ve also noticed some reoccurring unpleasant parts of many nights out, especially in popular venues in the city or Central London. Here are the five factors that can put a downer on your night out and should be avoided if possible;

Overcrowding

It’s Friday night, it’s payday and the weather is decent. You’ve got that Friday feeling and can’t wait to meet up with your friends and let your hair down. You go through the effort to get dressed up (usually my favourite part of a night out) whilst feeling excited anticipation for the night ahead, only to arrive to a packed out venue with barely enough space to scratch your nose. The queue for the bar is 12 people deep and after waiting 20 minutes and still not even close to getting served your enthusiasm is beginning to wear off. That annoyingly catchy chart song is blasting through the speakers so you and your friends are forced to shout in eachother’s ears in order to be heard whilst overly drunk, ignorant people with no concept for personal space elbow or bash into you every 5 minutes. By the time you get your drink you’re so on edge that you’d rather down it and leave than spend another minute in what feels like a packed tube during rush hour, with the added bonus of people spilling drinks down your new dress and soaking you through to your underwear.

How much?!

You withdraw £50 for your night out thinking that it should be enough but by the time you’ve left the first bar and are moving on to the second one or a club, you’re down to £7 and have to find a working cash point just in case you need to get a cab home. Sometimes I keep a certain amount aside for cabs and club entry then pay for drinks by card but this can be dangerous as you lose track of what you’re spending, especially if you buy drinks for friends. Even happy hour can work out expensive as I find that you drink more than you usually would as it seems cheaper.

Power tripping bouncers

For some reason I haven’t always had the best relations with bouncers. Maybe I have one of those faces? I’ve had a couple of words in the past with one who lost our belongings in the cloak room and had a bad, arrogant attitude and another who refused to believe that my I.D was actually me and was pretty rude when I tried to protest. I’ve met other bouncers who have been really friendly so I won’t tar all with the same brush but some just take an instant dislike to me and want to exert some power or status to make them feel important.

Drunk people

Maybe it’s my age (28) but the older I get the more drunk people irritate me! Some people can handle their drink well and are a riot when they’ve had a few so they just make me laugh rather than annoy me but sadly this isn’t the case for everyone. I had my drunken days about 6 years ago but that level of alcohol hasnt agreed with me for some time so I can’t actually remember the last time I was properly drunk. The medication I’m on at the moment limits me to about three light alcoholic drinks so nothing too concentrated like wine or shots. Much to my annoyance this restraint doesn’t apply to most other strangers around me and too many of them can’t handle their drink or whatever else they’ve taken so stumble about, bash into me and my friends, push in at the bar, spill drinks, want to start fights with other revellers and talk a load of drunken rubbish which you don’t have the time or desire to listen to.

Getting home

There have been times when a good night has been tainted by the palava of getting home. Sometimes you have to walk for what feels like miles in inappropriate shoes and rain or wait on a street corner for ages in the early hours for a cab to turn up. Also, as a young woman I often don’t feel safe getting into cabs alone. Even if I share with friends more often than not I’m the last to be dropped off due to where I live in relation to everyone else. Nowadays, I often leave early and get a train home but that’s not always without its problems and I need a family member to meet me at the other end as I don’t feel safe walking home on my own.

I’m aware that this post has made me sound like a miserable, old git but despite the rubbish year I’ve had I can still let my hair down and enjoy myself occassionally. On Saturday I went to a local pub with good friends, watching people sing on the karaoke, singing and dancing along. If the conditions are right I can really enjoy myself but as I get older I find that this happens more often in intimate venues or birthday parties with the right group of people (e.g. close friends and family) rather than in the usual bars and clubs.

Homebody or Hermit?

This time last year I was going out for cocktails in the city most Friday evenings, wearing fashionable outfits and glam make up, staying out late then posting my pictures on Facebook and Instagram the next day. Fast forward a year and I spend most Friday nights at home either in front of a tablet or TV screen or reading a magazine or book. Lots of the clothes I wore last year for nights out barely fit me anymore and lots of the friends I used to go out with have either fallen by the wayside or usually aren’t able to go out when I’m free. It’s amazing how much illness can change your life. Until July I didn’t know if I was even allowed to drink alcohol and my tolerance to loud, busy places is now a lot lower than it used to be. I also get tired easier than I used to and although this is gradually getting better as my health improves I’m still ready for bed by 11pm. The strange thing is as exciting as getting dressed up and as distracting as those nights out were, most of the time I didn’t really enjoy it. Sure, I’d have a laugh and let my hair down for parts of the night but the long queues at the bar, barely being able to move in packed bars or clubs and rude, drunk people began to grate on me.

However, now I’m mostly stuck at home I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out a bit. I am only 28 after all so not quite over the hill yet. I think this feeling is stronger in the summer though as when the sun is shining it feels like everyone but you is out, having a great time and drinking Pimms in the sunshine. This is why I’m such a winter baby as I love being snuggled up and cosy indoors when it’s cold outside and the FOMO is less prominent. I’m quite a homebody anyway and like to do most of my socialising during the day or early evening. Does anyone else feel this way? That said I could do with a good night out soon, even to just get dressed up.

Living with Anxiety

For as long as I can remember I’ve been quite a nervous person who worries and panics and works myself up over things that wouldn’t bother most. As a child I had a phobia of loud noises, would freak out if my mum started the car before everyone had got in and was always convinced that our house would blow up after watching a gas explosion on Neighbours! As I’ve got older I’m not quite as bad but the anxiety has never left me. I find that I go through bad periods of it when I’m worried about something particular or a number of things. Luckily, I don’t have panic attacks but it does make me feel on edge and affects my sleep and appetite. In the past I’ve worked myself up so much that I’ve ended up being sick but this hasn’t happened for a couple of years. Situations such as job interviews can trigger quite severe anxiety and I’ve had to give up on driving tests as I got myself in such a state but I’ve had it for so long that I’ve just learnt to weather the bad times as they’re not permanent.

At the moment I’m not sleeping properly, have aches and pains all over my body and have a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach because my grandad is seriously ill and currently in hospital waiting for an operation. I feel so helpless, worried and sad and although we are yet to find out the full prognosis it isn’t looking good. It’s obviously affecting every aspect of my life but I know that one day these uncertain times will be a memory and all I can do is spend as much time with him as possible and make the most of that time.

One thing I’ve learnt about anxiety is that in most cases the fear isn’t as bad as the reality and we have an inbuilt survival instinct to deal with whatever life throws at us. It isn’t easy but it makes you a stronger person and more appreciative of the positive parts of life.

Ripping up the Life Checklist

Looking around me, about 80% of the people I know, read about or see on social media and TV seem to follow a similar life pattern of ticking goals off the life checklist to become a fully fledged adult and although the order of events vary, the general story is the same. It often starts with gaining the relevant qualifications, leading onto landing a job or career that you feel settled in, passing your driving test, meeting the one then going down the conventional route of moving in together, getting married and having children. I recognise that there are many people for whom life doesn’t follow this pattern as things often don’t work out as planned but most people seem to meet at least half of these objectives by the time they’re in their mid thirties. Most of my friends have achieved at least three of them already and my newsfeed is full of people getting the keys to their first house, engagements, births and weddings.

Personally, I don’t really have any life plan or goals and have only ticked two things off the list, being qualifications and meeting who I believe and hope to be the one but the journey of life doesn’t run smoothly and there are many unexpected bumps and obstacles along the way. By failing three driving tests due to anxiety and just not feeling confident enough in my ability I fell at one of the first hurdles but I’m trying to teach myself not to feel like a failure. As for the rest of the list, other than moving in with my partner which feels like a distant dream due to the cost of mortgages and bills, I’m not sure if I actually desire the conventional path of marriage and children. Call me selfish but the thought of spending any spare cash on regular holidays and any free time pursuing passions and catching up on sleep appeals to me far more than marriage or parenthood! That said, if my boyfriend proposed and we already had our own place and were stable financially I wouldn’t say no but marriage has never been a priority for me. As for the thought of being a parent it involves way too much responsibility, worry and not enough sleep!

I’m secure in my decisions but can’t help but feel in the minority as I don’t seem to want what most others do. When people discuss their wedding plans and the joys of parenthood I have nothing to contribute. I feel like Peter Pan, the eternal child as despite being 28 I still live at home, am currently unemployed and don’t feel anywhere near ready to deal with any ‘adult’ responsibilities. I would love to hear from others around my age who feel the same. My advice to those who are struggling to acheive conventional standards is to be proud of who you are, what you want (and don’t want) and not to feel pressured to live a life that isn’t for you just because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you fall at any hurdles, some things just aren’t meant to be or if it’s something you’re really passionate about then pick yourself up and try again, even if you need some time out to reevaluate before doing so.

The End of an Era

For most of my adult life I’ve worked in the insurance industry which is something I fell into my chance rather than choice! When I left school back in 2003 my nan got me a job at the Insurance company where she worked. I was only 16 so the opportunity to earn money and be able to afford my own Evisu jeans, Burberry bag and Gucci loafers was too good to pass up! Therefore, I took the job assuming it would be a temporary fix until I began my glittering career as a fashion journalist. (The naivety of youth eh?) When I started sixth form that September I fitted work around my studies which extended to my uni days as I chose to go to a local university to study media and creative industries. After graduating in 2009 I was offered a full time position at the insurance company. It didn’t pay very well but being in the middle of a recession, job opportunities were thin on the ground and at the time I was lacking in confidence or any self belief that I could get into the journalism industry so I accepted the job.

I stayed there for two more years before deciding to quit and pursue my career dreams. After contacting every magazine I could think of I managed to get a couple of weeks work experience in Colchester to work for a variety of craft magazines. I was in my element and they asked me to go back a few weeks later but unfortunately, I had run out of money for travel. At that point I had to get some paid work so I did some temping work before falling back into Insurance where I stayed for the next 3 years. Due to health problems which I’ll go into in further posts I decided to hand my notice in a month ago so now I’m officially a full time blogger. Once I’m fully recovered I plan to attempt to get some further work experience in the pipeline as I don’t want to give up on my dream just yet. Failing that, I’d like to do something different that I’m more well suited to than insurance but it’s difficult as that’s where most of my experience lies. I just hope that I can get through my health issues and anxiety and that someone will give me a chance to show what I’m good at and where my heart truly lies.