28 March 2019

Why Should We Hide Our Mental Health?


I am lucky, very lucky in that my episodes of depression and anxiety have lessened a great deal over the past year; with the dark days decreasing in frequency.  Up until this weekend, dysthymia aside (see upcoming blog post with regard to this), I had not had an episode in many months.

I had let my guard down and as such, when a really dark day hit me on Sunday, I was not ready for it.

For as long as I have experienced them, I have always hidden my dark days from others, both in my personal life and at work. 

It is still an expectation of society that we present a "normal" front.  Somehow, people can cope with any physical illness or symptom that you throw at them (generally), but tell people you have anxiety, depression etc etc and you can see them practically running away from you in their eyes.  The "Oh God another crazy" look.

So when a dark day hits, as have millions of others, I have learned over time to hide it as best as I can.  Solitary spaces are found, plans are rearranged, if I have to work, my head switches off into a tunnel vision work mode.  I am careful in what I do and generally try to stay off social media or reading the news.

After not experiencing a dark day for many months, on Sunday, it felt like all of my strategies to cope/hide had been forgotten.  Bad enough the misery, pain and tears, I now had to figure out how to get through visitors at home, travelling on the bus and then going to my fellas, who doesn't really get mental health.  All I wanted, as I ever want, was to curl up in a ball and be alone.

I pulled myself together enough to take the dog a walk, get ready, make nice in front of the guests at home and then went for the bus.  That is where my not used in a while coping mechanisms ran out.

Needless to say, there were silent tears on the bus with people looking at me like I had grown another head.  Maybe I should have chopped my leg off and I would have received a more sympathetic gaze.

But then.  Then I reached the fellas.  I could not hide how I felt.  I didn't have the strength.  I tried holding it in.  I tried passing it off as simply having a bad mood day.  I tried brushing it aside.  He saw straight through me and that day, barriers down, I let him.

He knows nothing about mental health and does not understand it.  But he asked me to tell me how I felt rather than just stay silent and suffer "Use your words Vic".  He understood that he could not improve how I felt, so just listened to me, didn't judge me and held me.

While my dark day continues to the end of the evening, the pressure of having to hide was gone and the talking frankly about it (and cuddles of course) did bring me comfort.

My question is this.  Why, when we are already going through so much, when it is hard enough just to leave our bed, are we catering to other people first and how they feel?  Making sure that they are comfortable around us?

When my dark day hits I feel completely alone in the world.  I feel alien.  I wonder how quickly I could get over or how much less stress and pain I would feel if I did not have to hide it?

Why should we?  Why can we not admit that today is not mentally a good day.  Why can we not say "Today I am struggling a bit, so bear with me". 

Use that sick day when we need to. 

Not say I'm fine to someone who notices instead of saying I'm hurting and maybe get a much needed hug.

I am not hiding any more.  If I am not feeling well and have a cold, I tell people I have a cold.  If I am having a dark day, I will tell people the truth.  Enough. 

21 March 2019

Stopping Smoking - Can It Change You As a Person?

Just a little musing on the blog today and a question:  Has anyone experienced a real change in their personality, mental health or general mental wellbeing since they stopping smoking cigarettes?

Image by roegger from Pixabay
First and foremost, let me say that I am not one of those irritating ex smokers who suddenly think that cigarettes are the plague of the earth and shout loudly and regularly from the rooftops of how disgusting smoking is.

I MISS IT.  I miss it so much.  I miss the after dinner cigarette, I miss the pleasurable addition of smoking when having a glass of wine or a cocktail; I miss the temporary calmness they would give me if I was having a bad day.  I miss them.

As a smoker you are well used to all the people that would wax lyrical about how bad it was for your health and how much money it must be costing you etc.  You would feel like wanted to stab them in the eye?  I still feel like that.  Sanctimonious ex smokers can take a hike.

Anyway.  Back to topic.  Physical health and money benefits aside, can't say I have really noticed either yet, I have to say that my mental health and wellbeing has definately changed.

For as long as I can remember, probably my whole adult life, I have had a numbing or  muting of emotions.  General the positive emotions.  Sadness, pain and anxiety I never had a problem with.  How typical. 

Feelings of anticipation, excitement, joy, happiness, feelings of just being damn normal, were just not really there.  I said the words and played out the emotions for people, but I never felt them.  I knew what they felt like because I used to experience them, but hadn't in many many years.

Not feeling, felt normal.  All the bright colours of emotions just did not live within me, except the black that occasionally would overtake me.  Everything was just muted.

Image by Alexandra Haynak from Pixabay

The only reason that I knew that I was not "normal", if anyone ever really is, is that on the occasional day, I felt everything.  It felt wonderful.  I would just wake up one day and experience a full day of normal feelings.  The world became exciting and full of wonderment.  Sadly, the next day, I went back to normal, my normal.

Not to tempt fate here (please fate, I'll be good I promise), but after around four weeks of not smoking, all of these feelings have come back.  I feel genuine happiness.  I feel excited when plans are made.  I feel anticipation when something good and new is about to happen.  I feel.   I feel everything.

Is this an effect of stopping smoking?  It would a be a very large coincidence if it was not related. 

My question I guess is very specific as I do not know anyone else who lived with the muting of emotions that I did.  I am sure that there is a name for it but I do not know what it is.

Whatever the reason, the world is full of colour again.  I look forward to each day, whatever it may hold and there is always now, some happiness to be found.  Even in the smallest corner.

How To Be Confident In Photographs

Image by Rene Pister from Pixabay

No matter who you are, in this day and age of social media photos are everywhere and hard to avoid. So, if you’re not feeling confident in front of the camera, then this might be something that fills you with dread every time your mate gets her phone out. Well fear not, there are ways you can overcome this and look and feel your best in every photo.

Know Your Angles
Standing in front of a mirror and taking some time to see what angles you prefer on your body might sound silly (no one needs to know) but it’s actually really beneficial and will help you to feel more confident if you already have an idea how you like to look! 

Another thing you can do is take lots of selfies; they’re really great for helping you to know what to do when someone else is taking the photo! So next time you're in front of a camera, get your instasmile ready and just pretend you're taking a selfie.
Ignore Everyone Else
It's so easy to feel self-conscious when taking a photo of yourself or having one taken of you. If you’re in a town full of people you might be feeling concerned about what other people think of you, or think you're being judged, but you need to forget all that because honestly, most of the time people don't even notice or they don't care. Try to forget about the rest of the world around you and enjoy the process.

Enjoy Yourself
It's so important to try and have fun while you're having your photo taken as this will shine through on the picture. The more you relax and let yourself go, the more fun you'll have, the more confident you will feel, and the more beautiful the photos will be.

Wear Something You’re Comfortable In
If you're not very confident in front of a camera, then you should definitely stick to wearing something that you feel confident and comfortable in. There is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable and unconfident in photos as it will show and they won’t be photos you’ll want to look at again. If you are having a photoshoot or you know you’re going to be having your picture taken then wear an outfit that you love, and your confidence will shine through so much more. Then, once you're happy having people photograph you, feel free to experiment a bit with your outfits!

Fake It Till You Make It
No one knows at first what they’re doing in photos, not even models. They’ve all been there and look at them know. A lot of the time, people you think look great and confident in their pictures are often putting on an act, and pretending that they do, and you know what? It works! Pretending that you're confident in yourself will more often than not make you actually feel confident. So just fake it till you make it!

14 March 2019

Tops For The Dress Addict

As a dress addict, it’s tough to find tops you like. You enjoy the freedom a dress gives,  and tops and pants are just a burden. If you must wear a top - and I really can’t think of a reason why - here are some tops that are great for the dress addict who has trouble letting go.

Fitted Tops

Fitted tops help you maintain the same curves and figure-flattering style of a dress. You can get all kinds of fitted tops in many different fabrics to mimic your favorite dresses and make you feel sexy. Fitted tops enhance your shape and look elegant, fun, and professional.

Oversized Tops

If what you like about dresses is their free-flowing nature, then an oversized top makes a great transition. They give you freedom of movement and are long enough to cover the rear section that dresses usually hide. Wear oversized tops with leggings to make you even more comfortable and stylish.

Belted Tops

Many dresses have belts or ties around the waist, and you can get tops like this, too. They flatter your waist and draw the eye to something of interest. If you enjoy wearing dresses that enhance your hourglass figure or draw attention to your waistline, these types of tops are great for you.

Cami Tops

You can wear a cami alone or under another top. While some would never feel comfortable wearing a cami alone, you can use a strategically coordinated cami under a sheer top or button down to give your wardrobe more versatility. Pick out colours you will wear a lot, making them even more versatile and giving you a pop of colour.

It can be tough to transition away from dresses, but if the situation calls for it, you have some great options for tops that will mimic the style of your favorite dresses and make you feel comfortable despite the change in wardrobe for the day.

11 March 2019

6 super simple tips to help you feel sexier in your own skin

With the busy lives we lead, its so easy to loose your mojo. With long days sat at your desk or chasing after the kids, it’s no wonder so many of us are burnt out….and its certainly difficult to feel sexy while you’re utterly exhausted.

But don’t worry. Here are 6 super simple tips to help you feel sexier in your own skin.

Change up your makeup routine

You don’t need makeup to look beautiful. Lets just get that straight. But if you want to feel a little sexy from time to time, then why not shake up your makeup bag with some new additions? A new voluminous mascara – click the link to find the best mascara on the market – to a luscious lip gloss or bold lip stain. If you don’t’ fancy makeup, why not treat yourself to a new moisturiser or exfoliator to help you skin glow naturally?

Book some time away

If you have little ones, get a babysitter on the phone. You and your partner need some time away. There’s scientific proof that indulging in spontaneity acts like an aphrodisiac which will have you feeling sexy, powerful and ready to take on anything!

Touch your skin

We all know how much we need to rush in the morning, a quick shower is all we have time for. But if you make a little more time, you can enjoy your shower – get used to the feel of your body and your own skin. Afterwards take your time when you’re applying your body lotion or moisturiser, getting to know how amazing and gorgeous your body is will make you feel super sexy.

Read something hot

Remember a few years ago when everyone was practically tearing at the pages of a particular book series about a certain Mr Grey? Well, why not revisit a racy novel, or find a new one to sink your teeth into. And don’t be afraid to read it in public – it’ll make you feel extremely risqué and confident!

Boost your bust

When was the last time you treated yourself to a new bra? Sure, we all have our favourites and our old faithful’s sitting in your underwear drawers, but a bad bra can give you poor posture and not the wow factor that you deserve. Go and get yourself measured properly and find some underwear that compliments you, your skin tone and your budget. And remember your partner might approve, but this is for you!

Make eye contact

Take a moment to think about how you ask for sex…how do they know that you’re in the mood? Do you drop subtle hints? Mumble it under your breath or just hope that they get the hint…? Well, next time you’re feeling a little hot under the collar, look your partner right in the eye and make it sensual. It’ll take them back to when you first starting dating and how you couldn’t keep your hands off each other!

6 March 2019

Saying Goodbye To My Thirties

*Long read

So here it is.  The last day of my thirties.  Tomorrow, I will be 40 years old.

40 doesn't sound like something that should apply to me.  It so old.  Middle aged.   Oh Jesus.....

40 sounds like a person who knows what they are doing, more adult than I sometimes feel.  When a problem arises I still sometimes look around the room for an adult.  Someone more adult than I.  So, not like I have a choice in the matter, I am ready to be 40?

Yes, I think that I am.

The past two decades have not been easy, especially between my mid twenties and early thirties.  I had no confidence, I lived in a sea of black clothing and had little self worth.  I went in and out of depression and anxiety and sometimes, felt so sad that I wondered what the point of it all was.

Feelings of happiness, passion and hope seemed to be watered down and only on the occasional day did glimpses of them appear.  An emotional blunting or dulling of effect.

Certain people blazed a trail through my life like a shooting star.  All bright and beautiful till it crashes and burns.  Others disappointed me and abused my trust more than words can say.

That isn't to say that I did not also have fun over those years.  I had lots.  But I knew that I was not the person that I was supposed to be.  I was masked.  A fog covered me.

But then.  I started to write.  I found Twitter and found a voice that I never knew that I had.  A voice that was hidden on the internet so I was free to say what I wanted.  But I was still shy.  Still scared.

Then I started to blog.  I found plus size bloggers and found a world of colour and confidence that exploded my mind.  Fat women, like me, who wore colour and pattern.  They were self assured, knew who they were; they had confidence and sass.  Everything that I wanted.  I vowed to change.

This review was my first outing as a plus size blogger.  I cannot tell you how many photographs were taken and discarded.  How times I wrote the post and published, only to delete, rewrite, edit and publish again.

My confidence grew.  I grew to love pattern and found my confidence.

I did a photo shoot (cue moody pout).  I modeled (Can you see the smile?  That was happiness right there.)  Still not sure about that jumper though haha

I went from someone who actively hid from the camera, to someone who loves a good selfie.  I became more confident and with that, I got angry.

In the past few years, my focus has changed from the confidence in what I look like and the image that I present to the world, to what I think and what I say.  My blog pieces have become more serious and focused.  My voice on Twitter has expanded and I no longer am afraid to say anything that I think.  This has both lost and gain followers.  I care not.

I quit smoking 2 months ago.  Whether coincidence or not, the emotional blunting that I have experienced for so many years has gone.  I feel all the good.  The happiness I now have in my life, the joy, the expectation, the hope.  The excitement for the future.

I went on a spa day today with my best friend.  Someone who has been my best friend since I was 15 years old.  She has been there through every up and down, every high and every low.  She has seen the best and the worst in me.

She has seen all the recent changes in me over the recent years in confidence, in clothing, in what I say and what I share and think.  But she told me today that finally, after so long, she is now seeing the person that she first met, all those years ago.  Free, confident, happy, expectant, hopeful and most importantly, completely and utterly myself, without the fog that has covered me for so long.

I am back to myself again.  I would say that that is a damn good way to start your 40s.  Wouldn't you?