The Best Thing About Holidays

This last week I’ve been lucky enough to be enjoying the first of two summer holidays I have this year. I’ll write another post about what I’ve been up to in Greece later but for now, I just want to focus on the real reason I believe everyone should escape their day to day lives at least once a year and that’s liberation.

Liberation from the things that usually stress you out which don’t matter on holiday. Here’s what I mean…

Schinias Beach, Greece

Schinias Beach, Greece

This is where I am right now and where I was yesterday too. I’m here with the bf, we haven’t showered in 2 days, my hair is still as it was when I slept in it, we threw clothes on over our swimmers and ate dinner on the beach yesterday and we are being utterly trampy. It couldn’t be more fun! 

We are liberated from the usual bothers about how we look, what we’re wearing, what the time is, etc. Our minds are focussed on crosswords, swimming in the waves and cold beers. No need for appearances here, we have substance, fun and life behind the eyes. 

I’ve regained a sense of perspective and that is what I think really comes from stepping away from the mundanity of everyday life for a little while. If you’ve not got a break planned, I’d highly recommend it as you might surprise yourself by learning just what you really care about. X 

A Tale of Two Wardrobes

There’s something been bugging me recently and it’s taken me a while to figure it out. I’ve noticed that I’m pretty much out of wardrobe space, yet I have nothing to wear and I don’t mean the usual nothing to wear, I mean literally nothing. First of all, I thought it was the change in seasons, “I’ll be too hot in that”, “That’s too summery for today”, etc. but now that it’s fully summer and I’ve re-opened my summer stock of clothes, I’m still stuck.

So what is it?

Well, this evening I went to put some laundry away and noticed that once again there’s no space for it, despite the fact that I only do laundry when I’m out of things to wear. So I started mooching through my clothes, figuring I must have loads of old tat hanging around that needs to be gone. I don’t.

What I have is a tale of two wardrobes. Fat Sam vs. Thin Sam.

This is the first time in my adult life that I’ve encountered this problem and that’s why it’s taken me so long to figure out. For a good 15 or so years, I was a size 10, occasionally dipping into an 8. Suddenly I’m a size 12 and my old clothes don’t fit. Like actually can’t get them on or do them up don’t fit. My metabolism is failing me and my willpower is like an under-used muscle, (which all of mine are) and it hurts every time I try and use it!

I’ve bloody well gone up a clothes size and I’m not even 30 yet. Shit the bloody bed.

Never even mind the weight, my main concern is the clothing. What does one do in this situation, admit defeat and donate the smaller sized clothes to charity or kid oneself that weight loss is imminent and those clothes will be essential at that time? I’ve never had to lose weight before and I genuinely don’t know whether I can do it. I’ve done it by accident before but that was 6 years ago and not a pound has been shed since. In fact, I’ve been slowly gaining many pounds over that entire time.

This is a genuine dilemma; I need fewer clothes in my life as there’s no chance of increasing wardrobe capacity right now, but do I vote fat or thin? Delicious food or hideous exercise? Most likely, I’ll bury my head in the sand, hope for a weight loss miracle (raspberry ketones already on order) and keep adding to my collection of clothing until I can no longer fit in my dressing room. (Because of the vast array of clothing, not because I got that fat…though I won’t rule that out either.)

What would a sane person do? Help a girl out, peeps! x

Shorts; am I Goldilocks?

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with the blonde-tressed beauty always searching for what is “just right” for her. Well, I feel like Goldi-bloomin’-locks right now but with shorter, frizzier and rootsier hair. (Yes, rootsier – it’s a new word.)

The reason for this stress is that I’ve been trying to buy some shorts for the summer. Usually I go to beach destinations so I wear bikinis in the day, dresses and skirts at night and I’m fine. This year, I’m heading to Athens and I need something I can wear when I go exploring that’s not going to expose my bottom to the world if it’s windy or if I’m climbing up a mountain. Which I do regularly. (Ahem!)

Given that it’s summer, you’d think that buying shorts would be easy and in theory it should be because they are in all of the shops right now. However, I am neither a skinny 19 year old, nor a dowdy 50 year old so I appear to be a little bit stuck. Plus, I also have a rather sizeable derrière which causes all manner of difficulties at the best of times.

In a nutshell, here are my options:

Denim Shorts (read knickers)

Denim Shorts (read knickers)

Denim-esque saggy who-knows-whats

Denim-esque saggy who-knows-whats

Imagine my bottom in the first option; for those who don’t know me, here’s a clue: My bottom wouldn’t fit into them, they’d be halfway up my enormous butt cheeks.

Then imagine looking in the mirror when you’d put on the latter option and you realise that you’d need to dye your hair grey, add a floral blouse and some of those weird, comfy sandal things.

What about the middle ground? Where does a normal, approaching 30, cellulite-ridden, slightly podgy yet not without aspirations of one day looking fashionable person go to find shorts? HUH? Tell me, where? Oh and denim is pretty much out because I can only wear jeggings else they gape at the back because my waist doesn’t match my enormous hipbumthigh area!

That pretty much sums up my Goldilocks dilemma. Help would be greatly appreciated or even empathy would help. Bring back winter! (Oops, said that out loud.) x

Life After Suicide

Hello, hello!

Whoa there, another post about depression / suicide / dealing with these taboo topics…yup, I’m afraid so! I don’t know if any of you watched it but there was a brilliant programme on the BBC last week, called Life After Suicide and it really got me thinking so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. (Incidentally, I caught the show on iPlayer and it’s there for another 22 days.)

The programme took us on a journey through the after effects of bereavement by suicide, through the eyes of Angela Samata whose own husband took his life 11 years ago. She talks about her own experience and also meets others who’ve been affected by loved ones taking their own lives.

It was interesting to me for obvious reasons and one such reason was talking about the stigma that is STILL attached to suicide. When my mum died, my grandmother, (dad’s mum) told me to lie about what had happened. Clearly she was ashamed of the situation but luckily my dad wasn’t and enforced an “honesty is the best policy” approach. I could blame it on the fact that past generations had a very stiff upper lip, but I know that many people in later generations also feel this way about suicide.

Outside of these obvious things though, the programme stimulated a lot of thoughts that had just never occurred to me. If you watch it, you’ll find one of the people Samata speaks to vocalising her anger at the fact that her husband has left her with all of the things he couldn’t deal with. Not only that, but she now also has to deal with his death and all of it on her own while continuing family life for her children. Well that just plain old never occurred to me; I never stopped to consider that my dad had to deal with so much more than I did, because there’s a whole heap of stuff that happened that he shielded me from. I never went to the open inquest; he did. I never identified the body; he did. And I most certainly didn’t have to arrange the funeral, but guess what? He did. 

Somehow, the amazing man that he is, he managed to do all of that with virtually no support from family or friends. He just stuck his head down and fixed our lives, all the while dealing with another huge worry which surfaced in this documentary: “What if my girls follow their mother’s footsteps?” Being one of the girls, I’ve never really thought about that either because I know I’m not about to take my own life, but watching all of the people in this documentary talk about exactly this fear really hammered home the fact that this is very real and many people carry the burden of this fear forever as a result of another’s actions. The most significant revelation that’s come from this is the beginnings of an understanding of why he and I feel so very differently about the events of the past.

There really is very little support for people who find themselves left behind after a suicide. As my dad has said to me, no social workers called, no nanny state took care of us, there was almost nowhere to turn. Luckily, there are some organisations which exist to help people affected and one such, which featured in the programme and also in my dad’s life, is SOBS. SOBS is a support group for normal people who find themselves in this situation and like any support group, they provide an open forum where people can express themselves but that’s the only one I know of and it was the only one featured in the programme. What else is there?

This remains something that annoys me on an almost daily basis. Once you have found the strength to tell people what’s happened, often you’ll find they know someone else who has been left behind in the same way. Depression is a real illness and suicide is a very real killer. Nearly 6,000 people committed suicide in the UK in 2012* so that’s thousands of people impacted and left behind in just that one year; yet when it happens to you, it’s surprisingly difficult to find support. The internet goes some way to combating this but it’s not enough. So here’s my plea to everyone reading this – please be open, please point people in the direction of others who’ve been through the same when they reach out and please, please don’t ask anyone to lie in order to save face. As in an situation when you’ve lost a loved one, people who are left behind following a suicide just need love, support and ideally someone to speak to who’s been through it and come out the other side.

Thank you.

Now go and watch the programme because I’ve barely scratched the surface of it! x

*Samaritans Statistics Report 2014

If you’re struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, here are some organisations which might be able to help:

Maytree Sanctuary
Mind
NHS
Depression Alliance

Is it just that some people aren’t good on their own?

Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, (Joe)’s just not good on his own”? I’ve heard it a number of times and it usually relates to men but what does it really mean?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the context; it usually comes up when talking about relationships and someone that flits from one serious relationship to another, but that doesn’t actually explain what we mean when we say it. Typically we assume that it’s not healthy to behave in this sort of way and I’ve lost count of how often I’ve heard people talking about friends who leave one relationship and land straight in the next. We all need to “learn to love ourselves”, “be comfortable just being you” and “embrace the freedom of single life”, yet some people slip through the net.

Joe, (or Mr. Bloggs as you might know him) gets away with this behaviour because he has been deemed beyond help. Despite being an intelligent human being, Joe couldn’t possibly be expected to look after himself physically or emotionally and he needs someone by his side at all times to help him out. Is this what Joe says or is this what we say? Why isn’t Joe being told to buck up and love himself / love the freedom to get down and dirty with anyone he chooses? Is it because Joe told everyone else to sod off and let him be or is it because poor old Joe really is entirely helpless? Maybe his mum did too much for him when he was a kid, maybe he cries at Bambi which is clearly a sign of a man on the edge or maybe, just maybe we’re not comfortable with people who behave differently to us so we’ve created a box and shoved Joe into it.

This really is one of those questions that I don’t know the answer to. It might be that some people really are better when they have a companion. Maybe it’s the age-old introvert vs extrovert problem of the different personality types not understanding each other. Whatever it is, I’m not sure it should matter to anyone other than Joe and I damn well hope that nobody ever says about me that I’m not good on my own. x

Going Hormone Free

Ok, I’ll say it right upfront…this is probably not a post for the guys, but hopefully you figured that out from the title.

I don’t usually like to speak too much about feminine issues because quite frankly, I’m a bit prudish when it comes to that sort of thing. While I’m happy talking about sex all day, if someone even mentions to me that they’re on their “P”, I get all squeamish and wish the ground would swallow me up. Well, actually I wish it would swallow them up because they were the one to make me feel all disgusting and weird.

Anyway, I digress. What I was heading towards before I ran off track, was that I wanted to talk about hormonal birth control, or rather a lack of.

Before I start, I want to preface everything that follows by saying that I absolutely believe that hormonal birth control has a place in this world. I was on it from the age of 15 until I was almost 29 and if I hadn’t used it during those years, I think I’d be one of those tired-looking, broke young mums with at least 6 kids by now. From when I was 15 until when I was 22 I used one pill consistently, never once forgot to take it and had no problems at all.

At that time though, my body decided it’d had enough and so I changed my pill. Then I changed again, and again, and again. There were a few more changes and eventually I ended up back on the original one.

Here’s my first important point: Sometimes people tell you things about your body that you know aren’t true. One of those pills made me depressed. I mean seriously, woke up crying, wanted to cry all day, went to bed crying, depressed. I got no help from the doctor but miraculously, once I’d figured out the likely problem, I changed my pill and was no longer depressed within a week.

I’ve also had pills which have made me feel really ill. I’ve been tired, achy, miserable, bloated, dizzy, etc, etc. The list really does go on. So, if you are trying out hormonal contraception, I urge you not to accept any of this and to keep going until you find the balance that’s right for you because not all pills are created equal.

Anyhow, that’s what happened around that time. Then, when I was 24, my doctor suggested I try the Mirena coil, which is essentially a hormone filled coil that works similarly to the implant you can have in your arm. You can have this in for 5 years and never need to worry about a thing.

It was no better than the pill was for me but once it was in, I figured I’d stick with it. I stuck with it for nearly 4 years. Oh yes, I stuck with it through the appearance of tiny lumps all over my chin / cheeks; rough, dry skin; spots; constant aches in the gut region; depressed episodes; tiredness; unpredictable monthlies…the lot.

I thought it was my best option and I still maintain that for me, for most of that time, hormonal contraception was the best option.

I spent about 2 years umm-ing and aah-ing about what to do and whether or not to have that thing removed and go hormone free but I was scared. Really, really scared. I’d heard so many horror stories about epic breakouts of spots, boobs shrinking, weight loss, weight gain, awful monthlies, mood swings, lethargy, etc, etc.

Finally though, I bit the bullet because I was feeling so rough anyway and curiosity really got the better of me, so I had it removed.

What a revelation!

Here I am about 3 months later and I feel better than I have in years. My skin is calming down, lots of the bumps have gone and the dryness definitely has. I get fewer spots, I ache less, I sleep less, my monthlies are predictable and pain free, my moods have levelled out. It’s gone so well that I wonder why I was ever scared!

So here’s my real message in all of this…

Different things work for different people. Before my coil, I read horror stories about the procedure to have it inserted. In reality, it was mildly uncomfortable and I ached for a day. Before I came off the hormones, I thought I was going to turn into an acne-riddled monster. In reality, I’m still exactly the same but feeling more alive and looking a little better. Don’t pay attention to the noise of the horror stories because nobody really writes about things when they’re easy or go exactly to plan so you all you hear is the bad stuff.

If you want to try hormones, go for it. If you think they’re not working for you, here I am as a real person saying that even after almost 14 solid years of flooding my body with hormones, it adjusted quickly and I feel better than I did for the majority of that time.

I hope that if you’re thinking about what to do, this has helped you realise that usually what your gut tells you will be right for you, is the thing that really will be right. Take a gamble, try it out and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised! x

Friday Lust

It’s that time of the week again, the time when our minds turn to shopping and the damage we’ll do to our credit cards this weekend!

This week’s Friday lust is a bit forward thinking as it’s really more of a summer thing but it’s a summer thing I’m coveting nonetheless.

Here it is:

Pretty Ballerinas Charlize, 199 Euros

Pretty Ballerinas Charlize, 199 Euros

Observe the sleek lines, the beautiful shade of nude, the shiny patent and the gorgeous pink sole. What a shoe! I LOVE IT! I may well order some of these when we get a bit nearer to the warm weather and I’ll totally be able to justify it by telling myself that they’re practical because they’re flat :-)

Happy shopping, everyone x