My Spoonie Journey.

My Spoonie Journey.

Hello my loves! I hope you’re doing well and are keeping your head up in these difficult times. 2020 has been a year of ups and downs (mostly downs) for a lot of us, but I have had one big piece of good news; I finally got a diagnosis for my chronic back pain I’ve had over the last 4 years.

Some of you may already know that I am a ‘spoonie’. If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘spoonie’ is a term that can be used to describe someone who lives with a chronic illness and pain. From what I’ve heard and experienced, it usually takes people up to/around 8 years to typically get a diagnosis when it comes to chronic pain, illness or autoimmune disease.

My spoonie journey pin

So, when did all of this start for me?

When I was around 15 years old, I started to get chest pains that were predominantly in the left side of my chest, right where my heart is; so naturally I was pretty concerned with the fact that I was getting stabbing pains where my heart is. It was the kind of pain that I couldn’t fully pin-point, it was under my left breast, deep and it felt like it was almost at the back of my ribcage, a bit like if a shard of glass was being shot through my chest. What’s worse is that it felt like no one believed me when I said I was having intense chest pains pretty much every day, sometimes preventing me from moving.

When I went to the doctors I was told that it’s anxiety and it should go away once I’d finished my GCSEs. Well it did not. I lived with that pain for another 3ish years, and then the pain began to fade away; then when I was 19/20 I found a lump in my left breast. Right where the pain had been. This led to getting my boobs out for several people (which is not as fun as it may sound I assure you!) and then having two rounds of ultrasounds on my boobs to make sure everything was ok. It was then that I found out that I have something called a fibroadenoma, which is a lump in my breast, but lucky for me it is benign. It just means it’s something I have to keep an eye on, incase anything changes. One thing I did find out at that time that fibroadenomas can cause pain, which would explain the pain I had in the left side of my chest for the previous years.

So, what happened next?

Well everything seemed fine for a little while, and then towards the end of 2017 I started getting a dull ache in my back. To begin with I just assumed that maybe I’d pulled a muscle in my back and after a few weeks all would be well again. But boy oh boy I was wrong. The next few months turned into a year and my pain had gotten a lot worse and had spread to more areas of my back. You might think that after a year of back pain I would feel fine about going to the doctors to get help, but it took a few more months for me to recognise that my pain is valid and I shouldn’t have to live in pain everyday not knowing what’s wrong. And I think part of the reason why I felt my pain wasn’t valid was because of my past experience not being believed by doctors, who told me I was too young to have anything wrong with me.

Once I finally went to the doctors in 2018, I was told that everything seemed fine with my back, and I’d probably just pulled something or bruised myself at some point. After all, how could someone have back problems when they’re only 22 years old? About two more months went by, and the pain was getting unbearable at this point and I now cracked like a glow stick whenever I moved, so I decided to go back to the doctors. After a fair bit of time trying to actually get an appointment, I saw a doctor who told me he thought that I had hypermobility in my back, and that that is what was causing my pain; so they sent off a referral for physiotherapy for me so they could have a closer look.

Fast forward about another month, and I get a letter in the post from the nhs, which I was hoping would give me an appointment date and time but in actual fact it just gave me the phone number of the physiotherapy ward for the hospital that I could’ve gotten off the internet myself.. so after calling up that number it was another 2 months before I could get an appointment with a physiotherapist.

So after much anticipation and waiting, my physiotherapy appointment finally came round and I was hoping I would finally get some answers. I went into my appointment, saw a physiotherapist and was told I had extreme joint hypermobility in my spine and that I need to strengthen up my core and glutes in order to get some pain relief because my muscles had seized up in my thoracic spine (mid back), and I was given some exercises to do at home and then some standard physio classes to take part in over the course of 6 weeks.

Going to the Gym for Physio
Going to the gym for physio.

This did seem like it was a likely cause of my pain at the time because when I was little I had to have physiotherapy due to having problems with muscle tone and not having any in my stomach or bum. In particular my left butt cheek because when I was a toddle I didn’t have any muscle in it.. I had a big dip where a butt cheek should’ve been. I also walked with my feet completely turned in and had to do physio for months with my mum every single day to correct my legs as much as possible.

Having no muscle tone and issues building up muscle tone means that I would have to workout a whole lot more that other people to get even a remote change in my body; and this is part of the reason why I thought that the physiotherapist was correct in their diagnosis (it’s also why I’ve accepted I will never ever have abs and that’s ok).

So, the next 6 weeks go by and.. no change, well not completely true, I did build up my fitness quite a bit which was good, but my pain actually got worse. At this time though, instead of telling the physiotherapist that everything was getting worse, I said I felt a little bit better because I didn’t want to disappoint the therapist. So I left physiotherapy and decided to continue trying to build up my muscle tone by joining the gym and going 3 – 4 times a week, and after that didn’t help and a lot of googling at what else could be wrong with me, I decided to seek out an osteopath.

When I went to the osteopath I was then told that some minor realignments, deep tissue massage and acupuncture could potentially help with my pain after a few months of consistent work. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved these regular appointments because I essentially got my bones cracked, a massage and then some acupuncture that as super relaxing, but they did nothing for my pain. And at £40+ a pop for 45 minutes on an apprentices wage, I couldn’t justify continuing to go considering I wasn’t seeing results.

Next I decided to go back to my doctors once again. And it was in this appointment that I was told that I look fine and workout so the pain can’t be that bad, maybe it’s anxiety or in my head, because I’m too young to be in that much pain, especially in my back. I was once again told that it’s probably joint hypermobility, was sent for some blood tests and was prescribed some heavy duty painkillers and anti-inflammatory meds.

When my bloods came back fine and my inflammatory markers within the correct range, I decided not to take the drugs that were so willingly thrown at me to shut me up and was pretty frustrated and ready to give up on trying to find out what was causing me so much pain.

I even started to think that maybe this was all in my head. Was I just trying to attract attention? Or is my pain tolerance super low? Maybe it was my fault I was in pain, I can’t be doing everything I should be to help myself.

The medical professionals couldn’t possibly be wrong or dismissing my pain, after all, they’re trained and are experts unlike me and dr google.

I essentially gave up trying to get help at this point. Appointments every single month and paying out for prescriptions I wasn’t using because they were just being thrown at me to shut me up was getting so discouraging and expensive.

Birthday MRI Scan
Here I am in a very sexy hospital gown on my birthday,
about to go for my first mri scan!

It got to the point where I was crying from pain, unable to walk more than 10 minutes without being in agony and having to take time off work because I could hardly move for me to go back to the doctors and ask for them to look again. And I was given a phone call appointment with a doctor who gave me some blood tests. When I called them up asking to discuss what my results were I was told that they were fine and that I probably have chronic fibromyalgia and that I should take more pain meds daily and try tai-chi. After that phone call I think I just sat and cried for about 2 hours, thinking what a load of absolute shit that call was and that they weren’t even going to try and look at any other avenues before diagnosing me with a crushing incurable illness.

After a good cry and letting my frustrations out, I decided I wasn’t going to take that as my diagnosis without further tests. So, with my birthday coming up, I asked my close family for money to go towards a private mri scan. By this point we’re in January of this year. Using money from my birthday and all of my savings, I managed to get myself an mri booked to take a look at my thoracic spine where the pain originated and where my spine continually pops and cracks like mad. And you’ll never guess what day my mri was booked.. my birthday. My actual birthday. Kinda funny when you consider that I was that desperate to get answers that for my birthday I essentially asked for an mri scan. So, on my actual birthday, in the evening (when I should’ve been having a nice dinner or something) I was in a metal tube surrounded by deafening noise feeling incredibly claustrophobic.

Three days later my results arrived. Pictures and report included. It said I have mild lower disc degeneration, TOTALLY NORMAL FOR A 24 YEAR OLD.

The next day I called the doctors up yet again.

And by some miracle, I finally got in to see the only doctor in my entire practice that I was yet to meet. I told them what the other doctor had said to me, and that I had paid for an mri and gave him my results. It was then that this doctor listed my complete history from my back and then asked me to talk him through what had been going on, which nearly made me cry. I was finally being listened to. Finally being heard.

It only took going through every single doctor in my doctors practice to get to this point..

This doctor then told me that I shouldn’t have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia without exploring all other possibilities, and that my lower disc degeneration is to be expected with joint hypermobility, however this disc degeneration is 10 years too early even in this case. They even said that at 24 I shouldn’t be in this much pain and pain meds are not something I want to be on long term. I was then poked and prodded, and this doctor said they would refer me to rheumatology because sometimes blood tests don’t always show when something is wrong.

After that appointment I’ll be honest, I was finally feeling hopeful. I’d been listened to, my pain validated; I wasn’t imagining this pain, it was real. So, a month goes by and I get a letter, my rheumatology appointment is at the start of June.

Then covid happened. Lockdown is in full swing. Everything feels a little like it’s going to shit.

Then around April I get a letter saying my appointment has been changed to a phone call. Safe to say I was gutted, angry and disappointed beyond belief. I did understand, with covid and everything I was expecting things to change, but that didn’t change the fact that I was disappointed that the appointment I’d waited nearly half a year for, was now going to be a 5 minute call.

So, we get to June, and my phone call appointment happens, after about 5 minutes of chatting the rheumatologist asked if I could come in and see her that day, in about an hour and a half’s time. Lucky for me I live about 10 minutes away from the hospital by car.

Along I went to see the rheumatologist in this deserted hospital because of covid, and she takes a look at my back, has a poke and prod and then right there and then says she’s going to send me for blood tests that day and thinks sending me for an mri to specifically look at my spine is a good idea!

Bloods taken, about 2 weeks later I get a letter with my date for my mri – the end of July. Here’s where things finally start picking up and getting better for me, don’t get me wrong, I was and still am in a lot of pain, but I was closer to getting answers than before and things were finally starting to happen. July came round and I got to go to the still deserted hospital, put on a very sexy gown and got my mri done.

A special thanks and mention for the lovely mri ladies who played music loud enough to actually drain out most of the machine and for having calming lighting in fading through the rainbow colours to make this scan a lot less stressful and claustrophobic. Y’all were amazing!

About 3 weeks go by and I get my results in the post!

And after years of back pain and many misdiagnosis, I found out that not only have I got some lower disc degeneration, but I also have congenial ‘reversal of the cervical lordosis’.

A mouthful I know. But what that essentially means is that the curve in my neck is going the opposite way to how it should be, and it’s something that I have no control over, so it’s not something I have caused from bad posture etc. So, the curve in your neck should be like a wide capital C, but mine is the wrong way round; most likely causing the rest of my spine to be aligned incorrectly and straining my muscles. And that is probably what has been causing my back pain for so long and why nothing I’ve been trying has been helping because all of the focus has been going towards the wrong part of my spine.

So, although I have sadly got something wrong with my spine that I can’t do too much about, I can’t quite describe how happy it made me actually getting a diagnosis after so many months of waiting and stressful tests. That may sound weird to some, being happy about finding something wrong with my spine, but after years of being told I’m too young to be in pain and that I look fine so I must be, it was a relief.

Now that I’ve finally found out what’s going on with me and my health, I’m hoping I can find a way to manage my pain and I’m looking into if there are any ways I can reverse the reversal of my neck curve!

I’m now waiting on an appointment to discuss what we’re going to do about my spine which is in December, so I’ll definitely give you an update in the new year. Part of me still can’t quite believe I’m so many years in and have only just found out what’s been causing my pain, but that’s a surprisingly short period of time compared to some of the stories I’ve heard; so I do feel very grateful for that.

And that is my spoonie journey so far! It’s taken years of not being believed, a lot of tears, days in bed and days wanting to just give up, but I feel like we’re finally getting somewhere.

Over the last few years I’ve learnt the importance of allowing yourself to take a break and that you do need to listen to your body. And if I need a day in bed, I’ll take a day in bed! You’ve got to be kind to yourself, if you’re having a bad pain day, it sucks and trying to be everything to everyone just isn’t always realistic and ignoring your pain signals can sometimes (usually always) make it worse the next day. So take a day when you need to, and know that it’s okay and you’re not alone.

Are you a part of the spoonie gang? I’m super interested to find out how long it took for your to get diagnosed, and how it made you feel. Let me know in the comments! And with that, I think that’s enough chattering away from me for today. Have a great weekend my lovelies and please stay safe!

Love,

Victoria Blog Signature
My spoonie journey pin
Self Worth And Self Love.

Self Worth And Self Love.

Hello my lovelies! We’re one month away from Summer being over, and there’s only 134 days left of the year, and I’ve been doing some reflecting. You see, a lot has happened for me over this last year; and that’s not including the shit show that 2020 has been for the world. Other than 2020 throwing everything at us, this year has been a big year for me in terms of personal growth and transformation.

To list a few of the big things that’ve happened this year for me:

  • I left an 8 year relationship.
  • I came out as Pansexual to everyone I know.
  • I finally started looking after my body and actively changing my thought process around my appearance.
  • I finally started looking after my skin.
  • I’ve started dating.
  • I’ve been running my own freelance business for 10 months.
  • I shaved my head.
  • I made myself a priority.
  • I finally found out what has been causing my chronic back pain for the last 4 years.

Basically, I’ve had a lot going on these past months. And I think I’m finally beginning to realise what I want for myself, and I’ve certainly finally started seeing my own self worth.

This hasn’t been like a light bulb thing for me, it’s been something that I’ve been working on for a long time and has been something I’ve also wanted to write about for a long time too. And the reasoning behind me only just writing this now is because I’m in a place of self acceptance and self love; it always seemed like a weird idea to me to want to write a post about self love and self worth, because there’s still certain things I wouldn’t mind changing about myself, so how on earth could I preach to others about loving yourself if I still had some things that I’d like to change?

But then I remembered that the fact that I’m aware of that and on this journey of self love and knowing my worth is just proof that I’m human and we all have days where we’d change something if we could.

Bottom line though: I’m in a place of acceptance and neutrality with who I am, most days I love myself, and there’s days when I’m just not feeling it, and both are ok and valid.

Loving yourself and who you’re becoming is not big headed or selfish, but being happy with who you are, knowing your worth and not feeling like you need to change to meet someone elses view on what you should or shouldn’t look/speak/act like. Just being comfortable being yourself.

I haven’t spoken a lot about my break up from my long term relationship at the start of the year, but part of the reason why that ended was because I started to realise that I had changed who I was to fit someone else’s ideals and I felt guilty for being myself! I also didn’t really know what I wanted in my future anymore, so it was time to go out and find myself again. And, after 6 months, I now have a very strong idea of what I want for my future, who I am and my worth.

One of the other big things that has helped me change my view of myself was shaving my head. I’ve always wanted to shave my head, and it’s honestly the most liberating thing I’ve ever done; it forced me to start looking at how I see my own beauty, because my hair has always been a security blanket, so without it, I had to start seeing myself in a new light. In this new, badass, give no fucks what others think about my appearance sort of way. And since then, that’s kind of been my motto when it comes to how I look!

Another thing that I now live by is just being completely unapologetically myself. Loving yourself and knowing your worth isn’t being vain or thinking that you’re above everyone else; it’s simply knowing that you’re pretty amazing, and worthy of happiness and great things.

So what are some tips for building up your self love and self worth?

Know your worth photo.
  • Tell yourself one nice thing about yourself every day. (cheesy I know, but after doing this for a while things’ll start to sink in)
  • If you struggle with body positivity, I highly recommend the 30 day nude challenge. Now, I know how that sounds, but it’s simply taking a photo of yourself every single day (you don’t have to send them to anyone – they’re for your eyes only), without filters or trying to suck in or change your shape can really help you realise that your body is beautiful as it is, and you don’t need to change it to be some instagram model lookalike. I did this challenge myself and it’s made me appreciate how my body looks and now I see it in a completely new positive light, rather than something to be ashamed or embarrassed of. Also, you’ll see how your pictures change over the course of the 30 days, they usually seem better and better and that’s because you start feeling more confident which in return radiates from your photos!
  • Wear clothes that make you happy.
  • Do something out of your comfort zone. It hasn’t got to be anything big, just something that makes you nervous or anxious, so you can prove to yourself how strong you actually are.
  • Acknowledge that you aren’t going to love everything about yourself every single day, and that’s ok.
  • Date yourself. You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when someone treats you? Well did you know that you can give yourself that same feeling by treating yourself that way others do? Something I’m doing is dating myself, so every week or so I’ll take myself out on a date (or have a home date – you know, coronavirus and all that) and I’ll show myself a little love!
  • Have boundaries. Learn to say no every now and again. I’m super guilty of saying yes and agreeing to do things when I may not have the time or just might not want to, so something I’m working on is actually saying no when I need to. You don’t have to be rude or anything, just simply saying “sorry, I’ve got too much on at the moment” or “No, sorry” will do the job, and having those boundaries in place will help you not only have more time to get what you need to get done, but also you’ll learn that saying no does not make you a bad person.
  • Do something that makes you feel good. Whether that’s singing, dancing, drawing, reading, watching a movie, working out, do what makes you happy.

And those are my self love and self worth tips! How are you doing with your self love journey? I think self love is an ongoing journey for most of us, and it’s important to celebrate ourselves and the little victories we have! What’s your most recent achievement? Let me know in the comments!

Oh, as you may have guessed, over the last few weeks a lot has been happening in my life, so for the new few months posts might be fortnightly, but once everything has settled down my posting schedule will be back to normal again!

Have a great bank holiday my lovelies! Love,

Victoria Blog Signature
Self worth and self love pin

My Skin Journey After Coming Off Acne Meds.

My Skin Journey After Coming Off Acne Meds.

Hi my loves! I hope you’ve had a great week so far. This week I’ve been busy with work and I’ve caught up with family which has been lovely; and because I’ve been so busy this past week I’ve been making sure that I’m making a few minutes each day (minimum) to practice some self care so I don’t feel too overwhelmed and exhausted.

One thing I’ve been doing for my selfcare is my skincare routine, which I’ve recently switched up a bit after binge watching Skincare with Hyram on YouTube! In switching up my skincare routine and products I started reflecting on how my skin has changed over the last few years, and let me tell you, it’s been a ride.

So, today I’m going to be telling, and mostly showing you, my skin journey to how I got to where I am now!

And with that said, let’s jump into it!

Let me take you back to this time last year, where I decided after much deliberation that I wanted to come off the medication I was on for my acne and for contraception. The reasoning behind this was purely for the fact that the pill I was on (an extremely high dose of co-cyprindiol) made me feel low, tired and started giving me migranes.

When I was taking this medication my skin was clear and felt great. (You can see another skin history post from that time here).

I was hoping that my body would be able to cope and wouldn’t erupt when I came off of the pill, but boy oh boy was I wrong.

For reference, here’s my skin whilst I was on the pill:

My Skin Today

Here’s my skin on the day I decided to finally give up the medication:

Skin Before Acne

I had the odd pimple now and again but I was extremely happy with how my skin looked without makeup on; but I just couldn’t justify taking a pill that made my mood low that came with loads of other side effects just for clear skin. So, I stopped taking it.

After a few months, my skin seemed fine still, which I now realise must’ve been due to my body having so many hormones etc in it from the taking the pill for over 4 years! Here’s my skin in October and November:

Not bad at all right!

Well, Christmas went by and here we are in January, and as you can see, my skin has started to get a few more spots:

Here’s February:

Then in March, I had my worst skin I have ever had in my life. So bad in fact, that I did not want to go out, and refused to leave the house without makeup on other than for work. The first photo is on the 15th March, and then the other two are literally from 2 days later!

My face was painful to touch, and nothing I did was helping it, and I was beginning to think that I should just bite the bullet and go back on the pill again. But, nevertheless, I persevered! I started using an Adapalene Retinol cream nightly, which got my skin to this point:

If you’ve read my review of the Carbon Theory Soap Bar then you’ll have seen the above and below photos before!

Here’s after using the soap bar after a few weeks/months:

And as you can see, the soap bar seemed to work a bit of magic! It was at this point that I’ve really delved into my skincare routine and am beginning to make my skincare routine a real habit that I actually remember to do every morning and night.

Here’s my skin in April:

And then May:

And the we get to June:

And finally, here we are today:

As you can see, my skin is still far from perfect. However, I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in it and I’m not afraid to do photoshoots without covering my discolouration, roseacea, spots and scars up!

Since switching up my skincare routine and makeup products, I now no longer wear foundation or bb cream because I’m trying to love my skin as it is, and I often forget that my skin without makeup isn’t that bad anymore! It’s been a learning curve and shaving my head has also helped with this because there’s no hair to hide behind!

Also, side note: I’ve decided to grow my hair back out long and curly (like the previous photos!)! I loved it that length, and I can’t wait for my hair to be the healthiest it’s ever been! After a few months my hair is already beginning to curl like it did when it was longer so I’m looking forward to seeing how curl it’ll get since there’s no heat damage this time round!

And that my friends, is my skin journey from the past year. It’s certainly had some pretty bad moments, but I feel like I’m in a place now where my skin will only get better over more time. I also read somewhere that after being on the pill for such a long time, it can take around 2 years for you hormone levels to go back to normal and your skin to regulate itself again. So I guess I’ll be doing an update and where my skin is at in a 2021!!

Well, that’s all from me today my lovelies! What’s a skincare product you can’t live without? For me it’s definitely my cleanser and SPF! Let me know in the comments!

Have a great weekend my loves!

Love,

Victoria Blog Signature
My skin journey

Kindness – Mental Health Awareness Week.

Kindness – Mental Health Awareness Week.

Pocketcoach app

Hello my lovelies!! Happy Saturday and I hope you have a happy bank holiday weekend! So, as you may be aware, this week is mental health awareness week, and each year we have a different theme, and this years theme is kindness. Pretty fitting for the year we’re having isn’t it?!

If you’ve been with me and my blog for a long time, you’ll know that I’ve had my fair share of mental health challenges in my time and I’m very open about them. I’ve got a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, ocd and I’m in recovery from anorexia. That being said, I’m very happy to let you know that I am in a very good place with my mental wellbeing.

Part of the reason why I’m in a good place with my mental health is because I’ve had cbt (cognitive behavioural therapy) in the past, I’ve also had support from eating disorder services, I use mental health apps and selfcare to manage my mental health and of course I have my family and friends who support me!

One of the apps I have been using is called Pocketcoach, and this week I’ve done a little review of it for you!

First impression?

I love that the app works a bit like a text message conversation, once you’ve had your first text chat, you can go on to choose different courses that you can do in your own time that can help with your mental wellbeing. I found it super easy to use and I like how it uses emojis and gifs in the conversation, it makes it feel like you’re chatting to a friend!

What do I like about it? What does it offer?

I like how you can create an account to save your information, so you can log on to use the app on different devices and follow on from where you left off.

Once you’ve had a conversation with Pocketcoach you can then go on to choose a course that you’d like to go through, since it’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek I decided to go with Self-Kindness since this years theme for mental health awareness week is kindness. And I think we could all be a lot kinder to ourselves, especially in times of stress.

On the course for Self-Kindness I found that I liked how easy it was to follow along since it’s all in a chat format, so you can scroll back to the start of the conversation to re-read anything if you need to. Another thing I like is how you get given options to have some parts of the course through videos or text, the choice is yours; which is great if you’re using the app on the go and can’t use sound for the video, because you can still get the help through text.

If the courses aren’t your kind of thing you can check out all of the different exercises they have. They’ve got exercises for a range of challenges, for mindfulness, meditation, sleep and lots more. I’ve personally found their ‘guide to falling asleep’ very helpful on those nights where I’ve struggled to get to sleep because of worries and stress.

Did I like it, and will I continue using it?

Yes! I’m going to continue to use Pocketcoach when I’m stressed in the future, and even when I’m not because I found the guided exercises very helpful for taking a few minutes to slow down and focus on myself. Having something you can click onto to have a chat with is great for those times when you want to check in with how you’re feeling.

Here’s some more screenshots of the exercises you can find in the app!

So, what else have I been doing for selfcare over the last week or two?

Well.. I’ve been spending plenty of time drawing and painting and going on lots of walks to manage my mental health. I’m incredibly lucky that I have a beautiful walkway near the back of my house which is full of trees and flowers and lovely greenery which never fails to lift my spirits if I’m feeling low and always helps me relax and get a clear headspace.

Something I’ve been doing over the last week is writing letters with positive messages and hiding them in the walkway I love to go down for people to find signed with the alias #TheWorryNotWalker! After all, who doesn’t love a treasure hunt or finding a letter with a wax seal?! It’s like recieving your Hogwarts letter with kind messages inside!

Here’s a few photos from the walkway!

And that’s what I’ve been up to over the last week and a bit! Have you tried any mental health apps before? Are there any you’d like me to review?

I love being able to bring a smile to people’s faces through small acts of kindness and I can only do this because I’m being kind to myself through making time for selfcare and selflove.

So, with all that said and done, remember to be kind to yourself, and know that reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength!

I’ll leave you with these wise words from an utterly fabulous queen:

“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

– Rupaul

Have a great weekend my lovelies! Stay safe and make some time for yourself today!

Love,

Victoria Blog Signature
Kindness mental health awareness week banner
My Fitness Journey.

My Fitness Journey.

Hello my lovelies! How’s everyone doing this week? Are you a lets go splash around in the rain kind of person or are you more of an indoor- let me wrap myself up in a duvet person? I’m a bit of both, but more of the duvet person, because who doesn’t like getting cosy?!

So.. onto this week’s post. This week I’ve finally decided to put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard..haha) and tell you about my fitness journey.

This journey is one that I’ve been on for a long time, and I’ve had mixed feelings about posting this purely for the fact that I have a love hate relationship with fitness posts; because they always lean towards the side of “here’s how to change your body”. Which is something I am not about at all, the aim of this post is to simply tell you about my journey with fitness and how I’ve got to a place where I actually look forward to my workouts.

If you’re new here, then you might not know about my history with my body, long story short: I was extremely overweight for my height, I then healthily lost weight and then developed an eating disorder and then I overcame that and have been in recovery for over a year now.

And because of the last few years going through hating to loving to hating my body, it’s safe to assume that I’ve had a pretty complicated relationship with working out and just any exercise in general.

But for the last few months, I have finally found a workout routine that makes me feel amazing and the best thing is that it isn’t all about changing your weight, your appearance and it doesn’t tell you to eat a certain way. It’s all about body-neutrality.

Body-neutrality is not the same as body-positivity. Body-positivity is where you are always being positive about your body. Whereas body-neutrality is where you can sometimes you feel bad about your body and sometimes you feel good about your body but you always respect your body no matter how you’re feeling about it on the day.

The workout routine I’m now doing is called the be.come project. It’s an app, but you can use it on their website too, and I actually found it because of a Buzzfeed video! You can view the video here:

As soon as I finished watching this video I started looking up the be.come project, and after reading what the project was all about and Bethany’s story I was sold! I signed up there and then and couldn’t wait to give this a try.

The project costs around £29 a month which I think equates to $36 per month, which when you think about it it’s around what you could be paying for a gym membership.

Something that I absolutely love about this workout project is that IT’S A NO IMPACT PROJECT!!! That’s right, for all of us out there who can’t do impact exercises for health reasons, Bethany has got you covered! All you need to be able to do is any form of plank and lunge.

The be.come project also doesn’t do before and after photos, so if you were hoping to see some, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed, partly because I didn’t take any and I want to stay true to be.come – sorry not sorry!

So what does the app look like?

You can download the app from the app store here or google play store here! Or you can always go through the be.come website!

Each week you get a workout video to do all week as much or as little as you like and then on Monday it changes and you start to learn another one. It’s really helpful that the workout changes each week because I don’t know about you, but doing the same exercises over and over and over again every single week is so boring!

At the start of the week is when you begin learning the routine and then by the end of the week you’re skipping the tutorial portion of the workout and getting straight down to business. And that’s also when you start to see how much better you’re getting at the routine and how strong you’re be.coming! (see what I did there? Hahaha).

Also, at the start and end of every workout you input what your mood is for the day, which is something I find really helps me reflect on how I’ve been talking to myself and my body that day, sometimes positive, sometimes negative; but after every workout I always feel so positive, strong and energised.

So far I’ve been be.coming for around 10-12 weeks, and I workout around 4 times a week. Every workout is about 25 minutes long which is great if you’re short on time, or just can’t be bothered to do hours on the treadmill.

So, since I’m not sharing before and after photos, I’ve decided to share with you how I feel about my body now compared to before I started this workout routine.

Be.come project photo

Before starting this process I disliked a lot about my body nearly all the time. I wanted to change so much about myself but I didn’t want to spend hours doing boring workouts so I just decided I wasn’t going to work out really at all, especially because when I did any form of cardio and gym workouts I’d be in a lot of pain because I have muscle skeletal issues.

Since working out with the be.come project I now feel a lot better about my body and I now like my body most of the time and I’ve noticed that my clothes are getting a little looser and my weight has actually increased by a few pounds too.

Side note – I can’t believe I’ve even written that I’ve gained weight for you all to see because that’s something I’ve feared for so long, but it doesn’t scare me anymore because I know why I’ve gained weight; it’s because I’ve built up muscles. Muscles that were hardly there before.

I can see such a difference in myself mentally and physically, so I’m not about to stop working out with the be.come project now!

I now use my workout time like you would a meditation session, I spend the whole workout focusing solely on each muscle I’m working and just being in the moment for the entire 25 minutes.

If you’re interested in checking out the be.come project’s social media, here’s Bethany’s Instagram! Each post is motivational, real and just makes you smile. Plus, Bethany posts informative videos so you can make sure you have the correct form when you’re working out too!

And that’s about it for my fitness journey with the be.come project! I’ve never stuck to a workout/fitness routine for more than a 2 weeks due to just hating every minute of it, but Bethany has made working out something to look forward to and enjoyable.

Well, that’s all for today my lovelies! If you’re into yoga, dance or pilates I recommend trying this! I often get asked about my workout routine, so I hope this answers most of your questions! The most important thing I’ve learn’t from this experience is that it’s okay to not love every aspect of your body everyday, what’s important is that you give your body respect for everything it does for you. – I sound a bit like a motivational wall decal right now but I don’t care.. haha it’s true!

What’s your workout routine look like? Do you go to a gym, or do you like working out at home? Let me know in the comments!

Have a great weekend! Love,

Victoria Blog Signature
Pin - my fitness journey
What Is Classed As Selfcare?

What Is Classed As Selfcare?

It’s #SelfcareWeek ! And it’s got me thinking, what do we actually think classes as selfcare? For me, I typically start thinking about face masks and bubble baths. And well yes that can be classed as selfcare; but as amazing as those things are, there are hundreds of other things you can do. And over the last few days, I’ve been partaking in a few of these myself.

The thought for this post came to me whilst I was walking home from the gym; it occurred to me that even though I think of lots of luxurious things as self-care, there are lots of small things I do for myself that make me feel good, and these count too.

Here’s a few things I’ve been doing for myself that aren’t always considered self-care:

  • Going to the gym, and doing what I want there, if I don’t feel like doing the stair climber today, I just don’t do it and I refuse to feel guilty about it!)
  • Buying myself a hot chocolate when walking home after going to the gym.
  • Putting on my moisturizer.
  • Listening to the Peptalk app (I highly recommend this one for when you’re commuting and walking anywhere, it’s a great motivational tool!)
  • Watching videos by Glamour, Ladylike, As/Is and the Try Guys.
  • Self Affirmations.
  • Watching Nikkietutorials (believe it or not I watch Nikkie’s videos when I’m at the gym and they make me so happy!)
  • Cleaning my room.
  • Playing with makeup.
  • Putting on makeup when I’m not going anywhere!
  • Lighting scented candles.
  • Having a bubble bath.
  • Unfollowing any social media profiles that make me feel bad about myself.
  • Watching my favourite films.
  • Cooking my favourite food.
  • Singing in the shower.
  • Talking to friends.
  • Finishing work ON TIME.
  • Related to the above – not looking at work emails when I’m off work.
  • Making myself a great breakfast.
  • Blogging.
  • Painting, drawing and being creative.
  • Getting 7/8 hours sleep.
  • Wearing thermal socks.
  • Using a 99p face mask.
  • Chatting to my sister.
  • Seeing my Niece and Nephew on FaceTime reeking havoc in my sisters house.
  • Driving round to look at Christmas Lights when they go up.
  • Making myself a cup of tea.
  • Meeting up with friends for a chat/food/movies (basically spending time with the important people in your life)
  • Wearing my favourite clothes.

Honestly the list could go on and on. I love selfcare, sometimes I do still feel selfish or guilty for spending time on ourselves, but we really shouldn’t. We’re stuck with ourselves for life so we better take care of that person we see in the mirror.

And at the end of the day, if something makes you happy and feel good, it’s probably your own version of selfcare. We’re all different so it’s impossible to say that one thing will work for everyone; telling someone to go take a bubble bath to relax if they hate having baths is pretty pointless. It’s a personal thing.

Some of the things in my list you might not consider to be selfcare, but for me, they are. Just doing one small thing for yourself a day can make such a difference to your mood and wellbeing. And myself from a year ago would say something along the lines of “I’ll start next week or in the new year”, but that’s not how I think anymore, the time to start is now.

That’s all from me today, I’m off to go get myself a hot chocolate and sit in a blanket with a book. Have a great weekend lovelies! You’re all amazing!

Love,

Victoria Blog Signature

P.S. The UK Blog Awards are now open for voting! It’d mean the world to me if you could vote for me my lovelies!! 

UKBlogAwards Image

My Hair & Skin routine

My Hair & Skin routine

We all love having silky hair and smooth skin. And for me that’s been a bit of a journey; over there last year I’ve managed to put together my own extremely simple routine that does everything I want it to whilst still being pretty cheap.

I’d definitely recommend trying these quick and simple routines out for yourself as all of the products I use are less than the price of a fancy coffee.

I can’t guarantee everything will work for you, but it’s always nice to try something out!

So, my skin care routine. Well as some of you know, I have suffered with adult acne for a long time and also suffer with psoriasis, so finding skin products that work for me is sometimes a challenge. (Check out my Acne Journey here!)

I use acne medication prescribed to me along with a few other things to keep my skin in tip top form. (If you think you’re suffering with any form of acne then I highly suggest going to your GP where you can find something that works for you.)

My skin routine goes as follows:

  1. First thing in the morning I take my first lot of acne medication, ‘Doxycycline’ with breakfast.
  2. Simple protecting moisturiser spf 15Then after breakfast I wash my face with just cold water and put some ‘Simple Kind to Skin Protecting Light Moisturiser SPF 15‘. That’s it for the morning, nice and quick!
  3. Lunchtime is when I take my next acne medication, ‘Co-Cyprindiol’ (you have to have frequent check ups when you’re on this one as it doubles up as contraception.
  4. Microdermabrasion machineAt the end of the day (this bit is typically once a week) I use a microdermabrasion skin care machine to exfoliate, promote blood flow and just generally get any nasty stuff out of my pores.
  5. Before I go to bed I then apply my ‘Adapalene’ topical acne cream medication.

Some things I also do to help my skin stay clear and healthy are:

  • Drinking mostly water. I know I know, we hear this one all of the time, but water helps keep us hydrated and out skin looking moisturised.

 

  • I try to not touch my face as much as possible, (don’t want to spread any oils or any traces of stuff that could be transferred onto my face!).

pillow image

  • Wash/Change my pillow case often. (dead skin cells, sweat and all sorts get on these and can cause breakouts after build up!)

 

  • I ALWAYS take my makeup off before bed. – I cannot stress this one enough!!

healthy diet image

  • A balanced diet; this doesn’t mean eating super healthy all of the time, it’s about not eating mountains of sugary, oily, fatty food all of the time, you can still have your favourite guilty pleasures, but just in moderation.

 

  • Speaking of food: I always wash my face after eating any form of takeaway; I always feel super greasy after eating foods like Chinese or Fish & Chips, so washing my face after stops me from developing mountains of spots around my chin.

 

  • Sun cream. Wear sun cream no matter what weather it is, you skin is always vulnerable to the sun even when it’s cold outside. And if you’re not great at remembering to put it on, get a moisturiser with SPF already in it!

 

Now, onto hair care!

A bit of background on my hair journey:

My hair has been through it. Like really through the ringer. It’s been blonde, brown, auburn (so jealous of all you natural red heads out there!), orange, red, pink, green, strawberry blonde and several other colours. There was once a week where I decided I wanted to go from bright red to blonde.. my mum and I decided to do it in the space of two days; it involved 4 lots of bleaching and a lot of laughing. I’m incredibly lucky to still have hair on my head to be honest.

I have cut my hair off numerous amounts of times in order to salvage what was left of it after copious amounts of bleach and box dyes. One time I decided to go red again after bleaching my hair and putting blonde box dye on it and my hair was so damaged that after one wash my hair had millions of blonde and pink patches where the dye could no longer stick to my hair.

That leads me to now, I cut nearly all of my hair off in September last year in order to finally give up what had become a hair dye addiction (fellow hair enthusiasts know the struggle haha). And from January this year I have been growing out my natural hair in order to get it as healthy as possible again and not felling like straw. I am also slowly getting my naturally wavy and curly hair back!

Here’s just a few images of my hair journey over the years:

Natural hair baby me
Here I am as a baby next to my older sister, that’s me on the right, and as you can see my hair is pretty curly and mad naturally.

As you’ll see in these photos, my hair goes from nice and healthy to getting more like straw and shorter as it kept snapping off!

So that is what my hair went through, I’m sure there are more photos all over the place of even more hair colours but that’s something for another day, you’d be here for hours!

My hair now
Here’s my hair now! It’s finally healthy and all my natural colour; I’m working on styling my natural air dried hair as it’s a big crazy at the moment!

So now you know a bit about my hair past, on to my routine!

  1. I brush my hair to get rid of any knots or tangles before I wash it in the evening.
  2. Tesco Pro V ShampooI then wash my hair with warm water, using ‘Tesco’s Pro-Vitamin B5 shampoo damaged hair’; I stumbled across this when looking for a new shampoo to try, and for 90p it’s a bargain! This shampoo is absolutely amazing on my hair and I definitely recommend it; it lathers nicely and is super cheap!
  3. Tesco Pro V ConditionerI then use ‘Tesco’s Pro-Vitamin B5 conditioner for damaged hair'(it is nowhere on the website at the moment but you can find it in store!) on the ends of my hair and work my way up avoiding my roots, like the shampoo, the conditioner is also 90p and makes my hair feel so silky and less frizzy.
  4. I then rinse the conditioner out with cold water (it takes a bit of strength to not jump out of the shower at this point haha!).
  5. Wilko Hair TurbanWhen I get out of the shower I wrap my hair in a micro-fibre hair turban (you can get them from wilko for £1.15!).
  6. Aussie Miracle hair spray in conditionerThen, if my hair is feeling a bit dry I put some spray in conditioner onto the ends of my hair. I use one I picked up by chance at Aldi (it was on their special buys) which is a dupe of the ‘Aussie Miracle Hair Detangler Conditioner Spray’!
  7. If I have time I’ll let my hair dry naturally and if I’ve got to be somewhere then I’ll dry my hair on the cool setting with my hair dryer.
  8. I usually leave my hair overnight and style my hair with my straighteners in the morning, this is usually straight, but if I do style my hair in the evening it will be curly ready to be clipped half up the next day.

And that’s my hair routine!

Some things I do to help with my hair growth and health:

  • Brush my hair before washing it so it isn’t too knotting when I wash it and there’s less damage when I wash it as your hair is a lot weaker when it’s wet.

 

  • Rinsing my hair with cold water is something I found makes my hair less frizzy, shinier and it helps promote blood circulation to your scalp, which helps with hair growth!

hair dryer image

  • Use heat protection sprays even when just using the hair dryer. I recommend putting heat protection spray on your hair when it’s wet, as you avoid potentially making your hair feel greasy when applying it to dry hair.

bun hair image

  • I avoid washing my hair everyday as this can strip my hair of it’s natural oils and prevents any oils from penetrating into the hair.

So that’s my skin and hair routines! What’s your hair journey? And what is your skincare routine? Let me know in the comments, I love reading and responding to them all! I hope you all have a great weekend my lovelies!

Oh, and don’t forget, there’s still time to enter my giveaway! Check out how to enter here!

Love,

Victoria Signature

 

 

My Acne Journey

My Acne Journey

Happy Saturday lovelies! So this week I’ve finally managed to sit down and write a post you’ve asked for a few times, my acne journey. Just putting this out there now, this is my journey with my skin and what has worked for me, this may work for you, this may not work for you; so please don’t assume all of the products I talk about in this post will or will not work for you. Also, I’m definitely not saying my skin is the worst ever or best, I’m just sharing my story.

Skin is such a personal thing because everyone’s skin is different and needs to be taken care of a certain way to suit that person. After all, skin care is very important since the skin is the largest organ in the body and protects us from so much. So why wouldn’t you want it looking it’s best!

Let’s get into this; so, my journey with my skin has been a long, stressful emotional journey and is by no means over yet. When I was younger I had little to no problems with my skin, being a carefree kid I never did anything to it and lucky for me, that was what worked. Then puberty hit, and again I was lucky enough to only suffer with a spot every now and again, nothing major.

I wish I had appreciated those day more now that I’m a bit older. Especially because as soon as I hit my 20s I developed adult acne, rosacea and my psoriasis began flaring up. Not great for someone who was already a little insecure because she wasn’t happy in her own skin anyway.

I’m now 22 and I’m happy to say that my skin (touch wood) is at a point where I’m reasonably happy with it, I still get the odd angry spot (or mountain/volcano/crater, you decide haha) ever so often but it’s ok.

For my skin to get where it is today, it took a lot of trial and error. To begin with a tried doing face masks about 3 times a week because I thought that maybe something was clogging up my pores and that they might make my skin less red and calm down a bit. For me, this didn’t work. That was when I bought the La Roche-Posay Effaclar 3-Step Anti-Blemish Kit’ in the hopes that this would clear my skin up..long story short is that it made my skin a million times worse.

Which led to me deciding in February this year to finally decided to go to my doctors to get some medical help with my acne. So, here’s what my skin looked like before I did anything and after starting the ‘La Roche-Posay Effaclar 3-Step Anti-Blemish Kit’; also, please excuse my facial expressions in these photos as you can imagine how having acne makes you feel as also, I took these before bed over several weeks to document my skin journey! (It took around 6 months from starting my acne journey to where I am now)

Also, just thought I’d mention that it was at this point that I decided to drink pretty much only water from then on; that was hard at first but after about 2 weeks of making myself do it, I didn’t need to force myself to drink water anymore! It just became routine.

My skin at the start
Here’s my skin before trying any treatment.

My skin after la roche
My skin after using ‘La Roche-Posay’ treatment for a week.

As you can imagine, after trying this acne skincare treatment for a week and my skin only getting worse and really irritated, I decided to stop it. Also, side note; I’m not saying that the ‘La Roche-Posay Effaclar 3-Step Anti-Blemish Kit‘ is a bad product, it just didn’t work for me, you never know, it might work for you!

So, After this I decided that I was finished blindly trying to clear my skin up without really any knowledge on what was causing it. So off to the doctors I went! To begin with, I was prescribed a different contraceptive pill called Cerelle, because at the time I was taking the progesterone only pill which has no oestrogen. I was also prescribed an antibiotic topical treatment called ‘Zineryt (erythromycin, zinc acetate)’. I took this for about 2 1/2 months and here’s what happened!

My skinMy skinMy skinMy skinMy skin

So, after using the ‘Zineryt‘ topical cream for 2 1/2 months my skin was looking a lot better! And I was feeling a little better about my skin and appearance, which was when it stopped working. Which was a huge bummer!!

So back I went to the doctors again in the hopes that they can give me something really powerful to stop my skin re-erupting!! Which is when I was prescribed ‘Co-Cyprindiol’, ‘Adapalene’ and ‘Doxycycline’. I was lucky that I was prescribed this amount of stuff to tackle my skin at once, I will say that I was a little apprehensive about having to use ‘Co-Cyprindiol’ as this had to replace the pill that I was on because it’s so much oestrogen!! 2000mg to be exact and the doctor told me that you usually have about 20mg..

Also, this pill isn’t classed as a contraceptive pill as you can’t take it for long periods of time so all I was thinking is what happens if it works and they stop me taking it and my skin reverts??! The other medication I was prescribed was the topical cream – ‘Adapalene’ to apply every night before bed, the other medication I was prescribed was ‘Doxycycline’ which is another antibiotic that I have to take every morning with breakfast!

If any of you suffer or have suffered with acne then you know how anxious switching up your skincare and medication can be. Which is why when I switched to these new medications and my skin started reacting badly, I freaked out and called the doctor asking to be taken off them.

Lucky for me, the doctor told me I had to give the medication longer to work and to give it 3 months to see any effect on my skin; because after about 3/4 months of taking all these meds my skin started to clear up!!

My skinMy skinMy skinMy skinMy skinMy skinMy skin

I’m so so so glad I stuck with the medication, because after taking everything for a few months, the doctors allows me to continue all of these meds for longer than typically recommended because I wasn’t having any side effects and my body was reacting well.

Now, I’m on a lower dose of ‘Co-Cyprindiol’ in order to continue the treatment safely alongside the other meds. An important note with this is that I do have to go for regular check ups with these pills in order to stay on them. But this is just so the doctors know how my body is coping with the hormone levels.

I also use a microdermabrasion skin care machine once a week to exfoliate and remove any blackheads. I got my machine from amazon for £20 when it was on offer and it’s rechargeable so I haven’t got to worry about paying out for batteries. Here’s the link to the machine I use!

Microdermabrasion machine

And here is my skin now!

My Skin Today
As you can see from my face here, I’m a lot happier with my skin now than ever before!

I’m so much happier with my skin now then ever before, it’s something that I had struggled with for a while and it really got me down to the point where I didn’t feel comfortable going outside at times! And if you’ve ever suffered with acne or currently do, you know what it can feel like and what it can do to your mental health.

I know that with my acne journey I have been pretty lucky in being able to find a treatment that works for me and that not all people are as lucky as I have been. Moral of the story is that if you are struggling with acne or any skin issue, go see your GP because they will be able to help you; and if something isn’t working for you, keep going back and eventually you’ll find something that works. It just takes some trial and error.

Hope this helps any of you suffering with acne or skin issues!! Have a great weekend lovelies! Love,

Victoria Signature

And So The Journey Begins..

And So The Journey Begins..

If you’re reading this then you’ve stumbled upon my blog! Here I’ll be talking about my life, loves and lessons on a weekly basis.
 selfie
Well, welcome to my blog! My name’s Victoria, and blogging is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I just never really got round to doing it.. until now of course.
“I’ve never known what I wanted to do or be.”
I’d thought about writing a blog for quite some time, and I think part of that is because I’ve had lots of changes in the past few years; and writing about them seems like a good way of getting my head in order. After all, I’ve never known what I wanted to do or be.
So.. who am I?
Well, I’m 22 years old and I live in Cambridgeshire. I’ve always wanted to do something creative with my life, I’ve just never really been able to narrow down what that something is. I have a few hobbies, like creating art, watching Netflix, spending time with my boyfriend, doing yoga and working out (this is feeling a lot like a dating profile haha).
There’s a few more things you’ll find out about me in the weeks to come, and I can’t wait for you to find out. I’ll be talking about all the good, bad and just plain weird things about me and my life, I’ll probably have a few rants as well and a few mushy posts, but if I’m honest, I’m just going to be real with you on here. So anyway, this is me and welcome to ‘The Weight Of My World’!
Love,
Victoria x Blog Signature