Featured Slider

SUFFERING IN SILENCE.

When you're diagnosed with a chronic illness, and given an extensive list of symptoms you may experience, it's a lot to digest. And any time you experience any of those symptoms (no matter the duration, or severity), you assume it's the condition. Feeling more fatigued than usual? PoTS. Feeling more nauseous than usual? HSD.

And the longer the symptoms last, the more accustomed to them you become. I've felt nauseous every day for the past few years, and genuinely can't remember what it feels like to not have that knot in my stomach. For the past six months or so, I've been going to the toilet between 5-10 times a day, and I assumed it was due to HSD; and although it meant I barely left the house due to tiredness, and embarrassment - I just got on with life.

Fast forward to July (the symptoms had worsened in February), and I had my annual consultation with my PoTs doctor in London. She asked me for the usual updates, and then asked if anything had changed. I'm not sure why I mentioned it, but I told her that I hadn't been able to get off the toilet, and how I'd had nausea every day for years.

She stared at me - absolutely baffled. "And you haven't told anyone this?", she asked, bemused. I shook my head. The sincerity that laced her voice when she said the next sentence sent me into an explosion of tears - "You don't have to be living with this. That isn't normal". I didn't? I didn't have to deal with this alone? I didn't have to suffer in silence? It had never occurred to me that I didn't always have to live in pain...

She handed me some tissues, and immediately told me that she had sent a letter to my GP, and I'd have all the necessary tests in due course. She seemed in genuine shock I had never mentioned this to her before, and seemed even more shocked that I'd never seen a gastro doctor before. I left that appointment a month and a half ago, feeling numb. Wondering why I had let this go on for over half a year; pretending that it was normal.

My GP thought it may be IBS and gave me some tablets to try - they did nothing. I had blood tests, did stool samples (funny story - involving a yoghurt pot, and a very tiny spatula!), and awaited the results anxiously. I had an appointment last week where she told me that I had two kinds of anemia - iron deficiency, and folate deficiency. I'd never had either of those before, and it certainly didn't match up to my symptoms. But hey - at least I found out why I was sleeping for 12 hours and still struggling to get out of bed!

I went for more blood tests, and they had noticed that my CRP levels were abnormal. A phone today confirmed that I wasn't dying (hurrah!), but they were keeping a close eye on me. On Monday, I have another appointment to discuss meeting a gastro doctor so they can carry out an endoscopy (camera down my throat, into my stomach), and take a biopsy. I'll be honest, I'm scared. Terrified, in fact.

The last month, I've been diagnosed with two new conditions (and am now on two lots of new medication), and am awaiting to find out the cause of my stomach symptoms. In the interim, I just stay at home - taking 4 Imodium and praying that will see me through to the following day.

I know the doctors are being careful with their words - they don't want to scare me in case it's nothing serious. For someone that had two heart operations before aged 20, and was diagnosed with two chronic health conditions between the ages of 19-24, and then a further two at aged 25; you'd think I'd be used to this. I'm not. It's a lot for one person to take on - especially whilst single-handedly running a business.

I feel like every time I dip my toe back into the blogging/vlogging world, life comes along and sweeps me away again. Then I return a few months later with an obligatory blog update. Hello, obligatory blog update!

While we're talking about suffering in silence - I referred myself a few weeks ago for counselling, and already have my phone assessment next Tuesday (yay!). If you're suffering, physically or mentally, reach out. You don't have to go to the doctors and take tablets (I hated anti-depressants); you can refer yourself online through your local wellbeing service, and they're absolutely brilliant.

They say life is a rollercoaster, and I definitely feel like I've been plummeting on the world's largest drop for the past few months. Fingers crossed that I get some (not so scary!) answers soon, and I can resume life as I know it. Even without my new symptoms, I will never have a "normal" life - but it's a life I love, all the same. And the only direction I want to be heading in now, is up.


UNLEASHED BY AMY MCCULLOCH | REVIEW

Unleashed
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Early copy courtesy of Hashtag Reads (Released 22nd August 2019)

The thrilling follow-up to JINXED, from the author of the magical POTION DIARIES adventures! 

When Lacey Chu wakes up in a hospital room with no recollection of how she got there, she knows something is up. But with her customizable smart pet, Jinx, missing in action and Moncha, the company behind the invention of the robot pet, up to something seriously sinister, she’s got a lot of figuring out to do. Lacey must use all her engineering skills if she has a chance of stopping Moncha from carrying out their plans. But can she take on the biggest tech company in North America armed with only a level 1 robot beetle...?

I HOLD YOUR HEART REVIEW | BLOG TOUR

I Hold Your Heart
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow? Buy
Source: ARC copy gifted by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about. 

But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma's life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?


Told in both Gemma's and Aaron's words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like. 



When the chance to be part of Karen's blog tour for her new novel, I Hold Your Heart, came to me - I jumped at the opportunity. I've been a huge fan of Karen's work for a few years, and she's such an asset to the YA community; often discussing taboo topics within her books and highlighting their importance. I Hold Your Heart was no exception.

***Before you read this review, please note that I will be discussing physical, sexual, and mental abuse, and these themes are explored heavily throughout the book***

APRIL PURELY BOOKS SUBSCRIPTION | BOOK BOX CLUB UNBOXING

Today, I'm unboxing something really exciting on my blog. I got chosen as part of Book Box Club's Blogger Army a few weeks ago, and I was super excited to receive my first Purely Books parcel.

The Purely Books subscription contains the featured read of the month, a signed bookplate, and an invitation to the exclusive online book group, where you'll be joined by the author.

"Purely Books subscriptions are perfect for the reading purist, who loves great books without the goodies. We send all of our subscribers (Book Box Club and Purely Books) the same featured reads and book group invites, so all members can enjoy the bookish fun together!" (
Book Box Club)

WHERE I'VE BEEN.

It's been a long time since I've sat down and written a life update post. The past 12 months have been an absolute whirlwind, and I've not really shared too much of it online. My social medias have taken the brunt of it, and I know it's affected my platforms; in particular, my blog.

I felt like I'd achieved so much in 2017/18; my book club, my book box business launching, my bookish charity events, panels, awards - it was one of the greatest years; but also one of the most overwhelming ones. When it reached June last year, I just completely burned out. My creativity was at it's lowest, and I left social media, YouTube, and my blog for a while. Everyone else seemed so motivated online, and my complete lack of wanting to create affected my mental health massively.

Around this time, my dad got diagnosed with heart disease, and the next few months that followed were the hardest of my life. He was given months to live, and the only chance of him getting better was triple bypass surgery - and for a while, they were unsure whether he was a suitable candidate, because they thought he may be too far gone. In December, he was in surgery for 7 hours; and that surgery was successful. You may have noticed that's when I started to creep back online.

In the past year, I've been working hard on my health. But as the saying goes, another year, another chronic illness - oh, that's just me? Well, yes. I've been diagnosed with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder. As well as PoTS. As well as SvT. And I don't think I've given myself the time to accept the changes that have happened in my body in the past year. I've just been referred to hand specialists, and feet specialists, and been trying to manage my PoTS; as well as dealing with horrific pain in my joints on a daily basis. It hasn't exactly been fun, but I've really been working on my fitness levels, and I start physiotherapy in London soon.

I put on 2 stone. And then lost 2 stone. My coping mechanism over the past year has been food. Nothing soothed the pain more than a giant bar of Dairy Milk. Or a tub of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. The weight piled on fast; and it exacerbated my chronic illness, and it's symptoms. As the fog in my brain lifted after dad's surgery, I went on a diet in January, and am now back to a healthy weight. Although, I do still treat myself to the occasional giant bar of Dairy Milk...

Something that I hid well was my lack of enthusiasm for my book box business. Several times, I typed out closing down posts, and started to set things up to do so. My creative juices weren't flowing, and I felt like every box I was putting out wasn't good enough. I was always getting great feedback; but nothing I did felt enough. I look back at those boxes now, and wonder why I was so worried - I'm just as proud of them as every other box I've put out since. And I'm definitely not going anywhere, anytime soon.

Therapy. I tried it. I'll be honest, I tried everything. Truth be told, I had many suicidal periods last year. That's the real reason I came off CBT. I was asked multiple times by my therapist if I was suicidal, and they'd already told me that if I was, this treatment wouldn't be right for me - so I lied. I thought it would help me. It didn't. It got to a point last year where me and my husband were looking at rehabilitation centres for me to move into. I look back now and wonder how I let myself get that bad without seeking the help I needed. Weirdly, what pulled me out of it was my dad needing me. Something about people needing me makes me feel like I should stay.

Then as things settled, my parents moved abroad. And nothing prepared me for that. Everything was stable for the first time in months, and then in March this year, my parents were forced to move to Spain. I'm coping. I'm not happy, but I'm coping. I felt like I was almost back to my best, and that happened, and the cracks started appearing online again. What I've learned to do, is take a step back. If things get too much; retreat. And I think I've gotten a little too good at doing that.

And then finally (we're almost up to date), I'm moving house. This flat was our first home, and we've been living here for over 4 years; but the time has come to leave. In 15 days, we get the keys to our new home. It's exciting, but terrifying. Sooner than I expected, but everything else has changed in the past twelve months, so why not a positive change too? It's gorgeous, and I will most definitely be doing a house tour.

As I was typing this out, it dawned on me the sheer volume of what has happened in the past year. But I'm still here. I'm still creating content. I'm still singlehandedly running a business. I'm still being a good wife. A good daughter. A good sister. A good auntie. Maybe not a very good friend...but I'm working on that one. I'm doing all that I can to be okay. And I finally feel like I'm succeeding.

This isn't a big "I'M BACK" post, because I'm not sure that I am. Schedules put too pressure on me, so I post blogs and videos when the mood takes me now. You also may have noticed that my content has changed slightly over the past few months. I now talk about theatre, as well as books - and I'm having the greatest time doing it. I'm doing things for me now, not just what I think my audience wants to see; and I really think it shows.

To everyone that's messaged, tweeted, reached out in the past year - thank you. And if you're still here, thank you for sticking around. And if you're new here - boy, did you choose a heavy post to introduce yourself to me with. But a special thank you to my husband, my mum, my dad, my sister, my niece & nephew, my godmum, and the two best friends anyone could ask for. Best friends that I made through this community. 

If you made it this far, thank you for reading, and I hope to see you again soon.