Attempting to win the war with myself – #OneTwoFreeYourSkin

Girl in orange skirt lying on Brighton pebble beach with a drink

As I get older, the more clarity I seem to have on myself as a person. When each year passes, I know myself a little more and understand what makes me tick, what makes me joyous and what makes me sad. What is it they say? In youth we learn, in old age we understand.

Now, I’m only just 28 so I’m not quite over the hill yet! But what once may have made me sit in my bedroom struck with anxiety, unable to cope, may now become a small blip in my day, before I am able to simply move on. Issues such as friendship woes, career dips, a fight with my partner, or even what I see on the scales at the gym, I now look at through experienced eyes and fix the problem with consideration and tact.

Learning to love my body

Something I’m struggling slightly more with however, is the ability to love my own body and face. I’ve always felt I’m fighting a losing battle against myself. As I’m getting older too, the mirror has seen a lot of action whilst I poke and prod my face, worrying over new fine lines and wondering if I’ve always had that freckle.

I read a brilliant article in the Metro recently, about a girl learning to love herself. She said: “For so long, I pictured my body as temporary and so never made it a home…I didn’t touch it, feed it or love it properly, but focused on how little time I could spend in it.”

This really struck a chord with me and actually made me quite tearful. For so long, I have had this ‘ideal’ me in my head, waiting for the time when I finally become that person. In reality, I’ve been ignoring the person I truly am and missing the beauty of myself completely. I look back at pictures of myself at uni and see how wonderful I looked, although I can recall the struggle it would have taken me to leave the house that day. I wish I could tell her.

Skin communication

Something else I’ve learnt over the last couple of years is how much my body can tell me about how I feel. The bloating I once wrote off as ‘fat’ is now dealt with using a personalised diet plan, because my body wasn’t enjoying what I put into it. My skin, where once a flare-up of eczema on my eyelids, my thighs, my stomach would cause a flash of annoyance, now tells me that I’m super stressed about something. I now take a step back, analyse what might be upsetting me (as I may not have even realised it myself, yet) and then take action.

Of course, dealing with the problem helps, but the skin issue remains for a while. Again, experience comes with age. I used to think that stripping the skin with chems and exposing it to sunlight helped (please don’t – I know). I now have a wide range of products that help me when I’m having a flare-up, and I can usually combat any problem patches before it gets out of control. Something I think that really helps is the focus on good skincare in the media and the absolute transparency many brands have on which ingredients they use and what exactly they do.

Winning the war – eventually

I’m not a full-on lover of myself quite yet, although I’m all for supporting other women in their journeys to self-love. I always try to remember: no one is criticising you more than you are criticising yourself.

These things take time however, and when you’ve thought in a certain way for so long, it can be a hard habit to break. I think becoming more self-aware about the potential to love ourselves is a fantastic step forward – and something I’ll take as a win.

I’m looking forward to seeing what stage I’m at – where we’re ALL at – in another ten years. Fingers crossed we love ourselves completely, eczema and all.

This blog post was written as part of an Epaderm competition. Epaderm® is available online, in-store and on prescription.

INTERVIEW: whatever happened to ’Half Ton Son’ Billy Robbins?

pencil and blank notebook on pink background

Back in 2009, Billy Robbins of Houston, Texas, was featured in a BodyShock documentary called ‘Half Ton Son’. Aged just 19 at the time, Billy was named as the world’s heaviest teenager, weighing in at 60 stone – just over half a tonne.

The programme honed in on Billy’s home life, his time in the hospital and his struggle to lose weight. He was housebound for three years, before doctors explained that he was at risk of losing his life if he didn’t make some changes.

He went on to lose half of his body weight through diet, gentle exercise and a gastric band, but still weighed an incredible 30 stone. 

Billy’s mother received criticism for her role in Billy’s weight-gain, seen during the documentary giving her son large sandwiches and even washing him by hand. Barbara Robbins shared a simple comment on the situation: “I do everything for him, because he is my baby”. 

Perhaps it is easy to point the finger, but a key breakthrough into Billy’s weight-gain is that Barbara lost another son – her first – at 19 months due to a brain tumour. During the programme, she said: “I overcompensated when I lost Matthew. It was hard to say no to Billy when he wanted something to eat. Maybe it is an addiction, maybe I’m addicted to my child? When will he stop – when I die?”

Billy Robbins in 2019

I’ve known Billy for a long time now, since around 2015. He’s super sweet-natured and funny. We keep up to date on how the other person is, occasionally talking about the differences between the US and the UK (“I am one of the few obese people that didn’t vote Trump”) Brexit, and the adventures of Billy’s eccentric cousin Frank, who lives on a pig farm.

I asked Billy about the attention he has received since he appeared on the programme and he describes it as a “tsunami” which “changed us forever”.

“TV made us known to people outside our street. Everyone started to judge us, without really knowing my family. Time has passed now, and it feels that everyone has forgotten us again.”

Billy’s future

Billy reports that his mum is doing “okay” and that he still lives with her at their home in Texas. He enjoys making new friends on the internet and celebrating family occasions, often visiting his cousin Frank’s farm for months at a time during summer. 

For those wondering about Billy’s weight, he told me that it is currently raised from his initial weight loss, but he is still dieting and his health is “good”. 

In the future, Billy hopes one day to travel, visit the UK and Buckingham Palace on my recommendation – and I definitely think he could do it if he set his mind to it.

Read some more of my interviews here.

TEN YEARS IN LONDON

Pink London phoneboxes

When I was about 8 or 9, we visited my Grandmother in London. I remember looking out across her balcony at the city and saying that one day, I’d live in London. That sounds very romantic, we are talking about Archway here…but I never forgot that, and it’s something I worked towards when studying for exams. I’ve now been in London for ten years. TEN! I’d known this anniversary was coming for a while and wanted to mark it somehow.

On 19th September 2009, I packed pretty much everything I owned and my mum drove me to Clayhill Student Halls in Kingston upon Thames. It was the first time I’d been away from home and I was low-key dreading it. However, I absolutely knew that I wanted to leave my hometown and be independent.

When my mum had left and I’d made my tiny room my own, I sat on the bed and realised that I was truly alone there. I began to panic and worry I’d made the wrong decision, when the door buzzed. It was the girls downstairs inviting me for a drink. And so began my life.

The last ten years have been a bit of a ride for me. Not so much ups and downs but glorious fun interspersed with absolute rock bottom.

I could write my life story, but ain’t nobody got time for that, so here’s a list of some of the notable things that have happened to me over ten years in London.

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

  • Got a degree, 2:1 thank you
  • Worked in a bar and two restaurants and met the best and worst of humanity
  • Had two close friends die, far too young
  • A relationship with a man much too old for me
  • Broke my pelvis
  • Lost a best friend through my own stupidity and selfishness
  • Been on countless dates
  • Learned a new language
  • Had two (2) nervous breakdowns
  • Been fired from a job
  • Lived in Dubai for a short while
  • Started this blog!
  • Went to four festivals
  • Broke up (mutually) with my first love
  • Got glandular fever and didn’t get out of bed for a month
  • Rebuilt my relationship with my dad
  • Got two tattoos
  • Lived off £10 per week for two months
  • Met some truly abysmal people – and subsequently realised I can cut people out if they’re toxic
  • Had two long-term relationships
  • Visited ten (10) countries – nowhere near enough!
  • Am still unable to fix my unhealthy relationship with my own body and looks
  • Moved house nine (9) times
  • Began a career in PR
  • Lost contact with too many people to count
  • Made new friends as my life changed
  • Became a Freelance Writer
  • Met my future husband

So, so much has changed and I’m a completely different person to the girl who arrived in London singing Taylor Swift’s 2008 album down the motorway and not knowing what to expect. I still don’t to be honest, but I’ve learned it’s half the fun. At the risk of sounding super wanky, I’m still on my journey, figuring out who I am.

If you’d like me to properly write up anything you found interesting in the above, let me know.

Life is about to change again, with our impending nuptials. Where will we be in another ten years? Let’s wait and see.

Anxiety by night: the sleep-stealing b**tard

My fiancé can fall asleep anywhere. I mean anywhere – on a bus, the tube, waiting for me in a dressing room – but also within seconds in his own bed. My ability to sleep, conversely, is a different story. I’ve always struggled with falling asleep and am an incredibly light sleeper – but in more recent years falling asleep has become a real problem.

I believe this stems from my anxiety disorder. Sometimes I’ll just be struck with this intense dread that I can’t shake. It feels as though I’m just about to take the biggest exam of my life. It rises deep from within and can sometimes feel like a physical pain. Alas, the bloody exam doesn’t even exist.

I can lie awake for hours even though I’m so tired and then struggle to focus on the next day with no sleep. How about an afternoon nap, you might say? Forget it. I could never.

HOWEVER, there are many reasons why insomnia can occur and ways you can ease it.

Not alone, hun

Episodes of insomnia are suuuuper common. In fact, it’s estimated that a third of us will struggle with it at some time in our lives.

Although I do struggle with falling asleep, I’ve developed my own ‘sleep hygiene’ system which sometimes works for me. This includes things like avoiding alcohol, not drinking any caffeine after 12pm, not eating a big meal past 8pm and doing my best to stay off my phone when I’m in bed. You can read more about sleep hygiene here. After a good night’s sleep, I feel much more productive and clear-headed.

Sometimes though, it’s worth looking into a little extra help.

  • I have heard that Lush Sleepy Body Lotion can give you that extra boost. It’s filled with lavender oil which has long been thought to aid sleep and using it tells your body that it’s time to start relaxing for bed – has anyone had a good experience with this?
  • Using a White Noise machine works for some babies, why not adults? Especially living in London with all those sirens. I usually use Spotify and play some rainforest sounds, but there are also dedicated sleep aids on the market I’d be intrigued to use.
  • There are also the oft-discussed benefits of getting jiggy with your partner or yourself to aid sleep! I’m no scientist, but a round with the LELO Sona Cruise will have you absolutely zonked out!

To Bedfordshire, we ride

Listening to your body truly is key. If you’re struggling, it may be time to make some adjustments to your sleep routine. Easy changes, like turning off your phone and computer an hour before bed, meditating, going to bed at the same time each night and making sure your room is dark can all improve your odds of catching a good night’s sleep. If you’re still struggling though, it may be time to speak to your GP.

Femme Luxe Haul #2

Pink background, girl wearing light coloured dress with jacket

You’ll remember I previously collaborated with Femme Luxe, and I’ve been lucky enough to do so again!

Continuing in the vein of getting out of my comfort zone and choosing clothes which I wouldn’t normally go for has been really positive for my confidence. I’m noticing that I’m choosing things I’d never have even looked at before because I feel better about myself. Perhaps some of that is my consistent, healthy lifestyle I’ve written about here, but having more of a choice over different shapes and styles of clothing makes a difference.

Here’s what I chose:

Dark Blue Denim Bardot Top

“Take it off the shoulder this season and make a serious fashion statement in the Dark Blue Denim Bardot Top. Featuring a gathered front and puff sleeve, this bardot top is a summer essential!”

Femme Luxe Bardot Top

I wore this top with a plain black skirt and wedges on a night out in Cyprus, unfortunately didn’t take any pictures! It looks great but I didn’t wear a bra with it and to be honest I would have sized down if I could have (I chose size 12 but ran out of time to return). It is a really unique shape and something I’ll return to.

Black Polka Dot Ruched Puff Sleeve Mini Dress

Get the cutest look in our Black Polka Dot Ruched Puff Sleeve Dress. In elegant long sleeves and a cute print we know you’ll love this mini dress.”

Hmmm, not my favourite I have to say. The model on the website looks banging, but I ended up looking a bit like a spotty sausage. I got a medium (apparently 10/12) – but this size was so tight on my boobs it just wouldn’t have been possible to wear it out. 

Polka Dot Dress with long sleeves from Femme Luxe

There is some funny sizing on Femme Luxe so I’d just be aware. For example, the medium in this dress was 10/12, but a large on another item of clothing would be 12/14 and an M would be 8/10. I try to aim for size 10 where possible, but when the sizing isn’t consistent, you will get some ‘misses’ like this!

Black Cut Out Body Con Dress

Sorry, I can’t find it on the website now (I’ve linked to other black body cons from Femme Luxe, but you WILL have seen this dress on Insta.  Again, I wore it in Cyprus on a date night and I couldn’t believe how it made my body look. It isn’t a stretch material but it pulled me in in all the right places, and somehow made my girls look two or three sizes bigger too? Magical. 10/10 would wear again.

Femme Luxe Cut Out Body Con Dress Black

Looking forward to see what Autumn brings from Femme Luxe! You can visit the Femme Luxe website here.