What I Got For Christmas 2017

beauty, Lifestyle

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I’m going to start with the typical, blogger opening you’ve probably already read at least 20 times, but I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of 2017. Honestly, for me, this year has flown by. I’m a good-way into my second year at university (which means scary life decisions are looming) and I’m almost a third of the way through my final year as a teen (equally as scary!!). I just want to quickly apologise for my absolute failure of an attempt at doing ‘Blogmas’ – I had every good intention but the practicality of uni deadlines and the general life rush that occurs during the lead up to Christmas defeated me. I’m super sad because I had some really cute posts planned, but I guess that’ll give me a reason to attempt it again next year! Thankfully, life has calmed down a little bit now which means I’m back to blogging – I have a few posts planned for the next few weeks that are New Year-related so I hope you enjoy reading those. For now, I’d love to share with you a few of the bits I received for Christmas this year.

Sephora Favorites ‘Give Me Some Nude Lip’ – Sephora

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If you read my Christmas Wishlist post, you’ll know that this Sephora gift set was something I had my eye on. My parents went to New York just before Christmas so I was super excited at the prospect of getting a few makeup bits that are harder to get your hands on the in the UK. I think these sets are a really good way of testing out new brands before you pay full price for a product you may not really like. All of these lip products are gorgeous but my favourite (surprisingly for me) is the Ciaté London Liquid Velvet Lipstick. 

Sephora Favorites ‘Glow For It’ – Sephora

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I am so bloody excited about this set. Highlighters are up there with my favourite category of makeup products and I’ve been wanting to try some of these brands for the longest time. I’ve heard nothing but good things about BECCA highlighters and I’ve always wanted to try the Cover FX drops. On Christmas day, I combined both of them which left me with the most blinding highlight that I was LIVING for. I’m super excited to try out the rest of these products.

MAC Snowball Pigment and Glitter Kit – MAC Cosmetics

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Again, I’m super excited to have received this cute little MAC set. I’ve never tried their pigments before but I used the champagne-y colour yesterday and I was very happy with it. I’m excited to use the white sparkly pigment soon and am planning to use the gold glitter for New Year’s Eve. These pots should last me a little while as you only need to use the tiniest amount so I think they’re pretty good value. I know MAC have 10% off most products today in the Boxing Day Sales so it would definitely be worth trying to get your hands on this!! They also do a ‘Pink’ version which, as the name suggests, has more pink-y coloured pigments and glitters. I went with the ‘Gold’ set as I tend to wear oranges, browns and burgundys on my eyes.

Too Faced ‘Just Peachy Mattes’ Palette – Sephora

I’ve been obsessed with this palette ever since it dropped with the rest of the ‘Peaches and Cream’ range by Too Faced. Unbelievably, I’ve never tried Too Faced shadows before so I was really excited to receive this. The colours are right up my street – I could happily just use this palette forever. I used this palette on Christmas Day and was really pleased with the pigmentation and how easily the shadows blend. If you want me to recreate the look for a blog post (see below) let me know – I was pretty pleased with how it turned out!

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Grey and Black Nike Trainers – Nike

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These trainers are actually one of my favourite prezzies, as they were a complete surprise. I love the colours as they will literally go with any outfit and they’ve come into my life at the perfect ‘January gym-going’ time. They’re super comfy as they are meant for running, although I will probably just be wearing them on the day-to-day. I will definitely be getting a lot of use out of these as I pretty much live in trainers at both university and home. My Mom did well here!!

Striped Calvin Set – Calvin Klein

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If you know me, you’ll know I’m obsessed with Calvins. They’re just so comfy and I love the look of them, so I was really happy to get this set. I’ve never actually seen this pattern before and I fricking LOVE it. I’m super excited to add this set to my growing collection.

Burgundy Kate Spade Rucksack & Purse – Kate Spade NY

I’m still a little bit in shock about these two presents as I wasn’t expecting them at all. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with rucksacks and if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I have a major soft-spot for anything Kate Spade. I’m absolutely in love with the colour of this bag and purse – it’s perfect for the Winter months. Also, I’ve been needing a new purse as my Ted Baker one has been used to death. So yay!!! Absolutely in love.

Those are a few of the lovely presents I received this year. What did you get?

I hope you had a great Christmas!

Lots of love,

G X

Instagram: @geeheasel

Twitter: @geeheasel

November Faves

beauty, Lifestyle

What I Wore: Velvet Purple Culottes / Faded Black Mom Jeans

This month I have two fashion favourites that I couldn’t decide between. The first are these GORGEOUS velvet culottes from Zara – to add to my ever-growing collection. I love culottes as I feel you can either dress them up and wear them for a night out or pair them with a cropped t-shirt and converse and you’re good to go for the day. I think they’re super festive and I know I’ll being getting a lot of wear out of them. Also, they retail for £19.99 in Zara which I think is amazing value!!

Another Zara purchase I’ve been living in throughout November has to be these black Mom jeans. I’ve ALWAYS been looking for the perfect pair of Mom jeans but I’ve never found any that look right. Because I’m so small, a lot of them swamp me and make me look shapeless but I think I have finally found what I’ve been searching for!! I paid around £30.00 for these jeans (don’t quote me) which I think is pretty reasonable. As you can see, I’ve teamed them with this cute D-ring striped belt from Missguided and a black cropped t-shirt from PLT.

What I Watched: Stranger Things

Although slightly predictable, Stranger Things was my obsession throughout early November. Granted, I finished the season over a two-day period but it still counts as being a November fave. I’d been waiting (for what felt like FOREVER) for season 2 to come out as I fell in love with the show from the very first episode. There is something so charming about each of the amazingly talented child actors that makes the slightly weird and creepy show so relatable. Season 2 did not disappoint plot-wise and I literally cannot wait for the third!!

What I Listened To: The Wedding Singer

This month has been filled with musical theatre for me, in relation to what I’ve been listening to. As I’ve mentioned, I directed a show which included a variety of songs from different musicals however I also found out that I’ll be playing the role of Julia in my university’s production of ‘The Wedding Singer’ in 2018. So, naturally, I’ve had the soundtrack on repeat. The music is super feel-good and I’m really excited to start rehearsals next week!! My favourite songs are ‘It’s Your Wedding Day’, ‘Not That Kind Of Thing’ and ‘All About The Green’.

What I Used: Soph X Makeup Revolution Highlighter Palette

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I’m not going to ramble on about this palette for too long as I’ve done a full-length review that you can read here. This has been my go-to product throughout November as pretty much all of the shades are (thankfully!!!) pale enough for me to wear so I can match my highlight to my eyeshadow – which makes me more excited than it probably should…

I’d definitely recommend getting your hands on this gorgeous palette if you can, it’s more than worth the £8.00 it retails for.

What I Did: 

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I hope your November has been amazing!!

Lots of love,

G X

Instagram: @geeheasel

A Little Announcement…

Lifestyle

Hello to all my lovely readers,

As you know, recently my posts have been pretty much non-existent. I used to be in the routine of uploading at least once a week but since returning to uni this semester, I’ve really struggled to balance blogging with my workload. I’ve just finished directing a show which took a looooot out of me but was super rewarding at the same time.

All that being said, I want to get back to blogging frequently so I have a little announcement to make…

I’M DOING BLOGMAS!!!!!!

I will be posting festive-themed posts EVERY SINGLE DAY throughout all of December. This is going to be such a huge challenge for me, both time and content-wise as I never want to put anything up on my blog that I’m not 100% happy with. However, I’m going to try my very best to make this happen and I’m SUPER freaking excited to do it.

I really, really hope you guys enjoy reading!!

G X

Instagram: @geeheasel

October Faves

beauty, Faves, Lifestyle

What I Wore: Cropped Yellow Jumper with Bell Sleeves

I purchased this little Autumnal number from Topshop at the very end of September and it’s become a staple in my ‘it’s suddenly really cold now’ wardrobe. This jumper cost £29 (sans student discount) which I think is relatively reasonable for Topshop prices. It’s super soft and is made really well so you definitely get what you pay for. I’ve never owned any clothes this colour before but when I saw this jumper on the model I knew I had to try it on. I feel like it goes really well with an all-black outfit as it adds a pop of colour. I’ll deffo be taking another trip to Topshop soon to purchase some more Winter jumpers.

What I Watched: Confession Tapes

Confession Tapes was definitely my Netflix addiction during October. If you’ve read any of my Monthly Faves before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of crime dramas and documentaries so when I saw ‘Confession Tapes’ come onto Netflix, I was super excited. Essentially, each episode focuses on a different case in which a suspect is forced into making a confession for a crime they may not have committed. The show documents the history of the crime, followed by the police’s process to convicting a suspect. It’s so interesting – each episode had my friend Lucy and I hooked. If anything, I wanted the series to be longer as there were only 8 episodes but I’m hoping Netflix bring out some more in the near future. I’d definitely recommend this if you haven’t seen it!!

What I Listened To: Lewis Capaldi / Havana / 21 Chump Street

 

Lewis Capaldi honestly has one of my favourite voices ever. I love his songs and have them on constant repeat. He’s only released 4 songs so far so I’m hoping for an album soon. If I had to pick my actual song of the month though, it would have to be Havana by Camila Cabello.

MT-wise, I’ve been obsessing over 21 Chump Street, a mini-musical written by Lin Manuel Miranda. If you read my September Faves, you’ll know that last month I was loving Hamilton (and still am) but then I discovered 21 Chump Street. The music is trademark Lin, which is why I love it. My fave song has to be, “What The Heck I Gotta Do”.

What I Used: Nivea Express Hydration Primer

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The change of the seasons sadly means the reoccurrence of my dry skin, especially on my face. This month I’ve been using the Nivea Express Hydration Primer which I picked up from Superdrug for only £2.39 (like, what!??!!!). The name honestly does not lie – this primer is the most hydrating I’ve ever tried. It’s a very thin, wet consistency and applies a clear sheen to the face. It helps my foundation sit nicely, avoiding the cling to any dry patches (which nobody wants). I’d 100000% recommend this product for anyone who has normal to dry skin.

What I Did: 

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I hope you’ve had an amazing October!! I’m super excited for November because it means I can start counting down to Christmas and no-one can be frustrated by it hahaha. I just quickly want to apologise for the inconsistency in blog posts; moving back to university has been so much busier and more stressful than I thought it would be so unfortunately my little blog had to take a back-seat for a couple of weeks. However, I’ve got some super exciting posts planned so hopefully you will enjoy those!!

G X

Instagram: @geeheasel 

Tips For Dealing With Homesickness

Lifestyle

It’s a known fact that I’m a pretty homesick gal. As much as I love university and feel comfortable here, I miss my family and home so much when I’m away. I knew this would be something that I was going to struggle with before I even moved to uni as I’m really close to my family so it was always going to be difficult moving so far away. Honestly, I don’t think there is anything that can make you feel 100% better when you’re feeling down and homesick but here are a few of the things I do to make myself a little happier when I’m missing the fam…

1. FaceTime them

This one is pretty obvious and is as good as it gets when you want to see your family and friends. I usually feel slightly better after physically seeing my parents or brothers on my little laptop screen so this is definitely something I would recommend doing.

2. Become ‘busy’

Luckily, I’m always super busy when I’m at uni. Alongside my course, I have extra rehearsals, insane amounts of work and I’m on the Musical Theatre Society committee which also takes up a lot of my spare time. This means I’m rarely just sat in my house feeling sad or lonely. So, if you’re feeling like this I would definitely recommend going out with your friends, joining a society or taking on an extra responsibility which will subconsciously take your mind off feeling homesick. It definitely works for me.

3. Plan your next visit home

I’ll always plan the next time I’m going home a few weeks in advance (by booking train tickets etc) so I have something to look forward to. I find it makes it easier whenever I’m having a super homesick day as I can tell myself that it won’t be long until I’ll be home next.

What are your tips for when you’re feeling homesick?? I’d love some advice as I tend to just struggle through and cry to sad music sometimes (hahahaha).

G X

Instagram: @geeheasel

September Faves

Faves, Lifestyle

What I Wore: Black Cropped Wide Leg Trousers

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Throughout September, I’ve been loving wearing my black wide-legged trousers from Miss Selfridge. I’m pretty sure these were around the £25.00 mark which I thought was amazing for trousers of such good quality. They’re super comfy but also look smart so you’re basically winning at life when wearing them. You can wear them dressed-up (as pictured) or can throw on a cute cropped t-shirt and converse for a more day-to-day outfit. I definitely think these trousers were an investment piece that I can always come back to and rely on if I’m in need of a quick, super cute outfit. Yaaaaaaas to these.

What I Watched: RuPaul’s Drag Race (for the second time)

I’ve always been a big fan of Drag Race, having watched every season religiously on Netflix. However, I’ve recently rediscovered my love for the show and have been re-watching every single season. I’m currently on season 8. Some of my fave Queens from all of the seasons are Raja, Alaska, Alyssa Edwards, Adore, Pearl, Violet Chachki and Naomi Smalls.  It’s such an easy show to watch when I’m just chilling in my room or to have on in the background when I’m getting ready. Loooooove it.

What I Listened To: Dua Lipa / Hamilton

This past month I’ve become completely obsessed with Dua Lipa. Whenever I’m listening to music, it will be her album I’m playing. My faves are IDGAF and No Goodbyes. She’s also so gorg I actually cannot cope and her acoustic covers are INSANE.

From an MT perspective, I’ve been loving Hamilton. I know I’m very late to the party but I honestly couldn’t make myself love it when it was first around (and I tried so hard!!!). But NOW, I am actually too in love with the soundtrack. My fave songs at the moment have to be Satisfied, Burn and Say No To This.

What I Read: Colleen Hoover

During September, I went on two holidays to Portugal meaning I had loaaaaaads of time to read again (which made me very happy). I’ve read a few books by Colleen Hoover before and knew I enjoyed them so wanted to get my hands on some of her other novels. The two I particularly enjoyed were ‘Maybe Someday’ and ‘Confess’.

What I Used: Backstage Lashes

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This month I purchased some falsies from the brand ‘Backstage Lashes’ for the first time. I wasn’t too sure what to expect as the products retail at £6.00 a pair but I’d heard lots of good things. I bought the pairs Chelsea and Soho and I was very pleasantly surprised. Both lashes lasted the entire night on a night out without having to be re-glued and the band is thin so, not only are they easy to apply, they look like they could actually be your lashes. For £6.00 each I would 100% recommend this brand – I will most definitely be purchasing some more.

What I Did:

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I hope you’ve all had a lovely September – mine has been pretty crazy as always!! I just want to apologise for the lack of posts recently (I’m the actual worst) – I’ve moved back to uni now so they should be coming more regularly again. I have some exciting Autumnal-themed posts planned so keep an eye out!!

G X

Instagram: @geeheasel

Email: georgheaselgrave@btinternet.com

 

Top Tips For Starting University

Lifestyle

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It’s still crazy to me that I’ve completed an entire year at university. Thinking back to this time last year, I was super excited to branch out into the world and make my own little home and community somewhere else to where I’d grown up. Whilst I was mostly excited and curious as to what university life had to offer me, I cannot lie and say that I wasn’t a little bit scared. I have a lot of friends who are the academic year below me and a few have asked me questions or have wanted some tips on what to do/not to do when starting university. I thought I’d share some of my tips with anyone who is interested (these tips are not proven facts but they worked for me and I’m still – just about – alive)…

1- Take a door stop

This is actually a piece of advice I received myself before I started university last year. Whilst it may initially seem like a silly little thing, having a door stop means you can keep your door propped open (especially during the first few weeks) which makes you appear more sociable and approachable to your flat. Even if they just pop in and say ‘hey’ on their way to the kitchen, it may lead to some conversations that start to cement your friendship.

2 – During Freshers’ Week, take every opportunity

As much as it nearly killed me off, Freshers’ Week was still one of the highlights of my first year. I went out to every event which, yes, my health eventually paid for but it was so worth it because of all the friends and memories I made. Also, if your university organises talks or activities in the day GO AND DO THEM!!!! You will honestly regret sitting in your room having not participated in any of these things. Even if they turn out to be rubbish, at least you’ve tried them.

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3 – A mattress topper will save your life

It’s a known fact that university beds are pretty much made from the hardest stone imaginable (slightly dramatic). The best thing I did was take a memory foam mattress topper which took my bed’s comfort rating from a (generous) 3/10 to a solid 8. Trust me on this one.

4 – Plan your meals in advance

If you’re non-catered, the best piece of advice I can give to you is to plan your meals ahead of time. The amount of times I had a late rehearsal then went back to an empty fridge was pretty devo. It then means you’re ‘forced’ to order a takeaway which isn’t great for your health or your bank account (let me tell you, once this becomes a habit it’s a very slippery slope lol).

5 – Join a society

During my first year, I joined Theatre Society and Musical Theatre Society. MT honestly was a saving grace last year and so many of my closest friends were made because of it. Joining a society gives you such a sense of community and belonging (especially if you’re living far away from home) so I would 100% recommend it. It also opens up friendships with people other than those on your course so you’re widening your circle as well as having a good time bonding over a subject you all enjoy.

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6 – Download the Spoons app

There is no doubt that when going out, your night will involve a Spoons at some point. Having the app was a life-saver for me as it meant you could scout a table as soon as you got inside and didn’t have to battle the queue. Also, I’m lazy so I like my alcohol being brought to me lol.

7 – Have funnnnnn

Probably not the wisest piece of advice I’ll ever give, but having fun was a big priority for me during my first year. On my course, I only needed to PASS the year (gaining over 40% in each module) to carry on so – as much as I still worked hard – I did sometimes prioritise being sociable and going out over doing work. I’m not telling you to disregard any work that you have but if you’re missing out on forming new friendships or making memories then I think, in the long run, that will be a lot more damaging to your university experience than starting an essay a little bit later than planned. What I’m saying is, if your friends invite you to the pub…GO TO THE PUB!

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8 – Get used to having limited sleep

As much as you may be sat there reading this thinking ‘there is no way I’ll be going out until 4 in the morning when I have a 9am lecture the next day‘…trust me. You will.

9 – Bond with your flat

One of my biggest pieces of advice is to put time and effort into bonding with your flatmates. I was fortunate enough to absolutely love everyone I was living with and I think a huge part of that stemmed from how much time we spent together during Freshers. Throughout the year, we’d make an effort to have flat dinners and game nights. It’s definitely beneficial if you feel comfortable and ‘at home’ with your flatmates as you’re living together for at least a year. Even if there are a few people you don’t get along with so well, there is no harm in making a bit of extra effort with them to make your living space feel more welcoming and homely.

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10 – Be yourself

University is the time when you really discover yourself (without sounding like I’m trying to be Gandhi). You make lifelong friends and decide how you’re going to shape the rest of your life. The only way you can truly be happy doing this is to be yourself. You’ll find friends who are equally as weird as you (if not weirder) and you’ll eventually fall onto your own little path so there is no point trying to be somebody that you’re not along the way.

I wish everyone starting university this year soooo much luck. It honestly is the best time ever!!

G X

Instagram: @geeheasel

A Little Fitness Update

Fitness, Lifestyle

If you’ve read my Getting Fit (And Staying Fit) blog post, you’ll know that one of my main resolutions this year was to lead a healthier lifestyle. I cannot lie to you, attending university was not the best thing that has ever happened to my physical health. I was non-catered during my first year (which meant I had to cook for myself) which I was absolutely fine with. I’ve been brought up in a family who eat relatively healthily and because I was cooking meals for myself that I’d cooked before at home, I wasn’t eating badly. However, due to socialising and fitting into the ‘university lifestyle’, I was drinking alcohol more regularly than I had been whilst living at home. Alongside this, I started eating out more. Not because I was too lazy or couldn’t be bothered to cook, but honestly because it was the more social thing to do.

All of this considered, I gained a few unwanted pounds. I ended up going from a dress-size 8 on my bottom half to a 10. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying there is anything wrong with being a size 10. What I’m saying is I wasn’t HAPPY with the way I looked or felt. I was starting to feel unhealthy. So, when I finally had some free time over what has been an insanely crazy summer, I decided to join my local gym. I was pretty nervous about joining as, quite honestly, I had no clue what I was doing. The closest I’d ever come to working out was watching fitness videos on YouTube and trying to recreate them from the confines of my bedroom (which was never successful lol). I had no idea how to use any of the machines and I felt a little bit self-conscious that I would stick out like a sore thumb.

Once I got there though, I realised everyone was in the same boat. There were such a variety of people trying to get on with their own thing that they, quite frankly, couldn’t care less what I was doing. Once one of my friends showed me how to use all of the machines (although they are pretty self-explanatory if you’re planning on venturing to the gym alone) I was ready to start shifting the pounds.

I got into a pretty good routine of going to the gym around four times a week over a four week span. I varied between focusing on cardio, upper and lower body but if I’m being honest, started to favour my cardio workouts as those were the times I felt as if the exercise was actually doing something. I altered my diet, but only slightly, by substituting a lot of the carbs I would normally eat for salad. For example, I’d come back from the gym and eat a chicken salad rather than chicken and chips. If I was really hungry, I’d have some rice too to rebuild some of the energy I had lost. Over these four weeks, I started to feel a lot healthier and happier in my daily life. I’m a pretty positive person most of the time anyway, but I definitely felt a change in my mindset once I started exercising regularly and eating properly.

Alongside the gym, I was also interested in researching healthy living, wanting to discover which foods are best for burning fats in different areas, for example. A useful website that I came across and have been using ever since is Diet Spotlight. This website is full of factual information but also has reviews of products and meal replacements, so you can see if something is worth buying. I was particularly interested in toning my stomach, so their page on Belly Fat was really useful to me. It includes a lot of information regarding what stomach fat actually is, which helps in understanding how you can start trying to lose it. I would definitely recommend having a little look at this website if you’re interested in leading a healthy lifestyle – I’ve been loving it!!

Due to the small alterations I’ve been making in my life recently, not only have I been feeling good, I’ve had some positive physical results. I’ve managed to drop a whole dress size!!! Which is great because I wasn’t planning on dropping sizes at all but is also kind of annoying as now a lot of my clothes don’t fit me (and I don’t need any more excuses to keep shopping!!!). In the four weeks I was gymming, I toned up my stomach more than I thought possible in such a short space of time and now I can’t wait to get back to uni so I can get back into a routine with the gym. It’s been difficult as I’ve been super busy this summer but once I get back to uni, I know I’ll be going a lot more again.

I’ll update you guys in another couple of months hopefully to say that I’m looking and feeling FAB (we can hope).

G X

Instagram:  @geeheasel

Let’s Talk About IBS

health, Lifestyle

Untitled-3Disclaimer: Due to the nature of IBS, this post will contain talks of toilets/going to the toilet/feeling ill. Although this post will not be graphic or explicit in the slightest, if you feel offended by or dislike reading about these topics then please don’t read on. But if you’re completely unbothered, like myself, then grab a cuppa and get comfortable. This may be a looooong one. Also, this is a very personal matter that I’m a little nervous about posting on here so please be respectful (I am a very gentle soul hahahaha). 

When I started blogging a little over 3 years ago, I never in a million years dreamed that I’d one day be sat writing a post about my problematic stomach. It’s not something I’ve ever felt comfortable sharing with people I know, let alone the internet. But, in my 2017 ‘go-me’ year, I’ve decided to share my little story with whoever wants to listen.

I just want to start off by saying this is in no way a post vouching for sympathy or me trying to play the victim. I know there are people out there in the world suffering daily with conditions and situations a lot worse than my own but I thought it may be helpful to shed insight into a condition that is relatively ‘taboo’ and rarely discussed due to its nature.

This entire post may come as a complete shock to even some of my extremely close friends as it’s a topic I rarely speak about and is easy to conceal as it’s not a visible disorder. So, to the ignorant eye I look completely ‘healthy’. For those of you who are unaware, IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Rather than me completely butchering an explanation of what IBS entails, I’m going to copy and paste some information from the NHS website as I am no doctor and am likely to misinform everybody (lol).

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, long-term condition of the digestive system. It can cause bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation.
The symptoms vary between individuals and affect some people more severely than others. They tend to come and go in periods lasting a few days to a few months at a time, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods.
IBS usually first develops when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. Around twice as many women are affected as men.
The condition is often lifelong, although it may improve over several years.

That pretty much sums up the main points about the condition, in very general terms. As it states above, the levels of IBS a person can suffer from vary A LOT. If I had to put myself on a scale of the severity of my IBS (1 being extremely mild and 10 being unmanageable) I would say currently I’m at a 5. So, in the grand scheme of the syndrome, there are individuals a lot worse off than me. However, there have been periods in my life where this number would be rated higher, but over the years I have learned to manage my stomach slightly better, which I’ll go onto later. It is also a chronic condition, meaning I’ll likely never be ‘cured’ and because of this, have learned how to deal with it by managing my diet and levels of stress.

I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t suffer from IBS but I’m pretty sure I was diagnosed around the age of 9 or 10. I’d been suffering with really bad stomach pains non-stop for weeks on end so I eventually visited the doctors where I was told I had what seemed to be IBS. At first the doctors were unsure, as IBS is not as common in children as young as I was at the time but they eventually concluded that’s what it was.

Over the years, my experience with IBS has varied. As stated on the NHS website, the symptoms tend to come and go over a period of days or weeks. This made it difficult when I first discovered I was suffering from IBS as I kept thinking I was miraculously ‘cured’ if I went without stomach aches for a couple of weeks, only for them to come back with a vengeance a few days later. (*May get a bit graphic here so skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to read on*). The general symptoms that I suffer from are mainly stomach cramps. But honestly, writing down my symptoms as two small words does them no justice. When I say cramps, I mean an unbearable sharp twisting feeling that spreads through my entire stomach. Although I can be a drama queen at times (ok, a lot of the time), hand-on-my-heart I’m telling you the pain can be excruciating. It’s as if someone is reaching into your stomach and squeezing and twisting as hard as they can, not letting go. That’s the only way I can describe it. The stomach pains cause me to incessantly shake whilst draining all of my energy. Whilst it is true that to relieve some of the pain, it helps to go to the toilet, my personal battle is more with my stomach and not with the toilet (lol). One of the most common misconceptions is that it’s a condition where you’re ‘always on the toilet’ because it is so much more than that.

I’ve been on two different types of medication for my IBS. One of which, made my symptoms a lot worse so I was not loving life at all. Whilst the second lot of tablets I was taking didn’t make me feel worse, they didn’t really make me feel better either. I ended up giving up my medication because I hated taking the tablets and they weren’t really helping a gal out anyway.

My worst experience with IBS had to be when I was around 14. I’d gone to watch my brother in a school performance with my Dad and one of my friends. By this point, I’d learned to sense when a stomach ache was coming and I was feeling slightly off in the car on the way there. Whilst I was queueing to get into the venue, the stomach ache came out of nowhere and I knew I needed to get home ASAP. The car journey on the way home was, honestly, probably the worst 20 minutes of my life. So much so, I made my dad pull over on an extremely busy main road as I needed to get out of the car. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I’d become so bloated out of nowhere and I was working my way into some form of panic attack. I was crying hysterically, trying so hard to breathe but the pain was absolutely awful. I’ve never experienced anything like it since.

The side of IBS that is rarely talked about is the psychological side and that’s something that I really wanted to touch upon in this post. The main period in time where my condition was at its worst was between the ages of 13-16 years. The reason for this is that a lot of my stomach aches were brought upon by myself. No, I don’t have magic stomach-ache giving powers (although that would be sick, excuse the pun), but I brought them on by putting myself under unnecessary stress. Stress is a common cause of increasing and heightening symptoms of IBS so I was unknowingly making the condition worse for myself. The reason I was getting so stressed out is because I didn’t want people to know that I had IBS. I was a 13 – year – old girl with a stomach condition related to the toilet. No-one wants to casually bring that up in conversation with their friends on the playground!! I was really embarrassed that people would find out and laugh about it. I dreaded being invited round to my friend’s houses for dinner as, at the time, I had no control or no knowledge over when a stomach ache would occur. The last thing I’d want was to get one whilst I wasn’t at home. It got to the stage where my mom would have to talk to the friend’s parents and inform them that I had a sensitive stomach so shouldn’t be eating large portions of food. I was MORTIFIED. I remember going round to an old friend of mine’s house and their dad spent the whole dinner asking if I was okay or if I needed anything. A lot of the time, because I’d be constantly worrying about if I was going to get a stomach or not, being stressed whilst I was eating a meal would cause me to have a stomach ache anyway. It was a really vicious cycle for a long old while.

FINALLY, onto some positives (well, as positive as you can be about this subject). After around 9 years of dealing with IBS, I’m finally starting to learn how to deal with and control it. For a long time, I felt as if the IBS controlled me but your gal has come out on top!! So much so, that when I told some of my university friends that I’d been living with in halls, they said they never would have known. I’ve discovered which foods it is that tend to trigger my IBS (red meat is a KILLER!!!!) so obviously try to avoid those at all costs. There are certain situations where I can’t always avoid eating these foods but extremely small portions tend to be okay. Talking about portions, I don’t tend to eat a lot in one sitting. I’m more of a snacker-throughout-the-day than a big 3 meal eater. I found, at the beginning, I’d put a lot of pressure on myself to eat the ‘normal, recommended’ 3 meals a day but I know my body. I work best eating a little snack for breakfast (a piece of fruit, or a cereal bar) eating a medium-sized lunch and then a small dinner. It’s actually a running joke between me and some of my friends because I physically cannot eat a lot of food without feeling ill. So I’ll always serve myself loads of food at dinner time (because I’m starving!!!) then 5 mouthfuls in will be suddenly full. Another thing that triggers my IBS to make a little appearance is not eating at regular times. For example, if I go on holiday and am flying at 5 in the morning, I’ll be waking up at 3 and eating food, which my body isn’t used to. Once my stomach has been thrown off, it will be bad for the entire day which means I’ll be feeling ill until it sorts itself out.

Honestly, now I’ve learned how to cope with my IBS, I see it as more of an inconvenience than a condition. It no longer dictates how I live my life. For the longest time, I struggled so much because I LOVE FOOD. Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that. I could never pick just one favourite dish as I love all food so much. So, having a condition where it was food causing me to feel so unwell was really difficult. Also, not to mention, we kind of need to eat to, you know, SURVIVE. For me, it’s been all about finding the balance.

To anyone struggling with, or feeling as if they are struggling with IBS or anything similar, my biggest piece of advice is to stay calm. The worst thing you can do, especially when you’re experiencing a stomach ache, is to cry or start to stress out as it only makes things worse. Take deep, long breaths to help the pain subside as, unfortunately, you just have to ride it out. You’ve got this. There is little that can be done to prevent it but I’ve found having a calm and positive mindset really helps in avoiding making the symptoms worse. Of course, I still have bad days!! I get nervous when eating out with new people for the first time or eating at a new restaurant as I don’t know how my stomach will react. It’s completely a trial and error situation. My stomach might be fine with roast potatoes one day, but may react badly to them on another day. I usually just have to play it by ear. To try and limit the possibility of flaring up my IBS, I tend to eat similar foods or eat out at similar places. All my friends know I bloody love a Nando’s and one of the main reasons for this is that it’s fine for my stomach. It’s just a constant learning curve and I’m only able to discover what works and doesn’t work through many mistakes (and stomach aches lol).

I’m sorry this wasn’t like what I usually post but I wanted to gain some exposure for IBS as it’s actually a lot more common than you think, affecting 1 in 5 people over the course of their lifetime. If you’re suffering from IBS or just want to learn more about it, I’ll link some useful websites down below. Thanks for reading my little story!!

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NHS WEBSITE

IBS TRIGGERS