1 Year…

Lifestyle

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When I started my blog, it was initially meant as a means for me to have a little space on the internet where I could word vomit whatever was clogging up my brain at certain points in my life. I was sat in my exceptionally tiny university room, probably trying to avoid writing an essay, when I decided to bite the bullet, to take the plunge. For want of a better phrase, I grew some balls and published my first blog post. I can still remember the thoughts that ran through my head as soon as I’d clicked the ‘Publish’ button; I’m pretty sure they went something like this: Shit. Oh dear. Georgia, what have you done? Take it back, take it back, take it back. Buuuuut, your gal persevered and I couldn’t be happier.

The amount of support I’ve received is absolutely crazy: I’ve had people that I have never met sending me messages about how much they love reading my rambly words and weird opinions. To me, this is kind of incomprehensible as I’m just a massively uncool, sarcastic 19-year-old who laughs her way through life. Even the very idea that people read my blog for actual enjoyment makes no sense to me. When I first started out, I thought my readers would consist entirely of my friends who felt obliged to read what I was writing and although I know this is most definitely the case (big thanks to all my pals – you are angels and I appreciate you reading about my haircare routine when I know you really could not care less), there are also so many people reading across the entire WORLD. I have people reading my blog in THAILAND???!! I mean whaaaaat???

One of my first posts was called “Being Happy” where I outlined how important I felt it was for me to explore who I was at the time and who I could potentially be in the future, if I was brave enough to stop caring about what other people thought of me. A huge part of this was publicising my blog in the first place. Not many people know that I actually had an anonymous blog for around 2 years prior to starting ‘georgiaheaselgrave.com’ and was reluctant to tell anybody about it due to the fear of what people might think. If you followed my blog last year, you’ll know that I tried really hard to overcome this fear. Moving to university has really helped with my own self-confidence and self-belief and has given me the opportunity to explore who I want to be. Blogging has become a big part of my life and I couldn’t be happier that I took the leap and made it public.

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to every single person who has read any one or all of my posts. Without you, I would most likely not be blogging anymore and would have shed serious tears over the fact that my Mom was my only reader (lol, love you Mom).

Happy 1st birthday to my little blog!! I look forward to rambling excessively for many more years to come.

All the love,

G X

Instagram: @geeblogs

Women Are F**king Fabulous

Lifestyle

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In light of it being International Women’s Day today, I thought I would write a little post emphasising what it means to me to be a woman in this day and age – in particular, paying homage to all of the women who have lived before me and those who will live after me. Although I reflect on this each IWD, this year seems slightly more prominent due to the endless campaigning surrounding the ‘#MeToo’ movement combined with other stories being published in the media covering similar topics.

Having grown up in a family with three brothers and no sisters, I’ve always viewed both genders as equal. If my brothers were playing outside, I wanted to play outside. If my brothers had to finish their broccoli before being allowed dessert, I had to do the same. If my brothers were wrestling with each other, you can bet I was there too throwing a good punch or five. What I’m trying to say is that I never received any preferential treatment or felt that I couldn’t do something that the boys could do because I was a ‘girl’. This mindset has most definitely followed me into my teenage years and early adulthood. I’m such a firm believer in it being possible to achieve anything you want in life, if you put the right amount of work in. I don’t think gender even comes into play. I feel fortunate enough to say that personally, at this point in my life, I have never felt oppressed because of my gender but I’m not naive to the fact that once I get into the workplace, this may change, which alone saddens me. Why should I be worried that I won’t be as valued in the workplace as a male? Why should I be earning less money than a male for doing exactly the same job as them? I’ve never been able to grasp the concept that whatever sits between your legs determines what you can do in life and in all honesty, I don’t think I’ll ever understand it. I’m also not blind to the fact that things like the gender pay gap can’t be changed overnight but what I want to see is movement towards this development happening.

Each IWD I like to think about all of the women who have inspired me to become a badass, independent gal who has her life together (still waiting for this to happen). As cliché as it might be, my Mom is top of that list. When she was just a little bit older than myself, my Mom moved two hours away from her family home to work in a completely new town and build a life for herself. From there, she went on to have four children spanning from age 6 to newborn whilst STILL WORKING – she honestly is a real-life Supermom. I do not know how she juggles everything and makes it look so effortless – she has never once compromised her career or her family for the alternative but has somehow managed to happily succeed in both. THAT is what I want to be and do when it’s my turn.

I think it’s so important to recognise these stand-out women in our lives who help us shift and grow until we end up on our little paths in life, heading to where we need to be. Women are f**king fabulous. We are strong-minded, intelligent, warm and loving souls who somehow manage to carry the weight of a whole other human inside of us, helping them grow and giving them life which I think is pretty incredible (!!!!!!!) whilst also kicking absolute ass in any career path we choose to pursue. Women should celebrate each other: the successes and even the failures because as a collective, we genuinely are unstoppable. It’s crucial that our generation of women stick together and become a driving force that allows the females who will follow us to swim in a pool of proudness at the thought of being a woman.

I’m super proud to be a woman.

G x

A Little Catch Up

Lifestyle

I am the absolute worst for going AWOL and hibernating when I’m working on a particular project, completing ignoring everything else around me. What I mean by this is that I have been sat, staring at my laptop screen, for up to 8 hours a day over the past two weeks, attempting to type some words onto a page that will enable me to pass my degree…yep, you’ve got it…the dreaded deadline season. If I’m being completely honest, the last thing I wanted to do after an entire day of writing was to write some more…hence, my little blogging break. I thought, now that I’m assignment-free, it would be cute to catch up and fill you guys in on what I’ve been doing and how I’ve been (just about) surviving.

What I’ve Been Doing

In all honesty, the new year has seen many days of me wrapped up in my duvet, binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy and snacking excessively. I’ve been extremely lacking in productivity but have actually really enjoyed having some chilled time-off after what was an extremely emotionally turbulent semester at university. I’ve spent time catching up with my home-girls (not trying to sound cool, just unsure what to label my group of friends from home lol) which has been super nice. They know I’m one of the worst people when it comes to replying to group chat messages (orrrrr even texts that have been sent directly to me) but whenever I’m home it is as if nothing has changed. We celebrated my friend Harriet’s 20th birthday with food (yes) and cocktails (YES) which was a very cute night. I was also able to be reunited with my lovely friend Charl who abandoned me 3 years ago to live in Devon (still not ok!!!!) which again really was the best.

How I’ve Been Feeling

I’ve been feeling goooood. Life is currently at that stage where I have nothing going on for the next week so I can just chill, relax and spend time with my family before I start second semester. This break really has been needed (I mean…really needed). I was struggling a lot at uni before the Christmas break – I felt as if someone was standing with a gun pointed at me, but instead of bullets they were shooting big, SCARY, adult decisions at me that needed to be made quickly. Now, I am a pretty good decision-maker – if I may say so myself – but I like to have a lot of time to process what the consequences of each particular decision may be as change scares the ever-loving shit out of me (which you’ll know if you’ve read any of my previous lifestyle-y posts). So, when I was faced with 3 essays, 2 presentations, an 8-minute solo performance, auditions, co-directing a full-scale musical theatre showcase, rehearsals, homesickness, budgeting, meetings, housing decisions, placement decisions, course decisions, LIFE DECISIONS…yeah, my brain pretty much said no thanks Georgia, not today. I’m pretty sure (and this is going to be 100% a self-diagnosis) that I was – and potentially am still – having a quarter-life crisis (is this a thing????? Probs not). I’m turning 20 this year and I found myself thinking ‘What am I doiNGGG?!?!!?’ I was feeling unhappy more than I was feeling happy which has never happened to me before. This impacted everything I was doing: I didn’t want to go out with my friends but then I would be sad that I didn’t go out with my friends, I wanted to be at home all the time, I wasn’t enjoying my lectures, everything was just a little bit crazy. Now I’ve had time to step away from the situation I honestly think I was just putting too much pressure on myself – so much so, that I was sucking the enjoyment out of everything I normally enjoyed doing. Hence, the hibernation station I’ve had going on this holiday. Although I’m not jumping for joy at the prospect of returning to uni next week (however I am BLOODY EXCITED to see all my little angels aka friends) I feel a lot better about it than I did pre-holiday.

What I’ve Been Loving

Whilst I’ve been in my temporary state of hiding, I’ve had the time to try a few new products / watch new shows / listen to new music. With the lack of my December Faves, I have a few new things that I’ve been loving over the past 6 weeks or so.

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One of which being these No. 141 lashes from Eyelure. Whilst I do like Eyelure lashes, I tend to gravitate more towards Unicorn or Backstage Lashes as I find the quality tends to be slightly better meaning I can get more than one use out of them. However, over the mad sale period, these lashes were reduced to half price (I think I paid around £3.00 for them) and I liked their wispy vibes. I have quite small features so tend to favour a pair of lashes that fan out towards the end, compared to the rounded-look and this pair does exactly that. I have actually ended up being really pleased with this little purchase. I’ve managed to wear this pair twice already as they aren’t overly dramatic but also finish off a makeup look well.

The next thing I’ve been loving is Grey’s Anatomy (as mentioned above). Honestly, it’s embarrassing how quickly I’ve arrived at Season 8 Episode 10 but I really freaking love it. I love all of the characters and the plot-lines are so sad but so bloody good at the same time. I’m completely in love with Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane and Jesse Williams whilst identifying on a scary level with Cristina. I don’t really know what I’m going to do once I’ve finished all 13 seasons. I’m worried it will be similar to my post-PLL and Gossip Girl phases where I felt very lost for around 3 days after the finales. But for now, it’s constantly on.

 

I’ve also been loving The Greatest Showman soundtrack (and the film, obvs). I’ve had the soundtrack on repeat ever since Rewrite The Stars was first released on Spotify. If you know me, you’ll know I’ve been planning my wedding to Zac Efron ever since HSM came out so of course I’m going to love anything he does. Add this to the fact that the songs were written and composed by Pasek and Paul (my FAV musical theatre songwriters) and you have a winning combo. My favourite songs have to be The Greatest Show, The Other Side, This Is Me and Rewrite The Stars. Yes yes yes yes.

So that brings us pretty much up to speed. It’s been a chilled few weeks but they were definitely deserved and I now feel recharged and ready to get back into the real world. I promise I’ll start sticking to a blogging schedule once I sort my life out (lol).

Lots of love,

G X

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

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