How Very Not Me

Outfit Details:
Head to toe Primark, minus the New Look boots and an Etsy necklace you can't really see anyway! 

As I was browsing through my blog folders on my laptop the other day, I came across two sets out outfit photos that for some reason never made it onto the blog. This is the first set.

Looking at it is very weird, I have no idea what was going through my head the day I wore this, this outfit is so very NOT me! 

I love the boots, that shirt has grown on me loads since I bought it and as I look at those jeans, I'm desperately begging my body to speed up the process of losing weight so I can fit back into them again because they're actually pretty nice.

But together?

Nope, just not doing it for me! 

However, the saddest thing about this post for me is my beloved fringe! Oh fringe/bangs how I miss you so terribly! I'm currently trying to teach myself a lesson and that lesson is that I can't just keep spending money I don't have. This means I am practically torturing myself by not buying things I seriously want to readjust my attitude to spending frivouslously and increasing my debt, like Wednesday 13 or Marina and the Diamonds tickets, or, of course, a bloody hair cut. Let's just say I've about learnt my lesson that money is valuable and I can't throw it away all the time...

Renew Life Cleanse Challenge

A big theme for me during 2015 so far has been health and healthy living. You may be aware that I have both physical and mental health issues and this year, I really want to get on top of those. Throughout January, I realised that if I'm ever going to get on top of my mental health, my physical health needs to be sorted ASAP or I'm never going to get anywhere.

I recently finished the Renew Life Cleanse Challenge. Renew Life is an American nutrition company specialising in digestive health. They're currently promoting their cleansing products via a Cleanse Challenge.

They offer two Cleanse products: First Cleanse, for first time or "sensitive cleansers" and CleanseSMART, a more advanced programme. Not only do these improve gut health, but they can also dramatically improve nutrient absorption, energy levels, and, excitingly, improved hair skin and nails!

I was kindly sent* First Cleanse and Renew Life's FibreSMART to give them a go for myself. After taking a toxicity test and realising just how badly I was due a cleanse, I couldn't wait to give it a go.

During the Cleanse Challenge, you are supposed to take either First Cleanse daily for 14 days or CleanseSMART for 30 days, alongside other healthy life choices such as upping your fibre intake, cutting back on processed foods, catching more sunshine, drinking more water, exercising regularly but also taking the time to relax and unwind.

Now I'm going to be totally honest with you here, I pretty much failed on the healthy living front during the cleanse. While I had the odd day packed with healthy food and lots of water, more often than not I was a total couch potato eating the junk I normally do! I was pretty worried I wouldn't see any results...

So, what happened?

Admittedly, the first few days were very uncomfortable as my stomach was just not used to the fibre or the herbs within the cleanse, but I'm happy to say this does ease off by the time you finish the cleanse and I was advised this may be the case.

I also had some problems because the dosage is split into two - you take two First Cleanse One Capsules in the morning and two First Cleanse Two Capsules in the evening and unfortunately, I am absolutely hopeless at remembering to take things at night, or even when I do remember, once I'm in bed, I'm not moving. However, it's important to note this is a fault with me, not the product...

Another thing I noted was that the capsules, particularly the FibreSMART ones, are quite large and those who don't like swallowing tablets may not like this type of cleanse. I don't mind taking large tablets at all though, so I had no issues with this.

Now, onto the results. I barely recognise myself in the mirror anymore! When I started the Cleanse, I was covered in acne, not only were my scars very red and angry, but I had fresh breakouts on my chin, forehead and cheeks, ok yeah, my whole face. GONE are the breakouts - I had a grand total of 2 new spots throughout the Cleanse and this coincided with a boozy night. However, these healed very very quickly, I have no new scars and the scarring that remains is nowhere near as angry looking as it was previously.

Another bonus is, I have made a great effort to stop biting my nails and while I've been doing the Renew Life First Cleanse, they have grown faster than they ever have done before, hooray!

Although I suspect my recent time off work has had a part to play in this more than anything, there's no denying that since I completed my Cleanse, my overall wellbeing has been much improved. I am no longer as exhausted as I was and I've been able to get a lot of things done which previously, I had been feeling too ill to do.

No, it isn't a perfect miracle worker, but the results I've had from Renew Life First Cleanse have been so impressive with all external factors taken into account that I would totally recommend it to anyone who is looking to kickstart their healthy living journey. I can't wait to give CleanseSMART a go next!

*although this product was sent to me as a PR sample free of charge, I was not obligated to write this review and all opinions contained within it are my own. You can read my full disclaimer policy here.

The Instavixen Roundup #4

Wagamamas, Fruuli at Cafe Rouge, Chocolate Owl, new Arbonne goodies, new recipes to keep me inspired on the healthy eating front, flowers from mummy, artwork in my living room

Hello there, long time no blog! Although, if you've read my previous blog posts, I'm sure you can understand why! As you may or may not know I've spent the past fortnight off work on sick leave, generally trying to pull myself back together again and most importantly relax and recover! I had my checkup on Friday and although I want longer off, my doctor and I have agreed I will go back to work a week tomorrow because if I leave it too long, I'll never go back. So, one more week to sort my shit out...!

This week has been a nice one. Most of the best bits were crammed into three days so I've been very, very exhausted this weekend but it has been nice having time to actually enjoy myself. On Tuesday, my mum, stepdad and one of my sisters came to visit and it was lovely. We went to Cafe Rouge which was delicious as usual and my sister finally got to see where I've been living since June!! The day after we went for a crazy long walk around Silchester where a roman settlement used to be and then went shopping in Basingstoke. My lovely mummy treated me to a new blouse while we were out so I'm ready to go back to work looking a lot better and more put together than I did in the days running up to getting signed off!

The second highlight of my week is something I've done two weeks running now and am hoping to keep up for weeks, months and YEARS to come - I've FINALLY made it back to roller derby. And oh boy, I have missed it! This Thursday just gone was particularly amazing as I could feel myself getting better and better during the session and I pushed myself so damn hard that the endorphins were crrrraaazzzyyy. Been a while since I've felt that good, but also so bad at the same time because man, my muscles weren't happy with me the next day ;)

So, I've now got one more week off work and I'm planning to use it wisely. I'm really planning on upping my healthy eating and dramatically increasing the amount of fresh air and exercise I get because it genuinely really helps. I've also got a bit of life admin to take care of but because I'm not in work I can do it at a realistic leisurely place without stressing myself out like I would if I tried to cram it all into the weekend! Nervous about going back but at the same time, I can't wallow in that, I need to make the time off I've had seriously count!


Reading: nothing because I currently suck at life! Gonna buy the next Song of Ice and Fire book tomorrow and get going again! Had to do a bit of withdrawal from the series because my obsession levels were getting dangerous.

Listening To: a bit of everything! Mainly Wednesday 13, Iggy Azalea, Marina and the Diamonds and Lily Allen.

Watching: I've FINALLY jumped on the Pretty Little Liars hype and I'm addicted. I try to NOT binge watch TV and vary series, so traditionally I would watch one episode of PLL, one of Buffy, one of Charmed and repeat but I've somehow ended up watching no Buffy, no Charmed and multiple PLL episodes at once. Totally hooked!

Looking Forward To: spending a bit more time on the blog again, starting a new exercise routine, the mega chocolate and berry smoothie I've got waiting for me tomorrow morning.

Wanting: to relax a bit more and realise going back to work isn't the death sentence I currently feel it is.

How has your week been?

How To Get Help For Depression

Image via Pixabay. 
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional. I am simply sharing advice based on how I have gone about getting help, as well as basing this advice on the stories of others who have experienced depression. I feel it's also necessary to say that I am UK based and my advice applies to the UK as our healthcare system is kinda unique. 

Although yesterday's post was extremely cathartic for me to write, I feel that writing this follow up post on how to actually get some help if you think you may be depressed actually allows me to make my own experiences useful to other people. 

My first step would be to talk it through with someone you are close to and someone you trust. Not your best frenemy. An actual friend who you know cares about you, or a family member perhaps. Often talking through your thoughts and feelings with another person can help you be more objective about a situation. A friend might make you realise you're blowing things out of proportion, or they might agree there's something wrong and support you whatever move you make next. 

Next - this has been the most important thing I have ever done for myself - is to see a doctor. Until I had a formal diagnosis, I refused to accept there was anything actually wrong with me. I blamed it on hormones, I blamed it on being a pathetic human being, I tried to bottle it away and well, if you read yesterday's post you know where that got me. 

Unfortunately, getting a doctor to take me seriously was a hard task. I spoke to a few different doctors while I was in university who all brushed me off, including one who said because I had handed in my dissertation on time, I couldn't possibly be depressed...

When I moved back home, I had a bit more luck. I was put onto medication. However I accidentally ended up changing doctors and well, he didn't exactly invoke feelings of trust in me. He was friendly yes, but he would also Google which medications were safe to put me on. He changed the tablets I was on every time I complained which to be honest, was about as useful as not being on meds at all. 

It wasn't until I moved to Hampshire that I found a doctor that not only takes me seriously and understands my complaints, but I actually trust her which is a huge deal for me. 

For me, medication has always been the most important tool in my fight against depression. There's a misconception that there's a trigger for depression and that's not always true. For me, there is no reason to be depressed. I didn't have a tragic childhood. There has been no massive trauma in my past. In fact, I am acutely aware of how lucky I am. But that's not enough to stop the old black dog...

It's because I have no "reason" to be depressed that I think I've had trouble with counselling and I've never really felt like CBT actually helped. Therefore, medication has been 100% necessary for me. 

Of course, this is not the case for everyone. Some people do respond to counselling and therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy and that's great. Some people just don't get along with medication. Unlike say, tonsilitus, unfortunately depression isn't just a case of chucking antibiotics at someone and it working. 

It is hard to get the help you need. You need motivation and a huge desire to want to get better which is cruelly one of the hardest things to do when you are depressed. You need to be persistent, which again, is hard when depression is fogging up your head. But it's worth it. The relief you feel when your doctor wants to help and does everything they can to do so is intense. 

The Glamourous Realities Of Depression

Image via Pixabay
I've been umming and ahhing about writing this post for a while now, as I am very aware this is a sensitive subject and will probably cause offence for some. However, when you've got things you need to say, you need to say them.

There's been a noticeable trend recently in the number of bloggers and vloggers I've seen confessing mental health problems recently and along with that, I've seen the population in general say "oh yes, me too." Funnily enough, it's nearly always depression or anxiety rather than any other mental illness.

The wonderful Becky Bedbug wrote a post a while back on the subject of not glamourising anxiety and at the time, her post did enough talking for me but now it's finally time to add my own voice to the mix.

Quite frankly, I'm annoyed that there's almost a mental health bandwagon out there. I hate to say it but I fear people are self-diagnosing themselves with mental health problems to feel closer to their favourites or god forbid, they've been a bit sad or nervous recently and automatically assume it's a full blown disorder or illness when it's not, they really are just a bit sad and a bit nervous as perfectly normal responses to life events.

The thing is, as someone who has battled with depression for years I find it offensive that people almost want to be depressed.

There is nothing poetic about depression. I am not a sad soul who needs to be saved. My pain is not beautiful. There's nothing glamourous about it and I swear I will hit the next person who suggests there is.

As I write this post, I am a few days into a minimum period of two weeks sick leave from work. Yeah, this little period of feeling sad in my life is actually a hell of a lot more than that. Bad enough that my doctor took one look at me on Friday and told me no way was I going back to work that day.

This makes me one of the lucky ones. I am BLESSED to be given time off work to recover, rest and relax. It scares me that something which started off in my head has ended up like this. Maybe depression starts in the head, but for me, it's a full blown physical manifestation now.

For months, I have been too tired to function properly. I've watched the quality of my work go downhill. On the days where I actually made it into the office, I'd stare blankly at my computer hoping no one would notice that I wasn't actually typing anything. On the days I'd "work from home" I'd count my lucky stars if I could manage to have a nap without anyone emailing me and asking me why I hadn't done XYZ. My social life has ended. I haven't been going to roller derby. This blog trailed off yet again. I was living in filth. I stopped showering. Brushing my teeth. I was going to work in mismatched clothes without even brushing my hair. I've been spending my days in my bed surrounded by half eaten takeaways and bloody tissues because my nose won't stop bleeding. Acid reflux, huge headaches of death as I call them, stomach ache, feeling sick. No physical cause, it's just the stuff going on inside my head has completely exhausted to me.

I am no longer able to hide the state of my health and wellbeing and goodness knows how long it has been affecting people around me as well as myself.

Depression has ruined me and my body just as a physical disease would. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

I've seen that Time to Talk Campaign encouraging people to talk about their mental health experiences so yeah, I've decided to open my mouth. This is a real, true, honest account of what it's like to live with depression.

I understand that it's different for everyone - it has taken years for it to turn into this for me - so I know your experience may look totally different. This isn't a cheap shot at people who are experiencing things in a way that I haven't and telling them there's no way they don't suffer from depression.

I am not writing this post to gain sympathy or play the "I have it so much worse than you" game. As I said before, I've been able to get help, medical professionals take me seriously. All I personally want is room to breathe and recover in peace.

I just want people to take depression as seriously as it deserves and I want people to take a step back and think, do you really want a life like this? Are you genuinely heading towards the kind of meltdown I've had or do you just need to realise your emotions are normal and no one is 100% happy 100% of the time.

This has been a very, very personal thing for me to write. I don't know if it will end up surviving on my blog. So if you're reading this, thank you and please be gentle.

Kicking The Blogging Schedule

You may have noticed that despite a strong start in January, my posting became more and more sporadic and this has actually ended up being my first post in February. You may also have noticed that I ditched my "regular" content, such as outfits, beauty reviews and the Vixen Thinks, for well, whatever I felt like at the time.
I promised myself that in January, I would treat blogging as it is: as a hobby. Although I wrote a post title for every day of the month, I decided not to stress myself out and write everything weeks in advance and post whenever I felt able. I ditched the titles that didn't speak to me as much as others and made sure I wrote the ones that did. 

So how was it?

All in all, I really enjoyed it. Writing about random ideas rather than sticking to the topics I always blog about inspired me as I wished it would and it was nice having regular content go up but not feeling like I had to do it and giving up when I didn't meet my "schedule." 

Although I've missed taking outfit photos and sharing them very much, it's kinda nice to know that while I work on improving my photography, I've got other content to tide me over and I am relieved from the duty of posting sub-par outfits just because I've taken the photos, despite said photos not being as good as they could be. 

However, I've also learnt that there is a balance I need to achieve. As I mentioned, my posting became more and more sporadic until it died out completely at the end of the month. 

I think what I need to do next is work on scheduling more content when I'm in a writing mood so I've got "emergency" or "backup" posts for when I have long periods of "cba" towards blogging just so I can keep some kind of consistency going. 

What about you, have you found a blogging routine that works perfectly for you yet?