Cut the crap! 💩

Whenever I see or hear something sad about dogs/animals I have to scoop my fur baby up for a big cuddle. This is what happened yesterday. Cellulite and all.

Reason for this post though (the cellulite kind of plays a part here), is because I have just overheard a young girl/teenager on the phone talking about some “miracle cream” – someone had a baby 2 weeks ago and she’s used the cream non-stop since and her stretch marks are “almost gone”. If the girl had hung up I 100% would have turned around to her and told her the truth.

OH MY GOSH I am so fed up with products being marketed like this. That is WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NATURALLY OVER TIME ANYWAY 🤦🏽‍♀️ once you’ve got stretch marks – they ain’t going anywhere (ok maybe they will with some laser surgery or something) – a cream is NOT gonna make them just disappear. Stretch marks stretch and fade over time. As your belly returns to its non-stretched state over time, the stretch marks will reduce and fade. I know this, because not only have I had them on my thighs since puberty, but I’ve been there with every stupid diet pill and miracle cream there is for cellulite/stretch marks (I never even had cellulite until I was pregnant. My dysmorphic brain just thought I did.) I won’t lie – I hate them, but they’re part of life. I moisturise a fair bit anyway, and when my thighs are slimmer [through running] they are fainter. To be fair, they’re quite faint now (considering how slim my thighs ARE NOT 🤣). I am moisturising like a crazy person whilst pregnant in a bid to not gain any more – but if it happens, it happens. They’ll be a mark of what my body has grown. I’ll probably still hate them, but at least I got the chance to finally be pregnant and carry our child: something I never thought would happen. I honestly don’t seem much difference in creams being marketed as a miracle cure for stretch marks much difference to that of bloody Kim KW and her stupid appetite suppressant lollipops.

It. Is. All. Bullshit.

Moisturise, exercise, eat a healthy, balanced diet. Get outside and [safely] enjoy the sun. Don’t waste your hard earned cash on miracle BS.

Love x

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We are all so similar!

Having one of those rare body confidence/empowerment moments on the beach today.

There is a couple – foreign – who both look pretty good; slim, tanned and toned. Probably both around the same age as James and I.

I’m going to focus though, on the woman. As we women do, I’ve noticed her all week. Her body is what I would deem perfect. She is perfectly slim and toned – no “extra” fat. Her boobs (probably fake!?! I don’t think boobs are that perky unless well supported/huge and full of milk?!) are perky (although, they aren’t huge, so maybe she just has great bikini support). Her stomach is flat. She has a thigh gap (my fav, especially now that my thighs are gigantenormous!!) and generally, all round, just looks great. I don’t think anyone could deny that. Do not get me wrong – I am writing this from a point of positivity, and in no way trying to “shame” her – I think, what I am about to say, is brilliant, and a reminder that you can’t judge a book by its cover!

I just walked right next to her though, as I popped to the loo. She’s lying face down on her sun lounger sunbathing.

She has stretch marks on her perfect-shaped bum.

We are all similar!

Food/Eating Disorders/Pregnancy Cravings – we each know our own bodies better.

I was riled, a few months ago, watching a couple of programmes regarding eating disorders – something I always watch if I know it’s on, because I am simply fascinated, still. The first, was the “Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia.” And another with Louis Theroux. I remember, whilst watching, that both James and I were gobsmacked – and I have, from experience, a lot more understanding and knowledge of Anorexia.

What I will say from the offset, is that anyone that can be considered a role model should think very carefully about what they are saying/posting, although I believe if you are going to suffer with an eating disorder (or any other mental health issue), you will probably do so regardless of what you see/hear etc. I think you are pre-disposed within your genetic makeup in the same way some people get Cancer, and others don’t. However, I don’t believe the likes of Kim Kardashian (pains me to even write her name in one of my blogs 😫!) and the idiotic things she – or other similar individuals – say/do/post are going to cause eating disorders in young men/women, but I do think at times they are selling utter shite. If you are hungry, food or drink (not booze people🥂🍾!) will suppress your appetite, not a lollipop 🍭, ladies and gentlemen. In fact, I am currently eating a Chupa-Chups lollipop and am quite sure that once I’ve finished it, my appetite will no longer be suppressed and I’ll simply move onto another snack..

I seem to have this inbuilt part of me that has this need/want to help and support others, hence why I continue to write this blog.

Mark Austin and his daughter Maddy gave an incredibly open, and honest account of life with anorexia (Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia). Everything they both said is the exact kind of situation that happens with mental health illness and destroying families. The exact same happened in mine: anorexia isolates you, it makes you cunning and kuniving and it destroys relationships. Parents – or those that have no chance to understand – are angry, frustrated, exasperated. I hope history doesn’t repeat itself, and when I first started writing this – I was also still hoping anorexia hadn’t entirely destroyed my ability to have an embryo/blastocyst implant and carry a healthy pregnancy/birth/child. Thankfully, I have made it 25 weeks in and everything is healthy so far.

But it still hasn’t been easy. Whilst I am beyond in love with the ever-growing bump attached to the front of me, I am not thrilled with how I currently look overall. I stopped running in order to conceive – and anxiety meant I didn’t try again until we were 13 weeks, by which point, all fitness was lost and I was not in a position to push myself for fear of hurting our much-longed-for, unborn baby. Whilst I don’t doubt from other people’s comments that I perhaps still see myself as larger than I actually am (although believe me, I am heavy now!) my thighs, therefore {to me} are enormous. I have craved, and thus eaten non-stop carbs for the past 25 weeks; foods which I would normally reserve for never due to their ability to make me gain weight just thinking about them. I still live with mental health issues that I fight against daily, that no one can ever fully understand, and thus no one can ever fully have an input – especially if it is unasked for – thank you very much!

Recently, I’ve found people telling me what I should and shouldn’t be eating. People that will never be pregnant are included in this (aka men, or those older who have never wanted children) and I spent a drive home from an anxious hospital appointment a few weeks ago in tears, fuming and thinking about it, and the things I’ve done to my body over the years:

When I was 16, upon waking and realising no-one else was home, I leapt out of bed and ran through to my parents ensuite to weigh myself and see if the scales were acceptable to me yet.

I knocked myself out on a door frame/TV cabinet on the way through because I was so dizzy and fainting. In the 5 days prior to that morning, I had eaten just one apple. Nothing suppressed my appetite, I tried everything to be constantly thinner, and as a result of hunger, passed out.

In 2015, over ten years later, aged 26/27 I spent a month barely eating, and sneaking off to throw up everything I did consume. I taunted and teased myself by joining in with others and accepting free hot chocolate the work canteen was offering at the time – throwing it all up as soon as it was finished. Months later at 27/28 I struggled to push myself – desperately – through a 5 mile run because all I’d allowed myself for three days prior was “juice diet”. “Healthy” green liquid or water only. Less than a mile in I could feel my kidneys in pain, my muscles physically unable to run through a full 5 miles from lack of fuel. And yet mentally, I was livid with myself still. Angry at my body at having to run-walk-run as someone who knew they could usually run for miles on end and love it. You cannot function on nothing. Food, is fuel.

I remember lying to my friends that I’d already had dinner/was eating dinner at home later. Lying to my parents that I’d eaten out with my friends. I remember trying to throw up the smallest bit of cheese I’d sucumbed (BECAUSE SUPPRESSING YOUR APPETITE DOESN’T EXIST!!) to eating off my friends pizza, in the Pizza Hut toilets aged 15. I remember flushing food down the toilet or chucking it in the bin whilst exercising for a minimum of an hour every single day. I remember asking my parents for school dinner money rather than food so that at least I wouldn’t waste the food; because, whilst adamant I didn’t deserve food, I still felt a resounding guilt that I was simply throwing food away when there were – are – thousands of starving people in the world. I remember that I wasn’t kidding anyone. I remember it all too well, for someone who’s memory is largely shot to pieces. How can you forget such hideous self punishment?

Having been diagnosed “Anxiety with depression” aged 26, in 2015, I also honestly believe anorexia/eating disorders are a side effect, a symptom, a coping mechanism for wider issues. When I had my first mental health breakdown in March 2015 I had spent the previous 6+ weeks over exercising, marginally under eating and regularly throwing up everything I did eat. It was something I could control. It was a coping mechanism to deal with my heightened anxiety, my low self confidence and self esteem, it was an outlet, but it kills.

So what I don’t understand now, is how anyone thinks they have the right to tell someone – anyone – let alone someone who has been through what I have – what they should and shouldn’t be eating, when they’ve not asked, but particularly through pregnancy. I believe after all these years I am more than aware of what I should/should not eat in order to achieve weight gain/loss. I also instinctively believe I (we: baby and I!) will crave what we need. This pregnancy, that has NOT been salad. And I do love me a good salad. Maybe, if I’m lucky enough for a future pregnancy(/pregnancies?!) perhaps salad will be craved.

Yes – I am eating a lot of (ok ONLY!) carbs. Just because that isn’t considered an “odd” craving to many doesn’t mean it isn’t a craving, and is just an “excuse” to eat them. I have never eaten carbs like this before – I used to avoid them like the plague. I have never wanted or apparently needed carbs like this before. I can’t remember the last time I allowed myself a jacket potato (rather than sweet potato), or white pasta (rather than spelt). Crisps used to make me feel uncomfortably bloated and thus I would still avoid them even at parties when they were laid out as nibbles. The last time I actually ATE a regular breakfast, rather than drinking a protein shake, or smoothie only, (and after running 3/5/7 miles), I was about 10 years old.

So yes, it’s a lot of carbs. Yes, I’ve gained a lot of weight, no, I am not thrilled about it: in fact if I could take scissors to my thighs to cut off the extra chub, I would. But I don’t think I am massively complaining about it – yes I’m calling myself “fat”, a “beached whale”; that’s how I feel right now, but I say it in jest! I am not going to do anything about it whilst I am carrying our miracle baby. I am not entirely stupid – enough so to think for a second all of this weight will just “fall off” the second the baby pops out. I will have to work at it, hard – but does anyone honestly think this is something I’m not prepared to do? Someone who, when working full time would get up at 5/5.30/6am to run, and spent most days ensuring she exercised twice? Someone who is known to have got up during worst bouts of insomnia and run for 5+ miles at 1am?? I am not prepared to risk something we have wanted, and tried for, for so long. I tried to run to keep off some weight, but it’s not for me – not this time, this pregnancy anyway; it’s too late, too hard and therefore too much of a worry to me to keep trying until the baby has arrived. I have never craved, or eaten, carbs like I am doing now, and so, I believe there must be a reason for this, and for once in my life, I am not going to deny what my body – our baby – is asking for.

I have said time and time again that unless you have physically experienced a mental health issue, you will never fully understand – no matter how much training you have had. I had two incredible (NHS) therapists providing me CBT and CAT over the last few years but for both of them I always felt (particularly the first) that you just don’t really get it until you’ve had it – and I wouldn’t wish anyone to have mental health illness. We all have mental health – some of us are just lucky enough not to have mental health illness.

HOW is it, that 23 years ago – yes, you read that right, TWENTY THREE – the incredible Princess Diana opened up and spoke about her mental health – her eating disorder, and yet here we still are in 2018 with still so much stigma, a distinct lack of understanding, and with idiotic products on the market promising suppressed appetites and “miracle” weight loss to those vulnerable and desperate enough to believe them?

Bigger arms, bigger thighs, bigger bum and bigger boobs. But a beautiful, beautiful, healthy baby bump. Oh, and my “appetite suppressant” lollipop.. which as it happens I’ve just finished… time for crisps!

ALSO:

  • Rufus
  • My husband
  • My health
  • My friends and family

xxx

EDIT – to add the below screen grabs that I’ve had saved on my phone since forever, because they make such valid points! Thanks to AliceLiveing for the words!

Thank you, BCRM x

We will never be able to thank the amazing team at BCRM enough for what they have achieved for us. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be pregnant with what felt like the impossible – our first little miracle IVF baby – and we wouldn’t have four potential siblings frozen for future.

But sure – any fertility clinic can likely get you pregnant and achieve the seemingly impossible, right?

I actually only chose Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine over slightly-closer-to-us Exeter Fertility, because my best friend and godchildren live in Bristol; so I figured after any major stress or upset I could nip in on them and have a hug and make it all better…

Except that was never the case, because the team at BCRM really, genuinely care for you. Yes, there is a therapist available for [mental health] support – let’s face it, battling infertility isn’t easy – but, stubborn old me was done with talking to therapists. However, I never needed to see her anyway, because they take the time to find out about you, care for you, and if you need a hug, they’ll give you one. And in my simple opinion – a hug fixes everything! The nurses and HCA’s there are some of my favourite people on Earth now.. I hope they never change and the team stays the same forevermore…! They’ve got tonnes of patients to see but they won’t let you out that door if they feel like something is up with you – they’ll coax it out and you’ll feel better for it…

I am so glad we were squeezed in before the NHS funding was removed from BCRM, as I really didn’t want to move clinics and have a potentially less supportive team!

Extra special thanks to Jane our “named nurse”, Carrie who impregnated us (😂) Anne, Lydia, Jackie and Sue.

All the flowers, cake and words in the world will never be enough, but thank you BCRM, and I hope that you do all know – really know – how amazing you all are xx

Work

I was faced today, with a question I think about quite a lot. As usual, it (along with most subjects!!) peaked some emotion… and got me thinking. Got me thinking because the answer I gave, didn’t entirely match with the zillions of thoughts flying around in my head when asked the question (and still now, several hours and distractions later);

Do I miss work?

Yes, is the short answer. But I never do short answers, do I?! I think that would surprise some, given the black hole of a person that I was at the time I finally quit. Given the seemingly careless “life of Riley” I mostly get to lead now (☺️😉😂)!

Yes, I miss work. Despite the nightmares and agony, I was faced with for [almost] a year whilst in my final job pre “retirement”, I still miss it. I had multiple daily panic attacks, I couldn’t think, eat, exercise or function straight. I was constantly terrified, increasingly isolated and always self-punishing, one hideous way or another… one of the final straws saw me collapse – and I am forever grateful to the GP that essentially saved my life and got me out of there as early as he could…

But, I still miss work.

I miss the routine. I miss the fast pace where I seemingly (used to) function at my best (Ok, this came more with Primark than Clarks!!) and the fashion, the retail and the numbers, the analysing and the forecasting and the sense of achievement when you cracked it. I miss the conversations with like-minded adults (even if we ever have kids, I had hoped to return part time). I miss the banter that at one point I had with my colleagues; the brother/sisterly relationship I had with a previous line manager, and I miss that if I needed a hug, one desk away was a so-called “best friend”… I miss being the heart, life and soul of the team {that’s not me being big-headed – far from it, (I don’t have that kind of self-confidence or belief) I was actually told this by my boss… as an almost-but-not-quite 🙄-sandwich style “compliment”; that ended with essentially the statement that my mental health was also now ripping the entire team apart (yeah, I know.. he was never a great people person!). At 25, when I’d joined a team that had been in existence for who-knows-how long, I was the one that brought it together. And at 27/28 when I was crippled with anxiety and depression, I alone “ripped” it apart}.

I miss the confidence I had – the knowledge that I knew what I was doing and that I was good at it. I was once good at my job. I fell into my career knowing I’d love it – and I did. I miss that I was “sparkly” karen. I had independence, a decent salary and didn’t constantly rely heavily on my husband – for everything. For money, for the mortgage, some days just for a conversation, for help to answer questions because I can’t just be asked a straight question anymore without often looking to him when I answer, rather than looking the person who asked straight in the eye (including today’s question). I don’t trust myself still to get the words out that I mean [largely why I write this blog!] without jumbling them up and making little to no sense (which often happens; I confuse myself!) Don’t get me wrong – James doesn’t begrudge me a single thing, he never has and never would, he’s happy I’m happy, and alive, and almost ~ sometimes ~ back to normal.

I miss it – I often wonder, if I could turn back the clock, could I have changed things? Could I have fought harder, persevered? Continued to make myself more and more ill? After all – who knows if the infertility is something I was born with, or due to the 20 odd years of on/off ongoing anorexia, or, simply, due to that one nightmare year when I crumbled into barely even a shell of my former self? And the struggles I still face with that now.

I thought leaving was my choice, finally, after several months of encouragement from my husband, my family, friends, and even my GP, I thought I had finally made my mind up… but just over a year on, I looked back and realised I was bullied out; rumours rife about me started by the most-evil of line managers I was unfortunately dumped with at a critical time, meant no one talked to me. I drove in, alone, often having panic attacks and our-of-body experiences whilst driving, unable for weeks to even walk into the building without her (line manager) walking me. I did what I could manage to focus on, keeping quiet and hidden, and forgotten. And I drove home again, with more panic attacks ensuing. I couldn’t eat at work, I couldn’t/didn’t before work, and I ran through my lunch breaks as well as before/after work.

Could I have remained bleak, despondent and that ill – with the occasional “I like it when you laugh again” comment from my long-suffering husband, who tried so, so hard, and yet those comments were so, so rare, and incredibly devastating to hear – all he wanted – all we all wanted and needed – was the “old” karen back. The one who “shone” and sparkled and who was constantly organising fun and keeping busy. The one who never missed out on trying anything once, who lived hard, because life is all too short.

So yes. I miss work. And I guess I miss it more because it wasn’t, really, entirely my choice to leave. Yes, I was the one that quietly went in as late as possible one day to hand in my notice and accompanying sick note for the notice period (to minimise the amount of people that would be around), wordlessly emptying my draws of personal belongings two nights before, so no-one would know, or suspect or be around; but I was left with no choice – I didn’t have another job to move into, and I still can’t now imagine going through an interview process ever again. I can barely focus enough some days to watch a TV programme that I WANT to watch, or read a book, let alone seriously considering the further studying (in almost literally EVERYTHING) I’d love to do, because I don’t have the concentration span, memory or functionality anymore… my previous employer stripped me of that, and I can’t ever see myself getting it back.

I still miss work, but I also know how incredibly fortunate I am that I could leave – that financially we could remain stable and not *need* my income. There aren’t many people lucky enough to be in that situation, and who have to battle through – and I guess I’m sorry to my family that I didn’t take it up sooner, instead leaving them crushed and completely at a loss as to how to help. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel lazy. Particularly with all the fertility hell – I wonder what on earth I can possibly be here, on this earth for? I don’t work and I’m not a Mother..

Clarks stripped me of my confidence that even the mere thought of a job interview fills me with dread. In the midst of my second breakdown I was attending job interviews left, right and centre but absolutely making myself look like an idiot that had never done the job before – I struggled to understand or answer questions or even think straight. My concentration remains poor at times. My vocabulary regressed and I find myself convinced I am stupid on many days. But, there are glimmers – we’ve shedded the friends-who-aren’t-really-friends, made new ones, and we help and support each other as much as possible.. I never thought we’d see the “old karen” again, but occasionally, I realise.. she’s right here.

💛

IVF NHS Funding

Hi all,
I know I post a lot (of pictures!) – But this post is important.
As I’m sure we all know, our NHS is under constant funding review. We all have our own opinions on politics and what and who should be funded – no one is right or wrong – but this one is obviously pretty close to my heart.
There is particularly a lot going on at the moment to do with finding and treatment for fertility patients; aka IVF.
We currently attend BCRM (Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine), in, obviously, Bristol!! Bristol or Exeter were the nearest places we could go to continue our treatment for fertility, as unfortunately further options aren’t available in Taunton, simply due to space and staff quantities. Both are roughly 80 mile round trips away… our next nearest would be Plymouth; a 160 mile/3 hour round trip away.. when undergoing treatment I pretty much have to attend every other day for 2+ weeks… it’s not even the cost of fuel or the mileage on my new car – it’s that it’s a boring drive and totally unreal to have to travel that far, in the U.K., in 2017, for NHS funded treatment..
The NHS NICE guidelines recommend that EVERYONE in the U.K. Get 3 tries at IVF. Obviously everyone’s ideal is to fall pregnant on the first go – or even better, without fertility treatment!

In Somerset we get one “go” at IVF. In Berkshire, you get 2. Essex: zero. Currently. Everyone should be entitled to NHS funded treatment – at the end of the day, no one asks to be infertile. 
There are currently reviews under way for BCRM to close/be privatised. Which means we may well be moved somewhere else entirely – just as I’m loving our new team (separation anxiety from the team at Taunton was tough after a year!).

There is also reviews for IVF to only be offered to women aged 30-35. 

Why? 

Why shouldn’t a younger, infertile woman be offered IVF earlier? My ideal would be that we already had 1, or 2 children – I always wanted to be a younger Mum. It’s forever a regret of mine that we didn’t start trying – and thus finding out about my infertile mess of a body (!)- earlier, but I can’t change that. However, I can help to ensure that women who do start this long, frustrating, heartbreaking process earlier, could possibly get their “younger Mum” dream.

Furthermore – why must women be younger than 35? My own Mum was 38 before she had my (younger) brother, and whilst I rip the p*ss out of him (& will regret saying this!) there is nothing wrong with either of them. For those that find love “later”, or simply decide “later” that they want children, then why is 36 to “late” for funding?!

Couples should be offered IVF if needed even if one of them already has children – it’s the same as James and I not adopting because we want “our” child; not someone else’s. 
So, my plea is for you to fill in the form on the link below to support NHS IVF Funding for all.
Thank you xx
https://www.northsomersetccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/nhs-service-proposals/fertility-treatment-eligibility/

Dirty Thirty

​​​​As the final weekend of my month long birthday celebrations have drawn to an end, I felt the need to write a little blog..

My husband is a funny fcuker… 😉😂

It’s now been 21 yesterday’s ago since I was 29. And really, I guess I feel no different. I have so many friends spanning across so many different ages – some younger, plenty older than me. I know we are all the same in dreading another year passing and another year older. It doesn’t make it any easier, I really do simply just dread it. I look at others my age and constantly think they seem to have their lives much more “together”, are seemingly more mature and generally doing pretty well for themselves…  ok, in reality I know this isn’t really true, and actually I am basing this thought on a random couple I saw on “first dates” several months ago, who basically seemed worlds apart in maturity and having their “shit together” than me. I know many of my friends are just like me – muddling through life, having fun as much as possible, and probably think they don’t feel mature/30/they have their shit together, or should be adulting in general….

​  Dirty Thirty – well, you suck. You kind of were always going to, I guess, because I’m *almost* the real life version of Peter Pan; I don’t want to grow up. Only problem is, I am.

I think it could have been easier though. If you’d brought me at least one (or even 2, 3 or 4) happy healthy babies by now, I’d probably be coping better. Have my purpose. Be happier and marginally calmer (ok maybe not calmer or less anxious but I am sure happier). If I could run free and have little baby versions of us running around us freely too.

Maybe it’s going to come with my 30’s. I hope so as 40’s is definitely too late (and I can’t bare thinking about – where, how, is life going//so fast?!). In reality, I don’t feel any different to any other day. I’m just very aware that with ageing comes a life over and certain death – I like to think despite the best efforts of many drivers/my mental health/general life, I will make it to old age.

Some things I’m learning:

  1. Age really is, just a number. Fight it by staying young and having fun – life’s too short, it’s always playtime 😈 
    “Never lose your sparkle”
  2. If you really do have to keep getting older – drag out the celebrations as long as physically possible. I’ve dragged mine out a month, 7 “official” birthday dinners “out” this year – I think one less than last year. Poor show! See all your friends and family – or as many as possible.
  3. Fit 2. Into your everyday life. See friends and family and have as much fun as possible – we all came into this world with nothing and are all going to be leaving with nothing – take pictures/make memories; objects will be left behind (although to be inherited 😉 [been stealing my mums jewellery since 1987, she’s still happily alive and kicking and I’d like to keep it that way, whilst still “inheriting” {stealing} her jewellery!])
  4. Anxiety won’t lessen, if anything it seems to be getting worse. Maybe it gets worse before it gets better?
  5. You’d do better to not put yourself in situations that make you anxious, but you still have a determined belief that things should be right/fair/just and trying to bring that into the lives of morons often causes you anxiety you could avoid. 
  6. With that, depression won’t change either. Sadly, the world is still full of more a-holes than good people. It gets you down.
  7. It wouldn’t seem possible – given some of your previous responses… but alcohol will affect you even more and hangovers will be easier to come by 🙄

Here’s to the next 30 years! 😱😱😱

How to live life ☺️💖