Book Review: Eat, Drink, Run How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad – Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no. In April 2017, less than a year after she had weighed herself at over 16 stone but stepped off the scales and started training anyway, Bryony Gordon ran all 26 and 3/4 miles of the London Marathon.

If you’re friends with me on Goodreads you’ll know that I’ve adored every book I have read by Bryony Gordon – she’s funny, intelligent and just gets it. Although, this is the one I took longest to pick up. It was about running, something I can’t stand at all – would I really enjoy it? Read on friend, but I think you’ll work out pretty early on what the answer is.

One of the things I like most about Bryony is that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows how to laugh at herself and it’s a relief, you feel like you can laugh along too. Calling Prince Harry Hazza? Classic Bryony. Signing up the London Marathon without knowing how long it was? I laughed a lot while reading this and I think most people will.

This is more than a story of just running a marathon, it’s about battling your mental health, finding comfort in others and not giving up. Bryony started something called Mental Health Mates (more about it here) where a bunch of ‘mad’ people could have a get together and walk which is a bloody brilliant idea.

Again, Bryony covers another section of her life and health with unflinching honesty. She talks about the toll that writing Mad Girl had on her mental health and how walking and running gave her a little bit of sanity. Also, if you’re a fan of her other books, there are plenty of Harry’s brilliant reactions to Bryony’s shenanigans too.

If you’re worried this will be a prechy and self righteous book about the power of exercise, don’t be. Yes, Bryony found a love for running but she doesn’t try and force it on the reader at all, she simply writes about the joy and the many challenges she faced.

I found this to be funny, relatable and because of that I gave it 5 stars. Another excellent and honest book by Bryony – she truly is a wonderful human and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next. Also, I listened to this as an audiobook and can highly recommend!

10 Things Not To Say To Chronically Ill People - And What To Say Instead

10 Things Not To Say To Chronically Ill People – And What To Say Instead

Having a chronic illness can be a bit of a minefield in itself. I’ve been thinking a lot about things that people say that isn’t helpful and what could be said instead.

A lot of the time people don’t intend to hurt someone’s feelings when they say these things but when you’re already fighting with your body 24/7 the words of someone else can make it that bit more difficult.

So, I thought I’d write a handy guide from my perspective about things not to say to a chronically ill person and what you might be able to say instead.

But you look healthy!”

First of all, thank you. Second of all, ‘looking’ healthy can take a lot of effort. I have showered, sorted my hair and maybe even put on some make up most of which makes me tired. There are many invisible illnesses, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Instead, you can comment on how great someone looks without mentioning the illness – everyone loves a boost!

You should exercise more, that’ll help

Believe me I would love to be able to exercise every week without fail. Before my accident I was horse riding at least once a week and probably in the best shape I’ve been in as an adult.

The fact of the matter is I can’t do that anymore. I have to weigh up what I’m doing that week (Do I have any big deadlines? Do I need to go somewhere for work or with friends?) with the kind of exercise.

Currently I’m trying to do something every week but when every part of me hurts like I have the flu simply walking around my flat can be pretty painful. That said, I do try and get light exercise in no matter what.

Instead, why not ask them what activities they enjoy, if they’ve found anything that helps them and offer to go with. Some of my friends are excellent at this – we might go for a light work out together and I’ll just take a book so they can carry on if it gets too much!

Have you tried going to bed earlier?

Really Susan? I hadn’t thought about going to bed earlier to be less tired! Can you detect the sarcasm? Fatigue is a bit part of some chronic illnesses. When I’m in a flare I could sleep for 12 hours and still wake up feeling exhausted. Even when I’m not in flare if I have a busy weekend socialising I probably won’t be back to my version of normal for about a week.

Instead, maybe just don’t question their habits. It’s a bit of a dick move.

How come you can go to work/go out but you can’t come to my thing?”

I work because I need money to live. If I’m low on energy that’s my priority. Next question Janet.

Instead, be understanding let them know that it can’t be east to try and manage expectations and maybe recommend doing something together that’s less energy consuming.

You’re so boring”

Here’s the thing, when you’re chronically ill you might not have the most exciting life. I know that normally I’m in my pjs by 7pm if I can be just to be comfortable.

I know that for me, personally, being called boring drives me mad and sometimes hurts my feelings. I miss being able to do fun things and not think about how long it will take for me to feel better after doing any kind of activity.

Instead, have a bit of empathy, c’mon.

You’re too young to be ill/ have that illness.

HAHAHAHAHA. I wish! I get this a lot and I know some of my fellow spoonies do too. I’ve had old people look at me in disgust with my walking stick and people eye me suspiciously and refuse to give me a seat on the tube.

Being chronically ill can impact anyone no matter what their age and because, without make-up I’m told I look 17 it does not help my case. Either way, age has nothing to do with it.

Instead, ask polite questions if they’re ok with that and ask them how it feels to be chronically ill/disabled by an illness at a young age. Also if you hear someone else making this comment, sassy replies are appreciated.

Have you tried…”

People love to recommend things to those who are chronically ill and most of the time they want to help but sometimes those recommendations can be a little ridiculous. What worked for your brothers, nephews, girlfriends turtle probably won’t work for me.

Instead, if you have heard about something they might not have – think about how you phrase it. It’s all about the phrasing, try saying something like – “I heard about this thing, it made me think of you I don’t know if it would be of any benefit?” That way you’re letting them know that you respect that they know their own body.

Think positive!

I try my damned hardest to be positive where I can but living a life full of pain definitely wears you down. Telling someone to think positive can not only be irritating bust also hurtful. Think about why they might be so down and how you can help before saying it. Also word to the wise, comparing it to another illness is also not a reason to be positive.

Instead, let people have their moment – life with a Chronic Illness can suck! But also remind them of the things they’re good at, you can feel totally useless when you’re in flare.

I know how you feel “

Unless you have a chronic illness, I’m sorry but you don’t. As much as people are trying to be empathetic here it can be so frustrating. You might be tired/ aching/ feel run down after the weekend but I promise you it’s not the same.

Instead, ask them if there is anything you can do to help or if they want to talk through stuff. Or just acknowledge that you don’t know how they feel exactly but you can empathise.

Don’t take XX/ Does medication really work?”

Ah, commenting on someone else’s medication or treatment plan. This is a big one that, again, is often well meaning. A lot of the time people have heard horror stories of a certain drug and some don’t believe in taking medication at all.

From personal experience finding a medication that even remotely helps your symptoms can take a long time and causes a lot of side effects. For me alone I’ve had to try medication that has made me vomit, have headaches, increased my anxiety to the point of having panic attacks, have heart palpitations, night sweats and lots of other wonderful things.

Instead, if you really want to talk medication ask them about their experiences but honestly? I’d just leave it alone – it’s a deeply personal thing!

Is there anything you’d add or do you have any questions? Leave them in the comments below!

Hard Pushed – Leah Hazard

Saying that midwives are incredible is an understatement. These women (and sometimes men) are the bringers of life, people that labouring mothers can love more than their partners at some points. But who are they behind the scrubs and the smiles? What do they see every day? Leah Hazard has spent years working as an NHS midwife and this is her story.

I absolutely adored this book, because it was so interesting. Through Leah’s eyes, we see snippets of different women as they make their way through labour. From women who are awaiting their first bundles of joy, to teenagers going through it alone, there are a number of stories that made me want to reach through the pages and hug them. Each experience seems to different but so similar at the same time and while this is, as Leah puts it herself, a ‘love letter’ to the women she has helped and her fellow midwives.

While this does have wonderful moments, what stands out is that Leah is not afraid to share the pressure midwives are under. Understaffed, underfunded and often running on empty.  Many midwives have walked away, not because they don’t love their jobs but because they are burnt out. Missed breaks, hospitals fit to burst and often not enough beds. It is one of many memoirs from medical professionals I have read in the past few years that I feel should be required reading for those making cuts to NHS services.

I gave this book 5 stars and devoured it in 24 hours, and that includes a nights sleep in-between. Leah Hazard clearly not only has a talent for writing but also a kindness that exudes from the pages of this book. Like many other medical memoirs, I am in awe of those who care for us in our hours of need. This is incredibly well written and I urge you to pick it up.

A copy of this book was given to me to review via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

5 Things I Learnt in 2018

5 Things I Learnt in 2018

In a word, 2018 has been intense. I’ve felt like I’ve been pulled in every direction but I’m a world away from where I started the year. When I thought about how I wanted to write about the year I was a bit conflicted, I didn’t want to make it look like everything was perfect but didn’t want to moan.

So, why not put a positive spin on the crappy times from this year? Instead of thinking about how much things sucked, I wanted to look at what I learnt from them. Do any of you try to do that too? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

My own happiness is important

This seems quite obvious but it’s something I neglected for a long time. I thought the aim was to work as much as possible, that’s it. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t do anything at the weekend because I was so exhausted or my skin was an angry spotty mess because of stress. This was life right?

Wrong. I started prioritising what was important to me and what I wanted out of my life. I still don’t have the perfect balance (I probably never will) but I’m working on it.

Sometimes doing the scary thing is the best thing

Going freelance was slightly terrifying. When my job was no longer needed I didn’t know what to do. I did what I thought I was meant to do. Applying for more office based jobs, trying to find something closer to home.

I didn’t think anyone would hire me as a freelancer, and besides it was too much of a risk. But I posted on Linkedin, chatted to a few people I knew and within a month I had started in a job I could only dream of. I’m finally happy and the fear was worth it. Doing this comes with it’s own challenges but I’m ok with that.

Standing up for your own body is important

My body isn’t always kind to me but knowing when something is normal and when it’s not is so important, especially this year. I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, after knowing something wasn’t right. That was the first step. Similarly, knowing when side effects of medication was too much was also important.

Later in the year, I had to really push myself to disagree with medical professionals to get help. After a lot of misdiagnosis I had a few days in the hospital, we’re still not clear what exactly happened but I was firm with my doctors that something wasn’t right and needed investigation – or at least pain relief!

Finally, I had to deal with a dismissive Gynaecologist who refused to acknowledge my own feelings about the Coil. After talking to a brick wall, I thought about my options and replaced my implant – as I knew the pill would impact my mental health and was pleased I listened to my body as it was exactly what I needed!

I’m allowed to say no or walk away

I used to feel like I owed something to the person who employed me, loyalty and positivity at all times no matter what. I thought jobs were meant to be for the longest amount of time possible. Wrong.

Much like being in charge of my own happiness, I’m allowed to say no to things! I’m allowed to walk away if I don’t feel like I’m being respected. At times, these had consequences but I’m proud of myself for actually putting my own sanity first.

I am a badass!

There, I said it and I’m going to keep saying it! I haven’t given up or given in this year when things got tough and I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

What have you learnt in 2018? I’d love to know!

Top Posts of 2018

My Most Popular Posts Of 2018!

I don’t know about you but I find my analytics absolutely fascinating. Stats might not be everything but year after year I love to see what my readers have been getting up to on my site. So, I thought, why not make a post out of it? 

I’ll always write what I want to write but, at the same time, my blog – and the opportunities I get from it is down to my wonderful readers. On that note I’m going to stop babbling and let you actually read! 

Number 10: Fibromyalgia And Me 

I’m really pleased this post made my top 10, because it was one I was very nervous about posting. I only got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia earlier this year and my reaction was…complicated.

I didn’t want people to see me differently BUT needed to reevaluate parts of my life. Now I feel much better and can be much more open about living with Fibro. The post that started it all is here.

Number 9: I’m Starting Again 

In July I found myself job hunting again and it knocked my confidence. This post was just chatting about how I felt, what I was trying to do and a general update. You can read about it here

Number 8: I’m In A Funk 

Another one of my mental health posts to hit the top 10. I wanted to get out there that I was struggling and comparing myself a lot to others. It was a to the point post about how we look at ourselves and comparison. 

Number 7: Carrying On: Surviving The Past Year 

A post from April about the previous 365 days that had been pretty tough (little did I know this year would have a LOT of ups and downs too!). I like to keep you guys in the loop and this was looking back on how far I’d come.

Number 6: I’m Obese? 

I really wanted to write about body image and expectations because of a few knocks I’d had. Following on from a doctors appointment where I was deemed overweight-obese by my BMI, despite being a size 12-14 I decided to get my feelings down once and for all! 

Number 5: Why I Will NEVER Use An App For Birth Control 

Responding to a worrying idea that people were using a fairly risky app as a way to try and prevent pregnancy got in the top 5. I made my feelings very clear and, actually, had a lot of great conversations about it! 

Number 4: The Pros and Cons Of Long Distance 

I’m in a long distance relationship for chunks of the year. I get asked quite a lot of questions, some weird sympathy and so I wrote about what’s it’s like – and you can check it out here.

Number 3: Taking The Plunge – I’m A Freelancer 

Not something I entirely planned for this year but it happened! I’m planning to do an update on being freelance in the new year too! The blog about how it all started is here

Number 2: Harry Potter Haul: Updated 

One of my most popular blogs EVER was a Harry Potter haul I wrote while at university. So, when I went to London for a Potter filled day shortly after Christmas I came back with a little collection and wanted to share! The updated version is here.

Number 1: Stressed, Depressed, But Well Dressed? 

This is one that really, really surprised me. I wrote the post a few years ago about a top I saw with the slogan on and how I felt about the phrase. Next year I really want to talk more about Mental Health! You can read it here.

So, that’s my top posts of 2018! Thank you to each and every one of you who head read, liked and commented on my posts – it means so much. 

Which of these was your favourite? I’d love to know in the comments below! 

*please note these were the most popular at the time of writing.

Paying for a good time – Spoonie Life

Like most 20 somethings I want to have adventures, memories I can look back on when life slows down a bit and say ‘that was a damn good time’. Unlike most of the people I know, they don’t have to barter with their health. If you’re a fellow Spoonie, you’re probably nodding in agreement.

Back in September, I was lucky enough to go to Disneyland with my Mum and sister. I mean, DISNEYLAND! We were taking a trip to Paris and I was ready for it, matching t-shirts and ears were essentials. From the moment we booked I also had a niggling feeling, a voice in the back fo my mind you’re going to pay for it later. And, boy did I. Even though we rented a wheelchair, got fast passes so, and had rest stops in the hotel (on more than one occasion I had to take emergency naps so that I could watch the fireworks or make it through dinner. I thought I’d handled the trip reasonably well it wasn’t until the last day I realised… I was in minus numbers, the spoons were scattered all over the floor.

 

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The thought that we have to ‘pay’ or reserve our spoons when we know we’re going to have to do something that will make us tired is hard. When I was first diagnosed, I rebelled against it – a lot. I got incredibly depressed and tried to prove to myself I could still do everything – I wasn’t ready to accept I needed to modify things. Now, I am better, I’ll try and plan a rest day here and there or not set my alarm and just let myself sleep. Little things that make life easier.

I joke that a big night out or day of big plans has me making deals with the devil, but really it’s made me appreciate them even more. As soon as I acknowledged that this was my life now, I started appreciating the things I do, because I have to choose them carefully. That doesn’t mean I can’t be spontaneous and have a trip on the beach – but I just have to rest a little more, maybe get a train rather than drive.

I refused to give up every fun part of my life to this illness – and I know I am truly lucky to do so.

July Favourites!

July hasn’t been an easy month! I recovered from my cyst, found myself redundant and well, I think that’s enough to knock anyone BUT there are still things to smile about and here are some of my favourites.

 

Books 

This month has been a small reading month, but varied. I’ve picked up poetry, a graphic novel, non-fiction and one fiction novel. Of course, you’ll get my full wrap up soon!

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Getting Better  

You probably saw that I was in hospital in June with a suspected burst ovarian cyst, I got these beautiful flowers from my Grandparents while I was recovering.

Night Out 

I got to spend a great (sober) night out for one of my besties birthdays! It isn’t often I go on a night out so this one was definitely needed, even if I was back home in bed by 11.30!

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Becoming a published poet! 

I am a published poet! I still can’t quite believe it but I hope it’s the first of many.

 

Pop Vinyls!

Three new Pops came this month, two I’d pre-ordered from Australia the Basilisk and Tom Riddle and Amy Pond, my favourite Doctor Who character. I don’t buy these as much anymore, even though I love them, so when I do I get really excited!

 

Lottie and Ed July 2018

House Sitting! 

I spent 10 nights house sitting for my parents with these little monsters. I might not have slept but they were great for cuddles when I lost my job.

 

YALC! 

I finally got to go to YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) this year! It was so incredible, I’m writing not one but TWO blogs for you guys this week. Keep your eyes peeled!