September Favourites

Okay, so I know that I say this pretty much every single month, but how are we almost at the end of September?! I feel like I’ve blinked and nine months have passed without me realising. I could have had a child in this time. Obviously no children are planned any time soon.

Onto the things that I have been loving this month!

Books

For various reasons, I haven’t been able to do a lot of reading this month. I have just started reading the forth book in the Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White by Robert Galbraith. Crime thrillers are one of my favourite genres to read so I was really excited when I found out that this had been published. The books are complex and engaging and Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling) has succeeded in making the characters real and believable. As much as I loved the Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in the series, I think that Lethal White could very quickly become my new most loved book in the series. I can’t wait to sit down and read more!

TV/Film

People who know me well (actually not even well) will know that I love September for one big reason. Strictly Come Dancing is back!

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I am SCD obsessed and rarely miss an episode. If I miss an episode, it has to be for a very good reason and when possible, I will avoid all social interaction on Saturday evenings until the series ends. I’ve already got various opinions on the contestants, along with the professionals and Stacey Dooley and Faye Tozer are already my favourites.

I can’t write a September favourites blog post without mentioning The Bodyguard. Just wow. Being a huge fan of Line of Duty, also written by Jed Mercurio, I had high expectations of this series and I was not disappointed. It. Was. So. Good. Although not to be watched in the middle of the night when you’re home alone. The twist in the final episode was outstanding…is Julia alive or not?! Roll on series two.

Spoonie Favourites

I am not ashamed to say that with the more autumnal weather, my electric blanket has made an appearance. Autumn and winter are my preferred seasons, I love fluffy jumpers, scarves, Ugg boots and cosy evenings in front of the fire but my joints aren’t so keen on the colder weather, especially if there are any sudden temperature drops. My electric blanket is an essential piece of equipment not only to keep me roasty toasty but also to help save my joints from seizing up. My cat loves the electric blanket too!

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Since being diagnosed with gastroparesis, I have struggled more with musculoskeletal issues in my shoulders and neck, or as my phyiso refers to the matter “sick muscle problems.’ I mean, she’s right, if a little blunt. During a recent physio appointment, I was told that my neck felt like it had a concrete rod down my neck and it felt very similar to me. I already had a V-shaped pillow but it wasn’t very supportive, so I have invested in a slightly more expensive one, which gives more support. It hasn’t completely resolved the issues, but being able to sleep with my neck and shoulders getting more support has made a difference.

On the same theme, this month I also invested in a memory foam pillow. Where has this been all of my life? Because of above reasons, I need a firm pillow and the memory foam pillow has done the job. I love my bed anyway, but the new combination of a memory foam pillow, new V-shaped pillow and my electric blanket and I might just set up home in my bed.

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Odds and Sods

Since I was a teenager, I have struggled to varying degrees with stretch marks. Oh I know, the glamour, but I’m nothing if not honest. Skin issues go hand in hand with EDS, so I’m always going to be more prone to the little buggers and I know that so many people also have stretch marks. But that doesn’t change how they make me feel and how much they knock my confidence. After using a combination of bio oil and Palmer’s Cocoa  Butter and not noticing any difference, I did some research and came across Udderly Gorgeous Stretch Mark Oil by Cowshed. Whilst it was developed with pregnancy in mind, it has also had a good write up in improving stretch marks in general. Time will tell, but it smells so much better than bio-oil, is less greasy and is absorbed more quickly.

August Favourites

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Welcome to another monthly favourites post, looking at all the things I’ve been loving in August! This month seems to have flown by and it’s mad to think that we are nearly in September. Bring on the cosy evenings in front of the fire, fluffy jumpers and Ugg boots. People who know me will know that I’m not a huge fan of summer and much prefer freezing cold winter days…I can’t wait.

Due to being pretty unwell over the past four or five weeks, this post is probably going to be a bit shorter than my usual monthly favourites posts, simply because in between a lot of sleeping and a lot of time being spent in hospital, I haven’t really done a lot to warrant favourites. But anyway, here we go…

Books

Last month, I talked about Holly Bourne’s first adult fiction book, How Do You Like Me Now? which has recently released and that I had fairly low expectations, as her last young adult fiction book which had been released prior to that, wasn’t that great and felt rushed. After reading her latest release, back under the YA fiction umbrella, I can confirm that Holly Bourne is back. Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes is possibly Holly’s best book, with a strong and unique plot line. As per her other books, Holly has focused on mental health, normalising it and reducing the stigma. The book follows Olive, a teenage girl living on the edge of a mental health crisis, who is given the opportunity to attend a summer camp for teens struggling with mental illnesses. Through her own experiences, Olive begins to put together a plan to not only solve her own mental illness, but the mental illnesses of everyone in the world. It is raw, compassionate and explores mental health in a sensitive but informative way.

Another book that I have enjoyed this month is Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham. This is another book which has been beautifully written, looking at issues surrounding young carers and children and young people with refugee status in the UK. Stevie lives with her mum, on the poverty line, after her mum’s benefits are stopped. Hafiz is a Syrian refugee. Both are big dreamers and as their friendship develops, they begin to understand their similarities as well as their differences. Having experienced the benefits system, parts of this book really resonated with me: Siobhan highlights how powerless you end up feeling, when you are treated as nothing more than a statistical figure as opposed to a person.

Films/TV

Over the past few months, I have been watching Ackley Bridge and have ended up getting kind of hooked to it. When Waterloo Road was being shown on television, I was obsessed with it and now have the box set on DVD, which keeps me sane when insomnia strikes. Ackley Bridge is similar to Waterloo Road, in that it focuses on the lives of various students and members of staff at Ackley Bridge College. It’s probably not going to win any awards but it’s worth watching if you need something that doesn’t require much concentration. Series one and two are available to watch online now.

This month I did something very rare for me and went to the cinema to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. My mum and I both love Mamma Mia, it is our go to film on rainy days, so it was only right that we went to the cinema to see the second film. I was a bit skeptical about it and wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype and expectations but I loved it. It really is a proper feel good film (ignoring the gut wrenching scenes towards the end) and Lily James is beautiful.

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I am so excited that the line up to Strictly Come Dancing has been announced. Reminder to all my friends: don’t expect me to socialise on Saturday evenings once it starts!

The Great British Bake Off is also back soon. After just about getting over the move from the BBC to channel four, I am able to admit that actually, the new line up works well. I’m still loyal to Mary Berry but as the presenters and judges have gelled, it doesn’t feel as cringe to watch and for the most part, they are funny.

Spoonie Favourites

Let’s talk about pyjamas. I spent a lot of time in my pyjamas and if I got my own way, I would spent a lot more time in pyjamas. Because of this, I take pyjama buying very seriously. The majority of my pyjamas used to be M&S but recently, I’ve been disappointed in the quality of them, especially as they shrink in the wash and end up as angle swingers. That’s saying something considering how short my legs are. Having tried various other brands including Matalan, Tesco and Fat Face, I ended up buying a couple of pairs from Sainsbury’s and I can’t fault them. They are super soft, cosy and don’t shrink in the wash. They’re also fairly cheap, so any excuse to buy more!

Odds and Sods 

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Having gastroparesis means that food is something that I have come to dread, rather than enjoy, so finding foods that I’m able to eat without being sick and actually taste nice is fairly unheard of. I came across the brand Pudology, who make gluten and dairy free desserts, which is perfect for the diet that I have to follow. They taste so good and so far, I seem to have been able to eat them without any vomiting, which is great news!

What have your favourites been this month? I love finding out what other people have been loving and would recommend.

July Favourites

Welcome to another monthly favourites post, looking at all the things I’ve been loving in July! The hot weather continues, my cat has given up tormenting the wildlife (mostly) and I have gassed myself out using Deep Freeze spray a few too many times. My health has been a bit up and down this month: I am so thankful that I was well enough to spend just under a week in York, reliving my university days and pretending, badly, that I am still a student. However, there has also been some real low moments, involving a lot of vomit, infections, catheters and paramedics, meaning that I’ve lost quite a bit of this month to sleep and being a bit out of it on medication. Something exciting that has happened this month is that I have been nominated for a WEGO Health Award, under the best in show blogging category. This has shocked me so much and it would mean the world to me if you would endorse me (vote) by clicking HERE!

So, onto the favourites!

Books

Last month, Dear Chronic Illness, compiled by Pippa Stacey of Life of Pippa was released. This book features a collection of letters, written by people who have been diagnosed or affected by chronic illnesses, in their varying forms. I laughed and cried, sometimes at the same time, reading this. Often it can be really hard to explain what life is like living with a chronic condition and there are times when it feels like it has taken over your life: Dear Chronic Illness gives an insight into what life can be like and makes you feel less alone.

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I have possibly talked about Holly Bourne in previous monthly favourites posts; her first adult fiction book, How Do You Like Me Now? was recently released. I’ll be honest, I was a bit indifferent at the thought of reading this book, for the most part I have loved Holly’s young adult fiction, but felt that her last YA book, It Only Happens In The Movies was slightly rushed, and didn’t compare so well to the Spinster Trilogy. I had concerns that How Do You Like Me Now? would follow the same path and be rushed and forced. It has been dubbed the new Bridget Jones, for this generation and whilst it’s good, I wouldn’t go as far as that. In my opinion, nothing beats Bridget’s big knickers, vodka and Chaka Khan.

Films/TV

Much like last month, I am still obsessed over Love Island. With only a week and a bit left, I’m not sure how I’m going to cope in life without it. In case you missed it, I wrote a blog post recently about The Problems With Love Island, where I talked about being a feminist and if watching Love Island makes me a bad feminist. I don’t necessarily agree with the behaviours shown by some of the people in the villa, but Love Island is a winner for some summer evening TV viewing and I will be remaining loyal, babe to it.

Over July we were flooded with all the talk about football and whether England will produce a less shameful performance this time round. I’m not a fan of football, put simply, I don’t understand the appeal of watching grown men chase a ball and roll around on the floor a bit and receive thousands of pounds for doing so. Not being funny, but a dog can do that and it would be a lot cuter and more entertaining, so why aren’t we watching that on television? Anyway, personal feelings aside, I ended up watching two of the England matches, one very much not out of choice (cheers, Nikki…) and then I watched the semi final, because, you know, if could have happened. I’m not going to say that I’m a convert, but the matches passed some time and England getting to the semi finals was a nice change from our usual, shameful displays.

Thanks to being unwell, I have rekindled my love of Netflix and have been watching Good Girls. The series follows three suburban mothers, who suddenly find themselves in desperate circumstances and decide to stop playing it safe and risk everything to take their power back, buy committing armed robbery. As American comedies go, I have been impressed by this, it has just the right level of wit, balanced with drama and the actors are pretty good too.

To pass the poorly days away, I ended up purchasing the full box set of Nurse Jackie and made my way through series one within one day. I have no regrets. If you like Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy or The Night Shift then this is for you. With a few more illicit drugs.

Spoonie Favourites

At the beginning of the month, I had an appointment with Dr Hakim, a consultant in Rheumatology, who has a specialism in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The appointment itself was helpful and I’ll probably talk about it in another blog post, but one thing he recommended was Nuun Tablets, to help with remaining hydrated and to potentially help with steadying my slightly wacky pulse. They are packed with electrolytes, as well as being low in calories and sugar and they have been brilliant at helping to prevent dehydration in this hot weather. Plus, if you purchase through the hyperlink that I’ve included, you get a sample of NipEAZE, which protects your nipples from abrasion while running, working, surfing or body boarding. Don’t say that I don’t spoil you with information and treats…what more could you want in life? 

Odds and Sods 

So, as I said at the beginning of this post, I went to York for a few days to catch up with university friends and some of my lecturers who I’m still in touch with. York is possibly one of my favourite places to visit and not just because of the memories it holds.

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Evil Eye Lounge, Stonegate, York

York itself is a beautiful city, with individual and unique shops that I could happily spend way too much money in. I can’t write a monthly favourites post without mentioning Give The Dog A Bone. People who know me from my uni days will know who much I love this shop and how much money I spent in there on a weekly basis. I can’t really do the shop justice in a blog post: if you like stationary, cards, homeware and rude humour then have a look at their website. It’s free delivery on orders over £40, you know you want to.

What have your favourites been this month? I love finding out what other people have been loving and would recommend.

June Favourites

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Photo from spoonievillage calendar

 

Welcome to another monthly favourites post, looking at all the things I’ve been loving in June! At the time of writing this, it is exactly six months until Christmas and I’m not sorry to admit that I am somewhat pining for cold weather, fluffy jumpers and evenings with the fire lit. Hot weather doesn’t agree too well with my body. Anyway, on with my favourites for this month…

Books

Last month, I talked about I Am Thunder: And I Won’t Keep Quiet by Muhammad Khan and how much I loved it. It made me realise, however, how little I know about Islamic culture and a lot of what I did know, was based on new reports, which can give a very one-sided viewpoint. So, with that in mind, I decided to educate myself a little bit and find out more about Islamic culture, through the medium of books. After searching on Amazon, I came across Randa Abdel-Fattah, a litigation lawyer and human rights activist, living in Sydney. Her first book, Does My Head Look Big in This, follows the story of Amal, a sixteen year old living in Melbourne, who also happens to be a Muslim, struggling to honour the Islamic faith in a society that doesn’t understand it, following her decision to start wearing this hijab. The book is insightful, laugh out loud funny and at times, a bit of a tear jerker, and I’m not known for crying at books.

The second book by Abdel-Fattah that I read this month is The Lines We Cross. The book has a similar set up to Does My Head Look Big in This: it is set in an Australian secondary school and looks at how society perceives different cultures and religions, with anti-immigration rallies fighting against the raise of immigration into Australia. The flip side of this books looks at the story of an Afghani asylum seeker, who came to Australia on a boat, following besiegement of her home country and faces a negative reception from native Australians. Again, I would really recommend this book, despite it being a YA book, its themes are applicable to adults and teenagers alike.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard was another favourite this month. Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. Put simply, this book was beautiful and I loved the perspective from Rhys, looking at how deaf people feel and deal with the hearing world, as well as how Steffi manages her social anxiety and the assumptions made by people around her.

My final book favourite for this month is Because We Are Bad by Lily Bailey. Anyone who wants to know about OCD, and how to fight back, should read this book – it is an emotional, challenging read. Lily takes the reader deep into the heart of the illness but she is also a deft writer, and even the darkest moments are peppered with wit and wry observations. Having a diagnosis of OCD meant that, at times, this book was a little hard hitting but I appreciate Lily’s honesty and could really relate to aspects of the book.

Films/TV

 

Okay so I only have one favourite from film and TV this month which is…dun dun duuuunnnn…

LOVE ISLAND.

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I am obsessed with this series and the first thing that I do when I wake up in the morning is watch the previous night’s episode on catch up. My life simply would not be complete without the daily debriefs with friends. My standout moments so far are Hayley on Brexit (and trees) and Rosie’s sass towards Adam. I still haven’t got over Kendall being dumped from the villa and I don’t think I ever will.

Spoonie Favourites

 

The Body Shop has come up on top again this month, with their spoonie friendly makeup and cosmetic products. A lot of the time, I don’t have the energy to spend ages and ages doing my makeup of having a long beauty regime, but at the same time, I don’t want to get into a downward spiral of not making any effort. A complete life saver in hot weather has been their mandarin face mist, which hydrates skin and is makeup friendly. Great if you need a quick refresh without any effort.

Another life saver has been their aloe soothing moisture lotion, with SPF 15. If you’re anything like me, putting sun cream on your face will result in claggy and blocked pores and all the spots, so this is brilliant at protecting your skin without breaking out in twenty million spots. It’s designed for sensitive skin and is paraben and alcohol free.

Continuing on the theme of quick and easy makeup products, Soap and Glory Fake Awake has been a recent discovery and is brilliant at covering up my ever growing dark circles, with minimal effort and time.

 

What have your favourites been this month? I love finding out what other people have been loving and would recommend.

 

April Favourites

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Welcome to another monthly favourites post, looking at all the things I’ve been loving in April! Compared to previous months, this is going to be pretty short and sweet: I’ve been a bit rubbish at discovering new things and this month seems to have flown by before I managed to achieve anything.

Books

 

This month, following a couple of recommendations, I discovered Juno Dawson, who used to write under the name James Dawson, before transitioning to female, hence being known as Juno. On the whole, I’ve really enjoyed reading her books, getting through on average one a day. Her earlier books took some getting used to, in particular Under My Skin. In fact, my reaction after finishing that book was “that was weird!“Don’t get me wrong, it was a good book, however the concept of a tattoo overtaking and becoming the controlling force on someone’s body really really freaked me out.

Juno Dawson is  storytelling genius. Whilst her earlier books are under the thriller genre, which I love, they are so much more than just thrillers, looking at LGBT* issues, friendship, bullying, confidence and expectations. So, as well as reading Under My Skin, I have also made my way through Clean, Hollow Pike, All of the Above, Say Her Name and The Gender Games. Clean sees Juno Dawson taking a different route in fiction (think Gossip Girl meets Girl Interrupted as one reviewer puts it) and I actually have this book to thank for my introduction to Juno’s work, after I picked it up on a whim in Tesco.

Whilst I have mainly read Juno Dawson’s books this month, I have also read Sunflowers in February which was heartbreakingly perfect.

I’ve stuck to young adult fiction this month because I’ve been massively struggling with brain fog, which has affected my ability to concentrate and take in anything where I am required to think. Fingers crossed that next month, I can make a start on the growing pile of crime and thriller genre books that I have on my book shelves.

 

Films/TV

Pitch Perfect 3 came out on DVD this month. Need I say more? I love the Pitch Perfect franchise and the films are often my go-to films when I feel rubbish and need cheering up.

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I’ve realised that I haven’t watched much TV or seen many films this month. I’m hoping to see Love, Simon soon, fingers crossed that it lives up to the hype.

 

Spoonie Favourites

 

My first spoonie favourite for this month is a bit of a different one: Tesco jeans. Okay, stay with me on this one. I have really short legs – being just over 5ft is a bit of a curse in that sense – so I find buying jeans a very painful process. Once I find a brand that I like, that’s it, I’m on a convert and buy all the jeans in different colours (I say different colours and I mean dark blue and black). I had a slightly unfortunate vomit situation which resulted in me needing to buy some new emergency jeans and the nearest shop was Tesco. I picked up a pair of their contour jeans in denim colour, with ripped knees. And I love them. They are so comfy, they fit perfectly, with a slight stretch which is perfect for when my hips and knees swell up. Plus, they are so much cheaper than my usual Jack Wills/Oasis/Top Shop jeans and they wash well as well, which is always a bonus. I love these jeans so much that I went out and bought another pair in dark indigo a few days later. Who knew that Tesco jeans could be so good?!

My other spoonie favourite for April is the brand Happy Naturals. I actually discovered Happy Naturals just over a year ago and got very excited at finding another skin care/cosmetic company that not only is cruelty free, but doesn’t cause an awful reaction on my sensitive skin. Their muscle soak bubble bath is wonderful for those days when my body is all-over-hurting. Maybe it’s a psychological effect but I’ve found that it eases muscle pain and makes me feel super pampered.

 

 

 

 

The Problem With “Me Before You”

Warning: this post talks about suicide.

I’m going to hold my hands up right now and apologise for the fact that this is going to be somewhat controversial. Me Before You is, in my opinion, a bit of a marmite book/film: you either love it or hate it. So, to all the fans of Louisa Clark and her bee tights, I’m sorry for my upcoming rant.

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Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the book or film. I read the book purely because there was a massive hype about it and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It’s not my usual genre, chick flicks that fail the Bechdel test are normally avoided, but enough said about my inner feminist feelings.

My issue with the book and film starts with the promotion in the run up to the film adaptation being released. The production team came up with the hashtag #LiveBoldly, whilst promoting the life of a previously healthy man, who became disabled (quadriplegic) following a road accident and was therefore considering assisted suicide in Switzerland. That in itself is a bit of an oxymoron: can you really #LiveBoldly when your aim is to die?

At this point, I want to make it really clear that I do not have an issue with assisted suicide or euthanasia.

But was the underlying theme #LiveBoldly or dying quickly? A disability is not a reason to not live a fulfilling life. Being disabled does not automatically mean the taking away of potential, hopes, dreams and aspirations. And leading a fulfilled life is something that is promoted so heavily in the book.

I have a bigger problem with the fact that Louisa was left a substantial amount of money in Will’s will. Will dictated that he wanted Louisa to swap her boring and stagnant life for one full of adventure and possibility, visiting all the places that she only dreamed of visiting.

Can a person only #LiveBoldly if they are able-bodied? So, whilst Louisa does get to go on her great adventure and experience a life full of excitement and opportunity, this is at the cost of another person’s life. The message that is being given here is that an able-bodied person’s life is valued more in society that someone who has a disability.

People with disabilities are not your reason to cry. People with disabilities are not to the pitied or killed off, in order to give a book or film an emotional ending. People with disabilities are not the reason for making a book a page turner.

The problem could be lessened, if not solved, by the presence of just one disabled character to provide some contrast and show that suicide isn’t the only option. Will is deemed to be a strong and determined man: if a strong and determined man can’t cope with a disability than how are mere-mortals meant to cope? In both the film and the book, Will is portrayed as isolated and as someone who is encased in negativity with very little hope. No wonder his only solution was suicide: this simply is not the reality of all people with disabilities and it’s giving a very one-sided view on being disabled. There are a disproportionate number of stories which relate to the “problem” of disability being “solved” by death. Books, TV and films seem to love the idea of people dying and gaining freedom,

The recent death of Stephen Hawking has showed how this view point has been carried into the real world. When he died, people were saying that he was now free from his wheelchair. The reality, however, is that Professor Hawking saw his wheelchair as something that gave him freedom, not something that restricted it. It allowed him movement, speech, the ability to teach, develop world famous theories, to be a father, husband, son and scholar.

Suicide is still a taboo subject. When able-bodied people talk about suicide, they are discouraged and offered preventative support. If an able-bodied person commits suicide, without the assistance of another person it is legal. When a disabled person has the consideration, the issue becomes more focused on autonomy and being of sane mind but very rarely is a person offered the same level of psychiatric support. Are disabled people less worthy?

On a more personal note, I have struggled with suicidal ideation off and on for a number of years. If I was to say that the reason behind those thoughts and feelings was because of X Y and Z from my past, I would be offered interventions, a crisis plan would be written and there would be a discussion about how I could be helped. However, and this is the important bit, if I was to say that I was feeling suicidal because of disability or chronic illness, suddenly, that isn’t as concerning. I have said that and I was genuinely told that it was “understandable”.

So yet again, we are faced with the question of are disabled people valued less? According to Me Before You, it suggests that and that is not a message that should be given through popular culture.