Birthdays suck…

Every year I dread my Birthday. I always see people with big extravagant parties, gifts and surrounded by family and friends. As an introvert, and as someone who suffers with anxiety, my friendship circle has always been small. I struggle making new friends, because I’m always weary of new people who might judge me or misunderstand my self-care/hibernation periods. I spent far too much of my young adult life trying to please and impress people who never cared a smidge about me- so nowadays I’d rather have no friends than I would fake friends. I’ve made peace with that, and I love my small collection of remaining friends.

Previously, where I may have tried to organise a big meal or event with “friends”, in recent years for the most part I’ve given up. Sometimes I find life a little tough as I always feel a bit on the outside. Like I’m always a friend but never a “best-friend”.

As it happens, since January 3rd is such an awkward date, I’ve always found that people will produce a multitude of excuses and flake. “I have no money”, “I’m still hungover from NYE”, “I’m back at work that day”, “I’m with family”. While these are all valid excuses, I became exhausted by getting my hopes up every year that one year would be different and that someone would remember and give me an amazing surprise- or at the very least, make the day less depressing.

In essence, nothing about 23 is an exciting age, and at this stage I’m fairly certain I will be spending it alone with my cat. All I ever really hope for are memories. I just wish that my birthdays didn’t always seem to merge into one constant dreary January. This year I had my best friends over and a visitor for Austin over for New Year, so I suppose that today after dropping them off at the train station anything would feel slightly anticlimactic- but my husband and my mum this year both couldn’t take it off work. Of course, this isn’t their fault, but it does add substantially to the feeling of disappointment. I’m quite family oriented and I live for the moments that involve the whole family together spending some quality time just laughing.

Furthermore, now I’m past 21, I struggle to get excited about hitting age milestones. It makes me feel a little frightened at the speed my life is going, and generally just more aware of my own mortality. My birthday always serves as a reminder I’m probably almost a quarter of a way through my life, and that I’ve barely achieved anything in that time. Not only that, but it actually seems to serve as a cute little reminder of how lonely and isolated I’ve become. All in all, I will probably spend tomorrow in bed, napping, and playing the PS4… and I’m ok with that.

The intent of this post isn’t to sound whiny, selfish and entitled, but I really want to make a point of sharing both the good and the bad parts of mental health. This time of year is never a great one for me, but alas, there’s always next year. Wish me happy gaming!

Love,

Frankii.

Plus size me || bodies past, present and future

**TW: If you have issues with weight and/or body image or eating disorders there may be content in this article that you find distressing.** 

Hey guys!

Sorry I’ve been a little inconsistent with my blogging that past week or so, as you have may have seen on Twitter, I have a lot going on in my head at the moment, and I needed to take a brief step back for my Mental Health.

When I first started this blog, I had always intended for it to be purely lifestyle and beauty- but as time progressed I realised that in order to be authentic with my readership I couldn’t avoid talking about Mental Health. It’s something that affects so many of us, me included, and I have always been passionate and vocal about spreading awareness. My only downfall in this regard, has been my own pride. I have always been very supportive and try to be as nonjudgemental as possible of others when they come to me with Mental Health issues, but I’ve always struggled with taking my own advice. Since I’ve been particularly struggling this month, I thought I’d share with you what’s been going on.

Besides my decision to drop out of my MA, looking for jobs, considering a house move, and my husband being on nights, one of the biggest contributing factors I’ve always struggled with surrounding Mental Health is Body Image.


Past

I have always been, and probably always will be, a massive foodie. I love food, I love cooking, and I love the satisfaction that comes with making something great. I’m not throwing blame at all, but I wasn’t exactly brought up in a family full of healthy eating/active living role models. My Mum, a pescatarian (or as I like to call it, shitatarian) has neglected her own nutrition to make sacrifices for her kids for years. While she always cooked balanced meals, she definitely raised me with the “waste not want not” mentality, and sometimes I still feel guilty to leave food. My dad can easily eat enough to sate four men in one sitting, and when I moved in with my Grandparents, I learned to cook mostly because had I not I feel like we would have lived off M&S food that could just be thrown in a microwave or straight in the oven- Grandma is not fond of cooking!

When I was in Primary school I was bullied mercilessly until I had to change schools. I was the tallest in class, always seemed to have a coldsore on picture day, chubby, bespectacled and Mum waited far too long to introduce me to hair removal methods (I am still haunted by prepubescent photos that exhibit a rather glorious monobrow, lol)! Besides the bullying, I have very early memories of hearing the terms “big-boned” and “puppy fat” being thrown around.

Fortunately, as I reached high school and grew ever taller, eventually stopping at 5’10, I somewhat “grew into” my weight, (though unfortunately much before all the boys so I still stuck out like a sore thumb)! Also unfortunately, I also hit puberty early too. This meant that I went from being bullied to being one of the first girls to get breasts. Enter the dreaded male gaze. At around 13 I went from a B to DD in the space of two weeks. From then on they just never seemed to stop, and by the time I was 15 my body settled on a 30HH. This meant that while the measurements of my waist at the time suggested I should wear a size 8, my bust meant that I was a size 16. Looking back, I was a beautiful hourglass, but I always felt bigger than my friends. From ages 14-16 I remember skipping lunch at school, and refusing to eat breakfast, hoping that I could lose weight by only eating the one meal that Mum made at dinner time.

It worked somewhat, but at 16, with prom fast approaching, I started experiencing what I now recognise to be the first signs of anxiety. If I ever got particularly nervous or excited, I would feel nauseous and sometimes have to rush to the toilet to vomit. It was then that I started to experiment with purging. I was determined to lose weight, and mum wouldn’t let me live on those god awful SlimFast shakes. That was, until my Grandma heard me purging. My family finally accepted that I wanted to do this, and agreed. What I didn’t realise was how unhealthy this would make me. Recovering from Meningitis and on regular Codeine, I was feeling faint and lightheaded more than often. After all, I wasn’t eating proper meals. Not only this, but I have a (now very mild) intolerance to lactose, and also prone to tonsillitis, so I was living with an almost constant throat infection from the level of milk I was ingesting.

Fast forward to college, I was feeling a little more sure of myself and who I was. That was when things started escalating the other way. I remember eating my emotions each time a boy cheated on me, stress eating my way through all my exams/revision phases. I remember the look of shame and pity on my grandmas face when she caught me elbow deep in a bag of Doritios. “Ill lose weight when I’ve finished my exams”. Of course, there was always another exam. At least then, I was moderately active and had horse riding to look forward to.

This went on right into uni. On top of that I was going out clubbing and drinking at least 3-6 nights a week. I was awful in my first year, and really abused my body. My only exercise was making a fool of myself in clubs. I’d fill my body with crap and liquor. In second year it only got worse, when I had my first more “serious” wave of depression. Not only was I depressed, but in hindsight I was also agoraphobic. I hated myself so deeply I didn’t want others to see me. At one point this got so bad that I would hide in my room until I was sure my flatmates had gone to bed, and order takeaway food just so that I wouldn’t risk seeing anyone in the kitchen. I felt like I was eating to survive at this point, and my body didn’t matter. In final year I was better, refreshed and feeling right again. I signed up for Joe Wicks (the body coach) and lost 20lbs in a month, following a strict macro diet plan and HIIT exercise. Then, however, I met my now husband (who unfortunately is American with a lot of bad eating habits of his own, but rudely with the metabolism of Usain Bolt), and then was faced by my dissertation.


Present

Now, I find myself having put all that weight back on, plus a stone for good luck- I am bigger than I have ever been.

While I have always been an advocate for plus women and body positivity, I have struggled so hard with accepting my new reality. People treat me differently, I feel less likely to get jobs, afraid to do things where I’d “take up too much space”. I either obsess over or avoid mirrors at all costs, I never buy new clothes because I feel like everything looks awful, I can feel agoraphobia seeping in again, I feel like everyone is judging me, my family is ashamed of me and I haven’t felt “sexy” in about a year. I’ve always wanted a breast reduction because of my back pain, but they advise you not to get one until you’re “happy” with your weight, since if you gain or loose too much either way the shape will change. When I dream, I don’t appear the way I do in real life. I don’t even recognise who I am in the mirror, and honestly, I really don’t think I want to.

On top of the shallow reasons I have always wanted to lose weight, I am also now consumed with new symptoms and concerns about my health. I know if I don’t change my life soon I am going to eat myself to death. I’ve always had back pain due to the size of my bust, but now I can’t even stand for long enough to do the dishes without sitting down to avoid tears. I hadn’t realised how bad it had gotten until last year for our mini-honeymoon, merely walking around London I found myself clinging onto A’s arm with tears in my eyes because my back pain was so severe. Not only this, my resting heart rate is insanely high, I’m constantly fatigued and I’m beginning to see more and more symptoms of pre-diabetes, and it is making me insanely paranoid.

Honestly, I want to lose weight so that I can do the things I enjoy again. So I can feel confident in myself and wear the clothes I long to wear. So I can feel sexy and healthy and enjoy being active and going on adventures with my husband. I want to feel like myself again.


Future

My plans for the future are to take effect immediately. No more “I’ll start Monday”, or I’ll try harder next week. I need to make this commitment to myself and to the people who love me so that I don’t eat myself into an early grave. I miss doing the sports I loved so much but 4 years ago. I miss waking up and not worrying about being in pain every day. The worst part is, I know about nutrition and exercise, I just don’t do it, and while my mental health often causes my lack of desire, it’s often also the other way around. I need to force myself through the pain and the hard times to reach the size 10 jeans at the end of the tunnel.

I thought I would write this to let you all know, since you might be noticing some changes with my Instagram and other social media feeds. Of course I will still be doing beauty, but I’d love to start sharing my journey with you all, because I feel like through blogging I’ve found a space on the internet full of loving, supportive souls. Besides, there might even be a few recipes in it for you!

 

Love,

Frankii xx

 

 

 

 

I know this post was a little long and a little personal, but hopefully now I’ve worked through my emotional turmoil (lol I’m so dramatic) I’ll be back to regular posting. My next installation of discounted beauty is coming soon!! Xx

Toxic Friendships Series | Cleaning Up Your ‘Squad’: Pt. III


Regular readers, since in both my anxiety tips, and my graduate mental health posts, I touched on the importance of cutting ties with toxic individuals, I thought it only fair to share with you my own experiences, and some of the sorts of behaviours you should look out for and try to avoid when trying to lead a positive life. I created this series both as a form of therapy and a means of warning/advising others who may feel like they are in the same boat. I’m making this a series, as it was a little long to include several types of toxic friend in one post. I aim to post at 11am GMT each week until the series is done.

Ps. Please don’t be afraid to walk away if someone is damaging your energy. It does not make you a bad person to walk away from someone who is toxic. You deserve happiness! x


The Fake

The fake, otherwise known as the user, similar to the narcissist but not as malicious or draining, these are the friends that are only there when the sun is shining. The friends that appear when they need you and expect you to bend over backwards to support them but with reluctant or no reciprocation. You will find that they have no interest in really getting to know you, or supporting you and your goals- this is realistically because to them you are just a means to an end, someone to fill an empty slot in their schedule. If your plans don’t revolve around them, or their idea of fun, they will be disinterested and suddenly come up busy. You are their booty-call buddy, a convenient way to pass the time (yet they have are quick to guilt trip you for cancelling on them). They will constantly and consistently bring up other “friends” in conversation, and talk negatively about them, assuming you are too stupid to realise they do the same to you when your back is turned. Common phrases include “Oh my god, have you seen how fat she’s gotten?” and when intimidated by people doing better than they are (my personal favourite): “look how much she loves herself!”

Dear Fake

I don’t have much to say to you, because you were unable to hold my attention for long. You thought you were the next Regina George, but you turned out to be just another entitled loser. I feel sorry for you that you’ve become so insecure and bitter that you feel threatened by other peoples happiness and success. I feel sorry for you because you will never know true friendship while you continue to step on the people that love you to build yourself and fill the voids in your ego. Pulling up screenshots of people in group conversations to comment on their appearance, talking about peoples fluctuations in weight as though the number on the scale defines your value as a human being on this earth. You never learned that real Queens fix one another’s crowns and build each other- and i pity you as you’ve never felt the incredible empowerment that comes from mutual love and genuine support. The real tea is, you aren’t confident enough, funny enough, or witty enough to make Regina George work. Most of all, you are not clever enough. People will always spot you, whether it takes a week or a month, and grow tired of your lack of loyalty.

I’m always reluctant to discuss other women negatively unless I trust you implicitly and they have previously done me severe wrong. Even then, I tend not to think about them. One of my favourite quotes is:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of harming another; you end up getting burned”.

Realistically, the only person you are harming by holding on to bitterness and resentment is yourself. That crap will bubble and spread inside of you like a toxin, and soon you will find yourself having poisonous thoughts. My hope for you, “friend” that one day you learn to let go of your insecurities, to stop lashing out when you feel threatened or envious, and ultimately, to love and be loved in return.

 


 

Dear Ex-Friend,

I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I believe that soul-mates are not always romantic partners, or “the one”, or even necessarily friends made to last; but they may also be people you meet at a time in your life when you need each other for one reason or another. As they say, some friends come for a lifetime, and others just a season, but to me that’s no reason to say that you can’t cherish the memories you made together. When I was younger, all I ever wanted was to fit in. When I met you, for what ever reason, I did. As we grew, our views on love, friendship and trust began to grow and change- and us with them. If you’re reading this, and you find I’ve left you behind, know that it was never easy for me. For me, when I love someone, I love them loyally and wholeheartedly. No matter what you’ve done, or how time has gnarled us, know that I wish you the best.

Love From,

Frankii x


**DISCLAIMER: This post is not directed at any one in particular, but there may be elements applicable to several people whom, for one reason or another, are no longer a part of my journey.**

Mental Health: The Graduate Crisis

Set up by Sophie over at One Unique, Huddle and Cuddle is a campaign to help raise awareness of mental health issues buy using the means of social media. Influencers have teamed up to help this campaign and to spread the word, allowing people to never feel alone by sharing their experiences with you. Huddle and Cuddle wants people to get involved by talking to people, whether it be an influencer, family member or a helpline about their thoughts and challenges they may come across. (See the end for links!)

Until getting in contact with the lovely Sophie, i’d started this post and had it sitting in my drafts for the longest time. As a new lifestyle and beauty blogger, I was concerned that talking about mental health would detract from what I intended my blog to be about. However, about a month ago now, I wrote a blog tips for managing your anxietyand was actually really surprised by how much love and support that post received. I actually even received a few private messages from people thanking me for talking about my struggles, and sharing their experiences with me. It’s so important to talk about mental health, and that’s why when the lovely Jess (Queen Sapphire UK) suggested that I wrote a piece for the huddle and cuddle campaign, that I decided to stop worrying about what people would think and do it. Mental health is something that affects hundreds and thousands of people every day, and it should be talked about candidly, as though it was just another part of everyday life. Because, it is! 

What I’d like to discuss with you guys today is the issue of mental health surrounding graduate life and my experiences with anxiety and depression; as I feel that this is an issue that’s becoming very real, and very common in today’s social climate.

When I was younger I had always been a “gifted and talented” child. If you don’t know what that means, in some UK schools they have special groups or classes to recognise those with the highest academic potential/achievements. This was great, though when it came to high school and trying to fit in with a peer group who weren’t yet old enough to view smart as sexy – it meant mostly that I was viewed as different. Kids don’t always like different. Since I had already been bullied quite heavily in primary school (so much so I was moved schools), I started to resent this, and rebelled. I turned my back on my studies so that the other children wouldn’t tease me for being a nerd. Unfortunately, I was a very tall girl, with glasses, enormous eyebrows and a tiny top lip. Now, I still joke with Mum that sending me to high school without introducing me to tweezers and a razor was basically child abuse.

However, no matter how much I pretended, the damage had already been done. I’ve seen memes about the internet that say something along the lines of:

“Raise your hand if you were a gifted/talented child who grew up to be an anxious adult with fragile self esteem and a perfectionist streak that makes you abandon things if you’re not good at them.”

I think the fact that I’ve seen this shared several times suggests to me that putting this sort of pressure on people so young has a really lasting effect. No matter how much I fought I always would put immense pressure on myself to excel at everything I do. This is both a blessing and a curse, as though it means I am very hard working, it also means I am very reluctant to try and do anything new or fun if there is a chance that I will be bad at it. Throughout my whole life it was a case of “you did good, but you should be doing the best”, “I just think you’re capable of more”. At one point, on receiving a B in Maths (despite this being my worst subject by far, and on top of that having meningitis during my GCSE’s and missing half my school year) my Grandad smiled at me, and said “Why wasn’t it an A?” I knew he was joking, but it was something that stayed with me for longer than it should have. Because of this, I have always been anxious and jittery about school and my academic prowess. Good is never good enough. 

When it came to university, I couldn’t wait to escape my small town and the small town mentality that comes with living in rural Norfolk.  (It isn’t stereotyped as being full of inbreds for no reason!) I wanted to get OUT. 

University was sold to me like it was the only logical path of progression for someone of my caliber. I would make friends, finally find people on my wavelength and be guaranteed a great graduate job when I graduated.

For me, since I hadn’t had a gap year like most of my new friends, I spent my entire first year partying, because I knew the grades didn’t count. The best part about being naturally intelligent is that (admittedly somewhat conceitedly) I knew that I wouldn’t even have to try just to pass. I was out in the clubs 3-5x most weeks, and saw this as my equivalent to a gap year. However, I knew that when I went back the following year I would have to seriously step up my game.

In the end when I graduated I walked away with a 2.1. 2% off a 1st Class Honours. I tried not to think about that 2%, and focused on achieving a great grade despite battling quite severe depression and agoraphobia in my second year. Then, I didn’t go to my graduation over a misunderstanding with my mother- who meant to express concern about my self-esteem, but that I shouldn’t go because I’d put on weight and I’d hate the pictures. I also, subconsciously felt like no one wanted to go because of that 2%. I didn’t get the highest grade, so why would anyone want to watch me go up on stage?

In retrospect, I was worried about going on stage. Deep down, I’m about as introverted as they come, and I did (and still do sometimes) despise my post-depression body. I was worried about all those things, but I secretly wanted someone just to be so proud of me that they would convince me to change my mind. Of course, since they didn’t realise anything was wrong, and they just thought that it was an extension of my introversion, no one did. I didn’t go- and between you and me, I spent my graduation day alone, and cried myself to sleep.

Missing out on graduation I think made it a bit difficult to really feel like a ‘graduate’. It was a few months before I even applied for my first job, because on top of this, in all honesty, i’d never really given myself a chance to get over my mental health and experience life feeling like myself again. (On top of this, I was busy planning my marriage after a whirlwind romance with my husband). However, when I did start applying for jobs, I had one choice word.

“shit.”

On top of all the stress I went though at university etc. graduate life left me feeling useless, stupid, lonely and unmotivated. I had never even felt like I was average before (academically), and now I was feeling lost, confused and betrayed. I wondered what life would have been like had I never gone to university. I wondered if I would have been better off just stacking shelves at 16 rather than spending so long in education when I clearly wasn’t employable. I felt so horrendously alone, and no one really seemed to understand what I was going through. At times I felt as though I genuinely was unworthy of oxygen. As I replied to 27 jobs in a month, I only heard back from one. Out of TWENTY-SEVEN! I was called to an interview, an hours commute away. I was offered a job on the spot, and was asked to come in the next day to shadow someone else. However, though it paid well, the position had been grossly mis-advertised. It was in sales. I had applied for digital marketing. Something I was well versed in already. When I inquired about this, I was told that that was a position I would have to work up to, and that I would be starting off handing out leaflets and making sales. Handing. Out. Leaflets. Had I REALLY just done 3 hard years at university to be told that I’m only good enough to hand out leaflets!? B*llocks. I thought, and politely and professionally told them to shove their leaflets up their arse.

After that, I became very, very low. This is a situation that’s becoming more and more familiar with this generation. The fact is, that so many people have degrees now compared to years ago, that there are just simply no graduate jobs. The ones that do appear, especially in small rural areas like mine, end up going to older people, or people with my whole lifetimes worth of experience. This is because people move to areas like mine for two reasons: to have children, or to retire. “Graduate” jobs are being given to parents and/or more… ‘seasoned’ professionals.

This means that I, and many graduates just like me are essentially left high and dry. I don’t want this post to be too political, but in this economic and political climate, (shout out to George Osbourne for adding further interest onto my already huge student loan) many of us feel alone, broke, and betrayed by an older generation that constantly tries to call us entitled when we are just trying to get by in the world THEY left us.

Now, this post has already been a lot longer than I ever intended, but I wanted to speak candidly about my own experiences. The whole point of this post was to chat to you guys about the methods I have/still use to cope. So, with no further ado, here it is!

 


 

5 THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT LIFE POST-UNIVERSITY

 

1. “Life is not a race. It’s a journey.”

This is one that I still struggle with to this day. As I mentioned, it is a constant internal battle sometimes for me just to be ok with not being “the best” at everything. However, it’s so so important to listen to your heart, your body and your soul and to appreciate that everyone’s journey is different, and everyone’s journey happens at different speeds. It’s OK not to have your sh*t completely together in your early 20’s.

2. Don’t doubt yourself.

No matter how many times you are rejected in your relentless pursuit for a job, please don’t let it knock your self-esteem like I did. The fact is, sometimes maybe it is something beyond our control. If one place turns you down, there might be another one far more suited to you right around the corner. You know the old saying! “When one door closes another opens”. Honestly, you have as long as you need to peak behind all the doors you want!

3. Do something productive with your extra energy

GURL. This one is SO important. I spent so long being miserable about my circumstances that every day I could literally feel my creativity being siphoned away. Then one day someone suggested for about the hundredth time that I should start a blog. So I did. Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

4. Don’t be afraid to take time off

Though it may be tempting to jump straight into the first job you are offered to feed your bank account, remember that this isn’t likely to be a job that also feeds your soul. For me I was forced between the choice between money and leading a the life I wanted to, and when it came down to it there was no question. Depending just how money orientated you are- you may want to think twice about a job handing out leaflets that would probably mean you were told to f*ck off approximately 100x per day.

5. Surround yourself with great people. 

I know I said this in my post about anxiety too, but it’s genuinely so important. When you are going through tough, life-changing periods of your life you want people around you who will love and support you no matter what. You need people around you who want to help you, to build you up and to listen to you when you’ve just been to your 5th crappy interview in a week. Honestly,  you need friends who understand and just get you. You’d be better off with no one to talk to than you would with that chick you used to party with in high school. You know the one, the one who feigns interest so that she can run to your other small town friends and talk about the fact you’ve still not got a job. (Never mind the fact she failed out of her degree and lives off her daddy’s money!)

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Thank you to Sophie from One Unique for giving me the chance to feature on a campaign as meaningful as #huddleandcuddle. PLEASE head over to www.huddleandcuddle.com and check out more pieces from some great people about their experiences with MH. Also, feel free to follow @huddleandcuddle over on twitter for regular updates.

 

So there it is you guys! I’m sorry if this post felt super long, but I hope it was honest and detailed enough for some of you to be able to relate to this post! Let me know in the comments if you liked this post, if you have any similar experiences, or even if you found this post too long! You guys know I always love to hear from you! 

Love, Francesca! x