Drive Your Health in 2015

Monday, 22 December 2014

Recently, I was asked by Judy from the American Recall Center, to contribute a health tip to be included as part of their Drive Your Health in 2015 campaign.

I thought about my own experiences, and decided that the thing that has helped me the most throughout my battle with my health, is changing doctors - in particular with regards to my nervous breakdown.

The doctors I initially had during that horrible time, were both neglectful and incompetent.  They had me drugged up to the point that I couldn't even walk in a straight line without someone holding me upright.  I was a zombie on the outside, but on the inside, I was an anxious mess just wanting to crawl out of my own skin!  I became suicidal at that time.  It was the absolute worst time in my life.

Somehow, in my fragile state, I managed to find the courage to change doctors.  I changed my GP, my Psychiatrist and Psychologist.  I was terrified, but it was the best thing I could have done.  I truly feel that I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't have sought out the team of doctors I have now!

So, that being said, the tip I decided to contribute to the campaign is this:

"Don't be afraid to change!  If you are unhappy with your doctor, or feel uncomfortable with him/her, don't be afraid to make the change.  Find a doctor who will give you the time and care you need & deserve."

http://www.recallcenter.com/xarelto/side-effects/

You can visit the American Recall Center website at www.recallcenter.com
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Seven Things All Chronic Pain Sufferers Are Sick of Hearing

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

When you suffer from chronic pain, or any other chronic illness for that matter, there is guaranteed to be a list of things you are sick to death of hearing.  Whether it be a well meaning friend or family member, genuinely just wanting to help, or a complete stranger who just thinks they know it all - we've all been there, smiling politely and nodding our head as we listen to the same pieces of (usually well meaning) advice.

I don't know about you, but I have days where it all just gets a little bit too much.  Those are the days that I feel on the verge of tears and all it takes is one comment from someone, to send me running out of the room sobbing like a baby.

So here's my list of the usual culprits.
  1. "You probably just aren't drinking enough water."  It's true - water is super important for so many different reasons, and yes, dehydration can cause headaches.  So yes - I do drink enough water, and it doesn't make one ounce of difference to my pain levels, whether I drink no water, or three litres.
  2. "Have you tried (insert endless suggestions here)?"  At this point, the answer to this question is almost always yes!  It's been fifteen plus years of this and I've tried pretty much everything there is to try.  And when I haven't, it's usually because I either can't afford it, or can't try it because of medication interactions etc.  For example, I'm unable to take any drugs in the Triptan family.  But yes, apart from that, if it exists and it's available to me, I've probably tried it.
  3. "You shouldn't be taking so many painkillers."  Gee, you don't say!  Believe it or not, I don't take them because they're delicious - I take them because without them, I can't function.  I can barely function with them!  So until you've walked in my shoes, just hand over the pills and keep the judgement to yourself.
  4. "You need to get out and exercise more.  Get some fresh air, you'll feel better."  Oh if only I had known that's all I had to do!  All this time, all I had to do was breathe in some fresh air and I'd be fine (sense the sarcasm).  Believe me, there is nothing I'd love more than to be able to go for long walks or even runs with my dog, or join a gym, or have a personal trainer - but you try walking, let alone any other form of exercise when your head is pounding.  Sometimes even just taking a normal step causes my head to split and it feels as though it's going to explode!  And yes, fresh air is lovely and I am out in it whenever I can be - I love it - but when my head is splitting, the last thing I want to do is be in sunlight or have any kind of breeze rushing around my head.
  5. "My friend had that and she did this, so that's what you should do too."  Please realize that every person is different!  What worked for your friend is fantastic, and I'm so happy for her, but if I tell you it hasn't worked for me, then please leave it alone.  I'm open to trying anything that could help - I'll try anything once, but if it doesn't work for me, then it doesn't work no matter how great it was for your friend!
  6. "It can't be that bad, you're still smiling!"  This one really hurts.  I pride myself on always putting on a brave face and a smile, even when I feel like curling up in a ball.  So when someone uses that one thing that I'm proud of against me, it really breaks my heart.  Apparently putting on a smile means my pain isn't bad enough to be relevant.
  7. "You shouldn't drink alcohol, or coffee, or eat certain foods."  Okay.  I realize that these things can be major triggers for headache and migraine sufferers.  I don't doubt that.  However, after all these years of being this way, don't you think I've already explored what my triggers might be?  As I said before, everyone is different.  What is a huge trigger for someone else, is not necessarily going to be a trigger for me, and vice versa.  I have tried multiple times over the years - under the guidance of different doctors - to cut out certain foods, drinks and products.  I have detoxed, gone on strict diets, cut out all alcohol and caffeine of any kind, and then re-introduced these things gradually, to try and identify which, if any, may be triggers for me.  Not one thing made any difference - not even a little bit!  I have gone gluten free, dairy free, fructose free.  None of those made a difference either.  Besides that, my pain is present twenty four hours a day.  It doesn't just appear when I have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee - and it doesn't get any better or worse when I do or don't have those things.  So yes, I appreciate that alcohol and caffeine are two of the most well known triggers in migraine sufferers, but I have been down those roads more than once.  At this point, I know my body, and I know that my one cup of coffee a day and my glass of wine every few days, has no effect - good or bad - on my pain levels.  So please stop making me feel guilty for it!
As I mentioned earlier, the majority of these comments, questions and suggestions, really do come from lovely people who genuinely mean well.  They want to see me happier and feeling better, and I appreciate that from the bottom of my heart.  I didn't write this post to offend any of the "culprits", or to come across as ungrateful.  In fact, if no one ever offered me any advice or asked me any questions, I'd probably feel that no one cared - so I'm very lucky to have so many people around me who do!  But those who understand will know why I wrote this - it's purely an outlet, an alternative to letting out a huge, deafening scream when the frustration sets in and it all just gets a bit much.  We all have those days, don't we?
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Botox - The Appointment Has Been Made

Monday, 8 December 2014

Over the years, I have tried a countless number of treatments for my chronic headaches and migraines.  From different medications, chiropractic, physiotherapy, osteopathy, naturopathy, Chinese medicine & massage, acupuncture, acupressure, different diets & detoxes, vitamins & herbal remedies, hormonal treatments - and I'm almost positive there are a few other things that I've left out.

So far, nothing has worked!  Nothing has given me even a little bit of relief, and my frustration is getting worse and worse as I get older.  I've had all the tests and scans done, and it seems that because there is nothing  visibly causing the pain, doctors just don't want to have to deal with it - it's too much hard work.

In all honesty, I've become quite the pessimist when it comes to this.  I've stopped getting excited about new treatments, because I'm just plain tired of the disappointment when they don't work!  It's much easier on me emotionally, to just assume that nothing is going to work - that way there is no disappointment.

One of the latest treatments available these days, is Botox.  It is made available to people who suffer chronic migraines - so in other words, headaches occurring on 15 of more days per month, with at least half of those having "migrainous features".  I spoke to my doctor about trying it, as I am certainly eligible going by that description.  She agreed and has arranged a referral for me to see a neurologist about trying the injections.

The Botox is injected into various points around the head and neck, by a specialist who is trained in this particular treatment.  The results are quite hit and miss, from what I understand.  I have read stories of people who have had their lives changed by these injections, but then there are also many stories of others who have had little, or no results.

Of course, me being me, I'm going into this expecting nothing.  No expectations, equals no disappointment.  But I do hold out a tiny bit of hope, that maybe this will help in some way.

The appointment has been made for mid January, so I guess we'll just have to wait patiently and see!

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Changes

Thursday, 27 November 2014

This week, I've been thinking about how long it's been since I wrote a post.  It's been too long.  It's been in the back of my mind for weeks now - 'have to come up with something to review or write! - but I've been struggling to come up with anything I feel particularly excited about.

It got me wondering if maybe I'm focusing on the wrong things.  I started the blog, as a "beauty blog", and I've tried to stick to that as closely as possible.  I love all things beauty related - makeup, skincare, hair - but in all honesty, a lot of the time I feel like a fraud in calling myself a "beauty blogger".  I have far less to offer in this area than so many others already out there.  I enjoy it, I know a decent amount about it, but really - I'm no expert.  So maybe that's why I've been a little unmotivated of late?  Maybe I should be focusing on other things?

I've been thinking a lot about what I'd like to use the blog for, and what I feel passionate about.  I love blogging - I love the whole idea of it, the creativity of it, the community and friends I've made as a result of it - and I'm proud of what I've been able to achieve with it so far.

So, I've decided to take the blog in a slightly different direction.  I love beauty, so I will definitely continue to review any beauty products I feel are amazing, but I would really like to focus the blog on my experiences relating to mental and physical health issues - as well as writing posts on life experiences in general and other things that I love and enjoy - books, people, maybe even some recipes etc.

I love and appreciate every reader I've had so far, and I so hope you will all stay with me along the way, as I change, get older, and hopefully find my niche somewhere along the way.

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xoBeauty Brushes Review

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A while back, the beautiful Shannon Harris - aka "shaanxo" on YouTube - was kind enough to send me some of her xoBeauty makeup brushes to try.  I'm ashamed to say I've had them for such a long time, and am only just getting around to posting about them now.  These brushes are beautiful, and I use them every day!  Shannon was so generous and sent me 6 of her most popular brushes; the Flat Top Synthetic Face Brush, Bronzing Brush, Eyeliner Brush, Eyeshadow Blender Brush, Synthetic Eyeshadow Brush, and Tapered Top Synthetic Eyeshadow Brush.


All of these brushes are beautiful and soft, and they wash up like new!  Shannon has designed them so that each brush is labelled, which I really love - I think it's such a nice idea, especially for beginners to know exactly what each brush is for.

The Flat Top Synthetic Face Brush, is my absolute favourite!  I use it every day as a foundation brush, and it does such a beautiful job, with no fall-out.

The Eyeliner Brush is lovely and precise, although I must admit that I tend to use it for concealer rather than eyeliner - I find it's really good for applying concealer to small blemishes or discolouration, without ending up with way too much product than what is needed.  I use the xoBeauty Eyeliner Brush to apply the concealer to those areas, and then use another, just slightly bigger brush to blend it out and set with powder.

The Eyeshadow Brushes are perfectly labelled - they all work so well for their individual purposes, and the Bronzer Brush is sooo lovely and soft!

I really love these brushes, and I'm such a big fan of Shannon and her YouTube channel.  Definitely head over and check it out if you haven't already http://www.youtube.com/shaaanxo

Thanks so much, Shannon! xo
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Disclaimer:  All opinions in this post are my own and I have not been sponsored in any way, other than having been given these products free of charge to try.  My opinions are honest and based on my own experience with these products.  I do not claim to have any qualifications within the beauty industry.
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New Lipsticks: Avon Ultra Colour Bold and Illamasqua

Monday, 27 October 2014

This month, I picked up a few new lipsticks that I really love!  I decided to try out a couple of lovely bright shades in the Avon Ultra Colour Bold collection, which I've been really happy with.  The formula of these lipsticks is lovely and the colours available are beautiful and bright.  The shades I chose are Bright Nectar - a light, apricot coral - and Coral Burst - a bright, almost red coral shade.  I love these lipsticks.  They're long lasting, moisturising and the colours are beautiful.  The RRP for these is $19.99 (AUD), but Avon always have great deals where you can get them a lot cheaper.  I think they're great value for what they are, and would definitely repurchase.



I also bought a beautiful Illamasqua lipstick in the shade Soaked.  I was walking through Myer Melbourne last week, and was super excited to find a table with 50% off various Illamasqua products.  I automatically made a beeline to this lipstick, because the colour was just so bright and pretty.  At the discounted price it was only $15.00 (AUD), which for Illamasqua is a bargain, so of course I was rapt!  I've used this one almost every day this past week, and I absolutely love it!  It's just such a pretty shade, and the quality of the formula makes it feel so luxurious.  It lasts well and doesn't dry out quickly, it's just a lovely lipstick.


 
Needless to say, I'm super happy with my purchases.  If you get the chance to try out any of these, I'm sure you will love them as much as I do!
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Disclaimer:  All opinions in this post are my own and I have not been sponsored in any way.  I paid for these products with my own money.  My opinions are honest and based on my own experience with these products.  I do not claim to have any qualifications within the beauty industry.

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Days Like These

Monday, 8 September 2014

Some days, more so than others, can be really trying can't they?  Today seems to be one of those days for me.  This weekend, I hosted a linen party at my house - sort of like a Tupperware party, but with linen (obviously).  I invited around ten people, of which only two came - my mum and my brother's lovely girlfriend.  But that's okay - I wasn't expecting a huge turnout, and people have lives, so no biggie.  It turned out to be a nice afternoon with our small group, and the products were lovely and luxurious.

I had a horrendous headache before it even started, so I was struggling.  But I put on a brave face and enjoyed the time.  I was really looking forward to having my brother, his girlfriend and my nephew over for dinner afterwards, as it's not that often I get to spend much time with them.  But of course a savage migraine hit, didn't it?  I could feel it coming on all day, and then bang - the nausea set in, and my head felt as though it was going to explode.  I could feel that I needed to be sick, and I was just trying to pretend it wasn't there.  Of course we had to cancel dinner, and I spent the rest of the evening on the bathroom floor.

I know it may be a little hard to understand for some people, why something like that would be so upsetting to me.  I mean, everyone gets sick right?  And it's family, so they understand of course.  But to me, this is an ongoing cause of disappointment in my life, and every time it happens, I feel genuinely upset for days afterwards.

Today I'm at work (writing this on my lunch break, don't worry!), and I'm struggling to keep a smile on my face.  For me, it's obviously more than just the physical effects - the chronic pain and the aftermath of something like a migraine, where I feel sick and exhausted for days after.  It's my emotional issues that are triggered also.  I get upset over something that in the scheme of things may be small, but for me it's a daily battle - it doesn't just happen once, it's in my face every day.  And something like this just reminds me of it in a big way.

It's one disappointment after another.  It's one plan after another that has to be cancelled.  It's having to say no to things, that if it weren't for my health, I would love to do.  It's saying "good thanks", when someone asks me how I am, when really I just want to burst into tears.

There isn't a profound point to this post.  But it occurred to me that there are plenty of others out there feeling the same way, at this same moment.  So why not share, and in turn, maybe someone else may take comfort in knowing they aren't alone.

Here's hoping tomorrow will be a better day!

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My Current Favourites

Friday, 5 September 2014

I've been feeling really bad about how slack I've been with posting lately, so today I thought I'd do a quick Current Favourites post for you, to keep the momentum going.



The first thing on my list, is my Shanghai Suzy lipstick in The Gossling Lippie.  This lipstick is just so beautiful and luxurious!  The colour is stunning and I'm so impressed with the formula and how long it lasts.  I have three Shanghai Suzy lipsticks, which I received in a goodie bag at a blogging event thrown by Sparkling Soiree.  I got so many beautiful products in that bag, but I think this one is still my absolute favourite thing!







Next is another little gift I received in the same goodie bag.  It's the None Of Your Beeswax lip balm by Lush.  I've really been enjoying this one.  To be honest, for the past few years, I've kind of gone off lip balms in that I really don't remember the last time I actually purchased one.  I tend to stick to my paw paw ointment, or even just plain old Vaseline for my lips!  But this lip balm, I love!  It smells so beautiful, like honey with a hint of coconut.  And like all Lush products, the formula is organic and is lovely to wear.  It lasts a long time and really moisturises well.  I love it!




My absolute, hands down favourite bath & shower product at the moment, is the Soap and Glory Scrub Actually body scrub.  I was super excited when I discovered that Mecca Maxima now stock Soap and Glory, as I've been wanting to try one of their scrubs, ever since I saw Zoella mention them in one of her videos.  I picked up Scrub Actually, at the recommendation of one of lovely sales assistants, and I have been obsessed with it ever since.  It smells so gorgeous - that lime and brown sugar scent that Soap and Glory are known for.  And as far as scrubs go, it is one of the more harsh ones I've tried - but that is what I was after - a really good body exfoliant!  I can't rave about this enough - I love it so, so much!









If you read my last post, you will understand why I am including the next product as a favourite.  It's the Nails Alive Dry Hard top coat.  I have been so impressed by this product and I was sold from the minute I tried it.  I won't go on too much about it, as I have already posted a detailed review.  But let's just say, I'm a little obsessed!








And for a couple of non-beauty related favourites, I have to include Taylor Swift's Shake It Off - I cannot stop singing it and bopping around every time it comes on.  It has to be the catchiest song around at the moment, I love it!

And last, but definitely not least - I have been in love with watching Orange Is The New Black!  It is one of the best shows I've come across since my obsession with Breaking Bad.  I can't stop watching it, I love it so, so much!  If you haven't seen it, I absolutely recommend giving it a shot - if you're anything like me, you'll be hooked from the first episode!




So, those are my current favourites!  I'd love to hear what yours are, so please do leave a comment if you'd like to share. 

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Nails Alive Dry Hard Review

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Recently, a few of my lovely girlfriends and I were having a girly catch up day - watching movies, eating junk food, a glass of wine and painting our nails.  We mixed and matched, and played around with our different nail polish collections, "ooh-ing & ahh-ing" over different colours.  One of my friends handed me this huge bottle of clear polish, and said it was a good top coat.  So I gave it a try and needless to say I went home lusting after this awesome product!

It's called Nails Alive Dry Hard, and basically it's a quick dry top coat.  I've tried quite a few of these in the past, because - like most people - I love painting my nails, but I'm super impatient when it comes to waiting for them to dry.

I had to share this one with you, because I can honestly say it is hands down the BEST product of it's kind that I have ever tried!

The bottle says "makes polish hard in 45 seconds", and that's exactly what it does!  You apply it over top of your last coat of colour, and almost instantly it hardens and dries, leaving a beautiful, shiny finish.  Unlike many of these sorts of top coats, this one actually, truly does what it is advertised to do.  It dries!  Not just a little bit, but properly dries and sets the polish.  It doesn't leave the nails tacky at all, and you can literally go and wash your hands after the 45 seconds are up, and the polish will not budge.

I cannot rave about this product enough - I love it so much!


I have yet to find a stockist for Nails Alive in Australia, however I was able to find it on eBay easily enough for around about the $16.00 mark.  It's a huge bottle, and is well worth the money in my opinion.  I'll definitely be repurchasing in future!
Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own, and I have not been paid in any way for them.
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Personal Planner Review and Giveaway

Friday, 25 July 2014

I recently got the most gorgeous planner made by Personal Planner.  It's a site that enables you to create your own planner, step-by-step, just the way you want it!  I loved the idea of this when I first heard about it, and I love the fact that you can customise every detail of your planner - the front & back covers, the inside contents and order, the way the dates are shown and other little options for each page.

I decided to go with an Alice In Wonderland theme for mine, and I absolutely love how it turned out!


I chose a baby blue colour for the inside pages of the planner, as well as the back cover and elastic, and a pink ruler for the inside.

I think it's such a great idea, because I know personally - as a very fussy person - I always find it hard to find a diary that has all the things I want in it, and is set out in a way that I like.  This completely solves that problem, and it's fun choosing all your own little elements!

The lovely people at Personal Planner, have been kind enough to give me a gift card to give away to one of my beautiful readers!  The gift card is valid for a personal planner in the size of your choice, plus shipping, which is worldwide.  For your chance to win, all you need to do is make sure you are following me on all social media accounts (links are in the sidebar), plus following the blog either via Google or Bloglovin, and leave a comment below telling me why you would like to win - along with your social media usernames so that I can check them.  I will choose and announce a winner on the 7th of August, 2014.

If you are not the lucky winner, or don't wish to enter, you can still place an order and receive a 15% discount, using my discount code: D-FUEU-IBAD, on orders placed between August 1st and 15th.

I can't wait to give this away to someone, it's such a great little prize!  Please check out the Personal Planner website at personal-planner.com.au, and be sure to follow them on Instagram (@personalplannerau) for some great ideas for your planner!
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Re-Gen Oil Vs. Bio-Oil Review

Friday, 11 July 2014

Recently, whilst doing my weekly grocery shop in Aldi, I walked past the toiletries shelf and noticed what looked like a bottle of Bio-Oil staring back at me.  I did a double take, because Bio-Oil has been on my shopping list for quite some time, however it is on the expensive side and I just haven't been able to afford it.

I picked up the bottle and realised it was actually a product called Re-Gen Oil, but it was very obviously a dupe for the well known stretch mark treatment.  The price was around $8 for a 125ml bottle, so considering that a bottle of Bio-Oil the same size is closer to the $20 mark, I decided to pick up a bottle and give it a try.


I am by no means an expert in skincare, so a lot of the "sciency" stuff tends to go over my head, but I did notice in comparing the two bottles, that the ingredients list is certainly very similar.  Both products contain the same four essential oils - lavender, rosemary, chamomile and calendula, as well as the same vitamins - A and E.  They both use similar carrier oils, however the Re-Gen Oil has a lot less synthetic fragrances.


I've been using the Re-Gen Oil for around two months now.  I use it every day after my shower, and I can honestly say I am already noticing a difference in my stretch marks.  They are certainly not gone, however they are significantly less noticeable than they were two months ago.  I have also been applying the oil to a few small scars I have from my recent surgery.  I have not noticed so much of a difference with the scars, but perhaps they will take a little longer, I'm still holding out hope.

All in all, I'm really impressed with the Re-Gen Oil as a dupe, and at less than half the price of the original Bio-Oil, I'll definitely be repurchasing!
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New Name


Hi everyone,

Just a quick update for you.  I have finally come up with a new name for the blog, as you would have noticed - Stephanie Rhapsody.

The definition of rhapsody is "an exalted or excessively enthusiastic expression of feeling in speech or writing".  I think it's quite appropriate, so I decided to run with it since I've been trying to think of a new name for such a long time.

My social media names have changed accordingly, however I haven't changed the blog url as yet.  I will leave it as is for a little while and maybe down the track I will look at registering a domain name.

So for now, I really how you all like the new name, and will continue to follow and support me the way you do.  You guys are the best! xx
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Mental Health Chat Featuring Anastasia Bliss

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

As most of my readers know, from time to time I like to write about mental health issues and share my own experiences where possible.  What I really would like to do, is help others - who may be going through the same, or similar things - to realise that there is no shame in having a mental illness, or at least there shouldn't be.  I think the more open we can be with our stories, the more chances there are to help others who are also suffering, simply by sharing and offering understanding.

A lovely friend of mine, YouTuber Anastasia Bliss, was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and Borderline Personality Disorder.  Although her diagnosis is quite different from mine, I feel such a connection with her because a lot of our struggles are the same.  I believe in this day and age, the stigma's attached to any form of mental illness, should be eliminated.  Anastasia shares this opinion with me, so I asked her if she would have a chat with me about her diagnosis and share her story with all of you.  I'm so glad she agreed, and I hope you will enjoy reading our little heart to heart.

Anastasia, what would you say has been the most difficult part of receiving your diagnosis?


The most difficult part of receiving my diagnosis is realising that there was actually a chemical imbalance in my brain.  I was instantly struck with regret for not seeking help sooner.  I'm sure my life and relationships would be a lot healthier by now if I hadn't struggled with an un-medicated mental illness for thirteen years.

What are some of the symptoms you suffer with?

 
I am a Bipolar Schizophrenic with Borderline Personality Disorder.  I rage a lot, I'm driven by anger 24/7, I am vicious, abusive, manipulative, thrive off other peoples pain and just an all around horrible person.  I am blank.  Other than the anger and rage, I am blank.  I am not empathetic, incredibly strong and withdrawn.  I have several personalities that I have spent my entire adult life building so that I can function in society.  I'm a very cold person when I'm not showing people what they want to see. 


It must have been horrible to have to try and suppress that anger all the time.  You are not a horrible person though, these disorders are not you - they have happened to you!  How long have you been dealing with these issues?

Since I was thirteen years old.

Have you come across any negativity from others since opening up about your diagnosis?
 
I haven't come across any negativity.  I've come across negligence though.  I casually informed my so called best friend that I had been diagnosed with bipolar (back when I was ashamed or scared to admit I was schizophrenic) and she palmed it off as if I hadn't said a thing.  Then five minutes later sent me an sms asking what foundation shade she should buy.  I think people need to be aware that some friends will back away, some wont care and some will be super supportive.  Don't let the fear of other peoples opinions stop you from being upfront and honest.  "Those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter."
 


That's really awful.  I know that feeling well, as I have also lost quite a few friends along the way.  It's so hurtful because it's a time when you really need your close friends the most.  You really do find out who your true friends are.  Who has been your greatest support?
 
My mum has been my greatest support.  She actually broke down crying recently.  Since my medication has been taking effect my facade has slowly disappeared.  She can see the blankness and admitted that she's finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that the happy, bright eyed woman she has come to know was all an act I built up to please those around me.  I was coming down out of a manic state once and asked her why she didn't just let me leave when I was younger.  She looked at me and said "because you'd be dead by now.  You would have raged out at the wrong person or you would have turned to drugs."  Hearing my own mother saying that was hard to hear but I try not to dwell on it now that I'm medicated.

That's so lovely that you've got such a great support in your mum.  My parents have been a huge help and support to me also.  It only occurred to me recently, how difficult it must be for them as parents to have had to watch their child go through an illness like this.  They had to see me when I was suicidal and as low as I could possibly be - as a parent, I can only imagine how hard that would be. 
Do you think having a daughter has given you a different perspective on how best to live with a mental illness?

 
With my condition I don't feel guilt.  I have no conscience.  Having a daughter has made me want to be more aware, if anything.  I sought treatment two days after yelling in front of her for the first time.  I don't want to be that person.  My cousins mother has Bipolar and refuses to take medication.  He just locks his door and hides under the bed when she's manic.  He's twelve.  A child should never have to fear their parents, or anyone for that matter.


Good on you for using that experience to push you towards getting treatment.  ZsaZsa is such a precious little girl, she must be a huge motivation for you.  Do you find it difficult to be on prescription medications?
 
Not at all.  Prescription meds are a miracle.  I wish I had have been on them since the beginning.  I have always hated taking pills.  I find they get stuck in my throat or I regurgitate having to swallow them down but not once have I had a problem - and I have to take five a day! 
 


I couldn't agree more.  Everyone seems to have an opinion when it comes to medication, but really unless you're in the situation and suffering the symptoms of an imbalance, you just don't have the right to tell anyone they shouldn't be taking something.  I've found that prescription meds can be the best help, but they can also be the worst hindrance if you're not on the right one or the right dose.  It's super important to find a good doctor who is willing to put in the work and find the right combination for you personally.  I found that out the hard way unfortunately.  How do you handle criticisms from others around you?


I often don't handle criticism at all.  I am the best friend anyone can have.  I work harder than anyone else to maintain healthy relationships because it doesn't come naturally to me.  In that being said, as soon as they don't hold up their end of that loyalty I am quick to pounce and cut ties if need be.  Criticism from my family don't go down well.  It usually results with me flying off the handle and not speaking to anyone for about three hours.

What advice would you give to others going through a similar situation?

 
Honestly, being Bipolar and Schizophrenic, it's powerful.  It's addictive.  The rage, the anger, that fire that's always burning inside you makes you feel invincible.  I think I ignored the fact that I was mentally ill for so long because I don't know how to function without the anger.  I've never known true happiness.  I don't know what "normal" adults feel like when they wake in the morning.  I liked that at any moment I could snap if I had to.  When you don't know any other way, it's hard to try to be better.  But it's SO worth it to try.  I understand it's hard to admit that your brain isn't like the next persons but at the same time, try the medication.  You have nothing to lose.

I couldn't agree more.  I think seeking help is the best advice for anyone.  Are there any specific things, people, books etc that have helped you along the way?

 
Google was a help and a hindrance.  You want to research the medication and peoples experience but at the same time, every single person responds differently.  I was super hesitant to take my medication after hearing peoples negative experiences.  I think people should be experiencing it for themselves rather than hearing everyone else's horror stories or praises. 

That's so true!  I am definitely guilty of spending hours on forums, reading about all the horrible things that can result from different meds and treatments.  I'm still guilty of doing that, but you're so right, it's certainly better to find things out for yourself as we are all so different.  How do you feel about the stereotypes that are given to people suffering from mental illness?

 
I think stereotypes are becoming a thing of the past.  There are so many people suffering from some form of mental illness that it's just too common to be taboo anymore.  I haven't had a single negative reaction and I've found that talking openly on my families vlog about my mental illness has resulted in over twenty of our subscribers sending me personal messages regarding their own mental illness.

It really is so common nowadays.  I love watching your family vlogs each day and it made me so happy to see you open up recently about your diagnosis.  The emotion you showed was so beautiful and personal, I was crying right along with you!  The thing I admire the most about you, is definitely your confidence.  One of my biggest struggles is my low my self esteem.  How do you remain confident?


I think the confidence I portray is part of the facade I've been able to maintain.  I feel that I'm attractive on the outside, despite how ugly I can be on the inside.  I'm working on my body, which is currently 20kg overweight and I think that for the first time in my life I actually care about myself.  I've physically looked better but seen myself as being fat and ordinary.  Now I see a face of lovely features passed down from my family and a body that is curvy, thick and a work in progress.  I feel powerful in a positive way because of my medication.  I think being diagnosed put me at peace with my demons which resulted in a new found confidence in myself.  After all, it takes a strong, willful woman to be able to survive in the world as an un-medicated mentally ill person. 
 

That's so good, and I so hope I'll be able to find that kind of confidence in myself one day.  Do you think your diagnosis will hinder your plans for the future at all?
 
I think it's exactly the opposite.  My diagnosis have helped my plans for the future.  I'm not going to be erratic, non-committal and clouded by rage any more. 

That's awesome!  What things are you looking forward to the most?


I'm looking forward to the day when I wake up with a smile, stub my toe without wanting to smash a window and hearing my daughter cry and feeling like my heart will break.  Take away my anger, my frustration and my lack of empathy.  That's what I'm looking forward to the most.


That sounds like a good plan to me, and I so hope you will experience all of those things very soon.  Thanks so much for answering all of my questions so honestly, Anastasia.  Your strength and openness is so admirable and I'm so happy to be able to call you a friend.


Myself and Anastasia
 So I hope you all enjoyed our little chat!  As always, I would love to hear from you if you'd like to share your own experiences or thoughts, so please do comment - and most importantly, if you are also affected by mental illness, know that you are not alone!

You can find Anastasia on YouTube at www.youtube.com/BuryMeInVelvet or her family's daily vlog channel www.youtube.com/tannah - head over and check out Day 1269 to see me with Anastasia and her gorgeous little girl, ZsaZsa! x
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My Essie Favourites

Monday, 9 June 2014

It's no secret that I'm a huge  fan of Essie  nail polishes.  I have so many of them, and their shades are just so beautiul and varied.  So I thought today I'd show you some of my absolute favourites - the ones I always keep going back to without fail!

My number one at the moment, is by far Bikini So Teeny!  I love this colour SO  much!  It's such a pretty, pastel blue, without being too bright to wear with anything.  I wear this shade a lot, and I constantly get complimented on my nails whenever I have it on!

 
One of the newest colours I've been loving is Lilacism.  I will admit that this shade is quite similar to Bikini So Teeny, depending on the angle, but I love that it seems to change in different lights.  It can go from being a pale blue, to a really pretty lilac depending on the way you look at it.  I think it's a really pretty and wearable shade, especially for Spring or Summer.
 
 
The next shades I'm really enjoying, are Midnight Cami  and Lapiz Of Luxury.  Midnight Cami is such a beautiful shade if you are looking for something dark.  To look at it directly, it almost looks black, but in sunlight it has a gorgeous blue tinge to it, and I love that it's just a little bit different from your every day dark shade.  Lapiz Of Luxury of course, is another pretty purple/blue colour, but a little darker than the others I have.  I love these colours, I think they're just so pretty!
 


 
Lastly, I've really been enjoying Turquoise & Caicos  - a beautiful minty green.  It looks so pretty on and even though it's quite bright, it wears well with anything.  Essie has some of the prettiest pastel shades, and this one doesn't disappoint!
 
 
Essie is available at various department stores and pharmacies, however I like to purchase mine from BeautyBay.  They are a lot cheaper at $13.70AUD and I love that I can get an extra 35% off by using my Cuponation account.  You can also sign up with them for other amazing beauty coupons and deals!
 
I'd love to hear what shades you love the most, so as always, please do comment and let me know x
 
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ModelCo. Party Proof Lipstick and Beauty Fix Airbrush Face Review

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

I had the chance recently, to try out some new Modelco. products, which of course I was excited to do.  The two that I chose to try were the Party Proof Cream Lipstick  and the Beauty Fix Airbrush Face Makeup Setting Spray.

For the lipstick, I chose the colour "Splendourful - a beautiful, bright orange coral that really caught my eye.  I was really excited to try this one, as I just loved  the colour so much!  Well... I really wanted to like it, but I have to be honest and say I was a little disappointed.  The Party Proof range of lipsticks are marketed as being long lasting and budge proof, however I found that not to be the case.  Maybe it's just me, but I found that it just didn't quite sit right on my lips.  I felt like as soon as I applied it, it was already moving and coming off.  I also really disliked the texture of the formula.  It seemed almost a little bit cakey and feathered as soon as I put it on.  I have given this one ample chances to win me over, but unfortunately I'm just not a fan.  The colour is stunning, but the formula just didn't work for me.  The Party Proof lipstick range retails for $16.95AUD.



The second product I chose to try, is the Beauty Fix Airbrush Face Makeup Setting Spray.  Now THIS one, I love!  I have been on the lookout for an inexpensive setting spray, that actually works, and I think I've found it in this product!  The first time I used it, I applied WAY too much and just about soaked my face in it - not ideal.  But since then, I've mastered spraying just the right amount of product to do the job!  It feels slightly sticky when it first goes on, but it soaks in super fast and afterwards you don't even know it's there.  It has quite a nice, fresh scent as well which is always an added bonus.  I really like this spray, and I find that for my skin, it really does help to set my makeup and make sure it doesn't go anywhere throughout the day.  I find that when I use this, at the end of a long day I can look in the mirror and still see that I have a full face of makeup on - as opposed to wondering where on earth it all went, which is never good!  Beauty Fix retails for $24.00AUD.


I would love to hear from you if you have tried either of these products.  I'd love to know your opinions, so please do comment and let me know x
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Disclaimer:  These products were provided to be by ModelCo. for review.  However, this post is based solely on my own, personal opinions of these products. I have not been paid in any way, other than the receipt of these products, for this post or any of the opinions expressed above.
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Lipstick Queen Endless Summer Lipstick and Chinatown Lip Pencil Review

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

I was given the opportunity recently, to choose some products by Lipstick Queen, for myself to try out.  Lipstick Queen is a range designed by the lovely Poppy King, in her quest to find the perfect lipstick for herself!  Browsing through the online store, I found it difficult to choose between all the beautiful looking products, but I narrowed it down to two that I had to have!

The first product I chose, was the Endless Summer lipstick in the shade 'Stoked'.  I was drawn to this colour because I'm completely obsessed with oranges and corals at the moment!  I was keen to find out how true the shade would be to how it appears on the website, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was super accurate.




I love this shade, as it seems to be the perfect mix of coral and red, without being too "out there".  It's quite subtle - almost more like a tint, however the colour is also quite easy to build upon.  I found this lipstick to be extremely moisturising!  In fact, the first time I applied it, I thought there was no way it could possibly be long-lasting, because it felt so silky and as though it would just slip right off my lips!  However, I was surprised to find that it did last quite well throughout the day.  As with any lipstick of course, it's lasting power largely depends on your expectations, and whether you are eating or drinking often etc.  But overall, I have found that it lasts for most of the day, if I apply two or three coats in the morning.  I really like this lipstick and would love to give some of the other shades a try!

The other product I chose, was the Chinatown chubby lip pencil in the shade 'Genre'.  Again, I was drawn to this colour because it was described as a "sheer, bright orange".  I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this product - whether it would be a creamy consistency, or more like a gloss, so I couldn't wait to give it a try!

The pencil comes with it's own sharpener, which I love - and I loved the colour straight away!  It's basically a lip gloss in the form of a pencil - or at least, that's how I would describe it.  I really like this idea, as it's super easy to apply and it isn't sticky or messy like glosses can be.  The shades in the Chinatown range are very bright, however they are super, super  sheer, which enables you to wear colours that would otherwise be too overbearing, in a full coverage formula.


I love this product and the idea behind it.  It's versatile and can be worn on it's own, as well as underneath or over top of other lip products.  I would definitely recommend giving this one a try!

On a whole, I'm really impressed with Lipstick Queen as a brand, and I hope to try out some of their other beautiful products very soon!  Both products retail for $22.00US and can be purchased from the online store at www.lipstickqueen.com
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Disclaimer:  These products were provided to be by Kit Cosmetics - as distributor for Lipstick Queen - for review.  However, this post is based solely on my own, personal opinions of these products. I have not been paid in any way, other than the receipt of these products, for this post or any of the opinions expressed above.

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Living With Chronic Pain - Headaches, Migraines and Painkiller Addiction

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Something I'm always extremely open about in my posts, is my personal experience with mental illness.  However, I've never really written about my physical health issues.  So today, I thought I'd share with you my experience with something I deal with on a daily basis - chronic pain, specifically headaches.

It's extremely difficult for me to explain what my headaches are like, and over the years I've had a lot of trouble trying to describe them to doctors and specialists.  The first thing - which seems to be something that neither doctors, nor anyone else can understand - is that I don't just "get headaches", I have a continuous headache - every day, all  day.  The pain is always there - I wake up with it, and I go to sleep with it at night.  It seems to have been like this for as long as I can remember, but I believe it actually started around the age of thirteen or fourteen.  I am now twenty nine, so it's been a long time now with very little relief.

My pain varies in degrees - some days it may be bearable, whereas other days it may be terrible.  Then there are the days it goes past the point of headache, and ends up in migraine territory!  Once that happens, there's nothing I can do, or take, to make it any better.  I tend to become violently ill whenever I have a migraine - extreme nausea and usually vomiting.  On the other hand though, I don't seem to get the "aura" effect many people talk about - the spots before the eyes etc.  I generally get at least two migraines each month.

Image: Courtesy of makelessnoise under Creative Commons license. 
Over the years, I have been to many doctors and tried as many treatments as I could afford to try.  I have tried preventative medications, diet changes, natural remedies, Chinese medicine, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, naturopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, and at one stage I was even having a muscle relaxant injected into the base of my skull twice a week!  The list is endless and I just have not been able to find an answer.  I have undergone MRI's, blood tests, xrays - you name it - but nothing!  I can't even explain the frustration I feel at this point in my life.

I feel like I have missed out on the best part of my life because of chronic pain.  My teenage years were not the way they should have been - both for physical and mental health reasons - and my early twenties were spent just trying to put on a brave face and fight my way through each day.  Now I'm nearing thirty, and it makes me so sad that I haven't achieved most of the things I would have liked to, because of my health issues.  I feel that I can never make concrete plans, because history has proven that I can't rely on my pain level being bearable on any given day.  I hate having to cancel on friends or commitments, so a lot of the time I just don't even bother making the plans to begin with - I've been disappointed too many times.

Along with pain, comes painkillers.  It's only natural that when you are in constant pain, you need something to help you keep on going.  However, in my case, painkillers have caused me a whole other set of problems.  I have Gastritis and the beginning signs of some nasty ulcers in my tummy - caused mainly from the over use of over the counter pain relief.  There was a time in my life that I would take upwards of twelve ibuprofen tablets a day.  Even then, I'd usually have at least four or six codeine on top of that - and mostly on an empty stomach!  The worst thing is, that even that amount of medication never actually took the pain away, it just helped me make it through the day and get to sleep at night.

Another problem with overtaking these sorts of painkillers, is that it can cause a rebound effect.  Your body becomes so used to it that when you don't take the pills, the pain automatically starts up again, because your body is craving the drugs.

I hate that I rely so much on these drugs each day.  I no longer take as many as I have in the past, however I still take painkillers at least four times a day to get myself through.  It's taken me a long time to bring it down this much, and I'm sure it will take me a long time to get it down even further, but I am trying.  On days where I'm at home and have nowhere to be, I try my best to go without painkillers, or at least keep them at a bare minimum.  At least then if it gets really bad, I know I can go to bed and sleep or rest.  However, that's not an option when I have to be at work, or in a social situation - that's when it becomes extremely  difficult to get by without medication.

The reason I am being so open about this, is because I hope that someone out there in the same situation, will read this and make the decision to either limit, or stop their own use of these kind of drugs, before  it's too late.  I want people to realise that when the doctor tells you, you need to eat before taking pills, or you should only have a certain amount of them, if at all - it's for a reason!  It really  can cause you a whole lot of grief, and I'm living proof of that.  If I could go back in time and change things, I absolutely would.  At the point I am at now, it's near impossible for me to just stop taking the tablets full stop.  It is going to take me a long time to ever fully stop taking them, not to mention the permanent damage I have now caused to my body.  It makes me really sad to think that purely because of being so desperate to get even just a little bit of relief, I have now caused myself other health issues that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.

I believe that a lot of my depression and anxiety has stemmed from my chronic pain.  Not all of it, but a good part of it.  People have sometimes asked me, "what have you got to be depressed about?", and I think, 'seriously? - you try being in pain every minute of every day and then come back and ask me'!  It's very difficult to explain to someone, unless they are going through the same thing - just like it is with mental illness.  Sometimes just the pure frustration of feeling so alone and as though no one understands - nor cares - can be enough to make me want to just pull the covers over my head and cry.  But that brings me to another issue - guilt!  I often feel guilty for my sadness, because I know there are so many other people out there who have worse illnesses or problems than I do.  Who am I to complain, when there are people out there with missing limbs, or terminal cancer, or are deaf or blind or unable to walk, or even worse?  I feel so guilty for letting this get me down, but sometimes, I think I just get worn down by it all.  I become exhausted from putting on a fake smile or laugh, and pretending everything is ok - purely because I know if I were honest with everyone and told them how miserable I really  feel every day, eventually they would not want to be around me.  Who wants to be around someone who is always in pain and feeling bad?

There are so many factors in coping with chronic pain, whatever kind it may be.  From physical to emotional, it effects every  aspect of your life.  So, if you  are experiencing it firsthand also, please know that you are not alone.  I'm right there with you and I know how tough it is.  I know how frustrated you feel, and how much you just want to feel better.  I wish I could provide the ultimate answer to fix it, but unfortunately I haven't found it for myself yet.  But one day I will... I'm counting on that!
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Australis Blush BFF's and Velourlips Review

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Lately, I've really been enjoying Australis  as a brand and trying out some of their new products.  Two of my favourites at the moment, are the Blush BFF's duo and the Velourlips Matte Lip Cream.

The thing I love the most about Australis, is that their products seem to always be great quality but are very reasonably priced, and these products definitely don't disappoint.
Australis Blush BFF's in Shop & Goss.
Photo courtesy of www.australiscosmetics.com.au.

The Blush BFF's duo I purchased, is in the shade Shop & Goss  and I love it as an every day blush.  The thing I love the most about this blush, is how blend-able it is.  I tend to blend the two colours together, straight onto the skin and it all blends in easily and naturally.  The colour is also easy to build for a more dramatic effect.  I really like these particular shades on my fair skin, but there are three other shades also available in this range.  At $12.95 (AU) from Priceline, I think these are a really affordable little duo!

Australis Velourlips in Rio-D.
Photo courtesy of www.australiscosmetics.com.au.

The one product everyone seems to be raving about at the moment, is the Velourlips range.  I purchased the shade Rio-D  and I LOVE  this bright, orange colour!  One thing to remember about this range is that they are lip creams, not  glosses - the consistency of the formula is very thick, almost like a lipstick in a bottle.  The colours are intense and personally I find that just the tiniest amount is plenty.  I apply a couple of small dabs on the bottom lip and then blend it thoroughly all over.  Of course, it depends on how bold you want your colour to be - if you want a more intense look, it's very easy to build up to a super bright, strong shade!  The only thing I don't like about this product, is that it seems to get a little cakey throughout the day and I find I need to blend it out with a little bit of lip balm.  But for $9.95 (AU), I think this is a great quality product and I would definitely consider purchasing some of the other shades to try.

As always, I'd love to hear your opinions on these products if you have tried them for yourself, so please do comment below and let me know!

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Disclaimer:  This post is based solely on my own, personal opinions of these products.  I have not been paid, or reimbursed in any way for this post by any of the companies, brands or stores mentioned.
 

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