6 December 2017

2017 CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE - ALL UNDER £20


So it's here. Somehow it's already December, 2017 is nearly up and it's time to start thinking about Christmas. To make it easy for everyone, I've made a HUGE christmas gift guide for all different types of people and all for under £20 - you can thank me later ;)

Take a look at the categories below and slide across each widget for even more options! As things go out of stock, I will be replacing them with new items so be sure to check back and see what new things have been added! Happy shopping!

CLOTHES



ACCESSORIES

 
TECH



HOMEWARE

HOBBIES



HAIR & BEAUTY



STATIONARY



CHILDREN


SELF CARE


CARDS



16 November 2017

MY BEST FAILURE: ONE YEAR ON SINCE MY SUICIDE ATTEMPT

 
Today marks one year since I made the best failure of my life. Today marks one year since I attempted to take my own life.

I want to first just give a trigger warning for this post. I’ll be talking about suicide so if anyone feels uncomfortable with the subject then I’d advise you read with caution.

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time but never knew when the right time would be. I knew the anniversary of the attempt was coming up soon as I remember it being in November, but funnily enough ‘to-do: end life’ isn’t something I put in my diary. The only way I knew how to find out the exact date was by looking at the Facebook post that was written on that day. That post was the final straw for me, but I’ll talk later about that. I won’t be naming anyone in this story other than those that have helped me as, although this is my story, it’s not only my story and I don’t feel I have the right to tell you about their input.


So let’s start with the year 2016. For myself and many others, it was a really crappy year to say the least. You can watch a short video I made about it here but I’ll explain in a little more detail. I was in my final year of uni which is of course the hardest. I was doing fashion design and the amount of work we had to produce was ridiculous, almost bordering impossible. I’d spend literally 13 hours a day in the studio working solidly to barely scrape by. Wake up, uni work, home, sleep, repeat. That was my life for months. Not long prior to that, my cat Charlie also had to be put down (if you’re like me and your pets are literally like family, then you’ll know why that was so heartbreaking). That year I also lost contact with one of my best friends, my boyfriend of the time and I broke up, my mum had cancer for the second time (this time much more serious), my Grandad had cancer and was deteriorating pretty fast, I felt let down by family the year before so was still not in contact with them, I was in a job that I hated, and was barely making enough money to get by each month. Oh and I have severe depression so take all of the above and multiply the misery by 10.

I’ve had depression for years so was used to feeling low, but this was something else entirely. I remember the first time I thought about suicide. I must have been around 14 and it was over a boy who didn’t like me. I was in bed, silently crying my eyes out and reached up to the shelves above my bed to grab a metal hair clip I’d put there earlier. I tried to hack and hack at my wrists but the clip just wouldn’t cut. I remember thinking then that I wanted to die but I didn’t actually want to not be alive. It’s an incredibly confusing feeling but if you’ve felt this before you know exactly what I mean.

Last year was very different though. This time I wanted to die, to not be alive, to stop the suffering I was in. I just thought that if there was nothing left to be happy about in my life, why would I want to carry on for years and years in misery.

 

I’d previously done research on suicide, searching google for ‘easiest way to kill yourself’ and ‘how many pills does it take to die’. It seems like the kind of thing that would be obvious, but when you’re so set on doing it, you want to be 100% sure that you know what you’re doing and that it won’t fail. I knew I wanted something pain and mess free so pills seemed like the right way for me. Despite doing the research, I didn’t do it right away. It’s like I wanted to know all the information before I reached my lowest point so that I was prepared for action straight away. Despite this, a week or so before the proper attempt, I was alone in my flat and I’d got into such a state that I was in hysterics and searching frantically for something I could cut myself with. I headed to the kitchen, grabbed a small knife from the drawer, slumped to the floor and stared at the knife. I tested the waters first. How much force would it take to actually cut through my skin? It turns out it’s more than you’d think. That knife didn’t do anything. So I returned to the drawer to find another sharper knife. Again it had no affect. I returned for a last time to get a bread knife. I knew this would do the trick if only I had the strength within myself to go against every natural reaction and not pull away. But I didn’t have that strength. By this time I was more and more frustrated by the fact I couldn’t do it so headed to the bathroom, still in a complete state, and went about taking apart my razor to get to one small, deathly-sharp piece of metal. I locked the door, sat on the toilet seat and started. This time it worked, but oh my god the pain was unreal. It sounds silly, but for some reason I didn’t think it would hurt, not quite as much as it did at least. Even whilst I was cutting, I was amazed at the human body and how quickly it reacted. With every cut and draw of blood, it was like someone else was yanking my hand away. Whilst this frustrated me as my body wouldn’t even let me take away what was mine, it made me think - ‘maybe this isn’t right, maybe I’m not 100% dedicated to this, I mean who gets distracted by the amazing biology of the human body whilst trying to kill themselves?!’. So I stopped. I hid the razor blade, went back into my room and slept. The rest of that week I cut a few times again, but getting distracted every time by the amazement of my reactions made me stop each time.


Fast forward to the 16th of November 2016. It was the evening, it was winter and my flatmate Pea and I were both keeping warm in our rooms doing our own thing. I’d been crying all evening but having felt so bad for Pea recently having to deal with all my upset (which I want to add that she had been incredible with), I’d learn how to bawl my eyes out but in complete silence so she wouldn’t hear. I was sat on the floor on my laptop, browsing Facebook as a means to distract myself from feeling so down. Little did I know that this was the worst thing I could have done. Like I said, I’m not going to give names or give anything away that could incriminate anyone, but it’s a post I saw on Facebook that was the final factor in my decision. A simple comment drove me over the edge, as it has the ability to do with many people so please be cautious when posting. I rang my mum to tell her what I’d seen in the hope she could say something to distract me from the suicidal thought that was bubbling inside of me, but by that time I had lost all hope. It’s an interesting saying that - ‘lost all hope’. Used so often but when you really think about those words and what they truly mean, that’s exactly how I felt. There was nothing that I wanted to save myself for anymore.. or so I thought.

We continued on the phone for a while, me practically unable to speak through the tears and her trying to reassure me that we could work through it. Again I’d like to add now that there is nothing more my mum could have done to help me in this situation, she was amazing through it all but I was in a place that even she couldn’t pull me out of. At the end of our call she made me promise I wouldn’t do anything silly. She knew about previous half hearted suicide attempts so the definition of ‘silly’ was perfectly clear to both of us. I promised I wouldn’t and we said our goodbyes, unbeknown to her that I thought it would have been our last.


After a moment, I then headed to the bathroom and reached once more for the razor blade. This time was the one. Without hesitation I went straight through my skin, but not quite deep enough to reach a main vain. A little blood trickled but no where near enough for a person to bleed to death. I tried again and again but still nothing. By this time the amusement I’d once experienced from the speed of my reactions was totally gone and I was angry. Still in hysterics, I needed another plan. Something that would be a sure fire route. Pills. I’d done research so felt like I knew it would be painless, easy, mess free and I could just go to sleep and not wake up. I went into the cupboard in my bedroom, pulled down a basket that contained any pills and medical bits and bobs I had and started rummaging. I pulled out boxes of ibuprofen, paracetamol and antihistamines and laid out everything I had in their little silver sheets. I counted. 47. That should definitely do it. I felt dirty and hot from the episode I’d been having and wanted to be somewhere locked away and alone, without interruption or any saving, so headed for the shower.

By this time the silent crying was a thing of the past and I was letting it all out. Pea stayed in her room as we had this unsaid arrangement that she knew if I was crying alone for a certain amount of time, I wanted to be alone. If it went over that time, I went into her room or I messaged her, then it was time to be super Pea and calm me down. As the loud crying hadn’t been going on that long and I was now running the shower, I presume she thought I wanted to be alone so didn’t interrupt (again, this was her only doing what I had asked and would have had no idea what I was about to do so could have in no way stopped me). I’d taken the pill packets in with me into the shower as well as the razor and just stood bawling for five minutes. Then in a split, panicked second I opened every pill pocket and thrust them into my mouth and swallowed before I could have a second to rethink. What surprised me was how I felt a matter of seconds after swallowing the 47th pill. There was a rush of complete calm that came over me as if I knew it was the end and that it there would be no sadness anymore.


I got out the shower, dried off and headed once more into my room where I then got into bed. Despite the calm, I was still crying so after about 15 minutes Pea came into my room to check on me. By that time I was again in hysterics and Pea was frantically trying to calm me down, reassuring me everything would be fine and I just needed sleep so that by the time I woke up tomorrow, I’d be feeling a bit better. That was my chance to either save myself or just let the pills do their work. Then into my head popped my mum. The thought of tomorrow morning, my Mamo having to receive a call to say I had taken an overdose and had gone to sleep for good, completely broke my heart. How could I do that to her? She’d struggled enough this year with her cancer, her dad, her uni work, and trying to be supportive of me through all of that. I knew it would completely destroy her and I couldn’t do that to the person I loved the most in this whole world. My Mamo is the one who kept me alive.

So to Pea’s ‘things will feel a bit better in the morning’, I replied ‘no it won’t, I won’t be here in the morning’. She struggled to understand me at first through all the blubbering but after making me say it again and a third time to be sure she had heard me correctly, she frantically started asking me what I had done. ‘Alex baby, I need you to tell me what you’ve done. Please please tell me’. Now completely unable to talk at all, I directed her attention to the multiple empty pill packages beside my bed and she understood straight away. After that I’m not 100% sure what happened. I was sat crying and rocking in my bed whilst Pea went off. I assume she called Laura and 999 as shortly after, Laura turned up and then ambulance. They asked me questions, I just about answered, and then took me away in the ambulance to the hospital.


I don’t remember much from the ambulance ride or once getting to hospital. I don’t know if it was because it was late at night and I was sleepy, or the pills had started to make me feel woozy, but it all went really quick and after being with Laura and Pea in the waiting room for a few hours and answering more questions in a side room, I was taken to a bed. Again, I don’t remember a lot of this bit but I know Pea and Laura then headed back home for the night. I stayed overnight and woke to be equally disappointed that I hadn’t succeeded and rejoiced that I was still alive. Not long after, Pea got a lift to the hospital to see me and informed me she had let my mum and step-dad know. They were on their way down to Cornwall already to come and take me home with them for a little while. I don’t remember much from that day other than eating two breakfasts as Pea had bought me some bits from a cafe before heading up to see me and I also got the normal hospital breakfast; there was a lady who wasn’t quite 'with in' in the bed next to me and was wrapping up her breakfast in a napkin and asking the nurse to throw it out the window for the farm animals which was equal amounts sad, funny and sweet; I had to go and see a psych nurse for more questions; and then my mum and Tim turned up which sent me back to tears and apologising for everything I had done.

After I was discharged from the hospital, I was immediately taken back home to Cheltenham where I spent the next three weeks in absolute distress. I’ll do another post next week about what happened when I went home, the months after the attempt, and how I’ve finally got to where I am now as this is already long enough. I don’t want this to be read and think the story ended badly though so if you are someone either struggling or have read this for help, then please read the next post which will be the positive side of this whole event and how it can get better. Below I have put some links to places you can go for help whether you’re someone with depression and suicidal thoughts or if you’re someone concerned about another person’s mental health.

Please also note that everyone who was there to help did everything they could do try and save this from happening but like I said, when someone gets to that place it’s hard to know what to do. Please also do not try and make discussion about this to the people mentioned in this story. I am more than happy to talk to you myself about the event but I don’t want them to feel burdened with questions or remarks. 

LINKS
  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn't have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.

12 November 2017

LIVING AT HOME IS ACTUALLY KINDA COOL


To me the idea of moving back home had always been a negative thing. It’s something that I’ve wanted to avoid at all costs ever since I first moved away to uni five years ago as I associate it with failure. Failure to ever leave home. Failure to successfully live alone. Failure to cope away from home. Whatever it was, I always thought 'living at home' = negative.

I was talking to a friend recently about living at home and how he had recently moved back with his parents too after not feeling 100% when living on his own. I was saying to him how what used to be something I thought of as moving backwards in terms of life progress, is now it’s something I consider moving forward.


"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change"  
Dr. Wayne Dyer


When I was living on my own down in Falmouth, I had to pay for rent, water, electricity, gas, internet, insurance, my phone bill, my laptop instalments, travel, council tax, food, and more. And let me tell you, doing that on a minimum monthly pay slip is pretty shit. More often than not I would find myself stressing out about money, how I'd go about getting more so I didn't have to borrow money for the um-teenth time from my mum just to get by (spending money on clothes and fun stuff? HAHA HELL NO GIRL, it ain't happening) and wondering when my pain-in-the-ass relationship with money would just chill for a sec. 

For many other reasons as well as the crappy monthly situation as explained above, I finally had an epiphany moment and decided it was time. My best friends were off travelling, the let on our flat was up, it was coming up to winter (the worst time for my depression as, from what happened last year, I thought it wouldn't be wise to be alone). Everything pointed to moving home. I also worked out how much I spent on just rent in one year and how much I'd save on everything if I came home, genuinely laughed out loud a huge 'HAH' and texted my mum to tell her I was returning. 



"There are always flowers for those who want to see them" 
- Henri Matisse


Since moving back, everything hasn't been as I had hoped in terms of saving loads of money, working lots, seeing friends all the time, etc. But holy smoketicles, my mind and meatal health is just fab! Every year for the past god-knows how many, by now I should be on the maximum medication I can possibly be and yet still feel depressed, miserable, suicidal, and have absolutely no lust for life. But today I am only taking one pill (which to be honest could probably be even less), forever smiling for no reason other than for getting random bursts of excitment and happiness, and am just in such an incredible, positive place. It's a bazare feeling, but fuck me I am LOVING IT!

To me, it's all about silver linings. I genuinely believe everything in this world has a silver lining from my mum's cancer - it meant she had to leave work, but decided because life it too short to be in an office all day, is now in her third year of getting a Fine Art degree; to my full blown mental break down last year (that I may talk about soon) - it meant when I finally got through it, I became the most confident, strong and independant version of Alex I could possibly be and resulted in me absolutely fucking loving myelf and everything I'm about.

You just have to find the silver linings.



IN THIS POST 
Flare sleeved body - Missguided
Shoes* - Spy Love Buy
Trousers, belt and neckplace - unknown
Photography - Laura Bailey 

7 November 2017

WHO THE HELL ARE YOU WEARING THAT FOR?


If you're a follower of my Instagram, you may have seen a post where I wrote about taking the opportunity since moving home, to learn to be ok on my own. It said something along the lines of.. 

"So now that I’ve moved home, one of the key things I want to work on is being ok with being on my own. I have no one currently in my life romantically as, unfortunately, there was someone for a little while who was a really good egg but due to me leaving Falmouth, it had to come to an end in order for me to fully embrace the move and this new stage in my life. Since my first ever relationship at the age of... " READ MORE
 

Like I said in that post, I recently learnt to differentiate between 'loneliness' and 'solitude' and am in the process of ensuring all my time spent alone feels positive and not lonely or sad. For so many years I only felt emotionally full when someone else filled up the other half of my cup or was the cherry on top of the sundae, but since realising this and understanding how unhealthly it is, I have started to be really mindful of my time alone and try to ensure I always enjoy my own company.

I feel I have more or less mastered the feeling of being ok when simply on my own, doing my own thing but it's a whole different ball game when it comes to doing things that are so naturally seen as a 'couples thing' to do. Things like going to dinner or going to the cinema or stargazing are, of course, wonderful to do with someone else, but wouldn't it be amazing to feel as satisfied doing them on your own as you would sharing them?




"It takes a strong person to remain single in a world that is so accustomed to setting with anything just to say they have something"



I've recently challenged myself to do these things that are so normally done with a significant other, but just on my own. Unfortunately I am lacking in funds at the moment to do some of the activities I want to do like dinner, so thought I'd stick to an simple one first - matching underwear. 

Waking up, putting on matching underwear and instantly feeling like today will be your day, is a feeling I know many of you will be familiar with, so why do so many of us only think it's important when we take our clothes off later for our partners or for that future guy who's going to be lucky enough to take us home from the bar? I was in a changing room the other day on a shopping trip with a friend who, when seeing me in my underwear between try-ons, noticed and found it odd that I was wearing matching underwear (I then explained this project and she agreed it to be a good idea as she admited to wondering why I'd be wearing a matching set when I'm lacking in partner!). 

It's a shame that it's considered such a special thing to do only for someone else, when really it should be a special treat to ourselves. Secretly knowing that under a plain jumper and jeans is the most beautiful embroidered underwear set that makes me feel sexy af but only I get to see is, in my opinion, way better than doing it just for another person (who let's be honest, probably won't even notice)!




I challenge you too this week to wear that expensive set you've been keeping for a special occasion, or go to bed in that super sexy, luxurious babydoll you haven't worn in forever, or if you're lacking in either of those then head out and treat yourself! Below are some of my current favourite sets and pieces to inspire your inner goddess! 

IN THIS POST
Underwear set - Primark
Photography - Lily Fulvio-Mason
 

5 July 2017

BLACK & WHITE AND CUT OUTS - #DOTM


This is the second chance I've had to style a Boohoo Dress Of The Month and similar to last time, it's not a dress I would have chosen myself but thought I'd take the challenge anyway! If you don't know about it, #DOTM is a campaign Boohoo.com are running where they send bloggers a secret dress that they may not normally pick and they have to style it up.

I struggled with this dress to be honest as for one, it's really not my style at all. I'm not a polka dot kinda gal so that was my main issue. It's also a dress that speaks for itself so I couldn't add much to it in terms of making it 'my own'. Despite it not being my cup of tea, I still think it's a lovely dress if it's your style and looks great in these pictures.

Photos taken by Dan Sharpe - follow him on Insta here!


Dress, Boohoo*


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