My January skincare empties

Well here we are, mid January. The longest month of the entire year. The point where we all just want to wrap up warm, hibernate and eat snacks (maybe that’s just me)? As I’m not so patiently waiting for some new skincare supplies I figured that this would be the perfect time to show you my empties for my first post of 2020.
Whilst I’m a K Beauty convert through and through I’ve found a handful of products that are products I’d reorder in a heartbeat, there’s also products I’ve loved and can’t find fault with but there’s just too many amazing products to try and I just can’t help myself.

So here they are, my empties for January 2020…

× pyunkang yul essence toner
This product is one I’d consider a grail one, I’ve reordered it multiple times now and love everything from the ease of use, formula and most importantly the results. It absorbs incredibly well with light patting and doesn’t cause any irritation to my occasionally over sensitive skin. Highly recommended for sensitive skin suffers based on my own experience.

× mizon snail repair eye cream
This product is incredible, the idea of using a snail based product seemed a little ‘faddy’ but the truth is its a highly restorative, repairing product that’s done wonders for my skin (around my eyes). My skin tone is smooth, even and plump. Another great product.

× the face shop rice water bright light cleaning oil
This oil based cleanser has been the first step in my routine for some time now. It removes make up and grime well, including waterproof mascara.  It’s a light oil that doesn’t feel heavy at all and hasn’t left my skin feeling oily. It’s a nice product to use but nothing makes me think ‘wow’ about it. I can’t say I saw any significant brightening effects post use.

×Etude house moistful collagen sleeping pack
This is a thick, creamy sleeping pack that doesn’t feel heavy or gloopy on your skin and absorbs quickly. Using it has left my skin feeling soft and supple the morning after. A luxurious feeling cream to end my night routine.

×COSRX low PH good morning gel cleanser
This is a refreshing foaming cleanser that doesn’t leave my skin feeling taught or dry. It’s been a nice product to try but like the face shop product above it’s lacking the wow power and didn’t live up to the hype.

Well that’s it guys, my January empties.  Have you used any of the listed products? What products are you currently using? I’d love to hear some of your recommendations!

Stay cute

Hannah x

Why absent friends aren’t bad friends: In defense of the introvert ghost friend.

It’s a short post this time guys but the last few weeks have been super busy and my virtually non existent posting schedule has gone out of the window. There’s something about the new year that always makes me feel reflective and focused on my goals for the following year, throw a new decade into the mix and I’m super charged reflective. I’m aiming to start a bullet journal for 2020 so that I’m beyond organised as well as accurately tracking life’s ups and downs. I’ve got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to my journal but would love to share ideas from current bullet journal users too!

This new year’s reflection has got me thinking about how much life, and I have changed not only over the past year but the past decade. I’ve been thinking a whole lot about friendship and how in the past year I’ve ‘conducted’ friendships.

I’m not a bad friend; I’ll love you fiercely, protect your name and reputation. I’ll defend and support you no end, I’ll be your biggest cheerleader as well as a shoulder to cry on but often it’s from a distance. I’m not a bad friend but I’m an absent one. I’ve kept myself to myself for long enough now where I’m not sure if I’d know how to ‘act’ in big social situations anymore; with anxiety and disability issues thrown into the mix, I don’t even know if I’d enjoy myself. It’s not a reflection on my friends, just me being a an absent friend, at times a ghost.  A ghost friend and a ghost of my former self, maybe. If you looked at me at the beginning of the decade you’d rarely find me at home and you’d struggle to find me enjoying time alone. The thought of being at home, alone, with only my own company would fill me with dread. I guess I was to some degree an extrovert, a social butterfly; I drank a heap, went to parties and raves regularly and hung out with friends mostly every day. I wasn’t unhappy then but I was far from truly happy and I wasn’t being my true self. I forgot my hobbies and interests because they were solitary activities and I couldn’t bare to be by myself so I dropped them to focus on surrounding myself with people and activity.

At the end of this decade I now spend a vast amount of time home, I lost my job this year due to disability so my work social life is non existent. I rarely go to parties or out drinking. I enjoy quiet activities alone or with my little family or on rare occasions small groups of friends.
Being alone doesn’t mean I’m unhappy; it’s quite the opposite. My time is spent with my son being the best mum I can be, creating or crafting, getting my small business off the ground, gaming and enjoying my home and those in it. I do things at my own speed without worrying about how I may slow others down. I can move in my comfort zone, feeling safe and secure. I don’t feel the fear of missing out any longer, I can be a part of things if I feel able, if not I don’t dwell over it anymore.

With a new year and new decade looming I’ve decided that it’s important to maintain these safety boundaries but challenge myself too. I’ve become a little too comfortable in my own company, I realise that being a ghost is fine to a degree but I need to put myself out there more and physically be there to maintain friendships. I’m aiming to make more effort to put myself out there, see friends more, try things I’ve avoided due to anxiety. It sounds like a mountain to climb when I think of it now, But I know that in small steps I can get the right balance. I can be the friend who may be a ghost at times but a friend who can also be physically present too. I want to have fun experiences to look back on fondly, I want to have days trips and movie nights to look forward to as well as looking forward to my quiet time in my safe place.
In 2020 I’ll still be an introvert because that’s who I truly am, I may still even be a ghost at times because it’s how I feel safe. I’ve set boundaries for my mental and physical health that need to be maintained and nurtured but I’ll also be more present and put myself out there. I want to connect to old friends, meet new ones and maintain current friendships. I feel my opportunity for growth lies in the balance of introversion and being available to see friends in person, so my ‘new years resolution’ is to be present: In any activity or situation I’m in, with whoever I’m with. In 2020 I’ll be putting my energy into the very moment I’m in and giving it 110%.

That’s a wrap on 2019 folks, my other resolution is to get my posting schedule sorted so I post less sporadically. I’m going to work so hard on ensuring that this blog grows and moves from strength to strength. I post mini blogs pretty much daily over on Instagram, come and join me by searching @konnichiwakittyblog.

I truly hope the new year treats you well, here’s to a new year, new decade and a shiny new outlook.

Hannah x

The truth about dermaplaning…

I’d seen so many GLOWING reviews of people’s experiences with dermaplaning. Smooth, glowing, exfoliated, peach fuzz free skin that helps make up apply like a dream. Sounds great, Right? but what about the aftercare? What about the inevitable return of the fuzz? What happens in the short to long term when you put down the razor? (Yep, it’s pretty much a scalpel shaving your face…) I offered myself up as a guinea pig and the following blog is my brutally honest review of dermaplaning, why it isn’t for me and what you need to know before committing to the razor.

The process

“Dermaplaning is a physical form of exfoliation similar in theory to microdermabrasion,” says Dr. Jonquille Chantrey, cosmetic surgeon and skin expert. “It requires the use of a sterile, surgical scalpel (not as scary as it sounds) to gently shave the skin’s surface, removing the top layer of dead skin along with fine vellus hair.” (Definition from Refinery29).

Armed with a snazzy, if not scary looking eyebrow razor, rubbing alcohol (safety first) and my usual skincare routine for post ‘shave’ I set out to defuzz my face…

I placed the razor in rubbing alcohol to ensure it was sterile before use on my face and prepped my skin by using THE FACE SHOP Rice water bright light cleansing oil, COSRX low PH Good morning gel cleanser and Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner to minimise the potential of irritation.

Time to shave.

I pulled my skin taught and used short stroke motions keeping the blade to a 45° angle at all times. I was SHOCKED at how much peach fuzz I had, I didn’t even know I was that fuzzy. I continued de-fuzzing my face until I was a smooth all over albeit red and irritated (ETA: it’s worth mentioning that I have sensitive/reactive skin so I wasn’t overly surprised by the redness and irritated feeling). I used a Tony Moly pureness sheet mask post ‘shave’, followed by Rohto Mentholatum – Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion and Pyunkang Yul Moisture Ampuole. The redness soon settled and I was feeling pretty good about the whole experience. But not for long…

A few days after the ‘big shave’ I broke out. IN A BIG WAY. I had spots appear under my skin all across my face, angry red pimples in clumps and my skin looked red, irritated and angry. I put it down to the fact that I had effectively deep exfoliated my skin and it was just the initial after effect of doing so. But my skin didn’t settle; more and more bumps appeared under my skin. The angry red spots stayed red and angry. Even my thorough skincare routine didn’t seem to help. I was disappointed and pretty annoyed that my normally clear skin looked anything but. After a couple of weeks I noticed the vellus hair (ok, ‘tash) making a comeback. So naively I decided to go through the whole process again, HUGE mistake. The redness and spots had started to die down by this point but I was left with under skin spots, that I assumed were just the result of trying something new on my skin. After the second round of dermaplaning my skin reacted in exactly the same way but I broke out in an even worse way.

After my second attempt to make dermaplaning the wonderful addition to my skincare routine I’d heard it would be I decided that enough was enough. The outcome simply wasn’t worth the weeks and weeks of clogged, irritated skin, not to mention the more obvious new hair growth. Vellus hair had never been an issue previously and I usually waxed my top lip and brows to tame unruly hairs which didn’t leave me with the undesirable effects of dermaplaning. I ditched the ‘razor’ once and for all, vowing NEVER to use it again

Eyebrow razors aka the devil’s tools

So, my experience wasn’t a great one and it seems I’m not the only one. When looking into others’ experiences with dermaplaning (and to figure out what went wrong), I found an overwhelmingly large amount of information from providers of the treatment and news articles raving about how great it was. I couldn’t be the only one who felt underwhelmed and disappointed by my experience surely? Eventually, going into the Google search deeper I found a large amount of people who seemed to have had the same issues I’d experienced. Others reported break outs, awkward regrowth and disappointing results.

Peach fuzz and skin, post dermaplaning

Had I searched more thoroughly than I did prior to embarking on the dermaplaning journey I wouldn’t have gone through with it. The incredibly short term results weren’t worth the weeks and weeks of appalling skin troubles. I last dermaplaned 6 weeks ago and it’s only just now that my skin is beginning to return to its pre dermaplaning state. Whilst I totally understand that not everyone will experience the same issues as me and others it’s definitely worth knowing the potential issues that may arise from the treatment.

It’s fair to say dermaplaning is not for me, but hey, the more you know. In future I’ll be sticking to waxing for any of those pesky patches of facial fuzz I want rid of.

Have you tried dermaplaning? How was your experience and would you recommend it?

You might have realised there are a heap of links to Korean beauty products via the YesStyle website. If you’re interested in any of the listed products or anything else on the website be sure to use the code KITTY123 to save on your order!

Hannah x

Early motherhood is a minefield (but it does get better).

I’d frequently seen sensationalist stories of women going into labour without knowing they were pregnant and my reaction was always the same…. How? Yet here I was, finding out I was pregnant (already 6 amd a bit months pregnant actually) and questioning my own sanity. How could I have not realised? How was I still having a regular period? Why did I not have morning sickness? And about 1001 other questions whirled in my head. Preparing for birth and the imminent arrival of our bundle of joy was the relatively easy part; navigating the minefield that was early motherhood was the part that no one spoke about.

Pregnancy bump to baby shoot April 2016

When our little boy arrived in May of 2016 we quickly settled into our cosy little family of three life. The ‘baby bubble’ felt as though it would never pop and the real world seemed a million miles away. We had space to soak in our new arrival and a seemingly endless amount of time to get to grips with our new roles as parents. But for some time I felt that ‘mother’ was my only role, I forgot who I was to myself and to others, I forgot what made me tick and what, apart from our little family set up, brought me joy.

Our first moments together as a family, May 2016

I had become an island; I’d unintentionally drifted away from people I was close to and become so wrapped up in family life I started to feel alone. I was becoming anxious without truly realising it, the thought of putting myself ‘out there’ was daunting. In fact the thought of the wider world in general made me anxious. I had friends with families of their own and friends who were still living the single life but for some unknown reason I felt that I’d let myself drift away from these groups and that I needed to create or join a new circle. Something I realised was so far from the truth but was just too anxious to see at the time.

Twelve weeks after giving birth I’d had to return to work almost full time; between having to be at work for 37 hours a week in a busy hospital and having a 3 month old baby I didn’t feel that I had the time (or energy) to be out socialising with friends, let alone meeting new people. We didn’t go to mother and baby groups, which on paper seemed like the perfect place to meet new mums in similar situations (if I wasn’t such a ball of anxiety) . We didn’t go to baby sensory, because working shift work wasn’t compatible with committing to a set day each week. In fact our time together was spent just ‘being together’ and exploring activities in the safety and comfort of our own home. Despite all of my best efforts in providing my son with fun, baby centred activities I felt as though I was somehow letting him down by not being like the other mums I saw; the ones throwing themselves into baby led activities and baby groups, the ones out having coffee at soft play with their mum tribes and babies in tow. I felt like I was failing myself, other’s expectations for me and most of all my son.

September 2016

I wracked my brain for other ways I could reach out to others without being confined to a set routine or having to ‘put myself out there’ and potentially end up feeling lonelier than I started. I eventually came across the often weird and not always so wonderful world of online ‘Mum groups’. These places on the whole were a minefield in themselves. Vicious arguments would regularly break out amongst the members over the smallest things (in some of the larger, well known groups), there were ruling authorities (or so they thought) on all things mother, child and family related. If your face didn’t fit, you would soon know about it. The atmosphere was awful from just having a brief browse and it didn’t feel like a place where I’d be happy, safe or welcome. After much searching I thought I’d found my online tribe; there were incredible, self made, successful, confident and fierce women. Women who I didn’t feel that I was like but I could aspire to be. I threw myself into the group headfirst: I posted continuously, writing incredibly open and vulnerable posts about struggles I was experiencing, I read of other’s struggles and offered a listening ear and built others up when they felt at their lowest. I was dedicated to the group and at times consumed by it. But over time also found myself becoming thoroughly disillusioned with the whole online ‘mum group’ social community. I was giving so much time to the community and honestly started to feel that I was so involved with the group that I wasn’t present in my ‘real’ daily life. Being so involved made me question my own perceived flaws against other members whose lives seemed so picture perfect, other faces seemed to fit in more and would get more post engagement. I picked myself apart more and more. Why couldn’t I feel more of a part of this? Why wasn’t I able to fit in more? Was I just truly unlikeable or uninteresting? I questioned myself more in this period of time than I had ever before. During the 12 or so months I remained a member I found myself sinking into a more anxious and depressed state. If I was being 100% honest to myself I likely had post natal depression, but add into the mix some serious anxiety spurred on by things I was seeing and reading as well as some pretty strong feelings of inadequacy and you get the picture. I wasn’t in a good place. I finally decided to cut all ties with the group for the sake of my mental well-being and in order to get a grip on my own issues without absorbing other’s.

I appreciate this all sounds like a very negative account of mum groups (and in particular the one I was part of but it is in no way a reflection of the group itself). The truth is I needed real connections again and to ‘get out there’ in the real world; I’d started to reach out to my existing friends, being honest and open about my absence. I spent time building on those existing, physical connections I already had. And boy was I wrong about not being welcome anymore! These friendships just picked up where we’d left off, we’d plan family friendly activities as well as child free fun. I didn’t just feel accepted but understood, appreciated and loved. For some time I lost my way, I looked in places I didn’t need to search for things I’d already had. I understood that my thought processes hadn’t been kind or helpful and had hindered my ability to be me.

Starting to feel more myself again, it’s an ongoing process

Acknowledging that I wasn’t ok and then making the steps to get back on track again wasn’t easy, nothing improved overnight but knowing that I was doing all I could to improve made me feel a little more at peace. Knowing that those I cared about knew how I was struggling too made things easier. Since opening up to those close to me, I’d realised that no one questioned my ability to be a mother, my dedication to my family or my sanity. All the things I believed people would think if I reached out, (plot twist, no one thought any of this at all)!

I guess the TLDR version of this is;

•The first few days, weeks and months (maybe even YEARS) of being a mother and parent is tough. If you’re struggling then there’s no shame in reaching out. “You can’t pour from an empty cup” after all.

•Your mental well-being is so valuable; if something doesn’t feel right then don’t be afraid to remove yourself from the person, place or situation.

•Your baby doesn’t care how many groups or activities your go to each week and certainly doesn’t care how many places you go. All they need is you.

•Baby groups, baby activities and online communities aren’t for everyone but they definitely hold appeal. Maybe you’re in a new city, haven’t got an established friendship group or just need to put your feelers out for a new circle. Don’t dismiss the value of these resources, try something new if you feel able but don’t be afraid to decide it’s not for you and move on too! There are thousands of women who expanded their circles via an app, Facebook group, new mum meet or similar. Everyone’s different and there’s options for everyone (Even a hermit like me)!

The overall thing to take away is although the world feels like it’s been turned on it’s head when you become a mum it can and does get better.

Hannah x

Things I’d tell my younger self…

Since becoming a parent I’ve become SUPER reflective; I’ve spent a huge amount of time riddled in anxiety about my son’s safety, happiness and future. I’ve already lost sleep worrying about countless scenarios I’ve entirely made up in my head. This has made me think back on my younger years *I’m aware that made me sound ANCIENT*. I thought of all the things I’d tell myself if I could go back and meet ‘me’. I’ve thought of all the things I’ve regretted, the things I wish I’d have done and the things I wish I didn’t do. Maybe younger me would have listened to present me? Although I have a sinking feeling I wouldn’t have.

16/17 year old me circa 2004

“Dear Hannah

You don’t have to be a people pleaser

You don’t have to agree to things just because you are worried about saying no. You don’t have to make everyone happy all the time, in fact that’s IMPOSSIBLE. Even if you could miraculously do so how much are you compromising your own happiness? How many times will you sacrifice your own happiness and wellbeing to please others before you learn that being kind to yourself isn’t selfish.

Learn to love your own company

Time spent alone doesn’t have to be lonely; I know you think that being alone means you’re lonely now but years later you’ll realise being alone gives you time to reflect, to relax and spend time on hobbies you enjoy. Having hobbies you enjoy enriches your days; being creative has always made you happy but you’re doing less and less creative pursuits to avoid being alone. You’re spending time with people who don’t matter, don’t care or haven’t got your best interests at heart just to avoid being alone. You and your happiness are worth so much more than that. Don’t fear being alone, it’s when you’ll have the most inspiration and some of your best ideas.

Protect your mental health ferociously- leave toxic situations and people

There are people around you who are damaging you, they are battering your self esteem; you keep them around for one reason or another but letting go of people isn’t cruel. They are feeding off of you, you are building them up whilst they tear you down. You don’t have an obligation to ‘fix’ broken people and you certainly can’t ‘fill other’s cups’ if yours is empty. Walk away, protect yourself and hold your head high, if it doesn’t feel right it likely isn’t. Get out now.

Don’t compromise your authentic self

There’s been times when you’ve acted out of character, you’ve behaved in a way that hasn’t been ‘you’. You’re finding yourself and exploring who you are and what makes you ‘you’. That’s all to be expected, but are you finding or becoming the person you want to be? You question yourself, lash out when questioned by your family but ultimately agree with them (Even though you’d never admit it). You’ve been cautious about staying true to yourself, sharing your passions and interests for fear of ridicule. You’ve felt like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. Know that people who love and care for you will support and encourage your passions and interests, they’ll build you up and help you to grow. Surrounding yourself with these people won’t compromise your authentic self.

Saving money and budgeting aren’t for bores

Student loans and overdrafts aren’t free money. Boring? Maybe, true? Absolutely. It might seem as though it’s there to spend freely as you wish but the truth is it’s debt. You don’t need to move out. You have freedom living at home and aren’t even expected to pay rent, you have it easy by comparison. You think you’re ready to go it alone and that moving out is the right thing to do. You’re not ready. Stay put, save money and prepare for your future. You’ve got the rest of your life to move out and be independent. Save money for your future, you’ll desperately want to travel, you’ll want to become a home owner and you’ll need money behind you to do that. Save some of your pay from your part time job, you’ll thank later.

Take care of yourself

Your physical health, your mental health and your all round wellbeing needs to be cared for. Care for yourself like you care for others. You don’t realise it now but your physical health will be compromised in your late twenties. It’s no fault of your own but your life is going to change dramatically. You’ve binge drank and smoked. You’ve not worked out as much as you would have liked. You’ve neglected your mental well-being. You, as a whole are important. You need to realise your worth, stop being so cruel to yourself. You would NEVER treat someone else as you treat yourself. Be kind ALWAYS, to yourself and others.

You will achieve great things in the future. Your family are proud of you, you have a beautiful baby boy who has flourished due to yours and your partner’s love and care. You are doing great, you are strong, resilient and fierce. Keep doing you kiddo but be wise, accept help and keep growing.

Living well with a chronic illness/ disability and unlearning negative beliefs

Writing this post has been difficult; lately things have been especially hard so this blog covers a heap of things I’d rather weren’t happening as well as a series of negative opinions I’ve developed and am working hard to challenge and ‘unlearn’. This is by no means a ‘how to guide’ but more of an insight into how I am approaching life with a chronic condition/disability. Things I mention won’t be applicable to everyone but if someone could take away something from this, no matter how small, to help make their days a little easier I’ll be happy. So apologies in advance, this post is long winded and likely not an easy read at times (or a quick one)!

For the past three years I have been living with Cauda Equina syndrome and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (as well as some other long term health conditions). I’ve written a blog post previously about the journey from eventual diagnosis to surgery so consider this post to be a follow on from that one. My condition has now meant that I have lost my job on the grounds of ill health and have been medically retired (thinking of retirement at 32 really does make me feel…odd to say the least).

Living with chronic conditions is hard, living ‘well’ with chronic conditions is even harder. Chronic illness can rob so much from you and your old life. It turns your world upside down and all you can do is try your absolute best to adapt to your new life and continue to live (not just exist).

Since diagnosis and emergency surgical intervention in December 2016 I had a brief period of ‘recovery’ during 2017, I still had no sensation in my left leg as well as the nerve damage, significant pain and bladder and bowel symptoms but things had seemed to settle somewhat or at least plateau. The sensation aspect of my lower organs and limbs never came back and I still required painkillers daily, but I adapted and learned to cope. I returned to work in a new capacity after being redeployed and had a great physical fitness plan to strengthen my weakened body and build up my self esteem again; even though this recovery was minimal it was workable. I was in pain but was managing it with low doses of painkillers. By December of 2018 my symptoms began to worsen again and I seemed to be steadily declining, In the January of 2019 I ended up in accident and emergency again fearing I’d had a relapse. This meant having more tests, bloods, scans all to find out there had been further disc herniation and nerve damage. Consultants were concerned but no concerned enough to surgically intervene at that point. So I was back to stage one again, the point I was at post operatively in 2016.

Over the next few months I continued to decline and was advised to go back to a&e by the specialist physiotherapist I had been referred to after the January as they feared there had been more disc movements. Again the consultants didn’t want to surgically intervene at this point. Since then I’ve been in limbo; I don’t understand what’s happening to me and there’s no definitive solution. I’ve experienced increased anxiety, low mood, crippling self doubt and fear for the future. I ‘lost’ part of myself after the initial diagnoses, I worked hard to build the ‘new me’ and felt more positive. This decline felt like a massive blow, I thought I was moving forward, getting stronger and finding myself again. Now here I was, in a position worse than before.

I’d struggled to find any positive aspects of myself. I’d lost my self worth; I couldn’t see why people would still want to be around me when I was this malfunctioning version of my former self. If I couldn’t like myself then I was certain others couldn’t either. All I saw were flaws; glaring, huge, obvious flaws. I couldn’t commit to plans because who knew if I’d make them? Pain and fatigue always got in the way, even if I could make plans and stick to them I spent the whole time being highly anxious and feeling like a burden.

I finally realised I needed help to cope with these feelings; my physical health and symptoms were being managed by a growing number of consultants but my mental health was not. I enquired about talking therapies (CBT and counselling) via my GP and was seen very quickly to start both lots of therapy sessions. This cycle of pain, anxiety and self resentment continues to this day despite having counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy but I have the right tools to help keep them in check. There’s also the emergency option of checking back in for futher therapy.

I never thought I’d rely so heavily on these sessions and had some views prior to attending therapy which were completely dismissed after the first session. Having a safe space to discuss these thoughts and feelings with an impartial person was so valuable. It was the freedom of non judgement that allowed me to look at ways to challenge these thought processes and damaging beliefs.

So what tools do I adopt in day to day life to help me live well and get the most out of each day?

Point #1

Challenge negative thoughts using CBT methods

I ask myself ‘is this a practical or hypothetical concern’ in the first instance. A thought crops up and I sort it into either category; if it is a hypothetical concern I attempt to acknowledge the thought for what is is, just hypothetical thinking. So for example, ‘I think that people may judge me or make assumptions about me when I’m out and about’ this would fall into hypothetical thinking. It could happen in theory but there’s nothing I can do practically to address the issue at that time. I acknowledge the thought and let it pass (this doesn’t always work and in heightened states of anxiety it’s incredibly hard to acknowledge a thought and let it go. It takes plenty of practice and maintenance). If the thought I identify is a practical worry then I identify steps that I can take to minimise or remove the cause of concern. For example ‘I could fall when I go out’, in this instance I identify steps I can take to reduce my risk of falls; I make sure I have my crutches with me, I wear shoes suitable for the weather, I go out with someone else etc.

Step #2

Always be prepared

Planning makes my life so much easier. Knowing plans in advance ensures I can be as prepared as possible for any trips/out running errands etc. Not being prepared makes me feel highly anxious and not having things I’ll need can make my life more difficult. My daily ‘kit’ contains sufficient medications for the time I’ll be away from home, my crutches, tiger balm for use in painful spots in conjunction with medication, catheter supplies for intermittent self catheterization and my phone. The more prepared for all eventualities I am the less anxious I’ll be about whatever the day throws at me. Preparation (and in most cases OVER preparation) definitely helps make the days easier.

Step #3

Recognise limits and respect them

It sounds silly but knowing my limits really helps to prevent further pain or putting me out of action for days on end. I’m trying to get into the mindset where I allow myself rest and take time out. It sounds straight forward BUT I often feel overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety where I feel I’m not doing enough or I’m letting others down by taking rest time. I need to remind myself of the spoon theory a useful metaphor for chronic illness. Very briefly summarising, every activity has a ‘cost’ and as you only have a set amount of ‘spoons’ at the start of each day. It’s really about budgeting your time and energy effectively to get the most from your day whilst avoiding over exerting yourself and causing additional pain. It’s a useful metaphor to use in conjunction with CBT methods as, if like me you struggle with guilt and anxiety, you can challenge these negative thoughts to give yourself space to rest.

Step #4

Don’t measure your capabilities to other’s

In an age where social media is a part of most people’s lives, it’s almost unavoidable to see other’s lifestyles, adventures and achievements. Whilst it’s great to see glimpses into other’s achievements and proud moments it can become hard to manage expectations of your own abilities when bombarded by images of celebrities and from social media accounts. The truth is it’s hard to manage your own expectations when you feel overwhelmed with guilt. It’s easy to focus on what you can’t do or struggle to do when you see these images but the truth is social media tends to only show the ‘good’ elements of people’s lives. People don’t often share negative posts just a filtered version of events. The same can be said for celebrity images; these images are often photoshopped or filtered. There are teams of make up artists, hairdressers, nutritionists and personal trainers working to maintain the image these celebrities. We need to be realistic about our own self image, there are days when I don’t get dressed and stay in pjs, I don’t do my hair daily. There are even days when I don’t get showered because I have zero energy. I don’t have a team of people behind me managing my image, I’m an average person who just so happens to have a chronic illness/disability too. I don’t get to travel as much as I would love to so my social media feeds aren’t full of carefully planned exotic looking posts in faraway places. Still, it doesn’t stop the feeling of wishing I could be more put together, be able to ‘do’ more and be more. It’s at times like these that I need to remind myself of all the things I CAN do. In truth there’s lots of things I can do and do well so often it helps to spend a few minutes writing down things I’ve achieved, things I’m proud of or skills I have. Writing these things down tends to put into perspective my abilities and focuses on the positive. It reminds me to respect myself as a person. It helps me to reaffirm my belief in myself and drives me forward to keep achieving what I can when I can.

Step #5

Practice gratitude

I practice gratitude everyday without fail, often when I get into bed but perhaps just a quiet 5 minutes during the course of the day reflecting. I focus on a minimum of 3 things I am grateful for over the course of the day but there’s a HUGE number if ways you can practice gratitude. They could be small and seemingly insignificant or bigger more significant events. Perhaps it’s gratitude for your loved ones or friends. Whatever you feel gratitude for just spend a little time reflecting on each point. Some people find journaling gratitude to be helpful as well or having a type of gratitude calender marking up points they wish to focus on throughout the month like these examples below ;

The process of practicing gratitude has been an extremely valuable tool in day to day life. Evidence suggests that practicing gratitude has a huge number of physical and emotional benefits (outlined below). Pinterest has huge amount of information on gratitude journaling as well as alternative methods to practice gratitude in everyday life (a quick search found most of the images contained in this blog post).

Step #6

Recognise that coming to terms with chronic illness/disability is a grieving process

Coming to terms with disability and chronic illness is a grieving process with many stages which you tend to jump between never really reaching an end point. The Kublür-Ross model defines grief as 5 main stages and much like grieving the loss of a loved one, people with chronic illness/disability often grieve their former lives. Recognising that grief comes hand in hand with the dramatic life changes chronic illness and disability brings helps you to work through the muddle of feelings you find yourself having. The five stages are defined in the image below;

Knowing that you will move through these stages sometimes forward but often taking steps back will help you more accurately tackle feelings as you can (as I do) look up articles on the grieving process and see what is suggested to do during each phase. What works is truly an individual process so I can’t definitively say that one particular thing will work.

Bonus step

Loving yourself and showing yourself kindness

As hard as it can be on the particularly bad days to be kind to yourself it’s something that you should aim for. You don’t have to be extravagant in your kindness and it can be something simple but it should be something just for you. Here’s a few ideas of simple things you can try to perk up bad days (or even just something you can do on a regular day).

If you’ve got this far then thanks for sticking with me! I’d love to hear some of your suggestions on coping with chronic illness/disability if you feel comfortable sharing them. What I’ve shared here are a series of things I adopt in my own life to help me cope but I’m always open to trying new methods in order to make day to day life easier.

Thanks again for reading

Hannah x

Hanskin cleansing oil and blackhead (PHA) ☆Konnichiwa Kitty K Beauty reviews☆

My skin routine has always had a two step cleansing element since switching to Korean beauty products but I had been using up a micellar water I already had in my cabinet prior to exploring the Kbeauty options available. Micellar water tended to leave my face feeling not thoroughly cleansed (even after the second cleansing step) and it often felt drying, leaving my face feeling tight and rough prior to the next steps which seemed to ‘rescue’ my skin again.

I’d read mostly great things about Hanskin’s ‘Cleansing oil and blackhead PHA’. It seemed to tick all the required boxes for a first cleanser for me so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I ordered the product from Beauty and Seoul as they had a ‘thank you’ sale on so the 300ml bottle was only 17 GBP instead of the usual 21 GBP (and I’ve always been super happy with their service so it was a no brainer).

The product arrived on a Monday morning even though it was ordered late on a Friday afternoon so I began using it in my morning routine that day, as I like to double cleanse both morning and night.

First thoughts;

  • It looks lovely, the oil was a rich gold/yellow colour and the packaging simple, modern and sturdy.
  • The pump dispenser works well with the oil consistency; not dispensing too much or too little product. Two pumps seems to be a sufficient amount to thoroughly cleanse my face.
  • The oil itself smells fresh and fragrant but the fragrance isn’t overpowering, just a subtle scent.
  • The consistency of the oil feels thick and luxurious, working the oil in and massaging it around my face feels like having a massage whilst removing make up and impurities.
  • It literally eats away at make up, leaving no trace left. My skin feels cleansed even before the second cleanse. It’s gentle enough to use around the eyes also and it removed waterproof mascara with little effort.

After using the product for around three weeks I still found all the above to be true; my skin doesn’t feel dry or tight after use. I actually feel cleansed and moisturised prior to the next step in my routine. I was concerned that the oil texture would maybe clog my pores causing more blemishes but I can’t say that has happened to date so I feel confident in saying that it doesn’t have a comodogenic effect and really does melt away grime and oils without blocking pores.

I can safely say I’m happy to keep continuing use of this product and as yet haven’t found any drawbacks to doing so. If anything does crop up I’ll be sure to edit and add this to the blog at a later date, but for now this has definitely got a thumbs up from me!