Living With Chronic Pain...

Over the Christmas period and more recently, because of the freezing cold weather, my chronic pain (Fibromyalgia) and chronic fatigue (CFS) were off the charts. I struggled SO badly and it really, really affected me physically as well as mentally. In order for me to preserve any energy/sanity, I kept myself to myself for a lot of the time. I had to leave my brother's house on Christmas Day to crawl into bed as the pain was so bad. I had to spend Boxing Day by myself instead of going to Winter Wonderland with my family and I spent the days after Christmas up until New Year's Eve, on my own.

Who else hides themselves away when their chronic pain or mental health is in pieces? I find that when it's all too much for me; I recoil and shut myself in. The reasons for me doing this are varied, but mostly it's so that I feel less of a burden on those I'm with. I get fed up of lying and saying I'm fine when really I'm not. It is easier not having to explain myself/my pain. I know if family members or friends were to read this they would tell me not to be so silly, BUT it's something you have to battle with when you have chronic pain or a disability and no one can take those sorts of feelings away sadly. 

Whilst I was on my own and lying in bed I made a list. I compiled a list of just some of the thoughts I have about living with chronic pain. This is a list of what I personally feel chronic pain does to me. It's a list of what chronic pain does to my brain as well as my body. 

I try my hardest to not let my chronic pain define me BUT it's damn hard. It's not all doom and gloom, I generally have a fantastic life with friends and family who love me but...

For me, this is what living with chronic pain is like...

Procrastinating and putting off things. AKA posting this post that I wrote back in January!

Spending the festive period on your own because sometimes, even being surrounded by people who love you; can be too much.

Having a kettle by your bed so that you don't have to go down 3 flights of stairs to make a hot water bottle.

Grieving for the life you once had, before you were constantly in pain. 

Cancelling date after date because you fear they'll run a mile once they find out you're in agony, every day.

Feeling like you let EVERYONE down, all the time.

Postponing and cancelling on people until they stop asking.

Lying in bed, supposedly the most comfortable place on Earth and it might as well be a bed of nails.

Wondering if your friends are sick of you being the "special" one. The one who needs the comfy bed when you go away, the one who can't attend 50% of your get-togethers. 

When you know a hot bath or shower would help relieve your pain, but getting up, undressing & turning the taps on/off is too much.

Feeling like you're triple the age you really are.

Being surrounded by piles of washing because doing the laundry is far too much.

Wondering if you'll go to the toilet on yourself because you can't get to the toilet quick enough.

Feeling like no one will ever want to be with you.

Apologising/forgiving, even when you know you're not in the wrong because being in an argument for any longer; will just cause you too much anxiety & even more pain.

Spending days and days in loungewear.

Being jealous of your peers and how much they achieve daily, weekly, monthly.

Feeling like you're a let down to your family because all you do is complain and whine to them. 

Being in so much pain, you stutter because you can't get your words out properly. 

Not doing your hair because you can't face lifting your arms for that long.

Wondering if you'll ever have a day when you wake & your first thought isn't pain.

Cancelling something you have wanted to do for weeks. 

Feeling like you hate everyone, even the people you love.

Watching one channel on television for hours on end because the remote control is too far out of reach.

Being unable to carry your own suitcase 

Leaving your DSLR camera at home every day because it's too heavy for you to carry.

Ordering uber eats 3X a day because you can't face cooking/preparing anything.

Taking taxis everywhere you go because travelling by public transport/walking is too much.

Being skint because all you do is take taxis & order take away food.

Having scars on your back, stomach and legs from years and years of hot water bottle burns. 

Wondering every week if your management is going to let you go because you're always sick & you're not achieving enough.

Having no space in your brain for anything else other than pain. 

Not being able to screw the cap off some medicine, because you have no grip.

Taking a hot water bottle abroad even though it's 30degrees +.

Planning out every single journey so that you know every single minute detail.

Turning down travel opportunities because the thought of the travel/flight is too much.

Worrying so much about all of these things, that it gives you IBS for over 9 years.

Thinking everyone just thinks you're lazy.

Pretending you're ok when really you'd prefer to not be alive.

Lying awake, even when you are shattered but your central nervous system is so hyped; it won't let you go to sleep.

Being in so much pain, you throw up.

Wanting to achieve everything & feeling like you achieve nothing. 

Looking at your friend's lives and being so jealous you wish something shit would happen to them, just for once.

Knowing you'll probably never have kids because even babysitting relatives for a few hours, leaves you in agony.

Keeping all of this to yourself because it's easier than telling someone.

Having no short-term memory because your brain is occupied by pain signals.

Having no sex drive because all of the above, just isn't very sexy now, is it?

Having a high sex drive but even just lying down in bed hurts.

Telling everyone you're "fine" when really, you're far from it.

Losing countless friends because you can't keep up with them all & they expect too much of you; so it's easier just to let the relationship slide.

Not texting anyone back because then you have to face up to why you've been ignoring their texts.

Wondering what it feels like to have a pain free hug from someone. 

Wanting to exercise but being unable to.

Sitting on the tube because you're in agony but giving your seat up because no one can see you're in pain & you're worried about looking unkind/unsympathetic to somebody else in need.

Using a hot water bottle minus the fabric cover because the burning sensation/pain distracts you from your chronic pain. 

Being in such a good mood, you want to cry because you know this feeling isn't going to last.

Being sick of your own thoughts.

How I cope

As I mentioned above, there are good days. There are days where the pain is manageable and I don't let it control me. It's very, very hard though. It is something that I am still trying to get to grips with and I do wonder if things will ever get better.

Lots of people private message me about how I cope with my Fibromyalgia and the one thing I constantly say is - pace yourself. You need to realise what your limitations are and what it is that will trigger your symptoms. For me, I know that stress, cold weather, travelling and walking/standing for a long time & dancing on a night out are my worst triggers - there are tonnes more, however. I then make sure that I plan as much as I can if I know I am going to do any of those things. I try to alleviate the stress of situations where possible by thinking about how every stage will affect me. If I am travelling for instance - I plan my journey, I pre-order my cabs, I take a pillow/hot water bottle with me and I make sure I carry as little as possible... the list goes on.

~ Seize the day ~

When I am having one of my good days - I really have to make the most of it. I have to seize the day! Shooting content with my photographer is an example of this. I have been struggling for a good few weeks since London Fashion Week and have been wanting to shoot these denim jeggings from Matalan since receiving them back in February! Sadly it's taken longer than I wanted - but I just had to listen to my body and wait it out. Finally, I felt strong enough last week, slugged through the snow and shot this snuggling, comfy, classic outfit. 

Some days I like to dress in a striking, edgy way and some days I like to be comfortable, timeless and relatable. Denim and a Breton jumper is the perfect combination for that 'done but not too done' look, in my opinion. 

Shop Matalan Denim here.

Shop My Look

1. *Denim Jeggings | 2. Jumper - Zara similar here and here | 3. Coat | 4. Trainers | 6. Bag - ZARA sold out.

There is so much I could say about how I cope with my chronic pain, but I think I will leave that for another more comprehensive post. Would this be of interest to any of you? I could write about my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, treatments I have had, drugs I have tried, how I cope mentally/physically etc...

Please comment below or message me on socials if this sort of post would be of interest. 

*This post was written in collaboration with Matalan

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London Fashion Week AW18

London Fashion Week was short and sweet for me this season. I only managed to attend 2 out of the 5 days, which even for me (somoeone with a chronic pain condition) is pretty crappy. My Fibromyalgia has hit me really hard recently and it has severly restricted the amount of work and fun I've been able to have.

For the two days I did attend, I of course slayed my outfits and loved what I managed to do/see; so not all was lost! There is a lot of preparation that goes into Fashion Week, maybe I should write a post on this another time? There's the applying for shows, scheduale planning, visiting gifting suites and pre LFW events, the outfit planning and sourcing items from fashion PR companies. For me, I also have to prep for the pain I am going to feel and the lack of rest etc. It's a busy time for me, but becuase I love Fashion Week so much; it's a process I am willing to do every time LFW comes around.

Here's what I wore on...

Day 1...

After recently getting my hair cut at Josh Wood Salon (they are SO great there by the way) I started to think about wearing a beret. Strange thought process I know, but I love a split fringe and how they look with a beret, so that was the starting point to my first look!

I've never really worn a hat before as I don't feel like most of them suit me, but oh my god,  I'm here for how great a beret looks on me! I picked this very affordable one from ASOS, but now that I know I like the style, I might branch out and get a pricier one!

Next up, I spotted this check pinafore and fell in love! I have wanted something like this in plus sizes for soooo long! Asos Curve came through! I previewed this dress at the SS18 press day and noticed they had a matching blazer. Sadly this isn't on the site yet but as I knew I wanted to wear the dress with a matching jacket; I searched for a similar check coat. ASOS came through yet again (seriously where would us plus size girls be without ASOS?) This check jacket is from their main range and is a size 18. I am currently wearing size 20 jackets, so if you're a similar size to me; this jacket is also going to work for you.

For my accessories I wore my comfy wide fit ankle boots (similar linked below), they have a teeny tiny kitten heel and meant I could walk comfortably, all day without my feet hurting - something that is very important during LFW! As I was building the outfit up, I realised a little backpack would suit this look perfectly so yet again...I turned to ASOS. Can anyone else notice a strong theme here for this look? The red of the bag ties in with the stripe in the side of the jacket and I also grabbed my old red sunnies as I was going out the door. I love the round frames with this look. 

Photographs c/o The Apt.

Shop My Look

1. Check Pinafore Dress | 2. Check Jacket | 3. Beret | 4. Backpack | 5. Sunglasses - Mango, similar here | 6. Ankle Boots - M&S, similar here | 7. Tights 


Day 2...

For the second day at LFW, I wanted to wear a classic "Danie" outfit with a touch of sexiness... oi oiiii! Enter, the sheer bodysuit. When I recently dropped into the Pretty Little Thing HQ, I had a browse for items I could style up and noticed this bodysuit. True to size, good old poppers at the crotch and a great red stripe detail... it was an instant hit with me. I also attended a pre- LFW gifting suite at River Island and they gifted me some bomb pieces including the wide leg trousers I decided to wear. I initially wanted to wear a very on trend, all polka dot outfit but I couldn't resist pairing the bodysuit with the trousers. They're high waisted with a paper bag waist, and boy are they comfortable and fashionable - you guys need to try them out!

To keep me warm (guys can we talk about HOW COLD IT IS here in London?) I trawled online for the perfect coat to accompany this look. I always love white clothes, which I know are highly impractical, but I can't resist them. This white coat is an absolute dream, and I wore it normally (arms through the sleeves like a normal person) and in true blogger style (over the shoulders), and it gave such a chic edge to the look. The coat is again from main range ASOS, but it's oversized and would work for anyone who wears up to a 24.

The absolute STEAL of the weekend was my cheap, cheap, mega cheap sunglasses from eBay. Have you guys noticed all of the slim sunnies out at the moment? I love these as they've got a sliced cat eye look about them. You cant argue with £1.99 guys, can you? 

Photographs by Mateusz Sitek

Shop My Look

1. *Bodysuit | 2. *Trousers | 3. Coat | 4. Bag | 5. Sunglasses | 6. Earrings - Mango | 7. Trainers 

The highlight of my LFW this season was being invited to stay at the Rosewood Hotel courtesy of IQOS. They put us up in the most gorgeous, IQOS friendly rooms – as IQOS has no ash, no smoke or lingering smell I didn’t have the fear of making my clothes and hair smell after everyone left my room – amazing! The rooms were stunning and made getting ready for shows and the evening shenanigans at an IQOS friendly bar, an absolute dream.

London Fashion Week, I'll see you in September!

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My love-hate relationship with dating.

Dating. Who's doing it and what do you think of it? I am currently dating, and I must say; I have a love-hate relationship with it if I'm truly honest with you. I LOVE when you're two or three dates in, but I get SO nervous before a first date, no matter how well I know the guy.

I over think everything, so I worry about EVERYTHING before I meet someone. I come across as very confident and approachable but I actually really suffer from nerves in situations where I have to put myself out there. Anyone else with me on this? I can chat utter shite on Instastories, be the loudest in the room at an event but put me in front of people on a panel, make me do public speaking or send me on a first date, and I'm a nervous wreck!

I am 32 this year, and I have yet to go into detail about my love life here on the blog. To be honest with you all, fashion was my primary focus here for years but as time's gone on; my confidence with writing has grown, and I love sharing more of the lifestyle-type posts with you all. I am really open, and I don't have much of a filter when I'm chatting away on Twitter or Instagram; SO why shouldn't I be more like that here on the old blog?

So here we go... here's my dating history eek!

I haven't had the best love life. I had a few, short relationships at school but that was it. Lots of snogs and fumbles (don't fancy being too graphic seeing as my Mum reads my blog) but nothing long term. I was fortunate and privileged to go to a boarding school from the ages of 13-18, and I loved it, but I was pretty much single for the whole time. I had flings with guys, but apart from being scarily obsessed with a guy there for, I'd say five years...I never really felt like any of the guys were my type. I moved to London when I was 18 and BOOM this was more like it! Guys from different countries, guys from different backgrounds, guys who weren't just public school toffs... I was like a kid in a candy shop!

In my first week of Uni, I fell for a guy in my Halls of Residence. I met him in a lift, invited myself into one of his parties later that week, and we instantly hit it off. We became best friends immediately, went out with each other and dated for a while (I think it was a year?). Fast forward to 2018, and you might know the guy...he's still my best mate and he is called Bob. Bobbi is now a fully-fledged homosexual hahaha. I know what you're thinking, and no I didn't turn him gay. I knew he was Bi when we got together, but I actually helped him to come out when we broke up, and I love him with all of my heart. Bob is THE best person I have ever met, and I am so glad he's my best friend.

After Bob, I met a guy through a friend.  I fell in love with him, dated him on and off for years and then got into a relationship with him for approx 3 1/2 years. We broke up but continued to date/sleep together for years after and I'd say he was the first guy I've truly loved. I then dated different guys on and off after him (some great dates, some were awful, maybe I need to write a post on all my dating fails?) before meeting someone in 2015. I don't feel much like talking about this guy if I'm honest with you...but let's just say, I'm glad that's over with LOL.

It's 2018, and after a few nice but not-quite-right-dates as well as DISATEROUS dates since my ex, I am back feeling confident and enjoying the dating scene again, kind of.

Dating in London is tough work. Tinder and dating apps are great, and they've lead me to date some brilliant guys, but does anyone else feel like the guys/girls in London don't like to settle? I feel like because there is SO much choice here, the guys are always on the lookout for the next best thing. I have met plenty of guys over the last few years, but they've all been too young, too fucking moronic or too much of a player. I seem to have a sign above my head that says "Wankers Welcome", and that has slowly worn me down I must say!

It's not all doom and gloom guys.

I LOVE when you've had a successful first date, and you're on your way home, and you can't stop thinking about them. I like to ask my uber driver to put Magic on and look lustfully out the window like I'm in some bloody rom-com. I love when one of my faves like George Micheal comes on, and I well up and start planning my commute from my house to his...pahaha hahaha.

I love/hate the whole texting thing. My entire face lights up when the guy I like texts. I stick to imessage where possible because it is not healthy how much I check the 'read' status on WhatsApp after texting a boy I like. Stick to imessage, and you've only got to battle with watching that text bubble appear and disappear until they finally press 'send'.

I also love that online dating can lead you to meet people you wouldn't typically meet in your normal day to day life. I was stuck on meeting guys that I was getting to know via my social media lifestyle and I quickly realised this wasn't how I wanted to meet someone. Online dating does open you up to a lot more people, serious about dating and I would much prefer to meet someone like this/via a friend. Instagram is not tinder, and I have to keep reminding myself of that!

I'm not so ready to talk about where I'm at right now but let's just say I'm happily dating and I'm enjoying myself! Let's see where it goes, all I know is that I'm definitely up for finding love again. I'm surrounded by a lot of friends who are married, and in love and hell, I want that for myself.

1. Top - Mango Violeta, similar here, & here | 2. Skirt - Elvi (only size 20 left here), similar here | 3. T-Shirt Bra | 4. Faux Leather Jacket | 5. Tights | 6. Ankle Boots, (half sizes available!) | 7. Scarf 

What does everyone else think of dating? Do you love or hate it? I also have quite a bit to say on dating as a plus size woman and I'd also like to share my tips for dressing on a first date.
Let me know on my socials or in the comments below if you'd like to see these two posts from me.

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The importance of staying in your own lane

A conversation with a friend a few week's back inspired me to write a little something on the importance of "staying in your own lane". Obviously, this saying refers to both driving in your designated lane, as well as focusing on yourself (and not other peoples dramas/achievements/goals) and for the record, I am going to talk about the latter in this post!

It is easier said than done...'Just stay focused on yourself, Danie', 'Ignore what so and so is doing, Danie', 'Don't worry unnecessarily over things you can't control, Danie'... all of these things are so hard to do! That cliched quote of "comparison is the thief of joy" really does what it says on the tin. It is EASY to get swept along with the tide of comparison. It sucks you in and then spits you right back out again and before you know it; you're 45 weeks deep on Instagram, on someone's page and feeling like a big bag of shit cos your life ain't so great.

STOP IT! Just stop it.
Do YOU, honey. Do you.

My number one problem when it comes to staying focused on my own journey is when I let the fact I have a chronic illness consume me. In my head, I feel ok... (I mean I have anxiety, and I over worry, and I have Fibro Fog due to my chronic condition) BUT it's my body/pain that lets me down the majority of the time.

I want to achieve SO much, but I physically can't/severely struggle. When I am at my worst, I am home for days on end, lying on my bed/sofa and glued to my phone. I see fellow bloggers posting content, I see friends and family smashing work targets/life goals...and there's little old me, just lying in my four day old PJs and wondering if I'm going to be dropped by my management, forgotten in the blogging world or ever get married/have a baby. That shit eats me alive. I can get so worked up about it at times.

I need to learn to shut it out. Focus on my personal journey, and you need to do the same!

The "joy" of my condition is that I have good days and I have bad days. Even on my good days, I am still in severe pain, but I can put a front on and tackle the day. I need to remember that I do A LOT for someone with chronic pain and I should be really proud of myself and what I manage to/have accomplish/ed.

If you too are struggling with these feelings of self-doubt/jealously then I urge you to join me in attempting to put a lid on it in 2018... (as much as possible)! We need to learn to notice when we are being sucked in by those niggling feelings and we need to step away from the situation. Put the phone down, so you get off Instagram. Write a list of all the good shit you've achieved that week/month/ year. Call or text someone and just tell them straight, tell them "I'm having a confidence wobble and I need some reassurance."

Shop My Look

1. Jumper - lots of similar jumpers here | 2. Skirt - similar here | 3. Boots similar here | 4. Clutch bag similar here

Sadly ALL of the items I am wearing in this post aren't available online anymore but I have tried my best to link similar items.

Photography by JKGPhotography

The friend I was talking to last week gave me some tough love via text. They said:

"I think it's not helpful for you to keep comparing yourself to others."

"I say this with love and adoration."

"Put that energy into being even more amazing."

Bamn! It is just what I NEEDED (I can't say at the time, it was what I WANTED) to hear. It was one of those lightbulb moments. My friend had given me a much-needed boot up the ass, and I am here to do the same for you...

Focus your energy/time spent hating on others/time spent being jealous of others, on YOU!

In 2018 (and beyond) we need to remember that we are all different and that we were all put on this bonkers planet to achieve greatness...in our own special way, at our own special pace.

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