Talking Mental Health

This post has been started and left unfinished so many times. Talking about mental health is something that I do often, and am pretty passionate about. But, even as someone who is happy to allude to their own experiences, I still talk about it in fairly abstract terms. I think I constantly make the assumption that, in some way, my history (and current battles) are somehow obvious, or that because of my research and career interests, people should make some kind of natural connection and go, ‘ah, she cares because it’s personal’. But people aren’t always like that, and also, for someone who wants so badly to preach and advocate, I am shockingly private about my own mental health except for with maybe two or three girl friends.

Looking even at this blog, which is meant to be a pinnacle of transparency, you’re going to hear an awful lot more about smelling good and bathbombs than you are my actual, real-life experiences. Even when I pat myself on the back for being vaguely open by sharing creative writing or poetry, that’s still mental health talk in the abstract. I’ve written and shared pieces of creative work that seems to look at how other people have peeled me off the floor. Those were old pieces that I shared, and I shared them as if they were still relevant.

A couple weeks ago I had a conversation with someone about working hard. They had a talent, and I said that I didn’t; at least not one that I had to really work for. This is so telling. I thought straight of academia. I coast along, I don’t work hard. I thought about skills; I decided I didn’t really have any. And I left it at that. That I had not worked hard at all, at anything, not ever. It took about five hours for it dawn on me that that was such a fucking lie. I have worked so hard, and constantly have to work so hard, to stay even vaguely afloat. Especially, especially, especially at the moment. To tell that voice in my head to go fuck itself. To eat and sometimes to stop eating; to wash, and sometimes to stop ‘exfoliating’ in the shower by scratching; to not weigh myself; that no, the world would not be better off if I were no longer in it; and that no, physically hurting myself is not ever a good idea. It is exhausting. I am exhausted. I have spent months worth of hours in doctors offices, in therapy. It takes energy to be put together, to be dressed and to be funny, to make quick jokes and laugh loudly, to have my eyebrows penciled in. Sometimes it isn’t hard at all, but most the time it feels hard to do anything at all.

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Seanik Shampoo Bar

My first shampoo bar!

I’ve wanted to try one out for a while, in part because obviously I want to try out every Lush product ever but also because I heard how many washes you can get out of a single bar. 84! Incredible.

But why Seanik? Well. I was drawn to the colour, first of all. But mostly it was the wonderful smell and the promises of beachy salt hair. Having just come back from a week at the ocean, I was seriously missing the feeling of beach hair. The smell is truly of the ocean, and very reminiscent of one of my #1s, Rub Rub Rub. In fact, a quick comparison of the ingredients list (Seanik on the left, Rub on the right), shows that there’s a fair amount of overlap:

Definitely makes sense as to why I was so drawn to the product. Rub also advertises the fact that you can put it in your hair, if you’re looking for extra volume, but I can’t say I’ve tried that out.

I was both skeptical and curious about how a shampoo bar actually works, so to see the really quite incredible lather that the little bar worked up seemed like nothing short of magic. You can build up a lather in your own hands, then get your hands into your hair; or you can begin to build a lather up and then actually rub the bar itself on your hair a little bit too! 

What happens to the seaweed bits?

They dissolve! I was glad of this, as I had images of me having bits of seaweed glued into my hair.

Does the colour stain?

Nope! I was a little bemused by the colour that initially comes out of the bar, but that had no effect on my own hair colour. Makes sense, especially when I think about some of the more extreme colours that come out of bathbombs – and they’ve never stained me!

How do you store a shampoo bar?

Lush sells little round tins that you can store them in, but bizarrely this shampoo bar doesn’t fit in it – or at least, my particular shampoo bar doesn’t fit. I’m thinking that after a couple more uses it’ll be okay though! For now it sits where a soap bar would normally sit, and my boyfriend has strict instructions to not get it wet when he has his shower!

Does the smell last in your hair?

Initially, yes. I was pretty impressed actually by this – I used a non-Lush conditioner that reeks of shea but even after drying my hair I could still smell the Seanik. In fact, just gave my hair a good smell and can confirm that after 13 hours I can still smell it, even though I used a different scented conditioner afterwards!

Does it really effect volume?

Honestly, it’s hard to tell because I do use a conditioning product afterwards, and my hair is naturally pretty big and wavy. Sorry I can’t give a better answer!

Any detrimental effects?

Sadly yes, I find. So I have to take pretty decent care of my hair after putting it through actual hell with bleaching and dyeing and stripping and bleaching and dyeing etc., and even though my hair is now 100% my natural colour, it can still be pretty delicate. I have a lot of broken hair and my ends are super dry – I found that this shampoo bar was pretty drying, and perhaps because of the stickiness of the salt, my hair also got pretty matted afterwards. I’ve rectified that now by making sure that after its dry I get a good brush and braid in, and I use a good restorative conditioner to lock that moisture in. A bummer, really! I think once this one has run out I’ll look at getting something a little more hydrating, rather than stripping.

seanik sharing a spot with my other current Lush go-tos

Anyway! That’s all folks. It’s good to be back. Have a good week ❤️

Saturday’s Simple Smoothie

My bananas were about to become just a little bit too ripe for my liking, so it was smoothie time! (If they’re surpass smoothie levels of ripeness, then it’s banana bread time). 

Here it is:

– 2x bananas

– handful of raspberries (six, in this case)

– and then halfway full with Alpro’s Coconut Original (coconut anything makes me feel like I’m at a beach bar, so bonus points there)

Blend, and then enjoy. Honestly, smoothie making is just too easy!

Hope your Saturday is as lazy as mine! Reading September’s Elle, got my smoothie, eggs and bagels .. Hugo’s got the F1 on and next door’s cat has come and hung out. 

Really recommend this month’s Elle! Not only does it come with a free sample of Benefit’s Hoola, but also has a better-than-usual selection of interviews.

What a life 🌿

Remember: Things Are Getting Better Everyday

I had so many thoughts about this wonderful little book that I’ve been driven into productivity (which is saying something in itself). As much as I would love for this to be a review of the book in product-review format, it’s not going to be. It’s going to be reflective, because this isn’t just a book or a product or even a guide; it’s something wholly personal.

Though I ordered only the book, it arrived with three lovely little stickers (one’s already on the back of my phone), and a personalised note!

Something about self-care ‘guides’ has always rubbed me the wrong way. I think the list of alternate activities approach reminds me too much of “things to do instead of bingeing” (which, by the way, tends to look identical to the lists “things to do instead of self harming” and also, a little ironically, “things to do instead of eating”). Anastasia Tasou’s book does not look anything like this. Instead, unlike a set little list, this book caters to a wider audience. What works as self care for one person does not necessarily work for someone else: going for a walk or run might be good for you, could be detrimental to someone who’s fighting calorie counting.

a little look inside!

What Anastasia knows well, and what works for her, is art. And whilst creative outlets perhaps aren’t for everyone, the way in which she invites you to just give it a try (she reminds you that what you create is for you, not for others) are welcome. There’s something incredibly personal about the book, almost in a relationship way: she has written it, shared her thoughts and been open without being negative or giving explicit detail (I think here of memoirs as a juxtaposition, perhaps), and then invites you (yes, you personally, and only you, it feels) to then reciprocate and react and share how you too feel and think. I’ve never owned any kind of book that feels like a two-way street. I like it a lot, it feels satisfying, and it feels like I am in someway important, too.

my favorite quote from the book

I feel like this book is a Class A example of how to combine personal experience and knowledge (because who is more an expert on our mental health than ourselves?), positive vibes and constructive energy, and also how to make the reader an active participant. Not just the use of “you” or creative tasks for us to do and blank pages to fill, but also because there is this shared understanding. Anastasia is talking to us (me) with the understanding that I am in some way needing this book, needing someone to remind me that though things are tough I’m pretty tough too (and if I’m not feeling tough enough, she’s handed me some exercises and tools to help me out in the means of drawing, writing and list-building). 

Though, perhaps the most important thing I got out of reading Anastasia’s book isn’t just a reminder that I’m not so bad (and also it somehow reminded me that sometimes I use ‘self care’ acts as excuses to be unproductive .. Probably because I’ve had a pretty poo two weeks and read the book in the bath, instead of applying for much needed jobs or unpacking the new flat. Good one, Katya!) – it reminded me that there are people who are using their experiences for good and to help others. I’ve spent the last year wanting to go into schools and work with young people on mental health and alternative coping strategies, teaching body positivity and sharing personal experiences. I haven’t just thought about this: I’ve talked about it fairly extensively, to friends and contacts and even companies. But, I have done absolutely nothing practical in regards to actually doing it – which is pretty frickin’ dumb, as I’m wellplaced to pull something like it off. This book was a reminder, in the same way that Ruby Etc.’s comics and Hannah Snowdon’s openness and honesty in all that she does, and also in the academic setting an increase in service-user research (see amazing charity MQ, as an example) and my #1 Prof. Diana Rose, are all reminders that there are a group of people out there who are turning what could be a really shite time of their lives into something useful and educational. I cannot think of anything more helpful and worthwhile.

So, thank you to Anastasia for not only creating a book that I know I can sit myself down in front of when I’m feeling like the upside down smiling emoji incarnate, but also for reminding me that I have the ability to use my experiences for the power of good.

You can find Anastasia’s book here, for just £12! Make sure to check out some of her other products, too, and give her a follow on Instagram at @anastasia.tasou 🌿

D&G Unboxing!

Oh man, I should not be allowed in Duty Free. On Wednesday morning I flew out of Heathrow Terminal 5, and somehow between security and boarding I’d spent £80. To be totally fair, about £20 of that was on edible gifts for the fam! But anyway.

I’m a sucker for perfume and have had to throw out my Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey AND my Calvin Klein Eternity Moment in the last week because I’ve simply had them for too long and I used to keep all my perfume on my window sill – which I’m sure didn’t help. They smelled pretty acidic and actually made my skin tingle when I sprayed them, so, in the bin! My other ‘need’ (used very loosely), was a new foundation. I use a cheapo but wonderful luminous foundation from Collection Cosmetics (but it can sometimes be a little goopy and a lot of product comes out, which is pretty wasteful), and my absolute favourite Dior BB cream from their Nudeskin collection. I thought it was high time I got myself a ~fancy~ foundation, with better coverage than the BB cream but the same luminosity and glow as my Collection foundation.

In Duty Free I mooched about and swatched a couple things. The Mac counter was super, super busy so I gave it a miss entirely. I went over to Dior to try out their foundation options, though I had tried the Nudeskin foundation line when I bought my BB cream and wasn’t a fan – it seemed to make all the hairs on my face stand out! The lady working there was super lovely, but I wasn’t all that excited by the options. I’m really pale with large pores and quite bumpy combination skin, so it’s difficult to find something that really works. I passed on Tom Ford because it was just too expensive. They only stocked one Nars foundation and it may have been a bit old because it was really thick and, though it was the lightest shade, quite orange toned. My other option, which I’d been considering for a while because both my flatmates love it, is Estée Lauder’s double wear, but I was worried because I’d heard that it was quite thick. I did swatch it and was actually really impressed – honestly, I might cave and buy myself some on the way back home!

What I ended up buying though was D&Gs  The Foundation, of the luminous variant (the also had matte – which truly was super matte! But I like looking a bit dewy and having a glow, especially if I’m going to use a finishing powder anyway).

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Rub Rub Rub Shower Scrub Review

More Lush-related posts from me, and nope, not even sorry!

This post is, believe it or not, not about a bathbomb or bubble bar – it’s about Rub Rub Rub, a fabulous pot of sea salty goodness.

I got this shower scrub in a gift box, which was part of my Christmas present from my boyfriend. I’d never branched out before, and had always kind of thought of Lush’s non-colourful, not-bathbomb stuff as being typically plant smelling and inexplicably gritty. Funnily enough, my favourite bathbomb and bubble bars are both ‘plant smelling’ and this product certainly has some of the gritty factor! I just have to face the fact that I’m totally Lush obsessed! Continue reading

Eyebrow Threading at Superdrug

Hi all! I had my first ever eyebrow threading experience, and wanted to share. I typically let me eyebrows do what the want, and I’ve had them waxed once before at Sephora (two Christmasses ago), and have waxed them twice myself using a little home kit. For the most part, it’s me tweezing the odd hair – usually in between my eyebrows, as it seems to grow pretty quick! I’m very fair and my eyebrows are very blonde, so I’m quite lucky in that I don’t reaaaally have that much to worry about with stray hairs being too visible.

I had them threaded at the Superdrug beauty counter on the Strand here in London. It was just £7 and took literally two minutes. You go up to the usual tills, say which treatment you want and pay there (and I used my beauty card + NUS card to get 10% off my total receipt – I was buying some conditioning stuff too for my hair!) Continue reading