10 Songs to Keep You Sane – August ’17

Welcome to my new monthly series – 10 Songs to Keep You Sane!

Music is part of our everyday lives, a moment can become greater if it has the right soundtrack. I love a good playlist, finding the right mixture of songs for your mood is an art form. But sometimes finding the right song can be difficult & you need a little inspiration, which is what this series is for. Every month I’ll reveal to you the songs that have captured my mood and even when best to listen to them.

August’s track list has been inspired by the movies, got a good dose of pop and yet another reminder of how underrated trumpets are.

Rainbow Connection – Sleeping At Last

Yes, it is the song by that famous frog you’re thinking of. This was a very recent find by putting my current playlist on radio mode on Spotify (absolute godsend if you’re needing new tunes) and I’m so thankful for the playlist gods for this one. It’s like a warm hug in song form. This already lovely song gets an update that makes it feel a little more mature and makes you feel a little less silly about listening to Kermit the Frog.

Best to listen to: with a cup of tea and pyjamas fresh out the tumble dryer.

 

Simon & Garfunkel – Baby Driver

You should always have at least one Simon & Garfunkel song on your playlist and this is my current favourite. If you haven’t already guessed, this was added after seeing Edgar Wright’s new film Baby Driver (which was excellent by the way) and I fell in love with the soundtrack. Despite seeing the film early July, I’ve still got this on my current playlist. This speedy little number with its gluttonous use of guitar is the perfect track to get you going first thing.

Best to Listen to: in the morning, on the way to work.

 

Allie X – All the Rage

Sometimes you need a bit of pop. This one takes me back to the days of jumping and dancing around my room to the Spice Girls. This is your young adult equivalent; you’re still rocking the glitter but it’s not just panda pops you’re drinking now. It’s fun, damn catchy and makes you feel the right amount of silly. Turn it all the way up and show off your moves.

Best to listen to: when getting ready for a girls night out, doing your make up and having those first few alcoholic beverages.

 

dodie – 6/10

Sometimes you need music that feels how you feel, maybe not necessarily sad or happy but a whole hobble of emotions. For emotional music, I always look to dodie. As well as a musician, she’s also a YouTuber and you get to see where the inspiration for her music comes from. She deals with mental illness (amazing to see someone so up front about it) and you can hear this in her music. She manages to take complex emotional experiences and create absolute poetry for your ears.

Best to listen to: walking home after a crappy day knowing that tomorrow is another day.

 

The The – This is the Day

I genuinely think this song sounds magical, when it starts I instantly feel so much better about my day. It sounds a tad obvious it’s from the 80s but I think that’s what I like about it. Even if you weren’t born until the 90s, it has this strange nostalgic feel. The rhythm is encouraging and the lyrics are jubilant, it takes you back to a time of innocence before the world could ever get you down.

Best to listen to: when you need motivated, whether it’s to go walk the dog or to nail a big job interview.

 

The Mamas & The Papas – Dedicated to the One I Love

Another song inspired by the movies, after hearing this on the trailer for Okja (again excellent film) I had to have this on my playlist. The Mamas & The Papas are heaven for the ears and this song just builds beautifully. It makes me feel very peaceful as it starts, sort of like a grown up lullaby. I could listening to the harmonising for hours, it goes quiet in all the right moments and has a lovely sentiment all round.

Best to listen to: when travelling on the train or in a car going through the country as the sun sets.

 

Tom Rosenthal – Throw the Fear

This spruce little number just makes me wanna jump around like a kid. It is like the song form of a little puppy exploring the world, it’s so warm and when it comes on I have to smile. I love Tom Rosenthal’s vocal style on any song but everything comes together so happily on this. I know that I’ll be listening to it over and over again for a while. Maybe expect it on next month’s post now because I know it will still be making me happy.

Best to listen to: when you’re doing the housework as it’s perfect to put a spring in your step.

 

Joel Alme – Always On My Mind

I find this song is ideal when you need either a moany sing along or a track to keep you powering on with the day. It has plenty of strings and piano which never fail to make me love a song. It could be from the 70s but it actually came out in 2008, the first time I heard it on Spotify I thought it must have come out long before I was born. Just the fact that this music is still being made in my time, immediately lifts me.

Best to listen to: when walking somewhere and you’re looking for purpose.

 

The Housemartins – Caravan of Love

This acapella delight has captured my heart lately. I could sing along to it for days and listen to that harmonising for years. It’s just a dream of a song with a message that we could really do with right now, considering the very sorry state of the current world. When you need a track to turn off to and just escape, this is the one. It will embrace with you open arms every time.

Best to listen to: after you’ve watched the news to remind yourself the world isn’t all doom and gloom. Promise.

 

Jens Lekman – You Are The Light (by which I travel into this and that)

When this comes on, I have a little freak out because I love it so much. It is my bloody jam, it’s a bop, it’s a tune, whatever you want to call it, I love it. The trumpets are stellar to begin with and continue to enthral throughout. The lyrics tell a story which I’m always a fan of. The chorus makes me feel so hopeful, I’m not a hugely romantic person but this song makes me want to be. It’s upbeat and dramatic, it would totally work on a movie soundtrack. Thank you playlist gods for this one, it’s a real gift.

Best to listen to: whenever you damn please, it’s just great.

Follow the 10STKYS playlist on Spotify here, it will be updated every month when a new post goes up. Any songs you think I’ll like? Please comment as I’m always looking for more songs, new or old.

See you next month!

x

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5 Not So Typical Travel Recommendations

I blooming love travelling. Ever since I lived abroad, I’ve well and truly caught the travel bug. I even have a tattoo dedicated to my love of travel. As it’s summer, everyone’s favourite time to get away, I thought I’d give y’all some recommendations. Some of these places are maybe a little more off the beaten track and severely underrated.

1. Hastings, UK – An Alternative British Seaside Experience

No filter required. 🌊 #beach #blueskies #sea #summer #nofilter #hastings

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Oh how I do like to be beside the seaside! When most think of seaside holidays, they think Blackpool or possibly Brighton. I think Hastings. I’m a little bias to this place since my Dad actually lives here but this town’s charm has really won me over. British seaside towns tend to have a tacky set up of amusements and overpriced rides, which don’t get me wrong I like to partake in occasionally. I love me some crazy golf. But sometimes you need something a little less gaudy and that’s what Hastings, especially the old town, has to offer. The streets are filled with really individual shops, cosy bars and welcoming pubs ready to take you in. There are festivals on all year round, so if fancy dress is your thing you’re sorted. If you’re a creative person looking for a change of scenery to inspire, Hastings is the perfect spot. I always feel refreshed and ready to write after a visit (like right now for example, I only got back a few days ago). While it may be a pebble beach, it won’t stop you from lounging about to top up your tan or going for a swim. Hastings offers the idyllic seaside experience for all.

Especially Check Out;
The Hastings Arms For great food, go to The Hastings Arms for tapas night on Thursday. Great price for some beautiful food, perfect to share when you’re going with a big group of people.
S. Forrest – Again I’m a little a bias as I know the owner of the shop but I’ve never seen a shop like this before. They sell dried flowers, herbs, spices, teas, baskets and so much more. It’s wonderfully quaint and a good shout for when looking for a gift or possibly just a treat for yourself.

I could watch the sea forever. 🌊 #latergram #sea #beach #sunset #seaside #waves #nature #hastings

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2. Warsaw, Poland – Lots of Culture on a Budget

First off, this was the cheapest holiday I’ve ever been on. Every time I paid for something I would check the equivalent in pounds and I was pretty stunned every time. If you love taking in lots of culture but don’t have a huge budget, Warsaw is the place for you. Poland as a holiday destination is definitely starting to become more popular, with lots visiting Krakow. Warsaw happened to be an easier option to travel to and I’m so glad I went. The history of the city is absolutely fascinating, if you’re a history buff you’ll love it. Just walking around you see living history in the architecture and how it differs area to area. It’s a good place for a long weekend too, if you’re into partying then you’ll love the cheap cocktails. I swear the drinks are a lot stronger though, so be cautious! There was so much to see in Warsaw, pack in as much as you can but I can guarantee you’ll want to visit again. And remember to pick up a bottle of vodka in duty free, my cherry bottle is the yummiest vodka I’ve ever had.

Especially Check Out;
AioliThis trendy bar is so good we went twice. The food is fantastic (especially the desserts) and the cocktails are delicious. You may have to wait for a table but I promise you it’s worth it.

Łazienki Park – This beautiful park goes on for acres and is perfect on a sunny day. There are lots of different gardens to explore, you’d probably need a week to get round it all. The Palace on the Isle is a real highlight.

3. Koblenz, Germany – For When You Don’t Want to be a Tourist

Koblenz has a little place in my heart. I lived there in 2013 over the summer for my semester abroad. Koblenz is perfect if you want somewhere a little off the beaten track, it’s not packed with tourists. It’s famous for being where the Moselle and Rhine rivers meet and they meet at the Deutsches Eck (photographed above) which happens to be a rather nice spot to chill out on a warm summer’s day with a beer and some good company. Koblenz is a great blend of old and new, the streets are rustic but there’s also a great mall if you fancy doing a bit of shopping. If you’re looking for a good night out, Koblenz has a great offering of bars and clubs with reasonable prices. I’ve had many a fun night out, from what I can vaguely remember! If you’re in Frankfurt or Cologne, Koblenz is only a train ride away. It’s worth a day trip.

Especially Check Out;
Gekco Lounge – Now I’ve been to a fair few cocktail bars in my time but this is my favourite. The interior is like a cave so you have no idea of time going by, it’s super cosy. The menu is massive and they have a happy hour too. I’d recommend a Zombie, this bar makes the best one I’ve had.
eGeLoSIa – Best. Ice. Cream. Ever. It’s kind of sad how much I miss this place. This ice cream parlour has some of the best flavours, plus they do sorbet as well. If you get the chance to visit, get multiple scoops and different flavours. And go for seconds. Can you tell I really like this place?

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands – The All-Rounder

If you’ve been anywhere on this list already, it’s Amsterdam. And there’s reason for that, the city appeals to pretty much everyone. I’ve been on three different visits, on my own, with family and with friends and in different seasons and every time I go I want to go back instantly. It’s one of those cities I could easily see myself living in, it has such a relaxed atmosphere. If you’re there for a weekend of partying there’s plenty bars and clubs ready and waiting. If you’re more of a culture vulture, the city offers plenty of historic sights and museums. Anne Frank’s House is a must for anyone, it gives you a real sense of what happened back then and really respects the history. If you’re looking for nature, check out Vondelpark. It produces wonderful colours all year round, even in winter it looks beautiful. Amsterdam is great for a few days or a month, it works for solo travel or a family of four. I guarantee one visit however, will not be enough

Especially Check Out;
House of Bols – Whilst most know about the Heineken Experience, not a lot know about House of Bols. Most have heard of Blue Bols, it’s used in cocktails. It doesn’t just come in the blue flavour however, there are over 40 flavours! This experience tells you the history and what goes into making it. You will also have the most bizarre tasting experience of your life, I can’t even describe it. Your ticket includes a cocktail at the gorgeous mirror bar too.

Moco Museum – If you’re into modern art, you should check Moco out just now. They have a huge Banksy exhibition which is so much fun to look around. Plus there’s a Warhol exhibition on, if you’re into pop art it’s not to be missed.

5. Copenhagen, Denmark – For the Travel Photographer

If you’re a fan of Amsterdam, you’ll enjoy Copenhagen. It has a similar relaxed vibe whilst also being sleek and refined. For those of you who love travel photography Copenhagen is an Instagram dream. As you can see above, Nyhavn is a must see, even in the rain the colours look gorgeous. If you’re willing to take a train out of the city centre, it’s worth stopping off at Kronborg Castle to do your best Hamlet impression. On the way back, if you’re a modern art fan, you need to check out the Louisiana Museum. They have a massive collection and the building and grounds themselves are lovely to wander around. Feeling peckish? The Street Food at PapirØen (Paper Island) is ideal for the foodie. It is a hall filled to the brim with every kind of food you can think of from butter chicken to crème brûlée donuts. On our visit there was also a second hand clothes sale going on – perfect if you’re into food and fashion like me – check out the website to see what other events are coming up. Copenhagen is classy but has a warmth that pulls you in. It’s a refreshing city which is perfect for all you holiday snappers.

Especially Check Out;
The Yellow House –  This was our first Airbnb experience and we got very lucky. Nathalie, her daughter Caroline and their cats Lucky and Luna made us feel extremely welcome. Their home is of the typical Danish style which we all dream of having in our own homes. Nathalie was very helpful answering any questions we had and was a fab host. The cats are incredibly friendly, they make you feel very at home. When we inevitably visit Copenhagen again, we will definitely be staying at the Yellow House and so should you.


Design Museum   This is one of the best museums I’ve ever been in. The exhibitions essentially give you a history of design; this includes furniture, clothes, posters, advertising and so on. There’s even a whole section where you can interact with the exhibits, that’s right, you’re allowed to touch things! If you’re a visual person, you’ll love it, all the colours and textures are stimulating.

Getting it down to five places was difficult so I will definitely being writing another recommendation post in the future. In the mean time, happy travels!

 

 

One Year Of Bullet Journalling.

Hi, I’m Taylor and I’m addicted to organisation.

Being organised is not a bad thing but I’m one of these people who organises their spare time. If I’m travelling somewhere, I’ll have exact train times and even extra options if the train is cancelled or delayed. If I’m going on a night out at the weekend, I can tell you the exact days I’m prepping my skin and painting my nails. Making to do lists is my idea of fun. So when I discovered the bullet journal, my organisation monster shrieked with happiness.

If you haven’t heard of the bullet journal trend, it is essentially a diary, your to do lists & journal all in one. The best thing about it is how it’s all up to you how you use it, whether you make it simple or complex, plain or colourful, you’re in control. It takes an hour (at most) to set up initially and then it’s 10 minutes a night to plan for the next day. To start out all you need is a notebook and pen, I used this guide (http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/) along with searching #bulletjournal on Instagram for inspiration.

DSC_0716

I’ve now been using my bullet journal for a year and I couldn’t recommend it enough! Here are some reasons why I love it and some tips and tricks I’ve learned;

Organisation all in one place – Rather than carrying around a notebook, diary & journal around, a bullet journal provides a place for everything. I have a future log which shows me what events and appointments I have in the next 6 months, a monthly log to show me what I need to do in that month specifically as well a calendar for the month and then I have dailies which are my day to day to do lists. As well as these essentials, you can add trackers for things like exercise or medication, plus sections to help you with holiday details for example. If I am going on a trip I’ll usually add a packing list, a list of places I want to visit and also all the times for my flights or trains – having all the details in one place is so handy when you’re at the airport or station. There’s no having to rely on your phone, going through emails frantically.

 

Tip – Don’t pressure yourself to make it look perfect – The first couple of months of your journal are likely to look a bit messy but don’t worry. Don’t look on Instagram and freak out because yours isn’t looking perfect like most of the photos on there. You should use your first months to experiment. I tried lots of different styles before I settled into the setup I have now. Struggling to keep up with a task? Try out a tracker. More of a visual person? Try out a calendar so you can see how the rest of the month will pan out. It’s all about what you want to use it for so somethings will work for others but maybe not you.

 

A chance to be creative – As well as getting you organised, a bullet journal also gives you an outlet to express yourself. This could be as simple as using a different colour scheme monthly or as elaborate as a monthly theme. Maybe you don’t consider yourself an artist but like to doodle, have a whole page just for that. Adding inspirational quotes throughout can help you practice fonts and if you put them on random pages throughout it will be a nice surprise when you get to it. While I wouldn’t say I’m the best when it comes to drawing, I’ve really enjoyed doing the odd sketch in my journal. I’m actually quite proud how some of them have come out! Having the chance to be creative might actually entice you more to get organised too, instead of looking at a boring to do list, you’ll come to a colourful page that you want to get through.

 

Tip – Work out your tools – Picking the right journal is important, you’re going to be using it for a long time. For example, I’ve been using my notebook of choice for a year and still have a fair bit to go. I’d recommend using a dotted grid notebook if you can find one, next best would be square grid but lined works as well. That’s what I’m currently using and it works for me but I have this one to use next. It’s what I’ve seen recommended the most to use as a bullet journal.
– If you’re keeping things simple, you want to find a good pen that you find comfortable using a lot and a ruler too to keep things neat.
– If you’re wanting to go more colourful, I’d also recommend a set of fineliners. I currently have a set of Staedtler 0.3mm fineliners but I understand they’re a more expensive option. Supermarkets usually have their own cheap brand that work just as well. Washi tape will become your new best friend. It’s useful for borders, covering up mistake and just adding a little something special to your journal.
-Finally if you want to go for something more elaborate such as title pages, I’d buy a set of colourful pencils and pens. If you have one close by I’d recommend going to Flying Tiger. They’re really cheap and have a great selection of stationery and craft supplies. A perfect place to grab bullet journal supplies when you’re just starting out and you don’t want to break the bank.

 

It’s made me more productive – Having everything in one place means I know where to find anything I need done. Doing a daily list means I’m making sure all the little jobs are done such as filling out the dishwasher or putting away laundry. The satisfaction of seeing a list completely ticked off for the day is really encouraging. I’m noticing how much I actually get done because I’m not having to remember day to day what needs done. On a side note, I deal with chronic pain and on days where I don’t have the energy to do everything, having a daily list there already helps me prioritise so I can at least get a few of the easier things done.

 

Tip – Mistakes are chances to be creative – This is something really useful to learn early on, especially when you’re still experimenting and haven’t quite found your setup yet. A mistake can be covered up in tip-ex but it’s also an opportunity to add something a bit more creative. This can be a pattern made from washi tape, a drawing that illustrates your day or something else that fits in with the month’s theme. For example I messed up a list in the corner of my page last month. So I placed paper over it with a bigger version of my border on it, using washi tape. It looked intentional and broke up the page a bit.

 

If you’re lacking a bit of organisation in your life or need a new project, this is it. After using a bullet journal for a year now, I can safely say it will definitely get you organised. It’s completely customisable so what’s stopping you? Happy organising!

 

 

 

 

 

50 Reminders that the World isn’t all bad.

Dear Taylor,

So it’s safe to say 2016 hasn’t been great. The world is currently in a messy limbo and it’s easy to feel a bit lost. I know headache attacks don’t make it any better, one minute you’re getting ready for a girls night and the next minute you’re on the brink of fainting and can’t move. When it feels like it’s all gone to (excuse my French) shit, I think you need a little pick me up and I’ve made it in the form of this list. Here’s 50 things to cheer you up.

  1. Brownies fresh out the oven.
  2. Skins.
  3. Every Christmas advert this year, they’re all so cute!
  4. Getting pjs warm out the tumble dryer.
  5. My new addiction to Gilmore Girls (Yes, I’m late to the party…)
  6. Remembering a cup of tea when it’s at the perfect temperature.
  7. A train ride through the countryside.
  8. Discovering you like foods you didn’t before because your taste buds have changed.
  9. Iced coffee (This is due to the above phenomenon)
  10. When your nail polish doesn’t smudge.
  11. Flamingos. (If you haven’t seen them parade, watch this now).
  12. Good selfie lighting.
  13. When you predict a plot line in a TV show episodes before it happens.
  14. Cats.
  15. Our kitty Blue in particular.
  16. Travelling to new places.
  17. Hastings.
  18. The fact that David Attenborough exists.
  19. Getting your eyeliner right first time.
  20. Dogs.
  21. Making a party best friend.
  22. A Lush bath.
  23. Autumn.
  24. Bears.
  25. Burg Eltz in Germany (It’s in the middle of the forest and it’s straight out of Disney movie. If you can go, it’s worth it.)
  26. Shakespeare.
  27. Peacocks.
  28. The fact that Pokémon made an epic return.
  29. Days watching trashy tv like Say Yes to The Dress.
  30. The take off part of a flight.
  31. Walking in clean snow.
  32. Koblenz.
  33. Puns, accidental ones are particularly good.
  34. Finding everything on your shopping list in one trip.
  35. A face mask.
  36. Fresh bed sheets.
  37. You have a Momma as cool as Regina George’s.
  38. Purple lipstick.
  39. The fact that you can get pretty much any character in pop culture as a Pop Vinyl figure.
  40. A Harry Potter marathon with my favourite girls.
  41. Mint oreos.
  42. Your friends who you can talk to about literally anything and they won’t judge.
  43. Your Christmas Eve traditions (New pjs, Chinese food and Miracle on 34th Street [1994 version]).
  44. Your bullet journal and how it nice it feels to be organised.
  45. When your hair dries and comes out naturally nice.
  46. RuPaul’s Drag Race.
  47. Your Totoro onesie.
  48. Getting a haircut and actually being happy with it.
  49. Fancy dress.
  50. That days without pain do exist.

See, the world isn’t so bad after all. Just remember that it isn’t all doom and gloom, come back to this list anytime.

Love from,

Taylor.

Bi the way.

If you’re looking for someone to talk all things sexuality, I’m your gal. I find it oddly fascinating, it’s something that affects everyone and everyone has their own way of experiencing it.
In my case, I identify as bisexual as I am attracted to more than one gender. When it comes to coming out stories, I think I’m one of the lucky ones. When I was 16, first I came out unofficially when I was drunk at a party and secondly a few days later when I’d got my thoughts together, I came out officially. My friends supported me completely, not making a fuss over it. Some of them had even guessed years before that I wasn’t 100% straight. I came out to my parents over texts whilst I was at a party. My best friend holding my hand while I freaked out on whether I’d made the right decision. Luckily both were accepting of it. After reading nightmarish stories online, I was dreading the coming out process. Instead I was supported completely.
However, if you identify as anything other than straight you’ll know the coming out process does not end there. For the rest of my life, I have to come out to new friends, work colleagues and possible romantic partners. It’s a never-ending cycle. It’s been 7 years since I first came out so now I’m well versed in the situation. While I’m quite open about my sexuality, you do get fed up of the same replies over and over again. It’s what I like to call bisexual bingo:
1. So is it 50/50?
2. Have you slept with a girl?
3. Aren’t you just being greedy?
4. You’re just confused.
5. Have you had/do you want a threesome?

While I’ll answer some of these questions, some of the answers are exceedingly personal. If a person announced they’re straight, would they be asked in depth questions about their sex life? Hell no, they wouldn’t. Just because a person happens to be attracted to more than one gender, that doesn’t give you permission to probe them about the intimate details of their life. If a person tells you they’re bisexual, be like ‘yeah, that’s cool’. The person has decided to share something that is personal enough, feel privileged that they’ve felt safe enough to come out to you. Coming out gets easier the more good experiences you have. Be kind and don’t start a game of bisexual bingo.

I figured out my sexuality early on, I think I must have been a kid when I started crushing on girls as well as boys. I’ve always felt very confident in my sexuality. However it’s only as I’ve hit my twenties that I discovered there’s so much more to learn. The more I learn, the more I find out about myself. For example, I’ve learnt that there’s a difference between sexual and romantic attraction and that there’s an asexual/romantic scale. There’s so many labels out there, I love how no matter how you identify there’s probably a name for it. I have found that while I’m bisexual, I’m also bi-romantic and demi-romantic. My identifiers give me some comfort in that I’m not alone in how I feel.

 

Good days & bad days.

This post is for all those out there looking for answers, for those who are confused and for those looking for comfort after getting a diagnosis that brings little comfort.

I have a condition called paroxysmal hemicrania. As well as a fantastic tongue twister, this rare condition is where you get a particularly nasty headache which comes in shots of short pain in one side of your head. Headache seems like an insignificant word when describing the condition, when I’m ill, I usually call them headache attacks because that’s what it feels like. It feels like your brain is being attacked from all sides with very little way of defence.

Let’s go back to the beginning. It’s December 2013, a few days before Christmas. I start noticing a very occasional pain in the right side of my head. It’s not like any headache I’ve had before, it’s short but extremely painful. I take ibuprofen in the hopes of warding it off. I make it through my shifts at work and head home for Christmas without much fuss. I tell my mum of the pain and we both dismiss it as just a particularly painful headache. Come December 27th, I have my first full blown attack. I’m up early, getting ready to head back to Sunderland for my last shift at my Christmas job. I’m in the shower when the pain hits me like a ton of bricks. It was too much and next thing I know I’ve blacked out in the shower. I manage to get out with help from my mum and try and blurt out that the pain’s back. It’s not just going away however. Due to the other symptoms I was showing; stiff neck, severe rash and temperature, I was sent to hospital with a meningitis scare. After a lot of tests including one which meant I got a needle in my spine, meningitis was ruled out. However, a week later I’m still getting these pains. It’s coming in waves, I have real trouble dealing with any kind of light and my heat rashes are coating the entire right side of my face and neck. I go back to the doctors in hope of some sort of relief. The doctor I see is as baffled as those at the hospital but takes a guess. He gives me a new painkiller and tells me if this works, you have paroxysmal hemicrania. The painkillers worked thankfully and that gave us a diagnosis.

I do feel incredibly lucky to have a diagnosis so quickly. Due its rarity, it can take people years to be diagnosed. Looking back now though, I also wish I’d had meningitis. Unfortunately this is no one off.

One of my favourite things to distract myself is coming up with metaphors and similes for the pain. It’s also handy when describing what you have to other people. My current favourites are:

My brain is be grated on either side.

It feels like my head’s being boiled alive.

My brain’s turned into overcooked scrambled egg.

It’s like someone’s punched you in the face and your head’s on fire.

Over the last few years, I’ve had attacks at varying levels of pain and varying lengths of time. Sometimes I’ve just needed to sleep it off for the day with minimal painkillers. Other times I’ve been living in my pyjamas for weeks on end, taking a pharmacy’s worth of pills and barely being able to wash myself without help. Curling up in a ball is a small luxury in these moments. I’ve ended up in hospital waiting rooms leaving every health professional completely baffled when I tell them what I’ve got. Usually you can take comfort in a doctor knowing what they’re talking about, in my case not so much.

In the past, attacks could cause an interruption in my life that lasted a month at most. I was diagnosed with the episodic version of my condition, so I’d have periods of remission. Right now, I’m coming to the realisation that my condition is no longer episodic but chronic. I’m also in the midst of being diagnosed with another condition which is set off by PH, but rather than in my head I get pains in my jaw, neck and ear. I started a new job in April and after two weeks of training I got an attack. This lasted around three weeks but it hasn’t really ended. Since my return I’ve still had bad days where the pain is too much and I can’t physically handle it so all I can do is sleep. I’m having to come to the realisation that there isn’t much I can do but hope my painkillers work for the day and I can make it through my work. Those are the good days and it’s so important to enjoy them.

Today was a good day. Today the pain was manageable. Today I got to bake muffins and see my best friend and write this blog. Even in the midst of a full blown attack I might get a couple of hours where I don’t need feel like screaming in pain. I’ll try and tidy or watch my favourite film which requires concentration.

If you get diagnosed with this condition, I know this blog might be a depressing read but I think the best approach is to keep positive. That’s always going to be easier said than done. With me, I try best to keep a sense of humour. Coming up with silly names for symptoms or making stupid jokes with a brain of putty is sometimes enough to encourage a hint of happiness in a heap of pain. Make sure you have support around you, I don’t know what I’d do without my mum or my friends. I’ve also found chatting to people online with the same condition weirdly comforting, rare conditions can be isolating so it’s good to know you’re not the only one. If you’re looking for someone to talk to, I’m here to answer any questions. This post might be a lot to take it, if anything I just needed to vent. It’s important to have a release, I’m lucky in that I’ve found mine. Anyone out there in this situation, find your release.

Don’t let the pain win and appreciate the good days.

YouTube ain’t just for cat videos.

It’s safe to say I’m a long time YouTube viewer. I’ve been watching since before the word ‘youtuber’ was really coined and I’ve even dabbled in a little vlogging myself. What appeals to me about YouTube is how accessible it is. You’ll find everything from short fantasy films to LGBT education, comedy sketches to political rants and of course cat videos. I’ve lost count of how many channels I’m subscribed to but here’s some of my current favourites:

Hannah Wittonhttps://www.youtube.com/hannahwitton

hannah witton

Hannah is a British 20-something who vlogs about sex, relationships and feminism amongst other things. What I love about her videos is that it’s like chatting to a friend, no matter what the topic, it could be your favourite book that month or periods. Hannah’s open approach is educational but never patronising and you can see the passion she puts into her videos.
Highlights: Her ‘Drunk Advice‘ series is fabulous, Hannah and a friend get drunk and answer Twitter questions with hilarious results. Never fails to crack me up.

KickThePjhttps://www.youtube.com/user/KickThePj

kick the pj

PJ is first and foremost a storyteller. I’m not entirely sure he’s from this planet because his content is awesome, in the true sense of the word. PJ’s short films transport you to whole other worlds filled with mind bending characters. In between short films, we get a fresh approach to vlogs, with occasional looks behind the scenes and some DIY tutorials. I love watching PJ’s videos because there’s always something new and you can tell he’s doing what he loves.
Highlights: Office Space is a super endearing film and while you can tell where the influences for this one have come from, it’s still very much PJ’s film. It is 3 years old but it’s a good place to start and still one of my favourite videos PJ’s ever made.

Daniel J. Laytonhttps://www.youtube.com/user/DanielJLayton

Daniel J Layton

Daniel J. Layton is a severely underrated YouTube treasure. When his videos pop up in my subscription feed, I always watch straight away because I know I’m in for a treat. Dan vlogs about what’s going on in his life, nice and simple. But he knows how to subtly work up to a punchline to perfection so an everyday anecdote turns into something really amusing. Dan’s videos are completely relatable but not in a cliché way, he’s just very honest and lovely. Just go subscribe!
Highlights: His ‘Baking with Layton‘ series is like the YouTuber version of The Great British Bake Off. Dan and a YouTube friend bake something, it’s a strong format that always gives me the giggles.

Hazel Hayeshttps://www.youtube.com/user/ChewingSand

Hazel hayes

Hazel is an extremely witty, Irish filmmaker. Whether it be sharing 30 minute long vlogs of her month, making thrilling short films or interviewing A-list celebs, Hazel has a complete air of professionalism at all times. Her brilliantly named Time of the Month series is exceedingly well put together, it’s a lot to share but Hazel gets the perfect balance between emotion, theme and aesthetic. When it comes to short films, if you like psychological horror, Hazel’s channel is for you. My particular favourite is Septum which I’d love to see fleshed out as a feature film.
Highlights: Tipsy talk is a series in which Hazel and friends (sometimes famous) get together for a drink and chat. You’ll never sure where it will go and that’s what makes the series so great; its unpredictability.

Connor Manninghttps://www.youtube.com/user/AConMann

connor manning

Connor is a young American vlogger who makes videos about sexuality, mental health, relationships and dating. His videos are sometimes inspired by questions from his views and other times, just by something in his life. I love that his videos are clearly for him, he’ll often say as he gives advice that he’s telling himself as well as advising the viewer. His videos have a pretty casual tone even whilst sometimes dealing with darker subjects. I find his sexuality videos particularly therapeutic, as someone who also identifies as bisexual, it’s nice to hear someone else’s POV.
Highlights: He’s covered so many topics, it’s hard to choose my favourites. I’d recommend No Bae November which is explaining how relationships are nice but they’re also just another way of living your life (he words it much better than me) and Too Gay, Too Straight which really resonated with me as it’s something I’ve gone through myself.

This is a very small selection of my favourite YouTubers, I could go on for hours. I may write another one of these in a few months time, I’ll probably have subscribed to even more channels by then! Got any YouTube recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments.