Skincare Serums – GOW

The launch of budget skincare brand The Ordinary got me seriously into skincare a few years ago. However, the more I learnt and watched YouTube vloggers, the more I bought  into expensive products. Now I’m stripping it all back and concentrating on well formulated serums with active ingredients at a reasonable price. I don’t want to spend over the odds for gorgeous packaging or coveted brands.

Garden of Wisdom (GOW)

I had limited success with The Ordinary and when they parted ways with Victoria Health I was interested to see that it was replaced with a number of products from an American brand, Garden of Wisdom, which they reformulated and repackaged. I’ve been using three of the serums for a couple of months now and am extremely happy with them.

“All Garden of Wisdom products are cruelty free, suitable for vegetarians and free from alcohol and silicones. Garden of Wisdom uses as few ingredients as possible to allow the actives to reach the deeper layers of skin to improve the appearance of skin.”

 

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which combats the damage done by pollution and UV exposure. It also has a skin brightening effect. However the formula has to be stable and at a decent percentage. The GOW offering is Vitamin C 23% + Ferulic Acid (£10 for 30ml) and has a pleasant cream formulation which isn’t too grainy or sticky.

It contains the gold standard of Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid). I could tell it is a high strength from the sharp tingle I felt on my skin the first few times I applied it, however my skin has become accustomed to it. The air-tight packaging with pump is very welcome although after a couple of weeks it started to catapult the product across the room so I had to cup my hand over it. At this price it’s not a deal-breaker.

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Peptides boost collagen which keeps skin plump and bouncy. GOW’s Anti-Aging Multi-Peptide Serum (£20 for 30ml) is a clear, almost jelly-like serum that has a hydrating effect thanks to the presence of hyaluronic acid. It feels lovely on the skin. It can be used over the Vitamin C.

Niacinamide is another ingredient with proven skin benefits. It helps regulate oil production, improves the skin’s barrier function (preventing dehydration) and minimises dark spots. I found the Ordinary’s Niacinamide very drying but I’ve had no such problems with GOW’s Niacinamide Serum (£9 for 30ml). I use it on nights I’m giving my skin a break from retinols or on weekend mornings when I’m not using Vitamin C.GardenOfWisdom_SD-1024x681

I’m going to continue with these products and intend to repurchase when they run out.

Let me know in the comments whether you use any serums in your skincare routine and if you’ve tried GOW.

All products purchased by me. 

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Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen.

“But today there is no day or night, Today there is no dark or light, Today there is no black or white, Only shades of gray.”   Shades of Gray by The Monkees.

I returned from the Dominican Republic to find MJ dead.  He had overdosed the night before.  My first love, my partner of eight years, the person I had moved to Amsterdam with.

My father died in 1971.  MJ´s father died in 1975.  No one teaches you how to deal with the pain and we both carried the scars.

College 1978.  I was sat in the common room, listening to Spirit’s The Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus, when MJ walked through the door.  Barefoot, ripped jeans, long curly black hair, an earring, and John Lennon glasses.   It was love on the spot.  Who hears warning bells at eighteen?

I was fourteen when I went to see Stardust. It was the 1974 sequel to the film That’ll be the Day.  It follows the fictional band, the Stray Cats,  who were David Essex, Keith Moon, Paul Nicholas and Peter Duncan.  Essex, a real-life pop star, playing the rise and fall of Jim Maclaine, fictitious pop star.  Managed by Mike, played by Adam Faith.   Kind of mixture between fiction and reality.

Spellbound from the start,  I was in the film every step of the way.  The music, the clothes, the drugs, the glamour.  I was living it.   Jim Maclaine, who had become a megastar and split from his band, was being used and abused by the business; and eventually goes to live in Spain in a castle, becoming a  recluse, his manager in tow.  No one has seen him for two years,  at which point he is talked into giving a live interview, in his castle, which he absolutely does not want to do.   As he sits in front of the cameras, he starts to talk,  but makes no sense.  Publicly there was triumph but privately disintegration.  Mike realises that Jim has OD’d, calls an ambulance and goes and pulls him out of the press circus.   You see him carried out and put into the ambulance on a stretcher.  And then he dies.

I was absolutely blindsided and started to cry.  I could not stop.  I wept all the way home, and as I went into the house, my mother came running, asking what was wrong.  I kept crying.  She told me it was only a film, but it was so much more than that.  I felt that I had known Jim, and my heart was broken.  I cried for the rest of the night, a deep pain in my chest.

MJ and I spent the next nine years together, the last two of them in Amsterdam.   A couple of busts.  A shitload of fabulous music, the punk years, the club years, the festivals years.   No TV but always a good sound system.  Music day and night;  reggae, punk, hippie, psychedelic;  Stooges, Velvets, The Clash, Stones, Talking Heads, Grace Jones, the music that accompanied the slow descent into a heavier scene.  Funny stories, sad stories and some quite terrifying stories.

MJ. 1959 – 1989.  I loved not only him, but his amazing family too.  And still do.

I had not been back in Amsterdam for 36 hours from the Dominican Republic, when I found myself on the way to the airport to meet his mother and brother. off of a plane.  I was in total shock.  It would be some time before I was able to cry, my heart so broken that the pain had not yet set in.

 

MJ

 

“It was easy then to know what was fair, when to keep and when to share, How much to protect your heart, And how much to care, But today there is no day or night, Today there is no dark or light, Today there is no black or white, Only shades of gray, Only shades of gray.

CQ of APJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading Diary – Jan/Feb 2019

 

I’ve set myself a much more manageable target of 25 books to read this year and I’m off to a good start. I finished two trilogies which was satisfying and only gave up on Little Women because I wasn’t really in the mood for it.

Frazzled by Ruby Wax

I don’t believe personal development books should be reserved for the New Year but they are particularly helpfully in dealing with the dreaded January Blues. I’ve always liked Ruby Wax and followed her through her different incarnations as a comic actress, interviewer and now mental health warrior. After her TV career ended she studied mindfulness at Oxford University and this book includes a six-week starter course. It made me realise that yoga is actually moving mindfulness (duh) and has changed the way I practise it. Ruby’s personal stories of dealing with depression and anxiety which are interspersed throughout, were often as hilarious as they were heart-wrenching. 4/5

 

ruby

 

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

“Magic is forgetting the world was ever other than as you willed it.”

This was the final book in the Winternight trilogy: a historical fantasy incorporating  folklore and fairy tales in medieval Russia. I loved our outcast heroine Vasya and always adore stories about women coming into their power. I also discovered that I relish books set in a magical, frost-bitten environment. I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful descriptions of snowy forests and icy winds. I imagine some people might find the writing a bit too flowery and the plot a little slow to take off, but not me. 5/5

winter of the witch

 

Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters

“I have been being careful since the first minute I saw you. I am the Queen of Carefulness. I shall go on being careful for ever, if you like – so long as I might be a bit reckless, sometimes, when we are quite alone”

I wanted to read more historical fiction this year and one of the great writers in this genre is Sarah Waters. Tipping The Velvet is set in one of my favourite eras, late 19th Century England. It follows the fortunes of Nancy, who is working in her family’s oyster restaurant when she becomes infatuated with Kitty, who performs as a male impersonator at the music hall. This takes her life off in a very different direction and around the mid-point of the book it starts to get very grim (as well as explicit) and Nancy seemed to act out of character. I was worried it would all spiral downhill from here but the final section set in London’s East End was excellent.  The author’s other books look rather bleak though so I’m mulling them over. 4/5

 

tipping

 

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

The Mistborn fantasy trilogy is much hyped and while about the first fifth of this final instalment was a little slow, it did meet my expectations as events unfolded towards the end and everything was tied up. Sanderson is a master at creating complex worlds, magic systems and plots. In The Final Empire ash falls constantly from the sky and the nightly mists cause fear. There are mysterious creatures and a selection of the populace gain powers from ingesting metals. The way the revelations in The Hero of Ages doubled back to events in the first book was particularly clever. (I still prefer the Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Scwab though). 4.75/5

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The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

“Asking is, in itself, the fundamental building block of any relationship.”

Indie rock musician Amanda Palmer is a badass in about a thousand different ways. One of those ways is that – unlike me – she is unafraid to ask strangers for whatever she needs, including funding an album. She was the first artist to raise a million dollars through Kickstarter. Her TED Talk about this experience and the ensuing backlash spawned this book.  Ultimately, for Palmer, it’s all about human connection and trust. However this is as much a memoir as it is a treatise about why artists shouldn’t feel shame about asking for support. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her early life as street statue in Boston and her burgeoning relationship with one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman. 4/5

book_cover

 

I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these or if there’s another book you’d like to recommend. Let me know in the comments.

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Irisistible by April Aromatics

Optimistic iris…

Notes: Lemon, Iris, Rose, Jasmine, Tuberose, Cassia and Sandalwood

Goddess Iris gifts humanity with the understanding that all aspects of life are sacred and it is in the weaving of the dark and light within ourselves that we find our wholeness.

In recent years I have become enthralled by the Greek myths and was particularly taken with the Goddess Iris because she is the messenger that travels by rainbow from heaven to earth. She also gave the flower its name.

Irisistible is the new offering by indie house April Aromatics. It takes its inspiration from the Goddess and the material of the same name, by incorporating a myriad of colourful notes with iris at its core.

irisistible april-aromatics-irisistible

I wondered if Irisistible would be more of a bouquet of flowers than iris-centric given the rainbow theme, but no. This is very much an iris fragrance with a bright, floral twist.

On spraying there is an exquisite flash of iris. As it settles, an unusual, bitter accord comes through which I’m putting down to the presence of cassia. This is a spice extracted from bark, similar to cinnamon but more pungent and nowhere near as sweet. Once this fades away (in under an hour) the heart of the fragrance is made up of gorgeous Iris Pallidia; a yellow iris from Italy. It’s doughy and somewhat powdery rather than cold and rooty.

Perhaps surprisingly, iris is not overshadowed by her showier sisters – jasmine and tuberose. They stay in a supporting role and I wouldn’t even know there was tuberose present if I hadn’t read it in the list of notes. The florals give the iris a pretty, dewy backdrop and make this often melancholy material more outgoing and easier to get along with. It’s the polar opposite of my favourite, Iris Silver Mist which I rather love for its insularity.

Irisistible is a gentle perfume but longevity is very good.  

The overall mood of the fragrance is one of shimmering light and buoyancy. Its a fragrance to brighten your mood and add a little colour to dark days. It would be a good scent choice when embarking on a journey of your own because it is both unobtrusive and full of possibility.

 

iris april

 

April Aromatics has a substantial collection of organic natural perfumes and an iris is a welcome addition. You can read my mini reviews of a selection of their other fragrances here.

 

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Strange Tales from the Cookie Kitchen

I was brought up in a strong faith. However far I wandered from its teachings, the miracle of prayer has never left me. I was taught that I could pray any time, and anywhere, on my knees, or walking down the street. It is a habit that has never left me.

“Little boy kneels at the foot of his bed, Droops on his little hands, little gold head, Hush! Hush! Whisper. Who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers …” Vespers. A. A. Milne

christopher robin

February 1989 saw us heading back to the Dominican Republic for another few months. This time with two bikes. In hindsight I should have known that more than spelled trouble. We booked our tickets, Amsterdam – Miami – Port-au-Prince – Puerto Plata. The bikes went for free, unlike these days where you have to pay. (Yes, my husband still takes bikes on planes and I should have known all those years ago that it was going to be an ongoing thing. But let’s face it, I had no idea he would end up as my husband at that point in my life.)

When we disembarked in Miami, things took an unexpected turn. Chris had no visa for the US, which was OK as he was in transit, but he was taken off in another direction to me. I had to leave the airport and check back in again because I was British and did not need a visa.

Bloody Americans and their general paranoia and this was way before 9/11. So yeah, I did that, went back through passport control and sat down hoping Chris would appear again. But he didn’t. He had been made to board the plane that I should have been on with him, despite him telling them that I was not there yet, they seated him. Meanwhile I waited and missed the plane. Don’t ask, because to this day we do not know why they did not call my name. Chris and the two bikes heading off without me.

They put me on a plane to Santa Domingo, 232 km away from where Chris would be. He had no clue as to where I might be. I was exhausted, wired from no sleep and had been about twenty-four hours without a joint, and that is only half the story. I felt as gray as I looked. I had some pesos with me and travellers cheques. I got into a taxi at the airport in Santa Domingo and asked to be taken to a good hotel. It was ten o’clock at night, I was alone in what seemed like a rough city (it was), and I could not think straight. The first two hotels would not take me. A young white woman alone meant prostitute, which meant no, you cannot have a room. The taxi driver had waited for me at each hotel, thank goodness.

The third hotel he took me to let me have a room. It was an expensive hotel and I guess they took pity on me. I had to pay upfront. I was given a room and told that if I wanted room service I would have to pay cash for it, they would not let me put it on a bill.

dom map

I knew where Chris was but had no idea of the phone number of the hotel, which was not quite as much of a problem as not knowing the name of it. We had stayed in the hotel the year before but in-between then and now there had been a refurbishment and that included a name change. The owner, a friend, had written and told us as we made plans to revisit, but damned if I could remember.

I was about at my wit’s end. (As I write this I cannot tell you how much I love the era of technology that we live in, all I would have to do is send a text or make a call. Unimaginable to feel that lost now.) I knew I had to get in touch with Chris, let him know I was on the same island and not back in Miami. (Hated Florida ever since, and never been back – two hours at the airport was more than enough.). It was around midnight. I called the operator and asked for the number of the Hotel ………, that used to be, but now had another name. Right. I burst into tears.

I knelt down by the side of the bed and prayed my heart out, begging for God to help me out of this situation. Bone weary, it felt like my only chance.

Does a prayer answered show there is a God? An unanswered one that there is none? I do not know. But as I asked for help, the name of the hotel was planted within my mind. I could see it as clear as day. Things do not happen by magic, and I had read the name in the letter we had received; I knew it was there somewhere, but I had absolutely no memory of it. An immediate answer to a prayer, when I had to have it. I was so thankful and it has never left me.

I called the operator again, this time getting one that spoke better English. I knew the town and the name of the hotel. And got the number. I remember my hands shaking as I dialled the number.

Within a few seconds I was talking with Chris who was as relieved to hear from me as I was to talk to him. He told me he was jumping straight into a taxi and coming to get me. A good three-hour trip on a less than smooth road, from the north to the south of the island.

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The right hotel in Puerto Plata

With utter relief, I peeled the small hidden piece of sticky black hashish off of the back of my watch…

“When troubled times begin to bother me, I take a toke and all my cares go up in smoke.” Up in Smoke by Cheech and Chong

Chris arrived around five in the morning and by breakfast time we were in a taxi heading back north to our original destination. Not only had he lost me, but the bikes had disappeared off of the plane in Haiti, when his plane stopped there for an hour. Thanks to an observant Lufthansa pilot and Chris not giving up looking for them, we got both bikes back three days later.

dom bikes

Val with the hotel owner/friend.

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The trip had not started really well and little did I know that when we returned to Amsterdam three months later, my life would be blown apart.

CQ of APJ

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Santal Nabataea by Mona di Orio

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. – Rumi

Notes: Black Pepper, Blackcurrant Leaf, Dried Apricot, Oleander, Opoponax, Clay, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean and Coffee Absolute,

Santal Nabataea captured me the moment I sprayed it. I’m grateful to Val the Cookie Queen for sharing her sample with me.

santal nab

Santal Nabataea is the last 2018 release from Mona di Orio. The perfumer is Fredrik Dalman who also composed Bohea Boheme and Suede de Suede for the same house. The fragrance was inspired by the ancient kingdom of Nabataea and its capital Petra, with its striking sandstone architecture.

petra

This is not the sweetened, creamy Samsara-style sandalwood perfume you may be used to: it is something much more desiccated.

The blend of Australian and Indian sandalwood is the golden glow at its core. This is overlaid by cooling incense which is resinous rather than smoky, with a nice bite of bitter green astringency to it. This is enhanced by the presence of dusty black pepper – forever a favourite note of mine.

There is no clichéd spice market on display here or the heavy blanket of amber that is often used to underpin this kind of fragrance. The foundation is actually a savoury base of roasted coffee beans which works beautifully. Multi-layered like the various coloured strata of sandstone, it is a thoughtfully crafted composition which doesn’t use shortcuts to achieve its aim.

I hugely admire and own a bottle of Bois des Iles but I find Mona di Orio’s offering more to my current mood. Santal Nabataea is transporting and produces a meditative effect. In contrast to the plush, velvet effect of the Chanel, it’s sun-baked with a sandy texture that echoes the landscape of Petra. The aridity of it feels cleansing and it does possess an air of antiquity. While its approach to sandalwood is more pared down, it is no less luxurious.

Projection is moderate and lasting power is excellent for an EdP. Unlike a lot of traditional sandalwood fragrances which have a tendency to lean masculine, I find it completely gender neutral.

whirling

The Sufi order of Mevlevi was founded by the followers of the 13th century Persian poet and mystic, Rumi. The initiates are commonly known as Whirling Dervishes and are devoted to a life of austerity. Their whirling is part of a ceremony that puts them in a profound state of spiritual euphoria. Santal Nabataea is a whirling dervish in a bottle, spinning an aura on the skin that is not a little transcendent.

How do you feel about sandalwood fragrances? Do you like the sound of Santal Nabataea?

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Portia’s Winter List

Hi there A Bottled Rosers. Thanks again Tara for letting me infiltrate you inner sanctum.

I come from Australian Perfume Junkies and would like to share some of my all-time favourite fragrances. Each season, according to your Northern Hemisphere weather, I’ll tell you what I have that gets quite a bit of wear. So Portia’s Winter List will be like an all-star list.

Here’s a pic of Tara and me on our 2018 holidays in the Australian Outback at Uluru with TinaG.

Portia’s Winter List

Continue reading

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2018 Reading Wrap Up

I hope it’s not too late to wish you a Happy New Year.

I moved home on the 17th December and then was ill all of Christmas week. The two things are probably connected but it didn’t spoil the holidays too much. I’m gradually settling in and I know it’s just a matter of time before I completely adjust.

I’m designating this month ‘Slow January’. I will be putting zero pressure on myself and doing little more than curling up with a good book.

With one thing and another, I missed my Reading Challenge goal for 2018 by 2 books. I managed 33 in all which is still perfectly fine with me.

Of these 33 books, I gave 18 a rating of five stars on Goodreads, which shows it was a good reading year overall.

The ten books that impacted me the most for various reasons were:

Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier

I finally found out what all the fuss was about. What a stunning novel. I want to read her other books now and will try Jamaica Inn next.

Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff

This book taught me that regularly practicing self-compassion can change your life. I will re-read it at some point.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I was worried I wouldn’t get on with this Japanese modern classic, but I was captivated by it. I felt so much affection and empathy for the main character and his angst.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I couldn’t get enough of the chilly, fantastical atmosphere of this novel set in medieval Russia. I read the second book and have pre-ordered the final instalment of the trilogy which is released on 10th January.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I know some literary types look down their noses at this one but I found it to be a great tragi-comic read.

Eleanor-Oliphant-is-Completely-Fine-by-Gail-Honeyman

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson

I don’t go along with all his views by any means but this book was what I needed at the time to push me into action.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Right up there with Song of Achilles, another wonderful Greek myth re-telling from Madeline Miller.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This personal memoir of severe depression coupled with crippling anxiety made me feel less isolated when I was going through issues of my own. Matt Haig comes across as hugely likeable. I’d like to read his fiction at some point.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

This beautiful book set in coastal Essex in the late 19th century made me want to read more historical fiction. I loved the relationship between widow, Cora and vicar, Will, not to mention the mystery of the Essex serpent.

The Chimp Paradox by Dr. Steve Peters

The metaphors get a bit convoluted but the basic premise that our emotional brain is stronger than our rational brain – and how to deal with – will stay with me.

chimp

My most read genres were fantasy, self-improvement and classics, which is reflected above. I’m particularly glad I set the target of reading a classic a month because it led me to some amazing books I might not have got round to otherwise.

This year I want to continue reading classics I might have missed as well as more historical fiction. How about you?

Any literary highlights from 2018?

books

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2018 From the Cookie Kitchen

 

“House is haunted, I just wanna go for a ride, Out and on, before I set this room alight, Left alone, Forever, and for crimes unclear, With my patience gone, Someone take me far from here.”  Gasoline by Audioslave

April, 2018.  Tara invited me to guest post for the time that APJ was out-of-action.  Little did I imagine that I would still be writing here at the end of the year.  I returned to APJ in the summer and after talking with Tara, remained here to start my monthly Strange Tales From the Cookie Kitchen.

Today I’m sharing some of my 2018 highlights from the spheres of film, literature and music.

MOVIES

 

val black

BLACKKKLANSMAN Spike Lee’s true story of the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, early 19070’s.  And how he sets out to infiltrate and expose the KKK.

The Dawn Wall  The story of free climber Tommy Caldwell, and his climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson and their climbing of The Dawn Wall, a 3,000 foot rock face in Yosemite. Six years of meticulously plotting and practicing their route.  It had never been done.

 

val dawn

Widows  Anyone remember the ITV series?  It is based upon that.  The basic plot follows four women, whose criminal husbands are killed on a botch job, planning a heist to pay back a crime boss.  Directed by Steve McQueen, (12 Years A Slave) who has the ability to allow you to see into a character with just a single frame.  Superb.  Go see it.

 

val widows

 

Isle of Dogs Wes Anderson’s stop-motion-animated science-fiction comedy-drama film.  It is set in a dystopian Japan, and it is the story of  young boy looking for his dog.   All dogs have been banished to Trash Island, to prevent a flu virus they have crossing over to humans.  It is a wonderful as every other Wes Anderson film.

 

val isle of dogs

Taken Yes, the movie with Liam Neeson.  I knoooow is is from 2009 and not 2018, but I only just watched it.  No, I have no idea what took me so long.  Cult.

 

BOOKS

 

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections by Johann Hari 

The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah – The Autobiography

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine

 

val books.jpg

GYM TUNES

Gasoline x 1000, Audioslave.  Top Tune.

val audioslave

 

Lose Yourself and Venom, Eminem


val eninmen

 Wake Up, Brass Against

 London Calling, The Clash – the whole album.  Not one bad track.

 

val clash

 

I can’t finish 2018 without thanking my amazing, kind, patient, seriously batshit crazy trainer, Eric.  He has changed my life.  And the incredible Crikey/Slowlight who has cyber-motivated me to push myself to the limits, as she pushes beyond hers.  Big love to both of you gorgeous things.

And eternal thanks for the enduring friendship with Tara and Vanessa;  who keep me sane.

CQ of APJ

Hop over to APJ if my top perfumes of the year are of any interest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas – Dealing With Overwhelm

I love Christmas but I’m looking forward to the break more than ever this year. I’m coming to the end of the long process of moving home which started at the beginning of September. I will finally get the keys today and move in this Wednesday.

The whole thing has been stress-inducing but for about 3 weeks in November/December the anxiety was so extreme it was unbearable. Being unable to sleep for more than a few hours a night, waking up with a racing heartbeat and a never ceasing feeling of panic, was horrendous. This was no doubt exacerbated – or more likely caused – by my negative thoughts spiralling out of control. I kept thinking I’d done everything wrong and couldn’t stop going over and over the poor decisions I thought I’d made.

I had support from the GP but she said that the anxiety was too acute for medication make a difference unless I was all but knocked out, which I didn’t want.

What did help:

  1. Talking. Sharing how I felt with friends and family was really important. I needed the reassurance they gave me that I was doing the right thing. On a couple of days when I felt beside myself, I called two amazing friends on the phone and they talked me down.
  2. Anchors. Having a few points during the day that gave me some comfort/distraction made a difference. In the mornings I would listen to podcast focusing on tackling anxiety, at lunchtime I’d connect with nature by taking a walk in the park near my office and when I got home I’d make a cup of lapsang suchong with extra sugar and watch YouTube videos for a while.
  3. Reconnecting with my ‘why’. I was in such a cycle of self-doubt that I had completely forgotten why on earth I was putting myself through all this. Running through all the benefits of moving away from my current home and into the new one was something I did at night when I couldn’t sleep.
  4. Writing. This one was huge. I’ve learnt that when all these fears and worries are at fever pitch, it’s hopeless trying to sort them out in my head. I have to rationalise my thoughts on paper. I wrote to that terrified part of me, telling her I understood exactly how she felt and told her that although what we were doing was tough there were many reasons that it was for our ultimate benefit. I felt radically different afterwards for the rest of that day.
  5. Self-help books. I binged on self-help books. I couldn’t concentrate on novels anyway and knowing that other people had gone through the same thing (and worse) made me feel less crazy and isolated.
  6. Extreme self-care. Like a lot of people, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself. Considering acute anxiety puts a lot of strain on your nervous system (mine felt as if it was on fire) it can have a knock-on effect on your body. High levels of cortisol take a toll as well as all that muscle tension. I was desperately looking round for an alternative therapy that might give me some relief but in the end, settled on a good old-fashioned massage. It was physically and emotionally restorative. I spent evenings just lying in bed listening to audio books. I didn’t stress over what I ate, watched escapist boxsets and yes, that old self-care cliché, took long, hot baths.  True self-care is deeper than that though. It’s about self-compassion: telling yourself it’s okay to feel the way you do, you’re not the only one who feels like this and giving yourself permission to do whatever it takes to get through it.
  7. Yoga. I’ve been doing yoga once a week for several years now but this has been the first time I’ve noticed the dramatic effect it can have on my mental health. It felt like an hour-long therapy session where I released all that built-up anguish. I’d come out feeling like I’d hit the re-set button on my troubled mind.
  8. This too shall pass. Knowing that these feelings wouldn’t last forever and I just had to get through them, one day at a time.

After all this, I will be spending the next couple of weeks unpacking, recuperating from the past few months and acclimatising to my new home. Hopefully I’ll get the sense of excitement I’ve been missing and know with certainty that I’ve done the right thing.

Val the Cookie Queen will be back with another Strange Tale tomorrow and we will then see you again on the other side of the New Year. The 1st January marks 3 years of A Bottled Rose. I can’t quite believe it’s been that long already and am incredibly grateful to all of you who consistently read and comment. It means a lot.

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas and all good things for 2019.

 

dove

 

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