Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Walking with the wounded

It is no secret that war veterans suffer injuries each and every single day, but a lot of people don't stop and think about the hidden wounds that they have to deal with - the mental illnesses and psychological scars as a result of going through such awful experiences.

During my work experience when I was a medical student, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend some time with a couple of psychiatrists that worked with the charity Combat Stress. Combat Stress is a mental health charity for veterans, providing treatment and support services free of charge to those that need it. I sat in a couple of consultations and watched as tough-looking middle-aged men broke down in front of me whilst describing the horrors they had seen whilst at war. I will never forget one man telling us about having to shoot a group of boys that were barely in their 20's because they were part of the enemy group. Seeing these men and women suffering so much with flashbacks and depression due to their experiences whilst defending our country was heart-breaking - their mental wounds were more distressing than their physical ones.

Walking With The Wounded is a charity set up in 2010 that raises money to re-educate and re-train wounded veterans, that have suffered either physical, mental or social injuries, to give them more independence outside of the forces. Their mission is to help servicemen and women to get new jobs outside of the military, reintegrate them into society, and provide long-term security for themselves and their families.

In 2011 a team supporting Walking With The Wounded, including 4 wounded soldiers and Prince Harry, completed a 200 mile expedition to reach the North Pole. They then did the same in 2013 but instead trekked to the South Pole. This year 6 wounded veterans, one of whom suffers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression, have been set the task of walking 1000 miles from Inverness in Northern Scotland to Buckingham Palace, dubbed 'The Walk of Britain'.

Today the team walked 17 miles through Shropshire, from Church Stretton to Ludlow, and Prince Harry once again joined them. The Prince is the patron for the Walk of Britain and is doing his very best to raise awareness around veterans and their injuries, including those that are consequently suffering with mental health problems.

He spoke out about the event, saying: "People up and down the country will get to see first-hand the determination and resolve of those who have served, and in particular those who have been injured or suffered hidden wounds... PTSD and mental injury can make life a daily struggle."

He also added: "It's also important to keep mental health issues in perspective. We should remind people that nearly all cases end well, whether it be total cure, adjustment of life, or the ability for the individual to accept and admit the issues that face them, amongst a tricky culture of stigma".

Today Prince Harry particularly highlighted the importance of challenging the stigma around mental health, saying: "Mental health is a sensitive subject but it doesn't need to be. We need to talk about it more, get rid of the stigma." 

I think it's amazing that such a high-profile person is talking about mental illnesses - it is hopefully another thing that will make people think a little more positively about it. Prince Harry is highlighting the importance of mental health in servicemen and women, but I am hoping that it will also influence the views about people that are not in the forces, but that also suffer with psychological illnesses every single day. Let's keep on pushing to change the stigma around mental health!

If you would like to support the Walk of Britain, you can buy a mile and help the charity here.
A river cuts through a rock not because of its power but its persistence.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Long day

Sorry guys, this is going to be a fairly boring post but I'm too tired to do anything else. Today has been a really long day in uni that just seemed to drag on forever, and then I was really busy afterwards. I seem to be busy all the time at the moment and it's really tiring me out; sometimes I just want a day to stop and do nothing. I actually can't believe it's only Tuesday!

Having things to do really helps me cope with my depression and is helping me get over it, but at the same time I usually have really low energy levels so doing too much can wipe me out and consequently make me feel down. I have found that I can literally sleep anywhere at the moment - in the library, in a GP's consulting room, on the floor - anywhere that I can close my eyes for a few minutes without being disturbed. It's a bit annoying that I'm so exhausted all the time and feel like I need to nap for a couple of hours each afternoon to keep myself going, but hopefully things will start to quieten down a little next week. Roll on the weekend!
The quickest way to acquire self-confidence is to do exactly what you are afraid to do.

Monday, 28 September 2015

West Midlands Blogger Meet Goody Bag

As I've mentioned on here a couple of times, last weekend I went to the West Midlands Blogger Meet in Birmingham - so I thought I'd show you the things we got in our amazing goody bag!

I think about 50% of the goody bag was made up by food (which is fine by me), and I was intrigued to try out this EarlyBird TasteBox. EarlyBird is a little bit like Graze - they deliver a box to you every week containing 5 different snacks and 2 types of tea. The boxes also contain music and art from upcoming artists, supporting them by creating exposure to their work.

These Derma V10 skincare products can be bought really cheaply from shops like Home Bargains, Poundland, B&M Bargains, Bodycare and Savers - most of them are currently on sale for £1 so they are great if you're shopping on a budget.

These straws are so fun and will be really useful for pre-drinks, and the candle smells delicious. I'm going to use the cable labels to wrap around some of my cables that are a bit frayed, and also use the different colours so that I can tell which chargers are mine when they are left around the house.

Cable Labels

Marshmallows seem to be all the rage right now, and I loved our personalised marshmallow lollipops (I ate this straight after this photo was taken). Nugget & Mallow also do a monthly subscription box where you can receive a box of marshmallows every 4 weeks.

So here's even more food - I actually have eaten a fair amount of it before I got round to taking these photos (oops) - but you kind of get the gist. I am really looking forward to trying the oaty cookie mix! I'm also going to have to Google yacon syrup as a lot of these products seem to feature it...

We got loads of samples to try...

I have tried this Phil Smith dry shampoo in the past as I also got a sample from #NWmeet earlier in the month, and it's really good so I'm glad I've got some more. This brush will also be great in the shower when my hair is all tangled.

I have tried this kale cleanser from Nourish before (review here), and loved it. I'm always looking for new skincare to try on my problem skin so I'm excited to see if any of these will help!

I think I'm actually going to give this to someone as a gift as the packaging is so lovely, and I don't actually use body butter all that much. It's a really lovely product though!

Ah, who doesn't love Lush?! I was so excited to find two full-size Lush products in our goody bags - the shower gel smells amazing and I've wanted to try this bath bomb for a while after seeing images of it on Instagram (watch the video on the link below - it looks so fun and colourful!).

I'm excited to try both of these products - the eyeliner is such a gorgeous colour, and the finishing spray is supposed to hold make-up in place for up to 16 hours, which will be useful for a night out.

This ChapStick lip balm is one of my favourite things in this goody bag - one end smells of banana and the other strawberry, and banana is one of my favourite flavours ever. We actually got three of these so I gave one to my mum and my sister, as I would never get through all of them! The Bagsy lip  balm also has such lovely packaging.

As you can see, it was an incredible goody bag with some great brands; Kirsty and Adele did such a good job organising everything. Thank you to anyone that sent something to be in the bag - I'm going to get a lot of enjoyment out of trying everything out!
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Whitby yet again

This post is all about our trip to Whitby in North Yorkshire yesterday. I've mentioned Whitby a few different times on this blog - the most recent one was this post from August (you can read more about the town there, if you would like). It is one of my favourite places in the UK, so when Kelly asked if we would like to go I was out of my pyjamas and in the car before you could say 'fish and chips'.

The first thing we did when we got there was buy some chips as we were all starving. I had chips with scraps on the top, which is basically some of the batter left over from the fish. You literally cannot beat fish and chips by the seaside.

It was a really lovely, and fairly warm, day for the end of September, so we wandered around the town and looked inside some of the shops, including the sweet shop that I went to in August.

Afterwards we all piled back into the car and sleepily headed back to Kelly's house. I had a quick nap for half an hour, and then we went to a pub for tea with her whole family.

Today was spent walking along the beach and having Sunday dinner at Kelly's gran's house. She makes an amazing roast dinner and I was so full afterwards - why is it that grandmothers always make the best Sunday dinners?

I had such a lovely weekend and am sad to be back in Liverpool now as it went so quickly. I'm currently tucked up in bed with a mug of hot blackcurrant squash as I think I'm coming down with a cold. I'm starting my paediatrics placement tomorrow so I need to be really careful on the wards if I do have any infections!
The world is so much bigger than your brain, stop living inside your head.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The 20 foot woman

As I mentioned yesterday, we travelled up north for Kelly's mum Julie's birthday, and last night was her surprise party. Her family had done a really good job of keeping the whole thing a huge secret, and she was so shocked when she walked in at about 7.30 and we all set party poppers off.

Us girls got the party going by hitting the dancefloor early on to dance to some disco classics, before devouring the buffet food - the chocolate cake was amazing.

Of course we also had to take the opportunity to get some photos when we were all together...

The rest of the evening was spent dancing the night away, to classics like 5, 6, 7, 8 and the Macarena, as well as Dancing In The Moonlight and (I've Had) The Time of My Life. Ashling and I had to pull out our Dirty Dancing move where I held her up in the air, of course (although we didn't quite manage the lifting part).

I had a really great night with a lovely group of people, and I'm so glad that Julie enjoyed her party.

The title of this post, if you're wondering, was because Kelly kept going on about a 20 foot woman's grave that she apparently saw in Ireland. It turned out that the woman was in fact 7 foot and was dubbed 'the long woman' because of this - not quite the impressive 20 foot that Kelly made her out to be... Interesting story, and we learnt something new, if anything.

Today has been spent wandering around Whitby, but I'm going to put the photos up of that tomorrow, so that this post isn't too long!
People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.
                - John Porter

Friday, 25 September 2015

Kelly's mam's 50th party

I have travelled up north with my housemate Kelly and a couple of our friends Molly and Ashling this afternoon, as it is Kelly's mum's (or mam, as she would say) 50th birthday this weekend. Her family have arranged a surprise party for her tonight, consisting of food and dancing, so that should be a lot of fun!

Only a short post as I don't have much time for more writing, but I hope you all have a lovely Friday night!

Hannah x

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Boutique Atelier

The Boutique Atelier, 33-35 Underwood Drive, Whitby, Ellesmere Port, CH65 9BH

The Boutique Atelier is a salon in Ellesmere Port owned by Richard Phillipart, and their tag line is, "a workplace of elite artists who take their craft and transform it into an art form for the sophisticated clientele". The salon has a fairly big team of highly trained hairdressers and stylists, which is reflected by the modern and sophisticated interior of the building.

Myself, Sam from Little Fickle, Katy from The Lilac Scrapbook, and Emma from Sew Emma were invited along to Boutique Atelier tonight as part of the nationwide BIG HAIR DO, the UK's biggest hair party. 

As soon as we entered we were given glasses of Prosecco and trays of food were constantly being brought around. I had just finished my GP placement half an hour before (after a longgg 10 hour day) so didn't look, or feel, my best - so a few nibbles and a drink was just what I needed.

The team were milling around and were really helpful - they were showing people how to do the perfect blow-dry, curl your hair using some Babyliss PRO styling tongs, or how to do an up-do. I asked if one of the girls could help me curl my hair; I love having my hair styled, it's really comforting and it actually makes me really sleepy.

After a while she passed the tongs to me and I curled the rest of my hair myself. I went for fairly loose waves and I think they turned out alright... I enjoyed using the tongs so much that I actually decided to buy some from the salon! Their RRP is £35, but they had 20% off and were therefore only £28, which I think is a decent price for a good pair of curling tongs.

I would love to go back to The Boutique Atelier just to try out these seats/beds that they use to wash your hair, although I definitely think I would fall asleep.

Katy asked one of the girls if she could braid her hair into two plaits - she was so neat and so quick that it was actually quite amazing.

Emma also played around with the tongs, and found that they even curled her hair, which normally doesn't hold curls well at all.

Katy's hair looked really cool when it was finished - I think it really suited her.

Katy then got hold of the Babyliss PRO Perfect Curl styler, which basically sucks the hair into it and turns it into a curl. It should have been easy to use, but Katy basically almost set Sam's hair on fire...

...She did eventually get the hang of it.

Afterwards I decided to step in, and decided that we should put Sam's hair into three different braids, and then plait them together into one big braid. And this was the effect...

I'm so wasted in medicine - I should definitely be a hairdresser. I think it looks really Rapunzel-esque and it was actually fairly easy to do; it looks great in Sam's hair as she has such a lot of it.

I had a lovely evening, it was great to meet all of the team and spend a few hours with some blogger friends again. I would like to thank The Boutique Atelier for having us, and the team for giving us some tips and tricks, as well as a really fun night.
Optimism is the foundation of courage.