S.O.S

For August my charity of the month donation was a no brainer. Priti Patel’s deranged plans to criminalise asylum seekers entering the UK by crossing the channel has highlighted the amazing work done by the RNLI.

If you aren’t aware of their work. Lifeboats provide a 24hr rescue service for ANYONE who gets in trouble at sea. They also provide lots of excellent sea safety education, flood rescue & international work with people most as risk of drowning. They are voluntary charity organisation who risk their own safety to save others.

Lifeboat at sea with information about priti patels planned legislation

The Tories quest to criminalise rescuing asylum seekers at sea is abhorrent. It also has significant implications for RNLI volunteers who’s policy is to rescue any person in trouble without judgement. The organisations has received harassment from right wing anti immigrant groups. The idea that we should ask questions before saving someone from drowning is repugnant. Lifeboat stations need our support now more than ever. If you can please make a donation here.

If you would like to make a donation & stand a chance of winning a unique piece of art l have a tip for you. The lovely & talented roseylivesonaboat is running a raffle in aid of RNLI. You can win lifeboat themed needle point art. Full detail are in her latest post.

Lifeboat themed mini needle point art
RNLI ‘Tiny Bullshit’ by roseylivesonaboat

Down by the sea…

Last week I headed north for a wee break by the sea. Our cottage was perfect. Exposed stone walls, cute nautical touches & the most beautiful view.

View of Cartterline bay & lighthouse from hill top

My nephew was along for the ride, so I needed cute unfussy clothes that allowed for much carry on. I also had to account for the crazy heatwave. First thing in my suitcase was this adorable skort that I’ve just bought. I’m not usually a shorts girl, but I really love the teenie skirt/short combo. It was ideal for early morning shenanigans with the rascal.

Ly is wearing floral mini skirt, shark vest & cardi and is standing above a pebble beaches bay
Skort – Simply Be
Vest – Primark (men’s)
Cardi – Handmade by my Mum
Sandals – Pillow Slides
Glasses – Where Light
Ly is lifting floral skirt to shoe shorts attached beneath

For our trip to Stonehaven I opted for this polka dot dress. It’s super light and easy to wear. Whilst still offering coverage to prevent burning in the sun. The wind was blowing so you can’t see just how cute this dress is. You’ll have to trust me that it has a lovely shape. Oh & pockets!

ly is standing at the seafront on a sunny day wearing  green polka dress and using a walking stick
Dress – Gift
Glasses – Where Light

Finally for a blowy day at St Cyrus beach I opted for this trusty jumpsuit. Again, it’s super light and easy to wear. I added the cardi later in the afternoon when the wind got up. When I fancied a paddle I went old school & tucked my jumpsuit in my knickers!

ly is wearing a leopard print jumpsuit & purple cardi.  She is standing on a wooden bridge with a walking stick
Jumpsuit – Very

Be running up that hill…

Chronic illness is great at kicking you when you’re down. Lamentably, it also likes to give you a dunt when you’re flying too. It would be taxing to say which is worst, but falling from a height certainly hurts.

That was me last week. I was on a lovely break in the cutest cottage by sea. Soaking up the calming sea side views and thoroughly enjoying time with my nephew. The sun was out, we headed to an incredibly beautiful beach. I watched the boy run around having the time of his life. I paddled in the refreshingly cold sea. Took deep breaths, listened to the lapping waves & felt happy.

Tide coming in on st Cyrus beach

As it edged towards late afternoon people started to leave. I began to worry about the hill I’d have to climb to leave the beach. As we packed up I saw people stroll up. I knew it was going to be a problem.

And I was correct. That little sand dune fucked me up. I started trying to ascend it alone, but quickly realised that wasn’t going to happen. It’s hard to get your footing on slopping sand. Even harder to get purchase in moving ground with a walking stick. With every step the sand slid down the hill pushing me back. It was all working against me.

Foot with black painted tie nails on the sand with wave approaching

My sister saved the day. She let me lean on her, literally & half dragged me up that hill. Every step was excruciating. My knees felt like the where going to explode. My back, wrists, elbows & shoulders were all screaming. I couldn’t catch a breath, my lungs felt as though they were filling with the sand I was slipping on.

That little sand dune appeared to go on forever. The bench at top a promised land I’d never reach. Listen, the pain was bad, it wasn’t the culprit of tears at the summit. As my sister helped me struggle I saw my 3yr old nephew gamble up the slope. An old couple comfortably passed us. A nice man with a very concerned look stopped to ask if he could help. I focused on breathing whilst my little sister pepped talked me up that hill. I repeated ‘you’re nearly there’ in my head and tried my upmost to hold back the tears.

When I finally had my bum on that bench my nephew ran to give me a cuddle. The tears started streaming. I looked at the beautiful view as I silently cried. I didn’t want to make eye contact with my loved ones. I didn’t want my little rascal to see me in this state. I recognised the concern in my sister’s voice & the love in the silent shoulder my Mum offered to hold me upright. As much as I loved them for it, I hated that I have to be this way.

View from hill over a beach.grass & wildflowers with sand past leading down to the blue sea

It was another one of those ‘how did I get here’ moments that chronic illness brings. I never imagined it’d take a support team to get me up a hill at 40 years old. I’m not a person who likes to be publicly vulnerable, yet here I am. Regularly fragile & exposed as I try to scratch out something close to a normal life. I felt guilty and embarrassed and pathetic and grateful and burdensome and scared and loved. All crashing over me with more force than the waves below could ever muster.

I concentrated on the nature around me as fought to compose myself. I attempted to ignore the curious looks from strangers & the pain coursing through my body. I listened to the the waves and birds. I let the blue horizon pull me through all the heavy implications placed on the people I love. I dried my eyes. I got back on my feet.

The day continued. Me, making my way slowly behind the others. Stopping to rest. Taking pain relief. Zoning out when we got back in the car. It was all so much bigger than that stupid hill. I was hoping I hadn’t distressed the others. Dreading the pain that I knew was still to come. Feeling sad at the thought that I probably wouldn’t ever return to that blissful beach.

It is painful to accept one’s limitations. I find it incredibly hard to let more & more go. I hate that I’m always the one who has a problem with the plans. I despise that my difficulties are so visible. Gasping for air at checkouts that take a fraction too long. Sitting on floors when there’s no seats available. Calling in advance to check if my malfunctioning body can be accommodated. I don’t like being on display, don’t want to answer questions about my stick, shake off the exasperated sighs or smile at pitying strangers. No matter how kindly meant, I’d rather be suffering in private. I’m exhausted by the knowledge that I’ll pay for every slice of fun. Even more so by the battle with myself to keep reaching for those good times anyway. Most of all I’ll forever regret how much this impacts all the wonderful people in my life. I wish I could stop being a hindrance. I never want them to have to worry. I appreciate every tiny thing they do for me, but I still wish they didn’t have to.

This is chronic life. It’s not just the pain & illness. It is all encompassing. Lots of the time the only way to deal with that is to push it to the very back of your mind. These moments of brutal clarity never stop taking me by surprise.

Is it really ok?

‘It’s ok not to be ok’. I can’t remember when it started, but it certainly picked up steam. It’s now the standard social media friendly, I support mental health awareness tag line. I know it is well intentioned, but increasingly, it doesn’t ring true.

Of course, in theory, it is true. It is normal to experience mental health issues. It’s fine to admit that you struggle. It is important to normalise mental illness. If you say it out loud, I am not ok, what happens next? If you’re lucky someone listens; someone cares. Maybe they ask what you need. Perhaps you get that help. The first time. Maybe.

It’s ok not to be ok in orange text with green quotation marks

What happens when the person you tell has no idea how to respond. What if you spill your guts to a doctor who doesn’t take you seriously. Or who does want to help you, but only has waiting lists to offer. Around 70% of those referred for mental health assessment in Scotland wait at least 18 weeks*. That’s a very long time to feel helpless, especially when there is no guarantee of treatment. What do you when the not ok doesn’t go away? Or if it keeps coming back? You try really fucking hard to be ok. You do the therapy and the meds and the hard work. It takes a long time. It’s gruelling and painful. All the time you know lots of people aren’t getting any treatment. You feel guilty that your receiving assistance that others aren’t. Even more so when the help hasn’t helped. You’re aware that the people who love you are scared. Your hurt hurts them. They want ‘ok’ as much as you do.

And you want it for them. When it slips from your grasp it’s harder to say it again. People have their own lives. Sometimes they might be struggling. Or they may be fabulous; enjoying some well deserved happiness. Everyone has stresses and responsibilities. Our lives keep us busy with the good and bad. Everyone must earn a living, manage their relationships, have fun. Who wants to be the person who complicates that? Not me.

When you’ve already done everything you’re supposed to do it’s hard to know how to banish the cloud. If the expert advice doesn’t do the trick how can well meaning friends help? Even when you really want to reach out there’s always an impediment. You don’t want to add extra strain when they’re in trouble. Nor do you don’t want to darken joyous life events. Sharing begins to feel less a problem halved & more a problem spread.

Very few mental health problems are a simple fix. None of the big issues in life are that black & white. When you fall back into the grey it’s terrifying. Especially when you know you’ve already had your shot. Ask anyone who has tried to access mental health services after discharge. It’s almost impossible. Drs will say you aren’t sick enough for referral. The NHS lacks the resources for early intervention. Access to talk therapy is limited. Almost 40% of those who received treatment reported that they did not have sufficient sessions**. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is by far the most frequently offered intervention. Not because it is the most suitable, but because it is the cheapest & easiest to administer. Recovery is hard enough with appropriate support. When treatment is bungled it can do more harm than good. As already stated, re referral is doubly hard.

While you wait or fight for professional help (that may never come) your life is disintegrating. Friends who were initially supportive fade away when you never quite get all the way better. Employers sprint. They’ll talk a good game; train a mental health first aider or make a donation. Test their commitment with sick time or requesting accommodations & watch them run. You are left with the people who care enough to stay. Your predicament remains. You don’t want to worry them. You don’t want to ruin anything or be the thing that tips their bad news scale. It’s never the right time. We all want to believe that catch phrases are enough, but buzzwords will never cut it. What happens after I say I’m not ok?

The truth is, more often than not, nothing. The pandemic has only increased strain on an already buckling system. I don’t have all the answers. I do know that a cute Instagram post during an awareness month isn’t it. We need huge institutional shifts. More money, more training, more oversight. Our political representatives need to know that we want action. 1 in 4 adults will experience mental illness in their lifetime. Telling them that’s ok isn’t enough. We have to be advocates.

If someone in your life is suffering without help you can contact your Mp & express your concern.

Find out how long waiting lists are in your area & ask you Mp what they’re doing about that.

Stop voting for people who are actively defunding our health service.

Be proactive. Ask loved ones what specific help you can provide.

Use your social media to contact politicians directly. Ask questions publicly. Embarrass those whose voting records go against their constituents interests.

Accompany a friend to appointments if they require support. Insist that interactions are recorded in medical records.

We have to demand more of ourselves and of those with the power to make changes. Truthfully, it doesn’t feel ok, not to be ok.

Open shouting mouth with the text your voice has power

* Information Services Scotland ** SAMH

More, more, more…

If you’re going to wear glasses every day you might as well make a statement, right? Why make one when you can have a pair for every mood.

Yup, I’ve been ordering more specs. I couldn’t resist these shiny beauties. They come in a whole range of colours, it’s lucky I have a budget to stick to or I’d probably have bought them all.

Ly is wearing thick black framed glasses with silver detail
Glasses – WhereLight

I buy all my glasses from WhereLight and I really love them. They have frames of every description for excellent prices. If you fancy giving your face a new look you can use my code for 30% off.

*

* – affiliate code. Glasses are not gifted.

Independent love song…

I love supporting small business & independent makers. When I went on a little treat splurge last week I hit up some vendors I’ve been admiring on Instagram & I thought I’d share my treasures.

I’ve tried various symptom trackers and all have fallen short. Be they apps or physical products they never seem to grasp what I need. So, discovering a collection of trackers/planners designed by a person who is chronically ill themselves was a relief. These products give me the space to personalise & encompass all my varied symptoms. They also understand the kind of things I want to keep track of. Impractically Imperfect know all of that. Plus they get that I need it to be easy.

Weekly planner & symptom tracker with floral border
Impractically Imperfect

My little purple laptop has been needing a makeover for a while. I started with a couple of stickers I received as gifts with orders, but got waylayed. When I realised that one of my favourite pin makers was also doing stickers I got right on it.

Purple laptop with bright coloured stickers
Stickers – Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes
Tories lie sticker – grlclb
Friends Stickers – Gift

My last treat is one of those practical things that is also beautiful. I am sick of digging around on my bag for my mask when I need to put it in. This colourful chain will put an end to that problem. Even better I can also stick it on my sunglasses to stop me losing them too. Does this mean I am an old lady? Probably, at least I’m ageing with style.

Rainbow  mask chain on purple background
Mask Chain – Loop and Boogie

Put on your white dress…

I still can’t quite believe it, but my baby sister got married on Saturday. It was a wonderful day. She made an absolutely beautiful bride and everything went perfectly to plan.

My sister will always be stunning, so I had no fears about her finding the perfect gown. I, on the other hand was at panic stations. I searched & searched, but couldn’t find anything that worked. Finally, I found this pretty little number. I’m not usually one for sparkles, but this dress captured my heart.

ly is wearing green sparkly swing dress with gold belt & sandals
Dress – Dolly & Delicious
Belt – Boohoo
Kimono – Joanna Hope
Sandals – Schuh
Glasses – Where.light
Make Up – Stefanie Ferry

I felt awesome in my swishy skirt & shiny accessories. I loved watching my little sister seal the deal with her person surrounded by the people she cares most about. I’m so proud of the cute wee pest who has become the most incredible woman. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

Go fund them…

For June’s charity donation I decided to give directly to people requiring support. These are some requests that came up in my social media time lines that tugged at my heart strings. There are too many people struggling to access too many essentials, so I know you are also see hundreds of deserving causes regularly. Please help if you can.

Joliff Top Surgery Fund Excellent artist seeking help to access to too surgery.

Kat Alonzo Service Dog & Medical Fund Kat is a queer and disabled person who requires help to und her service dog & medical fees.

Food and essentials for Ex Foster Kids Children who age out the foster system often have very little or no support. You can donate to help provide essentials.

Sunshine on a rainy day…

I hesitate to write that life is starting again because, well, we’ve been here before. I’m really hoping this time we really are on the road to recovery. In the meantime I will share pretty much every presentable look.

The relaxing of lockdown meant when we got rained out of the swing park we could continue the play date indoors. I wore an amazing linen dress that my excellent Mum found. The kiddies wore leggings that they managed to get dirty in 5 mins. Fun was had by all.

ly is standing by a brass floor wrap wearing a grey & green striped shirt dress and big square red & green glasses
Dress – Zea
Glasses – Where.light

The only thing cuter than me in this dress is of course these two little darlings.

Two toddlers kneeling in floor  playing.  One with arm around the other

Once, twice…

This week I have managed to leave the house twice AND look cute both times. That is an auspicious happening these days. It also means the return of the outfit posts. I can feel your excitement from here.

First outfit of the week was a forgotten dress. I think I got this from a thrift shop, I could definitely be wrong. In any case when I spied a corner of that print in the wardrobe I wanted it on. Super comfy, super curves, tiny bit too booby. It’s a solid A- dress and I won’t forget it again.

ly stands in front of s large silver mirror.  She is wearing a black & white dress with a pink face mask..
Dress – Thrifted (?)
Sliders – Pillow Slides
Mask – Sarah Conde

This dress saw me to my long awaited hair do. I haven’t stepped foot in a salon in 18months, so my locks were longing for a chop. With my raggedy ends gone & layers refreshed I feel like a new woman.

ly  with freshly cut hair &  before hair cut holding up messy ends of her hair

Dress number 2 hasn’t been out of the wardrobe for a while. It’s still a summer fav. Little bit ballet & a little 90s Gap adds up to a lot good. Always love wearing this one.

ly is wearing a grey vest dress with pale nude overlay skirt and yellow sandals
Dress – Forever21
Kimono – Boohoo

And apropos of nothing, if you get the chance to sprawl on a big swing in the sunshine, do it.

ly is lying in a large circular swing wearing a black and white dress
Shorts – Glamour