Thoughts on setting boundaries.

7.12.17

I'm taking part in the Blurt Foundation's December photo challenge (#blurtmerrycalmness if you're interested) and Monday's word was "boundaries". I'm enjoying this photo challenge immensely after a few days in 1) because I'm poorly-sick at the moment and it gives me a little project to focus on and 2) because it has really got me thinking about different topics and how they impact on our mental health/physical health.

Setting boundaries is something I have been pretty hopeless with up until recently when I realised I needed to put some things into place to save my sanity. If you are anything like me (INFJ personality type, wants to be all things to all people) then you will use a lot of your energy thinking about other people's problems and trying to fix them. I have been on the other end of the phone for people at all times of the day and night, giving up sleep and rest in a desperate attempt to be there for everyone as much as possible. I have taken criticism from people very close to me and absorbed those comments as if they were true, failing to stick up for myself for fear of causing arguments. I have let my self-care routine slip as a result of feeling weighed down by a lack of support and judgement from others.


Writing the Instagram post got me thinking about ways that I can set clearer boundaries to live a happier life. Here are a few thoughts on healthy boundaries. I'd love to know what yours are too! Leave me a comment :) 

* spend your precious free time with friends and family who are supportive and encouraging

* reduce time spent with toxic people who criticise you, judge your life choices or make you feel bad for being 'you'

* don't feel guilty for prioritising doing things that make you happy even if others can't understand why you do them

* spend time alone to reset, doing whatever the hell you want to do - nap, meditate, draw, colour in, listen to music, cuddle your dog, have a bath, paint your nails, browse ASOS for things you can't afford, drink tea and eat cake, or just sit and 'be' for a bit 

* build up good communication with everyone in your life to avoid misunderstandings i.e. if you have a partner but you want some time to yourself, explain this to them and why it will make you feel better, instead of them wondering why you've gone quiet or why you don't seem to be enjoying their company (this is major one for me; after a stint of time with someone I need to be alone to reset myself!) 

* aim to stop absorbing the feelings and thoughts of others; listen to their problems without feeling responsible for fixing them single-handedly

* have a solid self-care routine which is non-negotiable; if someone needs you during this time then tough, they have to wait (unless it's life or death, obv!)

* write down what stresses you out the most and build boundaries around that - for me one thing that bothered me was late night txts that would weigh on my mind and cause me sleepless nights so I began to switch my phone off well before bedtime in an attempt to go "offline" and have a good nights sleep

Books I have read in 2017 (26 - 30).

25.11.17

#26 Letters To My Fanny - Cherry Healey 4/5

I'm going to be honest here; I bought this book purely for the funny title and pink cover because that's how I roll. I am not familiar with Cherry Healey as a journalist/celebrity but I am all for reading anything related to self-help / body image / being a lady.

This is Cherry's collection of letters to each part of her body, from head to toe (including her fanny, obviously). She has an open and comical way of writing and I genuinely felt more loving towards my body when I had finished reading this. I have a long way to go until I can accept my figure, face and brain as they are but this book definitely helped me along.

#27 The Letter - Kathryn Hughes 4.5/5

Sometimes you overdo the non-fiction and you need to get your teeth into a really good story, and The Letter was just that. It's a story of two women in different times; the 1970s and the 40s and how a letter hidden inside a jacket pocket can bring two strangers and their families together.

I really enjoyed this book. The time jumps were easy to follow and the experiences the women encountered were not your usual "chick lit" topics such as domestic violence and abortions. I genuinely wanted to know where each character would end up.


#28 Confidence - Katie Piper (audiobook) 3.5/5

Most of us are familiar with Katie Piper and the terrible events she encountered, leaving her scarred and in need of ongoing operations. I can't even begin to imagine the trauma she has been through yet she has come through the other side with confidence and I wanted to know her secrets.

I enjoyed this as an audiobook because listening to Katie read made it feel more personal, like I was chatting with a friend. There were lots of useful snippets and tips in this book, however, because I am a bit of a self-help-aholic I was familiar with a lot of the content already. That being said I would recommend this book for someone new to the world of self-help books as a perfect starting point. Perhaps a gift for someone who hasn't read much on the topic before.

#29 Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert (audiobook) 2.5/5

I really wanted to enjoy this but oh my, I did not. Elizabeth's voice grated on me to the point where it all came across as a little bit sanctimonious. I am totally on board with the concept of the book and I do genuinely feel like incorporating more creativity into my life because of it, but a lot of the chapters went way over my head. I definitely should have got the book version!

#30 Counselling for Toads - Robert De Board 5/5

I read this book in preparation for potentially studying counselling next year as I believe it is one of the recommended materials. I loved it! I plan to lend it to my friends and family as I really do think it could benefit everyone; whether you want to study counselling, have counselling, or you know someone who is struggling with their mental health and you want to know what to say and do to help them.

It's a twist on The Wind in the Willows which sees Toad feeling very depressed and his venture into counselling with Heron, and how his friends Rat, Badger and Mole deal with it along the way. 

Why "life plans" suck.

8.11.17

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking (you know, additional thinking on top of all the other unnecessary things I think about) about the timings of life, the pressure to do what everybody else is doing, and how different my life has panned out to how I imagined it would be. Did I think I would be 32 years old, overcoming a chronic illness, living in my mum's spare room, with a failed engagement under my belt, no kids to speak of, and resorting to an app on my phone in an attempt to find "the one"? Well, no. And when I say it all like that in one sentence it makes me feel pretty shit.  The Victoria of 10 years ago would have been shouting "future Victoria, what the hell are you doing?!" But it is what it is and no amount of worrying can change my current circumstances (I will still worry though, because that is my speciality). 

The purpose of this post serves no purpose except to reach out to anyone who doesn't feel like their life is the way it "should" be or the way other people tell them it should be. I tend to over-complicate life when really it is very simple. If you want to use Tinder and date a different guy every week, you go girl. If you only recently came out of a relationship and you were fine on your own, but you meet someone who sweeps you off your feet, you grab them with both hands! Forget this unspoken rule that after a relationship there is "x" amount of time that needs to pass before you're ready. If you want to be on your own indefinitely, then that is awesome. Embrace it! If you're in a relationship and it doesn't feel right, do something to change it or walk away from it. Don't settle because the alternative is too difficult. We are all beautifully unique and life is very short and I for one am going to stop feeling like a failure just because I have done things slightly different to how I imagined I would.


My new life plan is literally just to laugh with my friends, cuddle my dogs, feel content, and drink enough water. Beyond that who bloody knows!

CFS / glandular fever recovery mini-series: 10 signs I knew my health was getting better (part 2).

6.11.17

6) My random bruises disappeared. For a long time I was covered in bruises. I am a fairly clumsy person so at first this wasn't too odd but I came to realise that they were popping up left, right and centre. I did some research into adrenal fatigue and it's a common symptom associated with that (I was tested for my adrenal function and it wasn't doing so great). The random bruises hung around for a while but now I only get bruises when I walk into objects (which is fairly often tbh). 

7) Cravings for salt, salt and more salt reduced in intensity. I used to crave it like an actual beast and I couldn't get enough of salty foods, but this has subsided somewhat. 

8) Tolerance to sunshine / sunbathing / sweating improved. For a good year or so I couldn't sit out in the sunshine for long periods of time and, if I did, I would have to pay the consequences. I was a bit nervous about my recent trip to Kefalonia as I wondered how all the heat would affect me but I was absolutely fine. 

9) My afternoon crashes stopped. For the first 18 months of this illness I had daily afternoon crashes. At the beginning of this year my body and brain would just stop functioning, the flu-like symptoms would come crashing in. and the only thing I could do was go lie down / sleep. I do still get very fatigued in the afternoons and the occasional crash but nothing like it once was. 

10) Miscellanous body pains disappeared. One of the worst symptoms for me was the leg pains I experienced, usually in the night. It was like an ache I had never experienced before, like my bones were on fire and no amount of soaks in the bath or tablets helped. Thankfully this stage passed and now the only aches and pains I get are from my permanently stiff shoulders and sore muscles after exercising which feels kinda good now.

Sending love and positive vibes to anyone who needs them!

5 good things (Lincoln, long time online pals, and lots of self-care).

2.11.17

I am spoilt for choice with content for today's "5 good things" post because so many wonderful things have been happening to me lately for which I am truly grateful. I had been feeling a little down in the dumps and not quite myself but these 5 things, along with a host of others, have helped to put a smile back on my face.

This time of year is always tricky isn't it? The change of weather, the darker nights, the festive season approaching (which some of us don't particularly look forward to, but we must endure the excitement of everybody else). I'm trying to be a little kinder to myself and also filling my time with as many lovely things as I can. And sleep. All the sleep. 

1) A trip to Alton Towers earlier this week where I managed to be on my feet for the best part of 8 or 9 hours, did 20,000 steps and queued in the freezing cold having the MOST fun with the nicest boy I know. It has been so long since I've been on any rides and I did wonder if my body would be able to stand all that stimulation as it was really sensitive to noise and motion at one point, but I smashed it guys! Going on The Smiler first was possibly a schoolboy error but I enjoyed the day nonetheless. Jelly legs and all! 

2) Wrapping up warm and exploring. Me and my pal Steph frequent Otley and Ilkley for coffee, lunch and strolls and each trip makes me so happy. It helps that our favourite haunt - Salami & Co - is doggie friendly so every time we go we make friends with all the furry pups. You can't beat good coffee, good food and then a walk by the water and a mess about on the (kids) playground to raise your spirits. 


3) Visiting long-time Internet pals! I recently visited my friend Rosalyn (@rosalynoxer on Instagram) who normally resides in Valencia with her husband but was back "home" in Lincoln for a few weeks. I drove down to stay with her at her folks place and we had such a lovely time together. We have always been pally online but grew closer when Rosalyn was diagnosed with glandular fever earlier this year, and of course we all know I've been tackling it since 2015. So I've tried to be on hand with advice and support as much as I can. We are hoping to meet up again in December for a Christmas market so fingers crossed our energy levels allow us to do so! 


4) Enjoying the company of a certain man beginning with O who has restored my faith in men a little.

5) Building up a self-care routine. I have been massively slacking on this recently and some previous bad habits were creeping back in. So I have pulled my socks up and re-introduced: regular epsom salt baths (a good 30 min soak), less phone time, more reading, pampering, face-masks, painting my nails, body brushing, and general relaxation time. Oh and early nights. There is nothing wrong with an 8:30pm bedtime folks!

What are your 5 good things at the moment? 

CFS / glandular fever recovery mini-series: 10 signs I knew my health was getting better (part 1).

27.10.17

For other posts about my recovery click ~here

Over the next couple of months I aim to write a little more about my recovery from glandular fever, which I got over two years ago (Jesus Christ). If this isn't relevant to you then apologies but I promise I will write about other topics too! But one promise I have made to myself is to put as much information out there on the internet as possible for anyone who needs it. There are a lot of forums full of the bad side of chronic illness but I want to balance that out. I'm going to keep the posts in this series short and sweet as much as possible, because I know how much glandular fever and cfs can affect "brain fog" and concentration levels. 

For a long time I felt like my recovery from glandular fever was bordering on being at a total standstill. I didn't seem to be making much progress at all and this had such a negative impact on my mental health. However don't be disheartened if you're in a similar boat because I did start to make progress once I'd got through some difficult events in my life and made my health my #1 priority again (it's all about being selfish folks).

Here are 10 things that improved for me and subsequently changed my recovery for the better. I hope that tracking the improvements in these areas works for you too.

1) My body could tolerate dry body brushing. When I first read about the benefits of body brushing I couldn't wait to get started, however the first time I did it I felt pretty rough afterwards to the point where I couldn't bear to do it again. So I waited a while and the next time I brushed myself using very light strokes, and only did it once a week to see how that worked for me. Eventually I realised that I could body brush every morning with no unpleasant consequences! 

2) My sleep improved. One of the worst patches of my recovery was my "insomnia phase" which was like living hell. I thought I was losing my mind. If you have suffered from sleepless nights I'm sure you will know what I mean. When this phase passed (with the help of over-the-counter sleeping tablets, meditation, a good bedtime routine, and lots of patience) I saw lots of improvements in my general health. 

3) Better tolerance to exercise / minimal post-exertional malaise. This one is self-explanatory. At first my experiments with exercise didn't go so well. Using (light) weights of any kind would make me feel like I'd been hit by a truck for a week and generally I could only manage 10 minutes at a time before my body would literally cease to function. I kept trying and eventually I noticed that I could tolerate heavier weights and longer workouts. 

4) Concentration levels improved. At one point I couldn't read a book or watch tv because I couldn't process the information at all. Very frustrating when all you have is time on your hands to fill. Now I can read and cross stitch and watch tv in short bursts and it's amazing to feel productive again. 

5) Slightly better appetite. My appetite is still pretty dodgy and sometimes non-existent but it is better than it was. In my poorlier days all I wanted was pate on toast or chicken nuggets and I've definitely come a long way since then (mind you I do still love pate on toast).

To be continued :) 

Forgiveness.

23.10.17

"You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day" - ML Stedman, 
The Light Between Oceans

For 10 months I have been holding on to a lot of anger, resentment, confusion and bitterness about the way my last serious relationship ended. It made no sense to me that two people could be so in love and talk about having a family, getting married, adopting another dog, one day, then in a space of a few weeks have split up abruptly with no possibility of working things out. I was far from perfect in that relationship, battling a few demons and dealing with glandular fever which turned my life upside down and brought lots of tears and tantrums with it, but the way I was treated in those last few moments was not what I deserved. Being told I was no longer a decent prospect because I had a few health problems was difficult to digest, to say the very least. And evicting me from my home, not allowing me to go back for even one night to help me find my feet was a bitter blow.

I'm tired though. Tired of carrying these feelings round with me. Tired of dreaming about him (well, nightmares, obv) and waking up confused and asking myself all the usual questions: was he cheating on me? how long was he unhappy for? did I deserve it? will I ever get closure? does any part of him regret ending it? 

Photo credit - Stephanie Baxter - click here 

So today I write this down in black and white to forgive him, so that I can be at peace and move on from carrying these heavy feelings around with me. He fell out of love with me and acted like a coward and those are the only facts I need to know. I have learnt from my mistakes and I will find love again with someone who will stick with me through the bad times, not just the good ones.

For a long time all I wanted was for us to get back together and go back to how things were at the start, but now I can't think of anything worse. I'm grateful to have seen his true colours sooner rather than later, and it has taught me so much about the type of person I want to settle down with. Also since we split up I have met so many wonderful people and been on some adventures and travels that would never have happened otherwise, which I'm grateful for every day. 

I hope now I have documented these words on my little corner of the internet that I can feel a little lighter and leave the past behind once and for all.

The last few months (Kefalonia, Amsterdam, divorce, tattoos, and Tinder).

19.10.17

Whoops. That was a slightly longer hiatus than expected but these things happen. I've been without a laptop, then without broadband, then without any inspiration to do anything much at all. A lot of my energy has been going into work, seeing friends and navigating my parents splitting up so making time for this place has been tough but I really miss it. So here I am. 

Since we last spoke properly I went to Kefalonia with my boy pal (now ex boy pal) for a week of sunshine, red wine and greek salads. I got the most unbelievable tan, explored the island, rested on the beach, and had a really lovely time with my pal and his family. It's a shame things didn't work out with our relationship (if you could call it that... I spent 3 months trying to get him to commit to calling me his girlfriend "lol") but that's life and it wasn't right for either of us so onwards and upwards as they say!


I went to Amsterdam with my lovely pal Steph (@stephsayshello) who I only made friends with this year but she has become like a sister from another mister to me. We arrived in Amsterdam on a sunny Friday morning and headed home on the following Monday afternoon, staying in an apartment booked through Air BnB. We walked for miles and bloody miles, hopped on and off the tram, stuffed our faces, laughed non stop, and took in the beautiful surroundings, buildings and history.

I feel so grateful to have had two wonderful holidays to new destinations in the last few months, and for my health holding up enough for me to keep up with the pace and enjoy myself.


I got 3 tattoos in the space of a couple of months, after spending 15+ years debating whether to take the plunge. There goes my "all or nothing" personality again.  I'll share them in a separate post at some point soon.

I dyed my hair back to its natural darker colour, and cut it shorter, and I don't feel pretty anymore. So I got my nose re-pierced in an attempt to feel more like "me".

I have been on and off Tinder more times than I've had hot dinners, wrestling between wanting to find my Mr Right and hating the dating scene with a passion. However I will say I recently met someone who has restored my faith that there are good eggs out there and someone who seems to like me exactly as I am, which is a turn up for the books. Watch this space.

Seriously if anyone is still reading my blog I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me. I feel like I have the nicest support network around my social media channels and it really does make a difference to my life. So cheers!