Monday, 24 July 2017

Lagos, Portugal : Part 3 ft. Inish Pharmacy

Being Irish and fair-skinned is a clear indication that I've had ancestors not too acquainted with the Sun. As much as I love it for the surge of Vitamin D and the great benefits to my mental health, I still am cautious of its dangers.

Tan, courtesy of Bellamianta and maintained by Palmers 

Before I left I asked Paul of 'Inish Pharmacy' for information for you and I to keep in mind during our days of being in the sun, even when it comes and pays us a visit to Ireland. Albeit, not very often. 

People often ask me why I love the sun so much if I wear SPF 50.

Well, the reality is that whilst I would tan eventually after a long time in the sun, I just don't see the point in trying to get a tan just for it to fade. I don't want to risk getting skin cancer for vanity reasons. I just wear a moisturiser with a self-tanner in it. I apply it every night whilst I'm on holiday.
Before I go on holiday I apply Bellamianta's 'Self-Tanning Gradual Moisturiser' in the run up, and then two nights before I go I put on Bellamianta's 'Rapid Mousse'.

To continue the maintenance of tan throughout the holiday I wear Palmer's  'Natural Bronze Gradual Tanning Lotion'

Otherwise if I didn't, I'd just get paler as the holiday progressed!! 

So why does SPF really matter?

Pharmacist Paul of Inish Pharmacy told me 

 "When exposed to the sun, our skin needs to be protected from UV rays. The most high profile risk from sun damage to our skin, is skin cancer. With over 10,000 new cases in Ireland each year, it is the most common form of cancer in Ireland. When choosing a suncream, it's important to check that the product has enough protection for your skin type. There are two main things to look for, the strength of protection or SPF level but also whether or not the product protects against both UVB and UVA. Some products will only protect against UVB, which gives protection against harmful UVB rays that are the main causes of skin cancer, but offer no protection against UVA, which mainly causes skin ageing and winkling. La Roche Posay Anthelios Light Fluid and Bioderma Photoderm Max Cream are excellent choices in this regard with the Photoderm cream slightly more moisturising" 


If you're anything like me and the rest of the population, you really don't want premature ageing in exchange of a fading tan, right?

So fake tanning is the healthiest and safest way to be tan before, during and after your holiday.

Laughing at the sun trying to penetrate the Factor 50 on my skin

 I was also curious to ask Paul about 
Food Poisoning and Dehydration because my stomach hasn't really recovered from my younger days of Whisky and Raw Chilli's (WTF?!) and so I'm a little susceptible to getting sick.

Last Summer in Sicily I got Sun/Heat Stroke because I went for a run in the morning and then spent the day on the beach without being in the shade the entire day. I thought it was from food I had earlier because I was being uncontrollably sick when I got back to our place. I was so scared because I thought I would have to go to the hospital as I wasn't even keeping water down.
Eventually I had stopped being sick and I slept for 15hour straight whilst my boyfriend bought out half of the local pharmacy. 

From that point on I vowed I'd come more prepared if there would be a repeat occurence.

I explained to Paul that this was what happened and he was able to clarify that it was Heat/Sun Stroke.

Paul explains that Heat/ Sun Stroke is 

" a condition where the body overheats and cannot cool itself down like it normally would, leading to symptoms such as dizziness and headache, cramping, feeling sick, a fast pulse rate and heavy sweating and a dark coloured urine. This can happen if you are in a very hot climate but also if you are exercising vigorously you can suffer from heat exhaustion / heatstroke. 


What to do?

"The main thing is to move to a cool place, out of sunlight. Lie down and remove as much clothing as possible so that the skin is exposed. This will help the body cool down. Have someone apply a cold wet towel to dampen the skin and gently fan the skin, this will help your body regulate temperature again. It is very important to drink plenty of fluids."


I find that when I'm sick even at home or abroad, Dioralyte are usually what I would use or recommend to others. Even Paul recommends...

"...everyone to pack some Dioralyte before travelling. These sachets are easily packed and contain vital salts and electrolytes which your body needs to replace in times of excess fluid loss. This doesn't necessarily need to be after having diarrhoea or vomiting, even when you sweat a lot more than usual it is easy to become dehydrated in hot weather if you are not replacing the fluids by drinking plenty of water."





I understand that we don't want to be bloated on holiday, especially when our mid-riffs are seeing the light of day for the first time in 6 months. I always wanted to know how to stop that bloating and irregular 'movements' if you know what I mean, but Paul answered my question without me even having to ask it because he suggested that taking...

 "...a good quality probiotic, such Bio-Kult or Proven, can help you avoid some stomach upset while travelling. When we are on holiday we are out of our regular routine, often eating different foods and at different times of the day. All these things can contribute to upset stomach, with diarrhoea, bloating or constipation all possible. Probiotics not only help your digestive health, they are also good for your immune system and skin, so if you are worried about getting sick on holidays, this is a good idea to start a probiotic a few days in advance of travelling."

No sucking in that tummy needed, just pop a probiotic 

Thanks to Paul with his generous advice to myself and you, I was able to enjoy my holiday with a little less bloating, and a lot more confidence in keeping myself safe from sickness and sun dangers.



Stephen and I

My Godmother/Aunt and I

My boy modelling for 'Daz' washing powder advert...

Probiotic Perks

Playsuit thanks to DV8

I've always loved the combination of Orange and Blue





                     I hope you've enjoyed my holiday posts as much as I've enjoyed my holiday.

Out of them all, which was your favourite outfit I wore out of  Part 1 and Part 2?  I'm curious to see if it's the same as my favourite.

Remember I'm on:

✈︎Instagram
✈︎Snap: @red_dutchess 
✈︎Facebook
✈︎YouTube




Friday, 21 July 2017

Lagos, Alvor, Portugal:Part 2



After we visited Villamour, the following day we drove to a bustling little fishing village called Alvor. Being a vegetarian meant there wasn't much choice on the menu for me considering Ariel's friends were being fried, grilled and flambĂ©ed left right and centre. 

I enjoyed my fishless meal considerably, nonetheless.

I've been LOVING, and I mean LOVING 'Delta' coffee here. I'm hoping they have it back home in Ireland.
What I call my 'Tina Turner' dress is from Primark and my shoes are from Zara

Oh I wasn't aware a photo was being taken... 

On Wednesday my boyfriend got here. I picked him up from the Airport and then brought him back to the apartment where my Mama and Aunt had made dinner. Red Wine, Olives, Breads, Etc. You get the idea. It was delicious.

On Thursday evening I decided to wear a lovely 1930s-esque dress from iClothing based in Ireland.
I love pieces that give a vintage echo, and this long wrap dress inspired me to take the vintage theme a little further by putting my hair up and wearing little droplet earrings. I felt I was seeing my boyfriend off to WWII. I have an imagination, I know.

Shop the dress here 








Off to the beach, as usual

Have a read of Part 1 here.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post on how I prepare for holiday ft. Inish Pharmacy.
 


Monday, 17 July 2017

Lagos, Portugal : Part 1



Lagos is a rustic town in Portugal's Algarve. Its coast is chopped up with the strength of the Atlantic ocean, renowning it for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

I've been here for four full days and I've just (about to use a cliched word) wanderlusted about. The first day I lay by the pool and read. I'm reading J.D Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye'. I don't even don't what to make of it, even though I'm half way through it. I'm enjoying it nonetheless.

Medieval Gate


I see a dog...
...approaching dog...


Dog was non-responsive to me...Burned!


The next day we rented a car. I've been the designated driver. I must say, it was quite the novelty driving on the RIGHT side of the road on the left side of the car on the motorway. I've picked it up quite easily...

We drove to a place called Villamour, about an hour away.




Sunday arrived.

And with it came the moral obligation to go to mass. Yes, MASS!

In 27 degree heat my Mother and aunt had me in a beautifully ornate chapel may I add, for 1 hour and 10 mins listening to a Portugese version of mass.

I was silently quoting Father Ted quotes to keep myself amused...

..."Sure didn't the Lord himself go on holiday for two weeks to get away from his Father..." I murmured to myself.

In a bid to divert their attention from actually going into mass: "Mammy g'on take a photo of me"






 Thankfully, an hour later I was on the beach...










My beach bag contents


 Keep an eye out for a few more posts...

Remember to have a look at my 'Packing Process' video on how I managed to fit 10 days of outfits into cabin luggage.



Snapchat: @red_dutchess
https://www.instagram.com/red_dutchess/





Monday, 26 June 2017

Letting Go...


I lay in my bed and stared at the prismatic colours on my wall that were coming through the blinds. I was trying to figure out whether or not this meant the sun was shining.

5 minutes earlier a dead silence woke me up. An unfamiliar calm, a heavy stillness. Submerging from my unconscious, I remembered.
Just like I have been remembering every morning for the last two months.

He’s not here anymore.


What was once a bed not big enough to hold those who lay in it, was now a bed that felt vast; A large tombstone with the memory of weight and expired dreams engraved upon it.


It’s been two months since he left my life, my dog.

Yes, a dog as opposed to a human. Loyalty as opposed to betrayal. Unconditional love as opposed to conditional love.  Comfort as opposed to hostility.

My dog gave me everything that humanity couldn’t.

I looked down at the bottom of my bed, and in place of where he slept for the last 17 years was a little wooden box with his name emblazoned on it. ‘Rico’, it read. His ashes.



For 17 years ‘Rico’ was the name that echoed off the walls. I would shout it loud, to rival his playful bark. Now his name is whispered, to match his silence.
 
Forever, that’s how long I’ll love him.
Someday, is when I’ll see him.
Never, is when I’ll let him go.

I’ve let go of his body, but the memory remains. That is enough for me.

To hold on to him, to his memory strengthens me.
To hold onto other things, weakens me.

After meditating on my love for him, I got up from my bed and I started.
Something in me starting buzzing, an enthusiasm, a motivation.

I started to clear away.

I de-cluttered, I deconstructed, and I declared that everything must go.
I pulled every irritating piece of clothing off the clutches of its hanger, threw it in a bag and continued on my rampage of evicting every piece of fabric whilst the quiver of the now bare wooden hangers were the soundtrack to my epic mission.

“Don’t think about keeping it anymore, just let it go” I murmured to myself as I held up a dress that had been worn a couple of times too many.

Of course I had many brilliant nights, and yes perhaps that dress was a symbol of my young, wild years.  Now I choose to enjoy the memory, but don’t cling to it.

We cling to the times that were good. In our older years we find it hard to let go of the social life we once had, and will never again have, for it was our youth that made it so. So maybe it’s not letting go of the short dress that is the problem, perhaps it’s what letting go of the dress means.

We struggle to let go of the notion of what we think our life should look like.
A wardrobe full of good-intentioned dresses for the much fantasised glamorous parties will not serve us well when we have to get work done, or run to get to the bank before 1pm on a Saturday.

To let go isn’t to forget, it’s to allow room for change.

Change is what we fear.

Why?

It’s because we’re afraid we won’t be able to ‘cope’.

We are not just one person. We have many ‘selves’. Like a Babushka doll/Russian doll we are made up of different versions of ourselves. These versions of our identity can adapt to new environments and situations, we just don’t realise that we’re able to because we don’t expose ourselves to change. We hide from it. We stay within the confines of our comfort zones.

But, change is necessary. To be human means to grow and to grow is to require change.

Put it this way. We outgrow our clothes and yet we find ourselves hoarding them and keeping them for what they signify. Time outgrows us, and yet we cling to everything that is reminiscent of that time.

But holding on to an expired time weighs us, and stops us from the process of change. Holding onto worn clothes takes up room, and inhibits expansion of our developing style.

We shed our clothes, and we shed our skin. Yet, we throw neither away.

Change is inevitable. We can choose prepare ourselves, or we can choose not to.
Either way, it’ll come. And whether or not you want to, you’ll find yourself adapting to this change. So why not embrace it?

Like trends in fashions, change comes in cycles.

To change is to let go.


The future scares us because it means change.  We fear that who we are not is not able for the future. However, who we are now will develop, grow and transform into a person who can deal with the inevitability of the future. It’s hard for us to comprehend that person now.

But we can’t be our future self if we don’t let our present grow.

And to do that means letting go of expectations of what you think life should be, de-cluttering your life of everything that was once important, but no longer serves you.

Clear your space of old reminders and it’ll clear your mind. Shed your skin and it’ll shed your old perspective to reveal a fresh perspective, ready and ambitious for change.


Let go of all that once was, and embrace what is yet to be.



Friday, 2 June 2017

Where it began...


I stood there, crying whilst I stared at the frayed laces on my little black-patented shoe…

It was the same every morning before school. I’d spend an hour pulling at my laces to ensure they were the tightest they could be. If my shoes felt ‘just right’, then I believe my day would be good. God forbid if they didn’t. Have I mentioned I’m a redhead? Redhead is synonymous with fiery tempered.

Little did my parents know that their flustered little four-year-old redheaded fuse box was actually showing signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.)


You see? O.C.D isn’t about contamination or cleaning! 

It gets worse. Let me tell you how.

At this young age of four I knew there was something wrong with me before I even knew some words. My innocence was my refuge. I would be singing every moment of the day when I was a child, despite my morning ordeals.

It wasn't until age 21 that I was diagnosed with O.C.D, just after I had graduated with my degree in Drama.
The most liberating day of my life was the day I got my diagnosis. It meant more to me than any degree or qualification could.
I sat on my sofa moments after ripping the letter from its envelope, in the most untidy and riotous way may I add, and cried with relief. ‘So I’m not mad?’ I thought to myself.
‘There’s actually a name and help for these thoughts I have?’


Yup! It’s O.C.D and the World Health Organization will tell you that it’s the TENTH most debilitating disorder in the word.

Yes, you read that right. “O.C.D is in the top ten most debilitating disorders IN THE WORLD.”

‘What?!’

Why was I only hearing about this now? I could have been helped long before I was.

Ah, but you see. That’s stigma for you!

My parents weren’t able to detect that my claims of “I’ve that bad feeling again” as something to be concerned about. They, like the generations before them, didn’t recognize ‘Mental Health’ as something separate and just as important as physical health.

Nobody wanted to acknowledge that they had this ‘bad feeling’ that my young self would often murmur about.

With the history of ‘mental asylums’ and ‘lunacy acts’, it’s no wonder it was something that we all pretended we didn’t have. Even the innocent ‘ringing in the ear’, that we now know as tinnitus, was a sure sign of ‘madness’.

Panic and anxiety were my shadows. Every thing that was bright in my life was soon in overcast with the darkness that loomed by, always at close proximity. As if watching me, and ready to sweep in to consume me, if by chance, I were to enjoy myself. I began to forget what it was to be a child, whilst still a child.

“It’s all in your head” my Mother would say to me, repeating what my Doctor had just said to me seconds before as I sat in a bleak G.P’s office with two sets of bewildered eyes staring at me.

They were right, it was all in my head, and it was festering.

I had stopped singing.

Innocence lost!

As I got older the thoughts came.  Sick, vile, twisted intrusive thoughts would stab my brain every second of the day. I would obsess over why ‘I’, Caroline, would have such disturbing thoughts.

“Maybe you are twisted for thinking this” harked the enemy that resided in my skull.

“Maybe you think like this because you are like this!”
 
Logic didn’t stand a chance in my head.

Panic would claw at my neck, and the thunder would roll in my head.
My mind was like a stampede of wild animals caught in a storm.

My body, frozen with fear, duly responded to danger and prepared my body for flight. Nausea to lighten the body for faster running, pumping heart to carry oxygen to my brain quicker, heightened senses to scan for further danger. Sorry body, it’s my brain lying to you again. My brain fooled my primitive safety mechanisms.  I wasn’t in danger, it was my thoughts that were the threat.

And like Silvia Plath herself said “Is there no way out of the mind”

Nope, there certainly is not. Unless Descartes was spot on, in which case I wish someone would let my brain out of its vat already! Maybe steep it overnight beside the peas. Mushy peas,  mushy brain. Quite fitting!

As I grew up, so too did the complexity and severity of my ill mental health.

Like every teenager I knew, a pro at something; skateboarding, chronic laziness, I was a pro at living a life with anxiety on my back.

I love my rock music since day 1, and enjoyed a little Hennessey or two as I got older…O.K maybe three.

I was wisdom’s soul, in youth’s body.  The frequent storms aged me.  Weather-beaten.  I could have sung you songs of experience!
I got older, the drink and partying became less. Not by choice. Why would a 21 year old choose to give up drink and partying?
I had no other option.  My mental health, that was once an unsteady freight train was now derailing.

My sister had her first child premature, and this stressful time for the family sent me into a spiral of stress-induced, O.C.D laced, anxiety riddled, mental health breakdown.

“I DO EXERCISE, I EAT HEALTHY. I NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP”. I said through gritted teeth at a nonchalant Doctor with an annoying tie, a lazy eye-blinking tempo, and too-tight trousers that even my own disturbed mind couldn’t handle.

Of course I was in my local. The Doctors!

For the second time that week I made a point of going to the Doctors for help for my mental health. My usual Doctor was unavailable and so I had to begin all over again, describing how I do exercise and all the ‘helpful’ things but still weren’t working.

Of course, I left feeling deflated.

I couldn’t get help, anywhere.

Panic had me sliding down my bedroom wall, and crutched down into my habitual fetal  position.  Submissive to my mental health that ruled over me.

Again, I tried.

Subdued, tired and hopeless, I said to my usual Doctor “I need help!”

A few weeks later I had an assessment in ‘Adult Psychological Therapies’.
I broke down. I cried. I vented. I verbalized my most disturbing thoughts. I pleaded for help.

More weeks passed.

Little did I know that the familiar sound of the post-man that morning signified the turning point in my life.

“After consulting with the psychiatrist…

                                                                         …O.C.D…

“…a common disorder…
 
                                            …treatable with medication and therapy…

…your Doctor has been informed…

      …begin on 50mg and up it to 200mg…

                                                  …C.B.T waiting list…”

I held my very own winning lottery ticket.
I held my first glimpse of hope, and it was glorious.


Yes, the waiting C.B.T waiting list was long, yes the medication had some side-effects, and yes I made some lifestyle changes, but I was free.
A medical diagnosis of a mental health disorder and a prescription for a hefty dose of S.S.R.I’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)- anti-depressants to the common tongue, is not something one would feel joyous about.

For me, it was everything!

It was an answer to every question.
It was a reason for the anxiety and it was a to end every panic attack.
It was the logic to my illogic
It was the stamp of approval on my existence. FIT FOR PURPOSE.

It was a lifeline.

So what did I do with my new found freedom?

I went to Queen's University in Belfast and trained in the therapy that my O.C.D was being treated with, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (C.B.T)
I then went and trained to become an Integrative Mental Health counsellor.

My redheaded spark burst into a flame and I became unapologetic about who I was. I became vocal, honest about my mental health, and I wasn’t holding back.

I created a blog.

Georgiana, the Dutchess of Devonshire in the 17th Century was an unconventional woman of her time. She surprised many by ignoring social etiquette, defied authority and was her unapologetic self.  I found instant similarities.










                                         With an ode to my fiery temper, I became The Red Dutchess.



And so I took to social media, ready to conquer the unchartered territory of mental health awareness.

Whilst I would have modelled and did some quite lavish modelling jobs, I knew that people would assume that my life was carefree and easy.
People were surprised to watch my first 'Mental Health Monday' You Tube video and find out that I had dealt with mental health issues since I was four years of age.


So when I shared my experience on You Tube I showed people exactly how easy it was for someone to have misconceptions about mental health issues. The general assumption is that mental health has a certain 'look'; someone who looks how they feel.
The shock surrounding my disclosure brought people to empathise with me, to disclose their personal struggles with me, and telling me how my honesty made them feel less alone now that they knew someone who described exactly how they felt.

I couldn't believe the sense of relief I sensed off people, never mind myself.
I knew there was potential in this method and way of de-stigmatizing mental health through social media.


So I started to do more and more specified mental health You Tube videos, posts and help. Then the idea of Replenish was born.

Replenish is my mental health wellbeing programme that invites people to learn about mental health issues such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D), Anxiety and Depression through creative therapeutic techniques, in an non-clinical and relaxed environment.
I've developed Replenish in response to the lack of awareness and stigma surrounding mental health, and a alternative to intimidating therapy processes.


We live in a westernized flow of discontent, and it’s hard to break free of that restricted style of living. We restrict ourselves from being our authentic selves, for fear of being marginalized and we deprive ourselves of gaining insight to ourselves.
What we can do is replenish our way of living by re-evaluating and re-appreciating our lives with a different perspective and understanding. Therefore, Replenish is aimed at bringing people to regenerate their outlook and approach to life by learning  understand that the drive for ‘happiness’ is unattainable as it’s as temporary as a fit of anger. Happiness, like trends, come and goes. It’s contentment that we seek, and contentment comes from looking around you with gratitude.

My gratitude comes from the hidden motive of my mental health illness. All along, its torture was its lesson and I’m bringing that lesson with me and sharing it with every single person I meet.

There have been numerous cycles of Replenish workshops that have already happened and there are demands for the workshops to be held in Sligo, Dublin and even as far as Cork and Wales.
Replenish is a new way for our society to understand mental health, to not be afraid of it and to educate the masses on how they can help themselves AND others by becoming informed.

Mental Health awareness is my passion, and I won't stop until it is acknowledged that it's O.K to have a mental health issue and there is always hope to be held, even if it is a diagnosis. 

Today? I'm the person my four year old self needed. I'm damn proud to be her.



More information on joining a Replenish workshop:

Book Online -- Replenish




 photo http___signaturesmylivesignaturecom_54492_189_974F00ABC982F81A218C33518F8AB091_zps409864e7.png