I have been pretty honest about my struggles with mental health in the past, particularly on this blog, however what I'm about to share is probably the most important but most difficult post I will ever write.

I never thought my current battle would be something I’d speak publicly about. This was originally supposed to be an academic style report for my eyes only, an exercise my therapist suggested I try, designed to aid my recovery and curb my compulsions (more on that later). But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to share this part of my life. Because if I’d stumbled across a post like this on someone else’s blog, or an article online or even a tweet or Facebook post when I was at my worst, it may have been the light at the end of the tunnel I desperately needed. 

So, here it goes…

Hi, my name’s Suzy and I suffer from anxiety, depression and OCD.

Heavy stuff for a Tuesday night, right?

To some, especially the friends I’ve made over the past year or so, this may come as a complete surprise, to others it’s something we’ve learned to deal with for a while now. I say “we” because when you suffer from a mental illness, or three, it doesn’t just affect you. It affects the people closest to you just as much, and we have to learn how to cope with it together.

My OCD takes the form of intrusive thoughts, which is when you have involuntary obsessional thoughts that cause you severe anxiety and distress. Intrusive thoughts can cover a whole spectrum of subjects, the most popular being sexual thoughts, violent thoughts, relationship thoughts, magical thinking and religious beliefs. If you are interested, a more in-depth definition of intrusive thoughts, including examples of the sub-categories I've just listed, can be found here.

Before I was diagnosed, I was completely ignorant to what OCD actually was. Like most, I presumed it was when people repeatedly washed their hands and liked to have their belongings in a specific order. I had no idea about the world of intrusive thoughts and the debilitating effect OCD has on the suffer’s life.

I had to give up my budding career in PR as the strain of the job was one of the main contributions to the decline of my mental health. During my notice period, I was signed off work after visiting my GP to discuss my issues. In hindsight, I wasn’t 100% honest with him in terms of voicing exactly what I was going through, but said enough for him to offer me anti depressants and a referral to a mental health clinic. 

The time I took off work was horrendous. I spent the majority of my days in bed, or screaming into my pillow just so I could hear anything other than the repetitive thoughts in my head. I cried so much that I couldn't breath, let alone speak to anyone or eat anything, and the simple task of walking downstairs to get a cup of tea would drain the little energy I had left and set me back an hour’s nap. My thoughts were so loud and intense and rapid and there wasn't a second of the day my brain wasn't in overdrive. My mind was so consumed with distressing thoughts, I struggled to remember what it was like to think like a “normal person”. I was obsessively googling my symptoms and continuously fighting with my brain to try and “neutralise” my thoughts. It was relentless and exhausting and I couldn’t see a way out.

***

Suicide is a concept I never quite understood. I couldn't fathom how someone could be suffering so much, that the only way they saw to end their pain was to end their life.

Suicide is a concept I never quite understood until now. This was the first time in my life I could genuinely understand what could drive someone to commit suicide, because it was the first time in my life that I thought about doing it myself. 

***

The clinic had a four week waiting list, but I knew I couldn't wait that long. Fortunately I had the means to go private, and was lucky enough to get an appointment with a psychologist and CBT specialist within a day. This is hands down what saved me and changed my life for the better.

Finding out I had OCD was a relief. I wasn’t crazy - what was going on inside my head was a result of a mental illness. And although it cannot be completely cured, I am learning how to manage it so it doesn’t control me. The techniques I have learned in my CBT sessions have been invaluable to my recovery. There was once a time I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, I could see no hope for my future and didn't want to be here. Now, I am in a much better place - living, instead of just existing. I take tablets to control my anxiety and I’m implementing techniques I’ve learned in therapy to help with my depression. A combination of cognitive restructuring and mindfulness is helping me tackle my OCD and I am finally in a place where my mental illness’ seem manageable - something I carry alongside me rather than something that has a hold on me. I've settled wonderfully into a new job and I finally feel like I'm getting my spark back. 

I will always have good days and bad days, but something that really helps is knowing I’m not alone. It is estimated that over 700,000 people are suffering from OCD in the UK and nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression.


To anyone reading this who may be suffering, I cannot urge you enough to seek help. The pain may be strong but so are you, and there isn’t a battle you can’t fight. You just gotta take it one day at a time…

Full outfit from ASOS

Hi there, welcome back - it's been a while!

I don’t have any excuse for abandoning my blog other than lack of inspiration, motivation and time. My life has done a full 360 since leaving uni and I finally feel ready and excited about sharing my life online again. 

So, what’s been going on? Here’s a quick glimpse into where I’ve been and what i've been doing for the last year and a half.

As 2015 came to a close, I found myself in a really difficult place. The life I’d built and been happily living in Aberdeen for the previous four years had ended. Subsequently, my four year relationship ended, the group of I girls I grew to know and love at uni all went their separate ways and I found myself back living in my childhood home not knowing who I was or what I should do next. I instantly missed the routine and the comfort that being in education gave me. My weeks had structure and I was always working towards achieving the next step on the academic ladder. When that ended, the realities of my impending adulthood loomed over me and I didn’t quite know where to begin.

After getting my degree, I began my professional career in the PR industry, working for two of the most established agencies in the business. It was gruelling but glam. Press releases and photocalls by day, networking over cocktails by night. I got to work on some of the biggest campaigns for some of the UK’s most well known brands and got to work with some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met (Ali, Lesley, Yas and Amy, I'm talking to you). Sadly, due to my mental health (more on that later), I’ve since had to leave the world of PR and I’ve now embarked on a new career path, something i've always been passionate about - makeup artistry. You'll now find me glaming up the people of Glasgow at Bobbi Brown’s flagship concession.

I’ve moved out and have a new man in my life. Steven and I met a year and a half ago, and he’s had me laughing every day since (not to mention he’s an absolute 10).



It's been a bit of a journey, but for now, i'm content with who I am, and where I am in life and i'm excited to see where it takes me next. So, without further ado, welcome back to my world...


SuzyBlue 2016-2017



Coat // ASOS// Scarf // H&M// Boots // Urban Outfitters // Gloves // Anthropologie // Hat // Woolrich// Sunglasses// TK Maxx

Much to my excitement, last week my hometown was graced with a beautiful dusting of snow. Although I love summer, winter is without a doubt my favourite season, I just love bundling up in cosy jumpers and thick coats. I thought I'd take advantage of the idyllic snowy scenes and showcase my go-to coat combo!

I filmed a little "Get Ready With Me" / "OOTD" video for this look on my youtube. Feel free to check it out below.

S.B x










As I prepare to relaunch myself into the blogosphere, I knew I wanted to begin 2016 with a reflective post. I could sit here and write out a handful of pretentious new years resolutions, which I will fail to live up to by next week, or I could offer you ideas on how to better yourself in a lengthy, motivational spiel. However, you could find this information on the majority of the some 152 million blogs that currently exist on the web. So, as I was pondering exactly what I wanted to get across in my first post of 2016, I figured I should use this fresh start to speak directly to myself. At the risk of sounding conceited, I consider myself to be very good at giving advice, however I fall short at putting the advice I give to others into practice in my own life. Therefore, I'm going to write myself an open letter with the intention that I or anyone else who needs it, can revisit and re read when needed.
***

Dear Self,

First off, well done for getting through 2015 relatively unscathed. It was a tough year but also extremely rewarding. When it was great, it was really great, remember that, and try not to focus on the not so great things that happened. Life is too short to dwell. What will be, will be.

I know it's difficult at the moment, but don't agonise over the fact that you're not where you want to be in life. Some people get really lucky, really quickly, others only earn success after years of hard graft. Your time will come. Take every opportunity that comes your way and be brave enough to put yourself out there - if you don't ask, you don't get!

On that note, in 2016 I think you should try being more impulsive. You've spent so many years of your life being plagued by fear and anxiety (more on that in a bit) and quite frankly, I think it's time to inject a little more fun and spontaneity into your life. Save, book a flight and create an adventure. You are not going to see the world by sitting on the sofa binge-watching  Criminal Minds and drinking tea. Likewise, you won't be able to afford any kind adventure if you keep wasting your money on things you really don't need. Be careful with your money - you're most likely going to go off that jumper in 2 months time. Remove it from your basket and put the £45 in your savings account - that could be a night in a hotel somewhere across the globe!

This year, try not to care so much about what people think of you. I know it's hard, you're a people pleaser and always try to stay on everyone's good side. But it's very easy to get caught up in the personalities of those around you. Don't join in on the bitchiness, it's not you. Also, don't waste your time longing to be like someone else, that is time wasted you could be using to build on yourself.

Let's try to limit our time on social media this year. You've pretty much become a slave to your phone and it's about time you stop living through your iPhone lens. Why? Because it's not real. You know all too well about creating a false reality on instagram, because you're good at it. Everyone is. But let's try and be more real. Turn off your phone once in a while and appreciate life and the people you have in it. *side note, make time to tell those you love how much you appreciate them*

Cook more, and take a yoga class. You've been dying to. Also, EXERCISE. God may have blessed you with a slim figure but boy are you unfit! Let's see if by the end of 2016 you can run up a flight of stairs and still have your breath when you get to the top.

And lastly, I know this is a difficult one, but it's time to go back and get help with your anxiety and eating issues. You've struggled on your own for too long and no matter how much you lie to yourself and others, you are not fine. But don't worry, you will be. Chin up champ, you got this!

No matter what this year throws at you, remember that you are strong enough to cope with it. Life doesn't give you challenges you can't handle. Never loose your spark. Never stop listening to One Direction because you're friends make fun of you and if in doubt - What Would Olivia Pope Do?

x


Photographer: Fiona Rennie




Shirt//H&M// Jeans// All Saints// Shoes// Kurt Geiger// Bag// Mulberry// Watch// Daniel Wellington// Sunglasses//Quay x Shay

Well, it's official. I am now no longer a fashion student, but a fashion graduate!

Last week was pretty much the most hectic week of my life. However in-between traveling up to Aberdeen for graduation, back down to see my family and back up again for grad ball, my parents and I managed to go out for a lovely meal with my grandpa to in order to celebrate graduating with first class honours.

As for my outfit, I wanted to feel a bit glam. At the moment, I'm enjoying experimenting pairing heels with super casual outfits. I feel like it completely changes the look, moving from everyday casual to effortlessly glam! I'm also super into buying shirts that are 3 sizes too big for me! I feel larger sizes hang well on my small frame, especially when messily tucked into jeans.

I hope everyone is having a splendid summer so far. Until next time,

S.B x


Photos by Scott Camlin


Hvar is by far the most breathtaking place I have ever had the pleasure of visiting, and was well worth the car, plane, bus and boat journeys it took to get there! 

The island itself is an idyllic sleepy town, with restaurants and bars overlooking the harbour, which is filled with everything from small fishing boats to large lavish yachts. When you explore the island further, you are met with beautiful beaches complete with crystal clear, aqua blue water. This place truly is Europe's hidden gem, an oasis of calm and serenity juxtaposed with it's lively, yet high-class nightlife.

***
Following a fatiguing day of traveling, 8 girls hauled 4 massive suitcases off a boat and down a rickety ramp, marking the beginning of what was set to be a remarkable week of sun, sea and memories that will last a life time.

Most days were spent relaxing by our villa's pool or down at the beach, whilst enjoying delicious home cooked (thanks to Lauren and Megan) lunches and dinners out on our terrace. When we did venture out to eat, we mainly headed down to the harbour, where we could take in the beautiful sights whilst enjoying the local delicacies that the island had to offer. 

A definite highlight of the trip was visiting Hula Hula beach club. During the day, you can relax on sunbeds that overlook the island's crystal waters whilst sipping on cocktails or devouring the delicious food from in-house restaurant Bubba Gump. However, the fun truly begins at 5pm, when a DJ emerges and the after beach party begins. The girls and I spent all evening drinking, dancing and watching the sunset - a night that was so special, it will stay with me forever.

Other highlights of the trip included: my brief attempt at paddle boarding (I lasted 15 minutes!), hiking up to the top of the island to take in the breathtaking views from Hvar's fortress, and wandering around the town's market stalls and boutiques. 

Before we knew it, our week of bliss had come to an end, and it was time to make the long trek back to Scotland. Our trip is one in which I'll never forget - I'm so lucky I got to share it with 7 of my very best friends. Hvar, you were a dream. Until next time...

S.B. x

Well, well, well, it's been a while! My final semester at uni completely took over my life, allowing little time for fun activities such as looking after my blog, but it's all over now and I have a lotttt of free time!!

In a little under two weeks, the girls and I are off to Croatia and I couldn't be more excited! Although I've got most of my outfits sorted, Pinterest always seems to supply me with last minute inspiration, which is great for me, but not so great for my bank balance!

This week's IWWSW is 100% bohemian inspired! I'm completely obsessed with the idea white lace, flowing kimono's and layers upon layers of jewellery. I've never been one to make an effort while on holiday, especially if it's a beach vacay, however this year I feel that going away with 8 other fashion graduates will definitely change that! 

Have a great weekend everyone,

S.B x 

Guys, I'd grab some snacks and a cuppa, this is gonna be a long one!!

When I originally thought about writing this blog post, I was unsure of what to call it. After receiving such a positive response from my previous posts detailing my issues with eating and phobia of vomit, I knew I wanted to revisit the subject and offer my advice for those who have gone through, or are still going through, a similar situation. Upon googling "Food Phobias" with hopes of finding an image to go along with this post (as you can see I ended up just taking one myself), I came across a lot of links with the title "ARFID". Unbeknown to me, it was just introduced in 2013 as a new type of eating disorder and much to my excitement, it describes EXACTLY what I went through as a child/continue to go through as a young adult!


The ARFID diagnosis describes individuals whose symptoms do not match the criteria for traditional eating disorder diagnoses, but who, nonetheless, experience clinically significant struggles with eating and food. The most significant trigger that stood out to me in the list of causes was described as "being afraid to eat after a frightening episode of choking or vomiting". Holy smokes they've got it in one!!  FINALLY, a food issue that has nothing to do with body image has been classified as an eating disorder, is fully diagnosable and treatable! (This feels like a wonderful FU to all of the doctors who believed I was anorexic and couldn't fathom that I was starving myself because I was afraid!)

Anyway, I digress. This post was supposed to be a helpful nugget of information on how I deal with my food troubles and it has turned into a sort of ARFID online information point!! Back to it!

Food phobia survivors, ARFID survivors, Anorexia survivors, Bulimia survivors...
they tell you it's going to be wonderful when you defeat your disorder and come back out the other side, however what they don't tell you is that it can be just as difficult to not let your mind fall back into the vicious cycle you were in when at the height of your illness. Although my eating issues are no where near as severe as they were in the past, I still very often get pangs of anxiety when it comes to mealtimes and my mind still has difficulty distinguishing between feeling intense anxiety and feeling physically nauseous! So, I wanted to share a few of my tips and tricks on how I keep on top of my food anxieties in day to day life.

1. Cook for yourself: I often find having that control of what I'm eating helps to relieve some of the anxiety I experience around mealtimes. I like the feeling of choosing what to eat and especially choosing a potion size that I am comfortable with. I also find if I've cooked a meal from scratch, I'm actually excited about eating it, rather than eating it being a chore.

2. Eat on your own time schedule: This is another thing that I find really helps control my anxiety. It's as simple as eat when you're hungry, don't eat when you're not. Now, i'm not talking about skipping meals here, but if you're not hungry for dinner at 5, wait a couple of hours until you are! Forcing yourself to eat when you aren't hungry, from experience, only causes more anxiety and that isn't going to help at all now is it?

3. "Safe foods" are okay: I'm sure anyone who has suffered from an eating disorder will know what I mean by the term "safe foods", and despite what I've been told, I think that it's okay to stick to the foods you are comfortable with when feeling anxious! Better eating something "safe" than eating nothing at all! Although this is not something that should be done every day, a couple of times a week does no harm in my eyes!

4. Eating out vs Staying in: Eating out is still something I find really difficult and often gets in the way when making plans with friends. My advice on this one is to try and step out of your comfort zone - if you and your friends have made plans to go out to eat, join them, missing out on activities just makes you feel rubbish. So, my tip here, if you're feeling anxious, order a starter and eat it as a main! That way the portion size is more than manageable and you can just pick away at what you feel comfortable eating (starters tend to be picky foods anyway!). Just make sure the waiter knows to bring your portion when everyone else gets their main!

5. Talk to people: This was a difficult thing for me to do, but in the long run it really does help to speak out when you feel like you are struggling or have taken a turn for the worst. Parents, friends, doctor, whoever you feel most comfortable talking to...SPEAK OUT! There is nothing worse than suffering in silence. As this is something I've been dealing with since childhood, it's always my parents I go to when I'm having a difficult time. Since they've been through the whole ordeal (twice) I feel like they are the ones that give me the best advice on how to tackle things! Way to go mum and dad!! 

6. Take a walk: Taking a walk is good for clearing your head, calming your mind and working up an appetite (bonus!). If things are getting a bit too much for me, the thing that I find calms me down the most is going for a walk - just me and my iPod! And I often find that when I get home I begin to feel peckish anyway, eliminating a good chunk of my anxiety!

7. Manageable portion sizes: I feel like this is an obvious one but manageable portion sizes are key in battling mealtime anxiety. With the exception of Christmas Day, if I'm faced with a plate overloaded with food I just freak out and don't want to touch any of it! When cooking for yourself, pay attention to the amount of ingredients you're using and if you make too much, just pop the excess in the fridge and eat it the next day! Make sure if someone else is cooking for you that they know you'll probably be eating a smaller portion than them, or would prefer a smaller portion size in general (Yes Kyle, i'm talking to you!)

8. Don't let the anxiety consume you: Ugh, the words that make any anxiety sufferer roll their eyes and think "If only it was that easy!" But something I've learned from my years of CBT is that I am the one who is in control of my mind and I have the power to determine how much I let my anxiety consume me. Only I have the ability to regain control of my mind and calm myself down. These are the things I like to think to myself when I feel panic. It's like a gentle reminder that I'm fine, I can cope and I will get through it!


Well, I hope this has been of help to anyone who may have needed it. Food anxiety is tough but remember you are not alone and you don't have to deal with it alone. If anyone has any questions they'd like to ask me, public or private, you can find all the details on the "contact me" page right here on my blog, or feel free to leave a comment below!

S.B x



 T-shirt Trio// H&M // Cream Jumper// Topshop // Camel Jumper// River Island// Chambray Shirt// Topshop
White Shirt// Topshop// Stripe Shirt// H&M // Cream Coat// H&M // Leather Jacket// River Island
Navy Waistcoat// Topshop // White Ripped Jeans// Villa // Grey Jeans// River Island // Blue Jeans// Topshop
Nike Roshe Run's// Nike // Pointed Flats// Mango // Brown Boots// H&M // Brown Cut Out Boots// Topshop
Bag// Zara // Sunglasses// Quay // Straw Fedora// Topshop// Brown Fedora// H&M


It's official, although it doesn't feel like it, Spring has sprung and what a perfect excuse that is to update your wardrobe! If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know neutrals are my thing, so with that in mind, I've put together a little guide for anyone who is thinking of refreshing their wardrobe for SS/15. I tried to select some basics that can all be worn together or styled separately with other items you already own - thats the secret to revamping your style on a budget!

I hope you enjoy scrolling through this mini guide and wishing you all a lovely weekend!

S.B x
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