Coping with Ulcerative Colitis - My Tips!

Living with a chronic inflammatory disease can be really debilitating and hard to deal with. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis back in August 2016 and since then I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and learn how to cope with it. This condition can affect people in so many different ways, but I thought perhaps sharing my own ways of dealing with it might help a handful of people. If it does then it’s a job well done in my book, so if you think any of these things could help you, then please do give it a try!

1) Take it seriously.

Now I don’t mean this in a condescending way, it’s just based off of my own personal experience. I know when I was first diagnosed I thought it was going to be a few weeks of medication and I’d be right as rain again. Until I realised it was lifelong, with treatment my whole life and that I needed to make lifestyle changes to suit it. It’s so important that you take your medication no matter how unpleasant it may be (I even take medication up my bottom). I have to admit there was a time where I just didn’t bother with my medication because I didn’t feel like my illness was that bad until my health quickly went downhill. As much as I hate it, I know it makes me feel better. Equally, if I need to rest one day, I take the day to do whatever I need to do to feel myself again. It’s important to stick to all of your regular hospital appointments too. It can sometimes feel like a “job” because of all the time it takes up, but it’s necessary for your health.

2) Be 100% honest with your GI Doctor.

When I say 100%, I actually mean 110%. Tell them absolutely everything and get right down to the nitty-gritty. You might not think it’s something they need to know but it could turn out really useful. Talking about poo, blood, and accidents are nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about, and it’s something they hear regularly since they’re specialists in the field. Tell them exactly how you feel about your symptoms too, because you might also benefit from therapy and other kinds of support. It all helps them decide on the right treatment plan for you, to improve your health and day to day life. I even started taking in photographs of inside the toilet so my GI could see exactly how much blood I was talking about, since amounts can be hard to judge, and that led to my medication being bumped up. It could be helpful for you too.

3) Plan and prepare.

This is something I do every single day and I feel like this is the most useful one for me. I prepare myself for the worst-case scenario so I’m still able to go out and enjoy myself. I always carry baby wipes (you never know if you’ll be caught short with no toilet roll!), a change of underwear, my radar key, "can’t wait" toilet card and extra medication. When I’m going somewhere I always look into where the nearest toilets are. Most places, like shopping centres, have maps with all the toilets on it, and I familiarise myself with it. The same as if I’m going for a meal with friends, the first thing I eye up is where the nearest toilet is, just so I’m ready to go if I need it. I don’t like to let this illness stop me from living my day to day life, and this really helps me feel like I can still do normal things during the day.

4) Involve your friends, family and colleagues.

I can’t stress enough how much this helped me. I’m a very open person already, so I guess it might have been a bit easier for me, but I tell everyone, well… everything. I tell my family and friends exactly what it feels like, what happens, what my worst days are like and what could happen in the future – including things like hospitalisation and surgery, just so they are aware of how serious it can be. I feel like this just helps with understanding what I have to live with, and if I need to cancel our meetup, then they know it’s not just for the sake of it. It also means when I ask for help, they have a bit of a better idea of what to do and what I’m going through.

5) Don’t let it ruin your life.

Probably the most important point, don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do. I personally cope a lot with humour and I make light of the darkness in my life. I’m generally a jokey person anyway so I don’t mind joking about pooing myself or how often I’m at the toilet, it sometimes makes me feel a bit more human. I like to enjoy my good health days and try to be productive on them. But even if I don’t feel productive, or if I’m having a poor health day – I make sure I look after myself. In my eyes, a rest day, even if you’re just watching TV all day, is never a wasted day when it’s for the good of your health, mental or physical. If I need the time to recuperate, I take it. If I need to cancel a meal, I cancel it. If I want to watch The Office US in bed all day and eat chocolate, I do just that. I also started making career changes and went back to college because my old job was a bit too difficult to deal with, with my health condition on top of it. Instead of quitting and doing nothing, going back to college to study and do different things with my life means I’m moving forward and not letting this illness get the better of me.

I hope this post helps at least one person. I just want to reiterate that I understand everyone is different, and we all cope differently. These are all just ways that I cope with my own situation, that other people might find useful. Since I was diagnosed I’ve made so many life changing decisions that have led me to where I am today… I went to back to college, changed my career, it got me into blogging and YouTube, and found me new, wonderful friends. While this illness can be difficult and draining at times, it’s brought me so many other things that I’m grateful for. My illness doesn’t define me, it just took me down a new path in my life. 

Let's Be Kind - 20 Acts of Kindness

Why do people need a reason to be kind, or do something good? Nowadays it’s like everyone needs a reward to justify doing the right thing, or to just simply act kind towards someone. I’ve seen it a lot over the last few years and it really does make me sad, I want to make sure I’m being as kind as possible, for the right reasons and not because I need some gratification for my own gain. So I've compiled a small list of things I want to make sure I’m doing regularly for others.

Here’s a list of acts of kindness anyone can do… it’ll make a difference in someone’s life.

1) Donate or give time to charity.
Charity is important to me, and to so many others. There’s probably a large chunk of people around you affected by charities too, so helping them can really make a difference for SO many people. If you can’t afford to donate money, offer a small amount of your time by perhaps getting involved with events, or even sharing posts on social media.

2) Buy a homeless person lunch.
It might be the first meal they’ve had in days. It could tide their hunger until the next meal they manage to come across. It can really make a difference to their day, week or even month.

3) Ask someone if they’re OK.
Often, people don’t open up when something is wrong until they’re asked, so this could really show someone that you care, and if they need it, you are there for them to talk to.

4) Strike up a conversation with someone.
You might be sitting next to an elderly man on a train who hasn’t had any social interaction for weeks, having a little chat with him can really make a difference to his day. Many people live lonely lives through no fault of their own, so having a little conversation when you can, can really help ease their loneliness.

5) Be a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear.
I think this is so important. Be there for someone in need. If someone needs a cry, just be there. If they need to talk, just listen. It costs us nothing, and sometimes just having that person who listens to your problems or holds you when you cry can help you feel like your world isn’t imploding and that you’re not alone.

6) Sign petitions for important causes.
You might not realise it, but a single signature on a petition could make a huge difference on whether that cause goes to parliament for review. Sometimes these petitions are on a shop counter or shared online. Take a couple of minutes to sign it. A good example of a petition circulating at the moment is the ban on animal testing for cosmetics. 

7)  Offer to help a friend or colleague with a task.
There are lots of people who don’t ask for help because they hate to put pressure on others. Sometimes offering help first really relieves them of something they’re struggling with, and helps with stress and anxiety.

8) Recognise and praise someone’s hard work.
Praising someone for something might be the only praise they’ve had for a long time. It’s true that positive reinforcement works. Supporting someone’s hard work encourages them to do it more. Something as little as “well done” or “good job” means a lot to people.

9) Compliment someone.
Some people never receive compliments. It’s sad but true. Offering small compliments can really make a person’s day. “Your hair looks nice”, “you have a lovely smile” or even “you’re such a kind person” can be so uplifting. For some people, it could be the first nice thing someone has said for weeks. 

10) Donate old blankets, towels and duvets to an animal shelter. 
Shelters always struggle, especially during the cold weather. Instead of throwing away any old, ripped or unused towels, bedding and blankets; a shelter would put great use to them for pet beds and keep pets warm in the colder months. 

Donate used books to a library.
You see more and more libraries closing down these days due to the lack of funding they have. They're often run by volunteers and have very little money to keep up the book stock. When you’ve finished reading a book, donating it to a library means a lot of other people can enjoy it too. 

 Pick up some rubbish or litter you see and place it in the bin.
If you’re sitting in the park enjoying your lunch and you notice a crisp packet on the floor. Pick it up and place it in the next bin you pass. It makes a real difference to your local area and the environment.

 Thank someone.
Sometimes being thankful is underrated. Thanking someone is one of the easiest acts of kindness and when practised regularly can become just a slip of the tongue. Some people are never thanked for their hard work or effort, and a simple thank you can be amazing for them.

 Wheel in your neighbour’s bin.
Perhaps your neighbour has been unwell for a couple days or is elderly. Wheeling their bin in or out when you do your own is a great way of helping the people around you. It’s extremely helpful for some people who might have trouble getting out themselves.

 Tell someone you’re proud of them.
I’ve said this in a different point, but there are some people out there who don’t have supportive people around them and never have praise. Telling a friend or family member you’re proud of them can really boost their morale and happiness. 

 Take your old clothes and items to a charity shop.
Instead of throwing away old clothes or items that might not fit anymore, donate them to a charity shop. Charity shops raise much-needed funds by selling unwanted clothes and items and put it to great use. It’s a great way of helping out. 

17) Drop an old friend a message who you haven’t spoken to for a while.
There might be a reason an old friend lost touch, and sometimes dropping a message to let them know you’re thinking of them can show someone that they still have people who are there for them.

 Hold the door open for someone.
Another easy one to do, holding the door open is not just polite and good manners, but sometimes the person behind you might not be as mobile as you are so it can be a quick helpful thing to do.

Give someone a care package when they’re sick or unwell.
If a friend, family member or colleague is unwell, sending a simple care package with some snacks, medicine, a film or activity is a great way to really uplift their mood. It might not seem like much, but it shows you care.

 Smile at the next person you walk past. 
And lastly, let’s finish this off with something easy. Smiling at someone you walk past is brilliant. Like striking up a conversation, a simple smile might be the first bit of interaction a person has had in days. They might feel like someone has noticed them, and they’re not alone. Smiling is contagious and could make someone’s day.

I hope this blog has been useful in some way and that maybe you might try to do more of the little things to help others. I really do think kindness makes a difference in the world, one little step at a time. 

February Favourites 2018

Wow, another month of 2018 passed with a blink. Does anyone else feel like life is just passing by or is that just me?! Of course, I had to end February with another favourites post!

I actually got sent these Marc Jacobs Highliners a while ago courtesy of Influenster, but during February I found myself reaching for them a lot. I didn't think the pink shades (Pop-ular and Pink of Me), would be my cup of tea since I tend to wear black eyeliner constantly; but I really enjoyed them. The formula is creamy and easy to apply, and my god they have some staying power! I had swatches on my hand and they didn't budge all day even after a lot of handwashing!

In my recent search for cruelty-free products since the new year, I started using the Superdrug Dry Shampoo and thank god I picked it up. Not only is it super affordable, but it works just as well as the Batiste Dry Shampoo's I used for a good 5 or 6 years. As I have coloured hair, I tend to only wash my hair twice a week, three times at a push if I'm doing something special - so dry shampoo is a godsend for me. 

During February I attended an extra-curricular Gellux Gel Nail course to become qualified in them alongside my college course (I passed, yay!). Since then I've worn gel nails, done by moi, every single day. I have to be honest, before doing the course I had never had gel nails and didn't see the hype, but now I'm totally on board the gel nail train. They're stronger and last so much longer. 

In the January sales, I picked up these gorgeous black boots for only £6 from Primark. Let's just take a moment to appreciate the detail on these and for that amazing price! During the last month, these boots have been a staple in my wardrobe. The slight platform sole and chunky heel means they're pretty comfortable for everyday use so they're perfect for me. 

There are a few TV shows I've loved this month but new on my list is Mindhunter. It's SO interesting, and the best way I can describe it without giving away too much is that there are a couple FBI agents conducting research by interviewing serial killers to find out the psychology behind it all, and why they are the way that they are. I hope that makes enough sense to make you watch it! 

Of course, is it even a blog post by me if I don't mention Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in one way or another? Eric and I just finished season 3, and it got so much better towards the end. I have to admit I thought it was losing it's 'flare' for a while but it really picked back up and got funnier!  

Last week I was hit by a brick with flu strapped to it... at least that's how it felt. In my moment of need from my sick bed, I had no shows to watch that I wasn't already watching with Eric, so I thought I'd give Riverdale a try since so many people spoke about it on Twitter. Not going to lie, it's now my guilty pleasure. I literally binged watched the whole 2 seasons on Netflix from bed within 4 days. It's like a cute Pretty Little Liars.

I had a lot of time for TV this month as you can tell! Hopefully there'll be more beauty or lifetyle related products in next months post! I hope you all had a lovely February!

Generalised Anxiety Disorder and How Therapy Helped Me.

Today’s post is a little more personal, I’m discussing my own mental health. Now when I’ve done health-related posts I tend to post more about other people’s experiences than myself. But I want to start putting my own personal experiences out there.

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which is where you experience anxiety about lots of different types of aspects of your life. So, for example, it differs to social anxiety which is anxiety around people and social situations. I get anxiety about pretty much everything in my life.
I didn’t realise I had this disorder for several years until my GP mentioned a lot of the physical symptoms I experience COULD be anxiety, and not just related to, at that time, what they thought was IBS (which I later found out I had a more serious condition, but that’s for another post). He suggested a form of talking therapy to help me because it was really affected my everyday life, and I was referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

CBT is a psychotherapy, where you essentially challenge your own thoughts and negative behaviour patterns to treat some mental health disorders.

When I started attending therapy, this was when I got my ‘official’ diagnosis for my mental health. It turned out my GAD was associated with worry around health, work, my own self-image, and the way other people view me. Now, I’m not awkward with social situations, I’m a very chatty, forward, comfortable person with people. However, I do worry about what people think of me, which spirals my anxiety. That’s one example anyway.

Now I get very physical symptoms when my anxiety kicks in. I panic, get heart palpitations, my breathing gets deeper and harder. I also get hot or sweaty, shaky and have had several panic attacks throughout the years. I also get angry and irritable, which is probably the worst for me, I hate myself when I act out with anger because it’s not the person I want to be. My therapist taught me about the psychology around this spiral of worry, and why it affects me so much, and why I get such drastic symptoms.

It turned out that the beginning of this “spiral of worry” starts with deep-rooted thoughts that you have of yourself, or other people, based on your past experiences (your childhood for example). I’ll not get into my past in this post, but essentially, these deep-rooted thoughts are extremely hard to change in people. So, the aim of the therapy was to intersect the ‘cycle’ before it became a cycle, by recognising when your thoughts are irrational.

Deep rooted thought (nobody likes me) -> an action or event causes worry (someone doesn’t reply to a message) -> worry starts, symptoms start -> symptoms cause release of cortisol a hormone/ fight or flight response -> more severe symptoms and panic attacks -> more cortisol, and spirals down.

The aim of my therapy was to intersect my worry cycle at the action or event, before I start to worry, by challenging my own deep-rooted thoughts with more rational ones. I was taught to question my thoughts. Why would this person not like me? Would it mean I don’t like someone if I acted that way? Things like that. Now, I do still have anxiety, I’m not cured. But this has really helped me with smaller situations that would really affect me. And I do still spiral and experience bad anxiety over some situations, but it has really improved.

My therapist also suggested practising mindfulness, which I’ve found extremely helpful, and I feel like it’s really opened my eyes to the beauty of the world and made me a more empathetic person. Yoga is one thing that helped me with mindfulness, as well as being aware of everything around me when dog walking... the sights, smells, sounds. 

So, although, I do still have GAD because it’s my brain chemistry and I’ll probably have it for life. Since therapy, I have been able to change a lot of my behaviours that made things worse for me, I have some great coping mechanisms… and I’ve been able to stop taking medication for my mental health. For me, that’s a huge plus. 

I know therapy doesn't work for everyone, but it's always worth a try. You can contact local talking therapies free of charge. It can also be a long process, but if you're willing to put in the work each week, and do your homework (yep, you get homework too), then you should start to notice improvements over time! If you have experiences with therapy, let me know, I love to hear about other peoples thoughts! 

*Stock images from Pixabay & Indoindians

Voices of IBD (20) - Sara's Story

Welcome to PART 20 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.

This week we talk to Sara about her battle with Crohn's Disease.

What is your name and age?

Sara Elizabeth Cain, 35 Years Old

What is your occupation?

Senior Medical Secretary 

What form of IBD have you got?

Crohn’s Disease

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was 33 (Nov 2015), however, I had been diagnosed with IBS at age 17 and dealt with it without really getting any additional help or answers from my doctor, who really just brushed me off as a dramatic teenager. After that, I just stopped talking about it.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

I went to the ER thinking I had appendicitis because I was having such severe pain in my lower abdomen. The tech, who gave me an abdominal ultrasound, noticed something severely off about the loop of bowel that showed up on screen and called the doctor. Next thing I know I was being rushed in for a CT Scan. Turns out that in addition to severe inflammation & fistulas, I had an abscess in my abdominal wall and an elevated white blood cell count. They admitted me and started me on IV antibiotics. 

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

Honestly, I felt relieved that I finally had an answer and some treatment options. I would have liked to say I was shocked, dismayed, and terrified, but the truth was, it felt like something I had been expecting to hear for a very long time. 

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

My parents were with me in the hospital all day long. My husband would have been there too but in my feverish mind, I somehow thought I was doing the right thing by telling him to go to work and that I wasn’t that bad. I, to this day, have no idea why I did that when all I wanted was for him to by my side more than anything, and I know that he was extremely hurt by that. I was very sick, in terrible pain, fevered out of my mind, and really thought in the moment that I was doing the right thing. I honestly didn’t know better. Looking back on it I will never forgive myself for making that choice. My husband is a wonderful, loving and supportive man who has been there for me, and continues to be there for me, every step of the way. I will never take that for granted and will always be grateful to have such an incredible human being as my partner in this life. My husband and my parents have been a wonderful support system through all the hell, and I would not have gotten this far without them.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

Right now I take Pentasa, Zofran, and give myself a Humira injection every other Friday. 

I also take Ambien when I can't sleep; I've had insomnia since childhood and not sleeping seriously exacerbates my symptoms and leaves me barely able to function.

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

I've been in the hospital five times in the past two and half years.  Before that, I hadn’t even so much as been to the ER.

The first hospital stay (in which I choose the hospital closest to my home because at the time I thought my appendix was bursting) was a nightmare. I think some of the worst experiences I had were having my vein rupture during an IV contrast injection, having a nursing student disconnect my failed IV and not report it, which led me to be feverish and without any fluids for 9 hours. My mother and best friend came in and raised hell. At which point they brought down a nurse practitioner from oncology to run my IV. She was so sweet, and a true expert. Her name was Shirley. I think if I didn’t have a viable vein she probably would have created one! 

The next few times were just overnight admissions and a few ER trips for pain, nausea, and one particularly harrowing gastritis flare that will haunt me for years to come.

My next multi-day hospital stay came last year on February 27th, 2017, when I had my bowel resection surgery (ileocolic resection in which my terminal ileum and the right half of my colon were removed) after I developed a bowel obstruction from scar tissue. I was in the hospital for five days, and I must say it was an awesome hospital stay. It felt very strange because I had my surgery in the hospital where I work, so the surroundings and the people were all very familiar, and my co-workers came up to visit me on multiple occasions, which was very sweet.

It just so happens that after my surgery I got a room in the “ultra fancy wing” by pure chance.There were no other rooms available at the time and I was told that I would have to give it up and move to a regular double room if this room was requested. Thankfully no one requested it during the duration of my stay, and I had a huge river view room in a beautiful wing all to myself. That was really nice and was definitely a much-needed experience at a time when I was truly depressed and terrified. 

I have a wonderful Gastroenterologist’s who I have been seeing since my first hospital admission and I would recommend him to anyone. Dr Richard Fazio In Brooklyn NY.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Stress. Times of severe stress brings out the worst in my condition. That being said so does food, and I have to be very careful of raw veggies and fried food, my worst enemies. Especially asparagus! Ouch.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

I have struggled with severe anxiety, confidence, and self-worth issues for as long as I can remember.

I was formally diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) when I started seeing a therapist in my mid 20’s.

Was this because of your IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?

I think it’s just part of my genetic makeup, as it runs in my family. I am sure this has contributed to my IBD, or at least exacerbated my symptoms.

Do you get support for your mental health?

Honestly, not at the moment. I wish I could say yes but the truth is that as rough as things have been in my life, especially the last few months, I have not put the effort into finding a new therapist.

Do you feel like you get the right support?

When I seek support, yes. But truthfully I have a bad habit of trying to be superwoman and often catch myself trying to give my unconditional support to others, even at my own expense. I know at 35 I should know better and that I alone am responsible for the choices I make. That being said I have been making a very big effort to put myself first as often as possible.

How do you cope?

Meditation, and snuggling with my dogs.

What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

Rest, medication, a heating pad, snuggling with my dogs, and going on “bowel rest” (aka a liquid diet) for a few days, or sometimes a week.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

Not much. I'm still trying to teach myself this trick. Anxiety issues often impede my ability to relax as I'm constantly looping worst-case scenarios in my head.

Meditation, mainly mindfulness practices help with this. And hot baths... if I do anything for myself to relax it’s taking a hot bath.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

No raw veggies (except for those safety veggies like lettuce and spinach). Lots of fruit, baby food, smoothies, soup, and eggs. If I'm in pain I'll lay on the couch and snuggle with my dogs.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Don’t ignore it. See a doctor ASAP.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Be patient, sometimes it takes us longer to do what takes you seconds. Be understanding, we are not ignoring you, we are sick. We are not insulting you by turning down food, we may just not be able to safely eat what you’ve offered. Don’t give up on us if the road gets too hard and don’t stop loving us if we get too sick. Don’t judge us at our worst, just know that your loving support and presence helps us to have more days when we are at our best. Know that we appreciate you.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

Honestly, it has been a struggle. Some days I can barely get out of bed and the only motivation I have is the need to earn a paycheck. Other days I feel like I can take on the world!

What is your favourite quote?

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. 
Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” 
Winston Churchill

Thank you Sara for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

You can find Sara's social media on:

All Loved Up Makeup

I love playing with makeup, and I especially love being artistic with it. I messed around with creating this look, and it's by no means perfect or amazing - but I still wanted to take step by step photos. I'll probably look back on this in the future and be able to see how I've improved since this, and I think that's a really cool thing we can do with blogging. We can document whatever we feel like! So here's a step by step photo guide on how I created this loved-up look!

1. Base Makeup & Brows

 2. Colour Base

 3. Definition with Contour & Highlight

 4. Detail with Glitter, Eyes and Liner

 5. Lashes, Mascara, Liner & Hearts

6.  Finished with Lipstick & Hair

Please do let me know what you think. I'd also like any constructive criticism... what would you improve on, or have done differently? 

Happy Valentine's Day ❤

Voices of IBD (19) - Jessica's Story

Welcome to PART 19 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.

This week we talk to Jessica about her battle with Ulcerative Colitis.

What is your name and age?

Jessica Hyland, 35 years old.

What is your occupation?

Currently unemployed because of my UC. I have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and used to be a police officer several years ago. If I ever reach remission, I look forward to working full time again.

What form of IBD have you got?

Ulcerative colitis. More specifically ulcerative proctitis (confined to my rectum only).

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

33, but I ignored my symptoms for well over a decade. I probably had active UC as early as 20 years of age.

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

Bleeding. Lots of bleeding.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was very confused. I had an awful doctor who didn’t even explain the disease to me. I had no idea UC was a lifelong disease. I had to do a lot of research and reading of my own. 

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

Most of my family and friends didn’t (and really still don’t) understand Ulcerative Colitis. They try to be supportive, but it’s still very confusing for them.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

I’ve tried several medications. Started with Lialda and Mesalamine enemas. After a while they stopped working. I moved on to Mesalamine suppositories and Prednisone. I still didn’t reach remission and started Remicade. That made me much worse. I then switched to Entyvio. That worked for a few months. I’m on to Humira now. It’s been a long and frustrating 2 years since diagnosis. Fingers crossed Humira does the job.

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

I’ve been fortunate that although I’ve had a lot of bleeding, I’ve never needed to be checked into a hospital.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

I’m still not quite sure what my triggers are, as my body never seems to react immediately to things.
I’ve been on a new diet called “The Plant Paradox” that has been working well. It has improved my symptoms. Basically, no grains, dairy, legumes, or beans.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

When I was younger I struggled with being overweight and would say I probably had some depression. Overall though my mental health has been pretty good. I thank CrossFit for that. I’m able to exercise daily and I’m in very good physical shape, despite my disease.

Was this because of your IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?

At times I would definitely say IBD has affected my mental health, but only temporarily. I would have a good cry, dust myself off and keep fighting. I keep a positive attitude.

Do you get support for your mental health?

If I needed support I’m sure there would be ways for me to receive help.

Do you feel like you get the right support?

Yes. I’m very self-reliant though so I probably don’t need it as much as some.

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

Strict diet, lots of water and exercise. Try to keep my stress levels low.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

Just basic things. Relaxing, watching movies, and taking long hot showers.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

My diet change has made the most difference so far. Again, I really think exercising regularly has really kept me from the hospital. I do realize that not everyone can exercise. In that regard, I feel very fortunate that I have Ulcerative Proctitis only. 

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

Go to the doctor. Get as many tests run as possible. Don’t ignore it. If you feel the doctor missed something or isn’t listening to you, get another opinion.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

Be patient and understanding. 
This disease causes so many complications like fatigue, skin and eye problems, even lupus. Be there to listen when they feel like giving up. Encourage them to make good choices to improve their quality of life. Do some reading of your own to try and understand their disease.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s just one thing. I think just loving life and wanting to do whatever it takes to enjoy it keeps me focused.

What is your favourite quote?

That’s tough. I don’t think I have one that applies to my health or motivates me. Maybe one from John Wayne? Something like 

“Life is tough and even harder when you’re stupid.” 

Basically, to me, that means make smart choices. Listen to your body. 

Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.

Valentine's Date Makeup

I've always been a sucker for Valentine's Day. I enjoy dedicating a day in our busy lives to our loved ones, whether it's your partner, best friend, or family! It's also quite nice to have an occasion to look forward to I reckon, it keeps me going when the stresses of life get me down!

Here's the makeup look I'll be sporting this Valentine's Day with my boyfriend. I'm really enjoying the contrast of pink makeup with my new green hair and I pride myself on using affordable makeup. I've mentioned this before, but I'm in the process of moving to only cruelty-free makeup, so the majority of this (but not completely) is created with cruelty-free cosmetics. 

I like to show a comparison of my face without makeup because it really helps to show the power of cosmetics. As you can see, I have oily, spot-prone and scarred skin, so it's a lot to work with!

I used my Urban Decay Naked 3 palette because I haven't used it for such a long time. It used to be a firm favourite of mine, but I just reached for different products over the last year. So, I dug it out and decided to create a mauve, shimmery look.

I also tried out my new Marc Jacobs Highliner which I kindly got sent, and it really helped bring the look together. That extra pop of colour made a big difference from everyday makeup to date night.

My base makeup consisted of the Collection Prime and Ready Primer, Elf Flawless Finish Foundation, Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer and the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder*. I went for a deep contour and subtle pink blush using the Makeup Revolution Blush Palette, and a lovely lilac shine using my Sleek Solstice Highlight Palette. My new favourite brow duo is the Elf Microbrow Pencil and the Pixi Brow Gel. For my eyes, I created a slightly smoky, but pink-mauve shimmer eye look using the Urban Decay Naked 3 palette, and created winged eyeliner with the Soap & Glory Supercat Eyeliner and Marc Jacobs Highliner in (Pop)ular. I finished with the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara* and the Rimmel Kate Lipstick* in the shade 20 which is a beautiful bright pink.

Overall, I'm super happy with the finished look, and I can't wait to wear it for our Valentine's Day date. We're going to Durham for the day to go sightseeing and enjoy a meal overlooking the river.

Happy Valentine's Day ❤

* Not Cruelty-Free

Voices of IBD (18) - Jamie's Story.

Welcome to PART 18 of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease series, where we talk to people from all walks of life with this condition; to give everyone a platform to share their story, and help to raise awareness.

This week we talk to Jamie about his battle with Ulcerative Colitis.

What is your name and age?

My name is Jamie Pearson & I am 25 years old

What is your occupation?

Unemployed at the moment and  due for surgery soon but do football studies & I started blogging.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Ulcerative Colitis

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was 18 years old when I was Diagnosed

About the disease...
What were your main symptoms that led to your diagnosis?

Main symptoms were bleeding from the bottom, more regular emptying from my bum & so much more tired.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

I was in shock when I was first told I had Ulcerative Colitis. I had no clue what UC was so looked it up & then was like wow, a big change in my life.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

I had a good IBD nurse who was so supportive and even after she always made sure things were ok and checked it I needed anything.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

I was on Pentasa tablets and then steroid tablets but not anymore.

What are your experiences with hospitals? Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies? Do you have an IBD nurse?

My experience with hospitals wasn't bad at the start, just with quite a few admissions in the hospital with steroid drips does affect the experience. I do have a IBD nurse who is amazing. I’ve had 6 Colonoscopies in my time with UC which at first wasn’t nice but it’s for your own safety.

What seems to affect your IBD the most? What triggers it?

Stress is a massive part that affects my IBD the most and even when I have a cold or feel really low it can affect my IBD.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?

 I went through Depression which was helped with therapy and antidepressants.

Was this because of you IBD, or influenced by your IBD or vice versa?

IBD was an influence in being depressed.

Do you get support for your mental health?

Therapy & antidepressants.

Do you feel like you get the right support?

The support I had did help with opening up about things.

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring?

At the start when flared up it would be stress. I felt upset and so down in dumps but when in a bad flare up I ring my IBD nurse up, and she goes through the options available.

What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

Football is my break as when I play or even watch it, does take my mind off what is going on with myself.

What lifestyle/diet/changes have you made to cope with your IBD?

Some eating habits have changed from fizzy drinks to eating more healthy. Even exercise helps. Simple things like walking or sports.

What advice would you give to someone who may think they are experiencing early signs?

My advice would be, any time you’re worried or things are not right, go book an appointment at your local GP surgery and get checked over. Never fight it.

What advice would you give to the friends and family of those with IBD?

It's a very hard battle but keep fighting. So many people have IBD, so get on social groups.

If there is one thing that keeps you motivated and focused through it all, what would that be?

I think there’s always someone worse off than me, I am strong and this will not beat me.

What is your favourite quote?

Believe & Achieve.
Believe in yourself & watch you achieve things you never thought you could do.

Thank you Jamie for sharing your story here on BecxBlogs. If you are affected by Crohn's or Colitis; please go to the Crohn's & Colitis UK website for further support and information.