A Christmas Tag 2017

I was recently tagged in a couple different Christmas Tag posts, so instead of choosing between them, I thought I would mix the two together by choosing some questions from each... and kind of made a new little tag.

1) What's your favourite Christmas movie?

My all-time favourite Christmas movie has got to be Love Actually - it's heartwarming, funny, and EXTREMELY festive. I did make a list of my top 10 Christmas films if you want to see those!

2) What's your favourite Christmas song?

I love the classic Christmas songs... but my absolute favourite is Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody! Again I have a list of my top 10 Christmas songs with my whole Christmas playlist linked too, if you're interested!

3) Explain the perfect Christmas outfit.

If this means for actual Christmas day - it has to be a good cosy pair of Christmas leggings (or plain leggings) and a Christmas jumper. For a Christmas party it's always going to be a good old glam dress either covered in glitter or a timeless velvet material.

4) Bold up or nude up for Christmas?

Well, I usually go for a bold lip, but this year I've really gotten into nudes. For a recent Christmas party I even wore a nude lip, which was a first for me.... I usually go for a red lip!

5) What's your favourite Christmas memory?

As I child I always loved eating plenty of chocolate for breakfast. But also, it's the only time of the whole year (pretty much), that my family actually sit together and eat a meal, and just chat.

6) What's your favourite festive food?

Homemade Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Nothing can beat it.

7) Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

I've always opened up a brand new pair of pyjamas to sleep in on Christmas eve night with some chocolate to eat as a treat!

8) Where do you spend Christmas?

Because Eric and myself don't live together, we spend Christmas Eve together with my family, and Boxing Day together with Eric's family. But on Christmas Day we just spend it away from each other and with our own families - so we don't have to choose between anyone on Christmas Day! Makes life a bit easier... but it means we get 3 Christmas's technically!

9) Do you like giving or receiving gifts more?

I love giving presents more. I like to think I'm quite a good gift-giver, and I love looking for good bargains, and going to town on wrapping and making things look good!

10) What makes Christmas special to you?

I love the build up to Christmas and the whole atmosphere at that time of year. December is such a beautiful time with streets lit up with beautiful colours, everywhere is decorated and looks stunning, Christmas markets with the smell of hot food, Christmas carolers and big bands even if you just pop to your local Asda. It just feels like a special time for me, and it makes me happy. I also love getting together with friends and family, and just making the time for eachother.

I hope you liked this post, and I'm not tagging anyone in particular. I think everyone I would tag has probably already done it, so if you do want to give this a go feel free! You certainly don't have to be tagged to do it!

This is my last blog post until after Christmas, but I will still be uploading vlogs and content over on YouTube!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Charitable Things YOU Can Do Before the New Year.

I like to do what I can for Charity, especially for ones that are close to my heart and mean a lot to me. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly how you can help someone or somewhere, without always donating money - so here are a few ideas of things you can do to help a charity or a person before the year is up.

1) Buy Charity Christmas Cards

If you haven't already handed out your Christmas cards, I genuinely think it's worth spending the extras £1 or so for cards that donate to a good cause. It's a great way to help, but without taking up too much time. Most shops sell charity cards, including Asda and Tesco.

2) Give to a Food Bank

Food banks always struggle this time of year, and there are collection points in Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco so you can drop things off at your weekly shop. They're usually looking for items like cereal, pasta, rice, tinned food, powdered milk, long life food and toiletries. Some of these items can be bought for as little as 30p, so while on your next shop pick up a couple of bits and donate them to a great cause.

3) Give to a Dog and Cat Shelter

You can grab a bag of dog or cat food for as little as £3 on your weekly shop, so why not drop a packet off at your local shelter. Just like people, there are lots of homeless pets this time of year, who also need to be fed and looked after, so this is a great way to help out. Especially as shelters are always bursting full of unwanted Christmas pets!

4) Give Blood

If you're able to, sign up to be a blood donor. Did you know that appointments often get missed around this time of year? It doesn't cost a penny to give blood, just a bit of time, and it could save a life this Christmas.

5) Sign Up to be an Organ Donor

Becoming an organ donor saves lives, and takes minimal effort. It takes 5 minutes to sign up to donate your organs and tissues after you die, and once you've done that you don't have to do a single thing! You can rest knowing that one day, you might save someone's life.

If you're short on cash, or even time, and still want to make a difference before the year is up - see if you can do one of the above things, or even do several if you can.

Some of the Charities I'm currently supporting are Crohn's and Colitis UK, Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter, and the Trussel Trust. If you haven't already, go and check out their websites!

"At Pure Pet Food our mission is to make healthy choices for pets easy and accessible. All of our meals are lovingly made at our very own human grade food facility in Yorkshire, UK. 
Owners simply add water and serve creating a healthy, fresh meal in minutes!"

Voices of IBD (13) - Phil's Story

Welcome to PART 13 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 Phil about his battle with Crohn's Disease.

What is your name and age?

My name is Phil Harris and I’m 35 years old.

What is your occupation?

I am a training manager/ driving examiner for a bus company.

What form of IBD have you got?

I have Crohn's Disease. 

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed around 14 months ago.

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

My main symptoms were severe and quick weight loss along with extreme fatigue. All I needed to do was sit down and I would be asleep. This was accompanied at the end with blood in my stools.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

At first, I was told it was cancer. I was placed on the 2-week cancer pathway. This was the week before Christmas, so as you can guess it wasn’t the best Xmas last year. Following all the cameras it was then diagnosed as Crohn's. So, it was a relief at first. However, I soon became to worry about the condition.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

Following my diagnosis, I received regular contact from my IBD nurse and with the consultant.

Do you take medication , if so, what?

In relation to medication, I struggled; as all the steroids I tried made me extremely depressed and then came the Azothiprine. I was slowly increased to 100mg a day, however, they then started to give me extreme sickness . I was eventually taken off all medication and surgery was completed.

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

Over the last 12 months, I have had 4 hospital stays. Overall, I have found Blackburn hospital to be very well educated in relation to my complaint. I have had cameras both up and down and many CT scans along with MRI.

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

In relation to triggers, I can't really state for definite -  one week some things are good for me the next a flare-up happens.

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

The only mental health issue I suffered with, was whilst I was on the steroids. I do regularly worry about not being able to fully enjoy my life with my 13-year-old daughter and my loving wife. When enduring a flare up I am usually admitted to hospital for pain relief; however, I am now able to self administer morphine at home. Following recent surgery on the bowel, I have yet to really suffer a flare up.

How do you cope?
What is your go-to routine for when you are flaring? What do you do to give yourself a break or relax?

I usually find that relaxing on the sofa or engaging in fun with my daughter and wife reduces the stress and assists in managing the pain.

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

Lifestyle changes have mainly been diet, at first it was a liquid diet and now it is a low fibre diet.

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

I believe I had this condition for about 3 years before I was diagnosed. Being a man, it was embarrassing to discuss bowels with a doctor. I would advise anybody who has any signs at all to not be embarrassed and seek advice early.

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

I am fortunate enough to have a fantastically supportive family. However family members need to let the sufferer do what they think works and not tell them what to do.

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

The thought of one day being able to fully enjoy my life pain free is what keeps me going.

What is your favourite quote?

My favourite quote in life is “It'll be reet”. 
This quote is used every day in my battle with Crohn's.

Thank you Phil 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.

My Current Christmas Playlist

I'm not going to lie, I may have been listening to Christmas songs since November. I can't help it, I just love the festive season! I thought I would create a post about my top 10 Christmas songs, and have my whole Christmas playlist over on my Spotify at the very bottom, which has 58 songs and 3 hours worth of Christmas magic!

10) Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel - Ring In The Season (Olaf's Frozen Adventure) 

9) Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas 1984 Version

8) CeeLo Green - What Christmas Means To Me

7) Michael Buble - It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

6) Elton John - Step Into Christmas

5) Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You

4) Wham! - Last Christmas

3) Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

2) Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone

1) Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody

My Top 10 Festive Films

Everyone's list is always different, but these are my go-to festive films to get me in the Christmas spirit that, I reach for every year!

10) Frozen
The reason it's at the bottom of my list is that it's not technically a Christmas film, and it's actually set in summer... but it's one of those films I seem to watch only at Christmas. If this was a Disney themed list, it'd be much much higher.

9) Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer
PLEASE tell me you've heard of this film? I watched it over and over as a child, and I'd still watch it today as a 24-year-old grown woman. It's like a classic Christmas film for me, even if it was one of those things on repeat on Cartoon Network!

8) New Years Eve
I've always been a sucker for a good rom-com, and New Year's Eve is definitely a guilty pleasure. It's packed full of famous actors and actresses and this film is perfect for the after Christmas blues, to get you prepped for New Years.

7) The Snowman
Another classic I watched every year as a child. It's so simple but honestly, I still love it. For me, this film is the epitome of Christmas as a child, with the magic of snowmen coming to life and a party with Santa, and the innocence around Christmas. It's magical.

6) A Christmas Carol (2009)
I'm not one for very old films, so the 2009 version of A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey is my favouroite adaptation of the Dickens novel. To be honest, I like most movies with Jim Carrey in it, and the animation in this film is absolutely brilliant.

5) Elf
 I think Elf is on everyone's list, only much higher. Elf is another classic Christmas Comedy that everyone loves. I'm always shocked if someone says they haven't seen it. How could you not? It's on every TV channel around Christmas time!

4) The Nightmare Before Christmas
Some might argue this is a Halloween film, but for me, it's a bit of both. I'd watch it at both Halloween and Christmas, and probably all year round. I'm always a sucker for a Tim Burton film, I think he's extremely talented and creative. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a great "bridge" film for the time between Halloween and Christmas and is probably my 2nd favourite Tim Burton film, after Corpse Bride. 

3) The Holiday
I don't see this film cropping up too much on people's lists, but it's genuinely one of my favourite Christmas films and most definitely deserves to be in my top 3. It has some of my favourite actors in it... who doesn't love Jack Black and Jude Law?! I really like the whole story, and like I said before, I always love rom-coms.

2) Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas
I've already declared my love for Jim Carrey and The Grinch is one of those classic favourites that everyone loves. I have no exceptions, I always found this film hilarious as a child, and even today I love how it shows the magic of Christmas and how it brings people together.

1) Love Actually
I think anyone could have guessed it really. Love Actually is one of my all-time favourite films, nevermind my favourite Christmas film. I always feel happy when I watch this film. I love how it explores what Christmas is to lots of different types of people, and we get to see several story lines, that all link. I think it's not only extremely clever, but it's such a heartwarming film, especially in the run up to Christmas. If this film doesn't have you feeling festive then nothing will. 

Voices of IBD (12) - Shawn's Story

Welcome to PART 12 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 Shawn about her battle with Ulcerative Colitis.

What is your name and age?

My name is Shawntel Bethea, I prefer Shawn. I’m 25 years old.

What is your occupation?

I work full time in healthcare, I help with insurance and prescription drugs plans. I also have my own business for my advocacy and blog called Chronically Strong.

What form of IBD have you got?

Ulcerative Colitis

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was between 16 and 17 years old

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

Extreme fatigue, frequent bathroom usage and blood in the stool

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

Initially, after being diagnosed, I was confused. I didn’t understand my condition but my physician at the time led me to believe my condition could be managed by simply taking steroids, so I was pretty hopeful. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true and my health took a turn for the worst soon after I stopped seeing that physician.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

I mostly hid my condition for years after being diagnosed so I didn’t have much support. My family knew about my diagnosis but we didn’t talk about it much. I was very embarrassed and confused, I think they may have been afraid to offend me.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

Currently, I’m on antibiotics for Pouchitis (inflammation in my J-pouch). I also take occasional medications for nausea and vomiting.

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

I’m not exactly sure how many times I’ve stayed in a hospital -  if I had to guess I’d probably say maybe 100 since being diagnosed. I’ve probably had around 30+ scopes total, whether it was for my colon or pouch.

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

I had an Ostomy nurse during my six months with an Ostomy, but I’ve never had an actual healthcare provider that specializes in IBD.

Do you currently, or have in the past, struggled with mental health? If so, what?
My IBD is pretty random. No one thing specifically bothers it. Different things at different times, I really never know.

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

I’ve struggled with Anxiety and Depression because of my IBD, the surgeries, the stress, etc.

Do you get support for your mental health? Do you feel like you get the right support?

I’ve seen a few different therapists but my family and friends don’t acknowledge mental health much. I try to bring it up but it’s uncomfortable for many people

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

When I’m having an anxiety attack I try to talk myself down, deep breathing is my first step. If deep breathing and different ways I’ve discussed with my therapist don’t work, I move back to consulting my physician to possibly talk about my (occasional) anxiety medication. Depression is much different, but my process is somewhat the same. If it gets out of hand I try to consult a professional but until that point I try distracting my mind, breathing, hanging with friends, I’ve even done yoga before.

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

To relax I really enjoy venting, whether it’s to a close friend or on my blog and YouTube channel - I’ve found that expressing myself is one of the most effective ways to calm my mind.

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

Now that I have a Jpouch my diet is less strict than when I had a colon. I currently don’t eat meat, I don’t smoke, rarely drink. I try not to put a lot of stress on my Jpouch.

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

Don’t wait. Early treatment can make such a difference. You know your body; if you think something is wrong -consult with a professional as soon as possible.

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

You can learn so much by doing research. Even as a friend or caregiver, the more you know about the condition, the more you can help and the better support you can give.

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

Other IBD advocates, they always show me how important our work is and how much more I can do in our community. Also, the people who reach out to me, it’s shown me how much there is a need for the patient voice and just lets me know the work I do isn’t in vain.

What is your favourite quote?

Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.

Thank you Shawn 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 Shawn on her social media here:


CHRISTMAS IS UPON US! I'm so excited to be uploading my first festive content for my first Christmas as a blogger. In December, my blog will be 6 months old; and since Christmas is one of my favourite holidays, I knew I just HAD to upload Christmassy content. 

I pride myself on budget buying and promoting affordable products, so I wanted to create a TOP 10 AFFORDABLE GIFTS UNDER £25 for your girlfriends, sisters, friends and more!

1) The Body Shop Gift-sets

The Body Shop have a fab range of gifts under £25, with SO many to choose from I've put a few of my favourites below.  My all-time favourite has to be the Festive Picks giftsets, especially the strawberry scent (it smells like goddamn calpol), which are only £20. I think that price is amazing for what you get in the box. However, the Beauty Bags. like the satsuma one, are even lower at £12. 

 2) Primark Pyjamas

Primark is killing it lately with their diverse range, and affordability. They have some super cute festive pyjamas, like Elf and the Grinch, which come in at £12, in cute little boxes! They also have a great range of Disney, Harry Potter and other girly picks anywhere between £6 and £10. Everyone loves a good pair of pyjamas, and they're perfect gifts. For some reason, I have never, ever bought myself some pyjamas... they're always presents. Is that just me?

3) Lush Gift-sets

Everyone loves a good, relaxing Lush bath. There are lots of festive gift sets this year all under £25, and some as little as £10.50. The gift-sets don't always include just bath bombs too, but include things like shower gels, body creams and bubble bars. If you know a Lush fanatic, these are the gifts to go for!

4) New Look Home Ware

New Look are killing it this season with their accessories and home ware. These are just a few examples of things I've seen in store and online; and they're all under £20! Rose Gold, dogs and Unicorns are all very popular at the moment, and I'd personally have every single one of these as a gift for myself, nevermind anyone else!

5) Primark Home Ware

Primark has also really upped their game with their super cute home ware selection. Not only do they sell Disney and Harry Potter related gifts but they are massively affordable. All the gifts below come in between £2 and £8 - can you believe that! It's very hard not buying these for myself!

6) Soap & Glory Makeup Sets

We all know Soap & Glory have some awesome bath sets, but their makeup sets are adorable. All these gifts are under £25 for the avid makeup lover. Not only that but Soap & Glory have very good quality makeup. Their Supercat Eyeliner and Archery Brow Pencil are holy grail items for me.

7) Pop Vinyls

These are EVERYWHERE at the moment, and I don't blame them. They're cute and you can get a character from almost every TV show, movie, comic, game and more. From Disney, to Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Stranger Things. I have a collection of my own favourite characters on my shelves. What's more, these range anywhere between £7 and £20 for most of them!

8) Fragrance at Boots and Superdrug

You don't need to pull out £40 to get the next Chanel fragrance. All these perfumes are £25 and under at the moment, and they all smell divine. It's always worth looking on the Boots and Superdrug websites for any offers on. Often before Christmas, fragrances from earlier in the year have their prices HALVED, so definitely check them out.

9) Yankee Candle Gift Sets

Yankee candles can be a really luxurious gift for anyone who likes burning candles or wax melts. Not only are they relaxing, but they look so pretty and smell amazing. Gift sets often come with decorative options for that extra bit of luxury. All of these gifts sets come in between £18 and £25. If you're looking for candles that are more stocking fillers, definitely have a look at the Primark range, their little candles are fab too, at a fraction of the price of Yankee Candle.

10) Nail Gift Sets

Nail gift sets are perfect for every girl who likes to paint their nails. For example, the Nails Inc Unicorn set also comes with a cute face mask. Painting your nails is a very pampering activity, and these gift sets are great for people who want to expand their nail polish collection. All these gifts range from £25 for the OPI Fiji set, to £8.95 for the smaller Love OPI set.

I hope this gift guide was useful. All these gifts are relevant in 2017. Of course, lots of people like lots of different kinds of things - so if you know of something I MUST KNOW about, please do tell me! I'm always looking for new things to get my family and friends.

Have a lovely Christmas! 🎅


Following on from my Gift Guide for Girls, of course, I had to do a one for boys. And while I am not a boy myself, and while lists are usually non-exhaustive - I'm mostly basing this list on the kinds of boys and men I buy for in my life. So it may not be perfect for every single man out there, I do hope someone finds it useful.

As with my other gift guide, I wanted to create a TOP 10 AFFORDABLE GIFTS FOR GUYS UNDER £25, for your boyfriends, brothers, best friends and more!

1)  Gaming Accessories

I don't know about you, but every boy in my life is a gamer. My brother, boyfriend and most of my guy-friends all game in one way or another, and you can never be short of useful accessories to make the experience more fun and immersive. These accessories below are all currently available from GAME, and are all under £25, which is a total bargain. Not to mention, SteelSeries and Razer are great high-quality brands too.

2) Beard Kits

Everyone and their uncle has a beard nowadays, and it's become a very popular fashion trend. Beards don't always become beautiful masterpieces without some TLC, just like how we care for the hair on our head. These beard kits from Boots are great little gifts and most of them are on offer at the moment. Boots are usually great for their Christmas gift set offers!

3) Pop Vinyls

Pop Vinyls are extremely popular at the moment and they're brilliant because of their affordability (being anywhere between £7 and £20), but they make characters from almost every TV show, movie and game. A few brilliant examples for this Christmas are below. Everyone loved this year's Rick and Morty season, and not forgetting Game of Thrones. with the release of Thor Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I thought they would be fab additions. All the guys in my life absolutely loved Blizzcon, and how Sylvanas was portrayed in the new World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth cinematic so she would be a fabulous addition to any WoW lovers collection - she proudly sits on my own shelf!

4) This Years Popular Blu-rays

My boyfriend always says he's easy to buy for because you can always count on a decent blu-ray. With the release of so many amazing films this year, there's so many to choose from. All of this films below, from 2017, are all under £20.

5) Lush Gift Sets

Bath sets are often underrated by men. I know that my boyfriend certainly loves a good, relaxing bath and the odd bath bomb or two. It's usually something that men don't buy themselves (since the majority are aimed at women through marketing), so getting them as a gift is a great idea. These sets below are particularly good for men if they don't want to whole pink and glitter bath, although, it's a bath so they probably don't really care too much! All of these gift sets are under £20.

6) Primark Pyjamas

I have to say, the website was disappointing when I was collecting pictures, because there were SO many more interesting ones that I've seen in-store, but here's a few from the website. Primark are brilliant for relevant, fashionable and affordable pyjamas, and who doesn't love a nice, new pair at Christmas? All of these below ranged from £8 to £16.

7) Fragrances at Boots and Superdrug

Fragrances are always a really good gift for people in general. At the moment, Boots and Superdrug have some amazing deals, and all of these fragrances below are £25 and under. Some of them have even HALVED in price in the run up to Christmas, which is absolutely amazing!

8) Graphic Tee's 

Is it just me or are men always wear graphic tee's if they aren't wearing a shirt? Here's a few that I would definitely buy the men in my life. All of these tee's were £20 and under. The Princess Leia one was from Primark, the Playstation one from New Look, and the rest are easily found on Amazon.

9) Star Wars Gifts

Since I've already mentioned them a lot, I thought I might as well make a section just for Star Wars. Especially with the release of The Last Jedi this month, it's going to be a hot topic for a lot of fans out there. Some of these gifts below were from New Look and some from Amazon, but ALL were £25 and under at the moment. I personally LOVE that stormtrooper decanter.

10) Marvel & DC Gifts

And just like above, Marvel and DC will be hot this Christmas with all the amazing films released this year... from Wonder Woman, to Justice League, Thor Ragnarok and Spriderman Homecoming, there's plenty of gifts under £25. Below are a few examples from Primark and Amazon.

I do hope this gift guide was useful, and like my gift guide for girls - of course it always depends on an individual's interests. I did base this guide of the men I know personally, but I thought they might be a good starting point.  As always I want to know what YOU think would be great affordable gifts for men and boys... I'm always on the hunt for fab bargains!

Have a lovely Christmas! 🎅

Voices of IBD (11) - Emma's Story

Welcome to PART 11 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 Emma about her battle with Crohn's Disease. 

What is your name and age?

My name’s Emma, and I’m 19 years old!

What is your occupation?

I’m a student – currently in my first year of university studying Biomedical Science. I love it! Hopefully I’ll be able to work in the field when I graduate, but right now I’m not letting myself think that far head.

What form of IBD have you got?

I’ve got Crohn’s disease, mostly confined to the small intestine.

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I’d just turned 9 when I was diagnosed - I’ve had Crohn’s for a whopping 10 years now! I can’t believe it. It was a real struggle to come to terms with it when I was so young, but I think it helped, too – kids are stronger than we think.

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

It started with diarrhoea, out of nowhere, that I had absolutely no warning of or control over – utterly mortifying for a 9-year-old! Then the weight loss started, and since I’ve always been petite, it became worrying really quickly. Those two, combined, got me referred for my first colonoscopy.

How did you feel when you got diagnosed?

Of course, I was upset at first – try telling a child that they’ve got a horribly embarrassing disease, and will have it for the rest of their life! But I was secretly relieved as well, to finally know that my condition had a name, it was known to the doctors, there were treatments for it and I could take them and hopefully get my life back. From that moment, it seemed that there was only one way to go: up.

What support did you get during and after your diagnosis?

Next to none, honestly. Being in paediatrics, most of the conversation from the doctors was directed at my parents, who confessed to me a while ago that they weren’t even told much more than I was. It was pretty much a case of ‘here’s your diagnosis, now go away and get on with it’. So we turned to Crohn’s and Colitis UK to start gathering information.

Do you take medication, if so, what?

I started out on Pentasa, which worked well for years, even keeping me well after surgery to remove a stricture that had formed spontaneously. But in 2012 it was clear that it was no longer enough as I started to experience constant abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss again – and so azathioprine was added to the mix. It helped somewhat, but in 2016 things began to slide again – and blood tests revealed that I wasn’t metabolising the drug efficiently – so in September I started on Humira. I’m hoping that it’ll be my magic bullet, but only time will tell…

What are your experiences with hospitals?

Largely mixed. My diagnosis happened at a big children’s hospital which is renowned for its care, but my parents and I all felt brushed-off by the doctors and like we were to be hustled in and out as quickly as possible. For a few years my care was under the London hospital where my resection was carried out, but the gastroenterologist I was seeing was highly brusque and continued to act like I wasn’t even in the room during my appointments, talking only to my parents. This irritated me more and more as I hit my teenage years and eventually I decided to have my care transferred to my local hospital, where I could get the bus, instead of having to ask my dad to take a day off work, suffer London traffic and sacrifice an exorbitant amount of money for parking too. That was probably the best decision I ever made: at the same time, I made an abrupt transition into adult care (since I was 15 at the time) and suddenly medical professionals were talking to me. It was eye-opening. I felt a part of the process, I felt listened to, I felt looked-after for the first time.

Have you had many stays in hospital, or colonoscopies?

Let’s see… chronologically: one 3-day (or so) hospital stay, one colonoscopy + gastroscopy, two barium meals (worst investigation EVER), a few x-rays here and there, another colonoscopy, another stay in hospital, an MRI scan, another colonoscopy, and another MRI. Oh, and blood tests roughly every 3 months, since the beginning!

Do you have an IBD nurse?

I don’t. I’ve been under gastroenterologists at three hospitals so far and I haven’t ever had an IBD nurse. I think I’m just unlucky.

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

Stress plays a massive part, but I’m naturally highly-strung, so the struggle feels inevitable. Also the food that I eat, although I don’t have too many triggers: my biggest ones are fat and tomatoes (no pizza for me, then!). I also don’t enjoy eating foods high in fibre, since they sometimes cause me obstructions (and usually pain).

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

I have since the beginning, and, if I’m being honest, still am. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve never sought help for it. I just don’t know where to begin: the anxiety, depression, all the things that I want help with are tangled-up in my disease, and I don’t know how much a medical professional would understand of that. And even though I’d never ever think this of anyone else, something inside of me hisses that I’m weak whenever I contemplate it. So I keep putting it off.

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

It mostly stems from the disease, I think, and how it’s been such a big part of my life for so long - I’ve grown up with it, and it’s grown with me, too, but along the way it’s set about ruining my self-worth wherever possible. I got teased for my condition in primary school, in secondary school I would get told I was lucky to be so thin like I wasn’t lucky to still be alive, and constantly trying to be as perfect as possible to compensate for the disease has really done a number on my brain. But I’m working through it, bit by bit.

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

They creep up on me slowly, with things getting gradually worse and worse and then one day I wake up and everything is awful, and has been awful for months, and how did I not realise before? So I try and be gentle with myself. Lots of sleep, foods that are easy on the gut (I have a reputation among my friends as a voracious chicken nugget eater and this is the reason why!) and I try and keep the stress low, even though it’s difficult.

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

Mostly I read and play videogames. The enjoyment comes from the same place for both – being able to escape somewhere else, and be someone else, for a while. I’ve probably spent far more on books and videogames than anything else in my life so far! I also knit (poorly), which is much more meditative than I first thought it would be.

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

Having been diagnosed so young, I never really felt like I had to make any drastic changes to my life, more that I was just working out what worked and didn’t, like my condition and I were growing together. But mostly keeping fat, fibre and tomatoes out of my diet as much as possible, and keeping physical exertion to a minimum, have helped.

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

Please get it checked out. You’re not being silly for thinking there’s cause for concern. If it’s nothing, then that’s great!  But if it is something, you can start to treat it as soon as it’s confirmed. Don’t just sit there and worry.

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

Don’t tiptoe around it. Really. If you do, then we’ll feel like we can’t be 100% honest with you about our disease, for fear of embarrassing you or scaring you off. This really sucks –IBD is a massive burden on our lives, and sharing the burden (even just having someone to listen to us rant sometimes!) can really lessen it. But we don’t want to do that if you’re not willing – so please, if you have an IBDer in your life, and you want to support them, tell them that you don’t mind listening to them talk about their poop. They will appreciate it.   

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

The fact that pain is temporary. Bad times don’t – they can’t – last forever. Things will get better if I just stick around long enough to see it out.

What is your favourite quote?

“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill


“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” 

Thank you Emma, 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 Emma over on:
Twitter @QuiteGutsy
Instagram @QuiteGutsy
and her blog - www.