Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Thoughts On A Month Of Employment

I've been gainfully employed for a month now, and it feels like a good time to reflect on my new job and on life while chronically working. 




I decided to start looking for a job after 2 months of resting (read: sitting on the sofa and binge-watching Scandal), following my move back from London. I wasn't sure if I was 'ready' to re-enter the world of work, but I knew that the only way to find out was to try. I wasn't really sure what I was capable of doing anymore, I only really knew what I can't do. I can't stand for long periods of time, I can't walk without being in pain and I can't do that for long. I can't lift or carry heavy objects and I can't do anything that involves too much repetitive motion. Which rules out...quite a lot of jobs.

So I wasn't sure how many jobs out there I could do or how long it would take me to find something I could do, that was also part-time, and in my limited travel range. In the end, I was very lucky in that it only took me two interviews to get a job, but enough time from starting to look in January, to starting on the 29th Feb, that I got my exercise regime in place and it became routine enough that I could keep it up once I started.

I mentioned this before in my February review, but now I've actually started to work I can definitely say I hit the jackpot job-wise. The people I work with are lovely and I feel like I've settled in really quickly. I enjoy the work a lot: it's methodical, process-driven, it is, for the most part, either right or wrong. The hours suit me and allow me time to rest and do my exercise regime, which is great. My insomnia has gotten better, with the routine.

Sounds awesome yeah? Not quite. I've still not nailed down getting to sleep before 1am which means I'm now not getting very much sleep. So I've been pretty tired. From the lack of sleep, the travelling, the working, Really tired. More tired, I think, somehow, than I even was in London where I was working full time and had a rather more active social life. Right now, I need to nap every afternoon and the last couple of weeks have been particularly hard: I've had to miss one of my 3 exercise sessions each week due to tiredness and cancel a lot of social plans. It sucks, but it serves as a good reminder. I have a chronic illness and not listening to my body and trying to live my Fullest Life is likely how I got in this state in the first place.

I got a bit cocky. I thought I was doing sooooo well with my job and my exercise and my blossoming social life and I forgot that sometimes you can run on fumes for a couple weeks before it really hits you. Then it really hit me and I had to start dropping things out of my days like nobody's business. Even blogging, which you may have noticed I failed to do last week. This wasn't helped by an error on my part that led to me being without medication for two days (more on that later). I tried to run before I could walk and I paid the price, but thankfully the Easter weekend came exactly when I needed it and I'm feeling much better from 4 days of a lot of TV and sleep and not much else.

I'm glad I got a job. Working is helping in a lot of ways, even if it's leaving me tired for now. I know that won't last forever and having a routine is good for me, getting out of the house more is good for me, building up more stamina is good for me and exercising my brain is good for me. And it's nice to be earning again.


Friday, 18 March 2016

Marvel vs DC: On The Small Screen


With season two of Daredevil releasing today, and me eagerly anticipating my boyfriend finishing work at 10pm so we can start our marathon binge-watching session, I thought I would look at the TV offerings from both Marvel and DC, what I like and don't like and maybe even pick a winner. Warning: this will be heavily biased and not at all technical.

Marvel:




Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
I watched two episodes and I was bored so I stopped. I've been told it "gets better" in like, the second season or something but I'm just not sure I have the patience for that shit. Well and truly shelved.

Agent Carter
Peggy Carter is, without a doubt, one of my favourite characters. She's resourceful, skilled, determined and sassy as hell. She also has impeccable style. Her responses to the institutionalised sexism she's constantly faced with are hilarious - as tragic as it is to see. I love her relationship with Jarvis which is so well developed over the first season and continues to grow in what I've seen of season two so far. I also think the storylines are really good.

Daredevil
It was gonna take a lot to redeem Daredevil after that film, and it's safe to say Netflix's first collaboration with Marvel managed to do so spectacularly.  Every fight scene is as beautiful as it is brutal and not even I, least TV-technical person ever, could write about this show without mentioning that epic single shot corridor fight scene. Wilson Fisk's character had such depth and growth which was so interesting to see from a villain and I loved Rosario Dawson's performance. I'm super excited for the introduction of Electra and the Punisher in season 2!

Jessica Jones
My favourite of the two Netflix collabs, Jessica Jones really gets off with a bang with the huge ending of episode one. It's dark and it's gritty and it's pretty feminist and fairly ugly in places and it's so, so glorious. It explores a lot of themes like abuse and PTSD that don't get the screen time they should, and I liked that's about a detective who happens to have superpowers. I genuinely never thought I would find David Tennant unattractive and I am ecstatic to be proven wrong because that's how much he commits to the character of Kilgrave. Krysten Ritter is absolutely fantastic as the titular character and I especially enjoyed Carrie-Ann Moss as Hogarth.

DC:



Gotham
AWFUL. Watched the first episode and it was really meh and apparently this also "gets better" but there's so much other awesome stuff to watch that I'm just not that interested in sticking around and waiting for that to happen.

Arrow
I genuinely didn't know what Arrow was when I started watching it. Somewhere along the line, somehow, it had gotten confused with Chicago Fire & I thought it was about firefighters so I just never bothered. Then one day I randomly looked it up, realised it was DC entity and so started watching it. A slow starter, the show improves exponentially when Felicity (the best thing about the show) is introduced. It's just so moody and a bit emo and I think DC thought that's what people wanted and then maybe they realised that wasn't what people wanted but there's only so much they could do to fix it at that point. Plus, no one actually enjoys the flashbacks anymore, do they?

The Flash
The perfect antidote to Arrow. It is everything Arrow isn't: lighthearted and fun and a bit silly, but it also has so much more of the emotion. You're faced with Barry who is so upbeat and so genuinely happy to help people and run super fast and wear a cool suit that everything involving him just has so much more emotion attached than it does for emo-Oli. And Harrison Wells is such an excellently complexly brilliant character with such multi-layered motives - he's just exceptional (and exceptionally acted).

Constantine
I really, really, really wanted to like Constantine, but I just really can not get past that awful accent. I really wish they'd just let him be Welsh rather than a Welsh person trying and failing to do a Liverpudlian accent. I tried really hard to get past this, but clearly I am not that good of a person. So I stopped watching it. I very much enjoyed his guest appearance in Arrow, though. I think I could tolerate that carrying on.

Supergirl
Supergirl is so fun and really feminist and that makes me so happy. When I first heard it was happening and I looked it up and realised the main cast was comprised of women and men of colour, I knew this was obviously going to be a really thoughtful adaptation and it is. I love everything they've done with it, I love all Cara's interactions with everyone in her life and I *especially* love Calista Flockhart's character (and her speech about reclaiming the word 'girl' - YES). The UK mid-season break has been TOO LONG and I need Supergirl back in my life post-haste. I genuinely don't think I've seen my boyfriend happier than when I told him there was going to be a Flash/Supergirl crossover.

Legends of Tomorrow
I've only seen three episodes of Legends of Tomorrow so far, but I'm really enjoying it. I like the dynamics of the team members and Rip Hunter's exasperation at their various ineptitudes. I really enjoy the time travel elements, Wentworth Miller's gleeful overacting and White Canary's super cool outfit. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.

So who wins?

I'm actually really disappointed to be super predictable and pick Marvel, given that they are slaughtering D.C on the film-front. I genuinely thought I'd pick D.C but while they have a huge success story in The Flash, I don't feel like Arrow, Supergirl and LoT combined, as much as I enjoy them, can really hold up to Marvel's offerings. The quality Marvel has in just three shows, all of which have been clearly put together with a lot of thought and expertise, is stellar. For me, D.Cs success really lies in its crossovers and guest appearances. My favourite episodes are Flarrow ones, and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the Supergirl/Flash meeting. I love that they've put Legends of Tomorrow together, giving us that crossover feeling without ruining how special the crossovers are. So yeah, Marvel gets the crown.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Totally Unscientific and Probably Unorthodox Ways to Manage Insomnia


This is possibly the most anecdotal and unorthodox approach to insomnia ever, because none of that develop a nightly routine while listening to calming ocean noises and drinking milky drinks has ever done shit for me. Insomnia has plagued me for most of my life, and so here are some actual productive steps I take and tips I've developed that make insomnia more manageable, rather than curing it. 

The Night Itself

Bedtime - I rarely get to sleep before 1am and on a Sunday or the night before something I'm stressed about, much, much later. One of the most unhelpful things I've done is try to force myself to be asleep really early. It's not going to work and trying to do so is lacking in self-awareness. Instead I recognise that I will likely not be asleep before 1am, so instead of trying to settle down at 10, and then spending 5 stressful hours stressing about not being asleep, I let myself have until midnight. It makes me feel calmer having extra time to wind down, and if I tell myself all night that I'm settling down at 1am, it's less-anxiety inducing when I get there and I'm more likely to get to sleep faster.

Don't Beat Yourself Up About It - So it's 4am and you're not asleep. The world is not going to end. Yes you'll be tired tomorrow (or, today, technically) but you'll probs get through it (see later tips for how to do that). Stressing about it is only going to make the whole situation worse.

Just Do What Works For You - Lots of places say you should get up and do a task when you can't sleep, and then try and sleep again but also having a chronic condition means I'm often physically exhausted even if I'm mentally wide awake, so getting up is the LAST thing I want to do. I usually listen to an audiobook (though this could easily be a podcast, radio programme) for a little bit and then try sleeping again, but if getting up helps you, get up. If having a bath helps, have a bath. Have ten baths. Just don't do it because the internet told you to, do it because it actually helps. Even if it seems counter-intuitve (like falling asleep with the TV on).

For the morning after the night before

Organisation is Key - In my last job, before I left work every day, I would write a rough to do list for the next day. This served a dual purpose as it meant I left work feeling calmer and more in control, but mainly it meant that when I got in the next morning I didn't spend twenty minutes blinking sleepily at my screen and trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing that day.

No Really, Organisation is Key - In a similar vein, before I left work I would also highlight tasks that needed doing but were less mentally taxing, and I would do those when I first got into work, and save everything else for when I'd woken up a bit more.

Do It The Night Before - One thing I found particularly helpful was to look at my morning routine and decide what could be moved to the night before, when I was more awake, rather than in the morning when I was sleepy and irritable. So I started laying out my outfits the night before, making sure everything I needed was in my bag and my bag was where I could find it. It saves you valuable minutes that you can spend recovering some extra winks of sleep and also saves you mistakes you might make when you're not operating at your best (like leaving your keys behind).

Minimising Morning Routine - I shaved my morning routine down to the bare minimum for when my insomnia is particularly bad. It was already fairly minimal because even when I don't have insomnia issues I don't sleep well ( I have always showered at night, for example), so I try and spend as little time as possible getting ready. But one thing I could cut down on was hair straightening. I used to straighten my hair every morning which is both bad for it and time consuming. I don't wash my hair everyday, so half the time I was straightening it as more of a top-up. I realised that I could live with my hair being not *totally* straight if that meant every other day I could have an extra 20 minutes in bed.
If you're a full face of beautiful make up person, you could develop a lighter version for days after bad sleep nights and if you tend to eat a full breakfast before you leave the house, you could pick something up from Starbucks/favourite or nearest coffee shop and eat it at your desk instead. This last one is also a nice treat for when you've had a particularly frustrating lack of sleep night.

Cold Water - There are so many products out there designed to be put on your eyes to make them look more awake or less puffy or whatever, but the best thing for me is just cold water on a flannel pressed over each eye. The cold water helps the puffiness and helps fully-open my often half-closed eyes and the shock of the cold also wakes me up a bit.

Snack A Lot - This one could be just be because I am the world's biggest snacker, but if I am totally lacking in energy because I haven't slept well, I find snacking really does help. The constant influx of food energy keeps me more alert and nice foods help curb that sorry-for-yourself feeling somewhat. If you're worried about the health issues of this tip, you are absolutely right to and you can always have snacks like apples and nuts and dried fruit, just stay away from me and my Jaffa Cakes.

Nap - Should we nap? Should we not nap? How long should we nap for? I thought about looking this up and then I felt really tired. Metaphorically, obviously. If I'm not sleeping much at night, I think it's helpful to recoup some of that time if possible. It might make me not sleep that night, but I probably wasn't going to anyway. At least I grabbed an extra hour pre-dinner.


Do you have any tips for managing insomnia?

Friday, 11 March 2016

My Etsy Addiction #1



I'm Caitlin and I'm an Etsy addict. I suffer from really bad insomnia so I spend a lot of time in the middle of the night scrolling through Etsy (I know, I know, blue light, bad for sleep, I know). I never used to buy anything because so much stuff is from the US/CAN and the shipping to the UK is so horrendous. But then I discovered that on the app you can filter it to only show things from shops in the UK. Game. Changer. Simultaneously the best and worst thing I have ever done.

I thought I would start a regular feature showcasing some of the delightful things I discover on my late-night Esty browsing sessions. That way you can all become as addicted as me. Ha. Please be aware, some of the items I feature will be from shops based outside of the UK, so the shipping costs can be extensive and there can also be customs charges involved. All photos featured are from the Etsy listings.

 This absolutely gorgeous jewellery box shaped like a stack of books from MyButterflySister

This beautiful set of prints with the quote "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night" from hairbrainedschemes

This super-cute pair of magnetic bookmarks with the central characters from my favourite book: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell from HappyHelloCo

This sophisticated set of stacking rings from BeckyMorgans

This clever and lovely sea glass handmade pendant necklace from Ladylouislouis

Are you a fellow Etsy addict? What is your favourite piece from my selections?

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

On The Frustration Of Mental Fatigue


I've always prided myself on having a sharp mind. I know a lot of words and I know how to use them. I grasp concepts quickly. I have a good memory and I can recall things easily. I can tell you three other things a familiar actor in whatever it is we're watching has been in. 

Or can I? 

One of the symptoms of my condition is mental fatigue. It's not a symptom I've really struggled with before and it's not one I'm able to accept. I forget words all the time: I KNOW what word I want, I can feel it sat there, just out of reach, and I can usually tell you what letter it starts with. I can almost always recover it if given ten minutes, but it never used to take ten minutes. 

I lose track of sentences half way through and it takes me a beat or three or ten to find the rest of it.  

I've already talked about my problems with reading in this earlier post and while I've managed to improve this slightly, it's not by much. 

I've also really been struggling with watching anything that actually requires attention. My mum and I spend a lot of time watching variations of Next Top Model and Say Yes to the Dress and lots of other similar take-your-brain-out shows which is fine with us, but it frustrates my boyfriend no end. The two of us recently finished a rewatch (not my first since last July...) of all the seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race and I was scouting around for our next easy watch when he burst out "please can we just watch something of substance?!"  I can't. I don't even have the energy to contemplate the concentration level this would require. I'm so mentally tired that I can't even stop in the right place when fast-forwarding ad breaks anymore. I've been building myself up by watching the latest Elementary episodes I've saved which are familiar yet new at the same time. 

The return of Arrow and The Flash, the start of Legends of Tomorrow came at a good time. My bf and I watch these together and I can cope with a format I know but with new episodes. I can cope with these which I know are mostly entertaining and not too cerebral. We're planning a Daredevil season 2 marathon when that comes onto Netflix and I really hope my anticipation for it, and my familiarity with it having seen season 1, means I'll be up to watching it. 

I've tried games on my phone that require logic, rational thinking and analytical skills to complete a level. Sometimes these help but most of the time I get frustrated at my inability to do them. And I was finding it easiest to play at night, which really wasn't helping my insomnia any. 

I'm hoping my return to work, which happened last week, will help sharpen my mind again. Working is tiring, physically and mentally at the moment, but it's also giving my brain a bit of a workout when honestly, I've let it go into hibernation the past 4 months while I concentrated on getting my body better. Hopefully I'm now ready to work on both! 



Do you suffer from mental fatigue? What is the worst element for you and what do you do to combat it? I need tips. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

#6Degrees - Fangirl


I'm super excited to be introducing my first #6Degrees post! Last month I guest-posted my chain on Teens On Moon Lane, check it out here.

If you're not familiar with the #6Degrees meme, here's how it works:
On the first Saturday of every month, YA Yeah Yeah (moving from Teens on Moon Lane) will post a chain of 6 books, with each successive pair linked together by a different connection. We can then do our own chains (starting from the same book) at any point during the month either on our own blog, leaving YA Yeah Yeah a link, or in the comments section of their post. Every week on YA Yeah Yeah there'll also be a guest-posted chain from a different author or blogger - so be sure to check those out too!

This month's book is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - here's YA Yeah Yeah's chain

I loved Fangirl from the first moment I started reading it. In fact I read it twice in one weekend and I can't tell you how many times I've read it since. It's now one of my go-to comfort rereads, as is Anna and the French Kiss

I loved the Parisian setting of Anna and the French Kiss - how magnificently it is brought to life and how well I could picture it, same with the setting of The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward.

The Potion Diaries is a fantastic mix of modern and fairytale, with the two blending seamlessly to create a fully actualised and intriguing world, just like in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

The Lunar Chronicles is a series I thought I wouldn't be that interested in because I'm not normally a fairytale retellings person, but I loved Cinder after finally caving and reading it because of all the love it gets and it was the same with Geek Girl by Holly Smale.

I wasn't sure Geek Girl was my 'thing' but I ended up absolutely adoring it and laughing out loud so many times. One of my favourite bits was the family interactions which is a huge reason why I love Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. 



Have you read any of the books in my chain?



Tuesday, 1 March 2016

A Thank You To My Mum


As it's Mother's Day this Sunday a post about my mum, about how she's helped me since I got ill, seemed topical!

(Here she is! This picture is Quite Old now but we both look basically the same still and I really like it (plus my hair is On Point) )

When I first told my mum I had decided to move home, she reacted very casually but I knew she was happy. I was ill and she was worried, I was stressed and she was worried and I'm pretty sure she missed having someone to watch TV with.

She redecorated my room for me - it'd had the same carpet since we first got carpets over ten years ago now and the walls were the standard magnolia of a new build. All of the furniture had been hand-me-downs: my bed was my sister's bed and my sister had my bed which had originally been my neighbour's bed. So my mum bought a new carpet, painted the walls a soothing grey, bought and assembled all new furniture, including a rather expensive chest of drawers because it was the only one I really liked and was big enough. She made it a nice room to come home to (and incidentally cured my allergies). And then recently she and my boyfriend put up some of my prints to make it even homier

(Some of my prints up on the wall, plus aforementioned delicious dresser)

I would not be doing as well as I am doing, which is as well as someone in my position could expect to be doing, without my mum's support. She comes to all my exercise classes and swimming sessions with me and was the one that made me start going to them all in the first place. She does my physio exercises with me and makes me do them even if I don't want to because I need to do them everyday. Then she makes me a hot water bottle because I cried because it hurt because I did Pilates the day before and pulled all my stomach and lower back muscles. She cooks all my dinners, even if she refuses to call it dinner, and adds extra veg to them because I need to eat more veg. She's been watching both Scandal and Madam Secretary with me because I wanted to watch them, even though she's seen them both before. She buys me expensive leave in conditioner and Lucky Charms even though I shouldn't really eat them. She recently went shopping with me for clothes for my new job and was very helpful even if she did say "that would be fine with a vest top under it" to practically every outfit.

You don't think that at 26, living independently in London with a good career and an active social life and an actual savings account like a real grown up, that you will have to move back home and basically become a child again. But if you do, I hope you have a mum like mine who makes you feel grateful every day that she is your mum (even if she won't let you get a kitten).