2020 Gothic Clothing Splurge – purchases & review

Welcome back! I put up new content every Wednesday, based on whatever nonsense I’m interested in at the time.

This week I wanted to take you through some of my horrendous splurging on clothes. What’s the point of enjoying fashion if you aren’t going to show it off?

In the last year or so, I’ve been taking a new direction with my fashion choices and actually getting excited about clothes again. I’ve been veering back to my black velvet roots, especially in light of the first series of The Witcher. Yennefer has long been a style icon from the games, but the TV show put me in desperate need for a knee-high pair of lace-up boots like yesterday. Come to think of it, I get a lot of my style from film and TV.

My love of all things gothic has never, ever left me – The Addams Family and all the other spooky shows (The Worst Witch, Grizzly Tales, Are you Afraid of the Dark) imprinted on me too much as a child for that. I love all things spooky and I believe, where my heart should be, there is a little hanging bat.

Lately I’ve gone back to my love of romantic gothic clothing. I’m talking velvet and witchy sleeves paired with lace-up boots or shiny Dr Martens (like an evil pixie; everyone loves the evil pixie look), dramatic faux fur collars, long Morticia hair. I’ve gone back to a style of dress I loved years ago, back before we had quite the number of amazing gothic brands we have now. Gothic fashion has never been so accessible and I for one felt incredibly inspired to re-vamp (ha ha) my tired grunge wardrobe. I’m ready to be ~ pretty ~ now.

So what did I splurge on?

This is where I shamelessly show off my new clothes. I’m so excited about these dresses that I can’t even. Some of these have already arrived and already been gratefully worn, but others are in the mail, waiting, waiting…

Anyway, these are my main clothes purchases over the last couple of months. Enjoy!

Kate’s Clothing/Dark in Love Haul

Dark in Love Anastasia dress: Arrived last month (Dec). Fits beautifully, couldn’t be more pleased with it. Fits rather differently than the model; I am a UK size 16 and I have 36E/34F bust, so the shape is rather different on me!
Dark in Love Lucy Black dress: Arrived last month (Dec) Again, I loved this one. Fits beautifully, though slightly tighter on the bust. The length of the arms means I’d probably wear this to an occasion, meal out, or anywhere I could show it offer properly instead of under a coat. These sleeves ain’t work-safe either!
Dark in Love Carina Dress: This one is in the post. I just fell in love with the fairy-witchyness of it and I am a sucker for crushed velvet and floaty sleeves. The collar topped it off for me – it’s those little details.
Dark in Love Amara Dress: This is still to arrive. I loved this casual style with the interesting design around the chest and neck. This one could easily be worn to work, though of course it depends how low the neckline drops. I’d wear this with flats and leggings to tone it down a little and boots for a night out.
Dark in Love Chloe Dress: Again, in the post (I bought the 3 together). I love these huge floaty sleeves! So much freedom, and yet so much elegance. The scoop in the bust concerns me regarding how potentially work-safe this dress would be, but providing I can use a modesty panel, it should be just fine.

Kinky Angel boots

Demonia Glam 240: Oh god, I adore these. The lace-up front panel makes them fully adjustable, which is essential for me. I have thick calves and after putting on weight over the last couple of years, it’s hard for me to fit into boots. Kinky Angel Clothing were immensely helpful when I had to swap another pair for these, and they even helped me pick these ones.
The lolita skull bow brings out the child in me. Subtle enough to be worn anywhere, with practically anything, but glam enough to be dressed up.

Ebay budget beauties

Killstar Under Your Spell Maiden Dress: This Ebay purchase cost a mere Β£24 compared to (I believe) about Β£40 brand new. The dress does not fit me tightly like the model – in fact, it was a size too big. The neck was therefore a little oversized and droopy, but I fixed that with a ram skull brooch and now I love it even more. Floaty, elegant, loose – a perfect dress.
Faux fur poncho: This beauty cost me a mere Β£4.50 on Ebay. The seller sent it so fast that it arrived just a day or two later. Both snug and glam, this cape/poncho feels like a great quality faux and has a secure braided hook at the breast to keep it closed. So snuggly.
Faux fur collar/scarf: I love these things! You can pop them on over a casual jacket and instantly feel more glamorous. Β£6.50 on Ebay, brand new in its packaging.

What do you think of my purchases over the last couple of months? I’ve fallen in love with clothes again and I couldn’t be happier with the appearance of my wardrobe right now. I recently turfed out all my unwanted clothes for the charity shops, so I certainly felt like I deserved an overhaul. Clothes and shoes are a vice of mine, but in this day and age, I think it’s everyone’s vice.

We all want to be pretty, and that’s okay.

I’ll leave you for now until next time – but if you’d like to hear about the other styles I’ve tried and various fads I’ve gone through over the years, read below. Did you ever go through any weird phases when you were trying out new things?

In my experience, the old styles are the best, and I think we all gravitate back to what we know and love eventually.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

My bizarre style timeline

I love trying out new styles and, much like my music tastes, my styles have been an eclectic mix over the years. To be otherwise, to me, is dead-boring, dull, pointless – what’s the point of it all if you can’t experiment?

My music tastes vary between gothic rock, post-punk, darkwave, punk, cheesey 80s pop, techno, heavy metal, black metal, classic rock, industrial heavy metal, 90s rave, 90s pop, 50s, 60s, 70s pop for that matter, synth, country, disco, funk, grunge, reggae.

I merrily skip from The Slits to Joy Division to Siouxsie and the Banshees to Type O Negative to Placebo to Metallica to Children of Bodom to Rammstein to Prodigy to Faith No More to Jimmy Cliff. Recently I discovered Molchat Doma and I am loving that goth-darkwave mood, especially as the band themselves look like tech geeks.

I think there’s obviously a strong correlation between our musical tastes and our clothing (particularly if you consider yourself part of a subculture) but it needn’t be so strict. Even when I was experimenting with more hippy-dippy styles years ago, I still listened to my heavy metal and the like.

I like to believe I’m a subculture of one, and I magpie my tastes from everywhere. As I result, I often find I belong anywhere…and nowhere. But so be it!

Below is a timeline of my style progression/regression over the last decade and beyond. Enjoy!

Grunge/casual goth (2017-2019)

I’ve always loved experimenting with new styles – sometimes successfully, and sometimes with disastrous results. My look over the last couple of years has been a sort oafish, grunge, casual-goth look. Imagine Wednesday Addams crossed with Courtney Love (or even Kurt Cobain actually) and I don’t think you could go far wrong with my look. I wore black Dr Marten Chelsea Boots, slonky leggings, tights, long-sleeve black dresses (usually bell-sleeved, as it’s my favourite), and massive grunge cardigans. Big jewelry, bright lipstick, big earrings – think Brick Lane.

I loved this look and it’s actually helped me through a difficult few years, because at times I felt like I’d given up on my appearance. The whole grunge look made it look just a teency-bit-more deliberate. When you’ve given up, this is your go-to look.

But still, try not to give up – or if you do, get back up again.

Corporate Tart Look (2015-2017)

Before that, I had a boring corporate look (around the time I started getting serious about starting a proper career path), where I wore 40s style dresses and pencil skirts, Vivienne Westwood/Melissa heels (Ebay is your friend), and wouldn’t dream of going out under-dressed. This was largely because I worked in large open-plan offices and felt pressured. My style icons at the time were the entire cast of MadMen, so forgive me – but it was an awesome look.

It was also because I was trying to pretend I was someone else.

Hippy-dippy (2010 – 2015)

Before that, around the time I became a vegetarian (though now-days I’m trying out fish, so I suppose I’m currently a pescetarian – it’s a long story, but when you’re anemic you’ll understand) I discovered reggae-punk bands like The Slits and started watching Six Feet Under, a show I fell in love with (pre-Sopranos).

The character Claire resonated with me so much that I had a sort of pseudo-hippy vibe going on for years. I grew out my long reddish-brown hair and wore a shocking amount of harem pants.

The platform goth years ( – 2010)

These were my teen years, where I did a lot of experimentation with my appearance. I did the whole dreadlocks/velvet/platforms/black hair ubergoth image, and listened to a lot of black metal, heavy metal, industrial, darkwave, gothic rock – my image was a jumble of all of this, but a wonderful jumble of the kind that only a teenager could get away with. I look fondly back on those years.

I even still have my platform New Rock Boots with the springs; maybe one day I’ll pass them on to my own little goth children, or if nothing else, give them a relic to look in awe at. Who knows, I may even wear them again – though being an adult with a job (and lots of stairs to climb) mightn’t make that quite so practical.

I’d love to know about your styles over the years. Let me know!

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

Childhood Crushes of a 90s Girl

Weclome back to my blog! I put up new posts every Wednesday, about literally anything that interests me.

My last few posts have been about surgery and anxiety, so I thought I’d lighten things up a little with a pictorial tour of my childhood crushes.
Many of these will absolutely not surprise you. Many people blogging today are adults who grew up in the 90s (I was born in 1991), therefore we’ll all have crushed on the same people – especially if you were an oddball child of the alternative persuasion.

However, I do believe we need to keep this stuff alive for posterity’s sake, and at the very least to re-live the things we loved.
I’ve kept this to the highlights because (believe me) I’d need 100 blog posts to comb over absolutely every icon I had a crush on. I mean it – I was a horn-dog and I fell in love with everyone. So while these people stuck out for obvious reasons, rest assured that there were many, many more.

Some of these will make you roll your eyes. Who didn’t love Jareth the Goblin King and (though he isn’t listed) Brandon Lee of The Crow? Literally every kid in the goth or alternative scene idolised them.

So alas, this will read like a Buzzfeed article (and indeed, many of these will have been covered by the very same website), but you’ll enjoy it anyway – because let’s face it, Buzzfeed is a guilty-fucking-pleasure and its simplicity is, at times, the easiest escapism to access.

These are the characters and people I loved before I even knew what love was. Enjoy!

Joel from Addams Family Values

Addams Family Values (1993)

He was weird, he had asthma, and he didn’t fit in – what’s not to fall in love with when you’re a fellow kid? As a girl who identified completely with Wednesday Addams, it was obvious why Joel become her little summer camp romance. I believe he is to blame for my affection for Jewish Italian American men, or those with that aesthetic. I’ve had an affection for dark hair and big eyebrows ever since.

Casper & Thackery Binx

These two get listed together ~ because ~ unbeknownst to me, this was an actual thing: these two ghosty-boys were the heartthrobs of the 90s. This E News article (which made me chuckle) thinks Casper wins, and I’d have to agree: “Can I keep You?” brings a tear to the eye all these years later. Interestingly, neither actor actually voiced their ghostly/cursed counterparts.
I independently fell in love with the both of them. They’re both winners to me.

Atreyu from The Neverending Story

He’s a little fictional warrior with the fate of the world at his hands, and he loves his horsey, Artex (as in…the stuff on the ceiling?). Do not even talk to me about that scene with the horse. Just don’t. Anyway, with his other-worldliness, strength, courage, and adorable floppy hair, I stood no chance against Atreyu.

Bernard from The Santa Clause

Bernard from The Santa Clause. Hold the phone! Is that…yes it is. It’s Joel from The Addams Family (it took me a shocking amount of time as a kid to realise they’re the same person). He’s grown up a little and he’s got a massive arsey attitude (which I totally loved, har har), a cool outfit, and dreadlocks peaking under a velvet hat. He was elfing before it was cool. It was a 10/10 swoon from me.

King Jareth (obviously)

I was scarily young when I fell in love with the Goblin King. I have very fond memories of asking mum to rent this from Starburst Video in Shoeburyness (now defunct, of course) over and over again, until she bought it for me on VHS. I watched it hundreds of times. I also remember freaking out when my dad told me we could email David Bowie’s fan email address on our snazzy new home computer, and I remember him helping me type out a message. That’s how young I was – I wasn’t even old enough to type yet.
That hair, that makeup, that riding crop (and that bulge, yikes – seeing that years later had me in stitches) – he is responsible for my love of dramatic, incredibly ~ extra ~ men. We all wished and dreamed we could be Sarah, dancing with him at the masquerade ball. But alas. This was no gift, for an ordinary girl, who takes care of a screeeaming baby.
“Do you want it?” sent shivers where there should not have been shivers, and I think we can all relate to that.

Harvey from Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Oh, Harvey. He was adorable, he was sweet, and he loved Sabrina just the way she was. I seem to remember him discovering her witchcraft in one episode and saying, “I always knew there was something magical about you”, and oh golly – who doesn’t want to hear that?

Drop Dead Fred

Another from my early childhood. He was irritating, he was hilarious, and he was there for Elizabeth when she felt all alone against her wicked mother. I desperately wished I had an imaginary friend like him, but thanks to Rik, we all did – in the movie. Unnecessary kiss at the end, sure – but nobody was complaining. If you ask me, he was Elizabeth’s true love – not Mickey from next door. Stupid spaghetti boy.

Duckie from Pretty in Pink

Alas, another lost soul, another hopeless romantic. Why oh why would Andy pick Blaine when she had Duckie all along?! Nobody could watch him come sliding into the record shop to Try a Little Tenderness and not adore him for his moves and total lack of self-awareness (or lack of caring). He was hopelessly in love with Andy but, as her daddy explained, “You can love her, but it doesn’t mean she’ll love you back”.
I loved you, Duckie. I will remain, as always…a Duck Man.

Edward Scissorhands

This gothic masterpiece by Tim Burton set my little goth soul aflame. We all felt like that girl trapped in boring, ordinary suburbia, just waiting for our oddball counterpart to mysteriously appear in our lives. No, it doesn’t all go to plan, and poor Edward ended up back in his creepy mansion all alone, where he can’t be misunderstood, but he lived on in my heart. Who among us doesn’t think of Edward carving an ice sculpture of Kim whenever it snows? Personally, I would have happily lived up in the castle with Edward, away from it all. /siiigh.

Axl Rose

Who wears their own band T?

Oh, Axl. One of my first loves. To this day, I still have an active email address under the name of ‘Mrs Axl Rose’, which I believe I activated when I was 12 or 13, and used up until I needed something a little more grown-up. Guns ‘n’ Roses was one of my first loves when I started discovering alternative music as a young teenager. I was utterly in love with Axl and was convinced that, one day, when I was all grown up, I’d run off to California, meet Axl Rose, and we’d somehow run off into the sunset together. The details didn’t matter: I was Mrs Axl Rose, his biggest fan.

I read biographies about him, straightened my still-auburn hair (I was to later dye it black), and wore a Guns ‘n’ Roses bandanna and baseball cap, just like Axl. So not only was I “soooo in love” with him, but I wanted to be him as well. I remember the joys of discovering his name was allegedly an anagram, and that his real name was (*snort*) Billy Bailey.

‘Don’t Cry’ was my favourite song, along with ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, ‘You could be Mine’, ‘Rocket Queen’, and ‘My Michelle’. Actually, you know what? They were all my favourites. I still love Guns ‘n’ Roses to this day, even long after discovering new bands. Great music never dies.

I remember searching the streets near where I live for ages, trying to find my Guns ‘n’ Roses bandanna. Alas, it must have blown away on the wind.

Peter Steele

Oh, golly. Peter Steele. The ultimate fantasy goth boyfriend. I remember getting into Type O Negative around the age of 15 after purchasing an album at Golden Disc (or was it MVC? Aka ‘McVitties’) and listening to it on my desktop at home. It wasn’t until I saw those infamous appearances on Jerry Springer and Ricky Lake that I realise – holy fuck – this man is a god sent to earth. At 6″8, built like Conan the Barbarian and with a voice like Brooklyn’s answer to Dracula, he was my absolute dream. Not only that, but his beautiful (and sometimes very funny) music opened up a whole new world for me, after years of listening to heavy metal. Here was Peter Steele, a man chiseled out of marble with princess hair and a voice that made the hairs on my arms stand up. I’m willing to bet he was many a girl’s “awakening”, shall we say, when we stopped having mere girl crushes. It gets serious when you discover Peter Steele.

Remember how “Love You to Death” and “Christian Woman” made you feel the first time you heard them? I do. “Am I good enough…for you?” still brings tears to my eyes and “She needs…Corpus Christi” still makes my heart do somersaults.

I was incredibly upset when I learned he’d died in 2010, before I’d even had a chance to see Type O play live. Initially, people thought it was the inevitable result of years of drink and drugs, but sadly it was sepsis after a perfectly common gut problem. He was taken from us so early and it is such a horrible shame, because by all accounts he was as beautiful inside as he was out, and a truly gentle giant.

I hope you enjoyed that little glimpse into my love-addled teenage and childhood brain. Who did you fall in love with as a kid? I’d love to know – leave a comment.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

A Tough Week; no blog

We lost someone very special this week

I’m afraid my family lost a dearly beloved man this week and so, out of respect, there’ll be no blog this week. I will write more when I think the time is right.

In the meantime, I urge you to call your loved ones – especially those you haven’t caught up with in a while – and spend time with them. Tell your nearest and dearest you love them. Life is so very fragile and so very short.

πŸ–€

How to Get Through Major Surgery

Welcome to my blog! I put out new posts every Wednesday on topics ranging from careers to crafts, and poetry to health.

The following is supposed to be genuinely helpful for people about to go through major surgery to the abdomen like I did in 2017.

It’s also an opportunity to show off my massive tumour and pat myself on the back for being a big, brave girl. πŸ˜‰

Regardless, I do genuinely believe that sharing our experiences can help one another (providing we aren’t scare-mongering or sharing untruthful information) because it’s only through sharing that we feel less alone.

Backstory

In Spring of 2017, I had a funny feeling in my right-side when I laid down, so I went to the doctor and told him I thought something was up with my kidney. Being a good lad, he booked me for an ultrasound scan. I got a phone call at work to say they’d found a “shadow”, which scared the shit out of me, and they wanted to do an MRI.
I could tell by the looks on their faces after they’d scanned me that they’d seen something, but I had an agonising weeks-long wait before I was called in to discuss it. I caved and phoned in, to be told that there was “nothing to worry about”, but that the doctor would still like to see me.
(This appointment and what followed changed my life forever, but I guess worrying wouldn’t have helped much)

My MRI abdomen showing my 20cm Phaeochromocytoma
(And yes, I am showing off!)



I went to my appointment and was shown a strange image of a giant mushroom.
Eventually I realised that this was in fact my MRI scan, and that “mushroom” was in me. They said it was a 20cm long mass, and they (mistakenly) thought it was a Hepatic Adenoma, which is a tumor arising from being on “the pill”. They would soon find out they were wrong, but it wasn’t an unreasonable diagnosis based on the scan.
They were very certain, just by looking, that it wasn’t cancer. Happy days. But it was absolutely huge and it was going to cause me problems for the rest of my life, so I was referred for surgery at the Royal London Hospital.

It was only when they opened me up that they realised this was not a hepatic adenoma. In fact, they had no idea what it was. I was put out via an epidural and the surgery took about 8 hours. The tumor bled profusely and I lost a scary amount of blood, so I had several tansfusions when I was moved to the ICU, where I began my slow, arduous, sticky, sweaty recovery, with tubes seemingly coming out of every available vein.

Three weeks post-surgery, I received a call to say they’d tested the tumour and found it to be a Pheochromocytoma, caused by a mutation of the SDH-B gene, which is a tumor suppressant.
The surgery killed off my kidney, but left a small blood supply (they think) which has since caused me to have ridiculously high blood pressure. I’m on several pills to calm this down, and unfortunately a further surgery (awake, I might add, on beautiful drugs) for interventional radiology did not fix my kidney problem.

So alas, I am still suffering in a way, and my gene mutation means I’ll be monitored for life (as will my family), which has its good and bad points. I’m here though, and I survived the giant tumor, so there is that.

I’m not going to talk about SDH-B or the pheo, because I wanted to make a practical post for people about to face major surgery. You could say I learned a thing or two.

So if you’re facing major surgery, I hope this is helpful advice for your recovery. If you have any questions or just want to talk things out, get in touch with me.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I’m an experienced medical patient but I have no medical knowledge at all. All of the below is based on my experiences only and is not to be taken as medical advice.
If you need medical advice, ask a healthcare professional such as a GP, nurse, or surgeon.

Don’t do it alone

First and foremost: when you know you’re going in for major surgery, surround yourself with those who love and care about you. You need them to look after you. You’ll be struggling to walk upright for a while after abdominal surgery and you’ll need help just to get out of your seat. Not just in hospital, but at home too. This is going to last a while. Don’t despair; you are loved and you will spend this time feeling beyond grateful for the existence of these people in your life.

If you live alone and have contact with your family (and hopefully a good relationship), I strongly advise that you organise someone to stay with you, or for you to stay with them.

If you are estranged from family and don’t have friends who can help, then you need to arrange for carers to help you in the home. Your hospital will arrange for your aftercare if you do not have support at home. They will establish this prior to surgery in their questioning, so be honest.

Let people look after you. You’re going to be irritable, angry and in pain, even in spite of the pain relief. This is a tough time. Try to be patient with people and let them care for you. You’ll be grateful when you’re ‘you’ again.

Pain relief medicine is your best friend

Do yourself a favour and don’t attempt to go through hell just so you can be the hero. You will lose this fight, so you might as well trust your doctors and take the prescribed pain relief.
If you find that the pain relief isn’t working well enough, this may well be for your own safety; you’re going to be given heavy drugs and they might be restrictive with the doses.
What’s more is that the drugs can become addictive (and no, taking your prescription will not make you an addict overnight) and so they might be going softly-softly at first before upping the dose when required.

Some medicines affect people differently than others. Tramadol, for example, made me sweaty, twitchy, and I came down with nightmares. I communicated my issues and they changed me to something more agreeable.
I was on a constant stream of both morphine and Tramadol while in hospital. The morphine was administered first through my epidural (I believe), and later, once this was removed, I took Oramorph (morphine which you administer yourself via a syringe to the mouth). I couldn’t even turn my body to see the clock on the wall, and one nurse joked that she wasn’t going to tell me because I’d be watching the clock for my next dose.

As time goes by, your pain will ease up. My stitches (see above) pulled relentlessly for a long time, but I found pain relief and bio oil helped. You’re on a journey here. Do yourself a favour and use the tools you are given to recover as comfortably as you can

Nursing & physio

In my experience – and as far as I’m concerned – the staff at the Royal London Hospital (and at St Bart’s for that matter) were angels sent to earth. I’ve never felt so well looked after before and I’ve felt so very, very grateful for the care I received.
When I was in the high dependency unit, I would often find myself waking up during the night to find my own nurse waiting right there for me. They’d smile, whisper and ask if I’m okay, and tend to my every need. Whenever I woke up, there they were.
I know you hear some bad stories out there, but please don’t be afraid. My experience of NHS staff has been amazing and I honestly shed tears when I think of them. You are in excellent hands.

Of course, if you are worried about your care or the way you’ve been treated, then communicate this to other members of staff or escalate the issue to the appropriate body. Whilst my experience could not be faulted, I accept that not everybody has had such good fortune.

Physiotherapy begins the very next day after your surgery. When my physio team arrived, I looked at them as if to say “Are you f-ing serious? You think I can get up?!”
There is a very good reason for why they insist on attempting to get you out of bed so soon, and it’s because the body starts healing itself much faster the sooner you get started.
When I first tried to walk, I had a catheter, a drip stand, a tube in my neck, and a tube draining fluid out my right side. I was held upright by two people who helped me walk from one end of the corridor to the other. I was hunched over like an old lady (you will find it hard to stand upright after abdominal surgery) and I was sweating, dizzy, and faint.

However, with their help, I did it. I even went up and down a small flight of stairs at the end.

Sure, I conked out the second I got back into bed and went off into fairyland, but your body is fragile at this point. Your achievements will be little but often, and that’s just fine.

Keep in contact with the ward

When you go home, it’s a good idea to be monitoring your blood pressure and your temperature daily, especially within the first couple of weeks. Sepsis is not likely to occur if you’ve gone home, because they will have been monitoring you for this in hospital, but it’s worth knowing the signs.

However, secondary infections can occur, especially if you’re particularly vulnerable, and in my experience these present themselves via your body temperature. Paracetamol and other medications can mask this by bringing your temperature down, so just try your best to be observant.

If you have any issues at all, your ward will want to know. Do not be afraid to call them for advice. You’ll be on a recovery pathway and it’s their duty to continue with your care even after you go home, so do not go thinking you’re making a fuss or wasting their time. You are what they’re working for.

Recovering at home

I was signed off for 3 months to recover from surgery, and I ended up taking 2 weeks more.

I was one of those dear, sweet fools who thought they’d come bouncing back after just a couple of weeks. Nah. It did not happen like that.

Get things straight with your workplace and make sure they understand that this is absolutely crucial and non-negotiable. No reputable employer would question this recovery period – not if they don’t want to be liable for your health and any injuries incurred if you come back too early.

Recovering at home is actually the hardest part. You are at home, you are grumpy, and you are in pain. You might even be surrounded by well-meaning people who are getting on your nerves.

Try to use this time to rest. I myself got into some pretty interesting hobbies during my time off! I built a snail terrarium in a big green bottle, I bought a big fish tank and bought myself a lovely goldfish, and I practised watercolour painting, amongst many other fads and creative pursuits. This is your time to recover and it’s up to you how you use it.

I found that going on slow walks in nature helped me to get used to my new body while it healed.
I also found that my appetite changed for quite some time and I dropped a lot of weight. Don’t be alarmed; you will be back to your old self in no time and, sadly, you’ll put that weight back on once your appetite returns!

To conclude

I hope this post might be useful for someone who has a phaeochromocytoma or anybody who is facing surgery to the abdomen. I did a lot of internet searching before I had surgery and it helped me to read about other people’s experiences.

Remember that recovery is a physical process, but how you deal with it emotionally is all in the mind.

Be kind to yourself, pace yourself, and give your body the time it needs to heal. Your body puts up with a lot throughout its lifetime and it’s done you proud, so cut the poor thing a break. You, in the meantime, should take up a hobby.

All the best until next time,
Ashleigh

Treat your Job like a Relationship

Welcome to my blog! I put up new content every Wednesday, about anything from crafts to careers, from clothes to prose poetry.

I recently wrote a post called Job Hunting for the Anxious Person, which lots of people liked (it was one of my most-read and most-liked posts!) and it got me think about what our careers mean to us.

Now, this post won’t cover everyone, and it may not cover you at the place you are in your life right now. For example, this might’ve applied to you 3 years ago before you had a baby, for instance, and now you’re taking some time out (and therefore my section about quitting a toxic job is not feesible, now matter how tempting or relatable!). Or maybe you’re long-term sick or you don’t work for whatever reason; however, I think whatever you fill your time with may still be for all intents and purposes “your job”.
It’s the thing we spend most of our time and effort on and it all too often is something we wish we could break up with.

But maybe we SHOULD treat jobs like relationships! Why? Because that’s exactly what a career is: it’s a relationship between you and the job.

Maybe your boss is the wicked in-law and your co-workers are the bratty stepkids, while the job itself is the hideous partner you can no longer stand and you’re wondering what on earth you ever saw in them.

Hopefully not; hopefully you love your job and your career is going smashingly well. Unfortunately for me, I’ve experienced every one of these examples below, and that’s why I’m able to share this with you today: because I know what’s like.

Without further ado, here’s why I think you should treat your job the same way you would a relationship:

Some jobs are trash. Dump ’em.

There’s no sugar-coating this one. Your family warned you about this. We’ve all gone through it (and if you’re like me, you’ve been served trash several times) Maybe you were on a low-ebb and blindly walked into another disastrous role, or maybe you had high-hopes and yet your coach turned into a pumpkin. Either way, this job is nothing but bad for you. Your boss is unsupportive, your co-workers are bullies, and nobody actually cares; there’s not a hint of professionalism to be found. The pay doesn’t make up for the crappy facilities, the awful clients, and the shady accounting going on behind the scenes.

This is the job that you know you are far, far too good for and there’s nothing to gain from staying – in fact, this job is dragging your worth down. You don’t even want this job on your CV, because you are out of there.

Like a trashy partner, you should have never given them a chance. You’re embarrassed to say you ever worked there. You dump them and move on.

Some jobs help you grow.

These jobs can be bitter-sweet. Maybe this was your first serious job, or it was a job you had on the road to something much better. You loved this job! It started out great; you learned lots and everything seemed to be going so smoothly. But then it started getting a little dull and repetitive, and those things you learned very quickly became old hat. It dawns on you one day that you’re bored and, yeah, while this has been great, the job’s on one path and you’re looking at taking another. You could stay, but is this job really going anywhere?

You’ve learned all you can and it’s time to move on to something more within your pay grade. You amicably split with your job, knowing that if ever you need it, it’ll be there for you: even if, deep down, you know this is probably the last time you’ll meet.

Some jobs just weren’t meant to be.

All right: it’s not you, but it’s not them either. You two got together and it should’ve worked on paper, but you know what, it just doesn’t. Things go wrong from the start and you never quite fit in there. Something just doesn’t feel right. You’re capable, yes, but it’s like fitting a square peg in a round hole. You know it, the job knows it, and your boss knows it. You can’t understand why you aren’t happy in this role. Your skills matched (roughly), you were interested in the job, and you were hired. So what’s missing?
Your heart is just not in it, that’s what. And things only get more and more strained and eventually, someone has to make the first move and admit that this just isn’t working. That someone is you.
You didn’t want to do it, but you’ve got no choice – and once you leave this job, you’re relieved. You’re just too different, and that’s okay.
You learn from this job and you move on.

Some jobs are utterly toxic.

This one nearly kills you. You feel sick when you get up in the morning and weekends are spent laying in bed, dreading Monday. Your world is bleak, grey, dark. This role is bringing you nothing but misery and pain, and it isn’t going to get better. But you’re tough, and brave, and you think you can make this work. If you just put in the hours and put in the hard work, things will start looking brighter and everything will just snap into place.

But it doesn’t, and you know it never will. You feel bullied and belittled in this role. Your boss treats you like a moron, you butt heads with your colleagues and you can’t seem to put a foot right. You don’t even care who’s to blame anymore; you just wish you’d never taken this on.

But you’ve got bills to pay and you’ve sunk a lot of time into this job. It can’t have all been a waste of time and effort, can it? Plus there’s the guilt! What you don’t realise at the time is that you’re feeling guilty, but your job, your boss, your co-workers – none of them could care less. You’re breaking your back for people who just don’t care about you.

Eventually your body makes that decision for you. You buckle under the stress and your body is plagued by in colds, coughs, aches, pains, rashes, and migraines. You start calling in sick and now they’re angry at you for that, too. You’re having a mental health crisis and you can’t stand it anymore.

When will it ever end, you ask?

Then you realise: you can end it. The sooner you get out of there the better, because this job is just plain toxic.
When you eventually leave, you feel bruised by the experience, but thankful that it’s over. You move on to something else (and hopefully much better).

Some jobs are marriage material.

Where oh where has this job been all your life?

When you start working here, everything just clicks into place. The pay is good, the benefits are fantastic, and you feel like you’ve joined a great family. Instantly you feel totally comfortable with the idea of working here for the foreseeable. You don’t have any doubts and the pace suits you just fine. You had no idea it was going to work out so well, but it did! Imagine if you’d never filled in that application? Your paths might never have crossed!

Your boss is always pleased with your progress, you get on famously well with your co-workers (who are more like friends) and the relationship is mutually beneficial. You don’t want to lose them and they don’t want to lose you either. You carry out your tasks with pride because you truly care about this role; it’s not just about the money or the fact you’re duty-bound to do it. You’re proud to put your stamp on the work you do.

You know this job is for keeps and you feel a sense of stability that you haven’t felt before, or at least not in a very long time. It’s time to put down some roots and settle in for the long-run, because you’ve found the love of your life!

It’s true what they say: when you know, you know.



So what do you think about that? Do you agree with me or have you got other ideas? How many of these examples sound familiar to you? Get in touch and let me know.

Until next Wednesday, toodles!

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

Job Hunting for the Anxious Person

One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead

Oscar Wilde, 1882, introduction to a collection of verse.

Welcome to my blog! Here I write about whatever’s on my mind or whatever fad I’ve just gotten into.

The whole New Year thing made me think about the goals people might be setting themselves for the year; specifically career goals. If you’re an anxious person or suffer profoundly from anxiety, then sorting your career out – or even finding time to prioritise it among life’s other junk – can be daunting.
I’ve always had really, really shitty anxiety, so I completely understand and I had this same fear about a career myself, to the point that for a while I even convinced myself that I didn’t really want one. But what else was I going to do? Oh yeah, I know: have depression.

So, without further waffle, here is a short list of some things I learned after graduating university as an incredibly anxious person.

This blog assumes you’ve already got a degree and perhaps have a job already, but you haven’t found what you’re looking for yet because you’re scared. This blog also assumes you’ve identified what you enjoy and the field you’d like to work in.

To reiterate: I am no expert.

I just hope this might help somebody with anxiety, because I know how it feels. Blogs like this helped me when I was in the same position.

Start with a positive attitude; and if you don’t have one, force it.

It’s a bit like forcing yourself to laugh; eventually you start finding that, in and of itself, funny – and you start laughing for real. The fact is you’ll never start making plans if you begin with “I can’t…” – you need to start saying “I can”. Do not be your own bully and start believing in yourself; stop telling yourself lies about your self-worth. Make the decision to be positive and give yourself a break.

Imagine yourself in that role.

Who would you be, ideally? Who do you see yourself being when you aren’t bogged-down with self-doubt? Break up the elements of that person and use it to create your blueprint. All right, I’m not saying you can go from being a librarian to a trauma surgeon (this isn’t The Sims) if you do this, because that’s unrealistic. However, if you’re working in Job A but know you could be working in Job B if-only-this or if-only-that, then you absolutely can.

Being scared of something is no reason not to do it anyway, not if you honestly believe it’s something you’ll do well at. (If it isn’t, then that’s a problem – more on that later) Also: keep it simple. If you eventually want to be CEO of a retailer and you’ve never worked in a shop, then picture yourself working in sales first. Give yourself an achievable starting point and then work out what you need to do to get there. If you need experience first, then go get your foot in the door. What else do you have but time? At this stage, time is your friend!

Apply for lots and lots of jobs once you’ve chosen where to start.


Start at the beginning and don’t over-analyse it. Think about the skills you’ll gain rather than whether this is your dream job (of course it isn’t!) For example, you want to work in HR but have no experience: so you begin with administration roles. Yeah, yeah, you’ve got a degree: so what? We all know experience does all the talking. BUT, you do not have to already be perfect. You just need to demonstrate where you’ve built up your skill-set within that field. If you want to be analysing evidence for the Police with your chemistry degree, then you’d better start off doing the grunt work in a lab.

At the height of my anxiety, I became a little arrogant, actually. I thought people were just given chances to shine and I didn’t see all the baby steps (and baby jobs) they took to get there. Transferable skills will be your trump card, so start building them up.

For the anxious person, getting your “dream job” overnight would actually be ridiculously overwhelming. Try starting on a smaller scale (entry-level jobs within that field) and teach yourself that you can do this. Baby steps.

Before walking into your interview, tell yourself three things:


(1) These people are going to really like me, and I am going to really like them.
(2) I have nothing to lose. If I don’t gain a job, I gain experience.
(3) They’ve already decided I have the skills for the job; I’m just here to show them why they were right. (It’s true!)

For me, saying those things (and telling others) took the pressure off massively. I wasn’t there to be perfect or to even get the job. I was there to like them, to be likeable, to get experience, and to add colour to what they already learned about me on my CV.

Story time: Before getting the job I have now, I was invited to an interview with a children’s cancer charity in central London (gulp). I went to it on the last day of a week-long hospital stay (and I didn’t tell them this) because I was determined to try. I wanted a new job and I was f-ing well going to get one, in spite of my previously poor health. The interview was with 2 lovely women and we got on fantastically; it was like having a fun chat. Only problem was that part of the role required fundraising/finance experience, and I was honest about being low on that front.

They took an entire week to get back to me, having said it’d be a day or so. It turns out they were conflicted over 2 candidates: someone else, and me. They wrote me a long letter (which almost sounded like an apology) saying that they really liked me, but had to go with the person who had the experience in fundraising, and hoped I would consider working with them for other roles in the future. Of course, they made the right decision! They absolutely should have hired the woman with monetary experience and I hope she’s happy there.
I was so flattered by their letter that I cried and shared it with everyone I knew. I felt amazing and I didn’t even get the job!

The point is that it isn’t all doom and gloom; there are so many opportunities for learning and you’ll be so surprised about what you find.

Practice, practice, practice your interviewing skills.

The only way you’ll get over your nerves is if you normalise it. If you aren’t getting many interviews at first or feel like you’re bombing your interviews because of nerves, then contact a local organisation (Jobcentre Plus for example) and find out where you can get some roleplaying practice. It is gruelling, but your nerves will eventually subside. I know this from experience; I used to get the shakes, my throat would glue shut, and I couldn’t think straight. I practiced and now, while I still (of course) get nervous, I manage to hold my own and confidently answer questions without going blank.

Listen to what they are asking you, pause, and reply. Do not try to predict their questions and answer with a prepared script, because this will never work. It isn’t genuine and it will never give you the chance to shine just as you are. Let yourself be vulnerable and don’t try to control the interview so much. You’ll lose and they won’t get a genuine picture of all your smart, endearing qualities.
This is so, so important, especially if you work in health, social care, or charity.

When I was interviewed for my current role, it was in front of a panel of 3 males who all worked in finance. I was scared! However, I decided to just be myself and talk about my experiences honestly. Once I got the job, I was told that others had more editorial experience than me, but they didn’t answer like I did and they didn’t have my personality. They just liked me and felt I’d fit in well (and I have!).

The point is that you matter. It isn’t all about what’s down on paper.

Listen to your instincts.

Equally, if something doesn’t feel right to you, then it probably isn’t. Sometimes it isn’t just about your nerves; sometimes you and the job just don’t fit and that’s okay. Did you have the interview and get a bad feeling about them? Did you start on the job, having been thrilled to get it, and find that you’re deeply unhappy?
Things aren’t always what we imagine them to be, and if you have to go back to the drawing board and find something else, then do it.
This is not a failure. Recognising that a role is poorly fitted to you is a skill.


Story time: I worked for my local council and one day saw an advert for a fast-track diploma to become a social worker, with the option of completing a Masters. Great! I was bored in my role and always wondered what it’d be like. I was invited to interview for 3 available places. Over 10,000 people applied nation-wide and hundreds of local people applied for those 3 roles.
I was invited to interview: great! It was a day-long 3-stage process of a group interview/discussion with adults who had grown up in care, a time roleplaying session where you “answered” a call from a distressed child in front of an examiner, and a standard interview with a panel of 3 social workers.
To my astonishment, I did really well and I was offered a place. I went to Cambridge to study for a couple of months, where we did dreaded roleplay (and a filmed roleplay exam) and the usual essays. This was not a good time for me personally; I was dating a horrible person and my health was spiraling down. I hadn’t long recovered from major surgery and I was incredibly fragile mentally; everything seemed too much for me and I felt I couldn’t give any more. Everyone else seemed to be dealing with the stresses of the course, and by the time the actual work placement began, I was hanging on by a thread. Then when I didn’t get along with my workplace mentor, it all just collapsed. The slightest criticism sent me to tears and I was having such severe migraines that I was vomiting all the time. It was horrible.

I sat and asked myself: Ashleigh, is this actually want you want? Is this really for you? Even if it was, would it be worth it with your health in such a state?

No, none of it was worth it. Sadly, I left the course, but I was instantly relieved. I was hospitalised many times in the year that followed for a week at a time (which would have forced me to leave the course anyway), so things happen for a reason. It led me to where I am.

I felt guilty that I’d taken the place of someone who potentially would have flourished where I didn’t, but I couldn’t predict that my health (mental and physical) would have nose-dived the way it did.

You have got to look after yourself. Fuck anyone who thinks that’s wrong of you. It isn’t. YOU MATTER.

Overall, my advice is to take baby steps and be kind to yourself.

You know the phrase: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Yes, making the first leap into something new and unknown is terrifiyng, and like me, you might discover that it’s not right for you.

This is all good. It’s part of the learning experience. How dull must a person be if they never try, never fail, and never collect these experiences, both good and bad?

Sometimes the path of least-resistance only feels easier because, you know what? You’re good at it. That’s your path. That’s your thing. Don’t spend your whole life battling against who you are. You are an anxious (likely introverted, like me) person with a heart and you are not made of stone. You don’t need to work anywhere where you have to pretend to be.

Perhaps one never seems so much at one’s ease as when one has to play a part.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Snag Tights Review

Good day to you! Happy New Year and welcome to my weekly blog, where I talk about literally anything I happen to be into at the time. I put up new content every Wednesday.

The following post is not sponsored. I just really wanted to review these tights!

Featured: Raspberry Pie (no filter!!)

What I hoped for

Now, I’ve been seeing these amazing adverts for Snag Tights for a long while now, and the reason they peaked my interest is because they looked *so* inclusive. Their models looked like quirky eclectic people I’d be mates with and they were anywhere from diddy to (frankly) very large, and all shapes and sizes. Their ads included men in tights (sadly, no Robin Hood) and people in wheelchairs, on crutches, or otherwise differently abled – in other words, real people you would live and work with. Which means I could RELATE to these people and I thought: “Ah! This product must be aimed at me!”

What’s more, they all looked really, really cool in these gorgeous brightly-coloured opaque tights – every one of them. The quality did not change between sizes in the photos, and the brand purportedly prided itself on this. This was their whole selling point: everyone can wear gorgeous tights.

The ads and the website assured me that I would no longer be hoiking them up, tearing the crotch, or feeling them digging painfully into the tops of my thighs. I wouldn’t even need to wear a second pair of knickers over the top, because they wouldn’t slide down.

Well, I thought: that’s a bold claim indeed! Since childhood (and certainly in my fishnet teen years) tights had been the bane of my life for those very reasons. Tights were awful. They ripped, got twisted, laddered, and rolled down to the point of abject discomfort. So I abandoned tights and resigned myself to a life of Primani leggings, even though I wanted tights.

That is, until now…πŸ‘»

What I received

“Raspberry Pie”, “Beach Bum”, and “Suffragette” (no filter, but poor lighting)

I ordered 3 pairs, judging purely by the photos on the website which were, as before, all inclusive and depicted genuine people who loved wearing these cool tights. I chose Raspberry Pie (bright pink), Beach Bum (teal), and Suffragette (purple). These were Β£6.99 each, but with a 3+ purchase discount, they wound up costing about Β£21.00 including postage (so free postage, basically). I believe I got these in an ‘E’, or whatever a size 16 was. I’ve got chunky legs, but I was confident these would fit beautifully.

The tights arrived within a few days of ordering and were packaged delightfully in vintage-style paper sweetie bags. I love these touches and felt like I was unwrapping candy. I couldn’t wait to get ’em on.

Snag Tights’ Big Day Out

My tights having a ride on the train to work (NO FILTER!)

I put my brand new tights on at about 7.30am. They went on – no joke – like leggings. As easy as that – they just slipped on. They were thin and yet felt incredibly durable and stretchy, but unlike most stretchy fabrics, they did not feel even remotely too tight, or loose for that matter. The colour was freakin’ amazing – you need no filters with these tights! They look ace with a dress and DMs, which is my standard wardrobe combination on the daily, if I do say so myself.

Now granted, I don’t have an active job. I sit on my bum at my desk. However, I went from the train, over a bridge, a short walk to work, an 8 hour day, a run to my train and a walk to my car, and I didn’t have to hoik them up ONCE! Even before and after trips to the loo, they just resumed the position. No twisting, overstretching, tearing. No effort. I kept going to hoik them only to find that no hoiking was required!

These tights fit my shape seamlessly and felt like they were working with me, not against me – like these tights have your back. I’m serious here – you might have to name them, because they’re your friends.

The fabric is breathable and flexible and I never once felt hot or uncomfortable the way I do with standard tights.

I’m honestly in shock, because this never, ever happens. In my experience, tights are an irritant which get laddered and chucked within days of purchase. Snag Tights have upped the game, I’ll tell you that.

Final verdict

Applause, applause. Gold star for you, Snag Tights.

No matter where you work or how active your job is, you can absolutely where these stretchy, comfy, gorgeous tights all day long and you will be so, so comfortable.

Granted, I have only tried one pair for a day so far, but I’ll be wearing the others tomorrow and I can bet I will have the same experience.

I’m just going to say: I f-ing loved these tights and I’m not about to wear any others. Not only do I love the brand’s ethos, practice, and their look, but their product is second to none.

Seriously, do not waste your money on fast-fashion tearable, tight, itchy, awkward tights that don’t fit anymore. For Β£6.99 a pair, I genuinely think these are an absolute bargain, because there’s no reason these shouldn’t last ages and ages if you look after them – and even then, I get the impression these can take a battering and still look amazing. You will not even know you’re wearing these tights, but everyone else will.

Snag Tights: I love this product and you have yourself a fan. Oh, and If you find yourself in want of another model, I’m totally volunteering. πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ (and how lovely to know you could, without having to be a 6 foot 6 size zero, eh?)

Best wishes,
Ashleigh