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Last year, June 2016 to be precise, was a huge turning point in my life. After living with on and off anxiety for the majority of my life, things started to change and become less manageable. Everyone feels "anxious" at points throughout their life, that's normal, but feeling anxious and having anxiety are two different things. I'd have 'feelings of anxiety' before tests and interviews but I'd also have the occasional panic attack here and there brought on by absolutely sod all (being alone in an airport or whilst watching TV), though I didn't always understand them as such and without knowing it, I developed coping methods to avoid them. But over the first six months of 2016 things started to change. Running my own business singlehandedly, whilst keeping up with my personal life and trying to be everything I thought everyone needed from me had really taken it's toll. Rushing from place to place, working until midnight, hopping on and off planes and trains. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty for not devoting enough time to the wonderful friends and family around me, and beating myself up for it. But I didn't and wouldn't stop for anyone, I kept pushing and pushing myself to do the most I could, until I couldn't anymore. I've never really talked about what happened in Paris, and why I changed so much last year, but I finally feel like I'm ready to let you in on what has been a huge part of my over the past 9 months.
In a little hotel room in Paris on June 21st, my mind finally stopped me moving. Think being on the cusp of passing out; dizziness, nausea, unable to hear much, unable to speak very much. All I could hear and feel was my heartbeat and I struggled to catch my breath. It almost felt like drowning without the water (and yes I do know what drowning feels like) I felt like something was really wrong - something I now know to be a sense of impending doom - but having never felt this type of physical response to anxiety as it normally presented itself far differently, it's no surprise I didn't recognise it. After 8 hours, at 4am, things finally started to ease. I made it home the next day, but I didn't leave the experience behind. For a good two months after I struggled to cope with day to day activities - feeling breathless and dizzy when leaving the house, a new fear of feeling lightheaded when working out, a crushing tension on my temples when in meetings or events. I felt overwhelmed by the tiniest day to day tasks, even just speaking to friends and family. Being away from my house made me feel extremely worried and I also started binge eating as eating and drinking (and I don't mean "drinking", I just mean consumption of any kind of liquid) was one of the few times the anxiety subsided (your body naturally focuses on those things instead of everything else you'd got going on - makes sense).
One of the worst parts of that time in my life was how isolated I felt, with only a few people in my life that I could really talk to. Anxiety is a funny thing in that, most people who have never experienced it are very sceptical. At first this made me feel so angry that others could be judgmental or dismissive, but I've learnt to accept and feel comfortable with the fact that no everyone can understand it, we're all built differently after all. And not all anxiety is the same - this is a huge factor in the discussions I hear involving anxiety - lot's of people are told they can't be experiencing it because their symptoms aren't the same as another's. Last summer my anxiety presented itself in new ways every single day. Some days it would be my breathing and heart rate, some days my blood vessels in my nose would swell so I suddenly couldn't breathe. On days when I didn't feel those symptoms, I suffered with depression and some days I juggled both. I felt scared to tell family members, who see me day to day as a strong, confident human being, and over this time I felt like I was just living in that girls shell. Filming videos became harder and harder as I didn't feel like me (and the whole breathlessness thing made filming for an hour a 3 hour ordeal), and writing on here basically stopped as I felt like I was hiding something. I wasn't in a positive place and I knew everyone would feel it. I wish I'd had the strength then to say "no" if people asked me if I was okay, but I put so much pressure on myself to make sure I didn't make others around me feel uncomfortable.
By September things started to turn around, I started seeing a Therapist in August and having weekly sessions made such a difference. It's not a quick fix, and I still speak to my therapist weekly. In that time I've learnt to cope with anxiety when it starts to brew, I've also been working on changing the thought processes that were feeding it, and I've learnt to better manage my life so that I don't feel overwhelmed the second I wake up in the morning (or at any point in the day). By October I was finally ready to get back on a plane again (a successful hour long flight each way to Barcelona!) and in February I completed two long haul flights with ZERO anxiety. I actually enjoyed them. There were tears after purely from the fact that I was so proud of myself and how far I'd come. And last month, I returned to Paris, something I had been so hesitant to do, in case the mere being there triggered previous behaviours. I was so nervous, but it was a wonderful trip, and I'm so 1) proud of myself and 2) grateful to everyone who helped me over the past 9 months.
I'm not saying things are perfect now, there are things I'm still working on and I still have days where it all flares up - when I'm sick, tired, stressed or over worked. But I've learnt to accept it as part of my life and calmly work on it instead of being hell bent on beating myself up for feeling this way. My aim of this post isn't to romanticise anxiety, it's a serious mental health disorder that affects everyone differently and it shouldn't be dismissed. I knew early on I needed professional help, it gave me a space to get the help I needed but also to speak free of judgement, to voice my feelings and have them be respected and taken seriously. It's not a miracle worker, you don't just sit and talk and magically it goes away, therapy takes work and commitment, and for me it was so worthwhile. But my point of writing this post isn't to encourage everyone to do this (you can encourage someone all you like but it's not going to be effective if they're not doing it because they want to), I'm writing this because every time I've read that someone has had a similar experience I feel like I'm not alone. I also felt comforted by the stories of people around me who have been there, and are living happily (mostly) anxiety free lives. I wanted to know that it could get better.
And that's the thing, it does. It gets better.
You are not alone, and it gets better.
Yellow seems to be my go to colour at the moment, I'm wearing it, I'm shopping it and I'm seeing it everywhere. It feels rather appropriate that Beauty and the Beast was released during the same season that yellow is everywhere, and for me I get to channel Belle in a nice, easy everyday way. Not only is it a great colour to wear with subtle nude or monochrome pieces, it also works beautifully with a little colour blocking. The easiest way being a pop of red surrounded by true blue denim - the most casual and effortless way to rock colour block.
The shirt in question is from Topshop - as is the majority of this outfit. I was dress head to (almost) toe by the brand for their London Fashion Week show in February. Most of you reading will know that moments like that are just a complete and utter dream come true, it's a brand I'm incredibly passionate about and I'm super grateful that they work with me on such a regular basis. As for shoes, my new Aquazurra babies were the obvious choice for a pop of red with a little added texture (and height) for good measure. All polished off with my classic black essentials - my Celine Tilda sunglasses and Balenciaga City bag.
If you're looking for ways to incorporate this happy little colour in to your wardrobe, but aren't too keen on a bright yellow shirt or dress, a yellow bag is always a great idea. It can work beautifully with so many different pieces in your wardrobe, whether it's a little blue summer or evening dress, a pink playsuit or that all black jumpsuit you love. I fine it generally works really well with different prints and textures too, as it's not a shade we generally fill out wardrobes with too much. I'm currently lusting after one yellow bag in particular... We'll see :) If you really are wanting to dive in to wearing some yellow pieces, but aren't sure it's quite your colour, a warm sunset yellow can be a great alternative as it's a little more forgiving with most skin tones and hair colourings.
THE YELLOW EDIT
If there's one way to do Paris Fashion Week, it's with magical company, and this week with Dior was nothing but pure magic. You may have heard me mention a little trip to the wonderful city of Paris in my last post, and I still can't quite believe it happened. I've lost count of the amount of times my career has swept me off to Paris and I'll never take that for granted. I woke early on Friday morning at the Plaza Athénée and, after marvelling at the breathtaking view from my balcony, I ate breakfast with Victoria and snapped and vlogged away as we giggled and gossiped over french toast and tea.
By 9:30 we were wrapped up and zipped through the Parisian streets to the stunning Musée Rodin where the Dior Show takes place and where the Backstage area was also tucked away. I've seen many a backstage area and it was without a doubt the most beautiful backstage setting you could imagine. With large soft ceiling lamps, large mirrors and rows and rows of neatly placed Dior makeup. It was not only the prettiest but the most calm and relaxed space I've seen in the past 8 seasons of fashion week. We chatted to Peter Phillips about the look, a wonderfully Parisian, natural fresh look with a hint of day after the night before. Using a light, fresh foundation as the base (the Dior Forever Cushion Foundation is perfect if you're looking to recreate this) with a hint of smudged liner along the upper lashes, concentrated in the centre to widen the eyes and blended out to give that residual liner look. Brows were only lightly tended to, with a brush through here and there to neaten, whilst the Dior Addict Lip Glow was lightly applied to the lips.
But the pièce de résistance here is in the mascara, as Dior unveiled their new Dior Show Pump n' Volume Mascara. With it's incredible length and volume, it also carries an innovative new design with it's squeezable tube, designed to warm up the product and add more product to the wand. It's super jet black with a long lasting no flake formula that can be layered and layered. Dramatic lash lovers will fall head over heels for this one as one coat gives extreme length and two will add serious volume to rival that of your favourite falsies. This was applied to the models and combed through with a brush, whilst residue was taken on to a brush and smudged across the roots of the top and bottom lash lines. The look paired perfectly with the blue tone running through the fall 2017 show, Maria Grazia Chiuri has been incorporating key symbols from the brand in to newer pieces and the midnight blue tone of the show brings to mind to a well documented quote from Christian Dior:
"Among all the colours, navy blue is the only one which can ever compete with black."
The Pump n' Volume Mascara will be out early May, across all Dior counters, and if you're interested in seeing it in action, there is a video on the whole trip coming to my YouTube channel this week. But until next time...
Au revoir! x
My work with TRESemmé on their #WorkIt campaign in the earlier half of this month ended up taking me to New York City to experience NYFW with them and get a feel for their hair looks backstage and in their NYFW pop up. Experiences like this really do blow my mind and I loved the experience. I stepped up to my fear of heights and got one of my all time favourite instagram images at the top of the Empire State Building, visited the Glossier showroom and sat front row at Jenny Packham - how could I forget that one? Most amazingly of all, I was anxiety free for both plane journeys, whilst that might not mean a lot to some people, for me this is a huge deal and I came away from the entire trip beaming with pride and feeling so happy that my CBT sessions over the past six months really have started to pay off. Not only do I feel proud, I feel stronger for it, and I know I can overcome what ever life throws at me if I put my mind to it.
A couple of days after setting my feet back on UK soil, my suitcase was packed again, this time for London Fashion Week. I stayed at the Sanderson Hotel (one I would highly recommended and will most likely stay there for over Fashion Week in future), sat front row at Topshop and worked with them on a live stream of the show via my insta stories, I also attended the Muberry and Temperly shows, both of which I adore and it felt like a total dream to see three of my all time favourite shows all in the space of a few hours. I also worked with the Esteé Edit, a brand I LOVE and will be doing a post on soon because I've discovered a few incredible new products from them. It all ended on Tuesday night at the Naked Heart Foundation Fund Fair, which is a jaw dropping-ly gorgeous event for a great cause. It's something I always feel very grateful to have the opportunity to attend as it really is completely magical.
And then we have Paris. I have three days at home before I pack up my things and head off to Paris for something totally magical. I've been invited by one of my favourite brands, and rest assured I'll have my vlogging camera surgically attached to my hand once again! It also won't be my last trip to the gorgeous city this month either...
And there you have it, February in a nut shell. Of course, jet lag from earlier in the month has finally hit me now I'm no longer all "go go go" so I'm looking forward to taking the next few days to regroup and re-evaluate. But I'm feeling so incredibly blessed and grateful for every opportunity this month, I am literally beaming. With taking just a little step back to reflect and look forward, I can already feel my creative brain starting to whirl again as I plan my content for this month. I really do feel like my content is finally coming together right now and this will be the year I create some really fun new videos. So without further ado, I'm going to turn the La La Land soundtrack off, wrap this up, and get on with that.
Until next time... x
The Valentines Gift Edit.
Valentines Day, love it or hate it, it’s coming. Each year my feelings towards it ebbs and flows, some years it feels like we could all really do without another hallmark holiday, I mean, if you love someone you let them know everyday right? But other years I’m all for it. Yes we should all show our loved ones how special they are all the time, but sometimes it’s nice to have a day dedicated to spending that little bit of extra time with them. I think right now with the state of the world (because who actually enjoys reading their twitter news feed anymore?) a lot more of us are seizing any opportunity to spread a little love. And I’m all for that.
So whilst the 14th February isn’t all about the gifts (I currently have our living room covered in red heart balloons and roses, with a lovely evening planned upon my return from New York - it can be more about the experience than the act of just giving) I thought I’d put together a few ideas for gifts, just in case you’re thinking of purchasing last minute something for a friend or partner.
To start off, you can't go wrong with a gift from Lush. They have such a huge range of products to suit a lot of preferences and they don't break the bank too much. Their Lover Lamp bath bomb is one that I'm obsessed with at the moment - seriously, my six piece collection is quickly dwindling and I'll be all out before the month is up - it's not too over powering and is a subtle but luxurious addition to your bath. Then we have the Diptique Rosamundi candle, which lured me in by it's packaging alone, but the Rose scent it carries is utterly gorgeous. If you're looking for a little makeup with a wonderfully romantic feel, Dior have just launched their new shades of the Dior Addict Lip Glow - a line of lip balms with beautifully moisturising finish, a delicious vanilla scent and shades that range from rosy pinks and peach to more deep pink/berry shades.
For my other half I can't go wrong with picking up a fresh tub of his favourite moisturiser and adding a new fragrance to his collection. The new Jo Malone, Mehr and Tonka is one of those perfectly uni sex fragrance that you could buy for your partner and always end up stealing for yourself. It's a win-win gift either way.
When it comes to clothing, this area is a little tricky to navigate. I always go for a super soft sweater from the Reiss Mens section as my gift of choice, but you could also opt for a timeless jacket from Allsaints (budget permitting but Topman have some amazing alternatives too). In the past Vans and a new watch have also never gone unloved.
For me, gifts that I've always loved are timeless or have a little more of an everyday luxury feel. Slogan Sweaters from Whistles are always a winner, whilst my Alex Monroe Bumble Bee and Monica Vinader Rings and Bracelets are so loved too. For something a little less everyday but still so special, the Dior Tribal earrings are a beautiful piece if you want something that feels really indulgent - a modern twist on the classic pearl earring, they can be worn day and night but also styled with different jewellery. I got mind over Christmas and fell head over heels for them. But of course, if you're looking for something incredible, or you just fancy treating yourself come payday, a gorgeous pair of heels, whether from ASOS or Aquazurra, are always a good idea.
If your giftee isn't a huge fashion or beauty hoarder, don't worry. Stores like Oliver Bonas have the most gift-able stock on planet earth right now. Their little pink pillows are perfect for someone who likes their interiors to look cozy (with a little fuzzy added in), whilst their crystal book ends are a gorgeous gift for someone who has too many books or is always on the hunt for a unique coffee table ornament. If you want to approach this kind of gift from a more holistic angle, O.B also have a huge selection of books you could wrap up too! They also have a tonne of tiny trinkets, their little cat dish for example is practical, whilst still remaining utterly adorable, and don't even get me started on their Valentines Day cards. If you take anything from this post, it's the recommendation of buying your card from there. They have so many designs from brilliantly funny to super cute and heart felt and I actually ended up purchasing a couple of options depending on my mood come next Tuesday. My personal favourite being one that reads "don't go bacon ma heart" with a little frying pan filled with bacon. Genius.
Why The Chanel Rouge Allure Ink's Are My NO.1.
Prepare yourself for a lipstick love letter...
The Chanel Rouge Allure Ink's were released back in September and I quickly fell head over heels in love with them, so I thought it about time they had their own spotlight on hello-october.com. Don't you agree?
Let's get one thing settled before we start this review. These are not the dry matte formula you associate with a liquid lipstick. In fact, these have entirely changed my preference when it comes to a liquid lipstick. I no longer reach for those with a matte finish, but those with a velvet feel, and my lips have well and truly thanked me for it.
Despite not being 100% matte, these lipsticks still fall in to the afore mentioned category as they do dry down to a matte looking finish. However the feel is anything but. They're comfortable and don't feel dry at all, and last for a good few hours without the need for a touch up. I say a good few hours because, let's get real, I eat at least every four hours and drink frequently. So naturally most lip products on the market don't get past this wear time with me. And then we have the colour range. Whilst there isn't a vast selection of colours, the eight in the range are all gorgeous and there's a little something for everybody. There are even a few reds which allows us a better chance at finding our perfect rouge tone in the collection.
My personal favourite shades are the lightest and darkest of the collection, Amoureux (a nude, rosey pink) and Expérimenté (a gorgeous dark red). I wear both on a daily basis and will happily repurchase them once I've used both up. And if Chanel do decide to expand the shade range in the collection I will be first in line at my local counter to purchase. They're that good.
SIDE NOTE: These are limited edition, but you can still get them online and I've seen them on a few counters so they're worth giving a swatch if you spot them!
Barcelona Travel Guide.
Places to eat, sleep and play in Barcelona...
It seems to me that Barcelona is the city that keeps on giving. Two trips down and I feel as though there is so much more still to do and see. Even once I've marked everything off on the recommended list I think I could still happily wander Las Ramblas for hours and hours and not tire of it. Speaking of that "recommended list", today I wanted to share it with you. Though I haven't had the chance to tick every single item on this off (not yet anyway), I thought it might be helpful if you're planning a trip and looking to add a few things to your list.
Chök the chocolate kitchen
I discovered this five minutes after buying all the chocolate from the market and en route to grabbing an ice cream. I still bought and ate a chocolate donut with a cake on top. Nuff said.
Amorino Barcelona - La Rambla
This is where I got the rose shaped ice creams! It's not an cutsey independent place, but boy is the ice cream yummy.
Ciudad Condal (Tapas)
Still dying to go here.
Milk. (Bar & Bistro)
I'm a creature of habit when it comes to hotels, as I like familiar places that make me feel at home. So this list isn't the longest...
I can't resist the W Barcelona. I get the same room on the 21st floor every time and it really feels like home. As someone who can experience severe travel anxiety this is always a welcome detail. The pools at this hotel are also amazing and it's right by the beach. It's not a far walk from the Gothic Quarter and El Bourn but is tucked out of the way on the sea front. The views are incredible though and if you're looking for a relaxed and luxurious vacation this will fit the bill perfectly.
From my research the H10 hotels came so highly recommended, and they're all over the city. My favourite is the one in the Gothic Quarter. As it's close to everything and it has a pool on the roof. You get a bit of everything, however if you're looking for the west side, or even the north if you're going a Gaudí tour, they have you covered.
W Hotel Bar
Did I mention the W has a bar and the views are incredible? This is available to the public as well as hotel guests and everyone I know recommends cocktails here, even if you're not staying.
I just enjoy mooching around in this cute little square.
Mercado de La Boqueria
This market is incredible. I bought all the chocolate!!
Sephora on Calle Pelayo
It's insane. One of my favourite Sephoras of all time.
Soho House, Barcelona
If you have membership this is a lovely place to hang out for an afternoon. There are rooms to stay in, a roof top pool and the food is always great.
La Sagrada Família
Plaça de Gaudí
Parc de la Ciutadella
Barcelona in the autumn is all about dresses and boots during the day (at night, totally different story, cover up!). I was over the moon about this as dresses and boots aren't often the right mix for the UK temperatures. This dress from Glamorous, mixed with my Chloé boots was a mixed print match made in heaven. The heavy florals mixed with the serious studding on the boots shouldn't work at all, but it did and this has to be once of my favourite outfits of last year because of it.
I also wore my Chloe Drew bag (I've turned in to a bit of a Chloe fan girl) and my new Dior Reflected sunglasses. All topped of with a lot of Monica Vinader pieces, as well as my own rings from my line with Mejuri (still obsessed with them - like, I will still want to be buried wearing these when I'm old) and my Olivia Burton watch.
If you want to see my outfit from the previous day in Barcelona, click here and if you want to see the vlog on the full two days we spent in Barcelona then click here.