Monday, 11 May 2020

What to Binge Watch on Netflix

Hi everyone, Netflix has been a total saviour for me; on days when I'm feeling really ill, when I'm going through a rough patch of feeling really down or just when I manage to find 30 minutes to sit and need to relax!  There's a show for every need and every various mood I'm in.

So to start with just so that I don't repeat myself too much throughout this post.  I just want to put it out there that I am totally obsessed with all the shows I'm going to talk about, I absolutely love them!!
I have to start with my all time favourite, Stranger Things - If you haven't heard the hype about this show over the last few years, where have you been!  And more importantly, why are you not watched this already!?!  I'll admit the first episode verges on childish and seems more suited to the younger generation.  BUT, do not be fooled, this show is far from childlike and gets very intense - Season 2 episode 8!!  That's all I'm saying.  Definitely 100% give it a go if you haven't already.  You will thank me.

Another absolute favourite is The Umbrella Academy - Oh My Gosh what an amazing series, I cannot praise this enough!  So cool, So quirky and just awesome.  Season 1 has THE best final to any series I have ever watched, and that's saying something!  Also Claus, coolest character by far!

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - Now this is kind of a 'marmite' show, you either like it, or you hate the idea of '90's kids show' Sabrina being turned into a dark Satan worshiper!  Personally, I think it's awesome and I absolutely love the revamp.  I enjoy the 'dark-side' references and the quirky characters.  If you're into anything remotely fantasy based with a fun twist, you'll probably going to like it.

YOU - Two words spring to mind straight away with this show; Sexy and Dangerous!!  I was fully enthralled right from the get go.  Joe's smouldering good looks, intellect and hopeful romantic intentions are enough to make you want to say 'I do' BUT, then there's the unfortunate sinister side of him, that he just can't help escaping.  It is very captivating, very steamy and VERY high on the shocks factor!!  I absolutely LOVE it.

Shadow Hunters - An ass-kicking fantasy with a brilliant, very good looking cast, very cool outfits and storylines that will keep you entertained for hours.  If you ever saw the amazing film Mortal Instruments (one of my favourites) or if you've read the books, you'll have a good idea what the series is based on.  I promise you, you will Not be disappointed!!

Sex Education - Yes it's rude and a little X rated, But it's also really funny and actually has a great storyline.  I've just finished season 2 and I already hope the next season will arrive soon.  Maybe not a show for the more reserved among us but it's a good laugh and relaxing to watch (if you're not easily embarrassed!)  And it has Gillian Anderson in (Scully from The X Files) I'm a fan :-D

The Colony - Set in the future, a wall divides the colonies while an alien race guides the government/army to keep their people in their place with strict rules and curfews.  It's very addictive, it stars Walking Dead's Sarah Wayne Callies, and is just very entertaining.  The only downside being, there are only two seasons and the follow up has not be released to the uk, boooo!!  But still worth watching I feel.

Insatiable - Ridiculously funny, outright shocking (I do love a good shock-factor) and at times, just plain crazy.  I love it!!  (Just to add, as a trigger warning, it does contain body image/food related issue) but it's dealt with a quite an amusing way, the main girl certainly has an interesting way of working out her issues!

Baby - If you're like me and you love to watch something with a bit of oomph and grit, this is for you.  I've been working my way through season 1 for the past week (now on season 2) and I can't get enough of it, totally obsessed!  Plus it has an awesome soundtrack!  I'm really excited to see where it goes.

Friends - An age-old classic that will fill you with every emotion, mostly happiness and laughter.  Need I say more!

I would love to tell you about more great shows but since I have 35, yes 35 on my list still to watch, I will definitely be updating this and doing a part two sometime in the future.
I hope you enjoyed this post.  Let me know in the comments if you already watch any of the shows I've mentioned, or if you start any after reading this, come back and tell me what you thought of it.

Until next time, Stay Happy

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Thursday, 9 April 2020

Music Therapy

Hi everyone, For a long while after going through a particularly bad 18 months of my life, I felt I just couldn't listen to music anymore.  I stopped listening to all my favourite songs and I stopped singing, both of which have always been a big passion and influence in my life.  but lately I tried again, I started with really old favourites that I knew would make me feel good and it worked!
That was about a month ago, and since then I've been able to really get back to listening to a lot of my absolute best songs and even singing again, which has actually felt so amazing!  I'm still working up to certain other songs that I know may trigger bad memories but I'll get there because I feel I'm on the right road.  But the best part is, I feel I have part of 'me' back, a part of my soul that was missing for a long time, and it's helped my mental health SO much!!

Yesterday my best friend Shelley tagged me in a facebook challenge, the 30 Day Song Challenge and me being me, completely obsessed with music and very passionate about SO many songs, I just had to turn it into a blog post, especially now that I have music back in my life again!

Also I haven't done a tag post in forever and to help beat the boredom at the moment, I thought it would be fun for you guys to join in and post your answers too, either in the comments or on your own social media pages, and get others to join in too.
I've also added a few more questions, because why the hell not and because there's just so many songs I love that needed to be mentioned.  Plus I couldn't help but add more than one song for some of the answers, I just couldn't decided because more than one song fitted the bill :-)

So finally, here is the tag -

1. Song you like with a colour in the title? Black & Gold by Sam Sparrow and Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit
2. Song you like with a number in the title? A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
 (so beautiful)
3. Song that reminds you of summertime? Replay by Iyaz (full on summer :-D)
4. Song that reminds you of someone you'd rather forget? Unfortunately there's several, mainly Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis
5. Song that needs to be played loud? Lost in the Echo by Linkin Park (Amazing track!!)
6. Song that makes you want to dance? On The Floor by Jennifer Lopez, 4 My People (the Basement Jaxx radio remix) by Missy Elliot, Blow by Ke$ha AND Please Don't Stop the Music by Rihanna (Love, love, love them) :-D
7. Song to drive to? (I don't drive but) Liberate by Eric Prydz (still sounds so cool when you're going down the motorway with the top down and the wind in your hair lol)
8. Song about drugs or alcohol? Happy Little Pill by Troye Sivan or Morphine by Michael Jackson
9. Song that makes you happy? Shut Up & Dance by Walk the Moon
10. Song that makes you sad? Sooo many but My Immortal by Evanescence
11. Song you never get tired of? Moondust by Jaymes Young (gorgeous!)
12. Song from your preteen years? This Ole House by Shakin Stevens
13. Song you like from the 70s? You've Got a Friend by Carole King
14. Song you'd love to be played at your wedding? Never Gonna Leave Your Side by Daniel Bedingfield or A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
15. Song you like sang by another artist? Cold Water sang by Hobbie Stuart (it's AMAZING!!)
16. Song that's a classic favourite? Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
17. Song you'd sing a duet with someone on karaoke? Time of my Life from Dirty Dancing
18. Song from the year you were born? Nope, not answering that one!
19. A song that makes you think about life? Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen by Baz Luhrmann (Brilliant track!)
20. Song that has many meanings? My December (live) by Linkin Park
21. Song you like with a person's name in the title? Valery by Amy Winehouse
22. Song that moves you forward? Beautiful by Christina Aguilera
23. Song you think everybody should listen to? Take It All by Ruelle (amazing!) PLUS all the other songs I've mentioned that you don't already know!
24. Song by a band you wish were still together? Numb by Linkin Park
25. Song you like by an artist no longer living? Underground by David Bowie
26. Song that makes you want to fall in love? Insatiable by Darren Hayes AND All of Me by John Legend (Beautiful song)

27. Song that breaks your heart? Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt
28. Song by an artist who's voice you love? Lost by Michael Bublé (voice like melted chocolate
29. Song you remember from your childhood? Daddy's Home by Cliff Richard
30. Song that reminds you of yourself? Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve

15 Extra bonus questions, because, why not!
1. Song to relax to? Teardrop by Massive Attack or Children by Robert Miles
2. Song that makes you cry but you love? Goodbye to You by Michelle Branch (this version)
3. Song that reminds you of great times? Any 90s dance!!  I.e. You Sure Do by Strike or When I'm Good & Ready by Sybil, so so many!! :-D
4. Favourite song to sing to? Bring Me To Life or Imaginary both by Evanescence
5. Song that makes you smile? (Apart from 90s dance!) If I Lose Myself by One Republic

6. Song you listen to when you're angry? Wth>You, Figure 09, Qwerty or Victimized all by Linkin Park
7. Your least favourite song from a band you love? The Little Things that Give You Away by Linkin Park
8. Song you love that someone else introduced you to? Shatter Me By Lindsey Stirling & Lzzy Hale (thank you Shelley)
9. Song with the best beginning?  No More Sorrow by Linkin Park (Best beginning ever)
10. Favourite rap duet? Love the Way You Lie by Rihanna & Eminem, Airplanes by B.o.B and Hayley Williams and Champion by Chipmunk & Chris Brown
11. Song you can fall asleep to? MCXMC album by Enigma
12. Song that you think is just really cool?  Starboy by The Weekend (love it)
13. Your karaoke song? Warwick Avenue by Duffy
14. Old song you love that's your parents favourite? Heartbreaker by Free (it's awesome, in fact the whole album!)
15. Over-all song you love? Mr. Vain by Culture Beat :-D 

I have absolutely LOVED doing this tag because I've re-discovered so many songs that I love that I'd completely forgotten about and haven't listen to in so long.  I hope you give it a go, it will definitely make you smile and I think we could all do with that at the moment.  Plus I highly recommend having a listen to all the tracks I've mentioned, because they're ace :-D

So until next time, Stay Happy and Stay Safe

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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Quarantine for a Newbie

Hi everyone, so we're now in to the second week of quarantine, some of you may be sailing through it while others are either going stir crazy with boredom or are genuinely struggling to cope.

For someone like me having a chronic illness, my everyday life is like self isolation.  I generally only go out about once a week, sometimes once a fortnight, because going out for the day makes me feel so exhausted and in extra pain.  So as I spend the majority of my life indoors, and because of this I like to find as many things as I can that keep me busy, keep me entertained and things that I enjoy doing because I suffer with depression and anxiety too.  I know, fun!

I also know many of my readers have a lot of the same issues, so I wanted to write a list of ideas to help you beat the boredom and also to try and help if you're struggling mentally too.

So here's my 'How to Stay Sane List' -

1. Keep in touch with people, family and friends - I think this is probably one of the most important ones, it helps you to still feel connected to the outside world and at the moment, as everyone is in the same boat (and for a lot of them it's a new worrying experience), it will help them not to feel so alone.  You can share your tips and ideas to get through the long days and maybe chat about other things in life (ie not just the dreaded virus) to help calm each other and take your mind off the current problems!
One of my favourite ideas is to Skype or video chat with friends that you would normally meet up with.  Why don't you and your friend make a nice drink/food etc, wear something nice and go in a different room to video chat with each other, just as if you were going out to meet them. That way it will feel more 'normal' and make it a bit more fun.

2. Netflix - my absolute saviour on days when I just need to get out of my head-space.  And there is Sooooo much to choose from.  I'll upload a post next week of all my favourite films and shows that I love to watch to give you a few new ideas.

3. Pamper/play with your pets - they will need a lot of comfort just as much as you do, as their routine is going to be very different too.  They will also need something new to occupy their mind and to give them exercise as they won't be able to go out for their regular walks or be able to socialize with other dogs!  Have a look at this RSPCA article, for the latest pet advice, updates and tips on how to best care for your pet while in isolation, as there are some great ideas on there and of course a lot of important information too.  Have a fun play with them and sit and cuddle them, you will both enjoy it and it will be time well spent.  (Currently sat here now trying to type this with a very fidgety poodle on my lap!  But it's lovely.)

4. Pamper yourself - have a relaxing bath, a face mask, paint your nails, do your hair etc, anything to make you feel 'nice'.  Treat it like a spa day!

5. Read - how many times have you started a book and thought I'll finish that one day, now is that day!

6. Get baking - whether you live alone or with family, you can always appreciate some fresh home cooked cookies or cakes, plus it makes the house smell delicious hmmm!  It's times well spent, great do to with kids, and really enjoyable fun, plus you have something tasty to show for your efforts afterwards.

7. Exercise - this is really important even if you just do 5-10 minutes of stretching each day, it makes you feel so much more awake and gives you more energy.  Try doing it twice a day if you feel you need an energy boost.

8. Start a diary - it can be a journal of your thoughts, sometimes writing down how you feel, even a little bit can really help clear your mind and put things in to perspective.
A book of your favourite quotes, I have one of these and I add to it often, because I love quotes and it's also lovely to look through at times when I need a little 'pick me up'.
A gratitude diary, because even though things are not good right now we all still have a lot to be thankful for each day.  Family, friends, pets, good health (if you do), sight, hearing, any little thing in the day that made you smile, it all helps!
Or you could start a bullet journal, there are hundreds of great videos on youtube all about them.  I started one over a year ago for this year and I love just sitting down for half an hour or so and drawing little doodles, it's very relaxing.  I'm planning to film a video for my YT in the next couple of months to show my progress.

9. Start a new hobby or pick up and old one - crafts are THE best way to relax, use your time wisely and you can even make money from them. Anything from painting, drawing, card making, upcycling, etc and you can always get any bits you need ordered online.  Another hobby could be starting a blog, you tube channel, learn an instrument, take an online class (there are free ones around), make a scrap book etc

10. Go in your garden and appreciate nature - for those that can, this is something people are still able to do at the moment, so make the most of it. Feel the sun, get some air, let your dog have a wander and stiff. If you have a small garden close to others I think the government advise not to spend too long outside, but even for a few minutes you can still stand at the back door, catch some rays and listen to the birds!  If you have more of a quiet secluded garden away from others, spend a good bit of time outside when the weather is nice, plant some seeds in pots and make a pretty area in the garden or take a book outside and find a shaded corner to sit and read.

11. Keep a routine - even if you're not at work/school etc, still try and maintain a routine, ie make your bed, get up and go to bed at a good time, eat at the same times etc.

12. Do something you've been putting off/didn't have time to do before, like a DIY project, tidy a cupboard, make something, watch that documentary you've had on your watch list for ages, listen to an album you didn't have time to before, clean the kitchen! etc

13. Put on some of your favourite music and dance!  Music is one of the best things to help make you feel happier, it's a known fact.  And you can turn it in to another fun thing to do, go on Spotify and create a playlist of all your favourite songs to dance to!

14. Write letters/emails to old friends you'd love to get in contact with again or distant family that you haven't been in touch with for a while, check up on them.  Maybe start up a new thing with your best friend of writing to each other regularly like Pen-Friends, like when people used to actually write letters to each other instead of just texting every so often.  Add little homemade gifts or photos in the your notes too.

15. If you live with others, make sure to find time to be on your own, even if it's just 5 minutes.  Sometimes just taking a minute for yourself, especially when several people are all stuck in the house together, all feeling anxious, it can get a bit much and a bit stressful.  So it's really important to take a step away, go in another room, do something on your own for a little while, just have a breather away from each other.  Believe me, it will make all the difference

Finally, and this is just my personal advice; obviously it's important to keep up to date with the latest government guidelines and rules, and to know the extent of the situation.  But, try not to dwell on it all, try not to let your mind wander and worry about possible future problems any more than you have to.  You'll notice I haven't mentioned anything about going on social media.  That's because the current world problems are pretty much all everyone is talking about and at times it's better to try and limit your time spent reading through it all, and have a break away from it.

I hope you find this post helpful and if you can think of any other tips or ideas, please write them in the comments to share with everyone.

Most importantly, Stay Indoors and Stay Safe

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Monday, 17 February 2020

Mental Health - Suicide Awareness

Hi everyone, news of yet another suicide this week has prompted me to write this post, as suicide awareness and mental health is something very close to my heart.
Whether it's celebrities we hear about in the news, close loved ones or if you reading this now are feeling this way, suicide is NEVER the answer!

There is help out there for those that are brave enough to reach out.  But sadly not everyone gets to know about that help, or can find the courage to search for it.  So I feel it is our job and our duty to help spread far more awareness, reach out to those in need and help stop the ignorance that many people still seem to have about this issue.
It amazes me that even now in this day and age, when so many people suffer with depression and anxiety, so little is known about where to get help, that SO many people STILL ignore the signs and the whole subject is still a taboo and something people are ashamed to admit they suffer with!

People NEED to start being kinder to each other!  This world is cruel, unforgiving, selfish and egotistical.  And people are suffering in silence because of it, to the point where they feel they don't even want to live life anymore!  That is so absolutely, truly tragic and saddens me to my very core.  Too many people suffer alone and take their own lives every day, so something has to be done to help them!

I have been on both sides of the scale, I've watched two people I deeply care about suffer with such severe depression, they've tried to take their own lives, several times.  Coping with that is incredibly difficult, worrying and upsetting.  Never quite knowing if you're saying the right thing to help them or if the worst might happen and their attempt will be successful.
And, during bouts of my own severe depression, I have been in that frame of mind myself in the past too.  Being in such a dark place and not having the slightest clue how to get out, it's a very lonely feeling.

While in that vulnerable state recently, I eventually talked to my GP who put me on a waiting list to see a counsellor.  For me with my long term issues, it was bearable but I did find it very hard waiting almost 5 months before I could talk to someone and was basically counting the days!  Also many years ago after a bad breakdown, I asked to see a counsellor then, and was told it was a 12 month waiting list!!  Crazy!

These waiting times are absolutely ridiculous and it's purely because there are just not enough counsellors available in many areas for people to see.  Many GPs aren't equipped enough to deal with the level of mental health issues.  If it hadn't of been for my counsellor (when I finally got to see her) I wouldn't of known about some of the helplines and other mental health therapists that are available to talk to immediately, because my GP never even told me about them!  Again this is not good enough.

Therefore the more people that speak out and ask for help and the more people that speak out to help those in need, the more the NHS will have to listen.  GPs need to be more aware of the needs of sufferers and most importantly, be able to give them some immediate help and guidance so they don't feel so alone and abandoned, just adding their name to some list and left to get on with it!

Here are the contact details I was given and some others that I feel would be of benefit (Uk only) -

Shout helpline (originally called Crisis Text Line) - text 85258 (I highly recommend this one)
Live Fear Free (originally Welsh Womens Aid) - call 0808 80 10 800 (24 hours)
Mind Uk - or call 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm).  Email or text 86483
C.A.L.L. Helpline (Community Advice and Listening Line) - call 0800 107 0900 (Uk) or 0800 132 737 (Wales) or text "Help" and your question to 81066
- call 116 123
Childline - call 0800 1111
You can also visit where you can find loads of various pdf leaflets that cover all kinds of issues from depression to abuse to self harm to bereavement.  You can click to view them or pay a pound per leaflet to download them.  The information is actually quite detailed and there is also a long list of specific helplines etc at the end of each one.

I hope this post helps even just one person out there.  But you (my readers) can help too by please sharing this post or at least sharing the message with those around you to do what you can, to help lift the taboo surrounding mental health and suicide, and help end the silent suffering.

So until next time, be kind

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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Learning to Manage Chronic Pain

Hi everyone, over the past 5 weeks I have been attending a Pain Management course, and since I promised a few people, I have written a post all about it to report how it went, what type of things I learnt and if in general I found it helpful.  So here it is -
I have struggled for so many years, feeling very cut off and left alone to cope and manage because all the doctors told me is that I have this condition for life, there is no cure so you're stuck with it.  Learn to manage it, look up tips online, off you go, bye-bye!  And that was it.

I've felt like I'm floundering, just left to pick up the pieces of what's left of my life, just trying to push on through and all the while being in constant pain, exhausted and depressed. I didn't know where to turn, the internet wasn't the best of help because there's just so much online, where do you even start, what is actually the right advice to follow!

In general I am proud of myself, because I struggle every single day trying to get things done and get through the day, sometimes even when I'm in so much pain I'm in tears. But most days I do it, I still push through and I get what I can done!  At least now, after completing this course I have that little bit of extra knowledge and positive thinking behind me, to be able to help me get through life in a little bit of an easier way!
Being able to go on this course has given me that support and understanding I've desperately needed!  It's given me all the answers I've been searching for and more.
  If it wasn't for my councillor (that I see for my depression issues), telling me about the course, I would never have known about it.  As soon as she told me, I said I was definitely interested so she referred me.

I've now learnt how important it is to have people in your life to talk to (friends, family, a nurse or good gp etc) about your health, your emotions and fears, your medications, problems and ways to help solve them and for general support!  Because you should never have to manage alone!

I've learnt how important it is to exercise and stretch!  Even if you're in too much pain to move, which sounds crazy right!  But it's so true. The more you get your body moving, even a little bit each day, the more it will get used to it, strengthen the muscles and help you feel you can move with less pain.  It REALLY does work!

I've started doing my short stretching routine just for 10 minutes every day and it's already made a difference in the last few weeks.  I've learnt that it's ok to just do a little here and there and that things you already do, like housework, walking or playing with the dog etc any movements are classed as part of your 30 - 60 minutes of daily exercise!  It made me feel like I was already achieving something and I hadn't even realised!

I've learnt ways to help plan ahead, not forget important things despite my foggy fibro brain.
I've learnt that it's ok to take pain relief when I start to feel ill rather than waiting until I feel even worse and I'm trying to manage, because I feel guilty about giving in and taking them beforehand.  Because if you wait to take them when you feel even worse they're less likely to work!  So I don't need to feel guilty anymore, plus not only does it seem to help ease my pain better, I find I'm now taking less pain killers than before!

I've learnt that it's ok to feel down and sad but there are so many ways to help deal with it that you can do for yourself, keeping an emotion diary and writing down your feelings, healthy distraction techniques and other ways to turn it around and have a more positive attitude to help feel better!
Breathing and relaxation techniques, mini exercises and even the best ways to help others understand our needs better!

The tutors were completely lovely and so understanding, mainly I think because they had chronic illnesses too. They had all been through it the same as the rest of us attending the class, and they had also taken the course themselves.  It had worked so well for them they had been able to go from bed-bound, severely ill people hardly able to walk to people with lives!!  I think that helped give us all more hope. There were 7 others on the course with me, each of them with very different and difficult conditions but we all agreed how much we had learnt and how much we were all so grateful to be able to do this course.

One of the best things I found for me, was being able to put all their various techniques and ideas into practice in small ways in my daily life, just little changes or added things that have made a huge difference.  Because they taught us in such a way that we could all make the ideas work for our individual needs.  That was definitely a game changer for me and means that I will always be able to keep up with these changes and progress with them to really help me manage my condition in the long term.  Of course I'm not saying it was a cure-all, I will still always have my health issues and will always suffer with being in pain most of the time, but I will ALWAYS be so incredibly grateful for all the help I was given and the information I can now use to help me manage and get through the bad days.

If you suffer from any type of health condition or chronic pain, I cannot urge you enough to go and talk to your gp or health practitioner and ask them about a pain management course. Not all areas have them, but they are becoming increasingly popular and the more people that ask for them, the more chance they will create groups in all areas.
I also highly recommend this book "Self Management for Long-term Health Conditions". This is basically what the course is based around and the tutors constantly referred to it throughout the course. So if you aren't able to get in to a course or you want a head start, go get this book.  It's available to borrow from most libraries and you can purchase them online for as little as £5 from both Amazon and ebay.

I hope this post helped some of you who are in the same position I was and are currently struggling with your health condition.  If you would like any more details about the course or would just like to talk to me, please feel free to contact me via email (, IG chat (@CrystalSparklyDreams) or DM me on Twitter (DaniJ72), and I will try and help in any way I can.

So until next time, Stay Positive

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