Photowall - Review *Sponsored Content*

This blog post is brought to you today in association with Photowall. I was contacted by them & asked if I'd be interested in working with them on a blog post. After checking out their website & the products they offer, I agreed & as a thank you, they have kindly given me a 20% discount code for all of you, my lovely readers!

You're probably wondering who Photowall are & what they do? Well let me tell you...

Photowall are a Swedish company with a passion for design & quality. They offer a choice of wall murals / wallpapers {a great option if you're wanting to add a personal touch when you're decorating your living or work space!} & Canvas Prints. All are environmentally friendly, fire-retardant & won't fade in the sunlight, which is a great as there's nothing more annoying than sun bleached wallpaper or wall art! The printing ink they use contains no solvents or hazardous chemicals, & is biodegradable.

They can create unique, inspiring wall d├ęcor & work with talented photographers & designers from around the world. They also offer you the opportunity to use your own photographs to make your wallpaper or canvas print even more personal. Photowall also work with licensed brands & are an official partner for Disney, Modesty Blaise, Moomin Characters & others. So they're the place to go if you want to have for your favourite film star on your wall!

They use cutting-edge digital printing techniques to guarantee quality & precision on all their products. Customer service is also a priority & they aim to give their customers the best service they can!

Photowall also work with an organisation called Vi Agroforestry who are an Swedish aid organisation. Every year they plant 5,000 trees in the area around Lake Victoria in Eastern Africa. The trees help to fight poverty, improve the environment & combat climate change. So by shopping with Photowall, you are supporting Vi Agroforestry & doing your bit for the planet, which is pretty awesome!

So now you know a little bit more about them, I'm going to walk you through placing an order with them. Photowall kindly offered me a free canvas of one of my own photographs for working with them, so I'm able to give you a full honest review from start to finish; how the order process works & what the quality of the finished product is like.

Let's get started:

1} First thing you need to do is head to & then select either the flag of your country or the little globe for "Rest of the World" if your flag isn't listed.

Photowall Homepage

2} Now you choose your product type by either clicking on "Wall Murals" or "Canvas Prints" & then selecting either "Categories" or "Custom"  - I chose "Canvas Print" & then "Custom"

  • "Categories" will show you all the photographs you can choose from, split into different themes including "Animals", "Landscapes" & "Film, TV & Cartoon" 
  • "Custom" takes you to a page where you can upload your own image - which is the option I chose.
  • You also have the option of choosing either "Designers" "Rooms" or "Colours" which allows you to search & view images via these options.

3} If you chose to use your own image, now is the time to choose the photograph you want to use & upload it. You do this by simply clicking "Select You Image" & then "Upload" 
  • When doing this, remember the bigger the pixel count, the better the quality. A good guideline is that the image must have at least 1 pixel for every millimetre of the wall mural or canvas.
  • If you go to the "Price Calculation" tab in the box on this page, you can play with the product size you want & see how much this will cost.

4} Next you will work your way through the following 5 Steps:

  • "How do you want to order" - Choose "Order direct" if you don't have any special requests for your image. If you need some more help like colour correction, adding or removing an object, changing proportions or anything else you want doing to your image, choose "Personal assistance please" You then leave your contact details with what you want doing & someone will get back to you, usually within 1-2 business working days. ***Please note there is a charge of £36 per hour for this service but only if they do any editing, queries are free to send.***
  • "Framing" - either choose "With a do-it-yourself frame" or "Canvas only" The canvas doesn't come fully assembled, as there is a risk of it being damaged in transit. So if you want your canvas to hang on the wall, it suggests including a 29mm frame that you then fit to your canvas print. I chose to have the frame.
  • "Edge" - this gives you the option of either having your canvas image wrapped {your image continues around the sides of the canvas} or alternatively you can have either a black or white edge. I chose image wrapped.
  • "Your dimensions" - This is where you choose the size of your canvas. You can change the measurement to inches if you don't like working in centimetres. What's nice is that, as you play around with the sizing, you can see it applied to your picture & where it would be cropped & where the edging would be. This helps you choose the best size to show off your image. Mine looked best at 100cm x 50cm & I only lost a bit of the sky.
  • "Crop as required" - This brings up your image full screen so you can get a closer look at where the image would be cropped, based on the size you have chosen. You can then move the marked out red box to choose how you want the final image to be cropped ready to be printed onto the canvas.
Once you've double checked that all the options you have chosen are correct, just click "Add to Cart" & you're almost done!

Adjusting the canvas size.

5} On the "Your Cart" page, under the details of your order & the price, you'll find a clickable link that allows you to add a discount or gift card code. Here's where you can enter the 20% discount code I've been given for you all: 
  • My 20% discount code is: LoPhotoCampaign2018 {The code is only available for 30 days, so you need to place your order by the 5th of April}
  • Make sure "Private Customer" is selected {unless you're a Business of course, then choose "Business Customer" or "Contract Customer"}
  • You can also tick or untick the box to decide if you want to receive emails from Photowall telling you about any offers & the like.
Once that's done, simply click on "Proceed to checkout".

6} The next page is "Confirm your order" This is where you need to add in your billing address, name, phone number & email.
  • If your delivery address is different to your billing one, just select "Other delivery address" & add in the address you want your product sending.
Once you've doubled check your details, click "Proceed to payment"

7} As my canvas is free I was taken straight to the final order confirmation page. But all you'll need to do is add in your payment details & then complete your order.
  • You can pay either with Visa, MasterCard or Paypal.

8} That's it! You'll receive an email confirming your order & then another one once your order has been dispatched to you.
  • European orders are free & will take between 3 - 6 business days. The orders are delivered by DB Schenker
  • The Rest of the World takes 2 - 6 business days & there is a charge ranging from €19 - €49. These orders are delivered by DHL Express.

I placed my order very late on a Friday night, received my confirmation email & then received my dispatch email on the Monday. My canvas arrived on the Thursday, which I was really surprised at due to the incredibly bad weather that's going on in mainland Europe & the UK right now! So from ordering to delivery took 4 working days & the canvas arrived well packaged in a sturdy box, so it's very protected in transit.

As the canvas doesn't come with the frame already fitted, you'll need to do a little bit of "D.I.Y" & fit the frame to the canvas. There are instructions included on how to do this, along with all the brackets & screws you'll need. Photowall also have a handy tutorial video on Youtube to help with this.
You can watch the video here or simply search Photowall on Youtube.

Now let me just say for the record that I'm not the biggest fan of canvases for wall art as you can often see the texture of the canvas material through the image that's been printed on them & I find that distracted from the image itself. Photowall's canvas is completely different! It's incredibly high quality & as it's 100% cotton, it feels lovely. The print is stunning, my photograph hasn't lost any of the detail I captured & you can barely see the texture of the canvas as it's so smooth! The only tiny little issue was a couple of loose threads from where the canvas had been cut to size but these were easily sorted by cutting them off. 

As for putting the frame together, my Dad actually did this as I'm an even less D.I.Y person than he is! As he said; "If I can do it, anyone can!" It's that straight forward! Having the Youtube video in addition to the instructions was very helpful, especially as my Dad said he prefers to watch tutorial videos rather than use written instructions.

From helping my Dad fix the frame to the canvas, I recommend taking your time as it's important to make sure that each part of the frame is straight & flush to the edge of the canvas as once stuck down, it would be very hard to take off again. Not rushing, it took less than 30 minutes.

The main tip from my Dad; Peel the tape from the frame pieces carefully! Part of the glue from the tape came away on one of the edges, which wasn't a major issue as the part of the canvas it effected was one of the corner pieces that fits between two sides of the frame so once the frame was completed, you couldn't tell.

It's nice & sturdy so it can stand up without falling yet it's lightweight, which means you're not having to struggle with it being heavy while you're hanging it on the wall with the provided bracket. Okay sure having to fit the frame onto the canvas can seem like a bit of a faff but it went together well & with no issues other than the tape not peeling quite right on the first piece - but that's more of a tape issue that an issue with the frame.

One of the aims of any photographer {well for me anyway} when they are looking to display their work is to find a product that will really show off the image they have captured & to find a company that takes as much care in printing & producing that product as the photographer has put into the making of said image. I feel I've found that with Photowall. Honestly, I'm such a big critic of my work & when I see my images printed or framed, I find myself scrutinising it, looking for ways I might make it better. But the quality of the print job on this canvas makes my photograph look incredible & as such I found it hard to pick up on anything I didn't like.

Overall, my impressions of Photowall & their canvas are excellent & I'm not just saying that because they're sponsoring this post & have sent me a canvas to review. I can honestly say that Photowall make top quality canvases & I think they may have converted me into a canvas lover! So I really do recommend them if you're thinking of getting a new piece of wall art or you're redecorating & after some unique wallpaper. Plus if you do buy from them you'll have the nice bonus of 20% off if you use my discount code: LoPhotoCampaign2018 {valid for 30 days; 5th March - 5th April}

Please let me know if you do use the code & order a canvas or wall mural from Photowall, I'd love to know what you think of them. Also if you have any queries or questions regarding the order process or want more details on the canvas or photograph, please feel free to either leave me a comment on this post, tweet me or email me.

All done & on the wall!

I hope you are all as well as can be & keeping warm in this incredibly cold weather.

Take care,

L x

You Behind The Illness


I came across this via twitter on a blog called Hope found in M.E.

The idea is to share some facts about yourself that are unrelated to illness.  It's such a nice idea that I thought I'd join in as it's very easy to lose yourself when you become sick; especially when your illness is a long-term incurable one with very little treatment to help. Everything else seems to disappear & you become your illness, so it's good to remind yourself that you are more than your illness.

Okay, let's get started...

Four places I've lived:
  1. Lancaster, UK
  2. Morecambe, UK
  3. Heysham, UK
  4. Lancashire - the county where all the above are situated.
Morecambe Bay Sunset

Four places I've worked:
  1. Arc-Rite Welding & Safety
  2. flowersdirect Online Limited
  3. Riding Stables
  4. Home

Four favourite hobbies:
  1. Photography {check out my website}
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Cuddling with my Cats
Dex & McKay

Four things I like to watch:
  1. Star Trek - All parts of the franchise except Discovery {not really fan of that one}
  2. Grey's Anatomy {It's a beautiful day to save lives!}
  3. Stargate - All parts of the franchise
  4. History documentaries

Four things I like to read:
  1. The Bible
  2. Anything written by John Green - "frankly I'd read {his} grocery lists"
  3. Winnie the Pooh - it's a classic!
  4. Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Tom Kitten {my first cat was named after Tom!}


Four places I have been:
  1. Jersey {the channel island}
  2. South Africa
  3. Wales
  4. Scotland

Four things I love to eat:
{this is a hard one since I'm not really a fan of food talk & don't really love food}
  1. Mum's Sunday dinner
  2. Mini Eggs {tis the season!}
  3. Skittles
  4. Raw Carrots with mayonnaise

Mini Eggs - all nice & sorted.

Four favourite things to drink:
  1. Water
  2. Tea
  3. More Tea {herbal or otherwise}
  4. Hot Chocolate
There's no such thing as too much Tea!

Four places I want to visit:
  1. Iceland
  2. Rome
  3. Highlands of Scotland
  4. The Yard I use ride at.

The last part to this is to tag four other bloggers to join in with this but I'm not going to do that. I do encourage anyone that would like to, to join in with this & post your own answers. If you do join in, please either post a comment on here with the link or tweet me it as I'd love to read it.

I hope you are all as well as possible & are taking care.

L x

Out For Lunch

Today I had a melt down over a chicken baguette, {believe me I know how ridiculous that sounds but if you have food issues, OCD & Anxiety, you may understand} & resided myself to eating Mini Eggs {they're Gluten Free Hooray!} & binge watching the last few episodes of Gossip Girl. Then after a shower I gave myself a little kick & tried to refocus on some positives!

I realised I wanted to write about my little outing a week or so ago & never found the motivation to, until now. What better way to make yourself think about lovelier things than a wrongly made chicken baguette than to write about a little adventure!  Before my mum went away, I asked if we could figure out going somewhere for lunch. Mum left the decision of where to go up to me & as this would be the first time going out for food since I became Gluten Free, I knew it wouldn't be easy to find somewhere.

Camera always comes on every outing.

The Barn at Scorton was already in my mind as it's somewhere mum & I really love going. I double checked a few other local places & their menus with no joy on the Gluten Free options. The Barn however had a number of options & so I decided it would be the best place to go.

Since we chose a day for our lunch date in advance, I got plenty of rest leading up to our outing. On the day I ended up sleeping in {first time I've slept after 9am for a long time!} but I was still able to be ready for about the same time that we'd planned to set off for without rushing! I wanted to make an effort since I've not been out for lunch for quite a while. So minimal makeup, hair plaited & comfy but smartish easy to put on clothes all helped save me some energy. Something that is vital when you have limited energy reserves.

The Barn at Scorton Restaurant

For us to get to The Barn normally means going through Lancaster City Centre but the City is a bit of nightmare at the best of times for traffic but with added roadworks, it is even worse. So to make the journey more pleasant, we took a slightly longer but more scenic route so I could get a few photographs along the way there & back.

Once we got to The Barn, we slowly wandered around the gift shop, which has been extended since I was last there. The great thing about The Barn is that just about everything they sell you often can't get anywhere else. As we strolled through the original part of the shop, we noticed that the little cafe area we normally sit was quite busy. So we carried on through to the newer part of the shop that goes into the restaurant. Again it was quite busy but not to noisy thankfully; we found a table in a quiet corner & ordered some lunch.

I'm not going to go into massive detail about what I ate but what I will say is that it was lovely & as someone who has been struggling to find Gluten Free bread that I like, whatever brand they use, it was very nice! Their Hot Chocolate was wonderful as usual! We didn't bother with a dessert, though they do offer a Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie that was very tempting! By this point I could feel my energy beginning to dip & I was starting to ache a little; thank goodness I'd remembered my medication! See that's the thing about Chronic Illness, it doesn't disappear just because you want a nice day out!

Meds & Hot Chocolate

As we went back through the gift shop, mum & I picked up a couple of things. I got a new mug which matched a bookmark she had already bought me & we got a couple of treats to enjoy on another day. My dad was very happy to see we came home with a Marmite Jar made out of Marmite flavoured Chocolate for him! {He's one of those people that actually likes Marmite!} Again we decided to take the slightly longer but far more scenic route home.

When we got on the top road that can take you to Caton & the surrounding areas, I remembered there was a small lay-by & I asked mum to pull over. The view from this road can make you feel almost like you're on top of the world! On a clear day, which we were blessed with, you can see right across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland hills. You can see the Heysham Power Stations {if the trees weren't there, you'd be able to see my house!} & the Wind Turbines behind them out in the Irish Sea! It's breath taking for sure! I took a few photographs {some of which will be for sale on my website in the near future} & it will be a location I'll be back to at some point.

View Across the Bay

Once I got home, I collapsed on the sofa & rested up until I felt okay enough to take on the stairs so I could get into bed. Normally before I go out anywhere, I bring a pair of pyjamas downstairs & leave them on the sofa ready for me to change into so I'm cosier. Since I'd completely forgotten to do this, my lovely mum got them for me.

Feeling ill after activity is all part & parcel of having M.E; the Post Excursion Malaise from this day hit fully the next couple of days & left me in bed almost all the weekend. {I managed a couple of hours downstairs on the fourth day} P.E.M can often mean you feel frustrated & down because you feel like you're being punished for wanting to go out & do something. It can be hard to remember what a nice time you may have had when the pain & exhaustion hit with full force. This is why I always try to purchase a little something to bring home or to take plenty of photographs.

So while I sipped copious amounts of the from my lovely new mug, I was reminded how lovely my little outing was. Then the following week, once I began to feel my normal level of exhaustion & pain, I was able to go through my photographs, which again reminded me how the few days of PEM were worth it.

Tabby Mug!
I guess that's my little tip for outings with Chronic Illness; try to either bring a little trinket home or capture the moment by taking photographs. Looking back on the day while enduring the consequences certainly helps keep your mood up.

I hope everyone is as well as can be & taking care.

L xxx

Life & New Ventures

I've been wanting to write a post for quite a while but most of my energy have been used on getting my Photography website up & running. Plus my body has been kindly reminding me that I don't need any other reason than that I have Chronic Illnesses to feel rubbish. I feel like I'm getting a nice balance of activity & rest, yet this past week or so, I've not felt great.

But anyhow, let's get down to the subject at hand...

At this time of year, many people are setting goals, getting into the the whole "New Year, New Me" mind set & looking back over the past year & remembering everything they've accomplished! I'm most definitely not a "New Year, New Me" person, I never have been.

New years always make me anxious, especially since my M.E diagnosis back in 2013, not knowing what the coming year has in store health wise isn't fun; Will this be the year I begin to feel somewhat better? or will this year be worse than the last?

As for reminiscing over the year that has been.. I'm not a fan really of that either. Although there are somethings from 2017 I would like to remember, like getting to The Photography Show & having one of my photographs in a gallery there & making it Edinburgh for a week. Most of my 2017 was spent trying to recover from the Herxes I had in April & May thanks to a Specialist overdosing me on a medication that was suppose to kill the Epstein Barr Virus in my nervous system but ended up almost killing me! I'm still to this day left with a slight stammer that arrives when I'm over exhausted.

I am both incredibly proud of myself for surviving 2017, for not giving up despite of what I have experienced regarding my health & very happy to see the back of that year! It's the latter feeling that moved me to get 2018 off to a good start! So on the Monday 1st January I launched my Photography Website & offered a selection of my photographs for sale!

copyright Chibirdart.

It's something I have been thinking so much about for a year or more, in fact I think I've been toying with the idea since I completed my Photography Specialisation. It's the biggest step I've taken regarding my photography since completely the course & on launch day I felt really nervous publishing my announcement blog posts & posting about it on my Social Media Accounts. Now it's out there, I'm really excited to see how my work does over this next year.

{shameless plug coming up...] If you'd like to take a look at my site & even buy one of my photographs, please head over to Lo Elizabeth Photography

As for my health & recovery, going into 2018, everything is staying the same. Since stopping the Bioresonance, I've gone back to the tried & true form of "treatment" that of pacing & planning out my activity. I have a weekly routine written out in my planner which I am trying hard to stick to & within that routine I have "goals" that I try to accomplish, such as getting dressed a certain number of times a week, taking photos or doing some writing for this blog & my photo blog.

Writing it all down is helping me to feel like I'm still doing something to help manage my main condition, M.E, as since I stopped the Bioresonance {although I knew it was the right thing for me to do} a small part of me, that annoying little voice in my head, kept telling me that I'd given up & was no longer actively trying to get better.

from Word Porn Facebook Page.

However, the best way to manage M.E is purely by resting & pacing, so my weeks are planned out around my rest days...

Mondays & Fridays are bed rest & shower days. {Due to a busy month of March, I'm also in bed on a Wednesday until April, I need all the energy I can get to survive that month!}

From the days I have left, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays, I have a mixture of getting dressed, being downstairs, venturing in the garden to take photographs, having a visitor, going to appointments & simply just getting out of the house for a little while.

These days are more beneficial for my Mental health than my M.E since the activity causes Post Excursion Malaise & this is why I have bed rest days to break up the week & help me rest properly before & after any activity I may be doing - big or small! However, the bigger activities, like appointments or even having a visitor, are limited to one per week & then the other day's activities will be more along the lines of getting downstairs for the day & other "basic" daily tasks.

Although I have always functioned best when I follow a routine {I'm a creature of habit thanks to my OCD} I admit at times this can all be really frustrating & I miss having a spontaneous aspect to my life but I know as time goes on, it will be worth it.

So it'll be interesting to see how this year pans out both regarding my health & my leap into selling my photographs.

I hope you are all as well as can be & your 2018 is getting off to the best start it can.

Take care,

L x

Photography Website Launch!

{Hello everyone, I hope you're all okay, this is a quick announcement type post, I really wanted to write a more personal post for this blog but I just haven't been well enough. Once I have more energy, I'll write more on this & also a life/year over view post}

I have a Photography Website!

Home Page

I've been toying with the idea of setting up my own photography website & selling my work for quite a while. I've held back due to lack of confidence more than anything, I was just not sure if my work was good enough, if anyone would actually want to buy anything.

However, despite that lack of confidence, I found my curiosity took over & I began researching which website provider would be best for me & which printing labs they used. I even picked up information on a couple of them while at The Photography Show back in March.

Uploading Photographs

Then last month I posted a photograph on my personal Instagram & one of my friends asked if they could buy a print of it. I then realised that maybe people might like some of my work enough to want a copy of it. So I began to plan out my site; how I would like it look & feel, what photographs might be good to have for sale & also the cost of it all.

I finally settled on Smug Mug as my provider for a few reasons but the main one is that the print lab they use for the UK is Loxley Colour & I've been using them for almost three years now. Their products are good quality & their delivery time is brilliant so I wanted to make sure that if I was to start selling that I could still use them as I know that my customers would be getting great quality products. My discount via being an N-Photo subscribe was a nice bonus!

So last week I signed up to Smug Mug & began to build my website. I wanted something that was fuss free & clean looking. I remembered at a Pro Photographer Masterclass I attended that a couple of photographers mentioned that they had their sites set up to look very similar to Instagram in how the photographs were presented, it gives the site a familiar feel. So I decided to go for a similar look myself & I really like how it's turned out as the photographs are nice & easy to view.

Key wording - A necessary but long job.

I've found Smug Mug really straight forward to use as they section each element you can add into "Content Blocks" so you just simply add the blocks you want & tweak them to how you want them to look. Adding photographs to the galleries is quick too, with a drag & drop facility, the only long job I've found was adding keywords to the photographs once they're in the gallery.

I was also very impressed with their customer service, not long after I'd signed up I received an email from one of their team introducing themselves which was lovely & when I contacted them regarding a price list query, they were very quick to get back to me, despite the time difference {they're based in the US}.

Overall I'm really happy with how my site looks & I'm even happier that I've decided to give selling my work a go!


If you'd like to have a look at my site, then please click the link below:

Lo Elizabeth Photography

I'd love any feed back you have on the site. I've tried to add a nice selection of different types of photography for sale, ranging from Macro to Landscape. I plan to go through my catalogue of photographs & add more as time goes on but I think what I have on there is a good starting point.

I want to thank you all so much for all the support you've given me this past year, especially over on Instagram & Twitter. I hope this coming year is a good one for you all!

I hope you're all as well a possible & have survived the past week's holiday.

Take care,

L xxx

"Turtles All The Way Down" - An Anxious Adults Thoughts

You reach for your cup of tea to take a drink only to be greeted with a view of the bottom of your mug. You're filled with disappointment as you realise you've drunk your tea faster than you were wanting to. I experience that disappointment on a regular basis where drinking tea is involved but I also feel that same level of disappointment when I reach the end of a book that I simply don't want to end!

I had that feeling when I reached the end of John Green’s new novel, "Turtles All The Way Down." I've been a fan of John & his brother Hank for many years, their YouTube channel "Vlog Brothers" is one of my favourites & one of the few I've been subscribed to since the beginning of YouTube. As for John as an author, I consider him among one of my favourites & "The Fault in our Stars" is a "go to" book of mine. However, it has been quite a number of years since John has written anything new & in my opinion it was worth the wait; As an anxious adult I adored this story.

"Books belong their Readers" - John Green

In my mind, this book kind of has two storylines which as the book goes on come together.:

There's a mystery to solve which slowly draws you in more & more with each turn of a page & you can’t help but try to figure it out before you reach the end of the book, all the while becoming invested in the characters, their friendships & a wanting to know that they’ll be okay.

Then we have the story of John's main character, Aza Holmes who lives with OCD/Anxiety. As you follow her story you learn what it's like to live with the Mental Condition & how it impacts on the relationships she has with the people around her, her friends & Mother in particular. The two storylines intertwine around the friendship Aza develops with a boy called Davis Pickett.

Massive thank you to Penguin for sending me this fabulous little Turtles Notebook! {I purchased my own copy of the actual book from Waterstones}

The way John has captured Aza's mental struggle was interesting to me because along with my physical conditions, I also live with & struggle with Anxiety & OCD tendencies. So I found the way John wrote her thought processes, mental battle with herself & feelings quite relatable, right down the her habit of pressing her thumb nail into her middle finger. {something I do} Her internal dialogue & fight to not give into her intrusive thoughts & thought spirals power over her actions also resonated with me.

Aza's Anxiety also gives rise to the idea of what makes a person a person; if we are separate from our thoughts & if the terms "you" & "I" are really correct when referring to ourselves in singular form. I also found it interesting that John gave Aza the fear of the fact that she might be fictional, she fears she isn't real as she doesn't feel as she is in control of her own life. These powerful subjects mainly arise when we listen in to Aza's therapy appointments. For me, those sections of the book are the most interesting, especially when they discuss English language & how it often fails us when we are trying to describe how we feel & the pain we may be in.

Even though "Turtles" is a Young Adult book, as an not so young anxious Adult, I found it an interesting & compelling read. As much as I try not to, I can't help but compare it to "TFiOS" as that is just as relatable for me. I felt that "TFiOS" did flow a litter better than "Turtles" but for me, that is the nature of my Anxiety & intrusive thoughts, it gives me an almost disjointed feeling at times, a feeling of going from one thing to another with not much ease or flow & the occasional shake of the head to try & rid myself of a thought I don't want to think.

As much as I would recommend reading "Turtles" my recommendation comes with a caution: I did find it a bit Anxiety triggering in some places & I found myself feeling as anxious as Aza. So if you're planning to read this book but you have Anxiety, just beware that it could make you feel that horrible sick to your stomach feeling only someone with Anxiety can understand.

"The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely."

I hope if any of you are thinking of reading this, you do pick up a copy as it's a good read whether or not you have anxiety as there's someone for everyone, especially if you like a good mystery. I feel it's lived up to the hype it's gotten & I just hope John Green doesn't make us wait another 6 years for another new book from him!

As a final note on this book, I want to say a big thank you to John Green for this story & for taking the time to include at the back of the book a list of a number of organisations in numerous countries which can offer help to anyone who may be dealing with similar issues to Aza. This was such a lovely, caring thing to do & I found it very touching.

If any of you have already read "Turtles" I'd love to know what you thought of it. Please feel free to leave me a comment below or head over to my Twitter where we can have a good old natter.

"Don't Forget To Be Awesome!"

Take care,

L x

Weight & Medication

{This has turned into a longer post than I intended but I wanted to give some background along with my weight & medication issues now. So grab yourself a drink, snuggle up & if needed, pace yourself while reading this.}

{Disclaimer: This is my experience, everyone is different & medications can effect people differently. Always consult your Doctor before making any changes to your Medication}

Since being a teenager, I've struggled with food & controlling my weight. I can remember going from surviving a school day on nothing but a bottle of water, an Orange & a Kitkat to binging & comfort eating when I was in my early twenties while struggling with stress & Depression.

So when I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism at 22 years old, it made controlling my weight harder but not impossible, especially when my TSH & T4 levels went back to normal once the medication kicked in. However, as I mentioned above it was at this time I was struggling with a few issues & as a coping method I began to comfort eat.

Fast forward 4 years & I had left my job, one of the main causes of my stress & I decided I needed to do something about my weight. I'd previously tried Slimming World & Weight Watchers but I barely lost anything, so I did it the tried & true way; I calorie counted & worked out until I'd lost 6 stone! I carried on watching my calories & working out a lot to help maintain the weight I now was. 

It was at this time that I really knew something was wrong with my health as you'd think I should have been feeling incredibly good for dropping all that weight, but I wasn't. Eventually I was diagnosed with M.E & told to slow down, which meant I had to stop working out. However, as the M.E worsened, I began to lose more weight due to my body not absorbing nutrients properly, losing my appetite & struggling with nausea which meant I had to force myself to eat each day - having medication to take to for my Thyroid, Anaemia, to help with pain & nausea helped encourage me to do this.

Copyright 2017 Louise Elizabeth Shepherd

Fast forward again a couple of years while having Bioresonance & I found I was seeing small improvements with my weight. Now I'm only 5ft 2inch so being lighter weight wise is much better for my frame & height, plus it means less weight on my painful joints & muscles. But as I'd lost quite a bit due to being really sick, I didn't mind putting on a few pounds as I felt quite boney at one point, even though I never really looked it.

However, at the end of last year I had put on more than I really wanted but I wasn't entirely sure how since I wasn't over eating. Then all was made clear after a routine blood test; my Thyroid levels were out after being fine for a good 10 years & this was the cause of my weight gain. I then spent the next 9 months having blood tests every 3 months & having my Thyroxine increased until in May of this year my Doctor was finally happy with my TSH & T4. Not long after that I had all the Herxes & I barely ate anything for a good couple of weeks, just enough to take my medication & yet I lost no weight, in fact I put a bit more on.

I found this completely baffling & since a number of years previous I had lost a good 3 stone mainly with Calorie Counting before I upped my work outs, I knew I shouldn't have been putting on weight. I wasn't sure what to do as working out for me now is a major no no & even my trusty detox Green Tea wasn't shifting the weight like it had in the past.

Then I came across a post on an M.E Support Facebook page asking if anyone else had experienced weight gain while taking Naproxen {the pain killer I was taking 3 times a day} & I was surprised firstly that someone had linked weight gain to Naproxen as it was the last thing I would think of as contributing my weight & secondly, how many other people were saying it made them gain weight too!

Copyright Almaz A Source: Instagram

So I did the one thing you're told not to & began to Google Naproxen & came across so many more people who were/had been taking it & found they put on huge amounts of weight in a short time. I also read up on the chemical make up of the drug & it's basic make up is linked to Salt. So from what I understood, this means it can make you retain water & this seems to be the reason for the weight gain.

Up until the past year, I wasn't taking Naproxen as regularly, it was my "last resort" medication as I didn't like taking it as I don't handle certain pain killers well {including Naproxen} & so I would just manage on paracetamol & Ibuprofen. Then I found my pain worsened & I ended up on Naproxen twice a day at first & then my Doctor upped my dose to three times a day after the Herxes as my pain level was much higher. It was at this point that I really noticed how quick I was gaining weight despite my low calorie intake. Yes, like everyone I would enjoy the odd take away & sweet treat but not at the amount that would cause me to gain weight so quickly!

So I made the decision to come off of the Naproxen at the end of August & go back onto Ibuprofen. I was back down to two a day by this point & even though Naproxen isn't addictive at all, I decided instead of suddenly stopping it, I decided to gradually lower my dose over a couple of weeks. This would give my body time to adjust to not having as much of it & time for me to adjust to the new level of pain I would now be experiencing. Naproxen did a pretty decent job of masking my body's pain & I knew the Ibuprofen didn't do that as well.

I did a week on one Naproxen at night & Ibuprofen during the day. Then I went down to one a day, miss a day for a week & then I came off the Naproxen & back fully onto Ibuprofen. The first week was pretty rough pain wise & it took a little bit of getting use again. Now I can definitely tell when I'm ready for my next dose but for the most part I'm dealing with my pain level better than I was when I first began to come off it. But the extra weight isn't good my body & I also feel better in myself when I'm lighter so personally, coming off the Naproxen & dealing with a higher pain level is the lesser of two evils.

I've not been fully off Naproxen for a month yet but I've already dropped 7lbs, granted I've also made some massive changes to my diet in this time as well as I'm back to counting calories more closely than I was & I'm now Gluten free & I've lowered my Wheat, Dairy, Egg & Meat intake as well, which I'm sure has contributed to the weight loss I've seen. That being said, I'm certain coming off Naproxen has played a massive part in this. Once my Thyroid levels were stable, I tried to lose weight but barely lost anything {remember I lost 6 stone with a medicated Underactive Thyroid} all the while continuing to take Naproxen & being really baffled as to why I was gaining weight. Now I've come off the Naproxen while watching what I'm eating, I've lost more weight since the end of August than I have in this past year when I've tried too!

I'm sorry this has turned into a much longer, more detailed post than I intended & if you've made it this far, I'm very grateful you have, well done! The reason I've ended up writing this much is that I hope my experience with weight gain & medication, particularly Naproxen, will help someone else who maybe taking it too & noticing their weight is increasing for no other obvious reason.

I'm not recommending anyone should stop their medication if you feel it's causing you to gain weight, you need to do what is best for you & your body.  I struggle with body image; loving myself doesn't come easy {thanks Anxiety & Depression!} & being comfortable in my own skin, especially when I'm heavier isn't easy to do either. {those following me on Instagram may have noticed the lack of selfies in the past year or so!} But I also feel the extra weight is having a strain on my joints & muscles, so coming off the Naproxen to help me lose weight isn't just about body image & being thinner, it's beneficial to my Chronic Illnesses & my Body & I know I'm strong enough to take the higher pain level, I've dealt with it before & I'm now doing it again.

Last "Selfie" I posted in May 2016 when my self esteem was much better.

Really do hope this has been helpful to any of you out there struggling with a similar situation, please know you're not alone & if you think your medication is causing weight gain, I really do recommend consulting your Doctor before doing so, especially if you're taking anything stronger than Naproxen.

I hope you're doing as well as possible & taking care,

L xxx