Tackling My Mental Health

I’ve been tackling my mental health again, it’s always very up and down as long as I can remember.

*Trigger Warning*

I struggle to ask for help as many do when suffering mental health issues but after a few big wobbles earlier this year I decided I really needed to deal with my mental health better. I was already struggling and very wobbly when again, my benefits were messed around with due to DWP not even attempting to read my doctors notes.

Obviously the huge cut in money left me feeling awful, a burden to my family making them suffer and go without because my physical and mental health is rubbish. Building up yet more debt because we only just finished paying off the loan we took from them last time they messed up. Add to that the fact I’ve felt like a burden and waste of space since a young age, I was seriously considering how easily I could escape it all by jumping out of our 11th floor window. The Mr thankfully saw how much I was struggling and talked to me about trying to get counselling again.

Inclusion Thurrock

There is a self referral programme called Inclusion Thurrock that offers a few services to help those struggling with their mental health. I attended a few CBT session here previously but after a few sessions I ran away knowing I’d simply get discharged.

I found CBT unhelpful for me but I’ve recently learnt I need trauma focussed CBT due to my PTSD and panic disorder thanks to the therapist who is still trying to assess me after two appointments.

Knowing my past is a bit much for some people can make it difficult to open up and talk about the really bad parts, I used to try and blurt through the blog but then found it hard to write how I really felt. I can laugh and joke and tell stories like I wasn’t there and it was all fun and games but my new therapist is quite easy to talk to and I’ve managed to spill a bit already and realising I’m not making myself worse but my past was more traumatic than I believed/still believe at times so it does have a big impact on my day to day life.

EMDR

My therapist has suggested trauma focussed CBT and EMDR to help me process my memories and move forward. Tackling my mental health is more than just making me feel better, our mental health affects those around us too and I’m very aware of that. I don’t want the girls growing up struggling because they’ve seen me go through it and I want them to see that its ok to ask for help.

EMDR utilises the natural healing ability of your body. After a thorough assessment, you
will be asked specific questions about a particular disturbing memory. Eye movements,
similar to those during REM sleep, will be recreated simply by asking you to watch the
therapist’s finger moving backwards and forwards across your visual field. Sometimes, a
bar of moving lights or headphones is used instead. The eye movements will last for a
short while and then stop. You will then be asked to report back on the experiences you
have had during each of these sets of eye movements. Experiences during a session may
include changes in thoughts, images and feelings.
With repeated sets of eye movements, the memory tends to change in such a way that it
loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory of an event in the past.
Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related
memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.

I have to admit at first I thought it sounded a bit silly but reading more into it I’m feeling hopeful it may help and willing to give it a go as my mental health affects me constantly and the constant memories and flashbacks make me react differently to how I would usually, I can become panicky, think people are annoyed for no reason, jump at little noises etc as well as affecting my mood.

Not Giving Up

This week my therapist is on holiday and I’m determined to pick up the phone next week when she is back unlike my previous therapist. I felt like I had traumatised her simply by explaining BDSM. I didn’t feel she was able to cope with my being completely honest about what I had seen and grown up around so when she went on holiday I took the opportunity to not return. Thankfully my current therapist doesn’t seem as horrified by what I tell her, obviously she thinks it’s all horrible but I don’t feel like I’m traumatising her at least which is giving me more confidence.

Anyone that has followed my blog a while will know I quite often get side tracked and bounce from one subject to another and thankfully my therapist also let’s me do this without interrupting which is quite helpful as often I find several things from my past all link to how I’m feeling and reacting to situations now and she let’s me blurt that and how I see the link but can’t shut it down, hence the suggestion of trying EMDR.

I’m hoping I can tackle my mental health and start making some progress. I spent so long ignoring what I went through as a child and teenager, making jokes out of it all that I didn’t realise the impact it’s had on my way of thinking especially about myself. I knew my past messed me up a little bit but I didn’t realise how traumatic it really was.

I’m catching myself now and realising, things like when the Mr accidentally knocking my wax burner, I found a way to blame myself. I instantly felt guilty, it’s my fault, I shouldn’t have put it there, shouldn’t have put it on then, should have told him it was on, shouldn’t want something so silly just because it looks cool and smells nice, wasted money on a pathetic want because I’m a selfish bitch.

In the moment this all feels real, looking back it’s absolutely ridiculous and as the Mr said, it was simply an accident which he cleared up and put right. Yet I still kept berating myself. The hardest part is realising it when I calm down, seeing how ridiculous my reactions are and then I wonder how on earth the Mr puts up with this shit on a daily basis. How bloody annoying it must be! Hopefully trying a different style of CBT and trying EMDR will help with this as I am truly fed up with my past messing with my present.

Reaching Out

Have you been struggling with your mental health or tackling your mental health? I imagine lots of us are right now, I hope if you are you can find a service that can offer some help. If it doesn’t feel like it’s helping talk up, there may be another service they can offer or recommend that may be more beneficial. Please don’t do what I did and give up.

Having explained to my therapist what happened last time, she reminded me not everyone will click with every therapist and we are fully within our right to ask to see someone else if we don’t feel comfortable. I feel a bit silly now as I could have worked through these issues years ago had I spoken up and asked to see someone else but I’m determined to tackle this properly now and if I don’t feel comfortable I will be asking for a different therapist or therapy instead of struggling for a few more years then 6 months waiting for help!

If anyone is ever struggling please remember my social media DM’s and blog email (relentlesslypurple@gmail.com) are always open for a rant or a blurt. I may not have the answers or be able to help you heal but quite often I can listen, sympathise, make stupid jokes and help find local services that may help you. Tackling mental health is tricky but having people to blurt to can make a huge difference!

Wicksteed Park 2021

We visited Wicksteed park last week! We visited the year before last and absolutely loved our time there and was really excited to be invited back again. The one thing we love about Wicksteed is that you can make it a cheap/free day out or spend a bit of money. Entry is free, the playgrounds are huge and there is plenty to do for everyone.

Wicksteed Park is the UK’s first playground for children and offers a wide range of activities for all the family across the park. From meerkats, birds and other animals to several playgrounds, rides, a boating lake and theatre there is just so much to do at Wicksteed. Activities and rides change occasionally and this visit there were some new rides, an update to the meerkat enclosure and a theatre is being finished!

Our first visit had to be the meerkats, Izzy absolutely loves meerkats and was so excited to discover they had a brand new enclosure that allows you go get much closer and watch the meerkats play in their habitat.

Whilst at the Meerkats enclosure we heard some music and discovered a little area we either missed last time or has recently been installed with musical pipes which the girls really enjoyed creating music with.

We also stopped at the bird aviary looking at all the different colourful birds flying around us. We love this area, it’s so lovely to get up close to the birds although you need to watch your step as there are often little ones on the floor.

Next we headed to the main playground, last time we visited during a heatwave so the metal was too hot to play on, this time however the weather was perfect. The girls spent a good 30 minutes running around trying out all the different climbing frames, see-saws and swings. There’s something there for all ages and its absolutely free to play here.

Next up we had to do the train ride, we love a train ride and the scenery around the park is stunning! After our train ride we returned to reception to collect the £40 meal vouchers we were gifted in exchange for blogging about our visit. The girls decided to have a hot dog from the cafe and we had chips, cheesy chips and burgers from Franks which were lovely and great portion sizes too.

Once we had eaten we decided to have a slow walk down to the lake where we discovered a smaller play area and a sand pit for the kids to play in.

We stopped there for a bit then headed inside the mini theme park area to have a go on the rides. There are several rides to choose from including their latest, Galaxy Invaders!

The girls are still getting used to rides, especially Eva with her sensory sensitivities however she managed to ride a few rides in the end including the dinosaur rollercoaster, lady bug rollercoaster and the paraglider rides. Izzy even managed the lady bug rollercoaster although she said it was a little too fast for her still and the honey bear ride which she really loved, especially as she could make me really dizzy spinning us faster!

Next we headed to the land rovers for the girls to have a drive around the little course they have. These are so cool and I’m a little jealous I’m too big for a go haha!

Of course we had to visit the slides next where the girls had a few turns and really enjoyed themselves. I had to miss out on the tree top walk this time due to my mobility worsening but as our friends came with us, Eva was able to join them and do the walk while we checked out the goats below. Izzy and I decided to have a few cheeky goes of the clown rollercoaster ride while we waited too which she really loves. It’s great for the younger ones who don’t want to go too fast!

By this point we were all exhausted and couldn’t wait to head back to the ice cream parlour for a lovely ice cream to cool down with. We then headed to the gift shop but the girls have far too many teddies and we couldn’t find anything with the Wicksteed park logo on it which would have been nice as we love collecting things like that to look back on all the places we’ve visited. The prices are fair though and there are quite a few toys and teddies to choose from.

Finally we headed back for one last visit with the meerkats before heading home, finishing our day off nicely.

We were really glad to be asked to visit Wicksteed Park again as it is an all round lovely place with plenty to do, we still missed parts of the park where I slow us down a lot, a camping trip would be ideal to fit everything in next time!

How To Survive Without Grown-Ups By Larry Hayes

We received How To Survive Without Grown-Ups by Larry Hayes to review. This comedy sci-fi adventure book is aimed at children 8+ and is full of fantastic illustrations by Katie Abey.

How to survive without grown-ups
Front cover of How to Survive without Grown-ups By Larry Hayes

How To Survive Without Grown-Ups

Mum and Dad have left – gone to Mars, and they’re never coming back…

But this isn’t one of Dad’s weird jokes; it’s REAL. It’s up to ten-year-old Eliza and her genius little brother, Johnnie to find out what’s going on and launch a rescue.

Can they handle vampire squids, a suspicious villain, a secret island full of traps, and a trip into space? And – more importantly – will they ever get their parents back?

Larry Hayes

Larry Hayes has a day job running an investment fund, a part-time one as financial director of a homeless charity and on Fridays he home schools his two kids letting them decide what to study. How To Survive Without Grown-Ups is his debut novel.

Katie Abey

Katie Abey is an illustrator who lives in a teeny hobbit-like house in Derbyshire with a cat, a hedgehog, a small human, and a rainbow-haired husband. Her work often features sarcastic-looking animals, and she likes using a lot of colour: she is allergic to Magnolia.

Eva’s Thoughts

How to survive without parents is a witty, family-friendly book, where readers go into the world of fiction in the year 2053! I loved all of the many characters in the book! My absolute favourite is  Myrt, The lemon family’s Cocker spaniel, whose nemesis is all things orange! 

Jonnie and Eliza Lemon’s parents are going to Mars forever! Luckily, the confident and brainy siblings come up with a plan to get to their parents and make them not want to go to Mars. So they pack their stuff, and set off across the ocean, and run into many obstacles and advantages along the way.

They run into robot animals and many more things along their travel path. They soon meet the mischievous Noah, who tricks them into staying and he pretends to help save their parents. He actually doesn’t help and instead sends high technology robots to go into their brains so he can hack them too.! Luckily, they avoid this and finds out Noah’s true ways…. 

After this, he locks them in a treehouse and sends the robots to go after them! I won’t spoil the ending for you but this is such an enjoyable read with lots of action and interesting characters.

Hinda’s Heroine By Kelly-Marie Pollock

I received Hindra’s Heroine by Kelly-Marie Pollock to review, the third book in the Chronicles of Nova Morgan Collection. I have been completely absorbed in the Chronicles of Nova Morgan, with its unique and hilarious characters and fantastic storyline, and am a little sad this is the final book in the collection.



*Contains adult content including sex, drug use, profanity, and violence*

Hindra's Heroine by Kelly-Marie Pollock Book Cover

Hindra’s Heroine

Holed up in an off-world island in the middle of the Irish Sea, Nova and her allies are nursing their wounds after the battle at Mount Divinity left Nova mortal once again. They’ve all but given up hope on ever finding a way off the island when Ruth, the wayward witch, wakes up screaming, visits assaulting her already fragile mind. With the entity Ultio now puppeteering her limbs, Ruth’s magics lead them back to London, back to where Nova’s story first began. Odyssey.

Join Nova, Ruth, Chaplin, and Noah as they group together with a whole host of new and familiar characters to infiltrate Hindra and take back what’s theirs.

Together, they must face the darkness lingering within and battle their way back to the light, but for one of their number that battle may well be futile.

For she is the slaughter, the world her lamb.

Book cover - Hindra's Heroine by Kelly-Marie Pollock
Kelly-Marie Pollock Author Photo

Kelly-Marie Pollock

Kelly is a married mum of 4 plus 3 adult step-children. She has an intense love of the Victorian era, Vampires, and is waiting for a Zombie uprising. Kelly’s passion is writing. She is also a mental health advocate and BiPolar warrior. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys long nature walks with her husband and their children. Kelly can not get through the day without her morning cup of tea. She uses excessive amounts of sarcasm and profanity in most sentences and she’s not even sorry. (Why would you be!? haha!)

My Thoughts

I had been eagerly waiting for the final part of the trilogy to land in my inbox having thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in the storyline. Once again I was not disappointed! Nova’s strong character and resilience shine through as Ruth takes them back to Odyssey in an attempt to save their friends and take back what’s rightly theirs. Once again I truly didn’t expect the ending at all and was left feeling a little emotional. Kelly-Marie Pollock writes powerful storylines with fabulous characters with their unique personalities. I’m sad to see the story but can’t wait to see what’s next!

Devil’s Fjord By David Hewson

I received Devil’s Fjord by David Hewson so review thanks to Random Things Blog Tours. Devil’s Fjord is a standalone psychological thriller where two local boys go missing, exposing the darkness at the heart of the Faroe Islands.

Devil’s Fjord

A remote island. An isolated community. A terrible secret.

If the new District Sheriff, Tristan Haraldsen, thought moving to a remote village on the island of Vagar would be the chance for a peaceful life with his wife Elsebeth, his first few weeks in office swiftly correct him of that notion.

Provoked into taking part in the village’s whale hunt against his will, Haraldsen blunders badly, and in the ensuing chaos, two local boys go missing. Blaming himself, Haraldsen dives into the investigation and soon learns that the boys are not the first to have gone missing on Vagar.

As Tristan and Elsebeth become increasingly ensnared by the island’s past, they realise its wild beauty hides an altogether uglier and sinister truth.

David Hewson

David Hewson is a former journalist with The Times, the Sunday Times, and The Independent. He is the author of more than twenty-five novels including his Rome-based Nic Costa series, which has been published in fifteen languages. He has also written three acclaimed adaptations of the Danish TV series The Killing.

@david_hewson | davidhewson.com

Fans of Nordic noir will love this standalone thriller, perfect for readers of Tom Rob Smith’s The Farm, Elly Griffiths’ Dr. Ruth Galloway Mysteries, Ragnar Jonasson’s Whiteout, and Michael Ridpath’s Amnesia

⦁ As well as his critically acclaimed Nic Costa series, Hewson has also written three adaptations of the Danish TV series The Killing, which have sold over 54,000 copies

Astral Travel By Elizabeth Baines

I received Astral Travel by Elizabeth Baines to review as part of Random Things Blog Tours. Astral Travel unravels the mysteries of Jo’s family history as she tries to write a book about her late father.

Astral Travel

After Patrick Jackson’s death his estranged daughter Jo begins to try to unravel the mysteries that always surrounded him. Why did he never talk about his past in Ireland? Why was he always so moody and bad-tempered in the home while a talkative charmer in the outside world? Why, at one time, did he forbid Jo to do family history research? And why did he seem to have it in for her especially, affecting her life into adulthood?

Why, too, do Jo’s memories of her own childhood differ so starkly from her mother’s?

The more Jo questions and digs, the more the mysteries deepen. Until at last she uncovers a chain of secrets forged in the religious and sexual prejudices of the past, but with the power to affect the lives of Patrick’s family in the present day.

Elizabeth Baines

Elizabeth is the author of two previous novels published by Salt, The Birth Machine and Too Many Magpies, as well as two short-story collections, Balancing on the Edge of the World and Used to Be. She’s also been a prizewinning playwright for Radio 4, writing both comedy and serious drama, and has produced and acted in her own plays for fringe theatre. She has been a schoolteacher and has taught Writing in universities, but now writes full time. She lives with her husband in Manchester where she brought up her two now grown sons.

My Thoughts

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Astral Travel but I wanted something other than a murder mystery to read and was intrigued when reading the blurb.

Jo has so many vivid memories of her childhood and yet some seem to differ so wildly from her mother’s and sisters. She decides writing about her late father will help her understand what happened much clearly. She has to dig quite deep to eventually start getting nearer the truth and slowly, bit by bit the story unravels.

Between religious and sexual prejudice, Jo learns the truth is wilder than she first thought but publishing a book may not be a wise idea for the sake of the family.

Overall I really enjoyed the way Astral Travel is written and reading a different kind of mystery book. Family histories are always interesting but discovering some of the darker secrets can be a real eye opener, not to mention a stark reminder that prejudice can impact people’s lives in such an intense way.

The Adventures of Bella Cutie and Buttons

Izzy received The Adventures of Bella Cutie and Buttons to read and review a few weeks ago. She has read it a few times alone, with Eva and with me as she absolutely loves the book!

The Adventures of Bella Cutie and Buttons’ is a funny and truly endearing story about the friendship between a little girl and a fox cub. Bella is a happy child who is curious about the world. Meeting the talkative fox cub Buttons opens her eyes to the beautiful natural world and amazing wildlife on her doorstep. The two friends get up to many funny escapades and the occasional bit of trouble, all portrayed in a charming and light-hearted way. This feel-good book is sure to bring a smile to both children`s and parents` faces.

Desi Cloete

Desi Cloete lives in the picturesque Surrey Hills with her husband and six-year-old daughter. A keen reader from a young age, she discovered a passion for writing and illustrating short stories. Desi hopes her book will inspire children to value nature and develop an interest in wildlife conservation.

Izzy’s Thoughts

Izzy said the book makes her feel like humans come closer to nature with Bella Cutie meeting and making friends with Buttons. She really enjoyed them having fun exploring the beautiful nature around them. It made her feel really happy reading about their adventures and would love to read more!

My Thoughts

This beautifully written story is a great bedtime story with its feel good vibes as Bella Cutie and Buttons become great friends and have so much fun together. Izzy sat smiling and giggling the whole way through.

Eva’s Autism Diagnosis

We had Eva’s Autism Diagnosis a few weeks ago. I know we are all relieved to finally have the diagnosis confirmed so we can move forward with providing the right support for Eva, especially with moving up to secondary school in September.

For quite a few years we have suspected Eva is somewhere on the autistic spectrum. We tried to bring this up with several teachers and professionals in the past who just labelled her sensitive and forgetful. Knowing so many families fight such a long time for a diagnosis with support from teachers etc we decided to wait it out and hope someone would notice. Its hard with autism as it presents in so many different ways and girls especially are known to mask it by learning and copying their peers.

Getting Help

Thankfully that happened in year 4, two years ago. Eva’s teacher at the time suspected she is autistic and masks well, she passed us on to SENCO and suggested I took the NAS course to learn about autism in females. I am so glad I did take that course as it taught me about masking which made me realise that’s exactly what Eva does. She seems sensitive but outgoing and chatty, she masks well in public. Come home time though and the meltdowns occur, all the stress from the day just comes pouring out. In reality while she appears chatty and outgoing she struggles to maintain friendships, having only made her first real friend this year.

SENCO at Eva’s school have been fantastic, I really can’t fault them. The lovely woman who I spoke to chatted for a good hour with me discussing Eva’s behaviours and struggles both in school and at home. Having a daughter similar to Eva who was also late to be diagnosed, it was lovely to chat to her and I left feeling like someone had finally truly listened and agreed with everything we were saying.

I expected this to be an extremely lengthy process, we warned Eva of this to prepare her and were surprised when in just a matter of weeks we had our first assessment appointment at the local community hospital. There we went over Eva’s history, behaviours and struggles again and they agreed a 3di assessment (computer assessment) was the best way to diagnose Eva.

This was all booked for last April, but of course covid19 put a halt to this. The phone lines wouldn’t connect and nobody within the same building could get me through to that department so I decided to wait it out and chase it when things eased. I expected this to be a drawn out process and was amazed at the speed of our referral so far so I felt hopeful things would be back on track soon and thankfully last month we received a letter for a phone call appointment.

Eva’s Autism Diagnosis

The phone call went surprisingly smoothly considering how worked up I got over it. I don’t do well with phone calls, my brain fog makes me panic I’ll forget stuff or mix up my words but thankfully the guy I spoke to was really nice and we quickly got through the 3di assessment with him reading the questions and telling me the options. All the questions were either yes/no, somewhat/mostly/all the time etc to each part which made things a lot easier.

In just under half an hour we completed the assessment and I was shocked to discover we would find out there and then. The results quickly came back showing Eva is on the autistic spectrum. The guy told me this and followed it up with ‘but you knew this anyway didn’t you?’. Parents do just know I think, it can be hard to get a diagnosis but if you know deep down you can still provide the support they desperately need.

Helping Eva Cope With Sensory Issues

We already have a fairly good routine that suits Eva well, changes to it do throw her but we do our best to warn her well ahead of time. She’s been using ear defenders since year 4 as and when she feels too overwhelmed. Socks and clothing have always been an issue, I’ve lost count of how many mornings we’ve both ended up in tears just trying to find socks she will wear without getting upset.

We’ve bought a few different sensory toys for her over the years and she has a few favourites she always goes back to. Eva struggles with food, tastes and textures can really distress her. Sometimes she will eat the same thing on repeat, she eats food from her plate one food group at a time, never mixing them. Some of the things we’ve done or do to help do make things a little easier but we rarely go more than a day or two without a small wobble over something.

Relief

I’m still in shock with how quickly we received Eva’s autism diagnosis to be honest. If you take away this pandemic year, it has taken less than a year, two years including a pandemic really isn’t too bad. I’ve been umming and ahhing over wether to add this in as I know so many parents struggle and fight for years for a diagnosis and I don’t want them to feel I’m showing off but equally I hope this does give hope to other families trying to get a diagnosis for someone they suspect may be on the spectrum.

It doesn’t always take forever, sometimes it really can be straight forward. I am so grateful, we have been so lucky that Eva is in a school with a brilliant SENCO team who are so friendly and happy to help. Without their support these last two years would have been so much harder.

Moving forward we have now made both Eva’s current school and her secondary school aware of her diagnosis and both schools are working on a hand over for all SEN children moving up which again gives me some confidence that Eva will have the support she will need through secondary school.

Eva’s diagnosis hasn’t really changed much for us as a family but it should hopefully make it easier for her at school and work. I’m hoping once we are able to talk to her secondary school we will be able to organise an EHCP for Eva to help make school life easier for her, she has made a fantastic friend who will be moving up with her too so I’m a little less anxious about how Eva will cope moving up.

Eva’s Feelings

Recently, I have been diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) which means at times I can get overwhelmed and struggle with certain things in every day life. This has made it difficult because in the past teachers may have thought that I am being emotional and struggling just for attention when I do not mean to do this as I enjoy being at school and it should be a enjoyable yet educational building.

Through my childhood leading up to now, both mum and dad have made things quite straight-forward for me. When there was clothing problems about certain materials and seams bothering me, I could tell my mum and when it was convenient her or my dad would go to a shop with or without me and choose a pair of socks. This would help immensely.

From Year 4, I have been using ear defenders but now I have started to cut down on using them so I can cope when I do not have them around so that I don’t get overwhelmed too easily. This year, after I got my diagnosis, I have started to grow a collection of sensory toys. Even before I was diagnosed I have had a lot of sensory toys. These help me by calming me down and helps me to cope by distracting me from what is around me. Sometimes this can get people annoyed with me as I zone out when using these sensory toys, but now I can tell them I’m autistic and these help me to cope.

Overall I think having an autism diagnosis has had positive and negative points in different ways. For example: A positive point may be that people may understand ways that calm me down to stop me from getting overwhelmed a lot. And a negative point may be that that if people do not know I am autistic they may misjudge me and think I am doing it for attention when I am not.

Izzy’s Thoughts

Izzy wanted to join in with this post, she said that although she is the younger sister she feels very protective over Eva. Izzy accepts Eva as she is and says that even though she may be different to others in some ways, she loves her no matter what and being diagnosed as autistic makes no difference because Eva is who she is.

Awareness and Acceptance

We have written this post in the hopes it helps raise awareness of autism, the difficulties with spotting autism, especially in females, the process of a diagnosis and individual feelings for those who may be looking for something relatable. I know a big part of me starting this blog was needing an outlet and a good way to discover things like this myself. In fact it is thanks to a lot of the bloggers I still follow being so open about their own journeys with autism that helped me realise Eva really was likely to be on the spectrum somewhere and without that I doubt I would have felt confident enough to chase a diagnosis for her.

We also want to remind our readers that it isn’t just about awareness, acceptance is just as important and I feel Izzy’s input helps to show that. Autistic children simply need acceptance and understanding. Especially as parents we won’t always get it right, it can take a huge amount of trial and error to make life easier for our children but surrounding them with love, kindness and acceptance goes a long way to helping them have a happy life.

TestCard – Making Diagnosing UTI’s Bearable #Ad

TestCard* asked me to review their innovative product designed to make diagnosing UTI’s bearable from home. Like many women, I’ve had several UTI’s over the years. Especially during my pregnancies where I had them repeatedly and know how miserable it can be. An at-home test kit to diagnose UTI’s sounds like a great idea that will help sufferers and health care professionals.

TestCard Urine Self-test kit

What is a UTI?

A UTI or Urinary Tract Infection is an infection within your urinary system. The Urinary system includes the kidneys, bladder, ureter and urethra. UTI’s can make life miserable for many. An estimated half of all UK women will have a UTI at least once throughout their lifetime. This because women have a shorter urethra allowing bacteria to enter the bladder quicker. Pregnancy also raises the risk of UTI’s due to the increased hormones relaxing the bladder muscles. This makes the urinary tract more susceptible to bacterial infections.

Myths About UTI’s

There are so many myths surrounding UTI’s! The biggest of them all is to drink cranberry juice to flush out a UTI. Cranberry Juice contains an active ingredient that can prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall, but doesn’t contain enough. Other myths include taking probiotics to help cure a UTI. Again, you would need so many of the RIGHT type of probiotics for it to be effective. Most people would recommend avoiding bubble baths and tampons which do not cause UTI’s. In fact, having a UTI is rarely an indicator of bad hygiene or use of products. Many believe you can only have a UTI if you are sexually active but again, this is completely untrue. Anybody can have a UTI and your GP can prescribe effective medication to help.

TestCard

Combining a urine self-test kit embedded into a postcard, with a smartphone app, the TestCard test kit acts like a dipstick. Simply dip the UTI Test Strips into your urine sample then use the smartphone app to scan your results. The TestCard App is available on Google Play Store and IOS. This is a quick and easy way to detect a urinary tract infection (UTI). The app immediately shows you results which you can choose to share with your GP. This may help speed up the diagnosis and treatment of any UTI.Testcard is an affordable, easy to use test which is especially useful for those that suffer recurring UTI’s. If you regularly suffer UTI’s this TestCard will make you feel more in control of your health, enabling you to test when needed, You can do this with ease in your own home without needing to book an appointment until you have results.

Overall, I think TestCard will make things so much easier for many UTI sufferers and help ease the strain on healthcare professionals. Time spent doing these tests could free up a lot more time allowing faster treatment and peace of mind.

Use my code EMBER10 at the checkout to get 10% off your order

The Foreign Girls By Sergio Olguín

I received The Foreign Girls by Sergio Olguín, a brilliant crime/thriller/mystery read. This is the second book I have had the chance to review by Sergio Olguín and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is also the second in the series following on from the success of The Fragility of Bodies. The Financial Times chose The Fragility of Bodies as one of the best three best thrillers of 2019.

The Foreign Girls By Sergio Olguín book cove

Foreign Girls

Veronica Rosenthal has retreated to a cousin’s remote cottage in the province of Tucuman, to recuperate from the traumatic events in The Fragility of Bodies. 

She befriends two female tourists -an Italian and a Norwegian — invites them to stay and starts a sexual relationship with one of them. 

After a party they attend together, Veronica travels on alone but days later discovers that the women have been murdered. 

Suspicion falls on a local Umbanda priest, but Veronica starts to uncover a web of corruption, abuse and femicide in which government, wealthy landowners and a high-ranking official from the Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ are all implicated. 

Veronica’s investigation, with its unforeseen political dimensions, has alarmed new enemies who will try to stop her at all cost.

Sergio Olguín

Sergio Olguín

Sergio Olguín was born in Buenos Aires in 1967 and was a journalist before turning to fiction. Olguín has won
a number of awards, among others the Premio Tusquets 2009 for his novel Oscura monótona sangre (“Dark
Monotonous Blood“) . His books have been translated into German, French and Italian.

Translator Miranda France

The translator Miranda France is the author of two acclaimed volumes of travel writing: Don Quixote’
Delusions and Bad Times in Buenos Aires. She has also written the novels Hill Farm and The Day Before the
Fire and translated much Latin American fiction, including Claudia Piñeiro’s novels for Bitter Lemon Press.

My Thoughts

Yet again, Sergio Olguín has written another capturing read featuring Veronica Rosenthal. Following on from events in The Fragility of Bodies, Veronica needs a break and heads off on a ‘care-free’ holiday. Or so she thought. With her inquisitive nature, Veronica is determined to get to the bottom of the murder of the foreign girls. This triggers some unexpected enemies and once again Veronica does everything in her power to uncover the truth.

I really enjoyed The Foreign Girls, Sergio Olguín has a fantastic way of setting the scene so you can really see and feel what’s going on in your head as you read. Alongside this, he brings awareness and shines light on dangerous real life situations, this time the femicide of women in Latin America. The rape and murder of women are used as tools of intimidation between warring families of gangs involved in drug trafficking and corruption. Veronica’s character is brilliant, very little seems to put her off from getting to the bottom of things, even dangerous men who aren’t used to taking no for an answer. I would definitely recommend if you enjoy crime thrillers with a strong main character.

The foreign girls blog tour poster