My Disease: WALK IT 2018 Crohn's and Colitis Uk

Monday, 25 June 2018

My disease is Ulcerative Colitis and it is going to be mine forever! 
The time feels right to start raising awareness and sharing my story because my disease is not  going anywhere, and it certainly is not going to beat me. Please don't let the title of 'My disease' scare you off because I want these posts to be knowledgable, helpful and informative. Having a chronic disease has become part of daily life to me, I want to write these posts to share my experiences and not feel isolated throughout.
On Saturday 16th June 2018 I completed WALK IT Manchester to raise money for Crohn's and Colitis UK with my family and my best friend Ella. 
Now some of you may be wondering...
'Lucy what the heck is WALK IT?'
'Who are Crohn's and Colitis UK?'
And I shall answer all these questions throughout this post.

As many of you will know I suffer from Ulcerative Colitis and I've done many posts about this titled 'My Disease' which can be found on my blog. Since diagnosis I've been passionate about wanting to raise awareness around Crohn's and Colitis, they aren't publicised diseases or very well known so my aim has always been to get people talking and listening. 
Crohn's and Colitis UK are the leading charity for Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the UK and their website is a hub filled with tonnes of information for both sufferers, carers or for anyone who's interested in the diseases! Over the past 18 months their website has given me all the information I could ever need to help me understand every step of my journey with this disease, their Facebook forum has given me a place to talk to other sufferers and not feel so isolated and their social media pages have given me the inspiration from others to keep battling on. To sum things up, Crohn's and Colitis UK have made my journey with Ulcerative Colitis a lot easier.

Every year they run a fundraising event called WALK IT where you can chose to participate in either a 5km walk or a 10km walk all in aid of raising money and awareness for Crohn's and Colitis UK. Think of it as a 'Race for Life' type thing, but for Crohn's and Colitis UK. Every year WALK IT events are held throughout major cities in the UK and the city I attended was of course MANCHESTER! 

We arrived on the day to a sea of purple. People battled on through the rainy weather and got themselves into Manchester to keep fighting inflammatory bowel disease together! The site where the walk began was filled with different stalls and tents including my favourite of them all, the giant walk through ulcerated colon. I walked through it several times explaining to my family that this is what I see when I have my colonoscopies, a big, red, nasty and very inflamed colon!
Everyone got to the starting line at 10:15am for the 10km walk and two lovely ladies from #GetYourBellyOut campaign were opening the walk and as the countdown finished they cut the ribbon. As we'd done the 10km walk last year, we knew we'd smash it again so at 10:15 we set off!
A wash of purple flooded the streets of Manchester as we spent the next 2 hours walking around town, passing people giving us funny glares thinking 'What's this all about?' which is the reaction we wanted! The walk itself went by really quickly as we were chatting away and taking in all the scenery along the route, we completed it in just over 2 hours and had a lovely finish to the day when we got back...

Every year Crohn's and Colitis UK give out an award called the Alex Demain Young Fundraiser of the Year Award which is given in memory of a boy named Alex. Alex was a well loved volunteer at the charity and he also suffered with Crohn's disease, sadly he passed away in 2015 but he will always be remembered. 
'If we are remembered for the things that we do rather than just what we say, then our friend and colleague, Alex, built a monument of memories.'
I didn't know Alex but reading his story makes me wish I did, he was so passionate about making a change and helping out where he could. His life was too short but he did incredible things within those years that will always be known to so many,  he inspires me to keep battling through life no matter how hard it gets and keep fighting for change. 

This year my Mum nominated me for Alex Demain Young Fundraiser of the Year Award which was incredibly thoughtful of her as to even be thought of by one person as deserving enough of the award let alone more meant the absolute world to me. I did not win the award but on the day of WALK IT Manchester I was recognised, along with two other inspirational, amazing girls for the work that I'd done. Receiving this certificate was of course overwhelming but it made me realise that I should be proud of what my disease has lead me to achieve. 

I am battling this disease psychically and mentally every single day but I am also battling this disease by talking about it, spreading awareness and wanting to make a change. I might be little Lucy Jane sat behind a computer screen but the small actions I take all accumulate into one big difference and I am proud of that. Meeting all these like-minded inspirational people has just made me want to keep battling this disease even more and make even bigger changes than I already have done! In regards to fundraising my total for last year was £3425, this year I'm at £3605 which are both completely mind blowing figures to me as I can't quite believe we've managed to raise so much money! That money will help fund the charity Crohn's and Colitis UK, help fund vital research into finding new medication to help these diseases and most important of all that money might help fund a cure to be found for those suffering with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis!

So thank you to my amazing family and best friend for supporting me both through my journey with Ulcerative Colitis and with WALK IT, thank you to anyone who donated on my just giving page as each donation means the complete world to me and thank you to Crohn's and Colitis UK for recognising the work I do.
I've said it many times before and I'll say it many times again, my aim is to live in a world free of IBD and I hope that the small actions that I take can help us get there!

Lucy Jane

Stockholm Diaries: French Toast, The Royal Palace and a golden hour to remember...

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Our second day in Stockholm began at around 1pm, we were exhausted from our day of travelling and exploring so we deserved a lie in. Also the beds at Generator Hostel were ridiculously comfy so I think they were another reason we slept for so long, oh well! One thing we both found so strange through the night was how light it was at all times, the sun sets at around 11pm and rises around 3am but the sky still doesn't seem dark. You'd wake up thinking the day had already started and it was only 4am, it was so weird! Our first priority after we'd got ready was to go find some good food. We'd seen a brunch place not too far from our hostel the previous night so we headed there.

Tucked into a lil corner of the street was the sweetest, prettiest spot to eat called Stockholm Brunch Club. Their menu was a mixture of foods catering for all kinds of needs, from vegan to gluten free they had everything and it all sounded delicious. After scanning the menu for a good 15 minutes and deliberating between various options, I decided to get the Vegan French Toast and Ella got Avocado on toast. We devoured our meals because they were honestly incredible, I've eaten a lot of French Toast in my life but none was quite as good as that!
If you're visiting Stockholm I would highly recommend visiting Stockholm brunch club, it's a cash free restaurant which seemed bizarre to us but the food is so fresh and tasty, it's not worth missing. 

After eating we wandered our way back into the city heading towards the Royal Palace as we'd somehow missed seeing it the previous day. Now for some reason I had envisioned a palace similar to Buckingham Palace which I suppose it is in some ways, but The Royal Palace in Stockholm is enclosed within the city streets, it's strange. From the front exterior it is such a grand structure and it is so beautiful however, you go towards the back and it connects straight onto the city streets filled with shops and people. You could also look around The Royal Palace which is something you can't do at Buckingham Palace so we decided to go and nosey around, pretending to be royals for the day! We spent an hour or so looking through all the different quarters in the Palace wishing we lived there and feeling upset at the fact this wasn't our home. One room we entered was a long, straight hall filled with 5 or 6 huge chandeliers and it really did take my breath away. I may have joked Sia would have a wail of a time in there but jokes aside, the Palace left me in awe. Seeing the Swedish Royal Palace was so interesting in comparison to ours, I got the feeling that the Swedish royals weren't much more 'superior' than their society. Their home felt very included within the city and it felt a much more personal experience being there.
Unfortunately I did not bump into any Swedish royal men so I am in fact not a princess of Sweden but may be one day my time will come...

The day panned out wonderfully, the sun had been shining none-stop and we found the perfect spot to soak up the sun. We ended up at a park called Kings Garden where there was some kind of festival on over the weekend. We found a bench, sat down and spent a good 40 minutes watching the world go by. Something about being in new cities can be quite overwhelming, you want to fit in as much as you can, see as much as you can but you can feel like you just don't have enough time. 
It's funny because I feel like I learnt the most about that city from sitting still on that bench.
The different people who walked past me made me question who they are, what they're doing and where they're going? The music that played from the festival added a soundtrack to the city,  all the food, flowers and fresh air surrounding created a perfume of Stockholm.
I really felt like I'd gotten to know this place.

Lucy Jane

Stockholm Diaries: Stockholm city, shaggy cardigans and STEALING SHAWN MENDES!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

On Friday 9th June my best friend Ell and I embarked on our next travel adventure, jetting off to Stockholm for 4 days and 3 nights. After visiting Barcelona in April we wanted to plan another short break because we had the best time away! I think once you start travelling to different places you definitely catch the travel bug and that's what happened with us, so we decided on Stockholm. Sweden is a country I'd never really known much about or had much interest in, however Ell had always wanted to visit so I thought 'Life's too short, why not just go?!'

Friday morning came and we both awoke early, got to the airport and hopped on the 2 hour flight to Stockholm. We'd decided to catch the Arlanda Express train into Stockholm from the airport which was so easy! I would highly recommend using it if you're travelling to Stockholm, it costs around 300 Sweidsh Krona/£24 for a return ticket but is a direct link and only takes 20 mins, plus they were the fanciest trains I'd ever seen! We were staying in the Generator Hostel in Normalm which is the city district in Stockholm, we were only a 10 minute walk away from Central Station so it was great for us. Stockholm is known to be expensive but if you stay in a hostel, it really does cut your price down. We had a private twin-bed room which was basically up to the standards of a hotel, it had plenty of room for two and the beds were so so comfy! 

We got ready and headed out to explore Stockholm city. We didn't have any plans this day as we didn't get out until around 4pm so we simply wanted to find some nice food and get our bearings. Honestly, I couldn't really tell you where we walked but we wandered down streets, over bridges and onto the different islands. As we were walking into Gamla Stan, we heard a rush of music as if we'd just entered a night club. Next thing we know there were about 5 or 6 trucks filled with students (I think) covered in paint, wet through and all have the time of their lives dancing and singing to music. I feel like it must have been some kind of University summer tradition, who even knows but it was like Leeds festival had been brought to Stockholm in trucks, it was pretty funny! 
My first impression of the city was completely different to what I expected, the architecture was a lot more European than I had imagined and the lay out of the city baffled me. I'd describe as a bigger, more sophisticated and superior version of York in a weird way but overall, I liked it.

After a long day of travelling and exploring, we somehow pulled ourselves together and went out on Friday night. 
***Pro tip to anyone wanting to drink alcohol when they visit Stockholm, buy it in Duty Free at the airport and drink it in your room!***
Alcohol is SO expensive in Stockholm and also quite hard to buy. We're both 19 and in certain shops you had to be over 20 to buy it even though the legal drinking age is 18. To compare prices a single Vodka Lemonade from a cheaper pub in Stockholm cost me 89 Swedish Krona which is around £7, I can easily get a double-Vodka Lemonade for under £5 in Manchester! I mean it's a good way to prevent people abusing alcohol but it was a heartbreaking time for my bank account. 
We headed to a bar called Tiki Bar that the hostel had recommended, it was a very typical tiki style bar with exotic cocktails and fancy interior. Dressed in my purple shaggy cardigan, I definitely turned a few heads as the dress code in Stockholm seems to be rather plain but very smart and that is NOT me! 
We ended up chatting to a few locals and spending the rest of our night with them. It was so interesting to hear their perspective on the city as they viewed it so differently to us. 
One guy told us how he thinks the people are really narrow minded and boring, he even described himself that way. I got the feeling that not everyone has the freedom to be who they want to be and there are quite a lot of expectations to meet and rules to follow for the younger generation. It didn't paint a bad picture of the city, it just got me thinking about the privileges and freedom I have in my life. Of course I have been raised being influenced by a number of factors but I've never felt pressured into being someone I'm not, people have always accepted me for me and that has always been good enough. I can't imagine how it feels living to constantly try and please someone because how will you ever feel good enough? I don't know...
The locals we met were so lovely and were the perfect people to spend our first night with, we honestly had such a laugh!

Oh... and on the way back from our night out we stole a Shawn Mendes poster because we thought we needed to make our room cozy, Shawn was a great touch. 

Lucy Jane

How I've started to love myself again...

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Bikini: Zaful // Sunnies: Primark

It's been a while since I've written anything on my blog thats been very personal to me but wasn't to do with my illness. It's not that I haven't had personal issues to deal with it's just that being ill overshadowed everything else and my mind didn't have much space for thought. It's funny because a few years ago I feel like I used to be that girl who could sit and babble on about her thoughts and feelings for days on end. Now I feel more reserved about doing so, may be it's an age thing or may be it's because I've felt so vulnerable but today I'm taking it back to my roots.

The idea of loving yourself is one I've spoken about a lot and one I firmly do believe in. The whole mantra of 'Love yourself before you love anyone else' is something I think is 100% true. When you're shining out your love from within it's attractive and I do believe when you reach this stage, things start to fall into your life that you weren't expecting. 

So today I want to talk about how I have begun to love myself again after a long period of self doubt, self hatred and wanting to be anyone else but me.

Around October 2017 I fell into this hole that I'd been slowly falling into since July and I stayed in it until March 2018. Life didn't really have much value to me as I woke up every day feeling ill, I wasn't getting better, my friends had all gone to University and I was stuck at home with my parents (not 'stuck' because I adore my parents so much and am truly so grateful for them but you know what I mean), unable to work and unsure of what was going on. I had no routine, no motivation and if I'm honest, I hated life. I'd spent July, August and September trying to push through my illness and pretend to be okay but October came and I fell into a negative mindset. 

My attitude of 'Whats the point?' began to affect every aspect of my life.
I stopped blogging as I hated how I looked in any clothes and pictures due to my weight gain. I'd piled on weight whilst being on steroids gaining 1 and a half stone and I hated it, but did nothing about it. 
I stopped making plans and seeing friends often as I had no effort or motivation, spending time on my own in my room was easiest so I settled for that.
I stopped eating healthy and exercising because I had no energy to even consider doing it, I became so unfit and ate shit but I really didn't care. 
 I stopped having any positive vision of what the future might hold and through the months of October till March, I stopped loving me.

2018 rolled around and it did spark a fire in me but it took a few months till it started to burn.
 I decided that if I couldn't control some aspects of my physical health then I have to accept that but I can control my fitness, diet and mental wellbeing and needed to focus on that.

So how have I started to love myself again?
These three things; my body, my mind, my surroundings. 

I've invested time into my body and had focus and motivation to change it. 
 I wake up early, exercise for an hour and my day gets off to a much better, fresher start than if I lay in bed on my phone. It's not a strenuous routine but it's part of my daily life now and I feel so good after doing it. When I talk about my body I mean what goes into my body as well so I've been focused on getting a much healthier diet. I've trialled different food groups to see which work best for me and now have a much better understanding of which foods react with my Colitis. Of course sometimes I indulge and pay for it the next day, but it's finding a balance of feeling good thats important. After a few months of focusing on exercise and eating right I've manage to shed 1 stone and a half and my body confidence has sky rocketed. 
I know your weight shouldn't define your self confidence but it plays a part for me as I know I feel so much more confident when I'm living a healthy lifestyle and at a healthy weight. I'm still a curvy gal but the way my body has changed through exercise has made me love my curves even more. I look in a mirror now and smile because I see all my hard work paying off and I finally feel like me again.

I've prioritised my mind and began to start listening to myself rather than ignoring myself.
I realised that when my disease is bad, my anxiety is bad and that is that. When you've felt physically ill for so long it has a huge knock on effect mentally and I am finally listening to that now. I spent months feeling anxious, isolated and barely even leaving the house because I was in such bad physical health that my mindset shifted and I gave up. Now I have realised that I need to focus on managing these mental hiccups rather than letting them win. I want to be able to live everyday with no worries but for the time being my plan is limiting those worries.
I am trying to take time out of each day for myself, whether thats to read, to write, to meditate, to have a boogie or a walk, who even knows! I'm prioritising doing the things that make me feel good and feel fulfilled over anything else. Focusing on all the positives and ridding the negatives. My mind is still a bit of a hazy space but for now I think I'm doing a better job of managing its bad days!

When I say my surroundings I mean the people, places, basically where I am and what I'm doing. I've learnt a lot about people over this past year and it's made me put a lot of things I previously believed in into perspective. I've always had good groups of friends and still do but life changes and so do friendships. Before being ill, I was very much focused on having loads of friends around me whereas now I'm much more grateful for my closest friendships.  Don't get me wrong, I thrive off people and can be the chattiest person you've ever met but I'm learning to read people a bit better and know who brings out the best in me. 
I have always been a natural leader and I used to love to organise days out, trips and holidays but that all stopped over the last year because I didn't want the responsibility. Now I have realised that my surroundings have a huge impact on me and I need a change in environment to be able to grow. I love day tripping, travelling and simply being in new places and I've decided if I've got the time, why not? 
I've spent a lot of time away from home over the past 6 weeks and I think it's done me a world of good. I've got back the confidence I used to have when it came to being independent and I've lost all fear I was once had about being on my own.
 I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone and it has been so worth it.

And that is why I am falling in love with myself once again. 
I feel the happiest and healthiest I have done in the past 12 months, I just pray this love can last forever...

Lucy Jane

Living in a daze of Palm trees and Palazzo pants

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Top: Nasty Gal // Pants: Nasty Gal // Bag: Charity Shop (Topshop) // Shoes: Asos

Living in a daze of palm trees and palazzo pants, life can feel quite surreal sometimes.

I shot these pictures whilst on holiday in Cyprus and as I've said before, it was a weird holiday and I left feeling quite uninspired by where I'd been. Now I've had time to process the trip and think about why I felt how I did, I've come to the conclusion that my holiday felt more of a dazed dream than a holiday. I was living this amazing reality every day of feeling well, eating what I want and simply doing nothing but because my life the previous week had been such a contrast to that, I felt stuck and confused. Basically I think I and my emotions, were all over the place! I spent the week suppressing those feelings as I was so determined to have a 'good time' when really I should've just aired the fact that life had been moving at too much of a weird and quick pace for me to handle!
I think I should've taken things slower and spent more time focused on bettering myself.

Regardless of the thoughts and feelings this holiday brought, it brought a lot of great outfits and I definitely felt like the most stylish gal in Limassol. Strutting down the street in my polka dot palazzo pants made me feel 10 feet tall, I loved it! The high waisted fit along with the extremely wide leg some how makes my legs look ridiculously long, I'm 5 ft 8 but I'll take anything that makes me look 5 ft 10! I picked these pants up from Nasty Gal after seeing my favourite babe Cartia Mallan wearing a similar flared pair. They're a piece that can be completely dressed up with some heels and blouse or completely dressed down with a bikini and sliders, I'm obsessed!

Moving on to a staple in my summer wardrobe which is this white off the shoulder top from Nasty Gal. For so long I'd seen pictures floating around of an I AM GIA top which had almost exactly the same cut as this one. I'd debated ordering it but I couldn't justify the price. Although their pieces are so beautiful, they aren't cheap! So when I saw this one on Nasty Gal for a much better deal I snapped it up, the quality isn't too fabulous but it works for me. I love it because it shows off my d├ęcolletage which I think looks so flattering, especially for someone like me who has no boobs whatsoever. The sweetheart neckline is so cute yet the lacing detail makes it that lil bit more daring and I'm simply in love with the whole combination. 
You'll definitely be seeing a lot of this top as I feel so fab in it.

Now, the pants are a pretty big statement so I decided to keep it simple; black bag, gold necklaces and leopard print shoes. Well when I say simple I mean my kind of simple, my leopard print shoes are to me like a nude heel would be to you, a wardrobe essential! I felt wonderful as my pants floated through the breeze and my highlight shimmered on my collar bones, it was an outfit that made me feel good. 
That's when I fall in love with fashion all over again when I wear something that makes me feel good, makes me want to express myself and makes me want to ooze with confidence!

Oh... and my pants also matched a bathroom I went in, co-ordination is key my friends!

Lucy Jane


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