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Here’s why I’ve been quiet:

I haven’t written in quite some time; In fact my fingers feel unfamiliar to the keyboard that I used to frequently type on. It happens. Life gets in the way.

Every day, on social media, I see other bloggers and writers excel. I’m in awe of each and every one of them. I bring myself down consistently and I feel as though I’m not going anywhere. My YouTube channel has took a backseat lately. My blog has been abandoned. I just feel so out of the loop. What is wrong with me?

I feel like I don’t fit in. Most bloggers I know are always on top of things: scheduling tweets, posts planned out and regularly being published, working with amazing brands, creating wonderful content and excelling in their photography skills…I’ve just stopped. I’ve just hit a glass door and I can see everyone else through it doing their thing and making such wonderful progress. Why am I not doing the same?

I don’t believe in myself.

That’s it in a nutshell.

How does one start believing in themselves when they just physically and mentally can’t accept who they are? I don’t know.

I just wanted to let you guys into my head. I just wanted to let you all know that I am still here, I still want to create amazing posts for you guys to read, things just haven’t been great lately. I can only apologise.

Love

Charlene McElhinney

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Washed Away: from darkness to light by Nikki Dubose

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Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir written by Nikki Dubose with James Johanson. I’m going to be giving you a brief synopsis on this book and then sharing with you my thoughts on it! I read this book a few weeks ago and have been meaning to write up a review (however I’ve read another 3 books since and just can’t seem to get my head out of a book at the minute, thus meaning I’ve not got around to writing any reviews!) So keep your eyes peeled as there will be many more book reviews to come!

Nikki Dubose is a former model who has suffered severely from mental health issues, childhood abuse, eating disorders, addiction, self-harm and so much more. Her life has been extremely tough but now she shares her story with the world… and I’m so glad that she did!

“Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir that recounts the experiences of model Nikki DuBose as she overcomes a more than seventeen-year battle with abuse, child sexual victimization, eating disorders, psychosis, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, and various other mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the fashion industry.”

I found this description of Nikki’s Memoir on google however this isn’t even the half of it! Yes she’s trying to navigate her way through the dark side of the fashion industry; but she is also trying to blank out trauma from her childhood, seek love from whoever is willing to love her, blank out the termination of her unborn child due to difficult circumstances, forget about evil people who put her through hell… the list is endless. Nikki’s life was pandemonium but she has come out the other side stronger and is able to help others because of what she has been through.

“Knowing that I am a beautiful and confident woman sounds empowering – and it is – but it comes with a lot of pain and inner work.”

After reading Nikki’s memoir I was lost for words. What a remarkable woman, I thought, and oh so courageous! To openly speak out about darker times in your past is draining, difficult and so daunting (I know because I’ve also opened up about my mental health issues through the form of poetry in book form). Putting it out there, for the world to see, is absolutely terrifying. And Nikki shares so much with us. You can’t fault a word in Nikki’s memoir: It is her whole life in your hands. You can feel it. You can feel her pain, her thought process, and more importantly – her desire to be loved. Nikki desperately wanted to be loved throughout her whole life and it breaks your heart reading about her life knowing that there is nothing you can do. I wanted to reach out to this young girl and tell her she is deeply loved – if only someone had.

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Nikki went through cosmetic surgery, self-harm and daily self-hating herself before she realised that she was worthy. This makes me want to cry for her. WHY does the modelling industry do this, still, in this day and age? Why aren’t people good enough the way they are? Why must we always try and change people? It’s soul-destroying.

Nikki eventually left the modelling industry and when I read that she did I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my chest (so I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for her)!

I really admire Nikki’s honesty throughout this whole book: The way she opened up about the abuse from her own mother, about the cosmetic surgery she underwent during her modelling career, about her self-harming and addictions, about having a termination and about the lifestyle that comes with a modelling career. Nikki is going to make changes in this world. She already has. She is an active advocate for abuse sufferers and regularly writes articles to raise awareness about child abuse. She is also an active public speaker and shares her story worldwide.

I have the upmost respect for Nikki Dubose. I’ve followed her across all of her social media platforms (and she has followed me back – yay!) and I regularly keep up to date with all of her wonderful work and achievements. I would urge you all to read her memoir. (click below for the link if you would like to purchase a copy)

 Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.

Thank you Nikki, for being so brave, and for fighting your way through life to become the extraordinary woman you are today.

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*I received this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own*

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Cake toppers

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When Caketoppers reached out to me & asked if I wanted to work with them I jumped at the chance; I have a severe sweet tooth and as soon as I knew cupcakes were involved – I was in!

Firstly I just want to comment on how speedy the delivery service was! They popped me an email the day before letting me know they were being dispatched and before I knew it I was taking photos of them and devouring them (which I felt really guilty doing because… look at them)!?

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“Caketoppers specialise in cakes, cupcakes and printed icing edible toppers for delivery across the UK. Personalised with your photo, logo or message – our delicious sponge cakes make a great idea for birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations or any special occasion”.

When Caketoppers emailed me, they told me I could pick any image or wording I wanted to be printed on my very own cupcakes. I decided to pick my blog header (designed by the fabulous Claire) as I thought this would look great! I didn’t expect the quality to be so good so I was amazed at how well these turned out!!!

I absolutely loved seeing my face and name on a cupcake! It felt bizarre! What a treat! I would definitely use Caketoppers in the future. They would make such a great gift! And also my 21st is coming up so having my own personalised cupcakes would be fabulous!

And there’s more…

Not only did they look great; they tasted exquisite! I had a classic sponge and a chocolate one – the best of both worlds! The chocolate was my favourite (it was sooooo chocolatey). I was meant to let my boyfriend taste a bite but I ended up eating them both on my own, all to myself, and I don’t regret it! They were scrumptious!

Caketoppers, from my own experience, are a friendly and professional company who endeavour to create quirky and delicious treats for every occasion! They were an absolute pleasure to work with and I would highly recommend that you check them out! You won’t regret it!

Click here to check out their site!

Charlene McElhinney

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email: charlenemcelhinney@icloud.com

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*I was sent these items in exchange for a review. All opinions and photographs are my own*

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#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

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This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek; You have probably seen numerous blog posts all about it and seen the hashtag on your timeline front, left and centre. But isn’t that the way it should always be? We should always be encouraging people to openly talk about their mental health.

For those of you who suffer from Mental Health issues, I bet you wish that the society we live in was always as responsive and supportive as it is right now, during this awareness week. I am wholeheartedly all for Mental Health Awareness and I think this week is a step in the right direction. I just can’t help feeling like next week, or the week after, I’m going to be down in the dumps and nobody is going to care. Nobody will notice. Nobody will be encouraging me to speak out. I don’t know. Perhaps that’s just the mind of a Depressive.

I feel like the world that we live in is starting to do more about Mental Health and is attempting to reach out to vulnerable people but will it ever be as accepted as physical health? (I’m genuinely curious to know what you all think about this so please pop me a response in the comments)!

I want to share a personal snippet from my life with you all, it’s a long story really, but I’ll cut it short (as this could lead to a whole other blog post in itself):

My mother, the loveliest and kindest soul you could ever meet, was diagnosed with Cancer last year. Breast Cancer. It was totally unexpected. Needless to say it broke my heart. I very seldom shed a tear in anyone’s company but that day I cried in my mother’s arms and couldn’t fight back the tears. It was soul-destroying. She got through it – WE got through it together as a family unit. Mum, Dad, my brother and I. The immediate family. Of course aunties and cousins and people who hadn’t spoke to my mum in ages were calling up: asking how mum was, saying they would be there, did she need anything etc? Everyone was there. Everyone cared. Now here is where I am going with this…

Mum was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I was in my early years of primary school. She was in and out of hospital; Almost wasn’t allowed out for her Wedding day. It’s been tough. She lost her job. She had two young kids. The pressure was on my Dad. It was a real shock. It was tough. Over the years Mum has had breakdowns, down days, too much medication, not enough medication and so on and so forth. Sometimes, people who are meant to be close to my mum call her up and ask her how she’s doing? Mum will say ‘not too good, I’ve been feeling a bit down today’ and they brush it off. Move on to another subject. Completely dismiss this. WHY? This is what I am getting at. Why are physical elements always treated so differently from Mental Health?

I am in no way, shape or form comparing Cancer to Mental Health. That’s not what I’m doing here. Here’s another example. Now and again I take to Twitter or Facebook to portray my emotions and I try and open up about what is going on in my head. On several occasions I have been called out for ‘attention seeking’ or ‘moaning’ etc. But it’s perfectly normal to share that you’ve broke a bone or banged your foot but it’s not OK to tell people how you’re feeling? Again. I don’t know. This is just my thoughts.

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek is a good thing. It is. I think it’s wonderful that people are writing blog posts about it, sharing their thoughts and feelings with friends and followers, using the hashtag, raising awareness in all different ways – I just would love, love, love for people to keep this up all year round. It would be so heartening to come on to social media every day and know what someone gets it. That someone is always going to be there to support you. That people understand. You know?

The next time someone phones you and tells you they are feeling a bit blue: acknowledge it. Please. Ask them if they want to talk about it? Ask them if they maybe want to do something? Or just let them know that you are there if they need you to be. It’s not much to ask. And it makes such a difference. Believe me.

Keep using the hashtag everyone, read the blog posts that you see on your timeline, respond to people’s tweets when they pluck up the courage to speak out about what’s on their mind – you can make such a difference without even knowing or realising it!

Lots of love

Charlene McElhinney

#MENTALHEALTHAWARENESSWEEK

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Beauty UK Cosmetics

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Hey lovelies!

Today I’m going to be sharing some exciting beauty products with you all from a very special brand called: Beauty UK Cosmetics. Have you heard of them?

Beauty UK is an independent and magnificent brand (born in the UK) that offers a variety of elegant and glamorous cosmetics! They are most known for their beautiful eyeshadow palettes & face contouring make-up! They also have a wide range of different lipsticks, glosses, primers, highlight, blush, bronzer, eyeliner, liners, powders, foundations, nail varnishes and much more! I’ll stop waffling on and show you guys what I received and let the products speak for themselves!

 

How fabulous do these products look?

Here’s a list of the items I received; If you click on the link you can check out the different shades of the products available & the price of the products: 

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I had so much fun playing around with the chubby sticks for contouring my face! I’d never used these before and didn’t think I would like them (as I tend to use powder for contouring) but I was so surprised at how easy they are to blend and how sharp a finish they give your cheekbones! I love them! I would highly recommend them!

My favourite product out of all of my goodies was the eyeshadows! The posh palette creates the perfect Smokey eye (the picture I took was on my iPhone, with no effect or filter, and wasn’t edited at all – that is the palette in all its glory). Look at those shades! So many different brown shades to work with and play with.

Another tried & tested product from the bunch is the foundation primer: It’s fabulous! I’ve been needing a good primer for a while and this one is cheap & cheerful and does the trick! It definitely prolongs my foundation!

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Here’s a pic of me wearing some of Beauty UK’s products. What do you think? What’s your favourite product out of the lot?

You should connect with Beauty UK on their social media sites: They are so friendly, supportive & engage with all of their customers and followers. You can follow them on twitter & Instagram.

Hope you liked this post lovelies, it’s always a pleasure to feature new and upcoming brands on my blog! If you want to work with me pop me an email at charlenemcelhinney@icloud.com

*I was sent these items in exchange for a review. All of the photos and opinions are my own*.

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Let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why

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For those of you that know me: You’ll know I suffer from Depression and Anxiety. If I’m being 100% honest, my mental health hasn’t been in a very good place recently, and I’ve been struggling.

I decided to watch 13 Reasons Why. Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately then you’ll have at least heard about this Netflix Series (which was based on the Thirteen Reasons Why young adult book by Jay Ahser). I was really tentative about watching this series as it is notorious for triggering people’s Mental Health but I had to know what all of the fuss was about. I had to see it for myself.

Apparently if you’re vulnerable or suffer from mental health issues people advise you not to watch 13 reasons why; but I did.

The storyline synopsis of this series on IMBD states:

‘Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) -his classmate and crush-who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, Thirteen Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect viewers.’

I can confirm that it deeply affects the viewer. I am scarred. I am shocked. I am confused. I am numb. For someone who suffers from Mental Health issues myself: This was such a raw, graphic and emotional watch. I don’t regret it though.

Let’s start with my negative views on this series and then we can finish on the positives?

I’m glad they have made 13 Reasons Why into a series. It’s important that people talk about Mental Illness, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, rape, bullying and all of the other sensitive (?) themes that we tend not to open up about. 13 Reasons Why will, and has, definitely got people talking about these subjects – which is a good thing. We absolutely should be talking about these matters. Secondly, it portrayed just how much people turn a blind eye to mental health in this day and age. There has been much controversy since the release of this series: people claiming that it doesn’t really highlight mental health issues. If a girl taking her own life due to bullying at school, battling with her own thoughts, isolating herself etc. doesn’t display a profound mental health problem then I don’t know what does!? The protagonist, Hannah Baker, was a troubled girl and she seek help in every way that she thought she could but to no avail. She took her own life. This happens. This is reality. And we need to open our eyes. 13 Reasons Why has done that – despite all the negative comments that have been coming up about it.

More positives about 13 Reasons Why? It conveyed a real portrayal of bullying at school: I could relate to many of the incidents that Hannah Baker experienced. Slut-shaming? Yes. The photos being spread around? Yes. Rumours? Yes. I could go on. But I won’t. People don’t realise the impact of their words and actions during school years; I still carry many of these with me today. It’s something you never forget or let go of. I also think that the graphic scenes featuring self-harm, rape, bullying and so on was the right thing to do. We shy away from these subjects. We shouldn’t. In the ‘beyond the reasons’ extra episode they totally justify why they decided to make the scenes so ‘disgusting’ and graphic: because that’s the reality of it. It’s not an easy thing to talk or think about. And that’s the problem.

I feel like I’m beginning to go into deep detail and waffle on quite a bit so I won’t say much more things I liked about the show (for now). I’ll move on to a couple of the negatives that I personally wanted to comment on from my own experience of watching the show.

I do think that 13 reasons why is very triggering. It will deeply affect you. It is not for vulnerable people. It does scare me that young girls and boys will watch this and perhaps think suicide is their only option. I also feel like 13 Reasons Why perhaps glamourizes and romanticises suicide in many scenes throughout the episodes. This isn’t a realistic portrayal of suicide, it is a story from a young adult novel, I would hate to think that young girls or vulnerable people etc. would plant ideas in their head following watching this series in a fragile state. Another thing I didn’t like about 13 Reasons Why is that there is a lot of talk about ‘who killed Hannah Baker’. Everyone was blaming themselves. Hannah was creating tapes dedicated to people who caused and contributed to her taking her own life; I just didn’t think this was right. Hannah Baker committed suicide. She took her own life. She didn’t see any other way out. She was lost, troubled and not in a good place but nobody ‘killed’ Hannah Baker. Hannah killed Hannah. It upset me to see these kids (essentially) blaming one another and pointing the finger, accusing one another, and themselves of killing Hannah when this wasn’t the case. Of course they have to accept the responsibility. But they did not kill her.

13 Reasons Why will stay with you forever. You will remember Hannah, always. You will remember her story. You will tell people about it. It does that to you. I think everyone should watch this series. It has it’s strong points and its flaws but it is 100% worth the watch. I could relate to Hannah so much and I just wish that everyone could try and understand what is going on in her head. I felt like I understood. Is that right? I don’t know. But I did.

If you’re struggling from Mental Health issues, and you are reading this post, please please please talk to someone and tell them how you are feeling. I would hate to think anyone feels alone. The way Hannah did; the way I often do.

I recently wrote a book: Melancholy Mind. It has an abundance of Help & Contacts towards the back of the book and I open up about my Mental Health experiences with you through the form of poetry. I would really appreciate if you all took the time to read it.

That’s all for now, from me

Charlene McElhinney

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BUY MY BOOK: Melancholy Mind