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Saturday, 17 June 2017

162/ LIVING WITH ANXIETY

I've been sitting here trying to figure out what to write for this post for what seems like forever. To add some context - these pictures were taken two weeks ago. I keep going back and forth trying to decide between writing about the outfit itself or the anxiety attack that I experienced that night. In one of my latest posts (Beyond the Instagram) I discussed being more honest with myself and with my social media so that's exactly what I'm going to do.

I have lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It has always been a constant and dependable thing in my life. It comes in many forms, but I mainly live with social anxiety. I'm a textbook introvert and can be extremely shy at times - all of this tied in with being anxious in social settings has affected my life in more ways than I care to admit. It's still not an easy thing for me to talk about, but I think it's important for me to do so.

I have good days and bad days. Some days I can go out, talk to new people and do all of the things that I want to do but some days I just can't. I can't put into words how difficult that can be. It's like there's a road block or a fence; you're standing on the other side, wanting to participate, you can see everybody else having a good time but you just can't. The night that these pictures were taken was one of those nights.

It started out well. I was having a good time and I was surrounded by some of my closest friends, some of the people that I feel the most safe around. But anxiety doesn't care about that sort of thing. We were at a club that I am semi familiar with (I've been a handful of times) but the second that I stepped out for fresh air, it all hit me. I began to panic. There are too many people in the club. It's too hot in the club. I don't know the music. I don't want to talk to anyone or look at anyone. There are people everywhere. When I (reluctantly) reentered the club, I felt the walls closing in. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath. That is an absolute horrible feeling and I'm sorry if that's something that you can relate to. I grabbed my friend, Michael, by the arm the second we reentered and told him we had to leave ASAP. I found the rest of our group on the dance floor and explained the situation.

I'm extremely fortunate to be surrounded by people who understand what it's like to live with anxiety disorders. My friends were all understanding. Michael and I left that bar and headed to one that I was more comfortable being in. We ended the night by dancing to Beyonce and Rihanna and I was finally to able to breathe. It took a bit of time, but I finally felt at ease.

Knowing my surroundings and being surrounded by people that I feel safe around are key for me during anxiety attacks. I had a pretty mild attack that night and something small like a change of scenery was all that I needed, but sometimes it takes a lot more to feel comfortable and safe.

I just want to throw it out there that if you've ever felt like this, you are not alone. Anxiety is a painful and scary thing to live with. It comes in many forms and has ton of different symptoms. This just scratches the surface for me. It can feel like a cruel joke when a social event that I've been excited about for months turns into a nightmare, sometimes without a distinct trigger, and it's not fair. It can feel like a joke, but it's 100% real. Nothing about it is fair but it's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.

*** There are a ton of great resources online if you'd like to read more about what anxiety is or how to care for yourself during an anxiety attack. Anxiety attacks are extremely personal things, meaning that no two people will experience it the same way. What works for me may not work for you. What works for you sometimes may not work for you other times. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed about. Seeing someone like a doctor or counsellor, while it is not for everyone, can be an important step for some people. You are not weak for living with anxiety (or any other mental illness), you are not weak for seeking help, you are not weak for doing what you need to do during an attack and your feelings during anxiety attacks are 100% valid. 

JACKET/ Michel Studio (similarTOP/ Forever 21+ SKIRT/ Penningtons (similar)
TIGHTS/ Addition Elle (similar) SHOES/ Old Navy (thrifted / similar)
HANDBAG/ Rebecca Minkoff LIPSTICK/ Sephora 'Cream Lip Stain' in 001 Always Red

Photos by Michael Tundo

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

161/ BREAK THE RULES

I've been told time and time again that fat bodies shouldn't wear baggy clothes but here I am loving life, looking great and not having a single care. I love to play around with different shapes, patterns and silhouettes.

Fashion and personal style, to me anyways, is about what makes me happy and never about what people expect of me. The second that I started dressing for me, and not for anyone else, was the second that I really started loving what I was wearing. My confidence levels soar when I'm wearing an outfit that I love and that confidence continues into other aspects off my life.

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I wore this look to my friend Michael's birthday a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't feeling my best so I was looking to wear something a bit dramatic to hopefully distract people from how dead I looked and felt. This is what I came up with and I'm super happy with it. 

I love how big and boxy these pants are. They're nothing like the typical skin tight black skinny jeans that I'm used to wearing. The length, much like me, is awkward as hell. That's okay, though, because I love when I'm able to show off a bit of ankle.

The pointed toe Chelsea boots that I've paired with this look are a thrift store find and I wear them almost every chance I get - they're about as high as I can go in a heel and I've learned to accept that.

Ok but this top. THIS TOP!! This top makes me look bigger than I am and that's something that I absolutely love about it. It definitely isn't a flattering piece, but if you know me, you know that's something I have never cared about. Gingham is one of my true loves and the dramatic peplum is something that my wardrobe was lacking. This is definitely a piece that I can just throw on and look put together. It's the perfect statement and I can't remember the last time that I was this in love with a something in my wardrobe.

The burgundy moto jacket and my studded Alexander Wang bag are the two pieces that tie everything together and give this ensemble my signature edge.

JACKET/ Love & Legend (similarTOP/ Victoria Beckham x Target
PANTS/ H&M+ (similarBOOTS/ Old Navy (thrifted - similar)

Photos by Laura Kidd

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

160/ BEYOND THE INSTAGRAM

Social media can be very misleading sometimes. Take the day that these pictures were taken for example. My friends and I planned on going to a fair that was happening down the street from my house. We went out to dinner beforehand, the dinner wasn't the best and we were sitting on the patio even though it was cold outside and we were all freezing. But of course we had to take Snaps of us sipping sangria like we were having the time of our lives. After dinner we headed to the fair where Laura and I took these pictures. We went in with the intention of staying for awhile, grabbing some treats and going on some rides but it just didn't work out. The fair, of course, was child sized and the probability of us even fitting on the rides was slim to none. We did, however, buy a bucket of donuts. After we ate our donuts and snapped some pictures, we went home.

We still had a really good time and we were laughing about everything as it happened but a lightbulb sort of went off in my head after. If you were to view any of my social media from that day it would have looked like we were having the time of our lives even though almost nothing went right behind the scenes. I try to display my most authentic self on my social media accounts but sometimes I slip up and I don't realize what I'm doing. There's often a thin line between reality and what we put out there in the social world. Even if you try your best to be conscious about what you're putting out there, it isn't always 100% real. It's almost impossible to be 100% real.

I try my best to post pictures of me without makeup or of Snapchats of me doing mundane things, but it's still just a highlights reel. Even though I'm fairly confident in myself and my sometimes boring life, I would never post pictures of me at my worst. Yes, I'll post filterless makeup free pictures, but only when my skin or hair is cooperating that day. Yes, I'll post pictures of my bedroom and videos of my friends being goofy, but that's after I cleaned up my space or chose the exact right moment to hit record. I would never post raw pictures of me at my worst. You'll never see a sleepless night or a picture during or after a breakdown on any of my social media. (Tweets and the odd Tumblr post are the exception)

I'm not writing this to expose myself or anybody else - I'm just writing this to tell people to take everything with a grain of salt. Like most things in life, you don't really know the whole story. Social media has a way of making things look flawless, fun and sometimes it can make the person on the other end (the person viewing these posts) feel like they're missing out. That feeling is totally understandable, it's something that everyone goes through now and then, but it's important to take a step back and to remember that there's more than meets the eye.

JACKET/ Michel Studio (similarTOP/ Forever 21+ (similarSKIRT/ JCPenney (similar)

HANDBAG/ Rebecca Minkoff SHOES/ Nike (similar)
Photos by Laura Kidd

Sunday, 28 May 2017

159/ DRESSING UP AS SELF CARE

Dressing up is a huge part of self care for me.

I haven't been feeling my best lately. Physically, and as a result of that, mentally as well. The only thing that allows me to escape for a bit is dressing up. Sitting down and doing my makeup, planning a killer outfit and watching it all come to life is my saving grace right now. It may seem superficial to some, but it's an important self care step for me.

I'm trying to be a bit more daring with my looks lately. I have more spare time lately and I'm spending a lot more time at home (because of my health), so I have a bit more time to experiment with looks. I'm really into mixing patterns at the moment. For this look I kept it kind of simple and went with a floral dress (that I wear a minimum of once a week #sorrynotsorry) and my Alexander McQueen skull scarf.

JACKET/ Michel Studio (similar) DRESS/ Torrid (similar) BOOTS/ Old Navy (similar
HANDBAG/ Rebecca Minkoff (via consignment) SCARF/ Alexander McQueen
Photos by Sue Waugh