‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’ – BBC Documentary Review

Ill-thought-out, dangerous and way too simplistic

I came across this programme because, as she very often does, my mother had ripped out an article from the Daily Mail for me to read that she thought I may find interesting and/or useful (they very often are neither of these things, but I gave this one a go).

Within the first couple of paragraphs I was infuriated by the fact that Dr Van Tulleken is grouping antidepressants (drugs I have been taking for three years now, give or take) with other medication that is used for an entirely different purpose:

“I’m talking about the drugs we take because the world we live in makes us unfit, unhappy and overweight – antidepressants, painkillers and drugs like statins.”

Oh so us depressed folk take antidepressants to make us feel better cause the world makes us feel sad; it just gets us down sometimes, y’know? It’s exactly the same as having high cholesterol due to a bad diet and lack of exercise.


Dr Chris and his bowls and bowls of pills

As a doctor of medicine I would assume you know it is much more complicated than this, Dr Van Tulleken? Not everyone who has clinical depression/anxiety or any of the other numerous disorders people take these life-saving drugs for can be treated using “non-drug alternatives such as exercise”.

Also, why are we classing mentally-ill people as ‘healthy’? He didn’t make the definition of ‘an average healthy person’ clear in his experiment, where he poured lots of fake pills into bowls to demonstrate how many this ‘average person’ will take over a lifetime. Feels more like a visual aid more invested in the shock-factor than actual facts and research.

This theme of carelessness when it comes to language used when talking about these issues continued in the documentary. In the introduction a clip was shown where Chris stated he felt “intensely depressed” at the enormity of the challenge. My jaw literally hung open. I’m guilty of using phrases such as this in a light-hearted manner, even comics-shoeboxblog-depression-help-544297though I know I shouldn’t because it perpetuates misconceptions and therefore the stigma surrounding mental health, but to hear not only a doctor, but a doctor who is claiming we need to stop prescribing so many antidepressants because “their effect is feeble”compared to basically just exercising (I didn’t hear or read any other alternatives apart from swimming in some cold water)…

It just shows how naive and ignorant this man clearly is, despite his arrogance and smugness, and this disgusts me. He essentially said that one woman’s chronic pain wasn’t getting any better because she was too lazy to do her exercises. Nice, huh?

Of course I recognise the dangers in prescribing so many antibiotics because bacteria are becoming immune etc., and I definitely don’t agree with just throwing antidepressants at anyone who shows signs of depression; other options should be explored and discussed and a joint decision made with the GP/psychiatrist and the patient.

The tone and attitude of both the article and the documentary was patronising and derogatory towards a wide and diverse range of patients; from the depressed to the chronic pain sufferers to those withpmdd_2_53503329 infections.Which I would like to reiterate, shouldn’t be put into one big bundle and compared to one another.

Dr Chris Van Tulleken may have had the best intentions going in to this, but really, if you’re that clueless about the things you want to so drastically change, maybe do some research before spouting rubbish? People look to you for advice as a doctor, at least make it accurate.

At this point in my life, I need my antidepressants to keep going, get me through day to day and earn a living. Someday I really would love to come off them, but until then, I refuse to be made to feel belittled, weak and ignorant by anybody. And so should you. Whether you take antidepressants, painkillers, statins or any of the other drugs demonised by this programme.

Resources: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3785796/How-swimming-cold-water-helped-depressed-woman-pills-TV-doctor-reveals-cases-drugs-don-t-work.html 





The Grammar School Debate

Theresa May wants to make it possible for new grammar schools to be opened in England. And people are angry.

Most of those people didn’t go to a grammar school or live in an area where there is one.

I am in an interesting position; because I did go to a grammar school (the top state school in the country, no less) and I hated it. I came out with 9 GCSEs (4 A*s and 5 As) and 3 As at A level, getting me into my top choice uni, and I made lifelong friends there, but I can’t say I’m a big fan of the school or the way it’s run.


Our last day of Year 13 in our old uniforms, ft. the school entrance covered in post-it notes – one of our ‘end-of-year pranks’.

However, whilst I am on the fence over the issue of whether creating new ones is the right way to go, I do not believe that grammar schools are evil; like many people who are against them seem to believe.

Firstly, the notion that only ‘privileged’ kids get to go to these schools and they’re basically just free private schools is quite frankly, complete bollocks. When did being eligible for free school meals become the only measure of ‘poor’ children? I live in an area that on the whole is relatively well-off, so it’s unsurprising that lots of people that went to my school lived in big houses and mummy and daddy bought them cars for their 17th birthday etc. Assuming that’s what we mean by ‘privileged’.

My parents don’t have that kind of money, but I consider myself privileged because I’ve always felt loved and encouraged when it comes to learning and schoolwork, without being pressured or pushed too hard.

Yes, I had a tutor to help when it came to the 11+ and the entrance exam to my grammar school. Yes, I may not have passed without him, but I think that’s a fault with the test itself, which is a totally different point.

My brother had the same tutor, for the same amount of time as me, and he passed the 11+, but didn’t get into the grammar school. And he got a first in his Chemistry undergraduate and Masters from Leeds Uni, and is currently doing a phd at Liverpool. Basically, he’s pretty clever.

He didn’t go to a grammar school but thrived in academic subjects at a really good school, which is arguably so good because it has had to keep up, like other high schools in the area, with the achievements of all of the surrounding, high-achieving grammar schools.

Is it a coincidence that Trafford, one of the top areas for good schools and excellent results across all schools – grammar schools, high schools, faith and secular, single-sex and mixed –  in the country, also has one of the highest number of grammar schools? Personally, I don’t think so.

Do your own research before spouting things about grammar schools “entrenching inequality” and dividing rich from poor. Grammar schools aren’t private schools. It’s the insistence on this belief that divides people – if you live life with a chip on your shoulder, acknowledging barriers that aren’t really there, there’s no way we’re going to break down the ones that are there.


AGGS Year 11 yearbook 2010 – this post prompted much nostalgia

I know this is probably really controversial, and I could talk about this forever; but what do you think? Did you go to a grammar school and love/hate it? Let me know I’m honestly so intrigued.

Thanks for reading! 🙂


‘Canned Lion Hunting’ in South Africa

A couple of days ago, I saw this piece on BBC News about lions being bred specifically to be hunted and killed, mostly by foreigners, who pay thousands of dollars for the privilege; and of course to take home a ‘trophy’ in the form of the beautiful animal’s head.


Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert on this subject, I’ve read a few articles and web pages such as the CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting) website and this article on Nature World News.

From the research I have done, I am, of course, appalled and disgusted that these majestic animals are being used in this way. It sickens me that anyone would want to pay money to shoot such a beautiful creature.

I bet you can feel the ‘but’ coming… here it is:

But, I can’t help feeling uncomfortable hearing the similarity in the language used to describe this horrible act, and that used to describe practices of breeding animals within the meat industry.

For example, “these lions are bred in captivity with the sole purpose of being taken out onto hunting lodges, and shot by hunters.”

This is obviously a sentence in the BBC News report meant to shock and disgust the viewer.

I would argue however that just by changing a few words, it would have a totally different impact. Let’s say, “these pigs are bred in captivity for the sole purpose of being taken out into slaughterhouses, and killed for their meat.” This is just what happens, right? Because it’s a pig and not a lion, we aren’t shocked or disgusted, we just accept that that is true.

Now I know many people will say it’s different because the pig meat is going to be eaten and therefore not wasted. But the lions’ fur and bones are all used and sold to make a profit for the breeders (sold in Asia to make medicine, wine and even cakes?): it’s not just the head that gets ‘used’.

So is it really any different? Is it right that outrage and disgust is directed towards one and not the other? Particularly when the one we ignore/accept is happening in our country.

Is this controversial? I don’t know, probably. I hope I’ve put my thoughts across in a way that makes sense, I wanted to keep it brief, especially as it is an opinion piece from someone that has pretty limited knowledge on the subject.

Let me know your thoughts! My next post will be less upsetting, I promise. 🙂





Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Diagnosis and the aftermath

Since watching Emma Blackery’s video  over a year ago, I have been convinced that this was it; this is what has been wrong with me for the past five/six years.

I won’t bore you with all the details and long list of symptoms, but trust me when I say they all add up to CFS. I have had years and years of tests and examinations that have all come back negative, meaning I’ve hit wall after wall after wall. Which, as you can imagine, is very frustrating, stressful and incredibly upsetting; the latter particularly when you’re constantly being brushed off and told by ‘professionals’ that essentially there’s nothing wrong with you.

Finally, being convinced CFS was what I had, I forced my GP to listen, and she actually agreed, and referred me to a specialist. Various cancellations (by the hospital, obviously) later I attended my appointment in July, and after some final blood tests to rule out any other possibilities, I was diagnosed, and put on the waiting list for some treatment.

But now, I’m just confused.

There’s no cure, and treatment is mostly self-management and lifestyle-based, so I feel a little lost and alone. And my anxiety is through the roof, of course.

And the physio I saw recently for Graded Exercise Therapy confirmed what I already feared… I’m already doing all that I can. I go out to work and do everything I need to do, no matter how tired I feel, so in a sense I’m already in control of it. Which just makes me feel defeated, deflated and, to be honest, pretty devastated. I feel awful pretty much 24/7 and there’s nothing I can do about it.

So now what?

Well, I guess I’ve just got to keep on keeping on; and waiting for my CBT appointment, which will hopefully be more useful than the GET.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it could be a lot, lot worse. But if nothing changes, my mental health is going to suffer, I can already feel it, and I’ve already upped my dose to the maximum with my meds!

But for now, I’m going to relax, and enjoy the end of the new Great British Bake Off.

Thanks for reading 🙂



‘Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets’ – BBC Documentary Review

I’ve been really intrigued by the ‘clean eating’ or ‘plant-based diet’ craze that’s been going around the internet for a while now; and even seriously considered giving it a go with so many bloggers and vloggers talking about all of the health benefits and how good they feel on this diet. I’m willing to try anything at this point to stop feeling so tired and awful all the time!

I’m also planning on going vegan (I’m veggie currently) in the near future, but I see a big difference between veganism and ‘plant-based’. The latter seems to be all about the health benefits, whilst the former is about animal cruelty and not wanting to contribute that.


Now I’m not going to lie, clean eating sounds like a big commitment, and too much hard work for me to keep up with. I think in a way I’ve been looking for an excuse to not give it a go for that reason; so the title of this BBC documentary really appealed to me when I was scrolling through iplayer trying to find something to watch.

First of all, I’ve never seen any of Grace Victory’s videos, but I loved her from the opening of the programme, and I subscribed immediately. Shes’s hilarious, honest, and genuinely relatable, so she was the perfect person to host this documentary.

I think Grace clearly explained that there are many different definitions of ‘clean eating’, and it isn’t the same for everyone. This is worrying considering there’s so many people spreading possibly conflicting messages about what we should and shouldn’t be eating.

What works for one person might not work the same for another, so preaching a one-size-fits-all message is, frankly, dangerous. Having been one of those people obsessed with food, calories and exercise (looking back I probably had orthorexia) I know how easy it is to get caught up in the spiral, and how long it takes to basically rewire your brain into thinking about food and eating in a healthier way. Of course thinking about what you’re eating is important, but obsessing over reading ingredient lists on every packet of food you think about eating isn’t something I would recommend to anyone.

What really struck me wasn’t the nutritionists and dietitians saying how what the likes of Freelee are preaching is a load of rubbish, because I expected that. It was the interview Grace did with the ‘wellness blogger’ Natasha Corrett who has brought out a series of cook books promoting the ‘alkaline diet’ under the company name ‘Honestly Healthy’. She was asked a simple enough question, or rather a statement about a doctor’s view on pH balance in the body, and immediately said she wasn’t going to answer it.


If that doesn’t ring enough alarm bells, then certainly the fact that Natasha’s co-author and ‘nutritionist’ adviser Vicky Egerton was inspired by Robert Young; a man who Natasha herself says she won’t answer any questions on because he’s just been arrested… for practicing medicine without a license. And he’s the father of the diet that Natasha is promoting!? How can we really trust anything that these essentially unqualified people are telling us?

We can’t.

So no ‘clean eating’ for me. Just more fruits and veggies and less veg lasagne ready meals. Do your own research, don’t follow the advice of just one or two people on the internet because they look amazing and their lives seem perfect.

I highly recommend watching the documentary; it really is food for thought! 😉


Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf

I have been keeping up with the reading for Banging Book Club (honest!), just not the blog posts. But I have so many feelings about this one, I really had no choice but to make time.


Firstly, I believe this book, compared with March’s read Bonk by Mary Roach, was much easier to read for someone like me who struggles with the sciencey mumbo-jumbo. I much preferred Wolf’s writing style, which I knew before I began reading, but unfortunately this may also be the book’s biggest downfall. In making the narrative and the language more poetic than the likes of Roach’s, Wolf risks skewing the actual scientific facts in a way that sensationalises them and leads to sweeping conclusions that may not be entirely accurate.

Having said this, so many things in  Vagina rang true and seemed to join up some of the dots for me, that I can’t believe these things aren’t common knowledge or discussed by all members of society, in public and private and everywhere in between.

Within the first ten pages or so my jaw was practically on the floor. I had no idea, like most people, I can only assume, how closely the vulva/vagina was connected neurologically to the brain? Please excuse my lack of technical knowledge, you should read it yourself for what I actually mean, but my brain was just in a constant state of ?!?! for weeks afterwards.

The chapter on ‘The Traumatized Vagina’ was equally horrific and fascinating. Of course the main subject of this chapter was women who have suffered sexual abuse, and the link between the physical trauma, their mental well-being, and their general change in personality as a result of the violation.

On a personal level, it was the second section of this chapter ‘Vulvodynia and Existential Despair’, that gave me a lot of food for thought. I never suffered from vulvodynia, the condition that is primarily discussed in this section, but I have experienced pretty awful pain in that region on a fairly regular basis between the ages of 13 and 16. I would also pinpoint the start of my mental health problems being around the age of 15/16, so the following passage by Nancy Fish, ‘a patient and counselor to sufferers of vulvodynia’, struck a particularly powerful chord with me:


This whole section of the book simultaneously blew my mind and made me nod so furiously my head nearly fell off my shoulders. I’ve never read anything like this before, and to think that I’m not the only one who’s ever felt this way was another ?!?! moment; whilst also feeling as if a weight has been lifted off my chest, and I can breathe a little easier.

I could go on and on about what I loved about this book (being a history nerd I thoroughly enjoyed the vagina through the ages section, for example), but all I really want to leave you with is a plea for you to read this book. If you have a vagina, or if you ever want to be close to a vagina, this should be compulsory reading. It should be on the national curriculum.

People will argue that because the science isn’t exactly spot on then we shouldn’t be promoting it this way, but it’s books like this that open up this kind of discussion. I, someone who is a participator in the Banging Book Club so clearly has an interest in this stuff, would have had no introduction to these topics had it not been for Vagina.

So, in a concluding nut shell… PLEASE READ VAGINA!


Review – Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

In short – I love it. Looove it. Amazing.


I was so excited to make this purchase. I’ve been wanting it for so long and it finely felt like the right time to treat myself to it.

The packaging is gorgeous; of course, it’s a Too Faced product, so it has gone on my shelf, in the section I like to call ‘make up packaging that was too pretty, and I spent too much money on, to bin’.


Look how pretty! Anyway, on to the actual product.

It goes on really easily, very few clumps, provides loads of length and loads of volume. I love the shape of the brush, the hourglass, it really does make it easy to coat all of the lashes and provide all of that volume.


If you don’t have £19 to spare to spend on a mascara though, I don’t think it’s quite beaten the Soap and Glory Thick and Fast mascara, I think it’s on par. The latter is £10.50, so it’s not exactly cheap, but in my opinion it’s whether you think the beautiful packaging is worth the extra £8.50, in the end.

9.5/10, so, Too Faced…


…yes it was, thank you 😉

Trip to Munich

I had a week booked off work, and a couple weeks beforehand my boyfriend broke up with me, so obviously I booked a flight to visit my friend in Munich. What better way to take your mind off your broken heart?

Well, the distraction part didn’t really work, but I am so glad I went. Travel is something I want to do way more of, and having a friend living abroad is too good an opportunity to miss!

Having only ever been abroad four times in my twenty-two years, catching a flight by myself was pretty scary. I smashed it, and I am so proud of myself. There’s nothing more satisfying than kicking anxiety’s butt.

My friend met me at the airport with a traditional Bavarian pretzel and I could not have been happier, cause I was starving. Then she led the way to her and her boyfriend’s flat, which is right in the centre of the city, and by the very beautiful river.IMG_20160517_155056

We had a really nice, chilled afternoon wandering around the city and the lovely English Garden:



Certainly my favourite day spent in Munich was the second, as the weather was gorgeous and the Bavarian scenery even more beautiful. The plan was to get a cable car up to the top of a mountain my friends had previously hiked (my health would not allow that, unfortunately) but the cable car had stopped running… So we walked almost a quarter of the way up, which is still pretty high, it’s a big mountain, to the restaurant where we enjoyed a radler and some yummy German bread and dips; and, of course, the view.


On our way back we hopped off the train at Schliersee for an hour to grab an ice cream in whilst the sun started to set over the mountains.


Just so pretty!

On my final day, the weather was quite the opposite. Rain, rain and more rain.

The perfect day to go to a museum! Especially for my nerdy obsession with studying the Nazis, as the museum we visited was the ‘Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism’. Turns out being on my feet for so many hours a day in my job is an advantage when looking around museums, cause whilst the other two were slumped over having to rest on the stairs after an hour and a half, I was still standing after four hours of looking at all of the information that there was on offer, over four floors. And there was a lot! Even for someone like me who has done a hell of a lot of reading on the subject, there’s always something new to learn. Especially with this museum being specific to Munich and its personal relationship with National Socialism. I would highly recommend giving it a visit if you find yourself in the city.

I must go back to Munich if I ever get the chance, because there was so much to see, three days just wasn’t enough.

Thanks for reading!


Current Skincare Routine

My skin has been looking pretty good lately (?!) so I figured I must be doing something right with my skincare. So obviously I thought this was a great opportunity to write a post about my favourite products I’m using in my current routine.


I’ll start with what I use every morning (and most evenings if I’m not feeling too lazy) which is my face wash:

Simply Pure Gentle Face Wash by Superdrug

It does what it says on the tin. It costs less than £3, and it does exactly what I want it to do: cleanse my skin! I used to use the foam cleansing wash of the same brand but I seem to prefer a gel wash; it makes my skin feel much cleaner and more refreshed.


Step two in the morning (and last thing at night) would be my moisturizers:

Vitamin E Day & Night Creams by Superdrug


Again, so reasonably priced, only £2.99 each, and so effective! My makeup goes on better in the morning after I’ve used the day cream, and my skin still feels soft when I wake up in the morning after using the night cream.

To take my make off before I go to bed at night I have been using:

Vitamin E Dual Phase Cleansing Oil by Superdrug

I’m pretty on the fence about this product, because it’s cheap (again, only £2.99), does take my makeup off relatively well (I will always have trouble with the amount of eye makeup I wear), and leaves my skin looking good once it has soaked all the way in, but I’m just not a big oil fan. I don’t like the greasiness it leaves on my face after I’ve used it, and I’ve got through the bottle really quickly, probably cause I use a lot to get off all my eye makeup.


As you can probably tell I’m kind of obsessed with the Vitamin E range, because it’s so super cheap, cruelty free and just seems to suit my skin really well, so I’ve decided next to try the hot cloth cleanser as the makeup-removing part of my routine, so hopefully that’ll be more my cup of tea.

And finally a few extras I try and squeeze in once or twice a week;

Vitamin E Gentle Oatmeal Exfoliator

What a shock, another Superdrug product! I seriously can’t get enough; if you’re in the UK and want some great quality, cruelty free, reasonably priced skincare products Superdrug is amazing. I’m also a fan of their Naturally Radient range, but haven’t tried many of those products yet. Watch this space.


Anyway back to the scrub; it really is gentle on the skin, and my face always feels buffed and smooth whenever I’ve used it.

Cup O’Coffee Face and Body Mask by Lush

I cannot express to you how amazing this stuff smells. I’m trying to cut down on my caffeine so this is like my way of getting my fix of coffee without having to drink it. If you don’t like the smell of coffee, you will hate this, but I love it, and it genuinely makes my face feel more awake. I usually put this on if I’m having a bath, or sat in my pjs on my day off just chilling out. When you rinse the mask off it is like a scrub so I thought it might be a little too harsh, but it’s not, it’s perfect for that fresh-faced feeling.


There we go, my current skincare routine complete. Nothing too fancy or extravagantly expensive, and it seems to be working for me so I guess I should keep it up!

Now that I’m back from Germany that is; damn 100ml liquid allowance, messing up my routine. It was worth it though (sorry, skin).


On Heartbreak

So, my first boyfriend recently dumped me for someone he, presumably, believes is better than me. It felt like he’d drop kicked me in the stomach and I’d landed in a rubbish bin. Tossed out with the trash.

I’ve told myself it’s something that everyone has to go through; a rite of passage; experiencing the full spectrum of human emotions, and all that jazz. Even thinking of it in terms of understanding how characters in books could literally die from heartache! (I feel ya Cathy, I do).

The only pain I’ve ever felt that it comes close to is being depressed. That sounds kinda dramatic, but lots of aspects are the same; feeling worthless, feeling empty or like there’s something missing, not being able to eat or sleep, the feeling of loneliness even when there’s people around you (but especially when there’s not) etc. I got through being so incredibly low I wanted to die; I can get through this no bother.

I was single for 21 years before this guy came into my life and made me fall so ridiculously hard for him, and I enjoyed his company for like 7 months. It was a good 7 months, don’t get me wrong, but I did pretty alright for myself for those 21 years, and I will do again.

I am a rational human being that believes everything happens for a reason. Despite the soul-crushing anxiety I’m suffering from right now, which I hope will fade in time; stop fighting me, brain! If he can drop me so fast and move on so quickly he clearly wasn’t long-term boyfriend material in the first place. As one of my wise girl friends said, ‘If someone is better for him then you’re better off without him.’ Gotta love inspirational girl friends. The things that they come up with when someone has hurt you is priceless. I have some pretty special people in my life, that’s for sure.

Anywho, I think I’m done with this little bit of therapeutic blogging. Writing things out really helps me to get a better perspective on things. Also shopping, so expect some hauls coming up pretty soon, cause I have done a lot of retail therapy. 😉

Oh speaking of which, I’ve come across a new protip: been dumped? Go out and buy yourself some really nice underwear that he never has and never will have the privilege of seeing. That shit is empowering.

Gonna continue to dance like an idiot and sing my heart out to Hair by Little Mix now, ttfn.

(Images: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/512425263830481095/?from_navigate=true )