What has 2020 taught me?

We are now officially in the 10th month of 2020 and it’s difficult to say that this year has been a particularly positive one. I hark back to a blog I wrote during lockdown about how the clock turned to midnight and it became January 1st 2020, and we were all so excited – yet we had no idea what laid ahead. I keep having these visions of my future children coming home from school one day to tell me that they’ve been learning about the year 2020 in their history lessons…

This year has definitely been challenging and unfortunately, it’s still not over. My heart goes out to everyone that has been adversely affected by COVID-19 and the impact it’s had on their lives. I know for many they have witnessed the loss of loved ones, the loss of jobs and even the loss of their homes. It has been the most unwelcome and unexpected pandemic. In a naive way, I didn’t ever think something like this would happen in my lifetime. You just don’t expect it, do you? You sail through life and the thought of something so drastic happening to the world never seems to cross your mind.

COVID-19 really has shaken the planet and don’t even get me started on the state of the industry right now. I fathom to find the right words to say about the utter despair that everyone in our industry is feeling. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we have to keep fighting and we need to move forward with vigor and determination. As an industry we stand together and we will fight to rebuild it. It’s a necessity and an urgent plea that the industry needs the government to offer more help and support. We need it and the world needs it too.

It’s fortunate that some TV and screen projects have been able to resume filming and that casts are forming bubbles so they are able to get close to one another. The main worry is any live performances, such as theatre. As we have exhausted over social media, the idea of a theatre show performing to a limited capacity audience is just not profitable. Some theatres have made the decision to open back up to a socially distanced audience and others are scheduled for opening in 2021. By all means, we have to keep fighting and do all that we can to recover this precious industry.

The negative impact of COVID-19 and the devastation of the industry really made me think about how I would spend the lockdown time. For some, having a break and some downtime has been the right thing for them, but for me, I chose to be as productive as possible.

I really enjoy writing – it’s always been something I’ve liked doing. During lockdown I started to write various acting scenes and recorded a few. I recently put a recording of a scene entitled “Hannah’s Selftape” on social media. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the response it received. People thought it was hilarious and I’ve entered it into the ‘Mandy Comedy Comp’. You can cast a vote for my scene by liking the post on my Instagram account (@ec_bostock). I like to think that comedy has always been a strength of mine, so receiving the feedback I’ve had so far has been really self-affirming and confidence boosting in terms of my own writing and acting abilities. Thank you so much to everyone who has liked it so far! It really means a lot.

Not only have I been writing, but I have been recording some covers of songs too – this is something that I find really difficult to do, but something I love! I always watch/listen to myself and spend every second critiquing it and feeling like I could do it better. The more I film, the more I’ll let my guard down and just solely enjoy it. I’ve been happy with what I have produced so far and I’ve added them to my Youtube channel. I am definitely going to continue to put my work out there and promote myself more, I’ve found it to be a really positive experience and surely it can only get better!

You can find my Youtube channel here : https://www.youtube.com/user/emmacb2411

With so much free time I also felt inspired to get into a good exercise routine. I exercise now nearly every day and have found a host of channels I love to follow on Youtube. Professional Ice Skater Vanessa Bauer has some great workout videos on her channel which focus on everything individually. (You can find her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFiToKPmDVTMS-BVjbj2QUA) I particularly like her arm and abs workouts! I also thoroughly enjoy Emkfit as she does really fun dance based HIIT workouts, which really do work up a sweat! (You can find her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/kd7773) I feel like I have really started to see the difference in my body as I’ve been working out consistently, it’s been really helpful for my body and mind during this difficult time and a great way to stay focused!

As much as we know that COVID-19 is still going to be around in 2021, I really can’t wait to move on from this year and start fresh next year. Unfortunately, myself and fiancé Bobby had to make the difficult decision to move our wedding from April 2021 to April 2022. We just couldn’t spend the next 6 months living in a state of fear and anxiety as we approached our wedding date. Getting married is such a special time and we wanted to enjoy every second of it, which includes the build up too. We feel relieved to have moved our wedding to 2022, but also sad to know we won’t be getting married next year. We will just have to wait a little longer, but the wait will surely be worth it!

So, what has 2020 taught me and what am I going to take away from this terrible year?

  • Family and friends are so important. You should always check in on people to make sure they’re doing OK because at the end of the day, your family and friends are your lifeboat.
  • Staying as creative as possible was the best thing for my mind.
  • Exercise is massively important for the body and mind.
  • Things can only get better from here.

Let’s all look forward to moving on from 2020 and move forward with positivity, determination and drive.

Diabetes Week 2020

Taking into consideration the state of the world at the moment and all of the current goings on, diabetes week this year definitely felt different. (Well, it did for me.) There have been a lot of current, pressing and important issues that have been at the forefront of the world right now and rightly so – it just so happens that diabetes week fell in the midst of it all. I really did feel like the online presence diabetes week usually has wasn’t quite the same this year – and that is completely understandable. I planned on posting a lot of content but right at the start of the week I received some awful family related news, which made it a difficult week. But, alas, we can see what was going on amidst everything and how everyone worked together to spread some diabetes content and stories!

Diabetes UK organises diabetes week every year and this year it ran from Monday 8th June – Sunday 14th June 2020. The aim of the annual diabetes week is to raise awareness and encourage people living with diabetes to share their stories. This year diabetes week focused on #TheBigPicture. As a community we wanted to show the highs, lows, achievements and setbacks that diabetes can produce on a daily basis – therefore showing what “the big picture” really is. Obviously, due to COVID-19 there couldn’t be any diabetes meetups or charity events this year, but hopefully we will rectify that for next year!

For the people who know me, you know that I am very open when it comes to talking about my type 1 diabetes. I think communication is key. I don’t ever try to hide anything – at the end of the day it’s a part of me and a part of my life. I don’t feel ashamed to admit when things aren’t going quite right because I am only human. There are so many factors that can affect type 1 diabetes and some of these factors are unfortunately out of our control. (For example emotions are a huge factor that we can’t control. We can’t live our lives without them! Annoyingly, they have a huge impact on blood sugar levels.) Equally, I think it’s important to share the positives that occur with my type 1 diabetes too, because sharing that information can help so many others who are riding the waves on the same boat. It also shows that you can live a happy and healthy life to the best of your ability. I always say that I control my diabetes, I don’t let it control me.

I always talk about how the general public (through no intentional fault of their own) are massively uneducated when it comes to diabetes. It doesn’t help when the media like to spread incorrect information and misleading headlines. They also have a habit of bundling type 1 and type 2 diabetes under the same umbrella, when in reality, they are very different. Having a week like diabetes week is so important to try and spread awareness. Learning about diabetes for a week is nothing compared to living with it for the rest of your life. I truly admire the non-diabetics who take the time to learn all about it. I love being asked questions about my life with type 1. I can educate and inform and that’s the key to helping the public to understand.

Diabetes UK shared a lot of content during diabetes week which was great to see and get involved with. They garnered a lot of interactions from fellow type 1s and type 2s who shared their own stories. From the wonderful shared content, it was very clear to see that diabetes is a very personal condition. Many people (like myself) feel extremely comfortable with sharing information, when others are a lot more private.

On Instagram Diabetes UK shared a video from poet Duke (@dukealdurham) called ‘Hidden Hypos’ where he explains his thoughts about feeling the need to hide his hypos from others. Hypos are a funny thing because they can completely take control of you. A hypo (hypoglycemia) is when your blood sugar level drops below 4.0mmols. Hypos can be dangerous and if left untreated can even be fatal. If someone is having a hypo they need something sugary in order to bring their blood sugar levels back up. The amount of times during a hypo that someone has asked me “do you need your insulin?!” is astounding. Taking insulin during a hypo would cause your levels to plummet even lower and it’s extremely dangerous. The complete opposite of what you are needing in that moment. Sometimes my hypos cause me to become extremely vacant and glazed. When I was younger I used to get extremely agitated and blunt. I mostly tend to shake and sweat profusely, but they affect everyone in a different way. It was very open and honest for Duke to share his poem, as like I said, it’s an extremely personal thing.

It was also great to see so many handwritten stories being shared too. Just a brief snippet into how people feel about living with diabetes. This definitely added to creating the bigger picture. Here’s mine:

@ec_bostock (Instagram)

Looking on Instagram at the #TheBigPicture and #DiabetesWeek what was incredible to see was the amount of positive diabetes posts that I saw. I feel that it’s so important to talk about diabetes positively. Yes, it can be a burden but if you’ve got it for life, you might as well make the most of it. Take control and live your life to it’s fullest.

@katie_t1d_artxox (Instagram)
@__dystim__ (Instagram)

Diabetes really is testing mentally and physically, so seeing positive posts is the most encouraging thing. What the majority of type 1s (I can’t necessarily speak on behalf of the type 2s) do really well, is support each other. The type 1 community is so active on social media and there’s always someone to turn to in times of need, or even just to garner some advice.

I look forward to diabetes week next year and hope that the world will be a different place by then. In the mean time, I will continue to spread awareness and educate others. I am going to actively post more diabetes related content on my social media platforms, so look out for them!

Stay safe everyone!

Covid-19: Coping with lockdown

As the clock turned midnight on New Year’s Eve last year I remember the joy and elation in the room as we ventured into the roaring twenties. I would never in a million years have believed you if you’d said that 3 months into the year we would be dealing with a global pandemic, instructed to stay indoors and unable to socialise with others. Things really can change in a heartbeat can’t they?

The onslaught of coronavirus has brought such devastation to the world with the loss of so many innocent victims. We have seen the collapse of many large businesses and the untimely fall of many smaller independent ones too. We have seen the devastation for couples as their wedding days have been postponed. We have witnessed the sheer panic and anxiety that being unable to work brings to those that are self employed and those who have large families. We have also seen people lose their jobs altogether. The struggle is real, we all know that – but we are all in this together.

Everything right now is extremely uncertain, and yes, it’s worrying not knowing what lies ahead and how long it will take the world and our country to recover. However, we do know this – we will recover. It may seem daunting now, but when this is all over people will pull together to do everything they can to get the world back on it’s feet and businesses up and running again. We know that theatres will reopen and holidays abroad will be had – it will just take a little time. This is not forever, this is just for now.

The human race is a wonderful thing. When people pull together, we really pull together. As human beings we can create joy – and that’s just what we’ve been doing during this terrible time, and what we will continue to do after this is all over. (Let’s not mention the small margin of individuals who haven’t been listening to the rules however…)

First of all, I need to highlight the absolute superhuman power of the NHS. They are official superheroes in my eyes. For people to put their own lives at risk in order to save others is the most heroic thing I can possibly think of. In all honesty, these people haven’t had a choice and they’ve not turned their backs on the country, they have ploughed on with determination and vigor. These people deserve everything and more. (Make sure that you’re joining in with the Thursday 8pm clap from your windows and front doors too!) Thank you doesn’t even cover what we should be saying to the NHS and it’s workers. You are utterly incredible. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

NHS Heroes Rainbow

The generosity and bravery of human beings that I have seen throughout lockdown has been absolutely overwhelming.

  • Volunteers working for the NHS to phone the vulnerable, collect shopping and deliver food.
  • Supermarket workers absolutely working their socks off to make sure that shops are continually stocked.
  • Industry professionals (this is relevant to my industry) holding live Q&A sessions and online workshops for performers for free.
  • Performers holding online dance classes and workouts for free.
  • Volunteers making scrubs, wash bags and  face masks for NHS workers.
  • School teachers and staff members keeping schools open so key worker’s children can still attend.
  • Nearly 100 year old Captain Tom Moore raising over £26 million by walking laps of his garden for the NHS.
  • Youtube channels doing 24 hour live streams to raise money for the NHS.

The list goes on and there are so many to mention. Thank you to everyone for their spirit, love and generosity during this time. You have no idea how these acts of bravery and kindness effect the rest of the country. These are the beacons of light that we need during this time.

What have I been doing during lockdown?

You may ask. Well, I am using this time to try and work on various things for myself. Yes, I have lost the majority of my work because I am self employed, so I am now relying on Universal Credit payments, of which I receive my first one at the end of this month. I am also very lucky that my fiancé is working from home and being paid his normal wage (for now).

Working From Home

As I said above, I am 100% self employed so have lost the majority of my work. I am very lucky to have found work that I can do from home to help keep afloat financially. I am teaching English to (mostly Chinese) students online through a company called iTutor. It’s not the most money in the world and there are certain times of the day I can’t tutor due to the time difference, but something is better than nothing! You need a degree to be able to do it and there is lots of training involved but it’s well worth it! If anyone wants to know more about iTutor, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I have also been lucky enough to continue to teach private singing lessons, but via Skype. Both jobs are helping me to keep focused and feel like I can still be productive and engage with others.

Industry/Performing/Acting

I have been taking this time to look into various ways that I can stay active in the industry whilst I am at home. I have been working on selftapes, my Spotlight CV, research into the industry and joining lots of live chats with Casting Directors to try and get some hints and tips for improving my castability during this time. I am also hoping to put out some more singing videos to try and get myself “out there” too. (Ironically, as I was in the middle of writing this blog, Bobby surprised me with a professional microphone! I am so shocked because I wasn’t expecting anything! Can’t wait to try it out! Eek!) I’m sure I’m not alone in doing this! I personally feel that this is the prime time to utilise this isolation period for the better. I know some people are using this time to take the pressure off themselves and to have some downtime, and that’s is absolutely fine. Each to their own. You need to use this time in the way it suits you best.

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Exercise

I am making sure that I am exercising every day and leaving the house for my once a day allocated exercise outside too. I find that doing exercise makes me feel 100% better and getting outside for fresh air really does help to lift my spirit. The last thing I want is to feel like I’ve got cabin fever from being trapped inside my (not so big) flat everyday. As I’m sure you’re all aware, Joe Wicks has been doing “PE With Joe” Monday – Friday and it’s great! It’s not just for kids and if you haven’t tried it yet, definitely give it a go! You don’t have to do it live with him at 9am if you’re not able to, because they’re all available on his Youtube channel. I have so many friends in the industry who are doing live dance classes online too. I’m yet to get involved with taking any of these classes, but I definitely will be getting on it soon! Get active people!

Socialising

More than ever I’m sure everyone is all over the video call button on Whatsapp! I have never in my life videoed people more! Zoom and Skype are great ways to video numerous people at once too. Having a video chat is the best way to check in with friends and family too, just to see each others faces is a definite mood booster. The best we’re going to get when we can’t physically hug them! It’s important that you check in with friends and family generally, because you don’t know who might be struggling and who needs to talk to a friendly face. We have also been doing lots of quizzes with family and friends and playing games online. We have found that playingcards.io has a version of Cards Against Humanity. It comes under a slightly different name (probably due to copyright reasons) but it’s an excellent way to socialise with friends. I have also become a massive TikTok addict… I never in my life thought this would happen. After hearing the kids I teach every weekend going on and on about TikTok I thought it was just for kids, but I have found myself watching the videos constantly and even recreating some of my own. It is giving me life! It is absurdly addictive and a lot of fun.

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General Downtime

I’m sure the whole country can relate when I say I’ve been watching a lot of programmes! We’re definitely making use of Netflix and Disney+ (which if you haven’t got, it’s absolutely worth the investment!). I get a very weird sense of satisfaction when I finish a series because I can tick it off my list. I’m sure most people feel like they’ve actually completed Netflix at this point! I have also been playing The Sims 4, which to me, is a timeless/ageless game. I know I’m 29 years old, but I LOVE IT. You can wile away hours (unintentionally) on The Sims and you can socialise vicariously through them too haha! Reading is also a great way to spend some time away from the screen if you feel you’ve been doing too much of that. I’m in the process of working my way through a very long book that I’ve been trying to finish for a while, so there’s a little goal for myself.

Doing jobs around the house

Not the most desirable for everyone, but my flat is gleaming! We have completely stayed on top of all of our jobs in the flat. I’ve even made time to do things like defrost the freezer, which I’m so glad I did! We can fit so much more in there now. Bobby has even cleaned the oven today, which has been in desperate need of doing for a while. It does feel good to get jobs done that have needed to be done for ages!

What have I learned during lockdown?

For me personally, lockdown hasn’t been as bad as it could have been. I have spent time reflecting on what’s important and I’ve found that really valuable. As much as you know how much your family and friends mean to you, knowing that you’re not allowed to see them really puts it into perspective how much you need them in your life. Relationships are so important and spending time videoing everyone has been so wholesome and lovely. I have also learned that I can always find something to do. Things that don’t involve watching Netflix or being on Instagram. There’s always something lovely to do that I may have taken for granted before, like colouring and going for a walk around my local area. One good thing that lockdown has brought to Bobby and I, is that we’ve taken it upon ourselves to explore our local area on our walks. We have found so many beautiful places close by that we didn’t know existed. I’m staying positive and everything that I’ve been doing has helped contribute to that. I can only keep moving forwards as I am and take each day at a time. I was very sad at the beginning because I’ve had to cancel wedding related appointments such as, trying on wedding dresses for the first time. However, I have to remember that they can be rescheduled and everything will be ok in the end. Life still goes on.

The last thing I want to mention is I saw a very poignant quote the other day which I’m going to leave with you. Interpret it as you will…

Quote

Stay safe, stay at home and protect the NHS ♥

 

 

It only takes a taste…

As a type 1 diabetic, I strive for the most perfect blood glucose results on a daily basis. It’s very hard to get it right. There are so many factors that are beyond my control which affect my blood glucose levels. Some of these things you wouldn’t even think would affect it: heat, altitude, emotions, exercise and alcohol – just to name a few. As I’m only human, I can’t always get it right – but I do try to get as close to.

A short while ago I had an appointment with the Diabetologist at the hospital in regards to a general check up, and to see where I was at with my HBA1c. Annoyingly for me, my HBA1c had gone up a bit (which is the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve right now). I was advised to inject an extra unit of Levemir (basal, long acting insulin) in a morning to see if that could help with some afternoon spikes that I’d been experiencing.

As much as I have been trying to inject Novorapid (bolus, fast acting insulin) 10-15 minutes before my meals, it’s not always possible due to being at work, or the time frame I may have to eat in. However, I try my absolute best to get it in 10-15 minutes beforehand. For any of you who aren’t diabetic or living with diabetes, injecting 10-15 minutes before eating allows your insulin time to start working, which lowers the after food spikes you might experience, therefore keeping your blood glucose levels more in range. (Unless you’re using a type of insulin that works even quicker than Novorapid).

After being advised to inject an extra unit of Levemir in the morning, I went ahead the following day and did just that. Now, I don’t know if this was absolute fluke or not, but something shifted and I had the best 5 days of blood glucose results I think I have ever experienced since being diagnosed.

I mean, yes, there are a couple that are out of my range, and the odd hypo in there too, but overall these results blew my mind. How had increasing my Levemir by one unit changed this so drastically? I felt completely incredible. I was doing everything else the same. I was going to the gym, eating out, drinking alcohol etc. All things that definitely have an affect on your blood glucose levels and control. So, why was it so controlled all of a sudden?

I’m not joking, but after those 5 days, everything seemed to go a little off piste and I haven’t seen results like that since. (Well, not that many times anyway!) If anyone can explain what went on, then please, be my guest.

I really did think that the tiny adjustment of Levemir had created that immense change, but that’s definitely not the case. How and why did it happen? It really goes to show that diabetes is a confusing and unpredictable condition to manage. The feeling of utter deflation after those 5 days as my results started to shift away from being so tight, is indescribable. It was like I’d had a taste of something quite marvelous, that was then all of a sudden snatched away. Don’t get me wrong, my blood glucose levels aren’t all over the joint insane or anything, because I do really try to take good care of myself. However, they just aren’t ever that tight for that many days in a row.

Why don’t you go low carb or carb free in order to stop those spikes? Some people may ask me. Well, I tried that and I found I had 0% energy because I am quite active. I need carbs to burn off so I can be as active as I am. That’s me personally, anyway. I know of quite a few type 1s who stick to a low carb diet and it completely works for them. It’s definitely each to their own.

Keeping as in control of my blood glucose levels is extremely important to me. Obviously, I want to venture into later life without complications and with avoiding any awful repercussions from living with diabetes for so long. I am determined to stay well. I don’t want to sacrifice anything in my life that I enjoy in order to micro manage my diabetes. I really don’t think micro managing is healthy as it allows your diabetes to take over your entire life. It becomes you and diabetes definitely does not define me, nor does it make decisions for what I can and can’t do. I have always stuck by the thought that “my diabetes doesn’t rule me, I rule it.” 

As much as seeing those results blew my mind, I am now determined to recreate those days and I’m constantly adjusting and trying different things in order to see what the outcome is. Diabetes is definitely baffling. For one small moment I really did think that I’d cracked it. I think it was definitely diabetes playing a little game with me. I really do want to make it clear that obviously, you can’t be “perfect” all the time. You are definitely not alone in this endeavour. There are so many of us striving for perfection and it’s never going to be that easy I suppose. Keep your chin up, talk to each other and soldier on. Remember, the diabetes community is supportive. We are all riding these waves together and we don’t always get it right. At the end of the day, we are only human.

 

 

Hello 2020

Well, 2019 certainly passed in the blink of an eye didn’t it? Happy New Year everyone!

To say the least 2019 was definitely an interesting year for me. My highlight of the year was obviously getting engaged to my gorgeous now fiancé! Something I wasn’t expecting in the slightest, but it definitely made my year extremely special. The second best thing to happen in 2019 was being approved for the FreeStyle Libre. Having this handy little bit of kit has definitely improved my well-being and the way I can control my diabetes. I really would hate to go back to finger pricking now, for me it would feel like a total step backwards.

However, 2019 was definitely my worst year yet for acting. I have never felt so deflated in all my life and although I was getting auditions, I just wasn’t booking any jobs. When this happened I went through such a wave of emotions. I was frustrated, upset, angry and in a constant state of self doubt. I really try not to let these feelings last for long because I’m quite good at letting things go and staying driven. It’s just made me more determined than ever to succeed in my career goals this year! I’m hoping that now I’ve had my awful year now, that it won’t be happening again. I definitely won’t let that happen again! Onwards and upwards is all I can say, bring on 2020 and a positive move forward.

What are my New Year’s resolutions?

I have 3 main goals and resolutions for this year. Mostly, my resolutions every year are a continuation from the following year. I always strive to succeed in whatever I do and my resolutions are always based upon further improving myself and bettering what I’ve already done.

1. To sing and dance more.

I feel I need to get myself seen and heard more. I sing a lot when I’m in the house and I teach private singing lessons, so I’m always singing so to speak, but I feel I need to be singing more publicly. I’m going to start recording more singing videos and posting them online and not being too self critical to do it! I’ll most likely be posting on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook so do look out for anything that pops up, and hopefully, give it a like! I’m going to make a huge effort to attend more dance classes too. I have never been and will never be the world’s best dancer, but half of my degree was dance based and I loved it. I love dancing and I really do need to continue to improve my technique and build my confidence so I’ll feel more comfortable in any dance based auditions. Like I said, I love dancing so it’s a shame not to do it more often. This year, that’s going to change!

2. To update my showreel.

My acting showreel desperately needs updating and I just need to get it done! I know what I want on my reel and I know who is going to film it and put it together for me. I just need to get the material in place. I’ve taken the plunge to write my own material so I can tailor it to what I want my reel to show off. I’ve written my own material before and it’s always seemed to go down well. Seeing as I enjoy writing (well, I wouldn’t be blogging if I didn’t!) and I’ve had positive feedback for it, I might as well put it to good use! Get it done, Emma!

3. To continue to improve my HBA1c.

Keeping my diabetes in check and under as consistent control as possible is very important to me. I am determined not to end up with any horrible complications. Since having my Libre my HBA1c has improved. Seeing the improvement was such a happy moment for me and I’d love to continue in the right direction. It might take a little more micro-managing my levels, but I am willing to do that in order to improve my overall control. I’m not going to try a low carb diet again because it just didn’t work for me due to the amount of exercise I do and constantly being on the go. I just need to make sure I’m endeavouring to inject 15 mins before I’m eating to try and reduce those post meal spikes that are surely not helping anything!

All in all, my resolutions will hopefully aid me in moving forward with both my career and my diabetes. Like I always say, I am so determined to succeed.

Acting and diabetes aside, 2020 is going to be a very busy year! I can officially say that I am getting married next year! EEE! The amount of organisation that is going into our wedding is immense. We have so many things to arrange and sort out and it all definitely takes time. We’re getting married up North in York so there’s definitely going to be a lot of trips up and down the country in order to meet with various suppliers for consultations and appointments. So far, I think we’re in a very good place with what we’ve booked and paid deposits for. I will definitely have a couple of wedding related blogs coming up as we get closer to the time. For anyone else getting married in the near future after my wedding I’ll make sure to list all the suppliers we used in a blog post.

I have so many weddings and hen dos to go to this year too! We were going to go on holiday this year but due to the amount of time we’re spending going away for bits and bobs, it’s looking like our next holiday will be our Honeymoon! We haven’t decided on where we want to go yet, but I will definitely be needing some pampering and relaxation by then. If anyone has any recommendations for places, do please throw them my way!

Last but not least, 2020 is the year that sees me turn 30! How am I turning 30 this year?! That is a scary thought to say the least. I see lots of 30th birthday parties happening this year and next, so that’s all yet to come too! I have a little thought about a particular activity that I might like to do for Diabetes UK to celebrate my 30th birthday at the end of the year… but I’ll keep that one under wraps for now!

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2020 let’s be having you!

 

 

How do you measure your happiness?

I was having a chat with one of my performer friends recently and she said she’d recently had a realisation. She has become aware that she measures her happiness on how successful she is at the time. Her recent epiphany has made her realise that her measure of happiness shouldn’t be based on how “successful” she is. To be honest, I can relate to this because I definitely do this sometimes too.

I don’t mean I’m constantly unhappy whenever I’m not acting, but it does get me down, yes. However, I do know that I have a lot of other great things going on in my life that do make me extremely happy.

What makes someone successful in the performance industry?

It’s really difficult to be in the performance industry and try to shut off that switch in your head that stops you from comparing yourself to others. You know you shouldn’t do it, but you really can’t stop yourself. There has been countless times where I’ve watched someone else’s journey and thought things like “God, they’re doing so well, I wish that was me” or “I wish I was as successful as them”.

What really is success though?

Is success getting job after job and absolutely thriving? Is success nailing an audition? Is success keeping strong whilst you’re going through a dry spell? I really do think success is all of those things, it’s just the way that you look at it.

How do we measure success on a scale?

Obviously, there are different levels of success, despite what level of success you’re riding on, doesn’t mean that you’re not successful. I really do have to remind myself of this sometimes.

Being completely honest, this year has been the worst and most difficult year for me in terms of acting work. I’ve been put forward for tonnes of jobs, I’ve had loads of auditions, done heaps of self tapes and how many of those jobs have I gotten this year? None. I did do a voiceover for some students at the very start of the year, but that’s it. I’m not going to lie, but it’s really gotten to me. I’ve felt very unsuccessful this year and it really isn’t a nice way to feel. HOWEVER, I need to start looking at it differently. Just because I haven’t gotten any of these jobs, doesn’t mean I’m unsuccessful. At the end of the day, I know I’m good at what I do and I’ve gotten the auditions to get myself seen, so that’s a start. I’ve attended every audition and recorded every self tape to the best of my ability and have come out feeling happy with what I’d presented. That counts towards my success too. Above all, I’ve carried on, I’ve held my head high and I’ve continued my journey. Yes, I’ve gotten upset over not getting any of the jobs this year, but I’ve let that sad feeling pass and I’ve carried on. I have to remind myself that although it isn’t the type of success that I am striving for, what I’m doing should still be viewed as success.

What has helped me on this journey of enlightenment, is talking to others and being completely honest about what my year has been like. I shouldn’t be feeling ashamed about my lack of work, because it’s not just me who is dealing with this. I’m not the first and I certainly won’t be the last.

In the media recently actor Katie Jarvis was ridiculed for working as a security guard for B&M after recently playing Hayley Slater in Eastenders. Does this make her unsuccessful? Absolutely not! At the end of the day, like most working class actors Katie has bills to pay, she has food to buy and children to look after. If an acting job hasn’t come her way, she’s not going to sit on the sofa waiting for a call from her agent. She’s going to go out there and get a resting job in order to keep the money coming in. She is a normal human being and she’s just trying to get by. Luckily, what felt like the entirety of the performance industry on Twitter completely got behind Katie by listing their resting jobs too, despite how successful they have been or are at the moment. It was a very liberating and clarifying time. We’ve all got to work hard for what we want and there is no shame in not having a performing job all of the time. You’ve got to work hard for what you want.

Looking at success in a different way isn’t going to make me complacent about achieving my goals. It’s about focusing my mind in order to tell myself that I am doing well. I am still constantly working hard to achieve my goals and I will continue with determination and resilience. This year has just been a tough one, but I am positive that things can only go up from here. Onwards and upwards to a different type of success in 2020.

 

 

The struggle is real.

So, not that long ago I felt really sad. I wasn’t depressed or anything of the sort, but I was just feeling so deflated and down about the lack of acting work in my life. I’m a big believer that you have to work hard to achieve your goals, and that things don’t happen for you if you spend your time sitting on your arse. Working hard is something I’ve always done and I’ve never once expected to be handed anything on a plate without working hard to earn it first.

This feeling started back in July this year. I went up for a casting that, on paper, was absolutely me to a T. I worked so hard on the initial self tape and was called in for the audition. I was kept right to the end after they had culled plenty of people throughout the day and I left feeling extremely confident that I’d gotten it. I knew that I’d done a great job and that’s something you have to let yourself be aware of in this industry. You need to acknowledge your achievements and recognise your success in order to help yourself grow. I received an email not long after the audition to say that I had been unsuccessful because “I didn’t fit right with the group of women they’ve cast.” They praised my acting abilities in the email highly and even said they would love to work with me in the future, which was a positive for me, at least.

However, what really hit me was the word “fit“, I didn’t “fit” right. Now, you may be thinking that this is something that actors hear regularly, but I feel like I hear it A LOT. It honestly does make me question what that really means. Don’t I fit because of the way I look, my hair colour, my height, my body shape? Or is it because they don’t see me gelling with the rest of the cast? It’s extremely hard because I’ll probably never know what the real answer is and that really can start to grind you down. How can I improve on making myself fit in when I don’t know the reason I don’t fit in the first place?

Usually, I’m really great at taking rejection because I’ve grown a particularly thick skin over the years throughout the pursuits of my career. I usually get a bit upset regarding the rejection at the time and then immediately bounce back because, well, tomorrow is a new day and all. However, this one really got to me.

I had a string of auditions and self tapes that followed that audition, all which amounted to nothing, which really didn’t help my low mood. I knew that I’d done my absolute best too, which makes it even harder to deal with. I know that I’m not right for every part but a slew of rejections one after another really can be difficult. As an actor the struggle really is very real. I actually heard a statistic not long ago that said that 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems, but for actors it’s 1 in 3. This really does reflect on the difficulties and hardship that the industry can bring and the impact it truly has on an individual. Like I said, I have an extremely thick skin and do bounce back quickly, but for everyone, that’s really not the case. This is why actors really do need support.

When you haven’t had a job for a while one of the worst things you can be asked is a question from a muggle along the lines of “what’ve you been in recently?” or “have you been in anything I would have seen?” The questions that literally fill you with dread and make you feel tiny when you have to answer them. It shouldn’t, but sometimes it can make you doubt your own abilities – especially when you get given a look of pity by someone who then assumes you must be awful at what you do if you haven’t been on the telly.

I know I’ve chosen to put myself through this competitive career path, but in all honestly, I don’t have the passion for anything else like I have the passion for performing. Doing anything else really would leave me feeling empty and unfulfilled and I can’t live my life knowing that I regret my choices. So, I choose to soldier on, stay determined and drive my mind in the right direction – towards my success.

I thought of the best way to get my spirits back up and it was just to stay active in the industry. I immediately started applying for acting jobs myself, looking for workshops and writing new scenes for my showreel. I’ve since booked in a voice over workshop, which I’m extremely looking forward to too.

Another thing that helped me bounce back was remembering I’m really not alone. I had a huge chat with my best friend Loren, who is also an actor. She’s been feeling the struggle too, so knowing we are sailing along in that little boat together, really does bring comfort to the two of us.

Also, upon recommendation I started listening to The 98% podcast. I can honestly say, it is the most relatable thing I have ever listened to and identified with in my entire life. The podcast is ran by two actors Alexa Morden and Katie Elin Salt who literally discuss the realities of the acting industry if you’re part of the 98% of us who don’t make your overall income from acting work. I have never nodded along and agreed with anything more and I highly recommend any actor to listen to it. So massive shout out to The 98% right there!

What this low patch and lull has taught me is never to underestimate my abilities. We all have these awful periods where things just don’t seem to go right, but it doesn’t mean you’re any less talented. Samuel L Jackson didn’t get his first movie role until he was 52 for goodness sake!

I’m still in a limbo of no acting work right now, but I am feeling a lot better about it. I am a huge believer in “everything happens for a reason” and I know that I have to go through many trials and tribulations before I will ultimately reach my goal. I have to stay driven and focused because if I work hard enough, I know my time will come.

 

 

 

 

Libre libre libre!

What an awful blogger I’ve been as of late. I must admit, I’ve been really busy and just haven’t found the time to sit down and write. So for that, I sincerely apologise. However, I’m feeling extremely under the weather today and I’ve had to call in sick at work. But at least this gives me a chance to feel sorry for myself, lounge on the sofa and actually write something. I want to let you know how I’ve been getting on with the FreeStyle Libre!

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I don’t think I’ve previously written about having the Libre, but YES I finally have it! I was initially referred to the Diabetic Specialist Nurse (DSN) to put forward my case and she completely agreed that on the grounds of my job, and the amount I was testing my blood sugar per day, I absolutely should fit the criteria to be eligible. Initially, on the 5th April 2019, I was put on a 2 month trial period which was funded by the hospital. The DSN then submitted my application to my Doctor and the waiting game began. I was told that the Libre would just appear on my online prescription if it had been approved. Believe me, I checked that online prescription tonnes! Eventually, towards the end of the 2 month trial I logged onto my online prescription and low and behold, there it bloody well was! Ecstatic doesn’t quite explain just how elated I was to see that my application had been approved!

4 months down the line and I can definitely say that this little piece of technology is really making a huge difference to my life.

Before I got the Libre I was absolutely desperate for it. It did cross my mind however, that I wasn’t sure about whether I would like something permanently attached to my arm. I’ve never had a pump or anything of the sort, because I use injection pens. So I literally had no idea what it would be like. It was a bit of a worry for me that I could potentially fight for something and be approved and then hate it. However, that definitely has not been the case.

The majority of the time I forget that it’s even on my arm because I literally can’t feel a thing. I’m not bothered about it being on show either and I have gotten the odd comment from someone not knowing what it is. I also definitely clock people pointing at my arm and whispering to each other. Which, to be honest, I find quite amusing. If you want to know what it is, then just ask me!

Like I said, the comments don’t bother me and I’m not conscious about it whatsoever. I wear my Libre with pride, knowing that it’s literally changing my life.

You have to change the sensors every 14 days and the app actually reminds you how long your sensor has left. My sensors stick to me like limpets too, so I don’t have to worry about applying anything over the top of them to hold them in place.

For anyone who doesn’t have a Libre, you really need to fight for it. It’s insanely intelligent equipment and it opens you up to whole new avenues of control. I love the fact that I can scan my Libre sensor with my phone. It makes it so accessible and I always have my phone on me, which is extremely efficient. You can choose not to have it on your phone and just use the reader, but for me using my phone is so much easier.

The main function of the Libre that I have found extremely eye-opening is that it displays a graph of your readings. Whenever you scan it and it gives you your BG reading, it has an arrow next to it to show you where your blood sugar is going. For example, if I scan my sensor and I see an upwards arrow, I know that my blood sugar is likely to go quite high. I can therefore do a correction injection and stop it from going as high as it would have done, therefore cutting off the spike. It works exactly the same way with preventing hypos too. You can stop it from happening before it does.

Obviously the Libre hasn’t made my diabetes an easy ride, but it’s definitely contributed positively towards my overall control. Now that I’ve got it, I wouldn’t want to go back to finger prick testing for good. Since having the Libre too, I’ve managed to get my HBA1c down from 7.5% (58mmols) to 7.1% (54mmols) which has been my best HBA1c since I was diagnosed! It’s still not perfect, but I’m definitely moving in the right direction.

 

Psychological and Emotional Support

Finally! My third and final blog from Diabetes UK Professional Conference -Psychological and Emotional Support with Type 1 diabetes.

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If you ask any Type 1 whether it is psychologically and emotionally taxing living with diabetes I think it’s safe to say 99.9% would answer yes. There’s an awful lot more to living with diabetes than meets the eye. As a Type 1 myself, I don’t think people understand the emotional demands diabetes actually creates in our day to day lives. I can confidently say that my diabetes has made me feel happy, sad, angry, frustrated, surprised and deflated just to name a few. It’s like you’re on a constant roller-coaster of emotion and you know you’re never going to get off of that roller-coaster.

Everyone deals with the roller-coaster differently and some are much better at that than others. During DUKPC Yvonne Doherty stated that; “Emotion is part of being human. It’s normal. Add in the burden of diabetes and there’s going to be heightened emotions. Emotions are fundamental to the human experience.”

Dealing with an extreme level of heightened emotions brought on by diabetes can be tremendously exhausting and it can really begin to affect you psychologically. People are wired differently and their outlook on life will be completely different to someone else’s. I like to think of myself as a very strong and confident woman. I do have some down days where diabetes really does test me, but I do find it easy to pick myself back up and carry on fighting. I guess being an Actor helps in abundance with that too as you deal with rejection quite frequently, and you learn to get over it and move on. However, that’s just me personally though. I don’t say this like it’s easy, it’s still challenging. I guess I just deal with it quite well. (Or so I like to think!)

I have heard from numerous Type 1s that during their diabetes appointments no-one ever asks questions like; “How are you actually doing?”, “How are you feeling emotionally?”, “How does your diabetes affect you psychologically?” I can vouch for this, as I don’t think I have ever been asked these questions myself either. Which when you think about it – it’s really quite concerning.

Yvonne Doherty talked openly about creating a House of Care which needs to be implemented into the system. She said “what we really need to do is to create a house of care that has emotional and psychological care at the heart of it.” I’m very sure that having that emotional and psychological support system in place within a diabetes capacity would certainly be beneficial. It would help to provide a more well rounded approach to diabetes. Not only focusing on the insulin calculations, the blood glucose readings and the HBA1c outcomes, but focusing on you as a person too.

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For Type 1s with existing mental health conditions and diabetes there needs to be something put in place to support these individuals. It’s very difficult when you have diabetes and any other comorbidity because appointments are separated. There isn’t a through-line that covers all bases for the individuals needs. It’s as if the individual is seen as various different cases, opposed to one person who is dealing with multiple branches.

What I feel is extremely important when it comes to diabetes and psychological and emotional support is simply having a strong support system around you. Taking medical professionals out of the equation it’s so important to surround yourself with family, your partner, friends and other type 1s who really can keep you grounded and always offer a safe space to unburden yourself. I am extremely lucky to say that I have the most supportive family, fiancé and friends that I could ever ask for. They are always there to lend an ear if I need to talk about anything and they always make sure that I’m doing ok.

I also find that the online community of Type 1s is an extremely important group to be a part of. We are all in the same boat and it’s fantastic to see how supportive the community really is. There is always someone available to offer advice and support when necessary. It’s also great to see how the community sticks together in the face of negativity. Here’s an example…

I only found out in my last appointment with my Diabetic Specialist Nurse the reason as to why I’m supposed to inject 10-15 minutes before food. I’ve always injected after food out of fear that I would inject first and for some reason not be able to finish all my food – therefore resulting in a hypo later on. My DSN told me the reason for injecting beforehand is to cut down the after food spikes because my insulin takes 10-15 minutes to work. I can honestly say in my 12 and a half years of living with diabetes, no one has ever told me that before. Obviously I was shocked by my new revelation and posted a tweet on Twitter. I had a lot of responses to this tweet which were a mixed bag of supportive, people letting me know they already knew that and some people who didn’t. Then there was one. One particular tweet that really sparked fury in me and the other Type 1s. The tweet was supposedly from a “Dr” and it read, “A high carb diet is not as necessary as breathing air. If you want to keep your legs cut the carbs. Injecting insulin will cause increased insulin resistance.” Absolutely appalling. Why on Earth would you say something as insensitive as that to a whole community of Type 1s?! Is it any wonder that we are challenged mentally every day when we also have to deal with comments like this?

When you are living with an autoimmune condition that you know could potentially lead to some horrible complications, you really don’t need people making comments like that. I am so determined to live a long and healthy life and avoid any possibility of developing further complications due to diabetes. The thought that I might is always there and yes, it is very scary. For some, the fear of potential future complications is the most terrifying thing. That fear can really mess with you.

It’s important to talk about your feelings and it’s even more important that people ask you about them too. You should always feel like you are in a position to share your emotions. I find it extremely cathartic to talk about how I’m feeling and how diabetes may affect me on a day to day basis. I would never bottle up how I feel because I ultimately wouldn’t be able to cope with that overwhelming sensation. So, if there’s anything I can offer to any Type 1s who need a little helping hand when it comes to emotional and psychological factors, this is what I’d say:

  1. Talk. Don’t bottle things up, really try to open up to your medical team, family member, partner or friend who you trust. It’s so important to talk because without it there can be no communication for how you’re really feeling.
  2. Surround yourselves with positive people. These should be the people who care about you. The people who want to know how you’re doing and who are always willing to listen. They should also want to see you live your best life.
  3. Get involved with the online community and speak to likeminded people. Remember, we are all dealing with this together so who better to talk to than the people who know exactly what you’re talking about.

If you are ever concerned about your own mental well being or that of a friend/family member/partner then do contact your/their medical team. Like I always say, I am no medical professional, I only offer my own advice. I am always available to talk to if anyone needs an ear too.

 

Eating disorders and disordered eating

Finally, I’ve managed to get round to writing my second blog based on the talks I attended at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference. This blog focuses on eating disorders and disordered eating in occurrence with diabetes.

Speaking very openly and honestly, I can safely say that I have never had any experience with an eating disorder or disordered eating. If anything, I love food too much! I am a huge foodie, so having an issue with food is not something that I’ve ever struggled with. Of course, as we are all only human, we all have our body hang ups and it’s accurate to say that I have mine too.

When it comes to something so tender as eating disorders you really do have to be careful about how you approach it. It’s also not something that people are willingly open to speaking about. Some people reading this will probably think “Well, how can she comment if it’s never happened to her?” Rightly so, I haven’t got any experience to draw from, but I can always express my thoughts. I know of a few friends and acquaintances who have had experience with eating disorders. Some who have battled through it all tremendously and others who are still living with the demons of it today. However, before attending DUKPC I had never met a type 1 who had experience with eating disorders – or at least, not to my knowledge.

When I decided to attend this talk I felt like I was attending it more out of curiosity over anything else. I knew it wouldn’t upset me on a personal level, but I knew that whatever I was going to hear was going to move me emotionally. I was 100% right about that.

I want to start with the term “diabulimia”. For most of you, this term is probably completely alien to you. Funnily enough, it isn’t a medically recognised term despite it being a real eating disorder. Diabulimia is an eating disorder in which people with type 1 deliberately give themselves much less insulin than they actually need, or completely stop giving themselves insulin all together. This is all focused on the intention of losing weight – which inevitably will happen without insulin on board.

I really want to draw attention to an incredible talk by a wonderful woman by the name of Lynsey. (Who has just triumphantly completed the London Marathon! Well done Lynsey!) Lynsey bravely spoke about her experience with omitting her insulin injections in order to lose weight at DUKPC. Her talk was so candid and honest and I was extremely moved by her openness.

Lynsey was diagnosed at quite a young age. Her parents had a really good understanding of diabetes so her levels were always really well controlled, and she would often get praised at school by teachers who would commend her on how well she dealt with it. As she got a little bit older classmates would begin to make comments such as “Why are you injecting yourself in front of people? That’s disgusting!” The more comments she got the more it made her think about not injecting. One day she didn’t inject and realised that nothing bad had happened – she wasn’t dead and she still managed to get on with her day. A few years later she put two and two together and made the link between not taking insulin and losing weight. Lynsey was around 16 years of age then, so much more conscious of her appearance. It wasn’t until she went to University that things really started to get out of hand. Due to the rapid weight loss, Lynsey was receiving loads of comments from friends telling her how amazing she looked and how much weight she seemed to have lost. These comments became a source of motivation and a boost to her confidence. Unbeknown to Lynsey she had no idea what she was actually doing to herself and her body.

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Lynsey became so unwell that she didn’t want to get out of bed and spiraled into depression which she was given anti-depressants for. It was never addressed that she had diabetes when she was seen for the depression. There was no link made there, however Lynsey now knows that her relationship with diabetes caused it.

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Even after graduating from University Lynsey was still omitting her insulin in order to continue her weight loss.

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It seems quite clear that throughout Lynsey’s ordeal with diabulimia, no-one ever asked her if she was still taking her insulin. It’s actually unbelievable. Unfortunately, due to Lynsey’s lack of care towards her diabetes during the time, she is now living with complications due to her actions.

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As you can see from the image above Lynsey is now registered partially sighted and has no peripheral vision. The vision she does have left isn’t great, but the doctors did all they could to save the remaining vision. She is very lucky.

All this to lose weight. Diabetes honestly is a condition that doesn’t get given enough credit for it’s severity. It’s often poked fun at by people and used as a stimulus for food related jokes which I am strongly against. The seriousness of Lynsey’s story really does go to show how abusing your diabetes really doesn’t do you any favours later in life. I’m sure if young Lynsey could have looked into the future and seen what she was going to have to live with, she would have thought twice about her actions and sought help. What’s baffling to me, is that not one person asked her about taking her insulin. The mind just boggles. Saying all this, Lynsey is such an inspirational woman and although I haven’t known her for very long, I am proud of the journey she has taken in order to turn her life around. She is now a motivational speaker in regards to diabulimia and has recorded a few videos about it with Diabetes UK. You can see her ‘Recovering from diabulimia’ video here.

There was another discussion in the talk from Dr Simon Chapman. He spoke about how inadvertently doctors are not helping when it comes to diabetes and eating disorders.

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He actually commented that he feels that “the scrutiny I am forcing patients to do can be causing a negative affect.” I understand where he is coming from here. When you have diabetes you are constantly thinking about food, carbohydrate contents, numbers, nutritional information, weight gain or weight loss. I can see why you could easily become obsessed with this information and take it to the extreme. I really wouldn’t agree that doctors are causing the problem though.

All in all, the talk was strongly informative and I was particularly moved by the personal account from Lynsey. As I said before, although I have never experienced an eating disorder or any form of disordered eating, I can still understand what I am told about it. For anyone who is struggling to understand why someone would put themselves under such severe pressure and strain, think of it like this – “You find yourself in the grip of this larger power which starts off small and gradually takes over.”

Diabulimia does exist. It needs to be recognised and things need to be done to make it stop. It took 6 years before something was done for Lynsey. Lynsey herself wouldn’t want to see anyone else go through what she went through. Follow Lynsey on Twitter @T1Diabolical

Remember: if you think you or anyone you know is suffering from any form of eating disorder please contact your medical team in order to gain the help you/they need. Thank you.