Review // Benefit Puff Off

I'm a sucker for cute packaging, so when I saw the first images of Benefit's new release Puff Off, it was love at first sight! As fate would have it, a few days later, a tube was popped through my letterbox which cheered me up no end! 
Puff Off is an eye gel designed to brighten up the under eye area and smooth away the adorably-described "puffies" (under eye bags to you and me!) through the use of the super cute iron applicator. To apply the light pink gel, just squeeze the tube and dot under each eye, before returning to smooth it with the iron. Be warned: The iron is very, very cold! Of course this is a positive as it helps soothe tired eyes but brace yourself! It's also really easy to use as you just glide it over the skin as you would an actual iron. Simple! (I wouldn't recommend gliding an actual iron over your skin!)

On application, the gel is cool and soft, quickly absorbing into the skin and creating a subtle shimmer. This light-reflecting quality helps to hide the appearance of, in my case, redness under the eye from late nights spent on the internet. I know, it's all rock n roll in my life! As it absorbs so quickly, it's easy to apply make up over the top or, if you prefer, you can apply over make up and blend with your fingertips. It also has a really pleasing floral scent. I adore scented products, but that's something to keep an eye on if you prefer your beauty products to be non-perfumed.

Although I don't get under eye bags or puffiness, so can't comment on the effectiveness of hiding them, Puff Off has worked wonders to disguise my tell-tale redness, making me look more alert and awake, even if I feel anything but! Besides, who can say no to novelty packaging that is practical as well as adorable?

Therapy Diaries // CBT Session 3

I'm almost halfway through my sessions of CBT already and that absolutely terrifies me! Luckily, I can see some real progress already so I'm hoping things will continue to improve.

I was a lot less nervous this week, since my last session was such a huge improvement on the first. I'd had a bit of a meltdown the day before, when I heard Ofsted were coming in, but this actually turned out to be useful as we based our whole session around this one event.

The Forms
I'm resigned to the evil that is The Forms now. Saying that, they do stress me out a bit since I can't remember what I put the week before. What if it gets a lot worse and she thinks I'm lying? What if it gets a lot better and she thinks I'm lying? My anxiety levels have stayed the same (the maximum of 21 points)- What if she thinks I'm lying? Actually, and probably predictably, the results were very close to my previous ones but slightly lower. From what I remember, my "depression" symptoms (in speech marks because I'm not actually depressed) have gone down by one point each session, which is definitely a good sign! The only area that showed up as worse was the one about fidgeting too much. This makes sense as my dermatillomania and scratching has returned full force this week. 

After this, we had our review of the previous session where she asked me what I had learned and seemed surprised that I could pretty much reel of everything she'd said in a neat, concise little package. 

The Analysis
Here, we looked over my homework from last week and discussed the major panic from the previous day. I was chuffed that she was very impressed with my homework. Apparently she would usually help her patients go through this again but it was obvious that I had the process pretty well understood. The therapist questioned me about my behaviours to get more information. I had cried to pretty much everyone and she asked "How long did you preoccupy everyone's time with your crying?" which made me feel awful. Shortly afterwards, she asked me how I felt about my behaviours and of course, I felt horrendously guilty for wasting everyone's time with my crying! In fact, as I'd only cried for about half an hour, before cracking on with work and staying until 9pm to prepare, she was really impressed with me. As she explained, everybody needs to cry sometimes and there's no point bottling it up. The most important thing is that I picked myself up and did something productive, rather than hiding from it. She actually said I'd dealt with it "perfectly", before back-pedalling when she realised she'd praised someone with perfectionism issues for being perfect. That's only going to feed my obsession with being perfect!

Since we didn't need to focus on behaviours as we were going to in this session, she turned her attention to my thinking and pointed out that I had a lot of catastrophic thoughts (I thought she was being dramatic but it turns out that's the official name of anxiety-riddled thoughts) and asked me to choose one of the many, many negative thoughts that I had during that time. I didn't even need to think about which one since I'd be crying to the headteacher saying "I'm going to let everyone down". I explained how devoted I am to my school and the surrounding community, which she said she found very touching. 

Next, I listed all of the emotions I felt at that time and rated them with a percentage according to how intense they were. She then asked me to return to the overriding thought of "I'm going to let everyone down" and instructed me to list the evidence to support that as fact and evidence against it while she photocopied my forms. When she returned, she was very surprised to find that, not only had I filled the form in, but I'd done it correctly (there's a reason why I'm telling you how impressed she was- I'm not just boasting!)

Using the evidence for, including work not being up-to-date due to my extended absence, and evidence against, such as the fact they would be made aware of my health problems, I had to come up with a balanced thought. After a little thought, I came up with "My work not being updated would usually result in a bad report for the school, but the circumstances mean they'll see me as an exception, not indicative of the whole school". 

With this balanced thought in mind, I went back to the emotion percentages and rated them again as if I had had these thoughts in mind at the time. Tellingly, the percentages were much lower the second time. My therapist then called me a "star pupil" before explaining the homework.

This week, I need to keep track of my catastrophic thinking and keep a thought diary with evidence for, against and a resulting balanced thought. I'm already practising and think I'm doing quite well!

Finally, she asked me to recap what I'd learned today and, again, I could summarise the session without any issues. She was hugely complimentary about how well I'd picked it all up.

Now, it might seem like I was just boasting by going on and on about how well she said I was doing, but I did say there was a reason! My issues are very much brought on through my obsessive desire with meeting, and exceeding, the high standard that I perceive everybody to have of me. By praising me so much, I now feel that she expects me to be wonderful in every session and this puts pressure on me to not only deliver what she expects (which, in my mind, is a very high bar) but to continually impress her by doing even better. Of course praise is important but, in my case, too much is far, far worse than too little* Despite this, I'm really proud of myself and I'm looking forward to improving week on week! 

*Mind you, that doesn't mean stop giving me lovely comments...

Sponsor Shoutout: January

As I said at the beginning of the month, I'm really putting all my effort into being a fantastic sponsee in 2015 and beyond. Things have got off to a great start with a whole bunch of new sponsors for me to introduce you to! 

Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes
Well, first of all, that blog name calls out to me immediately. Shoes? Yes! Travelling? Yes! Luckily, Kelly is pretty fantastic herself! Just read her about me page for proof: her personality shines out of it (and I really want to see her passport now!). I have such an itch for travelling right now, and Kelly is only fuelling that. Her little sister's photos of Flamenco dancing in Spain are wonderful, as is Kelly's 10 reasons to visit Egypt post. If you're thinking of travelling at all, Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes is the blog to check out!

Nomad Seeks Home

When I visited Diane's blog, I nearly cried. The reason? She's just recently been blogging about her time in Orlando which is essentially my home. However, don't let me tears put you off! She is a huge Harry Potter fan (always a plus in my eyes!) so of course her post about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter extension is fantastic! I'm doing my best to not spend this whole introduction crying over Florida, so I also recommend you check out her adorable new kittens! So blooming cute! 

Vanessa's Whimsical World

If you're more of a beauty blog fan, Vanessa's blog is the one for you! Whether it's reviews on Lush Christmas products (a girl after my own heart!), first impressions of Too Faced palettes or a peek inside bloggers' favourite My Little Box, there's something for all beauty fans! Vanessa's reviews are clear, well-written and she injects her personality into all of her posts. Definitely one to keep an eye on! 

If you fancy seeing your own blog on these pages, there's still time to take advantage of my 20% January discount! Check out this post for all the details.


Ok, so it's more like Saturday Favourites this week. On Wednesday afternoon, we received the call to tell us that Ofsted were coming in the next day. Cue frantic panicking and long, long days! School opening hours were increased to 6am- 9pm although the first train doesn't get me to work until 8 (I live a long way from work- a 2 hour journey!). Nevertheless, 8am-9pm days are still a hard slog so, understandably, everything else went out the window. Luckily everything went perfectly well, I had very positive feedback from the inspectors and hopefully we won't need to go through it again for another 5 years! 
Becky's post on editing Instagram photos has finally convinced me to use Afterlight.
Toni's workspace is my dream! 
The story of Amber's grandmother's book is beautifully poignant. 
Kaelah's spring dress is perfection! 
I was already excited about Viva Glam Miley but Katia's post has made me desperate for it! 
Lucy sure knows how to dress for rainy days!

Lynsay's retro living room is everything I want mine to be! 

Other Favourites
Victoria's tax advice for bloggers is so helpful!
A whole host of lovely bloggers, including 
CarrieOlivia and Lucy are holding a bloggers' market next weekend. What an amazing idea! 
I've created a huge list of London's most Instagrammed restaurants to visit.

Book Review: The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth- Edith Wharton
About a year ago now, Beth sent me some books, including The House of Mirth, and I've finally got round to reading one of them! Sorry it took so long, Beth! This was one of the first published novels of Wharton's, a three-time winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, released in 1905. It tells the story of Lily Bart, a beautiful socialite who lives an independent, rather hedonistic life of gambling and socialising with men. However, when her fortunes take a turn for the worse, she is forced to find ways to pay off her debts and live a more frugal life. As her friends shun her due to this disgrace, Lily struggles to cope and begins to question the direction her life is taking.
Although I warmed to Lily straight away, due to her sassy nature and stubborn refusal to bow down to the whims of others, I did find it difficult to lose myself within the novel. Much of the writing was dry and repetitious, making it hard for me to connect. It's beautifully written, I admit, but perhaps a bit too flowery with not enough substance to really captivate me.

However, The House of Mirth is an interesting insight into American society of the early 20th century with all its politics regarding stature and wealth, old money vs the nouveau riches and the importance of honour and dignity. The women in the novel are malicious and snide, whereas the men are sleazy and dull. Only Lily shows any hint at being a three-dimensional character, which is indicative of the importance of appearances in this era. 

Ultimately, I found the book difficult to read, more so as Lily's life spiralled out of control. As it progresses, the writing becomes more and more bleak, ending wih a sense of unresolved depression. Although I didn't particularly enjoy it, I do appreciate a novel that doesn't wrap everything up with a neat "...and then they lived happily ever after"! 

Therapy Diaries // CBT Session 2

In my first therapy diary post, I explained how I felt really miserable after coming out of my first session. Luckily, the second session was much more positive!

The Forms
The first thing we did was fill in another one of those forms. I think I pretty much have to accept that I'm going to complete one every week. At least it seems like a good way to track my progress. The frustrating thing is that it's split into two sections- one for depression and one for generalised anxiety disorder- and many of the symptoms apply to both. So, for example, I lose my appetite and have trouble sleeping when my anxiety's bad but, because this is on the depression part of the form, I end up scoring moderately high for depression. I can 100% say I am not depressed although on paper it looks as if I am. Although it's frustrating, my score for anxiety is so high (as in, the maximum) that my therapist isn't paying much attention to the depression scores. 

After filling in the form, she gave me last week's to compare and was very confused because, although I'd told her I'd had a worse week, the previous form indicated that I was much better. When I looked at it, I realised that she had handed me a form belonging to- and named with- a different patient. Can't say that really set my mind at ease!

The Analysis
In a funny way, things worked out pretty well for this first real session. Earlier in the week, I'd had a horrendous day of panic attacks and had needed to take a couple of days of work to recover. Although this was horrible for me, of course, it meant that we had a very current situation to analyse.

My therapist produced this sheet of the Padesky 5 aspects model and we began filling it in together. The Situation box involved filling out exactly what happened with the facts- where, when, who with etc. That led into my thoughts but it's important to distinguish this from feelings, which comes next. When I was completing these two boxes, she really pushed me to delve deeper with questions such as "and what would that say about you?" In the end, we reached a breakthrough as I reached "that I'm not good enough". As my problems stem from perfectionism, she said that we'll probably find this is the root cause of most panic attacks. Finally we discussed the physical sensations and behaviours- what I actually did (Sit down, cry and go back to bed). 

Once the whole form was complete, we looked at it together and she encouraged me to find links within the boxes. I discovered that the thoughts I have "I'm not good enough. I'm going to let people down. I'm going to fail" lead to my feelings of being flustered and frustrated at myself, which further exacerbate the negative thoughts. This leads into a downwards spiral into the physical symptoms of a panic attack and all three- thoughts, feelings and sensations- contribute to my behaviours. 

This was a complete revelation for me! When I first saw the 5 aspects model, I thought it would be impossible to separate the big ball of panic into these separate elements but, once I had, it became very clear where my problems are.

The Goals
When I'd reached this point of enlightenment, my therapist asked me to look at the sheet and explain what I would change if I had a magic wand. I said I would make the thoughts more balanced to prevent the thoughts/emotions cycle as I figured I can't change situations but I can change the way I view them. Apparently this is spot on and she explained that we will work to change my thoughts so they're more like "This might happen but that's ok because..." rather than "This might happen and it's going to be a complete disaster".

She then told me that the other area we'll work on is behaviours and suggested we start here as it's easier: Even though I have the scary thoughts and the mental/physical symptoms of a panic attack, I need to push through and do the scary things.

At this point, we made a list of everything that scares me and hopefully I'll be able to do some of those things (such as watch Edward Scissorhands without fear) before too long. 

After a quick review of the session, in which she asked me what I'd learned, she asked me to keep a panic diary over the week. Essentially, every time I get panicky, I fill out another of the 5 aspects models to break it down. 

This week, I'm actually feeling really positive. I think I can see how it will help. My only concern is that I now have 6 weeks left and that doesn't seem like long enough to achieve anything long term. We'll see though! 


If this post has interested you, you can read my previous post in the series below. Please do share with anybody who it may help as, from my experience, it's very scary to start talking therapies with no knowledge of what to expect.

Previous posts:

CBT Session 1
CBT Session 2 (this one)
CBT Session 3

OOTD // 19th January 2015

Jumper: Ebay
Dress: Topshop
If you could create The Perfect Jumper for me, this would be it! It's fluffy, it's pastel and it has a motherlovin' My Little Pony-esque unicorn on it! Kitsch and completely childish, it's the greatest thing I have ever owned!

I actually bought it a few months ago after somebody on Twitter (I can't remember who) sent me the link, thinking it would be perfect for me. I can't remember the exact Ebay shop I bought it from now but there's a few of them listed on eBay under "unicorn jumper" (example here). Although they're sold as one size, luckily the fit is supposed to baggy so I can squeeze myself into it! Perfect!

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