Monday, June 24, 2019

4 Years After Scoliosis Surgery


4 years ago today I was in theatre having spinal surgery to correct my 85 degree spine. I was full of nerves waiting in hospital preparing for the 10 hour operation; something that was generally life changing and without it I would have been paralysed. I have scoliosis and the procedure consisted of placing 22 screws, 2 titanium rods and 6 ribs removed and it was painful. The worst part being when the nurses had to turn me over every few hours and it was indescribable how much it hurt. I remember thinking I would be pain free after recovery but the truth is, although surgery has been the best thing I’ve ever done and it has changed the pain, I still endure it every day and it can be a struggle still as some weeks can be worse than others where all I can feel is a burning sharp sensation and my back almost feels heavy because that’s when I can feel my rods more. So I have to continue being mindful of my body and aware of my own limitations due to the rods and screws which can cause internal bone bruising from high impact activities and accidents. 

The recovery was not easy but it was absolutely worth it as I wear clothes now without having second thoughts if you could see my uneven shoulders, hips and the hump on my back visible through anything I wore. Because what I got out from it all was a scar, running from my neck down to my lower back and I am so proud of it. It is my favourite thing about myself as it tells the story of a time which affected me physically, mentally and emotionally but something I overcame and which took a lot of strength in me to do so. 

If you don’t know what Scoliosis is then it’s really important that you make yourself aware and check for any signs on yourself, friends or family. Scoliosis is when the spine curves and can twist to a ‘S’ or ‘C’ shape. The twisted vertebrae can pull the ribs around with them, which sometimes causes a lump to form on one’s back or for it to appear rounded. Other signs are uneven hips, waist and one shoulder blade that sticks out more than the other. The spine can curve either to the left or right and can happen in different parts. It may be the chest area which is called ‘thoracic’ scoliosis or it might be in the ‘lower lumbar’ area of the spine. A large thoracic curve can affect how well the lungs work, something that was impacting on my lungs since my spine was starting to crush on them towards the the end. They noticed mine when I was 9 which is considerably a young age to stop as it is typically when a person is between 10-12. I also wore a brace for 4 years for 23 hours a day but unfortunately failed to prevent the curve from increasing. I had idiopathic scoliosis meaning there is no known cause and symptoms included head being slightly off centre, my ribcage is not symmetrical, one hip was more prominent than the other, my clothes didn’t hang properly, one of my shoulder blades stuck out more than the other and I was leaning more on my left side - something I still have now and causes aches.

Everyday I feel blessed that it went successful and I’m okay. 24th June 2015 you hold a very special place in my heart.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

My Music Playlist and It's Therapeutic Effect


A year ago in August I was having the worst day mentally, I was in public and it just suddenly hit me; the shakiness in my hands, the uncontrollable instability in my legs, my heart beating so fast I thought it was going to explode out of my chest and I felt like I was trapped in a tiny box with no holes and I was gasping for air. Every noise, every person seemed to get louder and closer and my mind went into overload, people walking past looking at me whilst I had my head down wanting to scream the suffering away, to them it was just a teenage girl crying. To me I felt like I was going to die. It's a scary realisation how you think everyone knows you're having a panic attack when in reality they don't. The whole point of me saying this is because the only that calmed me down was to put in my earphones and listen to breathin by Ariana Grande, who has always been an inspiration to me. It blocked the world out and I soon forgot about the passing people giving me stares. I started to breathe to the beat of the song and take in every word Ariana was telling me. I thought she was right there, personally guiding me through the attack and reminding me to do exactly what her song title is, breathe. It may sound silly to some people but the moral of this telling is to remind you that whatever it is that calms you down during a panic attack, do it. Whether you're like me and a certain song brings back the numbness feeling and the control you thought you lost for that split second, do it, just keep breathing.

So, I began to wonder about how particular situation has became a temporary solution to my panic attacks and a way to calm me down. I began researching the benefits music has and it's therapeutic effect and I found on the 'Mind' website that..

"Researchers found that music releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. It also found that dopamine was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed" 

I thought this statistic was really interesting so I continued to research Dopamine and how it links in with music. Dopamine is one of the brain's neurotransmitters and chemical that ferries information between neurons. It helps regulate movement, attention, learning, and emotional responses. An international team of researchers has found evidence of dopamine in the brain playing a role in the pleasure people feel when they listen to music. In the study, 27 volunteers were given either lovedopa which is a dopamine precursor that raises the levels of the neurotransmitter in the brain, or risperidone which has the opposite effect. The researchers found that those volunteers who received levodopa reported experiencing more pleasure while listening to music than did the placebo group. They suggest their findings indicate tat Dopamine plays a major role in the pleasure sensations that people experience from listening to music.

A Greek philosopher Plato once quoted "music gives wings to mind". Who's the ancient folk tune has developed to lyrics and melody has given life to each emotions of love, laughter, compassion, heroism, wrath, fear, disgust, wonder.

There are many studies that show how music therapy help people with mood disorders, in this one mentioned we can see that music therapy is effect through methods like group therapy. Music promotes healing and helps to ease the body and mind, influencing the physical and emotion health improving quality of life. Based on observations I have looked at, many medical experts have linked music with mental health and well-being. It was found that music is an effective therapy for pain, medicine for the heart, fasten post-stroke recovery, increases immunity, enhances learning and intelligence quotient, improves memory performance, as well as concentration.

As someone who suffers with depression and has done since 13, a psychological illness that causes lack of interest in life and activities that you usually enjoy. Depression can reach people of any age and it is becoming a major concern in our society. Different facts of the music must be considerably taken in recommended by Nilsson, that the type of music used should be between 60-80 beats per minute, non-lyrical and make up of mainly string ensemble. Music has got many different genes, therefore would have a different effect on individual's mood as people relate different to music they hear. Personally when I am sad I chuck on a Spotify playlist consisting of ballads and heartfelt songs, something that will definitely exacerbate my mood. So why do that? Everyone can admit to turning to melancholy music to make us feel better at some point in our lives, and actually it can trigger positive memories that can help to life our mood. An hypothesis from social psychology is that people like to listen to music that mirrors the tone of their current life circumstances, the songs act as a sort of tuning fork for our own situations, and they resonate with us. So it doesn't matter if you enjoy metal, pop or 50's music (like me!) whatever is your preference it will elevate your mood and aid relaxation because it's something you enjoy and you're taking yourself into consideration.
For me, classical music is a huge love of mine and I see it as a winner at helping you focus . Music that has a tempo of 60 bpm increases the efficiency of the brain in processing information. I play it all the time, either softly in the background whilst doing coursework or a situation when I need to calm. Also let's not forget about the social side of music, it can stop you from feeling lonely or isolated as one of the social aspects of music is going to concert, something I recently went to and can tell you firsthand how accurate this is. It connects people as everyone is there for the same reason you are. And lastly, I use music as a motivator when cleaning around the house or studying, I'll gladly stick on a Whitney or Spice girls song and I guarantee it's motivational force gets me straight up and I soon forget about what I'm doing and how absolutely boring it is. You can't go wrong with a bit Wannabe from the spices.

These are a few of my favourite songs I thoroughly enjoy to wind down and relax.

- breathin by Ariana Grande

- Alive by Sia

- You Say by Lauren Daigle

- Scars To Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara

- Is That Alright? by Lady Gaga

- April In Paris by Doris Day

- Run To You by Lea Michelle 

- Speechless by Naomi Scott

- Love is Alive by Lea Michelle 

- Brave by Sara Bareilles 

- How Far I’ll Go by Auli’i Cravalho 

- Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran

- Better Place by Rachel Platten 

- Stand By You by Rachel Platten 

- Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself by Jess Glynne

- This Is Me by Keala Settle 

- Que Sera, Sera by Doris Day 

- Dream a Little Dream of Me by Doris Day

- 2 become 1 by Spice Girls 

- I’m Fine by Jasmine Bade 

- Recovery by James Arthur 

- Rise Up by Andra Day 

- Get Well Soon by Ariana Grande

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Reality of Mental Health


When I started this blog I knew one of my goals was to write about mental health in order to help others going through the same thing, because the thought of another person experiencing the feelings I have felt and thinking the most difficult, unbearable thoughts that I have thought for the past three years breaks my heart in a way I can't explain. It's a different heartache I feel when I know someone is struggling and they can't talk because I know exactly how that is and trust me it's draining. Fine became part of my dictionary but with the most opposition meaning behind it and it slowly started becoming my routine and the norm to say that, revolutionising it until I mislead people into believing I was okay, and I really wasn't. But why did I say that when I was far from it? Because this society we live in stigmatises mental health so much when the worst place you could be in is inside your own head, so why doesn't it get the coverage it needs? Yes, depression and anxiety are talked about much more than it used to but people seem to forget about the other mental health conditions people sadly have to go through every day, but it's never talked about because of the negative attitude around it from weak minded people. Whatever you are going through, whatever mental health condition you have, you deserve to have peace and you are so worthy of love.

But this post is the truth about mental health because on our bad days/weeks/months we are made to believe by the demons in our head that we are unworthy of love and happiness. These thoughts have stuck with me, lived inside my mind almost like it's punishing me when I feel happy, and then it knocks me down again. Every second, every minute of every day I must fight back against the darkness that has overtook my thoughts and took advantage of the naivety I have had, even from a young age. I thought the bullying I had to go through was the worst thing ever but it's slowly came to my realisation that nothing else has tormented my every move more than my own thoughts and I very much blame those certain people because you were something that acted upon my journey of self-criticism and played a part on my belief in thinking I was nothing, you used that against me because I was quiet and not like everyone else, knowing perfectly well how much I was going through already from just recently having spine surgery. I never understood why people did this to me and so I blamed myself, punished myself because I strongly believed it was something I was doing wrong. Was it my looks? Was I not pretty enough for them to be seen with? Am I boring? Am I embarrassing? These thoughts causing a whirlwind and interrupting my way of functioning. And since that I don't trust many people at all so I stay quiet in college, I don't speak in class because I'm afraid of it happening again, I believe people see me as fragile and will do exactly the same because "I look like the type of person to do so". This is a thought that has disrupted my coping of getting through my daily life and became a thought I believed in. I can't explain the anxiousness I feel when sat in a classroom, I become so nervous I don't notice the fidgeting I am doing with my fingers or taking my ring on and off, keeping my head down so I avoid any eye contact with the fear that I have had since school, teens. I know what it's like to be used, to feel so lonely when surrounded by a room full of people. So, I isolate myself and then I feel down about being lonely. One week I am okay and the next I don't want to leave the house. The thing is with mental health it can get so confusing and that causes me more anxiety because I don't get why I feel like this and how quickly it can change. 

Last week I didn't want to leave the house, I was too scared to even step out of the front door because I knew I had to smile and act like everything was okay and that was too tiring for me to do. I was so fed up with everything, lost interest in everything once again, stopped caring, wanting to give up as I believed I would never get better and out of this black hole I was suffocating in. Usually I can manage to pick myself back up and get to college but that was nauseating, and I felt I had no strength at all. I wanted to stop writing and that is a very unusual thing for me as that is something I absolutely adore and consider that a distraction, but even that seemed so tiresome and I just didn't want to do anything anymore. Then I started thinking about how much blogging has helped me, how many people I have spoken to who have thanked me for helping them, the opportunity of talking about mental health to a MP that is coming up and the fact I am going to look at universities in a couple weeks' time and I thought no matter how tough things can get, how much the monsters in your head tell you that you have no purpose, you do because you're here, breathing and alive. Surely that's something right? Then I thought to myself about the times when I didn't think I would see out of that day never mind that week, and the breakdowns I have had in the past due to not being able to take anymore. My biggest one left me thinking it was impossible for me to go on and that was 3 years ago. Even 6 months ago I was saying the same thing and I am writing this post. So, Sunday evening I left the house and although it was for a short time I did. I walked along a promenade and it was so relaxing, I was with three of the most important people in my life, my dogs and my mum.

One of the scary things about mental health is you never know who is struggling because it's so hidden, since it's all in the mind and it can be so difficult to explain that. That's why I urge anyone to reach out to those you know and love with a mental health condition and remind them how proud of them you are, tell them they matter. Because even just a quick message can completely change someone's mindset. 

If you have any questions, ideas on what you want me to write about, or even just a chat my dm's are always open or you can email at 
My Instagram is @_aimeedarling_ and my Facebook page is

Monday, June 3, 2019

Reflection on May..and the Spice Girls.


The only way I can describe May as is a roller coaster, full of ups and downs. I started off the week at the hospital after suffering with severe chest pains and numbness down my right arm, so intense and scary that I got checked out. I am very thankful that it was nothing serious and there is a possibility that it was an anxiety attack but with new and severe symptoms, different to what I usually have. It drained me, panicked me and that's why the fact it could have been due to my anxiety didn't even cross my mind. The end of the week I was at a Spice Girls concert on my own with my closest friend and I am still shocked with myself. How everything can change in just a couple of days when you actually put a little belief in yourself and don't let your mental health overrule you is maddening and beyond me. However it was extremely weird to feel so carefree and not have the shakiness in my legs and the pounding of my heart that endures me daily because I took control for once and I want that to last forever, I know it was only one day but it was the happiest few hours that I have felt in the longest time. My mental health conditions and bullies took away everything from me including my happiness and my self belief which I blame for the reasoning of my guiltiness for being truly happy and thinking of myself for once, the strangest feeling.

Overall, it is an absolute dream to say I have seen THE Spice Girls live. I got to sing to Viva Forever and dance to the Lady is a Vamp. My heart warmed at a proposal and my feet couldn't stop at Wannabe. It was truly the best, most special and adoring concert I ever been to and the atmosphere and visuals were the highlights. To see my favourite spice girl which obviously has to be Ginger Spice - of course making a reference to my ginger hair - There were fireworks, butterfly confetti and the most amazing dresses that you could imagine, Geri's being my favourite with the golden crown looking like a queen.

I just want to take a moment to say to myself and everyone who is reading this that no matter what happens in life, no matter who tries to cross you negatively, never let anymore people take away my happiness because I and everyone else deserves to be happy and experience the feeling I felt on that night. Your time and day will come when the weight will be lifted off your shoulders and it doesn't matter how long it lasts, the importance is that it is happening. I'm still learning to allow myself to feel happy and not be so self critical on myself but for now, I achieved something which I can reflect on as a motivator and for once anxiety didn't take over. The thing that got me through was myself, through self talk and self reassurance. I kept saying You will be okay to myself the night before over and over and over again until I started to slowly believe it. Don't get me wrong it was terrifying the thought but when I got there and the nerves calmed down and I started to feel more relaxed as the night went on, it was prove that you can do anything and that anxiety and the overthinking is so much more scary and causes more worry than actually being there.

"Don't let the fear of what could happen make nothing happen" 

I think in that moment I was done being "the girl with anxiety" and I wanted to prove mainly to myself and others that I can do it and I wanted to do it, a rewarding moment to look back on for a lifetime. The truth is anxiety is within you and you are the only one who can fight off that fear because life is too short and I know personally I don't want to look back on my teenage years when I am in my 30's thinking of all the things I wanted to do but didn't because I allowed the fear and anxiety beforehand control me, so this time I took control. I find that physically talking to myself out loud almost like telling myself off (as weird as that may sound!) works for me. Just try it today, take a small step and tell yourself out loud No, I will do it and keep saying it until it makes a difference. By doing this nothing will happen, it's just an illusion and a thought in your head stopping you which is the terrifying thing, anxiety will not hurt you, it will not attack you. Anxiety will easily make you feel trapped or haunted but you have to remember you're always in control, as hard as that may feel. When anxiety becomes cyclic and seemingly out of your control, you have to keep in the back of your mind that realistically it's still just a part of you and will never physically harm you. This right here is the most important realisation that I am slowly beginning to recognise, because it can help shift you from feeling victimised, alone, empty to feeling empowered and strong.

I hope by me sharing this with you and proving to you about a fear off mine that I conquered for the first time will make you feel not so alone and the reassurance that you can do anything you dream of. If you are reading this and you are suffering, please remember that you are strong, you can be happy and will be, and to always keep a lovely smile on your faces! I wish every single of you all the luck in the world with whatever it is you are battling and one day you will tick off that goal of yours that you have kept written in your diary and it will be the best, most rewarding feeling ever. For now take care of yourself and take it easy.

If you have any questions, ideas on what you want me to write about, or even just a chat my dm's are always open or you can email at 
My Instagram is @_aimeedarling_ and my Facebook page is