Tuesday, May 30, 2017

We need to talk about... Body Image

Summer is almost upon us and if you didn’t already know that “summer bodies are made in the winter” fear not as you are about to be inundated with magic diet pills and skinny teas to get yo’self bikini body ready.  I don’t know about anyone else but I’m sick to death of finding something to be negative about everytime I look in the mirror. Wishing I had smaller hips, bigger boobs or a six pack; imagining how unreal a real life photoshop would be where you can tweak, erase and undo as you please. (undo the sugar binge that you’re trying to forget happened during your Netflix marathon session on Monday night or the Chinese you had last night even though you’re on a “diet”...) It definitely doesn't help that I have a bit of an obsession with following Instagram fitness accounts but it’s a bit of a love/hate kinda thing.  Some days I feel so motivated that I wouldn’t even look twice at a Double Decker or a Wispa Gold and on the other days? I’m overcome with guilt as I lie in a heap covered in chocolate wrappers, dying a little inside as I scroll further and further through my instagram feed.

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that as women we can’t escape being exposed to things that centre around “losing weight”, “diets” and being “thin” or “lean”, and they have become aspirations. Most magazines lure us into buying their latest issue with headlines such as “Lose a dress size in 10 days” and there is always a celebrity promoting their latest “Bikini Body” guide or somebody endorsing a new healthy eating plan or cookbook. I understand there are many layers to the Body Image issue; on one hand there is no better feeling than loving your body and feeling comfortable and confident with it but this idea that losing weight or having a fit and toned body equates to happiness is unhealthy and unrealistic. As women our bodies and our weight are constantly affected by hormone fluctuations; one day you could look in the mirror and think “ARE THOSE TINY LINES THE ONSET OF ABS? THANK.YOU.GOD!.. IF ANYONE NEEDS ANY ADVICE I CAN HELP 'CUZ I THINK I’VE FIGURED IT ALL OUT NOW” and another day the bloat could be so real you can’t bear to look at your own reflection. I know I’m guilty of this and I’m trying to be more mindful of it. Trying my hardest not to let my happiness depend on how flat my stomach looks on a particular day or let my self esteem go to shreds if a photo is taken at a bad angle and OMG WHAT IF PEOPLE THINK I’VE PUT ON WEIGHT!??? Isn’t this true though? We talk about someone being fat or putting on weight as if it’s an immortal sin, as if they’ve just killed a dozen puppies with their bare hands. God forbid someone is looking a bit bloated on a particular day or someone is going through something that means going to the gym is NOT a priority at the minute. You never really know what people are going through and we’re so guilty of judging people; body shaming someone if they’re too “fat”, too “thin”, too “muscular.” I can’t sit here and say I’ve never had any of these thoughts about people, but I’m consciously trying to be more body positive about myself and others. Constantly reminding myself that there are more fulfilling things  to focus on rather than obsessing over what your body or someone else's looks like.

There are so many amazing things we are capable of doing as women and it should not matter what our bodies look like. Whether someone is a size 8 or a size 20, what’s it to us? Their value as a woman is still the same and one is as capable as the other. Why am I even addressing this? Because we are constantly bombarded with products and books telling us they can help us lose weight. What is that really saying? Our bodies aren’t good enough as they are? The thinner we are the better we are? It's really difficult to place the blame on anyone and we can't because we’ve been conditioned to be this way. Weight loss and Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry, it profits from telling us we need to change something about ourselves. It knows that as women, we love this idea that perfection exists and are always intrigued by products that will bring us closer to that. It’s the classic Adam and Eve situation, only in this case the forbidden fruit is a magic diet pill and not an apple. The weight loss and fitness industry is profiting from our insecurities, it is trying to lure us like the serpent in the Garden of Eden and sometimes we need to draw attention to this. If you want to lose weight or get fit then why are you doing it? Will it make you happy? Is it so you can upload some photos onto social media? Is it to feel confident in a bikini? Do you want people to notice you’ve lost weight? Sometimes we just need to reassess and make sure that what we are doing is for us and not because we feel like we have to change something. Ensuring our particular goal is a healthy and realistic one and we're not making ourselves miserable trying to attain it.
Images: @henn_kim on Instagram

FYI, I’m absolutely not bashing anyone who is on a weight-loss, health or fitness journey - whatever it may be. Personally, I’m trying new classes at the gym because I want to challenge myself and see what affect it will have on my body. I know that I feel better when I exercise and eat healthy but know that I shouldn’t feel guilty if I do nothing for a few days and if there hasn't been a salad consumed within those few days either. This is just a reality check that I think some people may need, including myself. I’m just trying to draw attention to the fact that it’s not really as common for us to see articles in magazines or a post on social media telling us we are perfect just as we are; that we don’t need to change our bodies. Happiness is something that is so personal and unique to each one of us. Don’t let anyone make you feel as though your happiness will grow as long as you shrink in size.

I know this might all sound a bit vain and pointless in contrast to other things happening in the world but we can’t deny that it can be a battle to perceive our bodies in a positive light EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. How many times have you looked in the mirror while sucking in your stomach and twisting yourself into an angle that a contortionist would be proud of and thought: “I’d be grand now if I looked like this” or “I’ll be happy when I lose x amount of lbs.” Weight and happiness cannot be measured on the same scale. I’ve been so thin that people have asked me what I was doing to look that way I did and I would laugh and say "the vodka and McDonald’s diet.” I was dancing six nights a week for four months on the West-end, eating what I wanted, having the freedom to go on a night out whenever I pleased and not obsessing over my weight and you know what? My happiness wasn’t a result of how my body looked at the time. It was to do with the once in a life time experience I was having and the new friendships I’d made. When it was over and I returned home for a few weeks, I naturally put some weight on. I had to remind myself again and AGAIN that my previous weight wasn’t maintainable and I’d rather be healthy and mentally sane than a few lbs lighter. I want to have a body that I feel comfortable with; that’s fit, strong, healthy and that I don’t have to kill myself to maintain it or count every calorie I consume. I’ll probably never have a six pack and that’s ok.

Images: @henn_kim on Instagram

I came across a quote recently that really resonates with me and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it: “don’t miss out on 95% of your life just to weigh 5% less.” Around the same time I read this I also came across a podcast by Leandra Medine (of Man Repeller) featuring Drew Barrymore wherein Drew talks about her cosmetics range, her vineyard and Barrymore Wines, past relationships and her turbulent upbringing as a child star in Hollywood. It is really worth a listen  and I especially loved Drew's comments regarding Body Image. I love how freely she admits things like: "So I have a little tyre around my waist? So What. I'm Happy!" and "I don't wanna be thin and miserable. I can't do it." The thing I love most is how she explains that she is conscious not to criticize or say anything negative about her own body in front of daughters Olive, 4 and Frankie, 2 and says "I will always be showing my daughters that they need to live and they cannot put life on reserve to look a certain way."

These are just a few of my thoughts on Body Image and the Weightloss and Fitness Industry. What do you make of it all? Do you feel pressured to look a certain way? Do you feel that too much emphasis is placed upon looking a certain way? Please let me know in the comments below, on Facebook or Instagram or email me @ rachaelomc.blogspot.ie@gmail.com.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Grow your hair & keep it healthy

When I was 12 I had my first set of highlights so it's safe to say that I've had my fair share of hair disasters over the last 10+ years...
Everything from brassy yellow toned blonde to dodgy fringes and spiky layers and the biggest disaster: my hair falling out! I thought I would share my experiences with you to prevent you from making the same mistakes along with a few tips I've found that have made my hair grow back healthier and longer than ever.

My hair is naturally poker straight and has always been long and silky. That all changed when I was 16 and my hair started falling out in clumps until I was left with a handful of extremely damaged, broken hair. It was completely frazzled and I was DISTRAUGHT. As a self-conscious 16 year old, I felt like my world was ending; hilarious to look back on now and the definition of a "first world problem"- although I definitely would not want to go through that experience ever again! As someone who always had long hair, it was kinda my security blanket and I used it to compensate for my insecurities regarding my crooked and overcrowded pre- train tracked teeth.

My hair started falling out because every few weeks when I went back to get my roots touched up, the hairdresser I used to go to would bring the colour out to the ends which is NOT something that should be done. This should only be done every second or third time you get your highlights done and only if your hair needs it and the brassiness can't be counteracted with a toner. I switched hair dressers and thought something could be done to keep my hair long but that wasn't an option. I'll never forget the hairdresser in the new salon telling me that the breakage in my hair was so bad that she didn't even need scissors to cut it because it was snapping off as by itself. I had no choice but to get it cut short, tone the colour down and hope for the best... Luckily this was 2008 and Victoria Beckham had made the blonde bob the new "Rachel" (thanks Vicki B) and I tried my best to pull it off  like the other 90% of the female population. My hair was WAY too short for extensions (I couldn't even tie it up anymore) so that wasn't an option. I remember looking in the mirror when I first had it cut and feeling SO nervous about going into school the next day. I know this sounds so frivolous in comparison to some of the current events happening in the world (again, epitome of first world problems) but as a women your hair can either be the root of you confidence (pun intended!) or one of your biggest insecurities. If you're going through something similar and don't have €600+ at your disposal to get bonded or beaded extensions then hopefully these tips will help you out!

If you want me to say I took those magic gummy bears and I had rapunzel-esque hair within  6 months, I can't. It grew back at a snails pace for the first year or so. Then  within two and a half years it had grown from being too short to tie up to growing back down to my waist again- which was the longest it had been since I was about 14 and it has been like that for the last 7 or 8 years. I've learned a few things that have definitely sped up the growing process and have helped keep my hair in good condition; and I thought sharinbg them might help anyone who is having a hair dilemma or wants to keep their hair healthy.

1. Only use heat when you have to
If you can let your hair dry naturally or if you can leave it so that you only have to partly blowdry it then do that.
If you can get away with styling it after you wash it and then leaving it like that for a day or two, then leave it. I have naturally straight hair and I remember straightening it everyday just because everyone else did even though my hair didn't need it!? When my GHDs broke I never replaced them...
If you don't have a heat spray you can get one for less than a tenner in boots. I only spray this through my hair when it's damp so the bottle will last for ages.

2. Get ALL the dead ends chopped off
I just don't understand why people pay to get their hair coloured and then refuse to get the ends cut because they're trying to let it grow. I don't know where the science comes into this but in my personal experience getting the ends cut always helps my hair grow faster (as long as you're looking after it).
Looking back, I think having to get a bob was the best thing that happened because it allowed my hair to grow back fuller and healthier than before (and faster).

3. Hair oil is your BFF
This is only something I've been religiously using in the last 3-4 years and the L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil is my absolute favourite and I go through bottles upon bottles of this (it even has heat protection included in it). I apply a few drops to my hair when its wet and brush it through and then when it's dry I apply a tiny bit more. I use it most days and especially when I feel like my hair needs it. I don't find that this makes my hair greasy but everyone is different so maybe use it sparingly to start with to see how it works for your hair.

4.Buy a Tangle Teezer
I've been using one of these for years and I would never use anything else now. Unlike normal hairbrushes these don't pull or snap your hair when you brush it so it helps prevent hair from splitting and breaking.

5.Get regular trims
Following on from point number 3 I get my hair cut EVERY time I get highlights which is every 8-10 weeks. Every few months I get 2-3 inches cut off, sometimes more, and it ALWAYS grows back. This is key in helping your hair grow and keeping it looking healthy and fresh!

If your hair is brown and you want it to be white blonde in 1-2 sittings it isn't gonna happen and trust me it's not worth ruining it in the process. I know that there is an olaplex treatment to help with this process but it's not a miracle worker. We all know how long it can take for hair to grow back so I'm sure you don't want it to be frazzled and then have to go through the whole trying to let it grow process.

7.Enquire about Revoplex & Olapex treatments at your salon
I have silvery white blonde hair and I used the olaplex treatment when I wanted to get rid of my ombre and go back to an all over blonde. I'd built the silvery blonde colour in the ends of my hair over time and didn't think I would be able to get an all over match so soon- without going through the brassy stage. However,  the olaplex treatment allowed me to be able to match the root colour to the same silvery blonde as my ends with ZERO damage.

8.Find a hairdresser that you trust 
If you go to a different salon everytime you get your hair done, it's gonna be hard for each hairdresser to know exactly what you want. I know that my hairdresser will give me the best advice and advise me against something if she knows it won't work or will ruin my hair. I always trust her to cut as much off the ends as I need and I always leave the salon knowing my hair is healthy and feeling happy with the outcome. It's important that you feel comfortable and trust them because you're leaving your hair (literally!) in their hands.

Please enjoy these dodgy AF photos from back in the day up until now.. CRINGE!
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

L'Oreal Paris Pure Clay Detox Face Mask

I thought I would do a quick  review of the L'Oreal Pure Clay Detox Mask as this range has featured quite heavily in my social media feed over the last few months. I actually received this as part of a Christmas skincare hamper but because I travel so much and haven't really been home, I only got around to trying it out last week.

There are three masks available in the Pure Clay range and each of them contain 3 pure clays + 1 specialised ingredient (red algae, eucalyptus or charcoal).

What masks are available in this range?
Glow mask: brightens + exfoliates.
Purity mask: purifies + mattifies.
Detox mask: detoxifies + clarfies,

What are the benefits of using a clay mask on your skin?
Kaolin + Charcoal (2 of the ingredients in the Detox Mask) are mineral rich and work together to gently absorb impurities to balance and purify your skin.
The clay gently exfoliates and your skin should feel purer and clearer and more luminous after use.

How do you apply it and does it work?
The product comes in a glass jar with a screw top and plastic seal over the clay itself. I would suggest keeping it and not discarding it, otherwise the clay might leak from the jar. It's quite messy and I would recommend applying a thin layer with a flat foundation brush to minimise mess. I left this on for 10-15 mins and washed the product off with warm water.

Would you recommend this product?
If you're looking for a nice budget friendly mask to add to your weekly skincare routine I think this would make a good addition. It didn't have any groundbreaking results for me but my skin did feel nice, refreshed and more luminous after using this.

The L'Oreal Clay Mask range retails at £7.99 and is currently on offer for £5.29 in Superdrug.

 Have you tired any of the masks from this range?
Rachael O ♥

Thursday, June 30, 2016

New in Beauty Review: Urban Decay, Mac, Benefit, The Body Shop

I LOVE trying out new products and I always look to other bloggers for their honest reviews and opinions before I go and buy them myself. I bought a few makeup and skincare items recently and have been putting them to the test over the last few weeks. I feel that I  have given them a proper test run and can give a more honest review of them now.

This haul is a mish mash of new products and repurchases such as Benefit's Hoola, POREfessional and the Eyelure Lashes. 

I have definitely found some new favourites within this bunch and was  most impressed with the Camomile Cleansing Butter from The Body Shop and the Dragon's Blood Fix Daily Cleansing Pads by Nip+Fab. .

Camomile Cleansing Butter, The Body Shop, £13
Camomile is known for it's soothing and purifying properties and this cleanser is suitable for all skin types. It takes off eye makeup without the stinging or dragging effect and leaves skin feeling hydrated instead of dry and tight. I will definitely repurchase this again.

Exaggerate Eyelashes in no.140 & 141, Eyelure London, £5.45 ea
If you have hooded eyes like me and want a full, dramatic lash for evening time, both of these lashes are perfect! The 140s are fuller and give a graduated effect whereas the 141s are more of a wispy style with the inner, middle, end lashes all being the same length. I always cut off a small section of the inner corner of the lashes as I find that they are too wide and end up dragging my eye down at the outer corners if I don't. Both styles are longtime favourites of mines and I always find myself gravitating back towards them. 

Hoola Mini 4g, Benefit, £9.95
I haven't used this bronzer in years but I know that it is a cult favourite. I recently ran out of my Smashbox contour and wanted to try something different. After hearing so many great reviews about Hoola I decided to try it again. I didn't want to commit to buying the full size in case I didn't like it so the mini travel size was perfect and because I travel alot it made sense to get a smaller size anyway. It's very pigmented, easy to blend and is a lovely ashy, cool tone that gives a very natural contour.

The POREfessional Mini 8ml, £9.95
This is definitely my holy grail primer and know it is a favourite for many others too. It just does exactly what it is supposed to do - minimise pores and create an even base for foundation. If I have any dry patches it glides over them and doesn't flake anywhere which gets a huge thumbs up from me. I've tired other primers both high end and cheaper alternatives but I always gravitate back to this product. 

Mac Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Stone, £15.50
This is one that I have always admired on others but never thought I'd be brave enough to try this myself. It is a very grey toned brown but it is surprisingly wearable and does not leave teeth looking yellow. It is a matte texture so it stays well but can get very drying after a while.

Urban Decay B6 Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Spray 30ml, £10
This is a very refreshing spray that can be in the same way as Mac Fix+ - before you apply your base or if your makeup is starting to appear cakey after a few hours wear. This is a nice product to have but it's not a holy grail for me and I have found other products to have the same effect on my skin such as a thermal water spray that is a third of the price. (You can get the Avéne Eau Thermale spray in Boots for £3).

So that concludes my mini beauty haul! Have you tried anything recently that is a new favourite? Please let me know!
Rachael O ♥
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Body Shop Vit E Duo

First of all before I get into why these two products are my holy grail of skincare, I need to apologize for being MIA. Dancing became my full time job in October and things became so hectic I just didn't have the time to post anything worthwhile; and then of course, the longer you leave it the harder it is to come back... (I'm not even sure if I know what I'm doing.)

If things do become a bit quiet on here again, you can follow what I'm upto by adding me below!
IG: @rachaelomc
Snapchat: @rachaeloblog

Anyway, now that that's out of the way I can get back to what this post is really about!

I started using the Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil along with the Vitamin E Intensive Moisture Cream more than a year ago. My skin type is dry-normal but usually more on the dry side. When it is going through a rough patch it is literally that. Rough patches EVERYWHERE. 

So I began searching reviews online of affordable products targeted towards dry skin. When I saw that Skincare Queen +Caroline Hirons approved of the Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil I knew I had to try it. 

The Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil is £15 and the Vitamin E Intensive Moisture Cream is £13; however, The Body Shop also sell these in a set for £20 which is much better value and the one I keep repurchasing.

According to +The Body Shop Ireland :
  • Skin feels recharged, replenished and softer
  • Non-greasy, fast absorbing formula
  • Skin looks fresher, rested and more radiant
I have to agree with their claims as the thing I love most about this oil is that it really absorbs into the skin. You can feel it working and doesn't sit on top leaving a greasy film behind like many other products I've tried over the years.

I apply a few drops of the oil at night, leave it to absorb for a few minutes and the apply the Vitamin E Intensive Moisture Cream on top.
If my skin is feeling quite dry before I put makeup on, I will apply a drop or two before I use my day time moisturiser.

If you have dry-normal skin and it feels a bit on the dry side or is looking quite lacklustre in general, definitely try this Vit E duo. You'll be as hooked as I am!

Rachael O ♥
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

OCD and Me

I have contemplated writing a post about living with OCD for a long time but I have never been able to. Not only it is a very personal issue but one that is extremely complex; I want to educate those who don't have a proper understanding of it and reach out to fellow sufferers. For those of you who aren't familiar with OCD, it is an abbreviated term that stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The most common misconception about OCD is that it is a mental health issue that solely revolves around germs and contamination. However, OCD takes many forms and manifests itself in many ways. For some it is a need to preform rituals a certain amount of times to cancel out intrusive thoughts and for others it is a way of thinking i.e having obsessive and intrusive thoughts. For me, it is both.

My first encounter with OCD was when I was nine, shortly after the death of my baby brother. Kian battled cancer for several months before tragically passing away in December 2001 when he was only 15 months old. Even though I was only a child, I was devastated by his death and couldn't understand why God couldn't just take his cancer away and leave him with us instead. Death is traumatic. It is difficult to cope with at any age and OCD was my coping mechanism; my mind's way of trying to process the grief. I remember feeling so anxious and filled with panic the first time OCD told me touch my desk ten times or "something bad would happen to my family." This was a common theme throughout my childhood and I was so terrified of losing my mum, dad or brother that I carried out these actions/compulsions to make they would be safe and everything would be OK. And it was, which meant I was convinced that listening to OCD and obeying it's commands would keep everyone safe and I wouldn't have to deal with grief again. I was caught in a vicious cycle of being overcome with extreme anxiety which was only relieved when I carried out the actions/compulsions it told me to.

People who suffer from OCD treat it like an unwelcome guest. There is no way of ignoring it's existence or it just becomes more vocal and aggressive. OCD compulsions and intrusive thoughts become a normal part of everyday life and you learn to live with it and try to hide it from others so they don't think you're a "freak". This was certainly the case for me until the end of my second year of University when life became a bit tumultuous and I struggled to cope. Stress was definitely a trigger. There was always an assignment due or a class test; I struggled to juggle dancing classes with University deadlines; I had a lot of financial pressure and things became tense with my house mates. I was struggling to keep afloat and yet the only help I thought to ask for was an extension for my coursework deadlines and not treatment for OCD.

During my final year of Uni, OCD manifested itself into something much more sinister that I could no longer control. I felt stressed, I couldn't sleep properly which meant that I was in a constant state of exhaustion and I masked it all up and pretended I was coping. I couldn't keep on top of my Uni work and deadlines and the result was more stress. I was having thoughts that made me feel physically sick, scared, upset, wrought with guilt. I honestly thought I was insane and was too afraid to tell anyone in case they locked me up in a straight jacket. When things became too unbearable to cope with I went in search of answers and came across something called Harm OCD. The only way I can explain it is to imagine that you are in a horror film but instead of being the victim, you are the killer. You can picture yourself causing harm to the people you care about on a loop in your mind and it tortures you. No matter how often you try to convince yourself that you would never do such horrific acts because you're a good person, the fear of losing control and carrying out these actions is terrifying. You obsess over these thoughts, try and make sense out of them, fight with them and that's what OCD wants. In addition, you become consumed by your illness. You feel the need to constantly read psychology based articles for reassurance and validation and to make sure you're not really a psychopath. You get caught in a vicious cycle; you have intrusive thoughts, try and rationalize them and do some more research just to be sure you're not insane. 

I had never heard of Harm OCD before and it didn't occur to me that OCD could manifest itself in such catastrophic ways; if I did then I have would sought out help sooner. I was probably at rock bottom around the time of my 21st birthday but if you looked at photos of me from that night I look "normal" and happy. That's the driving force behind this post; I want to share my personal experience with others and help them understand. It's possible to look OK on the outside and be fighting what feels like a losing battle on the inside. The aim of this blog post is to try and help just one person struggling with OCD get the help they need to move forward. You're not alone, you don't need to be embarrassed, you're not insane and you don't have to suffer in silence any longer. The first person I told was my Boyfriend who was a huge support and didn't once judge me. I was so anxious about telling him that I even printed out a multitude of documents explaining Harm OCD so he would't think I was crazy. However, he was only interested in helping me get better so I could regain my sense of "normality". I eventually got the courage to email the Counsellor at my University and explained how I felt and we arranged an appointment. I was extremely nervous about meeting with a stranger to talk about my personal issues but instantly felt unburdened. She helped me try and make sense of what was going on in my mind and we talked about the possibility of seeing a doctor and taking medication.

If I told you it was all plain sailing from here on in I would be lying. People are very ignorant when it comes to mental illness, even doctors. However, in a warped and weird way I'm glad that some people don't understand OCD and mental illness because it means they haven't had to endure it; I would't wish this struggle on anyone. The doctor I first went to see asked me if I had diagnosed myself and had no clue what I was talking about. Luckily he did some research before our next appointment and had acquired some basic knowledge on the condition. He wrote me a prescription for Fluoxetine or Prozac as it's more widely known. It's usually given to those who suffer from depression and when you have an anxiety disorder like OCD, the two often go hand in hand.
Medication is only half a solution though; it can help lessen the extreme anxiety and depression that often results from OCD but it doesn't get to the root of the cause. You also have to take into account the long list of side effects and the adjustment period that come with taking the medication. I chose to take the medication to help lesson the depression and continued to talk with Sarah to try and keep my anxiety at bay and regain my sense of self. Many things contributed to my recovery and I am so grateful for the help I received. However, I realized one vital thing during this time: I was the only one who could rebuild myself. I read a book called Breaking Free from OCD and it really helped me understand the thought process in our minds. It explained how people who don't suffer from OCD just let strange thoughts come and go whereas we who suffer from OCD obsess over these same thoughts and allow them to torture us over and over again.

I briefly mentioned above how I was prescribed Fluoxetine for Depression and feel as though I should explain this a bit further. When my OCD was at it's most destructive during my final year of Uni I became depressed. It came to the point where I felt as if OCD was in control of my life and I was a slave to it. During my recovery I spent many days in bed and I lost interest in doing things that I enjoyed. I stopped attending lectures and classes and I honestly didn't even care if I finished my degree or not.* There were times when I was hypersensitive to everything and couldn't stop crying and other times I felt devoid of any kind of emotion. I didn't feel suicidal but I felt that if someone had have told me it was my last day on Earth I wouldn't have cared, in fact it would have been a relief. Depression was just as hard to cope with as OCD. Depression likes to cast a dark cloud over everything and make you feel suffocated. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle on the inside and I was scared I would eventually give up. Thankfully, I was able to overcome Depression as a result of my OCD treatment.
*(A few months later I was allowed to submit coursework, my dissertation and sit my final exams. I now have a Degree in English and French).

The purpose of sharing my experience is not for attention, it is to give an honest account of OCD. I want to help remove the sigma attached to OCD and mental health, to educate those who are ignorant and possibly help others who are suffering. Naturally I still have "down days" and I feel scared that I might relapse and some days I obsess over an intrusive thought however, those days are few and far between. You just have to keep pushing forward and try not to dwell on the negatives. There will also be those who will say "I'm stressed too", "others have it worse than you"or "you just have to get on with it" and the only thing to do is let their ignorance and insensitivity go over your head. When I was at my lowest I craved reassurance from someone who had been in a similar position. If you are reading this and feel overwhelmed and defeated as a result of mental illness I can honestly tell you that EVERTHING WILL BE OK.  I bet you thought that I seemed "normal"? Well, just remember this: normality lives in the same mythical land as "perfectionism"; neither exist.