My Endometriosis Story Part 2: Damage Control

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is an incredibly tough subject and dense with trauma for me. The disease is incurable and the symptoms are unbearable – if I’m not talking about it, I’m still thinking about it and it’s taken such an unfathomably drastic hold over every single aspect of my life that I tend to procrastinate talking about any aspect of it on a public platform. That being said, it’s time to talk about my most recent operation in May this year – the second surgery I’ve undergone to treat my aggressive form of the disease.

During my first consultation with my surgeon earlier this year, we came up with a variety of treatment plans to combat the pain I was experiencing and we both came to the conclusion that surgery was the only way to find out how much the endometriosis had spread since my first operation which I had done on the NHS. I was introduced to the possibility I could also be suffering from diaphragmatic endometriosis – where the diseased tissue can spread to the layer of muscle and tissue positioned just below the lungs, at the top of the abdomen. My symptoms, not generally associated with pelvic endometriosis, immediately rang alarm bells for my surgeon and he pieced together the very high probability that the diseased tissue had spread to my diaphragm. I wanted to draw significant attention to my pain symptoms in this post because I was previously told by at least three different consultants on the NHS that my upper abdominal pain was nothing to do with my pelvis and they couldn’t have been more wrong; but they also completely dismissed my pelvic endometriosis in the first place too. Every single person is unique in how their body reacts to this disease and I know not everyone will experience what I have (similarly, I’m aware there are a lot more symptoms I haven’t listed that other women have suffered from). Nevertheless, had I come across a list even vaguely like my own when I was at the height of my flare-ups, things might have been very different a lot earlier on in my diagnosis period. At the very least, I hope this list can provide some comfort to others in a similar position – you’re not on your own, and your gut feelings of concern are valid. Act on them.

  • My pelvic endometriosis symptoms:
    • Lower pelvic cramps (similar to period pains but excruciating, stabbing-like cramps)
    • Stomach cramps and unsettled stomach
    • Pain travelling down my legs (predominately my right leg)
    • Lower back pain
    • Fever-like symptoms
    • Fatigue (I mean, extreme exhaustion)
    • Bloating
  • My diaphragmatic endometriosis symptoms:
    • Shoulder pain (predominately right side)
    • Arm pain
    • Severe upper abdominal pain (right side)
    • Chest pain (can sometimes also be indicative of thoracic endometriosis)

Come April this year, it was time to explore what was going on inside me. My gynaecological surgeon operated on my pelvis whilst a hepatobiliary surgeon explored my diaphragm. The operation itself took around four hours, and my surgeon decided to replace my mirena coil with a new one since he needed to remove the coil already in there from my previous surgery in order to operate. Diseased tissue was found in and all around my uterus, bowel, bladder and kidney. The endometriosis had also spread to the diaphragm as my surgeon initially suspected – a number of lesions of various sizes were found scattered around the area. When I was in better shape post-op, my surgeon came in to check on me and talked me through what he found. He showed me a picture of a endometriosis-free uterus, with the healthy tissue it’s normal pink colour. He then compared that picture to footage of what they found in my uterus – my womb was black with diseased tissue and the endometriosis had spread like wildfire. So much so, he needed to cut out chunks of my pelvis to ensure the disease couldn’t grow back again in the future. Even in my heavily medicated state, I couldn’t believe just how bad of a condition my body was in – it’s baffling that I was able to hold down a full-time job and go about my daily life all the while living with such an aggressive form of this disease.

I’ve seen a lot of people talking about their recovery periods post-endometriosis surgery on social media, so I cannot stress this enough – everyone recovers at different rates. Some people are incredibly lucky – it can take from 2 to 8 weeks to recover from the operation itself, but full recovery usually takes around 6 months. I recently saw a social media influencer talk about how quickly she recovered from her surgery after 3 weeks; it’s taken me 7 months to fully recover from my operation. Each surgery is different – some operations are extensive, some are straight forward so don’t require very long recovery times. Everyone has different time frames with their recovery periods but your body is in control of how quickly you get back to normal – they should never be rushed. Major, traumatic surgery on your womb is not something to be taken lightly, and making peace with the fact that I was not in control over how quickly I recovered made the entire process a lot more bearable. I allowed myself to rest, eat as much food as I wanted, sleep as often as I needed to and it did me a world of good. However, I wasn’t as strict with myself as I should’ve been and that’s something I could only learn the hard way.

I chose to go back to work 5 weeks post-op as I was no longer in any kind of severe pain, and I back on my feet again. I could go for walks in the park and I was becoming restless so I figured it was time for me to get back to some kind of routine again. The first day back at work was the hardest – I could literally feel the inflamed tissue being pulled on as I walked (my daily commute alone is 1 hour door-to-door and includes changing trains twice). I had to take regular breaks to allow my body the chance to catch up slowly, but it felt good to be back in a different environment, seeing people again and being around my friends. It also allowed me to focus on anything but my surgery and post-op pain; the distraction was welcomed at the time.

A few weeks into my return to work, I ended up back in a&e with post-op pain. This happened quite a few times throughout the following weeks, strongly indicative that my body perhaps wasn’t coping to being back at work full-time after all. My manager decided to reduce my hours and I gradually increased my hours back up month by month, depending on if my body was able to catch up until I was ready to be back full-time again. I’m incredibly grateful and undoubtedly lucky for this opportunity, as it’s clear now that I wasn’t actually ready to come back to work after only 5 weeks off. I was nervous about admitting to my manager that I wasn’t coping being back on my feet again five days a week, worried about the implications this would have. I saw my delayed recovery as a weakness, a sign of being unreliable when in actual fact, I’d just had major surgery on five organs in my body and that is no small feat! As soon as I sat down with him and told him what was going on, the relief I felt was undeniable – a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I kicked myself for not being honest with both him and myself from the beginning. Trying to be a trooper and soldiering on through post-operative pain is both stupid and incredibly reckless on my behalf, as it prolonged my recovery and caused not only further pain for myself, but inconvenience in my workplace. I am aware that I’m one of the lucky ones – the support I received from my manager and the company during this time was something not a lot of people are blessed with. They were there for me when I needed them the most, and I’m in an incredibly privileged position as I know that not all workplaces are as accommodating for taking time off on health grounds. My point is, had I not concerned myself so much about letting my work team down by coming back to work early, I could have avoided the unnecessary stress and pain that ensued when I ended up back in a&e multiple times the following month. It is so important to listen to your body and give yourself as much breathing space as possible during the weeks following an operation like this. Even if you think you’re recovered, give yourself a little extra time for leeway because you can never be too careful. I know it’s not always possible in every workplace to ask for extended time off, but the ramifications of rushing post-op recovery are dangerous to say in the least.

I’m now coming up to 8 months post-op, and everyone has noticed how different I am since I had the surgery. Whilst I’m painfully aware that this disease hasn’t gone forever, and I won’t be cured of it definitively, most importantly my quality of life has returned. I’m happier and more active than I ever was before this operation. My surgeon is a wizard and quite possibly saved my life this year, so I owe him everything just for listening to me in the first place. That first consultation truly changed everything for me – I was taken seriously, my concerns were acknowledged and acted upon, and now I will be able to live my life as fully as I can for as long as possible until it grows back. The one thing I know I can take away from this is that I’m so glad I stuck to my guns and pushed for someone to take me seriously – I knew something was wrong inside my uterus, and I’m forever proud of myself for fighting for my body when no-one else did.

Don’t ever let health professionals dismiss your concerns – only you know what’s going on. After all, it’s your body: you know it best.

A x

Anisah vs Endometriosis: Round 1 – Diagnosis

Endometriosis

Making the decision to talk and write about my battle with endometriosis was a big one, made from my hospital bed post-surgery two weeks ago, when I realised I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t use this incredible platform I worked so hard to build to share my experience. In doing so, I hope to spread awareness of how catastrophic this disease is, the extent of its debilitating symptoms and ultimately how hard I had to fight to get to where I am now. With chronic pain and this incurable condition comes intense trauma which I’ll probably spend the rest of my 20s and 30s processing, but it’s something I believe I’m ready to push through for the sake of other women out there. This post is for the young teenagers who don’t understand why their period pains are so bad but are made to believe it’s normal; for the young women who are forced to choose between having children and having surgery to alleviate agonising pain; for the partners, husbands, fathers and friends who can’t understand what it’s like to live with this disease, and for the women who don’t think anyone is listening.

In September 2019 I found myself in a hospital bed in Mauritius where I was celebrating my graduation from university, with a doctor standing in front of me telling me a cyst on my ovary had burst and there was fluid in a uterine cavity in my pelvis. They wanted to operate on me there and then, but I was due to fly home the following day so opted to be treated in the UK. I was immediately referred to a gynaecology department in my local hospital where I’d spend the following 4 months undergoing various scans and tests to understand why I was experiencing ruptured-ovarian-cyst pain when there was no ovarian cyst anymore. During those four months, I’d also frequently find myself in a&e begging for someone to help with the pain because it was truly unbearable. I can only describe it as a continuous stabbing pain in my lower abdomen/pelvis, sometimes manifesting as though someone was physically squeezing my ovaries with their bare hands.

In January 2020, I was referred to my second gynaecology consultant after my first consultant failed to understand why I was in so much pain that it incapacitated me. He suggested I “could” have endometriosis – the only way to diagnose suspected endometriosis is to undergo a diagnostic laparoscopy. Superficial endometriosis does not show up on any ultrasound, whether it be external or trans-vaginal (internal), and so therefore “going in” was the only way they’d know for sure what was going on inside my womb and pelvis. We were approaching the height of the pandemic by this point so my surgery was understandably postponed twice, but after pleading with the doctors to push it forward due to progressively worsening pain and its severity, I eventually underwent keyhole surgery in May 2020 to explore the inside of my pelvis and find the cause of this devastating pain. It’s most ironic that my surgeons and consultants didn’t expect to find anything – the scans were clear, my blood work was completely normal. However, the laparoscopy showed extensive endometriosis tissue which had spread across my pelvis. It had reached and spread across my ovaries, the outside of my uterus, the inside of my uterus and the back of my uterus. I woke up from the operation only to be told with considerable surprise and a hint of disbelief that my endometriosis was aggressive. I was informed that the surgical team used an operating technique called “ablation” to remove these deposits of endometrial tissue but “they’d got it all“. Ablation involves burning the endometriosis deposits, as opposed to cutting it right out which is a technique called “excision”. My surgeon subsequently placed a Mirena coil in my uterus post-surgery to lessen my period pains going forward and reduce heavy bleeding. The hope was that I would eventually stop getting periods which would eventually lessen any future flare-ups caused by my endometriosis, as this is a chronic condition and so ultimately would grow back at some point.

The surgery appeared to be a success initially. It took three weeks of recovery but I was soon back on my feet afterwards and felt significantly less pain than before my operation. I was back to working out 6 weeks after the operation, and by 8 weeks post-op, my energy levels were almost back to normal. On some days, I experienced no pain at all! I came off the strong painkillers within a couple of months – it was truly miraculous and I honestly thought I’d seen the end of my fight with pelvic pain. However, come September 2020 the symptoms came back with an almighty vengeance. Once again, I’d frequently find myself in a&e being given two doses of morphine to control the pain and even that wasn’t enough. The flare-ups would get worse around my period – the first three days were agonising and at times I’d be vomiting because the pain was so intense, or doubled over in a foetal position. I’d be taking tramadol or codeine to control the pain when I was in the throes of a flare-up. And the worst part of it is that I felt like I needed to go on as normal – I’d had the surgery less than four months ago, surely my endometriosis couldn’t have grown back already? Maybe this was just post-op pain? Could it be that I was simply overly-sensitive to pain now? I was referred back to my consultant who was as confused as I was.

Over the course of the following five months, I’d have various pills thrown at me in a desperate attempt to calm me down, to no avail. In November 2020, my parents and I decided to get a second opinion – I underwent a private trans-vaginal ultrasound at an ultrasound centre in London where it was discovered that I had a 5mm endometriosis lesion in my uterus; my endometriosis had grown back in less than 7 months. To this day, I am filled with such gratitude that the woman who performed my ultrasound was a specialist in the field of endometriosis, and thus with trained eyes was able to pick up this small deposit of endometriosis that no one else on the NHS could see. Had my parents not pushed for a private scan, I’d have been none the wiser to what was happening inside my body and potentially wouldn’t have fought as hard as I did to get some answers.

After the private scan, I went back to the NHS with my new ultrasound report in hand – the NHS dismissed my report instantly. After conducting their own ultrasounds to prove a point, they couldn’t see any endometriosis at all despite my excruciating pain and multiple trips to the emergency room for morphine and codeine to control my symptoms. One ultrasound sonographer even claimed this 5mm endometriosis lesion was “simply hormonal“. I was put on three different contraceptive pills anyway, all of which failed to make an impact on my worsening symptoms. I was given a hormone suppressing injection which almost obliterated my will to live and physically wrecked my body. I was then given more contraceptive pill options. It was only in March 2021 that we realised something I wish I’d figured out seven months prior – my endometriosis doesn’t respond to hormonal treatment and I don’t respond well to hormonal treatment either. I’ve come to learn that this is common in endometriosis sufferers – some forms of the condition can be well-managed by the contraceptive pill alone as endometriosis is estrogen reliant, but some forms of the disease such as mine require a more aggressive approach. By March this year, my quality of life had deteriorated extensively. I was in pain every single day of the month; I knew nothing else but agonising cramps which would paralyse me; the constant feeling like my ovaries were being either stabbed or physically ripped out of my body. The onset of pain would be so unpredictable that I’d wake up with baseline, bearable pain but suddenly I’d be at work, doubled over and gasping for breath because my cramps would intensify – going home isn’t even remotely a viable option either during the throes of endometriosis pain, so I’d just have to suffer through it with a forced smile on my face. The symptoms were also evolving rapidly – I was starting to experience crushing chest pains, burning shoulder pain on my right side, pelvic pain radiating down both of my legs resulting in me losing feeling in them on the odd occasion, stabbing pain when I went to the toilet (I’d have to literally push myself off the toilet seat whilst screaming because the pain was too much to bear when sitting down) and a stabbing pain in my upper right abdomen, just underneath my ribcage. No one could make sense of my escalating symptoms and despite undergoing countless, extremely invasive scans and tests, everything came back clear to them. The NHS eventually stopped believing my pain, and what’s worse is that they stopped taking my concerns seriously. They’d given up on me, instead suggesting my priority as a 25 year old should be focussing on my fertility as opposed to having another operation which could jeopardise my chances of falling pregnant – this is categorically incorrect and an example of the outrageous standard of care I was given on the NHS. Fertility will not be affected by endometriosis surgery if performed by the right surgeon who knows what they’re doing!

In March 2020, after refusing to try a second dose of the Zoladex injection, I requested to speak to the consultant overseeing my treatment and care. He was my fourth consultant since September 2019, and supposedly a specialist in the field of endometriosis so I hoped he’d thought of more options in terms of my treatment plan. As expected however, that phone call was nothing short of traumatic; the consultant continuously defended his choice of treatments despite the evident deterioration of my mental health as an inevitable consequence of various hormonal treatments. He was incredibly condescending and refused to take ownership of the state I was in. He took no responsibility for his failings as a doctor and a gynaecological specialist. In fact, at one point he stated, “at least we know you won’t able able to cope with the menopause in the future” after I detailed my traumatic experience of taking the Zoladex injection. I felt let down, hopeless and devastated after that telephone consultation. I was close to giving up and almost resigned myself to a lifetime of ovarian and womb pain that would dominate my entire identity. I can’t put into words how emotionally exhausted I was at that point; I honestly thought there was no end in sight and this agony would be the end of me.

My parents and I decided that my condition was too severe to continue on the NHS path – I wouldn’t survive it. I decided to investigate some endometriosis specialists in London who had a greater knowledge of the disease than the NHS doctors I’d been condemned to. I was desperate to talk to someone who understood the science behind endometriosis and who could offer me an alternative to taking two forms of contraception at the same time. I just so happened to stumble across a specialist based in Central London who was apparently the “best in the field” (I won’t mention his name out of respect for his privacy, but Google introduced us!) In fact, every review of him exceeded outstanding and so I took the plunge and messaged him. Three weeks later, I was sitting in his office smiling on the verge of tears underneath my face mask with incomprehensible gratitude – I’d found someone who took me seriously and offered me a coherent explanation for every single one of my symptoms and why I was still suffering. He discussed the science behind the different types of pain I experienced, then offered me clear solutions with sincere confidence and ease; it was at that point that I knew I’d come to the right person. I’ll discuss in greater detail the treatment I underwent under his care in another post because it needs to be shared but I also needed to draw attention to it now. Because I didn’t think anyone would listen to me again after the experience I had with the NHS – for months, all of my symptoms were belittled and my concerns dismissed. I felt like my endometriosis would control my way of life for the rest of my years and I lost all hope in ever being pain-free again. I felt small in the face of the NHS consultants and doctors; not once did I see or feel an ounce of compassion, empathy or a willingness to understand my plight. They threw medication at me without even contemplating whether or not those drugs would be in my best interests, what with my reaction to hormone therapy in the past. I’m 25 years old, and I’ve spent the last nine years of my life in and out of hospital, in pain I can’t even put into words to describe anymore. I lost the very essence of who I was and instead I became a young woman filled with resentment and anger towards the world around me. The smallest things would irritate me, and the most mundane things would set off anxiety attacks in public. I was constantly at war with myself and this affected every single aspect of my life. Being in that much pain for such a long period of time was also incredibly isolating; I felt desperately alone in my suffering and despite surrounding myself with the most incredible circle of friends, I ended up hiding it all from them because I knew they wouldn’t understand what I was going through. So, to have found someone who instantly listened to me, took my symptoms on board and acted on them immediately makes me the luckiest girl in the world.

The one lesson I can take away from my battle with endometriosis is please listen to your body and act on your concerns. You know your body better than anyone else on this planet – if something doesn’t feel right, follow your instincts. It’s so much better to know and it be nothing, than to ignore it and the consequences be devastating. Had I stayed with the NHS this year and not fought for my health, my endometriosis would have destroyed four organs in my pelvis and caused irreversible, life-changing damage. All because my doctors couldn’t be bothered to investigate my pain further and take this condition seriously. Women across the world elect for hysterectomies because their endometriosis is too severe for them to cope, and treatment either isn’t working or isn’t being made available/accessible to them. This disease at times destroyed me, but it’s now given me a purpose in life – to ensure no other woman has to go through what I did and feel the hopeless despair at being refused certain treatment.

I cannot emphasise this enough – my scans came back completely normal but when my surgeons opened me up, they found diseased tissue spread across my womb. My excruciating pain was my body’s way of crying out for help, and I’ll be forever indebted to my current surgeon and the team of private specialists who listened to it without any hesitation and offered to help in any and every way they could. The NHS needs to do better when it comes to women’s health. Don’t dismiss a young woman’s pain – endometriosis pain needs to be taken more seriously. I’ve had my gallbladder removed and even that was nowhere near as painful as this. Train your consultants and specialists to treat patients with compassion and empathy – this disease is traumatising as it is, but being made to feel small and belittled by the people who are supposed to help you is a horrifying feeling. I was made to feel embarrassed and ashamed for begging for help from the consultants who continued to fail me. During every consultation, I’d break down in tears at least once, only to find the doctors staring at me with significant discomfort and unease – I was never comforted and I’m struggling to find the words to describe how helpless and devastated I’d feel during these consultations. I deserved to be taken seriously but my doctors robbed me of that right the second they implicitly categorised me as a girl who experienced cramps and some pain. I’m still of the opinion that because my pain didn’t manifest as something physical that my doctors could visibly see and treat, they struggled to believe it was real. I’ll have a hard time forgiving them for what they put me through.

A x

My Zoladex Experience

Endometriosis

I can’t even remember the last time I wrote about my health on this site, which is a huge indication of a lot of time having passed, along with various health hurdles along the way to discuss. First and foremost, this post is solely discussing my experience with the Zoladex Implant (3.6mg) as a form of treating endometriosis. I’ll be discussing more in-depth about my endometriosis journey, from diagnosis to where I am now in terms of treatment, general (and mental) wellbeing etc, in another post as I’m still figuring out how to articulate what exactly I’ve been through. Chronic endometriosis pain is incredibly traumatic, and re-visiting some suppressed memories of a&e visits/flare-ups is taking its toll on me. Bare with, it will be live on the site as soon as I can bring myself to compartmentalise effectively enough to write coherently.

I was diagnosed as in-between Stage 3 and Stage 4 endometriosis in May 2020, following a very reluctant decision to perform a diagnostic laparoscopy. Here’s a very brief breakdown of what the different stages entail:

Stage I – Minimal (Some deposits of endometriosis, low in frequency)
Stage II – Mild (More deposits of endometriosis, deeper scarring)
Stage III – Moderate (Deeper, more frequent deposits of endometriosis tissue; small ovarian cyst(s) & scar tissue)
Stage IV – Severe (Widespread endometriosis, large ovarian cyst(s) & widespread scar tissue)

Following the removal of widespread endometriosis deposits found across, inside and outside my uterus during my laparoscopy in May, I was fitted with an IUD – the Mirena coil. I was told to wait 6 months to feel the effects of the coil, which would include a significant reduction in severe, acute pain and periods either becoming less painful, less heavy or stopping altogether. Unfortunately, it was found that the Mirena coil isn’t enough by itself treat the endometriosis that still remains in my womb and so, 9 months and 2 different contraceptive pill treatments later, I was given the Zoladex implant injection to be administered once a month for three months. Zoladex induces a chemical menopause, temporarily ceasing the production of oestrogen from the ovaries. When it was suggested in January by the first gynaecologist I’d seen on the NHS who specialises in endometriosis since I was diagnosed, I was desperate to alleviate my symptoms and agreed to give it a go. I explained to the doctor my main concerns – the side effects; weight gain, hot flashes and most importantly, the effect this hormone treatment would have on my mental health. He assured me that this injection, for the majority, causes very few side effects especially concerning the fluctuation of mood and any effects on pre-existing mental health disorders. I subsequently wholeheartedly agreed to give this form of treatment a go, since most of the other treatment options have been exhausted and I’m left with very little alternative other than surgery.

I had my first injection on the 14th January (a lot of people on forums relating to endometriosis complained and feared about the size of the needle, but you won’t feel a thing and if you do, it’s over in a split second). Within two weeks of the injection, I started to notice a few side effects – mostly irritability and general mood swings, but nothing dissimilar to what normally happens during a period. I still got my period at the end of the month, right on cue and I’m sure this is predominately due to the fact that the injection hadn’t fully kicked in yet.

Around three weeks post-injection, I started to feel the full brunt of all the side effects I was dreading. Towards the beginning of the week, my mental health plummeted to an all-time low; I felt constantly upset despite having absolutely no reason to be sad. Normally when I feel my anxiety starting to spiral, I give myself a day to feel everything my brain is forcing me to feel; I don’t instantly try to seek answers and explanations as, for me personally, that results in a vicious cycle of overthinking, overanalysing and subsequently feeling overwhelmed with different possible reasons behind my mental health flare-ups. I followed this exact protocol during the third week post-injection, and on the following day I attempted to begin compartmentalising any stresses or emotions which could potentially become a trigger for my mental health, but I came up empty. It’s a rarity to say this, but at this current point in my life I am absolutely okay and better yet, happy and content (given the situation we’re in), which left no reason for feeling as if my life was falling apart and I couldn’t cope. I decided to keep myself busy and productive – sometimes when I’m having a ‘low’ day, it can be because I’ve felt like I haven’t achieved anything or made use of my day and time. However, even keeping busy was fruitless as I found myself in tears every night that week.

Aside from my deteriorating mental health, the other side effect I struggled with the most was hot flashes. I was told to watch out for this, as it’s the most commonly reported side effect of the injection (1 in 10 women report experiencing it). I didn’t really think much of it to begin with – I thought I could handle getting a little warm every now and then, but nothing really prepares you for sleepless nights with two bedroom windows open to cool you down, when it’s just above freezing outside but your body is convinced it’s the height of summer. My body would be freezing to the touch, yet I’d be sweating constantly through the night until 4am. It would also hit me like a truck out of nowhere – one minute I’d be walking outdoors somewhere, the next I’d be drenched in sweat from head to toe and getting hotter by the second. At times it would be impossible to cool down and I’d just have to ride it out by simply waiting until the hot flash disappeared. The only way I’m managing to combat this side effect is my keeping my windows open from around 11pm when I’m about to get ready to sleep, until I wake up in the morning. Naturally, my room could be mistaken for a fridge when I wake up but I manage to sleep a little easier when the temperature in my room falls below 7 degrees.

Other side effects I experienced to a much lesser degree included fatigue, hair loss and my skin breaking out in spots. Another commonly reported side effect is acne, which I didn’t experience, but I usually keep to a strict skincare regimen and stepped up skincare product game by using certain serums which target skin prone to hormonal acne. That being said, I noticed that despite my best efforts I did break out in spots all across my chin under my lips which is something I’ve never had before. I’ve heard from multiple dermatologists that spots/acne around the chin are reflective of hormonal imbalances, so I’m just sticking to products recommended to target breakouts in that area (Azelaic Acid & Vitamin C) and hoping for the best. Breakouts aren’t the best but I do consider this side effect the lesser of the 3/4/5 evils. I’m also no stranger to fatigue but found myself needing to take a nap in the evenings at around 8-9pm because my energy levels plummeted to the point where I couldn’t physically function – I was unable to hold a conversation, or pay attention to simple things like reading a book or watching Netflix. My body felt heavy and small tasks like walking up the stairs took every ounce of energy I had, where I’d have to sit down once I’d got up the stairs. The hair loss side effect didn’t affect me greatly since I didn’t really notice it in the beginning. I only acknowledged something was different when I was in the shower and strands of it would fall out when I’d wash my hair, but for me personally, this wasn’t even remotely problematic. It is worth noting that Zoladex isn’t known to cause weight gain as a side effect, however everyone responds differently to different treatments so there’s no definitive way of ruling it out as a possibility for some people. I didn’t experience any problems with appetite or weight gain/loss with the injection, as I have done with past contraceptive pills and endometriosis treatments.

Ultimately, I can say with the utmost clarity that the Zoladex injection proved incredibly problematic and in many ways, traumatising for me. The two greatest obstacles I came across whilst my body was adjusting to the drug were the effect on my mental health and the hot flashes. My anxiety is normally incredibly well-controlled – I haven’t had a significantly awful anxiety attack or panic attack for over a year now, so these relatively new feelings of despair took me by surprise and honestly, fear. I have a method of approach when I feel anxiety attacks coming on, or if I’m generally feeling quite low. I try to be as methodical as possible to ensure I feel better as quickly as I can whilst trying to acknowledge any explicit or underlying triggers, so what I went through that week was nothing short of terrifying. There’s no real way of effectively articulating how you’re feeling when you think you’re at rock bottom – in hindsight, I can now say with complete clarity and confidence that I wasn’t actually at rock bottom, the hormones convinced me I was.

I should reiterate that this injection does induce an artificial menopause which, naturally, comes with menopausal symptoms. I have sincere sympathy for people who experience menopause because from the brief glimmer of insight into it that I received, it was horrific and agonising. I’m nearly 25 years old – I think this form of treatment isn’t the best option for me personally for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t think anyone should have to experience menopause at any time of their lives, but especially not young women whose hormones are running wild all day everyday anyway (I understand that some women elect to undergo medical menopause through hysterectomy, I respect and acknowledge that). Secondly, I’ve experienced a lifetime’s worth of pain whilst struggling with endometriosis and whilst this treatment is designed to provide ‘respite’ from the intense pain, it most certainly achieved the opposite for me. On top of endometriosis-related pain and period-related pain, I was experiencing the side effects listed above. This combination effected me in more ways than I can comprehend.

Finally, I cannot stress enough the awareness that every person reacts differently to different treatments and drugs. I am fully aware that not everyone will share the same or similar experiences to mine, but as I start to raise awareness and share my story with the world, I want to be as transparent and honest about my journey as I can. I want people who may think they could have endometriosis, or are considering exploring the possibilities of certain treatments, or who just want some more information, to have access to resources and fundamentally, personal stories and emotional insight from someone who’s been there and wished they had it when they needed it the most. This condition is so common, yet so difficult to diagnose – the in-between stages are close to unbearable and I salute with pride the women who have come through the other side with strength and perseverance in their battle against this horrific disease.

A x

Closure

Literature

I’m sorry that it’s taken me an eternity to write this. My knees have been dug into the dirt for months over this mess I’ve made. I’ve been screaming at trees like they owe me something, and throwing leaves above my head to understand why beautiful things always die next to me. If I am not the victim, I will play it until the blood on my hands is seeping from your pores and maybe that’s why it’s not a bad thing that this knife is pointed at my chest. I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense but nothing makes any sense. My thoughts flow freely until it comes to you and then I start choking on my sentences. I’m picking these words from in-between my teeth and slamming them on the paper as if they even mean anything anymore. I’m sorry that it took me so long to realise that I’m the monster hiding under your bed and the maker of your worst nightmare. I left you standing in the middle of a thunderstorm with nothing but steel memories. I just couldn’t bare to stand in front of you because the reflection of your eyes would turn into the type of darkness that even the moon is afraid of. I couldn’t see what you saw in me with that demon staring back. I thought running away would protect you from it because my touch is what ruins everything but I didn’t even have to lay a finger on you to destroy you. Lately, all I know is how to say I’m sorry. Your mind was already a war zone and I chose to fight against you. The sky was falling above your head and I insisted on throwing punches in the air. I’m sorry I couldn’t figure out that the reason you can’t sleep at night isn’t because you miss me. My walls are screaming your name in agony from every time I’ve shoved a bloody first through them for how wrong I was. I should have held your hand, cemented my feet to the ground, and put up a fight against the oncoming storm. Please stop setting fire to our house while you’re still inside. I will open the door and you can watch me burn.

This is your closure.

“The Kite Runner”, by Khaled Hosseini

Book Reviews

‘The Kite Runner’ is most definitely the most powerful and profound novel I have ever come across, and that’s saying something as a literature graduate! I cried and cried and cried when I finished the book, much to my mother’s bemusement (so much so that she inevitably felt compelled to read the book herself.) This post will detail a lot of spoilers so please do not read ahead until you’ve finished the novel.

The character of Hassan is incredibly moving and my favourite element of the book – every essence of his being touches you. From the beauty of his innocence until the ill-fated event with Assef, to his unwavering loyalty towards Amir right through to the bitter end, the reader is inexplicably drawn to Hassan’s nature as a friend and as a boy. His character encompasses every trait we wish to possess as humans, and the tragedy of his demise is something which haunts me even after finishing the novel. We mourn not only the loss of his bright personality after victimisation by Assef, but the loss of a friendship, a brotherhood between Amir and Hassan as Amir realises he cannot live with the guilt of what he condemned his beloved childhood friend to. The beauty of it is captivating – Hassan continued to protect Amir as a brother and a friend until the end. We, as the reader, grow irrationally angry with Amir for betraying Hassan and Ali as they are inevitably forced by pride to leave Baba’s household. We shed tears as we learn of Hassan’s life and what it came to when Amir returns to Kabul. But most powerfully, we as the reader just as Amir, see the shadow of Hassan living within his son, Sohrab and that gives both us, and Amir, a shred of comfort during this journey.

After I finished the novel, I found myself analysing the incredibly clever and moving elements of the novel that make it a bestseller. As a reader, I naively accepted the friendship between Hassan and Amir to be that of beloved childhood friends, despite them sharing a brotherly love for one another. The affection Baba showed Hassan was something I mistook as a loving respect because of the relationship he had with Ali. How Hassan protected Amir and refused to blame him even after he was attacked by Assef. I marvelled at the implicit nod towards Hassan’s cleft lip scar as Amir is beaten by Amir to near death and is left with a similar scar on his lip, almost identical to Hassan’s. The shocking reappearance of Assef as a highly esteemed member of the Taliban later in the novel – which made absolute sense when thinking back to his inhumane nature and sadistic desire to torture for fun. The fact that Amir was never able to produce children but Hassan gave birth to a son, and the irony of that parallel serving as a metaphor in itself for the karma surrounding Amir’s actions as a young boy. And finally, the most moving scene of the book, the ending. How it so cleverly mirrors some of the happiest moments Amir spent with Hassan during their younger years, almost as if Hassan never left Amir’s life. I still have a lump in my throat as I think back to it.

There was one scene which affected me the most as a reader – the rape of Hassan. The fact that sexual violence was seen as a punishment by bullies is something which shocked me to the core. But the way Hassan is depicted to have handled it, resigned as he was, is truly disturbing. A boy who’s purity remained untouched by the harsh reality of the outside world until the sexual attack, and subsequently was now scarred and tainted for life for his being at the wrong place and the wrong time, ultimately for Amir’s sake. The fact that he never changed his attitude towards Amir, never resented him, makes him the most poignant character in the novel. His loving nature shines through until the end, through the mockery and the violence he was subjected to as a Hazara. I grew increasingly frustrated and pained at Amir’s expression of guilt through his acts of aggression, indifference and eventual coldness towards Hassan. As a reader, we become protective of such explicit and unwavering vulnerability.

I desperately wished for Amir to fight against the impossibility of adopting Sohrab towards the end of the novel, in the hopes of giving Hassan’s son the happy ending his family always deserved. Sohrab’s attempted suicide acts as a testament to the trauma he went through at the hands of the Taliban, grossly overlooked and undermined in today’s society. The fact that he, just as his father did earlier in the novel, did not speak for a year portrays the extremity of the trauma they were both subjugated to at the hands of oppressors seeking to control.

The novel’s ending is a bitter-sweet relief to readers. It allows us the hint of a possibility that Hassan’s son will live a better, safer, happier life than Hassan did, despite not being able to escape the tortures of living in Kabul under an oppressive, violent Taliban regime. It seems right that the novel ended the way it did, although that does not detract from how heartbreaking and moving this novel is. So many of my friends told me this book will change my life forever and they were absolutely correct. It will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I hope in some way I can incorporate at least a few of Hassan’s invaluable traits as a human being into my way of life.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Self-Love

Mental Health Activism & Awareness

As I mentioned in my previous post, my campaign for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is centred around self-love. Today I’m tackling the subject of body positivity.

At 17, I developed a rather unique eating disorder – it was a mixture of starving myself and binge eating. I used to wake up at 5pm just before my parents got home from work, eat 3 packets of crisps and loads chocolate, have a couple cans of fizzy drink and then wait for them to come home. Because I’d be awfully bloated from this binge eating, I never used to be able to eat dinner properly in the evenings with my parents, so I’d normally end up crying at the dinner table because I was sad about the eating junk food earlier in the day. It was a vicious cycle – wake up late, binge eat unhealthy food and then cry about it after. 

I started to lose weight rapidly and my parents delicately suggested it might be time for me to seek help with my weight and food issues. After undergoing intense psychotherapy for about a year, I grew to understand that I was essentially punishing my body for battling against itself after I had my gallbladder taken out at 16. Because I struggled to recover from the surgery in time to sit my a-levels, I performed rather catastrophically in my first year of college. Thus, to retain some sense of control over my life, I decided to limit what I ate in order to control my weight. When I started seeing quick results from this awful diet of mine, I ran with it because it gave me a sense of achievement. The way I looked at it back then was, “maybe I failed my a-levels, but at least I’m one step closer to being a side 8.” I had a terribly unhealthy and negative relationship with my body which in turn affected my mental well-being detrimentally. 

7 years later and I finally have a better relationship with my body. My eating habits have dramatically improved – I’m eating minimum 2 meals a day instead of 1! Breakfast is still a sticking point for me as I hate eating when I wake up in the mornings but I’m always eating something during the day, every other hour or so at least! I’ve learnt to accept that whilst I’m battling health issues with my body at present, and having done so since 16, I shouldn’t be punishing my body for its struggles. I should be celebrating my physical and mental achievements. Going through the pain, the surgeries, the countless procedures that I have over the years has made me a stronger person. It sounds incredibly cliche but it took being sick to appreciate how healthy I am now. 

Since I started personal training in the gym, I’m also painfully aware of the bad habits that can be picked up from excessive and obsessive exercise. My personal trainer kept me in check every now and then, even in lockdown, to keep me motivated to exercise whenever my body allowed me to, and maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle has always been at the heart of our training together. Everyday I’m trying to ensure I don’t go overboard with my exercise routines – I give myself rest days every other day to ensure my body isn’t being worked into overdrive. With my current condition and the painful periods during that time of the month, I’m unable to move from my sofa let alone work out so I make sure I give myself a week’s rest, too. 

My personal training sessions have taught me that it’s not about looking my best, it’s fundamentally about feeling my best. Whatever my reflection shows me in the mirror doesn’t compare to what I think of myself from the inside. In an era defined by social media which essentially only reflects the best moments of people’s lives which they choose to share, we find ourselves subconsciously comparing our progress to one another. With the rise of fitness content creators comes a dangerous need to look as good as they do, to eat as clean as they do, and to work as hard as they do at maintaining a conventionally attractive physique created by society, yet deemed perfect by our own selves. Even I find myself wishing I was as toned as a Gymshark model but I have to remind myself that I am not an athlete – I have not been training rigorously. Any progress I make should be celebrated, not belittled in comparison to that of others online. We spend so much time thinking about how we can improve our appearances when our focus should be on improving our state of mind, our perceptions of ourselves. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else, but I’m grateful to be surrounded by so many people who are such positive sources of light and encouragement in my life. They celebrate my successes, support my achievements and promise me a safe place to land if I ever fall into the trap of feeling low. 

Your self-worth is defined only by how you see yourself, and the relationship you have with your body. If you want to exercise 7 times a week, you can but you don’t have to. If you want to eat healthy food everyday of the week you can, but again, you don’t need to. Listen to your body and work out what’s best for your mind. Our bodies are essentially vessels for the mind and we ought to treat both with simultaneous care, love and respect. 

A x

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: Self-Love Campaign

Mental Health Activism & Awareness

Happy Mental Health Awareness Week! Every year, I usually come up with my own focus areas within a campaign theme set by the Mental Health Foundation. My campaign last year consisted of eradicating the negative stigmatisation associated with mental health disorders in men. This year, I’m focussing on the fundamental importance of self-love not just as a woman but fundamentally as a person. The Mental Health Foundation’s theme for 2020 is kindness, and I think the two themes are heavily intertwined within one another so complement each other perfectly.

During these unprecedented times, I think it’s imperative now more than ever to highlight the detrimental effect of mental health on one’s frame of mind and their subsequent outlook on daily activities and life in general. Being under lockdown means having our daily routines which I’m sure most of us took for granted being stripped from us without any notice or foresight. For many of us, who suffer from mental health issues or not, being denied the normality of our day-to-day lives naturally results in some level of psychological turmoil, varying in its intensity from person to person.

As someone who has suffered from varying degrees of anxiety since my teenage years, a routine keeps me happy, busy and thus, sane. Working full-time is something I’ve done since I was sixteen, and being denied the opportunity to travel into central London, to see my colleagues and work hard to earn my money has thrown my daily routine into absolute chaos. My relatively new working environment is something I had become incredibly grateful for and proud of since it seemed everything I’d worked so hard for had finally paid off and materialised into this amazing job role. Saying that, however, it appears that now it is important to instead adapt to a ‘new normal’ and to accept wholeheartedly that whilst things might not go back to the way they were pre-COVID-19, that doesn’t mean to say we cannot regain some sense of normalcy in our daily routine, and in the weeks to come. I’ve mentioned in a previous post how I’m coping with my mental health during the lockdown, which you can find here.

Being unable to see extended family and friends unless from a two-metre distance can be overwhelmingly isolating when spending most of the time confined within the same four walls each day. As a result, we naturally have more time to overthink and overanalyse small scenarios in our heads which in turn transform into unbearable mountains we think we’re simply incapable of climbing. But this is entirely okay – once we can identify that we are in fact overanalysing a minor situation, we are essentially one step closer to tackling the foundation of our anxiety/fears and this acknowledgement may prevent further spiralling, an achievement in itself. That being said, it’s not always possible to identify by ourselves when we are overthinking something – sometimes, it just happens without our particular awareness. Whether that be because it’s that time of the month or the weather outside is particularly gloomy, sometimes we as humans have our bad days. And that’s absolutely fine, so long as we can find a way to push through the dark cloud of anxious thoughts no matter how long it might take, and no matter how difficult that push might be.

Over the coming days, the aim of my posts is to draw attention to the existence of mental health, to notice the signs however big or small they might be and how we as a society as well as individuals can do our bit to ease the pain our friends and/or family members may be suffering from, most of the time behind closed doors. It takes little to no effort to be kind to each other, to extend a hand (maybe not literally at the moment) to a friend or family member who feels particularly fragile, and to offer a shoulder to cry on to someone who’s maybe getting slightly overwhelmed by being indoors all the time.

Some of us have to fight a little harder to keep ourselves sane, and there’s no greater strength than that. I used to be incredibly ashamed of my anxiety, and angry at myself for feeling the way I felt sometimes because I knew my thoughts were irrational at the best of times, but I grew to understand that although these waves take a little longer to ride through, they make us absolutely no less ourselves than those who don’t struggle. It just means that sometimes we need some extra love and reassurance around us by those we hold closest – but then again, every single person on this planet will need some additional support every now and then, mental health issues or not!

A x

[Featured Image: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week%5D

‘Bajirao Mastani’ – 5 Years On.

Original Writing

[SPOILER ALERT: Please do NOT read this if you haven’t watched the film yet/wish to watch it! This article is an in-depth analysis of the entire film.]

I remember watching SLB’s ‘Bajirao Mastani’ for the first time on a plane to Dubai, and the cinematography captivated me at first sight. So much so, in fact, that I ended up watching it twice again on the flight home six days later! It’s been five years since the launch of one of Bhansali’s greatest and most critically acclaimed films and I still sob every time I finish the film, so I’m going to explain exactly why it resonates so deeply within me and how it has impacted me to this day.

Bhansali not only directed and produced the film but he was also responsible for the musical direction and choreography. For those of you who haven’t watched a Bollywood film before, they’re almost always musicals with three to five-minute dance sequences at pivotal moments during the film. The choreography within the film, emotional and intensely expressive, is some of the best I’ve ever witnessed, complimented by the incredible set design and intricately crafted costumes which are now widely recognized and associated with the film by viewers worldwide.

‘Bajirao Mastani’ details the historical love story between the Hindu Peshwa (Prime Minister and general of the Maratha Empire) Bajirao Ballad and the half-Hindu, half-Muslim soldier Mastani Begum, daughter of Maharaja Chhatrasal in Bundelkhand. Bajirao helped save Mastani’s homeland from annihilation and ended up falling in love with her in the process. Unbeknownst to her, Bajirao is already married to Kashibai, his first (and until Mastani’s arrival, only) wife. The story follows Mastani’s relentless, vicious struggles against marrying into a Hindu political regime whilst being only half-Muslim. She fights constant battles against her mother and brother-in-law, Kashibai, priests and many others who refuse to accept a Muslim woman into the Peshwa clan.

There is one particular element of this film that strikes me as controversial, first and foremost. This is not the first Bollywood film to cast a Muslim character in a negative light – essentially, the film depicts a Muslim being the fundamental root of the downfall of a political empire in Pune, as well as essentially being the cause of the Peshwa’s death. Padmavati, another hugely controversial film by Bhansali which drew intense simultaneous criticism and praise worldwide similarly portrays the exact same message. As much as I do love this film, that element of a Muslim being an antagonist never quite sits well with me. However, to counter this, Mastani herself is portrayed in the most desirable light – she radiates intelligence and unmatched beauty, strength in her valour as a soldier whilst maintaining an air of innocence and untouched purity. Her beauty intimidates those wishing to oppress her, her wit threatening to undermine those who seek to destroy her.

The reason I fell in love with this film is because of the poetic nature of its dialogue, which makes perfect sense considering the film is based on a fictionalised love story between the two historical figures. What still strikes me as incredibly profound to this day is how Bhansali paints the unconditional love story between Bajirao and Mastani. Despite being branded a mistress by his conservative family, his love for Mastani never once withered; if anything, it only strengthened. He fell in love with her knowing her religious background and took the risk anyway, following his heart instead of his pride. He devoted his short life to protecting her dignity and happiness, as well as ensuring their son would be raised as an equal to his other child.

The most gut-wrenching part of the film for me was the ending. The film ends with both Bajirao and Mastani dying in the separate locations at the exact same moment in time – this is foreboded from the second the natural landscaping changes to unprecedented storms and monsoon-like weather conditions. Earlier on the film, as Bajirao bids farewell to Mastani before departing for war, he speaks poetically of the day their two souls will reunite amidst the chaos of a chaotic intertwinement of natural elements. As this comes to fruition towards the end of the film in both characters’ locations, they seem to acknowledge the poetic speech Bajirao delivered and they become simultaneously aware they will be reunited almost imminently. The characters shortly after die peacefully with grace, without struggle or pain. They effectively greet death with open arms.

The dialogue between Bajirao and Mastani is predominately poetic and dense with metaphors of their undying affection for each other. Their love clearly transcends anything we could possibly know on this Earth. The film ends with a beautiful poetic analogy which made such perfect sense and was a heartbreaking but stunning way to close their story. The film itself casts itself in the shadow of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in that two lovers who are forbidden from being with each other fight against all odds to remain alongside one another. Yet, the cultural references distinguish a point towards the fictional tale and distinctly underline its powerful message – that love defies mortal constraints, and that when soulmates come together they become intertwined as one being.

The film is one of the greatest sources of inspiration for my writing today. The love the two protagonists had for each other is something I imagine not many will experience in this lifetime but it is beautifully poetic and artistic in its depiction. The poetic nature of the film doesn’t stop at the dialogue, however. Towards the end of the film, a song is played during a sequence called ‘Aayat’, which translates as ‘holy verse from the Qur’an’. There are a few quotes and lines within the song that are also spoken in the dialogue between the two lovers earlier in the film, adding to the remarkable nature of Bhansali’s clever cinematography. The song is recited in Urdu which leads me to believe that it’s a poignant tribute to Mastani, particularly Mastani’s devotion to her husband right up until their dying breaths.

This film is definitely one of Bhansali’s greatest achievements, I believe. It’s only when you watch the film a few times that you really appreciate the subliminal messaging which ultimately makes this depiction a true work of art. Below are a few stills and quotes from key powerful moments within the film!

Dagger

Mastani accepts Bajirao’s dagger as a gesture of their love after he saves her homeland [Source: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/700239442045491845/?nic_v1=1akYkud%2BPeRz4nd968lvFt2vQQmIdn3bVsGNU0uDZjjuE30E5AkGcw4Nz90z0emR4f%5D 

 

Kashi

Kashi proudly celebrates her husband’s arrival from battle towards the beginning of the film [Source: http://bollybrit.com/fashion-features/bajirao-mastani-fashion-anju-modi-raises-the-bar%5D 

B M and K

Bajirao and Mastani being welcomed into their new home by Kashibai [Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3735246/mediaviewer/rm4234756608%5D 

Bajirao and Mastani End Scene

Bajirao bids farewell to Mastani before departing for war for the last time. [Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3735246/mediaviewer/rm4202094848%5D

Bajirao on reuniting with Mastani,

“We shall meet when the setting sun
and rising moon appear together in the sky.
The sky will change colour,
and all will be bathed in an orange glow.
Winds of desire will blow
And thundering clouds will fill the skies.
Dry leaves will murmur
and untimely rains will wash the earth.
All that will remain will be
the fire of love in our hearts.
On that day
we will become one
for eternity.”

Narrated in the final scene of the film,

“On a day when fate and time stood witness
two star crossed lovers breathed their last.
They say witnessing a falling star
fulfils any wish,
but these two stars fell to earth
wishing only to belong to each other.”

Quote from the song, ‘Aayat’,

“I’ve memorized you like a holy verse from the Quran … now you will be mentioned like a prayer.”

Bajirao and Mastani’s final words to each other,

“Our hearts beat together … and they stop together as well.”

A x 

[Featured Image: https://www.bebeautiful.in/fashion/how-tos/bridal-look-inspiration-from-bajirao-mastani%5D

MAURITIUS 2019

Travel

By far, Mauritius is up there with one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the privilege of visiting. From the unrelenting kindness and hospitality of the local residents to the pride of their culture and landscape, there is so much to appreciate when visiting.

Most notably, the landscape transcends everything I’ve ever seen – the tranquillity is like nothing I’ve experienced before. The hills are the greenest I’ve ever witnessed, the sea holding different shades of blue, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. We stayed in Flic en Flac, a village on the west coast overlooking the sea. With the ocean on our doorstep, the sunsets were truly one of a kind – every day was a different canvas of pastel colours.

An added bonus on our trip was being upgraded to our very own villas in the five-star hotel next to ours for absolutely no reason, and we were hugely grateful for the gesture. With an outside pool and seating area, to a huge walk-in bathroom suite and wardrobe, we were well and truly spoilt. It was something we never expected and to receive a perk like that really brightened up our trip – after all, the holiday was to celebrate my graduation from university and my parent’s anniversary so it made the entire holiday incredibly special.

In terms of activities, we actually kept this holiday very relaxed and spent most of our time on the beachfront soaking up the sunshine. During the ten days we spent on the island, most days were beautifully sunny with the odd overcast afternoon here and there. I personally love nothing more than sitting on a beach for most of my day, either reading a book or having a nap and it was so nice to be able to actually do that this time! My parents normally prefer exploring when on holiday but even they joined me on the beach, so it was lovely to wind down and just enjoy being present on a sunlounger. We did, however, do a bit of exploring whilst on the island. We visited a few waterfalls and took part in a waterfall hike –  we were rewarded with stunning views of green hills, amazing waterfalls and the ocean as a backdrop.

One of the best experiences of Mauritius for me personally was the wildlife – in particular, the monkeys. They were surprisingly tame, patiently waiting on a roadside or on a wall for tourists to feed them. Naturally, monkeys, as with most wild animals, can become relatively aggressive if they ever feel under threat so some did lash out every now and then when approached by an overly-eager tourist wishing to capture that all-important Instagram shot. But overall, they were relatively gentle mammals who enjoyed nothing more than playfully fighting with each other over scraps of banana. Oh, and the babies were nothing short of adorable.

My trip was hands down one of the best travel experiences of my life, primarily because it was so chilled out. We were incredibly well looked after by everyone – from travel guides to hotel staff, they were warm, welcoming and keen to share their knowledge with us.

The holiday took a slight turn for the worst on our final evening when I accidentally ate a cashew-based curry (didn’t realise it contained nuts in my defence!). When the hotel staff realised I was having an allergic reaction, they quickly called for transport to escort me out of the villa to a nearby hospital. Long story short, after various scans it turned out my severe stomach pains were not just from an allergic reaction, but also from an ovarian cyst! I was given a load of pain relief and kept in overnight for observations before being discharged the following morning so we could catch our flight (within three hours of leaving the hospital!). But the hotel staff were very sweet, enquiring after my health when my parents came back from the hospital and apologising profusely before we checked out, despite it being no one’s fault.

I’ve popped a few pictures from my trip below to give a small insight into the beauty of the island. I cannot recommend it enough, and would love to visit again if the opportunity presents itself!

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One of the many unbelievable sunsets by our villa

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Waterfall hike

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Hike view #2

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View of the villa pool from my bed!

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Snoozing kitty

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Monkeys!

All photos were taken by myself on an iPhone.

A x

De Su – ‘His’

Original Writing

I see poetry in your eyes when the sun traces her fingertips over your face.
I envy her ability to caress so much of your skin at once when you turn your face towards her.
Almost imperceivable lines of hardship vanish, leaving you awash with the innocence of a boy who suffers in the grasp of Aphrodite.

You thought me foolish for falling in love with your eyes first.
But how do I resist being drawn into hazel-hued oceans so irresistibly deep, that I make peace with your waters choking my lungs if it means keeping a piece of you within me for eternity?