chloehelenmiles

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The 24th October marked a year since Dylan passed away. I was only a year old when Dylan was born so I don’t remember life without him. He was so much more than a brother to me, he was my best friend, my soulmate.

The love I feel for Dylan is unconditional. There wasn’t a moment of his life that I felt anything but pure love for him.

For as long as I can remember I’ve known that if by some magical chance I was offered a gun and told if I killed myself there and then Dylan would live a healthy, happy life, free from the restrictions of his wheelchair and his gastrostomy, I’d do it. Without a shadow of a doubt. Without a moment of hesitation. I’d do it. Even if I knew there was no “other side”, all that was waiting for me was a long black emptiness. I’d do it. I’d embrace the darkness with open arms safe in the knowledge that Dylan had a chance to experience all of the things he couldn’t before. That’s what unconditional love is.

Some days I let the grief build inside of me until it’s unbearable. I think about how much it hurts and it makes me think about everyone else who ever has or still is going through what I’m going through. I carry their pain as well as my own. My limbs feel heavy, my heart like a led balloon, my head goes foggy. Day to day tasks become chores. Washing, dressing, even eating. There’s no way to shake it, it consumes me. I have days where getting out of bed feels like enough of an achievement.

I’m not who I was before. My passion is muted. I was crazy for art, photography, music, literature. All of these things sparked a fire within me. Now it’s only as much as a dull flicker. My smile isn’t as wide, my laugh isn’t as loud and happiness doesn’t touch my eyes like it used to. Even with a smile my eyes are sad and dark. I can’t remember the last time I felt excited. I feel empty. Night time is the worst. When no one else is awake, there’s no one to talk to, no distractions.

Distractions, I’m pretty sure that’s all coping with grief is. You “cope” by filling your time with anything and everything that can keep your brain busy.

I have days where I beat myself up for not doing enough. Not going to events, not writing enough blog posts, not taking good enough pictures, not working hard enough. I forget to remind myself that I never thought I would make it a week on from Dylan, never mind a year. Dylan made me strong and losing him was the biggest test of my strength. I am strong and I’m doing well for myself. I have my hobby as a career, a family I love, a handful of irreplaceable friends and my childhood sweetheart.

A piece of advice I’d like to share with anyone going through grief is don’t consider crying a weakness. Cry. Cry your eyes out. Get angry with the world. It’s not fair, bad things happen to good people, people who deserve the best. Get it out now so you don’t bottle it up and break down later. But do remember it’s these moments and these experiences we go through that shape us as people. I can guarantee the greatest people you know have been through terrible things. We can let these terrible things push us over the edge or we can let them build us, help us grow. These moments teach us strength, teach us empathy and teach us love.

I know everyone deals with grief in different ways, what helps me might not help you. I think this next piece of advice should hopefully be relevant in all cases. This advice is for the people who are close to you. Friends & family of those who are grieving. Don’t try to find the silver lining on someone else’s cloud. This was one of the worst things for me. I know everyone’s trying to help but it’s honestly better to say nothing sometimes. “Think of all the good times.”, “He wouldn’t want you to be sad.”, “At least he’s at peace now.” None of it helps. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there.

When you’re suffering from loss it’s impossible to “Thing of all the good times.” It’s impossible to think of one good time because the good times bring the most pain. The good memories are plagued with loss and grief. As irrational as it may sound to anyone who hasn’t been through it, when you’ve lost someone, thinking of the good memories only reminds you there won’t be any more good times with that person. Memories are all you have. I can’t wait for the day I can have all of my beautiful memories with Dylan back without unbearable pain crippling my body and my brain.

There’s no time limit on grieving. The initial pain is difficult but you enter a foggy phase, for me it lasted months. It hurt but it didn’t feel real. I would convince myself Dylan was on holiday, he was coming back. His room didn’t change. The fairy lights above his bed remain on to this day. For weeks I’d instinctively tell Sam to turn the volume on the TV down at night because “Dylan’s sleeping”. For weeks I’d come through the front door and burst into Dylan’s room forgetting he wasn’t there. Responses that have become automated through habit are hard to shake. The hardest part of grieving is when this phase ends. You’re no longer in the fog. Everything’s clear and everything’s real. I will never hold Dylan again. Never kiss him. Never cuddle him. Never hold his hand again. I know Dylan isn’t coming back and it hurts more with every day that passes. Sometimes it gets too much for me. I do things that anyone who hasn’t suffered from loss would probably find psychotic. I take Dylan’s ashes with me into the garden on a sunny day and we play with the dogs. I sit Dylan’s ashes next to me in his room and watch his favourite films. I read Dylan’s favourite stories to his ashes. It’s all I have left. The worst thing about this phase is that everyone else has moved on. Friends, distant relatives, colleagues, acquaintances, their worlds are still moving as fast as before. Worst of all, a lot of them will wonder why your world still isn’t up to pace. If you are suffering from loss I can’t stress enough how long it takes. I can’t imagine my good memories being good again for years. It’s individual, take as much time as you need. There’s no such thing as too long and I don’t think it’s anything you will ever “get over”. It gets harder before it gets easier and although I’m not there yet I really do believe it will get easier. It will take time but I know I can get there.

Don’t think that you can’t talk to me about Dylan. Don’t think you’re going to make me upset, I miss talking about him. I love talking about him! He was my world, my whole life revolved around him. I love him as much as ever. Don’t be scared to bring him up because he’s constantly at the front of my mind anyway, it would be nice to be able to think about him out loud for a change.

All my love and support to anyone who is suffering. And a massive thanks to everyone who has offered their love and support to me and my family. It means so much.

Thinking of you always, my gorgeous boy, my best friend.

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Anouska / Lydia / Elena / Andreea 

Leanne / Yanin

When I got the invite to Disneyland I knew I would enjoy myself, especially when I found out who else was coming. I couldn’t have asked for a better group. These lovely ladies are some of the most well-rounded, warm-hearted, like-minded women in the industry.

As much as I was looking forward to this trip I completely underestimated just how much fun I was going to have. Like a lot of people, I had a preconceived misconception that Disneyland was for children. I was initially surprised to hear that 40% of people at Disneyland go without kids.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Disney has so much to offer for adults. A stay at the Disneyland Hotel should be added to your bucket-list if it isn’t there already. There’s a pool, a gym, a spa, a games room, it is pure luxury from beginning to end. Not to mention you’re right at the gates to the park. From the nostalgia of your favourite characters in the Disney Parade to cocktails in Cafe Fantasia, there’s endless entertainment for all ages. The highlight of my trip has to be the Disney Dreams light show. It’s on every night and it’s truly overwhelming to watch, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the park.

There is a magical aura at Disneyland that is quite hard to describe. I must admit it was a bittersweet trip for me. 99% of the Disney films I love are films I used to watch with Dylan. It’s almost a year now since Dylan passed away so he’s on my mind even more than usual. I couldn’t count the amount of times we walked past a shop and I saw something and instinctively thought “I need to buy that for Dylan, Dylan would love that!”. Although all of my memories of Dylan are beautiful, pure and happy, I’m not yet at a point where I can reminisce without the overwhelming pain of loss and grief. I know how much Dylan would have loved this trip and I’d like to think he was there with me.

I would go back in a heartbeat. Many thanks to Disneyland Paris and The Blogger Programme for a truly unforgettable experience.

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Many thanks to Roomorama for letting us stay in one of their apartments right in the center of this beautiful city. 

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Before I start this post I want to let you all know that it isn’t sponsored and the cream wasn’t gifted to me. 

When I was younger I suffered with acne. I was prescribed Lymecycline tablets by my GP. They worked so well, my acne cleared up completely! Unfortunately even though the acne cleared up, my scars didn’t shift at all.

I’m sure we all know that when you’re in school you can get picked on for pretty much everything. I got called “Scar face” and “Acid drops”, apparently my face looked like someone had dripped acid over it (charming I know). I don’t think any harm was meant with the name calling but it stuck in my head and made me feel so ugly. I was so self conscious I’d wear layers and layers of foundation to try to hide them. I went back to the GP to see if there was anything they could do for me but they just told me they would clear over time.

I complained about my scars for years, trying all sorts of different creams and oils to clear them but nothing worked. Almond oil, Vitamin C serum, Bio-Oil, Tea Tree oil, you name it, I tried it. I was getting so fed up of all these different creams I started looking into laser scar removal. Even though my skin wasn’t as bad as a lot of other cases, it’s still my skin and anyone with skin troubles will know how much it eats away at your confidence.

I didn’t have the money to pay for the treatment straight away so I started trying to save up. I was still sick of spending so much money and time on covering my scars I thought I’d have ago at another cream while I was saving for laser. I’m so glad I did. I was looking around Boots for a cream I’d read about, I couldn’t find it and the woman said they didn’t stock it so I’d have to order online. I’m far too impatient for that so I asked her if there was anything she’d recommend. I owe the biggest thanks to this woman.

She recommended La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo [+] and I’ve used it every day since. It’s £15.50 a tube which usually lasts me about a month.  I apply it religiously every morning when I wake up and every night before bed. The before pictures were taken on 25th March 2015, after photos 21st July. I can’t believe the difference I’ve seen in my skin in just four months, it’s incredible.

Sam’s been using the cream as well and has also seen a massive difference. We’ve recommended it to everyone we know. It’s great for reducing scars/blemishes but also for getting rid of spots.

I really can’t recommend it enough, it’s made such a difference to my skin and to my confidence. I go to the gym and pop to the shops without makeup on now for the first time in years!

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For those of you who have followed me for a while you’ll know that I’m a massive fitness fan. I love going to the gym and have done for around two years now.

When I first joined the gym I was underweight, I wasn’t eating enough and I had a very warped perception of what I looked like. I was just under 7 stone, I’d never pick up weights or use any machines that weren’t cardio. I’d go to the gym and work off more calories than I’d eaten in the day. As much as I never thought it at the time, looking back it was extremely unhealthy. I had a lot of the symptoms of Anorexia. I wouldn’t eat breakfast or lunch, only dinner when I was with my family. I would say I wasn’t hungry or pretend I’d already eaten when I hadn’t. I lost a lot of weight, I was tired all the time, I had no energy and I was completely over-emotional. I’d weigh and measure myself every day, sometimes a few times a day. I had a very warped perception of what I looked like, thinking I was much bigger than I was, thinking my thighs, my waist, my whole body was too big.

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It was strange for me because I didn’t want a skinny body. I wanted a fit body. I’d be constantly on Instagram looking at fit, slim, healthy bodies and wishing I had that. I made an album of inspiration on my phone but failed to see that at the time I was skinnier than all of these girls. I thought I had to lose weight to look like them when in reality I needed to gain weight and to exercise!

I continued on a calorie deficiency for a long time until I went to a Yoga class at my gym. The personal trainer who ran the class talked to me after and I showed her the photos of the fit/healthy girls I wanted to look like. She told me straight away that I’d need to gain weight to look like these girls. I was shocked but I was so unhappy with my body I took her advice. I started training with her and she helped me with meal plans and with understanding the importance of feeding your body and your muscles enough for the exercise you’re putting them through. I stopped doing cardio and started doing weights. Stopped being skinny and started being strong. My PT told me I had a good build for Bikini Fitness competitions and asked if it was something I’d be interested in. Initially I thought it was, I think I felt a bit pressured to say yes at the time. I admire Bikini Fitness competitors, you have to be so committed and so controlled. It requires 24/7 dedication.

We started working towards Bikini Fitness, the first step was to gain weight. I was eating clean to gain weight for the first three months, I managed to gain half a stone (7 pounds). Then I got ill and lost 5 pounds in one week. It was so difficult for me to gain weight, I started eating junk to try and put weight on more quickly. It was during this process that I realised Bikini Fitness really wasn’t for me, I couldn’t handle how my body looked while I was gaining weight. I still wanted to be fit and healthy but I knew I couldn’t handle the bulking cycles that Bikini Fitness competitors go through. I didn’t find going to the gym fun anymore. I was having to gain so much weight it felt like I was going backwards. I was going to the gym 6 days a week but looked more unfit than I did before.

I stopped my PT sessions, left that gym and opened a new membership closer to home. My new gym is fantastic, there’s a pool, a sauna, steam room, hot tub, classes are included. It’s a lot smaller and the people are so friendly. By this point I was around 9 stone, I’d come really far in terms of gaining a healthy amount of weight. I started to train with my boyfriend and his friends, still weight training without cardio. It was a lot more fun and I found I started actually looking forward to going to the gym again.

I trained with Sam and his friends for a few months but decided I wanted to be toned rather than muscly so I started to train on my own. I started doing HIIT training on the spin bike for 20 minutes after every workout. My body started to look a lot more like my goal. Before I went to Ibiza with Lipsy I trained really hard and ate well to try to look my best for holiday. When I came back I started my final exams at ACM.

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I was so stressed, I had loads of essays, assessments, written exams and performance exams. I didn’t have the time or the effort to go to the gym. I felt so bad for not going and felt like I was getting fatter and fatter by the day (I wasn’t).

Then I had a little mini epiphany. I realised I’d been going to the gym for two years and beating myself up every time I didn’t manage to go 5/6 days a week. I told myself I wouldn’t go to the gym until all of my exams were over and refused to beat myself up about it.

I had my last exam on Thursday (Hooray) and I’m heading back into the gym tonight for the first time in two months. I’m so glad I took the time off. It’s been a huge slap in the face for me, really helped to put things into perspective.

The internet/social media is full of beautiful, inspiring slim/fit women. Unfortunately from time to time they can make us feel pressured rather than motivated. To go to the gym, to get that dream bod. But in reality sometimes exercising isn’t the healthiest choice. As backwards as that sounds. I used to compromise sleep for exercise. I’ve come to realise that you have to do what’s most beneficial to your overall well-being. Sometimes what’s best for your body isn’t best for your brain and you need to find somewhere in-between. I’ve been under way too much stress and pressure to be hitting the gym every day.

My tummy and my hips have a little more jiggle now but I’m still toned, I’m still healthy and for the first time in two years I’m really happy. I’m going to get back into the gym and work hard because I have the time now. I’ll work hard because I want to progress, not because I hate how I am.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this is don’t worry. Having your dream bod would be great but for most of us it’s not the number one priority. Work out when you can and don’t stress it when you can’t. I’m not the fittest I’ve ever been but I’m happy, I’m enjoying myself. And I can guarantee when you’re old you’ll look back at your holiday photos and wonder why you were ever unhappy with your body.

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