Monday, December 31, 2018

Reflecting on 2018...

Some years seem to pass you by, in the blink of an eye...whereas others can seem like a constant uphill battle, full of life lessons. 2018 was probably my toughest year yet, but I'm so thankful for it and everything that happened.

Shortly before Christmas of 2017, I finally went and got help for my mental health - so I knew 2018 was going to be a hard and challenging year...and I wasn't wrong. I was at my lowest and I mean that whole-heartedly. I was at rock bottom, I don't think I could have been any lower. When people talk about depression or mental illness in general, they often liken it to already feeling dead. It's like your body still works, your heart is still beating, but your spirit is dull and no longer there. I was drained. Physically and emotionally. I was struggling to even force myself to keep going and even the simplest of tasks, such as washing my hair or cooking myself food, seemed impossible.

I didn't even know who I was anymore and it felt like not finding out would be the easier option. Having to reinvent yourself after a breakdown or burnout is really one of the hardest things to do. But I kept going. It was months full of different medications, crappy side effects, unfriendly mental health service members, lots of waiting lists and telling your story again and again. I remember it being very painful, the emotional pain was so intense it felt like I had been set on fire or something. Getting through each day was HARD, it's like I could barely even breathe. So, instead of taking each day as it came, I focused on getting through each minute and each hour.

The biggest help came from a surprising source. I thought I would attend therapy a couple of times and be cured but the thing I'm most thankful for is...YouTube. Now, this probably sounds a little bit dumb but it's so true. Before, I never got why people were so obsessed with YouTubers or why there were fangirls over the age of 15 but now I GET IT and I eat all of my words.

Shane Dawson and David Dobrik low-key saved my life this year...

I would be experiencing very dark thoughts but then I'd watched their videos and I'd actually smile and laugh - and forget everything that was going on. They really got me through the hardest days. The weirdest thing when you're at your that you don't even really notice yourself getting better, but you slowly do. I stopped feeling so broken, all of the time. I started to laugh again and feel healthier. I made new friends, I started a new job doing something I l o v e. I'm finally doing something FUN and creative and it makes me feel fullied. I started to realise my own self-worth and I learnt that I can be single and still feel GREAT about myself. I felt as though it was important to stay single - so that I could actually focus on myself and my own well-being, without having to put so much energy into a new relationship.

I reconnected with old friends and also my dad. I found new hobbies and passions, one of which was YouTube! I had wanted to create my own channel for y e a r s but I was always too anxious but I love it so much and I cannot wait to make more videos in the new year. (You may have also noticed that I blogged a lot less this year. It's mainly just to do with work and YouTube taking up so much of my time!)

Of course, I'm not magically cured and there are times where I don't feel great and I doubt myself and the progress I've made but I'm in such a better place - and you know what? I think I'm going to be okay. Everyone always preaches about how different your life can be in a year. I remember thinking about that a lot when I went to my first appointment for my mental health. "In one years time, maybe I won't feel like this" - but 365 days can seem like an incredibly long time when you don't want to wake up each morning, but I did it! I made it. I am in a completely different place. It really does get better, in time.

So, hi 2019! I am so ready for you.

There are so many things I'm looking forward to in the coming year and although, admittedly, there will be lots of tough things to face and more life lessons to learn - I haven't felt this positive in a very long time!

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading!
Best wishes for 2019.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Why Christmas Can Be The Hardest Time Of The Year

They say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and for the most part, it really is. There's so much to be happy and grateful for during the Christmas period...but after someone you love dies, everything changes, completely. Forever.

My Grandad impacted my life so much. I probably wasn't even aware how much I adored and idolised him, until after he died, very suddenly. I never had a great relationship with my father - and so my Grandad gave me the love and nurturing that I needed. It quickly became evident to me as a child that I couldn't rely on my father but my Grandad would always be there, through everything. Any dance show I had, he was there. Anytime I was worried about ANYTHING, he'd make me feel okay and safe again. Losing him was my first experience with grief and it has been so much harder than I could have ever imagined and since then, I've always wanted to write about it here on my blog. There are so many notes stored away in my phone about how much it SUCKS and too many cringe-inducing metaphors for the pain that I'm oh, so glad I never shared with anyone.

Any type of grief is incredibly difficult to endure - but losing the parent-like figure in your life is something that you will never be prepared for, ever... 

Everyone that celebrates Christmas probably has their own traditions but I think the one thing that we can all relate on is having that one thing or event that without wouldn't even feel like Christmas. You know, that feeling of "Wow, it's officially Christmas." For me, Christmas would officially start on Christmas Eve. After baking gingerbread, my Grandad would come over to give us the presents from the rest of the family. It wasn't the presents that I looked forward to, it was just seeing him. Denial is a really painful thing but also seems to be my most used coping mechanism. If something hurts too much and I can't find a way to immediately fix it, let me drink a hot cup of denial. 

When the first Christmas after my Grandad's death arrived and he didn't come over, like he usually would, it's like my heart broke all over again. That probably sounds dumb because of course, I should have accepted the fact...but sometimes, you expect the people you love to defy all logic and always find a way to come back to you. 

Dr. Seuss once said: “Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” and I feel that in my soul. 

When you lose someone, you don't just lose that person. You're instantly stripped of so many things...things you didn't even realise had a huge amount of value to you, at the time. It almost feels like a piece of you died with them. Sadly, our most well-loved traditions can end up becoming huge triggers and even make the festive period difficult to get through. 

This year will be the fifth Christmas without my Grandad and if you're reading this and have lost someone too, you will know oh, so well just how quickly time seems to fly once they're no longer here. People would always tell me that I need to get over it and even though I knew life needed to move forward, it was still a really difficult thing to accept. 

It doesn't have to just be grief though, many people don't enjoy Christmas for many different reasons and it can have a huge impact on your mental health. Last year, I visited my GP shortly before the Christmas period and even he explained that many people find the festive period extremely hard, which made me feel a lot less alone. As cliché as it sounds, time really does heal and although Christmas will never be the same for me, I don't dread the festive period as much as I used to. This year especially, I've actually started to feel excited again. 

So, if you're reading this and are dreading the Christmas period, for whatever reason. Here are some tips that I found helpful...

1. Your feelings are SO valid. It's ok to express them!

Whenever I've experienced a huge emotional trauma, I automatically feel guilty for having those emotions and quickly try to bury them because I don't want to bring anyone else down. I think sometimes, it feels easier to fight your feelings and pretend something isn't happening than actually treating yourself the way that you should. Trying to pretend something isn't happening may seem like a good idea in the moment, however, you usually end up going into a mode of self-destruction and making a lot of unhealthy choices. Albus Dumbledore once said: "Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." and has he ever been wrong? NOPE! It's totally okay not to be okay, regardless of the time of year. The best thing I learnt this year is that sometimes, you just need to feel what you feel, it's such an important part in the healing process.

2. Practice self-care as much as you can. 

When I'm struggling the most with my mental health, I always seem to completely neglect my basic needs but I think this can make us feel so much worse. Always make sure you're getting enough water, food and sleep. I can't even articulate how important this is!!!

3. It's okay to stay within your comfort zone.

I think the festive season can create a lot of unnecessary pressure. To be have the BEST Christmas and to attend a whole load of parties and family events. I used to dread the Christmas season because I didn't want to disappoint anyone but I think it's totally okay to stay within your comfort zone and celebrate Christmas how you want to. Not all families are perfect, some are very toxic and it is MORE than okay to not want to endure that. Celebrate how you want to, with who you want to. If not celebrating at all would make you happy, do it and don't feel guilty. 

4. Take breaks.

If you aren't a huge fan of Christmas or you just find the day to be "too much", either physically or mentally, be sure to take time out when you need it. This could range from just getting some fresh air and going on a quick walk or whatever you think would help you relax and de-stress. You might even find it helpful to pre-plan your day to ensure you'll be comfortable. 

5. Communicate with your support network.

Whether you're going through a painful breakup, struggling with your mental health or grieving for someone, when things get tough, talk to your support network so they know how you're feeling. I think this is so important because, this way, you'll have someone on your side, helping you through it all. When I was most sad about my Grandad, I found it really helpful to talk about him, to help keep his memory alive. Last year, I was going through a very painful breakup and I'm so thankful for my Mum for helping me through it all! It can be really daunting expressing your feelings to someone else but it really does help!

Please remember that you're never alone, no matter how bad it seems - and I hope you have a lovely Christmas, however you're choosing to spend it! 

Samaritans - 116 123
Available 24/7 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Friends Can Break Your Heart Too - Toxicity in Friendships

Toxic friendships - how to spot them?

I'm no stranger to fuckboys and heartbreak. Let's face it, I've had the Twitter meltdowns to prove it - and even though, it can feel like the worse pain you'll ever experience, I think the breakdown of these kinds of relationships are a lot easier to accept and deal with because, with these people, deep down, they don't owe you anything and sometimes, relationships just don't work out and you have to let people go so that they can live their life to their full potential, y'know?

But more recently, I realised that sometimes, unfulfilling friendships can leave you feeling just as heartbroken and I don't think it's something I see being spoken about enough...

Personally, though, I feel like it's almost that little bit worse when the betrayal comes from a friend because they're meant to be YOUR friend, your ride or die and when they're just..not, it's a new form of rejection to learn to deal with. I think toxic friendships are especially dangerous because in a normal romantic relationship, the second it starts to enter the toxic danger-zone, you'll more than likely talk to your friends about it and they'll soon help you realise that the behaviour isn't normal or okay and then you can start to make important choices about what you want to do, moving forward. But what do you do when your friends are the problem - who do you turn to then? It can be an extremely isolating situation.

I'm the worst person to end up in toxic situations because no matter what that person does, I feel like I can't leave. I convince myself that they didn't mean that horrible comment, they didn't mean to emotionally manipulate me and anyway, they're definitely not going to do it again - and even if they do, everyone deserves second chances, right? This thinking pattern is not healthy and will only lead you to a long road of misery. I've been there and got the unwanted t-shirt to prove it.

Growing up, I had lots of friends. I was always quite a social person and loved having a big group around me but looking back, none of those friendships were good and most of them were very one-sided and toxic. I could make a video about some of the most shocking moments, like, when my "friend" had sex with my first boyfriend or when another "friend" tried to convince me to break up with my boyfriend because "he didn't like me" JUST SO SHE COULD TRY AND DATE HIM, only to then want to date my next boyfriend too!!!! I try and laugh at these memories now but when you're going through it, it's intense and leaves you feeling very alone and almost like there's something wrong with you.

When you're growing up and you make friends at school, college and then at university, you have it kind of drilled into you that these are friendships that will last forever and these will be the people at your wedding and so, you need to try and keep these friendships alive, no matter what. But I think it's also so important to, sometimes, just take a step back and reassess these relationships and how they actually make you feel because it's so easy to keep someone in your life that drains all of your energy, but it can be the most detrimental thing to your mental well-being.

There's a quote I always see being shared a lot, which says:

"You could meet someone tomorrow that will have better intentions for you than someone you’ve known for years"

And it's SO true. Sometimes, it's really hard to walk away from certain friendships because they've been there, through everything, but if something or someone doesn't have a positive influence in your life anymore, you need to just let it go and walk away. I think maintaining friendships when you're growing up is quite an easy feat, because, you don't even know who you really are yet, you're almost like a blank canvas, just waiting to discover and find yourself. When I think back to the people I was once "best friends" with, I can't even think of a single reason why we were actually friends. We didn't even really have anything in common, we were probably just friends because we attended the same school and it was as simple as that.

Once you reach adulthood, the friendship thing becomes a little more tricky. Not only is it harder to meet friends once you're past the education portion of your life, but the maintaining aspect of friendships seems to become a lot harder too. Let's face it, the older we get, the more trauma we've likely experienced and endured, which means that we all have some form of emotional baggage with us - and it's all about how we choose to deal with this, and ultimately, ensuring that we're not taking our problems out on those closest to us, which can be oh, so easy to do.

Toxic friendships will always be easy to spot...

You dread being around them or them making any form of contact because the experience will always be more draining than enjoyable or fun.

And the common behavioural traits are:

1. They patronise you
This could be about your job, your hobby or literally anything else in between. This is quite damaging in my opinion because it can leave you feeling incredibly small and overthinking everything you've ever said or done.

2. They make backhanded comments 
This could range from a compliment that's completely backhanded or it could be something like a small dig, that they may try and pass off as a "joke". Jokes in friendships and relationships, in general, can be a difficult thing and the lines of what is and what isn't okay can sometimes, become a little blurred. I think it's important to realise the difference between an actual joke and something that you've said that is low-key mean and offensive, but you've disguised it by claiming it's "just a joke". There's a saying that there's always a little truth hidden behind jokes and that is so true! If you make a "joke" and your friend/acquaintance/co-worker/anyone doesn't find it funny and they're actually a little bit hurt by it, you should NOT argue back and make them feel worse by using the narrative that "they can't take a joke" Just admit your judgment was clouded and apologise, it's as simple as that, hun.

3. The friendship is one-sided 
Friendships or any kind of relationships, need to be a two-way street. However, some people definitely do not get this memo and take and take, without giving anything back. Are you always the one reaching out and attempting to make plans? Do you know everything about their life but they don't ever ask about anything you're going through? One-sided friendships don't always mean someone is a shit person though and this definitely has some exceptions. If someone has recently started isolating themselves in your relationship and/or with other people too, it could just mean that they're struggling mentally and maybe it's time you ask if everything is okay. However, the bottom line is - if your friend only contacts you when they want something and it feels like you're putting in SO much effort and getting nothing in return, it's probably time to cut your losses.

4. They constantly give you criticism 
Honesty is such an important thing in any relationship - and sometimes, the best thing you can do for your friend is simply telling them exactly how it is and what you think. This is such a vital thing for me because I'm someone that doesn't always spot the obvious or maybe I'm just in constant denial about a lot of's probably the latter if we're honest lol AND I need a truthful friend to tell me the real tea. But another really important thing? Kindness. There are some people that will just pick and pick and pick about anything they can. It can leave you feeling like nothing you will ever do will be good enough - and if I'm honest, I think I have been the friend to do this in a jokey way, but again, some people won't find it amusing and it's best to just not do it!!! Instead of saying something that could be potentially harmful, say something you like about your friend. Be their personal cheerleader, rooting for them, through everything - or follow what Thumper from Bambi said "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all"

5. They play games with your emotions
Sometimes in friendships or any relationship, I'm left wondering if the other person is toxic or if I'm just being too sensitive and then they start to play the horrible, emotional games and it just justifies everything that I was thinking. The easiest way to spot this is, firstly, by feeling like you're the only adult in the relationship and the other person is just acting like a child by doing things like talking behind your back, punishing you by giving you the silent treatment or excluding you from all future social situations. This kind of treatment is so toxic and you shouldn't put up with it.

In my teen years, I had lots of "friends" but three gals that I classed as my best friends. As I entered my late teens, I was going through A LOT and I started drinking quite often and I also acted out because I was dealing with undiagnosed mental health issues. One day, I had an intervention with myself and knew I needed to change my life asap or I didn't know where I'd end up. I started staying home a little more and looking after myself, I cut the drinking and I stopped reaching out to those friends and it was weird...the second I stopped making the effort, they soon disappeared from my life - and at first, it really hurt but I soon realised, I felt free without the toxicity and negativity in my life. I also realised that friends that make you question your self-worth and constantly make you feel insecure are not really your friends, at all.

As it stands now, I don't really have a "girl gang" and although it makes me a little sad sometimes, I really struggle to let people in these days. I think I'll do another post soon about "the girl gang" situation because Sex and the City made us all believe that we'd be out every weekend, drinking cosmopolitans with the girls - and for some of us, it just hasn't happened that way. 

Since I became single last year, I've been less concerned with dating someone new and I've been making new friends instead and it's made me so much happier than going on failed dates. However, there is a certain friend that I've made, who at first, I really adored...but as time went on, I realised that they had such a toxic and negative impact on my life. The patronising, the small digs, the unfunny jokes at my expense - all very draining. I had to distance myself for my own sanity. If you related to any of this post and have someone in your life that drains you, maybe it's time to distance yourself too. It can seem impossible to cut ties with these types of friends, especially if they haven't done anything *too bad* but if you constantly feel drained, you probably need to take a step back, for your own mental well-being.

If you read this and you're thinking "shit, I think I'm the toxic friend" Don't beat yourself up, I think we all go through experiences in life, where we don't realise how our behaviour or comments can make someone feel. Just apologise, learn from it and move on.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Unrealistic and Staged Content

This week, blogger and YouTuber "Scarlett London" set her latest collaboration live. Now, for an online influencer, this isn't really that out of the ordinary. You may even think, okay - why is this even news? And you're not wrong. Why is this news?

It all started on August the 31st, when a Twitter user under the name of @hintofsarcasm shared the image above and captioned it "Fuck off this is anybody's normal morning. Instagram is a ridiculous lie factory made to make us all feel inadequate." He then went on to tweet how this idealistic view is very different from his actual morning routine. Now, I'm not disputing his comment at all, anyone is free to have their own views, especially on the internet, it's full of opinions and I'm so here for it. I love seeing people have important discussions about various different topics.

However, this wouldn't just be a throwaway comment that no-one would remember the next day. The tweet quickly went viral, with thousands and thousands of people adding to the thread - and some even felt compelled to go over to Scarlett's Instagram page and comment something directly, to ensure that she would see it. Now, again...opinions are FINE and great but there is a pretty mighty fine line between what is and what isn't okay to say to someone. I think this is one of the biggest problems that we face when putting ourselves out there online, the "audience" we have sometimes seem to forget that we're actual real-life people, with feelings. The comments I've seen regarding Scarlett this week have been insane and far from acceptable.

It's okay not to enjoy staged content but death threats will never be okay, in any context.

 So, let's discuss the underlying issue - the rise of staged online content. Is it as terrible as it seems? 

Once upon a time, Instagram was probably, ironically, one of the most unfiltered social media platforms out there. The images uploaded didn't need to be heavily produced, you could just snap a picture of whatever you were doing at the time, pop a filter over the top and BOOM, all your pals would like it and that would be that. Over the years, with the influx of new bloggers and vloggers and other online creatives,  the quality of what is expected on Instagram seems to become greater and greater, every single day. It almost does feel impossible to keep up and this only got worse when Instagram decided to mess around with the algorithm, which makes it nearly impossible to grow on the platform anymore. 

But I don't think we should hate on this overly produced content. After all, photography and filmmaking have always been considered as a form of art, so why is this suddenly picked apart the second it comes from a woman on the internet, making some money from it? It's a question I would really love the answer to.

I'm only a tiny person on the internet. I don't have brand deal offers in my inbox, every day of the week but I have had my own experience of doing them in the past...

The second you accept a sponsorship, you are accepting to do a large amount of work. Brands will look at your writing, your videos, your photography skills and they want you replicate that sort of content, featuring their product. When influencers tag their posts with #AD, it means exactly that - it's an advertisement. 

Now, there are so many examples of advertisements and how they create an idyllic image, that you will want to buy into. For example, when "" wanted to promote their latest summer pieces, they created an advert that showed an idealistic view of the festival season, so you'll watch and buy into that image. In real life, festivals aren't that perfect. You'll be met with overly persistent gross men, be knee deep in mud and let's not forget the horrific toilet situation but, of course, they don't show you that because then you wouldn't want to buy into the image. It's just straightforward marketing. 

And this sort of thing can be found anywhere, by any brand. Another popular example is fast food adverts. They make their food look like the most exquisite, appetising thing that will ever touch your lips - and the intention of their advert works because you'll soon experience the most intense cravings for that food because, in your mind, it will be just as incredible as it was on screen. However, the reality is quite sobering and every single time, the food looks nothing like it did on TV. The worst culprit for this has to be McDonald's. Their adverts always look incredible but when you actually buy their food, it kind of looks like someone has been sat on your meal for at least 20 minutes, before handing you your order. The disappointment is real. 

Now, you could argue that the difference between advertisements with well-known brands and influencers is that you expect bloggers and online creatives to be much more relatable and that's totally valid. I think the relatable factor was what made so many influencers popular in the first place. I remember being a young teen and being obsessed with Zoella because she was just a normal gal but obviously, over time, money became no object to her and her posts were more centred around herself living in her £1million house, with her dog. That is no way relatable to me, so I stopped watching. 

Earlier this year, I was going to write a post discussing whether bloggers were still relatable but I never hit publish, for some reason. In that post, I sort of realised that it's impossible for a blogger or anyone online to be deemed relatable to everyone because we're all so different, our realities are not always going to align. When scrolling through Scarlett's Instagram, on the surface, of course, it isn't relatable to me but I also think she uses her Instagram as a creative outlet, which should always be encouraged. On the other hand, if Scarlett had have done a much more realistic spin on that sponsorship, I just honestly don't think it would have done as well, in terms of engagement and likes. YouTuber "Brittney Lee Saunders" recently posted on her Instagram stories, where she said how she often gets comments from people saying that they want to see real life and relatable content, but the more produced and staged posts are the ones that usually do the best - and it's true. I personally never see minimalistic posts do as well as the more produced style of content.

I've seen many comments which say that Instagram feeds that show unrealistic and staged content are a huge contributor as to why young girls struggle mentally...because they're comparing themselves. I've thought a lot about this statement and I just don't think I agree. The first time I started showing signs that I was struggling mentally, I was 11 years old. Instagram didn't exist and I don't think I had any social media accounts, apart from maybe a Bebo account but let's all pretend that never existed. I do think social media is quite a toxic environment for anyone, no matter how young or old you are and I think you can easily fall trap to comparing yourself to everyone, it can be a pretty vicious cycle.

I saw a tweet from Vix Meldrew and she said "If you feel inadequate looking at images like this, and then feel the need to belittle Scarlett on social media then it says a lot about you as a person"

And I have to agree. There will always be people who seem utterly perfect. It's like whatever you can do, they can do it so much better. We will also always have FOMO, we will probably always compare ourselves to some aspect, but if I've learnt anything this year, it's that you need to safeguard yourself and do what you think is best for your own sanity. Sometimes, you will come across people that make you feel insecure or they might trigger certain memories or feelings and every time you see their name pop up, you forget how to even breathe. It happens. But you don't need to be venomous and spread unnecessary hate. Just unfollow/mute/block and move on. It's really that simple and don't ever feel guilty for the steps you have to take to get through the day but remember: it's never okay to be so nasty over something as silly as an image on Instagram. 

Everyone always talks about how many bloggers and influencers there are around these days and it's always said in quite a negative light, like, maybe there isn't enough room for us all, but I think it's a good thing. That means there are bloggers out there for us all. If you don't like the staged and unrealistic content, there will be the perfect lifestyle blogger out there, waiting for you. Don't waste your time following people who make you question your own worth. 

If you have any thoughts on this topic, feel free to leave them below in the comments!
Saturday, September 01, 2018

A Fresh Start.

pipdig OPULENCE blogger template

So, hi! I'm back again, after a little break...

Lately, I've been thinking about how much I just absolutely loved blogging back in 2014. There were Twitter chats pretty much every night of the week, I had just bought my first proper camera and my own domain too! My little hobby was so new and fresh and exciting. That year, my Grandad died and soon after that, my long-term relationship ended too. I'll be honest, after all that, I was kind of on a downward spiral and I was so depressed. I don't think I really mentioned it too much online at first but I was pretty much dead inside. I had no energy, I could barely do anything. I would always try and try to get back into the blogging thing again because once upon a time, it saved me but it seemed almost impossible. My mind would constantly be blank, I had no creative juices flowing, ever. I would turn on my camera and when it instantly didn't look like a Pinterest image, I would turn the camera back off again and tell myself that I couldn't do anything.

This year, was the year that changed everything for me and I don't even know how it started to get better. It was just like, one day, something clicked and I was a different person. If you're currently struggling yourself, please know that one day, it will get better. Life is hard and super weird. You can be sad for 250 days and then all of sudden, everything feels a little bit lighter again. Healing isn't linear though and of course, I still have days where I don't feel great but I think I'm in such a better place now.

I've been really enjoying blogging again this year but there was always a small little niggle, in the back of my mind, like, I wasn't entirely happy with my blog anymore and I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was or why. The time came to renew my domain, I was going through the checkout and I just got one of those weird feelings that I shouldn't do it. I wasn't happy with "Belle Chaton" anymore and I didn't want to commit to another year, under that name. I first made this blog when I was sixteen, I've obviously changed a hell of a lot since then and it was about time my online space had a much needed refresh.

If I'm totally honest, I don't think I ever really loved the name "Belle Chaton" and sometimes, I get asked where the name actually came from and I'll tell ya the story now! In 2011, I fell in love with all of the big beauty vloggers and quickly became obsessed with those types of videos. I so badly wanted to make my own, but I was too anxious and I also remembered when everyone in my year at school, found out that the new girl made YouTube videos and so they bullied her and would play her videos, all of the time in the school hallways and looking back, that's pretty insane behaviour, just for a harmless video about a bloody BUTTERFLY. If you're a school pal, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!! Kids are so mean for such pointless reasons.

Because of all that, I didn't feel like YouTube was an option and then I found the world of blogging and couldn't wait to start my own. As I didn't want anyone from school to find it, I couldn't just have my actual name. This was also 2011, the time period where everyone made sure that their blog names included some really bad French, translated via Google aka probably not correct AT ALL. If you can't beat them, join them and SO I DID! I also wanted to incorporate cats in my URL too, because let's face it - I will never love anyone more than my cat, obvs. My boyfriend at the time, suggested Belle Chaton and I went with it because I didn't think the name would be too important but I always low-key hated it.

I would always worry that people would find my blog and I thought it was simply the blogging aspect that I was embarrassed about, but I later realised that it wasn't that at all and it was mainly just down to the fact that I just hated the name. I remember when someone I knew in real life asked me "what's belle chaton?" MY LUNG COLLAPSED. 

My YouTube channel has always just been my name and it felt right that everything should be changed to match. I also got a lovely new theme from 
pipdig and I'm really starting to love my little blog again. Side note: if you're looking to buy a new theme, definitely go with pipdig!!!! Phil is SO lovely and helpful. The last time I purchased a theme, it was from Etsy and the girl was just so rude and unhelpful. I have NO CLUE what I'm doing when it comes to HTML, if I'm buying a theme from you, you should have no problem answering my questions, babe. pipdig have so much information readily available but if you do still have a problem, they always help answer all your questions and I think that is why the brand is so successful. Another thing I've noticed with companies that provide services for bloggers and other online creatives is that they treat you VERY differently, depending on your follower count, which is craaaazy! If someone is paying you for a service, you shouldn't give them a bad experience just because they're not promoting skinny teas on their Instagram stories...

I won't set a blogging schedule and say I will commit to posting tons and tons because I really don't want to force content anymore, but I definitely have my motivation back and have so many ideas for posts! I would like to post at least once a week but we shall see! If I go a while without a new post, I'm either busy with work, busy editing a YouTube video or I'm just a little bit sad and overthinking my entire life, y'know? 

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading and I hope you like the lil makeover!
RIP Belle Chaton xoxo

Friday, August 03, 2018


So, hi...I haven't sat down and written a post on this blog in a hot minute, it almost feels alien to me at this point. I've been blogging since around 2011 and in recent years, I put a lot of pressure on myself to stick to a schedule, ensuring to put out three posts a week and I almost didn't even care how good they were anymore, I just needed to stick to that bloody schedule.

In the last few months, a lot of things have changed for me in so many great ways (mostly to do with work, which is v. exciting!!) and as a result, my thought process is completely different and I came to the realisation that I didn't want to force out content anymore. Instead, I'll use this blog more so when I actually have something to say. I think more and more bloggers are doing this and are no longer worrying about sticking to schedules and I am now doing the very same. If you enjoyed my true crime posts, these will now be over on my second blog - Gloomy Corner

So, today I wanted to jump back into my mental health series and discuss my experience with therapy. Before my break, I wrote two posts about therapy which you can read here & here and they're both pretty positive because that's how I felt at the time. I always said I'd do an update but life got in the way and it never happened, but I thought I'd finally do that today! 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Brand Focus: Case App (& Giveaway)

Case App Laptop Skin and Phone Case Review

I love Pinterest so much. If I see something online or in a store and it looks like something that I would repin to one of my (many, many) boards, I have to buy it. There are always so many posts and videos online of purchases people have made because of Instagram, but Pinterest is my weakness. Five minutes on Pinterest and I have already made plans to bleach my hair, redecorate my whole house and travel the world. Please tell me you're all like this too????? It's becoming a problem. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Bake: Smartie Flapjacks

One of my favourite things to do is bake and I really need to make more of a conscious effort to try and do it more and more! Tanya Burr isn't someone I even follow anymore, but when her 'Tanya Bakes' book was first released, I purchased it and recently, I realised that I had never even really made THAT much from it, so, one day, when I felt like baking, I noticed that I already had all the ingredients in the house to make her 'Smartie Flapjacks' so I went ahead and made them, and so today, I thought I'd share the recipe because sometimes it's nice to make something super quick and easy! 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

An aspect I have wanted to introduce to my blog for a little while now is talking about video games, and I've really wanted to write a post about my all-time favourite game, The Last of Us but I don't even know how to begin to articulate just how much I love that, but today, I thought I'd start off with something a little easier and talk about the new game "Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery".

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018) Review

As a huge horror fan, a film that I had been excited about seeing for a while was A Quiet Place, and when people I know then started to see it for themselves and said just how incredible the sound design was, I knew it was a film that I had to make sure that I went and saw in cinema; watching it at home just wouldn't have the same effect and I'm so glad I did! 

A Quiet Place follows the Abbott family - 
Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Lee (John Krasinski), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward), as they attempt to live in a futuristic world that has been overtaken by extraterrestrial creatures. The year is 2020 and these blind entities roam Earth while being extremely susceptible to sound...The slightest noise can draw them in and result in a horrifically gruesome death, in only a matter of minutes. The Abbott family seem to be some of the only remaining survivors in the area and are working together to learn more about the creatures, calculating what could be their weakness. One thing's for sure though, you mustn't make a single sound and so the family have no choice but to live in complete silence. Things are going seemingly well, they've gone undetected, but then Evelyn becomes pregnant and they have to try and discover new ways of making it through, with a crying baby added into the mix...

The film, directed by John Krasinski is 90 anxiety-inducing minutes long, that completely grips you from the opening scene and manages to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. I went into watching this completely blind, I decided to not even watch the trailer because I love it when a horror film catches you off-guard and you're not wondering in the back of your mind when certain events, might take place. It takes mere seconds before you realise that they're in some sort of post-apocalyptic world, however, I just didn't know  what sort of monster or creature they were trying to avoid, but they don't keep you guessing for too long and within the first five minutes of the film, the rules are quickly established and we see just how dire the consequences of making a slight sound is.

The concept of A Quiet Place is pretty simplistic, but they run with it and take it to the absolute extreme and Krasinski executes it seamlessly and as a result, not only does it make for a fabulous horror film, but it's also some pretty great filmmaking in general. Some people will pigeonhole this film as just being another post-apocalyptic horror/thriller film but it's SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. When making a film of this genre, a common mistake that is often made is focusing too heavily on the creatures or monsters and not spending enough time on the character development and developing their story, but this film manages to avoid falling into that trap and it made this so much more than just about the monsters lurking in the shadows, it's about a family and their struggle and fight to survive. When I walked into the theatre, I expected to feel the typical emotions I feel when watching a horror film, but I didn't think I'd experience such a huge range of emotions, with such a touching, heartfelt premise that actually had me in tears at one point! 

John Krasinski stated that the close-knit family premise is what initially drew him to the script, not the evident horror themes. He went on to say that he wanted the film to feel really beautiful, almost like a Western film and he took inspiration from the Terrence Malick films such as Days of Heaven (1978) and The Thin Red Line (1998). They decided to shoot on film because this way, it plays with light really well and as it's not so HD, they can play with the shadows and light to create more mystery and tension, to almost make you feel as trapped as the family do.

This is a quiet film, not a silent film, which means that although the dialogue is extremely minimal, the use of sound is incredibly important and almost becomes a main character in itself. A film with an apocalyptic premise that has very little dialogue can be an extremely difficult feat because it's hard to communicate to the audience about what is going on, without being able to say it directly. There are multiple ways a filmmaker could go about this and with A Quiet Place, they use a mixture of sign language, body language and facial expressions to communicate with the audience and the cast really pulled this off amazingly well. If I remember correctly, there are around seven characters in the entire film, four of which are children and everyone's performances were exceptional and so believable. You find yourself liking each one of the characters, very quickly into the film and thus wanting them to beat all of the odds, and survive. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski are of-course married in real life and their chemistry on-screen was outstanding and they worked incredibly well together, portraying the right amount of emotion and vulnerability. 

Millicent Simmonds who plays Regan in the film is actually deaf in real life and Krasinski only wanted someone who was deaf themselves to fill that role, as he felt that they would be able to give a much more honest portrayal, and it's said that Millicent worked with John to develop signing habits and styles that worked and identified with each family member and their character arc and attitude. At certain points in the film, they completely take all the sound out, as a way of portraying her perspective. I also saw this technique in the film Hush (2016) and I really love it and think it works well to create so much more tension for that character because you know how much more vulnerable it can make them, in certain situations. 

Another way of communicating with the audience was the use of the production design and all the little details found in each different set, that shows how the family have adjusted to living in this new world. For example, they live in a simple barn but use hay bales as a makeshift sofa. It's evident that even in the bleak world that they're living in, Lee and Evelyn are trying to make it as homely as possible for the children, giving them the best upbringing as they can. 

They have family photographs hung up, the children are homeschooled, they still have family dinners, but instead of using plates and cutlery, they eat with their hands from lettuce leaves. They are seen playing Monopoly but the game pieces are replaced with pieces of felt and they ensure to roll the dice on a blanket. They do as much as they can to try and reduce the noise levels; they paste newspaper on the walls of the nursey, they put empty egg cartons on the furniture, they leave trails of sand wherever they go and walk barefoot. They also painted the floorboards to notify each other which floorboards creak and which ones don't.

We find out the most information when we see down into the basement and see all of the newspaper clippings, which refer to the creatures as "angels of death". There's also a whiteboard which Lee has written down everything he knows about the creatures, which admittedly, isn't much, but we know that they're blind, they attack sound, have insane armour. There are at least three confirmed in the area...The way to survive is to ensure to obtain medical supplies and to soundproof the house, but one big question remains, what is their weakness? 

"I wanted to break all the rules or the conventions that I had seen in alien movies which is like a speech from the president and people deciding how to survive. There was no deciding, it just happened so fast that you either survived or you didn't. So it puts these people in a really tense place."

Usually, with this type of film, we start from the beginning of it all, when the outbreak initially starts and everyone is still in mass hysteria. We see all the cliche scenes of historical landmarks being destroyed and how the military chose to deal with it and maybe even a public official making a speech, but with this, there is none of that. We start on day 89 and then jump to day 472, where the family already know the deal and have established a new sort of normality. We're not fed tons of scientific information, we just know the same amount as the family do and as a result, we share their tension and anxieties.  

Admittedly, there are some questions left unanswered, like, how do they still have electricity? How does that all work? Some may say a generator, but surely that would create far too much noise. Even playing The Last of Us has taught me that this would definitely not be a good idea at all! And while we're on the topic of games, this definitely was very reminiscent of the game Until Dawn and their monsters "The Wendigos" They catch their prey by movement and they are very rarely seen, until they decide to pounce. 

I feel like some people are nit-picking far too much and I don't really think this is a film that needs to be over analysed too much or it loses its effect, but most of the questions that I had, I found answered online. I know a lot of people are very unhappy that Evelyn finds herself pregnant and how much of a silly idea this is. I understand that, but I think it's pretty evident why she decides to do this and even if the ideas I have of why this happens are wrong, it could have a much more symbolic reason, such as, showing that life goes on and there is hope even in the darkest of times, much like The Walking Dead.

"The idea behind all that is they're definitely aliens and they're an evolutionary perfect machine. So the idea is if they grew up on a planet that had no humans and no light then they don't need eyes, they only hunt by sound. They also develop a way to protect themselves from everything else so that's why they're bulletproof and all these things. I had to make it make sense and I needed the rules of the monster to adhere as tightly to the rules of the family. The family, we had set up all these incredible rules, and I needed the monster to not just be convenient. And the other idea was also the reason why they were able to survive kind of the explosion of their planet and then survive on these meteorites because they've evolved to be bulletproof. Until they open themselves up to be vulnerable, they're completely invulnerable."

And lastly, it wouldn't be a review by me, unless we spoke about the score, would it? Composed by Marco Beltrami, it is something that has completely divided viewers, with some finding it just too over-bearing. I, however, liked it! It's nothing incredible or life-changing and it won't win any awards, but for a horror film, it was actually pretty good and sort of gave me When a Stranger Calls (2006) vibes. I also feel like a special mention is needed for the song "Harvest Moon" by Niel Young, this was specially chosen by Krasinski, as it has a personal significance to him and his wife, Emily. The scene in which this song is played is so lovely and heartfelt and added some much-needed warmth to the film. 

A Quiet Place is incredible and it's probably one of the best horror films I've seen in a long while! I adore the horror genre, but I'm kind of over the ones that aren't really that thought out, and simply just rely on jump scares to be deemed worthy. The story is great and well-paced. The sound design is incredible and definitely deserves all the hype it's receiving! The silence, atmosphere, subtle themes and cinematography create such an immersive experience that I haven't felt from a film in such a long time. It filled me with dread from the very start and made me completely aware and cautious of myself and my surroundings at all times. The girl eating popcorn beside me...Was my breathing too loud? U G H. I felt suffocated and trapped and my heart was in my mouth the entire time. Incredible. Another film that reminds me just how brilliant cinema is! 

I highly recommend you all go and see this, even if horror films aren't usually your thing, this is definitely a good starting point, but make sure you see it in cinema, it won't have the same effect if you watch it at home and please, for the love of god, don't take popcorn in with you. If I can stop snacking for a couple of hours, so can you! Don't be THAT person.

If you've seen this film, I'd love to know your thoughts on it too!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Is Blogging Dead?

Things in the blogging community have been a little bit weird for a while now, haven't they? I've thought about it. I've tweeted about it, and then Vix made a whole Twitter thread summing up everything I've been feeling for a while and it inspired me to finally write down my thoughts about this and honestly, this may have turned into a little bit of a ramble on all my thoughts on the blogging community at the moment, but I hope ya enjoy anyway!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

10 Great Self Care Apps

I recently started a new series here on my blog, where I'm talking all things mental health and self-care. So far, I've shared my mental health story and I also did a more informative post about seeking help for a mental health problem.  Today I thought I'd share some of the best self-care apps that I've found recently. One thing I've learnt is that even once you've been to your GP, the wait list for treatment can be an extremely difficult time.  This is the period where a good support network is absolutely crucial, but obviously, someone can't be there for you 24/7. There will be times, where you have no choice but to be completely on your own and this is when making good choices is essential. During these times, when it all gets pretty damn hard, I've found these apps to be extremely helpful and I hope some of them may help you too!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

All The Stupid Reasons I Cried In March

Before you start jumping to conclusions that I'm turning into the Trisha Paytas of the blogging world, I thought this would actually be a pretty funny post to see all of the stupid reasons I cried during the month of March. Obviously, there will have been times I will have cried for actual serious reasons but I won't include them because that would be pretty bloody depressing. Everyone that knows me, knows I'm that GAL to cry at everything so lol, here we go!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

My First Counselling Session

As I'm writing this, I have just got back from my first counselling session and so I thought I'd document how I'm currently feeling.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Night Before My First Counselling Session

It's 12 hours until my first counselling session and I'm beyond terrified and keep thinking I just don't want to go. So today, I thought I'd write a new post for my mental health series, where I'll discuss the process of the lead up to getting my first counselling appointment.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

15 Reasons Why Serena Van Der Woodsen Is The Worst

Every time I've gone through a really bad breakup, there are certain things I do, in order to start feeling whole again. One of those things is re-watching Gossip Girl and so, during the last few months, I've been binge-watching all the episodes again. This is the first time I've watched it while not having a teenage mindset and I've seen it so much more differently. Nate and Blair were major relationship goals back in 2009 but now, I can finally see just how bland and vanilla their relationship really was. Also,  how had I never noticed how awful some of the characters were?!?! Growing up, I'd always question who I loved more...Blair or Serena; I even used to think it was an equal thing...HOW? Serena is such an awful person, I couldn't even comprehend some of the things she did! So...

Here are 15 reasons why Serena Van Der Woodsen is the worst. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

12 Easter Themed Phone Wallpapers

As Easter is just around the corner, I thought I'd compile a list of some of the cutest Easter themed wallpapers for your phone! Having mini eggs as my phone's background will definitely do nothing for that diet I keep telling myself I'm going to start soon but I'm going to do it anyway, obvs. I hope you all have a lovely Easter weekend, whatever you end up doing!  

One - Link
Two - Link
Three - Link
Four - Link
Five - Link
Six - Link
Seven - Link
Eight - Link
Nine - Link
Ten - Link
Eleven - Link
Twelve - Link

Friday, March 16, 2018

Annihilation (2018) Film Review

 (2018) follows Lena (Natalie Portman), a biology professor at Johns Hopkins, who's mourning the loss of her military husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac) who never returned from a top secret mission. A year on from his strange disappearance, he returns home, but something is very different about him; he doesn't remember anything about the mission he underwent and then he starts coughing up blood... It isn't long until they're both taken to Area X and Lena learns that Kane has been inside the 'Shimmer' - a visually beautiful, translucent dome that formed around a lighthouse three years ago. Scientists are eager to discover what's inside but anyone that's attempted to find out, never returns - that is, apart from Kane. In the hopes of finding out what has happened to her husband and maybe even cure him, Lena volunteers to join Josie (Tessa Thompson), Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Anya (Gina Rodriguez) and Sheppard (Tuva Novotny) on the all-female expedition into "The Shimmer".