Jesska Denise

Jesska Denise is an Irish beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog

1.8.18

Top 3 Things To Do: In Malta

things to do in malta

From time to time I receive messages on Instagram asking about my two trips to Malta; what is there to do in Malta? Where should we go in Malta? and so on. Which is why I decided to put this 'Top 3 Things To Do: In Malta' post together. I'm pretty fortunate that I've been able to visit Malta twice now. Once during winter, and once during the summer. Summer being my favourite time to visit. The weather was fab and the island was covered in beautiful flowers. However, if you can't handle the heat - winter is for you. I have family there and thankfully I've been able to stay with them on both occasions, meaning my advice is limited in terms of hotels and accommodation. But the island itself and things you can do? I think I'm pretty clued in there. There really is so much to see and do and there are still a few things on my list to see yet, but these are my Top 3 and I'll definitely be doing them again.

malta bay
mellieha

Thankfully the island of Malta is quite small, and as a tourist I found the transport service to be pretty decent. There's a number of bus stops and routes across the island to get you where you want to go, so if you're staying in the South of the Island, getting to the north isn't that far of a journey. My family are located in the North of the island close to Mellieha Bay which is the ideal spot if you're looking to take a boat tour to Gozo or engage in some water sport activities. 

  • Island Boat Tour
    We took an 'English rose cruise' out to camino and spent some time at the Blue Lagoon. With this tour we managed to get the best of both worlds - clear blue waters, and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the number of caves scattered along the way. I recommend booking a tour for early morning, that way you have the cool evening to explore other areas of the island.

malta caves
blue lagoon malta
malta island
malta boat tours

  • The Blue Lagoon Comino Island  
    is truly stunning. I've never seen anything like it. The water was so clear and clean, it reminded me of when we were kids and would look through travel brochures and questioned if the water really was that incredible. I was disappointed, because I can't swim so I couldn't fully enjoy the waters, but I did dangle over the edge. It's a shame because there's so much going on out here, and it's like a big party and everyone is so relaxed. There's people on the island selling ice cream and water, but I recommend bringing your own little picnic, save you having to climb over all the people and lose your spot by the water.

malta blog post
jesska denise
  • Sunset at Mellieha Bay  The last thing I recommend doing before you leave Malta? Take in the sunset from the beach. It was top of my list of things to do because lets be honest, everyone loves a good sunset. We headed down to Mellieha bay one evening and had a little picnic alongside the docks and watched as the sun slipped behind the hill in front of us. The fairy lights really added to the experience, watching them twinkle over the water. It was so pretty and peaceful. If you've had a busy day checking out the sites, I really can't recommend this enough. A few blankets, some fruit and good company and it will be the highlight of your trip. The best things in life are free after all.
sunset malta

On both my visits to Malta I didn't really venture too far from the North East of the island. But I thought I'd throw in just a few more suggestions. 
  • Shopping in Malta? Head to Sliema. 'The Point' is three stories and home to shops like New Look and Bershka and the best bathroom for selfies. We've been known to take a selfie or 10 in there. Sliema is pretty hilly so wear your comfy shoes that day, there's tonnes of cute shops and cafes and it's a really nice day out.
  • Night out in Malta? St Julians is the place to go. Dragonara Casino is one of the prettiest buildings I saw when I was over there, if you're looking to do something a little different this is the ideal thing to put on your list.
  • Game of Thrones fan? There's a number of locations across the island where scenes from the show have been filmed, it's top of my list to go back to Mdina and imagine myself being in GOT season one haha.
There is really so much to do, and depending on when you book your flights you can get a decent enough deal. I always check on skyscanner, and have never spent more than 120€ return. It is a long flight, so make sure you have enough to entertain you.

x
(If you're looking for a nice hotel in the Mellieha area, the Pergola was opposite my cousins apartment and it looked fabulous, you can check it out here.)

25.4.18

Thank You.

irish mental health blog

I just wanted to start this post off by saying a massive thank you for the response on my previous post, honestly, I was blown away by the response and number of messages I received. I didn't expect that reaction. To everyone who shared, thank you. To everyone who took the time to read, thank you. To everyone who took the time to write me a message, thank you. There are no words that could ever express how grateful I am to all of you. A number of things struck me after writing the post, that (1) people were surprised about how open I had been and (2), just how many of you were in similar situations. I would be lying if I said this didn't haunt me because I know how it feels and I just wish there was something more I could do. Which brings me to my next point, I'm going to continue with this openness on my blog and social media. Stigma and shame just add to the pain and loneliness. No one should ever have to feel that way on account of their illness. No one.
I took a year off blogging, I fell out of love with it. My inspiration and creativity was non-existent. But now I know what I want to achieve with my little corner of the internet and I'm excited to get writing again, I've missed being able to write freely. To watch words flow across my screen, I find it relaxing. Whether you're Irish or from overseas, please never hesitate to reach out to me for advice or  how you can help a friend or family member.
My next few months will be a round up of last year. I went abroad twice, went to a concert or two and experienced my first seaweed bath. I have a ridiculous number of pictures to share on here so get ready!
x

ps. I was asked to speak on 98fm Dublin Talks about my eating disorder and the post I wrote. It's available as a podcast here if you would like to give it a listen. I also spoke on my local radio station ShannonSide but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be available online.

10.2.18

Anorexia is a mental illness


I have struggled with anorexia for longer than I would ever care to admit. But the last three and a half years have seen me fall further down the rabbit hole so to speak. I have been in therapy for three years and outpatient treatment just isn't helping. The last couple of months have been particularly taxing. From the outside you would be forgiven for assuming everything is fine. Because that's the thing with anorexia, once you look relatively good 'weight wise', people assume everything is fine. Even the professionals who should know better.

Physical consequences

My body is struggling to keep up with the lack of nutrients I give it and if you look behind the makeup and nice clothes it becomes obvious. My blood is fine and right now, my bmi is considered okay in comparison to other anorexics. Everything is not fine. Blood tests mean nothing. I am 25 years old, and in December I found out that as a result of my anorexia I have developed Osteoporosis in my spine and Osteopenia in my hips. Right now, I'm scared of falling or moving wrong or being hugged too tight because my risk of spinal fracture is high. Three weeks ago I received an injection called 'Prolia' to help preserve my bones and I will have to repeat this in 6 months. My pharmacist said she had never prescribed it to someone so young which shocked me, but not as much as being told I had osteoporosis did.
When my weight dropped dramatically I developed Amenorrhea and since my weight has increased, my period has become irregular.

I am constantly cold. Cold to the point that my Mum recently had to buy me another duvet to put on top of the one already on my bed. The electric blanket just wasn't cutting it anymore. I wear thermals to work and sit with my scarf on. The colder I get the harder it is to think about anything else and sometimes I turn a bluish grey. My body aches. Aches in a way that I could never truly describe, but it's like the cold is lingering in my bones. I prefer being at home. I can be wrapped in layers, in front of the fire with a hot water bottle and not feel uncomfortable/embarrassed about how cold I am. I'm even freezing at home, where my brothers give out about how warm it is. I'm not cold because it's cold, I'm cold because despite what my eating disorder tells me, I don't have enough fat on my body to actually keep me warm. My back and upper arms are covered in lanugo because my body is fighting to keep me warm. It's embarrassing.

I work, spend time with friends and family and walk my dog but I have no energy. My sleep is poor and sometimes I'm so tired I could actually cry. I get B12 shots to help keep my energy up and to feel semi alive. I'm even exhausted walking upstairs. My eyes have the darkest circles, no concealer is strong enough. My blood pressure drops when I stand up and if I sit for too long. My heart flutters and beats too fast and too slow. There's been many nights where I thought I was going to die because my chest felt tight and weak and my heart was beating wrong.

My skin, my hair, my nails? Brittle, dry, sore. Beautiful skin and hair doesn't happen without proper nutrition. The body rules them out. Not important. It's focused on keeping me alive. Putting what energy it does get into my organs and heart. My hair falls out. It's dry. No hair mask could ever replenish it. Two chunks of it snapped off a few months ago and I've come to hate how it looks ever since. I have painful acne like I've never had before, dry skin and dry lips that make me look ill. I'd rather not put make up on it, but make up makes me feel semi human and hides it for the most part. My legs are forever covered in bruises, the B12 injections have improved this massively. But theres always a few lurking away.

But my bloods are totally fine. B12 was low for a while but has come up thanks to the injections. My blood is tested regularly because anorexia destroys your body from inside out. I've had more EKGs than I can count and at my lowest weight I was prescribed ensure to keep my weight level.

Treatment

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I have been struggling a lot these last few months. Mentally, I'm exhausted. My anxiety increased to the point where I was left with no other option than to start medication to help me manage it. Eating has been a rollercoaster. I stick to a rigid number of safe foods that I'm okay eating and I get by. I hate eating in front of people who aren't my family. I hate, hate, hate eating in restaurants. Before Xmas we had a work party at a restaurant, and I actually thought I was going to vomit because I was so anxious and nervous and there was no nutritional info online and my head was spinning right up until I got home after. I couldn't focus on the conversation at the table and the whole time I hated myself for being there. It's the same with lunch time. I can't. It pains me to do it. Breakfast is a massive no. The whole day is one big assault course that I have to tackle my way through. Anorexia is constantly screaming in my ear. Screaming about food. Screaming about eating in front of others. Screaming about eating too much. Screaming about sitting all day. Screaming about drinking too much water. Screaming about exercise (I'm no longer allowed to run which is killing me). Screaming about everything. It's like a bully who never leaves you. I don't have a life, I exist. Work. Home. Work. Anything outside of this is dangerous because it's not part of my routine. I'm not trusted. If I bring lunch to work it's not believed that I've eaten it. I'm constantly asked 'what have you eaten today Jess'. It's like being on trial.

Just this week I found out that I would not receive funding from the HSE to cover a 12 week inpatient stay in St John of God hospital. Why? Because, ignoring all the above physical and mental complications I experience due to anorexia, I'm 'too healthy'. My 'bmi isnt low enough'. The HSE keeps that money for people who really need it. I'm too physically healthy to receive intensive treatment for a mental illness. My current mental state doesn't matter. My weight is relatively okay now(in comparison to other anorexics), it was below 40kg for a long time, and my blood is fine. I get to live like this everyday because the HSE doesn't want to pay money for a course of treatment that 'might not' change anything. If you're on your death bed, then yes, they will. And yes, there's an HSE ED service being rolled out, but it's being rolled out over the next four years and yes, there are public beds. But a handful. If like me, you're in that limbo of underweight but not underweight enough? Forget about it. Fend for yourself. They don't want to know.
When my weight fell below 40kg, my GP and Mum wanted me admitted to hospital. At the time I had booked a flight to Malta to see my cousin, I was scared, sad and since she's the closest thing I have ever had to a sister, I just wanted to be with her for a few days. My Mum didn't want me to go. She was afraid the flight would put my heart under pressure and I would die. When I came back I gave up and co-operated. I was sent to our local general hospital by my GP but despite being severely underweight, I was physically healthy. Nothing they could do. Inpatient treatment was mentioned but nothing was ever done. I fought hard to gain back weight. I'm still 10+kg away from my actual 'healthy' weight.

Outside of Dublin however, the treatment options for Eating Disorders are for the most part, non-existent. There are no dedicated dieticians, no day patient treatment, nothing. There's counselling, where you can go through 'cbt-e', which I have done and unfortunately found it didn't help. To me, me the part who is Jess, buried away in behind anorexia, I wanted this treatment. I thought it was going to help. To help me fight this. No one wants to be in hospital, but nothing else has helped.

When the physical trumps the mental

If I had any other mental illness, the severity of my illness wouldn't be measured by bloods and weight. So why is it deemed okay to do this for anorexia? Why must you hit rock bottom before they're willing to fund proper treatment. Funding that wouldn't be needed if they would just provide better services publicly. They say early intervention is the key to fully recovery, but how can that be achieved if specialist help isn't going to be provided until your 'bmi is considered low enough'. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness and I live with it daily. I coast along. Maintaining a weight that's low for my height, and struggling mentally every day. Everything I eat is a struggle. You don't see the argument I'm having in my head with a voice that's just so loud and  one that has only become louder since I was told my 'bmi isnt low enough'.
I think something needs to be done to raise awareness about this lack of treatment and how what treatment you do receive is based on a) you can afford it and b) you're physically at risk. I'm very lucky to be receiving counselling, I know that. But counselling isn't cutting it. It helps. To have someone that isn't friends or family to talk to but it isn't getting me better.

I'm not the only person in Ireland who hasn't received funding or specialist help based on current weight and bloods. If you speak to anyone with anorexia, they will share a similar story to me and in recent weeks, many have done so. Anorexia is a mental illness and should be treated accordingly.

(I haven't edited this so if you find errors or anything that will be why. I haven't blogged in a year but I figured it was important to shed some light on this issue and I'm still very upset about it because now I don't know what will happen.)

12.1.17

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara Review

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara Review
Oh mascara, the one make up product I honestly don't think I could go without. Especially this week // month even. Post Christmas exhaustion is seriously settling in, and my eyes are the gateway to telling how truly exhausted I am. It's like I wake up and my eyes are screaming 'not enough sleep', and the bags beneath my eyes are enormous and my eyes look teeney tiny and non existent. Closed off, hanging in, begging for that last bit of sleep. In fairness, I don't sleep well, but the world does not need to know that, and my eyes betraying me in that sense is getting a little old. I'm sure we've all been there, don't lie. Thats why mascara is so F A B, it opens up your eyes, it gives you a little lease of life. It's the one item I always think, 'well if I had to go without make up' (which I do), I don't think I could skim on the mascara (which I don't).
Too Faced mascara irish blog
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara before and after
I spend a ridiculous amount of money on mascara, always drugstore, and only ever 'Benefit' if I'm thinking of splashing out, and even then it's only a mini. I love the majority of mascaras, plastic bristles, normal bristles, curved, straight, voluminous. There's a lot, sometimes it can be a little hard finding the right one. Sometimes I apply two different mascaras, one to separate out my lashes and make them a little more ~combed out, and another for the full effect - eyes wide open. I'm awake, I swear. There's something about the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara that ticks all those boxes. I can see why so many bloggers have raved about this over the years. I was always a little dubious. Could it really be that good? That's why I bought a mini in Sephora, I wanted to try it, but I didn't really take their word for it, and I'm pretty disappointed that I bought a mini because, the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara is now my everyday go to and I've run out of the freaking thing and I'm now lost in a limbo of 'I need to repurchase, but I need to fill my basket to make shipping worthwhile'. It's such a great mascara, I love the wand, and the shape of the brush, it tapers in at the middle and grabs all the stubborn inner corner lashes with little effort. One sweep of this across my lashes and it's like a whole new ball game. They're more defined, blacker than black, lifted and not clumpy. The actual mascara is just right, it's neither too liquidy or too dry, there's a perfect balance, and it dries quickly on your lash which means there's none of that awkward upper eye lid mascara transfer. I hate when that happens because you end up ruining your whole look nearly, it's like when eyeliner goes wrong, disastrous. What I like even more about the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara is you can apply quite a few coats and your eyelashes don't go crispy and heavy like some mascaras. Which means it's the perfect mascara for a night out look, I suck at applying false lashes and would much rather apply multiple layers of mascara to get that 'falsie' effect, and it does that. So well, that someone actually thought I was wearing falsies, thanks Too Faced.
Overall, the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara has surpassed all my expectations. It's definitely worth the hefty price tag, and if your eyes could use that extra lift to make you look more awake, than this is the answer to your prayers. It's such a great mascara, and I'm raging I've run out. If anyone has used this and knows where I can repurchase in Ireland with serious ease, than please tell me, cause I need it back in my life.
x

30.12.16

Anxiety - It's Not Always What You Think

Jesska Denise Irish Beauty Blog
This isn't a blog post I fully planned on writing, I still don't feel comfortable enough talking about my mental health in person, let alone on the internet for everyone to see, and share. But over the last couple of days I've seen the same image come up on my Facebook news feed numerous times, from different people and it got me thinking. Thinking about how anxiety isn't a one glove fits all, it's not the stereotypical rocking back and forth, ~hyperventilating, breathing into a paper bag image we all may be familiar with. I know that's how I used to picture anxiety, and sometimes, that is how my anxiety shows itself. But that's what I call 'level 8 anxiety', when I become so overwhelmed that I feel like I might never breathe properly again, where my hands start to tingle and my face feels like it's bubbling and on fire, and my heart races so fast that I feel like my body will never keep up and I begin to panic even more because, I feel like this is a heart attack and I'm having chest pains, chest pains, that feel like a stabbing twinge in my heart, and I can't breathe and I feel like air is getting trapped in my throat and someone is balancing all their weight between my neck and heart and 'breathe Jess, you need to breathe' starts running through my head, and I'm dizzy, and my body, my body feels like when you've sat in the same position for too long and your foot is asleep, but it's all over and it's torturous, and I'm wrapped up like a pretzel because I need to make myself smaller, smaller because I can't breathe and my mind is screaming danger, and my body is reacting in a way I don't want it to and I have no idea why, and seconds become minutes, and minutes become hours, but eventually I can breathe again, and my body returns to normal, all the while I've just been sat on the chair in my kitchen. No immediate danger. My mind has this way of just over taking my body. I get so overwhelmed, and I over think things and without even meaning to, I'm somehow at 'level 8 anxiety'. I call it that because that is the worst I've ever felt, but it comes in other ways, in many different ways. For me anxiety creeps in in ways I never would have imagined were even anxiety. It's only through therapy that I have learned, that little things I do are 'habits' that I 'taught' myself to do in a way to 'deal' with my anxiety better. I fidget, I fidget a lot. More than the average person, and I've become embarrassingly aware of this in the last couple of months. It gets worse in work. When I'm standing at a till waiting to serve someone, and I'm not able to do anything else because I'm waiting. Waiting for a customer to come along or the previous one to leave. I'm tapping. Tapping the till and the counter because I can feel my breathing is starting to get a little heavier, and I'm trying to distract myself from the fact that I may go to 'level 8' if I don't defuse now, and the queue is getting longer and I'm tapping even more and I'm waiting and I look around and I'm growing increasingly self conscious cause I feel like I'm breathing too much now, and my heart races some more, and flicking my fingers, everyone is staring at me, but realistically I know they're not, it's just how I feel, and I'm flicking them more, trying to tell myself to calm down, my body is on high alert and I can't remove myself from the situation, so I tap more, and fidget more and this eases it a little. And it eases it some more. And I'm nervous and the queue moves and eventually I calm down. Nights out are a similar scenario, if not worse. I find night clubs trigger these feelings even more, the loudness, the crowds, the small spaces and my mind screaming at me to escape because it isn't a safe place to be, even though I'm surrounded by my friends, and security but I still find myself stood in a toilet cubicle multiple times throughout the night, having an inner argument with myself over how i just need to 'chill the fudge out', and some times I can, other times I can't and the night can go on forever with me hyper aware on the dance floor of everything around me and no amount of pinching my palms or tapping my fingers or scrolling through Twitter will ever calm me down, so I remain silent, with my senses on high alert and the fear of feeling like this stops me from going out with my friends more than it should. When I was 13/14 I was bullied. Bullied to the point where I was afraid to leave my house, even walking to the shop at the top of our road filled me with dread in case I'd bump into any of them. They'd taunt me from across the road, or laugh at me when I'd walk by. They egged our house on multiple occasions. They made fun of my clothes, insulted my hair, and would take jibes at my lack of perfect skin, something which I'm still really paranoid about today. Social settings are where my anxiety comes to the fore front. I'm afraid. I get nervous about everything. My outfit, my hair, my make up, how I come across to those around me, I question and over think, everything, and I think being bullied contributed to those feelings a lot. It means I miss out on a lot, especially when it comes to blogging and events. I constantly feel on edge and like I need to escape and unless there's a degree of 'certainty' to a situation, I'm less likely to go along with it. I found college was difficult in regards to this too, because classes were constantly chopped and changed. I like order and familiarity, and for my days to follow a similar routine. It eases the feelings of anxiety, and I panic less when I know if I'm 'coming or going'. I can't do spontaneity because it's not part of the 'plan', and I'd be afraid I'd start getting overwhelmed and 'showing' my anxiety being silent or awkward, and I spend a lot of time trying to avoid 'level 8 anxiety', and considering it's Christmas, I feel quite close to that and I know my anxiety levels are high, because things aren't 'normal' right now, it's the holidays. Schedules are off, my days are different, routine is out the window. I'm a little more on edge, easily pissed off, just so aware of every damn thing, it's like I'm on high alert and constantly trying to remind myself to breathe, it's knowing I'm completely safe but my body refuses to listen, and a chunk of my mind is going 'yeh but, what if?'. I'm stressed without even meaning to be.
It's different for everyone. I truthfully, do not manage it very well, I used to take something for it but stopped back in August because of physical side effects which outweighed the mental benefits for me, right now I manage the physical side (chest pains) with tablets my GP gave me when I really need to, but other than that, I'm not one to be giving advice. If I could find something with minimal side effects, then I might reconsider my thoughts on medication, but right now I have no idea what I'm doing, but hopefully, some day, I manage it better. Because it is pretty damn miserable right now avoiding life, for fear of an anxiety/panic attack. The anxiety isn't the full picture of my life right now, recovering from an eating disorder plays a lot into it too, but Id rather not discuss that until I'm in a better place to do so.
x
(i haven't edited this post, it's pretty jumbled/doesn't make a whole load of sense, but it's just a fraction of my experience with anxiety, if you suffer from anxiety or think you might need a little support check out SpunOut.ie or Mental Health Ireland for more information than I can give.)