Jesska Denise

Jesska Denise is an Irish beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog


Dying My Hair Pink: The How To.

bleach london rose dye how to
As far as lockdown boredom goes, I actually haven't been that bored? So this leap into pink hair has nothing to do with boredom, and more an annoyance at my ever-growing brassy/orange blonde balayage. The last time my hair was done was just before Christmas, so I would usually be booking myself in again around now to get it back looking nice and freshly blonde. Naturally, that is not an option. Brow lamination, shellac, and a good trip to the hairdressers are not on the agenda anytime soon. I weep. Normally I'm opposed to the idea of dying my hair at home. I spent many years as a teen butchering my hair with home dye, blonde to be specific. So once I started investing in letting a professional do my hair, I essentially turned my nose up at the box aisle in Boots. Like my skin, I just saw it as an investment. But then, I was reading a magazine during the week and there was a section about temporary hair dyes and my interest peaked. Lilac hair? Now that is something I could get on board with. I read the article, promptly went on Boots, text my cousin who is an expert in funky colors and 11hours later I was rocking some pink hair. Boots had no lilac, but that's okay. I'm oddly obsessed with this pink. It's throwing me right back to being 13 and highlighting my hair pink and getting told off by a home ec teacher. The simplicity.
pink hair bleach london diy
I purchased two different semi-permanent/temporary dyes in Boots, the first one being a Schwarzkopf Live Pretty Pastels in Rose Gold, and a backup, the Bleach London Super Cool Color Rosé. I thought I would use the Bleach London to top up the color I was hoping to achieve using the Schwarzkopf, but I actually didn't get my hair to go pink using it because I did it wrong and used all the product. My Mum used a different shade doing it correctly and she got no color from it so I can't recommend or not recommend this as I used it wrong, but Mum used it right but either way, neither of us achieved a color. Disappointingly as Mum perfectly applied it to my hair using a brush and sectioning to cover all the blonde. When I saw there was no color I was pretty disappointed. I was buzzing for pink hair and I wanted it then and there. I pulled out my 'backup' and referred myself to Google to make sure I did this perfectly. Obviously, the instructions on the bottle weren't enough okay?
bleach london rose before and after
I discovered that you do not put this on your hair if you still need to wash your hair. Double shampoo and conditioner are going to rinse the color right out of your hair. It's temporary, not permanent. Rookie mistake. I took myself back upstairs. Wet my hair as it had just been freshly blow-dried. This is how determined I was to go pink guys. Toweled off the excess water and applied the product to my now clean, damp hair. Not my dirty - needs to be washed - along with this color hair. Argh. I just threw it on, to be honest. So my application could have been better, at that point, I just wanted it pink. It was 10pm and I was done with this experiment. I also didn't use gloves, so my hands were a delightful shade of pink. Although, good luck finding gloves to dye your hair with at this moment in time. I left the color on for 30mins and went about my business. ie. scrolling Instagram at pink hair inspo and praying to whatever god that this would actually work second time around.
rose gold hair at home
I then rinsed my hair. This is important. Do not WASH your hair. Get off the residue of the product but do not wash your hair. The pink running down the drain? Yeh, that's the color. If that all goes down the drain, you will not have pink hair. This was the mistake I had made earlier. I cleansed my hair, shampooed, and conditioned. All the while my color was running down the drain. I didn't make this mistake a second time. My main concern was the color transferring onto clothing etc, but I used a dark towel to wrap my hair and promptly got to work blow drying it. SUCCESS. Pink hair. Never been so satisfied with a DIY job in my life. I know some people probably know how to achieve this, maybe your seasoned experts at the art of dying your hair funky shades. But this was a wash in, wash out. It doesn't work like the permanent shades which are how I approached it, and after my extensive Googling, I discovered there wasn't really a wealth of information on how to successfully use these products from your average Jane so I figured I would put it on here to make sure none of you waste your time, and product like I did. I'm going to keep applying the pink for now. So the next time I wash my hair it will go like this - shampoo x 2, condition, towel off the heavy wetness and apply color and rinse lightly. Boom. Who knows, this might save me some €€€ in the long run when salons do reopen. I still want to go lilac, so that should be fun. Everyone else is just as obsessed with the pink as I am though so that could be a while away yet.


My Skincare Staples

My skin and I have a very love, hate relationship. With a little bit more hate than love on my behalf. Sometimes it seems that no matter how much money, attention and water I tend to it with, it's still not enough and it hits back to look, dare I say, worse?
Thankfully (what?), being on lockdown has provided me with ample time and opportunity to work on my skin. Nurture it. Pay attention to it. And I think, I have finally cracked it. A rare occurrence without the help of fancy monthly facials which to be honest, I cannot wait to fork over 100 quid for some to squeeze and extract the shizz out of my face. Wow. Simpler times.
Now, some of these products are on the pricier end of things. But after years of slumming it in the middle aisle of Tesco, I have learned that sometimes it pays to splash out on your skin. It only took me to the ripe age of 27 to suss this, however.
First, a background check on my skin. Oily t-zone. Acne-prone, especially in the chin area. Dry cheeks and flakiness in previously mentioned oily t-zone. Combo not welcome. Scarring and redness, with a pinch of anger.
If you're a long time reader of my blog, you will know that my skin is something I have fought with for years. I've taken medication, used antibiotic roll-ons, took the contraceptive pill and briefly considered Roaccutane and thought better of it. In comparison to others, my skin isn't actually that bad. A lot of it probably boils down to poor eating habits, poor hydration and stress. Stress flares it up a lot. So it is manageable. It's just managing it with the right routine. I'm a massive fan of those Chinese skin maps that shows you what triggers breakouts on certain areas of your face. It's very fascinating and has allowed me to learn a lot more about my skin. I think knowledge is power when it comes to managing acne, knowing what makes your skin thick being the biggest piece of info you can have. My skin isn't amazing. But it's much better than it was. I feel that because of these products I've gotten it into a place where I feel comfortable enough with it, it's not perfect but it's not the worst either. I feel less self-conscious if I'm not wearing makeup, which is all I ever wanted anyway.
Just like there are lifestyle things that I can attribute to my breakouts, there are also products too. One of which I actually included in this post (you gotta keep reading to find out which) just to show that just because it works for everyone else, doesn't necessarily mean it's the one for you.
Let's break it down. The pictured products. What are they. Where do they come into the skincare routine and where can y'all buy them.
  • Cleanser - to cleanse, I've been going in with the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish. I've been using this for two weeks, and guys, this is where I break hearts. I am not loving this. I thought after years of reading all about it and how it was such a holy grail item that I would be converted for the rest of my life. But I really don't rate it. I much prefer my Kiehls cleanser that I was using prior to this, and will be repurchasing when I can find somewhere online. I don't find it amazing at taking off makeup, I don't think my skin feels squeaky clean afterward, and if anything I feel like it leaves a residue on my skin, no matter how many times I rinse it. I'm not a happy camper. I expected so much, and the disappointment is high. I had previously purchased the Aldi version of this last year and can say, they are pretty much the exact same thing except one is less sleek in packaging and has a more purse-friendly price. I wanted to love this but unfortunately, it just doesn't do it for me. I can't wait to have my Kiehls back. I double cleanse, so I always go in with micellar water after this, and thank god, because I would hate to think I wasn't getting a good clean. Cleanser is so important, especially when you cake on makeup like I do.
  • Spot Treatment - the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion has become my number one staple item over the years. This is my second bottle of the stuff, and if I was to only be allowed one product out of all of these - this would be the one. I apply this using a cotton swab and then let it do its work over night. It's magical. It just has this way of reducing/almost killing spots overnight, that I've never experienced any other product do. It is extreme, you have to be careful not to put it on damaged skin because it burns. Horrendously. But on spots? No feeling. It dries those buggars right out, and after a few nights, they're gone. I bought this in Urban Outfitters because I wanted the glass version of the bottle, rather than the plastic. I'm pretty sure it cost an extra few €€ but I'm very conscious of how much plastic I buy so I like to make changes where possible. If you have acne-prone skin, you absolutely need this in your routine. This has changed everything for me.
  • Scarring - when I have my breakouts under control, I slide in with this bad boy. Now, this isn't something I get to use a lot, because my skin can be problematic, but when I do, I can really see where this Kiehls Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution makes a difference. Because I've had problem skin most of my teen/adult life, my skin does have quite a bit of scarring/redness as a result. Specifically the chin area. Half the time its not active breakouts making my skin look bad, it's the scarring. And being so pale it highlights it more than it should. It just doesn't look even. Since I've been using this I've seen massive improvements in redness along my jawline and my forehead. I would imagine if I could get my skin majorly under control, that with continued use of this, my scarring/redness would be non-existent. I wouldn't describe it as bad scarring, it just needs some TLC. But if I have Mario on my skin, it's not the time to use this. This is one of the more expensive products, sliding in at nearly 50€ but I would buy it again and again cause it definitely makes a difference when I can use it.
  • Hydrate - alongside moisturizer, I use The Ordinary 100% plant-derived squalane. It's such an amazing product for under 10€. I apply it all over my face and I can feel it sinking into my skin. Since I've started using this, the dry patches along my forehead and cheeks are no longer noticeable, and flakiness isn't anything I need to worry about. A pea-sized amount goes such a long way. I honestly just can't get enough of The Ordinary. I have yet to use a poor product by them.
  • Eye Cream - the Kiehls Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, this is up there as one of my all-time ultimate 'treat yourself' purchases. I bought it this time last year when I was wandering in Arnotts feeling like splashing out, and I smelled this and I knew I had to have it. I've never really bothered with eye creams before this, aside from a Simple eye gel in Boots, I never saw the point. I am dumb. Eye cream is very important. Especially as you get older as those lines start to creep in. I love this. It makes my under eyes much brighter. They look less puffy. And I just feel like I'm doing something good for that delicate area on my face. I apply a dab using the end of a cotton swab and then slowly massage it in, being careful not to tug the skin too much. Eye cream is definitely one of those products you feel like you can skip but I would say if you're feeling spendy and you don't have one already. This is for you. at 28€ for the tub I have, it is steep but you can also see for yourself how little its budged in a year.
  • Lips - to be fair, you don't need to splash out huge amounts of €€ on your lips. But I was feeling super spendy when I bought the Nuxe Lip Balm one day when I was waiting in Lloyds. This is so creamy and hydrating. I use it every night without fail and more so during the winter months. If you're a heavy matte lipstick wearer like me, hydrated lips are a must. And other than making sure your water intake is solid, this really helps make them all soft and lovely. I exfoliate too using a lush lip exfoliator, but I can't recommend this enough. I have a travel pot that I scooped some into for when I'm on the go or at work. Rather than having to carry such a big pot.
This Mario Badescu spray is such a guilty pleasure product for me. This is my second bottle of the stuff and I swear I just adore it. Lather my entire body in the stuff, please. A lot of people I know use this mid routine, before moisturizer. I like to use it at the end. The cherry on top of the cake if you will. I just love how refreshed it makes my face feel. Likewise, I spritz a bit over my face when I've finished applying my makeup, and also throughout the day just to refresh. It's even way nicer if you keep it in the fridge, especially during the summer months. This is basically just a nice cheap mist for your face, but it is a nice cheap mist that I can't see myself living without. I've previously used the green tea scented version of this, but I like that there's lavender in this for night use. I'm all about lavender during this lockdown and it's relaxing benefits.
The Ordinary Peeling Solution is a very new addition to my routine. But the second I tried it, I knew I was going to tell everyone to buy this and share how amazing it is. It's blood-red, you apply it with the little pipette to your cleansed skin. Spread it to make a mask. Leave for 10mins and then wipe off with a damp cloth. My skin tingled so much. Which I had read about prior to buying. But it felt so nice. Like it was burning away the bad top layer of my skin with all the impurities. Sadly, I only got this a few days ago so I can't properly say too much about it. But like I said above, I love everything I've used by The Ordinary and so far so good with this.
Despite some of these being super pricey, they really do go a long way. A couple of them I've had well over a year, and some even two. I've recommended them to friends who have also grown to love them and incorporate them into their own skincare routines. A definite win for me, as I wouldn't exactly consider myself an expert on skincare, I just know what does and doesn't work for me. I've also been repetitively influenced by Gracey over on Instagram here.
We only get one face and I think it's so important to look after it. It's worth noting that I haven't included sun protection above, but I think it goes without saying that that's such an integral part of any skincare routine.
I use other products outside of these too, moisturizer, anti-aging and brightening serums, but there hasn't been a holy grail product for me in these categories which is why I'm reluctant to share anything there till I've found yano, 'the one'. There are other bits too like overnight masks (The Origins) and more from The Ordinary that I don't use on a regular basis but do when I'm having a 'spa' night. So it's good to stress that this isn't everything I use. I'm not an expert but these are just some of the products I've been using a while now and just find really nice, and do what they should do. Except for Liz Earle. Disappointed in that. If you have anything you like to use or something you would recommend I try, comment below or message me on Instagram @JesskaDenise.


Social Distancing and Mental Health: Week One

room ideas

At the beginning of this year I set myself a goal, a simple goal by any stretch of the imagination, but one that was important for me to achieve none the less. The goal? Push myself outside of my comfort zone. To basically do things that scare me and upset my routine and normality a little. Learn to say yes to more things and not think about the consequences (within reason). Go for it. Stop living my life like I'm wrapped in cotton wool. Be easy breezy and not a rigid mess.

We're three months into the year and so far, things were going good. I've been more spontaneous. I've been out of the country. Been to two concerts, with the aim of attending more. Opened up my social life. And all-round, just challenged myself more with everyday things.

This goal may seem pitiful to some. Non-challenging. Easy. But to me it was, and still is everything. I've lived the last five years of my life in the bubble of anorexia. And there is an extreme comfort in that. Life becomes simple. Food. Appointments. Medication. Rinse and repeat. There is no danger in it, it is safe. No expectations. No feelings. Nothing. It's monotone and grey. And then something clicked. I wanted color and HD. I craved life. I envied what my friends had. I wanted to travel. Explore the world. Hop on a train to Dublin, never mind a plane to London. I wanted messy and chaotic. A relationship and friendships. The whole nine yards. Give it to me.

Anorexia stole all this from me. I was afraid. Afraid to feel anxious. Afraid of failure. Afraid of confrontation and expectations, my own high standards and the opinion of others. Anorexia offered me numbness from all this but it stole in the process. My health. My sanity. My grace. The thing about all the above? Not compatible with anorexia. There is no room for both in your life. In the height of an eating disorder life is food, numbers, and structure. You can't think about anything else. It's consuming.

That is why my goal became so important and still is, very important. I have to challenge the rules anorexia has rooted deep within me. Go against my better judgment and close the door on my instincts. Increasing my anxiety in the process, but knowing I was going to win in the long run. The old saying of temporary pain for long term gain placed firmly in my mind.

But then I didn't factor in a worldwide pandemic. None of us did.

My New Year goal of living a life with no routine and flirting with a bit of chaos? Hello, 2020, I want a redo, this is not quite what I wanted.

Life has been turned upside down. And I know I'm not alone in feeling like this. Logically I know this. I do, I do. But sometimes, in the last day or two, it feels like it. It seems like everyone around me is adapting to our new normal. And I can't quite wrap my head around it. I count the hours until it's time to go to bed every night. Turn off my phone and hope I wake in the morning to find out this was all some bad dream. It's surreal, and I feel sick every time I think about things not returning to normal anytime soon. There is no end in sight to this.

I can't do another week of social distancing, never mind another month. This is not a world I'm comfortable existing in. And as each day ticks by, it seems more and more never-ending. Suffocating.

I have done social isolation before. In the depths of my eating disorder and anxiety, this current reality would have been my dream. Now it's my nightmare. I so desperately want to crawl my way out of this lockdown, but I can't. This is for the safety of others. I get that. But it still doesn't stop me feeling so sad and angry. I spent 14 weeks of my life last year as an inpatient in hospital. I promised myself I would never be in that situation ever again for as long as I live. That another admission had no place in my life. And I've fought. So bloody hard these last few weeks to explore and entertain a life that I am proud of. One that I can look back on in December and say yes, that was a good one. I lived life to the fullest. I made mistakes that were normal and not berated because they were eating disordered ones that affected my recovery.

And yet, here we are. No one is to blame for this. It's not usual. But it has made me realize that my motivation for recovery is dependant on so many things. That, upon reflection, my recovery is fragile, hanging on by a thread and this has thrown a spanner in the works. I know I don't want to feel how I do right now. I'm scared. Growing more depressed by the day because I can't pursue my normal life. And anorexia is whispering in my ear. Making every bit of food harder. Tempting me with numbness and distraction. A way to destress. No time to think about the impending doom of the world when you're knee-deep in anorexia. I hate that I'm vulnerable to these thoughts. That I'm not as strong as I thought I was.

Then I remind myself, this is a situation no one could have prepared for. I cut myself some slack, and try to refocus my energy elsewhere. Anywhere. I have great insight into my illness, I know my triggers well. It is both a blessing and a curse to be so in tune with myself because I'm afraid of knowing how much I know. Knowing what can derail me. But then knowledge is power. And I'm not the same girl I was last April who was being admitted into the hospital.

I've had a lot of time to think since this all went down. Reflecting. Panicking. Being. Just to 'be' is a challenge in itself for me, I'm addicted to my busy lifestyle, my eye on my goals, constantly on the go. This is alien to me and I'm just itching to get back to how things were and should be.
I know there is a more optimistic way to view all this, be grateful for the gift of slowing down, being at home etc etc. I know. Trust me. I just fear that without being able to engage in all the things that motivated me to recover in the first place, that I don't know where I'll find myself amongst all this chaos.



Top 5 Kindle Reads - The Lockdown Edition

Top Five Kindle Reads

You're stuck in lockdown or your self isolating, whatever the reason, you now have a lot of free time on your hands. I don't know about you, but there is only so much Netflix I can stomach, I am not a binge-watcher. Okay, if it really hooks me á la Spinning Out, then I am. But the vast majority of the time I prefer to read. Losing myself in a good book feels more fulfilling in a way. Probably because of my GoodReads reading challenge not gonna lie, but it's good. I love it. This year I've challenged myself to read 50 books and so far I've read 12 out of that 50. Pretty good going, and putting me 2 books ahead of schedule. Last year my goal was 30, and I hit that goal of 30 pretty easily. Was 50 a bit optimistic? Maybe. But guys, my schedule has blown wide open for the next two weeks at least so I'm thinking I can squeeze a few books in during that time?

This is why considering our current situation, I thought I would share with you all my 'Top 5' books to read, the eh Lockdown Edition? Books that you can just lose yourself in. Forget about the world around you. The ultimate checkout. That's what we all want right? To escape for an hour or two? I do anyway. Now, I read everything on Kindle. Kindle for iPhone to be specific. I know some people shudder at the thought of eBooks but I find them really convenient. If you're on the go, if you find yourself with a few spare minutes waiting for a friend or yano, it's 1am and you've finished the second book of the Crazy Rich Asians series and you desperately need your next fix. One-click Amazon purchase and ready to continue reading into the night - class.

Below are just some of my favorite books that stick out in my mind. The ones that I've told others to read, that I've bought for others or just can't shut up about. I'm not going to go into a synopsis because you can find that all at the link, but I am going to tell you why I enjoyed it which is usually how I find what I'm going to read next.

  • The Woman in The Window - I read this book well over a year ago and I'm still recommending it to anyone who will listen to me. Its set to be a movie with Amy Adams, and is due for release during Summer, which probably will be pushed back now, the way everything has been pushed back but oh boy was this glued to my hands. It's a psychological thriller which isn't something I would typically go for but I read it so fast and it was so good that I wanted to savor every last bit of the end that I told myself to slow it down. I was reading it in the car, at home, on the sly at work. It was too good. There's so many twists and turns that you can barely keep up, and the whole time you're just trying to guess what is going on.
  • Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling (the trilogy) - I'm cheating here a little and including three books in one. But trust me, once you start reading about Aisling and all her little antics between Dublin and Ballygobbard, you won't want to stop. I read the third book way too fast and now I'm here, counting down to the day that book four eventually releases. When will that be? God knows. Sometime soon preferably. If you're Irish, you will absolutely appreciate the hilarity that is Aisling. You either are Aisling or you know an Aisling. Every reference, anecdote, and phrase is so uniquely Irish you will be in bits because you'll know. You'll have uttered something similar to yourself. You'll have been right there. You'll have a Majella in your life. It's appealing to everyone and so light-hearted. The perfect pick me up. And like I said - three books to completely get lost in.
  • All the Bright Places - like every good Young Adult Fiction, this book is now on Netflix (Spoiler alert this links to the trailer). I read it in two sittings. Yeh. Two. I was addicted to the intertwining stories of Finch and Violet. Their individual struggles. The path that brought them together. I appreciated the real, honest approach to mental illness and how despite the love of those around you, sometimes their love is not enough. This book was raw, emotional, and frankly, pretty damn painful. Maybe it isn't a book to distract you from the world, but it is a book that will distract you from the sorrows of your own life and make you wonder about those around you. To appreciate the simplicity of life. The beauty of simple friendship that flourishes into more. It's heartbreaking on a scale similar to that of The Fault in Our Stars, and you will cry. But this book can't go without being recommended. I swallowed it up. Perhaps too fast. At times I even found it difficult to read so I will add a slight trigger warning for mental illness, suicidal ideation and just urge you to read with caution if you're vulnerable to this sort of content.
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - this one is a bit of a slow burner, but please, trust me with this one. You will not regret it. Eleanor is one of those characters you will grow to love, you'll want to protect her at all costs. She's loveable, endearing, quirky in a way that you wouldn't necessarily expect and her story is one of unique sadness. It is not a happy go lucky book, but some of the best books aren't. Everyone I've spoken to about this book is in collective agreement - it is tough to get into, but once you plow through those first three chapters you're just itching to read more. You'll find some bits of her story you relate to, you'll see bits of yourself in her and despite the title of the book, Eleanor is far from fine but you hope she will be.
  • Supernova - another book with a theme of mental health/illness. Again, I became immersed in this. I related deeply to April's experience of anxiety. I could see parts of my own struggles, albeit massively different, in her. Writing about anxiety, especially in the young adult genre is always tricky, but I feel like this book encapsulated it in a way that others have failed to do so. I never see anyone raving about this book which is why I opted to include it, it's a rare anonymous gem. A story of friendship, young love, and the difficulties of living life with a constant bully in your head. This one is definitely worth a read if you'd like to understand a bit more about how the mind of someone with anxiety sounds like. It is a bit heavy on the 'teen', but relatable none the less.

There you have it, just a few books for you to submerge yourself in over the next couple of weeks. If you head over to my GoodReads account you can see more of what I've been reading. There's a mix between young adult, thriller, and memoir so if you're stuck for something to read and you like what I mentioned above, it might be of help. If you're self-isolating and don't want to leave the house, this is another reason why Kindle is so so practical. You can download the app on your phone, log in through your Amazon account and just buy your next read. No need to run to the shops or the library. It's a great way to pass the time. If you've read any good books lately, make sure you comment them below so I can check them out.


Remaining Calm When the World Has Begun to Panic

jesskadenise anxiety

My biggest fear in life (after spiders), is the end of the world as we know it. Irrational. I know. Trust me. I have been over this multiple times in my life. When I was younger and I was convinced we were all going to die because it rained a little harder than usual. When I watched The Day After Tomorrow and Contagion and was without a doubt certain that either would be our faith in life. When I heard the old age tale about 2012 and how we were all to meet our impending doom that one faithful day in December 2012. To more recently, two and a half years ago when I became sick with fear. I was convinced, no matter how many people told me otherwise, that life was ending. I was watching the news and scrolling through Twitter and reading various news articles, and my irrational long term anxious mind made a connection between all these very separate events. The world was ending and I was certain of it. The earthquake in Mexico in September 2017, the ridiculous number of hurricanes in September. Everything. I was so wired into the world that for whatever reason, this all made sense to me. The world was ending and I didn't know what to do about it. The signs were there. Everyone was ignoring it. I thought my friends and family were all going to perish in some nightmarish disaster and that I couldn't leave them. I didn't want to be away from them in case something did happen. So many thoughts entered my mind and it was so unbelievably exhausting.

This took over my life for the guts of three weeks. Three weeks of hysterical phone calls to my friends. Texts to my cousin. Crying in work. Unsettled. Hypersensitive to every noise. I was a nightmare to be around. I admire my friends for putting up with me at the time. I was so driven by fear. Something was coming. I could feel it. I spent half my days internally freaking out. Shaking. I couldn't eat out of fear. I kept it to myself other than the calls and texts. Tried to hold myself together. I became afraid to leave the house, other than for work. How I made it to work is a miracle in itself. My anxiety stepped up to another level that resulted in me having to take medication to come back to myself. Two years of medication to get me functioning again minus anxiety. Anorexia isn't a character in this story but it's certainly an accomplice. I'm still unwinding myself from it to this very day.

This is why now, that we're in the midst of this Coronavirus outbreak that I feel like I am living through the motions of my own irrational fear. Only, now it isn't irrational. It is very real and unavoidable. I have dreaded this since the start of January when I read that first innocent article on the DM about two people in Wuhan and their connection to the market in December. At the time I thought it was interesting, I bookmarked it to my brain. Keep an eye on this. This could be something you need to worry about. Normally when I read things like that, nothing comes of it. But then more articles came. And then the noise around Wuhan increased, and then the talk seeped into normal conversation and suddenly this was no longer an innocent DM article that my anxious brain bookmarked for just incase. This was a very real problem. This was the stuff from my worst nightmares. Yet now I'm not the only one panicking. Everyone is.

Up until the virus hit Ireland I was more panicked. I went to Copenhagen and it was on my mind. Going through the airport. Being surrounded by so many people from all over the world. In Longford, I was safe, but Copenhagen and the airports were new territories. I dealt with it. I always deal with it. Because in my head, I'm being irrational, illogical, driven by anxiety and unwarranted fear. We laughed about it sitting in the airport when a child coughed right on top of us. It was easier to wipe it off as a joke. The Irish attitude of sure it will be grand very much in force. And then Italy happened. And then Coronavirus invited itself into our country alongside an unsuspecting individual and things got a little more serious. Work got a little more serious. We had procedures. More hand sanitizer than physically necessary, but they wanted to protect us. This panicked me slightly. I've always considered work a safe place from the goings-on of the world, but this threw me. But we joked. It was fine. If anything the virus coming into the country terrified me less, because then I knew. It was no longer a what-if scenario. The enemy was here and we just needed to deal with it.

Then everyone started panicking, the people in my life who are normally so calm and collected, no longer so calm and collected. I wasn't allowing myself to freak out too much, because, to me, this sort of thing until recently was a very real, albeit illogical, fear. I had always been reassured that I was overthinking things too much, nothing like my worst fears would ever happen. I was being stupid. Overreacting. I needed to calm down. Yet here we are. The world is erupting in panic. Life 7 days ago is still within reach but now it feels like a lifetime ago. My worst fear a week ago was eating Wagamama's. Can you imagine how much of a luxury that feels like now? That my worst fear was anorexia driven. Can't eat out twice in 48hrs Jess! If only I knew what was around the corner. I might not be allowed to leave my house for two weeks never mind being subjected to eating out with two separate people on two separate occasions. I crave the simplicity of those worries because now I'm worried about my family and friends, my neighbors. Myself. Food is still a worry but God, does it seem so miniature now. Not to belittle my own illness, because it is still a massive struggle.

A month ago we were throwing a baby shower, and now I'm face timing my niece because her safety and my unborn nephew's safety comes first. Work is closed. My mental health appointments canceled. Regular service has been interrupted, please do not go about your daily life is the message. And yet, this terrifies me more than getting coronavirus. I'm scared to be trapped in my house. I'm scared that I'll slip back into something I clawed my way out of. I'm scared that my eating disorder will latch onto this, see it as an excuse to reduce my intake due to lack of activity. I was finally beginning to be more spontaneous in my life. I was you could say, living, for the first time in years and as pathetic as it seems, I'm angry that it's being taken away from me. I know so many people are lapping up staying at home, self-isolating, again, the Irish course of action of sure it's grand. But it's not? It's like that crazy limbo between Christmas and New Year. A limbo, I despise. I know it's all for safety, to protect us all. But this interruption from usual life is making me feel sick. I ache for routine. I am my own worst enemy. I find it hard to stay at home. I like to be run ragged. I like to be busy to the point I'm giving out about it. I'm addicted to the chaos of my routine. Much better than I used to be, though I still need that certainty.

Though the most surprising thing? I am prepared for this. I know how to survive the panic and impending doom we're all feeling right now because I've felt this before. I've lived this fear. I've battled this fight when the opponent didn't exist, now it does. Everyone has said to me, you're surprisingly calm. Surprisingly calm for me that is. I am still anxious. I am not sleeping. But I am in control right now and that's because I know my triggers. I know what to avoid.

Those of you right now panicking? This is new. You've never experienced this mass hysteria, although mine has always been a solo hysteria, I get it. It's consuming. We live in a world that is so disgustingly connected. Which is a fantastic thing, but right now it isn't. It's detrimental to our mental health to be this clued into the crisis. It's overwhelming. We refresh our feeds and there's something new. There will always be something new because that is the world we live in. If you're reading this you want to know how to remain calm. That's a question I had for my therapist last week which inspired me to write this 'How can I stay calm when everyone else is panicking?'. The basis for my question? It's usually only me panicking, it's easy to get sucked into what everyone else is feeling but it doesn't have to be a reality for you. He had no definitive answer, to be fair, Thursday afternoon I was pretty wired with anxiety. I was hopping.

What I do know is things that have helped me before, two years ago when it suffocated me, things I started reimplementing last week after a tricky day.

  • Log off social media - no seriously. Social media has its benefits but its also the biggest spreader of fake news, and scaremongering. Everyone is freaking out so they're airing it on the internet. It is difficult to just logout. We rely on it for so much, but at this point in time, if you are struggling with all this info and talk of Coronavirus. Log the hell out. It will be the best thing you do for yourself. Given the way algorithm works, Facebook and the likes are going to think this is what you want to see if you've clicked on a few stories. It's honestly so freeing to just not enter that room.
  • Stop accessing the news - yes, some news is important. Clicking onto 7 different news sites within an hour and refreshing constantly for some sort of update is not important. Stick to the RTÉ news if you're Irish. 30mins of news. 5mins slot on Coronavirus. Everything you need to know will be there. You don't need to know every snippet of information from around the world. You're protecting yourself. If you're concerned you'll miss out on something you absolutely need to know, ask a friend to pass it on. That's what I did, and then when the schools shut on Thursday I found that out from a reliable source.
  • Develop a new routine - life is going to be different for the next few weeks. Let's face it. It is what it is. Get up in the morning. Get dressed. Read a book. Plan how you'll spend your day. Any chores that need doing. I think its important to get up and get dressed, I know we're not going anywhere, but it will help you still feel normal. I don't know about you but I despise sitting about in PJs all day so I know if I did that it would just make me feel more off.
  • Spend time wisely - We have been given a gift. That's how I'm trying to approach it. Time off from our usually busy lives. That room you've been thinking of decluttering? The table you want to upcycle? Now is the time. You have no reason to put it off. You're not going to be going anywhere else, they're closed. I know its easy to sit and think of all the things you could be doing but think of how rewarding it will feel to know you've finally cracked that to-do list.
  • Talk to friends - it sucks that we can't physically hang out but hey, at least we got WhatsApp and Facetime. If you're feeling isolated and lonely, chances are your friends are too. Better yet, watch something together. My cousin and I used to do this all the time when she lived in Malta. We watched Riverdale weekly together. We set up Netlfix, called each other and then tried our absolute best to hit play at the same time. It's nice.
  • Mind your mental health - take a bath Chandler Bing would envy. Listen to a jamming playlist on spotify. Paint your nails. Write down how you're feeling. Go for a walk away from others to follow social distancing guidelines. Be kind to yourself. For those who take medication, make sure you're taking it as prescribed. Reach out if you need to. A lot of services aren't allowing face to face appointments, but there are great services you can access online. If you have an Eating Disorder, Bodywhys have online support services here.
I absolutely cannot wait for life to go back to normal, I'm the type of person who goes crazy being off work sick. So I am weary of all this supposed free time ahead of me. But it's important we follow what the HSE recommend so we not only protect ourselves but those around us who are vulnerable. It isn't forever, I know you're thinking but how do I know that? and well, I don't but that's something I have to keep telling myself right now because I cant dare think of any alternative. Feel free to email me or contact me on Instagram if you need @JesskaDenise .x