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Having been diagnosed with Dysthymia, a milder, yet chronic form of depression, over two years ago, I was both, relieved and worried. Relieved that I finally knew what was wrong with me, worried what other people around me would think of me and would it have any influence on my work or social life?
Looking online for more information on Dysthymia online will leave you decidedly underwhelmed as there is not really much to see. All you get is a short passage on Depression sites, simply explaining what it is. There is very little information on how to diagnose it, how to treat it medically and what to do as a sufferer to make yourself feel better.
Written by Michael E Thase MD (http://www.everydayhealth.com/bios/michael-e-thase.aspx) and Susan S Lang, the book gives a broad introduction into what is known as chronic depression or Dysthymia.
Beating the Blues is divided into 4 chapters with appendices, references and acknowledgements. All in all it is very easy to read and you can dip in and out as you like.
Simple words and descriptions will let you know exactly what the different types of depression are like. There are boxes asking you to take depression tests to see whether or not you are affected, graphs that show what different depressions would look like compared to 'normal' moods and explanations of how to combat the feelings of worthlessness and despair.
The book explains in very simple words how to combat depression, how to feel better, what to do, think and say to yourself to get yourself out of the bad mood you are in.
Beating The Blues discusses different treatment options, from drugs to therapy. And of course it discusses the different anti-depressants available and regularly prescribed, with pros and of course cons. There is a chapter on the different forms of therapy that is available to depression sufferers. It discusses the different therapies that will or can make a difference if you suffer from depression.
But not all the advise is centred around drugs or therapy, one chapter of the book goes into the advantages of nutrition and exercise to help with your depression. After all, it is said that even a walk in the fresh air will help you in some way, if not completely.
If you read the book from cover to cover you will notice that there are parts that repeat themselves a few times. But this will help you to understand the message better. I personally only dip in and out of the book and not read it from page to page. It makes a lot more sense that way.
It is a shame that the book concentrates mainly on the American market with all resource and support addresses being located in the USA. This book would benefit from a slight re-edit to include addresses for the UK readers to make it more helpful. However, the essence of the book is still valid for all countries and even though it gives only US addresses, it could be a starting point for people to look.
I do refer to the book quite regularly, in particular when I am feeling very low. It does help me to straighten out my thoughts and get a hold of myself before I completely lose it. I recently went through a very bad patch, after an episode of almost mania - I had never felt better and was on a high, but what goes up has to come down and I came down with an all mighty crash. The book helped me to gather my thoughts and pull myself out of the worst of the depression. Of course, a higher dose of anti-depressants also helped but I was off them again much quicker than ever before.
Available from some good book sellers. I got my paperback copy from one of the Amazon Marketplace sellers and paid £4.71 plus p&p. You might have to order the book if you want to buy in in a UK store as I have yet to find one that stocks a copy.
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: OUP USA; New Ed edition (6 April 2006)
Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
Strength through Discipline
Strength through Community
Strength through Action
We were writing the year 1980-something. I was a pupil at a local grammar school in Germany when our history lessons finally entered the 20th century. After years of learning about dead kings and emperors and their wars and/or achievements, we hit upon one of the darkest decades in German history EVER. The rise and fall of Adolf Hitler, the beginnings, the middle and the end of a decade of war, destruction and unthinkable cruelty to people, including Jews, gypsies, mentally ill people and anyone who did not fit the Arian standard. We are talking Hitler, the Second World War and the rise of the Concentration Camp. We spent 6 months on only a decade in German history, reading books, papers, watching newsreels and videos to help us understand.
Watching newsreels and videos brought home the message a lot better than any book would ever do. Plus we all cherished a break from the monotony of learning from books only.
What started as a normal history lesson at school, one fine day, turned into something completely different and after watching the film we were shown, the images were forever etched into my mind. The film we saw was not historical footage from the Hitler years, it was a movie from 1981, retelling a story that had happened in the USA in the 1960s.
This film was called: The Wave
Main characters in the film are:
Bruce Davison as Ben Ross
Lori Lethin as Lauri
John Putch as David
Johnny Doran as Robert
It's the year 1967. Popular teacher Ben Ross (as he is called in this film) at a Palo Alto, California, high school is trying to teach his reluctant students about the Third Reich and the atrocities committed in the concentrations camps. One of the students, Laurie openly wonders how the German people could pretend that nothing was happening, that they knew nothing about what was happening around them.
This is something Ben Ross can't answer and he starts investigating.
Next lessons start as usual. However, Mr Ross introduces something new to his teaching. He tells his students that from now on they are part of a group, a group that believes in discipline and community.
Instead of slouching on their chairs, all pupils have to sit straight, answer questions only when asked, stand next to their desk when answering a question and always answer a quesion by saying the teacher's name first before flooing with the answer.
There is a strict code of conduct and the class seem to take to it like ducks to water, in particular the class nerd Robert. The group even have a symbol to identify themselves with, a wave in a circle.
It appears that the strict regime has some positive results. Attendance is high, homework is handed in on time and marks are going up.
Over time, it's not only Ben Ross' class that is starting to become part of 'the wave' project. More and more pupils are recruited to join and become part of a bigger union.
However, some students are starting to get worried. They feel something is not quite right but can't put their fingers on what is wrong. In the meantime, the movement known as 'the wave' is getting bigger and bigger and more and more students subscribe to it.
But there are doubters and those who question the validity of The Wave. These students are hounded, ostracised and beaten up as non believers.
Can teacher Ben Ross, who started this experiment innocently to teach his history class about Hitler rescue the situation or is the experiment doomed to failure?
Based on a true story, I was first introduced to the 1981 TV movie during one of my history lessons. Having to talk about one of the darkest decades in German history is never easy and there are a lot of opinions out there about what really happened. And of course the obligatory question of 'how can people claim they didn't know anything about what was happening' came up.
Most of my fellow pupils watched in disbelief that it could take one person to affect the lives of so many. And strangely enough, The Wave stayed with me until today.
If anyone ever talks about the fact that Germans must have known what happened and that there was no way they were oblivious about what happened, I often tell them the story about the US school teacher who was asked the same question and got into trouble by starting an experiment to prove it was possible to brainwash people without them even knowing it.
The original movie is very difficult to got hold of but it is readily available on Google Video if you search for it.
I urge anyone who has any doubt on how German people could have been hoodwinked into believing into Hitler and still claiming to have known nothing about the atrocities to watch this experiment and judge for yourself.
Knowing that the film is based on a true story makes this a lot more harrowing as first thought. The teacher in the story really exists, he was disciplined and lost his job as far as I am aware. But it is a stark reminder that it does not take much to turn very nice and ordinary people and have them lie and deceive if it is for their own advantage. It also shows that those not thought of highly can suddenly ride through the ranks and become major players, as is shown in the case of Robert, the class nerd who raises through the ranks at alarming speed.
Do you really believe that Hitler and the Nazi party can't ever happen again? Watch The Wave and think again. Humans have a predisposition to 'follow the leader' and this is what will happen when there is enough suffering to the people and nobody to give them an answer.
Look at yourself and judge whether or not you are one of those who will follow blindly without thinking or take on the responsibility to sit back and think about the consequences of just sitting back and following the current trend.
The Wave is a movie that should be on each and every curriculum around the world just to let students know how easy it is to fall into the trap of following a dream, in a lot of cases, the wrong dream.
The movie makes you think and watching it, at any age, will leave you with an uncomfortable feeling that while the world thinks that anything that happened during Hitler's rule and the Third Reich, will never happen, people are just too gullible and will ultimately follow the easy way out, regardless of the consequences.
If you can get hold of a copy, highly recommended to watch and discuss with friends family and anyone interested.
There is a 2008 movie out there (German with English subtitles) which retells the same story, however, even if the quality is not the best, try and watch the 1981 TV movie. It is much more telling than a modern version of the same. Only because nowadays everything has to be of the highest quality, it does not mean that lower quality productions do not tell us just as much, maybe even more so. It's often what isn't shown that makes the movie what it is. Leaving things to your imagination is a big part of the 1981 movie and this is what makes it so incredibly memorable.
Take The Wave as a made for TV movie where reality has been bent a little to make it fit. And while you will have to suspend belief a little at times, it will not deter from the message that is found in this movie.
And of course, nobody is sure what really happened as it was before the rise of the Internet where everyone can post virtually anything and bring it to a wider audience. What is known that something did happen, however, eye witness reports are hard to come by.
HP Mini 210-1003SA Netbook, 1.66GHz with 10.1 Inch Display, Pacific Blue, Intel Atom N450, 250gb hard drive, Windows 7 Starter
My first computer was a laptop, the very first Sony Vaio. It had a 12" screen, ran on steam or hamster power and had the, then, brand new Windows 98 operating system.
My 17" screen size laptop died six weeks ago (after a short life of just 14 months) suffering a short in one of the USB ports fried the motherboard. While waiting for the expert report and repair, I had to find a replacement as I needed a computer for my studies. Considering that my research was stuck on the now dead laptop, and not backing up on an external drive (I wanted to, honestly, but never got round to it) I was panicking.
I invested in a Netbook, something I would not normally have considered, but there were time restraints and price issues. In the end I decided to invest in an HP Mini that I had sourced on the Tesco Direct website. I had seen a Toshiba Netbook £70 reduced but I did not have enough money in the account to afford it and by the time I could, the price had gone up to its normal price again. In the end I settled for an HP Mini 210-1000 series Netbook. I had a choice of colours, I thought that blue was something that would go very well with anything I own.
Using a couple of money off coupons, online discount and free next day delivery (between 7am and 7pm) I went for it. In the end I paid a smidge over £200.00 but the Tesco Direct price was £249.00 at the time. I could have opted for store pick up but would have had to wait until after 4pm the next day. The delivery was at 11.30am and I was glad I had chosen to stay inside as it was chucking it down with rain.
HP Mini 210-1000 series, as said before, is available in 5 colours, Pacific blue, Sonoma red, Glossy black, Black with crystal pattern, Crystal silver . I went with Pacific Blue, as black and silver is too common and red is really not my colour.
=== What's in the box? ===
Unpacking the new Netbook was a bit of a surprise and also a let down. I had expected a little more, but what was in the box was the actual Netbook, separate battery and power cord and adapter (which incidentally does not go with anything I already own so can't swap it if it should go wrong - which I hope it won't). There was also a very slim instruction booklet and a quick start guide. As the Netbook does not come with an optical drive, there was no back up or recovery disc included.
=== Minimal assembly required ===
The actual Netbook is incredibly small (but cute) and by no means will ever replace a proper full size laptop or desktop computer. But it looks ideal for travel and using while out and about.
The battery pack was separate and had to be inserted into the back of the Netbook computer. There were no problems, you easily see what bit goes where and to secure the battery you slide the locks to a closed position.
Then all you need to do is to plug the unit into the mains and wait for it to power up.
=== Setting the stage ===
As always, when you have a new computer of sorts, you have to go though the initial set ups, entering you name, address and email (or however much information you are prepared to divulge) and set up the Netbook for first use.
This takes a little while but should not bother you too much. Just a word of advice, during the initial set up of the Netbook you won't have access to any external hardware, i.e. mouse. I had attached my mouse the Netbook as I don't like any touchpad on any laptop and rather work with a mouse. Only after I had set up all the initial settings, the mouse started working and I have had it attached to my Netbook via one of the 3 USB ports ever since.
=== Keyboard ===
This HP Mini Netbook claims to have a 93% size keyboard. The keys are raised and while there is no room for a full size keyboard with numbers board to the right, the keyboard is very easy to use and big enough to fit even the worst 'big finger syndrome' user. The keys are raised, and the whole keyboard is very responsive. To be honest, as a touch typist, at no time at all did I have problems hitting the right keys. The keyboard is a nice and comfortable size and very easy to use at all times. I didn't feel I had any problems, the only thing I am missing is the number keys to the right on a full size keyboard but that's not really an issue.
=== WiFi internet access and the likes ===
I used to have a wireless router but it started to play up a few months ago and has since given up its ghost. I now have to rely on my talktalk modem (wired). While I had a chance to use the installation disk with my, now dead, laptop, I was very worried that there was no chance of me getting onto the internet without a disk. And as the HP Mini does not have an optical drive, there was no chance of me being able to load the installation disk.
I should not have worried. As soon as I attached the wire between modem and Netbook, it fired up without problems. I was able to log onto the Internet without problems. I never needed to upload the software and still, the Netbook found the correct settings.
=== Operating on bare minimum ===
The HP Mini Netbook operates on Windows 7. However, it is not the full version but what they call 'Windows 7 Starter'. While I'm not too familiar with with new operating system, I did not see much difference from Windows XP or Vista (at least not in the starter version). While this version is a very scaled down version of Home or Professional, it is very restricted in what you can do with it.
One of the first things I noticed was that I could not change the background. I was restricted to just the background it came with. I do like to change it but if it's not possible, I have to put up with it.
I have not noticed much difference from XP or Vista while using the operating system and if you know Windows, you won't have many problems getting used to this Windows 7 Starter version.
=== Software ===
The HP Mini Netbook is loaded with a 60 day trial version of Office 2007. As a mature student I was able to buy a full version of Office 2007 but managed to lock the key to the programme on my now dead laptop, hence the backup copy of the programme I bought is useless.
I never activated the trial version of Office, neither did I bother with Norton that came pre-installed. I prefer installing my own anti virus, firewall and other security.
As I need to do a lot of work for my Open University courses, I needed a programme that would allow me to work and save projects as if they were written on and Office software programme. I was aware that there are free downloads available for a number of word programmes and in the end I decided to download OpenOffice to the HP Mini. As I had never worked with a programme other than Office, I was a little worried at first but as soon as I opened the 'Word' application, I saw a lot of familiar things and wasn't too worried any longer.
After a couple of weeks I was very used to the free OpenOffice version and I don't think I will be going back to Microsoft Office any time soon. This free programme is more than adequate for what I need to do on my computer.
=== Everyday Use ===
I would not recommend this Netbook as a main computer but it will be fine as an additional computer for travel and being out and about.
It takes a little while for the computer to boot up but that is not something you should worry about. The Netbook is easy to work and responds well.
It has two small stereo speakers at the front and when playing music, it does sound a little tinny. But you will not get this Netbook to play music. I keep my iTunes library on here and on the odd occasion I do play something it is mainly podcasts or audio books. Using headphones will improve the sound quite considerably.
I use a digital camera and the memory card was one of the 5that is supported by the HP Mini 210. I was surprised that I could just slot the card into the slot and the computer recognised it immediately. But what I have been more surprised with was bluetooth. I had never used bluetooth on my phone before but managed to synch the netbook and my mobile phone and I can now send photos easily from the phone to my netwook as well as connect to the internet if necessary. I am well impressed as the whole set up was easy and painless.
I use my Netbook mainly to log onto my email, check websites and of course try and stay on top of my reviews on various review site. If you are not expecting too much from your netbook the HP Mini 210 will surprise you as it is quick and easy to use as well as containing a massive hard drive to store all sorts of photos and movies, 250GB is a pretty large storage compared to other netbooks where the average is 160GB.
While I am waiting for my 17" laptop to be repaired, I am happy to use this HP netbook as my substitute computer. The speed is very acceptable and when out and about, it will not weigh you down. On a number of occasional I have now taken it out and used it to log on in London while out on mystery shopping assignments. It is fun to start filling in the paperwork online while still in the store you are visiting.
The HP Mini 210 does not weight you down when in your bag or backpack. Use it to your heart's content and make the most of it.
Audio Features Analogue output
Blank Discs Case Included No
Built-in Webcam Yes
Card Reader Type 5 in 1, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro
Hard Drive Size 250 GB
Hard Drive Type 2.5" SATA 5400rpm with 8MB Cache
Number of USB Ports 3x USB 2.0
Operating System Microsoft Windows® 7 Starter Edition
Processor Intel® AtomTM
Product Depth 26.8 cm
Product Height 2.29 cm
Product Weight 1.22kg
Also on Ciao UK
David is a 12 year old boy who has spent almost all his life in a concentration camp. He has no memory of his parents, who they were, what brought them to the camp, and was brought up by a fellow inmate, mentor and friend called Johannes. After Johannes' death, David is all alone. He has lost everything, all he has, all that is truely his is his name. For he is David. Nobody can take this away from him.
One of the guards, who David calls The Man, tells him that he wants David to flee the camp with his help. He explains that the electric fence will be off for just long enough for David to climb over and hide in the woods where he will find a small package with some food and a compass for him to get going. The Man tells David to go south to the coastal town of Salonica from where he should take a ship to Italy. Once in Italy, he wants him to go north until he reaches the country of Denmark.
David is suspicious about the guard who on occasion has been nice to David. He is convinced that The Man trying to trick him and his escape attempt will kill him. David waits for the sign, starts climbing the fence only to find that what the guard told him was true, the electricity was off and in the woods he locates the hidden bundle, just about where he was told it would be.
David starts running, convinced that he is followed and will be captured. He mistrusts everyone, travels by night only, sleeps by day, until he reaches Salonica where he soon spots a ship heading for Italy.
When David rescues a young girl Maria from a fire, her parents are so happy, they invite David to stay with them and for the first time ever, David's life becomes almost normal. David's close relationship with Maria worries her parents. David tells Maria about things they never wanted her to know as she is still so young. But David insists that everyone has the right to know about evil and evil people in the world. Overhearing Maria's parents talking one night, David feels it is time for him to leave and finally make his way to Denmark.
His journey takes him from Italy over the Alps into Switzerland where a chance meeting with a woman painter explains much about David and why he is going to Denmark. And for the first time he finds a friend he can trust.
I feel 'I am David' is a very strange story. We are not told much about the main character, where he came from, or even where the concentration camp he escaped from is. We do not have a time line when the story takes place. All we can gather is that, as the book was published in 1963 that the story takes place before then. We don't hear the names of the guards in the camp so we can't work out where it is from that. The only directions we, as the reader, are given is what David is told by the guard, to go south to the coastal town of Salonica, from there to take a ship to Italy and then head north to Denmark.
We, the reader are learning about David just the same way David is learning about himself. He only knew his name and nothing else. Slowly, while he is piecing together the puzzle, we are also learning what happened to him and his family.
It is difficult to retrace David's journey from the moment he leaves the camp to his arrival in Denmark. We can only assume that by going to Salonica, he ends up in Greece first before finding boat that takes him to Italy. If that is the case then the camp could be anywhere north of Greece, possibly in a former eastern European country or Soviet Union. While we learn a lot about David's journey through Italy, the story jumps quite a lot from one co-incidence to the next to drive the story on and ultimately have David reach Denmark.
David is described as a well spoken boy with haunting eyes. He does not open up to people and still fears the worst, that there will be those who betray his trust and send him back to the camp. The only person he trusts is Maria, the girl he rescues from a fire. Spending time with Maria makes him happy for what appears the first time. But he also feels that Maria is living a sheltered life and should find out that there is evil out there and that not everyone is nice. Maria's parents are unhappy about the situation as they prefer their daugher to enjoy childhood and not having to think about what could happen in later life.
With everything David has seen in his short life, he feels that everyone should be told about bad and evil things.
As I said, the time spent in Italy is described in very great detail, however, when it comes to the rest of the journey, the book feels rushed. After spending the winter working for an evil farmer, the story races from one country to the next. A number of strange co-incidences allows David to finally find his way into Denmark and then Copenhagen where he nears the end of his journey.
If you are reading it as a child, teenager or young adult, you will enjoy the fact that David finally makes it and is not captured during his travels. Adults will find the second half of the book too rushed and possible won't enjoy it as much as children do. But after all, it's a children's book and therefore, it is more important what the target market think.
All negatives aside, this book is certainly one to read, with or without children and of course a good way to start talking about it.
Author Anne Holm
Publisher Egmont Childrens Books (United Kingdom)
Format Paperback - 183 Pages
When you are diagnosed with arthritis, don't you want to know more about what type of arthritis? After all, there are so many different forms of arthritis and they should not all be lumped together into one diagnosis as that would be wrong, wouldn't it?
When you are diagnosed with cancer, don't you want to know what kind as there are so many and your chances of recovery? Not all cancers a the same.
The same is true when it comes stress, anxiety and depression. We all occasionally suffer stress and even anxiety. There is good stress that makes us achieve more in work and every day life. Then there is bad stress, the one that makes us worry more and more, the one that lets us forget to think happy thoughts and makes us see everything in shades of grey to black.
== What is depression? ==
Everyone feels down and a little 'blue' from time to time. That's not depression. What is depression is when the feeling a 'little blue' and 'down in the dumps' does not go away, in fact it gets worse.
Depression is a mental illness, a mood disorder whereby emotional moods are negatively distorted and not appropriate to the situation the person finds him- or herself in.
There are two major types of depression, uni-polar and bi-polar.In the uni-polar spectrum you will find amongst others:
* Major depression or clinical depression, including chronic (recurring) major depression and psychotic depression.
* Post Partum depression or postnatal depression
* SAD or Seasonal affected disorder
* Dysthymia or chronic mild depression
* Minor depression
Uni-polar depression often overlaps with other symptoms like anxiety or panic attacks.There is of course also the bi-polar disorder spectrum (formerly known as manic depression) characterized by episodes of extreme mania followed by major depression.
There is no way that one review can cover all kinds of depression, or talk about experiences. This is why I decided to concentrate mainly on the one form of depression I, as a sufferer, know most about: Dysthymia also known as chronic sub-clinical or mild depression.
== What is Dysthymia ==
Dysthymia is a mood disorder that falls within the depression spectrum. It is considered a chronic depression, but with less severity than a major depression. It tends to be a chronic, long-lasting illness, often not even diagnosed in patients for 20 years or more. Patients suffering often come to terms with it, thinking that's just the way they are, there is nothing that can be done about it.
Only in the 1980s did the term Dysthymia become known. Until then, this form of sub-clinical or mild depression didn't even have a name.
== What are the Symptoms ==
The symptoms of Dysthymia are very similar to those of major depression although less intense and/or debilitating. It usually starts with people losing interest in things others find enjoyable and a lack of energy in general. While with major depression, the sufferer falls into deep depression very quickly, Dysthymia is a long drawn out process and will develop and get worse over at least two years. All or most of the symptoms will be there for most of the time with rarely any time when the sufferer feels normal.
The following symptoms are typical for depression, major depression as well as Dysthymia. The intensity or severity of the symptoms will ultimately decide the diagnosis. However, the symptoms below hardly ever go away for more than two months over a period of two years. To be diagnosed with Dysthymia, the sufferer must have at least two symptoms for at least two years or more.
· Sad mood
· Difficulty sleeping (or sleeping too much)
· Appetite or weight changes (increase or loss)
· Feelings of worthlessness
· Feelings of hopelessness
· Thoughts of suicide
· Difficulty motivating (feeling like everything is a chore)
· Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy (including sex)
· Being sensitive to or fearful of rejection
· Irritability or anger
· Restlessness (especially in children)
· Unexplained aches and pains (headache, backache, stomachache)
· Abuse of alcohol, medications, or illegal drugs
Many people have suffered Dysthymia for many many years before being diagnosed, if they are diagnosed at all. A lot of the time they have felt 'bleugh' but pulled themselved together and battled on. In the eyes of other people they might have been seen as 'just bloody moody'.
While major depression can be debilitation, people who suffer mild, chronic depression and Dysthymia cope. They still take part in every day life just don't get the same joy out of it as 'normal' people. It is also said that people with Dysthymia, due to their condition, never reach their full potential in the workplace and are often found working in lower positions than their actual intelligence would allow them.
One of the dangers is that Dysthymia sufferers slip into episodes of major depression by developing one or more symptoms. If this happens, the diagnosis will be called a Double Depression, Dysthymia with occasional episodes of major depression.
=== Treatment ===
Until a few years ago, Dysthymia was treated mainly with talk therapy, however, studies have shown that antidepressants can be very helpful in treating the condition. A combination of medication and talk therapy of often descibed to get to the bottom of the problem.
If antidepressants are prescibed, the treatment time is often a lot longer than that of major depressions. Dysthymia treatments can last up to 5 years compared to 6 to 18 months for major depression.
Sone of the most prescibed medications to treat Dysthymia are SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor*). They have fewer side effects than other medication and can be taken over a long time. And out of the commonly available medication, Fluoxetine is one of the most prescribed drugs. Fluoxetine is the generic name for trade names like Prozac.
SSRI: These medications work by preventing the neurotransmitter serotonin from being reabsorbed by the nerve cell that released it, thus forcing the serotonin to remain actively working, which has been shown to ease depression in some patients.
Depending on the severity, the sufferer will be started off on a low dose, in most cases, one 20mg capsule a day. Results can take a few weeks to show and if the condition does not get under control, the dose can be increased.
Of course, all medications have side effects. Fluoxetine side effects include anxiety or nervousness; decreased appetite; diarrhea; drowsiness; headache; increased sweating; nausea; tiredness or weakness; trembling or shaking; trouble in sleeping.
== My life with Dysthymia ==
My battle with depression probably started in childhood. I was always known as a shy and withdrawn child. I suffered from dermatitis and eczema throughout all my childhood and teens and it only went away after I moved permanently to the UK.
I was always an underachiever and I knew it. I just couldn't be bothered, after all, what good was it going to be anyway? I never saw myself succeeding at anything. I went to university to study Scandinavian Languages and Literature, English and Political Sciences. I lost interest before I could finish the courses and to motivate myself and return to the studies I decided to take a year out. I moved to England with the aim to return after 12 months. That was 20 years ago.
Over the last 20 years I had my ups and downs. I had a number of serious relationships but I was never ready to settle down with anyone permanently. Consequently I never got married and am currently living as the only adult in my home.
I travelled a lot but never felt really happy. It was nice seeing the world but even though I have great memories, I never really appreciated it.
Then, over the past four of five years, I noticed that my life was slowly starting to slip away from under me. I felt that I was losing control. But I battled on. I knew that was just the way I was. I was never really happy in my own skin, preferred my own company. It got so bad that there were times I only got up to go to work, the rest of the time I stayed at home, spent whole weekends in bed, didn't socialise with anyone. I often burst into tears at work.
I got more and more irritable. I put on a lot of weight. I slept badly. I cried, often daily, for no real reason. I must have driven my GP to destruction as every time I saw him I had developed a different problem. I have annual medical checks anyway and everything always came back normal, no thyroid problems, cholesterol levels were fine. Then, some time around a year or so ago, when sitting in my GP's office bursting into tears after being asked how I was feeling, we sat down for a while and started discussing things in a lot more detail, him asking questions and supplying me with a steady stream of tissues, and me giving honest answers.
I told my GP I felt stupid that I couldn't control my emotions. His answer was that it was not stupid, it was part of the problem. And then the diagnosis was sub-clinical, chronic depression or Dysthymia. My GP said that for years and years I had been living in a grey area where from time to time I would emerge, feel happy for a little while and then slip back into the grey zone. He also stated that I was nowhere near bi-polar (which seem to be the celebrity's depression of choice at the moment) as my 'manic episodes' were me simply feeling normal for a change, that's what normal feels like.
We discussed if talk therapy would benefit me and came to the conclusion that I would be better off trying a low dose of Fluoxetine. I was started on one capsule in the morning and slowly my mood started to lift. I started to feel more normal, was not so tearful any longer. I functioned normally.
A couple of times a year I still suffer setbacks. Those are usually times when I'm under great stress. I go into myself, withdraw, become very tearful. I often see the signs well ahead of time and can do something about it.
However, my last episode of feeling really down caught me unawares. I had been feeling okay for a long while when suddenly, one day this week, I snapped. I screamed and shouted at my manager, started crying uncontrolably and refused to talk to anyone, slammed doors. And all that because he had said something stupid which on a normal day I would have shrugged off.
In hindsight I should have seen the warning signs. I had felt a little 'under the weather' since the weekend and got more and more irritable. The day before I blew my top I had already snapped at my manager.
I saw my GP on an emergency appointment and all he needed to do was look at my and ask what had happened. I think my face told him the whole story anyway. Because this episode was not triggered by stress or anxiety, I am now on a higher dose of medication and we are monitoring how I am doing closely.
Not a lot of people know about my depression. It is not something I am proud of. And apart from that, it is a mental illness and that comes with so much baggage. Who wants to admit they have mental problems? Even if depression is classed as a mood disorder. But everyone knows, mud sticks and people will jump to the wrong conclusions.
Only some of my best friends know, one of my colleagues and now my manager know about my depression (after all, I had to apologise for my outburst). When I told my family in Germany, one of my aunts said: Depression? What is there for you to be depressed about? This just shows how uninformed a lot of people still are.
If you think you may be depressed, not just stressed or sad, or grieving, see your GP. Dysthymia is highly treatable. There is no need to suffer in silence. After all, things will only get worse if left untreated. In some cases, Dysthymia sufferers develop major depression over years if the disorder is left to run its course.
If your friends and family tell you they have depression, be supportive, be there for them and talk about it. What you should never do is tell them to 'snap out of it' or 'grow a thicker skin'. Don't tell them that they are miserable and unpleasant to be around, even if that's what you want to say. Depression often goes hand in hand with negative emotions and telling an already depressed person to 'get over it' will only achieve the opposite.
'Welcome to a brave new world'
We are writing the year 1969. Laurie Saunders, friends and classmates, seniors at Gordon High School are covering World War Two in their history class. Young and hip teacher Ben Ross shows the class a movie reel about Hitler, the Third Reich, and the atrocities that happened in the concentration camps. Students show a varying degree of interest, some are shocked, other looking disinterested and then there are those who appear to be sleeping through the lesson.
Some of the students question the statements of many Germans at the time that they did not know anything about the things that were going on. Laurie in particular cannot understand that nobody said anything or tried to stop them. Not even teacher Ben Ross can answer that question.
Instead of trying to explain what might have happened during the Nazi reign, Ben Ross decides to start an experiment, just for the next lesson and see how the students react. He comes up with a new class motto 'Strength through discipline' and teaches his class how to sit straight in class, how to pay attention and how to, from now on, answer questions, by standing next to their desk and start all answers with 'Mr Ross ...'. There is even a symbol and a name for their group, The Wave.
Although bemused, the students are keen to take part, after all, if they show willing, they will get good grades. At the end of the lesson, the students leave class but the buzz they got during the lesson stays with them and discussions start.
Next day, Ben Ross, arrives a little late to his own class to find everyone there, in the correct straight position waiting for him. He is astonished but decides to continue with the experiment and see where it leads. Even he seems to get swept up in the moment.
Over the next days, The Wave starts taking over not only Ben Ross' history class, students from other classes are eager to join and the once small group of students soon grows larger and larger until it starts taking over much of the student population.
'Join The Wave - or else'
Rules are made up, and attributed to their leader, Mr Ross, even though most of the time he has nothing to do with it.
Students who do not want to become part of The Wave are bullied and it appears even beaten up. There are cafeteria tables, football field seats for Wave members only.
There is growing concern coming from the parents of some students as well as other faculty members. Some of Ben Ross' original class, Laurie and her boyfriend David who had broken up with her over membership of The Wave and even went so far as to push her, desperately try to convince their teacher to call the whole thing off.
The Wave has to stop, once and for all and soon is not soon enough...
I apologise that my summary of the book is a lot more detailed than normal but as this is a teenage/young adult book, I feel that it is important to give as much information as possible about the story this book contains without without giving everything away. I recommend that adults also read the book as it is very moving and rings so true for many.
--- History in action ---
Based on a true story, an incident at a Palo Alto, California high school, it retells the story of an experiment in 'living history' gone, not necessarily wrong, but seriously out of control. There is not much information available about the original 'incident', no newspaper articles, no eye witness reports. It appears that those who lived through the experiment decided not to talk about it. There are however a few people who will confirm that something went on during a week in spring 1967 but will not elaborate. The teacher who started what he called 'The Third Wave' was called Ron Jones and his essay is one of the only confirmed accounts of the 'experiment'.
'What's in a name?'
American teen fiction writer Todd Strasser also writes under a number of pseudonyms, one of them is Morton Rhue. And Morton Rhue's most successful outing seems to have been the novelization of the 1981 made for TV movie 'The Wave'. His stories are often based on his own experiences and have been, on occasion, turned into big screen movies.
'It could never happen again' or a lecture in fashism, manipulation and loss of free will and thinking
Looking back at the atrocities that happened during World War Two, one would think that people have learned their lessons and will always think before acting.
Who really knows if the original story about the classroom experiment in the 1960s happened the way the apparent teacher Ron Jones described it, if it ended the way it did, if the TV movie is close to the truth or not.
Whether or not the story happened the way it is described is not what we have to look at and debate here. What we have to look at is the message of the story which is a stark reminder of what went on in the past and gives us a clear warning not to repeat the same mistakes.
If you look back into our more recent history, even here you can find a lot of similarities, genocide in parts of Eastern Europe or Africa, the incarceration of free thinkers in some parts of the world, the killing of the opposition.
We may never find out why people decide to give up their free will and follow the crowd. We may never understand why people take the easy way out and try and blend into the background instead up standing up and fighting for what's right. After all, we have all seen and heard of the killings in the concentration camps during WW2. We were all shocked when we saw the pictures flickering over our television screen while watching documentaries. And haven't we all kind of promised ourselves that we would never fall into the same trap. Aren't we intelligent people who know things and cannot be manipulated?
Well, think again. There is always something in the human psyche that will overrule the conscious mind and pick the easy way out. Plenty of people nowadays will not say anything in case there are repercussions, the fear of reprisal will stop them from speaking up.
'All animals are equal but some are more equal than others'
The book 'The Wave' describes a modern classroom where some students are bright and others just get by. Then there are those that show no interest, the ones that have already given up on their education, knowing or feeling that they are failures and their future is bleak. Take Robert, the class looser. He is compared to his bright and athletic brother. He can't be bothered and has given up on himself.
Having a purpose and a structure suddenly wakes up something in him and he becomes part of a movement. He is not the outsider anymore, everyone is equal now. For the first time he feels like he belongs.
Even within a utopian ideal there will always be some who stride for more, who want to become more respected. And these are the ones you have to look out for. They are the ones who will come up with new rules and regulations, ready to unseat the original leaders and thinkers. They thrive in their new roles and spend time and effort to make their project a success and pity the ones who disagree. They are to be forced to rethink their ideas and join the movement or feel the wrath of those who have seen the light.
'Only a story told well is a story worth telling'
The writing style is very easy and flows well. While this book is trying to convey a message, it is never patronizing or preachy. It shows how the story, the movement develops, catches up with a number of characters throughout. The characterization of the teacher and main student body is adequate, it is just enough not to distract from the actual story. We do get physical description but they are just there to point out where the message is heading.
I found that reading The Wave gave me shivers down the spine. It could have to do with the fact that I grew up in Germany and have to live with the Nazi history. Or it just could mean that I notice that although this is 'only a story', nothing will ever stop it from happening. It only takes a couple of determined fanatics to start it all up again.
I can only hope that there are then still enough people around to stand up to them and stop them before things get out of control.
'Don't judge a book by its cover'
Just by looking at the cover of the paperback you will instantly notice how intense and menacing it looks. All the different shades of grey and the striking red in the Wave banners and flags, all in a straight line. Doesn't it look hauntingly and frighteningly similar to the grainy newsreel footage we know of Nazis in grey uniform with their red swastika armbands and banners?
While the cover is eye catching in a disturbing kind of way, it is not one of the covers you would go out looking. Maybe you wouldn't even give this book a second glance because of the menacing cover? You may even be able to imagine what the book could be about?
Whenever I see this book, and I had it for a while at home now, it still gives me the heebie jeebies. For me it's a very strong emotion considering it's a book written teenagers and young adults.
There are other editions out there with different covers but none is more to the point than this one.
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Puffin (21 Jun 2007)
25% off everything
buy any two Shower gels or body lotions for £8.00 (BOGOF if you buy two body lotions)
I hate emails or in store promotions like this. But I'm also a sucker for a new shower gel or body lotion or butter from The Body Shop. And if I can afford it, I will splash out on a few new items to complete my collection.
=== Sweet Lemon Time ===
The latest body fragrance the Body Show threw onto the market was called Sweet Lemon. Every Body Shop shop seemed to have an area where you could try out the new fragrance. And of course buy one or more products of the rage, soap, shower gel, body scrub, body lotion and butter to name just a few.
Lemon scent on my body was not what I felt was something I wanted. While I'm quite partial to a little bit of lemon (generally as a slice in a drink or even a lemonade), covering my body in it made me cringe and I stormed out of my local Body Shop in disgust.
But something changed and I quite enjoyed the sample of body lotion I was given. I enjoyed it so much that when a special offer email dropped into my email inbox, and I had planned to order a few essentials, ordering items from the Sweet Lemon range did not seem too out of the ordinary.
=== Whip me up before I go go ===
Housed in a see-through bottle, much like all bath and shower gels and lotions, the Sweet Lemon body lotion is rather thick compared to other body lotions. Normally you would be able to shake the bottle and see the lotion either run like milk (as in the Moringa range where the body lotion is very runny, too much for my liking - but they do call it body milk so I should have known), or it is a little more of a creamy consistency (as I noticed when I used Almond body lotion)
The Sweet Lemon Whip is a creamy yellow colour, could be compared to lemon custard. It sits very thick inside the bottle and comes with a proper dispenser with nozzle, almost like the liquid soaps you can buy. It makes placing the lotion into strategic places a lot easier. A normal push/spray dispenser would not work as the lotion is just too thick. It does work fine for the Moringa lotion as it is runny like milk.
The lotion sits neatly on your skin until you massage it into your skin. A little goes a long way and you notice that the lotion is not greasy at all. It absorbs quite quickly into the skin and leaves it tingly, moisturized and smelling beautifully of fresh lemon. Sweet Lemon contains amongst other ingredients lemon, brazil nut and soya oil to moisturise, soothe and soften.
And for once I have to say that I am not disappointed as often the Body Shop scents turn stale and boring and a little fake. The lemon scent stays fresh on your skin for a long time.
The body lotion is not quite a long lasting as you would get from the body butter. But then again, you are not expecting it as the body butter is a lot richer and greasier. I often prefer a lighter coverage, in particular during daytime when I am out and about while I favour the body butters for evenings and nighttime.
=== Not good enough to eat ===
Amazing lemon scent all throughout the bathroom wafting into the hall, after I finish with the body lotion. The scent even lingers on into the next morning and I can still make it out when I get up to get ready. It is a lot stronger than the Moringa scent which I adore but not quite as strong as the Pink Grapefruit that has been one of my favourite scents for ages.
Even though it looks and smells good enough to eat, I can bear witness that eating it will not be an option, however hard you may try. I accidentally put my finger into my mouth soon after I had applied the lotion only to find it tasted rather bitter and nasty. But the taste will not stay long, so don't worry if you accidentally lick some. However, there seems to be a lip balm in this range if you want to go full on sweet lemon.
Price is £8.00 for a 250ml bottle. This is the average Body Shop price for all their body lotions. I bought mine on a 'Buy 2 body lotions for £8.00' offer and a glitch in the online ordering system applied a 25% discount on top of the one I had already been given so ended up paying just £6.00 for the two.
I don't normally buy unless it's on special offer because, even if I love The Body Shop, I'm not made of money and try and save wherever I can. Of course, the lotion lasts quite a while if you don't use it every day. Then again, who wants to walk around smelling of Lemon Curd all the time. Variety is the spice of life.
Highly recommended for light day wear and sunny summer days and nights. It is certainly a lovely summery scent that will linger on your skin, protect and moisturise.
Having found the perfect home colouring pack in Herbal Essence, Clairol in their ultimate wisdom decided to take it off the market and replace it with, well, nothing really. At least I have yet to find a 'new and improved' Herbal Essence hair colourant.
For the last year or more I have been desperately trying to find a colour that I like and compliments my natural hair colour, a price I liked and a product that does not smell so bad you want to run out of your own home.
The beauty with the Herbal Essences hair colourant was that you did not smell the nasty ammonia. What you got was a light and flowery scent that would not go up your nose and make you want to run a mile.
Not wanting to waste a lot of time if I had to smell the ammonia, I was looking for one of the latest 10 minute colourants. A number of companies out there offer you perfect colour hair in just 10 minutes. I had tried a company I had never heard of before, next was Clairol Nice 'n Easy's Perfect 10 when I happened to come across L'Oreal's Excell 10 on a Tesco buy-one-get-one-free promotion. I normally ignore this particular one as it's a little on the expensive side costing on average £7.99. With not much to lose and everything to gain, I ordered two packs, each a slightly different shade of dark blonde.
What you are supplied with is a nice shiny cardboard box with a picture what the colour of your hair will look like when it's been airbrushed and photoshopped within an inch of its life.
Inside the box you will find the usual, cream developer, colourant, conditioner (this time called Cashmere Balm), gloves (neatly squeezed into what looks like a clear Kinder Surprise Egg plastic container, two applicator tops, one tip applicator, one comb and of course a shiny instruction leaflet, illustration what to do and how to do it, explaining the positives as well as some of the negatives (in particular allergies to the chemicals).
It is best to do a strand and allergy test and the instruction leaflet tells you how to do this.
If you are a chancer like me, you skip this step and hope for the best and that you will not develop an overnight allergy to hair colourants.
So without further ado, I read the instructions and followed them to the letter (apart from the allergy test).
The L'Oreal Excell 10 bottle does not have a flat bottom so it's a little difficult to put down while you are applying the mixture. But the good people at L'Oreal thought about this and left a perforated area on the back of the box you can push through and the tube will sit in it quite nicely.
You unscrew the colourant tube and pierce the top to punch a hole in it. you will find that the tube will screw onto the developer perfectly fine and you can easily squeeze the contents of one tube into the next without spilling anything.
It is best to put the top back on and start shaking vigorously to mix both colourant and developer. Once finished all you need to do is decide whether you want to use the tip applicator (recommended if you want to do roots first) or the comb applicator to apply the mixture to all of your hair.
My roots had grown out so much that I could easily fit into the either never coloured or more than three months ago category. Plus I really like the comb attachment. This one has the mixture come out half way up the comb attachment and not at the bottom and you have to hope the comb will distribute everything correctly.
Before you apply the mixture, this particular colourant wants you to wet you hair but not wash, towel dry and comb it first. I have used a number of home colourants and a lot of them have to be applied to dry, unwashed hair. Make sure you read the instructions to see if you have to apply to wet or dry hair.
I was surprised how little mixture was actually provided. I covered my hair quite easily but then, I only have a short bob style cut with fringe, my hair barely reaching my shoulders. I used all the mixture on my hair and that is something I do not normally do. L'Oreal are very stingy with their mixture and if you have long or very thick hair you might want to use two packs to cover all your hair.
The beauty of Excell 10 was that it was incredibly thick consistency. At no time did it run and there was only very minimal spilling on my face. A quick wipe with a wet wipe soon sorted that out. And I didn't even bother to put the gloves on at first. I only put one on when I wanted to make sure I had distributed all the mixture evenly on my hair.
For the next 10 minutes I sat watching television without the fear of anything running or spilling. Of course it's not recommended to sit back and rest your head on the furniture.
After 10 minutes I put the gloves on, poured some warm water over my head, then started rinsing out the colourant. It did not take a long time for the water to run clear and I applied the conditioner as directed, left it on for two minutes, rinsed out again and then towel dried my hair.
Combing was very easy and it was a pleasure to see that all my darker coloured roots were gone, my few grey hairs were gone, too (it will not work on very grey hair) and I noticed that my hair was not just one ugly block of colour but the light shone through and it looked like it had natural high and low lights.
Styling was easy. The hair dried beautifully and looked stunning. There was a subtle sheen that was great. And as usual, my hair continued to change colour overnight and the next day and it was only three days later that I saw the true colour. For two days after colouring my hair continued to get a little lighter which often, if not always happens when I colour my hair.
The colour is still lasting and it is now slowly starting to grow out. Excell 10 is permanent hair colour so it will not wash out but has to grow out. Soon I will have to decide whether I want to re-colour the roots or let them grow out a little more and change to a different colour again.
While I am pretty happy with the colour, the price and everything, there are a couple of things I did not like much. Excell 10 does have a strong ammonia smell when it is on your hair at first. It is not so strong that it is annoying, plus you are only keeping the mixture on for 10 minutes, but there must be a way to get rid of this. Herbal Essences managed to do it, why can't anyone else.
There is not a lot of mixture if you have long hair so you will have to buy two packs to colour long or thick hair, making this rather expensive.
All in all I am happy to use L'Oreal again in the future but I will wait for money off offers as it is a rather expensive hair colourant.
Different colours and shades are available, refer to the L'Oreal website for more information and colour choices.
I have always known the fact that I have dry, bordering on sensitive skin. I tried to deny it but all through my life I suffered, eczema, psoriasis, dry skin. The only advantage of having dry skin usually is that you are not prone to spots and/or acne - although occasional outbreaks are not uncommon.
I made do with Oil of Olay, Nivea Q10 and other readily available creams. When I switched from liquid make up/foundation to mineral make ups and powders, I was looking for a base that would not irritate my skin and keep it hydrated underneath the powder for a long time.
The Body Shop Vitamin E cream was too thin and watery for my liking, the scent, although pleasant, quite literally got up my nose and after a while I did not like it much. However, the Aloe day cream (after receiving a free sample) reacted incredibly positive with my skin and there was no adverse reaction, no stinging, dryness or itching. In fact my skin remained beautifully hydrated underneath the mineral foundation that blended perfectly with the cream.
But I was not entirely happy. After a nice long hot bath or shower my face craved more than just a moisturiser. I have a selection of body butters but I do not use highly scented butter on my face. I have Aloe body butter, I do not like to use it on my face despite being virtually without scent and very moisturising. I just think it is too much of a good thing and too greasy.
I got excited when I spotted the Aloe Protective Restoring Mask online when putting an order together (25% reduction on top of other money off offers can do the strangest things). I ordered it more out of curiosity than anything else.
Aloe Protective Restoring Mask is available in a 100ml pot, decorated in the very common and known Aloe light green colour scheme. The 100ml pot will set you back £10.00 if bought at regular price (10% discount for 'Love your body' card holders, even more reductions during money off promotions).
I don't follow a strict face cleansing regime. I am more likely to keep my mineral make-up on overnight (because you can) than spend time before bed to wipe off any excess. I do, however, like to clean my face with wipes rather than all sorts of bottles filled with lotions and potions.
According to The Body Shop website you should use the Aloe Protective Restoring Mask once a week after cleaning and toning you skin. I don't follow that school of thought and often use the mask as a hydrating night cream.
The beauty of the mask is that it is really a very hydrating and creamy face cream/mask that can be left on to achieve maximum protection. It is not as greasy and thick as the body butter but a lot stronger and thicker than the night cream. It is very hydrating and soft and will nourish your skin while it gets absorbed.
My facial skin is sometimes so dehydrated, it soaks up the mask like a sponge. Instructions explain that you should keep the mask on for up to 20 minutes, then massage your face and wipe off any excess with a tissue.
After massaging it into the skin, it leaves a nice but subtle sheen on your face. It does not feel too greasy and the longer it stays on, the more it will be absorbed into the skin. There is no distinct scent of any sort to this mask, very much in keeping with all the other Aloe products from The Body Shop. It does not distract from any other scents you are wearing.
This mask gives moisture starved facial skin a total overnight boost and my skin is loving it. And in the mornings I often feel that I do not even need add my moisturising day cream to enjoy smooth, soft and well-hydrated skin.
The money spent of the Protective Restoring Mask was certainly well spent. I can see a single tub lasting for quite a while as it does not need a lot of cream to cover the whole face and although it is a mask, it certainly doesn't look or feel like it.
Highly recommended, in particular if you get it on special offer or have a Love Your Body card where you get 10% discount every time you use it. I will certainly buy this one again.
Nobody was more surprised than myself when I discovered that I actually quite like flowery scents, compared to the nutty and fruity ones I normally use.
I had tried the Moringa body butter which managed to sneak into my home without me actually knowing anything about it. I loved the scent and went out to see what else was available.
I also bought the Moringa shower gel and body lotion (currently buy two for £8.00) plus I got a 25% online discount when ordering so paid only £6.00 for both, when the actual price would have been £6.00 for the shower gel alone and £8.00 for the lotion. Now, that's what I call a bargain (if you like Body Shop products)
Moringa, not a flower or tree I was previously familiar with, and as said before, I initially thought the flowers on the body butter I had at home were jasmine, shows how much I know.
It is easy to Google Moringa and find out more about the actual plant and its uses so I will not go into anything here.
As I ordered online (mainly to curb my spending, going into a Body Shop outlet generally ends up with me spending a lot more than anticipated.) I had to wait a few days before delivery arrived. And although I did not pay for delivery and only had standard delivery ticked (orders over £15.00 are free) my delivery arrived by UPS courier early one morning when I was at work. Luckily I had decided to have my order shipped to my work address, otherwise I would have been out and it would have delayed delivery.
The order arrived in a jiffy bag (personally I could think of better packaging) and I was keen to get a whiff of all the lovely scents I had just bought.
Moringa Shower Gel arrives in the normal Body Shop packaging, a clear 250ml clear bottle, showing a label with name of the product in both English and French and a picture of the fruit or flower contained within.
The shower gel is a beautiful light cream colour, totally see through in the bottle. There are two ways of getting to the gel, either flip open the top of the bottle and squeeze gently. The other way is to simply unscrew the top completely and take a whiff. While the first way is easier on the dosing of the gel while in bath or shower, the second certainly gives you a great idea what you are letting yourself in for when using the gel.
Personally I do not use soap bars at all at home and use nothing but liquid soap, as it is better for my already dry skin. While at work we use some rather cheap, yet good enough liquid soap (bars are just too messy we decided), I used my Moringa shower gel as hand wash, just to see how it smelt on my skin.
I only used a tiny bit but it scented the whole of the room with a beautiful flowery scent. Even my colleague commented on it as it lingered for quite a while.
At home I pushed the latest flavour of the month (pink grapefruit) out of the way to make room for the newly acquired Moringa shower gel ready to be used.
When using the shower gel, you do not need a lot. Just squeeze a little on your hands, flannel, sponge or one of those pompoms. A little goes a very long way and the scent of the flower is very intense at first. Washing away the daily grime, your skin is also receiving a dose of moisturiser thanks to the Moringa extract and honey contained in the gel.
The gel lathers up nicely without going over the top. You can work it into your skin easily and it cleans and moisturises at the same time. And of course it leaves behind a beautiful scent in the air and on your skin.
I often think that any Body Shop shower gel does not last long on my skin and I often feel cheated, it does happen that the first wave of scent disappears, only to be replaced by a long lasting scent that is not immediately obvious.
I therefore suggest you do not necessarily layer on the scent with this one. The initial shower gel is already quite strong when it comes to the scent and if you layer it with a very strongly scented body butter, it might be a little too much. I prefer to keep it simple and at most use a very quick layer of body lotion, not butter, to keep the scent last longer but not make me smell a mile against the wind, something that could easily happen if you overdo it with this particular product. Of course, if you have nothing much planned and are not going out, why not overindulge and pack it on?
Using perfume is not really an option with the Moringa range. I even found it difficult to find a deodorant that didn't clash with the strong flowery scent.
Not really one for anything to girly and flowery, I found myself surprised how much I actually liked this scent. My skin is beautifully moisturised and soft to the touch. I do not suffer any adverse reactions to the shower gel, no itching or redness so everything seems to be fine on that front, too.
Available from all Body Shop outlets for a regular price of £6.00 per 250ml or two shower gels or lotions for £8.00 on offer, it is certainly worth looking into. Despite this, the body shop is still quite expensive and the more discounts you can get, the better for you. I bought Moringa shower gel at their 2 for £8.00 offer with 25% spring bonus on top, meaning I got two shower gels/body lotions for the price of one, paying just £6.00 for two.
Having a soft spot for Body Shop body butter, I have a number of different ones to chose from on a regular basis. I don't often buy at full price (£12.50 for 200ml) but wait for half price sales or freebies when spending over a certain amount of money.
Around Christmas last year, I noticed that both, Body Shop outlets as well as online ordering offered free Coconut Shimmer body butter free with purchases over £25.00 or thereabouts. As I did a lot of Christmas shopping for stocking fillers for friends and family at the body shop, spending the required £25.00 before discounts was no problem and in the end ended up with three free Coconut Shimmer body butter tins. I gave one away and kept the others.
I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts
Coconut is not everyone's cup of tea and unless you really enjoy smelling like a Bounty Bar, I would not recommend using it. When first applied, the scent is very strong, almost the same as when opening the tub for the first time. The scent stays on your for a while until it changes into something rather dull and what I would describe as artificial and plastic.
When it comes to the 'shimmer' aspect of the body butter, it is certainly quite subtle on the skin where you applied the butter. It is not immediately obvious and takes a little while to 'develop' before you see a slight change and depending on the light falling onto your skin, it will show up more or less. All in all your skin will be covered in a very subtle sheen.
However, check the palms of your hands after you applied the butter to your body and tried to work it into your skin. What you will notice is that the palms of your hands are covered in shiny shimmer. And despite wiping your hands on paper towels or fabric, the shimmer does not seem to lessen. To get rid of most of it, you will have to scrub the palms of your hands, totally defeating the object of moisturising your body and hands.
Coconut butter looks and feels rather heavy. When digging your fingers into the butter you will notice some resistance. It does take a little bit to get some of the butter on your fingers.
When it comes to spreading it onto your skin, you will notice it is rather thick and not easy to spread. It takes some time to work into your skin.
I usually work my way up the body, starting on my legs and by the time I get to my hips, I'm already bored with it.
My hands are aching and very greasy. The consistency of the butter is not as smooth as it could be and it feels like there are little lumps in the butter that have to be smoothed out when applied to the skin.
The whole process is just too much effort for so little result and by the time you have covered all the areas you want to cover you are too exhausted to bother. And it is not easy to see how much shimmer is developing on your skin and whether or not you have missed out bits on your body.
The only thing that will be shimmering that night will be the palms of your hands that are incredibly greasy and covered in amazing amounts of shimmer.
Coconut Shimmer body butter contains cocoa butter for soft supple skin and shea butter to protect and soften the skin.
Stay On Me
Unfortunately, a lot of Body Shop body butters lose their beautiful scent quite quick once you have applied and on a lot of occasions what you are left with is a rather stale plastic smell. Whatever the initial scent was, it always seems to turn into something rather dull (however, there are exceptions to this rule). The body butter is far too greasy to work well and I feel it stops your skin from breathing. The slightest bit of overheating in your body (sweating to you and me) and the skin will glisten with what I can only describe as grease. Not really what I am looking for.
My experience with Coconut Shimmer is that it smells lovely when first opened and applied, the shimmer develops nicely, however, the scent does not last long and changes into something rather dull and boring. I would not use this when preparing to go out, at no time of year, whether or not showing the shimmer on my skin. I would possibly use it if I really want to smell like a bounty bar, not go out but just get a lot of moisture into me. I don't care much about the shimmer, it looks quite nice on skin, however sticks to palms of hands to much to score points with me.
Coconut is essentially a summer scent and you will find it a lot in sun lotions. But the Body Shop Coconut range is suitable for anyone loving coconut scent, regardless of time of year. However, I would possibly use it predominantly in summer months. It is not necessarily a scent all people will like and it can be very overpowering when overindulged in.
I did not pay for my Coconut Shimmer body butter and am glad I did not invest money as I would have been slightly disappointed. It smells rather nice but it's just too messy to take seriously.
I eat poultry and fish but when it comes to red meats, I rather not bother. I also often favour vegetarian options and normally cook from scratch.
Putting together one of my last grocery deliveries I noticed that Tesco were running special offers on Quorn products.
I ordered a few items (after all, £1.10 or so is still better than more than twice that) to keep for emergencies or for when my vegetarian friends come so I have something just in case.
Quorn is the brand name for a range of vegetarian food products made from mycoprotein. Mycoprotein ( myco- Greek for fungus) - is a protein from the Fusarium venenatum fungus and is used to create meat substitute in vegetarian dishes.
One of the purchases was a pack of 2 Quorn Peppered Steaks, and by peppered steaks they mean coated in green & red pepper and black peppercorn glaze. I have a very big soft spot for peppers and always keep sliced peppers in the freezer as I tend to throw a handful into almost all my dishes whether it is required or not. Seeing the picture and the red and green 'bits' on the packaging enticed me into buying.
Now, had I been in the store and looked in the fresh produce fridge with the Quorn products, I would have pushed the plastic tray out of its cardboard outer to see what the actual steaks looked like. Ordering online made this impossible and I had to go on trust and hope for the best.
As mentioned, the steaks arrive in a plastic tray with plastic film covering the top so you can see what's underneath. All the green colours could automatically make you think that you are looking at a green and healthy product and you may be right. The packing boasts that it is low in saturated fat and high in protein (which, due to what the product actually is, a fungus, is believable). Even at 107 calories per steak, you could indulge yourself and have two without raking up too much of a calorie count.
Furthermore, the product is approved by the Vegetarian Society, however it is not Vegan due to eggs and milk contained in the steaks.
Prepared meals are for the people who can't cook, won't cook, can't be bothered to cook and me.
The back of the cardboard sleeve will give full instruction on how to cook the steaks. There are 4 ways of going about it, oven cook, grill, microwave and barbeque. Each time the settings required as well as cooking times from chilled and (if you decided to freeze them on the day of purchase) frozen.
The instructions say that for best results the steaks should be oven cooked at 220ºC for 14 minutes (or 2 minutes less for fan assisted ovens) Do not overcook the items but make sure the are piping hot before serving.
I had steak cut oven chips in the oven for 15 minutes already when I decided to bang the steaks in with it on the same tray and bake them so they were ready at the same time.
Right from the word go I was rather disappointed. Each steak was no more than a little over half a centimeter thick and absolutely smooth. With peppers and crushed black peppercorn glaze I would have thought there would be some sticky up bits but I was sadly mistaken. The steak was "as flat as a pancake" and "smooth as a baboon's bottom".
How anyone can manage to eliminate the smell of peppercorn and peppers will also be a mystery I will never understand as the steaks had no discernable smell, and I would have expected at least something, maybe even a little smoky smell to give it some sort of steak-like resemblance (not just in shape but also smell). Never mind, there was still the cooking process and I was still hoping for more and was banking on the aroma to develop while cooking in the oven until ready. No such luck I'm afraid and either my sense of smell is totally off or the peppered steaks did not smell of anything much. As it's not my very acute sense of smell it has to be the latter.
What was a smooth surface before on the steaks did not look much different now. And if you had any worries that there might be some fat leaking or glistening, fear not. The top and bottom of the steaks were bone dry, but at least they were not quite as smooth any longer. But at least it didn't shrink and was still the same size as when it went into the oven.
With a handful of oven chips on the plate and salad on the side, the peppered steak looked a little small and sad. I packed the second one on top to give it at least a little bit of height and substance. Yet, still not much of a smell to speak of.
I don't know what I expected but cutting into one of the steaks was like running a knife through butter. There was no resistance, no texture, no nothing. I must say I looked at it in disbelief. But the proof of the pudding (or in this case steak) is in the eating, or so they say.
The steak was piping hot and I expected some of the red and green peppers to shine through and tickle my taste buds. But nothing, the bit I had on my tongue didn't even require proper chewing, it almost dissolved on my tongue.
Yet where were the peppers, where was the peppercorn? How can anyone manage to extract all flavour out of peppers is totally beyond me. The steak was very dry and incredibly bland and tasted of virtually nothing, at least nothing that I could identify as tasty.
I wish I could say that it tasted of something but even now I am still at a loss what the steaks actually tasted like, and I kept the cardboard sleeve so I don't write down the wrong information. I suspect the sleeve could have been just as tasty.
Buying the Quorn Peppered Steaks seemed a good idea at a time. They came with fairly long use by date and looked nice in the fridge. However, when it comes to cooking and eating, I must say I was thoroughly disappointed and I'm glad I tried them myself first before offering anything like this to my vegetarian friends. I have tried a number of Quorn products and this is the first one where I have to say that it and I will not cross paths again if I can help it.
Disappointment would be an understatement as I have rarely ever had anything so bland and dry to eat (apart from bread without anything on possibly). I can not recommend this at all, unless you do not like flavours in your food and prefer the bland variety.
Card Sleeve - widely recycled
Plastic Tray - check local recycling
Plastic Film - not currently recycled
Over the past year I have rediscovered The Body Shop and often find myself stocking up on the odd bits and pieces, in particular when they are on offer as I, in general, find their products a little on the expensive side for what they are.
How a tub of Moringa body butter got into my home, I am still not quite sure about as I tend to stick with what I know and like and the Moringa rage was not something I had come across before. I prefer to go nuts (Almond or Coconut), or fruity (Apple) at a push, and Aloe moisturizer for my face as it is a perfect base under my mineral make-up, but never ever flowery (with the exception of the American 'Bath & Body Works' range of Japanese Cherry Blossom).
The picture on the butter cream coloured tub shows a number of small white flowers that I initially mistook for Jasmine.
When opened, the contents of the tub exudes a very strong scent of flowers, very sweet, but not off-puttingly so. Again, I was reminded of the rather strong scented Jasmine flowers that can fill a room with the most beautiful scent.
The body butter is very lightly cream coloured and even without touching it, it looked smooth and even, unlike some of the body butters where you look at it and it appears 'lumpy' and rough without being a body scrub.
I have used a lot of Almond and Coconut body butter and applying it has always been fairly easy despite getting the feeling of having to start with a heavy lump of something greasy at first. And it takes a little for the body butter to be absorbed into the skin, leaving a layer of grease on you for a little while which will transfer into your clothes if you get dressed to early. And after the initial beautiful fragrance, it is not uncommon that the scent disappears before you had a chance to indulge in it and what you are left with is what I always refer to as a plastic smell on your skin, not the most appealing but that seems to be the underlying problem with one of the basic ingredients, the cocoa butter. You can often already smell this slightly stale scent when you open the container.
With the Moringa body butter you will be very pleasantly surprised, well I was.
Upon first touch you will notice that it is not greasy at all like some of the body butters. It is light and feel very soft and refreshing, almost as if it contains a lot of moisture and/or water. If you use Aloe or Vitamin E moisturizer from the Body Shop you get this feeling when apply these two products, too.
Moringa body butter is very smooth and at no point feel lumpy. It sits lightly on your fingers and when applied to the body, will go on extremely smooth and gets absorbed rather fast. You do not get the greasy layer on you skin like you do with other body butters. Applying is one of the easiest things to do, in particular after a nice bath when you don't feel like a work out to get the body butter on you. And a little goes a very long way I noticed.
My skin feels very moisturized and soft to the touch when using Moringa body butter. This is not always the case when using other body butters. I often think that I still have a greasy layer on my skin and once the scent is gone, the rather nasty plastic smell up my nose.
I don't need to wipe excess off my hands after I have finished and I couldn't believe it when I noticed, after just a couple of uses, that the rather dry patches on my elbows are now beautifully soft and smooth, not rough and scaly as they were before.
Amongst other things, the Moringa body butter contains seed oil with oleic acid for moisture, cocoa butter for extra moisture and shea butter to provide the skin with additional vitamins A and E. All good things but of course if you go deeper into the label on the bottom of the tub, you will find a long list of other ingredients.
Wherever I went, I left a trail of flowery fragrance behind. I felt like my own room fragrance kit - no more plug-ins needed - and the scent lingered in the room even after I had left.
As the flower fragrance is quite strong (but in no way off-putting) and long lasting, I feel it would be a mistake to also use perfume at the same time, unless you can find a scent that will compliment the body butter fragrance. I have stopped using my, normally, very subtle perfume whenever I use the Moringa body butter as, on its own, it is just as lovely as using perfume (if you are a perfume wearer).
Also, if you are someone who likes to layer scents and uses a number of products from the same range, just make sure that the Moringa flower fragrance does not get too strong. One product on its own is, in most cases, just the right amount of scent without having people around you starting to choke.
Available in two sizes body butter, 50ml at £5.00 and 200ml at £12.50, it does not come cheap. But as I mentioned, a little goes a long way and The Body Shop often run special offers, money off promotions, two for one offers or simply wait for someone to give it to you as a present as have them pick up the tab.
This is a pure product review and does not cover any aspects of The Body Shop as a company on the whole and/or their, for a few years now, parent company L'Oreal.
... tjolahopp tjolahej tjolahoppsan-sa
Pippi Longstocking (or to call her by her full Swedish name: Pippilotta Viktualia Rullgardina Krusmynta Efraimsdotter Långstrump) is a 9 years old girl with freckles, has shocking red hair in tightly wounds braids, wears oversized shoes and a patchwork dress. She lives on her own in Villa Villekulla on the outskirts of a small Swedish town or village. Well not quite on her own, there is of course Mr Nilsson, the monkey and the horse Old Man that lives out on the veranda. Pippi also has parents, it just happens that they don't live with her in the same house. Her father is a pirate captain and cannibal king by the name of Efraim Longstocking who spends time on his ship out sailing on the South Sea. However, Pippi's mother is dead and according to Pippi, her mother is an angel who watches over her from heaven. There is no worry that Pippi will starve, her father left her with a suitcase full of gold coins and Pippi can afford to buy anything she wants and desires. She is describes as being stronger than 10 men and has been seen carrying her horse over her head because she thought it looked tired and needed a break.
While Pippi Longstocking is sometimes a little of a wild child, she is very intelligent without being properly educated and has an uncanny ability to tell right from wrong and strong sense of justice and fair play. She will step up to defend the defenceless.
The Best of Pippi Longstocking is a collection of the first three Pippi books, Pippi Longstocking, Pippi Goes Aboard and Pippi in the South Seas, written by Swedish children's book writer Astrid Lindgren (14 November 1907 - 28 January 2002) to cheer up her, then, 9 year old daughter who was ill at home at the time.
"Pippi Longstocking'', the first of the three books covers Pippi's arrival in her new home, how she makes friends with two neighbouring children, Tommy and Annika and some of the adventures the three children have together. It also deals with the busybodies of the town trying to make Pippi into a 'normal' child that moves into a children's home as she has no parents and goes to school.
However, Pippi has her own way of dealing with this as she correctly points out that she has parents, her mother in heaven and her father travelling the South Seas, and Villa Villekulla is a children's home as she is a child and the house is her home.
''Pippi goes Aboard", the second of the books picks up where some of the first book ended. Pippi still lives at Villa Villekulla, sometimes goes to school (but only when there's fun to be had like a school outing) and prepares to welcome back her father and then travel the South Sea with him, leaving her friends behind.
"Pippi in the South Seas" the third book sees our young heroine travel to the island where her father is canibal king accompanied only by her best friends Tommy and Annika. They have great adventures on the island, meet dangerous sharks and pirates and still manage to return home unharmed.
(Yes, it is a little far fetched that parents would let their children travel with another child to the South Seas without being too worried what might happen to them but hey, it's a story, not real life)
While the chapters in the books are self contained stories and do not need to be read in the correct order, it does make sense to read the books from beginning to end, just in case you miss one chapter out or, to a lesser degree, read the same ones again. The chapters follow a general timeline but it is not written as a book where day follows night follows day. This makes the book easy for children to read, as they can read a chapter and then continue another day with another chapter. Or for parent, when they have to read a bedtime story, there is no need to continue the story the next night as each chapter has a proper beginning and end.
Despite writing a large number of books for children, often based on family and childhood memories, Pippi Longstocking will possibly always be the biggest hit for Astrid Lindgren and be the one series of books she will always be known and remembered for.
While I love the Pippi stories, I prefer some of the less known books by Astrid Lindgren: Mio My Son (Mio my Mio), Brothers Lionheart and Ronja Robber's Daughter. But reading or re-reading the Pippi Longstocking books will always be a joy and remind me of the time when I was growing up and first came across the stories.
Like other series of Astrid Lindgren books (in particular the 'Emil' series - not to be confused with the German origin Emil and the Detectives novel by Erich Kastner), the illustrations are by English Tony Ross. While the illustrations are pretty and charming, personally I'm not too keen on them. They are all looking very much alike for all characters whether he is illustrating other people's books or writing and illustrating his own including 'Little Princess' books and cartoons. But it should not detract from the actual fun of the stories too much.
Considering the price for a new paperback edition, you are getting the first three books plus a bonus Christmas story for a remarkably low price compared to buying individual editions. And with the low price, nobody will mind if the edition is 'loved to bits' what can happen when a favourite book is read over and over again.
Amazon Price new £4.78, Amazon Marketplace from £1.70 plus p&p
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: OUP Oxford (9 Oct 2003)
also on Ciao UK
Until a little over a year ago I used mainly liquid foundation, in particular Max Factor and later L'Oreal. I was reluctant to change as it appeared that my skin did not react adversely to either range of products.
I had heard about mineral make up and seen the overnight advertorials advertising 'Sheer Cover Mineral Make Up', QVC had regular hours selling Bare Minerals.
Starting a new make up regime does not come cheap. I finished all the liquid foundation I had and searched the internet for alternatives to the rather expensive options of Bare Minerals or Sheer Cover. I came across Lily Lolo in a couple of online reviews as well as newspaper and magazine articles.
I decided to visit the website to get a first idea of what is available. Lily Lolo http://www.lilylolo.co.uk/ is a UK based company dealing with only mineral cosmetics from foundations to body and eye make-up.
The website is easy to navigate and shows the extensive range of different products. I was primarily interested in a foundation that would compliment my skin tone.
Clicking on the Foundation tab takes you to the options you have when it comes to different skin tones.
The tones are divided into four categories, Neutral, Cool, Warm and Olive. Each category has a number of shades to chose. Most options can be found in the Neutral and Warm categories. It is not always easy to pick the tone that is closest to your skin so you have to go by the picture and also the description.
If you're in doubt, and before spending good money on a full size 10g sifter jar (at £12.00 plus p&p) you have the option of picking a sample jar with only 0.75g of product at £1.25. This sounds incredibly little and when the little pot arrives, you feel it will not last you even a day, but you are mistaken. A little goes a very, very long way and I had enough foundation in each little pot to last me a week.
My first order was for three sample jars of different tones so I could pick the one that was best suited for my skin tone. I also ordered a Super Kabuki brush mainly because I felt that I needed a new brush with synthetic bristles as my skin can be a little sensitive to animal hair.
I opened an account, paid with my debit card and was told that my order would be with me soon. The who process was very easy and even allows you to have deliveries shipped to addresses other than your own. I had most of my online shopping delivered to my work address at the time (not now as I'm not there full time any longer) and there wasn't a problem with Lily Lolo delivering to addresses other then the registered card address.
My order arrived first class post a day later, very prompt and impressive in a jiffy bag. Together with the brush and the three sample pots, I also received some tips on how to apply the foundation and other promotional literature.
It is actually quite simple to apply mineral make up - once you get the hang of it. If you never used mineral make up before, it will look and feel strange but it will only take a couple of days to get used it. Just don't try it out before going out to work or an important date if you're not sure how it works or will look. There is a leaflet with the delivery telling you how to apply the foundation correctly.
If you are using a Kabuki brush that is specially designed for use with mineral foundations you can expect a more full coverage. Any new brush needs some product to be applied before it is fully loaded and will distribute the product evenly on the skin. It may take a couple of tries before you achieve the correct level of coverage.
To apply the foundation, open the jar, tip some of the powder into either the lid of the jar or if you have an old empty jar or saucer, that will do nicely, too. Once the jar is open, you will notice that there is no way to close the little holes so be careful when you tip the jar upside down as powder is likely to come out and stay in the top half of the jar. If it gets too much, remove the sifter part and drop everything back to the bottom.
Swirl your brush in the powder, do not be shy, you can push quite hard. I always find it laughable when you see demonstrations where they barely touch the powder. To get some poweder into the brush you have to swirl the bristles through some powder quite hard. Excess powder should be removed by tapping the bristles over the edge of the jar. Alternative you can tap the bottom of the kabuki brush on a hard surface to settle the powder.
If found that it took a few applications before the brush was fully loaded and since then I have needed very little product to achieve the desired coverage on my skin. If you have problem areas, just dip a little brush or your finger in the powder and cover the areas that need special attention. The foundation can be used for both foundation and cover-up concealer.
Use swirling motions to apply to your face and once there is sufficient powder in the brush you will see instant coverage. I start at the top of my face and just for fun do one side first, look at the difference and then finish the other. The foundations blends perfectly and will not leave any demarcation lines on our face or neck. If you feel coverage should be more, just apply another layer until you are happy.
It is also very easy to blend two or more colours if you can't find the correct skin tone straight away. I found that it is almost impossible to find a tone that is perfect for your skin and it is therefore best to blend two or more colours to achieve the perfect blend. When I use Lily Lolo I usually blend at least two colours "Warm Honey" and one lighter shade, or even use Bare Minerals or Sheer Cover to get what I want.
As I use more than one mineral cosmetic company I can find the perfect blend for me. But even if you use only Lily Lolo, the fact that you can buy test jars makes it easy to find the perfect blend.
Whatever you do, do not try and use a darker tone than you natural skin tone as it will look very fake and painted on and show up immediately. It is best to stick with as close to your natural skin tone as possible and it will look as if you are not wearing any foundation at all, however you skin looks flawless.
Of course, it is important to find out how long the make up will stay on your skin and if you need to re-apply.
I found that Lily Lolo will last for most of the working day if you don't touch or rub your face and take the powder off.
I sometimes think that the powder can leave a chalky residue on the skin but this only happens to me when I forget to moisturise properly before applying the foundation.
Since using mineral make-up my skin tone has evened out, I do not suffer outbreaks of spots at any time and I can see the difference the moment the brush touches my skin.
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