Amani Lyrical

Lifestyle Blog

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I'm Amani - A twenty-something English literature student from London, studying in Nottingham.
These are my thoughts, opinions, likes and dislikes. Thanks for stopping by!
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My Month In Pictures - February & March '16

Apologies for the lateness of this post, and for the lack of recent actively in general. As some of you may know, the beginning of this year was a difficult period for me, Things have been a lot better since then, but as I had to take a lot of time out, the aftermath meant filling my time by attempting to catch up on the elements of my life that I had gotten behind in (for example my final term at uni!).

With that said, here's what February and March of this year looked like for me! 

February

At the beginning of February I was lucky enough to go and see Les Mis in the West End for a second time!

Nottingham's cityscape at twilight.

Keeping warm in Birmingham station whilst I wait for a gig. 

I enjoyed some really nice Latin food at Las Igaunas in Nottingham!


My anxiety continued to be horrendous this month, hence writing little reminders on myself that I'm okay. 



I started engaging in mandala colouring, which to my surprise often really helped me during extreme anxious episodes. 

March

Sleeping With Sirens returned to Nottingham's Rock City once again!

Insomnia really hit this month, hence witnessing a lot more sunrises than I would have liked. 


Sunset by the canal.

And ack to London for the Easter holidays, and for a couple of gigs including James Bay!

My mum recently moved, and wasn't fully furnished by the time I arrived. But that was okay because it meant I could have this cool Tumblr-esque set up. 

And finally, Easter Sunday involved a lot of food, and a lot of chocolate. 

Amani x 

Recipe | Chocolate Nests (With Marshmallow)


With Easter approaching this weekend I decided to experiment with making Chocolate Nests using a recipe that I came up with. They turned out so good that I thought I would share! Here's what you need to do:


You will need: (to make 3 nests):

- 8 or 9 marshmallows

- 140g of milk chocolate pieces 

- A few handfuls of corn flakes

- 2 tbsp cooking oil

- Cupcake cases

- 3 Cadbury's Mini Eggs


Instructions:

1. Place your chocolate pieces into a bowl and melt down the chocolate, either with a ban-marie or in the microwave

2. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil onto a frying pan or pot and put the heat on

3. Add your marshmallows to the pan/pot and heat for roughly 30 seconds, or until they begin to melt

4. Add handfuls of cornflakes to the marshmallows and mix in until they reach a single consistency. Keep adding flakes until the mixture becomes majority cornflakes (stuck together by the melted marshmallows)

(Note: make sure to take the pan off the heat before the marshmallows start to caramelise, or the cornflakes start to burn)

5. Add spoonfuls (enough for 1 cupcake case) of your cornflakes/marshmallow mixture into your bowl of melted chocolate. Mix in until fully coated in chocolate

6. Now add spoonfuls of this mixture into your first cupcake case, making sure to fill in any space as for your nest cake to take the shape of the case

7. Once done place a Mini Egg on top of the nest

8. Prepare the rest of your nests, referring back to steps 5 - 7

7. Finally place the finished nests into the fridge and leave to set for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Once the time has passed check that the chocolate coating of the nests have fully solidified. And if so your Chocolate Nests are now ready!

(You may also want to leave the nests out for 15 minutes before serving so they can reach room temperature)




I hope you enjoyed this recipe and please let me know if you try it out!

Amani x

This Is My Body On Anxiety


After recently going through a rough patch with my anxiety I wrote this post and published it on my Facebook, for my friends to be aware of what had been going on with me recently. And so I thought to share it on here too. I'm not posting this to gain any sympathy - I'm actually feeling a lot better than I was when I originally wrote this. But instead my main aim is to raise awareness and understanding about anxiety, by posting descriptions of my recent experiences with it.


***

Note: A lot of the things I experience anxiety-wise (as is with a lot of mental illness cases) cannot be described in words. And that's because there are no words in the dictionary for them and the sensations aren’t comparable to anything. Attempting it would be similar to trying to describe colour to the blind - there isn’t a way to convey it. So those instances are simply omitted in this post. 
Anxiety is also so broad and can be experienced in a million unique ways - I've simply described how it's most prominently been manifesting for me recently. 

I chose to talk about anxiety as if it were a drug because I currently view it as something that is inside my body, effecting it adversely.


This is my body on Anxiety. After years and years of anxious breathing my body is now in a state of chronic hyperventilation. The last two years I've been trying to retrain my body with physiotherapy to breathe correctly again as my physiology has been stuck in an incorrect breathing pattern, which my body perceives as correct and the default.. Due to my incorrect breathing my blood oxygen levels are imbalanced prompting chronic symptoms of breathlessness, the feeling of suffocation and restricted breathing, the tightening of my airways, along with other non breathing related symptoms. When I practice correct breathing my body identifies it as incorrect so tricks me into feeling like I can't breathe even more so when I attempt it. I can't wear restrictive clothing (hundreds of pounds of pretty dresses are sitting in my closet going to waste), I can't over eat, and I can't always exert myself. Because my nervous system is messed up my body has also been in a state of continuous allergic reaction for the past 2 years which I fend off by taking multiple antihistamines every day. 

This is my body on Anxiety. The natural reaction of the brain to suffocation is anxiety, so as I feel suffocated often my body reacts with anxiety to the perceived threat. But the anxiety makes my breathing worse and so begins the vicious cycle of panicking and then my symptoms getting worse because of the panic, and then panicking even more so at my worsening symptoms.            
                                                                                         
This is my body on Anxiety. This vicious cycle is now building and building in an acute episode, and does so until I reach a state of blood alkalosis. When this happens my breathing is so bad I cannot speak and I feel so weak and fatigued that I have to lie down in a fixed position, and the movement of simply turning my head is too much and I feel as if I'm going to pass out. I can be in this state for hours at a time.

This is my body on Anxiety. My nervous system is out of whack, my body is not in sync, my body is not cooperating with itself. This is not an acute attack, this is my anxiety riddled body at 'rest'. I can't eat because my body won't let me swallow properly. If I attempt to eat the food will likely get stuck in my nasal passage or maybe stuck in my throat. If it does manage to go down properly I will be choking and coughing and breathless for up to an hour afterwards. I become scared to eat. I often even choke on water. This pattern goes on for days/weeks. 

This is my body on Anxiety. I have woken up bolt right in the middle of the night. My heart is racing so fast that it has almost become one singular beat. I'm sure it's going to stop at any second, because how can my heart cope with that? Even when I finally calm my mind my heart won't stop racing, it has a mind of its own. My legs are shaking, I'm shivering, my arms are numb, I can't move my hands - they're stiffened into claws- I have chest pains, shooting pains. I’m having a panic attack and a panic attack mimics a heart attack or a stroke, but I can't afford to believe that I’m experiencing a medical emergency or else it will reaffirm the vicious circle that is my health anxiety. So I have to simply curl up and hope that I am not actually dying and wait for the symptoms to pass, until I'm satisfied that I’m okay. 

This is my body on Anxiety. I am trying to relax by watching YouTube, but all of a sudden I can't concentrate on or connect with what’s going on on screen. Everything seems distant, the faces on the screen seem to be morphing. I look around and everything is becoming unreal and hazy and I feel out of touch with reality. I become overly aware of physical sensations and they make me more scared. My body is so weak now that I can't move an inch and I cannot see clearly. I feel like I'm dying. Though part of me knows that if I go to the hospital they will find that nothing is wrong and the visit will affirm my health anxiety in the long run. It is 3 AM and there is no one to talk to or help me.

This is my body on Anxiety. There are thoughts I can't get out of my head. I think about how many people die every day and realise I could die any second too and by any cause. I don't feel safe, even my body could let me down at any second. I'm imagining all the horrific ways I could die in my head and I can't get rid of the intrusive thoughts. It's late at night but I can't sleep. The thought of going out the next day is suddenly terrifying. I can't sleep because I'm hyper aware of how fragile I am as a human. I am aware of all my body sensations which I’m perceiving as dangerous and which are getting worse because of my anxiety. I stay awake all night because I'm too scared to fall asleep in case I don't wake up. 

This is my body on Anxiety. I don’t feel safe in my own mind and I don't feel safe in my own body.

This is my body on Anxiety. When I have a panic attack it's my body/brain incorrectly reacting to a perceived threat to my life, meaning my mind and body actually believe I am about to die. And the panic attack itself mimics a life-threatening event. So in those moments I am 100% convinced I am dying. Thus I am experiencing dying every single day, but with no death.

This is my body on Anxiety. I feel trapped and constantly in fear of my next attack. I feel debilitated, knowing that I'm not free and I can't do everything that I want to do without experiencing major discomfort and/or terror. I am becoming depressed because I don't know how much longer I can cope with this. And because I'm not free to live the life that I want to, and to do all the things that I wish I could do (in the same way I observe everyone else doing with ease). Not as long as this anxiety is living inside my body.  



Amani x

My Month In Pictures - January '16

We're already over a week into February so this blog post is long overdue! But I hope everyone had a great January and here's what mine looked like:


Rustic fairy lights in Hampstead

I consumed way too many Caramel Macchiatos in January (note the spelling of my name on the takeaway cup)

Lovely sky outside my window in Hampstead at twilight 

Workspace set up at Starbucks!

 Travelling back to Nottingham after the Christmas holidays

Sunset over Nottingham

In January my health wasn't great and I went on some medication which left me ridiculously drowsy, as you can see in the selfie below. So much so that I couldn't even do simple day to day tasks for a while. This drowsy selfie actually prompted my mum to surprise delirious me (the next day after I uploaded it to Facebook) by coming up from London to Nottingham to check up on me and bring me food. She actually texted me telling me she had ordered me food but when I opened the door expecting a food delivery person it was actually her!

 New boots!

January was the month that I started to delve into music journalism for the first time. My first gig was to review a live set by up-and-coming indie musician Declan McKenna, and also do an interview with him. I was terrified, not to mention still not feeling very well at all, but I did it and it was a great experience. I'm also really glad to have discovered Declan McKenna's music as it is great!

Last month there was a 'Puppy Room' held at my university campus for a day. I got to hang out with a bunch of adorable guide dogs and guide dogs in training. Loved it.

In January I had a lot of chocolate chip Pop Tarts and I regret nothing

First signs of Spring

Back to London to review Hozier at Brixton Academy!

After the show I went and checked out the Brixton David Bowie memorial and it was beautiful (more on that in my next blog post!).


And that was my January. How was yours?

Amani x

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