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Thoughts from a Pituitary Patient: What It Feels Like To Live With an Invisible Illness

Hi everyone,

I’m sure you might have noticed that my content over the past few months has been really travel focussed, which is obviously a good thing given that I’m running a travel blog(!!), but I wanted to do something a little different today. I haven’t done any personal posts for a while, and, although I love writing about my trips, I’m conscious that churning out travel guides and hotel reviews will make my blog seem less informal and less ‘me’, so I wanted to inject a bit of personality into this post and put myself at the forefront of it. If you know me personally, or you’ve been following my blog/social media channels online, you’ll know that as well as being a travel blogger I am also a proud ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, a small UK based charity which supports patients, and their families, who are suffering with a variety of pituitary related conditions including Cushings Disease, Diabetes Insipidus and Prolactinoma’s. I have the latter condition, which is basically a benign tumor on the pituitary gland in the brain, and was diagnosed 7 years ago as a young 18 year old girl. I first told you about my condition in this post 2 years ago, and have since shared my story with The Daily Mail and even wrote something for Contiki Holidays last summer about how to travel with an invisible illness, but it just so happens that October marks National Pituitary Awareness Month, so I thought now was the right time to give you another little insight in to my world, and what it’s really like to be a Prolactinoma sufferer on a daily basis…

 

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Today is National Rare Disease Day, so what better way to share my news about a new challenge I have set myself this year… last year I turned my town orange, the year before I ran a 5 mile fun run, and this year I'm going all out and CLIMBING A BLOODY MOUNTAIN!! 🏔 For those of you who don't know, I've been living with a condition called a prolactinoma for the past seven years. Put simply, a prolactinoma is a small tumor on the pituitary gland in the brain and it's something which affects me every day. Although I'm on life long medication, I still need to have tests, scans and consultations regularly throughout the year. After becoming an ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation last summer I'm trying to raise as much money and awareness as possible for a wonderful charity who have supported me every step of the way during my diagnosis. I'll be climbing Mount Snowdon in June with my wonderful friends and family in the shape of my mum, dad & my lovely friends Tiff and Flo (if shes better as she's currently poorly!!) and can't wait to take on my biggest challenge yet! I'm trying to raise as much as I can, so please donate if you are able to – no matter how big or small, every little helps! 💰 In order to kick start the fundraising I will donate 50p for every like that this status receives over the next 24 hours… go go go! Please help me raise some cash for an incredible charity who are fairly unknown in this country. Please read my story on my JustGiving page (link in comments) and donate whatever you can! Thank youuuuu! Lots of love, Jess and the Snowdon team 😘💖 xxx #pituitaryfoundation #pituitaryawareness #charity #fundraising #mountsnowdon #uk #charityevent #ambassador #justgiving #prolactinoma

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My Diagnosis

Back in 2011, when I was just 18 years old, I started to notice major changes in my body. I was tired all the time, had horrendous headaches every day, blurred vision and constant nausea, so I knew something wasn’t quite right. Weirdly, I started lactating from my breasts and I’d come home from sixth form with cotton wool pads stuffed down my bra because I was worried I’d have patches showing through my top. Up until that point I wasn’t overly worried, but when the lactation started that’s when I knew I had to see a doctor. Was I pregnant? Was I going through some strange hormonal condition? I had no idea and, at first, neither did the doctors! I had MRI scans, heart scans, blood tests, hormone tests and every kind of investigation you could think of. After endless tests, prods and scans I was passed between the hospital, GP surgery and MRI departments until I was finally diagnosed with my condition. At 18, I was told I had a tumor in my brain. The medical term is a Prolactinoma, which is a small (benign) growth on the pituitary gland in the brain. That doesn’t sound so scary when you break it down, but when you’re 18 years old the only words you hear are ‘brain’ and ‘tumor’ and hearing those words together in the same sentence truly scared the life out of me. I was immediately put on long term medication (Cabergoline) and told that I most likely would be on them for the rest of my life.

 

My Daily Symptoms

 

The following months were a blur, but I do remember my symptoms starting to disappear as the medication slowly worked its magic on my body. The headaches became less frequent, the blurred vision eased a little and the lactation pretty much stopped completely. Fast forward seven years and, whilst I still get headaches on a daily basis and still suffer with nausea, most of my original symptoms have now disappeared. The medication lowers the level of the prolactin hormone in my body and helps to keep it under control. Whilst the medication does reduce the size of the tumor and improves my day to day wellbeing, there are inevitably some side effects which do impact me daily. The tablets cause horrendous mood swings; some days I’m so low I can barely get out of bed and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry, other days I’m loving life and am as high as a kite! It’s ridiculous, it’s stressful and sometimes it’s really embarrassing. I would say 70% of the time I’m happy and I’m pretty content with life, but I do suffer with terribly low moods and there are genuinely days where I’m just on auto pilot and I’m merely existing, not living, and that’s really upsetting when you’re a bubbly, outgoing person like me who tries to live life to the full every day.

 

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So this morning while everyone was tucked up in their beds I woke up at 3.30am, took 3 ski lifts to a height of 3300 meters, and attempted to watch the sun rise from the top of one of the highest mountains in #Switzerland! Sadly the sky was too cloudy to see the sun come up, but what an amazing experience to be surrounded by so much snow! Whilst I was halfway up I began feeling really poorly and started suffering from one of my #pituitary related headaches, but this one was so bad I could barely open my eyes. After we started our descent and had breakfast in an igloo at 2900m I started to cry. I cried because I was in so much pain and I didn't know what to do to make it stop. And then I realised that I could either let it get me down and ruin my Swiss experience, or I could wrap up warm, push past the pain and try to make the most of every second of my journey. With the help of my wonderful new blogger friends I chose the latter option. Sometimes being poorly is unavoidable, but today I made the best out of a bad situation and still managed to have an incredible bucket list experience. Travelling forever leaves me speechless, and it'll always teach me to enjoy each moment, live each day and remember every second. 💖 #InLoveWithNendaz

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How I’m Affected

 

Sadly the medication affects my life in other ways, and one of the biggest worries it gives me is that I may not be able to have children or conceive naturally if I stay on the tablets. If I come off them though, my tumor will most likely grow and I’d be back to square one. This is something that plays on my mind daily, despite being nowhere near ready to settle down and have a family, all I’ve ever really wanted to do in life is be a mum, and it breaks my heart to think that this dream might never come true for me. As well as living with my condition, I also suffer with recurring cysts on my ovaries and found out at a recent ultrasound scan that I have a tilted womb – it’s totally back to front – great! So even if I can have kids, I think I’d have a pretty horrendous pregnancy/birth/life for those 9 months! Obviously I try to push this to the back of my mind as I am not ready to start a family yet, but I’m 25 and the reality now is that I do think about this every single day. On a day to day basis though, I just take things one day at a time and deal with the headaches/nausea/mood swings first before allowing myself to be overwhelmed with thinking about the future, and what that means for me and my condition.

 

My Fundraising

For the past 4 years I have taken part in a series of events to raise money for The Pituitary Foundation, and in doing so I have met sooo many people who suffer with the same or similar conditions to me, and who are in some way impacted by problems the pituitary gland can cause. In 2015 I ran the Big Fun Run in Milton Keynes and raised over £350 for the charity. In 2017 I was honoured to become an official charity ambassador and turned my local town orange for The Pituitary Foundation’s Go Orange Day, raising over £100 as well as capturing press coverage in 2 local newspapers. This year I took on my biggest challenge yet as I climbed Mount Snowdon and helped to raise a whopping £25,000 for the Foundation which is absolutely phenomenal and such an incredible achievement for the entire team – we got press coverage for this event too! To put it into perspective, £18,000 covers the yearly wages of an endocrinology nurse to be available at the end of the phone and to offer support for patients – without this money from fundraising, support simply cannot be offered to patients in need. Next year, I’m joining the Snowdon team again, but this time we’ll take on Ben Nevis and this will undoubtedly be the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I am more than ready for the challenge so BRING IT ON! I absolutely love raising money and awareness for The Pituitary Foundation, and for my little known condition, and will continue to be an ambassador for this fantastic charity for as long as they’ll have me!

 

 

 

My Outlook

 

My life nowadays consists of 3 monthly blood tests, 9 monthly eye tests, and annual check-ups at the hospital with my consultant to see if I am responding to the meds or if the tumor is growing. Things have pretty much remained the same for the past few years, but as I get older and my body continues to change, and as I inevitably discuss potential options for having children, I think I’ve still got a long road ahead and will continue to battle this condition for the rest of my life. If I want to come off the meds and want to consider surgery as a different option, this is something I can discuss with my consultant, but it involves evasive brain surgery (through my nose and up into my brain) which is something I am absolutely terrified of as it has dangerous implications and I will try to avoid at all costs! To look at me you may not ever think that anything was wrong with me, but that’s the trouble with living with an invisible illness – you can never see it, but it’s always there. My consultant and the endocrinology team at the Oxford Churchill Hospital (OCDEM Ward) are fantastic and I wouldn’t have got through the past 7 years without them! As well as that, the team at The Pituitary Foundation have been a constant source of help and comfort throughout my diagnosis and ongoing struggle, and I couldn’t have been more thankful for their support over the past 7 years. Not many people know about the charity, or the conditions that can affect pituitary glands, so I’m extremely proud to be an ambassador for them and will continue to raise awareness and money for them for as long as I can!

 

I hope this honest and personal post gives you a little insight as to what it feels like to be part of my world. It’s not all doom and gloom, I promise! I have good days and bad days, I take each day as it comes, and I always try to remain positive despite sometimes feeling like my world is caving in around me. I’ve learnt to live with my condition, and cope with it in the best way possible, whilst always putting things into perspective and reminding myself that people are suffering with far worse conditions on a daily basis. I’m stuck with this condition for life, but I’m sure as hell not gonna let it hold me back! I’ve worked hard since the age of 16, bought my first car, ran my own business, owned a successful travel blog and travelled to 25 countries, with many more on my bucket list! I’ve helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, celebrated Independence Day in New York, done extreme water sports in Menorca, climbed Mount Verbier in Switzerland and ticked sooo many physical achievements off my ever expanding bucket list. I will not be defined by my illness, and I will not let it hold me back! A huuuuge thank you again to the fantastic team at The Pituitary Foundation – I am honoured to be an ambassador for your incredible charity, and I hope I can continue to work alongside you for years to come. I also want to thank my amazing family and friends who continue to support me in every way possible, especially my amazing mum who is my absolute rock and the only person who can pick me up when I’m down – sometimes she literally has to pick me up off the floor when I’m crying and tell me that it’s all going to be okay. Sometimes I don’t believe her, but I know things will work out in the end, and if this post helps even one person suffering with this condition too, then it will have all been worth it.

Love Jess x

 

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🏃‍♀️WE DID IT! 🏃‍♀️ What an amazing day!!! 33000 steps, 4000 calories burnt, 18 kilometres walked and 7 hours long! One of the best things I've ever done, and definitely the hardest thing I've ever done, both physically and mentally. 🏔 Didn't think I would make it up to the top at one point but these amazing people got me through!! Couldn't have wished for a better group of people to climb #Snowdon with, and am hoping we've almost smashed our fundraising target! You can still donate if you want to 😘 Collectively our group have raised over £22000 so far for @pituitaryfoundation which is INCREDIBLE!! My illness gets me down sometimes, but when events like this bring people together I wouldn't change it for the world 🌍 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jessica-bucks-team

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A Little Life Update: More Than Halfway Through 2018

Hi everyone,

I can’t believe we are well in to August now and are more than halfway through the year… when the hell did THAT happen?! It only seems a like yesterday we were welcoming 2018, and seeing as we’re the other side of the middle of it, I thought now would be a good idea for me to give you a little life update and reflect on everything that’s been happening in my world over the past 8 months. There have been lots of ups, a few downs, and plenty of things in between to make it a little more interesting. Here’s a little round up for you…

 

I climbed Mount Snowdon

 

 

Back in June I took on one of the biggest challenges of my life as I climbed the highest mountain in Wales for a very worthy cause. As some of you may know, I am a proud ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, a little known charity who offer help and support to patients like me who suffer with pituitary related illnesses and long term medical conditions. You can read more about my condition, and how it impacts my life, on this blog post. As an ambassador for the charity, I am often asked to take part in events, and raise awareness for the charity and for the conditions that affect thousands of people without many of us even knowing. I gladly signed up to the Snowdon event, along with my parents, their friends, and one of my best friends too. Our little team of 6 joined a bigger team of 56 and on 22nd June we all hiked the biggest mountain in Wales. It was an amazing day, with the weather making it even better, and it was hands down one of the most challenging, most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. Together we helped to raise over £23500 for the Foundation which is an absolutely PHENOMENAL amount of money and I know that everyone at the charity have been overwhelmed with people’s generosity. We’ve already planned Ben Nevis for next May and I can’t wait to do a challenge like this allll over again!

 

 

I travelled to 5 countries

 

 

Since the beginning of the year I have been lucky enough to take 3 European trips, visiting 7 cities in total, and exploring 5 countries. I kick-started my 2018 travel with a week-long inter-railing trip to Paris, Luxembourg and Bruges over the Easter period, then headed to Pisa and Florence for a long weekend in April, before spending my bank holiday weekend in Rotterdam and Amsterdam at the end of May. Given that I haven’t left the country for 3 months now, I am welllll overdue my next trip and am excited to say that this time next week I will be on my first ever CRUISE! Now that I’m 25 I’m officially old, right? 😉 We’ll be setting sail from Dubrovnik before heading to Valletta, Sicily, Kefalonia and Kotor before finishing up back in the Croatian capital. If you have any tips for a first time cruiser please send them my way, I suffer with horrendous travel sickness (yes, ironic as I’m a travel blogger) so I’ll need all the help I can get!

 

I appeared on a dating show

 

 

So this is super random and not travel related at all, but last month I appeared on a dating show produced by Heart FM and it was SUCH a fun experience. I applied for their new show ‘Traffic Island’ where couples across the county were match-made with each other and asked to pair up. I was selected and matched with a guy called Joel; it was a totally blind date and I was told nothing about him other than his name and age! I had never gone on a completely blind date before so I thought I’d give it a go – I have nothing to lose and I love dating, so why not?! However, just an hour before the date I was told by the presenter and producer that Joel wasn’t turning up and couldn’t make it – I was fuuuuuming as I’d spent ages getting ready but I agreed to go and meet the show team anyway. Halfway through my interview, Joel turned up after all (to which I replied ‘YOU’RE LATE’) and we were left to enjoy what was left of the date! It was a really cool experience, and something I would definitely do again as it gave me a lot of confidence. Sadly Joel actually turned out not to be who I thought he was (aka a genuine guy, WHERE ARE THEY ALL?!) so I am back in the dating game but hey, another lesson learnt! You can watch the video here… cringe!

 

 

I’ve spent time trying to figure out exactly what I want from life

 

 

At the start of the year I didn’t think my life would take the direction it has now, but then life would be boring if it was straight forward, right?! Sadly my position at work is being made redundant, and I am currently in the process of deciding whether or not to take a new role in the company, or whether to just move on and look for something different. Or maybe I should just leave and go travelling and try the whole full-time blogging thing again. My mind is soooo blurred at the moment and I have no idea what to do for the best, but I am hoping that I get some clarification over the next few weeks and can decide what to do with the next chapter of my life. Part of me wants to secure another role as financially I want to be in the position to look at buying a house in the next couple of years, but the other part of me is yearning to just escape, run away from the 9-5 office routine and jump on a plane to Australia to live my life and enjoy being young and care-free. Everyone I have spoken to has told me to do the latter, but I really do want to be a grown up with a house sometime soon. We’ll see what happens, but for now I am just taking things in my stride and trusting fate to do its thing for me. Things always work out just right in the end.

 

So despite the best part of 2018 having come and gone in what feels like only a couple of weeks, I would say I’ve had a pretty crazy start to the year and can only see it getting better from now until Christmas – even though I don’t want to think about the C word right now! Next week I am off on my first ever cruise which will see me tick 5 countries (and 3 new ones) off in one week, and I’ve also got some family events and some UK trips planned too. I’ll be sure to do a 2018 round up at the end of the year so will reflect more then, but for now happy summer everyone!

Love Jess x

 

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My 2018 Destination Bucket List

 

So I know we are well and truly in to 2018 now, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my upcoming travel plans for the year ahead and am itching to get away! I haven’t travelled since last September, just before I started my new full time job, which is a really long time for someone who usually takes at least one trip a month. I am restricted to annual leave this year for the first time since 2016, so I know it’s going to be tricky to tick lots off my bucket list, but if anyone can be cheeky and use their AL to the max then it’s most definitely me 😉 So after all this travel talk I was caught by surprise when the guys over at Destination2 challenged me to put together my ultimate 2018 bucket list and, naturally, I jumped at the chance to share my upcoming bucket list plans with you all…

 

Paris, France

 

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So today I booked my hotel for beautiful #Paris which is the first stop on my upcoming European inter-railing adventure and it feels oh so real now! 🚂 My sister and I are heading to the French capital to devour allllll the croissants, walk along the many winding streets and soak up epic views like this from the top of the Eiffel Tower 🗼 This photo was taken on my first and only visit to the city back in 2013 when I had just one full day there to whizz around like a crazy person and see as much as I possibly could whilst on a day trip from Disneyland 🏰 This time round I plan on seeing the sights, taking strolls along the Seine and finding the most Instagrammable places in town 📸 Have you been to the city of love before? Send me your recommendations! 🇫🇷 #IgersParis #IgersFrance #VisitFrance #VisitParis #JessDoesEurope

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My first trip of 2018 will take me to the City of Love, beautiful Paris, somewhere I’ve been before but only for a day trip and I absolutely cannot WAIT to go back! I spent my first visit running around like a headless chicken trying to see the sights and tick off as much as possible, but there is SO much to see and do that it obviously can’t be done in such little time. I’m heading to Paris at the start of April with my sister as we hop on the Eurostar from London and embark upon an inter-railing adventure that’ll take us to France, Luxembourg and Belgium. I actually haven’t left the country since going back to full time work in September and I am literally just itching to get away with every day that passes. Kick-starting my inter-railing adventure in Paris will be so much fun, and a great start to the trip. We’re staying close to the River Seine and the Notre Dame, so we are hoping to tick off those as well as wander down the Champs Elysee, see the Arc de Triomph, climb the Eiffel Tower and visit The Louvre, the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge too. I cant wait to get back to the French capital and I couldn’t think of a better place to kick off my 2018 travel plans.

 

Bruges, Belgium

 

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It's that time of year where I'm thinking of my upcoming travel plans for 2018 and I've got such itchy feet! 👣 I haven't been out the country since September, which is soooo long for me especially as I've spent the past year and a half taking at least 1 trip a month! I'm starting to go abit crazy as I haven't travelled for so long, and I just want to hop on a plane, or train, and get back to exploring ✈️🚂🌍 I don't have long to wait until my first trip of the year though as I'm going interrailing (again) over the Easter period. My sister and I are starting in #Paris and ending up in the beautiful Belgian city of #Bruges – somewhere I have wanted to visit for agessss! 🇧🇪 We can't wait to wander round the old town, see the beautiful belfry and eat allll the chocolate waffles 😋 Have you ever been to Bruges before? Send me all your tips! 📸 – my lovely pal @ambermarie1912 . . . #travel #travelblogger #travelblog #interrailing #europe #city #citybreak #travelgram #instatravel #darlingescapes #explore #travelmoment #igersbruges #brugge #belgium #igerseurope

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After visiting Paris and Luxembourg, the third and final stop of my inter-railing adventure will be the fairytale Belgian city of Bruges and I am equally as excited for this place as I am for Paris. There’s just something about Bruges which looks so magical, especially the gothic architecture, the picturesque river and the vibrant market square. We plan to hit up the museums, wander along the river and check out the historic buildings including the City Hall, Belfry, Basilica of the Holy Blood Church and St Salvator’s Cathedral. We’re going to be eating copious amounts of crepes and waffles and chocolate whilst we’re there and plan on doing this every single day! We’re also hoping we might be able to squeeze in quick day trips to both Ghent and Brussels too whilst we are on the way back to London via the Eurostar, as I’ve heard great things about both cities and it’s always nice to tick even MORE things off my ever expanding bucket list!

 

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

 

 

After spending a week inter-railing in April, my next trip at the end of May will take me on my first visit to the Netherlands and I’m looking forward to visiting my 23rd country! I’ll be in Rotterdam for 3 nights for the annual Traverse conference, a fantastic event which connects brands and bloggers from all over the world. The final schedule for the conference hasn’t been released yet, but I’ll be at the opening party on the Friday night, then at the conference all weekend before flying home on bank holiday Monday. I haven’t heard  a lot about Rotterdam so I have no idea what to expect but I know it’s a super cool city with lots to see and do. I’m actually using the Eurostar AGAIN on this trip as I’ll be spending one day and one night in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam before heading over to Holland’s second city. I have wanted to visit Amsterdam for soooo long and I’m super excited I’ll be there this year, even if it is only for a short amount of time!

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

 

I’ll be having a few months break in between my trips in May and then subsequently in August, when I’ll be taking my first EVER cruise! Ahhh I’m both nervous and excited in equal measure as I get ridiculously travel sick (especially on boats) but I’m hoping that the ship will be so huge I won’t feel anything and I’ll be completely fine… *fingers crossed!* My cruise is a trip around the med and, after starting in Croatia, I’ll be heading to Malta, Sicily, Greece and Montenegro. I am so intrigued as to what the cruise will be like and how I will find it, especially as I’ve never spent any length of time at sea before! I’m looking forward to lots of sun, sea, food and drink though as I spend a whole seven days relaxing. Kicking off in Croatia will be wonderful and Dubrovnik, with its ancient city walls and historic buildings, is somewhere I’ve been dying to visit.

 

Valletta, Malta

 

 

The second stop of my cruise will the Maltese capital of Valletta and I’ve heard so many great things about this place. Listed as the 2018 European Capital of Culture, I think Malta is seriously underrated and is the perfect place for a quirky, alternative city break. Like with most of the places on my cruise, I only have one full day to explore but I’m definitely going to walk around the city walls and see as much as I can. There will be sun, sea, history and culture aplenty in Valletta and it’ll be another new country for me to tick off too. My cruise is a family holiday with 13 of my crazy family members and I am sooo excited for us to all be together and make tonnes of new memories!

 

Mykonos, Greece

 

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This is a little different to my last few posts, but are you dreaming of blue skies, bright sunshine and warm sands? Yep, me too! ☀️Luckily there's a brand new, wanderlust inducing post on the blog coming soon and it's all about my 2018 Bucketlist 🌍The list includes multiple city breaks round Europe, a Mediterranean cruise and I've been daydreaming about a beach holiday to somewhere like this beautiful place.. hands up who's been to #Mykonos before?! 🙋 Sadly I haven't yet, but I'm hoping to visit this Greek gem one day! 😍 📸- my work BFF @schipps88 . . . #travel #travelblog #travelblogger #wanderlust #worlderlust #inspo #inspire #travelgram #instago #travelphotography #beautifuldestinations #darlingescapes #ig_captures #europe #greece #mykonos #igersmykonos #igersgreece #luxurytravel #travelmoment #tourism #igtourism #travelbug #instatravel #instapassport #europe_vacations #turismo

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The Greek party capital and somewhere that is fast becoming the new Ibiza, Mykonos is Europe’s answer to paradise. With it’s crystal clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches and endless infinity pools, Mykonos has it all. Since starting my new job as a villa rental co-ordinator, Mykonos is one of the destinations I look after and I’m hoping that I might be able to go on a fam trip to the island this year to inspect our existing villa portfolio. There’s something about the Greek island that just screams luxury and I would love to spend a few days exploring the island and seeing what it has to offer. Spectacular sunsets are on the cards most evenings, and I know Mykonos is famed for its rocky landscape too. Here’s hoping I can take a trip to this pretty place at some point during 2018, if work allows me too of course!

 

Lisbon, Portugal

 

 

The Portugese capital of Lisbon is somewhere I was supposed to visit a couple of years ago, but sadly I never got round to booking my flights and it just didn’t happen. My parents actually met on holiday in Portugal over 25 years ago, when they were both young and carefree and enjoyed a real life holiday romance (it lead to marriage and three kids, so it does happen guys!) so I think I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for a long time. Lisbon looks super cool, unusual, vibrant and I’m sure there’s plenty of history to uncover too. I’ve also heard it’s got a brilliant foodie scene and I think it’d be a great place to go for an autumnal city break later on in the year. Although I don’t have any firm plans to visit Lisbon yet this year, I always see cheap flights on Skyscanner and I’m sure I can squeeze in a cheeky weekend away before the year is out!

 

As you can see, I’m quite ambitious with this year’s bucket list and I’m only 70% sure that I’m going to get to visit some of these places. I certainly won’t be able to do them all, but what can I say? I like to aim high! My firm travel plans include my European inter-railing adventure in April, my long weekend exploring the Netherlands in May and my Mediterranean Cruise in August, but after that who knows?! I’m hoping to try and squeeze in a couple of short UK mini breaks this year too as I still haven’t been to Dublin and Edinburgh yet (bad Brit, I know) and I love to make the most of my weekends whilst I’m working full time. Where are you hoping to head to this year? Let me know as I want to hear all your plans! Don’t forget to check out the wonderful Destinations2 website and blog for plenty of travel inspo over the next 12 months…

Love Jess x

NB. This post was brought to you in collaboration with Destinations2, but as always all thoughts are of course my own.

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Why I’m nervous about turning 25…

 

Happy Blue Monday everyone… Today is officially the most depressing day of the year! The weathers miserable outside, we’re all skint after Christmas and pay day feels like FOREVER AWAY. January is notoriously difficult for lots of people for lots of reasons, but I’ve always been a fan of Jan as its my birth month and I get so excited to have something to look forward to after Christmas! This year though, I feel completely different, and here’s a few reasons why…

So tomorrow is my 25th birthday. The big 2-5. Halfway to 50. Officially in the mid 20s. When the hell did THAT happen?! It only seems like yesterday I was running around in nappies, or running to get the school bus cos I was late, or running out of a club at the end of a night out as celebrated numerous birthdays past the age of 18. It’s true what they say, time goes by so fast, and I notice it more with each year that passes.

 

Why can’t I be this small and sparkly again 😭

 

Im usually excited about my birthday, I am excited about tomorrow as I’ve got an amazing day planned with my friends and family, but the age thing is really getting to me this time round. Last night I had a bit of a rant on Twitter – I was actually crying as I posted the thread – and I got a few things out my system.

 

Head to my Twitter @jessica16_x to see my little rant

 

By the age of 25, I always thought I’d have my life figured out. I thought I’d be married, or at least engaged, and I thought I’d have had my first baby by now. I thought I’d have bought a house, got on the property ladder, put down some roots. I thought all of these things because that’s what my mum did, and my two nans, and my aunties. By the age of 25 they’d all got married and had two kids. They’d bought a house, they had a family, and they were happy. I look at what my mum had and compare it to what I’ve got now and I just feel so incomplete. I don’t fit in to what she did, in fact I’ve never felt further away from it in my life. I’ve not met anyone I want to committ to, I’m nowhere near ready to buy a house and I’m definitely not close to having kids and that’s something that upsets me the most. Anyone that knows me will know that all I’ve ever really wanted to do in life is be a mum, and being so far away from that life at the moment is something that plays on my mind daily.

 

Love you mum – I hope I make you proud 💖

 

All my friends are either married/engaged/in long term relationships. Most of them have bought houses or are renting together and are either expecting children or are parents already. I’m so so different to them and it scares me. Yes I love my little life and travelling has and always will be my passion, and I’m so happy I can just hop on a plane without having to take a buggy or a changing kit with me, but deep down I know all I want is to have the family life my mum had and still has.

 

A lot has changed for us girls in the past 25 years. We have more opportunities now, we work more, we travel more and we see more of the world. I love that, and I’m proud to be born into an era where those things are normal. Looking at what I have achieved in my short 24 years on this planet does make me proud – I’ve ticked so many incredible things off my bucket list, bought 2 cars, built a career for myself and my blog and become a charity ambassador too. I’ve travelled by myself, made friends with strangers, faced my fears and pushed myself to the limit and I’ve done all those things with enormous pride and happiness, but I still feel apprehensive about turning 25 tomorrow for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above.

 

Looking at what I have done, not what I haven’t done, gives me my greatest sense of achievement

 

I think as we near 30 we worry that we haven’t got out life figured out yet – I know I certainly haven’t! I always thought I’d find someone straight away and that I’d live happily ever after, but I guess my fairytale just hasn’t happened yet…

 

So all in all I am looking forward to having a nice day with my nearest and dearest tomorrow, but I’m scared because I just don’t want to be another year older, and another year further from all the things I thought I’d have by now. Does anyone else get the quarter life crisis/ mid 20s anxiety? Quite a lot of you tweeted me yesterday after I had my little Twitter rant and your comments meant so much to me. Let me know if you’re feeling the way I’m feeling right now – it would be nice to know I’m not alone!

 

Love Jess X

 

I don’t know what’s next for me as I enter my 25th year, but here’s to making it an amazing 2018 🌟

 

,

Happy New Year! My 2018 Resolutions

 

Happy new year everyone!

Welcome to my first post of 2018! It’s my first post of many for January and, given that we’re celebrating the start of a new month and a new year, I’m kicking off with a traditional resolutions tick list for you! If you read my 2017 resolutions post last January (how has it been a year already since that was published?!) you’ll know that I’m a big fan of making new year’s resolutions, and I do actually stick to them, promise! Last year I vowed to:

  • visit 10 countries (TICK)
  • grow my blog as much as possible (TICK)
  • get a part time job (TICK)
  • start spending more time with family and friends (TICK)
  • spend less time on social media (FAIL) – ooooops
  • stop buying scratch-cards (SEMI-FAIL) – these two were harder than I thought!

I’m really proud that I managed to achieve most of these things within a year, and even more so that I managed to surpass my expectations by visiting 11 countries instead of 10, got a part time job to run alongside my freelance business and then landed my dream full time position and started my career in the travel industry, and grew my blog to the biggest it’s ever been, going on press trips and working with some incredible brands.

All in all, 2017 was a pretty amazing year for me, but as one year ends another one begins and this brings me on to my resolutions for 2018. I’m already thinking ahead to the next few months and am super excited to fill in the empty pages of my new chapter for this new year. Here are my 2018 resolutions…

 

Visit at least 5 countries

 

 

Last year I was lucky enough to visit a whopping 11 countries as I embarked on my greatest year of travel yet as a full time blogger and freelancer, but this year I have annual leave restrictions that I need to be careful of, so that will definitely impact on how many trips I can take! I’ve already got two trips planned and am in the process of planning a third which will take a few weeks to get organised. My first holiday will (hopefully) be an inter-railing trip starting in Paris and Luxembourg and ending in Brussels and Bruges – I’m really excited to go inter-railing for a third time and can’t wait to finalise everything for this week-long European adventure with my sister! I’m then going to be hopping over to Amsterdam and Rotterdam with some of my fellow blogger friends for my third annual Traverse conference and I’m soooo excited that it’s going to be held outside of the UK this year for the first time ever! My next holiday will be a cruise round the Mediterranean taking in the sights of Croatia, Malta, Sicily, Greece and Montenegro. I’ve never been on a cruise before and I’m nervous/excited in equal measures but can’t wait to see how the week unfolds, and I’m going with 13 of my crazy family members, so whatever happens I’m sure it’ll be a week to remember. I’m sure that more last minute trips will pop up over the course of the next 12 months, but I’ll definitely be making use of my weekends off as well!

 

Reach 10,000 followers across my social channels

 

It's the last day of 2017 and I'm reflecting on everything that has happened in my little life over the past 12 months… My highlights include press trips to #Spain #Switzerland and #Germany with my blog, a holiday to #Tenerife and my #European interrailing adventures. 🌍 I celebrated my 24th birthday, freelanced full time, took 17 flights to 11 countries, bought a new car, started my career in the travel industry with my new job, opened a help to buy account to start saving for a house, became a charity ambassador and shared my story with the national newspapers, went on countless day trips, weekends away and nights out with my friends and family and pushed myself to say YES to things and make the most of every minute. 🌟 Sadly I've ended on a low note after losing my beautiful Cassie, but she is in a better place and she'll remain in my heart forever 💖 I'm so grateful that I've got amazing friends and family and am surrounded by love each and every day. 2017 has taught me a lot and has brought me so much, but I'm so excited to see how 2018 will top it and can't wait to see what the future brings. Happy new year everyone, here's to making every second count! 🎉 #2017bestnine #HappyNewYear #2017

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This is going to be a HUGE milestone and I really hope that it’s something I can achieve within the next year. Currently, I have 4200 Twitter followers, 1800 on Instagram, 600 on Linked In and 540 on Facebook, so I’ve got a long way to go before I hit my target of 10,000! I do think it’s going to take a lot of effort and hard work to get it done, but I love a challenge and am determined to make this happen, plus my stats on my media kit are going to look pretty damn good if I finally reach the big 10k!

 

Spend less time on social media

 

 

Ok, ok, so I know this is massively contradictory to my last resolution, but I want to try and spend less time on social media on a personal level, although I want to grow the followers for my blog as much as possible. I have a constant obsession with logging on to my apps, refreshing the news feeds and scrolling aimlessly for hours, consuming irrelevant content about things which mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s something we are all guilty of, but the constant scrolling is what really gets me down and I know I really need to stop. I’ve made a good start by deleting my apps and muting all of my notifications, so now I only get bothered when someone texts or calls me! My accounts are still active but I’m going to try and post less and, in turn, scroll less too. I also want to read more books and so, whenever I get the urge to scroll during the ad break of my fave TV show, or during a quiet 5 minutes on my lunch break, I’m going to read chapters of my books instead and keep my mind occupied on something more productive.

 

Work on new projects for The Pituitary Foundation

 

 

As part of my role as an ambassador for UK charity The Pituitary Foundation, I’m trying to raise as much money and awareness as I possibly can for an organisation which has been hugely important to me since my own prolactinoma diagnosis back in 2011. I became an ambassador last summer and have already taken part in a fun run, national newspaper campaign and a Go Orange event in order to raise awareness of the charity. This year I’d like to step it up a notch and get more involved, take part in more events and raise even more money than I ever have done. My plans include another fun run and Go Orange day, as well as a summer fete and a hike up Mount Snowdon as I aim to challenge myself as much as I can. More details will be emerging when I have them, but for now please wish me luck!

 

Start saving at least £500 a month

 

 

I’ve only been able to do this one since I went back to full time work at the end of last year, but in October I opened a Help To Buy bank account as I aim to start saving for my first house. It’s going to take me a good few years to get a deposit behind me, especially as property prices in my local area are ASTRONOMICAL, but if I can try to save at least £500 every single month then I’ll stand myself in good stead going forwards. Since landing my dream job I’m starting to feel really settled and really positive about creating a stable future for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop travelling and I’m certainly not ready to get married and have kids, but I just want to give myself the best future possible and saving lots of money will definitely help me to achieve that.

 

Incorporate exercise into my weekly routine

 

 

Exercise is something I have ALWAYS struggled with, I hated P.E. as a child and my idea of increasing my heartrate was standing at the back of the rounders pitch having a good gossip with my school friends and doing a few star jumps! As I’ve got older my attitude has changed a little, but I still feel faint at the idea of even going in to a gym, let alone doing a full blown workout. I do however really enjoy the gym once I get some blood pumping, but it’s the idea of going that makes me feel really demotivated, and maybe it’s because I’m a little intimidated by all the amazing girls and guys who go and look like their professionals. I’m going to start doing a small workout at home once a week though to improve my fitness, and my core strength. It’s not about losing weight or toning up, I think I just want to feel good about myself again and I know how much exercise can do for your mental and physical health. Here’s hoping I can do at least one workout a week to help with this – plus daily walks too!

 

Grow my blog as much as possible whilst working full time

 

 

I’m hoping to smash this one as I’ve already had a positive start to the year, but the first few months of being back to full time work meant that my blog really took a back seat at the end of last year. I was just so exhausted doing 40 hour weeks, plus 2 hours of driving a day, and didn’t want to do anything other than watch telly and get into bed during my week night evenings, and my weekends were for catching up with friends and making exciting plans. I also lost my beautiful dog Cassie at the end of last year and this had a massive impact on my motivation to do anything productive. If I’m honest, I barely slept or ate, let alone found the time to blog, and it did affect me. I was totally consumed by grief and loss, which is something I had never experienced before. But with the start of a new year comes new positivity and I’m really excited to throw myself back in to my blog and make proper time to publish regular posts, grow my followers and keep up my social media statuses. I’ll probably schedule in one evening a week and one day of the weekend to dedicate time to my blog and I’m hoping to stick to it over the coming weeks.

 

I like to think that these resolutions are all achievable and are all things that are going to enhance my little life over the next 12 months, and I’m feeling more motivated than ever to make this another incredible year. In addition to these resolutions, I’m also hoping to make more time for myself and put myself first. Little things like having a bath, popping on a face mask or reading a book will all help to give myself some well deserved ME time and I intend to do this a lot in 2018. Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you ever stick to them? Here’s hoping I achieve mine – happy new year everyone, wishing you all a successful, healthy and happy 2018!

Love Jess X

 

Happy new year y'all 🍾🍾 #NYE2017

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