Getting Motivated

So, this month has been tough, very tough. I wrote a post last week about what’s been going on, why I’ve been quiet on social media (you can read that here) and I’ve had a lot of time to think. I’ve had my time to feel sad and upset about what happened but right now it’s time to get motivated.

I think it’s important to give yourself time to feel what you need to feel when things happen. That said my family and friends make sure that I don’t wallow, that I get on with my life and move on. It’s a new week and it’s time to get motivated.

I have plans for this week, even though I’m at home. I have a full list of plans, things to do and get on with. I’m going to sort out more work, get the house tidy, do some work outs and write like a mad thing! I am more than something that hs happened to me. Was I upset? Yes. Was I in shock? Yes. I doubted myself but I need to try and let that go.

It’s worth saying that the people around you can really help and I’m so grateful in particular to Ali, Abbie, Ben & Joe as well as my family for constantly being there for any help and tearful phone calls I’ve made, you’re all the best.

So this is my declaration to you all, I am not giving up, I have shit to do and the last few weeks won’t define me.

World, I’m coming to get you.

Looking back at University -I’m a Graduate!

On Thursday 21st of July my journey as a student came to an end. Yes after 3 long years I am now officially a graduate of Kingston University, Chloe Metzger BA Hons. I’m going to try and keep this blog short, because I feel like I could write a book on this chapter of my life alone. I went from a girl who was terrified of leaving home, to a young independent woman. I’ve gone through more than I thought I could enjoy and have had experiences that I never thought I would but I’m so pleased I went to university, I found out who I was.

The past 3 years have been overwhelming such amazing highs and very tough lows. I’m nothing like the girl who started, who was so anxious the thought of getting on a bus nearly sent her into a panic attack, now I’ll travel around London for work. I’ve met the Chancellor and had a good few chats with her. I started this blog, interviewed by various people, made friends, started a band, played all over London and the South East and released 4 singles. I’ve watched countless bands and artists and met some of my absolute heroes. I’ve also met authors, celebrities and inspiring people. I’ve won awards, became a society president, got firsts and two ones, become a Student Ambassador and in charge of social media. I’ve given talks on mental health and found my voice as well as a way to use my past to create a better future.

Of course there were tough times too the homesickness, the really tough times with my depression when I wouldn’t leave my flat or be around people for days on end, friendship breakdowns, breaking my spine and not getting some of the grades I wanted. Originally I didn’t post that I got a 2:1 for my degree because I wasn embarrassed. My goal from the first year was to get a first class degree and I missed it by 3.5%. I cried, a lot, I was full of self loathing, how could I not get that extra 3.5%? Then I spoke to a friend, someone who chose to love me rather than being Ali or my family who were proud whatever, who told me not many people can recover from a broken spine and be in hospital for IBS and still come out so close to a first. It made me feel a lot better. I put this pressure on myself and it’s one of my flaws. I wanted to tell you all that because university comes with the good and the bad.

My future has completely changed from that I thought it would be before I went to uni, hell it’s different from what I thought it would be a year ago, but I’m happy. I’m happier sitting writing this than I have been in months, because third year was hard. It wasn’t just the workload, but my personal life. If I’m honest I’m surprised I made it through. I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting but I want  to be truthful to let others know that even when life gets so tough that you don’t know how you’re going to keep going, you can.  I haven’t you the space to write everything I loved about studying at university, but I did. I’ve got some incredible friends and memories from my time at KU and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I ever made.

So thank’s Kingston, you were great!

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Mental Health Awareness Week : Where I am now?

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I’m a very open person when it comes to talking about mental health, I’ll share my ups and my downs and have been online for 3 years now in the hope that it will help others to talk. It’s been raised more than once whether I worry if being so open will hinder my chances of getting a job, something I’ve written about before. I’m a firm believer of using your past to enhance your present and not being ashamed of who you are. I write about mental health often because I refuse to be ashamed of this part of me and I know that it’s just one part of me! I’m so much more than one diagnoses, I’m a daughter, sister, partner, friend, writer, blogger, musician, book reader, former horse rider, world traveller, the list goes on.

I also think it’s important to take stock of how far I’ve come every now and again, because I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had. While I’ve been at uni I’ve learnt to deal with depression and anxiety, I’ve learnt methods to stop the thoughts before they get too much. I’ve had jobs that I’ve fallen in love with and have made me genuinely happy and excited to go to work, something I hope to continue. When I started university I wasn’t sure of myself, had very low self confidence and was so, so anxious. I remember trying to go out drinking in a club for the first time and being paralysed with fear, I came home and cried begging to be normal for once. Then in second year I went the opposite way, all my new friends went out a lot and go drunk, I hadn’t had a close group of friends like this so I did that too, even though I was going off of the effects alcohol. It took a long time but now I feel comfortable with myself enough to just tell people I don’t drink  to get drunk, it doesn’t make me happy in the slightest and the people who matter accept this.

When I look at the girl I was on my first day to who I am now I’m impressed with myself. I’ve overcome a lot to get where I am today and that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes have days where I’m low and struggling or nights where I can’t sleep because my mind is going 100 mph. With my sessions with my mentor, blogging, living I’ve learnt and am still learning ways to just live alongside my illness, just like anyone else with an illness would. For three years now I’ve tried to notice what makes it better, what makes it worse and when I just need to step back and breathe for a minute.

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3 years ago the thought of having to get busses and possibly getting lost was enough to send me into a panic attack, this was one of my ways to feel better, sending silly selfies to Ali to make me less anxious. Now I don’t even think twice about busses. 

What I know, and what I want others to know, is that having a mental health condition doesn’t make you any less of a person. Actually, I think what I’ve had to go through has made me a better and stronger person. The hours in A & E when I was a kid checking the bullies hadn’t broken my bones, the sneers from other kids because I was ‘fat, ‘ugly’, a ‘slut’ or ‘couldn’t sing'(none of which were true but to a 15 year old it hurts), the kids who would find my blogs leave comments and then try and embarrass me in class, the fact it was better for my health for me to study from home, the fights, the bruises, everything else they tried to do,  ALL OF IT. People ask if I wish it had never happened, I’ve gotten to the  point now where I think if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be the strong, smart, independent woman I am today. If this didn’t happen it might not have triggered my illness, sure but I choose to look at the positives. Being honest and open about my life and experiences has meant that I’ve met incredible people, made amazing friends, won awards, it’s all about what you do with a shitty situation when you’re well enough.

I had rough times, times where I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel and I wondered what was the point. I never want to feel that way again and that’s what drives me. I also want other people not to feel alone and if my blog can show one person that your diagnoses isn’t your life then I’ve done what I wanted to do. Mental illnesses are annoying but they don’t mean that you can’t have a life, it might have to pause for a while but that’s ok, when you’re ready you can take baby steps to put it all back together again.  Right now I’m feeling ok, a little anxious because I don’t know what the future holds but I just remind myself nearly all 3rd years feel that way. All I know is that I’m going back to Basingstoke a different girl to the one who left, one who’s 100% stronger and more kick ass.

Beating the lows! Tattoo time and making happiness happen.

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I’ve been writing to you all a lot about how I’ve been feeling and I’ve had overwhelming support from you all, thank you! So I decided to do something about it today after getting yet more bad news this afternoon about the Foo Fighters concert (it’s now been cancelled but this afternoon when I called they told me I couldn’t change me ticket and questioned whether I really need my wheelchair for an event like that. Yes, unfortunately I do. Either way I was feeling a little down and overwhelmed about the whole thing, as well as getting my head around a new job. I mentioned yesterday that I’d be getting my new tattoo at some point and that was today! I hobbled off the bus to go into the two good tattoo places I know about in Kingston. The first, although known for it’s service I just didn’t get the right feelings from, it was too dark and I just felt uncomfortable. So I headed home disappointed, sulked a little and ate a lot of chocolate while trying to make some work plans. After that I thought screw it, I’ll go to the the place across the road. I fell in love with it, the atmosphere, the staff and the tattoo artist. They quoted more but it just felt right this time, more so than I did about my first tattoo.

I wanted something simple, yet meaningful. My first tattoo I got when I failed my driving test the first time (well I didn’t know there would be another 4 times to go until I passed). I wanted to remember that it’s ok to fail, because I’m a perfectionist and I don’t take failure well (ask the poor wall at my parents house that I threw my shoe at). This one was different though, I’ve toyed with a lot of ideas, lyrics, symbols thinking of what I wanted to represent getting through, getting better and to motivate me when times are really hard. I found the idea on Pinterest and fell in love with it instantly and I knew that’s what I wanted. I waited though, to make sure.

I had the words ‘One day at a time’ tattooed on my left wrist. If I ever need help, reminding that I’ve come through before or just some comfort it’s there now forever. I’ve sat here staring at it all afternoon, it just fills me with happiness. Before I get it in the comments, yes it did hurt, no I wont regret it. It’s something so simple but means so much to me.

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Now I wouldn’t recommend that every time someone feels really low they get a tattoo, it would be super expensive but this is something I wanted for a long time and it felt right to do it now.

Yes it has been a rough past few days but now I’m more determined than ever to make the next few great. Tomorrow will be one of my last times seeing Eleanor before she goes off to New Zealand (sob) so I’m making sure there is lots of laughter, going back to band practice, before our acoustic show in Guilford and celebrating Laura’s 21st at the weekend :). And if I need any extra help? I just need to look down.

Living with a ‘disability’

As far as I was concerned when I applied to university I wasn’t disabled, I’d never been disabled and I just had to get on with my life in the best way possible.Little did I know I’d suffered with at least one disability my entire life. Now I’ve written before about being Dyslexic but I haven’t really gone into detail about how it can impact on my life at uni or otherwise. The majority of people here and at home that are friends with Ali and I are shocked and sometimes don’t believe me when I say I’m registered with the Dyslexia and Disability department, they ask me why and sometimes still make their own assumptions about if I’m ‘really’ disabled.

It’s a funny word that I never really use about myself. When most people hear the word disability they think of something physical, a wheelchair, a walking aide, a white stick are all a lot easier to understand. Depression and Anxiety isn’t visible and I have gone for years with some people not having a clue. As with the Dyslexia, I went nearly 15 years in the education system without it being picked up that I was not only Dyslexic but severely Dyslexic and not just stupid as I had thought. Both of my ‘disabilities’ are mental, I explain a lot that it’s not uncommon for someone with a mental health condition to wish it was physical, people understand that.

So I wanted to use today’s blog to talk about some of the common misconceptions about disability as a student and how my life is impacted by BOTH of them.

1. People with Dyslexia only have problems reading or writing

This is a HUGE misconception that simply needs a little bit more education. Whilst I was at school it was thought I couldn’t be Dyslexic as I was in the top class for English. Although my CAT scores were lower and I constantly struggled with little things like paragraphing, punctuation and spelling it wasn’t really looked in to. Even at uni some of my seminar leaders admit they know nothing about Dyslexia and if I ‘try a bit harder’ I might pick up these things. Dyslexia has a massive spectrum for me my weaknesses are processing information, spelling (I will change a whole sentence if I can’t spell a word sometimes), grammar, basic skills and the speed in which I do things.  

2. Depressed people don’t have fun, they’re constantly unhappy

This just isn’t true for the majority of depressed people. There are flickers of light even in your darkest days but because of the way you’re thinking it’s just harder to see them. I’m out of the darkest part but on a low I find it hard to think positively. With gentle encouragement and time there can be good days for someone with Depression. We can be fun too!! 

3. You’d know if you were dyslexic

I found out I was dyslexic at 19 years old studying for a degree in English Literature. I knew I struggled a lot but it was my tutor who suggested getting a test. A lot of things make sense now as to WHY I struggled. 

4. You don’t need a fancy new laptop from the government for uni

There is a lot of jealousy over disabled students because we get DSA (Disabled Student Allowance). I have been insulted many times saying that I don’t need help. I do get help in the form of a dyslexia tutor and a mental health mentor. I got a laptop, programming, a printer and a voice recorder to help me with my studies because sometimes I struggle. There are people who play the system to get what they want but it’s not all of us!! I hate being accused of being a ‘scrounger’ by people who spend all their student loan on booze. I’m really grateful that I got the help I did because it makes life SO much easier!

5. Anxiety is just a part of life

I was actually told this after my diagnosis by a member of staff who I believe thought I was lying. Yes anxiety is a part of life but living with it is different. The most minor things will make you fret and worry constantly, losing concentration, sleep and generally making you quite poorly. That is anxiety, trust me.

6. It’s all attention seeking

No. Just no.

7. You can’t have a learning difficulty, you’re smart

8. Why do you get money? It’s not really fair is it?

Going back to number 4, I don’t get direct payments but some people do to help them cover costs. I have an amount for extra books, ink, etc. Just think if you became disabled wouldn’t you find that help a relief? I certainly do, it means I don’t put unnecessary worry or strain on myself or those around me and can get the help I need.

9. How do your disabilities affect your day to day life

More than you may think! In terms of dyslexia, it effects my reading, writing, spelling, memory, processing things quickly (which makes exams horrible), the time it takes for me to do things, my driving (I’m on my 4th test now) which really bugs me. I’m learning to adapt to it. My Depression/Anxiety makes me a worrier, can put me on a low where I’m really unmotivated, can make me irritable, tired an honestly can mean I’m not a great person to be around. Occasionally I’ll have to miss a day of class because I’m feeling that crappy. I’m lucky that I have a good group of people who understand around me.

10. Is it hard?

Yes. It can be but I wouldn’t change it…well most of the time anyway. I find ways to get around things, to smile and carry on to the best I can. Now I understand why I struggle with certain things and for me that’s great! I can learn how to fix them 🙂

So there it is, hopefully some questions have been answered. If you have any more PLEASE! comment below or tweet me!