My Year – 2015

It’s been a funny old year for me. I sit down to write this post and I don’t know what to think. My overwhelming feeling is at one end I’ve learnt a lot but at the other I’ve also had to deal with things I wouldn’t have imagined. I feel like next year is going to be a mixed year too, but hopefully not as painful. 2016 has a lot of new challenges lined up and if I’m honest I am scared but I’m also excited. For now, here’s a roundup of 2015!

January

I played my first show in central London

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Back in January the boys and I played our first show just around the corner of Leicester Square! We got a great number of people down and had a great time!

I fell in love with a horse

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At the stables I fell in love with Ruby. In January I started going to the stable at the weekends, grooming and spending hours just playing and stroking her.

I had a tough time, then treated myself

I struggled in January for a few different reasons and so I went and treated myself to some new bits and a hair cut. I started to listen to how I felt and what I needed to stay well.

I got to share horse riding with my sister

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I got to take my little sister horse riding! She loved it and it was great for my Mum and Summer to see me ride.

February 

I celebrated Harry Potter Book Night

Joe and I trekked into London for Harry Potter Book Night. It was so much fun to dress up, hand out with one of my best mates, meet the new illustrator and win a signed copy of Philosopher’s Stone.

I struggled and I swam.

While trying to look after myself I started trying to swim whenever I felt down, a big step for me.

I got told I was a ‘game changer’

I got filmed for a documentary that a third year student was making. I was called a ‘game changer’ which I didn’t believe but was really pleased with all the same ūüôā

March

I couldn’t say goodbye…and broke my heart

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The beautiful Ruby was sold and I never got a chance to say goodbye and it broke my heart. She was such an incredible horse and I had an amazing connection with her.

I won a KU Talent award!

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I was up for two awards this year ‘Second Year of the Year’ and ‘Overcoming Adversity to Achieve’, which I won. I was so shocked because the category was so strong, I had an amazing night with my Mum and it was definitely one of the highlights of my year!

I became a President 

I became President of the Kingston University Horse Riding Society and won most improved rider for the year! It was a true honor and another great part to the month.

I fell in love with Sign Language again

Working with young people who were hearing impaired was a great experience and made me even more determined to work with disabled students at the university.

…I dropped my phone down the toilet.

Oh yeah, that.

April 

I had the best Easter

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I had such a fun family easter! We really had fun all together, my sister doesn’t look happy because for the first time in years I beat her at the egg hunt!

I went back to Durham!

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I was lucky enough to take a trip back up to Durham to see Ali’s grandparents for their anniversary. I absolutely love going up to Durham it’s beautiful and always relaxing.

I got my two babies

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I bought Hamski and Noodle home ‚̧ My two little fur babies came home together and although they were eventually separated they originally loved cuddling together! They also proved to be a much needed distraction in the coming months.

I fell off a horse…

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Yep, a simple fall meant my first ride in an ambulance. I was taken in, left in a hospital in the middle of nowhere and luckily had Laura with me. At first I was told I was fine and got back on a horse 3 days later…

May 

I found out that I had broken my spine

After 2 weeks of feeling really sore and then an MRI scan I found out that I’d broken my spine with further damage to other vertebrate, muscle, soft tissue and nerve damage. The 7 hours wait to find out what had gone wrong was just the start of a very long journey ahead.

I used a wheelchair for the first time

I cried a lot when I had to use the chair because I couldn’t walk. Luckily Amy came to get me so I didn’t miss out on our girls dinner before Alissa went back to the US. I ended up having fun and forgetting about the chair for a little bit.

I was part of a winning society!!

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I wasn’t in any fit state to travel so I had to cancel Prague with Dani and Eleanor. To keep my spirits up Amy and Laura took me to the society awards where our society won 2 awards!!

I got my first Spinal Brace

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My physiotherapist is an angel and made sure I had my brace before I flew to Athens. It was hot, sweaty and uncomfortable but it done the job, I was honestly just relieved to have some support for my spine!

June 

I went on my first international creative trip & my first holiday with just Ali (by accident)

What was supposed to be a solo trip to write became a couples trip when I still couldn’t walk! Ali and I ended up having a great time and I finally felt like a writer!

I got a dream job

I got my job as a Social Media Coordinator, one I applied for but never thought I would get. It’s honestly been one of the best jobs I’ve ever had and it was great having the responsibility!

I got a new tattoo!

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I couldn’t go to Foo Fighters in my wheelchair (it was cancelled in the end anyway) so I used the money to get a tattoo that was particularly meaningful then and still is now.

I bought a lot of books…a lot.

What else is a girl to do when she’s mostly stuck in the house?

July 

I said goodbye to friends again

I said goodbye to Eleanor and Maisha as they jetted off for a year of study in New Zealand! Proud friend moment!

I played Basingstoke Live!

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This was my first show post diagnoses. I had my own box, my brace had been taken off and there was a ramp for me. I don’t know how but I got through and it was a great show!

I got frustrated.

I quickly realised I had put on a fair bit of weight and couldn’t really leave the house, sad times.

I had my sister come to stay ūüôā

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One of the highlights of my summer was having this munchkin stay with me and going to see Paper Towns early!

August 

I met Don Broco

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Acoustically beautiful and some really lovely lads,

I celebrated living with Ali for a year!

We didn’t kill each other even when I couldn’t move without him! He’s been amazing this year!

I went to my first book club

I got out of my comfort zone, met a friend and bought a lot of books!

I went to the Zoo with some little monkeys

Even though I had to use a wheelchair for our family day out and got rained on I had a great day spending time with family ūüôā

I got addicted to comic books

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Damn you Joe, Damn you!

I survived second year!

Despite everything I got through second year with a 2:1 overall…5 marks off of a 1st!

September

I became a third year

Dun, dun, duuuuuuuuun

I got told I was medically shorter than last year!

If I wasn’t short enough, I was told after my CT scans that I have officially lost height and may never get full feeling back in my left leg. That said I also got told that I was healing nicely!

I went to Amsterdam

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A great 21st birthday trip with Dani and Amy! Amsterdam was so much fun and my back behaved itself which is a first.

I turned 21!

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I had an incredible 21st I was spoilt and just felt so loved. This was the handmade cake that my sister made me, I don’t think I’ve ever been given so much cake in my life!

I had a stall at Fresher’s Fair

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Rounding up new recruits for the society!

I watched Star Wars…finally¬†

Now I’m completely obsessed! This started the countdown to see the new film.

I got recording! 

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We got serious about the EP and I was able to record without a panic attack or doubting myself. A big win for me!

October 

I was mentioned in the New York Times

Just for mentioning the 5p plastic bag charge!

I met Katie Piper

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I met one of my idols, Katie Piper. We had a great chat, photos and talked about Hampshire where we’re both from. It was also amazing to get a message from KAtie written in my book, she really is a lovely woman.

I went to my first Comic-con

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I fell in love with Comic-con and bought a stupid amount of pops, spending the last of my birthday money. It really encouraged me to get creative for the next one in May.

November 

I tried to be classy with Joe

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McDonalds and Galleries…what more could you want.

I was allowed to go to the gym class!

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A big step in my recovery! 6 weeks of gym sessions proved my spine was healing the right way and I loved them.

I left the society

Unfortunately I couldn’t cope running the society. I had to step down immediately and spent a lot of the month after pretty poorly both mentally and physically.

December 

I got to meet Ed!

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I got to meet this adorable little man that now takes over my bed!

I saw Star Wars!

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I fell in love with the new cast and am now even more obsessed. Star Wars is the best.

I went to Olympia!

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Laura finally got to use her 21st birthday present and we went to Olympia Horse Show! Such an amazing day out and we’ll definitely be going again next year.

I had an incredible Christmas 

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No lows, family time, amazing gifts. A great Christmas ‚̧

I decided I wasn’t giving up…

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This year has had some huge challenges and I’ve gotten through them. There’s no doubt I’ve struggled this year a lot and there will be times next year where I’m ready to give up but I won’t.

Happy New Year to all of my lovely readers and thank you so, so much for all your support this year ‚̧

Back in the saddle

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Three days after my fall and I decided I needed to be back around the horses. Crazy? Nah, it’s just what horse riders do. For most after any injury, big or small, one of the first questions is ‘when can I ride again?’. Although I spend a lot of yesterday waddling around and I’m pretty sure I’m paying for going out today I’m pleased I did. There is nothing like getting on a horse.

I’m not going to lie and say I was completely fine and dandy climbing on while I was still in a fair bit of pain but I needed to get back on to prove to myself. Rose was an angel again today, lots of cuddles and happy ears. For a while I was just sitting and watching while Laura (who is doing THE most amazing job with Rose) started jumping Rose, who’s coming on so much at the moment. After almost every jump Rose would be satisfied by her pat by Laura and then walk over to me for more fuss.

Then I got on. She’d been so good, I had a back protector to borrow, I can’t put it into words this driving force to get on and prove to myself. So I was back on, on a lead rope at first while I relaxed and felt comfortable again, then a walk and small trot. Then I came off the lead rope thinking oh god, this is where I might fall again if she gets excited…except she wouldn’t move. Maybe she could tell I was ok just as we were. I’m feeling better now, and proud of myself for getting back on. Hopefully back to regular lessons soon will get rid of any doubt and remind me of the last 6 months of, you know, not falling off.

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Back on!!! 

I have to say being around animals again has really been crushing my lows and it’s making me so excited. I don’t know its something about animals that keep me calm or are able to cheer me up when I’m feeling down ūüôā

Breaking Out

If you came here looking for something incredible about a spy or whatnot then you are in the wrong place. This post is about me and I think I’d be a pretty useless spy to be fair (I’m far too clumsy!). The sun was shining today, you know that big yellow thing in the sky? Yeah that. It’s like a huge serotonin injection so it can be pretty amazing at kicking depressions butt.

I haven’t been great in the past week, I didn’t realise at the time but now looking back I can see it. I was more going through the motions at times rather than enjoying my week off, I kept busy as I could though. The worst point was definitely having to phone in sick to work on Thursday…that actually hurt because I hate it when my illness stops me doing things, unfortunately sometimes it does.

So yesterday there were ups and downs and I went to bed on a not so positive and angry note. This morning when I woke up though relaxed and better. I actually got up and got straight on with what I needed to do…something that hasn’t happened in a while. It wasn’t until the sun came out that I realised something was different.

We have a big bay window in the flat and blinds that aren’t very good, so the sun comes right through. It was like the outside was pulling me, the sun, the blue skys. My brain wasn’t that into it though, it took me a good hour of tug of war with myself before I put my clothes on to go out and headed out the door (fighting myself a little all the way). I managed and just took a walk through own in the sunshine and I loved the business of Kingston, it wasn’t driving me crazy it was actually kind of comforting. It was like I’d been locked in my own head for too long.

Coming back to the flat I got on again, like a wild thing. I just had so much energy and ideas and everything. This is what happens sometimes and I get a little bit skeptical, either I’m having an insanely good mood or it’s something a little less pleasant. Sometimes I have these massive boosts before I crash…I suppose I’ll wait and see. ¬†I hope it’s the first one because I was damn miserable all week and today just felt like forgetting everything I was upset about…just for a little while.

Then I couldn’t sit still again so off to the pool. It was nice and therapeutic, just counting the laps, helping my brain relax rather than go into overdrive. I got to 20 laps before heading home to work again but I was a little bit calmer.

I’m glad I ‘broke out’ today. Sometimes when I’m low it’s like there are bars on the windows and doors, I can’t get out even if I want to. Little times like this make me smile the most. So now I’m finishing this after a nice shower smelling of lush and hoping more than anything this carries on tomorrow.

Finally: Getting back to myself

After a long few weeks of feeling, low, helpless and not myself I can say that I’m finally pulling through again! It’s been 5 days of solid steadiness and I couldn’t be more pleased, just in time for Christmas! My first realisation, Friday morning, as I was driving back to the flat I’d been awake for an hour where I had just gotten up, dressed and headed out, no anxious thoughts or dread I just, well functioned normally. While Saturday I was slightly off (from a lack of going outside waiting for damn parcels), I carried on and was ok and got on Sunday as well. The last two days I’ve been smiling to myself and humming christmas song and I’m so pleased I could dance around.

I’m not in the mind that I’m completely better, I’m still seeing doctors and mentors more regularly and I’ll carry on without complaining and not rush because when you go through a bad low, like I have been for the past 4/5 weeks it does scare you. I was terrified I’d never get back to this point where I could feel in control and I’d be stuck in sadness for ever, it’s horrible but once you’re starting to get better and have even a little bit of confidence you’re keen to make sure you don’t slip again. It’s a part of my life and I know I will probably slip again but I know I have great people supporting me.

I wanted to write to you all with this sense of amazement and happiness because I want to detail what’s¬†real¬†to live with mental health problems. For me these little victories mean the world, like no anxiety attacks. I’m back to chatting with people at horse riding, texting and seeing my amazing friends (who have also been angels) and being just easier to live with (although I say now I couldn’t have gotten through these last few weeks without Ali) and to top it all off I had band practice today! I just feel so much better after a good ride this morning (on a very tall horse) where I could feel myself becoming a better rider, then a long walk down Kingston Hill which I never done before but just made me feel refreshed.

If any of you are stressed or having a rough time at the moment, just take every day at a time and baby steps when you can. Lows totally suck, but they will go eventually with the right help.

When I write

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Sometimes when I don’t know what else to do, I write. The last few weeks have been incredibly up and down and today things just kind of came to a jolt. I didn’t really want to get up, I didn’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything and everything was just so overwhelming. I get angry about it, I feel sad about it and it usually ends in me feeling like I don’t like myself that much. So tonight I wrote a song and released everything. I don’t feel much like writing right now, so hopefully I’ll speak to you all soon.¬†

Picking myself up

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Making myself get out of the flat despite feeling rough 

When I woke up this morning I knew leaving the flat wasn’t going to be easy, I managed to get up later than I though but I get felt deflated, miserable. When I feel like this I know it’s normal for me to stay in the flat, hide from people and that makes my mood worse. I made the conscious decision to throw on some clothes and go pick up some breakfast in an attempt to try and bring myself up a little before my driving lesson this afternoon.

I felt awful, paranoid and generally gross. While other girls were walking around in glamorous maxis and flipflops I was in my usual jeans and converses. I started to use the techniques that I had learnt with my mentor and started questioning why I was anxious, why I was nervous and a strange thing happened…they started to work. It’s a real turning point for me. I don’t know if this will stay but I hope it does.

Talking about Depression ‘The Other Side of the Coin’ event and our first flat viewing

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A copy of Lizzie’s tweet, this made me very proud of myself!¬†

 

After last nights attempt at a video to try and get used to talking to people about depression in a more formal and informative way you’d think I would have been a little less nervous about today. I was, very slightly but that didn’t stop the nerves creeping in after a lack of sleep again. What do I wear? How did I manage to get toothpaste on my top? What did I want to say again? URgh, Urgh, Urgh!¬†

I managed to make it to the lecture room early, much before everyone else and I was calm at this point. I knew I was here on time, Lizzie from the Students Union would be there soon, along with the other speakers whom I had never met before. I soon started chatting to Gabby, a masters student who was going to be part of a small group talking about Bipolar. It was nice to talk to someone else about mental illness before speaking, it put me in the right frame of mind and made me feel safe. There were also two other speakers talking about sight and post traumatic stress disorder. Although I was anxious ¬†I really wanted some of my faculty to walk in and support me. A lot of my friends couldn’t make it for various reasons so I was hoping someone I recognised would. I nthe end it was the KUTalent team who eased my nerves (who I have to say took a lot of notes in the lecture.¬†

Before long, despite a smaller turn out than I had thought, we set up the camera and began the lecture/presentation. I was first before running off to a flat viewing. I’ll admit I did feel nervous, would I make an impact? How do I want to come across? Will the videos I watched of others giving speeches have any impact? I hadn’t written anything down but I was hoping I would need to. I started off with the video ‘I have a black dog, his name is depression’ to give people a sense of understanding and hopefully empathy. The talk went well, I focused on my strengths not my weaknesses and incorporated them into what I was trying to say. I put empasis on three things that people with Anxiety and Depression need, time, patience and understanding because these all relate to the idea of ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’, something I wanted to stress and use myself as an example for.¬†

I feel like the tlk went well and was a good opener, from what I could see I got a good response. I also learnt a lot today about others, their determination, their motivation and how they learn. Unfortunately I had to leave before my friends part, I’m sure she was brilliant and after speaking to her after she seemed happy. Although I’m disappointed that more people didn’t come I know they’ll see it. We’ll be using the talk in their training now and I’m hopefully going to work towards raising awareness and being a part of the student support group.¬†

As I mentioned I had to go to mine and Ali’s first flat viewing and it was eventful…in true fashion I ended up hitting a low at the end. Brilliant. As with everyone else the process of flat hunting is stressful, for us it’s a whole different kind of stressful. I’ve never done this before and it’s showing Ali and I parts of our relationship we haven’t had a go at yet. We have argued about flats and where to live and all the rest of it and our first viewing really made me nervous. I’d been to a flat viewing before and the lady was lovely. The flat was spacious but there was something that didn’t feel right. After seeing the bathroom and bedroom I just had a gut instinct of no. By the time we got back to the flat I was in a full scale panic. Had we looked at this, at that? What if we couldn’t live near Kingston Hill, What f they were all the same price, How would we afford things. The list went on and so I sat and cried and lashed out and this is the reality of what ¬†I had been talking about. The smallest panic and I can completely lose myself.¬†

Eventually I calmed down, exhausted and we started talking before I got a call from the university. We were being offered the opportunity to view another flat! As if all my prayers had been answered we both called our Mums, we’d look at the flat tomorrow but hopefully this one was it. We decided that we both had to feel comfortable and both Mums gave us some vital advice; don’t rush into things and don’t panic.¬†

With this in mind I think it’ll be easier to sleep tonight. Since Jens left it’s harder to be back at Seething Wells but I’m ok, I think. Just lonely. Hopefully tomorrow will bring some good news, this flat stuff is doing my head in!¬†