Smiling doesn’t mean someone is ok

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She’s fine, she’s always so happy, she achieves everything she wants. Blah, blah, blah. It’s all NOISE to someone with depression. The outside is a very superficial thing, I can’t even begin to count the amount of times in the last 6 years I’ve plastered on a smile or a look to make people think that I’m enjoying myself or that I’m mentally in the room. It really upsets me, especially when sometimes people who are close to me can’t tell the difference either.

In the past week I’ve had a lot to deal with trying to get back into work, my spine flat out freaking out and refusing to let me move, having to cancel a show, a close pet dying, handing in my notice to the society, more pain, having a leak in my ceiling, missing home and everything just got too much. I got to the point where I couldn’t go anywhere that wasn’t extremely important and I only just got there. I dragged myself to my physio session and hardly spoke to anyone because I was so much pain. I couldn’t face uni for the past week. No one really cared, I became invisible in all but one situation.

You learn a lot through this illness. You learn who understands, who pretends they do. You learn what the right ways to look after yourself are eventually and how to go about them. You learn who will just sit with you, saying nothing but just being there because that’s what you need on your lowest day. You learn who will write you off as wanting ‘attention’ or ‘being selfish’ and who is educated enough to know this isn’t something you want or can switch on and off.

I don’t even know if I’m making much sense in this post but I think that might be because my own head doesn’t make sense to me half the time. The same way other people don’t because I just have a different variation of what normal is. I finally feel on my feet again, inching towards my assignments, ready to go back to class tomorrow and work with kids who need their confidence boosted. I’m still struggling and I don’t know how to feel about the rest of the week but I’m getting there with Ali, my incredible family and one or two close friends making sure I don’t fall again.

I’ll get there, after all what they say is true you live, you learn.

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.

10 things I’ve learnt in the last month

Yesterday was 1 month since I fell off Rose, I couldn’t believe how quickly one month had gone. Although I still have a month until my next spine appointment, I will have hopefully made some more improvements. Where am I at the moment? I’m still taking very strong painkillers and have trouble getting up but I can walk that little bit further than before. I was quite poorly yesterday night (hence no blog) but I wanted to use today’s to think about some of the things I’ve learnt this month while I’ve been resting. Enjoy 🙂

1. Fear of falling is never a good thing

When I fell from Rose, I wasn’t scared. I knew that I had to just let go, it was only a fall. Ok, yes I ended up with much more than just an initial bruise BUT I want to get that feeling back. I want to get that feeling where I’m not scared of falling because I can’t just go around scared whenever I ride. I kind of want to apply it to other areas of my life too. I’m a total perfectionist, I’m absolutely terrified of failing, especially academically. So maybe I can relax a little? Just enough so I’m not a huge ball of stress all through third year.

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I will get back to being this fearless on a horse! 

2. How lucky I am

I am walking. I am not permanently in a wheelchair and I’m so grateful. The lack of finding the fractures meant I went back to my normal life, I could have very easily ended up paralysed. I’ve been cared for by the people who matter and I’m still getting there but it looks like I’m going to recover from this, for that I am so,so lucky.

3. I want to be financially secure so I can afford private healthcare once I’ve graduated

I don’t want the NHS to be privatised because for most of my life it’s been there and I’m glad we can rely on a National System. That said, I wasn’t treated well with this serious injury, I’ve had to wait and push and be in extreme pain for appointments and I still don’t have my back brace never mind that the fractures were missed. It’s one of my goals in life to have private healthcare because I know I will be treated with the best possible care, it’s sad but true.

4. I have lots of wonderful people around me 

My family is incredible and so are my friends. I’ve had this outpouring of love from all of my friends and family. Cards have been sent, I’ve been accompanied to hospital, Ali’d had to help me move, I’ve been pushed in my wheelchair and made to smile about it, comments,presents and messages. I feel so loved and appreciated everything so, so much.

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5. Sometimes it’s ok that things don’t go to plan 

As you all know I was meant to go to Prague with Eleanor and Dani this month. I’d been counting down for so long and I couldn’t go. I was devastated to say the least and I cried, a lot. The thing is although I didn’t get to go to Prague, I got invited to the Society Awards instead and saw my society win an award, as well as another one of my best friends win an award. Am I still sad that I missed out on time with El and Dani? Of course I am but at least I still got to smile with two of my other best friends.

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6. You can always embarrass yourself in front of your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together 

Ali and I have been together for seven years and yet I still find ways to embarrass myself. I’ve been taking showers as I can stand up in the warm water, it helps the pain. I decided my legs NEEDED shaving so I sat down in the bath…then realised I was stuck. Ali then had to come and lift me out of the bath, it was a beautiful moment. I was so embarrassed, love huh?

7. There are other ways to let out pain and frustration 

In the past when I was in the darkest parts of depression I didn’t know how to let my pain and frustration out in a positive way, now it’s a lot better. I write a lot or I draw sometimes. There are so many things that you can do to let it all out, I’ll be writing a post in the future about it.

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8. Friends are priceless

I couldn’t have kept my spirits up the way I have without my friends, they’ve been incredible. They’ve visited or messaged me and kept my spirits up with I’ve been very low and they haven’t gotten frustrated when it takes me so long to walk anywhere.Thank you to all of you, I love you so much.

9. A lot needs to be done for people who are permanently in wheelchairs 

I’ve gone out in my wheelchair twice and I’ve noticed this. While the majority of people have been nice and helpful I’ve been moaned at my people in cars for not being off the road the second the light turns green for them, I’ve been sighed at when someone needs to change their path because of my wheelchair and I’ve been walked in front of. This is where angry Chloe happens who doesn’t give a monkeys, I usually shout after them. It’s been so hard getting about in the wheelchair, to get up the pavement is a major issue, getting into shops, getting around in general! More needs to be done for people in wheelchairs to make their lives easier!

10. Pain doesn’t mean the end of happiness 

I’ve been pretty low through all this but I’ve still managed happiness. I can stil laugh with my friends and I’ve adapted things. I’m not saying I don’t get upset, frustrated and angry, but I can still achieve happiness even if it’s harder.

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Still smiling 

I’m not giving up.

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I’ve spent a lot of time thinking for the past few days and it’s not always been positive. Being stuck indoors and not allowed to even clean when I feel like it has been getting me down, as has being in pain whenever I get up or go for a walk. I mean I’m human, those kinds of things would make most people fed up.

I haven’t slept much since yesterday and my painkillers are definitely kicking in because I’m sleepy as I write this (hooray!). I’ve been trying to get on with things as much as possible and without realising it I’ve gotten quite a lot done today, going for a walk to get parts of Eleanor’s leaving present, submitting my final assignments (yay!) and reading over a quarter of another book.

It’s weird knowing that I have 6 weeks of recovery and not doing too much, 6 weeks of living with this and not being able to go at a million miles per hour like I normally do, it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. I promised I’d be honest, I’ve been really low at times since this happened and cried a lot, mostly out of frustration. I feel slowed down and tired and I just want to do everything like normal. Ali says just think of it as a little holiday, do things I want to do and relax, I suppose he’s right to some extent.

I started reading Katie Piper’s Beautiful Ever After, she’s cheered me up once again. I was meant to meet Katie at the KU Talent Awards this year, she was supposed to be hosting but got rushed to hospital instead. I was gutted not to meet her but obviously glad that she was going to be ok, I’m hoping she’ll still come and visit Kingston because she’s an inspiration to me. So I’ve just sat reading the book and it’s made me smile and not feel so low. It’s also inspired me to use these 6 weeks to do something. I just want to write at the moment, I might take a crack at the novel again, write the blog and add more of my experiences and do some mental health work. I can use my recovery time to do some good through my laptop 🙂

In short, I’m not giving up. I’m not silly enough to believe that writing this post is going to magically change my mindset and there will be no more tears or frustrations, there will because I’m human. I just hope that I can start something good while I’m stuck with not a lot to do.

Please, please, please use the comments section below! I’d love to use this time to chat to you guys! Or drop me a tweet @chloemetzger 🙂

Image from Pinterest

‘A smile is the best make up any girl can wear’

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The better I get, the more I smile. Even when there are days that are filled with stress or upset I’m working my way through it and not going into a total meltdown, new to me! This quote as well make me just feel, well, feminine, I don’t need make up to look beautiful or feel sexy, just a smile. Ali proves this to me every day I’m currently sat with more spots than I’ve had in a long time, my hair scraped back in an old baggy T-shirt, he still loves me. He thinks I’m beautiful when I’m sick, when I’m sad, when I’m angry but most of all when I smile. So take note girls from the beautiful Ms Monroe and smile more, because you’re beautiful.

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!