Trying to Deal With Depression

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While on the phone with my Mum today I realised that for the past few months I’ve been fairly ok with the changes that have been happening, the breakdown of some friendships, etc. I’ve coped fairly well and while there have been lows, there hadn’t been incredibly bad ones over the summer, but unfortunately things seem to have come to a head lately.

To say that I’m exhausted is an understatement, I don’t know whether it’s a combination of work and just being busy or if part of it is the depression rearing its ugly head. People think that most of it is because of losing Noodle a few days ago, that is an absolutely huge part and it’s not something I can get get over and forget. There is more though, it’s hard to explain that grief and depression feel different. The depression is always there, it bubbles under the surface and then unleashes itself sometimes for days or weeks at a time.

I read an article about what people with high functioning depression want others to know, and it spoke to me. People think that because I have a lovely boyfriend, a good job, a degree and all that jazz that I should be happy. People almost get offended sometimes when you’re not happy. I wish there was a switch in my brain that meant I didn’t struggle. It doesn’t matter that I love my job and the people I work with, there are days where getting out of bed is difficult and when going back to bed later is all I can think about.

The point to writing this is because I do still struggle, all of us with depression do. Just because to the outside world it looks like someone is fine and ‘has it all’ doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling. Depression is a small part of me, but it is still something I have to deal with every day and I’m doing my best.

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.

Mental illness isn’t easy

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Up and down, up and down. Mental illness isn’t something easy to live with and as a uni student sometimes you get pressures that other people aren’t used to. I’ve been open and honest in the last three years on this blog about my life living with mental health issues. I’ve given speeches and I’ve tried to educate the people around me about illnesses. Despite all that I’m no superhero and I feel like that’s something I need to share because of course we post the most positive and best parts of our lives, but it’s not always real.

While I’m really happy to be back at uni and feel happiest when I’m in my lectures focusing and getting new ideas, when I’m on breaks I’m not as happy the depression creeps up and grabs me. I wish I could go I’m fine I’m great I never get depressed any more but that would be a lie. It is an illness and it is something I live with. I’ve found this week difficult, getting back into routine, dealing with the constant pain in my spine, trying to do the horse riding society, sorting band stuff out when shows are cancelled and organising everything else as well as doing my uni work and my job. It is a lot and I do get overwhelmed.

I guess the point of writing this is because I don’t want to seem like this person who has no worries, no troubles. I do struggle and I do have days where I just can’t face anything, need to switch my phone off and try and make my head stop spinning, usually by sleeping it off. I have days when I just feel like I can’t do anything or I’m angry because why the hell do I deserve this. At the same time though I’ve always said that having this illness really makes me appreciate happiness.

I don’t want people to freak out after reading this and call and text, this is part of my normal life. Just because I am open about it doesn’t mean that things are getting worse, there are times when I need my own time or I need time away but I’m dealing with my struggles in a much healthier way than I used to. I’ve lost horse riding but I’m playing with some other things and if all else fails I have my music.

I want to end this by saying don’t be afraid of admitting you have low days and that you’re not perfect. Having a mental illness doesn’t make you weak or stupid, it’s just something some of us have to deal with. As always I’m eternally grateful to the family, friends and incredible partner I have helping me through my fuzzy head days.

As always I love to hear from you guys and if you’d like to share your story feel free to email me chloefmetzger@gmail.com

Wheelchairs, Goodbyes and Dinner along the river

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Left to Right Alissa,Eleanor, Amy, Maisha, Dani, Me 

Yesterday marked the arrival of my wheelchair, which I’d been recommended to rent out, but it was more cost effective to buy it *sigh*. I hadn’t been looking forward to it but I wasn’t that anxious until they rang the doorbell to deliver it. It came in it’s big box while Ali unwrapped it for me. We both just kind of stared at it for a while. I could tell that something in him matched my uneasiness about it. I sat in it and got back out again trying not to cry before asking him to put it away, I can’t even push myself in it!  I didn’t want it, I hated it and I didn’t want to go anywhere.

Luckily I got to escape to my doctors appointment, determined to walk to the bus stop. I got given more pain medication, had been dealing with the lousy insurance company and had to call Orthopaedics about a mistake they had made in my appointments. To put it simply I was pretty low. It didn’t help that on the bus ride home there were no seats. Standing on a bus brings unbelievable pain and luckily a woman spotted my face and let me sit down and a man offered to help me get up again after, which being me I said no to. I met Laura quickly to pick up my new prescription and she cheered me up, but I was still uneasy about going out in the evening.

A thousand thoughts went through my head, what if people stare? What if I just become the wheelchair girl when I go out? What if people laugh? I didn’t have too long to think about it before Amy picked me up. From then on it was more trying to navigate the roads…they really aren’t that wheelchair friendly. Pavements to get across the road weren’t straight and we couldn’t pull my chair, horrendous pathways I feel for people who are wheelchair bound, it’s really not fair!

From then on we met the girls and I started to relax, nobody here treated me different that’s for sure! They all relaxed too after being a bit nervous themselves and we were ready to have a great last meal with Alissa before she headed back to the US *sniff* and before Dani and El caught their flight to Prague.We had a great time, good food and I laughed so much my face hurt. We were all laughing and screaming while Amy and Eleanor divided steering me and trying to avoid the river ;). 10521733_10153886855593206_6154522888338423380_n

Dinner along the Thames

Despite smiling so much I went home and cried, I cried because I was going to miss Alissa who has become such a big part of our lives, I cried because I wished more than anything that I was going to Prague with the girls and I partly cried with relief because none of them saw me any differently. I woke up with a funny picture of ‘stick chloe’ on the plane with El and Dani to make me smile. I carried on with the day going for my brace measurement appointment, having a coffee with Laura before picking up some drawing stuff on the way home as something to do.

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Last night when the girls had made me laugh so much the chair didn’t matter 🙂 

The closer I got to home the more pain I was in. I got so mad, I was trying to be positive and everything but WHY was I so frustrated and sad all the time? On top of that I was completely exhausted, fed up I took a lie down to rest again. It is hard, I didn’t think I’d mind as much as I do but I’m usually up and about all the time. I caught myself dreaming about going swimming again, or for an absent minded walk around Kingston and for the next 6 or so weeks I’m stuck not being able to do either. 11295569_10153888888068206_1153168637262698221_n

Being Supergirl for my brace measurements appointment

I’m both positive and sad at the same time. I know it won’t be forever but I think missing out on Prague has hit the hardest. I know I can go again, but I look at the girls pictures and love and miss them both so much. So all in all a confusing day and I’m just about ready to sleep after being cooked a lovely Steak by Ali tonight (to make up for the palm size excuse for one that had the girls wetting themselves last night!).

Tomorrow will be better, I’ll make sure of it. Night guys!

10 things that helped get me out of a low mood (and hopefully can help you!)

Ok so I disappeared yesterday because of a pretty crappy low (yay, depression). Now I’m back and I’ve been looking after myself for the past 2 days now I want to share 10 ways to help when you’re on a low. These help for me, hopefully they will for you as well!

1. Take a shower or bath

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When I used to have a REALLY bad low, before I was diagnosed my Mum would always send me to the shower to calm down. Now when I have a low it’s always the things she recommends first. I don’t know why but water has always made me feel calmer.

2. Be comfortable

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When you’re feeling particularly rough you do not need to wear super tight skinny jeans. Today and yesterday were comfy jumper and jean days. Also at night make sure your comfortable with some good PJ’s and an early night, even if you can’t sleep being able to relax will help.

3. Take some time to think about what YOU need right now

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Do you need sleep? Do you need to go for a walk? Be around friends? Work out what it is you want and need to make yourself feel even a little bit better. I’ve had plenty of days where for the morning I had to be alone but later my friends made me feel a lot better. It’s a personal thing and taking baby steps if you need to.

4. Talk it out or write things down

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Some of my best songs have come from horrible moments. Writing or talking, generally just getting it out of your system is healthy. Of course there are other ways too, some people do art or sport, whatever works for you.

5. Eat some good food

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Screw the diet. Comfort food is the best. For me a bit of chocolate and a good cup of tea can really make all the difference.

6. Get some natural light

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10 minutes of sunshine is proven to boost Serotonin levels, even if it’s overcast try and go outside. I know what it’s like when all you want to do is lie in the dark and forget everything. When I feel like that and just want to be alone I walk to my local shop, it only takes 5 minutes and I don’t talk to everyone

7.Exercise

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When I used to hear this I used to get irritated, why if I didn’t want to get up would I want to exercise? I know by now that just being around the horses lifts my mood and going riding is great to make me have a more stable mood, it gives me something else to think about. I can’t ride every day though, so Sunday I decided to head to the pool (the only other exercise I can stand) I only done half an hour but felt much better.

8. Put yourself around people who make you feel happy

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It usually takes me a little while to get to this part. For the first part of my lows I normally want to be alone but gradually I’m ok being around people. Moving in with Ali was a hugely positive part of getting better since moving to uni, sometimes I’ll see friends or text my mentor to see her but I almost always phone my Mum to talk things over. Support is always key.

9. Have a little treat

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If I’m sad and go wandering I usually buy myself a little something partly to cheer myself up and partly because I left the house, because sometimes that’s the absolute worst part. It’s usually just something small, a bar of chocolate, cupcake or a book, whatever money I have spare really.

10. Don’t be so hard on yourself

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Everyone has good and bad days, depression or not. Don’t blame yourself if you’re out for a day or even longer, just work through as best you can and don’t beat yourself up!

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.

10 Things I’m proud I’ve done in my first year

As I’ve come to the end of teaching in my first year I wanted to look back on 10 thing I’m really proud of. To others these things might not stand out but they meant a lot to me. 

 

1. My Band 

It means a lot to me that I met these guys, I’m closer to achieving my dream of being a musician than I ever was before. I’ve found people that took me on even with my faults. The EP might not be done yet but I’m pretty certain it’s going to be something special, here’s to lots of gigging in second year! 

2. I made friends

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A picture of me and my lovely Jen. I’ve made friends and lost them this year but that’s ok. I was terrified of not having friends this year and I’ve ended up with some good close friends and some more general friends. The point is that I managed to get out there and meet some people and they liked me! I don’t feel like I need more friends next year, although it would be nice. To those reading I may have only put one picture but you know who you are, I love each and every one of you, thank you for a fab year!!

3. I’m (hopefully) making a difference

And so are you! With this blog! I’ve managed to connect with a lot of people through blogging about my own experiences of mental illness and Dyslexia. From the feedback I’m getting and my ongoing work with the university disability department I’m hoping I can continue to make a change and run for disabilities officer next year. 

4. I got my driving confidence 

So I haven’t passed…yet. Still I’e got more confident with my driving and know I’ll pass before classes start in September and getting my license will be an amazing feeling. My anxiety and dyslexia will not beat me on this!! 

5. I was shortlisted for a KU Talent Award

Out of all of the first years that applied I made it to the final 4 for my category. I had a great night with Mum. I wont lie I was gutted that I didn’t win but there’s always next year and third year… 

6. I managed to go to a gig a month

I have seen SO MANY bands since I moved here to name a few Deaf Havana, Paramore, Fall Out Boy, You Me At Six, Tonight Alive, We are the in crowd the list goes on an on I’m so lucky and amazed that so far I only missed one month of gigs! I have so many memories, signatures and I’m not sure about what to do with all those gig tickets… 

7. I became a Student Ambassador! 

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Clearly the best job you can get as a student. From 400 that applied to the final 50 that got the job! I’m so thrilled and couldn’t have asked for better. I can’t wait for the next few years of my job! 

8. I got more than one first! 

2 so far and hopefully more to come….watch this space! 

9.I’ve got the confidence to want to do a masters 

Not my best English but I’ve gone from saying I wont go to uni a few years ago to actively saving for my masters degree at Kingston. I nevver thought I’d get this far so I better make the most of it…

10. I survived

This is a huge thing back in September I was terrified. How would I live, handle money, have time with Ali, do all the reading, pass, learn how to cook. I might be exhausted at the moment but I’ve survived and I know I can live away from home now. I wont go as far as saying I’m a grown up but I’ve surprised myself. 

So there is just 10 things. I wrote this because I know how up and down I’ve been feeling lately. Writing this blog isn’t always easy when my moods are against me, which in the last few weeks they have been. I’ve been feeling bad lately meaning that thinking of these positive things hasn’t been easy, it’s been a huge struggle. I think overall though I’m doing better, I’ll have blips just like anyone but I’m starting to get better. As a note to you all, I promised an entire year so I will continue writing for fresher until August 31st, then you will be pleased to know I will start ‘Surviving Second Year’ a whole more year for you all! Here’s to a fab summer and the rest of my degree!