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A beginning

Hi!

Welcome to my very first blog post. I’m really happy you’re reading this.

Just to introduce myself, I am 19 years old and I have just made a big decision. And that is to drop out of law school and take 6 months or a year (I haven’t decided yet) to figure out what I want to do with my life.

Written down it doesn’t seem that big. However, to me, it was huge.

It means moving back in with my parents. It means finding my purpose, because without one I feel like I’m just existing, not living. It means redefining my sense of self because I never expected to not love uni, for it to not go well for me, because everyone thought I was a perfect match for uni, and so did I.

But no one expected anxiety and depression either. It has taken me to the darkest corners of my mind and breached the very limits of my self control.

And I still battle it everyday.

There are so many thoughts in my head, that perhaps writing them down will help. Yet, I don’t want this blog to just be emotional ramblings from my depressive mind. I want it to be a creative outlet, a way to explore myself and hopefully figure out what I want to do next year.

And so, in this 6 months (or a year!) I want to really do all things I have wanted to do but never have. Those things I put off because I’m afraid or I don’t have time.

And hopefully, along the way I will be able to get my depression and anxiety under control.

I don’t promise beautiful poetry, or perfectly written blog posts. I don’t even promise to regularly post here. But I do promise to be me.

And hopefully thats enough.

Chloe xx

Tips for Creating an Inspiration Board

I love making collages. I find searching through pretty pictures and inspirational quotes and then arranging them, so soothing. So much so, that once I’m done I just want to start all over again!

This week I made an inspiration board to hang in my bedroom and I thought I would share with you my tips for making your very own beautiful inspiration board!

  1. Pick a colour scheme

A colour scheme makes your inspiration board cohesive, linking the pictures all together. For my board, I chose pink and black and white pictures. But don’t let your colour scheme limit your creativity, feel free to include pictures that you love even if they don’t match your colour scheme!

  1. Add patterns

Patterns create interest in your inspiration board but more importantly can be placed underneath other pictures. This means your favourite pictures can stand out, without competing for attention. It also makes it easier to figure out a layout, as patterns can be covered or overlapped in different directions, unlike pictures that you may not want to cover.

  1. Use a pin board

A pin board makes your inspiration board temporary, meaning you can change it whenever you want. If you get bored of a picture, you can take it down and if you find a new quote that you love, you can pin it up! Plus you can even have cute pins to add even more prettiness to the board, I really like the plain gold ones I used to add a touches of metallic!

  1. Vary overlaying and underlaying

You probably don’t even notice this, but I tend to look at details and find that inspiration boards are much better when the pictures are varied in whether they are overlayed or underlayed. For example, instead of working from top to bottom and therefore all the pictures at the top of your board being underneath, try changing up whether the pictures are underneath or in front of other pictures.

  1. Add texture

Ribbons, fake flowers, buttons, fabric, lace, pom poms, tassels, you name it, texture can make your inspiration board even prettier and more unique! For my inspiration board I attached a row of pom pom ribbon on the top and bottom that I love! You could also vary the texture of the images, some from glossy magazines, some that are thick cardboard and others that are printed on standard matte paper.

  1. Lay out your pictures before sticking down

Laying out your pictures before you either attach them with pins or stick them down (depending on what you are making your inspiration board on) is really helpful so that you can figure out which layout looks best before sticking down pictures or poking holes in them.

  1. Take pictures as you go

Use your phone to take some photos as you begin to arrange your inspiration pictures. That way, if a sudden gust of wind blows them off your board or you accidentally move something, you can look back at the phone pictures to see where they were!

But finally, feel free to ignore any or even all of these tips! An inspiration board is supposed to be a representation of you and something you can look at to inspire you, so make it unique and personal! And above all, have fun with it!

 

Top 10 Happy Songs

Music has a way of taking us to our happy place; we all know that one song that makes everything feel okay. It is instrumental (pun intended!) in my life to to help set the mood for the day. Listening to happy music when I first wake up in the morning can help me feel motivated and ready to conquer the day!

On the days I am really struggling, music can be a saviour. Just taking a moment to listen to some of my favourite happy songs, sit still and process what I need to do can help me to feel more calm and clear about the rest of my day.

Its not the magic fix, and it doesn’t always work, but it can definitely help!

So, here is a list of my top 10 songs that put me in a happy mood!

(Not in any particular order)

Midnight City (M83) 

One + One (Graeme James)

I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll (Parekh & Sing)

The Summer (Josh Pyke, Sydney Symphony Orchestra)

White Flag (Joseph)

21 (Freedom Fry)

New Biome (Sure Sure)

The Luckiest (Ben Folds)

Plain Sight (Kita Alexander)

Pulaski At Night (Andrew Bird)

 

Enjoy listening! And let me know, what’s your go to happy song?

DIY Fridge Magnets

All of my posts so far have been about my struggle with mental illness, as this is a huge part of my life right now. But it’s not all of my life and I don’t want it to be what defines me or this blog. So this post is a little different.

I love doing DIYs, especially ones that decorate spaces, making them feel more homely and look more beautiful. Being creative makes me feel calm and happy. So much so, that when I was first moving out of home, the first thing I did was make fridge magnets for my fridge, because I was going to have my own fridge!

I love how they turned out and I get compliments on them all the time, so I thought I would show you guys how I made them.

To begin with I collected images I wanted to use. They were a combination of photos of friends and family, pictures I have taken on holiday, inspirational quotes and just pretty pictures from Instagram or Pinterest.

I inserted this into a word document and decided that I wanted my photos to be 5.7cm x 5.5cm in size. I cropped the images to rough squares and sized them to the correct size so that they were all the same.

In order for the images to be more cohesive, I made them black and white using the recolour tool in Microsoft word.

I then printed them and cut them out.

I decided to laminate them to save the images from wear and tear as well as make them look a little more clean and refined.

Before doing this however, I used gold sparkly washi tape, which I cut into thin strips, to create borders around some of the images. I did this on my favourite images – the ones I wanted to stand out.

After laminating them and cutting them out once again, it was time to attach the magnets.

You can buy magnets from a craft store, however, a free and just as effective option is to use fridge magnets that are used as advertising, the mat-like, business card kind of magnets. These are easy to cut into small pieces and lightweight to stick on the back of each of your images.

I used hot glue to stick the magnets to the images, however, you could use super glue, you will just have to wait until its completely dry until you can put them on your fridge.

And that’s it! It is super easy and customisable to your style! I love them so much, they are super inspirational and very pretty! And while I am not bored with them yet, if I do get bored, I can always make some more to swap them out with!

 

Mental Illness and Stigma

I remember my first doctor’s appointment to discuss anti-depressants very clearly.

I was so so anxious. Thoughts about medication being the easy way out and worries about the crazy side effects I had seen on Google were running through my mind.

‘Hi I’m here for a doctors appointment with Dr ****’

After finding me on the computer, the receptionist looked up with an air of sympathy and she put her hand up to her mouth as though she harbored some great secret.

‘You realise as it is a mental health appointment, it will go for 30 minutes, rather than the usual 15 minutes,’ she told me in a hushed tone.

Now this is pretty standard information to give to a patient but it was the way she said it that had really surprised me. Her hand to her mouth and quiet voice implied that my mental illness was some big secret – something that should be hidden.

And the shift of her tone from when she spoke to me to when she addressed the next patient made clear to me that she treated mental illness patients differently. Maybe not consciously, but there was a difference.

The appointment itself was what seemed ordinary. The doctor knew the right questions to ask, but was impersonal. There was no compassion, no empathy and in my opinion, no understanding. Now, I am not saying that I go to doctors appointments looking for people to feel sorry for me, in fact, I was offended at the receptionist’s overly sympathetic caution but a little compassion shows understanding. Shows that you can understand what someone is going through and how that affects their life. I appreciate that depression is now regarded as an illness rather than just a mood by most people and that this doctor clearly understood that, but what he failed to understand is how it effects my life. His perspective was pragmatic.

I have no doubt that my experience is reflective of the experiences of so many others. But before getting a mental illness myself, I thought our society was progressive, that while there was stigma, people were more accepting of mental illness. And maybe they are, but there is still such a long way to go.

And this first doctor’s appointment is not the only experience I have had with stigma.

In another appointment, when I disclosed to my doctor that I had been struggling with self-harm in recent weeks, his reaction was, ‘don’t cut yourself, you may leave marks that people will see when you go to the gym or swimming.’

I was shocked.

Rather than his first concern be infection, triggers or how I can prevent from doing it in the future, his first reaction was concern over other people becoming aware that I was struggling. He was implying that I should be ashamed of my mental illness, that, like the receptionist had also implied, it was something that I should keep hidden.

I was so shocked that I didn’t say anything at the time. But this is what I wish I had told him:

I am not ashamed of the marks on my arm. I’m not saying that self-harm is an appropriate way to deal with the emotions I am feeling but I am not ashamed of where I have been on my journey through mental illness. And if one person came up to me in the gym and asked me what the marks on my arm are, I would tell them my story. And maybe that would help them to understand.

Stigma has also shown up in the reactions of my own family and friends. One person said, ‘but you have nothing to be depressed about.’

Another thought it was reassuring to tell me, ‘this is just your mid-life crisis come early.’

These reactions are the epitome of stigma, something I didn’t realise was so prominent in everything. I’m not writing this to have a go at any of my family, friends, the receptionist or the doctor but I’m just trying to highlight that even the people who you think have an understanding of mental illness, and even you yourself may not fully understand. And that is why continued education is so important. I thought I was so educated on mental illness but even I have so far to go.

And it’s not easy.

It’s not easy to have the conversation with someone about it. Even though I so strongly believe in talking openly about mental illness, I still find myself tugging on my sleeves when I’m out to dinner. I am still disappointed that I didn’t say to that doctor what I wanted to say or that I lied to my dentist that I almost missed my appointment because I had a cold, not because depression was holding me hostage in my bed. Or that I have told people that I dropped out of law because I just didn’t like it, not because my depression didn’t allow me to cope with it.

But I want to do better and I want to challenge myself to be more open about what I am going through because that is the beginning to normalising the conversations around mental illness. Education is so important, but we have such a long way to go to erase the stigma that I have come to realise is so deeply embedded in our society.

Chloe xx