College, Mental Illness, OCD

Welcome, 2018…Forgive The Hesitant Hello.

2017, I’m afraid to say goodbye. You gave me the best year of my entire life. Truly. It was a year of triumph, success, and pay off. I can not thank you enough for showing me what life is truly supposed to feel like.

Fifteen years of being chronically sick with my mental illness and fighting each day with limited rewards for my efforts was rough. If something great did come out of my hard work, in a few days it seemed to be tainted by a fallback. My successes never felt real. I didn’t feel as though they were given to me but I felt as though I was given slack. Either I had more help than the average student or I was given a pass. Sure, I need to remind myself that simple tasks were 10x harder for me than the average student as well but there comes a time it just feels like excuses.

2017 showed me who I really am when I am healthy, and I love her. She is capable of traveling to London and Germany. She is capable of spending hours lost in museums relishing in the history and cursing the rest of the group for being faster than her. She is able to receive her Bachelor’s degree, she is capable of being accepted into a Masters program and receiving a 4.0 in it. She loved the idea of moving to New York City not knowing a single soul but having the world at her fingertips. She learned that she has spurts of extroversion, but then wimps out after a few days and crawls back into her shell until the cycle can begin again. She’s learning how to try and get rid of the awkwardness that has always been present in her life. She threw herself into all of New York City’s activities. TV Shows, Musicals, Festivals, Parks, Markets, Tours. She holds back the urge to smile at every person that passes by. She still doesn’t know where to put her gaze when walking down a street. Should she look straight ahead? Should she look at the people passing by? Should she look at the ground?

2017 had its struggles, but they didn’t compare to my past struggles. Honestly, 2017, as I said before. I am scared to say goodbye. I’m afraid to lose this feeling of freedom. Of true happiness. I hope you put in a good word for me with 2018. I feel like my life has just begun and there is so much to do.

2018…Hello. I hope there are no hard feelings about my hesitancy towards your arrival. You understand, right? I did give you a warm welcome New Years Eve at Times Square, so I hope that gives me some brownie points. Last year was a year for me. This year I’d like to make steps towards helping others. I’d like to use this year to learn how to properly assist someone with a mental illness. Whether it is peer support, residential counseling, or some other job in the mental health field, I hope this year I can make someone feel one step closer to how I felt in 2017.

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New Years Eve Times Square 2018

~ Stay Chipper Friends ~


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Mental Illness

Magical Mud and Acorns

My absolute favorite day of my trip to England and Germany was an excursion I took from London to Stonehenge and Bath. It was in the low 20s° F and it ended up being the windiest day of our entire trip. Stonehenge was absolutely amazing to me. I’ve dreamed of visiting ancient sites since I was old enough to understand the History Channel. I knew how much I would enjoy it. What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy Bath. Before planning our trip I didn’t even know what Bath was.

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Stonehenge!
My story of Bath began with my small excursion group running back onto our tour bus out of the wind and cold, with hot chocolate in our hands. (Honestly the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.) I took my hat, gloves, and scarf off and settled in for our bus ride to Bath. Our bus driver Lorey maneuvered the bus through the windy roads of the English countryside while our tour guide Leslie picked up her microphone and started pointing out a farm up ahead. She noted how she loved giving tours at this time because of the pigs. You see, the pigs are bred for meat, so at this time we were able to see the pigs walking about. I didn’t understand her fascination with the pigs. I’m a huge animal lover, but she was going on about the pigs as if they were the Queen of England. It ends up, the pigs play a huge role in the creation of Bath!

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Acorn ontop of The Circus, Bath. (Photo from https://flic.kr/p/2tnmi9)
The myth states that in the 9th Century BC there was a king who developed leprosy. He was banished and forced work as a pig farmer. He raised them, fed them, led them to safety. Eventually, the pigs caught the kings leprosy. He and the pigs were on a constant journey to find acorns, the pig’s favorite treat. On their search, the pigs started to roll in the mud next to a hot spring. Immediately the pigs were cured of their ailments. The king was shocked and quickly followed suite…rolling in the mud near the hot spring. The king was cured of his leprosy. He was so thankful for the magical hot spring that he decided to create a city around it.

The Romans found healing in these waters as well and around 50 AD they built the famous Roman Baths. They built the temple and dedicated it to their healing gods. Crowds flooded to the baths seeking healing and long lives. The people faded eventually traveling elsewhere in the 4th Century AD. The stone structures were turned into wooden huts until it was eventually abandoned.

The Saxons took over Bath in the 6th Century and it flourished once again. It continued to be a bustling city through the middle ages. People still went to the hot springs for healing. Visions of angels were said to have come to some who bathed in the springs. Cathedrals were built and all was well until plague hit. The waters still were of interest to those who heard of it’s healing properties.

In the 1700s Bath was a fashionable place to live for the wealthy. There was beautiful architecture and the Pump room was built which allowed easier access to the healing water of the baths. Although it was a fashionable city to live in, most of its occupants were poor. The 1800s took the city of Bath in a new direction. It boomed like never before. It became a large and important town. It’s importance quickly faded with industry growing faster outside of Bath. It returned to being a market town for tourists and shoppers. Bath was very unsanitary at this time. It caused sickness in the town.

The 1900s brought to Bath the new technologies such as electricity, trams and eventually buses. World War II came in like a storm and damaged over 1,500 buildings. It recovered however, museums were built, and to this day tourism thrives. How could it not? It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.

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Bath Abby Estblished in 1088 AD. Additions and renovations that make up present-day started in 1499
As I walked down the cobblestone streets taking in as many sites as I could, I stopped to take a picture of the Bath Abby Cathedral, I didn’t immediately notice the man with pigeons all over his arms and head. He called out to me, “Hey there! Would you like to try?” I laughed, shocked to see a man covered in birds and confused about what he was asking. He smiled at me encouragingly and said, “Just put your arms out!” I was in a daze, not understanding what putting my arms out would mean. I did as he said and in less than a second, a half a dozen pigeons flew on me. I couldn’t stop laughing, my smile brighter than the sun shining above me. My heart tingled with happiness. Here I stood in an ancient city, with marble buildings surrounding me, and The Pigeon Man smiling in front of me taking my picture. It felt like a dream.

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The bath water I drank for health. It was warm, salty, and made me gag…but I drank the entire glass for good measure!
Was it the bathwater I had just drunk with the hopes of a healthy future? Was it the magic of the acorns giving me this unbelievable feeling of happiness? Was it God looking down at me in front of his majestic cathedral in Bath Abby? I’m not sure what made me feel so light, but I can still feel my heart tingle with the memory.

As I write about that amazing day, I can’t help but do what I do best and connect it to my struggles. This amazing city has a historic and monumental past. The past full of ups and downs, victories and defeats, healing and illness. But what do we remember this city for? The healing of the bath water. Why is that? I think it is because we as humans always carry with us a hope for a better future.

Millions of people have stood in front of the ancient baths with hope bubbling up in their chests before taking the first step into the water. Hope. It is the most powerful emotion I have ever felt. It pulls me forward in my darkest of times and it happens to be the exact same emotion that founded the City of Bath. The joy I felt there represents the bright future ahead. There will be healing and illness on my way to that future, there will be victories and defeats before reaching that destination, but I will get there.

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My friend and I holding the pigeons. Photo credit to The Bird Man (using my iPhone!)

~ Stay Chipper ~ 


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