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Q&A with Chloe Meagan: Healer, Educator and Peace Keeper

Chloe Meagan is a survivor and inspires us each day as she works to de-stigmatize mental illness. We sat down (virtually, although we would have loved to sit down in person) with Chloe and discussed her thoughts on healing, grief and advocacy.

Chloe greets her audience with a warming smile and continues to prove that kindness can heal and mindfulness can create change.

We are dying to know a little bit more about you on a personal level. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Is there a 5-year plan in the works?

I grew up as a competitive gymnast who spent every free hour training. This taught me to push my body to the limit, to exceed every expectation put on me and to always continue striving for better; which are wonderful traits to have, until they become overbearing and take hold of your life. I began university at the young age of sixteen and did three years in school studying Psychology, which taught me a lot but caused me to burn out as I had decided to work and educate myself full time not realizing my limitations. I took a break, then joined the military where, once again, I forced myself beyond my capabilities and injured myself. I ended in a wheelchair due to a partially dislocated hip, torn hamstring and nerve damage in my right arm. I decided to go back to school, studying Respiratory Therapy. After a year and a half, I unfortunately fell ill again, except this time it ended up being debilitating. I lost everything; school decided that given I had missed two classes, I would not be allowed to continue on in my program. My friends felt as if I was too much to handle and decided to lead their own paths, although I do not blame them. My health declined quickly, bringing on a slew of issues like walking pneumonia, a fractured ankle and slowly, mental illness crept in. I became angry; angry at the world, angry at my city, angry that an abuser and stalker was given more validation than someone who developed severe agoraphobia due to their actions, angry that the medical system was allowing me to get sicker as the months progresses. It ended with me no longer feeling any other emotion but rage at every injustice.

It took almost a year, but I finally was able to say the right thing to gain access to a mental health day hospital, where I am finally in the process of healing! A month ago was when I started having the ability to recover, and since then, I have been diagnosed with PTSD, stemming from trauma that happened when I was young, and Generalized Anxiety disorder. I am learning to be compassionate with myself, to separate my experiences as to not be angry at the whole medical system or everyone in Ontario (although this one is proving difficult with the experiences I had had in this province), to practice mindfulness in my everyday life and to start enjoying activities without exceeding expectations. My job is to get better right now, which is full time employment and considers a lot of overtime from my part.

I am planning on returning to school in the fall to study public relations and then hopefully, graphic design. I have fallen in love with working online, especially with social media. Every day, I learn something new and I get to connect with a diverse group of people! It’s fascinating the power that the internet has to shape and mold our views of the world, and I want to provide content that is genuine, yet informative as to hopefully help as many people as possible.

My 5 year plan consists of moving back home. I love Halifax and miss it with my whole heart. The only time I can remember being truly happy was sitting on the boardwalk, watching the waves roll in, my inner turmoil’s insignificant when looking at the vast sea. My goal is to be happy, and to reconnect with myself. Making plans has led me to this point, a broken shattered version of who I was, and so now, I decide to move forward accepting of all opportunities and wonderful surprises that come my way.

You’re very active on social media and you’ve gained an impressive following due to your authenticity and realness. How do you promote advocacy through social media?

In the past few months, I have tried to make all of the content helpful, educational or uplifting (except a few vain selfies sprinkled in there). I want the people who see my pictures retain a message; I want to be open about my struggles as I personally believe that education is an amazing way to de-stigmatize mental illness and also brings a sense of community to those struggling. I tend to focus on mental health advocacy, although I have posted about LGBTQ + affairs a few times. Queer topics are definitely something I want to invest more time into, but given that I am currently living in a world surrounded by mental health awareness and healing, I am more prone on writing about my current struggles and what I am doing to overcome them.

Tell us a little about your advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ + community. What issues do you focus on most predominately? Which issues are underrepresented in the LGBTQ + community?

Becoming an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community has honestly been the most humbling yet terrifying experience yet! I have loved every minute of it and am extremely excited to continue on this journey! I understand that I am privileged and less marginalized than most, which makes me question myself on the topics I can broach without offending or coming from an ignorant place. Given that I have always dressed feminine, I have found that my voice was overpowered by others, that I was immediately labeled as bisexual which somehow seemed to lower my value in the queer community (side note: it doesn’t!) and people assumed that I had not experience any struggles thus I had nothing productive to add to conversations. I am trying incredibly hard to show that femme's have as much of a right to speak about queer topics as others as long as their experiences are valid and they are talking about personal obstacles or views.

I have worked with some amazing companies to bring awareness to issues such as Pride Shoes, All Out, La Cle (Refocus project for Angel Colon, a survivor of the Pulse tragedy in Orlando), We Positive and many more upcoming projects!

I definitely think trans and non-binary rights are something we should be focusing on, although that is not something I have personal experience with.

Our writers (and readers) discuss grief in depth. It’s viewed a little differently for everyone and many are still learning how to process grief. How do you process grief?

Acceptance is the key to my process. I have had many pass away as I was growing up , and my grief has left my crippled and lost at times. By accepting the loss, whether it is a death or losing someone from your life, the only thing you can do is move forward and commemorate them the best that you can. Every tattoo that graces my body is in memory of someone dear I lost, and taking the time to remember them and the wonderful times you spent together is the best way for me to process.

In this day in age, it seems easy to fall into bouts of sadness. We are constantly pushed and persuaded in many directions. What methods do you use or practice to overcome sadness?

Sadness has never been one of my primary emotions, I have always had anger or anxiety predominate other feelings. However, when I am feeling blue, you will often see a big change in my physical appearance. Whether this is by getting a new tattoo, changing my hair color (which I tend to do a lot), a change in style or piercings, it helps me reconnect with myself and externalize what I am feeling. Other than that, I love doing physical activity to increase my endorphins and also workout my frustrations. I try to find helpful and positive distractions, and if that does not work, I write.

Of course we’re going to ask the big question: how do you heal?

This is a difficult question as I am still learning the skills and tools necessary to rebuild myself and heal. I definitely think Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps in readjusting my thoughts and managing my emotions, but outside of therapy, I tend to express myself creatively. I dance to a song I strongly connect with in the moment and let my emotions flow through me. I write when I am angry, releasing my frustrations on paper. I am learning to practice mindfulness, accepting the emotions and pain I am currently going through. I think there isn't one magical formula that allows you to heal, but if you constantly strive to better yourself and your being, you can learn to be more at peace with yourself.