Fighting Fibromyalgia – An interview with Chloe Metzger

chloe metzger

We had a chat with Chloe Metzger, Freelance Copywriter, Social Media Specialist, and Blogger.

I haven’t always known what I wanted to do as a career. I changed my mind a lot of times. I went to university to do English because I enjoyed it and that was it. While I was there I tried teaching, then I had my sights set on working towards a Ph.D. eventually to become a lecturer. In the end, I was burnt out from studying and recovering from a spinal injury. I’d been working with the university marketing department and doing a social media internship in my final year so I thought marketing was where I should be. I didn’t realise that copywriting itself was a job outside of big cities! 

I’d had a few marketing jobs since graduating from Kingston University and I wasn’t happy nor was it helping my health. In March 2018 I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, so I knew this was long term. I was pushing myself to the limit and made myself pretty ill. When the job I was in ceased to exist I couldn’t find anything else that meant I could have the balance I was learning about to manage my condition. I gave myself 2 months (all the money I had to cover rent and bills) and said I’d give this freelance thing a go…that was just under 2 and a half years ago! 

Since then I’ve worked as a freelance copywriter and social media specialist for my own business, Ladybird Social. I’ve worked for agencies, international brands, startups – the variety keeps life interesting. The best thing about my job is that I’m learning all the time. Researching, writing, and talking to people in various industries! 

One of my inspirations is Lady Gaga, I only realised I might have Fibromyalgia after watching her documentary Five Foot Two (we’re also the same height). My personal inspirations include my Mum, I grew up with a woman in front of me who was strong as hell and just kept going – she’s also loved by all of my friends who invite her on nights out! 

Going it alone

My advice to women looking to take the plunge and go it alone? Shoot your shot. I read somewhere as a teenager that women were much less likely to apply for jobs unless they ticked every skill on the list whereas men were more likely to just go for it. I wanted to have that mentality and so far so good (the worst they can say is no!).

Also, find a way to write if you want to break into the industry. Start a blog, write pieces for websites – experience doesn’t have to mean employed experience!

Some of the challenges of working for myself include making sure I’m prepared for quiet times and constantly pitching for work. It can be very up and down without a regular income but you learn how to make it work. 

The arrival of COVID has been interesting for my business journey. In the beginning, I lost most of my work and it was really hard. 2020, in general, was a tough one for a lot of reasons and it hit my confidence pretty hard. That said, I was more determined than ever to make it work because I really enjoy what I do and I can have a life and a job at the same time!  

Women in the Industry

I think they are there but they’re much less visible. I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some incredible women in the last few years but growing up I didn’t see any of that. We need to start by making these kinds of relationships in educational settings and showing young people what they can be and the support they can receive. 

When I was working in a traditional office setting I definitely felt as though I needed to prove myself more than my male counterparts. I was often the youngest and was once sent out to make tea in my own meeting, even though I was the one with the data and the one presenting! 

It’s definitely been a different experience freelancing, I feel like my work speaks for itself. I’m also much more confident – but I think that’s more an experience thing. 

Fibromyalgia Awareness

There has been a shift, I’ve seen a lot more conversations about the condition but it could be better! Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and extreme fatigue – there are lots that doctors still don’t understand about the condition but there are 200 listed symptoms and, usually, no two people with it are the same. 

It’s had a big impact on my day to day life because, most days, I wake up not knowing how I’m going to feel. Flare-ups, where symptoms are really bad can last days, weeks, or at worst months. My worst pain is in my back but I also have trouble with most of my other joints. Other issues include digestion, migraines, a foggy brain, and a lack of restorative sleep. I also have to balance my day with my energy levels which can drop pretty quickly. 

“Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and extreme fatigue.”

It’s because of this working from home became essential, before when I was commuting there were days I was so ill that I would use my lunch break for a nap in my car just to get through the afternoon and be ok to drive at the end of the day. Now I can structure my days better, wear comfortable clothes and generally look after myself better. 

I work really hard because I love what I do, but Fibro doesn’t always care about that. Meaning I need to take care of myself or I risk not only feeling awful but also not being able to do my job. When I have to travel to see clients for example (usually to London) I’ll try and organise it so I don’t have to go in rush hour, I’ll take my walking stick and my ‘please offer me a seat badge’ (I do get some odd looks). I’ll also break up my day where possible so I have some time between to recharge and give it my all. 

What does the future hold?

I wish I knew! I’m hopeful that we’ll see a continuation of flexible working and remote working which will give more opportunities to those who may not have had them in the past due to no fault of their own. 

I’m also watching to see how the change in the way we work impacts people like me who have a disability and how (hopefully) they’ll be less overlooked! 

To connect with Chloe you can find her social media handles below!

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-metzger/ 

Twitter: @chloemetzger 

Website: www.ladybirdsocial.com 

Blog: www.chloemetzger.com 

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