Memories in a jar

At the beginning of the year, I wrote that I was going to write a happy memory each day and put them all in a jar.

If I am being honest, I did not really think I would stick to it, but I have. I have barely missed a day, and have even taken squares of paper when I have been away from home so I can still write down a memory each day.

Sometimes it’s bloody hard to find something. Sometimes it’s really easy. There have been good days and bad days.

I filled up my first jar. Managed to cram in memories from January until June. I’ve bought another jar the same for the second half of the year. One jar is full of memories, another is empty – full of possibilities.

Love,

Ellie xx

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Reading challenge: the halfway mark

I set myself the challenge to read 50 books this year. It’s a lot, but I read a lot so thought it would be doable! I am currently reading my 28th book of the year – I am just over half way through my reading challenge, and just over half way through the year… right on target!

I am taking book recommendations and trying to read things which I might not naturally pick up. I joined an online book club, so generally try to read the books they set, and then every time I hear a book recommendation I write it down, add it to my list of ‘to read’

I have a page in my bullet journal where I write down the book title and author, which month I read it in, and a star rating out of 5. I don’t think I’m a great reviewer though, as the vast majority have received 4 stars! (A few have 3 or less, and so far only 2 have got my 5 star rating!)

I wanted to make a list of some of my favourite books so far this year, and also to ask for any recommendations!

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My favourites so far (which I gave a 5 star review) are:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Obviously I’m not going to give any plot spoilers, but this was a beautifully written book with good pace. I could not stop myself reading it. I haven’t seen the film, so I didn’t know the story.

The way she builds the characters is incredible, leading you to form judgements and then throwing in a curveball that changes your mind here and there through the book.

I am looking forward to reading more of Paula Hawkins’ writing, she brought out a book called Into the Water in 2017. It’s going on my list!

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I am gutted that this is Gail Honeyman’s debut book because I am desperate to read more of her writing. It really draws you in, I laughed and I cried and felt all the feels.

I have recommended this book so many times already (only read it in May), and started recommending it when I was only half way through, which to me is the sign of a pretty exceptional book.

When asked what the book is about, it’s hard to explain – it’s just about a woman and her life, but it is written so well, the character feels so real and it’s all so vivid. It’s the kind of book where you are completely immersed in the story, it becomes real, and then suddenly you come back to reality and realise you are sat on the tube and missed your stop!

There is a particular plot twist which I got to one night, I was almost falling asleep before I read it… AND THEN SUDDENLY I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO AWAKE IN MY LIFE! At this point I decided I would have to finish the book, as there was no way I’d be getting back to sleep any time soon.

* * * * * * * *

I have been reading a few mental health/wellbeing related books too this year, as I have an interest both personally and professionally in mental health. I like to read them so I can recommend books to my clients that I have actually read rather than just off reviews!

I am always looking for new suggestions of books to add to my list, so please let me know what you’ve been reading and can recommend!

Love,

Ellie xx

Fatigue 1, Ellie 0

Can’t concentrate at work today. I feel tired and anxious. Pain is bad too so I came in late.

I don’t know what has brought this on. I feel the need to eat a load of crap. Last night I ate a load of chocolate. Then I always feel sick and hate myself more. I don’t know why I do it.

I have lots of ideas for blog posts but for some reason I’m struggling to get them written. I have nearly finished a post about my book challenge so far, as we have just passed the half way point of 2018! Actually, I have lots of ideas in general and things I need to get done, but I’m finding myself procrastinating instead.

The fatigue is hard today. My body feels heavy, tired and achy. I just want to crawl into bed. Only 3 hours left at work then I can go home to pyjamas, dinner and a pre-football nap!

Love,

Ellie

Enjoying nature

I’m away in Germany for a few days, and I’m having a really nice relaxed time catching up with friends.

The weather is absolutely beautiful, and so I’ve spent most of the weekend outside. Apparently here, swimming in lakes is a big thing, and we went to a lake yesterday, and another one today, and lay out in the sun reading and then went for a swim.

It was bliss. (Once I got over the initial feeling of cold water!!) I am not a strong swimmer, so I didn’t go very far, but it was really nice and refreshing.

Picture of a beautiful lake and a bright blue sky

Nature at its finest – sehr schön

I’ve heard that swimming in cold water is meant to be good for anxiety. I can believe that as I felt very calm – It felt so nice, like a weight had been lifted. I also felt like it helped me relax my body, so the achy-ness calmed down. I was in the moment, and enjoyed the moment. For that short time I wasn’t worrying about anything, I was just enjoying the feeling of being in water, and the sun’s warmth.

I know there’s a lake quite near me at home where you can go swimming, so maybe I’ll give it a go…

Last weekend I was camping with scouts, and this weekend I’ve been outside a lot too. It’s reminded me how beautiful nature is and that it gives me a chance to relax and breathe some fresh air. The lovely weather definitely helps though – it makes nature sparkle! It makes me happy, and anything which makes me happy is good in my book, especially if it’s actually healthy!!

So that’s my new goal for the rest of this year – go outside more. Go to the countryside. Go to the park. Enjoy nature and allow myself time to really relax, because I never really stop, but maybe I should sometimes.

I hope you can enjoy nature too!

Love,

Ellie xx

When you least expect it

I was on training today at work. It was based on Compassion Focused Therapy, and I found it really interesting. I can really identify with the model and I want to learn more about it.

I knew that a lot of it resonates with me, but I didn’t expect what happened. At work I have my shit together (most of the time anyway), and I don’t like to bring my issues to work, particularly in front of a group of colleagues.

We were doing a visualisation about the compassionate other. We had to imagine the “ideal” compassionate other – the characteristics they would have, it could be a real person we know or imagined. Obviously this threw up some stuff for me. The description of strong, caring and committed reminded me of S, of what S used to be to me.

He was my compassionate other, he made up for my lack of self-compassion, and obviously I don’t have him anymore. At one point I realised I had tears streaming down my face. I was getting panicky, I half ran out of the room, to the toilets. By that point I was hyperventilating, full panic attack and I couldn’t stop crying.

I kept telling myself I need to stop because I’m at work. I managed to slow my breathing eventually. Tried to get the tears under control. But the voice in my head, the self-critic, was so loud. It spiralled:

You’re pathetic

You are a failure. You can’t even get through training at work, how can you do your job?

You’re a hypocrite. You want to help others but you’re a mess yourself

You are alone and always will be.

You messed up your chance at happiness

You don’t deserve to be happy, you don’t deserve to be loved

No one will ever fill that space.

How can you be a therapist when you can’t even manage your own shit? You should give up.

Others must think you are incompetent, broken, a mess.

I hate you

You are a failure. You are not good enough. You are unlovable.

It was pretty intense. Some of my colleagues came to see if I was ok, I felt very embarrassed. I am absolutely mortified that this happened at work.

My brain took me straight to some difficult places. I thought about hurting myself. My self-talk was so negative, so critical, so angry – I know I would never speak to anyone else like that. It made me doubt myself in so many ways – professionally, as a person, as a friend, the list goes on.

I don’t know if I’ve written about this on my blog, but in September I am due to start training as a CBT therapist. Today I genuinely considered emailing them and saying i won’t be taking my place on the course. I’m terrified. If a 2 day introduction to compassion focused therapy training can do this to me, how will I cope with training as a therapist? Maybe I can’t do it, maybe I’m not doing as well as i thought I was.

I was not very self-compassionate today, which was ironic given the topic of the training.

I didn’t expect a response like that at all. I knew it might press a few buttons, but this was a physical response. I had no control of my tears and no control of my breathing. I got pins and needles in my hands and felt dizzy. It had been several months since my last panic attack, and I had almost forgotten how horrible they are.

This was nicely followed up with a migraine this evening. I feel exhausted mentally and physically. I’m trying to be kind to myself now… I am having a quiet evening, reading my book, had a sleep to try to get rid of the migraine. I have texted my therapist to tell her what happened, I want to talk about it in our next session: I clearly have issues around compassion, around attachments and around S (duh!!) which need to be dealt with.

Love,

Ellie xx

Spontaneous trip

Today I booked a last minute trip to Germany next week, I’m going to visit the town where I spent my year abroad!

I’m really excited, it will be nice to see people again and to see the place, although my german definitely leaves a lot to be desired these days!

I can already feel the anxiety setting in slightly, but I’m also excited, which is a good feeling. It’s nice to have things to look forward to.

There’s a part of my brain that is saying what the hell are you doing?! That part of my brain is telling me I need to stop and rest. I know that is true, but I have been invited to a specific event that weekend in Germany, so I’ve decided to ignore that part of my brain on this occasion. But I will definitely schedule in some rest time sometime soon… I just keep making too many plans!

I find it really hard to balance things because I know overdoing it makes my pain and fatigue worse, but I am determined not to let my conditions run my life. A difficult balance!

Love,

Ellie xx

Good night

Heavy limbs and a lingering achy feeling,

Where every movement feels like climbing a mountain,

Concentration is nowhere to be seen,

The brain is out of the office and will respond to requests on its return.

The prospect of snuggling into bed,

In a room of darkness

With hours of rest ahead

Is a blissful idea.

Good night!

Brain dump

Trigger warning – suicidal thoughts.

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Intense thoughts, intense pain. It’s like I’m back in the middle of it all again.

I feel so angry, so sad, so desperately low. I know I just need to ride these feelings out, but in this moment I hate myself, I hate my life, I want to die.

I don’t know why I feel so awful this evening, but I do.

I miss S so desperately, and yet feel so angry with him. So betrayed, so hurt. Nothing has happened to bring this on but these feelings are like a tidal wave and I feel like I’m drowning in them.

I don’t know if it’s anything to do with today’s date, or if it’s because I’m hormonal, or if it’s completely random.

Today marks 10 years since my relationship with The Ex started. 10 years since it all started going (more) downhill.

Why am I such a mess? I hate it all and I feel so lonely. I don’t want to be on my own. I just want to be loved. That’s all I want in the world. I never thought I’d be 25 years old, locking myself in the bathroom, crying my eyes out and trying to stay in control because the urges to hurt myself are so strong.

I need to calm down. I need to let this pass. I know it will. I know the feelings will become less intense and I’ll feel more rational again. I know I’ll look back and question how I could be so silly, overreacting so much. But right now I’m in the middle of it.

This too shall pass.

That’s what I’m trying to focus on right now.

This is really just a stream of consciousness. I think it helps sometimes to let it out, all the stuff I can’t really say to anyone.

Just breathe and let it pass.

Boom and bust again

It feels like I’m losing control of things again. Migraines have been out of control again, pain has been worse and I’m completely knackered.

This boom-bust thing keeps happening and I never realise until I’m in it. Now I have to ride it out. Try and get back on top of things.

Every time I have a wobble, it’s hard to get back up again. I am going to have an early night and get my routines back on track.

I know I can do this, I know I can be ok. It’s like I tell my clients, recovery is not linear. It goes up and down but I’m not back at the beginning.

I need to take some time to look after myself and get back on track, if only I could find the time…

Love

Ellie xx

Pain

I miss S so much it really hurts. He is all loved up with someone else, they are moving in together shortly. I’ve finally deleted him off social media, every time I clicked his profile was emotional self-harm; it always made me feel worse. So now the temptation has been taken away, I can’t see it anymore even if I wanted to. (And if I’m completely honest I already tried!)

I know that’s a good thing to take that temptation away. I know that in general I’m doing pretty well. But somehow that doesn’t change the pain and the ache of losing him, missing him.

I feel like after 6 months I shouldn’t still feel like this. I know there’s no time limits to put on grief, I know that’s not how it works. But it feels like I should be ok by now, I should be moving forward.

I hate myself for missing him. I hate myself for not being the person he loves anymore. I can’t help but feel very lost, very lonely. I don’t want to be on my own but I can’t imagine feeling safe again, being able to trust someone. I thought after the ex, and all of that pain, I had found someone that was good for me, but then S left me too and now I’ve realised nothing at all in life is certain.

I know I’m upset about them moving in together and that’s what has brought up all this pain again. I want it to go away, I want to be ok. I want to be strong and happy and confident, but tonight I am in pain. I feel like a lost child and everything feels too much.

My birthday has brought up feelings too – thoughts of where I “should” be in my life at this age, thoughts of where I thought I would be but I’m nowhere near. My birthday has been difficult for years, it acts as a marker of another year that I’m still struggling. This year it marks 6 months since me and S split up, and a reminder that the years keep going by and I’m still not ok.

All I really want in life is to be loved. I need to learn to love myself first. I know I’m up and down, I know some days are harder than others but I just wish things would be easier. I don’t have the energy for this right now.

I’ve just typed out my feelings because I needed to let them out. I’m ok, or I will be, but it all just hurts too much today. I think an early night is in order.

Love,

Ellie xx