Stepping out of my comfort zone

Today my boyfriend had a day off, which is very unusual for a Saturday. We went for a walk this morning and then did a bit of shopping, went for dinner and then met up with his work friends. Let me first say, his friends are lovely and they always make me welcome. 

But I feel very anxious about being around lots of people, especially when I don’t know them very well. So we were going to a pub in central london on a Saturday evening, I knew it would be busy. 

Yesterday I said I might not go to the drinks in the evening. Today I decided I’d see how I felt and then decide. When we arrived at the drinks I said I would leave after about an hour. 

I actually stayed for over two hours. And I had a nice time. Yes I felt a bit anxious at first and I am bloody knackered from all the walking I’ve done today, but I enjoyed the evening and I’m glad I went. 

I guess the point of this post is to say I am trying to push my comfort zones. And it’s a good thing to do. I always put in my safety mechanisms, for example I took my car home before we went into london so that I could leave the drinks earlier than my boyfriend if I wanted to (I did and he’ll probably be out most of the night) and that helps with anxiety. I find if there’s no way out, that’s when I struggle. Like with the hike, I was more anxious because I knew that if I dropped out the whole group had to stop (minimum group numbers). It’s also important not to push yourself too hard (where is the line? You’ll have to judge that for yourself!) because sometimes you feel like you go backwards that way, but usually if you are taking small steps, a step out of your comfort zone is a step in the right direction. 

So go on, push your boundaries and do something that’s a bit difficult, you might surprise yourself! 

Love,

Ellie xx

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Pushing my comfort zone

Today my boyfriend had a day off, which is very unusual for a Saturday. We went for a walk this morning and then did a bit of shopping, went for dinner and then met up with his work friends. Let me first say, his friends are lovely and they always make me welcome. 

But I feel very anxious about being around lots of people, especially when I don’t know them very well. So we were going to a pub in central london on a Saturday evening, I knew it would be busy. 

Yesterday I said I might not go to the drinks in the evening. Today I decided I’d see how I felt and then decide. When we arrived at the drinks I said I would leave after about an hour. 

I actually stayed for over two hours. And I had a nice time. Yes I felt a bit anxious at first and I am bloody knackered from all the walking I’ve done today, but I enjoyed the evening and I’m glad I went. 

I guess the point of this post is to say I am trying to push my comfort zones. And it’s a good thing to do. I always put in my safety mechanisms, for example I took my car home before we went into london so that I could leave the drinks earlier than my boyfriend if I wanted to (I did and he’ll probably be out most of the night) and that helps with anxiety. I find if there’s no way out, that’s when I struggle. Like with the hike, I was more anxious because I knew that if I dropped out the whole group had to stop (minimum group numbers). It’s also important not to push yourself too hard (where is the line? You’ll have to judge that for yourself!) because sometimes you feel like you go backwards that way, but usually if you are taking small steps, a step out of your comfort zone is a step in the right direction. 

So go on, push your boundaries and do something that’s a bit difficult, you might surprise yourself! 

Love,

Ellie xx

Things that help: pampering self-care

I am trying to find as many things as possible that help. Things that help when I’m feeling low, things that help with the aching, things that just make me feel a bit better. This post is about pampering and self-care in a more physical sense. Would love to hear any more suggestions! 

Bubble baths are one of my favourites. I put in some bubble bath or a bath bomb (I love the selection at Lush!), run a nice hot bath, put on a relaxing playlist and sink into the bubbles. It’s a chance for “me time”, to relax and unwind, and as an added bonus, it often helps with the aching. If there’s no time for a bath, a hot shower can also help lift my mood and reduce the aching, especially if I have a deliciously scented shower gel! 

Painting nails. This sounds really strange but if my nails are painted I have no urge whatsoever to bite them. If they aren’t painted and I start getting anxious, I get the urge to bite them. Then I get annoyed with myself, then I get more anxious and bite them more, and so it goes on. The other thing is, when my nails are painted a bright colour it cheers me up when I see them. And that’s why when I did the dreaded hike, I painted my nails green with orange dots!

Face masks – another way to “pamper”. I have one that goes on and feels very cool on the skin and then just sinks in. This is great when I feel run down and my skin goes dry. The ones that set (clay/mud masks) are great because you can feel them setting which keeps you in the present moment. Also you are guaranteed a laugh if you look in the mirror while it’s on! 

Lipstick – never underestimate the power of a good lipstick. Despite not being a very “girly girl”, I own an embarrassing number of lipsticks. There is something about lipstick that gives me confidence. I have a lipstick for every occasion – nude lipsticks for days when I just want a little extra something, bright lipsticks which scream confidence (even if i don’t actually feel confident, the lipstick helps!) and everything inbetween. I think a bit of colour helps brighten up my face, especially on days I feel very tired. I joked with a colleague once that if I was wearing a bright lipstick, it meant it was a tired day, and that’s probably true! 

Spa days. This one I have yet to try, but it makes sense that a relaxing spa day would boost my mood, reduce stress etc. I am hoping to do a spa day with some friends sometime in the future, so I guess I’ll write a post about that when it happens. 

Wearing pyjamas and dressing gown. I will confess that I spend most of my time at home in my pjymamas and dressing gown, and if not pyjamas then dressing gown over clothes. I have one of those super soft fluffy dressing gowns and they are the best thing to comfort me. It is so comfortable and comforting to be wrapped up in snuggly pyjamas and a dressing gown, one of the few things I like about the weather getting colder is that I can get the fluffy pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown out without anyone thinking I’m strange! 

Writing this has put me in the mood for a bath and pyjamas now!

Love,

Ellie xx

Things that help: bullet journal 

I have decided to write a few posts on things that help (me) to manage my mental health. I’m not saying they will help everyone/anyone else, but they help me and personally I find things that help one person often help at least some others! So I’m going to kick off this “things that help” series with… bullet journals! 


A friend told me about bullet  journaling back in January, I started mine in March. For a few months I stuck to it religiously, and it really helped. To be honest I think what actually helped was the fact that I put aside about half an hour each and every evening to write in it, make it look all pretty and generally spend time on something just for me. 

So what is a bullet journal? At its simplest it is a mixture between a to-do list, a planner and a diary. In that sense, it is useful to get yourself organised. But the main benefit to me is the therapeutic side of it. I have a lot of pages relating to wellbeing – a list of self care ideas, I tracked my mindfulness (another post on this to come!), my moods (although I lost track of this and haven’t filled it in since may… oops!), my migraines, my steps per day, and a bunch of other stuff. Then I have pages on trips I want to make, a bucket list (which I added recently), gratitude pages, my 100 happy days and lots more.

Self care ideas

Meditation tracker


The coolest thing about it is that you can do whatever you want with it. I have tried lots of different styles of weekly or monthly planner pages. I am not very good at using it as a planner I have discovered, but I do use it to set goals each month and then do a review at the end of the month. My bullet journal is very much for my mental health rather than organising my life (although I do use it for to do lists sometimes), but it can be either or both or something completely different. And what is great is that if I don’t use it for a month, it doesn’t matter – no wasted pages, I can just start up again when I feel the urge. It takes away the guilt for me, in a normal planner if I saw an empty month I would probably just avoid it for the rest of the year!

Monthly review and goals pages


My bullet journal is in a dot grid notebook which makes drawing lines and layouts super easy. I definitely like this style of notebook and will get a dot grid one again when I start a new one. Mine is A5 but I am considering A6 next time, maybe then I would take it out with me more and it would be more useful in organising my life! 
Here is a link to the orignal bullet journal for more info – http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/

And here’s a link to a post about using bullet journaling for mental health – https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelwmiller/mental-health-bullet-journal?utm_term=.vtxWOdxo0#.swoL62y4A

 Bullet journals are a big craze right now so if you google, search YouTube or Pinterest loads of stuff will come up! People get really creative with them and some are really beautiful, some are more functional, and lots are somewhere in the middle. I enjoy making mine pretty but I’m not very artistic so mine is pretty in simple ways – I use washi tape (which is basically like masking tape with pretty patterns on – AMAZING for any stationary addict) and different coloured pens, and it makes me smile flicking back through and remembering things. 

Each month I pick some stuff to track such as journaling, reading, mindfulness, exercise etc and use a tracker. I’ve just set up my September goals and tracker pages – and yes, there are elephants! 🐘

September goals (so far)

Tracker for September


I hope this is useful/interesting! I may do more posts on bullet journals in the future. If there’s anything you’d like to know about my bullet journaling, let me know in the comments 😊

Love,

Ellie xx

P.s a thought to leave you with –

I won

Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Since then I have been sky diving and completed a 4 day walking expedition. Take that chronic pain and fatigue! 

I feel so proud that I finished my hike. It was bloody hard and painkillers and sugar were my friends, but I did it. I was incredibly lucky with the weather (hello burnt arms!) and that I had a lovely team I was walking with, but we did it. The first morning of the first day I wasn’t sure if I would get to the end, but I was determined and continued. By the end of day 4 I was in agony and all I could manage was putting one foot in front of the other (had to leave the map reading to the others) but WE DID IT!

I’m completely shattered now though. Clever me thought it would be a good idea to go straight back to work afterwards, it was not. Still, only one more day at work until the weekend and my best friend is coming to stay!! 

I want to remember this when the pain and fatigue takes over and I feel like I can’t do anything. I will not let this control my life, I will not let it win. I will not let a diagnosis stop me from doing the things I want to do*. So for this week I can say, I won. 

Will write again soon, got a load of posts in draft but this week I’m too sleepy!

Love,

Ellie xx

*although I need to learn to manage my time and ability to stop and rest better, but I’ll get there in time. 

Therapy 

I had a therapy session yesterday, the first one for about 4 weeks because I was away and then she was away. Since I last saw her, a lot has happened – I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I went sky diving, my anxiety has got worse, my depression has got worse etc etc. 

It was good to talk. It was good to be completely honest and open instead of wondering and worrying about how she would react, what she would think of me. I’m glad and I know I’m lucky that I have reached this feeling of trust with my therapist. I don’t filter my words and thoughts in that room. There’s no expectation. I told her I’m feeling rubbish. I feel low, lonely, angry, disappointed, hopeless…. all of this negativity. And she doesn’t tell me I should be grateful for what I have or tell me it’s going to be ok. She sits with me in the shit and she’s just there, listening, understanding. 

After last nights session, I had the best sleep I’ve had in probably about a month (coincidence, I think not!) I felt a sense of relief, an ability to breathe properly when I left. I needed to get things out. 

I cried and it was hard. And I named difficult things which I didn’t used to be able to do. I used to clam up and not be able to talk when things were hard, but now I can say them even if it’s through tears. 

Without a doubt I know therapy has helped me massively, and it still is. I can see that I have made a lot of progress, and even though my mood has done a nosedive since May and is showing no signs of improving, it helps to talk about it, and I’m not in the dark place I once was. 

I am currently en route to the middle of nowhere for my hike, so won’t be writing for a few days. When I get back I’m going to write a series of blog posts on things that help. (One of them will be on bullet journals, I imagine I’ll write one on therapy at some point.) I’ve already started writing the posts so I’m excited to share my experiences with you, and hoping maybe some of the ideas will help others too. 

Love,

Ellie xx

A positive quote 

I decided I needed a bit of positivity in my life before bed, so here’s a quote I like. This is a page of my bullet journal, which I will be writing a post about very soon! 
This quote always sticks in my mind, thanks J K Rowling! 

Love,

Ellie xx

A bit of a moan 

Feeling a bit sorry for myself today. Not only am I achy and tired as hell, but I have ANOTHER cold. The last one I had lasted nearly 4 weeks and that was less than 2 weeks ago that it finally went… my immune system is rubbish and I get every illness going, very frustrating! I really can’t afford to be ill this week as I am off on a 4 day hike on Friday! (Something else I am worried about given the tiredness and achiness! But it has been planned for ages so I can’t let people down) 

I am feeling pretty run down and it’s only Monday. Woke up this morning with a sore throat, cough and a cold… it all appeared in the night! Damn it immune system, you’re meant to stay awake! 

It’s not yet 9pm and since I finished work I did have a nap, but I’m off to bed now. Hoping to sleep it off! Cue the lemsip! 

Hopefully I will be back with a more positive post sometime soon, but today I just wanted a bit of a moan. 

Love,

Ellie xx

My hospital appointment 

After ages of trying to convince the GP there is something wrong, a couple of months waiting for a triage appointment and then months of waiting to see the specialist, I finally had my hospital appointment on Tuesday. 

I was anxious as hell. Didn’t sleep well the night before. I was a bundle of nerves. I was wondering what they would say. Would they give me the diagnosis I was expecting and dreading? Would they say oh there’s this test we haven’t done yet, followed by more waiting? Would they say “pull yourself together woman, there’s nothing wrong!”? (Ok I never thought they would say it like that but you know what I mean!) or would it be another red herring like the triage appointment, where I thought it was with the specialist and it turned out to be triage?

I went to the appointment and the doctor was actually very nice. He asked me a whole load of questions, I answered them. Some of them I had answered before at the triage appointment, some were new. Anyway, he listened and wrote down notes. Then he did a physical examination including some prodding which actually really hurt! And then he started talking about treatments, he said they have a CBT group for people with fibromyalgia. I stopped him there and said “so is that what you think it is?” Because he hadn’t said so at that point. 

He said yes, that’s what the diagnosis is. We can call it chronic fatigue syndrome or we can call it fibromyalgia but the treatments are the same for both and he is not too bothered about the diagnosis, more about the individual and the treatment. That was kind of nice to hear and it stopped me from overthinking the diagnosis at the time… I have fibromyalgia. 

So the next thing is to see the CBT therapist that specialises in chronic pain/fatigue conditions and see the physio for an exercise plan. He did not think a half marathon was a good idea, damn – I’m meant to be doing one in spring! 

In one way it was a relief. I have suspected for some time that I might have fibromyalgia but now I have a diagnosis. I am sad that he couldn’t say “oo actually you’re deficient in vitamin X, take this and all your symptoms will go away”, but that was never going to happen. Now I know that there’s a name for what I am experiencing and it is a real condition, this is not just me, and it’s not just in my head. That validates me a little. 

And there’s the other side.. being diagnosed with a condition that I know there is currently no cure for. A chronic health condition which may or may not get worse over time. I need to be careful not to use it as an excuse not to do things, and also be aware of my limits… a fine balance. 

Anyway I am off to sleep now. I’m sure I’ll write on this topic again pretty soon, but wanted to write an update and get it all out of my head. 

Love,

Ellie xxx

Feeling alive! 

I haven’t written in a little while. I was in two minds about which post to publish today. It has been an interesting couple of days. I have decided to go with the shorter and more positive post today so I have more time to get the other one how I want it. 

So today I jumped out of a plane! It was my first sky dive. I was worried about getting panicky once we were in the plane or not being able to do it but I did it and it was amazing. It’s hard to put into words the feeling, but I really felt alive and that was a great feeling! I felt real and alive and connected and in awe of the beautiful views and the fact that I was thousands of feet up in the air essentially dangling from a parachute. It was so cool, and the nice thing is that S (my boyfriend) skydived too, he went just before me but we were in the same plane. It was a great experience to share, and we both decided a hot drink was needed afterwards from all the adrenaline!

Obviously it was a tandem jump so the instructor did everything, so really there was no jumping involved. I just got told to adopt a specific position (head back, hands on the shoulder straps, feet tucked behind) and suddenly, woosh, we are in free fall!

It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I decided to do it, definitely one to tick off my bucket list! I feel proud that I did it and I didn’t let anxiety stop me! 

After today it’s made me realise there are loads of things like that that I would love to do one day, so tomorrow (I have booked another day off work to relax – proud of myself!) I am going to write a bucket list 😊

Have you ever skydived? What’s on your bucket list? I might share mine once I’ve written it!

Love,

Ellie xx