Progress

Progress is in the small things;

It’s getting through a whole CBT session without crying,

Going through a day without thoughts of self harm,

It’s feeling happy, even for a short while,

Remembering what it is like to feel proud of myself,

When the smile is real and there is hope for the future,

Making plans which I genuinely look forward to,

Little by little, step by step:

That’s progress.

Love,

Ellie xx

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Identity

Today I listened to a podcast on the topic of identity (Estée Lalonde The Heart of it, it you’re wondering!) and it got me thinking. Who am I? Who is Ellie? How do I define myself?

Identity is something I have always struggled with I think. My lack of confidence means I always focused on who I am to other people… I am a daughter, a sister etc. For the vast majority of the time since I was 15, being a girlfriend was a major part of my identity.

When I was with The Ex, I became more like he wanted me to be. I started using slang language which was not my style, I wore what he liked me to wear, I rejected scouting, my school and felt very separate from my family. But none of that was really me. It was me trying to be the Ellie he wanted. Of course, being so controlling and manipulating, I didn’t realise that at the time at all, I felt like I was being myself. But there was the cognitive dissonance, where I was doing things I knew I didn’t agree with and trying to pretend that was me.

Fast forward to the age of 18, The Ex left me. I was in a state, to put it mildly. I didn’t know who I was anymore without him. He had made me feel distanced from my friends and family, my hobbies were gone, I had no clue.

I started to try and find myself, but I think I was in the mind of a 15 year old, because I never got to do that exploration at that age.

Then there was S. Things were so different, he seemed to like me for who I was, it was so strange not to be put down all the time. But now that S has left me too, I am starting to see that the me I was when I was with S wasn’t me either. I am like a chameleon, my need to please others means that I will strive to be whoever I think they want me to be.

The problem is, I’m on my own now and I feel so lost. I’m not a girlfriend anymore. I don’t know my identity but I want to find it.

I am going to try and work out who I am, for myself instead of for anyone else. I think it’s going to be a long journey but I am actually sick of my identity not being real, of being so scared of being myself that I forget who I really am.

Of course, my illnesses come into my identity, but they are not my identity. For too long they have been. I’m like this because of my anxiety, or I can’t do that because of my fatigue. No. I have to accept that my collection of illnesses are part of me, but I am more than just my illnesses.

I am fed up of moving around and feeling sorry for myself. Yes, S left, and yes it still hurts every single day, but being sad and going over and over all the what ifs isn’t actually going to help me. Moving forward and focusing on my future will.

Wow, that was not quite what I intended when I sat down to write this post! I think I’ll be writing more about identity as I go through my journey. I’d love to hear about your experience with working out who you really are!

Love,

Ellie

Feeling stuck

Down. Low. Depressed. Sad. Feeling like shit. Whatever you want to call it, I’m there.

I don’t exactly know why but I’m feeling rough (more than usual.) The idea of getting up and doing another week of work tomorrow makes me weary. The idea of eating anything makes me feel sick. I can’t stop bloody crying, I am a mess.

I hate posting negative things with no purpose, but I thought it might help to let it out. I’m trying to look after myself and do things that help, but right now nothing is helping. The only thing I can think of is speaking to S, and that’s not a possibility anymore.

I just don’t have the energy to be ok anymore. I’m fed up, I’m so tired. I want to feel ok and I don’t know how. I know it comes in waves, I know it will pass eventually, but I also know that overall things are no better than they were last year, 2 years ago, even 5 years ago, and that depresses me.

I know I have a lot of positives in my life but right now I feel incredibly lonely. I still miss S every single day, I still can’t imagine finding someone who understands me the way he did. I don’t like being on my own.

I know I need to learn to be ok by myself. I know that this is my chance to figure out who I really am and all that jazz, but I don’t care. I would give anything to go back, even though things weren’t perfect between us.

Sorry for my negative ranting. I just needed to let it out somehow.

Love,

Ellie xx

Again

I wrote a poem, haven’t written anything in ages. I want to get back into writing. Here goes…!

*trigger warning: it’s about an abusive relationship*

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I said the wrong thing

I’m stupid, I’m sorry

Shouting

Flying through the air in slow motion

Using my hands as brakes on the concrete

Crying

My new coat is broken

A lady enquiries what happened

“I’m fine” said with a smile

“Just clumsy, I tripped”

She leaves convinced enough

Pathetic. I’m pathetic

Dry the tears

Wash the grit out of my bleeding hands

Plaster a smile on my face

Brush down my clothes

Go home, don’t mention it

Worrying the coat will give me away

Mum sees, mum asks

“I’m so clumsy” I say again

Go upstairs, shut the door to my room

A sigh of relief

They’re all convinced, again.

CBT – core beliefs

I mentioned a while ago that I was going to be having CBT as treatment for my chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia, and as I am now half way through the treatment, I thought I’d give a bit of an update on it.

At the beginning, we did a pie chart of my problems. Highly featuring were depression and fatigue, and others were migraines, pain and anxiety. It was interesting to get a view of how much each issue was affecting me, and how they all link together.

We have been looking at my core beliefs and rules for living, and have identified my negative core beliefs – “I am not good enough”, “I am unlovable”, and as a result, one of my rules for living is “if I please everyone, it means I am good enough and people will like me”

But the thing is, I can’t please everyone. It’s not physically possible. I know that this is a deep rooted thing, it was probably already there when I met the ex all those years ago. I always had the need to please my parents, hence my preoccupation with getting a first in my degree!

During my relationship with the ex, that rule kept me safe. I knew that not keeping him happy would have consequences so it was important to do so. But then I was with S, and I had the overwhelming need to please him, it made me anxious and it didn’t work. It just ended up with him frustrated that I couldn’t make decisions, and me exhausted from trying to guess what would please him. That rule is not useful to me anymore, now it’s unhelpful and keeps me anxious and stuck.

Being able to identify this kind of thing is really important. I think the CBT has been useful so far, but there’s still a long way to go and only 4 more sessions to do it in.

I plan to write more posts about different aspects of my CBT as I go along. For today, I’m going to get an early night as therapy can be quite tiring. Every time I walk into the room suddenly I can’t stop crying which is exhausting!

Love,

Ellie xx