Stuff from my head

S came to Germany and it was nice. We talked a lot about everything and he said he does want to be there for me. He said sometimes it’s too much for him to deal with all my problems as well as his. That’s true, I haven’t been fair, and I’m glad he was honest about this.

elephant journal

So many elephants!

I’ve decided to start writing a journal again. It’s good to let my feelings out and that way maybe S won’t have to deal with everything. I searched for the right book to use as a journal, and then I remembered I have one with lots of elephants on, perfect. I never wanted to write in it before because I didn’t know what to write. I didn’t want to ruin it. But journals are for writing in, so I’m going to write in it. And maybe it will help. I know it was helpful in the past for me to write stuff down, I just got lazy and started missing days, and then eventually I never wrote anymore.

It’s important to write without boundaries, if I censor myself there’s no point. No one else is going to read it anyway. I need to write honestly, and I need to figure things out. I have a long way to go before full recovery and I have decided I am going to ask for a re-referral to the counselling services when I get back to uni.

Anger is probably the biggest issue now. I can’t deal with it at all.

And I still have these flashback moments. And I can’t not react, it just happens.

The other day S grabbed me and I completely freaked out. I was scared of him. I was back in the past and it all seemed so real. I guess that’s the PTSD symptoms which are in my diagnosis.

We were arguing which is triggering enough. But as soon as that happened and I started panicking, we stopped. S said sorry about a million times. I know that it wouldn’t be a big thing to most people but it really scared me. He said he should’ve known, he shouldn’t have done it. I know he wouldn’t hurt me but it brought back memories. Real fear.

I know I over react to stuff but I can’t do anything else. I’m not in control of these reactions.

I flew back to Germany yesterday and I’m meant to be working on my essays today but I can’t concentrate. I can’t think and I have no motivation. This is all too familiar. I know I have to do it. Just a bit at least. Time is going to run out if I carry on like this, and then I’ll be even more stressed. I know what this degree means to me and I don’t want to mess it up. But handing in nothing is worse than handing in something that’s not very good. I know that. I’m telling myself, just do it. Just get it done. I know I’ll feel better once it’s done. Just a case of getting started. Come on.

How can some parts of me be so driven and full of ambition, and others just want to give up on everything and just do nothing?

I hope I’ll have a more positive post to write soon,

Lots of love,

Ellie

xxx

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Memories and places

I know I am rubbish at keeping up with blogging now. I have too much going on so maybe I should just stop altogether. But today I have something to say, so I’ll say it.

It’s strange how memories can have such a strong hold.

Sometimes when I walk down a certain road, or I’m in a certain place I get flashbacks, just because of the place.

But in Germany I don’t. In Germany I rarely have flashbacks at all, because there are no places to associate with bad memories here. Here I feel safe, I don’t have to be completely on guard all the time. It’s strange but moving away has been the most liberating thing. And now I don’t want to go back to my old life (but I will have to.)

At Christmas when I was feeling worse again I realised it has to be to do with the place. Even as I was on the train from the airport in Germany, I felt more relaxed than I had at home. It’s such a contradiction: the place where my whole life is, where my family, boyfriend and many of my friends are, is also the place where I feel the worst. Best and worst. It’s like an oxymoron.

I am making the most of feeling free here, feeling happy. But at the same time I’m scared, scared of what happens when I go back. Will it open everything up again? I’m too tired to fight it all again, I just want to live my life and leave those memories behind.

I need to make home safe again in my mind. Or maybe I need to move away as soon as I can. (But does running away really help? Sometimes it does…)

I made it

So I made it to Germany.
I got up at 3:30 this morning to catch an early flight, arrived in Cologne and sat in Starbucks for a few hours until the coach arrived, and I’m now in my pyjamas at the hotel place where we are doing our training. Today has been a long and tiring day. Parts are overwhelming and my worries (as ever) are there! But I made it – took the first step.now just lots more little steps and it’ll all be fine!

Most of the other language assistants are in the bar downstairs but I’ve decided I’m far too tired and needed some time alone and more importantly, some sleep!

I’ll be catching up on everyone’s blogs as soon as I can, but just wanted to do an update.

Lots of love,
Ellie xxx

Run Ellie Run!

Recently I’ve been feeling a bit fat. I know I’m not obese or anything like that, I am a healthy weight but I think I would feel better about myself if I got rid of the podgy-ness.

So do something about it… That’s what S says and I know it makes sense. I can’t complain about it while not doing anything to change it. But there’s a lot of fears and what ifs…

In the past I used to go running, and it got to an unhealthy stage. I know how exercise can become addictive and I’m scared of that. I’m scared that if I start trying to lose a little bit of weight, I’ll become obsessed with it and won’t be able to stop.

And on the flip side, I’m scared that it won’t do anything. What if I do all this exercise and I still look the same, then I’ll feel like a failure, and that’s one of my biggest fears. Or what if I lose some weight and still feel bad about myself? That’s incredibly likely because as we all know, I’m a perfectionist, and perfection doesn’t exist so I will never be good enough in my own eyes.

And that’s the biggest issue really isn’t it? Nothing I ever do will ever be good enough for myself because I will always feel like I should do better, be better, be perfect. But why the hell should I be perfect? No one else is and I allow them their flaws, but me? Nope, not good enough. Must try harder.

The negative thoughts are (clearly) very active at the moment. S always says I approach things too negatively, and I should try to be more positive. But that’s the whole thing: If I was positive, I probably wouldn’t be depressed would I?! And even though recently I’ve been trying to be more positive about the future, there’s still these niggling voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough and I can’t do it so I may aswell give up.

It’s like there’s an internal argument in my mind the whole time and it’s exhausting. One side is actually pretty positive, whilst the other is very negative and always strikes when least expected.

Another thing that’s not helping the negativity is that I’ve been having a lot of nightmares recently. A lot of them seem to feature the ex and it is freaking me out. I feel like I’m being haunted by him and the way things were in the past. I know I can’t erase him from my memory, I know he was a big part of my life for a significant amount of time, but it was quite a long time ago now, I just want it to fade away.

But anyway, back to the actual point of this post…

I am going to try and start running again. I’m trying to fight the memories it brings back, and let myself move on and start again. I was going to go this morning but I didn’t – I slept badly (nightmares) and was feeling pretty negative (as you can see!) So I’m letting it go for now, and planning to go on Wednesday morning. I’m going to try and plan a short route before I go, and I am not going to push myself too hard (75% is enough!) but hopefully it will help me feel a bit better.

For one thing, it would get me out of bed, which is not always the easiest thing to do! Also, exercise is meant to make you feel happy, and I could do with some of that!

I am realising that this perfectionism is a big issue. I am never going to be happy until I change my goals. Perfection is not a suitable goal, I need to set achievable goals instead. But how do you ignore the thoughts that have followed you for your whole life? How do you fight the thoughts that have been ingrained into your brain and reinforced for years? I’m not sure about that at the moment, but hopefully eventually I will be able to work through these things and will be able to be happy with who I am and what I do, instead of the constant beliefs that I am not good enough and nothing I ever do will ever be good enough. (Good enough for what?)

There are so many questions that I don’t know the answer to, and so many issues that I am nowhere near solving. Sometimes it feels hopeless and like I will never get through it, but I have to. I am determined that eventually I will deal with all of this.

(Sorry about the higgledy-piggledyness of this post, I meant to write about running, but ended up writing about perfectionism…. which shows me that’s the key issue!)

A good day

Today has been a long day, but also a good day. Today is Thursday, which is the day I do some volunteering at a day centre for people with mental illnesses. I also agreed to work this evening in the supermarket where I work so it was going to be a long day! Started at 9:30 this morning and didn’t finish until 9 this evening (other than a couple of hours between in which I had a nap!)

The volunteering went well, today we went for a picnic in the park and the ladies seemed to enjoy it (and so did I.) I am really enjoying my work there, gaining greater insight into how different mental illnesses affect different people, and just chatting to lots of different people. They are such a lovely group of ladies, and even though they all have their own stories and have been through various difficult things, they are all kind, friendly and full of life. It makes me really happy to see how they support each other and it also makes me realise I need to take a more positive approach to things sometimes.

After a lovely afternoon in the sun with sandwiches and games, I popped home for a bit for a nap and to get changed for work. Then it was off to the supermarket where I seem to spend so many hours of my life. Tonight I was on tills which I usually hate, but it wasn’t too bad. I had lots of nice customers and not many rude customers and the time went by reasonably quickly – this is the sort of shift I need more of!

I realised again today that I am feeling much more like me at the moment, like I said the other day. I have come so far from where I was, and even though things can still be hard at times, I am determined that I am not going to let things get bad again, I’m fighting this with everything I have. I’m feeling quite motivated at the moment, especially because my volunteering has reassured me about my future career hopes – I want to work in mental health, as a clinical psychologist eventually. I know it will be a long journey and it’ll be hard, and I know I need to get myself fully well before I can do it, but I am determined that I will do it! – I can and I will!

One of those days

Last night I went to bed early, really early. Why? Because I felt I’ll and because I was meant to be at work at 7am this morning.

So my alarm went off at 6 this morning, I got up, had breakfast bla bla bla… Drove to work. And my name was not on the rota. The guy who sorts out the rotas wasn’t there, so I drove home and went back to bed. Not a happy bunny (or elephant!) this is not the first time they’ve mucked up my hours. I was meant to be working Wednesday this week and they took that one off (but I knew in advance) and now they take away my other day of overtime, and don’t bother to tell me! So angry about this. And I could do with the money so it’s really not ideal.

One good thing is that I got to go back to bed for a few hours, still not feeling well today. I’ve brought out the lemsip max! But still very angry about this whole work thing, they keep messing around with my hours, and considering I was told the want me to work 30 hours a week, 8 or 16 just isn’t cutting it for me!

I’m working tomorrow and Sunday, but that’s it for this week. Highly irritating that there’s barely any overtime and there’s nothing I can do about it! Grr!

So to conclude: my immune system is crap and my manager at work (well one of them) is crap.

I got upset at work this morning. After getting up that early especially when I was feeling ill, it was all a bit much and I couldn’t stop the tears leaking out of my eyes. But I’m more angry than upset… I often cry when I’m angry. I cry when I’m sad too, but it’s annoying when I cry from anger because I look like I’m overreacting and being upset over nothing.

I’m off to see S this afternoon, maybe he will be able to cheer me up (and hopefully I won’t make him ill too!)

Lots of love,
Ellie xxx
P.s. the other day S said I’m an anxious little elephant… And he doesn’t know the name of my blog! Spooky or what!?

Just a little post

Hi everyone,

I am back from my trip to Amsterdam which was lovely (more details to come soon in a dedicated post!)
Unfortunately my laptop is currently away being repaired so I can only get to wordpress from my iPad. I don’t mind reading blogs on here but I prefer writing my posts on a laptop really (not sure why) so this is just a short catch up post! My laptop should be back at the end of next week so then I can get back to my regular posts! But this week there might be a couple of posts if I can deal with using the iPad for it (the app does seem to have improved recently actually!)

Things are a bit wobbly over here… I’m fine but have been feeling very low for the last few days, with no real explanation. I think part of it is nerves about Germany, and then there is the “normal” ups and downs of depression anyway. I am going to see the doctor on Thursday but I doubt she can do anything – no time for therapy before Germany and I think I’m already on the max dosage of my medication… Hopefully my mood will lift soon. I was fine/good while I was away, and my mood always seems better when S is around (as pathetic as that is!) but everyone has ups and downs, so hopefully things will feel better soon.

This started off as a short post but now I’ve started I suddenly have lots to say!
The last few days I have spent most of the days in bed (not good!) but I managed to go climbing on Sunday which was fun (even if I’m still aching now, more than 2 days later!) Today after a morning in bed, I actually got a few things done – applied for my new passport and started the massive task of unpacking/tidying/clearing out my room… (Despite the fact I’ve been home for a month now, I had been putting it off!) it’s looking a lot better already and I know I will feel better with a tidy room!

There’s lots to do in the next few weeks before I leave for Germany… All very exciting and scary but I am really hoping this year is going to be good for me. S says he thinks it will help me as I will have to be more independent and I will see that I can do stuff by myself. A year off from exams will be lovely too!

Anyway that’s enough of my rambles I think… I feel as if I should change the title now as its a bit of a lie… But never mind.

Good night world,
Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Mammoth

MammothToday I was feeling pretty low. I have been feeling a bit funny physically for the last few days – lots of migraines/headaches, feeling a bit faint/light headed, feeling really really hot… that kind of thing. And a combination of feeling bad physically and mentally is never good.

So S said he would come over after work for a bit to see me and give me some cuddles to cheer me up. And he did.

We ate some strawberries and ice cream and had some cuddles and talked and it was really nice. It sounds pathetic but it’s the small things that mean the most. I love the fact that  S can just come round and he gets on with my family and it is relaxed and I don’t have to be on edge (like I was with the ex and my family).

And as you can see from the picture at the top of this post, I am now in possession of a new elephant (or more accurately – a mammoth!) S brought me it from work to cheer me up (as he knows how much I love elephants!) It is a little fluffy cuddly toy mammoth and I think he’s really cute! Only problem now is that I can’t think of a name (but I’ve decided it is a him), so feel free to give any name suggestions! 🙂

While we were cuddling and talking I said “Maybe you do actually love me”, because I’m finally starting to think maybe it’s true. Maybe not everyone will be like the ex, and maybe I’m not unlovable – maybe it wasn’t even my fault. And he laughed and said “At least it’s a maybe now.” I know it’s stupid that I am so scared of getting hurt and that I really find it so hard to believe that anyone could love and care about ME, but these are thoughts which have been programmed into my mind for a long time – with the ex, and even before that with the teasing/bullying (?)

I am feeling more determined than ever that I am going to get through this stuff, and I am not going to let the ex win or ruin any more of my life. I can and I will get through these problems. I can and I will succeed and be happy. I know I need to deal with the anger I still feel about everything that happened, but maybe I can use it positively, and use it as motivation and incentive to keep going and stay determined. I can and I will.**

I am so happy being with S, he makes me feel safe and loved and happy. And I love him, I really do and our relationship is so much better (now that I’ve finally allowed myself to feel that way instead of being too scared to get close.) I think my depression/anxiety/general craziness* definitely does affect our relationship but he copes pretty well, and he is very understanding and helping me get through my issues.

Time for bed now, but tonight I am going to bed feeling happy and safe, instead of anxious and scared and paranoid (like last night).

Good night,
Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

P.S. Here is another picture of my (nameless) mammoth!

Mammoth toy

* I hope this doesn’t offend anyone – here I am referring to my irrational thoughts and behaviours, which could definitely be called crazy rather than the mental health side of things.

** This is one of the mantras from my list, and this one often comes to mind. When I’m feeling low or like I can’t do something, I think to myself ‘I can and I will’ and I feel more in control, more determined and more positive.

Ellie’s little think (and ramble)

Today I went to the doctors. It seems like I haven’t been in ages! Last term I was going every week (not an exageration) but I think this was only the 2nd or maybe 3rd time I’ve been this term (and the term is nearly over now!) That’s progress in itself, I haven’t felt the need to go because things have been improving.

Over the last month or so I have felt a bit worse again and had a few wobbles. But I’m still a lot better than I was, so maybe recovery isn’t a straight line all at one gradient, it seems like it has its ups and downs, and times when things seem to stay the same for a while. But looking back, things are SO much better than they were, and I’ve come a long way this year.

I also got a copy of the letter from the psychiatrist (that I saw in February) to give to my GP in London when I get home. So obviously I had to read it… (Ever tried having a letter that is about you and not reading it? No thank you!) I thought it might upset me a bit, it is the reality of how things are (were?) in 4 pages. Written without compassion or explanation, just the bare bones of it really… And it was difficult to read. I had a little cry.

And then I had a little think, because these kind of things do make you think. One thing about this letter was that it had an actual diagnosis. It says depression and anxiety with post traumatic symptoms. And in that one sentence, it brings validity to what I am feeling. Someone else’s words shouldn’t be worth more than my own experience and emotions, but somehow it is. Sometimes I still think that maybe it isn’t that bad, or I’ve been overreacting to normal emotions. Sometimes I still doubt that it’s all real. But this man knows his stuff, and he is saying it’s real.

But since February things started to improve, little by little. Sometimes there were big changes, sometimes tiny, almost insignificant changes. And still now, I have my wobbles, and I have my little victories, but most important of all I have hope again. Hope that things can change and get better, hope that I can do this!

Well this is all sounding a bit positive and progressive isn’t it?! Time to add some worrying (because otherwise this wouldn’t be an Ellie post!)

I got an email back from the school I am going to in Germany today. I emailed them yesterday, in German. My “Betreuungslehrerin” (mentor teacher) emailed me back today, in English. So now I’m stuck; a decision that probably wouldn’t phase most people, but somehow any decision gets me into a flap! I’m just not good with decisions. So do I reply in English? Do I reply in German? Do I do half and half? (No Ellie, that is ridiculous!)

And what about living arrangements. She mentioned that in the past sometimes the assistant has found a flat in the town, sometimes lived in the nearest city (about an hour away) or she said I could live with one of the other teachers… Too much choice, too many decisions! I’ve decided not to reply today, but I’ll think about it and try and get out of this anxious worrying. Because really, whatever decisions I make – English or German, town or city, alone or with people, it’s not that important. And living arrangements can be changed if it doesn’t work out when I get there…

So time for Elllie to take a deep breath, and CALM DOWN.

Talking of breathing, I must do my meditation for today! And that’s another thing I want to blog about.

I’ve also been trying to plan my dissertation. As I’m doing psychology, we have to do an experiment so need ethics approval. I’ve been working on my ethics proposal today, but have been stopped in my tracks as there is a large flaw in my experimental plans… I have a PC and not a Mac. I have never seen this as an issue before, but apparently the software that I was planning to use for testing in my dissertation which measure reaction time does not exist on PCs!! (I mean seriously, come on!!) So there has been a lot of rushing around, panicking, and emailing my supervisor… hopefully we will sort this out soon! The problem is that next week is the last week of term, and I’m leaving Lancaster then so won’t be able to organise these things once I’m gone!

(Once again, breathing may be useful here!)

So little time, so much to do! In just over a week I will be leaving Lancaster until after my year abroad! Scary stuff!

Edit: I have just seen that I have passed the 200 mark on followers! Wow!! 🙂

CBT: Get up and get out!

No don’t worry – these were not words said by my therapist to me (or vice versa.) Yesterday I was feeling pretty down and really didn’t feel like doing anything. But my appointment was at 2pm, so having finally dragged myself up at about 1, I called a taxi and went to my CBT session.

And I’m glad I did, I felt a bit better afterwards. And once you’re up and about, things normally feel a bit better. If I stay in bed hiding all day, what have I achieved? Nothing. But by getting up and out and going to CBT, I have (hopefully) helped myself a bit. So that’s the advice: Get up and get out! 

I was pretty tearful in my CBT session yesterday – the realisation that it’s coming to an end is scaring me. Then I have to cope by myself!! I have 2 more sessions left, then I’m back home in London until September, and then the big move to Germany – eek! The fact that I won’t have A to speak to anymore is a bit scary, especially because I think the CBT is helping, but there’s still a lot that hasn’t been dealt with.

A said there are some things I am still not ready to deal with. She said in the future I will be and then I can have some counselling/therapy to help me deal with it. She said when I get back to Lancaster I can get re-referred if I need to.

A gave me another CD with some guided mindfulness meditations on it. There is one called Mindful sitting practise and one called 3 minute breathing space. I’ll write about these sometime this week when I’ve done them a few times.

We talked about the way the mind works (according to CBT.) We have the situation or event and the emotion/feeling, but inbetween there is the thought which triggers the emotion. So I am working on spotting the thoughts and seeing – is this a fact or a thought? This is of course easier said than done, but it’s work in progress.

We talked about my insecurity and constant fear about S leaving me. This is rational to some extent because my previous experience (with the ex) has shown me that people can leave me. However, this does not mean everyone will leave me, and it does not mean I am not good enough (which is the thought that goes with the event: ex leaving me and the feeling: depressed/lonely/scared.)

A has asked me to write down how I am feeling each half day, and more importantly the negative thoughts that come with the feelings. Then I can look at them and say – fact or thought? Do I have any evidence of this? The chances are, probably not!

The other thing I am meant to look at this week are when I have these thoughts that S is going to leave me. We have established that seeking reassurance doesn’t really help… it may help for a brief moment, but soon afterwards, the thoughts will be back. And I know they must be irritating for S, to constantly reassure me that he’s not going anywhere, he’s not going to hurt me, and yes he does love me. So the aim here is to identify these thoughts and look at them without engaging with them. Using mindfulness, the idea is to see the thoughts as thoughts (and not facts), not engage with them, and ignore them. But baby steps – this week I’ve just got to identify them as early as possible.

A used the analogy of the “thought train”… so once the thought comes into mind, it starts a trail of destruction, with each thought encouraging the next, until I’m in a massive negative spiral and I truly believe that S is going to leave me because I’m just not good enough. So instead of this, I should try to identify the thoughts early and get off the thought train. Another analogy was “putting on the same DVD”, so once you have had the thought (put the DVD on), the same thing happens (the same DVD plays) and it results in the same behaviour and feelings each time. So instead of letting the same thing play out each time, it is better to catch the thought early, and throw away that DVD 😉

Anyway, enough about DVDs and trains… me thinks this is more progress.

Oh – and A said she thinks if I use the mindfulness stuff we are learning and use the book I have bought (The Mindful Way Through Depression), I will be ok in Germany without any therapy. I hope she’s right! But I have my blog too, which I think is therapy in itself!