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…)

Why is it so hard to talk about?

Why is it so hard to talk about the “difficult things”?

I can write about them sometimes. I can plan what I’m going to say, I have the words in my mind but they don’t come to my lips. I can’t say them.

I’ve been having a lot of nightmares recently. Screaming in my sleep again while Footballer was staying. A week or two ago, S said I kept asking where I was, saying I want to be at home (in my sleep.)

A lot of the time I don’t remember the nightmares. Sometimes I wake up scared and don’t know why. Sometimes I just know I had a nightmare, and sometimes they are so vivid. I feel like I’m being haunted by these images. But it’s all too hard to talk about, the words just don’t come out.

The nightmares that week involved the ex. Raping me. And it all felt so vivid.

I was really really scared and anxious for days. I started writing this post not long after the nightmares but I couldn’t find the words time. I eventually managed to tell S that the nightmare involved the ex “making me do stuff.” But that’s as much as I could say, and even that took a long time.

So why can’t I say these difficult things? Like when I’m feeling suicidal, I can’t tell anyone, I just say “I feel low” or “I feel shit.” When in my head I’m screaming “I just want to die!” And when I’m talking about the ex, I can never explain what it was like. I can say he wasn’t nice to me, or that he treated me badly but it’s difficult for me to say more… it’s like I’m ashamed that I let it happen… How messed up is that? He treats me horribly and abuses me, and I’m the one that feels guilty and ashamed?

I try to tell S these difficult things sometimes. Often I just can’t say it, and he doesn’t understand why I’m crying or on edge or scared in the night. Sometimes I end up texting things because I couldn’t say it on the phone. The words stick in my throat and it’s like someone presses mute and I can’t speak anymore.

But I don’t want to be muted.

I have depression and anxiety and it’s hard. Most of the time I don’t look like anything is wrong with me but there is. I am very jumpy and I get scared and upset easily. And it’s not my fault. It is an illness and I don’t want to feel ashamed anymore. These things are just labels and they don’t make me who I am, but they do affect who I am and sometimes I can’t deal with everything that a “normal” person can. I think more needs to be done to raise awareness about mental illness because people don’t understand it – they can’t see it so they think it’s not there.

Since I’ve been writing this blog I have come across a lot of mental health bloggers, all telling their different stories. Sometimes they are difficult to read because people have suffered so greatly, but they are all strong people and we all have things in common so we can support one another. And all of this makes me even more sure that I want to work in mental health. I want to make a difference.

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.

Get off that train

**trigger warning – self harm thoughts**

The thought train/negative spiral, whatever you want to call it… It tends to run away with itself, until suddenly you’ve made a mountain out of a molehill, and paranoid thoughts become the absolute truth (in your mind)

Last night the situation arose (again), but this time it was a bit different. Instead of staying on that train, going down the track of paranoia, self doubt and anger, I stopped the train.

I argue for the sake of arguing, because if S gets angry or says something horrible, it proves that I’m right, that he doesn’t really love me, that I’m worth nothing… And I’m paranoid, if he wants to see his friends, its not because he actually wants to see them, its because he doesn’t want to see me, he is just trying to avoid seeing me. This stupid paranoid thought spirals. And when he said he is going to the pub with Sheep, (and didn’t invite me) my immediate thought was that I’m not invited, they don’t want to see me… he wants her not me. Even though they haven’t really made proper plans, just said that they will go on Wednesday, and we always go to the pub, the 3 of us, why wouldn’t I be invited? My brain is incredibly irrational.

But yesterday I didn’t get to my usual point, I didn’t get to the point of “well why are you even with me then, you should just leave me” (because I’m not worth anyone’s love.)

So even though it still went further than it should. The paranoid thoughts are still there, so is the self doubt and thoughts that I’m not good enough. But these are just thoughts, not reality. And I noticed that, and stopped it earlier than I have in the past. Little steps.
So now I just have to realise it before the arguments begin, but for now I’m taking little steps to make this better.

It’s strange. When I get these thoughts, I feel so angry and so low. My mood just drops in an instant, and I wish I was dead, I want to cut myself and the urges are so strong. And I feel so so angry, like I just want to scream and shout, and I hate him at that moment. All of these emotions are so strong, I guess that’s why I get carried away into the negative spiral. But then just as quick as it comes, the anger is gone. And I’m sorry, so sorry for being so stupid. And I don’t hate him, I love him.

I have so little control over my emotions, its scary. They are all just so strong, so quick to surface. Why am I like this?

The end

It’s done, finished, over.
Today was the end of CBT for me.
It wasn’t a proper session, just a concluding one – questionnaires about the service, reassurance that if I need to come back after my year abroad I can.
Looking at a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 was the worst I felt, where am I now? And where is recovery?
No one feels good all the time so 100 is not recovery, It’s perfection (which doesn’t exist). We settled on 75 as acceptable – as recovery.
And where am I now? It’s hard to say because my mood varies a lot. I think I’m somewhere around 50ish, maybe up to 60 at times. But when I feel low it goes down a lot, not to 0 though, so its still not as bad as it was.
So take 55, and 75 is “recovered”… It’s not that far away.

I know I still have a long way to go and a lot of things to deal with along the way, but I’ve certainly made progress.
The fact that I’ve started some mindfulness shows improvement – mindfulness is not generally used for people who are severely depressed because it involves thinking about the negative thoughts, and would not be easy when someone is that low.
I still have my downs (and ups) but It’s better than a constant down.

Now I feel strange. CBT is done, over. It’s just me fighting my battles now, A has done her bit. I guess I was hoping by the end I would be magically better (100) but it didn’t happen because it doesn’t exist.

I feel kind of empty. Scared, and alone. Now what do I do? What if…

I can’t believe this was the last session, now it’s time to cope on my own.