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.

Disclosing mental illnesses

Despite the fact that now it is a lot more “acceptable” to talk about mental illness, there is still a stigma. Even though there are laws to say that employers can’t use your mental illnesses as a reason not to give you a job etc., it doesn’t mean that isn’t sometimes a reason (it could even happen implicitly.)

I have been quite open about my issues… when I was first diagnosed, I told my work. At uni, I told my tutor, my departments etc. Close friends know (at least part of) what is going on/has happened. Most of these people don’t know the full story but they know I suffer from depression and anxiety.

I am off to Germany in 2 weeks, to a place where no one knows anything about me.

They don’t know that I have depression or anxiety, they don’t know any of it at all. And now I have to decide who needs to know and who doesn’t.

For example, I’m staying with a family for at least the first month… do they need to know? At first I thought not. And then I realised I probably should warn them about me screaming in the night sometimes (as it has happened a few times recently.) But how would I explain that? 

And what about the school I’m going to be working in? Or the university I’ll be enrolling at? Or the friends I make there?

Who needs to know? Or maybe the better question is, who do I want to know?

I would love to not tell any of them, and for everything to run smoothly, without my depression and anxiety affecting me in a major way… but is that realistic? Probably not.

I know that if I start struggling I need to reach out for help and support straight away, not wait until I literally have had enough and have booked myself on the next flight home. But what if I tell them and they judge me? What if I tell them and then I’m fine – I’ll look like I’m lying. What if I don’t tell them and then I need help?

Too many questions. And I don’t know the right answer to any of them. I don’t know how understanding/supportive they would/will be. I just don’t know!

When Footballer came to stay//Excited Ellie

This could be two posts really, but I’ll put it in one as that makes sense if I’m posting them on the same day anyway!

When Footballer came to stay.

My best friend from uni (Footballer) came to stay for a few days this week. It was lovely to see her and have a big catch up. We get on really well and are very similar in many ways. We went shopping, watched lots of films, ate rubbishy food, went around London a bit and it was fun. It made me realise how much I’m going to miss uni this year and made me hope (more than ever) that my friends from uni will stay in touch even though I won’t be there (because I’ll be in Germany.)

We met Mr Maps for the day on Monday and we went to Greenwich to the planetarium and then sat in the sun looking at the views. It was great being with them both, all three of us lived together this year at uni (plus shopaholic.) 

And on Tuesday we met Mr Maps again in the evening for dinner (as he’s working in London at the moment) and S came after he finished work. He makes me smile so much, and I realised that things are really good at the moment.

It was sad when Footballer had to go back home, it’s always hard to say goodbye. But this time I don’t know when the next time I’ll see her is. She said she’ll visit in Germany, and I’m planning to go to Lancaster at some point in the next year to visit, but who knows when that will be or if it will happen.

Excited Ellie

It has happened. Yep – I’m actually excited about Germany. The fear, worry, what-ifs etc. are all still there, but there’s also a large part of me that is looking forward to it. It will be an opportunity to do something completely different.

I won’t have to study for a whole year. No exams for a whole year! I will be teaching my language to students, and at the same time trying to learn their language, and if all goes to plan I will be pretty much fluent by the time I get back. This is all exciting stuff, and even though it’s really daunting and sometimes I think it was the wrong decision and I wish I could stay here instead, I am glad I’m going and I think it’s going to be a good year.

I know it will be hard. Probably very hard at times, but I can get through it. And hopefully I’ll come out the other side with considerable German language skills, more confidence, more independence and happier. 

It’s difficult because I know that the depression and anxiety aren’t “gone”, maybe they never will be completely. I’m a lot better than I was though, and I’m going to make sure I look after myself and won’t allow myself to slip down the slippery slope again. Life is too short to waste these opportunities!

So it’s less than 3 weeks now! I’ve booked my flight, emailed my mentor teacher and my host family, ordered an international student card, got my passport, etc. etc. I’ve been a busy little Ellie-bee and most of the preparations are done. Now is just the small problem of trying to fit everything I need into one 20kg suitcase… I don’t tend to travel lightly, and when I came home from uni this summer, my stuff filled up the whole of my mum’s people-carrier car so this is going to be a tough one!!

And even though I know I am really going to miss S while I’m away, we’ll be ok. We’ve been long distance since we got together, and even though this time we’re in different countries, it’s basically going to be the same. It’s hard at times, and it takes a lot of effort to make a relationship to work, but that’s ok because we both want to do it. Somehow my constant worrying and fears that he’s going to leave me are fading, and I think we will be ok. 

I think everything will be ok 🙂

 

Not safe

*possible trigger warning – it gets pretty negative.*

Every so often I seem to have these little panics…

I’m not safe. Nothing is safe. No one can keep me safe.

I have got too close to S and it scares me. He could leave like the ex did. Not safe. I caught myself thinking I should get away from him (S), I need to leave before he leaves, then it’s my fault choice. But Ellie you tried that one… you ended it before and felt worse than ever. 

I think maybe it’s about control. I can’t control how I feel and how I would feel if he left. I can’t control whether he leaves or not (that’s why I feel like I should leave first, then I’d be in control). 

I don’t know what is going to happen when I move to Germany. I can’t control it, I can’t plan it all. It’s new and big and scary. New language, new place, new people… What if I can’t handle it?*

It’s happened again… this downwards spiral. It was about one thing, and now it’s about EVERYTHING.

I just want to be safe.

I feel so low and I don’t really know why. Maybe I’m just thinking too much (as usual). When I feel like this I wonder if the progress I’ve been making is even real. My thoughts scare me. I just want to be safe, or at least I want control. I want it all to stop, it’s all too much. I want to die. I’m not safe here, how do I carry on? Sometimes I really think it would be easier if I wasn’t alive.** And the urge to hurt myself, punish myself for all this is strong. But it doesn’t help. I know it doesn’t help so why do I want to do it? It doesn’t solve anything.

*I know I’m not allowed to say “what if”, but I did anyway.

**Please do not read into this too much – these are thoughts and not plans, I know these feelings/thoughts will pass. 

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.

New things

Too many new things can be overwhelming. I am visiting a friend at her uni this weekend. We went shopping and for lunch and it was really nice.

Then we went to one of her friends for drinks. They all knew each other (obviously) and I only knew my friend. This was a bit difficult, but I could cope and settled down a bit when I got talking with some of the others.

We played some card games. I realised I get irrationally stressed by these things… Maybe it’s like A says, I have this need to do everything perfectly – including playing card games apparently. We played a game called “cheat”, which involves putting down cards and saying what they are (you can either tell the truth or lie) and if someone thinks you are lying they say “cheat”, and if you are lying you take the cards, and if not they take the cards. It’s a fun game, but I find it difficult. I realised I feel genuinely guilty when I lie (even in this game) and so I struggle to do it. The other thing is that I’m terrible at lying – you can always tell if I’m lying. I look guilty.

After that we went back to my friends house where there was (is) a house party going on. There was loud music and lots of people (who I obviously didn’t know). They all seemed really nice and I had some good conversations but I felt pretty anxious and on edge for most of the evening. (Especially as the alcohol started wearing off).New people, new place, loud music… Not a good combo.

So now I’ve gone to bed and I hope my friend isn’t annoyed. I am tired but needed to get away.

I can hear my critical inner voice: “they all think you’re boring”, “monkey will be annoyed with you”, etc etc

Time for sleep, good night xxx

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!! 🙂