I can and I did

Anyone reading my blog in April/May/June will already know that that was the dreaded exam season! Well yesterday was the (possibly even more dreaded) results day!

After this year, I don’t think it would be strange for me to expect to not have done that well on my exams. Although towards the end of the year and exams I was starting to feel better, it became clear during revision that my revision was in fact learning material (rather than revising it) and my concentration levels were just too low.

It’s no secret that I aim (too) high. I am a perfectionist, particularly with my academic work… so only a first would be “good enough” according to my brain.

But I did it. Despite all of the difficulties of the year, despite having exams that went quite badly (and results from these exams that aren’t great) there were also exams that I did very well in, bringing my aggregate score up to a first (just!)  – but still, a first is a first!

So I did it. I got to my goal for the year. As soon as I saw my results I felt so strong. I felt like it was a big “fuck you” (excuse the language) to all the people who didn’t think I could do it and who made things difficult for me. It made me feel like the ex was wrong about me – I am not weak. I got through it, and came out with the grade I wanted. 

So it seems that the mantra “I can and I will” was quite helpful, it kept me going. And now I can say “I can and I did!”

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Mindfulness: Body scan

I have started work on mindfulness, which I wrote about in my latest CBT post.

I have got to do a guided meditation called the body scan everyday this week as homework. Yesterday I listened to it for the first time, and somehow I think I managed to fall asleep! Oops! The track is 43 minutes, and you lie with your eyes shut so it is easy to fall asleep, but that definitely is not the plan!

I underestimated how hard it would be to try and keep concentration on each part of the body as instructed. There were lots of intrusive thoughts and mind wanderings… “I can’t concentrate”, “I can’t do it”, “I wonder how much longer this is”, “kind of bored now…” etc.

I repeated it again today and although it was still hard, I think it was better than yesterday. Hopefully it will become easier each day! And I managed to stay awake for it today, which is always a bonus! 😉

The point of the body scan is to pay attention to each part of the body and breathing. To become aware of all of these processes instead of doing them on autopilot. Presumably the point is that once you learn how to shift attention within the body, you can then use the skills to practice mindfulness in everyday life, staying in the moment and paying attention to reality rather than going onto autopilot and repeating the same behaviours we usually do.

So far I am not sure how helpful mindfulness is going to be because I’m struggling to do it, but I have been told that it normally takes a while to get it, and that’s why I have to do the body scan everyday as practice. With the CD, A gave me some paperwork – an introduction to mindfulness and the body scan. There is an example of a participant’s report about the body scan, and it says “For the first 10 days it was like a burden. I kept “wandering off” and then I would worry about whether I was doing it right.” This sounds very similar to my experience (so far – it’s only been 2 days!) and that’s reassuring. So I will definitely be keeping this up, and of course I’ll keep you all updated on how it’s going!

Now it’s off to bed for me because I’m taking part in a psychology study for a friend and it involves being at uni at 9:00 tomorrow morning. This may not sound early, but getting up before 8:00 is a difficult thing for me! 😛

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Crying again

I’m so emotional at the moment. I seem to cry at everything. Happy or sad. All of the emotions are just very strong at the moment.

Ever since the night before my birthday, finding out that the ex is having a baby with his new girlfriend, I’ve been really unsettled.

And then there was more revision and an exam to do, my concentration was terrible again and I felt like a lot of the progress had just disappeared.

This week’s CBT was really hard and involved a lot of crying.

And then today I don’t know why but I got so upset. I started thinking I don’t want to go to Germany, that I can’t do it, that I’m not good enough. How am I going to stand up in front of a class and teach when I can’t talk in front of people, and my German is terrible. I’m just so worried.

I’m really doubting myself again at the moment and hating myself (again). I am getting paranoid about S leaving me, even though I have no reason to. I’m questioning everything and I just don’t feel strong enough to deal with everything that’s going on. I would quite like to hibernate for a while until I feel strong again, but life doesn’t have time for that.

It’s horrible when things have been so much better recently and then things feel worse again.

Well at least tomorrow should be a good day. I am going to Manchester to shop with footballer and another friend. I am feeling a bit anxious though, because it will probably be busy. And there’s a load of upset in the house because of next year’s housing situation which got all complicated so I hope that won’t ruin the day. Footballer thinks she doesn’t have any friends here and no one cares about her but that’s just not true. I wish she could see that. (Yes, I know… massive hypocrite!)

But to end this post on a happier note, I would like to show you the most recent thing to make me cry. And yes, I’ll admit that I’m pathetic crying at Britain’s got talent, but for some reason I found this video very moving! (If you watch to the end you might see what I mean!)

I’m quite interested to see what they are going to do tomorrow in the semi-final!

Today is one of those days where hiding

Today is one of those days where hiding under my duvet seems like the most appealing thing to do. I am tired, aching (from climbing) and feeling pretty down. And I woke up with a migraine today (again), it’s gone now but they always leave me feeling exhausted.

My last exam is tomorrow and I don’t even have the motivation to revise. Even though this is potentially the most important exam – I need to know German because I’m about to move to Germany! 

I just feel really down and empty. I want to talk to S but I can’t because he’s at work. I can’t even call my parents because they are on holiday (in my favourite place ever, might I add!) 

I just don’t feel like doing anything at all, least of all revision.

There comes a point when I’m reading through my notes and thinking why the hell didn’t I try and learn this as I went along?! I think that’s a common thing for a student to think, we all do it every year, and every year we say “next year I’ll learn it as I go along”, and then next year comes along and we do the same thing again…

But with a language it’s important to learn as you go along. There’s no point in trying to learn a year’s worth of vocab and grammar now… that’s just not going to happen. All I can do now is hope that I know more than I think I know, and that somehow it will come back to me in the exam. It’s times like this that I question why the hell I am studying a language at university, and it’s times likes this when I realise how little work I did this year, and how terrible I felt for most of the year (which meant I did probably less than the bare minimum.)

Now I really must get back to revision, and cram some more information into my tired brain.

(Sorry about the repetitive moaning about revision – Tomorrow evening I will have finished exams so you won’t have to read my moaning about revision for quite a while!)

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx 

Painful hands and procrastination

My hands hurt, that is all I have to say really. I just got back from climbing with Owl, and although I enjoy climbing, today was not great!

I couldn’t do the route I was trying to do, my hands are in agony and I’m tired. But it was a pretty good workout. We spent a bit longer bouldering than usual, and tried some harder routes. That’s probably why I couldn’t do the route I was trying in top-roping (hands were already hurting after bouldering!), but it’s still frustrating. 

Today I haven’t managed to get much work done either. Did a bit of German grammar this morning (what could be more exciting?!) but I really need to get into proper revision mode… the exam is on Tuesday!! What am I doing going rockclimbing this close to an exam?!

Since S left I have been feeling pretty down and my concentration is worse again. A couple of days ago the anxiety really kicked in (again), I was hiding in my bed for most of the day and I was really freaked out (haven’t worked out why though) but that seems to have subsided (at least for now.) I keep putting myself down, and usually I feel a sense of accomplishment after climbing which helps with motivation, but today I didn’t manage to complete the route so I feel like a bit of a failure. (Even though I know it was a hard route, and it was only the 2nd time of trying a route of that grade!) 

In other news, I have come to the conclusion that nice nails do not go with climbing. I painted my nails on Friday before I went out. Owl bought me a magnetic nail varnish for my birthday that makes a cool pattern so I used that. Now (Sunday) after climbing they are ruined… It’s to be expected. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to do them again now… (More procrastination! Wait until after the exam!!)

Sorry for the boring update, but I don’t really have much else to say at present. (Just having a little moan really!) After Tuesday when I have finished my exam I will have to start focusing on my CBT stuff… I’m sure I’ll have plenty to blog about then!!

Talking of after exams, I’m going to have to start planning my dissertation! I am doing some research into how EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing – A type of therapy often used to treat PTSD) works. Has anyone tried EMDR? And if so, how did you find it? (Would be interested to know if anyone feels like they want to tell me about it)

One of those days

It’s been one of those days – unproductive, tiring and frustrating.

Today was a revision day. I have an exam on Tuesday and Wednesday. These 2 exams contain the most content out of all of my exams this year, and well done uni…they are on consecutive days.

This morning wasn’t too bad – got through a lot of statistics and I now have notes for all of that module – And better than that, I even understand most of it. The stats exam is on Wednesday. 

Then this afternoon it was onto social psychology. I find that module really interesting, and it was a lent term module so it wasn’t learned that long ago, I thought that would make revision ok, but I was wrong. Owl (friend from uni) came over and we were working together all afternoon and evening. She arrived at about 2:15 and didn’t leave until 9:15, we had about an hour break for dinner and were working solidly except that. But… we only got through one lecture. In 6 hours. So unproductive. My brain hurts, I don’t understand any of it and my concentration levels are shocking. 

Maybe I tried to do too much in one day. But that’s the only option. Today was one of those afternoons when you stop, put your hands up and say – right, it’s not working, I’ll write today off and try again tomorrow. But you can’t do that when the exam is the day after tomorrow. There is no more time. 

So now I’m stressed. STILL don’t know anything about social psychology and I have to learn the rest of the module tomorrow. Plus they want extra reading to include in the essay… are they crazy?! 

The stress is all building up and now I have a headache. I’m starting to panic and I don’t know any way round this. Tomorrow HAS to be a productive day, I have no choice. But the more pressure there is the more stressed I will be.

I need to calm down but I can’t. I really wanted to do well on this exam, I thought it was my best chance at a decent grade in these exams (except stats) and now I guess I’ll be lucky to scape a pass.

But to me there’s no point in passing a module if it’s not a 2:1 or first. A 2:2 or third is no good to me, so it may as well be a fail*.

I know I’m stressing myself out more by worrying, but that’s what Ellies do best – worry.

So I’m giving up for tonight. I want to give up entirely, but I can’t. I feel like in everything I do I have to do well, I have to prove I’m not a failure. I don’t know who I’m proving it to. Is it to the ex who made me feel like I’m not good enough? Is it to my parents who always push me to do well? Is it to S to prove I’m not nothing? Or is it to myself? because I see myself as a failure and all I’ve ever had to prove myself wrong on that is academic success.

Causal bit of self analysis there…

Anyway, I’m going to sleep and hoping to wake up with a bright and attentive brain, ready to learn all of the information in the world**.

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

*I know this is not actually true, blame my perfectionist tendencies. And what I really mean by this is that I can’t go into clinical psychology with less than a (high) 2:1.

**I feel this is only a minor exaggeration.

Where has my motivation gone?

I am generally a driven person. I have high expectations of myself and I want to succeed. I have goals in my life, goals which will be hard to achieve but I have always been determined to keep going until I reach them.

And yet now none of it seems to matter.

I have ridiculous amounts of coursework to do. I have exams coming up. And I’m doing nothing. I have no motivation to do my work. My concentration is through the floor, and my mood is down there with it. I sit and look at the list of things to do and it’s like a huge mountain. I know I should break it down into little mole hills, and then it will seem possible. But even that feels like too much effort.

I feel like I’m being lazy. Other people will think I am making a fuss over nothing. The closer the deadlines come, the less realistic the chance of me getting the work done. And yet I’m not panicking. Not yet. I don’t really care. None of it really matters.

But when I don’t get a first, then it will matter. Then I will feel like a failure. What am I saying? I already feel like a failure.

I should be able to do this. It’s not that I don’t have the intelligence, it can’t be that hard. Everyone else manages. And yet my head is all fuzzy and cloudy, with nothing making sense. My memory is terrible, I can’t concentrate at all, and most worryingly, I don’t even care about my work right now, even though it’s the things I wanted to study, and the subject that I am was passionate about.

I want the determination back, the motivation, the drive. Where has it all gone?

I’m running out of time.

Anyone know how to concentrate?

CBT – Week 6*

Today I went to my CBT session, and if you read my post yesterday, you’ll know I was feeling very anxious and scared about it, and really didn’t want to go. I decided to be kind to myself and got a taxi instead of walking up that massive hill for a change!

As suggested by some of you here (being the lovely and helpful people that you are!) I spoke to A about it, and told her that I had really struggled with writing down the memory, and about the flash backs, nightmares and screaming in the night.

She said we will wait a bit longer before we start the trauma work. In a way I am disappointed because I wanted to get it over with, but I am also relieved because I think it probably was too soon, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to deal with it very well at the moment. So instead we are looking at the thoughts which come with the feelings.

CBT says that thoughts cause feelings which cause behaviours, so in order to change feelings and behaviours, we have to change the thoughts. And that means starting by identifying the thoughts which cause the feelings. For example, I may think “I am useless” (thought) which will cause me to feel down (feeling), so I hide in bed (behaviour).

I need to become more aware of my thoughts so that I can start to counteract them with evidence. And realise that they are only thoughts, so they don’t have to be right.

A gave the example that even if I think about her crashing her car on the way home, it won’t cause it to happen! I said “That’s not very nice!” 

We will look at the thoughts that I identify, and test them, to see if there is evidence for them. It all sounds very scientific! 

I did some crying in my session (as usual) and A also said she thinks we need to look at the anger as well. As well as feeling upset/hurt/sad about the memories, I am also very angry. Angry at myself, angry at him, angry at anyone who didn’t do anything to help. 

Also this week I will be seeing my GP (tomorrow) and the psychiatrist (on Thursday) so it’s a very busy week for appointments! I am really hoping that the psychiatrist will be able to make the right diagnosis/es and hopefully work out the right medication for me! Although I’m pretty sure that he will say I have anxiety, depression (as previously diagnosed) and PTSD (which has been suggested but not diagnosed).

I asked A about my mood swings and tried to explain that even when I am feeling horrific, and at my lowest I normally manage to do things that I have committed to, like going to lectures, but that doesn’t mean I am ok, and it doesn’t mean I take anything in! I know that part of what they measure how bad things are on is your functioning level, but even though I appear to function, I’m really not. My memory and concentration are appalling, and I sit in lectures without listening to a word half of the time. She said that I need to make sure I tell the psychiatrist all of this, and that he will understand where I am coming from. Apparently he is very good** and is nice, so hopefully it will go ok on Thursday. I just want things to be sorted out and to start making progress.

So all in all, today was a difficult but kind of helpful session. AND afterwards I took the decision to go home and rest instead of going to class because I need to start looking after myself and stop doing things just because I “should”. 

*There was no week 5, in case you’re wondering where that went!

**Well I should hope so too!

Jumble of nothingness

I don’t feel good at all.

My mind is a swirling mess. Not a single thought that makes sense. Just a big jumble of nothingness.

I have an exam tomorrow. I have work to do. Why can’t I concentrate? Why aren’t I worried? Why don’t I care?

I don’t even want to go. I just want to stay in bed all day.

My brain hurts. My heart hurts. I don’t know how to deal with this anymore.

Give me a break. Just a night where I can sleep and wake up not feeling tired in the morning. I am so tired. I’ve been so tired for so long. Someone asked me a while ago when the last time was that I wasn’t tired. I said I don’t know; maybe a few years ago. That’s ridiculous.

Little steps

Today has not been good.

Spent an hour and a half trying to convince myself to get out of bed.

Then when I managed to get up, I couldn’t concentrate.

I feel useless, stupid and pathetic.

My mum rang and I cried a lot and I said I can’t do it and I should’ve taken a year out. I feel bad because I know she’s worried about me and there’s actually nothing she can do because she’s in London and I’m not. And even if I was in London she still couldn’t magic anything better could she?

There’s actually nothing anyone can say that is going to fix this. And there’s nothing anyone can do to make the work go away either.

So I’m just going to have to do it. (Today).

I lay in bed after the phone call and dozed off again. Then my dad rang and said I should take little steps. Try and do one little bit, then have a break, then another little bit etc.

So I’ve tried that. I still feel useless and like it’s never going to get done. But I’ve done a bit today.

My dad said I’m going to have to accept that it’s not going to be my best work because I’m not well at the moment. But that’s hard to accept because I always aim so high, and anything less than the best isn’t good enough.

So I’ve done the introduction and the method, I’ve done most of the results and some of the discussion, and then there’s the abstract. And then boom – it’s done. (EDIT: This was not all done today – far from it!)

If only it were that simple.

For the people who tell me to just get on with it, I wish they could spend an hour feeling like I do, and then they would understand that it’s not that I’m not trying, it’s that I CAN’T CONCENTRATE and I feel BLOODY AWFUL.

So I should probably go back to it now. I’ve had a break, reading some blogs and now writing this.

Now I’m going to look at the results section. And we’ll see.

Maybe after that I’ll go for a walk. It really helped last time.