Things that help: pampering self-care

I am trying to find as many things as possible that help. Things that help when I’m feeling low, things that help with the aching, things that just make me feel a bit better. This post is about pampering and self-care in a more physical sense. Would love to hear any more suggestions! 

Bubble baths are one of my favourites. I put in some bubble bath or a bath bomb (I love the selection at Lush!), run a nice hot bath, put on a relaxing playlist and sink into the bubbles. It’s a chance for “me time”, to relax and unwind, and as an added bonus, it often helps with the aching. If there’s no time for a bath, a hot shower can also help lift my mood and reduce the aching, especially if I have a deliciously scented shower gel! 

Painting nails. This sounds really strange but if my nails are painted I have no urge whatsoever to bite them. If they aren’t painted and I start getting anxious, I get the urge to bite them. Then I get annoyed with myself, then I get more anxious and bite them more, and so it goes on. The other thing is, when my nails are painted a bright colour it cheers me up when I see them. And that’s why when I did the dreaded hike, I painted my nails green with orange dots!

Face masks – another way to “pamper”. I have one that goes on and feels very cool on the skin and then just sinks in. This is great when I feel run down and my skin goes dry. The ones that set (clay/mud masks) are great because you can feel them setting which keeps you in the present moment. Also you are guaranteed a laugh if you look in the mirror while it’s on! 

Lipstick – never underestimate the power of a good lipstick. Despite not being a very “girly girl”, I own an embarrassing number of lipsticks. There is something about lipstick that gives me confidence. I have a lipstick for every occasion – nude lipsticks for days when I just want a little extra something, bright lipsticks which scream confidence (even if i don’t actually feel confident, the lipstick helps!) and everything inbetween. I think a bit of colour helps brighten up my face, especially on days I feel very tired. I joked with a colleague once that if I was wearing a bright lipstick, it meant it was a tired day, and that’s probably true! 

Spa days. This one I have yet to try, but it makes sense that a relaxing spa day would boost my mood, reduce stress etc. I am hoping to do a spa day with some friends sometime in the future, so I guess I’ll write a post about that when it happens. 

Wearing pyjamas and dressing gown. I will confess that I spend most of my time at home in my pjymamas and dressing gown, and if not pyjamas then dressing gown over clothes. I have one of those super soft fluffy dressing gowns and they are the best thing to comfort me. It is so comfortable and comforting to be wrapped up in snuggly pyjamas and a dressing gown, one of the few things I like about the weather getting colder is that I can get the fluffy pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown out without anyone thinking I’m strange! 

Writing this has put me in the mood for a bath and pyjamas now!

Love,

Ellie xx

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Therapy 

I had a therapy session yesterday, the first one for about 4 weeks because I was away and then she was away. Since I last saw her, a lot has happened – I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I went sky diving, my anxiety has got worse, my depression has got worse etc etc. 

It was good to talk. It was good to be completely honest and open instead of wondering and worrying about how she would react, what she would think of me. I’m glad and I know I’m lucky that I have reached this feeling of trust with my therapist. I don’t filter my words and thoughts in that room. There’s no expectation. I told her I’m feeling rubbish. I feel low, lonely, angry, disappointed, hopeless…. all of this negativity. And she doesn’t tell me I should be grateful for what I have or tell me it’s going to be ok. She sits with me in the shit and she’s just there, listening, understanding. 

After last nights session, I had the best sleep I’ve had in probably about a month (coincidence, I think not!) I felt a sense of relief, an ability to breathe properly when I left. I needed to get things out. 

I cried and it was hard. And I named difficult things which I didn’t used to be able to do. I used to clam up and not be able to talk when things were hard, but now I can say them even if it’s through tears. 

Without a doubt I know therapy has helped me massively, and it still is. I can see that I have made a lot of progress, and even though my mood has done a nosedive since May and is showing no signs of improving, it helps to talk about it, and I’m not in the dark place I once was. 

I am currently en route to the middle of nowhere for my hike, so won’t be writing for a few days. When I get back I’m going to write a series of blog posts on things that help. (One of them will be on bullet journals, I imagine I’ll write one on therapy at some point.) I’ve already started writing the posts so I’m excited to share my experiences with you, and hoping maybe some of the ideas will help others too. 

Love,

Ellie xx

A positive quote 

I decided I needed a bit of positivity in my life before bed, so here’s a quote I like. This is a page of my bullet journal, which I will be writing a post about very soon! 
This quote always sticks in my mind, thanks J K Rowling! 

Love,

Ellie xx

Stress

Feeling very stressed and like I’m not coping at the moment. This is not how you are meant to feel after a holiday… 

I can tell I am not very well mentally at the moment because I am struggling to manage my stress, even at work. Usually at work I can separate it from everything and just do my job and worry about everything else later. This week I felt like I got in a flap about things I would normally deal with fine. 

My anxiety is pretty high and my sleep isn’t good (a crying doggo with a poorly tummy at 4am doesn’t help! – not that it’s his fault!) 

I want to be positive but right now it’s hard. I have a few plans over the weekend and that is stressing me out. I wanted a weekend to do nothing but I have too much to do. All nice things but somehow it doesn’t feel nice, it feels like pressure. 

Off to bed, TGIF tomorrow!

Love, Ellie xx

A spark of motivation 

Working in the field of mental health, I spend 5 days a week trying to support clients with their mental health and suggesting goals – try mindfulness or write down three positive things everyday or make time for self care. I often find myself coming out with gems such as “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and “you are always focused on others, but what do YOU want?” 

Hypocrite. 

Yep, I am a massive hypocrite. 

But no more. I am going to try and take my own advice. I am going to try and be more positive, make time for self care, be selfish sometimes. 

Now I am not going to sit here and pretend that a bit of mindfulness here or goal setting there is going to cure anyone because that would be bullshit. You know that, I know that. But it’s about doing things that help, even a little bit. It’s about building confidence, helping someone develop their identity – things they do or don’t like, enabling people to get that sense of achievement when they meet a goal. It’s about small steps and sitting with that person and really listening (because so often people don’t listen) So now it’s time to support myself.  I’m going to work on being the best I can be, and to help myself be a little bit happier again. 

One of my lovely blogger friends is doing 100 happy days at the moment, I tried it once before and didn’t manage it all, but I’ve been inspired by my blogging friend so I’m going to try again but in my journal this time, a little more manageable. I’m on Day 3 so far, I am managing and I won’t worry if I don’t manage all 100 days in a row!

 I have started my mindfulness again lately (I did 25 days in a row but went away for the weekend and lost my streak – but I started it up again today). I have a bullet journal, I find it very therapeutic but for some reason I stopped*, I will get that going again. 

A little bit of motivation has surfaced today! 

I am going to do some blog posts on the things that help me such as mindfulness and bullet journaling. What helps you? Is there anything you would like me to write about? 

Love,

Ellie xx

*When I start feeling unwell I stop all of the things that actually helped before. It’s counterproductive but the motivation goes and before you know it, all the good things have been left behind and you’re wallowing even more! 

Doctors 

This morning I sat in front of a GP and told them how crap I feel. I told her I’m exhausted and I don’t know how to keep going. I told her I feel like I’m going to fall asleep all the time. I told her I feel suicidal again. 

She said “go to A&E if you feel suicidal”

I am so angry. What a load of crap. That is all you have for me? I work in mental health, I know how this goes. If I went to A&E (which I won’t), I would sit for hours, eventually see someone and say I feel suicidal, they would ask if I have acted on it, I would say no, and they’d send me home and we would both feel that our time has been wasted. 

Such bullshit. 

She talked about prescribing some antidepressants and I said I didn’t mind but wasn’t sure what to try as I’ve had so many. She said we would start again with the most common ones. What the hell? Oh I see this medication didn’t work for you last time so let’s try it again??? And then she didn’t even prescribe anything. 

I told her that I have been told I’m too unwell for IAPT and not unwell enough for the mental health team. Why is there this ridiculous gap? This is why I have to pay for private therapy. 

Not a happy Ellie today. I feel let down by our NHS. I felt rushed to get out of the door. She didn’t help, it made me feel worse. 

Rant over xx

What if this is it

I’m afraid this is a bit of a negative one. Feeling sorry for myself this evening. The fear that things will always be this way is strong today. My physical symptoms are getting on top of me and being positive is too much today. 

Love Ellie xx
Like a vampire, avoiding light 

A slow and tired sloth 

There are a group of little creatures

Having a disco in my head. 

Their music thumping away. 

Someone has pumped my body full of lead

Limbs heavy 

Mind heavy 

A thought occurs to me, a whisper in my mind 

“This is the rest of my life”

Pain and tiredness

Feeling blue 

“What if this is it?”

Progress 

I did a talk for another organisation this afternoon. I got really anxious even though it was informal and I know my own service.. I panicked and I don’t think they were impressed. 

Feeling pretty embarrassed as I know I didn’t seem very professional and they probably judged me. I am not a good public speaker at the best of times but today was not my best day. I hope they don’t judge my service by my talk. There was a snooty woman that made me nervous and that didn’t help! 

BUT and it’s a big but…

The world has not ended. I have not spontaneously combusted. Life goes on and so does my day. This is a revelation. My fear of failure would have had me in tears, full on panic attack mode. But although I feel a bit disappointed that I didn’t perform at my best, I feel ok. And that’s good. 

Progress!!

Love 

Ellie xx

It wasn’t my fault 

Trigger warning – this is about abusive relationships/domestic abuse (holy shit I wasn’t expecting it to get this deep, I was going to write a nice blog about self care – will save that for another day) 

I often wondered why me? Why was I so stupid not to be able to see what was happening? Why did I have mug written across my forehead?

(For some back story, when I was 15-18 I was in an abusive relationship. I couldn’t see it at the time and for a long time afterwards I couldn’t see it as being his fault, I blamed myself. There’s parts of me that still do but that’s by the by.)

I realised recently that I was the ideal target. I was a little bit lost, disillusioned by the world and not feeling good enough. I was one of those teenagers that was pretty invisible at school, I had friends but we were invisible. And at that time I started feeling strange. Something I now believe was the beginning of my depression. I became more withdrawn, didn’t eat properly, didn’t feel good enough, started writing poems, came to a darker place than I had known in my cushty childhood. I felt like I didn’t fit in and I felt like no one understood me. Lost.

So at some point we started talking. I don’t know why because we used to hate each other, but we did. I spent hours and hours online chatting. Never in person. It was a new experience, someone paying me attention, listening to me, comforting my pain. And it grew into a relationship. 

I always thought it was much later that it became abusive but the signs were always there. He was controlling but manipulative with it. How could I be so unreasonable to want to spend any lunch breaks with my friends when I was in classes with them and never him? I obviously didn’t care about him… It only got worse but I couldn’t see it. My need to please was so great, my fear of failure, of not being good enough was overpowering. And so I blamed myself for everything. Took it all and wished I could be a better girlfriend. 

I was so young and I didn’t know any different, it was my first relationship. And I was in too deep. I relied on him. He isolated me from friends and family. Damaged all my other relationships. Stopped me doing my hobbies but made me feel it was my choice. It goes on. 

And looking back I think ‘what if’ and ‘why didn’t I see it?’ But it’s not that easy when you’re in the middle. It’s not that easy when you’re 16 and you believe that no one else would ever love you. 

And after a lot of therapy, I am still remembering things that happened. Little bits of information are coming forward in my mind. I wish they wouldn’t but apparently it means I’m ready to deal with them now. I don’t have to push them down. I can move past it. 

But today I can sit and say I know it wasn’t my fault. And I know that he had a shitty childhood but that wasn’t my fault either and it’s not an excuse for how I was treated. And i can see it for what it was, and say (with only a little bit of guilt*) that it was abusive  relationship, it was domestic abuse. And it wasn’t my fault. 

Love 

Ellie xx

* because part of me doesn’t see this as valid because I know others have been through much worse. And because others might say well you were 16 how bad could it have been? And why didn’t you leave if it was that bad? (Ok this bit of me is still quite headstrong but it’s not as strong as it was!) 

A positive thought 

Amongst all the terrible things that are going on lately, and the depression I am experiencing right now, there are still good people, glimmers of hope… 

While I was driving home today I saw two ladies, one elderly and one much younger (maybe her daughter?) walking in the pouring rain. The older lady was pushing a walker to keep her balance. The younger lady held an umbrella over the older lady to keep her dry as they walked. Not over both of them, just over the older lady. The younger lady was drenched but didn’t seem to mind, focused on keeping the older lady dry. 

‘That’s love’ I thought, as I saw this moment, I smiled as I drove on. Little things like this give me hope. There are still some good people, there are still things to smile about. 

Just thought I’d share some positivity!

Love 

Ellie xx