Mirror

I look at myself in the mirror and I am disgusted. I hate myself. I see fat. I see something ugly. I see only flaws in myself. I see something I don’t want to be.

I don’t understand how anyone could be attracted to me when I am so ugly. I don’t see what S sees in me at all. He says I should do something about it if I think I’m fat. But I’m scared of failing. What if I try and it doesn’t work? Then I’d feel even worse. Or what if I can’t stop once I start, I don’t want to go down that road.

How can we see such different things?

I wish I could feel good about myself but I don’t know how. There’s nothing to feel good about. I’m nothing but a disappointment to myself.

I guess I’m feeling low.

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And down

The down always comes. It’s not a big down, not like before, but none the less it snuck up on me, like it always does.

Because nothing has changed, not really. I still have an underlying hatred of myself. I still have no confidence, I’m still waiting for things to go wrong, I’m still not good enough.

I hate myself in so many ways and I don’t know any way out of this.

I want to feel better about myself, I want to feel confident, I want to be happy. But there’s this nagging part of my brain that’s always there telling me I’m not good enough, nothing I ever do will be good enough. Give up. No one cares. I don’t matter.

And this cycle of being ok, even good for a while, and then feeling down again continues, always. And it’s never going to stop unless I do something about it. I know that. And yet I don’t know how to do something about it.

I know what needs to be done, just not how. I need to change the way I see myself. Because frankly, a lot of the negative stuff is just in my head, and it’s the way I see myself, not the way anyone else sees me.

I still don’t feel entitled to feel depressed. I have everything so good, and right now things are good – really good, and I want to enjoy it. I want to make the most  of my year abroad, I want to enjoy all the things I can do here but every time I stop, this self-critical voice crawls out, and taints everything else.

There are things I can change. For example I hate my body. I feel fat and I can change that. I can exercise more and I can eat more healthily. I want to change that, maybe if I feel better on the outside I’ll feel better on the inside?

And the more I think about it, the worse I feel. SO just don’t think about it then?

I wish it was that easy.

I feel like I don’t deserve any of the good stuff. I deserve the bad stuff. I’m pathetic, useless and I’m never going to get to where I want to be because I’m not good enough. Because I’ll never be perfect. Why am I even aiming for something that doesn’t exist? Why can’t I be happy with me? With my best?

It’s almost like I get to a certain point, and something tells me things are too good, I’m too happy, and then this stupid criticising voice pipes up and knocks me down. And I’m tired of fighting with myself. I just want to be me and be ok with that. I’m sick of comparing myself to other people, I’m sick of feeling inferior, I’m sick of waiting for S to leave me, I’m sick of never matching my expectations, I’m sick of never being good enough for myself.

And now I’m going to sleep. I know I’ll feel better in the morning, I need to get out of this negative mindset. It’s what happens when I spend a day doing nothing.

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!)

Dependent

I hate being dependent on other people. Especially S.

Because he could leave (like the ex did.) That’s why you should never let anyone be everything to you. But it’s hard not to rely on him.

I hate how my happiness relies on him. When I’m with S I am generally much happier. It’s when I’m on my own I feel down. And I overanalyse every little thing. Why do I do it to myself? I’m torturing myself over things I can’t change. Things that are said and done, it’s too late to change them.

And things that he doesn’t even care about but I do. I feel fat, and I hate it. But I’m scared of starting exercise again like before because it’s addictive, like not eating – addictive and not good. 

I haven’t been blogging that much recently. Too busy. Life just gets in the way. But I still need time for myself. I’m going to try and set aside some time each day for myself. To reflect on how things are, to write my blog, to do some mindfulness stuff (because I haven’t done any of it in ages, and it was helping I think.)

Sometimes I think I do too much and I don’t allow myself enough time to just be. On Monday I had a day to do nothing. I slept until about 1, then pottered around doing not much – reading blogs, watching TV. But it was nice, just sometimes it’s nice to do nothing. Nothing that matters anyway. I’m always in such a rush all the time, maybe I should take a step back and try to relax a bit.

This post got a bit more reflective than I expected. Just a quick one before bed. To get some thoughts out of my mind. This one is like a mental stream (MMS you should be proud!)

I just want to stop for a bit. I wish I could pause the world, like in Bernard’s watch (did anyone watch that?) And then I could just take some time, with nothing going on. Wouldn’t it be nice?

But relaxing has always been difficult for me, that’s something I need to learn to do. A was right – I can’t give 100% all the time, it’s too exhausting. I need to relax too, and take some time for me – not to work or volunteer or even socialise, just to unwind.

Hopefully my holiday will help me relax a bit. On Monday I am off to Amsterdam (not Prague as originally planned) so I’m sure I will have an Amsterdam-related post at the end of next week!

As you might be able to tell, my mind is a bit of a jumble at the moment, if you managed to follow this post and its changing topics – well done!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

CBT – Week 11

Today I had my CBT session, on a Friday for a change as I had an exam on Monday. It was still 9am though – an early walk up a hill!

We planned to tackle a difficult issue today. One I really struggle to talk about. I was meant to write about it for “homework”, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even bring myself to think about it properly. I just cried and felt awful. 

We are leaving it until after exams. Maybe I will feel stronger then, once the stress of revision and exams is over. I know it needs to be dealt with, but I can’t handle any more at the moment.

We decided not to have our next session until after most of my exams, the next one will be 20th May. A said she thought it was best because it adds more stress and I need to be able to concentrate as much as possible on exams. I will still have the rest of May and the whole of June so hopefully we will have time to sort things out.

We talked about perfectionism today.

I never realised before how much I have spent my whole life trying to please other people, trying not to disappoint anyone, trying to be “perfect” all the time, but of course it doesn’t exist. And that means that I am always striving to do better, no matter how well I do it will never be good enough (in my eyes) because I am not good enough, I am not perfect.

I knew I felt like that about academic work. I have always been pushed to do my best. From year 2 until now I have had exams every year. At the age of 10 I took entrance exams for secondary schools and I got into one of them (only on the waiting list though). At that school they pushed us to get the highest grades. It is one of the few places where getting an A would result in being told “that’s a shame, hopefully you’ll do better next time.” At this school I was surrounded by people who constantly achieved academic excellence, where As and A*s were the norm. I thought that was how the world was, that everyone achieved all the time and so I pushed myself harder to keep up, I didn’t want to be average, I wanted people to be proud of me, I needed to do well. It came to GCSEs and I got good grades, but in comparison to my friends from my school I felt like I had done badly.

I did my A levels, I got into uni, but I didn’t get all As, I didn’t get A*s. Must do better. And then I got to uni, started Psychology and German, and I convinced myself that I needed to get a first. I know it is not essential, and I would never think that a 2:1 was a bad mark if anyone else got it, but when it’s me I have much harsher standards. It’s a massive fear of failure, but my perception of failure is actually not being perfect.

If I do well it’s because the test is easy, it’s because I was lucky, or it’s because I get extra time*. But if I do badly it’s all my fault. I should’ve done better, I could’ve worked harder, I am a failure. It’s internal and external attribution, something I wrote an essay about recently actually. I recognised myself in a lot of the research I was doing, about how people with depression give internal explanations for bad things (it’s my fault) and external explanations for good things (I was lucky). 

I crave reassurance that I am doing well. I constantly get people to check that what I am doing is right and I never trust my own judgement. When I write in German, I tend to look most words up in the dictionary, even when I know them, because I doubt my knowledge and I don’t want to be wrong.

I realised today, I have never failed anything (academically) and yet I am never satisfied with how I do. 

I am indecisive too. I can’t make simple decisions. I don’t want to make a mistake, ever. It’s ok for other people to make mistakes, but not me. I have to be perfect (but of course I’m not). Big decisions are hard of course; they are for everyone. “What if”s are abundant in my mind and I am constantly worried about making the wrong choice. A said sometimes there isn’t only one right choice, sometimes decisions take you on a new path that’s different, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And then it comes to small decisions, like what to have for tea** and I am anxious. It can take me a ridiculous amount of time to make the most simple of decisions. And does it really matter? No, of course it doesn’t. When decisions involve other people it’s even worse – where to meet for lunch or what film to watch… What if the other person doesn’t like my decision, what if it’s wrong, it will be all my fault if we don’t have a good time. I avoid decisions as much as possible. The phrases “I don’t know” and “I don’t mind” are very common in my vocabulary. I go along with what other people want. I’m a people pleaser.

My whole life I have done what I have been told – by my parents, by the ex. As I was able to start making my own decisions (approaching the age of 16) the ex was there, controlling me, manipulating all my decisions so that it made it look like my choice, but really I was doing whatever he wanted me to do. Looking back I am ashamed that I let someone control me in this way, but I couldn’t see it at the time.

And then we come to the issue of looks. I think I am ugly. Fat and ugly. S says my view of myself is distorted, that I don’t see what he sees. I say he is crazy, that there is no way he can find me attractive. There are so many things I wish I could change about myself. And since I put on weight from the mirtazapine, I’ve felt even worse. Some of the weight has come off since I changed medication but not all of it. Half of my clothes still don’t fit and it makes me feel terrible about myself. I don’t like trying on clothes while shopping now because I just end up feeling bad about myself. I am disgusted with me and my many flaws. I crave perfection and again it doesn’t exist. I will never be good enough in my own eyes.

I need to accept that S loves me for who I am and I don’t need to be perfect to be loved. It’s difficult though. I walked on eggshells for so long with the ex. The slightest mistake and I’d never hear the end of it, I had to be perfect to keep him happy. Late out of work and I’m in trouble, even though it’s out of my control…

Today I gained a lot of insight into my own mind. I knew that I can be a perfectionist, and I knew that it affected how I think about myself, but not quite how much. I think that counts as a good session, somehow I just need to change these behaviours now.

As a closing note, I will leave you with what A said I should do:

Aim for 75%, because you don’t need to be perfect (100%)***.

*which is another thing. I am entitled to extra time in exams because of depression/anxiety, but I always feel that I don’t deserve it. As if I am a fraud and I am at an advantage having this extra time that I don’t deserve.

**Or dinner (I’m picking up Northern words now!)

***Of course I said if I get 75% in my degree then I’ll be very happy – it’s a first. But that wasn’t what she meant. She meant I don’t have to aim for perfection because then I will always fail (in my eyes) but 75% is more than good enough.

CBT – week 1

So I’ve finally got round to writing about the CBT which started on Monday.

I’ve decided I’m going to create a page on my blog which will have all my posts about CBT on, in case anyone is interested!

So, let’s start from the beginning.

For those who don’t know, CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Mind says:

  • CBT is a form of talking therapy that combines cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy.
  • It focuses on your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems.

The point of CBT is to become aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and how they interlink, and then change negative thought patterns, which will in turn change feelings and behaviours.

CBT is a therapy which is used for many conditions, including depression, anxiety, anger, drug/alcohol problems, eating problems, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder and many more.

So, now we know what it is, I’ll write about my first proper session.

~ ~ ~

I arrived at the hospital and signed in. My appointment was at 9am so they were running on time!

We sat down and the therapist (A) asked how I had been etc.

For “homework” I had been asked to create a timeline of my life. I did this, and we went through it chronologically, looking at different life events and how they have affected me and my life, and how I have come to be where I am now in life (needing CBT).

What I thought was nice was that A said she isn’t going to look at my CBT book. So I can write in it, and tell her about it, but I don’t have to worry that anyone else is going to read it – because they aren’t.

So I guided her through my life, quite quickly, but stopping at particular events.

She wrote down some things to come back to, for example my relationship with the ex.

She said that in future sessions will can individually speak about each issue and try to work through it. This seems very logical, but is not an approach that the counsellors I saw last year took. They seemed to try to deal with everything at once, which just meant that nothing got dealt with!

This week for homework I had to identify and write down negative/difficult thoughts which I have.

Here’s what I’ve found this week:

  • I needed an extension for coursework so I must be a failure/useless
  • I should just give up and go home
  • Didn’t go to the gym, so I am useless/lazy/fat/ugly
  • I didn’t go out when everyone else did, so I must be boring
  • No one cares about me
  • I don’t have (m)any real friends here
  • I must be really boring/horrible if people would rather go home/be by themselves than be with me.

 

And back down again…

**Trigger Warning – Suicidal Thoughts**

Today has not been good.

I got up (just about) and got to my 9am lecture. It was boring as hell (statistics) but I made it. Then I went to my lab, where we had to listen to her lecture for 3 hours!! Again, boring, but I made it.

I went to the doctors. I was sitting in the waiting room. There were lots of babies and young children. That was a trigger in itself. And then when some of the babies cried, I started crying too. Too many painful memories. Too many “what if”s…

By the time I got to see my doctor (over 20 minutes late) I was feeling really really rubbish.

When she asked me how I was getting in, that was it – I was off, in floods of tears (again).

I told her I’m frustrated because nothing is helping. How my mood is all over the place and is so unpredictable. About not being able to concentrate and feeling worse because of my weight. About just feeling awful.

She asked if I have people I can talk to. I do, but I don’t want to. I don’t want people knowing just how bad it is. Then they would worry. So I drip information. Different things to different people so no one knows the extent of it.

I told her I don’t want to do this anymore and I can’t see an end to this. She said that things will get better in time. I’ve given it a year and a half, and things are getting arguably worse.

I can’t tell people, my doctor included what I think about. They will just worry and I’m not worth worrying about. I can’t stop thinking about dying. Ways to die.

Everytime I see a speeding car, I’m so tempted. Seeing the frozen canal… so tempted. The tablets, the knife….

But don’t worry. Because I’m “low risk”. This is because I don’t want to hurt my friends and family. I don’t want them to have to go through my pain. So just for them, I’m still here.

But the real truth is. If it didn’t affect anyone else, I’d be dead by now. All I cling on to, all that is keeping me safe is that I don’t want to cause other people pain.

Why can’t I look after myself?

I just want something to stop the pain.

All productivity for today has gone out of the window. I’m in bed, pajamas on, stuffing my fat face with chocolate raisins and probably going to have a sleep after this.

I can’t do my work. I have so much stuff to do and I can’t do any of it.

Am I just lazy? Why can’t I do what everyone else can do?

I’m sick of getting extensions for my work. Do you really think an extra week is going to help me? No it isn’t. It’s more time, but the work is still not going to be any good. Not compared to how I could do, if I was feeling good.

I’m drowning in despair and I can’t see a way out. What am I going to do?

I’m going to let everyone down. I have a social tomorrow for the society, I don’t want to go. I have work to do; I don’t want to do it. I have lectures and seminars, and I don’t want to go. I just want this all to end. Too much pain here.

And all of this triggered from seeing a couple of babies.

I’m pathetic. I want to give up but I don’t have the guts. How pathetic is that?

Fat rant

Fat fat fat.

Most of my clothes don’t fit me anymore.

Don’t have the money to buy a whole new wardrobe.

None of my jeans/trousers fit.

Guess it’s leggings for a while.

I have always been thin/normal and now I’m fat.

Eww.

I hate myself.

As soon as I get back to uni it’s down to the gym, and a diet.

Disgusting, ugly pig.

Anxiety, depression and perfectionism – intertwined

Yesterday I went to see Matilda (the musical) up in London. It was great and I went with one of my best friends (Monkey) and her family, which was lovely.

But parts of it brought on anxiety. If you are not familiar with the story, it features a horrible, abusive headmistress of the school (Miss Trunchbull) and the parents of the main character (Matilda) are also horrible, selfish people.

I don’t think it was so much the storyline which brought on the anxiety, although it did bring to the surface some memories of things with the ex…

But there were several instances where there was loud sounds, flashing lights and I felt disorientated, and anxious at these times. I have noticed that sometimes when there is loud noises/lots of people/flashing lights that it brings on anxiety, although I’m not sure why.

Maybe it is because I feel disorientated and there is too much going on.. Who knows!

Another example of this was today at work. I was in one of the aisles, and it suddenly got really busy and I felt really trapped and as if everything had got louder than it really was. I have had this feeling several times at work, and always under the same circumstances (busy aisle – too many people and too much noise.)

Luckily I have been able to control it by focusing on my breathing, and in some cases I have been able to leave the aisle in question.

It is really bizarre… I did think that my main issue was depression, but it seems that anxiety is more of an issue than I thought.

I think it is very common for the two (depression and anxiety) to exist alongside each other, and they probably fuel each other as well.

Having been in this anxious state (which has definitely not been helped by my rising stress levels over different things!*) I have now bitten all my nails off, which is sad because I thought I had cracked my nail-biting habbit. Every so often, I get stressed and I end up biting them.. Grr!

So all in all, things are not great at the moment.

I had a day or so where I felt quite optimistic, and have done quite a lot of my work (but not all of it, and it’s probably rubbish anyway..) but that seems to have disappeared now, and I am back in the gloomy worry of whether I can finish this year or not. This morning I had a bit of a melt down… Spent about an hour hiding in my room in the dark, and crying, because I feel like I’m never going to get my work done (and even if I do, it won’t be good enough.)

Having read what I have written here, my perfectionism is glaringly obvious, and it seems incredibily irrational, but at the time it feels like the truth, and feels like there is no way out of this gloom. Even now, rationally, I know that this is irrational, but that doesn’t stop my brain telling me all these things… like how I am useless, a failure, and I can’t do what other people on my course can do, therefore I am not clever enough, and must be useless.

Damn perfectionism….

*Coursework for uni, worrying about going back to uni, stressing about the amount of weight I have put on, the fact my clothes are mostly too small now… etc.

Failure

I’m a failure.

Right now, I should be surrounded by most of my best friends, having a few drinks and a nice time.

But I’m not.

I cancelled.

I texted them all and said I’m not well so I’ve got to cancel.

Even though I might not get a chance to see all of them until easter now.

How selfish is that?

How useless am I?

I couldn’t even cope for one night.

One night that should’ve been fun.

So now I’m sitting at home by myself, watching “love actually”, eating loads of crap feeling absolutely rubbish. (Feeling sorry for myself.)

Oh, and the other thing.

I’m getting fat. I’ve put on so much bloody weight since I’ve been on the Mirtazapine.

Half of my clothes don’t even fit me anymore and it’s making me feel even worse about myself.

And I’m not doing anything about it. Sitting here, typing this, eating crisps. Fatty.